Hal Mangum

La Babia

November 20, 1940
Hal Mangum writes that La Babia is ready whenever we decide to blow along. I have notified him that we are leaving here the first week in January. We are now bound by the laws of the Medes and the Persians to tumble out of here as stated.
Further particulars later.
Bob Davis

I didn't know who Hal Mangum was or what La Babia referred to, but I didn't want to show my ignorance so said nothing. Later I learned that Hal Mangum was one of the great cattle barons of Mexico, and a Texan. La Babia was the name of his 581,000 acre ranch.


We rose at 6:45, washed, shaved and had breakfast in the Eagle Pass Hotel in company with Mr. Binkley. He was a sturdy, weather-beaten, white-haired Texan who was devoted to his employer. He gave you the feeling you would rather have him on your side than against you.

Miguel Rosales, otherwise known as "Mike," and his attractive wife Carrie, were waiting for us with the Mercury sedan. In addition there was the station wagon into which our luggage was put. Then we were off on a tortuous, winding road over cactus covered country, after having first crossed the Rio Grande and passed through the Mexican customs. We went down into dry arroyos, up waterless stream beds, darting this way and that like escaping bandits. I suggested that the road was made by a road-runner chasing a rattle snake, which in turn was after a zigzagging jack rabbit. There was little of scenic value.

Bob was weary as well as hungry before we were half-way to our destination. The jogging and tossing were never-ending. We passed through countless gates, some of which were locked with chains and padlocks, but for which Mike had keys. Others were opened by merely dragging them; again there were some that were attended by children who expected a tip; and there was one easy one that was opened by merely bumping it with the car, the gate hanging on a central pivot so that it closed itself.

The dust stretched behind us in a long cloud, and the station wagon kept at a respectful distance. The only vegetation seemed to be cactus, chaparral and the huizache tree. We passed what seemed like the forty-ninth gate when our driver turned a smiling face and announced, "We are now on Mr. Mangum's property."

The whole character of the country seemed to change once we were on La Babia ranch. The ground was level, the grass deeper and the road was actually a road. In the distance the Santa Rosa mountains outlined the broad valley on both sides and according to Bob, who knew his way, acted as fencing for the 581,000-acre ranch. Because of the assisting hand of nature only 33 miles of wire fence was needed.

My companion now perked up. There was only twenty-five miles to go. We occasionally ran across fence-riders who greeted Mike and Carrie with toothy grins. The cowboys were all Mexicans, lean and wiry, who rode steeds even leaner. These men lived outdoors day and night. Their job was a highly important one. A broken fence might mean wandering cattle, and there were a million and a half dollars worth grazing in the open. They carried rifles against marauding coyotes and bears — and there were even at times poaching Indians and native outlaws to contend with.

A herd of white-faced Herefords that were being driven to market by some cowboys in leather chaps confronted us at one point and we had to wait. They went unwillingly and raised a lot of dust. Mike said they were culls and that this weeding-out process was continuous. They looked like good cattle to us, but Hal Mangum kept only the best. That was his reputation in Mexico.

Shortly after twelve noon we could see the glistening white walls of San Geronimo. It was only a few miles away. Bob gave me a brief history of the place. "It was built by General Treviño," he said. "He owned the ranch up to twenty-five years ago when Hal bought it. This particular hacienda was built for his son who had just been married. But he never got to occupy it.

"The General had acquired the ranch by decree of Porfirio Diaz for his services as commander of the northern army. He used his soldiers for the building of San Geronimo as well as the much larger hacienda La Babia. The latter, which is about 18 miles away, was his headquarters. Then suddenly his career ended, which is the custom down here when men grow too powerful. Diaz deposed him. And when Francisco Madero started the fur flying, the estate was sold to Hal. There wasn't anybody else capable of handling it."

There were cattle right up to the point where we entered the yard. Many of them were drinking from the immense concrete trough beside the road. The dwelling had looked small from a distance but we now found it worthy of such an important cattle ranch. Hal was waiting for us as we drove into the yard.

He and Bob embraced like long lost brothers. "Gosh, I'm glad to see you, Bob!" he exclaimed joyfully, curling an arm about his shoulder.

He gave me a handshake but asked me to go easy, as his arm had been badly injured a year previous and was still recovering.

I liked Hal immediately. He was just what I had hoped he would be. He was a heavily set man of ruddy complexion with half-moon eyes like John Garner's that almost closed when he smiled. The profile belonged to one who had fought his way up; the nose slightly hooked, the jaw and mouth aggressive. He was wearing a huge sombrero, leather jerkin, gabardine trousers and fancy leather riding boots.

We entered the high-ceilinged, palatial bedroom that was to be ours during our ten-day stay. A large stuccoed fireplace occupied one corner with a cheerful fire of huizache logs roaring up its flue. Over the mantle-piece was a painting of a Mexican caballero wearing an enormous sombrero and carrying a rifle at port. He had a bandolera of cartridges strung over one shoulder. Standing at either end of the mantel were hand-carved statues of border Indians, given Hal by Irvin S. Cobb. They were decidedly on the grotesque side.

The walls of this room as well as the house itself, were over two feet thick. It gave security and acted as insulation against heat in the summer. From artistically scrolled curtain rods, hung heavy drapes of rich raspberry. The huge Mexican rug had a flowered design of yellow, green and red. A "throw" made of many curly-haired white kid skins lay over the bathroom threshold.

Our beds were covered with a chintz-like material in old rose. There were large, stuffed easy chairs, a foot rest, a chaise-longue, a stand lamp and a desk lamp, the latter for Bob's work. His typewriter as usual was placed on top of his black metal suitcase. Behind it stood a huge white wooden cabinet. It was the only piece of furniture remaining that had belonged to General Treviño.

We were ravenous when we entered the dining room. Raoul, the Mexican cook Hal had imported especially for us, had prepared tender young kidneys with a delicious gravy. A flaky rice was served with it, there was roast pork cut up in chunks, a salad made up of tomatoes stuffed with chicken, real homemade bread, and for dessert a golden, fine-textured cake covered with white icing.

Nor should the delicious soup be forgotten, made of beef stock, filled with tender string beans and seasoned with piquant hot-pepper sauce. The latter made Bob cluck with joy and he asked for an extra helping of the sauce. The coffee was similar to that served in Louisiana, having a parched flavor all its own.

Two attractive Mexican girls whom Hal was breaking in, waited on us. They were well past the shy stage and stuck strictly to the business at hand. If anything they were overefficient. If one laid down his fork to talk he was apt to lose it as well as his plate. And immediately after the meal was over they whisked everything away, even to the water glasses, leaving a completely bare table.

We now retired to the privacy of our room to talk. We told our host about everything that had happened to date. In the general conversation that followed it turned out that Hal not alone knew Vice-President Garner intimately but had been his political manager for thirty years. We had passed near "Cactus Jack's" place on our way down and I was curious as to its size.

"Oh, it's just a little place," answered Hal. "About thirty thousand acres."

I was as bad as Bob as a catechizer and next asked about Cardenas.

"He's an Agrarian and a Socialist," answered the cattle baron. "Camacho is a better man and things are improving under him."

Hal told us he was still an American citizen. He had been able to hold La Babia through the various revolutions and even survived the agrarian movement. "My place is all grazing land," he said. "The Agrarians have been chiefly interested in redistributing farm lands. Even when the revolutionary Cardenas government came into power I was let alone." With pardonable pride he added, "My place was known as the 'Model Mexican Ranch.'"

There is no doubt that Hal is a great asset to Mexico. There are no finer cattle anywhere than his Herefords. Mexican cattle-men can rejuvenate their herds by buying at his sales. He employs only native help at top wages. He cares for them in sickness and in health. He acts as arbitrator in their domestic troubles. They love him and will defend him with their lives.

I could feel myself catching the spirit of the place. "It must be a wonderful life," I said.

"Well, it isn't always exactly a bed of roses," he said a little grimly. "A year ago a 2000 pound derrick fell on me. Fortunately it hit me a glancing blow and only broke five ribs, a shoulder blade and a vertebra." He glanced at his almost helpless right arm. "Then pneumonia set in. But I'm coming along pretty well."

He still had a trained nurse in attendance, the very capable Miss Jessie Flowers of San Antonio. She had eaten dinner with us.


There was a lull in the conversation. Suddenly Bob broke in, "Hal, how about a story I can use. After all, my business is to write."

The cattleman gave him an agreeable smile. "All right, Bob," he said without any preliminary thinking, "I'll tell you about a laundress on the place. You know it's always been my policy to have a tree on Christmas and give out presents to my help. There are about 137 employees, which is quite an order."

In anticipation of a good story, Bob refitted his amber holder with a fresh cigar. Hal took a drag on his cigarette and continued, "I always bring in two truck loads of stuff. Owing to the purpose for which it is intended, the Mexican Government lets me bring it in duty free. I always attend to the buying myself. I don't mind it. It's rather fun.

"Now last Christmas I happened to ask the laundress what she would like for a present. It isn't the way I usually work it. Anyhow, she answered she would like a doll. She's a grown mother with children, mind you. But for years she had seen children receiving dolls and she'd never owned one."

Bob had been listening intently. Now his hand went to his pocket for his note-book, then his pencil.

Hal went on, "I decided to get the finest doll obtainable, one that would close its eyes and say 'Mama.' I had to go clear to San Antonio to get it, a round trip of 400 miles. I did a good job while I was at it and got extra dresses and clothes for it."

He gave a short laugh. "It was wrapped up in a fancy long box. The laundress acted like a person in a trance when she opened it. I've never seen anything like it. She put the doll in a crib and neglected her own children. I was half sorry afterwards that I'd gotten it for her. It was at least four months before she paid any attention to her children. And that was only because I threatened to take the doll away."

Bob was filled with enthusiasm. "What a story!" he said. "It's a lulu!" He finished his notes and added with a chuckle, "I can have her reject the doll because it says 'Mama' in English. She wants one that says 'Mamacita.'"

Our host was pleased that he was able to make a contribution. "I once hired a Mexican boy as a helper in the kitchen," he continued. "He was an intelligent looking chap in his early twenties. We use a lot of sausage on the ranch so I devoted considerable time to teaching him how to make it. And I used my pidgin Spanish. He was very polite and did everything as I requested."

