MRS. JAB IN NEW MEXICO
Children are such a blessings at a time like this. Here we were
starting into No Man's Land or maybe the Promised Land--how did we know? But our older boys were so curious and
enthusiastic about everything, we found ourselves looking and learning right along with them.
It was like meeting old friends again to hear the names of some of the places and people. We had lived in the neighboring
county when Colonel Goodnight was known to all of us. We had heard of the Goodnight Trail for years. Now we were
actually traveling over it.
It seemed to me we were heading due west, but Joe said we were hitting Fort Sumner, and that would eventually take
us a little north. As we went along, we all took turns walking. Diame and Della looked after the little ones if
I wanted to stroll along. When we made camp at night, there was nothing new in that, for our children knew all
the tricks of the trade, but we did have something special. Joe's family were singing people, and our older girls
sang real well together. Now they sang a lot, particularly around the campfire. Diame and Della taught the younger
ones every song they knew. Of course Joe's fiddle came right along with us, and the big girls saw to it that their
Pa's fingers were kept nimble.
The men picked up good stories along the way as we stopped at a little settlement to pick up supplies or ask the
best way out. Joe was the one who did so love good stories and good jokes. The children never forgot the one he
brought about the Pecos River. Joe had picked up the story from a polite Mexican.
"It is thees way, Senor." The leetle Pecos grew tired of being ruled over by the beeg river, El Rio Grande;
so the leetle river said he would become a beeg river all by himself. He ran very well through the New Country
and well down into Texas. The Pecos was showing the Rio Grande he was not so important after all. But that beeg
river just laughed and laughed and stretched out his beeg arm and dragged the leetle Pecos back into it. You will
see; that's the way the rivers are, Senor. Both start as separate mountain streams, but the Pecos meets the Rio
Grande again in Texas. It was a pretty story, Verdad?"
When we finally came to the Pecos, it seemed more like our little Brozos River. Our children made friends with
it immediately and made claim to it because of the Mexican story.
When we came to Fort Sumner, Joe hunted up our old friends, the DeGraftenreads we had known so well at Big Springs.
We visited there five days, and this is when we learned about the Lincoln County War, and even visited the grave
of Billy the Kid.
This war had been over three years, but people like to review it. We never did get the straight of it, but Joe
said if you subtract a little and divide a little and cut about half what everybody tells you, it's possible to
get a pretty good picture.
Mr. Degraftenread, who had no axe to grind at all, since he had no part in it, told us the whole trouble started
when John Chisum and a Mr. Murphy got into an argument about who had stolen cattle from whom, and soon they were
two cow outfits turned bitter enemies, and everybody in the county was taking sides.
We heard that Billy the Kid wouldn't have been concerned at all if some of his friends hadn't been killed in the
feud. It seemed that Billy just wanted to kill the man who killed his friend.
Then we were told that the whole mess had boiled down to a private fight between Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett,
the sheriff of Lincoln county. Some we talked to made a real hero out of Pat Garrett and told us he wanted to establish
peace and justice in Lincoln County. Then we'd meet somebody else who made a hero out of Billy the Kid and stated
flatly that Pat wanted to get the Kid because the sheriff was deathly afraid of this young gun man.
We don't know any more than we ever did, but I had to smile when an old gossip told me "for sure" that
she knew the Kid was never killed, that a Mexican was buried in his grave and that Billy escaped to Mexico. Do
you wonder we were confused?
When Joe and I stood at Billy's grave, I thought of that nice looking, nice mannered boy who left money at our
table for his meal. It was sad to think of him here; he was much too young to die, but of course, there was only
one way to rid the state of desperados.
One thing sure, Brownings and their in-laws were certainly mighty glad the whole bloody war was over and we could
ride over the battlegrounds without worry. It just proved to me that folks, even men, can get tired of fussing
and fighting sometimes.
The son-in-laws and my Joe noticed that everybody took pains to tell them that New Mexico wasn't welcoming any
more large cow outfits. Folks seemed relieved when Joe explained that we had all our cattle right with us. Mr.
DeGraftenread suggested that it might be a good idea for Joe to strike out in a southwesterly direction to find
good cattle country. He knew that Colonel Joel Curtis, one of Joe's friends during Ranger days in Texas, was somewhere
in the Sacramento Mountains, and if Joe could find Colonel Curtis, he would certainly know where to settle.
