Reed Anthony, Cowman eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Reed Anthony, Cowman.
army.  Smarting under this injustice at the time the Indian contract was awarded, I question if I was thoroughly reconstructed. Before our disabilities were removed, we ex-Confederates could do all the work, run all the risk, turn in all the cattle in filling the outstanding contracts, but the middleman got the profits.  The contract in question was a blanket one, requiring about fifty thousand cows for delivery at some twenty Indian agencies.  The use of my name was all that was required of me, as I was the only cowman in the entire ring.  My duty was to bid on the contract; the bonds would be furnished by my partners, of which I must have had a dozen.  The proposals called for sealed bids, in the usual form, to be in the hands of the Department of the Interior before noon on a certain day, marked so and so, and to be opened at high noon a week later.  The contract was a large one, the competition was ample.  Several other Texas drovers besides myself had submitted bids; but they stood no show—­I had been furnished the figures of every competitor. The ramifications of the ring of which I was the mere figure-head can be readily imagined.  I sublet the contract to the next lowest bidder, who delivered the cattle, and we got a rake-off of a clean hundred thousand dollars.  Even then there was little in the transaction for me, as it required too many people to handle it, and none of them stood behind the door at the final “divvy.”  In a single year I have since cleared twenty times what my interest amounted to in that contract and have done honorably by my fellowmen.  That was my first, last, and only connection with a transaction that would need deodorizing if one described the details.

But I have seen life, have been witness to its poetry and pathos, have drunk from the cup of sorrow and rejoiced as a strong man to run a race.  I have danced all night where wealth and beauty mingled, and again under the stars on a battlefield I have helped carry a stretcher when the wails of the wounded on every hand were like the despairing cries of lost souls.  I have seen an old demented man walking the streets of a city, picking up every scrap of paper and scanning it carefully to see if a certain ship had arrived at port—­a ship which had been lost at sea over forty years before, and aboard of which were his wife and children.  I was once under the necessity of making a payment of twenty-five thousand dollars in silver at an Indian village.  There were no means of transportation, and I was forced to carry the specie in on eight pack mules.  The distance was nearly two hundred miles, and as we neared the encampment we were under the necessity of crossing a shallow river.  It was summer-time, and as we halted the tired mules to loosen the lash ropes, in order to allow them to drink, a number of Indian children of both sexes, who were bathing in the river, gathered naked on either embankment in bewilderment at such strange intruders.  In the innocence of these children of the wild there was no doubt inspiration for a poet; but our mission was a commercial one, and we relashed the mules and hurried into the village with the rent money.

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Reed Anthony, Cowman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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