Again there was that quiet smile. "One day, I heard the boy speaking English. I asked him, 'Why didn't you tell me you spoke English?'

"'Well Mr. Mangum,' he answered, 'you addressed me in Spanish so I answered you in Spanish.'

"'Where did you learn it?' I asked.

"'In Chicago,' he answered. 'I lived there seven years.'

"'What were you doing there?' I quizzed him further.

"'I was making sausage in Swift & Company,' he replied."

There was plenty of laughter after that one, and Bob remarked, "That'll make a story." Accordingly he made notes.

The conversation abruptly turned to cooking. "Bob," asked our host, "did you ever have a barbecued calf's head cooked in the ground?"

My roommate shook his head. But at the mention of food he was all attention.

"Well, you dig a pit," said Hal. "About two feet deep, and in it you build a fire of huizache wood. When it has burned down to embers you remove them and put in the calf's head wrapped in wet burlap. A metal lid is put on the hole, all leaks are sealed and a fire is built on top."

The narrator paused. He was describing the operation with his good hand. "After eighteen hours the succulent head is removed. The skin just peels off like an oversize glove — and the feast begins." He looked at each of us to see if we approved.

"Sounds good," said Bob. "How about having it?"

"All right," said Hal. "that's just what I was thinking. I'll have Don Miguel kill a calf this afternoon and it will be all ready for tomorrow or the next day."

It was Bob's turn and it was an amazing thing to me that he could discuss food after the hearty meal we had just eaten.

"Would you like to know how to cook a steak?" he asked. "The secret was picked up by my wife in Washington Market. The imperial-bearded steward of the Ritz passed it on to her."

We both knew it would pay to listen, as Bob didn't talk idly about food.

"Take a 2½ inch steak," he instructed. "Rub a cup of bar sugar on both sides. Then broil each side for five minutes close to the fire. Next broil at a distance for twenty-five minutes." He puffed leisurely on his cigar and continued, "You may now remove what looks like a wreck, or a brown derby. Slice it slantingly and a treat awaits you — in fact one of the greatest gastronomical treats known to man."

The epicure rolled his eyes divinely and licked his lips.

My thoughts were more on the country which we were visiting and I chose the next pause to ask, "Hal, do you still have any bandits left down here?"

"Only occasionally," he replied. "They've been pretty well cleaned up." Then his thoughts went back into the past. "Once I helped get a bandit out of prison. He was to die. It made a new man out of him and he went straight from then on."

"I'd like to hear about it." I said, afraid he was going to stop.

"It was a good many years ago," he continued. "He lived in the valley here. Though he had a bad reputation and most people knew enough to keep away from him, there was a young fellow who was in love with his daughter and was willing to take the risk."

Hal looked to us for sympathy. "You know how it is. We've all been through it. Well, finally the old man killed him. Then he escaped to the hills. But everybody was pretty mad and the soldiers were sent after him. Eventually they captured him when he came down for supplies. He was taken over to the fort to be executed. But I hurried over to the commanding general and asked for his release."

Our host noted our surprise and explained, "His family would have starved. They had no way of making a living and there were a number of small children. I figured the man had gotten a bad start in life and had never been able to live down his reputation. Nobody had any use for him and nobody offered him any work."

Hal took a fresh cigarette and accepted a light from Bob's cigar. "The general at first refused to spare him. 'He'll just go back to killing,' he protested. 'He'll probably be worse than ever.'

"'General,' I said, 'if you'll put him in my charge I'll be responsible for him.'

"I knew," said Hal, "if I didn't save him I'd be stuck with his whole family." His eyes shut tightly as he gave a short laugh. "At any rate," he continued, "I thought I could do something with him. The general agreed and sent for the prisoner. He told the man what had happened. 'You'd better be good and mind Mr. Mangum,' he warned him. 'If you do one wrong thing he'll kill you.'

"On the way home the bandit asked me for an explanation. 'I thought you had peached on me, Señor Mangum,' he said. 'I didn't know you were my friend.'

"'Well, I am,' I answered. 'But you'd better go straight, because I'll kill you just as the general said.'"

"What happened?" asked Bob, getting out his book.

"He's been a peaceful citizen ever since," answered Hal. "In fact he's working for me right now. He'll disappear for months at a time, but when he's broke he comes back and goes on the pay roll. In return he kills coyotes and performs other services."


The following morning Raoul entered our room at six to light the fire and offer us coffee and orange juice. Bob rejected his offer and, jumping out of bed, ran for the bath. I on the other hand accepted. And I was glad I did because we didn't have breakfast until eight. It was worthy of high-class ranch life and consisted of oatmeal and cream, crisp bacon, highly spiced sausage, hot biscuits, fig preserve and coffee.

There had been frost during the night, also a "norther." Like Texas, the latter brought great clouds of dust and the mountains appeared in a haze. But in a few hours the atmosphere had cleared and the sun shone out of a perfect sky. I took a walk by myself and breathed deeply of the crisp, dry air. There was a wonderful sense of freedom in the unlimited expanse and the knowledge of complete isolation.

Returning on higher ground, I was struck by the simple beauty of San Geronimo, its white walls bathed in sunshine, the palms and other tropical growth adding to its maturity and dignity. And as I drew closer there were the extensive flower beds and the many large porch boxes filled with brightly colored plants reflecting the spirit within. And the whole was framed by the Santa Rosa mountains, now a pale lavender.

I went in and got my drawing pad and water-color pencils and made two sketches of the "house." One of them I presented to Hal. He seemed quite touched. "I think it lovely," he said. "I'm going to have it framed."

Dinner was served at 12:30, and no one had to be urged. There was delicious tender roast beef with gravy, macaroni and cheese, steamed rice, fruit salad, fresh bread, tea and frozen pudding. As at the previous meals, everything was whisked off the table by the cute Mexican girls the minute we had finished. But we sat and talked for some time, Miss Flowers remaining with us and enjoying the conversation.

In discussing some of the personalities who had visited San Geronimo, Hal mentioned that Lindbergh had spent some time with him when on his "good-will" flight to Mexico. "He was very nice," said our host, "though a quiet chap."

"I ran across him once," put in Bob, "on one of my European trips. I believe it was at the Deutscher Kaiser Hotel in Munich. At any rate he had entered the hotel and passed through the lobby. I reached him as he started up the steps. 'How do you do, Mr. Lindbergh,' I said. And I handed him my card."

We waited for the conversation that followed. Bob looked a bit grim. "All he did was give one look at my card, then turn and run upstairs."

I thought it over and ventured the opinion. "He didn't mean any offense, Bob. I'll bet he didn't know who you were. You were just another newspaper man to him. And at the time they were probably hounding him to death."

My traveling companion accepted my explanation without comment. Then Lindbergh's original flight came up. "I knew Raymond Ortieg who made that flight possible, when he was a bus boy at Martin's," said Bob. "Later he became proprietor of the Hotel Lafayette. I was on the Morning Journal at the time. It was right then that Raymond's interest in aviation began."

The speaker paused to relight his cigar. "It was at the end of another war — the Spanish American. Admiral Dewey was expected in on his triumphal entrance to New York. There were two French balloonists in New York and I conceived the idea of a balloon ascension with three kinds of confetti to be flung from the balloon as Dewey progressed up Ambrose Channel to New York Harbor and finally docked.

"Raymond begged to be allowed to make the ascension and throw out the confetti. I agreed. But the gas that was necessary to inflate the bag did not materialize and we had to call the flight off. However the kid did get his interest in aeronautics at that time."

"Well," I remarked, "then indirectly you were responsible for Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic in the 'Spirit of St. Louis.'"

"I don't know," answered Bob. "Do you think so?"

To keep the conversation going, I asked our host where he got the water for his vast ranch with herds of cattle scattered over distances of fifty to sixty miles.

"It was a real problem until just recently," answered Hal. "It's a rather interesting story how we overcame it. One day a Kickapoo Indian came to see me and said he would show me a spring high up on the west slope of the range in exchange for a perpetual right to hunt.

"As most Indians are liars," he added with a gathering at the corners of his eyes, "I didn't pay attention. But he knew I needed water for my stock. So he returned and offered to show me the place without compensation. Though I still doubted, I sent a man with him.

"The ranch hand returned that night and reported that there was a fine spring of cold blue water in sufficient quantity to water 3000 head of cattle. That was better than a gold mine so I rode up to see it for myself. Sure enough, there it was, 2000 feet up the side of the mountain, the bluest, finest water you ever saw."

"Strange," I said, "with all the hunting you do and the fence-riding that it hadn't been discovered before."

"Yes," answered Hal, "but it wasn't a very big space where it bubbled out. And within a short distance it reentered the gravelly soil again. The Indian only discovered it by accident while after a bear. The bear stopped to drink.

"So I gave him hunting rights as long as he lived. Subsequently he showed me two more springs he had found the same way. That has given me all the water I need. I'm laying the pipe right now for one of them."

Bob had his pad out busily taking notes. "You see," he said to me, a gleam in his eye, "in this country you climb for water and dig for fuel."

Hal's eyes turned into half-moons as he smiled. "I get the water that way but not the fuel. Bob's referring to the cowboys who sometimes have to dig up dried roots in the wet season to start a fire."

Early in the afternoon our host asked us if we would like to take a ride in the Mercury. We were agreeable so he told Mike to get it out and to bring along a rifle in case we saw any coyotes. We drove over into one of the other valleys and as we bounced over the more or less level floor, Hal told us the story of his early life. It was started by my asking him how old he was when he first got into the cattle business.

"Fourteen," he answered. "I began by punching cows. Father had gone broke so I had no chance to finish my education. After a few years Jack Garner and some others who had faith in me offered to back me in the cattle game."

We drove up to a water trough and the assembled cattle scattered at our approach. Hal asked Mike to get out and see if the pipe was flowing all right, then continued, "I knew the business from the ground up. Right off things broke nicely for me. By the time I was twenty-one I had paid off all father's debts and given him a check for fifty thousand dollars and had seventy-six thousand dollars in the bank in my own name."

Mike got behind the wheel again and we started for another trough a few miles beyond. "They say nothing succeeds like success," said Hal, turning half way round. "From then on things moved pretty fast. When I was twenty-eight I owed half a million to various Western banks. National City came to me and offered to loan me money at 5%. I was paying 10% so accepted."

