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i 4o My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

that lunatic; well, Bill's the best ladies' packer that ever was, and you bad better leave all your bags to him to arrange." Fearing that "Bill" might be offended if I did not use him in the capacity of a French maid, and having frequently been told of the rapid results of hurt feelings on the part of "Bill," I suavely called him to my side, and telling him of the wonderful reputation which I had heard he enjoyed, I immediately put my wardrobe in his care, and to my infinite surprise the huge backwoodsman measured up to his reputation. Very soon the cavalcade was ready, the rain had ceased to fall in such torrents, the half-misty quality in the air lent a softer beauty to the arid landscape, and a sense of adventure was the finishing touch to our expectations as we started for Elkhorn Ranch. My disappointed friends, Merrifield and Sylvane, said that "they did not believe that Mrs. Douglas would like drivin' with a `shotgun team' much better than ridin' a buckin' bronco, but, of course, if she thought she wanted to go that way, she could." An hour later "Mrs. Douglas" somewhat regretted her choice of progression; true enough, it was a shotgun team attached to that springless wagon in which we sat ! The horses had never been hitched up together before, and their methods of motion were entirely at odds. The cowboy driver, however, managed eventually to get them started, and from that moment our progress, though irrelevant, was rapid beyond words.

We forded the "Little Missouri" River twenty-three times on the way to the ranch-house, and as the banks of the river were extremely steep, it was always a question as to whether we could go fast enough down one bank to get sufficient impetus to enable us to go through the river and up the very steep bank on the other side; so that either coming or going we were in imminent danger of a complete somersault. However, we did accomplish that long, exhausting, springless drive, and gradually

the buttes rose higher and higher around us, the strange forma

tion of the Bad Lands, curious in color, became more and more marked, the cottonwood-trees more plentiful as the river broad

ened out, and suddenly we saw buried amidst the trees on the farther side of one of our fordings the substantially built, coseylooking house called by my brother the Elkhorn Ranch.

In a letter written to my aunt, Mrs. Gracie, from the ranchhouse I say:

"We are having the most delightful time at the Ranch.

The little house is most cosey and comfortable, and Mrs. Mer

rifield had everything so neat and sweet for us, and as she has

a girl to help her, we really do not have to rough it at all.

We all make our beds and do up our rooms religiously, but even

that they would willingly do for us if we would let them. We

have had three cloudless days, the first of which was occupied

in driving the forty miles down here, and a beautiful pictur

esque drive it is, winding in and out through these strange,

bold Buttes, crossing the `Little Missouri' twenty-three times!

We ladies drove, but the men all rode, and very picturesque

they looked filing across the river. We arrived at the Ranch

house at twelve o'clock and ate a splendid dinner of Mrs. Merrifield's preparing, immediately after which we climbed up a Butte and walked to Prairie Dog town and saw the little prairie dogs. We then mounted horses and took a lovely ride, so you may imagine that we slept well.

"The next day we were all on horseback soon after breakfast, Ferris and Merrifield with us, and off we rode; this time with the intention of seeing Merrifield lasso a steer. When we came to a great bunch of cattle, the practised eyes of the two men at once discovered an unbranded heifer, which they immediately decided to lasso and brand. It was very exciting. Merrifield threw the rope, cleverly catching its legs, and then threw the heifer, which was almost the size of a cow, and then Ferris tied another rope around its neck. The ends of the ropes were slipped over the pommels of two ponies who, in the most sensible way, held the heifer while the two men built a little fire and heated the cinch ring with which they branded the creature. It was all intensely picturesque. In the afternoon, we again


The Elkhorn Ranch


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