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|| BOMBAY BRANCH 

OF THE 

§§& Royal Asiatic Society. 


m 


Digitized with finaAk assistance from 





in Montana. 



(y' 


BY 


I. R. 



LOXDON: 

& CO., 13, WATERLOO *PLACE, 

PALL MALL, S.W. 

1887. 


[.All Rights Reserved .] 



LONDON: 

HINTED BY W. H. ALLEN AND CO., 


13 WATERLOO PLACE 


mini in ii mill hi 

00083784 


s.w. 



PREFACE 


This is an age of Emigration. We are sending 
out our sons, and brothers, our cousins, our ' 
friends, and even our ^daughters and sisters, to 
all parts of the world ; or, if we are not yet send- 
'ing them we are debating whether we shall send 
them, and so we begin to feel the want of a kind 
t of emigration catechism; but it is easier to draw 
up the questions for such a catechism than to 
find the proper answers; questions enough there 
are which we are ready to ask of those who have 
gone out. “ What sort of country is it !hat you 
have gone to ? Is it cold or hot—beautiful, or 
. are—healthy or unhealthy ? How do you live 


IV 


PREFACE. 


there ? What do you do ? What do you get to 
eat ? How do you spend your time ? Can you 
get servants, or must you do all the work. your¬ 
self? Can you earn a living? Must you have 
capital to start with, or can you work your way 
up to a livelihood without an allowance from 
home ? What sort of people do you live with ? 
are they all cowboys, or ruf&ans, or desperadoes; 
or are there any neighbours that you would care 
to have as companions, or even to welcome as 
friends? Is the life a very hard one? Do you 
really enjoy it, or do you heartily wish your¬ 
selves at home again ?” There are other still 
more important questions to be asked: “ Does 
the Church do her duty to her children in those 
far-off lands, and minister to them, and provide 
them with all those helps to a good and holy life, 
never more needed than where men are strug¬ 
gling for the very means of existence, and never 
more welcomed than by many an emigrant ?” 
We wisll we could say the Church at home has 
at all risen to the feeling that it is indeed one 
of her highest duties to provide for the spiritual 


PREFACE. 


V 


lieeds of the thousands that leave our shores for 
foreign lands. Certainly no nobler work could 
be found for the brave young hearts and eager 
Spirits of those who leave our English homes, 
ian the ministering to the bands of settlers, and 
|nyone who undertook that work would find more 
van enough to cheer him in brightening, 
trengthening, encouraging, purifying, and ennob- 
ng the hearts and characters of our emigrants, 
f little trace of an answer to this supreme 
uestion, “ What does the Church do for you ? ” 
:an be found in the pages of this little book, it 
|s because no satisfactory answer can be given. 
Do^ the other questions, and to many more 

[ besides, answers will be found in the Letters 
which the book contains. The Letters were 
written to friends at home by a young bride who 
vent out with her husband immediately after 
her marriage. They are a faithful and unvar¬ 
nished Record of a Settler’s Life. We find in 
them a description of the daily record of work. 
There were hardships to bear, and struggles to be 
made. What we should chiefly gather from the 


VI 


PREFACE. 


Letters is that the firmness, and determinationj 
and courage which go to form the English 
character will carry even those who come fror 
the comforts of an English home well througll 
the hardships and the struggles. The life picture^ 
in these pages was certainly not a gloomy one 
There is in it abundance of the charm of beautj 
of country, of genial companionship, % of interest) 
ing novelty of surroundings, of the excitemer 
of adventure, of the keen sense of enjoymenl 
that comes from finding that you are able to d<| 
for yourself what others used to do for youj 
There is much to amuse, and not a little to learr 
from this lady's letters. Even masters of ouj 
public schools may take a warning not to dis¬ 
courage the study of Greek, when they see how a j 
well-worn quotation from Homer Saved one of 
the Settlers from being hung. The mothers of] 
our young girls may be persuaded that there arej 
many more useless, and even harmful, studies for 
their daughters to engage in than the ignoble art 
of cooking. Our young ladies may be persuaded 
that the way to secure woman’s rights does not ; 












J\ Lady’s 

Ranefee Life in .Montana. 

-- 4 - 

V'hat quarter of the globe have not English- 
aen, and even ladies, not only visited, hut lived 
in? So, I must confess, I was hardly prepared 
or the blank astonishment of all my friends, 
rhen I announced my intention of settling on 
he slopes of the Rocky Mountains. After the 
irsifc burst of -astonishment, the natural question 
ras “ Where ? ” But on my replying “ Mon- 
ana,” I found, in most cases, I might just as well 
ave said the Moon, for all the information the 
ame conveyed. 


1 



2 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


It really was a hopeless task to explain it* 
whereabouts, when the only places known ii 
America seem to be New York, Chicago, and th 
Rocky Mountains. “ But, my dear,” one frien 
after another would say, “ are you really goin 
to a place so outlandish that we have not eve 
heard of it ? Are there any white men the: 
(for, of course, there can’t be any women), < 
are there nothing but Indians and grisly bears 
Have the natives houses, or do they live in ten 
and caves, and wear skins? You can’t real 
mean to go there, it’s too dreadful. Poor dea 
you will most assuredly be murdered, carried c 
by Indians, or devoured by wild beasts! ” Ver; 
encouraging, I thought to myself, but repliec 
cheerfully, that I knew very little about it, bi 
would write and tell them when I got there, if 
could get an Indian or a grisly bear to act ; 
postman. 

I need not tell you that I did start in spii 
of it, for here I am, and, as it seems letters c 
leave this barbarous region, I am going to t< 
you all about it. Of course we crossed t] 


A lady’s RANCH® LIFE IN MONTANA. 3 

Atlantic in safety, and of course the captain told 
someone, who told someone else, who told me, 
that it was the worst passage on record. I only 
know it was very rough, and I was very glad 
when, after twelve days, we reached New York. 
Wonderful city, with its Equality and Fraternity, 
fearful streets, elevated railways and gigantic 
hotels. 

Even on the wharf I found myself regarded by 

i 

the Custom House officials with a kind of won¬ 
dering; pity. They seemed to think it their duty 

to fine 1 , out all about me, and enlivened their dis- 

\ 

agreeable task by a brisk conversation. f< Going 
to Montana, I see,”—looking at the labels. 
“ Going on a trip ? Going to live there, per¬ 
haps? Well, I do say.” And at last, when the 
luggage had-been turned upside down, the 
examining official bade me farewell and wished 
me good luck in my new home, as though I 
were going on a forlorn hope to the North 
Pole. 

Leaving New York, we made the usual tour 
to the wonders of Niagara, and so on to 

1 * 



4 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


Chicago. Of course we were assailed by the 
usual army of railway fiends—book, fruit, and 
pea-nut sellers; one of the former saying, 
“ Well, if you don’t want to buy any books, just 
read this; it’s awful good.” Chicago I found 
to be, as they say in the West, “quite a place.” 
Plenty of white men here, at any rate ; and such 
beautiful shops with quite the latest Paris 
fashions. An old friend of Jem’s drove us 
round the boulevards and parks in the neatest 
of stanhopes, with a pair of horses which\ I fell 
quite in love with. And oh! the new racing 
club—an infant Sandown. Such a charming 
place, with its great cool verandah and such a 
lovely ball-room. It made me quite loth to 
leave the city of cattle, cable-cars, and tinned 
meat manufacturers, en route for St. Paul. 

There surely, I thought, there will be Indians 
and mud huts, gamblers and miners in pictu¬ 
resque costumes, desperadoes with silver-mounted 
revolvers and bowie-knives; in short, all the 
accessories of the frontier. Nothing of the 
kind; only Chicago on a smaller scale. Yet 



A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 5 


many people must recollect St. Paul as I had 
imagined it, aud that not so very many years 
ago. But as we took our places on the Northern 
Pacific Pulman car, booked for the Far West, 
thick and fast came visions of buffalo and grisly 
bear, and many a stirring encounter with that 
'‘terror of the West”; in imagination I could 
hear the wild yell as Crow and Piegan, Snake 
and Blackfoot, met in furious onslaught, and 
scalped one another with relentless ferocity. 

“ T ickets, please.” Oh! what a shattering of the 
illusion! Can I really be going to the Far West ? 
Can it really be as wild as my friends pictured it, 
when the journey is so easily accomplished, and 
travelling brought to such a pitch of perfection, 
as regards comfort, as it is on these Pulman 
cars. 

At Dickinson I really did think I was getting 
West when the advent of our train was signalled 
by a salvo of revolver shots from a knot of men 
in broad-brimmed buckskin hats, blue shirts, and 
such funny leather leggings, with leather fringes 
down each side. Jem informed me these were 



6 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

cowboys; and very fine, handsome men some of 
these “ boys ” were; but I should have liked 
them quite as well if they had left those 
horrid “ shooting-irons/’ as they call them, at 
home. After a few hours the train reached 
Minquesville, where I was further surprised by a 
new development of cowboy. The train stopped, 
and in swaggered two men, dressed to the 
highest pitch of cowboy dandyism, accompanied 
by a lady, dressed in a dark travelling suit of 
the latest fashion, while her companions were 
adorned with the usual broad-brimmed white 
buckskin hat, blue shirts, embroidered brown 
velvet coats, a red handkerchief round/ their 
waists, with silver-mounted revolvers stuck in 
them, embroidered buckskin leggings with very 
long fringes and, to complete the equipment, a huge 
pair of silver Mexican spurs. Here, X thought, 
really are a couple of true desperadoes of the 
frontier; but I was quite at a loss to account 
for the presence of the lady, for such she 
evidently was. Had she been travelling in the 
wild West, fallen in love with this bold frontiers- 



A LADt’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 7 

man, and married him ?—for I caught a glimpse 
of a wedding-ring, which I thought looked very 
bright and new. However, while I was lost in 
these speculations the conductor shouted “All 
aboard,” and one of my desperadoes, nodding 
goodnight to his fellow, left the train; nor did 
he fail to fire a parting salute as we left the 
station. I pondered over the lady and the cow¬ 
boy, and at last concluded that they were start¬ 
ing on their wedding tour, and that this was the 
sequel to some romantic story. But I racked 
my bjrains in vain to account for it, till the 
black (porter put up the berths for the night. 

In 'the morning Jem told me he had most 
exciting intelligence, and proceeded to tell me 
that he had learnt, in the smoking-room, the 
story of the cowboy’s bride; but alas! it dis¬ 
pelled all my illusions: she had done no more 
than I had done myself. The two cowboys 
proved to be French noblemen, formerly in the 
French Army, who had married two English 
girls and were now living at their ranche in 
Southern Montana, enjoying the free, wild life 



8 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


in this glorious exhilarating air, and amassing 
fortunes from the increase in their flocks and 
herds. Jem also told me there were several French 
gentlemen married and settled in this part of the 
country. 

By this time the train was entering the mag¬ 
nificent valley of the Yellowstone, and I was well 
content to sit and gaze at the wonderful beauty 
of the scene. The clearness and brightness of 
the atmosphere gave a vividness to everything 
that I had never seen elsewhere. The golden 
yellow of the grass, the bright red of the jbrush 
by the river-side, the blue-black of the masses 
of pine against the snow, last, and perhaps most 
beautiful of all, the dazzling white of the snow- 
mountains, rising up peak above peak into the 
brilliant blue of this Western sky—all this 
formed a picture not to be excelled for brilliancy 
of colouring, and I began to think that this was 
fairyland. Perhaps it is this wonderful bright¬ 
ness of colour, almost as much as the geysers 
and other marvels of this beautiful region, that 
has earned for it the name of “ Wonderland.” 



A lady’s EANOHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 9 


And so we were carried smoothly along the 
blue waters of the Yellowstone, past incipient 
“ cities ” of one “ store ” and a “ saloon;” past 
log-cabins and " corrals,” the mean-looking head¬ 
quarters of great cattle kings, counting their 
cattle by the thousand; past bunches of sleek, 
fat cattle, who lived apparently on air (so 
scanty did the grass appear to my uneducated 

eyes), past an occasional herd .of startled ante- 
* 

lope, until we took our last lingering look at this 
lovely river and struck off across the open prairie 
for the Great Divide between the valleys of the 
Gallatin and Yellowstone. After ascending the 
slopes of the Divide, amidst most lovely scenery, 
we at last entered the Bozeman tunnel; and I 
must confess to an uncomfortable feeling at the 
thought of having the main range of the mighty 
Rockies over my head. But we emerged safely 
at the Bozeman end, and, after admiring the pretty 
little town, with its odd mixture of small wooden 
villas and imposing brick structures, steamed 
slowly out into the famous Gallatin Valley— 
famous at least in Montana and to all who have 



10 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

heard of Montana, and famous to me, for this is 
to be my home, amongst the mountains, the 
cattle, the Indians, and the grisly bears. 

“ Moreland is the next stop,” said the con¬ 
ductor ; so as we approached our destination we 
stood on the platform, between the cars, to see 
what it looked like. A few buildings, but all 
very nicely built, met the eye, placed in the 
midst of a level valley, some eight miles long by 
six wide, surrounded on all sides by mountains— 
a veritable park. A few small white farm-houses 
here and there, and beautiful rivers, with their 
fringes of trees on both sides. “ Prettiest town 
site in Montana, and the choicest tract of land 
in the best valley in the territory,” says Jem 
enthusiastically. “ Jump out, here we are ! ” 

It was Friday evening when we arrived, after 
two and a half days’ journey from St. Paul, and 
we were met at the station, or “ depot,” as it is 
called, by Jem’s brother Frank, with the buggy. 

Mrs. F-, the leader of fashion in Moreland, was 

at the station to welcome us (so there are women 
here!). Jem and I drove down home over ditches 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 11 


and badger-holes, until we came to a large gate, 
which is the entrance into our domain. Down a 
steep hill, like the side of a railway embankment, 
and here we are at the door. The house is really 
pretty; when we have got all the things up, it 
will be lovely. I will give you a thorough de¬ 
scription of it when all is done. 

I bought a sofa, small arm-chair, and music- 
stand at Chicago. Our party consists of our two 

selves, Jem’s brother Frank, his friend B- 

and our domestics ; an old English couple, by 
name Morris, and their boy Johnny, whom Jem 
unearthed in the wilds of Battersea. Mrs. 

M-is very nice and quiet, and a good cook. 

We are living on antelope, wild duck, fish, and 
prairie chicken. 

I spent my first morning unpacking my big 
box. Nothing broken, except one small picture. 
I have been unpacking ever since I arrived, and 
have not a quarter done yet. We have breakfast 
at 7 a.m., luncheon at 1, and so on; Mrs. 

M-cooks, and I lay the table. The boys are 

so pleased with knives and forks again! The 



12 A lady’s RA5CHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


weather is lovely, except in the mornings, when 
we have fires all over the house. On Saturday 
I had a tea-party; Harry, a cousin of Jem’s, and 

Mr. H-, who rode over from his place, twelve 

miles off. 

I think I shall enjoy my life immensely, and 
only wish you could all be here. On Sunday we 
all walked to church, which was held in the 
parlour at the Moreland Hotel. The parson 
gave us a long sermon, and we had the usual 
evening service. The hymns were rather lu¬ 
dicrous ; one woman started them, and the rest 
made a noise. Our walk there was exciting, the 
night being pitch dark, and we had three or four 
streams to cross. I managed to clear them all. 
I have not seen any wild beasts yet, though I’ve 
seen plenty of cowboys. We are only a mile 
from the town (eight houses and an hotel ); but 
only think, in this barbarous region, being only 
a mile from railway station, telegraph, and post- 
office ! It almost reads like the advertisement 
of an English country house. 



A lady’s EANGHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 13 


October 27th. 

I have been busy all this week cleaning and 
dusting the' house. I find there are a good 
many household things to be got, so we are going 
to Bozeman (eighteen miles by road, or three- 
quarters of an hour by train) to get them. The 
drawing-room and bed-room will be as nice and 
pretty as can be wished, with curtains, carpets, &c., 
but the dining-room will have to wait. Jem and 
I made a towel-horse; it looks grand, but he 
hasn’t time for much of that sort of thing. 

One afternoon we drove up to the horse- 
ranche, and saw a band of fifty or sixty 
horses corralled. We were just in time to see 
them all come galloping down from the hills; the 
men got them in very cleverly. I have ridden 
three times on a very quiet mare, Truemaid; 
she is the last Jem broke, just four years old. 
The saddle I got from Griffiths and MaeDougall 
fits her very well. My race-horse, Daisy, came 
back from her trainer’s yesterday. She is a real 



14 A lady’s RANCHE LlfE IN MONTANA. 

beauty, fit to ride in the Park, and very showy. 
I hope I shall be able to use her. Another day 
we rode up to the horse-ranche and saw Jem and 
Frank branding colts. It was most exciting. 
They are driven into the corral, a sort of yard, 
generally round, with a fence seven feet high, 
made of strong poles laid one on top of the other, 
between very strong posts. Then the colts are 
lassoed by the front feet and thrown. One Inan 
jumps on their heads, to keep them down, while 
the other holds their fore-feet off the ground 
with a lasso, and a third brands them. It seems 
such a shame, branding the poor little things, 
and is a great disfigurement afterwards; but, of 
course, it is quite unavoidable, as the horses out 
here all run together in the hills, like New 
Forest or Exmoor ponies. 

All the Englishmen out here have been to 
call. I have had a visitor every day, and some¬ 
times two. Mrs. M-is very willing to work, 

and we get on very well. I work in the house 
all the morning, and am out with Jem or the 
boys all the afternoon; we play whist every 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 15 


evening. The two boys have started on a week’s 
hunt, and hope to bring back no end of game. 
We breakfast on trout and whitefish, which we 
catch every morning, and dine off wild duck, 
teal, and prairie chicken, the latter as good as 
grouse, only bigger. I am writing by a log fire, 
which is too warm, as the sun has come out. 
The weather is perfect, bright sunny days and 
cold nights. I think that the air here is quite 
as good as in Derbyshire, only drier. My piano 
hasn’t come yet, so the drawing-room is left 
undone ; but the photographs and pictures are 
gradually going up, and look well on the red 
paper. There was a ball ten or twelve miles 
from here the other evening; and I heard that 
the dancing Was really not bad. You will hear 
of me going to one soon. 



16 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


November 2nd. 

We went to Bozeman on Tuesday, started at 
10 a.m. and got back at 8.30, the train being 
four hours late owing to a mass of rock having 
fallen on the line. Bozeman is a nice little 
town of about 3,000 inhabitants; there are 
some rather pretty Swiss-looking villas, which 
are the residences of Che principal business men. 
The main street, which is generally six inches 
deep in either dust, mud, or snow, has some good 
brick and stone buildings, and boasts! of two 
villainous hotels, but in the stores ( Angli^e , shops) 
you can get any conceivable thing you want, ex¬ 
cept, perhaps, a Paris bonnet or the last number 
of the Queen. We did our shopping satisfac¬ 
torily. Could anything be nicer than to start 
after breakfast, get through all our shopping, 
and be back again by 5 o’clock ? I felt exactly 
as if we had been up to London and back for the 
day. 

We are having a very pleasant week all to 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 17 

ourselves, as the hoys are away. One day Jem 
and I started at 10 a.m., after my work was 
done, to hunt for cattle. I rode Daisy ; she is 
perfect. Jem has given her to me as a wedding 
present; and no one else is ever to ride her. 

