Owen Wister's West: The Unpublished Journals

In 1885 Owen Wister’s health broke down and that summer, on the advice of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, he headed for Wyoming to stay on a friend’s ranch. He had graduated from Harvard, studied music in Paris, and was about to enter law school. This was the first time he had ever been west of Paoli, Pennsylvania, and the impressions which were made on him that summer determined his career. In the Journals which he kept then and on his subsequent visits to the West, he began to write down the adventures and descriptions which were eventually to provide the source material for his famous book, The Virginian, the first, romantic Western in American literature. From his unpublished journals, which have been carefully edited by his daughter, FANNY KEMBLE WISTER,the Atlantic is privileged to draw two articles, of which this is the first.

Edited by FANNY KEMBLE WISTER

OWEN WISTER wrote The Virginian over fifty years ago, a romantic novel of the wild West which won instant success and skyrocketed its author to fame. For the first time, a cowboy was a gentleman and hero, but nobody realized then that it was the master design and that thousands of Westerns would be modeled on it. Before this, cowboys had been depicted as murderous thugs. The Virginian was utterly different from the heroes of his day; besides being handsome, he was humorous and human. He got drunk, played practical jokes, and showed you could not trifle with him—in that famous phrase, “When you call me that, smile!” Because of The Virginian, all little boys wear ten-gallon hats and carry toy pistols. This one novel sot the tradition of the West permanently. In Western stories, in Western movies, and on radio and TV, the cowboy hero defends justice and his girl’s honor, and shoots it out with the villain. Owen Wister created this pattern.

In 1885, when my father was twenty-five, he went to Wyoming for the first time. He sat beside the driver on the roof of a four-horse stagecoach, watching the sunrise as the bitter chill lessened. He planned to shoot big game, fish for trout, camp in unmapped territory, and see the Indians. There were a lot of expensively educated young men going West then, who were not seeking their fortunes or planning to settle, but going for adventure. They shot elk, caught rainbow trout, and returned home; but Owen Wister, struck with wonder and delight, had the eyes to see and the talent to portray the life unfolding in America.

Now that my father’s Western notebooks have been found, one can follow the firsthand experiences he wove into The Virginian, watch him develop as a writer, and feel his great love and awe of the West. He says in his last notebook, “It is imagination which takes the load of fact, supplied by experience, and lifts it into universal truth.” In all, there are thirteen notebooks, comprising the record of his Western journeys from 1885 to 1900. He often spent six months at a time in Wyoming, living in U.S. Army camps as the guest of officers; observing Indians; becoming intimately acquainted with cowpunchers, cattle thieves, saloon-keepers, and prospectors; noting true incidents and reporting real conversations; making lists of words in common use that he had never heard. He ranged through the Northwest and Southwest from Oregon to Texas, but he loved Wyoming best of all, and The Virginian is set in Wyoming.

The first notebook is dated July-August, 1885; Owen Wister was not then a writer, but fifteen years later in The Virginian he used the description of the town of Medicine Bow and the incident of his sleeping on the counter which he first, wrote in this notebook. It is the only town named in his novel.

Copyright 1955, by The Atlantic Monthly Company ,Boston 16, Mass. All rights reserved.

1885

July 2. — One must come to the West to realize what one may have most probably believed all one’s life long—that it is a very much bigger place than the East, and the future America is just bubbling and seething in bare legs and pinafores here. I don’t wonder a man never comes back [East] after he has once been here for a few years.

July 3. — The country we’re going through now was made before the good Lord discovered that variety is the spice of life. But it is beautiful. It reminds me of the northern part of Spain. The same vast stretches of barren green back to the sky line or to rising ground. We stopped at North Platte for breakfast. I paid 25 cents and ate everything I saw. Some of it was good. Just now we stopped at a station where a black pig was drinking the drops that fell from the locomotive tank, and a pile of whitened cattle bones lay nearby. Here and there, far across the level, is a little unpainted house with a shed or two and a wagon. Now either a man on horseback or a herd of cattle. We’ve just passed a little yelping gang of collies who raced us but got beaten. The sky — there is none. It looks really like what it scientifically is — space.

. . . The air is delicious. As if it had never been in anyone’s lungs before. I like this continual passing of green void, without any growing things higher than a tuft of grass. . . .

