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Title: Horses Nine - Stories of Harness and Saddle
Author: Ford, Sewell, 1868-1946
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Horses Nine - Stories of Harness and Saddle" ***

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[Illustration: By one desperate leap he shook himself clear. (Page 263.)]








Copyright, 1903, by

Published, March, 1903





SKIPPER                                                   1
Being the Biography of a Blue-Ribboner.

CALICO                                                   31
Who Travelled with a Round Top.

OLD SILVER                                               67
A Story of the Gray Horse Truck.

BLUE BLAZES                                              95
And the Marring of Him.

CHIEFTAIN                                               125
A Story of the Heavy Draught Service.

BARNACLES                                               157
Who Mutinied for Good Cause.

BLACK EAGLE                                             181
Who Once Ruled the Ranges.

BONFIRE                                                 215
Broken for the House of Jerry.

PASHA                                                   241
The Son of Selim.





By Frederic Dorr Steele and L. Maynard Dixon

By one desperate leap he shook himself clear          Frontispiece

                                                       FACING PAGE

There were many heavy wagons                                     6

For many weary months Skipper pulled that crazy cart            24

He would do his best to steady them down to the work           130

Then let him snake a truck down West Street                    144

"Come, boy. Come, Pasha," insisted the man on the ground       266

Mr. Dave kept his seat more by force of
muscular habit than anything else                              268




At the age of six Skipper went on the force. Clean of limb and sound of
wind he was, with not a blemish from the tip of his black tail to the
end of his crinkly forelock. He had been broken to saddle by a Green
Mountain boy who knew more of horse nature than of the trashy things
writ in books. He gave Skipper kind words and an occasional friendly pat
on the flank. So Skipper's disposition was sweet and his nature a
trusting one.

This is why Skipper learned so soon the ways of the city. The first time
he saw one of those little wheeled houses, all windows and full of
people, come rushing down the street with a fearful whirr and clank of
bell, he wanted to bolt. But the man on his back spoke in an easy, calm
voice, saying, "So-o-o! There, me b'y. Aisy wid ye. So-o-o!" which was
excellent advice, for the queer contrivance whizzed by and did him no
harm. In a week he could watch one without even pricking up his ears.

It was strange work Skipper had been brought to the city to do. As a
colt he had seen horses dragging ploughs, pulling big loads of hay, and
hitched to many kinds of vehicles. He himself had drawn a light buggy
and thought it good fun, though you did have to keep your heels down and
trot instead of canter. He had liked best to lope off with the boy on
his back, down to the Corners, where the store was.

But here there were no ploughs, nor hay-carts, nor mowing-machines.
There were many heavy wagons, it was true, but these were all drawn by
stocky Percherons and big Western grays or stout Canada blacks who
seemed fully equal to the task.

Also there were carriages--my, what shiny carriages! And what smart,
sleek-looking horses drew them! And how high they did hold their heads
and how they did throw their feet about--just as if they were dancing on

"Proud, stuck-up things," thought Skipper.

It was clear that none of this work was for him. Early on the first
morning of his service men in brass-buttoned blue coats came to the
stable to feed and rub down the horses. Skipper's man had two names. One
was Officer Martin; at least that was the one to which he answered when
the man with the cap called the roll before they rode out for duty. The
other name was "Reddy." That was what the rest of the men in blue coats
called him. Skipper noticed that he had red hair and concluded that
"Reddy" must be his real name.

As for Skipper's name, it was written on the tag tied to the halter
which he wore when he came to the city. Skipper heard him read it. The
boy on the farm had done that, and Skipper was glad, for he liked the

There was much to learn in those first few weeks, and Skipper learned it
quickly. He came to know that at inspection, which began the day, you
must stand with your nose just on a line with that of the horse on
either side. If you didn't you felt the bit or the spurs. He mastered
the meaning of "right dress," "left dress," "forward," "fours right,"
and a lot of other things. Some of them were very strange.

[Illustration: There were many heavy wagons.]

Now on the farm they had said, "Whoa, boy," and "Gid a-a-ap." Here they
said, "Halt" and "Forward!" But "Reddy" used none of these terms. He
pressed with his knees on your withers, loosened the reins, and made a
queer little chirrup when he wanted you to gallop. He let you know when
he wanted you to stop, by the lightest pressure on the bit.

It was a lazy work, though. Sometimes when Skipper was just aching for a
brisk canter he had to pace soberly through the park driveways--for
Skipper, although I don't believe I mentioned it before, was part and
parcel of the mounted police force. But there, you could know that by
the yellow letters on his saddle blanket.

For half an hour at a time he would stand, just on the edge of the
roadway and at an exact right angle with it, motionless as the horse
ridden by the bronze soldier up near the Mall. "Reddy" would sit as
still in the saddle, too. It was hard for Skipper to stand there and see
those mincing cobs go by, their pad-housings all a-glitter, crests on
their blinders, jingling their pole-chains and switching their absurd
little stubs of tails. But it was still more tantalizing to watch the
saddle-horses canter past in the soft bridle path on the other side of
the roadway. But then, when you are on the force you must do your duty.

One afternoon as Skipper was standing post like this he caught a new
note that rose above the hum of the park traffic. It was the quick,
nervous beat of hoofs which rang sharply on the hard macadam. There were
screams, too. It was a runaway. Skipper knew this even before he saw the
bell-like nostrils, the straining eyes, and the foam-flecked lips of
the horse, or the scared man in the carriage behind. It was a case of
broken rein.

How the sight made Skipper's blood tingle! Wouldn't he just like to show
that crazy roan what real running was! But what was Reddy going to do?
He felt him gather up the reins. He felt his knees tighten. What! Yes,
it must be so. Reddy was actually going to try a brush with the runaway.
What fun!

Skipper pranced out into the roadway and gathered himself for the sport.
Before he could get into full swing, however, the roan had shot past
with a snort of challenge which could not be misunderstood.

"Oho! You will, eh?" thought Skipper. "Well now, we'll see about that."

Ah, a free rein! That is--almost free. And a touch of the spurs! No need
for that, Reddy. How the carriages scatter! Skipper caught hasty
glimpses of smart hackneys drawn up trembling by the roadside, of women
who tumbled from bicycles into the bushes, and of men who ran and
shouted and waved their hats.

"Just as though that little roan wasn't scared enough already," thought

But she did run well; Skipper had to admit that. She had a lead of fifty
yards before he could strike his best gait. Then for a few moments he
could not seem to gain an inch. But the mare was blowing herself and
Skipper was taking it coolly. He was putting the pent-up energy of weeks
into his strides. Once he saw he was overhauling her he steadied to the

Just as Skipper was about to forge ahead, Reddy did a queer thing. With
his right hand he grabbed the roan with a nose-pinch grip, and with the
left he pulled in on the reins. It was a great disappointment to
Skipper, for he had counted on showing the roan his heels. Skipper knew,
after two or three experiences of this kind, that this was the usual

Those were glorious runs, though. Skipper wished they would come more
often. Sometimes there would be two and even three in a day. Then a
fortnight or so would pass without a single runaway on Skipper's beat.
But duty is duty.

During the early morning hours, when there were few people in the park,
Skipper's education progressed. He learned to pace around in a circle,
lifting each forefoot with a sway of the body and a pawing movement
which was quite rhythmical. He learned to box with his nose. He learned
to walk sedately behind Reddy and to pick up a glove, dropped apparently
by accident. There was always a sugar-plum or a sweet cracker in the
glove, which he got when Reddy stopped and Skipper, poking his nose over
his shoulder, let the glove fall into his hands.

As he became more accomplished he noticed that "Reddy" took more pains
with his toilet. Every morning Skipper's coat was curried and brushed
and rubbed with chamois until it shone almost as if it had been
varnished. His fetlocks were carefully trimmed, a ribbon braided into
his forelock, and his hoofs polished as brightly as Reddy's boots. Then
there were apples and carrots and other delicacies which Reddy brought

So it happened that one morning Skipper heard the Sergeant tell Reddy
that he had been detailed for the Horse Show squad. Reddy had saluted
and said nothing at the time, but when they were once out on post he
told Skipper all about it.

"Sure an' it's app'arin' before all the swells in town you'll be, me
b'y. Phat do ye think of that, eh? An' mebbe ye'll be gettin' a blue
ribbon, Skipper, me lad; an' mebbe Mr. Patrick Martin will have a
roundsman's berth an' chevrons on his sleeves afore the year's out."

The Horse Show was all that Reddy had promised, and more. The light
almost dazzled Skipper. The sounds and the smells confused him. But he
felt Reddy on his back, heard him chirrup softly, and soon felt at ease
on the tanbark.

Then there was a great crash of noise and Skipper, with some fifty of
his friends on the force, began to move around the circle. First it was
fours abreast, then by twos, and then a rush to troop front, when, in a
long line, they swept around as if they had been harnessed to a beam by
traces of equal length.

After some more evolutions a half-dozen were picked out and put through
their paces. Skipper was one of these. Then three of the six were sent
to join the rest of the squad. Only Skipper and two others remained in
the centre of the ring. Men in queer clothes, wearing tall black hats,
showing much white shirt-front and carrying long whips, came and looked
them over carefully.

Skipper showed these men how he could waltz in time to the music, and
the people who banked the circle as far up as Skipper could see shouted
and clapped their hands until it seemed as if a thunderstorm had broken
loose. At last one of the men in tall hats tied a blue ribbon on
Skipper's bridle.

When Reddy got him into the stable, he fed him four big red apples, one
after the other. Next day Skipper knew that he was a famous horse. Reddy
showed him their pictures in the paper.

For a whole year Skipper was the pride of the force. He was shown to
visitors at the stables. He was patted on the nose by the Mayor. The
Chief, who was a bigger man than the Mayor, came up especially to look
at him. In the park Skipper did his tricks every day for ladies in fine
dress who exclaimed, "How perfectly wonderful!" as well as for pretty
nurse-maids who giggled and said, "Now did you ever see the likes o'
that, Norah?"

And then came the spavin. Ah, but that was the beginning of the end!
Were you ever spavined? If so, you know all about it. If you haven't,
there's no use trying to tell you. Rheumatism? Well, that may be bad;
but a spavin is worse.

For three weeks Reddy rubbed the lump on the hock with stuff from a
brown bottle, and hid it from the inspector. Then, one black morning,
the lump was discovered. That day Skipper did not go out on post. Reddy
came into the stall, put his arm around his neck and said "Good-by" in a
voice that Skipper had never heard him use before. Something had made it
thick and husky. Very sadly Skipper saw him saddle one of the newcomers
and go out for duty.

Before Reddy came back Skipper was led away. He was taken to a big
building where there were horses of every kind--except the right kind.
Each one had his own peculiar "out," although you couldn't always tell
what it was at first glance.

But Skipper did not stay here long. He was led into a big ring before a
lot of men. A man on a box shouted out a number, and began to talk very
fast. Skipper gathered that he was talking about him. Skipper learned
that he was still only six years old, and that he had been owned as a
saddle-horse by a lady who was about to sail for Europe and was closing
out her stable. This was news to Skipper. He wished Reddy could hear it.

The man talked very nicely about Skipper. He said he was kind, gentle,
sound in wind and limb, and was not only trained to the saddle but would
work either single or double. The man wanted to know how much the
gentlemen were willing to pay for a bay gelding of this description.

Someone on the outer edge of the crowd said, "Ten dollars."

At this the man on the box grew quite indignant. He asked if the other
man wouldn't like a silver-mounted harness and a lap-robe thrown in.

"Fifteen," said another man.

Somebody else said "Twenty," another man said, "Twenty-five," and still
another, "Thirty." Then there was a hitch. The man on the box began to
talk very fast indeed:

"Thutty-thutty-thutty-thutty--do I hear the five?
Thutty-thutty-thutty-thutty--will you make it five?"

"Thirty-five," said a red-faced man who had pushed his way to the front
and was looking Skipper over sharply.

The man on the box said "Thutty-five" a good many times and asked if he
"heard forty." Evidently he did not, for he stopped and said very slowly
and distinctly, looking expectantly around: "Are you all done?
Thirty-five--once. Thirty-five--twice. Third--and last call--sold, for
thirty-five dollars!"

When Skipper heard this he hung his head. When you have been a $250
blue-ribboner and the pride of the force it is sad to be "knocked down"
for thirty-five.

The next year of Skipper's life was a dark one. We will not linger over
it. The red-faced man who led him away was a grocer. He put Skipper in
the shafts of a heavy wagon very early every morning and drove him a
long ways through the city to a big down-town market where men in long
frocks shouted and handled boxes and barrels. When the wagon was heavily
loaded the red-faced man drove him back to the store. Then a tow-haired
boy, who jerked viciously on the lines and was fond of using the whip,
drove him recklessly about the streets and avenues.

But one day the tow-haired boy pulled the near rein too hard while
rounding a corner and a wheel was smashed against a lamp-post. The
tow-haired boy was sent head first into an ash-barrel, and Skipper,
rather startled at the occurrence, took a little run down the avenue,
strewing the pavement with eggs, sugar, canned corn, celery, and other
assorted groceries.

Perhaps this was why the grocer sold him. Skipper pulled a cart through
the flat-house district for a while after that. On the seat of the cart
sat a leather-lunged man who roared: "A-a-a-a-puls! Nice a-a-a-a-puls! A
who-o-ole lot fer a quarter!"

Skipper felt this disgrace keenly. Even the cab-horses, on whom he used
to look with disdain, eyed him scornfully. Skipper stood it as long as
possible and then one day, while the apple fakir was standing on the
back step of the cart shouting things at a woman who was leaning half
way out of a fourth-story window, he bolted. He distributed that load of
apples over four blocks, much to the profit of the street children, and
he wrecked the wagon on a hydrant. For this the fakir beat him with a
piece of the wreckage until a blue-coated officer threatened to arrest
him. Next day Skipper was sold again.

Skipper looked over his new owner without joy. The man was evil of face.
His long whiskers and hair were unkempt and sun-bleached, like the tip
end of a pastured cow's tail. His clothes were greasy. His voice was
like the grunt of a pig. Skipper wondered to what use this man would put
him. He feared the worst.

Far up through the city the man took him and out on a broad avenue where
there were many open spaces, most of them fenced in by huge bill-boards.
Behind one of these sign-plastered barriers Skipper found his new home.
The bottom of the lot was more than twenty feet below the street-level.
In the centre of a waste of rocks, ash-heaps, and dead weeds tottered a
group of shanties, strangely made of odds and ends. The walls were
partly of mud-chinked rocks and partly of wood. The roofs were patched
with strips of rusty tin held in place by stones.

Into one of these shanties, just tall enough for Skipper to enter and no
more, the horse that had been the pride of the mounted park police was
driven with a kick as a greeting. Skipper noted first that there was no
feed-box and no hayrack. Then he saw, or rather felt--for the only light
came through cracks in the walls--that there was no floor. His nostrils
told him that the drainage was bad. Skipper sighed as he thought of the
clean, sweet straw which Reddy used to change in his stall every night.

