“When they saw us there, one fellow started toward us, waving his handkerchief. We began speculating which one it was, but soon made him out to be the cook; his occupation kept him out of the first round. When he came within a hundred yards, I rode out and met him. He offered me his hand and said, ’We are in a bad fix. Two of our crowd have bad flesh wounds. Do you suppose we could get any whiskey back at this Indian trader’s store?’
“’If there is any man in this territory can get any I can if they have it,’ I told him. ’Besides, if your lay-out has had all the satisfaction fighting they want, we’ll turn to and give you a lift. It seems like you all have some dead men over back here. They will have to be planted. So if your outfit feel as though you had your belly-full of fighting for the present, consider us at your service. You’re the cook, ain’t you?’
“‘Yes, sir,’ he answered. ‘Are all three dead?’ he then inquired.
“‘Dead as heck,’ I told him.
“‘Well, we are certainly in a bad box,’ said he meditatingly. ’But won’t you all ride over to our wagon with me? I think our fellows are pacified for the present.’
“I motioned to our crowd, and we all rode over to their wagon with him. There wasn’t a gun in sight. The ragged edge of despair don’t describe them. I made them a little talk; told them that their boss had cashed in, back over the hill; also if there was any segundo in their outfit, the position of big augur was open to him, and we were at his service.
“There wasn’t a man among them that had any sense left but the cook. He told me to take charge of the killed, and if I could rustle a little whiskey to do so. So I told the cook to empty out his wagon, and we would take the dead ones back, make boxes for them, and bury them at the store. Then I sent three of my men back to the store to have the boxes ready and dig the graves. Before these three rode away, I said, aside to Jim, who was one of them, ’Don’t bother about any whiskey; branch water is plenty nourishing for the wounded. It would be a sin and shame to waste good liquor on plafry like them.’
“The balance of us went over to the field of carnage and stripped the saddles off their dead horses, and arranged the departed in a row, covering them with saddle blankets, pending the planting act. I sent part of my boys with our wagon to look after our own cattle for the day. It took us all the afternoon to clean up a minute’s work in the morning.
“I never like to refer to it. Fact was, all the boys felt gloomy for weeks, but there was no avoiding it. Two months later, we met old man Andy, way up at Fort Laramie on the North Platte. He was tickled to death to meet us all. The herd had come through in fine condition. We never told him anything about this until the cattle were delivered, and we were celebrating the success of that drive at a near-by town.