Our caravan had been traveling for two months, and you may well believe we wanted to get settled in a hurry. The
weather wasn't getting any warmer, as we traveled, we could see snow- capped mountains on all sides. We all spoke
about the wonderful air, and we could easily believe what old timers told us that this air would cure meat without
salt, and that wood never decayed, and that dead folks' bones didn't crumble but just turned to mummies. The things
you can hear as you go along!
Our wagons came to Fort Stanton, another government post, then on to Dollins Sawmill on the Rates River. After
a while we passed through the Indian Reservation, which was called Apache, but later changed to Mescalera Apache.
Joe and I simply astounded when we saw some of the tribe. These were mighty meek and sick looking Indians in comparison
to those we had seen and fought with. Made us feel a little sad.
The men wore G strings and moccasins with leggings of muslin strips. There were to be no beautiful deerskin foot
leg wear. The women wore loose kimono-like Jackets with knee skirts and leggings like their men's. The children
had G strings with a little shirt to complete their dress. Right then and there we decided Uncle Sam was having
a hard time putting white men's clothes on the Indians.
After we left the reservation, we traveled up one mountain and down the other until we were very weary. We had
to cross Silver Spring Canyon (Trough Canyon then) and James Canyon to find the mouth of the Penasco River. There
our men scraped the snow away and made camp. It was time to build corrals and brand calves.
In the midst of all this somebody rode up to tell Joe that the very next canyon was Curtis Canyon, named after
his old friend. In a few days Joe was riding all over the mountains in search of Uncle Joel. In a week both of
them road up, and I could tell that Joe was really one pleased man. "Honest, Angie, Uncle Joel has just pointed
out a cowman's heaven--plenty of range, plenty of grass and water, and not too many settlers."
The whole family sat around roaring fire that evening and listened to Uncle Joel tell all about this new country.
Somebody complained, "It sure is a country of canyons!"
Uncle Joel roared at that. "You're just started on canyons. The farther you travel, the more you'll see of
McBride said, "Tell us about the cow outfits in these parts."
"You'll soon know them. There's the J MIL and CA Bar's on lower Penasco, the Circle Diamond and the Circle
A on the Riodoso; the Fly V at Tularosa, and the Flying H on the Feliz River."
Uncle Joel mentioned again that the big cattle companies were not wanted in the mountains. We got the drift, right
then and there, that oldtimers selected whom they wanted among the newcomers. We were to learn later that it was
a good thing Uncle Joel was on the reception committee, or it might have been hard to live in the mountains.
We were told that sometimes newcomers would find a notice stuck by their spring of water. It gave them warning
that they weren't needed and to move out in a hurry. If they didn't ... well, strange things happened to people
who couldn't listen to friendly warning. Some would come in with good herds of fine breeds, and after the first
winter there wouldn't be a cow left. Not that anybody stole or killed them; it was just that folks weren't neighborly
enough to tell new people that cattle people always drove their herds across the summit on the sunnyside called
the Rincon. There the cattle would stay until spring, when they could be driven home again. Cattle don't do so
well when the snow is piled too high around them.
Spring was at hand, and the McBrides, the McCommis' and the JABS had settled in Curtis Canyon. Our men built a
log cabin among the tall pine trees and a field of new, beautiful wild flowers. We planted crops in the blackest,
richest soil I had ever put my hand in. I loved the feel of it.
True, we were a little cramped for money, but the girls and I made plenty of butter for market. Once we sent two
hundred and thirty pounds on one trip. Some of our supplies came from La Luz, on the other side of the summit.
It was always a pleasure to trade with Uncle Charles Myers, but his supplies were limited; so Joe was forced to
freight supplies for El Paso, Texas, and that was a long trip away.
As time went on, Joe found it necessary to take this long trip twice a year. You should have seen the girls and
me making out a list for him to bring back to us: a thousand pounds of flour, none but the 'Pride of Denver', if
you please; three sacks of sugar (a hundred pounds to a sack); three cases of salt; one hundred pounds of Arbuckle
coffee in one pound packages (be sure to save the signatures to get your prizes); cases of dried fruit; canned
goods enough to fill in the load. There were five gallon cans of kerosene ordered, and these would ride on the
outside of the wagon--yes, the outside. Did you ever taste bacon with kerosene flavor? Don't forget the store-bought
soap and a side of bacon, twenty-five pounds of raisins and rice, and nicest of all, shoes for the whole family.
If you'd been listening about this time you might have heard, "Look, Ma! Would you mind making the drawing
of my foot a little smaller? The last shoes I got just swallowed my foot."
"Don't let her fool you, Ma. She's trying to make you think her foot is smaller than yours."