But when you have a lump on your leg--a lump that throbs, throbs, throbs
with pain, whether you stand still or lie down--you do not think much on
other things.

Supper was late in coming to Skipper that night. He was almost starved
when it was served. And such a supper! What do you think? Hay? Yes, but
marsh hay; the dry, tasteless stuff they use for bedding in cheap
stables. A ton of it wouldn't make a pound of good flesh. Oats? Not a
sign of an oat! But with the hay there were a few potato-peelings.
Skipper nosed them out and nibbled the marsh hay. The rest he pawed back
under him, for the whole had been thrown at his feet. Then he dropped on
the ill-smelling ground and went to sleep to dream that he had been
turned into a forty-acre field of clover, while a dozen brass bands
played a waltz and multitudes of people looked on and cheered.

In the morning more salt hay was thrown to him and water was brought in
a dirty pail. Then, without a stroke of brush or curry-comb he was led
out. When he saw the wagon to which he was to be hitched Skipper hung
his head. He had reached the bottom. It was unpainted and rickety as to
body and frame, the wheels were unmated and dished, while the shafts
were spliced and wound with wire.

But worst of all was the string of bells suspended from two uprights
above the seat. When Skipper saw these he knew he had fallen low indeed.
He had become the horse of a wandering junkman. The next step in his
career, as he well knew, would be the glue factory and the boneyard.
Now when a horse has lived for twenty years or so, it is sad enough to
face these things. But at eight years to see the glue factory close at
hand is enough to make a horse wish he had never been foaled.

For many weary months Skipper pulled that crazy cart, with its hateful
jangle of bells, about the city streets and suburban roads while the man
with the faded hair roared through his matted beard: "Buy o-o-o-o-olt
ra-a-a-a-ags! Buy o-o-o-o-olt ra-a-a-a-ags! Olt boddles! Olt copper! Olt
iron! Vaste baber!"

[Illustration: For many weary months Skipper pulled that crazy cart.]

The lump on Skipper's hock kept growing bigger and bigger. It seemed as
if the darts of pain shot from hoof to flank with every step. Big
hollows came over his eyes. You could see his ribs as plainly as the
hoops on a pork-barrel. Yet six days in the week he went on long trips
and brought back heavy loads of junk. On Sunday he hauled the junkman
and his family about the city.

Once the junkman tried to drive Skipper into one of the Park entrances.
Then for the first time in his life Skipper balked. The junkman pounded
and used such language as you might expect from a junkman, but all to no
use. Skipper took the beating with lowered head, but go through the gate
he would not. So the junkman gave it up, although he seemed very
anxious to join the line of gay carriages which were rolling in.

Soon after this there came a break in the daily routine. One morning
Skipper was not led out as usual. In fact, no one came near him, and he
could hear no voices in the nearby shanty. Skipper decided that he
would take a day off himself. By backing against the door he readily
pushed it open, for the staple was insecure.

Once at liberty, he climbed the roadway that led out of the lot. It was
late in the fall, but there was still short sweet winter grass to be
found along the gutters. For a while he nibbled at this hungrily. Then a
queer idea came to Skipper. Perhaps the passing of a smartly groomed
saddle-horse was responsible.

At any rate, Skipper left off nibbling grass. He hobbled out to the edge
of the road, turned so as to face the opposite side, and held up his
head. There he stood just as he used to stand when he was the pride of
the mounted squad. He was on post once more.

Few people were passing, and none seemed to notice him. Yet he was an
odd figure. His coat was shaggy and weather-stained. It looked patched
and faded. The spavined hock caused one hind quarter to sag somewhat,
but aside from that his pose was strictly according to the regulations.

Skipper had been playing at standing post for a half-hour, when a
trotting dandy who sported ankle-boots and toe-weights, pulled up before
him. He was drawing a light, bicycle-wheeled road-wagon in which were
two men.

"Queer?" one of the men was saying. "Can't say I see anything queer
about it, Captain. Some old plug that's got away from a squatter; that's
all I see in it."

"Well, let's have a look," said the other. He stared hard at Skipper for
a moment and then, in a loud, sharp tone, said:

"'Ten-shun! Right dress!"

Skipper pricked up his ears, raised his head, and side-stepped stiffly.
The trotting dandy turned and looked curiously at him.

"Forward!" said the man in the wagon. Skipper hobbled out into the road.

"Right wheel! Halt! I thought so," said the man, as Skipper obeyed the
orders. "That fellow has been on the force. He was standing post. Looks
mighty familiar, too--white stockings on two forelegs, white star on
forehead. Now I wonder if that can be--here, hold the reins a minute."

Going up to Skipper the man patted his nose once or twice, and then
pushed his muzzle to one side. Skipper ducked and countered. He had not
forgotten his boxing trick. The man turned his back and began to pace
down the road. Skipper followed and picked up a riding-glove which the
man dropped.

"Doyle," said the man, as he walked back to the wagon, "two years ago
that was the finest horse on the force--took the blue ribbon at the
Garden. Alderman Martin would give $1,000 for him as he stands. He has
hunted the State for him. You remember Martin--Reddy Martin--who used to
be on the mounted squad! Didn't you hear? An old uncle who made a
fortune as a building contractor died about a year ago and left the
whole pile to Reddy. He's got a fine country place up in Westchester and
is in the city government. Just elected this fall. But he isn't happy
because he can't find his old horse--and here's the horse."

Next day an astonished junkman stood before an empty shanty which served
as a stable and feasted his eyes on a fifty-dollar bank-note.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you are ever up in Westchester County be sure to visit the stables of
Alderman P. Sarsfield Martin. Ask to see that oak-panelled box-stall
with the stained-glass windows and the porcelain feed-box. You will
notice a polished brass name-plate on the door bearing this inscription:


You may meet the Alderman himself, wearing an English-made riding-suit,
loping comfortably along on a sleek bay gelding with two white forelegs
and a white star on his forehead. Yes, high-priced veterinaries can cure
spavin--Alderman Martin says so.



Something there was about Calico's markings which stuck in one's mind,
as does a haunting memory, intangible but unforgotten. Surely the
pattern was obtrusive enough to halt attention; yet its vagaries were so
unexpected, so surprising that, even as you looked, you might hesitate
at declaring whether it was his withers or his flanks which were
carrot-red and if he had four white stockings or only three. It was
safer simply to say that he was white where he was not red and red where
he was not white. Moreover, his was a vivid coat.

Altogether Calico was a horse to be remarked and to be remembered.
Yet--and again yet--Calico was not wholly to blame for his many faults.
Farm breeding, which was more or less responsible for his bizarre
appearance, should also bear the burden of his failings. As a colt he
had been the marvel of the county, from Orono to Hermon Centre. He had
been petted, teased, humored, exhibited, coddled, fooled
with--everything save properly trained and broken.

So he grew up a trace shirker and a halter-puller, with disposition,
temperament, and general behavior as uneven as his coloring.

"The most good-fer-nothin' animal I ever wasted grain on!" declared
Uncle Enoch.

For the better part of four unproductive years had the life of Calico
run to commonplaces. Then, early one June morning, came an hour big
with events. Being the nigh horse in Uncle Enoch's pair, Calico caught
first glimpse of the weird procession which met them as they turned into
the Bangor road at Sherburne's Corners.

Now it was Calico's habit to be on the watch for unusual sights, and
when he saw them to stick his ears forward, throw his head up, snort
nervously and crowd against the pole. Generally he got one leg over a
trace. There was a white bowlder at the top of Poorhouse Hill which
Calico never passed without going through some of these manoeuvres.

"Hi-i-ish there! So-o-o! Dern yer crazy-quilt hide. Body'd think yer
never see that stun afore in yer life. Gee-long a-a-ap!" Uncle Enoch
would growl, accenting his words by jerking the lines.

A scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield, an auction bill tacked to a
stump, an old hat stuffing a vacant pane and proclaiming the
shiftlessness of the Aroostook Billingses, would serve when nothing else
offered excuse for skittishness. Even sober Old Jeff, the off horse,
sometimes caught the infection for a moment. He would prick up his ears
and look inquiringly at the suspected object, but so soon as he saw what
it was down went his head sheepishly, as if he was ashamed of having
again been tricked.

This morning, however, it was no false alarm. When Old Jeff was roused
out of his accustomed jog by Calico's nervous snorts he looked up to see
such a spectacle as he had never beheld in all his goings and comings up
and down the Bangor road. Looming out of the mist was a six-horse team
hitched to the most foreign-looking rig one could well imagine. It had
something of the look of a preposterous hay-cart, with the ends of
blue-painted poles sticking out in front and trailing behind. Following
this was a great, white-swathed wheeled box drawn by four horses. It was
certainly a curious affair, whatever it was, but neither Calico nor Old
Jeff gave it much heed, nor did they waste a glance on the distant tail
of the procession, for behind the wheeled box was a thing which held
their gaze.

In the gray four o'clock light it seemed like an enormous cow that
rolled menacingly forward; not as a cow walks, however, but with a
swaying, heaving motion like nothing commonly seen on a Maine highway.
Instinctively both horses thrust their muzzles toward the thing and
sniffed. Without doubt Old Jeff was frightened. Perhaps not for nine
generations had any of his ancestors caught a whiff of that peculiarly
terrifying scent of which every horse inherits knowledge and dread.

As for Calico, he had no need of such spur as inherited terror. He had
fearsomeness enough of his own to send him rearing and pawing the air
until the whiffle-trees rapped his knees. Old Jeff did not rear. He
stared and snorted and trembled. When he felt his mate spring forward in
the traces he went with him, ready to do anything in order to get away
from that heaving, swaying thing which was coming toward them.

"Whoa, ye pesky fools! Whoa, dod rot ye!" Uncle Enoch, wakened from the
half doze which he had been taking on the wagon-seat, now began to saw
on the lines. His shouts seemed to have aroused the heaving thing, for
it answered with a horrid, soul-chilling noise.

By this time Calico was leaping frantically, snorting at every jump and
forcing Old Jeff to keep pace. They were at the top of a long grade and
down the slope the loaded wagon rattled easily behind them. Uncle Enoch
did his best. With feet well braced he tugged at the lines and shouted,
all to no purpose. Never before had Calico and Old Jeff met a circus on
the move. Neither had they previously come into such close quarters with
an elephant. One does not expect such things on the Bangor road. At
least they did not. They proposed to get away from such terrors in the
shortest possible time.

Now the public ways of Maine are seldom macadamized. In places they are
laid out straight across and over the granite backbone of the
continent. The Bangor road is thus constructed in spots. This slope was
one of the spots where the bare ledge, with here and there six-inch
shelves and eroded gullies, offered a somewhat uneven surface to the
wheels. A well built Studebaker will stand a lot of this kind of
banging, but it is not wholly indestructible. So it happened that
half-way down the hill the left hind axle snapped at the hub. Thereupon
some two hundred dozen ears of early green-corn were strewn along the
flinty face of the highway, while Uncle Enoch was hurled, seat and all,
accompanied by four dozen eggs and ten pounds of Aunt Henrietta's best
butter, into the ditch.

When the circus caravan overtook him Uncle Enoch had captured the
runaways and was leading them back to where the wrecked wagon lay by the
roadside. More or less butter was mixed with the sandy chin whiskers and
an inartistic yellow smooch down the front of his coat showed that the
eggs had followed him.

"Rather lively pair of yours; eh, mister?" commented a red-faced man who
dropped off the pole-wagon.

"Yes, ruther lively," assented Uncle Enoch, "'Specially when ye don't
want 'em to be. The off one's stiddy enough. It's this cantankerous
skewbald that started the tantrum. Whoa now, blame ye!" Calico's nose
was in the air again and he was snorting excitedly.

"Lemme hold him 'till old Ajax goes by," said the circus man.

"Thank ye. I'll swap him off fust chance I git, ef I don't fetch back
nuthin' but a boneyard skate," declared Uncle Enoch.

As Ajax lumbered by, the circus man eyed with interest the dancing
Calico. He noted with approval the coat of fantastic design, the springy
knees and the fine tail that rippled its white length almost to Calico's

"I'll do better'n that by you, mister," said he. "I've got a
fourteen-hundred pound Vermont Morgan, sound as a dollar, only eight
years old and ain't afraid o' nothin'. I'll swap him even for your

"Like to see him," said Uncle Enoch. "If he's half what ye say it's a

"Here he comes on the band-wagon team;" then, to the driver: "Hey, Bill,
pull up!"

In less than half an hour from the time Calico had bolted at sight of
the circus cavalcade he was part and parcel of it, and helping to pull
one of those mysterious sheeted wagons along in the wake of the
terrifying Ajax.

"The old party don't give you a very good send off," said the boss
hostler reflectively to Calico, "but I reckon you'll get used to Ajax
and the music-chariot before the season's over. Leastways, you're bound
to be an ornament to the grand entry."

Calico's life with the Grand Occidental began abruptly and vigorously.
The driver of the band-wagon knew his business. Even when half asleep
he could see loose traces. After Calico had heard the long lash whistle
about his ears a few times he concluded that it was best to do his share
of the pulling.

And what pulling it was! There were six horses of them, Calico being one
of the swings, but on an uphill grade that old chariot was the most
reluctant thing he had ever known. Uncle Enoch's stone-boat, which
Calico had once held to be merely a heart-breaking instrument of
torture, seemed light in retrospect. Often did he look reproachfully at
the monstrous combination of gilded wood and iron. Why need band-wagons
be made so exasperatingly heavy? The atrociously carved Pans on the
corners, with their scarred faces and broken pipes, were cumbersome
enough to make a load for one pair of horses, all by themselves. Calico
would think of them as he was straining up a long hill. He could almost
feel them pulling back on the traces in a sort of wooden stubbornness.
And when the team rattled the old chariot down a rough grade how he
hoped that two or three of the figures might be jolted off. But in the
morning, when the show lot was reached and the travelling wraps taken
off the wagons, there he would see the heavy shouldered Pans all in
their places as hideous and as permanent as ever.

It was a hard and bitter lesson which Calico learned, this matter of
keeping one's tugs tight. Uncle Enoch had spared the whip, but in the
heart of Broncho Bill, who drove the band-wagon, there was no leniency.
Ready and strong was his whip hand, and he knew how to make the blood
follow the lash. No effort did he waste on fat-padded flanks when he
was in earnest. He cut at the ears, where the skin is tender. He could
touch up the leaders as easily as he could the wheel-horses, and when he
aimed at the swings he never missed fire.