The night has descended and we are approaching Rock Creek. God knows what we shall find to sleep in there. Have said farewell to my various train acquaintances. Sorry to leave the train. Had begun to feel as if I grew there. A sort of Eastern air-feeding orchid.

The remains of the moon is giving just enough light to show the waving line of the prairie. Every now and then sheet lightning plays from some new quarter like a surprise. The train steamed away into the night and here we are. We passed this morning the most ominous and forbidding chasm of rocks I ever saw in any country. Deep down below, a camp fire is burning. It all looked like Die Walkurc—this which is much more than my most romantic dream could have hoped.

It’s a quarter of twelve. We start for a 50-mile drive tomorrow at 6 A.M.

July 6. — Off on stage. 6 A.M.

9.30 A.M. Stopping for the one meal we’ll get — this station is the middle of all out of doors. Inside in the “Smart room,” where canvas covers the wood and mud of the walls, a man is playing the fiddle to the guitar accompaniment of a red and black chap. There’s a collie, three pups, a tame young antelope, and the coffee mill is nailed on to the side of the house. The mountains to the N.E. are serrated and lovely. In the sleeping apartment of this station hang the skins of various animals unknown to me. Have seen heaps of antelope and the wild dog or prairie wolf, or cayout.(?)

I can’t possibly say how extraordinary and beautiful the valleys we’ve been going through are. They’re different from all things I’ve seen. When you go for miles through the piled rocks where the fire has risen straight out of the crevices, you never see a human being — only now and then some disappearing wild animal. It’s like what scenery on the moon must be. Then suddenly you come round a turn and down into a green cut where there are horsemen and wagons and hundreds of cattle, and then it’s like Genesis. Just across this corduroy bridge are a crowd of cowboys round a fire, with their horses tethered. . . .

July 7. — Been here at the ranch a day and a half. Everything is immense, including my case of sunburn. Major and Mrs. Wolcott are delightful hosts. House a sort of miracle for these parts — so clean, comfortable, pretty. I sleep out in a tent and take a bath every morning in Deer Creek. Yesterday got on a broncho for the first time. The animal undertook to lie down with me. But after that we got on well — I didn’t get off. I like this scenery. ... As for game — ducks, curlews, snipe, prairie chickens, grouse, sage hens, antelope, and rattlesnakes. If I don’t learn to shoot, it won’t be the fault of the wild animals of these parts.

Saw the calves branded and cut yesterday—in all, 79.

WEDNESDAY, July 8. — This existence is heavenly in its monotony and sweetness. Wish I were going to do it every summer. I’m beginning to be able to feel I’m something of an animal and not a stinking brain alone. Nailed up a strip of cloth over the crack of the big dugout door to keep the flies from the meat.

FRIDAY, July 10. — Went out for the first time yesterday with my gun, and surprised myself by killing two grouse in four shots. All I need is practice, and this summer I’m going to get practice.

I find riding these bronchos the easiest long-distance riding I’ve ever experienced. I’m afraid the creek will run dry and stop my morning baths. Phis country doesn’t get enough water to make it a great country. They’ll have to irrigate from Lake Superior or something — which they probably will if some American doesn’t invent a way to pull a string and have it rain. American! There are very few of them so far in our history. Every man, woman, and cowboy I see comes from the East — and generally from New England, thank goodness. If that’s the stock that is going to fill these big fields with people, our first hundred years will grow to be only the mythological beginnings in the time to come. I feel more certainly than ever that no matter how completely the East may be the headwaters from which the West has flown and is flowing, it won’t be a century before the West is simply the true America, with thought, type, and life of its own kind.

July 14. — I’m a quarter of a century old today.

July 16. — Caught a gopher. Meant to tame him but he got out of his box and skedaddled. Stockings — that’s the broncho that sat down with me first day — opened the gates this evening and let all the horses out into the wide wide world. I got on another broncho, which the Major had just come back on from Branan’s, and chased them back home. An hour later I caught Stockings trying to open the gate again, and I whaled him with a rope, and then tied the gate up. Stockings is big — about 14 hands — very thick mane and topknot, and rather handsome. He’s about the most knowing-looking animal I ever laid my dear eyes on. I am convinced he could speak French if he tried.