Mike suddenly jammed on the brakes, grabbed the rifle and stepped out of the car. He took quick aim and fired. The bullet spat and kicked up dust in a distant group of cactus.

"Coyote," he said laconically, getting back into the car.

"Did you get him?" asked Bob

"No. But I think I creased him," was the answer.

"You've got a good eye," said my companion. "I didn't see anything."

"The damn things are getting my calves," remarked Hal before resuming his story — "Once I had $100,000 thrust upon me that I didn't need. It was a little embarrassing but an admirer insisted on loaning it to me on my bare note. He said, 'I just want to loan you some money. It's a desire I've had for a long time.'"

"Did you accept?" I asked.

"Yes. What else could I do. But only for sentiment's sake," he answered. "I didn't need it."

The sun was sinking low on the horizon and the shadows on the mountains were turning a deep purple. We drove through a narrow defile and started home.

"Makes me think," said Bob, "of a time when I once wrote a piece of poetry to a prominent New York banker requesting a loan. My poem was read at the director's meeting as a joke. On the board was a Mr. E. H. Clark who knew my whole history, and he at once offered to go on my note. It was the only money the bank ever loaned on an unpublished poem."

My companion regarded me with satisfaction as if to say, "Wasn't I a bright boy?"

Most of the cattle we saw were in small groups and contentedly grazing. But once we came upon a small herd where a large and ferocious looking bull was having it out with one of the aspiring younger generation. He soon put the pretender to flight, then pawed the ground as a challenge to any others.

It made us all laugh, and of course brought up the subject of bull-fighting. I asked Hal if from the American viewpoint it was a really dangerous sport.

"The greatest fight I ever saw was in Mexico City," he said. "All the prominent Mexicans in the city were in attendance. Six fierce imported Andalusian bulls were brought in. They were magnificent beasts, coal black."

He leaned his good arm on the back of the seat to look at us. "Ginom, the most famous matador of his time was the drawing card. There was the usual parade of picadores, chulos and banderilleros. They all went up and bowed before the 'Queen.' Ginom tossed her his cockade hat, then went to work. One by one he dispatched the five bulls with a most remarkable exhibition of skill.

"Of course he didn't enter the ring until the bulls were well enraged. Then he came in alone — not the way they do today. As he threw off his cape his spangled body glistened in the sunlight. It was a great sight. The crowds adored him and shouted themselves hoarse. There wasn't a bull born that Ginom was afraid of. He'd even allow them to back him against the sides of the enclosure with their horns about his body."

The speaker glanced ahead to see if he were going right, then continued. "The sixth bull with a slightly drooping horn, came in snorting, properly touched up with a good dose of 'high life.' He killed two horses in the twinkling of an eye, then two chulos."

Hal explained, "They're the chaps with the crimson banners. But Ginom was too nimble for him. He was never there when the bull charged — just the fraction of an inch to one side. The bull pawed the dirt, took a sight on him and charged. The matador didn't move till the last second. Then gracefully, and with what seemed to be leisure, he stepped aside."

We stopped to inspect another water trough and when we were on our way again, our host picked up the thread of his story. "Ginom finally made ready to dispatch the bull. But suddenly a roar went up from the crowd. At first he didn't understand. He looked around and then retired from the ring. Apparently he had done something to incur displeasure.

"But he was induced to come out again, and as before he prepared to finish off the bull. Immediately the uproar started again. This time the officials realized it wasn't directed at Ginom. They wanted the bull's life to be spared. He was a noble animal. The matador bowed to their wishes.

"In order to conduct him out, a group of steers was brought in. But before the bull would leave, he trotted around the ring looking up at the spectators as if seeking their applause. And he got it. There never was such a day."

Bob was unable to take any notes jogging over the rough valley floor. But not to be outdone he spoke up, "I once had an interview with the great Domingo Ortega. I made a photograph of him that so struck his fancy that he ordered a vast quantity of them for distribution."

Hal and I became intent listeners as Bob continued, "I got well acquainted with Domingo and he gave me the history of bull-fighting. He explained that when a cow was chosen to be a future bull's mother, it was first infuriated by a matador before being bred. This was carried to a point where the foam was coming not alone from the cow's mouth and nostrils, but also from its eyes. When it finally came time for calving, all hands went down on their knees and prayed Almighty God it would be a bull calf fit for the greatest matador."

Hal offered Bob a cigar and after it was lighted he continued, "Some years after our first meeting, Mrs. Davis and I were in Monterrey. Suddenly an excited civilian hailed me with, 'Amigo! Amigo!'

"It was Domingo. His bride was with him. 'I don't know which I am most excited over, Mr. Davis,' he said, ' the coming bull-fight or my honeymoon.'

"It wouldn't have taken me long to come to a decision," said Bob, "after one look at his señorita. I instructed Mrs. Davis, 'Now you entertain this girl while I interview Domingo. Take her to a movie or to our hotel. But get a story from her. It's about time anyway you were beginning to earn your living.'"

Even Mike had to smile at this.

"Did she get a story?" I asked.

"Yes," replied the globe trotter. "When I joined her at her hotel I asked her right away, 'Did you find out if Señora Ortega attends the bull-fights when Domingo is performing?'

"'You'd be surprised,' answered Mrs. Davis. 'Not since the day of their wedding four months ago has she seen her husband enter the ring. Yet during the two years of their courtship she never missed an opportunity. She fell in love with him the first time she saw him perform. His recklessness and daring got her. But now he has asked her to stay away. Sort of pathetic, isn't it?'

"I answered that I didn't think so. I could easily understand that Domingo couldn't take an eyeful of El Toro and his intended at the same time. It might have fatal consequences. 'And now that señora is in the business so to speak,' I asked her, 'how does she spend her time when Domingo is doing his stunt on the crimson sand?'

"She retires to her chamber,' answered Mrs. Davis, 'suffers in torment and says her rosary until she hears his returning footsteps, echoes that are audible to her ears at an incredible distance. I quite understand her.' Mrs. Davis paused here and looked at me, 'What has your friend the bull-fighter to say? Is he conscious of the situation he has created?'

"'I've made no effort to plumb his mind,' I answered. 'He is confident of himself. He takes bull-fighting as a matter of course. What else can we bread winners do but carry on? Domingo's income from wetting steel in public nets him about $200,000 a year. He is now twenty-nine and expects to retire at thirty-five. Six more years if he lives, means over a million. Enough to insure himself and his señora against the breadline. Not so bad, eh?'

"Mrs. Davis stifled a yawn and added dryly, 'If that's the case, perhaps the time has come for you to revise the ancient wheeze, The pen is mightier than the sword.'"


The following day was Sunday, January 19th. Raoul woke us at the usual hour and again brought in orange juice and parched coffee. This time Bob accepted. Lying propped in bed by pillows, my companion dictated the receipt for a breakfast hash. Raoul listened respectfully, his chef's cap set squarely on his large head and its snowy white emphasizing his swarthy complexion.

"Take 1½ pounds of round," said Bob, using his sensitive, expressive hands, "grind it in the meat chopper, add a pint of milk and cream, half and half, salt to taste. Now heat in a chafing dish and serve on dry toast. Have a teacup of celery handy, ground up fine, and sprinkle on top of each serving. Eat and enjoy yourself to the limit of this par excellence of hashes, the receipt of one R. H. Davis."

Raoul noted everything on a pad. "It sounds very good, Mr. Davis," he said. With that brief speech he figuratively bowed himself out.

We had fallen into the habit of sitting and talking after our meals. Breakfast this morning was no exception. Bob told us what he called his 'Fly Story.'

"In Tokio I once met a Japanese," he said, "who told us he had individualized himself. He imagined himself to be a fly. The conception came to him while in bed. It was so overpowering, particularly in connection with a fly caught in the fly-paper, that he stuck to the sheets and had great difficulty in rising.

"In making his demonstrations before us," continued my traveling companion, "the Japanese shed his coat. Then he allowed his suspenders to fall, stating they were the fly's wings. First the fly buzzed about the room, then settled on some poisoned water which he did not like. He proceeded to clean his feet by rubbing them about his loosely jointed head."

Here Bob demonstrated with his hands, then continued, "Having refreshed himself, the fly started out anew. Suddenly he became attracted by the fly-paper. This was represented by a small pillow. The Jap got one foot stuck in it, tried desperately to extract himself, then caught a hand in trying to free his foot. And so it went; a foot, a hand, both feet, both hands and finally his suspenders. He lay on his back with the pillow in the air and it clung tenaciously to him. He buzzed frantically all the time and made the weirdest noises."

Bob paused at this point and wiped his mouth. "By now," he added, "everyone watching him was in convulsions." And so were Hal and I and Miss Flowers. My jaws ached.

"Finally the Jap jumped to his feet free," continued Bob, "said the demonstration was over and put on his coat. He bid us goodbye and started for the door. But before he reached it he stumbled over a rug. His feet got caught in it and he had difficulty freeing himself. Then he got stuck against the door jamb, first with one hand then the other. With a final effort he freed himself and disappeared."

To us, Bob's act was as good as the Japanese's. "Damned if he didn't look like a fly while he was telling it," remarked Hal afterward.

A short time later our host asked us if we would like to go turkey shooting. Bob was hesitant, but I spoke up with alacrity. My roommate then said he would go along to keep Hal company. Mike was told to get the station wagon and the shotguns.

We drove through the valley and up into the foothills where the red and brown oaks stood out prominently and adverstised perfect cover. Hal said the birds fed largely on acorns and were usually found scratching under the trees.

After reaching the summer shacks, which were constructed like the native dwellings of poles and thatch, Mike and I left Bob and Hal and struck out with our shotguns. We traveled over a mile through the tall grass and giant cactus and carefully searched every bit of cover. But it was no dice. Nary a turkey did we see. There was something else though.

Suddenly, like a flash Mike dropped down, motioning me to do the same. I looked blankly at him. "Deer!" he whispered, pointing ahead.

I followed his gaze, but saw nothing except the same browns, umbers and reds. Then a slight movement in the distant brush gave me something to focus on. The foliage turned to life: a buck and two does.

"Go after them," he urged, as they grew suspicious and turned their rumps to us. "Only shoot the buck. But wait until you get within a hundred feet of him."