Travelling with a round top Calico found to be no sinecure. The Grand
Occidental, being a wagon show, moved wholly by road. The shortest jump
was fifteen miles, but often they did thirty between midnight and
morning; and thirty miles over country highways make no short jaunt when
you have a five-ton chariot behind you. The jump, however, was only the
beginning of the day's work. No sooner had you finished breakfast than
you were hooked in for the street parade, meaning from two to four miles

You had a few hours for rest after that before the grand entry. Ah, that
grand entry! That was something to live for. No matter how bad the roads
or how hard the hills had been Calico forgot it all during those ten
delightful minutes when, with his heart beating time to the rat-tat-tat
of the snare drum, he swung prancingly around the yellow arena.

It all began in the dressing-tent with a period of confusion in which
horses were crowded together as thick as they could stand, while the
riders dressed and mounted in frantic haste, for to be late meant to be
fined. At last the ring-master clapped his hands as sign that all was in
readiness. There was a momentary hush. Then a bugle sounded, the flaps
were thrown back and to the crashing accompaniment of the band, the
seemingly chaotic mass unfolded into a double line as the horses broke
into a sharp gallop around the freshly dug ring.

The first time Calico did the grand entry he felt as though he had been
sucked into a whirlpool and was being carried around by some
irresistible force. So dazed was he by the music, by the hum of human
voices and by the unfamiliar sights, that he forgot to rear and kick. He
could only prance and snort. He went forward because the rider of the
outside horse dragged him along by the bridle rein. Around and around he
circled until he lost all sense of direction, and when he was finally
shunted out through the dressing-tent flaps he was so dizzy he could
scarcely stand.

For a horse accustomed to shy at his own shadow this was heroic
treatment. But it was successful. In a month you could not have startled
Calico with a pound of dynamite. He would placidly munch his oats within
three feet of the spot where a stake-gang swung the heavy sledges in
staccato time. He cared no more for flapping canvas than for the wagging
of a mule's ears. As for noises, when one has associated with a steam
calliope one ceases to mind anything in that line. Old Ajax, it was
true, remained a terror to Calico for weeks, but in the end the horse
lost much of his dread for the ancient pachyderm, although he never felt
wholly comfortable while those wicked little eyes were turned in his
direction. Hereditary instincts, you know, die hard.

During those four months in which the Grand Occidental flitted over the
New England circuit from Kenduskeag, Me., to Bennington, Vt., there came
upon Calico knowledge of many things. The farm-horse to whom Bangor's
market-square had been full of strange sights became, in comparison with
his former self, most sophisticated. He feared no noise save that
sinister whistle made by Broncho Bill's long lash. The roaring sputter
of gasoline flares was no more to him than the sound of a running
brook. He had learned that it was safe to kick a mere canvasman when you
felt like doing so, but that a real artist, such as a tumbler or a
trapeze man, was to be respected, and that the person of the ring-master
was most sacred. Also he acquired the knack of sleeping at odd times,
whenever opportunity offered and under any conditions.

When he had grown thus wise, and when he had ceased to stumble over
guy-ropes and tent-stakes, Calico received promotion. He was put in as
outside horse of the leading pair in the grand entry. He was decorated
with a white-braided cord bridle with silk rosettes and he wore between
his ears a feather pompon. All this was very fine and grand, but there
was so little of it.

After it was all over, when the crowds had gone, the top lowered and the
stakes pulled, he was hitched to the leaden-wheeled band-wagon to
strain and tug at the traces all through the last weary half of the
night. But when fame has started your way, be you horse or man, you
cannot escape. Just before the season closed Calico was put on the
sawdust. This was the way of it.

A ninety-foot top, you know, carries neither extra people nor spare
horses. The performers must double up their acts. No one is exempt save
the autocratic high-bar folk, who own their own apparatus and dictate
contracts. So with the horses. The teams that pull the pole-wagon, the
chariots and the other wheeled things which a circus needs, must also
figure in the grand entry and in the hippodrome races. Even the
ring-horses have their share of road-work in a wagon show.

To the dappled grays used by Mlle. Zaretti, who was a top-liner on the
bills, fell the lot of pulling the ticket-wagon, this being the
lightest work. It was Mlle. Zaretti's habit to ride one at the afternoon
show, the other in the evening. So when the nigh gray developed a
shoulder gall on the day that the off one went lame there arose an
emergency. Also there ensued trouble for the driver of the ticket-wagon.
First he was tongue lashed by Mademoiselle, then he was fined a week's
pay and threatened with discharge by the manager. But when the
increasing wrath of the Champion Lady Equestrienne of America led her to
demand his instant and painful annihilation the worm turned. The driver
profanely declared that he knew his business. He had travelled with Yank
Robinson, he had, and no female hair-grabber under canvas should call
him down more than once in the same day. There was more of this, added
merely for emphasis. Mlle. Zaretti saw the point. She had gone too far.
Whereupon she discreetly turned on her high French heels and meekly
asked the boss hostler for the most promising animal he had. The boss
picked out Calico.

No sooner was the top up that day than Calico's training began. Well it
was that he had learned obedience, for this was to be his one great
opportunity. Many a time had Calico circled around the banked ring's
outer circumference, but never had he been within it. Neither had he
worn before a broad pad. By dint of leading and coaxing he was made to
understand that his part of the act was to canter around the ring with
Mlle. Zaretti on his back, where she was to be allowed to go through as
many motions as she pleased.

For a green horse Calico conducted himself with much credit. He did not
stumble. He did not shy at the ring-master's whip. He did not try to
dodge the banners or the hoops after he found how harmless they were.

"Well, if I cut my act perhaps I can manage, but if I break my neck I
hope you'll murder that fool driver," was Mlle. Zaretti's verdict and
petition when the lesson ended.

Mlle. Zaretti's gyrations that afternoon and evening were somewhat tame
when you consider the manner in which she was billed. Calico did his
part with only a few excusable blunders, and she was so pleased that he
got the apples and sugarplums which usually rewarded the grays.

The galled shoulder healed, but the lame leg developed into an incurably
stiff joint. Three nights later Calico, to his great joy, left the
band-chariot team forever, to find himself on the light ticket-wagon and
regularly entered as a ring horse. Nor was this all. When the season
closed Mlle. Zaretti bought Calico at an exorbitant price. He was
shipped to a strange place, where they put him in a box-stall, fed him
with generous regularity and asked him to do absolutely nothing at all.

It was a month before Calico saw his mistress again. He had been taken
into a great barn-like structure which had many sky-lights and windows.
Here was an ideal ring, smooth and springy, with no hidden rocks or soft
spots such as one sometimes finds when on the road. Mlle. Zaretti no
longer wore her spangled pink dress. Instead she appeared in serviceable
knickerbockers and wore wooden-soled slippers on her feet. In the middle
of the ring a man who was turning himself into a human pin-wheel stopped
long enough to shout: "Hello, Kate; signed yet?"

"You bet," said Mlle. Zaretti. "Next spring I go out by rail with a
three topper. I'm going to do the real bareback act, too. No more broad
pads and wagon shows for Katie. Hey, Jim, rig up your Stokes' mechanic."

Jim, a stout man who wore his suspenders outside a blue sweater and
talked huskily, arranged a swinging derrick-arm, the purpose of which,
it developed, was to keep Mlle. Zaretti off the ground whenever she
missed her footing on Calico's back. There was a broad leather belt
around her waist and to this was fastened a rope. Very often was this
needed during those first three weeks of practice, for, true to her
word, Mlle. Zaretti no longer strapped on Calico's back the broad pad to
which he had been accustomed. At first the wooden-soles hurt and made
him flinch, but in time the skin became toughened and he minded them not
at all, although Mlle. Zaretti was no featherweight.

Long before the snow was gone Mlle. Zaretti had discarded the
derrick-arm. Urging Calico to his best speed she would grasp the cinch
handles and with one light bound land on his well-resined back. Then, as
he circled around in an even, rythmical lope, she would jump the banners
and dive through the hoops. It was more or less fun for Calico, but it
all seemed so utterly useless. There were no crowds to see and applaud.
He missed the music and the cheering.

At last there came a change. Calico and his mistress took a journey.
They arrived in the biggest city Calico had ever seen, and one
afternoon, to the accompaniment of such a crash of music and such a
chorus of "HI! HI! HI's!" as he had never before heard, they burst into
a great arena where were not only one ring but three, and about them,
tier on tier as far up as one could see, the eager faces and gay
clothes of a vast multitude of spectators. Calico, as you will guess,
had become a factor in "The Grandest Aggregation."

If Calico had longed for music and applause his wishes were surely
answered, for, although Mlle. Zaretti had jumped from a wagon-show to a
three-ring combination that began its season with an indoor March
opening, she was still a top-liner. That is, she had a feature act.

Thus it was that just as the Japanese jugglers finished tossing each
other on their toes in the upper ring and while the property helpers
were making ready the lower one for the elephants, in the centre ring
Mlle. Zaretti and Calico alone held the attention of great audiences.

"Mem-zelle Zar-ret-ti! Champ-i-on la-dy bare-back ri-der of the
wor-r-r-r-ld, on her beaut-i-ful Ar-a-bian steed!"

That was the manner in which the megaphone announcer heralded their
appearance. Then followed a rattle of drums and a tooting of horns,
ending in one tremendous bang as Calico, lifting his feet so high and so
daintily you might have thought he was stepping over a row of china
vases, and bowing his head so low that his neck arched almost double,
came mincing into the arena. In his mouth he champed solid silver bits,
and his polished hoofs were rimmed with nickel-plated shoes. The heavy
bridle reins were covered with the finest white kid, as was the
surcingle which completed his trappings.

Rather stout had Calico become in these halcyon days. His back and
flanks were like the surface of a well-upholstered sofa. His coat of
motley told its own story of daily rubbings and good feeding. The white
was dazzlingly white and the carrot-red patches glowed like the inside
of a well-burnished copper kettle. So shiny was he that you could see
reflected on his sides the black, gold-spangled tights and fluffy black
skirts worn by Mlle. Zaretti, who poised on his back as lightly as if
she had been an ostrich-plume dropped on a snow-bank and who smilingly
kissed her finger-tips to the craning-necked tiers of spectators with
charming indiscrimination and admirable impartiality.

You may imagine that this picture was not without its effect. Never did
it fail to draw forth a mighty volume of "Ohs!" and "Ah-h-h-hs!"
especially at the afternoon performances, when the youngsters were out
in force. And how Calico did relish this hum of admiration! Perhaps
Mlle. Zaretti thought some of it was meant for her. No such idea had

You could see this by the way in which he tossed his head and pawed
haughtily as he waited for the band to strike up his music. Oh, yes,
_his_ music. You must know that by this time the horse that had once
pulled the stone-boat on Uncle Enoch's farm, and had later learned the
hard lesson of obedience under Broncho Bill's lash had now become an
equine personage. He had his grooms and his box-stall. He had whims
which must be humored. One of these had to do with the music which
played him through his act. He had discovered that the Blue Danube waltz
was exactly to his liking, and to no other tune would he consent to do
his best. Sulking was one of his new accomplishments.

As for Mlle. Zaretti, she affected no such frills, but she was ever
ready to defend those of her horse. A hard-working, frugal, ambitious
young person was Mlle. Zaretti, whose few extravagances were mostly on
Calico's account. For him she demanded the Blue Danube waltz in the face
of the band-master's grumblings.

When the Grandest Aggregation finally took the road the satisfaction of
Calico was complete. He was under canvas once more. No band-wagon work
wearied his nights. He even enjoyed the street parade. In the evening,
when his act was over, he left the tents, glowing huge and brilliant
against the night, and jogged quietly off to his padded car-stall, where
were to be had a full two hours' rest before No. 2 train pulled out.

In the gray of the morning he would wake to contentedly look out through
his grated window at the flying landscape, remembering with a sigh of
satisfaction that no longer was he routed out at cockcrow to be driven
afield. Later he could see the curious crowds in the railroad yards as
the long lines of cars were shunted back and forth. As he lazily
munched his breakfast oats he watched the draught horses patiently drag
the huge chariots across the tracks and off to the show lot where _he_
was not due for hours.

A life of mild exertion, enjoyable excitement, changing scenes, and
considerate treatment was his. No wonder the fat stuck to Calico's ribs.
No wonder his eyes beamed contentment. Such are the sweets of high

       *       *       *       *       *

It was to sell early July peas that Uncle Enoch again took the Bangor
road one day about three years after his memorable meeting with the
Grand Occidental. On his way across the city to Norumbega Market he
found his way blocked by a line of waiting people. From an urchin-tossed
handbill, Uncle Enoch learned that the Grandest Aggregation was in town
and that "the Unparalleled Street Pageant" was about due. So he waited.

With grim enjoyment Uncle Enoch watched the brilliant spectacle
impassively. Old Jeff merely pricked up his ears in curious interest as
the procession moved along in its dazzling course.

"Zaretti, Bareback Queen of the World! On her Famous Arabian Steed
Abdullah! Presented to her by the Shah of Persia!"

Thus read Uncle Enoch as he followed the printed order of parade with
toil-grimed forefinger.

For a moment Uncle Enoch's gaze was held by the Bareback Queen, who
looked languidly into space over the top of the tiger cage. Then he
stared hard at the "far-famed Arabian steed," gift of the impulsive
Shah. Said steed was caparisoned in a gorgeous saddle-blanket hung with
silver fringe. A silver-mounted martingale dangled between his knees.
Holding the silk-tasselled bridle rein, and walking in respectful
attendance, was a groom in tight-fitting riding breeches and a cockaded
hat which rested mainly on his ears. The horse was of white, mottled
with carrot-red in such striking pattern that, having once seen it, one
could hardly forget.

"Gee whilikins!" said Uncle Enoch softly to himself, as if fearful of
betraying some newly discovered secret.

But Old Jeff was moved to no such reticence. Lifting his head over the
shoulders of the crowd he pointed his ears and gave vent to a quick,
glad whinny of recognition. The "far-famed Arabian," turning so sharply
that the unwary groom was knocked sprawling, looked hard at the humble
farm-horse, and then, with an answering high-pitched neigh, dashed
through the quickly scattering spectators.

It was a moment of surprises. The Bareback Queen of the World was
startled out of her day-dream to find her "Arabian steed" rubbing noses
with a ragged-coated horse hitched to a battered farm-wagon, in which
sat a chin-whiskered old fellow who grinned expansively and slyly winked
at her over the horses' heads.

"It's all right, ma'am, I won't let on," he said.

Before she could reply, the groom, who had rescued his cockaded hat and
his presence of mind, rushed in and dragged the far-famed steed back
into the line of procession.

"Wall, I swan to man, ef Old Jeff didn't know that air Calicker afore I
did," declared Uncle Enoch, as he described the affair to Aunt
Henrietta; "an' me that raised him from a colt. I do swan to man!"

Mlle. Zaretti did not "swan to man," whatever that may be, but to this
day she marvels concerning the one and only occasion when her trusted
Calico disturbed the progress of the Grandest Aggregation's unparalleled
street pageant.