" She is very showy, and “ high lifed,” nearly 
thoroughbred, or “ gently raised,” as they call 
it. Some day I may get to riding “ bronchos,” 
i.e. native horses, which run wild in the 
hills till they are old enough to break. We 
did not find the cattle, but had a lovely ride 
of twenty miles. We had coffee, bread and 
butter, and buffalo-berry jelly (which is as good 
as red currant), at a small ranche, and all sat 
down together with the men. The women waited 
on us; they were very polite to me, but seemed 
to look on me as a kind of wild animal. We got 

back in time for 5 o’clock tea. Mrs. M-is not 

strong, but gets on very well. I do all the 
housemaiding and parlourmaiding. 


2 



18 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


November 10th. 

I really must tell you about our lady 
callers, for you will have found out by this time 
that the grisly bears and the Indians are all a 
myth, that we are living quite a humdrum exis¬ 
tence in the midst of the highest civilization, and 
that life in the Far West at the present day is 
by no means a succession of stirring adventures 
by flood and field. My first caller was the lady 
(they are all ladies out here) who supplies us 
with butter. She came down about 11 o’clock 
one morning with some butter, and I received 
her in the kitchen, where we conversed amicably 
until she took her departure. This, as we after¬ 
wards learnt, gave dire oflence. It was a bond 
fide morning call, and I ought to have received 
her ladyship in the “ parlour ” with my best com¬ 
pany manners. 

Our next callers arrived one afternoon in a 
buggy; I basely fled, and left Jem to do the 
honours. As he had not much cultivated the 



A LADl’S RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 19 

acquaintance of the softre sex out here, he hadn’t 
the least idea who they were. However, he 
asked them to come in and sit down, which they 
did side by side on two chairs, with their hacks 
against the wall; they were got up, as he said, 
“ quite regardless ° in feathers and war-paint 
—literally the latter. Imagine a countenance, to 
which the sun of Montana had already been 
kind, plentifully smeared with rouge and pearl- 
powder. I find this is a common practice out 
here, learned, I suppose, from the Indians. On 
leaving they left cards for me in the most ortho¬ 
dox style, and we discovered that they repre¬ 
sented the creme de la creme of the society of 
the neighbourhood. 

Jem says he is afraid I shall not find any of 
my own sex very congenial companions—in fact, 
very much the reverse—but in time, perhaps, the 
country may get more thickly settled with 
English people, or a better class of Americans 
from the older States. 

We have made some feeble attempts to get up 
lawn tennis and cricket among the English, but 

2 * 



20 A LADT’s RANCHE LIFE! IN MONTANA. 


so far without much success. As they say, “A 
man doesn’t want to hunt for exercise in this 
country, where he is hard at work from morn till 
dewy eve.” It seems ludicrous to look hack on 
English life, and the oft-recurring question 
“ What shall we do to-day ? ” when here it is not 
a question of “ What shall we do ? ” but “ How 
in the world shall we find time to do it all ? ” 

. Two afternoons we spent in buffalo-berrying and 
shooting combined. The novel way of picking 
this fruit is to cut down huge branches from the 
bushes, and then beat them with a stick; the 
berries shower down into a sheet, spread out on 
the ground. In this way we soon gather all we 
want. Every now and then prairie chicken or 
grouse make their appearance upon the scene, or 
a duck goes down upon the pool close by, and a 
rush is made for the gun ; so that the entertain¬ 
ment is of a varied nature. 

My drawing-room is lovely. I have put up the 
four red curtains on each side of the two side 
windows, and the looking-glass between, photo¬ 
graph frames and writing-table underneath. The 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 21 


other outside wall has one window with red 
curtains. I will finish the description when my 
piano comes, as the room is not a quarter done 
yet. Now for the wild beasts! just in from a 
walk and I saw a white weasel, a chip monk, a 
pretty little beast with black and white stripes 
down its back (something between a squirrel and 
a rat), and a white-tailed deer. 


November 23rd. 

Last week Jem and I started at 8 o’clock to 
ride to Three Forks (a ranche belonging to some 
English friends), to buy horses for the Eastern 
market. It was a ride of about 12 miles. When 
we were half-way there, we met one of the 
owners of the ranche coming to see us; he 
stopped and made us promise to stay the night. 



22 A lady’s E AN CHE LIFE IN‘MONTANA. 

while he went on to our place to fetch our things. 
Three Porks is a nice place, and the house very 
comfortably furnished. As it was being cleaned, 
we were quartered at the hotel close by. After 
supper we came into the “ parlour ” and found 
half the population, working men and all, 
assembled to inspect the “ stranger.” The only 
female in the room immediately undertook to 
introduce me all round, which appears to be the 
custom out here; the ceremony being effected by 
a general hand-shaking with the accompanying 
expression, “ Glad to make your acquaintance, 
Ma’am.” 

We rode home next morning through the foot¬ 
hills. The ground was, of course, frozen as hard 
as a brick, so it was not very good “going.” It 
never is out here, for that matter, as the ground 
is either as hard as a rock from frost or drought, 
or else covered with snow, or sticky as glue from 
wet. The hills were all covered with dry tufts of 
yellow-looking grass; most unappetizing fodder, I 
should think ; but stock live and thrive on it all 
the winter, pawing and rooting through the light 



A lady’s RANCJHE LIFE in MONTANA. 28 

snow. Jem says it is cured by the sun as it 
stands, in July, and is really like the very best 
hay, preserved with all the juices in it. 

When we got back, we found the boys had 
come home from their hunt, with a waggon-load 
of sage hens and small game, but alas! no elk or 
deer to show for their pains. 

We are beginning the real cold weather now. 
Everything freezes in the house at night. The 
bread is like a cannon ball, meat and everything 
else in the same condition, and the milk a block 
of ice. In our bed-room, though we had a fire in 
the room over night, we found the water in the 
bath frozen solid to the bottom. I rode in the 
middle of the day and did not feel the cold in the 
least; though Jem’s beard and moustache were 
a mass of ice, and icicles hung from our horses’ 
noses, while their bodies were covered with frost. 
I suppose one does not feel the cold because the 
air is so dry at this altitude, 3,000 feet above the 
level of the sea; also because there is no wind, 
and the sun is always bright. Yesterday the 
thermometer was 12 deg. below zero at noon, and 



24 A lady’s RANOHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


yet I didn’t think it was nearly so cold as it is 
when we have 10 degs. of frost at home. This 
“ storm,” as they call the spell of cold weather, 
lasted about 10 days ; the thermometer at night 
going down to 30 below zero. 

To-day the “ Chinook ” wind is blowing, the 
roofs are dripping, the birds twittering and splash¬ 
ing in the paddles, horses galloping about, 
squealing and kicking up their heels; we have 
got all the windows open, and it is like spring. 
This Chinook wind is the warm current of air, 
which comes roaring, salt laden from the Pacific, 
melting the snow and changing the depth of 
winter into spring in a few hours. It is the 
stockman’s best friend, and enables his stock to 
withstand the rigours of winter without shelter 
and with no food, except what nature provides in 
the shape of the dried grasses in the hills. 

The thaw brought us three visitors, English¬ 
men, who rode over to lunch. Of course we 
were very glad to see them, and it felt very home¬ 
like. However, we were suddenly reminded of 
where we were, by hearing the harsh notes of 



A lady’s RANCH® LIFE IN MONTANA. 25 


wild geese flying over the house, and made a rush 
for the rifles ; a volley resulting in the death of 
one goose, which came down with a tremendous 
thud. A great big brown Canada goose, weigh¬ 
ing nearly 20 lbs. 


December 2nd. 

Since the thaw, I have been almost living in 
the saddle, riding about with Jem, hunting for 
two very valuable well-bred mares, which have 
disappeared. I have been over and through the 
most awful places; quaking bogs, wide rivers, 
very rapid and almost deep enough to swim a 
horse, and through brush which nearly drags one 
off one’s horse. The marvel is that I’m alive to 
tell the tale. The worst of it is, we have not 
found the mares ; and on arriving home, there was 



26 A lady’s RAN oh E LIFE IN MONTANA. 


a report that two noted horse-thieves had been 
found, camping in the brush, about a mile from 
here, and that the man, who saw them, had pulled 
his six-shooter on them, but that they had dis¬ 
appeared in the brush. If they have taken our 
mares and any others have gone from near here, 
I suppose a posse of men will pursue them and 
there will be a fight, and the attendance of 
“ Judge Lynch ” will be requested. 

They are very much “ down ” on horse-thieves. 
Of course I am very sorry for the poor men, hut 
horse-stealing seems to he on the increase and 
must be put down. It is so easy for the thieves 
to get away with their plunder in this country. 
Jem says, last year a posse of men, well armed, 
pursued a gang of horse-thieves, and, after a 
pitched battle, were beaten off, and the thieves 
remained masters of the field. Perhaps it is not 
so civilized out here after all. 

To return to peaceful subjects. You will 
wonder, perhaps, what we bum out here. There 
are any amount of cotton-wood trees on our 
ranche, and the other day we had the steam saw 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 27 


down here, and sawed up enough to last the whole 
winter. We have such glorious fires, with great 
logs three and a half feet long, and as big round 
as a man’s body, piled half-way up the chimneys. 
There are only two rooms with big fire-places, 
the drawing-room and Jem’s den. All the other 
rooms are heated with stoves, and it almost 
keeps one man busy, sawing and splitting billets 
of wood for them. 

While they were all busy with the steam saw, 
I got on Daisy and rode round to see that all 
the young stock and “ bonny brood-mares ” were 
safe. We keep all our best horses close to the 
ranche for fear of horse-thieves, and I must con¬ 
fess I was in terror, all the time I was out, of 
meeting some of these gentry, after the report 
we had heard. Instead of gates out here, they 
generally have bars, which you have to let down; 
and as I could not get off, I amused myself with 
letting down the top bar and jumping the 
balance, like the " heave gates ” in Sussex. 
Daisy jumped very well indeed. I should like to 
ride her out hunting at home. All the horses 



28 a lady’s banche life in Montana. 


were safe; my ride was most enjoyable, and I 
hope, after a time, to become an accomplished 
stock-woman. 

In the evening as we sat round the fire—the 
boys smoking their pipes—Frank alluded to the 
loss of the two mares, which have never yet been 
found. I fear they never will be. He said he 
thought it was a mistake to keep good stock 
under fence, as these horse-thieves know exactly 
where to find them. He told a story of an 
expert horse-thief who came to a man who had 
an extra good lot of horses out in the hills, 
and warned him, in a confidential way, that 
there were horse-thieves about, adding, “ If I 
were you, I should bring all my horses in and 
keep them in a corral at night.” The unsus¬ 
pecting owner acted on this advice. The next 
night the horse-thieves came, let down the bars, 
and drove off the whole lot, no doubt feeling 
much obliged to the owner for gathering the 
band for them. 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 29 


December 5th. 

I have been experimenting in cooking lately, 
as there is no knowing what may happen in a 
country where servants are so few and far be¬ 
tween, and so very independent. I made a lot 
of those Rock Cakes which I learnt to make at 
South Kensington. The boys gobbled them up 
in no time. My next venture was pancakes; 
and the crowning success, ox-foot jelly. We got 
the feet for this from a “ beef ” which we killed 
the other day. This is our winter supply of 
beef. Just fancy, in England, getting a whole 
bullock at a time! Jem wanted to hang it up 
on a tree just in front of the drawing-room 
window, saying, “it would be handy when we 
wanted a steak”; but on this I had to put my 
veto. Really one could not have that object 
always in front of one’s eyes, and watch it dis¬ 
appearing during the winter. You see it will 
freeze now and keep till spring, and be cut up as 
we want it. Beef brings me to potatoes. Mon- 



30 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


tana produces the best in the world; so floury, 
and the size astounding; some of them weigh 
four pounds apiece, and one is enough for four 
people. 


December 9th. 

Another cold spell set in yesterday and the 
cold is intense. I like it, and find I can stand 
it much better than the men; while they are 
frozen, I am comparatively warm. 

We have been living, until the last few days, on 
baking-powder bread, but everyone told us it was 

unwholesome; so the other day Mrs. M- 

went to a neighbour’s house to learn how to 
make yeast. Her first batch of yeast bread was 
like a lump of lead, and nearly black ; so I tried 
my hand. My bread was white, and compara¬ 
tively light. Last night I made a lemon pudding 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 31 


for dinner. It came out a most beautiful mould; 
not a bit heavy. We get plenty of milk and 
cream from our one cow, but now go without 
butter as it is so expensive to buy. Game and 
meat we bake in our American cooking-stove, 
which does them very well. I always make the 
puddings in the morning, so as to have them 
ready by dinner-time. 

You ask about our domestics. Mrs. M-is 

tolerably cheerful and hard-working. M-is 

slow, but always seems to be pottering about 
doing something; and Johnnie is useful in odd 
jobs, cleaning knives, boots, &e. On the whole, 
considering they come from the slums of London, 
and how little we knew about them, they have 
turned out better than could have been expected. 

Frank and I always wash up after luncheon and 

dinner, as Mrs. M-never gets the things as 

clean as she might do. They always put soap in 
the water to wash dishes, &c., out here, which was 
a novelty to me; however, Frank had learned 
that in his bachelor days, and put me up to it. 



32 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


December 23rd. 

Since I last wrote we have had our first heavy 
snowfall to a depth of from eighteen to twenty 
inches; it is hard on the stock out of doors, and 
a great plague to me indoors, as the house gets 
so dirty; and, to make matters worse, Mrs. 

M-has got a bad foot, and is hors de combat, 

and so I have to do everything. Luckily, as it is 
snowing so hard, the men can’t go out much, so 
they all help me. Frank is a capital cook, and 
helps me a great deal. 

Our Christmas party has had to be put off—a 
great disappointment, as it is an engagement of a 
year’s standing. Some of the Englishmen from 
Three Forks were coming, but the storm is so 
bad that they could not easily get here. The 
Christmas pudding is achieved — a great 
triumph, as we all had a hand in it. Frank and 
I cut up the suet, and we all amused ourselves 
one evening stoning the raisins; I stirred all the 
ingredients up in a large tin basin, and it smells 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 33 


quite the proper thing. Frank has just come 
running in, and flourished a huge piece of beef 
in my face with great glee. It is the Christmas 
sirloin which he and Jem have just sawn out of 
the frozen carcass, which I mentioned to you 
before. 


December 30th. 

e Before I can begin to write this letter the ink 
must be put down by the fire to thaw out, as it is 
frozen solid. I ’m getting quite used to the 
water freezing in my basin while I’m washing 
my hands, and the towels freezing stiff before I 
can dry them! Christmas-day was lovely. I tried 
walking in snow up to my knees, but stuck at last 
in a drift, and had to be ignominiously pulled 

3 



34 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


out by main force. In tbe evening, if our party 
was not large, it was very merry. Tbe sirloin was 
pronounced first-rate, and equal to the very best 
English beef; the pudding was a great success, 
light, but no crumbling, and we lit it up in due 
form. We toasted our absent friends in lager 
beer, and enjoyed ourselves generally. We had 
all donned our best bibs and tuckers in honour 
of the occasion, and at last retired to the 
drawing-room, where I played the accompani¬ 
ments to hunting songs, till everyone was hoarse. 
Then we fell upon Frank to tell his famous 
hanging story, which he did, after much pressing, 
to this effect:— 

A few years ago, he went in the autumn to 
Oregon, to buy a large drove of horses to drive 
to Montana for sale; but on arriving there, 
he found the prices too high to justify the invest¬ 
ment, so the enterprise was abandoned. He 
knocked about there for some months, and made 
the acquaintance of certain famous frontier charac¬ 
ters, more adventurous than respectable. Amongst 
others the famous Hank Vaughan, who fought a 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 85 

desperate duel, in which the combatants clasped 
their left hands, and emptied their six shooters. 
Both men fell, but, marvellous to relate, both 
recovered. 

However, to return to Frank’s adventures. He 
was away from stores and civilization a good 
deal: at one time with the Umatilla Indians, and 
at another in mining camps in the mountains, 
and so gradually his appearance resembled that of 
a Western desperado, or “ bad man/’ much more 
than an Oxford graduate. In the spring, he 
started on horseback for Montana. Unfortu¬ 
nately for him, as it eventually turned out, on the 
same day, from the same place, and on a horse of 
the same colour, started a well-known desperado, 
who had robbed and murdered a man somewhere 
close by. The murderer travelled fast—naturally; 
so did Frank, for some reason or another, and 
both being well mounted, they made about the 
same distances each day. 

Meanwhile a description of the murderer had 
been sent forward, and the Sheriff started, 
from some point down the trail, to intercept 

3 * 



36 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

him. Early one morning Sheriff and murderer 
met. 

“ Throw up your hands," shouted the Sheriff. 

“ Read your warrant," was the murderer’s cool 
reply. 

As the unfortunate Sheriff lowered his pistol to 
draw the warrant from his pocket, quick as a 
flash the murderer shot him dead, and galloped 
off. 

For some days Frank, quite unconscious of the 
double tragedy that had been enacted, pursued 
the same route as the murderer. At one place 
they both exchanged their tired horses for fresh 
ones. Soon after this they must have taken 
different routes, and Frank arrived at a noted 
mining city. Strolling through the town, he was 
pointed out to the Sheriff as the Oregon mur¬ 
derer. He had sold or lost his revolver, and the 
empty scabbard hung at his belt. The Sheriff 
observing this, and knowing the desperate cha¬ 
racter of the man for whom Frank was mistaken, 
supposed he had his pistol concealed, and ready 
j for immediate use. Consequently he deemed, I 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 37 


suppose, discretion the better part of valour, and 
went off in search of the Deputy-Sheriff to make 
the arrest. 

Meanwhile the pseudo murderer mounted his 
horse, and cantered gaily along on his journey. 
After riding some miles, he was suddenly aware 
of a horse galloping rapidly up behind him, and 
heard a shout: 

“ Throw up your hands! ** 

Not being of a nervous disposition, he treated 
the summons as a joke, and commenced some 
jocular reply, which was rudely cut short by the 
ugly sight of a pistol pointed at his head; 
whereupon he hastily did as he was bid, and 
threw up his hands. The next second he dropped 
his right hand, intending to produce his empty 
scabbard as a proof of being unarmed, which ill- 
advised movement nearly cost him his life. In 
fact, after his arrest the Deputy-Sheriff told him 
that it was little short of a miracle that he did 
not instantly shoot him, when he dropped his 
hand, believing him, of course, to be a desperate 
character, and that he had dropped his hand to 



38 A LADt’s RANCHL LIFE IN MONTANA. 


seize the pistol, which is usually carried in the 
scabbard on the belt round the man’s Waist. 

Frank’s next move was to ask the Sheriff to 
read his warrant; which he did, with his eye 
and pistol on Frank ; giving the warrant extem¬ 
pore without running his eye over the document. 
He had already heard of the fate of the former 
Sheriff, and did not intend to be caught by the 
same manoeuvre. Frank then quietly gave him¬ 
self up, at the same time asserting his innocence. 
The Sheriff then proceeded to handcuff him and 
turned the horses’ heads towards the town. 

On the way they stopped at a “ cow ” camp, 
where there were several of the boys. These 
learnt the supposed crime of the prisoner. With¬ 
out more ado, they decided to constitute them¬ 
selves judge, jury, and executioner; the insecurity 
of Western prisons having been so often demon¬ 
strated, it is not surprising that men often want 
to take the law into their own hands in the case 
of a desperate character. In vain Frank chaffed, 
stormed, and expostulated in turn; at last he 
said, if they would question him, they would 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 39 


find he was not, and could not possibly be the 
man they took him for. They seemed to be 
struck with the idea that it would be rather good 
fun to cross-examine the prisoner, and a well- 
educated man promptly accepted the rdle of 
counsel for the prosecution. 

