The other day I told my wife I needed a good book to read over
the weekend. I had just finished reading THE HOUND OF THE
BASKER-VILLES, and commented that it would be hard to find another
story as interesting.
‘I have a book in the school library that I guarantee you
can’t lay it aside until you’ve read it all,’ she
replied. ‘The city Carnegie Library culls out old books that
aren’t being read frequently, and I bought this one for a
So I’ve been reading ‘LONE COW-BOY-MY LIFE STORY’,
by Will James. It’s a handsome old book, the kind you like to
feel between your hands, and is most handsomely illustrated
throughout by the author’s paintings and sketchings of western
cowboys and their horses in action.
I should say, ‘We’ve been reading it together,’
since, although my wife has read it years ago, she has demanded
that I also read it aloud to her as it never gets old.
LONE COWBOY is the story of Will James’s life on the western
range. His mother died when he was one year of age, his father when
he was only four. But a friend of his father’s, Jean Beaupre, a
hardy French-Canadian trapper, took the little boy under his wing
to raise. The boy called him ‘Bopy’ for short, and grew to
respect him as a sort of sagely god-father which in every respect
Living here and there amongst the cowboys on the western range,
the little fellow soon learned to love both the great horses and
the men who rode them in rounding up the wild steers for shipment
to the nation’s markets. One day the lad received a tiny
leather saddle. It was the happiest day of his life. And the saddle
fitted perfectly onto the back of a small pony the ranch boss had
given little Billyalmost as if it had been planned (and it was).
The boy’s whole life centered around his love for that little
pony and saddleand the shiny new cowboy boots with the brass spurs
that came later. From then on the little fellow was right in the
thick of things with the big cowboys, watching them rope and brand
the steers and calves, listening to their lingo, and taking on
Each year, when trapping season approached, Bopy and the little
boy would set out on their horses, crisscrossing over mountain
ranges and valleys, heading for the Canadian border.
‘Bopy never needed a map,’ says Will James. ‘How he
ever knew where he was going, I’ll never know, but he never
failed to get there, over all kinds of unmarked trails, many
hundreds of miles zig-zagging through forests and fording
When they got too far north for a horse’s hoof to tread,
they stabled their steeds at a livery or friend’s house, then
continued afoot, carrying their packs on their backs. The boy would
stay in a cabin, doing odd chores and keeping the home fires
burning while Bopy ran his trap lines for three days without
returning. But, like a good god-father, Bopy always saw to it that
the little boy was well supplied with a tablet and pencils. For he
showed an aptitude for drawing wild horses and the wily old French
trapper saw the wisdom of fostering his wonderful talent, even in
the wilderness. And there were the times too, when Bopy would fetch
along some extra gift on his back-packa stuffed horse or picture
book to entertain the lad while he’d be away running his
‘If Bopy believed in any religion, he never showed it. He
never spoke to me on that subject and I’ve never seen him kneel
nor pray,’ says Will James. ‘But I’ve had a hint many a
time while I lived with him that he had a great lot of religion,
only his wasn’t of the kind where you kneel and pray and
donate, while asking for favors. His was silent and came through
his being and senses at what he seen and felt, and from his
Billy was seven or eight years old before he ever visited a town
on their journeys. For the first time he saw other boys and girls,
and was so fascinated. Before that he’d only seen older people
on the range, and couldn’t believe there were ‘little
people’ like himself in the world.
One morning Bopy arose early as usual, but he never came back to
get breakfast. The lad became frightened and went out along the
swirling river to where Bopy always went for water. And he
discovered the old battered bucket jammed among the ice flow. Bopy
had fallen in while dipping water and was never seen. The boy was
on his own once again, to face the cruel frontier world, far from
home base and with a team and wagon and pack horses to ford that
terrible river and return to his native haunts.
Later Will James became a great artist, drawing and painting the
wonderful pictures of the Old West that bear his name. And an
author too, with half a dozen fine books on frontier life to his
credit and fame.
