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- Old Spookses' Pass - 2/37 -


Them's my idees es I pann'd them out; Don't take no stock in them creeds that say, Thar's a chap with horns thet's took control Of the rollin' stock on thet up-grade way, Thet's free to tote up es ugly a log Es grows in his big bush grim an' black, An' slyly put it across the rails, Tew hist a poor critter clar off the track.

XVI.

An' when he's pooty well busted an' smash'd, The devil comes smilin' an' bowin' round, Says tew the Maker, "Guess ye don't keer Tew trouble with stock thet ain't parfactly sound; Lemme tote him away--best ye can do-- Neglected, I guess, tew build him with care; I'll hide him in hell--better thet folks Shouldn't see him laid up on the track for repair!"

XVII.

Don't take no stock in them creeds at all; Ain't one of them cur'us sort of moles Thet think the Maker is bound to let The devil git up a "corner" in souls. Ye think I've put up a biggish stake? Wal, I'll bet fur all I'm wuth, d'ye see? He ain't wuth shucks thet won't dar tew lay All his pile on his own idee!

XVIII.

Ye bet yer boots I am safe tew win, Es the chap thet's able tew smilin' smack The ace he's been hidin' up his sleeve Kerslap on top of a feller's jack! Es I wus sayin', the night wus dark, The lightnin' skippin' from star to star; Thar wa'n't no clouds but a thread of mist, No sound but the coyotes yell afar,

XIX.

An' the noise of the creek as it called tew me, "Pard, don't ye mind the mossy, green spot Whar a creek stood still fur a drowzin' spell Right in the midst of the old home lot? Whar, right at sundown on Sabba'day, Ye skinn'd yerself of yer meetin' clothes, An dove, like a duck, whar the water clar Shone up like glass through the lily-blows?

XX.

"Yer soul wus white es yer skin them days, Yer eyes es clar es the creek at rest; The wust idee in yer head thet time Wus robbin' a bluebird's swingin' nest. Now ain't ye changed? declar fur it, pard; Thet creek would question, it 'pears tew me, Ef ye looked in its waters agin tew night, 'Who may this old cuss of a sinner be?'"

XXI.

Thet wus the style thet thet thar creek In "Old Spookses' Pass," in the Rockies, talked; Drowzily list'nin' I rode round the herd. When all of a sudden the mustang balked, An' shied with a snort; I never know'd Thet tough leetle critter tew show a scare In storm or dark; but he jest scrouch'd down, With his nostrils snuffin' the damp, cool air,

XXII.

An' his flanks a-quiver. Shook up? Wal, yes Guess'd we hev heaps of tarnation fun; I calculated quicker'n light That the herd would be off on a healthy run. But thar warn't a stir tew horn or hoof; The herd, like a great black mist, lay spread, While har an' thar a grazin' bull Loom'd up, like a mighty "thunder head."

XXIII.

I riz in my saddle an' star'd around-- On the mustang's neck I felt the sweat; Thar wus nuthin' tew see--sort of felt the har Commencin' tew crawl on my scalp, ye bet! Felt kind of cur'us--own up I did; Felt sort of dry in my mouth an' throat. Sez I, "Ye ain't goin' tew scare, old hoss, At a prowlin' coss of a blamed coyote?"

XXIV.

But 'twan't no coyote nor prowlin' beast. Nor rattle a-wrigglin' through the grass, Nor a lurkin' red-skin--'twan't my way In a game like that to sing out, "I pass!" But I know'd when I glimps'd the rollin' whites, The sparks from the black of the mustang's eye, Thar wus _somethin'_ waltzin' up thet way Thet would send them critters off on the fly!

XXV.

In the night-air's tremblin', shakin' hands Felt it beatin' kerslap onto me, Like them waves thet chas'd thet President chap Thet went on the war-trail in old Judee. The air wus bustin'--but silent es death; An' lookin' up, in a second I seed The sort of sky thet allers looks down On the rush an' the roar of a night stampede.

XXVI.

Tearin' along the indigo sky Wus a drove of clouds, snarl'd an' black; Scuddin' along to'ards the risin' moon, Like the sweep of a darn'd hungry pack Of preairie wolves to'ard a bufferler, The heft of the herd, left out of sight; I dror'd my breath right hard, fur I know'd We wus in fur a'tarnal run thet night.

XXVII.

Quiet? Ye bet! The mustang scrounch'd, His neck stretch'd out an' his nostrils wide, The moonshine swept, a white river down, The black of the mighty mountain's side, Lappin' over an' over the stuns an' brush In whirls an' swirls of leapin' light, Makin' straight fur the herd, whar black an' still, It stretch'd away to the left an' right

XXVIII.

On the level lot;--I tell ye, pard, I know'd when it touch'd the first black hide, Me an' the mustang would hev a show Fur a breezy bit of an' evenin' ride! One! it flow'd over a homely pine Thet riz from a cranny, lean an' lank, A cleft of the mountain;--reckinin' two, It slapp'd onto an' old steer's heavin' flank,

XXIX.

Es sound he slept on the skirt of the herd, Dreamin' his dreams of the sweet blue grass On the plains below; an' afore it touched The other wall of "Old Spookses' Pass" The herd wus up!--not one at a time, _Thet_ ain't the style in a midnight run,-- They wus up an' off like es all thair minds Wus roll'd in the hide of only one!

XXX.

I've fit in a battle, an' heerd the guns Blasphemin' God with their devils' yell; Heerd the stuns of a fort like thunder crash In front of the scream of a red-hot shell; But thet thar poundin' of iron hoofs, The clatter of horns, the peltin' sweep Of three thousand head of a runnin' herd, Made all of them noises kind of cheap.

XXXI.

The Pass jest open'd its giant throat An' its lips of granite, an' let a roar Of answerin' echoes; the mustang buck'd, Then answer'd the bridle; an', pard, afore The twink of a fire-bug, lifted his legs Over stuns an' brush, like a lopin' deer-- A smart leetle critter! An' thar wus I 'Longside of the plungin' leadin' steer!


Old Spookses' Pass - 2/37

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