“It seemed their whole outfit was driving that one steer, and turning the others loose to graze. Dick never changed the course of that steer, but let him head for ours, and as they met and passed, he turned his horse and rode onto him as though he was a post driven in the ground. Whirling a loop big enough to take in a yoke of oxen, he dropped it over his off fore shoulder, took up his slack rope, and when that steer went to the end of the rope, he was thrown in the air and came down on his head with a broken neck. Dick shook the rope off the dead steer’s forelegs without dismounting, and was just beginning to coil his rope when those varmints made a dash at him, shooting and yelling.
“That called for a counter play on our part, except our aim was low, for if we didn’t get a man, we were sure to leave one afoot. Just for a minute the air was full of smoke. Two horses on our side went down before you could say ‘Jack Robinson,’ but the men were unhurt, and soon flattened themselves on the ground Indian fashion, and burnt the grass in a half-circle in front of them. When everybody had emptied his gun, each outfit broke back to its wagon to reload. Two of my men came back afoot, each claiming that he had got his man all right, all right. We were no men shy, which was lucky. Filling our guns with cartridges out of our belts, we rode out to reconnoitre and try and get the boys’ saddles.
“The first swell of the ground showed us the field. There were the dead steer, and five or six horses scattered around likewise, but the grass was too high to show the men that we felt were there. As the opposition was keeping close to their wagon, we rode up to the scene of carnage. While some of the boys were getting the saddles off the dead horses, we found three men taking their last nap in the grass. I recognized them as the boss-man, the fellow with the ha’r-trigger gun, and a fool kid that had two guns on him when we were crossing their cattle the day before. One gun wasn’t plenty to do the fighting he was hankering for; he had about as much use for two guns as a toad has for a stinger.
“The boys got the saddles off the dead horses, and went flying back to our men afoot, and then rejoined us. The fight seemed over, or there was some hitch in the programme, for we could see them hovering near their wagon, tearing up white biled shirts out of a trunk and bandaging up arms and legs, that they hadn’t figured on any. Our herd had been overlooked during the scrimmage, and had scattered so that I had to send one man and the horse wrangler to round them in. We had ten men left, and it was beginning to look as though hostilities had ceased by mutual consent. You can see, son, we didn’t bring it on. We turned over the dead steer, and he proved to be a stray; at least he hadn’t their road brand on. One-eyed Jim said the ranch brand belonged in San Saba County; he knew it well, the X—2. Well, it wasn’t long until our men afoot got a remount and only two horses shy on the first round. We could stand another on the same terms in case they attacked us. We rode out on a little hill about a quarter-mile from their wagon, scattering out so as not to give them a pot shot, in case they wanted to renew the unpleasantness.