Trying to get within a hundred feet of those deer was some order. It would have taken a snake to do it. I crept forward with caution, using the bear grass with its large fronds for protection. But the deer were moving faster than I. As I had number 2 shot, it was useless to bang at them from a distance. Finally as the deer hit a livelier gait, I broke into a run.

I did not realize I was at an elevation of 4000 feet, but I was soon aware of it. The deer disappeared in the oaks and I came to a sudden stop. It sounded as if deer were pounding the earth all about about me. I was mistaken. It was my own heart.

On our return to the shacks, Bob immediately began ragging us. "Why didn't you shoot?" he asked. When told the circumstances he replied, "Well, you could have shot just to get us excited."

On the way home Hal showed me the place where a hoax had been put over on Irvin S. Cobb. "We were on a turkey hunt just like this," he said with his restrained smile. "Bob was along. The night before I had one of the ranch hands stake out an old gobbler. He was the last one left in the barn yard."

Hal must have seen a look on my face because he quickly added, "He was better off. The old fellow had gotten awful lonesome. Anyway we got going right after breakfast and parked the car in here. I had the guide go ahead with Irvin and Bob and I followed along behind."

Our host looked at Bob for confirmation which was given with solemn visage, and continued, "Bob was carrying his movie camera and Irvin asked, 'What have you got that for?' 'Oh,' Bob replied, 'I thought I might get a picture.'

"Suddenly the guide discovered the turkey and pointed it out to Irvin. The bird was lonesome and seeing what it thought were friends, started for them. Irvin let go a murderous blast. But he was so excited he missed.

"Halted by the act of treachery, the old gobbler recovered from his surprise and began to leg it away. And Irvin kept on pumping shots at him. He fired about seven in all. The last one got him. Running forward in great excitement he picked the bird up."

Here Bob took up the story. He had followed every word eagerly. "I managed to shoot the whole scene though I was laughing so I could hardly hold the camera. Irvin was all puffed up with pride. He had the old buck slung over his shoulder and was completely oblivious to the steady trickle of corn from his crop. He seemed to think it was perfectly natural, though there was nothing but oak trees for twenty-five miles."

Hal's eyes were half-moons and he could hardly wait till Bob finished. "'This is the finest wild turkey I have ever killed,' announced Irvin. His chest was out like a pigeon's as he stalked up to us. 'It must go thirty pounds. Boys, it'll make history!"

"Bob got his other camera and Irvin posed while he made some stills," continued our host, turning as far as he comfortably could.

"We had intended to tell Irvin how he had been 'sold,' but he was so proud we didn't have the heart to tell him.

"So that the servants back at the house wouldn't give it away, I had the guide strip the feathers off out in the woods. When Irvin discovered this he was furious. 'What do you mean by plucking my bird!' he demanded. 'If people would only mind their own business! I intended to have some more pictures taken of him when we reached the house.' He really was sore."

"You certainly put it over nicely," I said. "But how about the string that held the bird. Why didn't that give it away?"

"He must have broken it when he first saw us," answered Hal.

"And Irvin doesn't know about it to this day," said Bob, concluding the story.


The following day a Mr. and Mrs. Von Knoop, German cattle raisers who have been Hal's neighbors for twenty-one years, called and had dinner. Von Knoop was a former big-game hunter and explorer, and it was he whom Bill Bond had mistaken me for that night in Eagle Pass. There was no doubt about it, we bore a resemblance to each other. I had been hearing this right along on the ranch, and we had to stand for quite a bit of ragging after we met.

The cattleman was quite pessimistic about the proximity of war. "I fully expect to be interned and lose my ranch," he said. "It's a hard blow after all the years I've devoted to it."

It wasn't long before Bob started on one of his stories and everyone stopped talking to listen to him. "I was in Ceylon," he was saying, "and I came to a professional correspondent to whom the illiterate dictated their letters. For the fun of it I decided to send a message to a noted American lady. I chose Hindustani as one of the many languages the letter writer professed to excel in. I gave the message careful thought, expressing myself in lofty phrases which I thought was suitable coming from the East."

We were all smiling as we knew there must be some catch to it. "'The most eloquent and lovely epistle I have ever written,' breathed the letter writer as the hieroglyphics flowed from his darting stylus. When I had concluded and 60 cents had passed from finger to palm, he bowed and kissed my hand.

"Before the message was sealed and mailed I added an explanatory note in my own hand, advising the recipient to consult a certain professor of Eastern languages at Columbia for translation. Many months later on returning to New York, I called on my friend the professor and thanked him for the translation my lady fair had received and shown me, but which I thought had suffered considerably in translation.

"'Heavens, man,' said my friend, 'I couldn't send her the real thing. It referred to you in unspeakable terms, garbled your words and invented epithets which you would never have uttered to one for whom you profess such esteem. It ended by saying that you the sender were nothing more than a civet cat.'

"And the civet cat," concluded Bob grimly, "is the last word in insults in the East."

Spinach was one of the dishes on the menu, and when it was passed to me I mentioned that Bob and I had passed a sign at Big Wells, Texas, that stated it was the spinach center of the world.

"It used to be, but Eagle Pass is now," corrected Hal. "Ed Richie is the biggest shipper of spinach in the United States. One thousand cars of it went out of Eagle Pass last year. He's quite a character. I remember when he didn't have a dime. I let him trap wolves on the ranch here and paid him a dollar a hide."

Hal helped himself to the succulent plant which had just reached him and added. "Today he's a millionaire. But he can't write his own name. But he's as prudent with pennies as ever, goes tuna fishing in California and generally enjoys life."

Someone got to discussing burials and the odd way the Indians had of putting their dead up on poles. It brought up the custom in New Orleans, which only recently changed, of having their tombs above ground due to the high water level. It brought Bob in again with a burial story.

"I remember once," he said, "when I lived in Carson City a Chinaman and a cowboy were buried side by side. By accident the gravestone of the Chinaman got shifted to the cowboy. When the relatives of the oriental later sent for his remains, they got the cowboy's bones."

The narrator waved Carrie aside with the beef on her second round and continued, "Thirty years passed and one day a delegation of relatives arrived from China with the cowboy's bones and took away the proper remains."

"Why all the pains and expense?" I asked.

"Because of the importance with which they regard ancestry," answered Bob. "Half of us don't even know who our great grand-parents were."

Mrs. Von Knoop broke in, "We have a Chinese cook. One day he was boasting before another Chinaman visiting him, 'I have 3500 ancestors.' The other Chinaman proudly asserted, 'I have 5000.' Then both of them turned to me and my cook inquired, 'Mrs. Noop, how many 'cestors you have?'

"I thought I might as well make the figure a good one," said the trim lady with a laugh, "so, I answered, 'One million, Lee.' That floored them both. They just gazed at me in awe."

I had to have my dime's worth, so when Mrs. Von Knoop had finished I said, "Speaking of burials, I think the prize one is told by Dr. Axel Munthe in his St. Michele. He tells about escorting the body of a Swedish boy who died of TB on the Continent, intending to return him to his mother in Stockholm who was a childhood friend of his.

"As the law required that the corpse be accompanied by some person, Dr. Munthe hired a professional watcher whom he described as a gnome-like individual, and himself sat in a first class carriage. It so happened that another casket rested beside that of the Swedish boy. It contained the body of a Russian general wearing a great black beard and having his breast covered with medals.

"The two caskets got mixed in transit and Dr. Munthe arrived in Stockholm with the body of the general instead of the boy. But he did not learn of the mistake until just prior to the funeral. He had the undertaker open the casket preparatory to placing it on the bier. The two of them gazed in amazement on the sleeping general.

"'What shall we do?' gasped the undertaker, palsied with fright.

"Dr. Munthe had a horrible vision of the boy arriving in Moscow and the shock on the general's family when they opened the casket. But it was too late to do anything about it. 'Seal the casket,' he ordered. 'And say nothing. We'll tell them the body was badly decomposed.'"

As I finished Bob spoke up. "The book sold only a bare 9000 copies here when first offered to the public. I thought it a shame that so fine a story should be overlooked. So I wrote Dr. Munthe at length, complimenting him on his masterpiece of literature and saying among other things that it should be read by every man, woman and child with any intelligent interest in life.

"Dr. Munthe answered me and said, 'If I could write as well as you I could really put out a worth-while book.' Later my comments were used on the jacket. Whether they had any bearing on it I don't know, but sales went up into the hundreds of thousands of copies."


Raoul entered our room on the stroke of six the following morning to light our fire. Bob awoke and the conversation between the two was brilliant.

"Good morning, Raoul. How is the weather?"

"It's warmer, Mr. Davis. Between 32 and 33."

"It is? Well, isn't that colder?"

"Yes, sir."

Pause. Semi-bewilderment on Bob's part. "I thought you said it was warmer?"

"Yes, Mr. Davis."

Another pause, after contemplation. "What are we going to have for breakfast, Raoul?"

After breakfast I went with Hal to visit Eugenio, the bandit whose life he had saved. The man was down with the flu. There was an epidemic just as there had been in the States. I had a close-up of Eugenio and he wasn't exactly the type I'd pick for a bunkie. Miss Flowers brought out a bottle of medicine and ministered to him. He looked fairly harmless as he took the mixture in a teaspoon.

At ten Miss Flowers and I piled into the rear of the Mercury, Mike at the wheel and Carrie beside him bound for Muzquiz, the nearest trading post. Bob decided to stay with Hal to keep him company, though several times he seemed on the verge of joining us. The town was about fifty miles away.

It was just as well he didn't come because the road was rough, if it could be called a road. Half the time we were merely dodging huizache trees and cactus as we serpentined across the bleak landscape. It took us all of 3½ hours to get there. The opening of dozens of gates was one of the causes for our slow time. And invariably there was the small boy or girl standing ready to open them for us, hands poised for the 5 centavo tip.

Our first stop was at the ranch of Mr. McKellar, a New Zealander who married a San Antonio girl and started a ranch in the Sabinas Valley through which we were passing. His chief complaint was that Cardenas had compelled him, because of agrarian agitation, to give up 10,000 of his most fertile acres to the Kickapoos who, according to Stuart Chase the economist, are a native Indian; though my investigations show them as members of the Algonquin tribe who immigrated somewhere in the 1850's by way of Texas.

We shortly arrived at the Kickapoo village and visited the interior of one of the huts, which might be described as summer igloos due to their beehive shape. Palm matting is used in their construction and is tied to a strong twig frame-work.