Down in the heart of the skyscraper district, keeping watch and ward
over those presumptuous, man-made cliffs around which commerce heaps its
Fundy tides, you will find, unhandsomely housed on a side street, a hook
and ladder company, known unofficially and intimately throughout the
department as the Gray Horse Truck.

Much like a big family is a fire company. It has seasons of good
fortune, when there are neither sick leaves nor hospital cases to
report; and it has periods of misfortune, when trouble and disaster
stalk abruptly through the ranks. Gray Horse Truck company is no
exception. Calm prosperity it has enjoyed, and of swift, unexpected
tragedy it has had full measure. Yet its longest mourning and most
sincere, was when it lost Old Silver.

Although some of the men of Gray Horse Truck had seen more than ten
years' continuous service in the house, not one could remember a time
when Old Silver had not been on the nigh side of the poles. Mikes and
Petes and Jims there had been without number. Some were good and some
were bad, some had lasted years and some only months, some had been kind
and some ugly, some stupid and some clever; but there had been but one
Silver, who had combined all their good traits as well as many of their
bad ones.

Horses and men, Silver had seen them come and go. He had seen
probationers rise step by step to battalion and deputy chiefs, win
shields and promotion or meet the sudden fate that is their lot. All
that time Silver's name-board had swung over his old stall, and when the
truck went out Silver was to be found in his old place on the left of
the poles. Driver succeeded driver, but one and all they found Silver
first under the harness when a station hit, first to jump forward when
the big doors rolled back, and always as ready to do his bit on a long
run as he was to demand his four quarts when feeding-time came.

Before the days of the Training Stable, where now they try out new
material, Silver came into the service. That excellent institution,
therefore, cannot claim the credit of his selection. Perhaps he was
chosen by some shrewd old captain, who knew a fire-horse when he saw
one, even in the raw; perhaps it was only a happy chance which put him
in the business. At any rate, his training was the work of a master

Silver was not one of the fretting kind, so at the age of fifteen he was
apple-round, his legs were straight and springy, and his eyes as full
and bright as those of a school-boy at a circus. The dapples on his gray
flanks were as distinct as the under markings on old velours, while his
tail had the crisp whiteness of a polished steel bit on a frosty
morning. Unless you had seen how shallow were his molar cups or noted
the length of his bridle teeth, would you have guessed him not more than

As for the education of Silver, its scope and completeness, no outsider
would have given credence to the half of it. When Lannigan had driven
the truck for three years, and had been cronies with Silver for nearly
five, it was his habit to say, wonderingly:

"He beats me, Old Silver does. I git onto some new wrinkle of his every
day. No; 'taint no sorter use to tell his tricks; you wouldn't believe,
nor would I an' I hadn't seen with me two eyes."

In the way of mischief Silver was a star performer. What other
fire-horse ever mastered the intricacies of the automatic halter
release? It was Silver, too, that picked from the Captain's hip-pocket a
neatly folded paper and chewed the same with malicious enthusiasm. The
folded paper happened to be the Company's annual report, in the writing
of which the Captain had spent many weary hours.

Other things besides mischief however, had Silver learned. Chief of
these was to start with the jigger. Sleeping or waking, lying or
standing, the summons that stirred the men from snoring ease to tense,
rapid action, never failed to find Silver alert. As the halter shank
slipped through the bit-ring that same instant found Silver gathered
for the rush through the long narrow lane leading from his open stall to
the poles, above which, like great couchant spiders, waited the
harnesses pendant on the hanger-rods. It was unwise to be in Silver's
way when that little brazen voice was summoning him to duty. More than
one man of Gray Horse Truck found that out.

Once under the harness Silver was like a carved statue until the
trip-strap had been pulled, the collar fastened and the reins snapped
in. Then he wanted to poke the poles through the doors, so eager was he
to be off. It was no fault of Silver's that his team could not make a
two-second hitch.

With the first strain at the traces his impatience died out. A
sixty-foot truck starts with more or less reluctance. Besides, Silver
knew that before anything like speed could be made it was necessary
either to mount the grade to Broadway or to ease the machine down to
Greenwich Street. It was traces or backing-straps for all that was in
you, and at the end a sharp turn which never could have been made had
not the tiller-man done his part with the rear wheels.

But when once the tires caught the car-tracks Silver knew what to
expect. At the turn he and his team mates could feel Lannigan gathering
in the reins as though for a full stop. Next came the whistle of the
whip. It swept across their flanks so quickly that it was practically
one stroke for them all. At the same moment Lannigan leaned far forward
and shot out his driving arm. The reins went loose, their heads went
forward and, as if moving on a pivot, the three leaped as one horse.
Again the reins tightened for a second, again they were loosened. When
the bits were pulled back up came three heads, up came three pairs of
shoulders and up came three pairs of forelegs; for at the other end of
the lines, gripped vice-like in Lannigan's big fist, was swinging a good
part of Lannigan's one hundred and ninety-eight pounds.

Left to themselves each horse would have leaped at a different instant.
It was that one touch of the lash and the succeeding swing of Lannigan's
bulk which gave them the measure, which set the time, which made it
possible for less than four thousand pounds of horse-flesh to jump a
five-ton truck up the street at a four-minute clip.

For Silver all other minor pleasures in life were as nothing to the
fierce joy he knew when, with a dozen men clinging to the hand-rails,
the captain pulling the bell-rope and Lannigan, far up above them all,
swaying on the lines, the Gray Horse Truck swept up Broadway to a first

It was like trotting to music, if you've ever done that. Possibly you
could have discovered no harmony at all in the confused roar of the
apparatus as it thundered past. But to the ears of Silver there were
many sounds blended into one. There were the rhythmical beat of hoofs,
the low undertone of the wheels grinding the pavement, the high note of
the forged steel lock-opener as it hammered the foot-board, the mellow
ding-dong of the bell, the creak of the forty-and fifty-foot extensions,
the rattle of the iron-shod hooks, the rat-tat-tat of the scaling
ladders on the bridge and the muffled drumming of the leather helmets as
they jumped in the basket.

With the increasing speed all these sounds rose in pitch until, when the
team was at full-swing, they became one vibrant theme--thrilling,
inspiring, exultant--the action song of the Truck.

To enjoy such music, to know it at its best, you must leap in the
traces, feel the swing of the poles, the pull of the whiffle-trees, the
slap of the trace-bearers; and you must see the tangled street-traffic
clear before you as if by the wave of a magician's wand.

Of course it all ended when, with heaving flanks and snorting nostrils
you stopped before a building, where thin curls of smoke escaped from
upper windows. Generally you found purring beside a hydrant a shiny
steamer which had beaten the truck by perhaps a dozen seconds. Then you
watched your men snatch the great ladders from the truck, heave them up
against the walls and bring down pale-faced, staring-eyed men and women.
You saw them tear open iron shutters, batter down doors, smash windows
and do other things to make a path for the writhing, white-bodied,
yellow-nosed snakes that uncoiled from the engine and were carried
wriggling in where the flames lapped along baseboard and floor-beams.
You saw the little ripples of smoke swell into huge, cream-edged billows
that tumbled out and up so far above that you lost sight of them.

Sometimes there came dull explosions, when smoke and flame belched out
about you. Sometimes stones and bricks and cornices fell near you. But
you were not to flinch or stir until Lannigan, who watched all these
happenings with critical and unwinking eyes, gave the word.

And after it was all over--when the red and yellow flames had ceased to
dance in the empty window spaces, when only the white steam-smoke rolled
up through the yawning roof-holes--the ladders were re-shipped, you left
the purring engines to drown out the last hidden spark, and you went
prancing back to your House, where the lonesome desk-man waited
patiently for your return.

No loping rush was the homeward trip. The need for haste had passed. Now
came the parade. You might toss your head, arch your neck, and use all
your fancy steps: Lannigan didn't care. In fact, he rather liked to have
you show off a bit. The men on the truck, smutty of face and hands,
joked across the ladders. The strain was over. It was a time of
relaxing, for behind was duty well done.

Then came the nice accuracy of swinging a sixty-foot truck in a
fifty-foot street and of backing through a fourteen-foot door wheels
which spanned thirteen feet from hub rim to hub rim.

After unhooking there was the rubbing and the extra feeding of oats that
always follows a long run. How good it was to be bedded down after this
lung stretching, leg limbering work.

Such was the life which Old Silver was leading when there arrived
disaster. It came in the shape of a milk leg. Perhaps it was caused by
over-feeding, but more likely it resulted from much standing in stall
during a fortnight when the runs had been few and short.

It behaved much as milk legs usually do. While there was no great pain
the leg was unhandsome to look upon, and it gave to Old Silver a
clumsiness of movement he had never known before.

Industriously did Lannigan apply such simple remedies as he had at hand.
Yet the swelling increased until from pastern to hock was neither shape
nor grace. Worst of all, in getting on his feet one morning, Silver
barked the skin with a rap from his toe calks. Then it did look bad. Of
course this had to happen just before the veterinary inspector's
monthly visit.

"Old Silver, eh?" said he. "Well, I've been looking for him to give out.
That's a bad leg there, a very bad leg. Send him up to the hospital in
the morning, and I'll have another gray down here. It's time you had a
new horse in his place."

Lannigan stepped forward to protest. It was only a milk leg. He had
cured such before. He could cure this one. Besides, he couldn't spare
Silver, the best horse on his team.

But the inspector often heard such pleas.

"You drivers," said he, "would keep a horse going until he dropped
through the collar. To hear you talk anyone would think there wasn't
another horse in the Department. What do you care so long as you get
another gray?"

Very much did Lannigan care, but he found difficulty in putting his
sentiments into words. Besides, of what use was it to talk to a blind
fool who could say that one gray horse was as good as another. Hence
Lannigan only looked sheepish and kept his tongue between his teeth
until the door closed behind the inspector. Then he banged a ham-like
fist into a broad palm and relieved his feelings in language both
forceful and picturesque. This failed to mend matters, so Lannigan,
putting an arm around the old gray's neck, told Silver all about it.
Probably Silver misunderstood, for he responded by reaching over
Lannigan's shoulder and chewing the big man's leather belt. Only when
Lannigan fed to him six red apples and an extra quart of oats did Silver
mistrust that something unusual was going to happen. Next morning, sure
enough, it did happen.

Some say Lannigan wept. As to that none might be sure, for he sat facing
the wall in a corner of the bunk-room. No misunderstanding could there
have been about his remarks, muttered though they were. They were
uncomplimentary to all veterinary inspectors in general, and most
pointedly uncomplimentary to one in particular. Below they were leading
Old Silver away to the hospital.

Perhaps it was that Silver's milk leg was stubborn in yielding to
treatment. Perhaps the folks at the horse hospital deemed it unwise to
spend time and effort on a horse of his age. At any rate, after less
than a week's stay, he was cast into oblivion. They took away the leaden
number medal, which for more than ten years he had worn on a strap
around his neck, and they turned him over to a sales-stable as
carelessly as a battalion chief would toss away a half-smoked cigar.

Now a sales-stable is a place where horse destinies are shuffled by
reckless and unthinking hands. Also its doors open on the four corners
of the world's crossed highways. You might go from there to find your
work waiting between the shafts of a baker's cart just around the
corner, or you might be sent across seas to die miserably of tsetse
stings on the South African veldt.

Neither of these things happened to Silver. It occurred that his arrival
at the sales-stable was coincident with a rush order from the Street
Cleaning Department. So there he went. Fate, it seemed, had marked him
for municipal service.

There was no delay about his initiation. Into his forehoofs they branded
this shameful inscription: D. S. C. 937, on his back they flung a
forty-pound single harness with a dirty piece of canvas as a blanket.
They hooked him to an iron dump-cart, and then, with a heavy lashed
whip, they haled him forth at 5.30 a.m. to begin the inglorious work of
removing refuse from the city streets.

Perhaps you think Old Silver could not feel the disgrace, the ignominy
of it all. Could you have seen the lowered head, the limp-hung tail, the
dulled eyes and the dispirited sag of his quarters, you would have
thought differently.

It is one thing to jump a hook and ladder truck up Broadway to the
relief of a fire-threatened block, and quite another to plod humbly
along the curb from ash-can to ash-can. How Silver did hate those cans.
Each one should have been for him a signal to stop. But it was not. In
consequence, he was yanked to a halt every two minutes.

Sometimes he would crane his neck and look mournfully around at the
unsightly leg which he had come to understand was the cause of all his
misery. There would come into his great eyes a look of such pitiful
melancholy that one might almost fancy tears rolling out. Then he would
be roused by an exasperated driver, who jerked cruelly on the lines and
used his whip as if it had been a flail.

When the cart was full Silver must drag it half across the city to the
riverfront, and up a steep runway from the top of which its contents
were dumped into the filthy scows that waited below. At the end of each
monotonous, wearisome day he jogged stiffly to the uninviting stables,
where he was roughly ushered into a dark, damp stall.

To another horse, unused to anything better, the life would not have
seemed hard. Of oats and hay there were fair quantities, and there was
more or less hasty grooming. But to Silver, accustomed to such little
amenities as friendly pats from men, and the comradeship of his
fellow-workers, it was like a bad dream. He was not even cheered by the
fact that his leg, intelligently treated by the stable-boss, was growing
better. What did that matter? Had he not lost his caste? Express and
dray horses, the very ones that had once scurried into side streets at
sound of his hoofs, now insolently crowded him to the curb. When he had
been on the truck Silver had yielded the right of way to none, he had
held his head high; now he dodged and waited, he wore a blind bridle,
and he wished neither to see nor to be seen.

For three months Silver had pulled that hateful refuse chariot about the
streets, thankful only that he traversed a section of the city new to
him. Then one day he was sent out with a new driver whose route lay
along familiar ways. The thing Silver dreaded, that which he had long
feared, did not happen for more than a week after the change.

It came early one morning. He had been backed up in front of a big
office-building where a dozen bulky cans cumbered the sidewalk. The
driver was just lifting one of them to the tail-board when, from far
down the street, there reached Silver's ears a well-known sound. Nearer
it swept, louder and louder it swelled. The old gray lifted his lowered
head in spite of his determination not to look. The driver, too, poised
the can on the cart-edge, and waited, gazing.

In a moment the noise and its cause were opposite. Old Silver hardly
needed to glance before knowing the truth. It was his old company, the
Gray Horse Truck. There was his old driver, there were his old team
mates. In a flash there passed from Silver's mind all memory of his
humble condition, his wretched state. Tossing his head and giving his
tail a swish, he leaped toward the apparatus, neatly upsetting the
filled ash-can over the head and shoulders of the bewildered driver.

