The appearance of Major Hunter acted like a stimulus. Reports about the new administration were encouraging—not from our silent partner, who was not in sympathy with the dominant party, but from other prominent stockholders who were. The original trio—the little major, our segundo, and myself—lay around under the shade of the trees several days and argued the possibilities that confronted us on trail and ranch. Edwards reproached me for my fears, referring to the time, nineteen years before, when as common hands we fought our way across the Staked Plain and delivered the cattle safely at Fort Sumner. He even taunted me with the fact that our employers then never hesitated, even if half the Comanche tribe were abroad, roving over their old hunting grounds, and that now I was afraid of a handful of army followers, contractors, and owners of bar concessions. Edwards knew that I would stand his censure and abuse as long as the truth was told, and with the major acting as peacemaker between us I was finally whipped into line. With a fortune already in hand, rounding out my forty-fifth year, I looted the treasury by contracting and buying sixty thousand cattle for my company.
The surplus horses were ordered down from above, and the spring campaign began in earnest. The old firm was to confine its operations to fine steers, handling my personal contribution as before, while I rallied my assistants, and we began receiving the contracted cattle at once. Observation had taught me that in wintering beeves in the North it was important to give the animals every possible moment of time to locate before the approach of winter. The instinct of a dumb beast is unexplainable yet unerring. The owner of a horse may choose a range that seems perfect in every appointment, but the animal will spurn the human selection and take up his abode on some flinty hills, and there thrive like a garden plant. Cattle, especially steers, locate slowly, and a good summer’s rest usually fortifies them with an inward coat of tallow and an outward one of furry robe, against the wintry storms. I was anxious to get the through cattle to the new range as soon as practicable, and allowed the sellers to set their dates as early as possible, many of them agreeing to deliver on the reservation as soon as the middle of May. Ten wagons and a thousand horses came down during the last days of March, and early in April started back with thirty thousand cattle at company risk.
All animals were passed upon on the Texas range, and on their arrival at the pasture there was little to do but scatter them over the ranch to locate. I reached the reservation with the lead herd, and was glad to learn from neighboring cowmen that a suggestion of mine, made the fall before, had taken root. My proposition was to organize all the cattlemen on the Cheyenne and Arapahoe reservation into an association for mutual protection. By cooeperation we could present a united front to our enemies, the usurpers,