The details of the life here are interesting. Wish I could find out all about it — and master it —theoretically. It’s a life as strange as any the country has seen and it will slowly make room for Cheyennes, Chicagos, and ultimately inland New Yorks—everything reduced to the same flat prairie-like level of utilitarian civilization. Branans and Beeches will give way to Tweeds and Jay Goulds, and the ticker will replace the rifle.

July 19, MEDICINE BOW. — Got here at 5.30 this evening, July 19th, after nineteen hours of driving and a night in the mountains. We’re expecting by the midnight train some trout and bass for stocking.

This place is called a town. Town will do very well until the language stretches itself and takes in a new word that fits. Medicine Bow, Wyoming, consists of:

l Depot house and baggage room

1 Coal shooter

1 Water tank

1 Store

2 Eating houses

1 Billiard hall

6 Shanties

2 Tool houses

1 Feed stable

5 Too late for classification

The lady who waited on us at supper I do not believe is in a family way. I believe she has a gross stomach. I slung my teeth over the corned beef she gave me and thought I was chewing a hammock. . . .

Killed today the first deer I ever shot at. Hit it plumb in the shoulder and broke its heart.

July 21. — I slept from ten to twelve-thirty on the counter of the store at Medicine Bow and then the train came in, bringing the lawyer and the fish. And after much business talk and lifting tin cans we started off across the plains at two o’clock. At three we discovered we had lost our way, but found it inside of thirty minutes. On the way home the sun killed the trout, but the bass survived. After a stunning drive up through the canon, where there were rocks thrown together in such architectural heaps that I could have imagined a druid sitting beneath them, and where the lifeless trees stood up on the plain like monsters on their hind legs or lay sprawling like the skeletons of fearful spiders, we saw a sunset more remarkable than any yet. The mountains rose between us and the sun, but from behind them arose a saffron and gold vapor that seemed to be exhaled from some heavenly volcano. All round the sky big patches of woolly clouds made a crimson stationary background, while over the face of this, long lines and fragments of slate-colored streamers sped like messengers.

We saw eight mountain sheep. I missed them— they were too far for my light rifle. Reached here at seven, having driven for seventeen hours. Pretty tired — slept nine hours. Today killed some rabbits. Shall keep the horns of my first deer as a memento. Hope it isn’t the last, however.

August 4. — At a roundup — it’s very interesting, but beastly hot.

THURSDAY,August 6. — On Tuesday we left camp on horseback for the roundup at five minutes before seven. On the way I rode over two rattlesnakes, who played a duet with their tails, allegro energetic. The darker one got away into his hole before I could stop him, but I killed the second and handsomer of the two. After I had cut his head off it struck at me. The eye of Satan when plotting the destruction of the human race could not have been more malignant than the stare which this decapitated head gave me with its two clouded agate eyes. They had speculation in them full five minutes after the trunk was in my hands being skinned. He was four feet long, and when I put my foot on him as he was trying to get away into his hole, he felt very solid.

We reached the roundup about nine. It took place in the big plain beyond our camping ground of the first night. There were two big bodies of cattle — many hundred — and about twelve cowboys scudding round and through them, cutting out those of the V.R. brand. The mass of animals stood still for the most part, but now and then moved slowly round its own center, giving the effect of a gigantic leisurely eddy. Once or twice they broke ranks, which caused extra riding and barking and whistling from the cowboys, who flew this way and that to head them off, whirling their quirts and making sudden turns as if their ponies worked on a pivot. The sun grew very hot, and shone down on the brown extent out of a cloudless sky. To the east the peaks were covered with a light blue stifling haze, and looked something like the scenery in the Dolomites, which I’ve noticed before.

When our V.R. cattle had been cut out and bunched the cowboys started the rest away over the hills. The whole mass began to move westward, creeping over the undulations in the plain — moving steadily forward as a body, and moving constantly backward and forward within its own ranks. A couple of cows would get ahead by trotting, then slow up and be overtaken by half a dozen more at different distances, while in the middle there was a constant seething to and fro. The twelve cowboys all gathered in a long line abreast behind their own cattle and drove them away in the opposite direction. Tom King, the foreman, says he likes this life and will never go East again. On Miss Irwin’s inquiry whether he will not get tired of it when he grows old, he replied that cowboys never live long enough to get old. They don’t, I believe. They’re a queer episode in the history of this country. Purely nomadic, and leaving no posterity, for they don’t marry. I’m told they’re without any moral sense whatever. Perhaps they are—but I wonder how much less they have than the poor classes in New York. On Tuesday we were six hours and more in the saddle, and I was not tired — to my satisfaction. . . .