By a supreme effort Silver dropped into the old lope. A dozen bounds
took him abreast the nigh horse, and, in spite of Lannigan's shouts,
there he stuck, littering the newly swept pavement most disgracefully at
every jump. Thus strangely accompanied, the Gray Horse Truck thundered
up Broadway for ten blocks, and when it stopped, before a building in
which a careless watchman's lantern had set off the automatic, Old
Silver was part of the procession.

It was Lannigan who, in the midst of an eloquent flow of indignant
abuse, made this announcement: "Why, boys--it's--it's our Old Silver;
jiggered if it ain't!"

Each member of the crew having expressed his astonishment in
appropriate words, Lannigan tried to sum it all up by saying:

"Silver, you old sinner! So they've put you in a blanked ash-cart, have
they? Well, I'll--I'll be----"

But there speech failed him. His wits did not. There was a whispered
council of war. Lannigan made a daring proposal, at which all grinned

"Sure, they'd never find out," said one.

"An' see, his game leg's most as good as new again," suggested another.

It was an unheard-of, audacious, and preposterous proceeding; one which
the rules and regulations of the Fire Department, many and varied as
they are, never anticipated. But it was adopted. Meanwhile the Captain
found it necessary to inspect the interior of the building, the
Lieutenant turned his back, and the thing was done.

That same evening an ill-tempered and very dirty ash-cart driver turned
up at the stables with a different horse from the one he had driven out
that morning, much to the mystification of himself and certain officials
of the Department of Street Cleaning.

Also, there pranced back as nigh horse of the truck a big gray with one
slightly swollen hind leg. By the way he held his head, by the look in
his big, bright eyes, and by his fancy stepping one might have thought
him glad to be where he was. And it was so. As for the rest, Lannigan
will tell you in strict confidence that the best mode of disguising
hoof-brands until they are effaced by new growth is to fill them with
axle-grease. It cannot be detected.

Should you ever chance to see, swinging up lower Broadway, a
hook-and-ladder truck drawn by three big grays jumping in perfect
unison, note especially the nigh horse--that's the one on the left side
looking forward. It will be Old Silver who, although now rising sixteen,
seems to be good for at least another four years of active service.



Those who should know say that a colt may have no worse luck than to be
foaled on a wet Friday. On a most amazingly wet Friday--rain above,
slush below, and a March snorter roaring between--such was the natal day
of Blue Blazes.

And an unhandsome colt he was. His broomstick legs seemed twice the
proper length, and so thin you would hardly have believed they could
ever carry him. His head, which somehow suggested the lines of a
boot-jack, was set awkwardly on an ewed neck.

For this pitiful, ungainly little figure only two in all the world had
any feeling other than contempt. One of these, of course, was old Kate,
the sorrel mare who mothered him. She gazed at him with sad old eyes
blinded by that maternal love common to all species, sighed with huge
content as he nuzzled for his breakfast, and believed him to be the
finest colt that ever saw a stable. The other was Lafe, the chore boy,
who, when Farmer Perkins had stirred the little fellow roughly with his
boot-toe as he expressed his deep dissatisfaction, made reparation by
gently stroking the baby colt and bringing an old horse-blanket to wrap
him in. Old Kate understood. Lafe read gratitude in the big, sorrowful
mother eyes.

Months later, when the colt had learned to balance himself on the
spindly legs, the old sorrel led him proudly about the pasture, showing
him tufts of sweet new spring grass, and taking him to the brook, where
were tender and juicy cowslips, finely suited to milk-teeth.

In time the slender legs thickened, the chest deepened, the barrel
filled out, the head became less ungainly. As if to make up for these
improvements, the colt's markings began to set. They took the shapes of
a saddle-stripe, three white stockings, and an irregular white blaze
covering one side of his face and patching an eye. On chest and belly
the mother sorrel came out rather sharply, but on the rest of him was
that peculiar blending which gives the blue roan shade, a color
unpleasing to the critical eye, and one that lowers the market value.

Lafe, however, found the colt good to look upon. But Lafe himself had no
heritage of beauty. He had not even grown up to his own long, thin legs.
Possibly no boy ever had hair of such a homely red. Certainly few could
have been found with bigger freckles. But it was his eyes which
accented the plainness of his features. You know the color of a ripe
gooseberry, that indefinable faint purplish tint; well, that was it.

If Lafe found no fault with Blue Blazes, the colt found no fault with
Lafe. At first the colt would sniff suspiciously at him from under the
shelter of the old sorrel's neck, but in time he came to regard Lafe
without fear, and to suffer a hand on his flank or the chore boy's arm
over his shoulder. So between them was established a gentle confidence
beautiful to see.

Fortunate it would have been had Lafe been master of horse on the
Perkins farm. But he was not. Firstly, there are no such officials on
Michigan peach-farms; secondly, Lafe would not have filled the position
had such existed. Lafe, you see, did not really belong. He was an
interloper, a waif who had drifted in from nowhere in particular, and
who, because of a willingness to do a man's work for no wages at all,
was allowed a place at table and a bunk over the wagon-shed. Farmer
Perkins, more jealous of his reputation for shrewdness than of his
soul's salvation, would point to Lafe and say, knowingly:

"He's a bad one, that boy is; look at them eyes." And surely, if Lafe's
soul-windows mirrored the color of his mental state, he was indeed in a
bad way.

In like manner Farmer Perkins judged old Kate's unhandsome colt.

"Look at them ears," he said, really looking at the unsightly
nose-blaze. "We'll have a circus when it comes to breakin' that

Sure enough, it _was_ more or less of a circus. Perhaps the colt was at
fault, perhaps he was not. Olsen, a sullen-faced Swede farm-hand, whose
youth had been spent in a North Sea herring-boat, and whose disposition
had been matured by sundry second mates on tramp steamers, was the
appropriate person selected for introducing Blue Blazes to the uses of a

Judging all humans by the standard established by the mild-mannered
Lafe, the colt allowed himself to be caught after small effort. But when
the son of old Kate first felt a halter he threw up his head in alarm.
Abruptly and violently his head was jerked down. Blue Blazes was
surprised, hurt, angered. Something was bearing hard on his nose; there
was something about his throat that choked.

Had he, then, been deceived? Here he was, wickedly and maliciously
trapped. He jerked and slatted his head some more. This made matters
worse. He was cuffed and choked. Next he tried rearing. His head was
pulled savagely down, and at this point Olsen began beating him with
the slack of the halter rope.

Ah, now Blue Blazes understood! They got your head and neck into that
arrangement of straps and rope that they might beat you. Wild with fear
he plunged desperately to right and left. Blindly he reared, pawing the
air. Just as one of his hoofs struck Olsen's arm a buckle broke. The
colt felt the nose-strap slide off. He was free.

A marvellous tale of fierce encounter with a devil-possessed colt did
Olsen carry back to the farm-house. In proof he showed a broken halter,
rope-blistered hands, and a bruised arm.

"I knew it!" said Farmer Perkins. "Knew it the minute I see them ears.
He's a vicious brute, that colt, but we'll tame him."

So four of them, variously armed with whips and pitchforks, went down to
the pasture and tried to drive Blue Blazes into a fence corner. But the
colt was not to be cornered. From one end of the pasture to the other he
raced. He had had enough of men for that day.

Next morning Farmer Perkins tried familiar strategy. Under his coat he
hid a stout halter and a heavy bull whip. Then, holding a grain measure
temptingly before him, he climbed the pasture fence.

In the measure were oats which he rattled seductively. Also he called
mildly and persuasively. Blue Blazes was suspicious. Four times he
allowed the farmer to come almost within reaching distance only to turn
and bolt with a snort of alarm just at the crucial moment. At last he
concluded that he must have just one taste of those oats.

"Come coltie, nice coltie," cooed the man in a strained but conciliating

Blue Blazes planted himself for a sudden whirl, stretched his neck as
far as possible and worked his upper lip inquiringly. The smell of the
oats lured him on. Hardly had he touched his nose to the grain before
the measure was dropped and he found himself roughly grabbed by the
forelock. In a moment he saw the hated straps and ropes. Before he could
break away the halter was around his neck and buckled firmly.

Farmer Perkins changed his tone: "Now, you damned ugly little brute,
I've got you! [Jerk] Blast your wicked hide! [Slash] You will, will you?
[Yank] I'll larn you!" [Slash.]

Man and colt were almost exhausted when the "lesson" was finished. It
left Blue Blazes ridged with welts, trembling, fright sickened. Never
again would he trust himself within reach of those men; no, not if they
offered him a whole bushel of oats.

But it was a notable victory. Vauntingly Farmer Perkins told how he had
haltered the vicious colt. He was unconscious that a pair of ripe
gooseberry eyes turned black with hate, that behind his broad back was
shaken a futile fist.

The harness-breaking of Blue Blazes was conducted on much the same plan
as his halter-taming, except that during the process he learned to use
his heels. One Olsen, who has since walked with a limp, can tell you

Another feature of the harness-breaking came as an interruption to
further bull-whip play by Farmer Perkins. It was a highly melodramatic
episode in which Lafe, gripping the handle of a two-tined pitchfork, his
freckled-face greenish-white and the pupils of his eyes wide with the
fear of his own daring, threatened immediate damage to the person of
Farmer Perkins, unless the said Perkins dropped the whip. This Perkins
did. More than that, he fled with ridiculous haste, and in craven
terror; while Lafe, having given the trembling colt a parting caress,
quitted the farm abruptly and for all time.

As for Blue Blazes, two days later he was sold to a travelling
horse-dealer, and departed without any sorrow of farewells. In the weeks
during which he trailed over the fruit district of southern Michigan in
the wake of the horse-buyer, Blue Blazes learned nothing good and much
that was ill. He finished the trip with raw hocks, a hoof-print on his
flank, and teeth-marks on neck and withers. Horses led in a bunch do not
improve in disposition.

Some of the scores the blue-roan colt paid in kind, some he did not, but
he learned the game of give and take. Men and horses alike, he
concluded, were against him. If he would hold his own he must be ready
with teeth and hoofs. Especially he carried with him always a black,
furious hatred of man in general.

So he went about with ears laid back, the whites of his eyes showing,
and a bite or a kick ready in any emergency. Day by day the hate in him
deepened until it became the master-passion. A quick foot-fall behind him
was enough to send his heels flying as though they had been released by
a hair-trigger. He kicked first and investigated afterward. The mere
sight of a man within reaching distance roused all his ferocity.

He took a full course in vicious tricks. He learned how to crowd a man
against the side of a stall, and how to reach him, when at his head, by
an upward and forward stroke of the forefoot. He could kick straight
behind with lightning quickness, or give the hoof a sweeping
side-movement most comprehensive and unexpected. The knack of lifting
the bits with the tongue and shoving them forward of the bridle-teeth
came in time. It made running away a matter of choice.

When it became necessary to cause diversion he would balk. He no longer
cared for whips. Physically and mentally he had become hardened to
blows. Men he had ceased to fear, for most of them feared him and he
knew it. He only despised and hated them. One exception Blue Blazes
made. This was in favor of men and boys with red hair and freckles. Such
he would not knowingly harm. A long memory had the roan.

Toward his own kind Blue Blazes bore himself defiantly. Double harness
was something he loathed. One was not free to work his will on the
despised driver if hampered by a pole and mate. In such cases he nipped
manes and kicked under the traces until released. He had a special
antipathy for gray horses and fought them on the smallest provocation,
or upon none at all.

As a result Blue Blazes, while knowing no masters, had many owners,
sometimes three in a single week. He began his career by filling a three
months' engagement as a livery horse, but after he had run away a dozen
times, wrecked several carriages, and disabled a hostler, he was sold
for half his purchase price.

Then did he enter upon his wanderings in real earnest. He pulled
street-cars, delivery wagons, drays and ash-carts. He was sold to
unsuspecting farmers, who, when his evil traits cropped out, swapped him
unceremoniously and with ingenious prevarication by the roadside. In the
natural course of events he was much punished.

Up and across the southern peninsula of Michigan he drifted
contentiously, growing more vicious with each encounter, more daring
after each victory. In Muskegon he sent the driver of a grocery wagon to
the hospital with a shoulder-bite requiring cauterization and four
stitches. In Manistee he broke the small bones in the leg of a baker's
large boy. In Cadillac a boarding-stable hostler struck him with an iron
shovel. Blue Blazes kicked the hostler quite accurately and very
suddenly through a window.

Between Cadillac and Kalaska he spent several lively weeks with farmers.
Most of them tried various taming processes. Some escaped with bruises
and some suffered serious injury. At Alpena he found an owner who,
having read something very convincing in a horse-trainer's book,
elaborately strapped the roan's legs according to diagram, and then went
into the stall to wreak vengeance with a riding-whip. Blue Blazes
accepted one cut, after which he crushed the avenger against the plank
partition until three of the man's ribs were broken. The Alpena man was
fished from under the roan's hoofs just in time to save his life.

This incident earned Blue Blazes the name of "man-killer," and it stuck.
He even figured in the newspaper dispatches. "Blue Blazes, the Michigan
Man-Killer," "The Ugliest Horse Alive," "Alpena's Equine Outlaw"; these
were some of the head-lines. The Perkins method had borne fruit.

When purchasers for a four-legged hurricane could no longer be found,
Blue Blazes was sent up the lake to an obscure little port where they
have only a Tuesday and Friday steamer, and where the blue roan's record
was unknown. Horses were in demand there. In fact, Blue Blazes was sold
almost before he had been led down the gang-plank.

"Look out for him," warned the steam-boat man; "he's a wicked brute."

"Oh, I've got a little job that'll soon take the cussedness out of him,"
said the purchaser, with a laugh.

Blue Blazes was taken down into the gloomy fore-hold of a three-masted
lake schooner, harnessed securely between two long capstan bars, and set
to walking in an aimless circle while a creaking cable was wound about a
drum. At the other end of the cable were fastened, from time to time,
squared pine-logs weighing half a ton each. It was the business of Blue
Blazes to draw these timbers into the hold through a trap-door opening
in the stern. There was nothing to kick save the stout bar, and there
was no one to bite. Well out of reach stood a man who cracked a whip
and, when not swearing forcefully, shouted "Ged-a-a-ap!"

For several uneventful days he was forced to endure this exasperating
condition of affairs with but a single break in the monotony. This came
on the first evening, when they tried to unhook him. The experiment
ended with half a blue-flannel shirt in the teeth of Blue Blazes and a
badly scared lumber-shover hiding in the fore-peak. After that they put
grain and water in buckets, which they cautiously shoved within his

Of course there had to be an end to this. In due time the Ellen B. was
full of square timbers. The Captain notified the owner of Blue Blazes
that he might take his blankety-blanked horse out of the Ellen B.'s
fore-hold. The owner declined, and entrenched himself behind a pure
technicality. The Captain had hired from him the use of a horse; would
the Captain kindly deliver said horse to him, the owner, on the dock? It
was a spirited controversy, in which the horse-owner scored several
points. But the schooner captain by no means admitted defeat.

