28th March 1833

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
About this time one of the officers went to see some wild cattle taken. After riding far beyond the hills seen from Port Louis, a black speck was discerned in the distance—instantly the three gauchos stopped, adjusted their saddle-gear, lassoes, and balls, and then cantered off in different directions. While stopping, my shipmate saw that the black spot moved and doubled its size. Directly afterwards, he perceived five other black things, and taking it for granted they were cattle, asked no questions of his taciturn, though eager, companions, but watched their movements and galloped on with the capataz (Jean Simon), the other two making a détour round some hills. Having got down wind of the herd, Simon slackened his pace, and, lying along his horse's back, gradually ascended a slight eminence, beyond which the cattle were feeding. For a moment he stopped to look round:—there was a monstrous bull within a hundred yards of him; three hundred yards further, were about twenty cows; and in a valley beyond, was a large herd of wild cattle. Just then the heads of the other two men were seen a quarter of a mile on one side, also to leeward of the cattle, which were still feeding unsuspiciously. With a sudden dash onwards, such as those horses are trained to make, Simon was within twenty yards of the overgrown, but far from unwieldy brute, before he could 'get way on.' Whirling the balls around his head, Simon hurled them so truly at the bull's fore-legs, that down he came, with a blow that made the earth tremble, and rolled over and over. Away went Simon at full gallop after a fine cow; and at the same time, each of the other men were in full chase of their animals. The herd galloped off almost as fast as horses; but in a few moments, another bull was bellowing in impotent rage, and two cows were held tightly by lassoes—one being caught by Simon alone, and the other by his two companions. One of the men jumped off, and fastened his cow's legs together so securely, that she could only limp along a few inches at a time; his horse meanwhile keeping the second lasso tight, as effectually as if his master had been on his back. Both lassoes were then shaken off, and one thrown over Simon's cow, which had been trying in all kinds of ways to escape from or gore her active enemy, who—go which way she would—always kept the lasso tight; and often, by checking her suddenly, half overset and thoroughly frightened her. Leaving his horse as soon as the cow was secure, Simon hamstrung the bulls, and left them where they fell, roaring with pain and rage. He then remounted, and all four cantered back towards the 'estancia' (or farm), where the tame cattle are kept. Simon was asked to kill the poor brutes before he left them; but he shook his head, with a sneer, and remarked, that their hides would come off easier next day! At daybreak, the following morning, half-a-dozen tame cattle were driven out to the place of slaughter, and with them the frightened and already half-tamed cows (which had been left tied in a place where they had nothing to eat), were easily driven in to the farm. The two bulls were at last killed, skinned, cut up, and the best parts of their carcases carried to the settlement. The hides of those two animals weighed seventy-three and eighty-one pounds.

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