1887

SATURDAY,August 6. Camp 1. — Reached here, 18 miles from Fort Washakie, about sunset. We came over dry stretches of sage and up and down the strange formations of these hills and gulches. At one place a line of rocks stood out of the slope at regular intervals, looking like busts whose faces had decayed and left the skull. We saw Bull Lake to the left of us, shining between cool banks that ran down into it, blue in the evening air. Here we’re at the forks of the Wind River, on a good grass lawn girt with flourishing cottonwood. Westward, where we’re going, the moon country begins again. Just a little way on is a pile, or rather all that remains of the former level of this plain, flat on top with steep sides that are slowly crumbling. The approach to the forks last night was down among stones till the dry sage was out of sight, and so into a shortlike flat over which stood gray trees sparsely leaved and looking as if they bordered on the Styx. The sun in setting had got wedged in between two different hills and sent a crimson glare into this place that gave it a most unearthly appearance.

SATURDAY NIGHT. Camp 2. — By Wind River. Till noon our road was the same dry waste of sage with bare gravel uplands and hot blue mountains behind. At noon we halted by a stream and had lunch — gallons of tea, which seems to have no effect on the nerves here. All rather sore from yesterday’s ride, but getting over it. George Norman and I caught some trout which we fried in the grease of the bacon. They were very good. Tigie, our Indian guide, partook of them gravely. Then George shot one magpie and I another, and these we tied to the saddle and have just had as a stew for supper in spite of W est and Mason’s telling us what magpies eat. After all, what do lobsters eat? An Indian is just now paying Tigie a visit. He appeared on his pony and stopped to call. Copley Amory is learning (?) to throw a rope.

Our journey all afternoon has been pleasant, through grass and undergrowth, near the river, which we follow into the mountains. Tigie and his visitor are warming their backs on the other side of the fire. Mason and West are commenting on our magpie diet. Copley is absorbedly swinging a rope round his head, George is attempting to dry his boots, and I am getting bitten by mosquitoes. This afternoon George saw about six wild geese waddling about in a stream. He was desirous to test his horse’s taste for shooting; so he fired from the saddle, thereby adding one to the number of geese nobody hurt. . . .

MONDAY,August 8. Camp 3.—A short stage yesterday, and fished in the afternoon. Few fish here. Caught three — one good one —had them for dinner. Went into a lake and washed. . . .

Got up at five this morning and caught one trout for breakfast. The mountains when the sun is rising or setting turn a smoking blue. At high noon they are sultry bleak-looking masses, scant of trees except in the gulches, where the pines show black in the distance. Today we hope for better fishing. We set out for Washakie with but few luxuries, and those we have hastily consumed. Soon the rod and rifle will have to cater for us entirely.

The Wind River comes down a many-winding avenue of cottonwood and thorny undergrowth of rosebushes and wild gooseberries, hedging the water in from the hot levels of sage and stones with a broad green belt. The water is of a smoky green, sometimes streaming turbulently about stony islands, and then running in a smooth swimming current where the fish are. If you stand on one of the uplands that rise near the river, you can watch it for miles over the plains like a great green serpent. . . .

Noon. Tigie and ourselves have halted for noon meal. In an hour we caught ten trout. Now George and I are fishing again. I have just landed lhe first — first I saw took with a fly. He measures from the tip of my middle finger along to my elbow. I was afraid the improvised rod would snap, but it didn’t, as I left him in the water till I could jerk him into George’s hand. . . .

THURSDAY,August 11. Camp 6. — A long stage yesterday — 26 miles. We’ve left Wind River and are on the top of the large range, just at the beginning of the Pacific slope. An hour after starting yesterday we found a pool with ducks. George killed six and a rabbit. We lunched on four of them and I caught some trout. Then after lunch George killed three grouse on our way, at the edge of the timber. Then we entered the timber and came up and up on the Sheridan Trail. About five, Tigie sighted an elk and I missed as good a shot as I ever had. Then we came over the ridge at sunset. The range to the north stood out over the pine surface, a gray-blue — broken into blacks of jagged peaks and corners like icebergs. Here where we arc we stay for two days or so. We have put up the tent. This morning slept late. Tigie, while after the horses, killed an elk. We are camped in a clearing of green undergrowth by a very cold spring. (Yesterday we passed by some snow.) The pines surround us, and down the hill to the west is a splendid range of mountains.