Ordinarily the Indians will not permit themselves to be photographed, but after I had purchased several of their baskets, they allowed me to snap them both inside and outside their huts. A pair of the men posed for me after I had faithfully promised to send them each a picture.

One of them gave Shawnee, Oklahoma, as his address. He was a visitor and we later saw his bright new car parked among the huts. The gorgeous creation of man, typifying the peak of industrial civilization, contrasted strangely with the aboriginal architecture. I judged he had an oil well up in Oklahoma.

A clear stream ran through the village and provided it with water. It also passed on through the long valley which it irrigated and made fertile. We followed the stream clear to Muzquiz. From everyone we heard that the Indians were lazy and undeserving of such fine lands. Yet they had been promised them for thirty-five years. They were part of the land which Mr. McKeller said had been sliced from him. His complaint was that the Kickapoos were a nomadic people and not agricultural.

Shortly we came to a Seminole-Negro settlement, known as Nacimiento, which means "born." It was a much cleaner and more civilized looking place. Seeing black mammies in rockers out under shade trees, reminded me of the "sunny" South. Only Southern negroes did not have such neat and prosperous looking farms; that is, from observation along the highway.

Originally these people were slaves who ran away during the Civil War, found refuge with the Seminoles in Florida, later going to Arkansas and finally to Mexico. They were mixed negro and Seminole to begin with, but had since intermarried with Mexicans. Some of those we saw were as black as the ace of spades, others a "high yellow."

One little fellow whom we beckoned to, came and stood on our running board. He had curly black hair, was a rich chocolate and had the most beautiful lustrous black eyes I have ever seen. He answered us in English. When Miss Flowers asked the seven-year-old child how it was that he spoke English, he answered, "Because I'm a nigger."

The mothers see to it that the children keep up their English, but in the schools they have to study Spanish. They are better educated and more civilized than the Kickapoos, who refuse all education, though they may have something at that. And consequently they have the right to consider themselves superior. Their buildings were good for this part of the country and their stores looked clean and inviting. Their hospital was a credit to any settlement.

Arriving at Muzquiz, we rode down the most wretched street I have ever seen anywhere. The car lurched and bounced like a bucking bronco and we were thrown in every direction. At one moment I was in Miss Flower's lap and the next she was in mine. It would have made a good testing ground for tanks.

Locating the German hotel, the only decent place in town to eat, we had a nice dinner for one peso apiece. It consisted of soup, good German bread, fried pork steaks, fried veal and German fried potatoes. There was also dessert and coffee. The peso at the time was worth about 20 cents.

Carrie and Mike wanted to have some fun with the anemic blond waitress, so they told her I was from Berlin. Thereupon I shot some of my execrable German at her, telling her it was the best 20 cent-dinner I had ever eaten. She grinned up to her gums, but she was not fooled. She answered me briefly in German.

Later we went to the big general store where I was shown around by Mr. McKellar, who had also come to town. On the second floor there was an Indian blanket made by a Huaxaco with a beautiful conventional eagle for its central design. The price tag read 11½ pesos. I bought it in a hurry lest there be some mistake. It didn't seem that I could go far wrong for $2.20.

We all wrote post cards and mailed them at the post-office. Then we went sight-seeing, walking along the banks of a large, meandering brook until we came to a picnic grounds. Here we snapped pictures of each other, investigated the electric generating plant, and started back. Though it was well past the supper hour when we reached San Geronimo, both Hal and Bob were waiting for us and eagerly sought news of the trip.

Perhaps I was mean the way I dwelt on the many interesting sights we had seen. Said Bob a bit wistfully, "Gee, I wish I'd gone along."


In the morning when Raoul entered with the usual orange juice and coffee, Bob scolded him for the first time. It was about the coffee. "What's the matter?" he growled the instant he tasted it. "Lost your knack?"

Raoul was unperturbed. "Everybody makes mistakes at time, Mr. Davis," he answered.

Bob relented, and to show Raoul he was restored to grace began to discuss their mutual love, photography. He instructed the chef to bring the wallet from the inside pocket of his coat, whereupon he produced two photographs, one of the Crown Prince of Germany, the other of Gene Tunney.

"Both pictures were made at an open window," he explained. "My best pictures are usually made with the subject seated, relaxed and expressing some thought."

The year previous Bob had taken me to one of his exhibitions at the Lotos Club. It was a mute but inspiring collection of notables in the field of creative art from all over the world. Of the above mentioned personages only one was displayed.

He had two pictures of each subject, one placed above the other. Two entirely different moods were shown. For instance when we paused before those of D. H. Lawrence he pointed to the lower. "This is when he wrote The White Peacock," said Bob. "And this," pointing to the one above, "Lady Chatterley's Lover."

"In order to get the picture of the Crown Prince," said my roommate, as Raoul scrutinized the print, "I asked him at a reception at Mrs. Von Hindenburg's home in Berlin if I could photograph him. The Prince replied, 'Oh, I always go to the Government photographer when I want my picture taken.'"

But Bob was not the kind to take no for an answer. He sought out his hostess and explained the situation. Immediately she escorted him back to the Prince. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy telling us what she said.

"'Your Highness,' said Mrs. Von Hindenburg, 'Mr. Davis is the outstanding photographer of America and the finest amateur in the world.'

"The Prince didn't waste any time," added Bob, "in telling me to go ahead. 'I shall be glad to pose,' he said. 'Just name the time and place, Mr. Davis.'"

Bob dallied with his coffee cup as he continued, "I was staying at the Adlon Hotel. The Prince called the next day. He came up to my room and I seated him at a table by a window. 'Look at something out there in the courtyard,' I said, wishing to get the penetrating eyes.

"'I see nothing to look at,' he responded.

"So I looked out. 'See that man in the window opposite,' I said. 'Well, look sharply, Your Highness, and see whether he is a friend or an enemy.'

"The Prince looked and the camera clicked. I closed the camera and wound up the film. 'Don't you want to take another while I'm here?' asked the royal visitor.

"'No,' I answered, 'I couldn't get a better one than that.' Later, when it was developed and I had given him a copy, he said it was the best picture ever taken of him. I sold it to a prominent American magazine for $150, but to date it's not been used."

Hal's foreman, Don Miguel, joined us for breakfast. He was one of the favored to partake of Bob's special chafing dish hash, which had been promised us several days before. All eyes were intent on the gourmet as he prepared the dish at the head of the table. From the interest aroused, servants and all, with Raoul pecking in from the kitchen in his white chef's cap, one might have thought it was the baptism of the Infanta. The hash was dumped into the chafing dish along with the milk and cream, heated, and then served on slices of toast. The chopped celery hearts were added last, like a benediction. Everyone pronounced it delicious, for which Bob seemed happy.

After breakfast we lingered in the dining room and talked. There was still a real chill to the early morning air. Again the conversation turned to bandits. "I had my share of them back in 1924," said Hal. "It was a period when the revolutionary forces had badly disrupted things. Squatters came in and took over. They weren't satisfied with game. They also killed my stock. Finally a group made a raid on one of my provision wagons."

The speaker's jaw hardened at the recollection. "I wired the Secretary of War at Mexico City as well as everybody else of any importance and demanded action. It wasn't long in coming. A group of soldiers was sent in under the command of an officer. But a funny mistake was made.

"Don Miguel was in charge here and had fifteen men armed to the teeth, waiting. One of the ranch hands saw what he thought were hostile men approaching and came running to him. So Don Miguel went out with his men to meet them and announced, "We'll stand and fight it out! But don't fire until I give the command."

"The leader of the approaching force then came forward and signaled Don Miguel. To his surprise it was his own nephew. The other was pale but brave. He wore a brand new uniform of the regular army. His first words were, 'How do I look, Uncle?'"

Hal kicked at a large ember that had rolled out on the hearth and sent it back into the fire, then continued, "The soldiers were ruthless. They dragged out various members of the outlaws, breaking up the families and scattering them in far away places. I was sorry for some of them but was unable to do anything. The whole thing was out of my hands.

"Colonel Philippe Monchala finally took charge and cleaned up all the remnants in the valley. He was a semi-bandit himself and was formerly a trigger-man in the Pennsylvania coal fields. He confessed to twenty-six individual killings. He came to me smiling when he had finished his job and said, 'Now you can drive a wagon load of gold into the foothills, leave it, and the wheels of the wagons will rot before a piece of gold is touched."

Hal took a cigarette from his silver case and lighted it. As he blew out a puff of smoke he continued, "At another time Colonel Philippe hid upstairs in a house while a conference of seven revolutionary generals was under way below. Suddenly he dropped from a hole in the ceiling, a gun in either hand, killed half those present and scattered the rest."

The cattleman drew on his cigarette and looked into the flames. "On another occasion he was pursuing a rebel general on horse back. The general kept firing back at him. Philippe, well mounted on an Arabian horse, stayed well back, but kept doggedly in pursuit. At length he saw the horse the general was riding flag his tail in weariness. It meant the end. Then he rode up rapidly.

"The general dismounted and came forward. 'Don't kill me!' he begged.

Bob had his note-book out during much of the story telling. Then Don Miguel entered to say that a cattle buyer wanted to see Hal. It broke up the interesting little gathering. Bob and I retired to our room, I to write in my diary, my companion to pound out copy on the typewriter. When I was caught up I took my sketch book and went out for a walk.

Returning shortly before noon, I found the house empty. So I went out to the corrals. There I located Hal and Bob. After watching the buyer select some culls that were for sale, we went in to lunch. We were served some excellent chile con carne. It was quite different from the Americanized version I made at home and I asked Carrie for the receipt.

4 dried chili pisado (peppers)
1 pound beef, cut in small squares
1 clove garlic
1 pinch salt
Shake peppers free of seeds, soak in hot water, peel and grind or mash to a pulp. Add a little flour to thicken when mixing with gravy from meat which has first been browned in frying pan.


At Thursday's breakfast table we had our usual story telling. Hal asked Bob about various writers who had passed through his hands. "One of the most unusual ones," said my roommate, "was E. J. Rath, a little Jewish girl. I was editor of Argosy at the time. She brought me in her first story and I was struck by its style and vitality. I bought it."

