As it was after sundown, and our wheel was refilled and ready, we set out for camp, where we found that Priest had taken a fresh horse and started back over the trail. No one felt any uneasiness over his absence, for he had demonstrated his ability to protect himself; and truth compels me to say that the outfit to a man was proud of him. Honeyman was substituted on our guard in The Rebel’s place, sleeping with me that night, and after we were in bed, Billy said in his enthusiasm: “If that horse thief had not relied on pot shooting, and had been modest and only used one gun, he might have hurt some of you fellows. But when I saw old Paul raising his gun to a level as he shot, I knew he was cool and steady, and I’d rather died right there than see him fail to get his man.”
OUR LAST CAMP-FIRE
By early dawn the next morning we were astir at our last camp on Sweet Grass, and before the horses were brought in, we had put on the wagon box and reloaded our effects. The rainy season having ended in the mountain regions, the stage of water in the Yellowstone would present no difficulties in fording, and our foreman was anxious to make a long drive that day so as to make up for our enforced lay-over. We had breakfasted by the time the horses were corralled, and when we overtook the grazing herd, the cattle were within a mile of the river. Flood had looked over the ford the day before, and took one point of the herd as we went down into the crossing. The water was quite chilly to the cattle, though the horses in the lead paid little attention to it, the water in no place being over three feet deep. A number of spectators had come up from Frenchman’s to watch the herd ford, the crossing being about half a mile above the village. No one made any inquiry for Priest, though ample opportunity was given them to see that the gray-haired man was missing. After the herd had crossed, a number of us lent a rope in assisting the wagon over, and when we reached the farther bank, we waved our hats to the group on the south side in farewell to them and to Frenchman’s Ford.
The trail on leaving the river led up Many Berries, one of the tributaries of the Yellowstone putting in from the north side; and we paralleled it mile after mile. It was with difficulty that riders could be kept on the right hand side of the herd, for along it grew endless quantities of a species of upland huckleberry, and, breaking off branches, we feasted as we rode along. The grade up this creek was quite pronounced, for before night the channel of the creek had narrowed to several yards in width. On the second day out the wild fruit disappeared early in the morning, and after a continued gradual climb, we made camp that night on the summit of the divide within plain sight of the Musselshell River. From this divide there was a splendid view of the surrounding country as far as eye could see. To