With the exception of myself, a new outfit of men had been secured at Abilene. Some of them were retained at the ranch of the contractors, the remainder being discharged, all of us returning to Cheyenne together, whence we scattered to the four winds. I spent a week in Denver, meeting Charlie Goodnight, who had again fought his way up the Pecos route and delivered his cattle to the contractors at Fort Logan. Continuing homeward, I took the train for Abilene, hesitating whether to stop there or visit my brother in Missouri before returning to Texas. I had twelve hundred dollars with me, as the proceeds of my wages, horses, and oxen, and, feeling rather affluent, I decided to stop over a day at the new trail town. I knew the market was virtually over, and what evil influence ever suggested my stopping at Abilene is unexplainable. But I did stop, and found things just as I expected,—everybody sold out and gone home. A few trail foremen were still hanging around the town under the pretense of attending to unsettled business, and these welcomed me with a fraternal greeting. Two of them who had served in the Confederate army came to me and frankly admitted that they were broke, and begged me to help them out of town by redeeming their horses and saddles. Feed bills had accumulated and hotel accounts were unpaid; the appeals of the rascals would have moved a stone to pity.
The upshot of the whole matter was that I bought a span of mules and wagon and invited seven of the boys to accompany me overland to Texas. My friends insisted that we could sell the outfit in the lower country for more than cost, but before I got out of town my philanthropic venture had absorbed over half my savings. As long as I had money the purse seemed a public one, and all the boys borrowed just as freely as if they expected to repay it. I am sure they felt grateful, and had I been one of the needy no doubt any of my friends would have shared his purse with me.
It was a delightful trip across the Indian Territory, and we reached Sherman, Texas, just before the holidays. Every one had become tired of the wagon, and I was fortunate enough to sell it without loss. Those who had saddle horses excused themselves and hurried home for the Christmas festivities, leaving a quartette of us behind. But before the remainder of us proceeded to our destinations two of the boys discovered a splendid opening for a monte game, in which we could easily recoup all our expenses for the trip. I was the only dissenter to the programme, not even knowing the game; but under the pressure which was brought to bear I finally yielded, and became banker for my friends. The results are easily told. The second night there was heavy play, and before ten o’clock the monte bank closed for want of funds, it having been tapped for its last dollar. The next morning I took stage for Dallas, where I arrived with less than twenty dollars, and spent the most miserable Christmas day of my life. I had