"Ma, let's get yard and yards of calico. I need some new dresses. Don't you think the calico wore better then
"Do you suppose we'll be able to get some wool material, Ma?" Then if time were better, somebody dared
remark, "Don't you think we could afford one silk dress, Ma? We could go a little sparing on the material
don't you think?"
"Maybe, maybe, maybe! But I haven't put down forty yards of bleached and unbleached muslin. That's more important
Joe was just the person to send on a buying spree. He had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I can't remember knowing
any other man who, at forty years of age, still had the enthusiasm of a kid. There were old grannies who called
him "that harum-scarum Joe Browning," but I noticed that they all liked to be around him, for there was
where the fun and excitement started. On this first trip to El Paso, Joe brought back the wildest tale about long
stretches of pure white sand that he had traveled through.
"Honest, Angie, it's as white as snow and not one bit gritty. I put some in my mouth to make sure. But say!
I tasted some water in this stretch, and bitter! Now I know what they mean by 'bitter as gall'! Even stock won't
Joe was such a joker that none of us really took him seriously on this one, but we learned one fine day that he
had hit the gypsum beds near Alamogordo, but of course there wasn't an Alamogordo there yet. Joe also told us that
the mountains around were tar black and had fine holes in the rock like wasps nests. He was right; Joe has seen
his first malapai rock.
That first winter was over, and when spring came, we could say that the McBrides, the McCommis and Browning families
had fared very well.
Now summer was upon us and the children and I simply could not stay in the house. Never was there such a climate
on the face of the earth! How lucky to be where you could plant flowers and vegetables and have everything grow.
Before we knew it, frost was in the air, and it was time for Joe's second trip to El Paso. I wanted to go with
him so badly I could taste it, but I had suspicious pains and symptoms. I told Joe I thought I'd better wait until
his next trip, but I was like a little kid who missed the circus. Joe was hardly off the summit before I knew my
tenth child was clamoring to enter the world.
I had already learned that there was no doctor closer than the Indian Reservation, and there was not a midwife
in the whole country, but I had prepared for this emergency by buying The Doctor's Book of Knowledge. I had decided
I could be my own midwife with a little assistance from Diame. When the labor pains started, I called her to my
bedside and told her to bring the scissors, thread and the clean cloth I had prepared a head of time.
Poor Diame, her face as white as the sheets she brought me. Just begged me to let her stay with me, but I couldn't
see exposing a young woman to birthing before she had children of her own. She would have plenty experience in
I had pains all through that night, and Diame came to the door every fifteen minutes to see how I was making out.
Just at dawn she rushed in to find her new baby brother was squalling his head off. She watched me cut and tie
the cord; then she dressed young Bert Browning.
You never saw anybody as proud as Diame. She made me feel like I was Mother Eve herself. The oldest daughter of
mine was waiting most impatiently for her Pa to get home so she could really pull a surprise on him. "Just
wait until he gets here. I want to see his face when I tell him what all has happened around here while he was
But her Pa Joe was a complete disappointment. "Why, Ma, he did act like you'd done anything out of the ordinary.
I'm kinds mad at him. Really, he didn't act too interested." I had to hush her up in a hurry; so I just teased
her with, "Now, now, Diame, don't get worked up over this. I guess men havin' babies is like shootin' Indians...
After the first four or five, you just take 'em for granted."
When little Bert was a month old, I got word that my Pa had died. The news was two months old by the time it reached
me. I remember reading good Sarah's letter in which she tried to console me with the thought that Pa had died peacefully
in his sleep, but I wasn't thinking straight, and I knew I had to get out in the open and start walking. I called
to Diame to look after the baby while I went for a walk. Diame came to the door quickly and said worriedly, "Don't
you want some of us to go with you, Ma?"
"No...I'll be back in a little while." I set out to walk as fast as I could through those tall pine trees.
When my knees gave out, I just flung myself down under the nearest tree and began talking to myself. I felt like
a part of me had died, that the whole world had stopped. As long as Pa was alive, I wanted to keep a stiff upper
lip; I was ashamed to let him see me falter. Here I was just past thirty six years old now, and I felt old and
all dragged out.
But I still had my pride. Nobody was going to know how hard I was grieving. Nobody was going to feel sorry for
me--not even my husband. The very next day I had the severest attack of rheumatism I could remember and had to
take two doses of my precious supply of powdered morphine.