At Tigie’s Elk. Yesterday we lunched on wild duck and dined on trout and wild duck. Today we breakfasted on grouse. We’ll lunch and dine on venison. This bull must weigh 800. Too bad his horns are in the velvet.

SATURDAY,August 13. — Great God!! I’ve just killed a. bear and I’m writing this by his bloody carcass — 6.30 A.M. . . .

I looked down towards Jackson’s Hole and saw the ragged leavings of the thunder cloud prowling up the slopes of pine hills, beyond which the icesharp points of the Tetons glittered with snow and sunlight, and over the basin hung a brilliant golden cloud that swam in the rays, while all the other clouds were black or gray. As I write we hear the ominous howl of some beast that would like to come into camp, and may before morning. The Ward-Dimmick hunting party that started from Washakie after us came and camped next door this evening. But they realize they are trespassing on our hunting field and are to move on tomorrow. Also there is a horse thief hanging about them and us. Altogether we are in good company what with the bears, the catamount now howling, and the horse thief lurking about in an unoccupied manner. He sat by our fire tonight for about an hour without speaking a sentence or meeting anyone’s eye. How we killed the bear I must record tomorrow as it is ten (very late) and George and I get up at four to visit the bait. It is fearfully cold.

TUESDAY, August 16, 8.30 P.M. — I return to Saturday’s work. We went to bed Friday night, having settled that George and I with Tigie should visit the south bait at five in the morning. The weather was uncertain. Sometime during the night I waked and heard rain patting the canvas overhead steadily. Later I waked again in the dull gray and shivered and was sorry we were going to any bait at five in the morning. I went to sleep, hoping Tigie and West (who was to wake us and give us something to eat) would oversleep. But they didn’t. My foot was pulled, and I rose and shivered into my cold greasy boots. We had some tea and bread and started. The way was uphill at once, and in this altitude (the aneroid registers 8900 with a fall in the weather that probably would take 600 off the reading of the barometer) breathing is a desultory operation, and a rifle becomes wonderfully heavy in five minutes. But it was necessary to follow Tigie like his shadow. I tried to make as little noise as he did, slipping by jagged rotten boughs, letting his shoulder go an inch from them and stepping over the twigs that lay thick in the timber. His moccasins slipped over them with never a crack. Luckily the rain had wet the ground enough for the twigs to be pliant, so our boots made much less noise than they would after a dry night.

And so we went over the grass and under the trees till we came to a gulch where a little stream flowred and Tigie pointed among the trees where the bait was, though it was too far among the thickets to see. We became more silent and snaky as we circled beyond the place to come down on it under cover. Just then the sun rose feebly into a very light blue sky and sent some useless rays across the tops of the pine trees behind us. Now we peered over some brushwood at the bait. It hung there alone, and as we searched its neighborhood a squirrel burst into scolding directly beside us. After the sudden start it gave me, coming in the middle of such a tense silence, I could have flayed that squirrel alive. He would have suggested danger to any moderately intelligent bear. Also some of the gray carrion crow birds that swarm in this country began to talk and caw. So we came up close to the bait and saw it had been torn and mangled by big jaws recently. The other piece near it, but just inside the timber, was untouched. Tigie said that at sunset the bear would return and so should we. We returned our steps somewhat wearily and found breakfast hot.

As we were finishing it Tigie, who had gone to get the horses into camp, suddenly appeared over the rise to the northeast of camp beckoning violently from his horse. I grabbed my rifle and rushed across our bathroom and pantry (viz., a stony little hole in the thread of water on which we are camped) and up through the wet brush to him. “Bear! Bear!” he said. “Jump up here. Go. Quick.” He had seen a bear crossing on the edge of the timber some 300 yards beyond. So I jumped on the bare rump of his horse and sat there behind Tigie, my rifle in one hand, the other on his shoulder. Away he started, trotting and galloping. My horror was that I should slide off somewhere with a crash and ruin the whole thing. For the way we went was over anything that happened to be in the straight line that Tigie made for the gulch that we had lately left. Down across the stones of dry water channels, up their banks perpendicularly, under limbs of trees bending right and left to avoid them. I have never taken such a ride. Then we came across the gulch a good deal above the bait, and the feeling of hush came down hard on me.