“ Where were you in ’81 ? ” 

“ I was in Canada.” 

“ Where were you in *80 ? ” 

“ I was in Montana.” 

Our real murderer, an uneducated ruffian, had 
come from Texas, and had honoured Oregon ever 
since. Something of his history was probably 
known to the jury. 

“ Where were you in 79 ? ” 

“I was at the University at Oxford.” 

A derisive cheer followed this announcement. 

“You at a University, a hard-looking citizen 
like you! Anything else ? Tell that to th e 
marines” (or whatever represents that useful 
body in the West). 

"Hard-looking citizen or not,” said Frank, 
boldly, “I tell you I was there.’* 



40 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

A bright idea seemed to strike the counsel for 
the prosecution. 

"Well,” he said; "if you were at any 
university you must have learnt something. 
What books did you read ? ” 

“ Oh,” said Frank, feeling a love for the names 
of those authors which had never before inspired 
him, "Livy, Virgil, Homer, Aeschylus, Euri¬ 
pides, and, and-” 

Looks were exchanged, and our cowboy 
friends began to think that there might be some 
mistake. 

" Quote some Latin,” said the counsel for the 
prosecution, “ and you are a free man.” 

"Propria quaemaribus, Uokv<j>\ourfioio 0aX.ao-cn?s.’’ 

Never did the words sound so sweet to human 
ear. Out of the recesses of his memory this 
was all he could drag to light at the moment. 
But that was enough. Handcuffs off, apology 
from the Sheriff, drinks all round; and once, at 
any rate, in the annals of history, an Oxford 
education had proved of value in the Rocky 
Mountains. This, roughly, as far as I can remem- 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 41 


ber, was Frank’s story, and I think you will 
acknowledge that it was a strange experience 
enough. By this time the huge Yule log was 
nearly reduced to ashes, the clock had chimed 
the small hours more than once, so we reluctantly 
brought our first Christmas in the Rockies to a 
close. I went to bed to dream that a hoarse 
voice was ordering me to throw up my hands, 
but they remained glued to my side. Next that 
*' the rope was already round my neck, and I was 
ordered, on pain of instant death, to quote a 
page of Racine, which, needless to say, memory 
refused to recall. 

The next morning the cold was simply fearful. 
Morris informed Jem “ that it was pretty sharp 
this morning.” Pretty sharp ! I should think it 
was. The thermometer registered 59° below zero, 
or 91° of frost, and your phlegmatic Englishman 
opines that “ it is pretty sharp.” As for me, I 
tried to do some house-cleaning, and got hotache 
in my hands whenever I moved away from the 

fire. Mrs. M-wisely stayed in bed and left 

me to manage as best I could. The clock was 



42 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE in MONTANA. 


frozen on Christmas night, and stopped. Now, 
as I write this, the Chinook wind is blowing and 
■ it is as mild as spring. 


January 4th. 

Yon say my letters don’t come very regularly. 
I write every week ; but we. often don’t send to 
the post-office for days at a time during a cold 

spell. Mrs. M-has recovered, and she and 

I between us have got the house thoroughly 
cleaned; it smells so fresh and nice. I have 
been staining the floor of our little dressing-room, 
and putting up red curtains; it looks very cosy. 
The Chinook is still roaring away, and the snow 
going rapidly, the air is so soft and delicious. 
When I was out the other day I observed mil¬ 
lions of little black insects on the snow; so when 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 48 


I got home I suggested that the Chinook brought 
these insects, and that they devoured the snow, 
which accounted for its disappearance. This 
observation on natural history was not received 
with the respect which its originality deserved. 

Mrs. F-- lent me a whole heap of books the 

other day, but I’ve not much time for reading. 
Frank and I have gone in for a course of Shake¬ 
speare this winter, whom we cannot make Jem 
appreciate; he still sticks to his Tennyson, and 
such lighter stuff. 

The other day a beautiful gilt-edged card came 
by post, which proved to be an invitation to a 
bachelor’s ball in Bozeman; the committee of 
management consisting of all our tradespeople; 
I don’t think we shall go, but it is kind of them 
to ask us. Jem says that the usual practice with 
regard to balls is, for every bachelor for miles 
round to engage “his girl” for the evening. 
He has to drive her to the ball, dance with her 
all the evening, provide her with supper, and 
drive her home afterwards. 



44 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


January 20th. 

We are rejoicing in 'another cold spell and a 
very heavy snowfall; as the old snow had not 
half melted when the fresh fall came, the snow 
is about two feet deep. To add to our misery, 
everyone in the house, except me, is suffering 
from what they call mountain fever. I have 
doctored them all out of my medicine chest, and 
hope they will soon recover. 

Last time I went out, Jem took his gun and 
we went scrambling about in the deep snow, 
hunting for game; but only got a pheasant (some¬ 
thing resembling a grouse more than a pheasant, 
only its meat is white when cooked) and a couple 
of rabbits. Suddenly Jem stopped and told me 
to come up quickly; when I saw a large grey 
wolf close to us, slinking away as fast as he could. 
He looked an awful coward, and much afraid of 
us. These large grey wolves are luckily rare, as 
they do a great deal of damage amongst young 
colts and calves. Government pays a bounty of, I 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 45 

think, ten shillings a head for their destruction. 
This is the first wild animal I’ve seen, except 
antelope and white-tailed deer. I’m afraid there 
are no bears about here. 


January 26th. 

This week we made a huge snowball to repre¬ 
sent wickets, and made snow cricket-balls, as 
hard as a brick, and us'ed my tennis racquet as a 
bat. Of course, we could not move about much, 
as the snow was so deep; still it was pretty good 
fun. Amusement is rather scarce just now, as 
the snow is so deep, and the cold too great to 
.allow of riding or driving. 

I’ve been trying to instil tidiness and cleanli¬ 
ness into Mrs. M-. She is very willing, but 

very dirty and untidy. One advantage of this 
couple is that they have been used to such 



46 A lady’s RANCHE RIFE IN MONTANA. 

poverty that they don’t expect much, which is 
just as well out here. Still, I hope some day 
to be able to have rather a better class of people. 
We had pancakes made with snow the other day, 
instead of eggs; Jem pronounced them “ rip¬ 
ping.” I had heard of people making them in 
Russia with snow, and wanted to try them. 

It’s a great shame the way some people 
neglect their cattle out here. Those which 
are right back in the hills where the grass 
is good do well enough; but those which 
are down among the settlements, where feed 
is so scarce, ought to be fed. A small 
bunch of all ages, from a six months’ calf to 
very old cows, comes past here every day. They 
make furious attacks on our hay corral; even 
barbed wire hardly stops them, and they get 
terribly cut trying to get through. I feel very 
sorry for them, but of course we can’t feed them, 
as all the hay is wanted for our horses. What 
these cattle live on is a mystery. Certainly they 
pick over the Utter which is thrown out of our 
stable; that and dry twigs is all they can 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 47 


possibly get. It will be interesting to watch if 
they get through the winter. If they do, I’m sure 
no one need ever be afraid of cattle not making 
their own living out here all the year round. 

I saw in the Field the other day, that an 
English farmer had got three weeks’ imprison¬ 
ment for starving a cow. I shrewdly suspect 
that a good many Montana cattle-men would 
spend their whole lives in prison at that rate. 


January 81st. 

The Morrises are getting very independent 
and troublesome; I can hardly get any work out 

of Mrs. M-, and 1 expect we shall have to 

part with them.' They are talking of going, and 
I for one shan’t miss them; I’ve had to show 
Mrs. M-- how to do everything, and generally 



48 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

done the cooking myself. Only fancy, Mrs. 

E- asked them to tea with her. Ho# can 

anyone keep servants in their place, when the 
people, whom we associate with, invite them to 
their houses as equals ? 

We had a delicious ride the other day. The 
weather has changed since I last wrote, and the 
snow has all gone. Jem went to buy hay, and 
we rode all along by the river, jumping several 
fences. It was really good going, and reminded 
one of riding over the old English pastures. I 
listened to Jem bargaining, and felt glad I don’t 
have anything of that kind to do. The people 
are so independent, and seem as if they would 
sooner keep what they have to sell, for ever, than 
take a penny less than they ask. 

They generally put the price up the moment 
anyone comes to buy; then when the intending 
purchaser goes - away disgusted, they complain 
that they can’t sell anything, and that there is no 
money in the country. And yet they would act 
in exactly the same way if another purchaser 
came the next day. 



A lady’s RANCBE LIFE IN MONTANA. 49 


Some Englishmen, who are feeding about 300 
pigs on their ranche near here, are coming down 
with a pig for us to-day, so we shall be well off 
for meat. The bullock we killed in November 
isn’t nearly finished yet, so it has held out well. 
I think it is a great advantage living in a 
country where you can freeze your meat, and 
let it hang until you want it. With regard to 
the beef, Jem affords us a good deal of amusement. 
If a cold spell comes, he’s miserable because it is 
so hard on the horses ; if a chinook comes, he’s in 
a state of mind about the beef for fear it should 
go bad. So far, there seems to be no fear of that, 
it takes a long time to thaw out. 

To-day is the first day I’ve seen real mud 
since I’ve been here, it seems quite home-like ; 
which reminds one of the British tar, who, on 
returning to London from the Mediterranean, 
exclaimed, “ No more of your confounded blue 
skies, here’s a jolly old English fog.” 

All our young colts have been weaned., and 
have been kept up in the yard for the last few 
weeks; they are doing well, and it is a great 

4 



50 A lady’s BANCHE LIEE IN MONTANA. 


amusement to me to pet and gentle them. The 
mischievous little wretches are always slipping 
out, and getting’back to their mothers; so we 
have to be very careful to keep the yard gate 
shut. 


February 8th. 

As we were riding up to town the other day, 
we saw a waggon and horses running away; so 
off we went as hard as we could, plunging 
through snowdrifts, and stumbling into badger- 
holes covered by the snow, to head them. After 
circling them round a little while, we managed 
to stop them. Daisy nearly ran away with me, 
under the impression that she was running a 
race. After waiting some time, a very fat old 
man came waddling and puffing through the 



A LADY’S KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 51 


snow to claim his conveyance, and was profuse in 
his thanks. 

I wonder there are not more runaways; they 
are always leaving their horses standing, while 
they go into the saloon—or bar, as we should call 
it—and as they have no regular cart-horses, but 
all rather light, well-bred, high-lifed horses, it is 
surprising that they stand as well as they do. 

I’ve been occupying myself with dressmaking 
this week, turning and altering some old things,- 
to wear when I J m working in the mornings. 


February 22nd. 

All this week the weather has been delicious; 
we’ve had no fires in the house until the evening, 
and now there are seven inches of snow. It is 

4 * 



52 a - lady’s ranche life in Montana. 


snowing hard, and there is no sign of its 
stopping. 

The other day I went with Jem and Prank in 
the hay-rack to get a load of hay, from a stack 
about two miles from here. Going there I was 
nearly shaken to death. I do think a hay-rack 
is the roughest conveyance ever invented. While 
they were loading up, I lay on the haystack; it 
smelt delicious, like new-mown hay, and the 
sun was so warm, that I only had to close 
my eyes to imagine I was lying on a 
haycock in the middle of summer. On the way 
back we got a good many prairie-chicken. They 
are not the least suspicious of a waggon, though 
quite unapproachable on foot now. Prank missed 
one sitting on the top of a very high tree, and it 
actually sat there waiting to be shot at ’again, 
apparently quite innocent of where the shot 
came from. 

A very valuable colt was running in the yard 
the other day, when the stupid little thing jumped 
a high half door into the stables and fell, dis¬ 
locating its knee. None of the men could pull it in 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 58 


again, so they telegraphed for the doctor from 
Three Porks; he came driving at full speed and 
got here at six o’clock, and quickly put the poor 
■ little fellow right again, bandaging the knee with 
plaster-of-paris. We made the doctor stop for 
dinner, but he would not stay the night; he seems 
a very clever man to talk to, a Canadian, but likes 
to be thought an American. He is very well off, 
and has made every penny himself. I don’t think 
I should mind being doctored by him, he is so 
pleasant. 

On Friday, Jem and I rode nearly all day, look¬ 
ing for two mares, which had strayed. We went 
up into the hills. It is the first time I have been 
there. No one can imagine how lovely it is 
until they have been there; so free and such 
lovely air; any number of horses, some gentle, 
some wild. We saw any amount of the Com¬ 
pany’s horses, and Jem was delighted to see them 
looking so fat and well, though how they live 
is a marvel to me. The snow is still deep, but in 
places there are little bare patches with short 
brown grass on them (buffalo-grass Jem calls it). 



54 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


which is supposed to be such wonderful stuff, and 
it must be, or they could not do so well on it. 

The range is made up of beautiful deep valleys 
with streams of clear water always running; then 
flat plains, then more hills and high mountains 
beyond. When we were up there, we saw a jack 
rabbit (just like a Scotch hare, all white), and 
some antelope. We saw no traces of our two 
mares, but the boys found them yesterday. 


March 1st. 

I have been out very little lately, except to go 
for hay in the waggon, as the ground is frightful 
with mud and water. One day this week I went 
out to see what Jem calls Sunday-school, which 
consists in putting a saddle on all the yearlings. 



A LADY’S BAN CHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 55 


and making Johnny ride them. One little wretch 
began to buck, sent Johnny off, and kicked him 
as she ran away. I think the boy will ride well 
some day, as he stuck on for two or three jumps. 
Then Jem got on, and there was no end of a scene; 
the colt bucking and bawling all round the yard, 
and doing her best to get him off; but, of course, 
he was too heavy for her to buck very hard. Then 
Frank came and rode one; and so they went on 
for about an hour. The way these horses bawl 
out here is most extraordinary; just like a cow or 
a calf,—it does sound so wicked. 

Our hens are beginning to lay well; we have 
just built a capital hen-house of logs, laid One on 
top of the other, with the chinks filled up with 
mortar; so 1 hope we shall get some chickens 
soon, when the warm weather comes. Our stock 
of poultry consists of about thirty or forty common 
barn-door fowls. The skunks and coyotes rather 
interfere with the increase of the fowl population: 
still I hope we may do pretty well with the 
Chickens—which is my department—as Jem says 
this is a very good chicken ranche. The birds get 



56 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


their own living all the summer in the brush, and 
moreover the brush protects them from the large 
hawks, which are very destructive to chickens 
on the open prairie. 

I think I told you that our ranche was down 
on the river bottom, all amongst the trees and 
brush. This country is quite destitute of such 
ornaments, except on the river bottoms, though 
the high mountains are covered with a dense 
growth of pines. 

The worst of chicken-farming here is, that in 
summer there is a glut of eggs, when they only 
fetch about sixpence a dozen, and are hard to sell 
even at that price, and the winters are, of course, 
too cold-to allow hens to lay at all. However, 
eggs will be very useful in summer, when it is 
most difficult to have any fresh meat, as it will 
not keep more than a day or two, and out here 
you have to get such a quantity at a time. It 
will be nice here in summer when all the trees 
are out, and if we can make a lawn round the 
house it will be very pretty. present I’m 
afraid English people would be much astonished 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 57 


at the mess round the house. In winter, of 
course, nothing can be done on account of 
the snow. 


March 15th. 

The weather is perfect now. We have tea out 
of doors, on the garden seat, in front of the house. 
I J ve been riding every day, and everything seems 
to be enjoying the warm weather; all the horses 
are getting sleek and fat, you never saw such a 
difference. 

We have begun breakfast at 7.30, which Mrs. 

M-seems to think a great grievance, and has 

been in a very bad temper in consequence; so I 
told her if we had any more of her temper she 
would have to go ; this threat seems to have had 
a good effect. 

The hens are beginning to lay well, any amount 



58 A LAD'SEANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


of eggs; I find them in all sorts of queer places. 
My worst enemies are the magpies, who steal such 
numbers. They seem to know what the cackling 
of a hen means, as well as I do. 

Jem and Frank are busy in the evenings making 
a fence all round the house, enclosing about two 
acres. This is to be the fruit and flower garden, 
at present we have nothing in it but rhubarb. 
Nearly all the old rubbish has been cleared away, 
and they are planning out paths and a drive, 
which is to be laid down in gravel. We can get 
plenty of that from the river. We expect to 
make our Home Farm of 160 acres pay for our 
living and domestics; but, of course, our main¬ 
stay is the horse business. 

All the spring birds are arriving, so spring will 
soon be here, I hope. I saw some robins to day, 
which are like the English birds, only much 
larger, as big as blackbirds; and I also saw some 
beautiful blue birds—these only come here in 
the spring and summer. 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 59 


March 23rd. 

There was an eclipse of the sun to-day ; the 
result of which was, that it got pitch dark about 
10 a.m., remained so for three-quarters of an hour 
and blew a hurricane all the time. 

I’m going into the stock business on my own 
account and mean to invest in a cow, as Polly has 
gone dry. I find it almost impossible to make 
puddings without milk or butter, even though we 
do have plenty of eggs. The South Kensington 
book is very useful, as there are so many simple 
recipes in it. 

We are getting lots of little pigs now, and 
hope they will prove profitable. Pork has been 
worth 5d. a pound till this year, but, 1 suppose, 
like everything else, it will go down in price 

soon. Mrs. M- is getting so fine, that she 

grumbles at having to eat pork, and thinks beef 
is to be got as easily as it is in England. Jem 

says Mrs. M-won’t eat pork because the pigs 

had been fed on horse-flesh. She got this idea 



60 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


into her head because the Englishmen, who are 
feeding 300 pigs, gave some of theirs a lot of 
dead horses which were smothered in a closed 
railway truck. 

The man who shipped them put twenty in a 
closed truck, and eighteen of them were 
smothered before they had gone fifteen miles. 
They were thrown out close to the pig ranche, 
and were a great find for the pig-feeders. You 
know I told you we got a pig from there, and so 

Mrs. M-got the idea into her head that this pig 

had been fed on horse-flesh. If pigs never ate 
anything worse than good fresh horse-flesh, I, for 
one, should not mind. The other morning 
Mrs. M—-— brought a piece of pork with a piece 
of string stuck in it, and assured me, with a long 
face, that this pig must have been ft fed' upon 
string.’’ 

Now that the ice is out of the river, we catch 
pleuty of fish. The bait is generally a bit of 
raw meat; they won’t take a fly yet. There are 
three kinds of fish in our river and “ creek ”— 
trout, grayling, and white fish. The latter are 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 61 

very unsuspicious and easily caught, but not half 
as good eating as either of the former, and don’t 
give half as good sport (when you are fishing 
for sport), as they give in directly they are 
hooked, and you pull them out as if they were 
dead. When we are not fishing for sport, but 
only for the pot, we use a long stick and a piece 
of strong line, with a bit of raw meat on the 
hook, and jerk the fish out right over our heads 
as soon as they bite. It is not very sportsman¬ 
like, but very effective and expeditious. 

I’ve been helping Jem to “ fix up ” fences. 
They use what are called “ snake ” fences a 
good deal out here, which are made without any 
posts, by simply laying poles one over the other. 
They are called “ snake ” fences because they 
don’t go straight, hut form an angle, where the 
poles overlap each other, but I thought that they 
had that name because they were built so that 
snakes could not get through. 



62 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


March 29th. 

