But my disappointment was my wife’s delight, as there was no longer any necessity for keeping secret our holdings in land scrip. The little tin trunk held a snug fortune, and next to the babies, my wife took great pride in showing visitors the beautiful lithographed certificates. My ambition was land and cattle, but now that the scrip had a cash value, my wife took as much pride in those vouchers as if the land had been surveyed, recorded, and covered with our own herds. I had met so many reverses that I was grateful for any smile of fortune, and bore my disappointment with becoming grace. My ranch had branded over eight thousand calves that fall, and as long as it remained an open range I had room for my holdings of cattle. There was no question but that the public domain was bountiful, and if it were necessary I could go farther west and locate a new ranch. But it secretly grieved me to realize that what I had so fondly hoped for had come without warning and found me unprepared. I might as well have held title to half a million acres of the Clear Fork Valley as a paltry hundred and fifty sections.
Little time was given me to lament over spilt milk. On the return from my first trip to the Clear Fork, reports from the War and Interior departments were awaiting me. Two contracts to the army and four to Indian agencies had been awarded us, all of which could be filled with through cattle. The military allotments would require six thousand heavy beeves for delivery on the upper Missouri River in Dakota, while the nation’s wards would require thirteen thousand cows at four different agencies in the Indian Territory. My active partner was due in Fort Worth within a week, while bonds for the faithful fulfillment of our contracts would be executed by our silent partner at Washington, D.C. These awards meant an active year to our firm, and besides there was our established trade around The Grove, which we had no intention of abandoning. The government was a sure market, and as long as a healthy demand continued in Kansas for young cattle, the firm of Hunter, Anthony & Co. would be found actively engaged in supplying the same.