When I was out of bed again, I knew Joe was just waiting to tell me something. It was simply that he discovered
that our claim was on a school section, and we would have to move. I just played poker face but I was really grinding
my teeth as I thought, "Move! Move! Let's keep on moving; then maybe I can wear myself out faster and die
Because I was so quiet, Joe knew I was really upset about moving from this very pretty home, and Joe did want approval
from me, his children and his friends. Evidently, he thought, it was time to justify some other moves he had made
in the past. I got a real surprise when he started talking about his shooting scrape with my brother, Marion. That
was the first time we had ever brought it up. Joe said very seriously, "Angie, I've never said anything before,
but the real reason I wanted to get out of Texas was to keep out of trouble. I wanted to be sure I didn't get mixed
up in any kind of feud. I think you know that I've had all the shootin' I want. I'm not anxious to point a gun
at any man again. I'm not afraid of anybody, but I'm going a long way around before I start quarreling." Then
he gave me something to ponder over.
"It's best for us to move out of Curtis Canyon entirely. Uncle Joel and Keene, his partner, are quarreling,
and I don't want to take sides, and I don't want my boys to take side in this quarrel. Uncle Joel would expect
us to be with him and his men, and before we knew it, we could be in another Lincoln County war. But I'm having
no part in it. I'm done with shooting, I tell you!"
I wasn't actually listening to Joe's talk, for all of a sudden I knew that Diame and Della would be leaving me,
and that I could not take that just now.
I thought it was my time to talk plain; so I said right out to Joe, "Did you ask Jim and Wayne to strike out
for themselves? Did you tell them they had to leave us?"
"Angie, for cripes sake! I didn't, and you well know it. I was just goin' to tell you the girls' men have
just told me that they'd be leavin' us here. "
"Why didn't the girls tell me?"
"Because I asked them not to. I wanted to tell you myself and save them any quarreling. It's times like this
that you sure act like your Pa, Angie. Diame and Della are married, and they're goin' with their husbands whether
you want them to or not. Diame's Jim has been offered a good job with Three L's outfit, and Wayne is goin' to be
foreman for the J MIL's. Seems to me you'd be proud of the boys and say nothing to interfere with them."
I was on the wrong track; so I switched just a little. "I'm not simin' to say anything. They can go if they
want to. I just wish the girls had told me beforehand, that's all." I knew Joe would feel like a whipped pup,
if I put on a sorrowful tone.
"I'm ashamed of myself, Angie, for scolding you so hard. I know that damnable rheumatism has taken a lot out
of you. I hope you're done with it now."
This was the spring of 1885 when Joe decided to go south east of Curtis Canyon, where there wasn't a sign of wagon
tracks. He and our boys built roads as they went, over the mountain, down the canyon, on and on. It was worth all
the work, for we finally came to a spot not far from where the town of Cloudcroft now stands. Let me tell you the
pine trees were taller, the grass greener and the water sweeter than we had ever known. There Joe said we would
The boys and Joe built a large log house on the side of the canyon and cleared off enough pine trees so we could
see far down the canyon. We had never in all our lives seen and felt such good black soil. I just ached to get
my hands down deep into that dirt and pour out all the pain from my mind and body.
Folks said I had a green thumb, and I really did outdo myself at this place. Mountain people bragged that I had
the biggest zinnias, ragged robins, French pinks, marigolds and moss pansies they had ever seen.
Then another blessing came our way; the Windsor s came to call. These people lived three miles straight across
the mountain from us. Naturally, we were very curious about them, for we heard the mountain people tell many interesting
stories about them. Of course, everybody recognized that these Windsors were a different breed of cat from most
mountain folks. They spoke, acted and dressed differently. Somebody started a rumor that they had fled their native
England in shame and disgrace because their daughter had married a common butcher. Now I don't suppose there was
a grain of truth to this yarn, but it was a juicy story to pass around.
When the Windsors were leaving our house after the first call, the scholarly looking Mr. Windsor asked, "Mrs.
Browning, would you be interested in having a tutor for your children?"
I couldn't get it out fast enough. "We certainly would appreciate it if you would come to teach the children
all this winter." That was the happiest news I'd had in a long, long time, but there were some brighter happenings
just around the corner. I went to return the Windsor's call, and when I walked into their house, I found the walls
were actually lined with books. Here I was, nearing forty, and I had at last found Heaven on earth.
How thankful I am that the Windsors saw I was starved for books and made it known at once that I could read any
and all if I found the time. Mrs. Windsor said as I was leaving, "Take any book you want Mrs. Browning, but
just take one, because I want you to come again very soon to exchange it for another."