We tried a new “buggy ” mare the other day, 
and she«behaved very well; trotted ten miles in 
an hour, and only astonished us once by kicking, 
and that was only play, as she was fresh and 
evidently enjoyed being out. Jem thinks she’s 
going to make a trotter. 

They think more of a trotter out here than 
anything else, and often astonish me by saying 
Daisy is too good for a “saddle horse," and 
would make such a good “ buggy ” animal. Too 
good for a saddle horse! That seems to be rather 
upsetting the order of things, according to Eng¬ 
lish notions at least. But here they seem to 
think anything is good enough to ride, and that 
the pick of the flock ought to be kept for harness. 
It seems to me that one might define, the Ameri¬ 
cans as a “ driving ” race. 

A revolution has taken place in our establish¬ 
ment. The Morrises leave on Tuesday, if they 
can find a place to go to. I Could not stand her 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 63 

any longer. Latterly, if I have dared to say a 
word as to what work she ought to do, 0 * ven¬ 
tured to say the potatoes were not boiled, or 
anything of that sort, she has down into a pas¬ 
sion, and broken out into the “unshackled 
Doric ” of Battersea. They have both got very 
independent, and say that, in this country, people 
won’t be “ hired servants.” I shan’t miss her 
much, as I J ve had to do most things myself 
lately, and we shall get our washing done by 
the Chinaman in Moreland for 25s. a month. 
Morris is going on working on the farm at £9 
a month, and will board and lodge himself. I 
shall enjoy the extra work immensely, and shall 
feel as if I really was living in the Far West, 
doing everything for myself. Won’t it be a 
blessing never to have the bother of servants ? 

This whole upset has really been caused by 
the neighbours, who are so jealous of anyone 
having servants, as they don’t have them them¬ 
selves; so they have been telling the Morrises 
that it is infra dig. for a white man to be a 
“ hired servant,” and how much better they can 



64 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


do on their own account, telling them they ought 
to have their meals with us and sit in the 
drawing-room, and so on. Therefore, they have 
become discontented, ill-tempered, and utterly 
unbearable. 


April 8th. 

We are having a most exciting time of it. The 
Morrises left on Tuesday. After I had seen them 
safely off the premises, I saddled up Daisy, and 
rode down towards Three Forks to meet Jem. I 
rode nearly half way without meeting him ; then 
had to turn back for a new reason, viz. to cook 
dinner. Just as I got back to town I was hailed 
by a great big man with a beard, dressed in 
white leathers and jack-boots, so I knew he was 
an Englishman. He exclaimed “ How do you 



A lady’s RaNCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 65 


do, Mrs. -? You do not know me.” I 

recognized the voice, but it was some time 
before I made out the features of Mr. M—, an 
old friend, under the disguise of a beard. Then 
Mr. J-, another Englishman whose acquain¬ 

tance we had made in the train coming out, came 
up and shook hands with me. 

My first thought was, “Is there enough 
dinner ? ” and then I asked them to come down, 
and here they are now. I get through the work 
and the cooking well, and give them English 
dinners every night—soup, meat, and pudding— 
and the men all help me to wash up afterwards. 
Jem, Frank, and I are all pretty busy now, as we 
have all the domestic duties to perform, besides 
the boys’ ordinary work. We get up at 6 o’clock, 
Jem lights the fire, whilst I’m dressing. I 
cook breakfast, which has to be pretty substan¬ 
tial for four hungry men, while Jem and Frank 
go out and do the stables, milk the cow, &c. 
Our guests are very good and help too. For 
breakfast we have porridge (which Americans 
call “mush”), eggs, fried potatoes, and cold 

5 



66 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


game or meat of some kind, not to mention 
the £f hot biscuits,” as they are called out here— 
breakfast rolls, you would call them; mine, I 
assure you, are excellent, and the boys seem to 
think so too. 

One afternoon, while Mr. J-and Mr. M- 

were with us, they said I wanted a holiday; so 
Frank, who is a capital cook, offered to get dinner 
ready for us by the time we got back. Ac¬ 
cordingly, the rest of us rode off in high glee, 
and had a jolly cross-country ride, to look at a 
band of horses which Jem thought would suit 

Mr. J-, who had come to our country to buy 

horses. I rode Daisy, of course, and Mr. M—^— 
rode a half-sister of Daisy’s for the first time. 
He fell in love with her (so did I), and offered 
Jem £40 for her, which is considered a pretty 
good price in this country, but Jem says she 
worth double that price in the Eastern 
markets. 

When we got back, hungry and happy, about 
7 o’clock, we found Frank had a regular banquet 
ready for us: bean soup, fresh-caught trout. 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 67 

haunch of venison with buffalo-berry jelly, com- 
p6te of (dried) apples, and a beautiful sponge 
cake, made with nothing but flour, water, sugar, 
and eggs. When we had done ample justice to 
his good things we washed up, went into the 
drawing-room, and, lighting a bright wood fire, 
the men sat round it, pipe in mouth, in great 
comfort. 

I went to the piano, and soon somebody sug¬ 
gested a song. Mr. J-■, who sang very well, gave 

us “ The Place where the Old Horse died,” and 

he and Mr. M-sang a duet, “ Annie Laurie.” 

Frank, after much pressing, sang Besant’s rather 
melancholy ditty out of “ Uncle Jack,” beginning 
“ The ship was outward bound, when we drank a 
health around.” But Frank’s rendering, to a 
tune of his own, and playing hi$ accompaniment 
with one finger, was killing. When he came to 
the line, “ One in far Alaska pioneering died,” 
his feelings nearly overcame him, and we thought 
he wept. Jem gave us the “ The Bicester Hunt,” 
and so we went on with song and anecdote till 
midnight. A thoroughly jolly evening. 

5 * 



68 A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


Next day the men all rode up to the horse 

ranche, except Mr. M-- , whom I drove in the 

buggy. The “ round-up,” was going on, and 
there were about 300 horses in the corral. You 
never saw such a scene. Men brandishing clubs, 
whooping and yelling, more like wild Indians 
than civilized beings. Horses (they were nearly 
all wild) rushing from one side of the corral to 
the other, all huddled together and terrified to 
death. Well they might be ! I’m sure I could 
not make out what the men wanted them to do, 
and so I don’t see how the poor wretched horses 
could. Whenever a horse came out of the hunch 
he was immediately headed back, with shouts, 
yells, and blows from dubs. 

At last, however, I noticed that some were 
allowed to come by, and were passed through 
into another corral. Then I found out that they 
were trying to separate the different brands. 
Each owner has his own brand, and they cut out 
all belonging to A., branded with a triangle, for 
instance, and A. takes his horses off; then B. gets 
his, and so on, until they are all separated. They 



A. lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 69 


seem to be very rough, and what with men, and 
especially boys, wild with excitement, and horses 
with terror, they make mad work of it. 


April 16th. 

Our visitors have just left us, to our great 
regret, after a jolly visit of a fortnight. We sent 
them up to the station, with Daisy’s half-sister in 
the buggy for the first time. She behaved very 
badly, and one of them had to lead her the whole 
way. However, she took their things up. The 
weather was lovely during the whole fortnight, 
and we were able to sit with our windows open 

all day. Mr. J--, who is a large cattle-owner, 

and is therefore not bothered with any small 
matters like pigs and poultry, observing all the 
things we have to do now that we have no 
servants, justly remarked, “Verily it is a life 



a lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

of toil.” And so it is; still, we are all very 
happy, which is the main thing. 

I think our visitors enjoyed themselves. Mr. 

J-, who has not been home for years, said how 

nice it was to meet a lady again, and sit in an 
English-looking drawing-room, with some of the 
refinements of life. 

I am wearing summer clothes, and the prairie 
is green and gorgeous with flowers, especially a 
little white flower, which grows in bunches and 
smells delicious. Besides my usual work indoors, 
I have been painting the garden palings green 
and washing windows, which latter I find I can 
do better than I expected; 

I’m so thankful to be rid of M rs. M-. At 

all events, I can keep the house clean now, and 
it is easier to do it myself than it was to make 
her do it. Jem and Frank say that they live 
much better, and now we know that everything 
we eat is clean, which is more than we did 
before. I don’t want to be bothered with any 
more servants if I can possibly manage to do 
without them; it is no use trying to have 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 71 


them out here; even good English ones would be 
spoilt in a month. The natives are very queer, 
independent, and rough; it is no use trying to 
make them into servants , and very disagreeable 
to have half-educated, ill-mannered sort of people 
to eat and sit with you; and if you had Eng¬ 
lish ones, the natives would soon make them 
discontented. 

I must say one thing. I think the men about 
here have very good manners, and are always 
very nice to me.' The men who work at the 
horse ranche all take their hats off to me; not 
at all because I am the wife of their employer, 
but because they seem to know that it is good 
manners to take their hats off to a lady. Jem 
says they would never dream of taking their hats 
off to him if I wasn’t with him, or showing any 
other token of respect. 



72 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


April 25th. 

This last week we have had cold storms of 
rain and snow; however, we don’t mind, as it 
does so much good to the grass and crops. 

Yesterday Jem and I made a great excursion 
to a ranche about ten miles off to fetch a pig. 
When we arrived there the man looked at me as 
I sat in the buggy holding the reins, and said 
"Won’t the woman come in?” Jem smiled, 
but declined with thanks. 

He says that “ the woman ” is the common 
term for a man’s wife out here. At the same 
time he says that if he is talking of any female to 
the natives, and remarks, “ What a nice woman 
Mrs. So-and-so is,” they always reply, “ Yes, 
she’s a very nice lady," with a great stress on the 
lady. 

In a few minutes Jem and the man appeared, 
carrying the pig. We put it in a sack and laid 
it at our feet, and it took up all the room at the 
bottom of the buggy. Before we had gone very 



A I/ADY’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 78 

far I nearly pitched Jem out by driving too fast 
over a ditch, both his hands being occupied with 
holding the pig in. Piggy got his nose out and 
wanted to bite, uttering the most frightful 
squeals, which frightened our horse out of his 
wits. Then down came a frightful storm of 
wind, rain, and hail. Our hands were nearly 
frozen, as I had to hold the reins, and Jem the 
pig. However, after numerous shaves of upset¬ 
ting the buggy, and determined, but ineffectual, 
efforts to escape on the part of the pig, we got 
home safely. Then Jem and I had to lift piggy 
out bodily, hoist him over some palings, and drop 
him into the stye. Altogether it was most ludi¬ 
crous, and, except for the cold and wet, great fun. 

I can't tell you what a blessing it is to have got 

rid of Mrs. M-. You can’t imagine the mess 

I found everything in after she had gone. The 
house has kept twice as clean ever since. Luckily 
my men are both very tidy and good about wiping 
their boots, &c. I generally get through my work 
by 1 o’clock (breakfasting at 7.15), and have the 
dinner all ready and half cooked by that time, so 



74 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

that I need not have much to do in the afternoon. 
There is the kitchen stove to clean; but wood 
leaves clean ashes. Frank lights the fires for me 
in the morning. I find I get through my work 
with very little trouble after all, as I have a cer¬ 
tain time fixed for everything, and cook particular 
things on certain days. I always give them “ hot 
biscuits ” for breakfast, fried potatoes, eggs, pork, 
or bacon, beef, or fish cakes. The cooking I 
really enjoy, and invent all kinds of new dishes. 
My sponge cakes rival Frank’s for lightness, and 
I make plenty of pastry and apple tarts. 

No fruit is grown in this country at present, 
so we use “ evaporated ” or dried fruit, which is 
cooked like Normandy pippins. The dried fruit, 
reminds me of the sheep-herder’s remark about 
Montana, when he got up on the 1st July, to 
find a snowstorm raging : “ Confoupded country, 
where it snows every month in the year, and 
dried apples are a luxury.” 

One does feel rather like that one-self, when 
the weather is bad. There’s nothing small about 
the climate here : when it’s good, it's very good; 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 75 


and when it’s bad, it is bad. Luckily the good 
very much predominates. 

We took the washing up to John Chinaman 
for the first time, this week, and found him 
doing his hair, which he makes into one long 
plait, and then coils round his head like a 
crown. He seemed very good-natured, kept on 
grinning and saying, “ Ah!” “Yah!” but I 
could not understand a word he said. 


May 1st. 

The prairies are simply lovely, quite covered 
with flowers ; pink and white ox-eyed daisies in 
tiny round bunches, growing quite close to the 
ground (none of the flowers here have any stalks), 
yellow flowers (called prickly pear, really a sort 
of cactus), small pansies, lenten lilies, and many 



76 A LADY’S BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


others. The air is literally scented with them 
all. 

We went to Bozeman this week, to buy cur¬ 
tains, carpet, etc., for one of the up-stairs rooms; 
as a young Englishman is coming out to stay with 
us. • I don’t think I ever explained to you how 
many rooms there are in our house, and what the 
house is like. 

In the first place, there is the new part of the 
house, two storeys high, consisting of hall, our 
bed-room and sitting room on each side of the 
hall, and up-stairs two bed-rooms. Then there 
is the old part of the house, immediately behind 
and joined on to the new part, consisting of three 
cabins in a row, all joined together, and beyond 
them a stone dairy. A door opens from the hall 
into the dining-room, and from the dining-room 
you go straight through another door into the 
kitchen (which has another door opening into the 
garden) and from-the kitchen through another 
door into Jem’s den. The up-stairs rooms are 
plastered and whitewashed; but the drawing-room, 
our bed-room, the hall, and Jem’s den are papered ; 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 77 


the dining-room and kitchen walls are boarded 
and painted. The new two-storey part of the 
house is built of carefully-hewn logs, stained 
brown, and looks rather nice; the old part is of 
unhewn logs. The roof is all made of shingles 
(i.e. piece? of wood sawn thin and resembling 
slates). We have seven good-sized rooms,besides 
the hall, our small dressing-room and the dairy. 
They say when this house was built, about fifteen 
or sixteen years ago, it was the show house of the 
country. Since then, of course, a great many 
better houses have been built, but ours is very 
comfortable and quite good enough for this 
country. I believe it cost the original owner 
about £500, but we bought the farm, 160 acres, 
stables, house, and everything as it stood, so it is 
impossible to say what such a house would cost 
now. All we ’ve done in the way of building is 
a new stable, a yard in the shape of a quadrangle, 
with' sheds all round* and the stone dairy, and 
divers out-houses, pig-styes, chicken-house, &c. 
From our experience of this, building is still a 
very expensive amusement, and I think it would 



78 A Lady’s RANCHE life IN MONTANA. 


always be cheaper to buy a ranche already well 
improved, than to do any building oneself. 


May 16th. 

This week Frank started off to the hills, with 
a tent and waggon and supplies for a month, to 
start a new ranche up in the mountains as a 
summer ranche for our horses. He took another 
man with him, and we expect he will be gone for 
a month at least. Our English friend also arrived 
this week, but does not seem to like the life, so 
I’m afraid he won’t stay long with us. 

Jem and I went a long ride into the hills north 
of us, on the other side of »the river, to look for a 
mare and four yearlings, which have strayed off 
our range. We started at eight, and did not 
get home until seven. I was rather stiff and tired. 




Die’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 79 

was riding the laziest horse on the ranche, 
a brute, it was almost as hard work to get 
along as to walk. 


May 31st. 


Last night we were, all sitting in Jem’s den 
reading the English papers when I heard Noble 
(an imported Shire horse) kicking in his box—he 
has a trick of rolling, and sometimes gefs fast and 
can’t get up—so I told Jem I heard him kicking, 
and, while he was pulling on his boots, I looked 
out of the window, which faces the stable, and, to 
my horror, saw the stables in flames! We all 
rushed out at once; but though Jem opened the 
door of Noble’s box and the horse came out, he 
was either already badly burnt, or suffocated with 
the smoke; for he only staggered out and 



80 A "lady’s BANCHE life IN MONTAl 


immediately fell backwards into the flames^Rgl 
died without a struggle. It was horrible. NoH|3j 
was such a good horse, and everyone was 
fond of him. Vj 

The flames spread with frightful rapidity ; thH 
buildings being all wood and all in one blockH 
there was no hope of saving anything from tin* 
first. We did all we could, getting out saddles,® 
harness and everything we could lay our hands on. * 
Luckily there were no other horses in the stables 
that night; but one was bad enough, as, apai% 
from our being so fond of him. Noble was worth 
twenty ordinary horses. The people up in town 
saw the flames, and came rushing down; but 
nothing could be done. In half an hour from 


the time when I first saw the flames, everything 
was burnt to the ground: all our implements, 
buggy, and hundreds of odd things were com¬ 
pletely destroyed. We were all working hard 
until two o’clock in the morning, putting out the 
fire, which had caught dead branches in the trees. 

Two cowboys, whom Jem had known for a long 
time, stayed all night and until quite late next 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 81 


morning, carrying pails of water to pour on the 
red-hot ashes and smouldering timbers, for fear 
the wind should get up and blow sparks from 
them on to the house. It was most fortunate that 
the wind was not blowing towards the house last 
night, or it must have gone too. Jem and I are 
still carrying pails of water to put out the ashes; 
but the danger is over now, I think. 

The whole place looks most wretched ; all-the 
trees round the house and stables burnt, and 
nothing but a heap of ashes and blackened 
imbers to show where all our beautiful buildings 
tood. It is most melancholy to see the saddle 
orses, &c. come trooping up to be fed. They 
eem quite lost at having no stables to go into, 
nd, of course, there are no oats or hay to feed 


jhem with. The chickens, most of which we 
iaved, and the pigs, are also wandering about 
lisconsolate; altogether, it is most piteous. Of 
:ourse, we shall have to abandon the idea of our 
Bmmer ranche in the mountains now, as we 
^bt build up this one again. 

^^few days after the fire, the A-s, English 

H 6 


82 A LADX’S KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


people living near here, came over to luncheon. 

Mrs. A-has just come out from England, and 

it is so nice to have someone of one’s own sex 
to talk to again. I gave them a grand luncheon, 
and hope we shall see a great deal of them, as 
their place is only about fifteen miles from here, 
just a nice ride to luncheon and back again. Just 

as they were starting home, Mr. J-- turned up 

again, and stayed a few days with us ; of course 
we were delighted to see him, as he is always so 
cheery. 


June 6th. 

Jem and Frank are hard at work irrigating thel 
crops, wheat and peas. They can’t find a maj 
to do it, so they are trying to do it themself 
It seems very interesting work ; they fill i 


A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 83 


different ditches with water, then dam them np at 
I the highest point, cut a hole in one of the banks, 
l and let the water run out on to the land on 
both sides of the ditch. Nothing will grow 
here without irrigation. All this keeps Jem 
very busy, as he is manager of the Company’s 
horse herd, and has to look after that in addi¬ 
tion to his work at home. 

Half my time, whilst I’m writing this, is taken 
up with fighting mosquitoes; they are getting 
bad now. At night, when we are sitting out in 
the garden, it is so curious watching the fire¬ 
flies flitting in and out of the trees and bushes. 
The first time I saw them I thought there must 
be a fire somewhere, and those were the sparks. 
The nights are getting rather hot now. We 
generally get up at 4.30 in the morning; I do 
the house, cooking, &c,, and then every day last 
[week I either rode up in the hills with Jem, 
wlrove our horses down to the Horse Ranche, or 
■se I rode Daisy, going errands for Jem. 
k I went down to the “ Pig ” Ranche yesterday, 
heard that they were thinking of selling 


84 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

their ranche to an Englishman, and his wife. So, 
you see, we shall have quite a colony of English 
ladies out here soon; however, I can claim the 
credit of being the pioneer. The principal 
flowers out now are the wild rose and single 
sunflower; they grow in profusion. 


