Soon a man has eaten all that's available close by and the game grows wary. Until men learned to plant crops and herd animals for food they had of necessity to move on ... and on.
Most of what I'd done to make myself comfortable must be left behind, and it worried me that I had no better weapons. My feet were better, but the skin was tender and I daren't walk very far at any one time. I'd been sparing of the hazelnuts for they were the best of my food, but at last they gave out, too. On the ninth day I gathered my few possessions and started out.
Back up at the forks of the creek in Tennessee they don't raise many foolish children, and the foolish ones don't live long enough to get knee-high to a short sheep. This was Indian country, so I taken it easy. My weapons weren't fit for fighting and my feet were too sore for running.
When I'd traveled about a half mile I sat down to study out the land. The canyon was widening out, and there was plenty of deer sign. Twice I saw tracks of a mountain lion, a big one.
By nightfall I'd covered four miles, resting often. The canyon had widened to a valley and the stream joined a larger river that flowed south. I could see the place where they flowed together, right up ahead. North of me the country seemed to flatten out, with towering snow-covered peaks just beyond. Those peaks must be the San Juans Tell Sackett had spoken of. I knew this country only by hear-tell, and when I'd been running ahead of those Jicarillas I'd not been paying much mind to landmarks.
Working my way over to the brush and trees that followed the canyon wall, I hunkered down to study out the land. And that was how I saw those Utes before they saw me.
They were coming up from the south and they had about twenty riderless horses with them, and a few of those horses looked almighty familiar. They passed nigh me, close enough to see they were a war party returning from some raid. They had bloody scalps, and it looked like they had run into those Jicarillas. Ambushing an Apache isn't an easy thing to do but it surely looked like they'd done it.
Trying to steal a horse ran through my mind, but I made myself forget it. My feet were in no shape for travel and I couldn't stand another chase. My best bet was to head east toward the Animas where I'd heard there were some prospectors.
Fact is, I was hungry most of the time. What I'd been finding was scarcely enough to keep soul and body together, and down on the flat it was harder to find what I needed. I found some Jimson weed and cut a few leaves to put in my moccasins. I'd used it for saddle sores and knew it eased the pain and seemed to help them to heal, but it was dangerous stuff to fool around with, and many Indians won't touch it.
Studying out the ground I saw a field of blue flowers, a kind of phlox the Navajo used to make a tea that helped them sing loudly at the Squaw Dance, and was also a "medicine" used for the Navajo Wind Chant. But I found nothing to eat until night when I caught a fine big trout in an angle of the stream, spearing it with more luck than skill, and then as I was making camp I found some Indian potatoes. So I ate well, considering.
When the fish was eaten I huddled by my capful of fire and wished for a cabin, a girl, and a meal waiting, for I was a lonesome man with little enough before me and nothing behind but troubles. Soon a cricket began to sing near my fire, so I made care to leave him be. There's a saying in the mountains that if you harm a cricket his friends will come and eat your socks. A hard time they would have with me, not having socks or anything else.
Galloway was no doubt eating his belly full in some fine restaurant or house, fining up on beef and frijoles whilst I starved in the woods. It is rare enough that I feel sorry for myself but that night I did, but what is the old saying the Irish have? The beginning of a ship is a board; of a kiln, a stone; and the beginning of health is sleep.
Cold it was, and the