September 6, 1841 — A Swap

Monday, 6th. Traveled about 7 miles.

Well, that’s not much. But yesterday we were discussing horses, mules, and oxen. So to fill in, I will give you a story that Nicholas “Cheyenne” Dawson told about how he got his ride while still on the prairie.

Before we passed beyond the range of friendly Indians, I made a trade, which, as it brought in what proved to be a very important member of our company, I will tell of. The old mule I had traded my horse for proved very unsatisfactory. When I wanted him to go to water he wanted to go to grass; when I wanted him to go to grass, he wanted water — perhaps enough is told when I say that it was he that taught me to swear.

One day we met a gang of Indians. The leader was riding a spirited white pony, which I at once coveted. Riding up alongside the Indian, I drew my forefingers across each other and holloed “swap!” “Swap!” grunted the Indian. He jumped from his horse, I from my mule. He took off his saddle, I took off mine. He fastened his saddle upon my old mule, and I girthed mine around the white pony. Then we each sprang into our saddles and rode off. Thus came into my possession, “Monte.” This was the only trade I remember ever to have made in which I did not get the worst of the bargain.

The Trace Leads South, by Roy Anderson

Another fine painting from the Facebook page Art of the Wild West.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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