June 14th. | 

I’ve been having a pretty lively week of it.I 
Jem started for Helena on Monday, eighty; 
miles, on horseback, and isn’t back yet. I haven’t 
heard anything about him, though I expected 
him back yesterday. He went to buy a horsej 
to replace poor old Noble. Frank also veJ 
on Monday to hunt horses, and I’m all alone m 
my glory; not quite though, as we have a 


A lady’s RANCHB life IN MONTANA. 85 


Englishman, fresh from the old country, staying 
with us. 

On Tuesday morning, the latter wanted to go 
to the “ Pig ” Ranche to borrow some tennis 
| balls, so I saddled and bridled my little “ cayuse ” 
(or cow pony) which I always keep picketed, and 
| started out with a huge long whip (our gentle 
mares are such wretches, they stand still and kick 
at you instead of going on, when you want to 
drive them anywhere; so you have to use a whip) 

| to find our horses. After plunging through swamps 
and brush for some time, I found them all, drove 
them home and corralled them all by myself. 
Then I Caught our friend’s horse, saddled and 
bridled it for him, and having walked a quarter of 
a mile to open a gate for him, I went home to enjoy 
[ my own company for the day. 

He came back in the evening, bringing the 
halls, and we had some grand games of tennis. 
[We had rolled a place up on the flat; it was pretty 
l^ough and uneven, but good enough for us to 
ijoy playing. We cut two poles from a tree, and 
fek up some wire netting, and marked out the 


86 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


ground with whitewash ; unfortunately, we didn’t I 
get the corners quite square, but it didn’t matter 
much. Harry (Jem’s cousin) came down, and I 

got him to stay the night. Next day Mr. H-, i 

another Englishman, appeared, directly after 
breakfast, and when I had done my work, we I 
played tennis all day. 

Suddenly we saw someone else coming, and, lo 

and behold ! it was Mr. M-turned up again! 

He only stayed one day, being on his way to Eng¬ 
land. I must say I envied him. Frank came 
back last night, not having found the horses 
which he went to look for. To-day we all spent 
in making a fence to keep the pigs off the peas. 
Before we had finished breakfast, down came Mr. 

H-to see us. He told me a lot of news. People 

do gossip out here, and quarrel. There were “ six- 
shooters ” out up at the Hotel the other evening— 
a terrible row going on; of course everyone had 
been drinking this disgusting whisky. It’s ratheri 
exciting hearing about it afterwards, but they sa* 
whisky is the curse of this country. 

Frank and I were playing tennis yestercB* 


A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 87 

when the man, who is hauling lamber for our new# 
stables, came by. He stopped and gazed, then 
said, “Having a game of ball?” He grinned 
and seemed to think it a great Joke. When we 
had finished, we met him coming back, and he 
said to Frank, “ I guess you let the lady win.” 
He wanted to know if it was an amusement. They 
are funny people. We J ve got a man working for 
us now, who is a tremendous talker; since Jem 
has been away, whenever I show my nose any¬ 
where near him, he calls out,“ Say Mrs.”, and then 
asks me my opinion about the stables, &c., and 
boasts of what a splendid building he is going to 
make. I must tell you that all the natives think 
that our tennis ground is the ground plan for our 
new stables. The white lines puzzled them ex¬ 
ceedingly, but that is the solution they always 
arrive at. Oh! the people here have a high 
opinion of themselves, and tell pretty good yarns; 
lone never believes more than a quarter of what 
tthey say. 

I I’m sorry to say that the woman, who used to 
■me once a week to scrub floors, can’t come any 


88 A LADY’S EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


more, so I shall have to learn. I daresay it isn’t 
so hard as it looks. I wish one or two of the 
girls I know, who complain of having nothing to 
do at home, would come out here. They would 
find plenty to do, and amusement too. 


June 23rd. 

Jem came back last Tuesday, having been away 
over a week. He brought back a beautiful big 
black horse, but not so good a horse as Noble, we 
think, though everyone else is in raptures about 
him. Jem bought a band of mares when he waa 

away, and stopped the night at the A-’s, next 

day there was a regular procession, Jem leading hi? 
big horse in front, then a band of about twenty 
mares and colts, and then Mrs. A-and hi 


A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 89 


brother driving them. They lunched here, and 
j’ode home in the evening. 

One day last week we took a holiday, and rode 

f own to spend the day with them. It was very 
ot riding, and in some places the mosquitoes 
Fere terrible. They literally covered our horses, 
until we could hardly see what colour they were. 

am getting nearly devoured, but I console my¬ 
self by thinking that next year I shan’t mind 
;hese pests. They always bite people worse the first 

yrear. We had a very jolly day with the A-’s, 

and got back here at 11 p.m. It was deliciously 

cool riding back in the evening. Major A- 

congratulated me on having a holland habit, and 
|thought it looked so cool. I never wear a habit 

at all about home, neither does Mrs. A-. 

I was left all alone the other day, as Jem and 
[Frank were both hunting horses a long way off, 
[in different directions. When it began to get 
lark, I shut all the doors, put chairs against them, 
ad then departed to bed. Luckily I never think 
^robbers out here, so I was quite happy. I 
te up in the middle of the night, hearing Jem 


90 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


coming down the hill, singing “ Some Day ” tcj 
let me know who it was, so that I mightn't be 
alarmed. It was just one o’clock, and he had 
ridden, I don't know how many miles, so as no(j 
to leave me alone. 

Our new stable3 are being put up. They ard 
much smaller than the old ones, but we hope tc 
improve them some day. My bread has jusi| 
risen, so I must finish this and attend to-it. 
not only have to make my own bread out here,! 
but my own yeast, which is made with potatoes| 
and hops, and old yeast to make it ferment, 
have to make it very often in summer, as it sc 
soon goes sour. 


A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 91 


July 12th. 

It is getting dreadfully hot now. They say 
July and August are the two hottest months in 
the year, just as January and February are the 
coldest. There are thunder-storms nearly every 
afternoon. They are much more violent here 
than they are in England, but then everything in 
this country is on a large scale. I am getting 
quite a useful hand on the rauche. I have ridden 
out alone in the hills several times this week, 
I do like it so. It is so nice riding to all the 
different bunches of horses which I see in the 
distance, studying the brands, and then, when I 
come to those I want, cutting them out, and 
driving them down to the ranche. The horse 
I ride seems to enjoy the whole thing too. I 
use a cow-pony for this work, as Daisy is too 
excitable. My being able to do all this, saves 
Item lots of time, as he and Frank are very busy 
■t now farming and irrigating. 


92 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


We had hired a man to work by the month 
at £9 a month to do this; but when our stables 
and everything were burnt, we set him to build 
a new stable. He got so elated with his skill as 
a carpenter, that he went up to town one day anc 
said “ it wasn’t likely that a first-rate mechanic 
was going to work for only £9 a month! ” He 
never came to work any more, and it was only 
by accident that we learnt the reason. He never 
told us that he was going to leave, but quietly left 
us in the lurch, just at the busy time, when it is 
quite impossible to find anyone else; so the boys 
made up their minds to turn farm-hands them¬ 
selves. Though they are quite at home when it 
comes to handling stock, I don't know what kind 
of farmers they’ll make. I thinly gentlemen 
generally make better stockmen than farm¬ 
hands, but, of course, out here men have to do ' 
anything that turns up. . 

On Thursday, after I had done my work, 11 
started off at 8 o’clock to Three Forks, ridin« 
Daisy, and leading another horse. I had to |fl| 
slowly all the way, as the other horse ledflMJ 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 93 


badly and kept pulling back, which nearly drove 
f)aisy frantic, and started her “ bucking ” a 
little. However, I managed to stick on her and 
lot let the other horse go. I lunched with the 
L——s, and saw all the other English people down , 
here. Soon after I had started home a terrific 


hunder-storm came on. Luckily there was a 
auche about a mile farther on (American), so I 
alloped on there as fast as I could, jumped the 
ence in front of the house, to the great astonish- 
ent of the natives, and asked for shelter. I 
tayed there chatting until the storm was over. 
The people were very pleasant. But the house 1 
(You can’t imagine anything dirtier—only two 
rooms in it. The room we sat in had no carpet, 
and such a dirty floor ; no furniture except a deal 
table, two wooden chairs, and a rough bunk 
covered with blankets, which answered the pur¬ 
pose of a sofa by day and bed by night. There 
was nothing like the comfort which you would 
se in a farm-labourer’s cottage at home, and 
It these people were well off. 

hen the storm was over, I trotted on, but 


94 A LADl’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


had not gone far when down came the rain ip 
sheets, so I galloped about three miles further, 
and got to the Pig Ranche, went in there, and 
found the owners at home. They luckily had i 
fire in the kitchen, so I dried my dripping gar¬ 
ments and helped them to cook supper, which 1 
afterwards also helped to eat. Then I rode home 
in the dark, and found the hoys quietly smoking 
in front of the house, imagining that I was 
safely at Three Forks. 

The A-s came over on Saturday to stay the 

night, and we had a very jolly evening, songs 

and music. Mrs. A- made such a pretty 

sketch of the house, which I will send you. We 
are going to try and get a holiday soon, and 
hope to start on my birthday. We are going up 
into the mountains, and shall take all our gentle 
mares and colts up with us. Then we can leave * 
home happily, knowing that they won't be stolen 
in our absence. The boys hope to have done 
irrigating, and won’t have much to do until t 

crops are cut. I saw H-up in town to-d 

and he looked so miserably ill, that I asked 


A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 95 


lo come down and rest until he was well. He 
has got a touch of mountain fever. 


I July 28th. 

have been busy haymaking all this week, 
j^ws a very nice job here, as it is cut, and raked 
j^Hinto rows, cocked (with the horse-rake) and 
Sprried all in the same day. I drove the hay- 
Irake all one day. It was quite a luxury driving, 
f sitting on a high spring-seat, and pulling up and 
letting down the lever constituted carriage exer¬ 


cise. Perhaps if people tried horse-raking when 


L they are ordered carriage exercise, they would 
Hret a little of the latter. We have done all our 
Hay without any 'help, only Jem and Prank and 
l^vself. Jem has just been in to say that if I 



96 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


can come now he will help me to pick peas, so a| 
good offer must not be refused. We have about 
twenty acres of peas to feed the pigs in winter. 
At present we are the pigs, as we live on green 
peas, fish, eggs, and milk. Meat won’t keep a 
day in this weather ; besides, it’s too hot to eat 
meat. The shooting season begins on August 1st, 
so we shall get plenty of game then. 


August 2nd. 



I am writing from Three Porks: Jem 
had to drive a bunch of horses to a ranche 
near here, so I came to help him, and 

stopped the night with the A-s. We ai 

going home at 4 o’clock in the morning, so as 


OLU 

jhe j 
we* 

aj 



A LADX’S BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 97 


ride while it is cool. The heat has been awful 
all this week; the thermometer has been up to 
109 in the shade, and never lower than 96. What 
it must have been in the sun I don’t know. 
Frank was quite knocked up by it one morning, 
and had to come ip and lie down, and Jem was 
as bad another day. I haven't felt it yet quite 
so bad, though I've been riding in the sun 
most days. 

On Tuesday we hope to be off to the moun¬ 
tains for a week's holiday, taking our waggon, 
teut, and camp outfit. It will be delicious to 
Bt up to the mountains, where it is cool, apd 
^Lnothing but shoot and fish and lie about in 
Bfe shade. I am to have a complete holiday, as 
Frank has promised to do the cooking, and there 
will be no house to clean. It really will seem, 
too, as if one was out in a wild country. 


98 A LADY’S BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


August 19th. 

I could not write last Sunday, as we were 
in camp up in the mountains. We started on 
Thursday, driving about forty head of horses 
with us. Jem and I rode and drove the horses, 
and Prank went on in front with the waggon, 
taking the tent, canteen, and ammunition. The 
first day we went about twenty miles, a: 
camped by a spring of delicious cold water. 

It was so jolly camping out. Prank made 
fire on the ground, and cooked frying-pan bread, 
made of flour, water, and baking-powder. You 
fill the frying-pan with dough, put it on the fire 
until the bottom is done, and then toss it in the 
air to turn it and bake the other side. It isn’t 
half bad bread. We had bacon, eggs, and cofl'e 
for supper. It all tasted so good after our ridj 
It was perfectly delicious at night sitting ro 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 99 


the camp-fire, breathing the beautiful fresh air, 
scented with the perfumed smoke from the logs 
of smouldering cedar, and looking up at the clear 
sky, studded with millions of stars, flashing in all 
their glory; not a sound to he heard except what 
was made by our horses busily cropping the short 
sweet grass, or the murmuring of our voices, 

( softened by the pleasing languor of slight 
fatigue, disturbed now and then by the melan¬ 
choly howl of a distant coyote. So we sat and 
talked of everything under the sun, until at last 
e got to hunting, and a comparison between 
delights of the chase at home and abroad, 
Id I think our vote was in favour of tie former, 
igoted Britons that we are. Then someone 
asked Jem about that story of the bear and the 
fusee. 

“That reminds me,” said Jem, “smoking 
saved that hero’s life; so I ’ll just light my pipe 
tin grateful memory.” 

m Suiting the action to the word, he took an 
Baber from the fire, puffed volumes of smoke for 
I^Bw minutes, and began. 

m 7 * 



100 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


"You recollect Jack B- 


. Well, though 
there is a temptation to some minds to draw the 
long bow with regard to snakes and bears, yet I 
don’t think that Jack was given that way, and I 
believe that his story, though strange, was true. 

“ It seems he was hunting down in Wyoming 
somewhere, and desperate keen on bears. So 
one fine morning he dropped on to an old she- 
bear with cubs—not exactly the most amiable 
creature to meet at the best of times. However, 
Jack didn’t often miss; so, after a quick look for a 
handy tree in case of accidents, up went t 
express. The crack of the rifle produced a y| 
from Madame Bruin, but no other result, exci 
a very lively movement in the direction of Mastil 
Jack, who, on his side, made an equally lively 
one in the direction of the tree, which he gained 
with very little to spare, and a very creepy feeling 
about his extremities, as he dragged himself into 
a place of safety, minus his gun. 

“ * Here's a go ! ’ communed our friend, ‘ 
up a tree with a vengeance, and, to make matti 
worse, a raging she-bear underneath. We] 




A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 101 


believe I ’ll take a smoke, and look this business 
square in the eye.’ 

“ Accordingly he filled his pipe, and struck a 
fusee to light it. Just for fun, he dropped the 
fusee on Madame Bruin’s back. As soon as it 
burnt through the hair, she jumped as if she was 
shot, then she rolled and growled, and bit at her 
back, and went on like a mad thing, until the 
match cooled down, when she returned to the 
tree, foaming at the mouth, her eyes like hot 
coals, and began tearing at the tree, while making 
violent endeavours to get on level terms with her 
persecutor. A few more fusees deftly dropped at 
intervals only served to make her madder and 
madder; and Jack’s face grew longer and longer. 
He began to think which was the stronger 
feeling in a bear, rage or hunger, and hoped it 
was the latter. 

“Just then the bear came open-mouthed at 
him, and, standing on her hind legs, did her level 
best to reach him. Into the red mouth of the 


ear dropped a red-hot fusee. Jack said her face 



a picture. 


She holloa’ed, she rolled, she 


S3784 


102 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


foamed, and at last she ran; just as hard as legs 
could carry her, she scuttled off into the brush. 
Jack’s medicine had settled her. 

“ So you see,” said Jem, knocking the ashes 
out of his pipe, “ there’s some good in smoking, 
after all, and I ’ll smoke another pipe on the 
strength of it. A pipe never does go so well as 
round a camp-fire. Throw another log on, 
Frank, like a good fellow, and we ’ll smoke 
one more pipe and turn in. By-the-bye, did I 

ever tell you about Colonel H-and his patent 

cartridges? They must have been some left over 
from a Government contract, but no matter. 
He was hunting bear somewhere near Clark’s 
Fork, I think, and one day he tracked a bear for 
a good while, and, just as he caught sight of the 
critter, he disappeared into a cave. 

“ The Colonel didn’t like -to be beat. It was 
bear he was bunting, and bear he wanted ; so up 
he went to the cave, down he went on his hands 
and knees, and looked in. First of all he couldn’t 
see a thing. At last he saw something like twaj 
red-hot coals. M 



A LADT’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 108 


“ ‘ Ah! ’ thinks the Colonel, * I J ve got you; 
but if I don’t shoot straight, you ’ll get me. 
You’ve backed into the cave, and you 'can’t get 
any further in, and you can’t get out, unless I do. 
Well, here goes.’ 

“ He drew a bead on that bear, and aimed 
steady and true right between the red-hot coals, 
pulled the trigger, and—click ! 

“ ‘ Missed fire, by Jove ! ’ 

“ He kept his eye on those two red-hot coals, 
and they got bigger. He didn’t dare to move, he 
didn’t dare to breathe. He had one barrel left, and 
he thought he would keep that until the hot coals 
grew larger j if he missed this time, he was done. 
It wasn’t altogether nice, but he waited. At last 
the hot coals stopped. 

‘“Now is my chance,’says the Colonel; and 
he took a long, steady aim. 

“Click! Missed fire agaiu. The Colonel said, 
when he heard that ‘ click,’ he thought he could 
feel for a man on trial for his life, when the jury 
says * Guilty.’ He didn’t move a muscle, but 
jkept his eyes on the red-hot coals. Bigger and 



104 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

bigger they grew ; nearer and nearer they came; 
and he thought it was all over. At last they 
stopped. He supposed they were stationary for a 
few seconds, but it seemed to him as if it was for 
hours. Then they moved. Thank heaven! they 
grew less; he breathed again. They disappeared 
altogether; stillhe dared not move. He knelt 
there motionless, it seemed to him, for hours. 

“ At last he thought he’d chance it; he could 
not stay there for ever. So he got up, and moved 
cautiously backwards, with his eye on the cave. 
Then he made a circle round the place, and 
found that there was a back entrance to the cave, 
and Bruin was gone. You bet, there wasn’t a 
happier man in Wyoming that minute than 

Colonel H-. He went back to camp, opened 

his cartridges, and they were loaded with—saw¬ 
dust ! He opened the whole lot, and found the 
same harmless material in them all. He con¬ 
cluded to load his own cartridges for the future. 
These he had bought ready loaded in New York.” 

“ That will do,” says Frank, “ give him the< 
kettle.” 



A LADT’s RAN CHE' LIFE IN MONTANA. 105 


But this Was a true bill all the same. 

“Well,” says Jem, “ you are getting sceptical; 


f et’s turn in, or I shall be spinning you bear 
stories until daylight.” 

• In a few minutes we were sleeping the sleep of 
the weary, as if there wasn’t such a thing as a 
rattle-snake in the world. We heard afterwards. 


that a man camping here a few weeks before had 
killed fire of those charming creatures on this 
very spot. 

Next morning, as we were boiling coffee, 
watching grouse frying, and warming our hands 
over the camp-fire, we saw a man come riding 
into camp with something behind his saddle. 
Deer would not be in season for about a week j 
but deer it was. Jem and Frank began chaffing 
the hunter about killing deer out of season. 

“ Well,” he said, “ you see, I ran across this 
blessed critter, and was so close to him that he 


got scared, didn’t look where he was going, ran 
Ihis head against a rock, and broke his neck ; so 
Bhad to bring him along, you see.” 

IK was just going to exclaim, “ What an extra- 



106 a lady's bancbe Life ^in Montana. 


ordinary thing,” when I observed a sly twinkle ii 
Prank's eye, and desiste d. 

