First, before we continue with Mr. Johnson’s tale …
A commenter asked whether (and if so, where) she could buy a copy of Mr. Johnson’s book. The copy I’m “reading” from belongs to the CMA Library here in our office, but I’ve never actually seen the book for sale anywhere. I did just look it up online and Abe Books has ONE copy for sale here.
Now to pick back up with Mr. Johnson.
“About two o’clock I met a train of four wagons and I asked them ‘How far is it to water?’ ‘We have seen none since leaving camp this morning, stranger.’ ‘How far have you come, think you?’ ‘About twelve miles I think. Stranger, how far have you come?’ ‘About the same distance.’ ‘When did you cross any rivers or creeks last?’ I asked. ‘We have seen none for many miles.’ ‘How far from the road were you camped last night?’ I asked. ‘Oh, not far; about forty rods, not more. We turned in on our right and made a high bluff, around the bluff we found both water and grass; you will see our tracks, we have made some deep ones today, stranger.’ ‘Where are you from?’ I asked. ‘We are from Colorado. Where are you from, stranger?’ ‘I am from California.’ ‘What, you all the way from California?’ ‘Yes, all the way.’ ‘That beats the devil. Have you brought that cow all the way from California, stranger?’ ‘No, I did not say that I brought that cow from California, but led her all the way. She has walked all that distance,’ I said. ‘Where are you going to, stranger?’ ‘I am going to Massachusetts.’ ‘Oh, hell! Where are you going, honest?’ said the stranger. ‘Honest, I am going East, to Massachusetts. Where are you going?’ I asked. ‘We are bound to Washington Territory.’ After this conversation we bade goodbye and went on our several ways.
“About six o’clock I came to the tracks made by the teams I had met. I turned in and followed the tracks around the bluff and came to water. Here I stopped and made my camp for the night. I detached the horse from the wagon, removing her harness and let her loose, the cow also. The horse went in for rolling, the cow for grazing. I went gathering sage brush for fuel and having gathered a large pile, I set it on fire, prepared a hot supper and ate it. After supper I brought in my cattle, securing them and gave them their evening meal, made up my bed and lay down to rest.
“As I lay down on my bed my attention was drawn towards my horse. She was looking steadily towards the bluff, and continued to for some time. I looked in that direction but could see nothing; still she kept looking all the same. All at once I saw what had attracted the attention of my horse. It was a herd of deer coming down the bluffs for grass and water. They were not more than twenty rods from us. I did not trouble them, and told them to remain as long as they wished, and they did remain. I did not let my fire go out as I thought there might be something more than deer around.
“It has been my custom at nights to tie my dog to the wagon, since I was so near to losing him when I was traveling among the sheep ranches and was annoyed by coyotes. They were around me continually; I did not know what to do to stop their infernal noise. One morning I was up early and saw one a short distance from me. I set the dog on him and the coyote turned on the dog. I tried to call the dog off, but the little boobee was only the more courageous, and since that time I have been more particular about setting him on to the wild animals.”
Source: The Slower Road