He drew one of his small cigars from his pocket and cut off the end, first offering one to Hal. "From then on I knew I had a 'comer,'" he continued. "Her next one was a pippin. It was the story of a little factory worker in Andover, Mass., who put a note in the pocket of a shirt she was wrapping for a giant Canadian woodsman. She was fascinated by the thought of a man who could wear a size forty-eight. Before she wrote it she consulted me and I told her to go ahead and develop it."

Bob lighted his cigar and blew out a puff of smoke. "The Canadian found the note and for the hell of it sent for the girl. His friends were in on the joke and gathered at the boat landing for the occasion. But when the tiny creature arrived with her grip, he was so embarrassed he put her in his canoe and shoved off.

"They disappeared into the wilderness and a beautiful story unfolded of the fight between a primitive man and his soul. The upshot was that he took her before a priest in the heart of the northern wilderness and married her. The girl was not content until she had returned with her husband to Andover and proudly marched him through the ranks of her former associates."

The speaker regarded us with satisfaction. "It was a whale of an idea."

The rest of us nodded agreement and he continued, "The next was the 'Nervous Wreck.' It was another star in the endless galaxy. I gave her the plot and title. It made a fortune in book form, on the stage and in the movies. And it put Otto Kruger on the map."

Bob took a long draw on his cigar and enjoyed letting the smoke drift out. "She had the most fertile imagination. Then followed the 'Grandfather Clock.'" The recollection made him chuckle. "A man who is fed up on domestic life has a chance to have his one greatest wish fulfilled. He decides to turn the clock back twenty years and be free from the wife he has been tied to all that time. In his rebirth he courts a girl for twenty years and then marries her. She turns out to be the same wife he had originally."

Bob couldn't explain why, but he seemed to think this particularly funny.

Concluding the story of E. J. Rath he said, "I took everything she wrote for All Story Magazine. She never would write for anyone else, though many editors tried to get her to write for them. She was killed in Washington, D.C., when the roof of a movie theatre caved in. Every bone in her body was broken, but the wrist watch she wore was still running." He regarded us with serious eyes, "It was the one I had given her and was inscribed with both our names."

It was my turn to tell a story and I got my cue from Miss Flowers who had just entered with word that the bandit, Eugenio, was much better. She sat down with us and I remarked, "Speaking of bandits, California once had a notorious gentleman bandit by the name of Black Bart. Bob should have known about him. He lived in the swanky Palace Hotel in San Francisco and made forays into Nevada and various parts of California."

Bob gave no sign of recognition and I continued, "He would turn up at the most unexpected places and hold up the stage, always with a handkerchief tied over the lower part of his face. And when the stage was carrying a heavy payroll. Invariably he left a poem in the coach after the robbery, signed 'Black Bart.'"

My audience was interested so I went on, "He was probably the most elusive and romantic outlaw in the history of the West. I saw a rock three years ago at a bend in the road in Northern California that he had grooved to rest his gun in. The story goes that during his last holdup a boy suddenly appeared hunting squirrels. Black Bart had been boldly exhorting a row of fake hats and sticks that looked like guns, to hold their fire till he gave the word. He now mistook the boy for a posse and fled.

"In his scramble to escape he lost one of his starched, detachable cuffs. On it was a Chinese laundry mark. It was all the authorities had to work on, but it was only a matter of time before they traced it to a Chinese laundry in San Francisco and then to the Palace Hotel. When they confronted the dignified, black-bearded resident with the evidence, he confessed. He subsequently spent five years in jail and was then subsidized by the Wells Fargo Express to go to Mexico and stay. It was cheaper than having him raid them at regular intervals."

As I concluded the brief sketch of the outlaw's life, Bob casually stated, "He was once confined in the Carson City jail. I was working on the Carson City Appeal at the time as a compositor. I was just nineteen. One evening late, a man appeared at the office hatless and coatless. It was a cold night, common to the mountains.

"The stranger asked, 'What does a subscription to your paper cost?' I answered eight dollars. Immediately he plunked down the money. 'Here,' he said, writing on a scrap of paper, 'mail it to this address.' Then he asked me, 'Which is the way to Echo Summit Pass?'"

Bob knocked the ashes off his cigar, glanced at each of us and continued, "I pointed out the way. At that moment the foreman appeared. He was so pleased at the subscription that he let the stranger have his hat and overcoat. It was only a few minutes later that the sheriff shoved his head in. 'Has there been a man here?' he asked.

"Right away I blurted out, 'Yes.' And when he asked me which way he had gone, I went to the door and showed him." A little ruefully Bob paused and added, "I suddenly got a most painful kick in the rear, with the following admonition from the foreman, 'Young feller, when anyone takes a year's subscription to this paper don't you dare give out any information about him. We don't treat our subscribers that way.'

"Black Bart escaped," concluded Bob. "The most remarkable thing about him was that he never used a loaded pistol. He always said that he would rather be killed himself than kill anyone."

Our little tête-à-tête broke up and each of us went about his business. I went outside for a while and watched the workman transplant flowers along the flag walk. Later I took off down the road on a brisk hike.

At noon, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, operators of a 150,000 acre ranch thirty miles away, called and stayed for dinner. I had already met them at Muzquiz at the general store on my trip to that place. Mr. Thompson was formerly a railroad foreman in Texas. By saving his money he was able to invest it in land and eventually stock it with cattle.

Learning that Mrs. Thompson was an authority on Mexican life. I asked her for an opinion on mixed marriages. "They seldom work," she answered. "When an American marries a Mexican girl, the man eventually descends to her level. He then loses the respect of his own people as well as that of the Mexicans.

"However, the reverse will often work," she continued. "When a Mexican marries an American woman, he is considered as having elevated himself — particularly by his own people. It isn't popular with us though. The difficult thing is to get the Mexicans to adopt our habits of living. They soon fall back into their old slovenly ways when they leave the company of whites."

The afternoon was spent in inspecting stock, writing letters and having a siesta. That night, fishing was on the agenda. Bob and I made an excursion to what we were told was an aquarium. It was a small concrete reservoir near Hacienda La Babia, about the size of an ordinary swimming pool. I had tried it that afternoon in the dazzling sunlight without success. Naturally the huge bass that were reputed to be domiciled in it would not venture forth from the security of the luxurious, underwater vegetation into the crystal clear water.

Bob got quite excited at the dinner table after hearing my account and planned an elaborate program for night fishing and the subsequent treatment of the vanquished. Hal confirmed the presence of the fish, as did Mike and other reputable witnesses. They said that a similar reservoir when drained, had yielded several hundred fish, some weighing three pounds and over.

"Holy smokes, this is a rough road!" complained Bob, after we had been bouincing over the valley for half an hour. "Who suggested this ungodly trip anyway?"


Finally Mike, who was driving, said with a chuckle, "Mr. Cobb said I knew every rut in the road and never missed any of them."

"He was correct," affirmed Bob acridly. "When do we get there? Are you sure you know the way?"

On our arrival, with the one casting rod between us, and after we had been guided by a flash-light through the spiny brush, barbed wire and cactus, Bob took his stand on the narrow parapet, a dim but determined figure in the starlit night, and made the first six casts. In the silence we heard the singing of the reel, then the splash of his well cast Doiagic.

But nothing happened. No four-pound bass rushed out to take the plug. Then he said it was my turn and passed the rod to me. I had no better luck and after five minutes of experimenting we returned to the car. It was a case of the less said the better.

Again ensconced in easy chairs at San Geronimo, we recounted our luck to Hal. Our host listened to us with a restrained smile. We turned on the news broadcast for the latest world developments, then hit the hay.


The afternoon of the following day, which was the 23rd of January, I went coyote hunting, carrying Hal's .220 high-powered German telescope rifle. He and Bob drove me out to the foothills, a matter of four or five miles, and dropped me off after my expressed desire to walk back.

When the time came, Bob strongly advised against my leaving the car. He was afraid I would get lost. But I assured him I was capable of taking care of myself. "I still don't think you know what you're doing," he gibed.

I believe it would have given him some satisfaction if his prediction had come true. Anyway, I struck out alone over the bare, cactus-covered hills with gravel crunching under foot and a faultless sky overhead. There was nothing to guide me but the sun. Everything looked alike whichever way one turned.

There was plenty of evidence of coyotes, even to the remnants of a calf that had been eaten and only partly digested. Good as the marauder's digestion is, it will not assimilate hair. There were a few low-flying hawks seeking quail, and one lone jack rabbit that bounded away like a rubber ball before I could aim. I had to content myself with trying the beautifully balanced gun at a 6-inch piece of cactus at 50 yards — and centered it.

I was well pleased with the gun and my shot and not at all regretful that I had not killed anything. The walk home through the warm but exhilarating air with the blue Santa Rosas in the distance was compensation enough. My thoughts were on the pleasant trip Miss Flowers and I had made that morning in company with Carrie and Mike to Hacienda La Babia.

The palatial group of buildings was the one-time home of General Treviño. Most of the buildings were in a sad condition when Hal took hold of them. But he had gone a long way in restoring them to their original state. Nor was it as easy on the pocketbook to maintain them as in the days when the Mexican general owned them. He had the use of his army.

Don Miguel's wife received us most graciously. She struck me as a fit consort for Hal's capable, dignified foreman. She showed us through all the high-ceilinged apartments, up a winding and crooked stairs to the sun tower and observatory, also out into the various patios. Our sight-seeing finished with the bull-ring where el toro died as entertainment for the general and his guests.

I arrived home early from my hike, otherwise Bob would probably have insisted on a searching party being sent out. I gave a full report at the supper table of my activities and confidentially told Hal about the remnants of the calf. "I thought the coyotes were getting them," he said. "I'll have to tell Don Miguel."

Bob and I awoke the following morning to the dulcet voice of our favorite cook, Raoul. He gave us his inconclusive weather report and the conversation then turned to the epicurean treat to come at dinner — Calcutta lamb curry. It was the result of my roommate's suggestion.

"May I go into the kitchen and arrange for the cooking?" asked Bob.

"Most certainly, Mr. Davis," replied Raoul in his perfect English.

"I won't stay long," added Bob. "I know the jealousies that are aroused by the invasion of any cook's kitchen. Many a row has resulted from such an indiscretion."

"There will be no such feelings around here," assured Raoul. "You have carte blanche, Mr. Davis. When you enter that sacred province you will have your head adorned with a beautiful white chef's cap. That cap will shine with a holy light because the king of all chefs has seen fit to assume his proper role."