“ Had any more of that kind of luck ? ” sail 
Frank. 

“ Well, no, not exactly, but one did attack m 
the other day, and I had to kill him in self-defence. 
They are dangerous at times.” 

As accidents will happen and a man must 
defend his life when attacked, we didn’t refuse a 
shoulder of venison, in return for our grouse and 
coffee, even though deer were out of season. 

After breakfast we packed up the camp outfit,) 
started off again, and did twenty miles leisurely, 
and got into camp about four o'clock. We 
picketed two horses, pitched our tent, cooked 
supper, and, after a careful search for rattle-snakes 
turned in. Our drive took us up and down some 
frightful places, as we camped high up in the 
mountains, at least 6,000 feet above the level of 
the sea. 

The country was perfectly lovely up there, j 
under the timber line, and the grass was up 
our horses' knees. The scenery was somet] 




A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 107 


wonderful. Eough broken lulls, deep gorges with 
both sides clothed with a thick growth of quaking 
ash making a lovely tender green, in startling con¬ 
trast to the bright yellow of the bunch grass. 
(Foaming streams of water rushing down the 
gorges, and up and beyond, the dark masses of 
pines, reaching up to the mountain tops, capped 
with glistening white snow, and, over and above all, 
the glorious canopy of the bright blue sky. There 
is certainly a wonderful brightness of colour in 
this whole country, when it is flooded, as it usually 
is, with sunshine; and something exhilarating 
about it, which defies depression of spirits and 
makes one feel light-hearted and joyous as a child. 
It was delicious to jump up at daybreak, with a 
whole day of delight before us. For it is a 
pleasure to spend a whole day riding over your 
free grouse moor or deer forest, with the certainty 
of a good day’s sport amongst grouse and prairie 
chicken, and a possibility of white and black tail 
Beer, bear, or even the monarch of these moun- 
kins, the mighty Wapiti itself. There is pleasure 
|Ain sitting round the camp-fire in the chilly 




108 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


mornings, warming your hands and cooking; 
breakfast, which you are more than ready for, 
with the appetite acquired from mountain air and 
a good conscience. To feel that you are safe for 
that day, at least, from bad news, or any of the* 
toils and troubles of this work-a-day world. Then, 
breakfast over, to put a frugal lunch in your 
pocket, mount your horse and away, to wander 
at your own sweet will (with no one to say you 
“ nay ”) over your vast hunting ground. 

* 

When we struck game of any sort, the hoys 
would tumble off their horses, and leave me to 
catch them as best I could, while they hit or 
missed, as the case might be. Another time we 
would picket our horses and go afoot, through 
bunch-grass kuee-high, or make our way as best 
we could, through the dense groves of brush and 
quaking ash. Following Jem through one of 
these, I saw him stop suddenly and beckon to me; 
there, not two yards in front of him, was an 
immense rattle-snake, with its head up ready t<J 
strike, and rattling with all its might. Such M 
wicked sound and evil-looking brute. We watcl^B 




A lady’s BANOHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 109 


I it for some seconds, until Jem put up his gun and 
blew its head off. It was the first one I had seen, 
and I-never wish to see another. It had ten 
rattles and was very nearly four feet long. Another 
step or two, and Jem must have trodden on it, 
and there would not have been much chance for a 
man to recover from a bite up there, miles away 
from any remedies. 

Then towards evening we would make our way 
back to camp, laden with feathered game and a 
settled conviction that, to-morrow at any rate, we 
should kill a deer, as we had found plenty of 
tracks that day. So presently we would get into- 
camp, light the fire, cook supper, and then sit 
round the blazing logs, pleasantly tired, and chat 
until some one proposed turning in. There is a 
wonderful charm about this sort of gipsy life, and 


it is the most perfect rest. 

However, our holiday was cut short, and not in 
the pleasantest way. I got a kind of sunstroke. 


k and was rather bad all night and the next day; so 
■Jem thought it best to break up our camp and go 
Borne. We started early and went right through. 



110 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


in one day, reaching home about 11 p.m. We got 
off the trail in the dark and had to get out and 
grope with our hands for the ruts. Luckily 
there were no prickly pears or rattle-snakes 
about. 

We got home on Thursday and the A—-’s and 

Mr. H-were to come to us on Saturday, to 

stay until Monday. The amount of dust that had 
accumulated in our absence was fearful, and I was 
in despair of ever getting the house cleaned and 
tidied in time. However, Jem put in a whole day 
helping me, and by Saturday evening I felt I 
could receive my guests with an easy conscience. 
Even out here, you see, a woman can’t forget her 
instincts, and anything like dust and dirt is an 
abhorrence. 

Our guests arrived about 6 o’clock in the even, 
ing, and, while Jem was helping them to make 
their horses comfortable, Frank and I were busy 
in the kitchen; we had arranged flowers on the 
table in the morning, and, with a snowy table- 
‘ cloth and bright silver, I thought our dinner-tabla 
looked quite gay. We bad a delightful eveniw 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. Ill 


and were all very jolly. These little gatherings 
are very enjoyable to us exiles, and give one a 
taste of what this country might he, if it was 
settled more thickly with English people. 

Whilst the A-s were with us, we had a sort 

of tea picnic, which was rather fun. The others had 
been fishing all day (I have not been able to go 
out in the sun, since I was ill in the mountains), 
so, about 5 o’clock, I put Jem’s saddle on a very 
sedate old mare, and sallied out to find them, 
laden with a basket well stocked with‘tea, cake, 
&c. I needn’t say my arrival was hailed with 
acclamation, and we%ll fell to in high glee. The 
fish ought to have been grateful to me, as, after 
tea, the men declared they had caught fish 
enough (in fact, there was a noble heap of slain 
on the grass), and voted in favour of sitting under 
the trees to smoke and chat; so there we sat, talk¬ 
ing about “ the old countrie ” until our duties 
summoned us home. To-morrow we begin harvest, 
so there won’t be much leisure until it is over. 

You ask me about vegetables. This year was 
not a great success. It’s true we had plenty of 



112 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE in MONTANA. 


peas and some spinach and turnips, and we have a 
grand crop of potatoes ; but we did not irrigate 
enough, so the things got dried up at a critical 
time and never really recovered from it. Next 
year we hope to do much better, as we know more 
about it. I must go and see about my cooking 
now, so I must close this. 

You wonder that I have time to write, when I 
have so much to do; I confess that it does seem 
a good deal to do, but it is wonderful how much 
one can do with a little method; and every day 
it becomes easier as I get more accustomed to 
doing everything. It mdkes one think howi 
little servants must do at home. Here am 
I, cook, parlour-maid, house-maid, and scullery- 
maid all rolled into one; and I declare, as long 
as one’s health is good, I would much sooner do 
it all myself than be bothered with servants; out 
here, at any rate. In spite of all my work, I 
have plenty of time to amuse myself, which the 
American women never seem to do, for they 
pend their whole time indoors. 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 1 13 


August 30th. 

Since my last letter, 1 have actually been to a 
ball! We drove down to Three Forks to stay 

with the B-’s for the event. They are English 

people, consisting of a young married couple, 
her father, sister, and brother ; so they make 
quite an addition to our English society. 

To return to the ball. It began about 8 o’clock, 
and was held in the dining-Toom of the hotel. 

I wore my red day dress, as Mrs. B-told me no 

one wore evening dresses. When we arrived we 
found the room full of people, the women dressed 
up in all sorts of costumes—the belles of the 
ball, two sisters, in red cotton-backed satin skirts 
and curtain-muslin tops—and the men, some in 
black coats, some in brown coats, and some in no 
coats at all. Such a queer-looking lot! 

We had made up„ our minds only to dance 
amongst ourselves, and as we were a party of ten 
or twelve, we could manage very well. The band 
consisted of a fiddle and a banjo, and played the 

8 



114 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

same tune all the way through. The players sat 
on a raised platform, and on the same place stood 
a little man, looking full of importance, in dress 
clothes and white kid gloves, waving a, stick. 
He proved to be the Master of the Ceremonies. 

“Every man has a .number marked on his 
ticket, from one to thirty-six, or whatever the 
number of men may be. Only the men pay for 
tickets, and invite the ladies.” 

I soon discovered the reason of the numbered 
tickets, for presently the M.C. called out “ One, 
five, eight, ten,” and so on—naming about six¬ 
teen numbers— “ will dance the next dance. Get 
your partners/’ 

You see there are many^ more men than 
women, so the M.C. calls out who are to dance 
so as to give all the men an equal chance of 
dancing (liberty, equality, and fraternity!); other¬ 
wise only a favoured few would get any dancing, 
and all the rest would be left out in the cold. 
Then the sets were formed, and, to my great 
surprise, the M.C. called out what they were to 
do in each figure—for instance, “ Swing your 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 115 

partners twice to the right, and return to your 
places.” “ Advance and retire twice, swing your 
partners to the right, and return to your places.” 
Every now and then he uttered a strange yell, 
which I thought must be an old Indian battle- 
cry, sounding like “ Elemengo,” but this, being 
interpreted, was French (?) “ A la main gauche.” 

Most of the dances were squares, but they had 
a few waltzes. These were beautifully danced, 
though very slowly. I never saw better dancing, 
the only peculiarity being that the man put 
both hands round the girl’s waist, clasping them 
behind, first of all carefully spreading a silk 
handkerchief on her back to prevent his hands 
soiling her dress. A most delicate and certainly 
necessary attention, as the men wore no gloves. 
The girl put one hand on each of her partner’s 
shoulders. At the end of each dance the M.C. 
sung out “ All promenade.” Whereupon they 
all marched round the room arm-in-arm, gene¬ 
rally in solemn silence. In fact, from the 
absence of conversation and the solemnity of 
their faces, you might’ have imagined that they 

8 •' 



116 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

were performing a religious ceremony. Do not 
the English, but also all English-speaking 
nations, take their pleasure sadly ? Certainly 
these people do, as regards dancing, at any 
rate. 

About 12 o’clock they trooped off to supper. 
We waited until they were all settled, and then we 
went down and found a capital supper—chicken, 
chicken. salad, several kinds of cakes, coffee and 
tea. All this was nicely cooked by a Chinaman. 
About 1 o’clock the scene began to get rather 
animated, some of the men beginning actually to 
talk and even shout. An Englishman whispered 
to me “Whisky,” and advised us to beat a retreat, 
as, he said, these dances generally degenerated 
into a bear fight, and frequently a man fight, 
towards morning; so we quietly departed, rather 
pleasantly surprised at a ball in the Rockies. 

The natives are passionately fond of dancing, 
and think nothing of driving thirty or forty miles 
to a ball. They kept this one up until 7 o’clock 
in the morning. Girls are certainly favoured 
out here—not the smallest chance of posing as a 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE in MONTANA. 117 


wallflower; and in the more important matter of 
choosing partners for life, it is literally only a 
case of choice, as the men outnumber the women 
ten to one. Matrimony, like death, spares 
neither age nor condition. I have seen young 
girls of thirteen and hideous old girls of fifty 
snapped up eagerly as soon as they arrived in the 
country, which reminds me of the advice given by 
an old lady to a young wife going out to the 
Colonies, and looking out for a maid to accom¬ 
pany her. “ Take a pretty one, my dear,” said 
the old lady, “ for, ugly or pretty, she will have 
an offer of marriage before she has been out a 
week; and while your ugly girl will say ‘ Yes ’ 
to the first offer she gets and leave you, your 
pretty one will be harder to please, and will say 
‘ No ’ several times before she consents.” 

Marriages are very simple affairs out here. 
They are generally performed by a Justice of the 
Peace, not assisted by any representative of any 
church, and in strict privacy. One couple we 
know (all this, of course, refers only to natives) 
were actually married on the open prairie, sitting 



118 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


in their waggon, while the J. P. satin bis buggy! 
A funeral is a much grander affair. All the 
neighbours turn out in waggons, buggies, and 
saddle-horses, to follow a corpse to the grave, in 
a long and melancholy procession. The other 
day a deputation waited on Jem to ask if the 
Company (of which he is manager, and which 
owns most of the land round here) would give a 
piece of land for a cemetery. 

One of the deputation suggested a certain hill, 
because “ they would be nice and dry up there.” 
On Jem saying he would consider the matter, 
one man said, “ Well, I guess you must he quick, 
because old man Morrison’s woman is dying; 
she can’t last more than a week, and he wants to 
be sure of a place to put her.” 



A LAHY’s BANCHB LIFE IN MONTANA. 119 


September 6th. 

I ’m so delighted to hear that there is a chance 

of G-coming out here. He might come out here 

next spring, and stay with us six months, to see 
if he liked the country and life, and then go 
home for the winter before settling down here 
for good. Jem says that is the only thing to do; 
that it is quite impossible to say whether anyone 
will like the life and get on, or to say what they 
had better do. He says be thinks there are 
plenty of good openings here, but everything 
depends upon the man himself. 

Of course G-could not do any hard work, and 

there would be no occasion for him to do any. 
No one does except “ grangers," for I don’t call 
riding after stock “ hard work.” Of course it is, 
really, but still it is very different to the regular 
manual “ grind ” of a farm-hand. I don’t think 
gentlemen are fitted for that. Jem and Frank 
have tried it this summer, just to show they 



120 A lady’s RANCHK LIFE IN MONTANA. 


could do it at a pinch, but it has nearly killed 
them, working so hard at things they are not 
accustomed to in this frightful heat. They both 
say they will never try it again. 

I think gentlemen are inclined to work too 
hard for the first few hours, and are then utterly 
exhausted and dead for the remainder of the 
day, and yet feel obliged to go on to the end. 
They can’t work steadily and quietly like a work¬ 
ing man who has been used to it all his life. It 
is just like putting a high-mettled, well-bred 
horse to plough with a cold-blooded cart-horse. 
The thoroughbred wears himself out by trying 
to do too much at first, whereas the cart-horse 
goes steadily lugging all day without exciting 
himself. Jem says that he thinks an English¬ 
man, who has been used to hunting in England 
and ridden all his life, can kill a Western 
American when it comes to riding, and that he 
can ride greater distances with greater ease to 
himself and the horse he is on ; and that stock- 
work is all that an Englishman is good for, if he 
wants to go in for hard work, though, of course, 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 121 


it is useful for him to know how to do all kinds 
of ordinary farm-work. 

They call the farmers here “grangers,” as 
distinct from ranch-men or stock-men, and it is 
rather a term of reproach—not quite that, either 
—but still the granger is held in low estimation 
by the stock-man. In Montana the latter is 
king, and all the laws seem framed to his advan¬ 
tage and to the disadvantage of the granger. 

The term “ ranche ” really means the same as 
the English word “ farm.” I used to think that 
a ranche consisted of thousands of acres, like 
the Australian “ run ”; but now I find that a 
little farm of even forty acres, with a one-roomed 
log cabin, is a “ ranche,” and what we call the 
“ range ” answers to the Australian “ run,” with 
this difference, that whereas the Australian pays 
rent for or owns his “run,” and has it all to 
himself, fenced in, the Western stock-man has 
his range free, but his stock run in common 
with several other peoples, and are not fenced in 
except by the natural boundaries of the range, 
such as rivers or chains of mountains. Thus 



122 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


our range extends over some three or four 
hundred thousand acres, and is bounded on 
three sides by rivers and one side by a chain of 
high mountains. 

The cowboy on his hardy pony is the Western 
rancher’s wire fence, and it is his duty to see 
that no stock strays outside the natural boun¬ 
daries of the range, and to bring back any that 
do. There are lots of our horses which we don’t 
see more than once a year, but we don’t feel 
uneasy about them, as if they should stray off 
the range we should probably hear of them. Of 
course stock-men lose some by straying every 
year, but the loss sustained is a very small rent 
to pay for the enormous amount of land on which 
the stock run. 

If G -comes out here only for his health, he 

could not come to a better country. People 
from the Eastern States, suffering from chest 
complaints, come here and get quite well and 
strong. The Morrises were an example of this. 
Their horrid coughs got less and less all last winter, 
even in the very cold weather, and finally 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 123 


vanished altogether* They said they were never 

free from a cough in England. Then G-could 

ride, shoot, and fish to his heart’s content. I 
have been fishing every day this week, and kept 
the larder well supplied, as the boys have been 
too busy harvesting to have time for shooting or 
fishing. Jem gave me a new fishing rod. 

I was out on the range hunting horses yesterday, 
found what I wanted, and drove them in all by 
myself, feeling very proud of my performance. 
Jem says I shall soon make a first-rate cowboy. 
I tried my hand with the lasso one day and 
caught a little colt, as he ran by, at the first 
attempt, but would not spoil it by trying again; 
so I looked very grand and said “I wondered 
that men ever missed, and that I knew it was 
quite easy, though they did make such a fuss 
about it.” 

Frank has just been out shooting, as the rain 
stopped their work, and brought in any amount 
of teal and duck, enough to last a week. I have 
learnt to salt fish, so that they will keep good for 
a week or ten days. We are all going down to 



124 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

stay with Mr. H-for two nights next week. 

Mr. H--and Harry were staying with us this 

week. 


September 20th. 

Such a letter from a dear friend in England 
this week! “How can I do such dreadful 
things ? Camping out amongst rattle-snakes ! 
getting sunstrokes! driving wild horses! and, 
as if these out-of-door terrors weren’t bad 
enough, working like a slave indoors and killing 
myself with hard work.” 

Does it sound so appalling? Well, it never 
struck me as being anything out of the way at 
the time. But, of course, things out here 
appear worse to people at home than they really 


are. 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 125 


Now for the reverse side of the medal. I pass 
over the rattle-snakes. Sunstroke—now you 
might get that in England—and, then, X only 
mentioned it to show how hot it is, for you kiiow 
I always rather boasted of being able to stand 
extremes of heat and cold. Driving wild horses 1 
Well, perhaps that sounds appalling; but it 
doesn’t mean driving them in harness, but riding 
another horse behind them and driving them, 
like you see an old man driving up the milk cows 
at home, only the old man is on foot and the 
cows don’t go out of a walk. 

Now for the other indictment—Indoors. Now 
I like the work. When you have no society, and 
everyone is out of doors working, you must work 
for amusement indoors.' I do think this is the 
best sort of life. One feels so much better and 
happier; and so would any other healthy girl. 
Of course, washing dishes, scrubbing floors, and 
all the rest of it, does sound and seem a great 
hardship to people at home; but I can assure 
you it doesn’t seem so when you do it. I know 
I would not exchange my happy, free, busy. 



126 A LADS’S RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

healthy life out here, for the weariness and 
ennui that makes so many girls at home miserable. 
I don’t feel myself to be an object of pity—quite 
the reverse ; I only wonder that more people who 
are miserable on small incomes at home, don’t 
come out here and be happy. What is poverty 
at home would be riches out here, and one 
doesn’t have to spend half one’s income in 
keeping up appearances ; and there’s the glorious 
health everyone enjoys in this country. How 
many thousands a year is that worth ? 

