Early in the afternoon of the second day after our foreman left us, we sighted the smoke of passing trains, though they were at least fifteen miles distant, and long before we reached the Mulberry, a livery rig came down the trail to meet us. To Forrest’s chagrin, Flood, all dressed up and with a white collar on, was the driver, while on a back seat sat Don Lovell and another cowman by the name of McNulta. Every rascal of us gave old man Don the glad hand as they drove around the herd, while he, liberal and delighted as a bridegroom, passed out the cigars by the handful. The cattle were looking fine, which put the old man in high spirits, and he inquired of each of us if our health was good and if Flood had fed us well. They loitered around the herd the rest of the evening, until we threw off the trail to graze and camp for the night, when Lovell declared his intention of staying all night with the outfit.
While we were catching horses during the evening, Lovell came up to me where I was saddling my night horse, and recognizing me gave me news of my brother Bob. “I had a letter yesterday from him,” he said, “written from Red Fork, which is just north of the Cimarron River over on the Chisholm route. He reports everything going along nicely, and I’m expecting him to show up here within a week. His herd are all beef steers, and are contracted for delivery at the Crow Indian Agency. He’s not driving as fast as Flood, but we’ve got to have our beef for that delivery in better condition, as they have a new agent there this year, and he may be one of these knowing fellows. Sorry you couldn’t see your brother, but if you have any word to send him, I’ll deliver it.”
I thanked him for the interest he had taken in me, and assured him that I had no news for Robert; but took advantage of the opportunity to inquire if our middle brother, Zack Quirk, was on the trail with any of his herds. Lovell knew him, but felt positive he was not with any of his outfits.
We had an easy night with the cattle. Lovell insisted on standing a guard, so he took Rod Wheat’s horse and stood the first watch, and after returning to the wagon, he and McNulta, to our great interest, argued the merits of the different trails until near midnight. McNulta had two herds coming in on the Chisholm trail, while Lovell had two herds on the Western and only one on the Chisholm.
The next morning Forrest, who was again in charge, received orders to cross the Arkansaw River shortly after noon, and then let half the outfit come into town. The old trail crossed the river about a mile above the present town of Dodge City, Kansas, so when we changed horses at noon, the first and second guards caught up their top horses, ransacked their war bags, and donned their best toggery. We crossed the river about one o’clock in order to give the boys a good holiday, the stage of water making the river easily fordable. McCann, after dinner was over, drove down on the south side for the benefit