My companion was a bit flabbergasted, but not at all displeased at this burst of eloquence. "Then you don't think my proper role is that of a newspaper man?" he asked curiously.

"I don't know anything about the newspaper game," responded Raoul. "But I do know a mighty chef when I see one."

Our friendliness with Raoul was known out in the kitchen and it had aroused certain jealousies. It was because of this that we had received a visit the previous evening from the Chinese cook who was normally in charge. He entered our room just prior to our retirement, carrying two strange looking packages wrapped in newspaper, one in either hand. He was uncertain and tittered as he waved the packages at us.

It was obvious to us what was in them, but we didn't let on. We merely looked at him without comprehension. Then he advanced a few steps, tittering even louder and making drinking motions with either hand. With that he presented the packages, one to each. We thanked him and he withdrew, bowing and snickering.

My companion and I unwrapped the packages and found a bottle of brandy apiece marked 3X. We concluded right then that there was rivalry for honors between the Chinaman and Raoul and that the former's nose was out of joint. When we told Hal about it and asked him what to do with the liquor, he answered emphatically, "Keep it!"

Our host said that we were probably right about the jealously that had been aroused. "That Raoul has to be watched," he said. "Once when I was away on a trip he got into my liquor store and got all the help drunk. Then he proceeded to take all their money away in a crap game. When I returned I found near revolution on my hands." He turned his rare smile on us, "Now when I go away I lock up all the liquor."

After breakfast that morning, we entered the corral and watched a herd of bulls go through the dipping trough. Clouds of dust were sent up by the milling animals as they were being herded together for their arsenic bath. They frequently butted each other viciously with their half-shorn horns.

We climbed on the fence for safety and watched the cowboys urge and prod the animals into the deep tank of black-brown fluid. There was a great waving of hats and shouting. When the largest animals took the dive into the tank, a veritable tidal wave was created and the liquid overflowed the sides.

The creatures would completely disappear, then emerge with wildly staring eyes and scramble through the trough till they reached the stairs at its far end. Climbing out, after much skidding and back-sliding, they shook themselves and continued on their bewildered way to a larger corral. If a bull was not properly submerged, a cowboy would dip up a coal oil can full of the potent fluid and pour it over him to complete the baptism.

After the dipping was over, guests began to arrive at the house. The first were Don Philippe Muzquiz, El Presidente of Muzquiz, and Mr. and Mrs. Thompson. They came out to the corral to have a look at some of the bull calves that were for sale.

We saw one bull that had cancer of the eye, a not infrequent malady that eventually kills the afflicted animal. Mr. Thompson said that he had heard that the juice of the "leather weed," made into a salve and rubbed into the diseased organ had effected a complete cure. He passed the information on to Don Miguel.

The gathering at the house that noon was a gala affair. Guests were arriving from eleven o'clock on. The Von Knoops were there with their two pretty blonde daughters, also Gordon Bennett the out-door photographer, who was engaged to one of them. He was a scion of the famous journalist of that name. Later on he showed us colored movies of ranch life in Mexico as well as of wild life in Alaska and New Guinea.

When all were on hand we stormed the dining room. The big moment came after the soup course. Carrie fairly staggered into the dining room with a great silver tray on which steamed a veritable mountain of Calcutta lamb curry, sending its pungent and gladdening aroma to every expectant nose.

Bob, who had supervised its making in the kitchen, if not actually prepared it, rose from his place at the head of the table and made a brief speech before serving. "This rare concoction has produced amazing results in the land of its invention, even kings expiring before they could reach their thrones."

There was general laughter and the serving began. Over the first helping he sprinkled a handful of shaved cocoanut. "Snow from heaven!" he declared. More laughter. There was a baker's dozen of us. Bob was only half way through his serving when he looked down the line of eagerly waiting guests. "Haven't any of you homes to go to?" he scolded. But he finally got us all served and the dish was a great success.

Having contracted laryngitis the previous morning, but telling no one in the hope it would pass off, I was speechless by the time Gordon Bennett's movie show was over. It was given in a large unused room that was as cold as an ice-box and had everyone shivering.

Immediately the efficient and solicitous Miss Flowers took charge of me and ordered me to bed. Bob kidded me at first over my ailment, but later questioned me with some concern. I assured him in a broken whisper that it was not serious.

There had been an epidemic of the disease as well as flu and pneumonia, proving that even brilliant sunshine and pure air are not a guarantee against bronchial ailments. As Hal and Bob sat beside my couch where I reclined under orders, the discussion fell on writers who had risen to fame under Bob's guiding hand, and finally on O. Henry.

"Tell me, Bob," said Hal, "there's something I've always wanted to know. Why did he go to prison?"

"Because of someone else's misdeeds," was the studied reply. "He was young and inexperienced. He worked as a teller in a bank. He cashed an acquaintance's check in good faith. The man had no money to cover it. Rattled when he discovered what the ungrateful friend had done to him, he skipped. It was considered prima facie evidence of his guilt. He was arrested, convicted and sent to prison."

Bob didn't need to mention that he knew O. Henry intimately. We were both aware of it. But it did clear up a point that had always been a mystery to us both.


Because of the ministrations of the capable Miss Flowers, I was on the high road to recovery the following day. Before I went to sleep the previous evening, she swabbed my spotted throat with tincture of metaphen, rubbed Baum Bengué into my chest and throat and then placed a hot electric pad at the seat of the trouble for fifteen minutes. The results were amazing.

In fact I was so much better that I was able to accompany Bob and Hal on a tour of inspection through a new valley. The grass was knee-high to a man. We remarked on its unusual height and Hal said, "In the spring, when the cowboys have been out all day, they return with their stirrups dyed green."

The road on this tour brought us into contact with more stock. Everywhere we looked we saw cattle: calves, yearlings and two- and three-year-olds.

"Have you any idea how much stock you have?" I asked our host in my best whisper.

"No," he answered with a smile, "only roughly. Calves are being dropped every day." He looked out. "Oh, I'd say fourteen or fifteen thousand head of cattle — about five hundred horses and thirteen hundred goats. I raise the goats to feed the ranch hands; also ship some to market."

"Do you ship many cattle to the States?" I asked, admiring the straight-backed creatures as we rode slowly along. Their broad faces were covered with thick, curly white hair and their sturdy bodies with a short, deep red coat.

"Yes," he answered. "I ship a good many. They go to the border where they are dipped and inspected by U.S. agents and if tick-free are sent on to the Kansas corn belt. Before my injury I used to go directly to the Kansas buyers myself and eliminate the middle man." He smiled and tapped his stiff right arm which was as hard as a rock.

Most of the cows and heifers we saw were heavy with calf and it looked as if there would be a bumper crop. Frequently we came upon calves only a few days old with the umbilical cord still trailing. The cord remained about a week. The calves were frisky as kittens and bounced around playfully on their stiff new legs. When they saw us they stared in wonder.

"It's the first car they've ever seen," remarked Hal, regarding them with a paternal eye.

At times it would seem as if there were no cattle in the section where we were, but a careful scrutiny would reveal stock hidden in the deep grass. To our laymen's eyes it looked as if there was room for many more. But we were told anxieties were sure to increase in proportion with the stock. The splendid showing was attributive to the skillful hand of one man. The region had never known anything like it till Hal came.

Back at San Geronimo once more, my host and I went out to the corral where, under Don Miguel's direction the cowboys had dehorned a herd of yearlings. The purpose was to keep them from goring each other. The blood was still squirting from the horn butts in a thin spray. It rose at least three feet in the air like miniature fountains and came and went with a rhythmic beat. The creatures were covered with blood and to my inexperienced eye it looked as if they were bleeding to death.

Hal saw my look and assured me it was all right. "It's good for them," he said. "It'll stop soon."

Next we watched the cowboys brand cattle. They threw the animals down roughly, two men to a calf with one at the head and the other at the hind feet. Then the man with the branding iron, which was drawn red hot from the fire, applied the glowing steel to the animal's side near the shoulder. There was a sudden cloud of smoke and loud bawling, but when the creature had regained its feet it trotted calmly away.

After dinner, while strolling along the extensive semi-circular verandah, enjoying the distant Santa Rosa mountains through its insect-proof screen, I saw a man and a woman alight from a car and start toward the house. The man was swarthy and heavily set and was armed with two six-shooters which hung on either side of a sagging cartridge belt.

Miss Flowers joined me at that moment and we went forward and introduced ourselves to the ominous looking pair. The man turned out to be a doctor attached to the Rosita mines which were not far distant. There was a distinct aroma of bourbon whiskey on his person.

Hal shortly appeared and escorted the man into the dining room. His companion remained outside with us. When the two emerged some ten minutes later, Hal was wearing the belt and guns. He presented the doctor with a fresh quart of whiskey and said, "Now we're quits."

The doctor was in a sociable mood and showed me three of the five bullet wounds he had received in a gun fight with another Mexican. One shot had plowed through his forearm, another into a shoulder muscle. Still another had entered his chest and emerged by way of the abdomen; there was one in his groin and the last in his thigh. He was what you would call well shot up.

"How did it happen? I asked.

"He was barricaded behind a car," he answered, rolling back his shirt sleeve, "I faced him first in a crouching position, then prone. At last I got in an accurate shot through his two hips and put him out of commission."

The visitor was heavily muscled and looked as if he could stand a lot of abuse. There was a long cut on the side of his face which he said he had gotten in a barroom brawl in Monterrey. It didn't add any to his scholarly appearance. But he was a real medico and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He served his internship in an Eastern hospital and then volunteered in the U.S. Army in the Great War, seeing overseas duty.

John Barleycorn had been his nemesis. According to Hal, it spoiled what might otherwise have been a great career. "He's got a dual personality," stated my host. "He can be nice and sweet or he can be a rascal."

Before the doctor left I asked him, "Aren't you afraid of meeting some of your enemies now that you are unarmed?"

Before he could answer his lady fair opened her black bag and removed a .38 calibre blue steel automatic. She showed she was no stranger to the weapon the way she handled it.

As we watched them walk out to their car I asked Hal, "Will you give him back his guns later?"

"Indeed not!" he answered warmly. "He'll only get shot if he wears them. I'm doing him a favor by taking them away from him. It's the only excuse his enemies need to open fire. Why, there are men here who would shoot them off him before he could even draw."