Though the language of his stories is not grammatically perfect,
Will James tells his stories of the old cow country in the true
lingo of his day. It was all he had ever heard and his writings
reflect his times and locale.
After the mysterious disappearing of the faithful Bopy, the lad
tells of many hair-raising experiences of riding many hundreds of
miles alone on horseback.
One particular episode where he is riding alone on his faithful
old horse, through the night over mountain range in a terrible
blizzard, he says, ‘I could see no further than my horse’s
ears. We’d scale down deep slopes that I couldn’t see the
bottom of, and climb steep mountain inclines I couldn’t see
where the top was, but the horse seemed to know and we kept on that
way for several hundreds of miles.’
One wonders how they survived, without roads and highway
markers. And we ponder the fact that mankind would still be in the
stone age were it not for that wonderful gift from God to
struggling humanity the noble horse, with its marvelous instincts
and homing capacities that mystify modern man and his mechanical
It is the most thrilling of stories, how a little lad was
tenderly cared for by an old French-speaking trapper who
couldn’t speak English, but who cared for him like a mother,
educating him in the moral and upright ways that enabled him to
live and conquer among the rough and rustic ways of the old
As my wife so rightly said, ‘If you start to read the book,
you won’t be able to lay it aside until you’ve read it
all.’ How rewarding the book is, and yet to think that a public
city library sold it for only a dime, simply because no one wanted
to take it out anymore. Where are our old-fashioned standards in
this day and age?
There is real religion in the story. Not the kind that shouts
‘Hallelujahs and Amens.’ But religion of the heart, such as
Jesus spoke of in condemning the hypocrites and their false fronts.
Read it you’ll LIKE IT.
Last summer we had a neighbor living in the trailer next door.
He was a poor small-church preacher who was suffering so from heart
trouble. His daughter told us that, ‘The doctor said Dad should
not do any more work, mowing lawns or making garden, or he’d
die any minute.’
At the time, I gave a small bottle of Wheat Germ capsules to the
preacher, and told him to begin taking two capsules every day, and
they’d do more for him than the doctors. He said he
couldn’t pay for them, but I told him not to worry, I was
giving them to him.
Several evenings ago my wife and I were out in front, burning up
some limbs and branches left from a huge Chinese Elm we had to have
cut down. Suddenly we noticed a man approaching down the sidewalk
at a lively step. He was dressed in white shirt and necktie, and
neatly pressed suit. He didn’t look like anyone we knew, but
when he got closer, we noticed it was the same Rev. Adams.
‘Did you get to take any of the Wheat Germ capsules I gave
you last summer?’ I asked.
‘I sure did, and they really helped me,’ he replied with
gusto. ‘I only took half of the bottle, and look at my stomach.
I’m taking on weight, and now have been mowing lawns
‘I’m walking down to the church over here. I have to
preach tonight,’ he said.
He appeared an altogether new and different fellow. We were
quite surprised and happy to have helped him. Last summer he was so
dejected and hopeless of his chances for living. Now, by his own
testimony, he was a new creature, physically, with new horizons for
the coming summer, both in his manual labors and religious
I had told him that Wheat Germ can rebuild and strengthen a weak
heart. He believed me, and from there went on faith to believe it
could happen. True Christianity is helping others. Not only are
those who are helped made more happy, but those who do the helping
receive rewards unspeakable in words or language only the heart.
Like 0l’ Bopy who had helped a little orphaned lad on the
western frontier, we had helped a brother in need, in our modern
day world, and were enriched for doing so.
Wheat Germ is so easy to get, at most drug stores and health
stores everywhere. And its great benefits are only now becoming
recognized as vital to weakened hearts, to such an extent that no
one should deny themselves of this blessing.
A kind word, a kind deed, Jesus glorified above volumes of Holy
Writ. And these kind words and kind deeds often come from those we
least expect it.
It is one thing to read religion. But another thing to do