James Richmond's
California Story

The Surprise Encounter

The next day I started on my journey. Bade adieu to my rough entertainers. The sun shining, the air was bracing and I felt good as I started once again on my lonesome tramp. I took a lunch along with me this time for fear I would not run across baked beans at my next station. My road was much the same, up hill and down, I reached the foot hills about noon. I had seen no human beings.

I came upon a delightful, spring, clear and sparkling and seated myself to enjoy my dinner. There was a good deal of brushy undergrowth. I sat with my back to a tree, ate my lunch in quiet and I supposed alone.

I got up, took a drink of water from the spring and was preparing to start along when out pops an Indian out of the bushes, no two feet from me. How he could be there and me not know it I never could understand. He walked up to me and said "Me want!" pointing to my blankets. Up popped another saying, "Me want!" pointing to my hat. Then came another and another until there were six. They were pirate Indians. Each wanted some article of my belongings to which they pointed. I backed to the tree and pointed my revolver, which they hadnít seen, and said "Me want!" About emphatically as I could I said "Vamoose or I shoot!" They did vamoose as suddenly as they had appeared. The bushes swallowed them up as silently as you would expect from an Indian. They were a band of pirates out on a thieving expedition. Had I had no firearms I would have faired poorly. I confess I was more at ease when I got clear of the underbrush, and the chance of more Indians popping up to call on me. I didnít like the feeling of my scalplock rising up to meet their fingers. My hat settled back to itís accustomed place and I traveled on unmolested. I slept that night in my usual way, visited not by Indians or animals.

By noon the next day I met a Rancher from below, who had his herds pasturing in the foothills as the feed was poor down on the plain. It was their custom to take them up on the hills for weeks during the dry season. I chatted with him for awhile, ate dinner and once more trudged along.

One more night by my campfire and the afternoon of the next day I came to a tidy farmhouse. I though I would try for a square meal so I tapped on the door, it was answered by a fine looking woman. I made known my wish, she looked me over pretty closely and seemed satisfied with what she saw and said she would have my meal in a short time. I was well served with good food, well cooked.

She quizzed me about the route I had come, I told her I had come upon the Sonora Trail. She asked if I had met any ranchmen. I told her I had, she then described the very man I took dinner with the night before. So it was, I brought her news of her husband and she served me my dinner, for which I paid her then proceeded on my way. I often wonder at the woman daring to stay alone and getting a meal for such a rough looking stranger as I was. She probably had a gun and knew how to use it if the occasion required it. I had at least reached the border of civilization and my tramp was about ended.