With Mrs. Windsor to guide me, I read the classics, devoured such magazines as Ladies Home Journal and Farm and
Fireside, and even kept up with news of the day through such papers as San Francisco Examiner and El Paso Herald.
All this reading made me more determined than ever that my children would not grow up in crippling ignorance.
It pleases me now to report that Mr. Windsor tutored our, Jack, George, Ted, and Lily; then for the next three
years the children went to the Fite school house, five miles up Cox Canyon. Professor Robart, who was a fine teacher,
came by each morning in his little spring wagon, drawn by two pretty black horses. The Browning children were always
ready and waiting for him to take them to school. I saw to that.
In 1888 the families in lower Cox Canyon decided to build their own school house. My Joe and twelve other men dragged
logs off the mountains and put up a fair sized room. There was no floor, of course, but there were nice benches
of split logs for the children to set on.
It plagued me very much that Professor Robart and Mr. Deedie Moore were only privileged to teach three months out
of a year, and I know it must have been hard work for them, for their pupils' ages ranged from five to seventeen
years. Graded system? There were no such thing. You took as much reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic as you
could absorb in three months, and then the next term came around, you started where you left off.
The mountain folks really appreciated their teachers, but they were a mite partial to Mr. Nations, who not only
came for the school term, but settled in the mountains to raise his children among the mountain people. There were
those who hinted that he was a little stern and unyielding, but it was only that he was a little impatient, sometimes,
at the colossal ignorance of some people.
The next winter I had a real treat. Joe thought it was time for me to make the trip to El Paso with him. Nothing
could have pleased me more. This time there were four other wagons going for supplies, driven by our good friends
in our district--Freeman Bass, Hance Newman, Tom Godwin and Hardy Bryant.
We had barely started when we could see snow beginning to fly, and the nearer we got to the summit (where Cloudcroft
now stands) the deeper the snow became. It wasn't long until the men realize that the wagon wheels would not go
through the big drifts; so there was nothing to do but take all five teams and pull the wagons through one at a
We made the summit in due time, but we still faced a problem. Snow was a bother going down hill as well as going
up. Wagons had a way of skidding so fast that they might go right over the horses' backs if there wasn't some way
to hold the vehicles back. That was easy for these men to figure out. They just tied big trees to the rear of the
wagons, and that held them.
It's hard to believe now, but it took us eight days to reach El Paso and I must be honest and tell you it was a
dirty little town of adobe houses, some with tough looking hombres sauntering down the dirt streets. I saw saloons
by the dozens and "fancy houses" on every corner. Who would believe that forty years this would be a
thriving city of beautiful parks, great church buildings and lovely homes? Somebody knew what he was doing when
that town ws named El Paso--the way, the pass, the gateway to the south.
I have every reason to remember the following spring. I was already having trouble with shooting pains all over
my body. I was very uneasy, for instead of the pains hitting my arms and limbs, they seemed to be settling in my
back and shoulders. The awful thought came that maybe this rheumatism was spreading over my whole body.
One particular night I lay beside Joe trying my best to go to sleep. Suddenly a pain hit my back and then another.
These were so quick and sharp that I cried out, and Joe awoke immediately, "What is it, Angie?"
My teeth were really chattering, and I could hardly talk, but I did finally tell Joe I felt like my whole insides
were coming out. Then that next pain hit and I really yelled. "Joe, Joe! I feel like I'm having a baby. I
couldn't, could I? I'm too old, but this sure feels like it."
"My God, Angie, of course you aren't having a baby! How do you feel now?"
"You better get some scissors boiled... and some twine... and clean sheets. These are mighty familiar pains."
So the birth of our eleventh child, my Joe served as midwife. As he held his son in his arms he said, "Holy
Christ, Angie, I never went through such a night in my life. Do women always suffer like this?"
I looked up at his worn, white face, and I couldn't help but laugh. But I wasn't laughing when I replied, "Joe
Browning, this was an easy birth; you should have seen the other ten."
Our little Roddy only lived eight months, and somehow I knew that Joe was taking his death too hard. Maybe Joe
felt this was actually the only child who really belonged to him, for he had helped bring him into the world. I
couldn't console him; I was too tired and numb to do much thinking about anything.
I was just getting on my feet again when somebody brought word that there was to be church services at the school
house the following Sunday. I told Joe I would like to go and take the children.
