Will often tried to sum up his career at Kemper: "I spent two years there, one in the guardhouse and one in the fourth grade. I knew more about McGuffey's Reader than McGuffey did."
One of Will's best pals at Kemper was Billy Johnston, who hailed from the Texas Panhandle. Billy loved to spin yarns about the wonders of ranch life in Texas, all of which appealed to Will's chronic wanderlust. Since he was perennially on the verge of expulsion at Kemper and wasn't managing the details of military life in a very exemplary manner, Will made up his mind to call it quits at Kemper in 1898. An added inducement to leave Kemper, without first consulting his father, was that Will had no idea how he could break the news to Clem.
"There has always been lots of curiosity about whether I jumped or was shoved out of that place," Will wrote, years later. "Well, I can't remember that far back now. All I know is that it was a cold winter and old man Ewing's ranch on the Canadian River near Higgins wasn't too warm when I dragged in there."
At the urging of Johnston, Will had embarked for Higgins, Texas, where he