“Well, I’m as good as my word,” said the leader, “and I’m here to trim your herd as I promised you I would. Throw off and hold up your cattle, or I’ll do it for you.”
Several of our outfit rode up at this juncture in time to hear Flood’s reply: “If you think you’re equal to the occasion, hold them up yourself. If I had as big an outfit as you have, I wouldn’t ask any man to help me. I want to watch a Colorado River outfit work a herd,—I might learn something. My outfit will take a rest, or perhaps hold the cut or otherwise clerk for you. But be careful and don’t claim anything that you are not certain is your own, for I reserve the right to look over your cut before you drive it away.”
The rustlers rode in a body to the lead, and when they had thrown the herd off the trail, about half of them rode back and drifted forward the rear cattle. Flood called our outfit to one side and gave us our instructions, the herd being entirely turned over to the rustlers. After they began cutting, we rode around and pretended to assist in holding the cut as the strays in our herd were being cut out. When the red “Q” cow came out, Fox cut her back, which nearly precipitated a row, for she was promptly recut to the strays by the man who claimed her the day before. Not a man of us even cast a glance up the trail, or in the direction of the Rangers; but when the work was over, Flood protested with the leader of the rustlers over some five or six head of dim-branded cattle which actually belonged to our herd. But he was exultant and would listen to no protests, and attempted to drive away the cut, now numbering nearly fifty head. Then we rode across their front and stopped them.
In the parley which ensued, harsh words were passing, when one of our outfit blurted out in well feigned surprise,—
“Hello, who’s that, coming over there?”
A squad of men were riding leisurely through our abandoned herd, coming over to where the two outfits were disputing.
“What’s the trouble here, gents?” inquired Hames as he rode up.
“Who are you and what might be your business, may I ask?” inquired the leader of the rustlers.
“Personally I’m nobody, but officially I’m Corporal in Company B, Texas Rangers—well, if there isn’t smiling Ed Winters, the biggest cattle thief ever born in Medina County. Why, I’ve got papers for you; for altering the brands on over fifty head of ‘C’ cattle into a ‘G’ brand. Come here, dear, and give me that gun of yours. Come on, and no false moves or funny work or I’ll shoot the white out of your eye. Surround this layout, lads, and let’s examine them more closely.”
At this command, every man in our outfit whipped out his six-shooter, the Rangers leveled their carbines on the rustlers, and in less than a minute’s time they were disarmed and as crestfallen a group of men as ever walked into a trap of their own setting. Hames got out a “black book,” and after looking the crowd over concluded to hold the entire covey, as the descriptions of the “wanted” seemed to include most of them. Some of the rustlers attempted to explain their presence, but Hames decided to hold the entire party, “just to learn them to be more careful of their company the next time,” as he put it.