We traveled eight miles to hear a real hill-billy preacher whose text was "Behold the Lamb of God." He
ranted and panted and flung his arms and yelled, "You can cuff and kick sheep all around all you want to,
and he takes it without a squawk, but lay yer hands on a goat, and he'll blah! blah! blah!"
I took this as long as I could, but my nerves were shot, and here I had driven eight miles for words of comfort,
and I didn't feel in the mood for entertainment. Before I thought how it looked, I got up from my seat and stalked
out the door.
Of course the mountain folks were stunned, surprised, amused, and just a little offended that I had dared to do
such a thing. Joe and the boys brought home the wildest yarns about this. Jack was grinning when he told me he
heard two women talking at the picnic afterwards. One asked, "Who was that woman that stomped out of the place
durin' the meeting?"
"Don't you know? That's Mrs. JAB, Mrs. Joe Browning. They say she's a smart woman, and don't take no foolishness."
"The preacher didn't mean no harm. I thought his sermon was kinda interesting, myself."
"I guess she didn't, and there was no law to make her stay, but I wouldn't a had the nerve to walk out like
"I guess she's got the nerve to do anything."
I was ashamed then, and I am now. My Ruth would have said, "Angie, nice ladies don't act that way."
I paid for the rudeness by going home to have another very severe attack of rheumatism, and then I made it worse
by getting panicky because I had three more doses of white powder. These helped me through, but the minute I could
ride in a wagon, I told Joe I had to be taken to the doctor at the Indian Agency. My Joe dropped everything and
rushed me to the doctor as fast as he could. Joe hated to see anything, man or beast, suffer.
We found a very young doctor at the agency, and he listened to my case very intently, and then he pondered over
the matter for a few minutes, then said, "Mrs. Browning, I don't have any morphine on hand, but I do have
some gum opium. You will find that a pill about the size of a pea will be sufficient. This will wear off sooner
than the morphine, but I ..... I'm sure it will deaden the pain better."
He handed me a package containing a roll that looked much like chewing gum, but it had the texture of putty. I
rolled a little pill and swallowed it, and the doctor smiled and ushered us to the door.
It seemed to me that all my worries were over. I felt so gay and happy, and Joe, looking so relieved to see me
better, started his constant teasing and joking as we rode along home. A freak snowstorm caught us this September,
but we were not worried; this was a happy holiday for us. Joe decided, though, that we better not try to camp out;
we watched for the next house to see if they would put us up for the night.
We were lucky that the next people were new comers and were very glad to have company. In fact we felt like the
prodigal son coming home at last. These people begged for news from the outside plied us with questions until our
heads were swimming. In the midst of the steady conversation the women of the house, a large, fat slattern yelled
at her skinny little husband, "Ellie, put some wood on!"
"This here fire is hot enough, Mollie."
"Well, that ain't no sweat pourin' offen me." retorted Mollie.
Joe and I gazed into the fire and did not catch each other's eyes. There was to be no laughing to spoil the show.
We all bedded down on pallets spread on the floor--yes, all of us in the same room. All seemed settled for the
night when Mollie let out a yell, "Ellie, thar's somethin' in my bed. I think it's a Santa Feed (centipede)!"
Then Ellie stormed, "If I waz as 'fraid a dyin' as you are, Mollie, I'd jin the church!" but he made
no move to rescue Mollie, who crawled out of her pallet and examined the covers carefully, then sat down by the
fireplace. She reached up for a corn-cob pipe and remarked to all concerned, "I'm gettin' up. I ain't had
a good smoke tonight."
Of course Joe Browning was fast smothering with laughter, but I kept punching him so he wouldn't laugh aloud. He
had the covers over his head but I could feel him shaking with laughter.
Peace was restored when a five year old boy set up a howl for a drink. Mollie lumbered up, groaning and fussing,
and got the water, but the young man was enjoying all this attention, so he set up a howl for a biscuit and then
another drink of water. Poor Ellie was getting sleepy and was fast losing his patience; so he yelled, "Mollie,
why don't you whup that kid?"
"I'm skeered to, Ellie; he might hold his breath and die."
This tickled the boy so much that he shouted with laughter, and his poor pa yelled louder, "Looks to me like
hi's going laugh his self to death."
That brought the other three children up, and the whole family rocked with laughter. They were so busy shouting
that they didn't even notice that Joe and I were laughing just as hard.
Joe could have lingered for more laughs, but we both knew there was too much left at home to be done; so we were
off early. Joe said as we traveled along, "I can't remember enjoying a trip as much as this for a long, long
time." I agreed, for I felt no pain.