"The Ellen B. gets under way inside of a half hour," said he. "If you
want your blankety-blanked horse you've got that much time to take him

"I stand on my rights," replied the horse-owner. "You sail off with my
property if you dare. Go ahead! Do it! Next time the Ellen B. puts in
here I'll libel her for damages."

Yet in the face of this threat the Ellen B. cast off her hawsers, spread
her sails, and stood up the lake bound Chicagoward through the Straits
with Blue Blazes still on board. Not a man-jack of the crew would
venture into the fore-hold, where Blue Blazes was still harnessed to the
capstan bars.

When he had been without water or grain for some twelve hours the wrath
in him, which had for days been growing more intense, boiled over.
Having voiced his rage in raucous squeals, he took to chewing the
bridle-strap and to kicking the whiffle-tree. The deck watch gazed down
at him in awe. The watch below, separated from him only by a thin
partition, expressed profane disapproval of shipping such a passenger.

There was no sleep on the Ellen B. that night. About four in the morning
the continued effort of Blue Blazes met with reward. The halter-strap
parted, and the stout oak whiffle-tree was splintered into many pieces.
For some minutes Blue Blazes explored the hold until he found the
gang-plank leading upward.

His appearance on the deck of the Ellen B. caused something like a
panic. The man at the wheel abandoned his post, and as he started for
the cross-trees let loose a yell which brought up all hands. Blue Blazes
charged them with open mouth. Not a man hesitated to jump for the
rigging. The schooner's head came up into the wind, the jib-sheet blocks
rattled idly and the booms swung lazily across the deck, just grazing
the ears of Blue Blazes.

How long the roan might have held the deck had not his thirst been
greater than his hate cannot be told. Water was what he needed most, for
his throat seemed burning, and just overside was an immensity of water.
So he leaped. Probably the crew of the Ellen B. believe to this day that
they escaped by a miracle from a devil-possessed horse who, finding them
beyond his reach, committed suicide.

But Blue Blazes had no thought of self-destruction. After swallowing as
much lake water as was good for him he struck out boldly for the shore,
which was not more than half a mile distant, swimming easily in the
slight swell. Gaining the log-strewn beach, he found himself at the
edge of one of those ghostly, fire-blasted tamarack forests which cover
great sections of the upper end of Michigan's southern peninsula. At
last he had escaped from the hateful bondage of man. Contentedly he fell
to cropping the coarse beach-grass which grew at the forest's edge.

For many long days Blue Blazes revelled in his freedom, sometimes
wandering for miles into the woods, sometimes ranging the beach in
search of better pasturage. Water there was aplenty, but food was
difficult to find. He even browsed bushes and tree-twigs. At first he
expected momentarily to see appear one of his enemies, a man. He heard
imaginary voices in the beat of the waves, the creaking of wind-tossed
tree-tops, the caw of crows, or in the faint whistlings of distant
steamers. He began to look suspiciously behind knolls and stumps. But
for many miles up and down the coast was no port, and the only evidences
he had of man were the sails of passing schooners, or the trailing
smoke-plumes of steam-boats.

Not since he could remember had Blue Blazes been so long without feeling
a whip laid over his back. Still, he was not wholly content. He felt a
strange uneasiness, was conscious of a longing other than a desire for a
good feed of oats. Although he knew it not, Blue Blazes, who hated men
as few horses have ever hated them, was lonesome. He yearned for human

When at last a man did appear on the beach the horse whirled and dashed
into the woods. But he ran only a short distance. Soon he picked his way
back to the lake shore and gazed curiously at the intruder. The man was
making a fire of driftwood. Blue Blazes approached him cautiously. The
man was bending over the fire, fanning it with his hat. In a moment he
looked up.

A half minute, perhaps more, horse and man gazed at each other. Probably
it was a moment of great surprise for them both. Certainly it was for
the man. Suddenly Blue Blazes pricked his ears forward and whinnied. It
was an unmistakable whinny of friendliness if not of glad recognition.
The man on the beach had red hair--hair of the homeliest red you could
imagine. Also he had eyes of the color of ripe gooseberries.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You see," said Lafe, in explaining the matter afterward, "I was hunting
for burls. I had seen 'em first when I was about sixteen. It was once
when a lot of us went up on the steamer from Saginaw after black bass.
We landed somewhere and went up a river into Mullet Lake. Well, one day
I got after a deer, and he led me off so far I couldn't find my way back
to camp. I walked through the woods for more'n a week before I came out
on the lake shore. It was while I was tramping around that I got into a
hardwood swamp where I saw them burls, not knowing what they were at the

"When I showed up at home my stepfather was tearing mad. He licked me
good and had me sent to the reform school. I ran away from there after a
while and struck the Perkins farm. That's where I got to know Blue
Blazes. After my row with Perkins I drifted about a lot until I got work
in this very furniture factory," whereupon Lafe swept a comprehensive
hand about, indicating the sumptuously appointed office.

"Well, I worked here until I saw them take off the cars a lot of those
knots just like the ones I'd seen on the trees up in that swamp. 'What
are them things?' says I to the foreman.

"'Burls,' says he.

"'Worth anything?' says I.

"'Are they?' says he. 'They're the most expensive pieces of wood you can
find anywhere in this country. Them's what we saw up into veneers.'

"That was enough for me. I had a talk with the president of the company.
'If you can locate that swamp, young man,' says he, 'and it's got in it
what you say it has, I'll help you to make your fortune."

"So I started up the lake to find the swamp. That's how I come to run
across Blue Blazes again. How he came to be there I couldn't guess and
didn't find out for months. He was as glad to see me as I was to see
him. They told me afterward that he was a man-killer. Man-killer
nothing! Why, I rode that horse for over a hundred miles down the
lake-shore with not a sign of a bridle on him.

"Of course, he don't seem to like other men much, and he did lay up one
or two of my hostlers before I understood him. You see"--here Mr. Lafe,
furniture magnate, flushed consciously--"I can't have any but red-headed
men--red-headed like me, you know--about my stable, on account of Blue
Blazes. Course, it's foolish, but I guess the old fellow had a tough
time of it when he was young, same as I did; and now--well, he just
suits me, Blue Blazes does. I'd rather ride or drive him than any
thoroughbred in this country; and, by jinks, I'm bound he gets whatever
he wants, even if I have to lug in a lot of red-headed men from other



He was a three-quarter blood Norman, was Chieftain. You would have known
that by his deep, powerful chest, his chunky neck, his substantial,
shaggy-fetlocked legs. He had a family tree, registered sires, you know,
and, had he wished, could have read you a pedigree reaching back to Sir
Navarre (6893).

Despite all this, Chieftain was guilty of no undue pride. Eight years in
the trucking business takes out of one all such nonsense. True, as a
three-year-old he had given himself some airs. There was small wonder
in that. He had been the boast of Keokuk County for a whole year. "We'll
show 'em what we can do in Indiana," the stockmaster had said as
Chieftain, his silver-white tail carefully done up in red flannel, was
led aboard the cars for shipment East.

They are not unused to ton-weight horses in the neighborhood of the
Bull's Head, where the great sales-stables are. Still, when Chieftain
was brought out, his fine dappled coat shining like frosted steel in the
sunlight, and his splendid tail, which had been done up in straw crimps
over night, rippling and waving behind him, there was a great craning of
necks among the buyers of heavy draughts.

"Gentlemen," the red-faced auctioneer had shouted, "here's a buster; one
of the kind you read about, wide as a wagon, with a leg on each corner.
There's a ton of him, a whole ton. Who'll start him at three hundred?
Why, he's as good as money in the bank."

That had been Chieftain's introduction to the metropolis. But the
triple-hitch is a great leveller. In single harness, even though one
does pull a load, there is chance for individuality. One may toss one's
head; aye, prance a bit on a nipping morning. But get between the poles
of a breast-team, with a horse on either side, and a twelve-ton load at
the trace-ends, and--well, one soon forgets such vanities as pride of
champion sires, and one learns not to prance.

In his eight years as inside horse of breast-team No. 47, Chieftain had
forgotten much about pedigree, but he had learned many other things. He
had come to know the precise moment when, in easing a heavy load down an
incline, it was safe to slacken away on the breeching and trot gently.
He could tell, merely by glancing at a rise in the roadway, whether a
slow, steady pull was needed, or if the time had come to stick in his
toe-calks and throw all of his two thousand pounds on the collar. He had
learned not to fret himself into a lather about strange noises, and not
to be over-particular as to the kind of company in which he found
himself working. Even though hitched up with a vicious Missouri Modoc on
one side and a raw, half collar-broken Kanuck on the other, he would do
his best to steady them down to the work. He had learned to stop at
crossings when a six-foot Broadway-squad officer held up one finger, and
to give way for no one else. He knew by heart all the road rules of the
crowded way, and he stood for his rights.

[Illustration: He would do his best to steady them down to the work.]

So, in stress of storm or quivering summer heat, did Chieftain toil
between the poles, hauling the piled-up truck, year in and year out, up
and down and across the city streets. And in time he had forgotten his
Norman blood, had forgotten that he was the great-grandson of Sir

Some things there were, however, which Chieftain could not wholly
forget. These memories were not exactly clear, but, vague as they were,
they stuck. They had to do with fields of new grass, with the elastic
feel of dew-moistened turf under one's hoofs, with the enticing smell of
sweet clover in one's nostrils, the sound of gently moving leaves in
one's ears, and the sense that before, as well as behind, were long
hours of delicious leisure.

It was only in the afternoons that these memories troubled Chieftain. In
the morning one feels fresh and strong and contented, and, when one has
time for any thought at all, there are comforting reflections that in
the nose-bags, swung under the truck-seat, are eight quarts of good
oats, and that noon must come some time or other.

But along about three o'clock of a July day, with stabling time too far
away to be thought of, when there was nothing to do but to stand
patiently in the glare of the sun-baked freight-yard, while Tim and his
helper loaded on case after case and barrel after barrel, then it was
that Chieftain could not help thinking about the fields of new grass,
and other things connected with his colt days.

Sometimes, when he was plodding doggedly over the hard pavements, with
every foot-fall jarring tired muscles, he would think how nice it would
be, just for a week or so, to tread again that yielding turf he had
known such a long, long time ago. Then, perhaps, he would slacken just a
bit on the traces, and Tim would give that queer, shrill chirrup of
his, adding, sympathetically: "Come, me bye, come ahn!" Then Chieftain
would tighten the traces in an instant, giving his whole attention to
the business of keeping them taut and of placing each iron-shod hoof
just where was the surest footing.

In this last you may imagine there is no knack. Perhaps you think it is
done off-hand. Well, it isn't. Ask any experienced draught-horse used to
city trucking. He will tell you that wet cobble-stones, smoothed by much
wear and greased with street slime, cannot be travelled heedlessly.
Either the heel or the toe calks must find a crevice somewhere. If they
do not, you are apt to go on your knees or slide on your haunches.
Flat-rail car-tracks give you unexpected side slips. So do the raised
rims of man-hole covers. But when it comes to wet asphalt--your calks
will not help you there. It's just a case of nice balancing and
trusting to luck.

Much, of course, depends on the man at the other end of the lines. In
this particular Chieftain was fortunate, for a better driver than Tim
Doyle did not handle leather for the company. Even "the old man"--the
stable-boss--had been known to say as much.

Chieftain had taken a liking to Tim the first day they turned out
together, when Chieftain was new to the city and to trucking. Driver
Doyle's fondness for Chieftain was of slower growth. In those days there
were other claimants for Tim's affections than his horses. There was a
Mrs. Doyle, for instance. Sometimes Chieftain saw her when Tim drove the
truck anywhere in the vicinity of the flat-house in which he lived. She
would come out and look at the team, and Tim would tell what fine horses
he had. There was a young Tim, too, a big, growing boy, who would now
and then ride on the truck with his father.

One day--it was during Chieftain's fifth year in the service--something
had happened to Mrs. Doyle. Tim had not driven for three days that time,
and when he did come back he was a very sober Tim. He told Chieftain all
about it, because he had no one else to tell. Soon after this young Tim,
who had grown up, went away somewhere, and from that time on the
friendship between old Tim and Chieftain became closer than ever. Tim
spent more and more of his time at the stable, until at the end, he
fixed himself a bunk in the night watchman's office and made it his

So, for three years or more Chieftain had always had a good-night pat on
the flank from Tim, and in the morning, after the currying and rubbing,
they had a little friendly banter, in the way of love-slaps from Tim
and good-natured nosings from Chieftain. Perhaps many of Tim's
confidences were given half in jest, and perhaps Chieftain sometimes
thought that Tim was a bit slow in perception, but, all in all, each
understood the other, even better than either realized.

Of course, Chieftain could not tell Tim of all those vague longings
which had to do with new grass and springy turf, nor could he know that
Tim had similar longings. These thoughts each kept to himself. But if
Chieftain was of Norman blood, a horse whose noble sires had ranged
pasture and paddock free from rein or trace, Tim was a Doyle whose
father and grandfather had lived close to the good green sod, and had
done their toil in the open, with the cool and calm of the country to
soothe and revive them.

Of such delights as these both Chieftain and Tim had tasted scantily,
hurriedly, in youth; and for them, in the lapses of the daily grind,
both yearned, each after his own fashion.

And, each in his way, Tim and Chieftain were philosophers. As the years
had come and gone, toil-filled and uneventful, the character of the man
had ripened and mellowed, the disposition of the horse had settled and

In his earlier days Tim had been ready to smash a wheel or lose one, to
demand right of way with profane unction, and to back his word with
whip, fist, or bale-hook. But he had learned to yield an inch on
occasion and to use the soft word.

Chieftain, too, in his first years between the poles, had sometimes been
impatient with the untrained mates who from time to time joined the
team. He had taken part in mane-biting and trace-kicking, especially on
days when the loads were heavy and the flies thick, conditions which try
the best of horse tempers. But he had steadied down into a pole-horse
who could set an example that was worth more than all the six-foot
lashes ever tied to a whip-stock.

It was during the spring of Chieftain's eighth year with the company
that things really began to happen. First there came rheumatism to Tim.
Trucking uses up men as well as horses, you know. While it is the hard
work and the heavy feeding of oats which burn out the animal, it is
generally the exposure and the hard drinking which do for the men. Tim,
however, was always moderate in his use of liquor, so he lasted longer
than most drivers. But at one-and-forty the wearing of rain-soaked
clothes called for reprisal. One wet May morning, after vainly trying to
hobble about the stable, Tim, with a bottle of horse liniment under his
arm, gave it up and went back to his bunk.

Team No. 47 went out that day with a new driver, a cousin of the
stable-boss, who had never handled anything better than common,
light-weight express horses. How Chieftain did miss Tim those next few
days! The new man was slow at loading, and, to make up the time, he cut
short their dinner-hour. Now it is not the wise thing to hurry horses
who have just eaten eight quarts of oats. The team finished the day well
blown, and in a condition generally bad. Next day the new man let the
off horse stumble, and there was a pair of barked knees to be doctored.