Tigie whispered, “Over there, way over, down.”I saw nothing but a wide grass clearing and pines beyond, but I got down among the sparse trees and so did Tigie. Then we crept forward. Tigie put me in front, and as I looked over my shoulder at him for directions I caught the horse’s eye as he found himself alone, left behind watching after us with anxious self-control.

Then again Tigie said, “There,” and crouched against the grass.

I looked across some 300 yards to the edge of the pines and saw the bear leisurely sauntering along. I had wondered how it would be with me when this moment should come, and now found myself simply submerged in staring — no excitement, at best no shaking of any nerves, but only my eyes misted on that big beast as he rolled along by the edge of the wood. He looked brown and gray, and his gestures were those of a good-natured old gentleman taking a little morning air for health’s sake. Now he would wag his head, then gaze at the landscape judicially, then pause at a rotten trunk on the ground, or sit up with it between his paws looking for insects on the damp underside.

“Quick,” said Tigie behind me. “He come then — so — so,” pointing the course the bear would come along.

I hurried forward nearly parallel to the bear’s march and sat behind a good wide tree, Tigie at my side. The sun was now bright as I looked across the intervening grass. The bear arrived at where the line of woodland curved down more in my direction, rounding off the end of the lawn some hundred yards ahead of where I sat holding my rifle and wondering when it would begin to be unsteady in my grip. Slowly the bear came down, admiring the weather and pulling up his rotten logs. Then he passed behind a tree that stood in the middle of the open. I looked at Tigie, who nodded. Then I ran forward out on the grass and the bear’s head came out from the further side of my tree. I shifted my course so that he and I were like the opposite spokes of a wheel of which the tree was the center, only I neared the tree as quickly as I could. Each time the bear’s snout showed to the right of it I edged to the left correspondingly. When I got under its branches I stood up full height (for I had been mincing along in a very hunched-up position) and the bear walked out into full view on the other side. He saw me then, and stopped short. Well, my hand’s steady after all, I said to myself, as I looked at him along my rifle barrel. I remembered how the brown hair on his shoulder looked thick. I heard my rifle crack and saw him fall at once on his head with a slanting kind of rush and near enough for me to see the dirt scatter a little from his claws.

“Shoot, shoot!” screamed Tigie from behind. I did as I was bid, but I was loath to do it— that first lucky shot had been enough. He tried to get up twice, and before he was half way to his feet they rolled up under him and he tumbled in a heap each time, head downwards. But I shot.

“Shoot, shoot!” said Tigie, running out from his tree, and he worked his arms as if he held the Lever of the Winchester himself. I felt like a murderer as I pumped the bullets into the poor old gentleman who swayed about on the grass, utterly gone. My last shot went through part of the skull and down into the throat almost to the shoulder, where I afterwards found its flattened remains. We turned him over and rode back to camp, where I found the betting was 3 to 1 against my having hit anything. . . .

1888

TUESDAY,July 17. — Here begins Western trip the third — may I someday write the thirtieth with as much zest!

SUNDAY, July 22. —In Rawlins we encountered two deplorable things. A suspended bank which many stage drivers and such have put their earnings in — and a bootblack from the East who wished to black my boots. The stage company may not make any living for itself but it assuredly swallows the livings of other people. There were three of us, and we had 400 pounds of extra baggage. For the journey of 150 miles we paid $86.20. Moreover you have four horses and a wide Concord stage no longer. Two horses and a narrow stage, and half our baggage left behind to follow us next day. Also, the stage holding four inside and one out, there were some eight or nine to go.

Altogether, the time between our rising and outdeparture was a black period. We left Rawlins five in number. The balance stayed with our baggage to come when it could. Same driver as last year, and he remembered us, I believe. The other two were a Swede and a young but proficient card player. The Swede was honest and sensible — and could not drink the whiskey we offered him raw. The card player had bright brown eyes and a wicked winning smile. He could drink our whiskey. A pack of cards was produced and he began showing his skill, which was very various and consideable. We played all four a good deal, and so killed the day, also buying beer at one of the ranches where horses were changed.