No! I think people out here, with moderate 
means, are infinitely happier than people in the 
same condition at home. What do you gain by 
being out here? Health and happiness, plenty 
to do, plenty of interests, aqd amusements. In¬ 
doors you can have your piano, all the newest 
books at a fraction of the price you have to pay 
at home (I am reading the latest three-volume 
novel, which costs a guinea at home, and costs me 
a shilling here), all the periodicals and English 
papers—a little late, perhaps, but what does that 
matter ?—and you can see a fellow-mortal now 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 127 


and then to discuss them all with. Out of doors 
you have your horses, your grouse-moor, deer- 
forests, and all free. Let us see what you lose. 
Society, and the luxury of sitting with your 
hands folded, seeing others do badly what you 
feel you can do much better yourself. As a 
drawback even to this latter luxury, you have the 
endless bother of servants, and as for Society, 
we shall get that by degrees. You will say, 
“ All very well while you ’re young.” Granted; 
and when we are old it will be time enough 
“ to creep home, and take our place there, 
the sick and old among.” Meanwhile I am 
thoroughly happy with my varied occupations 
and amusements, and if I have some cares (and 
who has not ?), have I not many joys to counter¬ 
balance them; so give me my home in 

The West, the West, the land of the free, 

Where the mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea, 

and I am more than content. 



128 A lady’s ranche lire in moktana. 


September 26th. 

Last week I spent two or three days with the 

B-s, and left Jem alone in his glory, as Frank 

was away. Having cooked enough to last until 
I came back, I put on a clean frock, climbed up 
into the buggy, and drove off. enjoying my drive 
immensely. 

Perhaps I shouldn’t have enjoyed it quite so 
much, if I had known that the Helena coach was 
stopped the other day by highwaymen, or “ road 
agents,” as they are called. No one was hurt, 
however, or robbed, as one of the “road agents” 
had warned the proprietors, and agreed to help 
to capture his accomplice when the attempt was 
made, which he did successfully; and this 
Western Dick Turpin is now cooling his heels in 
jail. Highway robbers, or “ road agents,” are 
scarce now, though some years ago they were as 
plentiful as blackberries. 1 heard such a capital 
story of the presence of mind of a lady on one 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 129 


occasion, when a coach was stopped, that I must 
tell it to you. 

She was travelling by coach (before the days 
of railroads) to join her husband, a distance of 
some hundred miles. On the journey one of her 
fellow-passengers said to her : 

“ I have got about a thousand dollars in my 
pocket-book, and feel rather uneasy about road 
agents. Would you mind concealing it in your 
dress, and giving it to me at the end of the 
journey ? If we are stopped, they are less likely 
to search you than me.’* 

She complied with his request, and accordingly 
hid the money in her dress. Towards evening 
there was a shout of “ Throw up your hands ! ” 
and four men on horseback, with masked faces, 
appeared in the road, pointing their pistols at the 
driver, who promptly pulled up. 

Two men then appeared at the side of the 
coach, and ordered the passengers to give up 
their arms, which they did. The robbers then 
ordered them to “ shell out/* Our friend of the 
morning gave up a few dollars, and was eon- 

9 



130 A- lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


gratulating himself on the success of his pre¬ 
caution, when, to his horror, the lady said in a 
clear voice: 

“ I have got a thousand dollars, but I suppose 
I must give them up,” producing at the same 
time our friend’s hardly-earned roll of “ green¬ 
backs ” from the folds of her dress. 

He looked unutterable things. The robbers 
then rifled the treasure-box, and rode off 1 delighted 
with their booty. 

As soon as they were gone, our friend began 
abusing the lady in no measured terms, accusing 
her of having betrayed him, and given up all he 
had in the world, out of sheer fright. She only 
replied oracularly that “ he would see,” and that 
she could give no explanation now. 

When she got to the end of her journey, she 
asked him to come and stay the night at her 
house, adding that her husband would be very 
glad to see him. To this he assented, saying, in 
an injured tone of voice, that it was the least 
she could do, seeing that through her treachery 
he was without a cent in the world. He wsa 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA, 131 

royally entertained, his hostess exerting herself 
to amuse him; but not a word of explanation 
was vouchsafed by either host or hostess, and he 
went to bed in no very enviable state of mind. 

On entering the dining-room in the morning, 
he was met by his host, who said : 

“Here are your thousand dollars, which my 
wife ventured to borrow in a ease of emergency. 
The fact was she had twenty thousand dollars, 
which she was bringing to me, concealed in her 
dress, and she thought that by giving up at once 
the thousand dollars entrusted to her by you she 
would disarm suspicion, and save any further 
search on the part of the robbers. Her quick¬ 
ness, as you know now, saved me from a heavy 
loss.” 

Our friend apologized for his unfounded suspi¬ 
cions and rudeness of the previous day; and 
breakfast, no doubt, proved a far cheerier meal 
than the supper of the night before. 

I spent two days with the B-’s and enjoyed 

myself very much. They have got a piano, and 
are all musical ; some young Englishmen came to 

9 * 



132 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


supper one night, who all sang very well; so we 
had plenty of singing, and, as a wind up, a 
miniature dance. I say “ miniature/’ because 
the room was only large enough for one couple at 

a time; I brought Mrs. B-homewith meto stay 

a few days, to have a little rest, which she much 
needed. She stayed with us about a week, and, 
when my work was done, I drove her about in 
the buggy : we went some most beautiful drives, 
either up in the mountains or down by the river. 

The autumn tints are beginning, the cotton¬ 
wood leaves turn such gorgeous yellows and reds, 
and, mixed with the green of the cedar, the colour¬ 
ings are perfectly grand. 

Yesterday Jem and I drove to Bozeman to do 
some shopping; started at half-past seven, crossed 
one river and several creeks, and got into town 
at half-past eleven. It was eighteen miles of 
an abominable road full of great round stones; 
the smallest as big as a cricket-ball and some a 
good deal bigger than a man’s head, and then, 
when we got within five miles of Bozeman, and 
amongst the settlements, we got into lanes, i.e. 



A LADy’s BANCHE LIFE In MONTANA. 338 


where the road is fenced on both sides. Here the 
soil was a rich black loam, and very wet, and the 
road fearfully cut up by waggon-wheels; so our 
wheels were nearly up to the axles in ruts. We 
got a capital luncheon at a small hotel and then 
went shopping. 

It was quite nice to wear a decent frock again 
and drive a good-looking pair of horses through a 
town. The worst of it was, our horses would not 
stand, so the people had to take a running shot at * 
the buggy with their parcels. It amuses me the 
way we have to shake hands and say “ How do 
you do” to all our shopkeepers, before any 
business can be done. Our drive home was very 
enjoyable, and we got back about 7 o’clock. 

We have been storing our potato crop, about 
200 bushels off half an acre. Potatoes, and in 
fact everything which we don’t want to have 
frozen, have to be stored in an underground 
cellar, at a depth of about eight feet. They dig 
a hole in the ground about eight feet deep, eight 
to ten feet long, and seven to eight feet wide. 
They then make a door-way with steps going down 



134 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

into the hole and roof it all over, piling up the 
earth taken out to a height of four feet. The first 
houses in this country were made in the same way 
and called “ dug-outs.’ 5 


October 10th. 

Mrs. B-left us two or three days ago, to my 

great regret. It was so nice having someone to 
gossip to all the time I was working. She had 
rather a nasty accident on the way home. Her 
sister drove over from Three Forks to fetch her, 
lunched here, and, about 2.30, they started to go 
home. 

It was bitterly cold. When they were about 
three miles from home, they came to a place where 
the road forked, both roads going to the same 
place, but one rather shorter than the other. 



A LADY’S BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 135. 

They took the shortest road, though it was not 

the one by which Miss M-had come in 

the morning. This brought them to a creek; the 
usual crossing, where the water is wide and 
shallow, was frozen solid, and the ice like glass. 

The horses would not face it, so Mrs. B-tried 

to cross a little lower down at a narrow place, 
where the water was not frozen. The horses did 
not like this much better, at last one of them 
made a jump and the other held back. One never 
knows exactly how these things happen, but Miss 

M-was thrown out of the buggy, clean on to 

the bank; when she picked herself up, she saw 

Mrs. B-and the horses all struggling together 

in the water. She contrived to extract her sister; 
but, do what they would, they could not get the 
horses out. 

Meanwhile Mrs. B-’s clothes were frozen as 

stiff as a board. So Miss M- pulled off her 

own dry shoes and stockings, and made Mrs. 

B-exchange her wet ones for these dry ones. 

She then took off her own wraps and piled them 
on to Mrs. B-, and started off to walk bare- 



186 A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


footed, over gravel, sage brush, and prickly pear, 
to the nearest house for assistance. The owner, 
an American, refused to turn out ; so there was 
nothing to he done, but to go back and bring 

Mrs. B- to the house, where the woman 

kindly supplied her with dry clothes. 

Miss M-then walked home, and Mr. B- 

drove to the scene of the accident as hard as he 
could go. The horses and buggy were got out of 
the creek; curiously enough, no damage had been 
done. They all drove home, and, we hear, none 
of the party are any the worse for the accident. 

I’ve taken to cooking more now that the hot 
weather is gone, and invent all kinds of little 
puddings in a very simple way. They are con¬ 
sidered wonderful productions, though, by the 
boys. That is one great thing in this country. 
Everything you cook is voted good, because 
everybody is well, and everybody is hungry. I 
potted a whole heap of eggs in dry salt in the 
summer, and have not found a bad one yet. 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 137 


October 12th. 

I am afraid you will think my last letter rather 
short, but I met with a nasty accident, which 
laid me up for some days, and I can only hobble 
about now. 1 was riding on the range with 
Jem, when the horse I was riding suddenly 
pitched on his head, and rolled on to my foot. 
When he got up, pay foot was caught fast in 
the stirrup, but, by the greatest good luck, 
Frank had oiled the patent safety arrangement 
only the day before, so it acted all right, and my 
foot got free. If I had had an ordinary stirrup, 
or the patent safety arrangement had not been in 
working order, I must have been killed, as my 
mount was a young “ scarey ” horse and would 
have dragged me for miles. As it was Jem had 
a hard job to catch him. When I got up, I found 
that I could not put my foot to the ground, and 
that it was giving me excruciating pain. What was 
to be done ? Here we were, eight miles from the 



138 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

nearest house, and it seemed impossible to ride in 
such pain. However, as I refused to be left alone 
until Jem could go and fetch a conveyance, there 
was nothing for it but to mount as best I could, 
and ride to the nearest house. I would rather 
not have that ride over again ! 

The women at the ranche took me in hand, 
and were very kind. They thought there were 
no bones broken, and strongly advised Jem not 
to send for the doctor, as doctors, in their 
opinion, were not likely to do any good, but 
were quite certain to send in a long bill. Jem 
went home for the buggy, came back, and drove 
me home. 

I was in great pain all night, so we telegraphed 
for the doctor, who came in the afternoon from 
Bozeman. He seemed a very nice, clever man. 
He found that two toes were dislocated, but was 
not sure about the ankle ; he put the toes in, 
which was a very painful operation, and then told 
me that I had better have ether while he examined 
the ankle, as he could then make a more thorough 
examination ; so I had ether, and he found that 



A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 139 

the ankle was not actually dislocated, though 
very badly sprained. The doctor’s fee was five 
guineas, which does not seem very outrageous for 
this country, as he had come eighteen miles, and 
could not get back that night. 

I am having a nice rest now, as the boys do 
everything and make most amusing nurses. 
Prank is cook and Jem house-maid, &c. He 
thinks he is first-rate in the latter department, 
but I’m afraid there will be a great accumulation 
of dust when I get back to my duties again. 


December 8th. 

I think by the time you get this it will be 
Christmas. How quickly the year does seem to 
have gone! Next year I hope we may all be 
together in the old country. 



140 A LADIES EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


Last year at this time we had deep snow and 
the thermometer down to 50 below zero. This 
year we have had no snow at all down here, and 
the other day a chinook cleared even the moun¬ 
tains. The weather is simply perfect, the sun 
shining all day, and still quite warm. Everyone 
says that the climate is getting less severe, and I 
suppose the more the country gets settled the 
milder the winters will become. At least, that 
seems to have been the case in other Western 
States, so I don’t see why Montana should not 
follow suit. All stock is looking fat and well; 
people have not had to feed even their dairy 
stock. However, some of our thoroughbred 
mares don’t seem to agree with this arrange¬ 
ment, for a whole lot of them came trooping 
home from the range of their own accord the 
other day, and now stand round the house and 
stables every morning, looking sulky and evi¬ 
dently expecting to be fed. 

We drove to Three Forks the other day in an 
hour and twenty minutes. Jem calls it fourteen 
miles, so I think we made good time. 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 141 


All the English people down there were in 
ecstasies over the result of the elections at home. 
Somehow or other all the Englishmen out here 
seem to be staunch Conservatives, which is a 
great loss to the party at home. 

Mr. H-and three others have just returned 

from a month’s hunt. They brought back about 
a ton of venison, which they have been distribut¬ 
ing amongst their friends. We came in for a 
haunch of elk, which proved excellent, such nice 
tender meat. One of the party shot an enormous 
bull elk which fell down a precipice, so he had to 
content himself with only getting the hide and the 
head. The antlers were magnificent. Altogether 
the party were highly delighted with their 
month’s sport, as they got bear, elk, and two or 
three kinds of deer, and had a very jolly time 
into the bargain, as there were five other Eng¬ 
lishmen hunting in the district. They all camped 
together and, as you may imagine, had jolly 
nights round the camp-fire. 

I have asked four Englishmen to come and 
dine and sleep on Christmas day, so we shall be 



142 A LADY’S BANCHE LLFJD IN MONTANA. 


a large party. They all bring their own blankets 
and sleep on the floor, as there is only one spare 
bed between them. They are to bring the turkey 
and we are going to kill a steer, which will provide 
the traditional sirloin and the suet for the pudding. 
It is rather an amusing way of giving a dinner 
for your guests to bring part of the provisions. 
As one winter is much the same as another out 
here, the description of our doings last winter 
will suffice for this. 


February 20th. 

The winter is nearly over now, we hope, so I 
am going to tell you a little about my experiences 
of a winter out here without servants. The worst 
part of it certainly is the getting up in the morn¬ 
ing to light the fires; the house is so fearfully 
cold. One morning the thermometer in our 
drawing-room registered ten below zero, which 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 3.48 


is as low as it goes. The bread was frozen solid, 
and took an hour to thaw out before we could 
have breakfast. There is a stove in our bed¬ 
room, which Jem gets ready over night. First 
he cuts a lot of shavings, which are laid at the 
bottom of the stove, and on the top of these a 
lot of dry wood; then the whole is sprinkled 
with paraffin oil and ready to catch fire in a 
moment. 

About 7 o’clock in the morning Jem jumps 
up, lights the stove, and goes to bed again. In 
twenty minutes our room is as warm as possible; 
then we get up and dress. Jem used to light 
the kitchen fire, which is also laid over-night, on 
his way to the stables, but as he was not very 
successful in getting it to burn, I do it myself 
now. While he is feeding the horses, I get 
breakfast ready and light the fire in the dining¬ 
room. By the time breakfast is ready the rooms 
are warm. Stoves are certainly less trouble than 
fire-places, consume less wood, and warm a room 
very quickly. In the dining-room there is an 
‘Angela” stove, which is very pretty, having a 



144 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


transparent front, so that you can see the fire or 
you can open the door in front, and then it is 
almost as good as an open fire-place. All this 
winter I have been out every day and feel tre¬ 
mendously well; in fact, I thoroughly enjoy the 
dry cold, though the boys rather grumble 
at it. 

Jem says, “ It’s all very fine’ but it’s no joke 
when the handles of the hay-forks burn your 
hands, unless you have gloves on, and you have 
to thaw a bit before you can put it in a horse’s 
mouth, to prevent it sticking to his tongue." 

A young Englishman, during his first winter 
out here, doubted the latter fact, and experi¬ 
mented on his own tongue. The result was that 
when he felt the frozen steel burn, he snatched 
it away, and a small piece of his tongue came 
w&b it. The sceptic was converted. We either 
thaw the bits out in the oven, or dip them in 
water, before bridling a horse, which prevents 
them sticking. 

A horse’s life out here during the winter in a 
stable can hardly be a happy one. The stables 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 145 

are desperately cold, being built of wood, often 
only a single half-inch plank. Ours are built of 
double boards, with a space of eight inches 
stuffed with straw between the boards; and yet, 
in the morning, in very cold weather, icicles hang 
from the horses’ noses and eye-lids, and their 
bodies are white with frost! In spite of this 
they do very well; even imported horses have 
wintered out here their first winter in sheds full 
of holes, and half the roof off, and have been 
none the worse for it. 

It seems to me that horses don’t mind dry 
cold in the least. I think if I was a Montana 
horse, I should prefer wintering out of doors to 
being in a stable. If they are out of doors they 
can move about to keep warm, and the very fact 
of having to paw for their food must help to 
keep up the circulation; but imagine being.‘faed 
up and unable to move, in one of these despe¬ 
rately cold stables. 

Jem has been amusing himself with bitting 
our two-year olds, saddling them up, and putting 
harness on them. He gets so interested that he 

10 



146 A lady’s BANCHE life IN MONTANA. 

forgets all about the cold, and will sit for an hour 
at a time, pipe in mouth, lost in admiration of 
some colt, which promises to carry himself in 
good form. Then, of course, I have to come out 
to help to admire, and sometimes to put on or to 
take off the tackle. 

We generally tie up one front foot, when we 
begin breaking a colt, then he can’t kick or 
strike, or get away from you; besides you can 
jump on his back, and he can’t buck. You can 
do more with a colt in half an hour with his leg 
tied up, than you can in a week without it. As 
soon as they find they are in your power, they 
give up, and when they find you don’t hurt them, 
they soon get gentle. 

We have got any amount of little pigs running 
about—over fifty, and all white. They were born 
in the brush in the very coldest weather, forty 
below zero, and with five inches of snow on the 
ground. Most of them got their ears and tails 
frozen off, which gives them rather a grotesque 
appearance. The sows disappeared for a week, 
and never came near the house. What they 



A LADIES RANCHE ILIFE IN MONTANA. 147 


lived on all that time I can’t imagine. One old 
lady gobbled up a dead skunk, and made the 
whole place redolent for some days. I should 
have thought that no living animal would have 
eaten skunk; not even the man who said “ he 
could eat turkey-buzzard, but didn’t hanker 
after it.” 

It was a great joke getting these little pigs up 
to the house. About a week after a litter was 
horn, the mother would come up to the house for 
something to eat. Then Jem would take a sack 
and follow her tracks, until he came to where the 
children were. I had to keep the old lady 
occupied by feeding her, while Jem caught the 
little ones and put them in the sack. He said it 
was very hard to catch them, as they would run 
out of the nest, and get buried in the snow, or 
hide under some bush or stump. Then he had 
to put them in a sack, and run like mischief to 
put them in a warm sty, sometimes pursued by 
the old sow. These old sows are awfully fierce, 
and will attack a man in a minute. 


10 * 



148 A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


February 25th. 

Frank left us last week, to our very great 
regret, aud now Jem has got a young English¬ 
man, a very nice boy, to help him for a time. 
They are very busy breaking the yearlings to 
lead. I enjoy looking on, perched up on the top 
rail of the corral, and watching ,them lasso the 
little things, put the halters on, and then go 
through a regular tug-of-war performance. They 
pull the colts about for a few minutes, just to 
show them what is wanted, and then tie them up 
all night, and let them teach themselves. In the 
morning the pupils have learnt their lesson, and 
will lead anywhere. 

The weather is deliciously warm, and people 
all going about in their shirt-sleeves. Our young 
Englishman is a capital shot, and keen fisherman, 
so he keeps us well supplied with game and fish. 