Matters went from bad to worse, until on the fourth day came the climax.
Sludge acid is an innocent-appearing liquid which sometimes stands in
pools near gas-works. Good drivers know enough to avoid it. It is bad
for the hoofs. The new man still had many things to learn, and this
happened to be one of them. In the morning Team 47 was disabled. The
company's veterinary looked at the spongy hoofs and remarked to the
stable-boss: "About three weeks on the farm will fix 'em all right, I
guess; but I should advise you to chuck that new driver out of the
window; he's too expensive for us."

That was how Chieftain's yearnings happened to be gratified at last. The
company, it seems, has a big farm, somewhere "up State," to which
disabled horses are sent for rest and recuperation. Invalided drivers
must look out for themselves. You can get a hundred truck drivers by
hanging out a sign: good draught horses are to be had only for a price.

Chieftain and Tim parted with mutual misgivings. To a younger horse the
long ride in the partly open stock-car might have been a novelty, but to
Chieftain, accustomed to ferries and the sight of all manner of wheeled
things, it was without new sensations.

At the end of the ride--ah, that was different. There were the sweet,
fresh fields, the springy green turf, the trees--all just as he had
dreamed a hundred times. Halterless and shoe-freed, Chieftain pranced
about the pasture for all the world like a two-year-old. With head and
tail up he ranged the field. He even tried a roll on the grass. Then,
when he was tired, he wandered about, nibbling now and then at a
tempting bunch of grass, but mainly exulting in his freedom. There were
other company horses in the field, but most of them were busy grazing.
Each was disabled in some way. One was half foundered, one had a
leg-sprain, another swollen joints; but hoof complaints, such as
toe-cracks, quarter-cracks, brittle feet, and the like, were the most
frequent ills. They were not a cheerful lot, and they were unsociable.

Chieftain went ambling off by himself, and in due time made acquaintance
with a rather gaunt, weather-beaten sorrel who hung his head lonesomely
over the fence from an adjoining pasture. He seemed grateful for the
notice taken of him by the big Norman, and soon they were the best of
friends. For hours they stood with their muzzles close together or their
necks crossed in fraternal fashion, swapping horse gossip after the
manner of their kind.

The sorrel, it appeared, was farm-bred and farm-reared. He knew little
or nothing of pavements and city hauling. All his years had been spent
in the country. In spite of his bulging ribs and unkempt coat Chieftain
almost envied him. What a fine thing it must be to live as the sorrel
lived, to crop the new grass, to feel the turf under your feet, and to
drink, instead of the hard stuff one gets from the hydrant, the soft
sweet brook water, to drink it standing fetlock deep in the
hoof-soothing mud! But the sorrel was lacking in enthusiasm for country

About the fifth day of his rustication the sharp edge of Chieftain's
appreciation became dulled. He discovered that pasture life was wanting
in variety. Also he missed his oats. When one has been accustomed to
twenty-four quarts a day, and hay besides, grass seems a mild
substitute. Graze industriously as he would, it was hard to get enough.
The sorrel, however, was sure Chieftain would get used to all that.

In time, of course, the talk turned to the pulling of heavy loads. The
sorrel mentioned the yanking of a hay-rick, laden with two tons of
clover, from the far meadow lot to the barn. Two tons! Chieftain snorted
in mild disdain. Had not his team often swung down Broadway with sixteen
tons on the truck? To be sure, narrow tires and soft-going made a

The country horse suggested that dragging a breaking plough through old
sod was strenuous employment. Yes, it might be, but had the sorrel ever
tightened the traces for a dash up a ferry bridgeway when the tide was
out? No, the sorrel had done his hauling on land. He had never ridden on
boats. He had heard them, though. They were noisy things, almost as
noisy as an old Buckeye mower going over a stony field.

[Illustration: Then let him snake a truck down West Street.]

Noise! Would the sorrel like to know what noise really was? Then let him
be hooked into a triple Boston backing hitch and snake a truck down West
Street, with the whiffle-trees slatting in front of him, the
spreader-bar rapping jig time on the poles, and the gongs of street-cars
and automobiles and fire-engines and ambulances all going at once.
Noise? Let him mix in a Canal Street jam or back up for a load on a
North River pier!

And as Chieftain recalled these things the contrast of the pasture's
oppressive stillness to the lively roar of the familiar streets came
home to him. Who was taking his place between the poles of Team 47? Had
they put one of those cheeky Clydes in his old stall? He would not care
to lose that stall. It was the best on the second floor. It had a window
in it, and Sundays he could see everything that went on in the street
below. He could even look into the front rooms of the tenements across
the way. There was a little girl over there who interested Chieftain
greatly. She was trying to raise some sort of a flower in a tin can
which she kept on the window-ledge. She often waved her hand at

Then there was poor Tim Doyle. Good old Tim! Where was another driver
like him? He made you work, Tim did, but he looked out for you all the
time. Always on the watch, was Tim, for galled spots, chafing sores,
hoof-pricks, and things like that. If he could get them he would put on
fresh collar-pads every week. And how carefully he would cover you up
when you were on the forward end of a ferryboat in stormy weather. No
tossing the blanket over your back from Tim. No, sir! It was always
doubled about your neck and chest, just where you most need protection
when you're steaming hot and the wind is raw. How many drivers warmed
the bits on a cold morning or rinsed out your mouth in hot weather? Who,
but Tim could drive a breast team through a----

But just here Chieftain heard a shrill, familiar whistle, and in a
moment, with as much speed as his heavy build allowed, he was making his
way across the field to where a short, stocky man with a broad grin
cleaving his face, was climbing the pasture-fence. It was Tim Doyle

Tim, it seems, had so bothered the stable-boss with questions about the
farm, its location, distance from the city, and general management, that
at last that autocrat had said: "See here, Doyle, if you want to go up
there just say so and I'll send you as car hostler with the next batch.
I'll give you a note to the farm superintendent. Guess he'll let you
hang around for a week or so."

"I'll go up as hostler," said Tim, "but you just say in that there note
that Tim Doyle pays his own way after he gets there."

In that way it was settled. For some four days Tim appeared to enjoy it
greatly. Most of his time he spent sitting on the pasture-fence, smoking
his pipe and watching the grazing horses. To Chieftain alone he brought
great bunches of clover.

About the fifth day Tim grew restive. He had examined Chieftain's hoofs
and pronounced them well healed, but the superintendent said that it
would be a week before he should be ready to send another lot of horses
back to the city.

"How far is it by road?" asked Tim.

"Oh, two hundred miles or so," said the superintendent.

"Why not let me take Chieftain down that way? It'd be cheaper'n shippin'
him, an' do him good."

The superintendent only laughed and said he would ship Chieftain with
the others, when he was ready.

That evening Tim sat on the bench before the farm-house and smoked his
pipe until everyone else had gone to bed. The moon had risen, big and
yellow. In a pond behind the stables it seemed as if ten thousand frogs
had joined in one grand chorus. They were singing their mating song, if
you know what that is. It is not altogether a cheerful or harmonious
effort. Next to the soughing of a November wind it is, perhaps, the most
dismally lonesome sound in nature.

For two hours Tim Doyle smoked and thought and listened. Then he knocked
the ashes out of his pipe and decided that he had been long enough in
the country. He would walk to the station, two miles away, and take the
midnight train to the city. As he went down the farm road skirting the
pasture he saw in the moonlight the sheds where the horses went at night
for shelter. Moved by some sudden whim, he stopped and whistled. A
moment later a big horse appeared from under the shed and came toward
him, neighing gratefully. It was Chieftain.

"Well, Chieftain, me bye, I'll be lavin' ye for a spell. But I'll have
yer old stall ready against yer comin' back. Good-by, laddie," and with
this Tim patted Chieftain on the nose and started down the road. He had
gone but a few steps when he heard Chieftain whinny. Tim stopped
irresolutely, and then went on. Again came the call of the horse. There
was no misunderstanding its meaning. Tim walked back to the fence.

In the morning the farm superintendent found on the door-sill a roughly
pencilled note which read:

"Hav goan bak to the sitty P S chefetun warnted to goe so I tuk him. Tim

They were ten days on the road, ten delightful days of irresponsible
vagabondism. Sometimes Tim rode on Chieftain's back and sometimes he
walked beside him. At night they took shelter in any stable that was
handy. Tim invested in a bridle and saddle blanket. Also he bought oats
and hay for Chieftain. The big Norman followed his own will, stopping to
graze by the roadside whenever he wished. Together they drank from
brooks and springs. Between them was perfect comradeship. Each was in
holiday mood and each enjoyed the outing to the fullest. As they passed
through towns they attracted no little attention, for outside of the
city 2,000-pound horses are seldom seen, and there were many admirers
of Chieftain's splendid proportions. Tim had many offers from shrewd

"Ye would, eh? A whole hundred dollars!" Tim would answer with fine
sarcasm. "Now, wouldn't that be too much, don't ye think? My, my, what a
generous mon it is! G'wan, Chieftain, er Mister Car-na-gy here'll be
after givin' us a lib'ry."

Chieftain, and Tim, too, for that matter, were nearer actual freedom
than ever before. For years the big Norman had used his magnificent
muscles only for straining at the traces. He had trod only the hard
pavements. Now, he put forth his glorious strength at leisure, moving
along the pleasant country roads at his own gait, and being guided only
when a turning was to be made.

Fine as it all was, however, as they drew near to the city both horse
and driver became eager to reach their old quarters. Tim was, for he has
said so. As for Chieftain--let the stable-boss, who knows horse-nature
better than most men know themselves, tell that part of the story.

"Bigger lunatics than them two, Tim Doyle and old Chieftain, I never set
eyes on," he says. "I was standin' down here by the double doors
watchin' some of the day-teams unhook when I looks up the street on a
sudden. An' there, tail an' head up like he was a 'leven-hundred-pound
Kentucky hunter 'stead of heavy-weight draught, comes that old
Chieftain, a whinnyin' like a three-year-old. An' on his back, mind you,
old Tim Doyle, grinnin' away 'sif he was Tod Sloan finishin' first at
the Brooklyn Handicap. Tickled? I never see a horse show anything so
plain in all my life. He just streaked it up that runway and into his
old stall like he was a prodigal son come back from furren parts.

"Yes, Tim he's out on the truck with his old team. Tim don't have to
drive nowadays, you know. Brother of his that was in the contractin'
business died about three months ago an' left Tim quite a pile. Tim, he
says he guesses the money won't take no hurt in the bank and that some
day, when he an' Chieftain git ready to retire, maybe it'll come in



With his coming to Sculpin Point there was begun for Barnacles the most
surprising period of a more or less useful career which had been filled
with unusual equine activities. For Barnacles was a horse, a white horse
of unguessed breed and uncertain age.

Most likely it was not, but it may have been, Barnacles's first intimate
connection with an affair of the heart. Said affair was between Captain
Bastabol Bean, owner and occupant of Sculpin Point, and Mrs. Stashia
Buckett, the unlamenting relict of the late Hosea Buckett.

Mrs. Buckett it was who induced Captain Bastabol Bean to purchase a
horse. Captain Bean, you will understand, had just won the affections of
the plump Mrs. Buckett. Also he had, with a sailor's ignorance of
feminine ways, presumed to settle off-hand the details of the coming

"I'll sail over in the dory Monday afternoon," said he, "and take you
back with me to Sculpin Point. You can have your dunnage sent over later
by team. In the evenin' we'll have a shore chaplain come 'round an' make
the splice."

"Cap'n Bean," replied the rotund Stashia, "we won't do any of them
things, not one."

"Wha-a-at!" gasped the Captain.

"Have you ever been married, Cap'n Bean?"

"N-n-no, my dear."

"Well, I have, and I guess I know how it ought to be done. You'll have
the minister come here, and here _you'll_ come to marry me. You won't
come in no dory, either. Catch me puttin' my two hundred an' thirty
pounds into a little boat like that. You'll drive over here with a
horse, like a respectable person, and you'll drive back with me, by land
and past Sarepta Tucker's house so's she can see."

Now for more than thirty years Bastabol Bean, as master of coasting
schooners up and down the Atlantic seaboard, had given orders. He had
taken none, except the formal directions of owners. He did not propose
to begin taking them now, not even from such an altogether charming
person as Stashia Buckett. This much he said. Then he added:

"Stashia, I give in about coming here to marry you; that seems no more
than fair. But I'll come in a dory and you'll go back in a dory."

"Then you needn't come at all, Cap'n Bastabol Bean."

Argue and plead as he might, this was her ultimatum.

"But, Stashia, I 'ain't got a horse, never owned one an' never handled
one, and you know it," urged the Captain.

"Then it's high time you had a horse and knew how to drive him. Besides,
if I go to Sculpin Point I shall want to come to the village once in a
while. I sha'n't sail and I sha'n't walk. If I can't ride like a lady I
don't go to the Point."

The inevitable happened. Captain Bean promised to buy a horse next day.
Hence his visit to Jed Holden and his introduction to Barnacles, as the
Captain immediately named him.

As one who inspects an unfamiliar object, Captain Bean looked dazedly at
Barnacles. At the same time Barnacles inspected the Captain. With head
lowered to knee level, with ears cocked forward, nostrils sniffing and
under-lip twitching almost as if he meant to laugh, Barnacles eyed his
prospective owner. In common with most intelligent horses, he had an
almost human way of expressing curiosity.

Captain Bean squirmed under the gaze of Barnacles's big, calm eyes for a
moment, and then shifted his position.

"What in time does he want anyway, Jed?" demanded the Captain.

"Wants to git acquainted, that's all, Cap'n. Mighty knowin' hoss, he is.
Now some hosses don't take notice of anything. They're jest naturally
dumb. Then agin you'll find hosses that seem to know every blamed word
you say. Them's the kind of hosses that's wuth havin."

"S'pose he knows all the ropes, Jed?"

"I should say he did, Cap'n. If there's anything that hoss ain't done in
his day I don't know what 'tis. Near's I can find out he's tried every
kind of work, in or out of traces, that you could think of."

"Sho!" The Captain was now looking at the old white horse in an
interested manner.

"Yes, sir, that's a remarkable hoss," continued the now enthusiastic Mr.
Holden. "He's been in the cavalry service, for he knows the bugle calls
like a book. He's travelled with a circus--ain't no more afraid of
elephants than I be. He's run on a fire engine--know that 'cause he
wants to chase old Reliance every time she turns out. He's been a
street-car hoss, too. You jest ring a door gong behind him twice an' see
how quick he'll dig in his toes. The feller I got him off'n said he knew
of his havin' been used on a milk wagon, a pedler's cart and a hack.
Fact is, he's an all round worker."