We retired at eight and were up at six, ready for our return to Eagle Pass after a 10-day visit. Of the latter Bob expressed our joint feelings when he declared, "It's the most delightful and relaxing one I've ever experienced."

For breakfast we had eggs "Marjorie" as dictated by Bob to Raoul. The ingredients defied detection, though the master-mind finally admitted to the presence of cheese and cream.

We were away by nine after shaking hands all around with the San Geronimo household. Bob sat in the front seat with Mike, and Hal and I in back with Miss Flowers partitioning us. Stories were the order of the day as we bounced over the rough road, and Hal was the first to spring one.

I once had a San Antonio friend named Pete Wolcott," he said. "Just for a prank we each deposited a $1000 Liberty bond in the First National bank with the written instructions by each that the first to die quit-claimed his bond to the other."

Bob smelled a story and fished out his book. Hal continued, "One day shortly after, I came down with bronchial pneumonia. It was out here on the ranch. Pete heard about it as I was being shipped out by train from Muzquiz to the border. He found me in the baggage car along with two pigs that were being shipped to market and seven empty coffins."

Our host thrust his good arm into the strap to ease the jouncing. "Pete entered the car and gazed at me sympathetically. He didn't know just what to say. I said to him, 'I guess you've got the edge on the bet, Pete.' I reached out and gave his hand a squeeze.

"That was almost too much for the poor fellow. He had difficulty controlling his emotions. Immediately after seeing me to the hospital, he hurried down to the bank and demanded the return of the agreement he had written out. Right off he felt tremendously relieved. Later, when I was on the road to recovery, he told me about it. 'I figured I couldn't let you die with that on my conscience,' he said."

We rode along for a while over the undulating prairie of gravel and cactus, content with small talk. We also observed the fascinating process of gate-opening by children and their casual acceptance of the fee. Hal started things going again by asking Bob, "How did you come to work for Frank Munsey?"

"The credit largely belongs to Tim Woodruff," he replied, watching a road-runner disappear in a clump of chaparral. "He was lieutenant-governor of the state of New York. We were close friends and I used to dine frequently at his Brooklyn home on President Street."

I interjected at this point, "That was my grandfather's house. He sold it to Woodruff. I once lived in it."

Bob acknowledged my claim without surprise and continued, "I was holding down a desk job under the gilded dome of Mr. Joseph Pulitzer's World Building. It was in May 1903. Mr. Munsey had asked Charles M. Palmer, one of America's newspaper seers, to name a bright young man for Sunday editor of his Daily News. Charlie had known me in San Francisco and was full of compassion. He said he thought I could be induced to come into the organization for a price."

Bob accepted a cigarette from Hal as well as a light. Then he went on, "I called on Mr. Munsey at his office. No words were wasted. 'What salary would satisfy you?' he asked. 'That is for a trial year?'

"After a short pause for some mental arithmetic," said Bob, "I suddenly launched the thunderbolt. I decided to hold myself high and live up to the specifications furnished by my friend, Mr. Charlie Palmer. 'I should want more perhaps than you are willing to pay,' I answered. 'To make a change from my present agreeable relations on The World, would justify a material advance in salary.'"

Bob looked around to see if we were following him. "A cloud came over Mr. Munsey's face," he said. "'How much of an advance?' the publisher asked impatiently.

"'As much again,' I answered.

"Mr. Munsey swallowed his Adam's apple. There was a long pause and he shifted a paper weight. I decided to step in. 'Let me put it this way,' I continued. 'Today is Saturday. Think it over till Monday. It will give you a chance to make inquiries about me.'"

There was a bounce that almost sent us through the roof, but Bob was too interested in his story to let it bother him. "At two that afternoon, walking along Fifth Avenue, I met Frank Seaman coming from the Lotos Club. He invited me to attend a private dinner given by Daniel Sully, cotton broker and father-in-law of Douglas Fairbanks. 'Homer Davenport is coming,' he said. 'You can both tell some of your Western stories.' So I accepted.

"I arrived late, and received a clamorous reception. Mr. Seaman escorted me to a chair next to Tim Woodruff, while on my left was seated Mr. Munsey." Bob paused while his bright eyes momentarily sought ours. "I had known the one man several years, the other only six hours.

"I waded into the terrapin without reserve, baby guinea hen, new asparagus, rum omelet and all the other fixings." And at the thought of these delicacies he licked his lips. "Speeches were made and Davenport and I each told our stories. About eleven, Tim Woodruff leaned across my boiled shirt and said to the guest on my left, 'Frank, I want you to know Bob Davis better. Some day you'll need him in your business.'

"'It may interest you to know, my dear Governor,' answered the gentleman from Maine without batting an eyelash, 'that Mr. Davis enters my employ at 10 A.M. Monday.'

"And for twenty-two agreeable, prosperous and satisfactory years," concluded Bob, "I remained in his employ."

"Very interesting," said Hal. "Just what kind of a man was Munsey?"

"As a farm boy in Maine," replied the former editor, "he once saw a man produce a leather purse with a strap around it which had to be carefully undone before its contents could be removed. Right away he craved one of those purses more than he had craved anything in his whole life.

"He went to the storekeeper and stated his wants. There was just one such purse. He had only $3.50 which had been saved as a result of much hard work and stinting. It was exactly the price asked. He hated to part with all his capital but the handsome pocketbook strangled any resistance that was left. He bought it."

The speaker slumped in his seat as we drove down a precipitous bank into an old stream bed. We covered a hundred yards before he spoke again. By that time we were back on fairly level ground.

"Time went on," continued Bob, watching the road carefully, "and he always had the purse with him. But he never seemed to be able to accumulate as much as a nickel to put in it. And without money, the purse became a hollow mockery.

"Finally he returned to the storekeeper and explained the situation. He asked if he would be willing to buy the purse back. Proving that storekeepers do have a heart, the man gave the unsuspected genius $3 for it. And from that day on Frank Munsey never carried a purse, though at the time of his death he was worth forty million dollars."

We in the back seat were silent for a moment and then Miss Flowers said, "That's an interesting way to describe him, Mr. Davis. When he wanted anything he went after it — regardless of price."

"Yes," answered Bob, "and when he wanted to he could throw his money away as fast as a drunken sailor. Or he could be as penurious as a Scot with an Armenian grandmother. But I got along with him. I had an understanding I was never to be bothered."

The conversation lagged and I said, "This ride's giving me an appetite."

"A man who thinks of nothing but eating and sleeping," remarked Bob.

"I saw some delicious sandwiches being made out in the kitchen," said Miss Flowers encouragingly.

"Speaking of sandwiches," said Hal, "there used to be a place on the Texas border where rabbit sandwiches were reputedly sold. Two rival stands advertised them with big signs. But finally rabbits got so scarce one of the men took down his sign. The other, though, continued to advertise them. And he seemed to be doing a thriving business."

Bob looked around with keen eyes as Hal continued, "That was too much for his rival. 'Say,' he said finally going over to the other fellow, 'how do you keep on selling rabbit sandwiches when the rabbits are all gone?'

"'Oh,' replied the other, 'I make them 50-50 with horse meat.'"

Our host paused with that dry smile of his. "The first man shook his head. 'I still don't see how you do it. There aren't enough rabbits to do it with.'

"'Well, you see it's this way,' replied the other, 'make 'em 50-50 rabbit and horse — one horse to one rabbit.'"

Bob got out his pad and began to scribble.

At eleven we reached San Jose ranch, headquarters for the huge ranch operated by the British syndicate. Its former manager was an interesting figure by the name of Sir Broderick Cloete. He was a cultured as well as a distinguished looking man. He had married an extremely beautiful Australian opera singer and brought her along with him to Mexico.

"I knew her when she was still quite young," said Hal, "around thirty. She was a mad beauty and had the finest voice I've ever heard."

We could see the station wagon which contained the food approaching through the dust as Hal continued, "Sir Broderick made frequent trips to England on business. On his last one when he was a few hundred miles off Ireland, his ship was torpedoed. He came on deck, saw that the life rafts were filled with women and children, and calmly returned to his stateroom, closing the door after him. It was presumed that he continued his writing or whatever he was doing. He was never seen again."

"Wow, what a story!" cried Bob happily, jerking out his notebook. "The question is, what was he doing in the stateroom. I'll supply the answer!"

The ranch house was in a dilapidated state. Ragged Mexican children about the junk-filled yard. It was difficult to believe this was the syndicate headquarters from which famous blooded horses were shipped to Kentucky and to England, also where large coke and coal and oil deals were transacted.

We entered the house uninvited to lay out our lunch, which is the custom with travelers in this region of Mexico whether anyone is home or not. A tiny, wrinkled old woman, once personal servant to Sir Broderick, shortly appeared and greeted us. She was the housekeeper and cook for the present manager, Mr. Delemane. The latter was not present, but was said to be a broken, pathetic figure of eighty.

Our luncheon was something to talk about. The tipsy doctor who had visited Hal the previous day had brought him a wild turkey. And we now had it cold. Bob immediately began carving it. There was also crisp lettuce, canned artichoke hearts, homemade bread which we warmed in the oven, and various sauces with which to doctor up the delicious turkey meat — but to me the latter only killed the unusual wild flavor.

We also had rich milk chilled in thermos bottles, hot coffee and tea. And for dessert there were canned green gage plumbs, pears and peaches, the cans having been kept on ice all night at San Geronimo. Most of the preparation was due to the foresight of my experienced companion who began to make suggestions immediately after supper, though at the time I couldn't see how he could even think of food.

The decrepit old housekeeper, Tia Marie Ruiz, told us she was 100 years old. She looked it, though she might have erred by a few years. Her skin was an intricate mass of tiny wrinkles. She showed us pictures of Sir Broderick which revealed him in his prime. He was resplendent in his Royal Fusiliers uniform, gauntlets, sword, decorations, boots — and, last but not least, his great buffalo horn moustache of the period. She also showed us a faded picture of Lady Cloete, which revealed her as beautiful as reputed.

Bob induced the old lady to stand out on the porch beside the country telephone and be photographed. She obliged in this as everything else. Then, like an army on the march, we gathered up our things and left, but not without leaving some token of our appreciation. By four we were in Eagle Pass and established in the same hotel and same room as before.

Fred S. Mathias, The Amazing Bob Davis