Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Searching for the Live Stock

When day broke John Mitchell was man enough to meet me as I came out of my tent, and say in what he intended should he a soothing tone:—

"I am willing to admit, lad, that we showed ourselves foolish in not obeying your orders. From now on you can make certain every man jack of us will do whatsoever you say. Now tell us how we had best set off in search of the stock."

"There is no haste. The horse and mules will run with the ponies until they are tired and need food, therefore we may eat our breakfast leisurely. My advice is that the company get under way, moving a few miles across the prairie to the next creek, while all, save those needed to drive the teams, go with me."

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

"But we can't start a single wheel. There is no ox, horse, or mule in the encampment," John Mitchell cried, and then my face flushed with shame because I had forgotten for the instant that we had no means of breaking camp.

There is little need why I should spend many words in telling of what we did during that day. Within an hour we found one of the mules and succeeded in getting hold of his leading rope. Before noon we had overtaken all the cows and eight of the oxen, bringing them back to camp while the wild ponies circled around the prairie within seven or eight miles of us, as if laughing to scorn our poor attempts to catch the horses which they had stolen.

The afternoon was not yet half spent when we succeeded in gathering up all our stock save two horses and two mules, and then I insisted we should go on without them.

"Between here and the Columbia River we shall lose more stock than that," I said, "and if we are to reach the Oregon country before winter sets in, such misadventures as this must not be allowed to delay us."