The gambler was only twenty-three. But he had seen more of life than all the rest of us put together. At stealing rides on freight trains, on top or underneath, he was an artist. We had only his own word for it; but he told us of his many journeys performed thus with too much circumstance and technique for doubting of his ability. There was more room for doubt in the tale which ended in his leaving a game of stud poker twelve thousand dollars to the good. He had played with less fortune at Rawlins on the preceding evening. The first meal by the roadside, he did not come in to, but loafed by the stage and stable with his hands in his pockets, and a singular askew gait, very suspicious to see. Suspicions were fixed when we looked out of the ranch door and called to him dinner was ready, by the defiant way in which he announced he wasn’t hungry. So we told him to come in and not be a fool. And the Swede Anderson paid for that meal, and ourselves took turn about with those that followed. He did not have a cent.

About six we stopped nowhere in particular with a hot axle. There was (naturally) no water, and no grease either. For grease the rest of my bottle of vaseline went, and for water a quart of our precious beer. We poured it tenderly and with care where needed, and the hissing and froth it made went to our hearts. This performance took near to an hour, and from time to time we halted after for prudence. So we grew more and more behind time, and the next driver, who came on about nine or so, when all warmth had gone and the moon shone cold and brittle, was a crank who lost half an hour for each one he drove. My turn on the box outside came about twelve-thirty or later, and that stage was bitter. The driver said he was numb under his coal and I had no coat. I do remember that the world looked very beautiful in the moon shine, all lines being soft and uncertain and the sagebrush very silver like —but it was too damned cold for romance and nature. The look of my own shadow sticking out of the shapeless black cast by the stage seemed to lower the temperature.

We ate the meal at five that should have been eaten at one. This warmed me up, and the sun rose. By ten, after we had all walked down Beaver Creek hill, the day was scorching again. We changed stages at the Frenchman’s and broke a whiffletrec soon after. We got to Lander late, although the new driver (no. 3) made up time in a highly creditable manner. We gave the gambler potted chicken at Lander — also beer — and there his carpenter colleagues met him, and that light-hearted and vicious spirit left us without any sign or word of formality. At Washakie, Paul Le Rose was sitting on the front porch waiting for us. The officers at the post were most cordial. Quartermaster Gordon, to whom I went at once, ordered us an ambulance in which Lieutenants Buffington, Parker, and Trout drove us to the warm spring where we became clean again and wore new underclothes. Then we sat up with them and Gordon and drank his claret. West turned up that night—and Mason. Both not changed a whit. Sunday we talked matters over, and decided to take a third man — Dick. Later, Captain Smith, the commanding officer, called and asked us to dinner, and a very pleasant time he made for us, he and his wife and his whiskey.

TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY,July 24-25, Camp 1.—

By Wind River 2 miles below the Bull Lake outlet. Got off from Washakie at noon. Came here behind this park. Day very hot — bones very sore. Pretty tired. Left behind us uncared for a big useful sack — 18 pounds of tea—and lost my watch. We wandered about here fishing and carrying a shotgun, but no luck — hardly expected it so far down this river. Bobby insisted on offering drinks out of my flask to every blooming brat who looked at him yesterday. Result — mighty little whiskey left. Last night it rained twice and threatened continually. We had a time getting ourselves under some sort of cover as the tent had not been pitched. Nobody got any welting however.

SUNDAY MORNING, July 29, 5th Camp. — Headwaters of Wind River. We came here up the narrowing valley, past old man Clark and his domicile, the last inhabitant we shall see. Bobby missed an antelope. I missed a big gander with my rifle, but luckily Paul and George got the young ones by chasing them. They were very good at supper. Here Wind River leads up into the timber and is gone. This meadow is the last one. Ahead of us the woods close in. Above to the right is a glorious fortress of rock half a mile long — hundreds of feet above the highest timber — and broken into battlements and turrets by the hundred, with a big stone man sitting at one end watching the valley. The sun shines along this whole line leaving the crevices filled with a pale blue floating color while the buttresses stand out brown-yellow in the daylight. There’s another fortress to the left and a long regular line of wall joining the two, with a green timbered hill rising in front of it — and so Wind River begins its journey. . . .

(To be concluded)