What little correspondence I conducted that winter was by roundabout methods. I occasionally wrote my brother that I was wallowing in wealth, always inclosing a letter to Gertrude Edwards with instructions to remail, conveying the idea to her family that I was spending the winter with relatives in Missouri. As yet there was no tacit understanding between Miss Gertrude and me, but I conveyed that impression to my brother, and as I knew he had run away with his wife, I had confidence he would do my bidding. In writing my employer I reported myself as busy dealing in land scrip, and begged him not to insist on my appearance until it was absolutely necessary. He replied that I might have until the 15th of March in which to report at Austin, as my herd had been contracted for north in Williamson County. Major Mabry expected to drive three herds that spring, the one already mentioned and two from Llano County, where he had recently acquired another ranch with an extensive stock of cattle. It therefore behooved me to keep my reputation unsullied, a rather difficult thing to do when our escapade at Sherman was known to three other trail foremen. They might look upon it as a good joke, while to me it was a serious matter.
Had there been anything to do in Washington County, it was my intention to go to work. The dredging company had departed for newer fields, there was no other work in sight, and I was compelled to fold my hands and bide my time. My crony and I blotted out the days by hunting deer and turkeys, using hounds for the former and shooting the animals at game crossings. By using a turkey-call we could entice the gobblers within rifle-shot, and in several instances we were able to locate their roosts. The wild turkey of Texas was a wary bird, and although I have seen flocks of hundreds, it takes a crafty hunter to bag one. I have always loved a gun and been fond of hunting, yet the time hung heavy on my hands, and I counted the days like a prisoner until I could go to work. But my sentence finally expired, and preparations were made for my start to Austin. My friends offered their best wishes,—about all they had,—and my old comrade went so far as to take me one day on horseback to where he had an acquaintance living. There we stayed over night, which was more than half way to my destination, and the next morning we parted, he to his home with the horses, while I traveled on foot or trusted to country wagons. I arrived in Austin on the appointed day, with less than five dollars in my pocket, and registered at the best hotel in the capital. I needed a saddle, having sold mine in Wyoming the fall before, and at once reported to my employer. Fortunately my arrival was being awaited to start a remuda and wagon to Williamson County, and when I assured Major Mabry that all I lacked was a saddle, he gave me an order on a local dealer, and we started that same evening.