We rested above an hour in the cool shade, while our horses refreshed themselves on the "grama" that grew luxuriantly around. We conversed about the singular region in which we were travelling; singular in its geography, its geology, its botany, and its history; singular in all respects. I am a traveller, as I might say, by profession.
The plain over which we were now travelling, was more than four thousand feet above the level of the sea. Notwithstanding its immense elevation, it was covered with a peculiar kind of grass called grama, which retains its nutritious qualities throughout the whole year. This grass is sometimes cut by the inhabitants, who use for the purpose a hoe.
Madrina, or Bell-mare. Attachment of the Mule illustrated. Best Method of Packing. Hoppling Animals. Selecting Horses and Mules. Grama and bunch Grass. European Saddles. California Saddle. Saddle Wounds. Alkali. Flies. Colic. Rattlesnake Bites. Cures for the Bite. With a train of pack animals properly organized and equipped, a party may travel with much comfort and celerity.
After many long, brooding days of sunshine, when the clean-cut mountains gleamed brilliantly against the sky and the grama grass curled slowly on its stem, the rain wind rose up suddenly out of Papaguería and swooped down upon the desolate town of Bender, whirling a cloud of dust before it; and the inhabitants, man and horse, took to cover.
There was plenty of the "grama" grass growing along the banks of the rivulet, and that with the water was all they cared for to make them contented and happy. Jeanette appeared to be glad that she was no longer among the dark woods, where she had so nearly been torn to pieces by panthers and javalies. Before evening came the boys had finished all the little jobs which had occupied them.
The gray of the grama grass and the bare stretches of alkali shone white in the glare of a sun that swam in a cloudless sky of deepest azure. Except for the men, the cattle, the horses, and the two slow-moving, awkward-looking canvas-covered wagons, there had been no evidence of life on the great plain.
During all his troubles his mother had never forsaken him, and frequently offered him the scanty nourishment of her udder, but he had no appetite and could scarcely raise his eyes to look at her. But time heals all wounds, and within a week he followed his dam back into the hills where grew the succulent grama grass which he loved.
This was the middle fork, down which Shep Thomas had made his triumphal march the year before, and down which Juan Alvarez would undoubtedly march again. Never but once had the sheep been in that broad valley, and the heavy rains had brought out long tufts of grama grass from the bunchy roots along the hillsides.
Now and then, an old bull, on the skirts of the herd, would toss up his shaggy mane, snuff the wind, and strike the ground fiercely with his hoof, evidently labouring under a suspicion that all was not right. The others did not seem to heed these demonstrations, but kept on quietly cropping the luxuriant grama.
After many years of struggle they had at last obtained their legal rights their sheep were up to the ears in grama, eating out the heart of the cow country but Jeff Creede was just over the hill, and the Mexicans were afraid. For years now the huge form of "Grande" had loomed before them whenever they entered that forbidden range, and they had always given way before him.