Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

The Cattle Stampeded Again

Each moment the storm increased, and had I been attending to my duties instead of trying to play the part of cook in order to enjoy a cup of coffee, I would have noticed that the cattle were growing uneasy. After standing with their tails to the storm for a while, they began milling, that is running around in a circle, and by the time I gathered my wits every animal was galloping off across the plain.

Fortunately the horses and mules were properly hobbled, and, in fact, some of the saddle beasts had been brought into the corral formed by the wagons; therefore when John Mitchell would have set off in pursuit of the oxen and cows despite the terrific storm, I insisted that he take such ease in camp as was possible because on the following morning we, mounted, would quickly round up the stampeded cattle.

It was a most dismal night, and for the first time since leaving their homes these people, who were setting their faces toward the Oregon country, had a fair taste of what hardships awaited them.

So furious was the wind that the rain found entrance to every camp and beneath each wagon cover, until beds and bedding were saturated.

Welcome indeed was the morning to my mother and me, for our tent stood in a tiny pond when the day broke, and we waded out to a higher bit of ground, where the gentle summer breeze, now that the storm had cleared away, might dry our water-soaked clothing.

Without waiting for breakfast I saddled Napoleon, calling upon the men to follow me, and within four hours we had rounded up and brought into camp the missing animals.

Then came a hasty meal, and I gave the word to break camp, whereupon John Mitchell reminded me that we were to take in a store of oak and hickory timber for future needs; but I insisted that we push on a short distance, knowing that this wooded country extended ten or twelve miles farther westward, where I hoped to find higher ground, so we might be able to camp with some comfort.