Jem went off the other day to look at some 
stock about a hundred miles from here, so I 



A LADT’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 149 


drove him down to Three Forks, where he hired 
a buggy and team, and went on. We started 
from here before the sun was up, and, as we drove 
along, the sunrise was most beautiful; such won¬ 
derful colours on the foot-hills and mountains. 
The main range of the Bockies was all covered 
with snow, sparkling and glistening in the sun; 
the lower range tinted with a lovely rose-colour, 
and the range below that a deep purple. Alto¬ 
gether the drive was very enjoyable. We arrived 

at Three Forks just as the B-s were finishing 

breakfast, so I stayed with them all day, and 
drove home in the evening. 

One of the bridges which I had to cross had 
been damaged by the ice rising, when the latter 
broke up, as it always does in the spring. They 
had been ‘’fixing” this bridge all day, but hadn’t 
finished it. One man had been left to look after 
it, and there he sat, calmly chewing tobacco, and 
whittling a stick—a Western man’s sole amuse¬ 
ment. I really think they are the best loafers 
under the sun. I called out to him to know 
what to do, upon which he said: “ I guess you ’ll 



150 A lady’s EANCHK LIFE IN MONTANA. 


have to unhitch.” So he helped me to unhitch, 
and I led the horses, while he dragged the buggy 
across. We hitched up the horses again on the 
other side,holding an amicable conversation during 
the process, in the course of which he told me “he 
guessed I was pretty well used to horses,” at 
which I felt flattered. I got home safely, and 
found the young Englishman ready to take the 
horses, and also that he had got dinner ready, 
being a very good cook. It seemed quite grand, 
as if one was at home with a full staff of servants. 

Jem got home last night, having driven seventy 
miles that day, not bad travelling, and he said 
his horses were not over-tired either. These 
Western horses can do enormous distances in a 
day, and day after day without knocking up. 
Jem rode one fourteen-hand pony eighty-five 
miles between sunrise and sunset; and the same 
pony 450 miles in ten days, with fourteen stone 
on his back, and nothing to eat, except what grass 
he could get at the end of a picket rope. 

We are to have an old man, an American, to 
look after the horses (and to take care of me !) 



A LADY’S BANOHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 151 


as Jem is going to Dakota soon with a batch of 
horses. 


March 7th. 

Heke I am alone in my glory, with no one 
to look after me except old Van Vrauken, the 
American, who is taking care of things while 
Jem is away. 

A large bunch of horses arrived some days ago, 
and we have been very busy getting them ready 
for the Dakota market. Old Yan is a capital 
hand at breaking horses, and we have been driving 
all day, sometimes Van and Jem, and sometimes 
I, go with one or other of them. About three 
inches of snow fell, so we were able to use bob 
sleighs. That is certainly a delightful way of 



152 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 

getting over the ground, though these young 
horses, with nothing to steady them, are apt to 
go rather faster than one intends; however, as 
they say out here, “We can ride as fast as they 
can run.” And with the whole prairie to run 
over, it does not much matter where they go. 

Jem nearly always gets me to drive, as he 
declares I have better hands for driving than he 
has, so I’ve had a most exciting time altogether. 
The day before the horses were shipped—which is 
a phrase here for sending things by train—two 
or three men came down to help, and the horses 
were all thrown, their tails plaited and sewn up in 
sacking to prevent them gnawing one another’s 
tails or rubbing their own against the side of the 
truck. The poor things are only taken out of 
the truck and fed once in twenty-four hours, so 
you may imagine they are ready to eat horse¬ 
hair or anything else. 

Some of them were such good-looking horses, 
that I was quite sorry to see them go. They 
stood from 15'2 to 16 hands, and I should not 
have been ashamed to drive some of them in 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 153 

England. The others were more of the omnibus 
stamp. 

I live by myself in one part of the house and 
Van by himself in another part. It is rather 
eerie at night. Being all alone, one notices all 
sorts of noises, that never bothered one before. 
The noise the rats make, the hooting of the owls, 
the howling of the coyotes, even the squealing of 
the pigs, all make one feel rather jumpy. Of 
course I know I am in no danger, and old Van, 
though he is seventy-six years old, is a protection 
against tramps or anything of that sort, but Still 
I don’t quite like being alone. Old Van is a very 
amusing fellow, and looks on me as his grand¬ 
daughter, I think. 

The other day I was going down to Three 
Forks, to call on a newly-married English couple 
—or rather semi-English, for she’s an American 
—and when I was quite ready, came out to the 
stables in a deceut frock. Van seemed immensely 
struck with this, and stood gazing for a full 
minute; then, with a chuckle, said, “ Well, we are 
fine.” I daresay he was surprised at the trans- 



154 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


formation scene, as my ordinary get-up is all 
holes and patches. I am always burning holes in 
my skirts from going too near the stoves. 

The people on whom I went to call seemed very 
nice, but she declares she can’t live at Three 
Forks ; so, after furnishing and fitting up a house 
there, he will have to leave and go to Helena. 
She was asking Mrs. B- all about house¬ 

keeping and how ladies manage out here. When 

Mrs. B- had finished, she said, “ I hope I 

shall never come down to scrubbing my floors and 

cleaning my stoves.” Mrs. B- piled it on 

after that. 

Our pigs are increasing rapidly. There are 
about ninety now, all ages and sizes, running 
about. Van grumbles, as they make such a mess 
round the stables, and says “ the ground is paved 
with pigs.” And it certainly does look like it, 
when they are lying together in the sun. Thank 
goodness they don’t bother me, as I always greet 
them with boiling water when they come round 
the kitchen door. 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 155 


April 5 th. 

Jem came back a day or two ago. When he 
arrived I was staying at Three Forks, and as he did 
not come back until eleven o’clock at night, the 
house was all locked up, and he had to get in 
through the window. He was rather afraid that 
old Van would mistake him for a burglar or horse- 
thief, and pepper him with his shot gun, which 
he always keeps loaded with buck-shot in case of 
emergency. 

I have had two men down here fencing in about 
twenty acres of brush and rough pasture for the 
pigs. They fenced it with a stake and bound 
fence, and we hope to keep the pigs in there until 
the autumn, and then turn them on to the peas to 
fatten. One of the men who is working at the 
fence, plays the violin very well; it is quite a 
treat to hear him. The men sleep in a tent and 
have their meals with old Van. 

Little colts are coming pretty fast now. I 



156 A LADT’s RANCHE life IN MONTANA. 


ride slowly round the pastures every day, and 
take great interest in the new arrivals. It is so 
deliciously warm that my horse and I nearly go 
to sleep, and then I rouse him and myself up hy 
jumping all the fences available. 

We are all very much interested in the Home 
Rule question out here, but no argument is pos¬ 
sible, as we are Conservatives to a man. The 
Americans are all in favour of Home Rule; but 
it is no use arguing with them, as they don’t 
really understand anything at all about it. How 
I should like to be at home now and get all the 
news fresh. Of course we get all important news 
almost as soon as you do, but one misses all the 
items that lead up to a great event. 

Jem talks of driving 300 head of horses back 
to the States, selling as he goes, until they are 
all sold. If he does, I shall come home, as I 
could not stay here for three or four months all 
alone. Sometimes I have a wild idea of going 
with him. It would be rather an adventure fol¬ 
lowing the tails of 300 horses 1,500 miles, camp¬ 
ing out every night, and shooting and fishing en 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 157 

route. They say that after the first fortnight 
the horses are no trouble at all, that the waggon 
carrying the tent, provisions, blankets, &c., goes 
first, and the horses all string out and follow it 
along the trail, with one or two men behind to 
keep them going. However, I ’m afraid it would 
not really do for me to go, especially as I heard 
that some man in Texas, who took his wife and 
daughter with him on a long cattle-drive, had a 
difference with his “boys” on account of not 
letting them eat with his women-folk, whereupon 
they all left him; and there he was, 100 miles 
from anywhere, with 2,000 head of cattle and no 
one to handle them but himself, wife, and 
daughter. How he got out of the mess I never 
heard. 



158 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


May 3rd. 

Such a lovely day, quite hot and summery. I 
have just finished my house-work; it is now 
nearly 1 p.m., and I have been terribly busy 
since 6 o’clock this morning. Jem starts directly 
after breakfast every morning now, as he is 
riding on the horse round-up, and I don’t see 
him again all day. I am going to ride with him 
to-morrow, which will be great fun. No sooner 
had he started this morning than Van comes to 
me, and, in a coaxing tone of voice, persuades 
me to jump on my horse and drive in a bunch of 
mares for him. I had such a nice ride round 
after them, and helped a man, whom I didn’t 
know, to drive some cows, which he had found 
near our place, part of the way home. Then I 
drove our mares in, unsaddled my horse, and 
went and toiled at what Jem calls my “ Fetish,” 
i.e. house-cleaning. 

I always clean out the drawing-room and bed- 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 159 


room on Mondays, filling up the hall with furni¬ 
ture, like the maids do at home. I think I do 
it in a ve ry scientific way, and if I dust a single 
thing out of its turn, it quite puts me out. Just 
as I had got all the things nicely placed in the 
hall and could hardly open the front door, an Eng¬ 
lishman living near us must needs come and call; 
so I invited him in, but told him he would have 
to sit on the floor. He promised, instead, to 
come back when 1 had finished. 

I must tell you what a splendid plan I have 
found for scrubbing the kitchen floor. No more 
going down on my hands and knees and scrub¬ 
bing with a brush. Now I do it with a mop 
—made out of an old broom-handle and one of 
Jem’s old flannel shirts—and a bucket of boiling 
water with some lye in it. This I mop about the 
floor, and dry it all up with a clean cloth. Lye 
is wonderful stuff, and makes the boards as white 
as snow. I was so delighted last Saturday when 
I found out what a success my new plan was, as 
scrubbing that floor used to weigh on my mind 
nearly all the week. 



160 A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


We expect Harry L- out this week from 

England, and then I shall get my nice, cool 
summer dresses?" I find holland in summer, and 
heavy thick serge in winter, are the best stuffs to 
wear out here. 

Now the sun has gone down a bit, I am going 
to saddle up and go on a private round-up on my 
own account. I have just been up on the hill, and 
have seen hundreds of horses being driven into 
the corral at the Horse Ranche; so I expect 
Jem will be coming down here soon with a bunch 
of ours, and will want me to help him. I am 
afraid I shall only be able to ride this summer 
either very early or very late, as even yesterday 
I found the sun rather too much for my head, 
and I don’t want to be affected by it again, as I 
was last summer. 

I forget whether I told you all about the 
round-up before. On a fixed day all the 
people who own horses on the range meet at 
a certain place, and all ride off together into 
the hills. Then, when they have gone some 
miles, the captain of the round-up tells them to 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 161 

spread out into a wide half-circle and ride towards 
home, driving in all the horses which they see. Pre¬ 
sently the hills seem to be alive with horses, all 
galloping in the same direction, with their manes 
and tails flying in the wind, and the men all 
galloping after them up and down hills and 
ravines, over badger-holes and small dry water¬ 
courses. Now and then, though not often, as the 
horses are so wonderfully clever over rough ground, 
you see a man and horse turn a complete somer¬ 
sault, the horse having put his fore-feet into a 
badger-hole; but this is only treated as a joke, 
and the fallen generally pick themselves up none 
the worse, and are at it again. Sometimes a 
band of horses strike back for the hills, which 
treats you to a glorious gallop to head them off. 
Altogether it is most exciting. As they get near 
the corral the separate bunches become merged 
into one huge band, and you can see nothing but 
hundreds of horses galloping, and clouds of dust. 
Then two or three men on the fastest horses 
gallop on ahead, let down the bars of the corral, 
and stand in front of the horses to turn them in. 

11 



162 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


On they come, until they are headed by these 
men. Then they begin huddling together, circ¬ 
ling round, getting their heads turned the wrong 
way, and acting generally in the most provoking 
manner possible. “ Bronchos '* seem to have the 
greatest objection to going into a corral. 

Very often an old gentle horse, who no more 
minds going into the corral than into his own 
stable, stands just in the gateway, blocking it up, 
and looking as if he wa3 frightened to death at 
going in; till you long to be near him with a 
good thick stick. At last a few make up their 
minds to go in. The rest follow pell-mell like 
a flock of sheep; the bars are put up, saddle- 
horses led away reeking with sweat, and tied np to 
a post, with a forty-pound saddle on their backs 
to rest (?) ; and cutting out, which I have told you 
about before, begins. 

When this is all over, the “ boys ” indulge in a 
little fun. Some one or other has got a four-year- 
old “ broncho” which he wants ridden; accord¬ 
ingly some enterprising individual offers to ride 
him, if the “ boys ” will make up a purse to see 



A lady’s RANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 16S 

the fun. So the hat goes round, and is soon 
returned with a contribution of eight or nine 
dollars; not bad pay for riding a “broncho ” once. 
Half a dozen lassoes are soon whirling in the air; 
the luckless “ broncho ” is caught by the fore¬ 
legs, and comes down with a thud that might be 
heard a hundred yards away; someone jumps on 
his head, a bit is forced into his mouth,^gjjdL^or 
the first time in his life, he finds himself bridled. 
A handkerchief is then fastened over his eyes to 
blindfold him, and he receives a hearty kick in the 
ribs, or someone jumps with both feet on his side, 
as a friendly,(?) intimation to get up. As soon as 
he is on his legs, a heavy Mexican saddle is clapped 
on to his back, and the girths drawn as tight as 
possible. Then he is hauled outside the corral 
with a running accompaniment of kicks and blows. 
The “ broncho ” rider climbs gingerly into the 
saddle, leans forward to pull off the handkerchief, 
then settles himself well back in the saddle, and, if 
the broncho does not start at once, plunges the 
heavy Mexican spurs into the unfortunate animal’s 
shoulders, and away they go; the quadruped 

11 * 



164 A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


bucking and bawling, or running for dear life, and 
the biped whooping, yelling, flogging, and spur¬ 
ring to his heart’s content. A rough school, and 
no wonder that the young idea takes to buck¬ 
jumping as naturally as a duck to water. 


July 10th. 

I think by this time my letters will have given 
you a fair idea of a lady’s life in the Far West, 
with its daily routine. 

Now I am going to give you a resume of this 
summer, and then I shall have brought a history 
of nearly two years to a close. To begin with, I 
have been alone nearly the whole summer. After 
the horse round-up, Jem was away all the time 
shipping horses, except for one or two days, at 



A lady’s BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 165 


intervals of three or four weeks; so there I vras 
with old Van, the horses, and the pigs. But you 
must not imagine that the time hung heavily on 
my hands. On the contrary, I was busy from 
morning to night. Lonely I was, of course, as 
sometimes I did not see a soul except Van, who 
was always very good, for days at a time. When 
I say Yan was good, I mean he was nice to taej 
otherwise I had to do what he ought to J(^eWfie, 
for he was old and very loth to get on a horse, so 
I did all the riding. 

Every morning at ten o’clock I used to turn 
the whole band of horses, which we keep on our 
own ranche, outside the gates to graze; then at 
one o’clock I rode about three or four miles to 
see that they were not straying off back to the 
hills; then again at night I rounded them all up 
and brought them home. The pigs also were no 
small source of annoyance, for they were always 
getting out, and into mischief. So I had to spend 
half my time chasing them home again. I used 
to carry them several buckets full of potatoes 
every day, and feed them inside the fence, by way 



166 A LADY’S BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


of keeping them contented. You would have 
laughed to see me, leaning over the pig-fence, 
with a bucketful of potatoes in my hand, uttering 
unearthly yells of " Piggy, pig, piggy ! ” to call 
them to the feast. Besides this, I used to ride 
round the fences every night to see that they 
were all right; so you may imagine that, with all 
thi s and the house, I had enough to do. 

^FlmeVnings were the worst part of it. It was so 
fearfully lonely, sitting all by oneself. Of course'' 
I had my piauo, and Jem sent me hooks every 
week, and there were the English pipers, but still 
these are not company; even my dog “ Rook ” 
and black cat “ Jack ” seemed more satisfactory 
in that respect. About once a week some of the 
Englishmen would come to call, and I made the 
acquaintance of a ‘* granger’s” wife, whom I visited 
nearly every day to get milk (as our cow is dry); 
but, of course, this did not lessen the loneliness of 
my evenings. I don’t think I could stand another 
summer alone, it is so trying to one’s nerves. 

I had eventually to sell all the pigs, as it was 
impossible to keep them in; so I rode about 



A LADY’S BANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 167 

trying to find customers for them, and a hard 
job it was, for, of course, no one wants to buy 
pigs in the middle of summer. However, I. 
triumphed at last, and got rid of them all at 
some price or another. It was a great satisfaction 
when I saw the last hatch go off in the waggon. 
I managed better with my horses, as I was able 
to keep them together, and I must say I 
love that work; it is so interesting to wtchtne 
little colts growing, and I know every animal in 
the herd. In the evenings I often used to take a 
panful of salt, and get the whole band round 
me; even the shyest in the whole band eventually 
came up to me to get its share. 

Our big' black horse was taken very ill with 
pneumonia, and I was dreadfully anxious about 
him. He was so weak one day that I thought 
he must die; so I told Van that the horse wanted 
stimulants, and nothing else would save him. 
Van said he didn’t know what to do, he daren’t 
leave the horse, and there were no stimulants in 
he house; so I saddled up Sinister, my cow- 
pony, and galloped up to town, went straight to 



168 A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


the saloon, and asked for a bottle of whisky, 
don’t know what the bar-keeper thought. Th 
horse began to mend as soon as he had the. 
whisky, and eventually got well. But when our 
bill came in from the “ store,” we found a botth 
of whisky charged against us every day for. 
month! «We never knew how much of it th. 


h orse go t! If he got it all, I am surprised that 
n^sal^e ; for they say this Western whisky is 
fearful stuff, in fact, the natives call it, “ Kill at 


forty rods 1 ” 

Jem came home on my birthday, and said - that 
I must go back to England at once, for he should 
have to be away on and off until November, an 


I must not be left alone here any longer; so I am 
really coming home. Jem is going to move all. 
our best horses to a new range, about elevera 
miles from here, and put a man in charge. W-i 
have let this ranche to two Englishmen, ancl 
arranged everything, so that I can go home^^ 
once, and Jem will follow in December. H| 
Of course, I am fearfully busy, packing up Hi 
my household gods, and getting ready to stHi 



A lady’s EANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 16$ 

and awfully excited about coming home. I shall 
be sorry to leave this country, and the ranche, and 
all my pets; but, of course, it will be delicious 
to see everybody at home again, and I am very 
curious to see how I shall like the old life after 
a long absence from it. 


February 20th. 

Here I am back in England again. The journey 
1 was most enjoyable, and everyone very kind to me. 
|We had a capital passage, and landed at Glasgow 
all right. The old country was looking so beau¬ 
tiful, the bright green of the fields and trees so 
efreshing after the brown, dried-up appearance 

[ the prairie. The scenery of the Rockies is 
•y grand certainly, and the vastness of America 
•y impressive; but for quiet beauty, and a 



I/O A lady’s KANCHE LIFE IN MONTANA. 


delicious sense of rest, comfort, and home life, it 
cannot compare with England. 

I have been home some months now, and enjoy 
it all very much ; but, all the same, I long for my 
active, busy life out West. I have never been so 
well, and could not have been happier anywhere, 
than I was during my two' years out there, and 
the best proof of this is that I am longing to be 
bacE^igW, and look forward to the day when I 
shall set foot on the great ocean steamship* and 

*y 

set my face once more towards my mountain 
home in the Rockies.. 

I. r‘. 


London: Printed by W. H. Allen & Co., 13 Waterloo Place. 






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