"Must be some old by your tell," suggested the Captain. "Sure his
timbers are all sound?"

"Dun'no' 'bout his timbers, Cap'n, but as fer wind an' limb you won't
find a sounder hoss, of his age, in this county. Course, I'm not sellin'
him fer a four-year-old. But for your work, joggin' from the P'int into
the village an' back once or twice a week, I sh'd say he was jest the
ticket; an' forty-five, harness an' all as he stands, is dirt cheap."

Again Captain Bean tried to look critically at the white horse, but once
more he met that calm, curious gaze and the attempt was hardly a
success. However, the Captain squinted solemnly over Barnacles's withers
and remarked:

"Yes, he has got some good lines, as you say, though you wouldn't
hardly call him clipper built. Not much sheer for'ard an' a leetle too
much aft, eh?"

At this criticism Jed snorted mirthfully.

"Oh, I s'pose he's all right," quickly added the Captain. "Fact is, I
ain't never paid much attention to horses, bein' on the water so much.
You're sure he'll mind his helm, Jed?"

"Oh, he'll go where you p'int him."

"Won't drag anchor, will he?"

"Stand all day if you'll let him."

"Well, Jed, I'm ready to sign articles, I guess."

It was about noon that a stable-boy delivered Barnacles at Sculpin
Point. His arrival caused Lank Peters to suspend peeling the potatoes
for dinner and demand explanation.

"Who's the hoss for, Cap'n?" asked Lank.

It was a question that Captain Bean had been dreading for two hours.
When he had given up coasting, bought the strip of Massachusetts
seashore known as Sculpin Point, built a comfortable cottage on it and
settled down within sight and sound of the salt water, he had brought
with him Lank Peters, who for a dozen years had presided over the galley
in the Captain's ship.

More than a mere sea-cook was Lank Peters to Captain Bean. He was
confidential friend, advising philosopher, and mate of Sculpin Point.
Yet from Lank had the Captain carefully concealed all knowledge of his
affair with the Widow Buckett. The time of confession was at hand.

In his own way and with a directness peculiar to all his acts, did
Captain Bean admit the full sum of his rashness, adding, thoughtfully:
"I s'pose you won't have to do much cookin' after Stashia comes; but
you'll still be mate, Lank, and there'll be plenty to keep you busy on
the P'int."

Quietly and with no show of emotion, as befitted a sea-cook and a
philosopher, Melankthon Peters heard these revelations. If he had his
prejudices as to the wisdom or folly of marrying widows, he said no
word. But in the matter of Barnacles he felt more free to express
something of his uneasiness.

"I didn't ship for no hostler, Cap'n, an' I guess I'll make a poor fist
at it, but I'll do my best," he said.

"Guess we'll manage him between us, Lank," cheerfully responded the
Captain. "I ain't got much use for horses myself; but as I said,
Stashia, she's down on boats."

"Kinder sot in her idees, ain't she, Cap'n?" insinuated Lank.

"Well, kinder," the Captain admitted.

Lank permitted himself to chuckle guardedly. Captain Bastabol Bean, as
an innumerable number of sailor-men had learned, was a person who
generally had his own way. Intuitively the Captain understood that Lank
had guessed of his surrender. A grim smile was barely suggested by the
wrinkles about his mouth and eyes.

"Lank," he said, "the Widow Buckett an' me had some little argument over
this horse business an'--an'--I give in. She told me flat she wouldn't
come to the P'int if I tried to fetch her by water in the dory. Well, I
want Stashia mighty bad; for she's a fine woman, Lank, a mighty fine
woman, as you'll say when you know her. So I promised to bring her home
by land and with a horse. I'm bound to do it, too. But by time!" Here
the Captain suddenly slapped his knee. "I've just been struck with a
notion. Lank, I'm going to see what you think of it."

For an hour Captain and mate sat in the sun, smoked their pipes and
talked earnestly. Then they separated. Lank began a close study of
Barnacles's complicated rigging. The Captain tramped off toward the

Late in the afternoon the Captain returned riding in a sidebar buggy
with a man. Behind the buggy they towed a skeleton lumber wagon--four
wheels connected by an extension pole. The man drove away in the sidebar
leaving the Captain and the lumber wagon.

Barnacles, who had been moored to a kedge-anchor, watched the next day's
proceedings with interest. He saw the Captain and Lank drag up from the
beach the twenty-foot dory and hoist it up between the wheels. Through
the forward part of the keelson they bored a hole for the king-bolt.
With nut-bolts they fastened the stern to the rear axle, adding some
very seamanlike lashings to stay the boat in place. As finishing touches
they painted the upper strakes of the dory white, giving to the lower
part and to the running-gear of the cart a coat of sea-green.

Barnacles was experienced, but a vehicle such as this amphibious product
of Sculpin Point he had never before seen. With ears pointed and
nostrils palpitating from curiosity, he was led up to the boat-bodied
wagon. Reluctantly he backed under the raised shafts. The practice-hitch
was enlivened by a monologue, on the part of Captain Bean, which ran
something like this:

"Now, Lank, pass aft that backstay [the trace] and belay; no, not there!
Belay to that little yard-arm [whiffle-tree]. Got it through the
lazy-jack [trace-bearer]? Now reeve your jib-sheets [lines] through them
dead-eyes [hame rings] and pass 'em aft. Now where in Tophet does this
thingumbob [holdback] go? Give it a turn around the port bowsprit
[shaft]. There, guess everything's taut."

The Captain stood off to take an admiring glance at the turnout.

"She's down by the bow some, Lank, but I guess she'll lighten when we
get aboard. See what you think."

Lank's inspection caused him to meditate and scratch his head. Finally
he gave his verdict: "From midships aft she looks as trim as a liner,
but from midships for'ard she looks scousy, like a Norwegian tramp after
a v'yage round The Horn."

"Color of old Barnacles don't suit, eh? No, it don't, that's so. But I
couldn't find no green an' white horse, Lank."

"Couldn't we paint him up a leetle, Cap'n?"

"By Sancho, I never thought of that!" exclaimed Captain Bean. "Course we
can; git a string an' we'll strike a water-line on him."

With no more ado than as if the thing was quite usual, the preparations
for carrying out this indignity were begun. Perhaps the victim thought
it a new kind of grooming, for he made no protest. Half an hour later
old Barnacles, from about the middle of his barrel down to his shoes,
was painted a beautiful sea-green. Like some resplendent marine monster
shone the lower half of him. It may have been a trifle bizarre, but,
with the sun on the fresh paint, the effect was unmistakably striking.
Besides, his color now matched that of the dory's with startling

"That's what I call real ship-shape," declared Captain Bean, viewing
the result. "Got any more notions, Lank?"

"Strikes me we ought to ship a mast so's we could rig a sprit-sail in
case the old horse should give out, Cap'n."

"We'll do it, Lank; fust rate idee!"

So a mast and sprit-sail were rigged in the dory. Also the lines were
lengthened with rope, that the Captain might steer from the stern

"She's as fine a land-goin' craft as ever I see anywhere," said the
Captain, which was certainly no extravagant statement.

How Captain Bean and his mate steered the equipage from Sculpin Point to
the village, how they were cheered and hooted along the route, how they
ran into the yard of the Metropolitan Livery Stable as a port of refuge,
how the Captain escaped to the home of Widow Buckett, how the "splicin'"
was accomplished--these are details which must be slighted.

The climax came when the newly made Mrs. Bastabol Buckett Bean, her
plump hand resting affectionately on the sleeve of the Captain's best
blue broadcloth coat, said, cooingly: "Now, Cap'n, I'm ready to drive to
Sculpin Point."

"All right, Stashia, Lank's waitin' for us at the front door with the

At first sight of the boat on wheels Mrs. Bean could do no more than
attempt, by means of indistinct ejaculation, to express her obvious
emotion. She noted the grinning crowd of villagers, Sarepta Tucker among
them. She saw the white and green dory with its mast, and with Lank,
villainously smiling, at the top of a step-ladder which had been leaned
against the boat; she saw the green wheels, and the verdant gorgeousness
of Barnacles's lower half. For a moment she gazed at the fantastic
equipage and spoke not. Then she slammed the front door with an
indignant bang, marched back into the sitting-room and threw herself on
the haircloth sofa with an abandon that carried away half a dozen

For the first hour she reiterated, between vast sobs, that Captain Bean
was a soulless wretch, that she would never set foot on Sculpin Point,
and that she would die there on the sofa rather than ride in such an
outlandish rig.

Many a time had Captain Bean weathered Hatteras in a southeaster, but
never had he met such a storm of feminine fury as this. However, he
stood by like a man, putting in soothing words of explanation and
endearment whenever a lull gave opportunity.

Toward evening the storm spent itself. The disturbed Stashia became
somewhat calm. Eventually she laughed hysterically at the Captain's
arguments, and in the end she compromised. Not by day would she enter
the dory wagon, but late in the evening she would swallow her pride and
go, just to please the Captain.

Thus it was that soon after ten o'clock, when the village folks had
laughed their fill and gone away, the new Mrs. Bean climbed the
step-ladder, bestowed herself unhandily on the midship thwart and, with
Lank on lookout in the bow, and Captain Bean handling the reins from the
stern sheets, the honeymoon chariot got under way.

By the time they reached the Shell Road the gait of the dejected
Barnacles had dwindled to a deliberate walk which all of Lank's urgings
could not hasten. It was a soft July night with a brisk offshore breeze
and the moon had come up out of the sea to silver the highway and lay a
strip of milk-white carpet over the waves.

"Ahoy there, Lank!" shouted the bridegroom. "Can't we do better'n this?
Ain't hardly got steerage-way on her."

"Can't budge him, Cap'n. Hadn't we better shake-out the sprit-sail;
wind's fair abeam."

"Yes, shake it out, Lank."

Mrs. Bean's feeble protest was unheeded. As the night wind caught the
sail and rounded it out the flapping caused old Barnacles to cast an
investigating glance behind him. One look at the terrible white thing
which loomed menacingly above him was enough. He decided to bolt. Bolt
he did to the best of his ability, all obstacles being considered. A
down grade in the Shell Road, where it dipped toward the shore, helped
things along. Barnacles tightened the traces, the sprit-sail did its
share, and in an amazingly short time the odd vehicle was spinning
toward Sculpin Point at a ten-knot gait. Desperately Mrs. Bean gripped
the gunwale and lustily she screamed:

"Whoa, whoa! Stop him, Captain, stop him! He'll smash us all to pieces!"

"Set right still, Stashia, an' trim ship. I've got the helm," responded
the Captain, who had set his jaws and was tugging at the rope lines.

"Breakers ahead, sir!" shouted Lank at this juncture.

Sure enough, not fifty yards ahead, the Shell Road turned sharply away
from the edge of the beach to make a detour by which Sculpin Point was
cut off.

"I see 'em, Lank."

"Think we can come about, Cap'n?" asked Lank, anxiously.

"Ain't goin to try, Lank. I'm layin' a straight course for home. Stand
by to bail."

How they could possibly escape capsizing Lank could not understand
until, just as Barnacles was about to make the turn, he saw the Captain
tighten the right-hand rein until it was as taut as a weatherstay. Of
necessity Barnacles made no turn, and there was no upset. Something
equally exciting happened, though.

Leaving the road with a speed which he had not equalled since the days
when he had figured in the "The Grand Hippodrome Races," his sea-green
legs quickened by the impetus of the affair behind him, Barnacles
cleared the narrow strip of beach-grass at a jump. Another leap and he
was hock deep in the surf. Still another, and he split a roller with his
white nose.

With a dull chug, a resonant thump, and an impetuous splash the dory
entered its accustomed element, lifting some three gallons of salt water
neatly over the bows. Lank ducked. The unsuspecting Stashia did not,
and the flying brine struck fairly under her ample chin.

"Ug-g-g-gh! Oh! Oh! H-h-h-elp!" spluttered the startled bride, and tried
to get on her feet.

"Sit down!" roared Captain Bean. Vehemently Stashia sat.

"W-w-w-we'll all b-b-be d-d-drowned, drowned!" she wailed.

"Not much we won't, Stashia. We're all right now, and we ain't goin' to
have our necks broke by no fool horse, either. Trim in the sheet, Lank,
an' then take that bailin' scoop." The Captain was now calmly confident
and thoroughly at home.

Drenched, cowed and trembling, the newly made Mrs. Bean clung
despairingly to the thwart, fully as terrified as the plunging
Barnacles, who struck out wildly with his green legs, and snorted every
time a wave hit him. But the lines held up his head and kept his nose
pointing straight for the little beach on Sculpin Point, perhaps a
quarter of a mile distant.

Somewhat heavy weather the deep-laden dory made of it, and in spite of
Lank's vigorous bailing the water sloshed around Mrs. Bean's boot-tops,
yet in time the sail and Barnacles brought them safely home.

"'Twa'n't exactly the kind of honeymoon trip I'd planned, Stashia,"
commented the Captain, as he and Lank steadied the bride's dripping bulk
down the step-ladder, "and we did do some sailin', spite of ourselves;
but we had a horse in front an' wheels under us all the way, just as I



Of his sire and dam there is no record. All that is known is that he was
raised on a Kentucky stock farm. Perhaps he was a son of Hanover, but
Hanoverian or no, he was a thoroughbred. In the ordinary course of
events he would have been tried out with the other three-year olds for
the big meet on Churchill Downs. In the hands of a good trainer he might
have carried to victory the silk of some great stable and had his name
printed in the sporting almanacs to this day.

But there was about Black Eagle nothing ordinary, either in his blood
or in his career. He was born for the part he played. So at three,
instead of being entered in his class at Louisville, it happened that he
was shipped West, where his fate waited.

No more comely three year old ever took the Santa Fé trail. Although he
stood but thirteen hands and tipped the beam at scarcely twelve hundred
weight, you might have guessed him to be taller by two hands. The
deception lay in the way he carried his shapely head and in the manner
in which his arched neck tapered from the well-placed shoulders.

A horseman would have said that he had a "perfect barrel," meaning that
his ribs were well rounded. His very gait was an embodied essay on
graceful pride. As for his coat, save for a white star just in the
middle of his forehead, it was as black and sleek as the nap on a new
silk hat. After a good rubbing he was so shiny that at a distance you
might have thought him starched and ironed and newly come from the

His arrival at Bar L Ranch made no great stir, however. They were not
connoisseurs of good blood and sleek coats at the Bar L outfit. They
were busy folks who most needed tough animals that could lope off fifty
miles at a stretch. They wanted horses whose education included the fine
art of knowing when to settle back on the rope and dig in toes. It was
not a question as to how fast you could do your seven furlongs. It was
more important to know if you could make yourself useful at a round-up.

"'Nother bunch o' them green Eastern horses," grumbled the ranch boss as
the lot was turned into a corral. "But that black fellow'd make a
rustler's mouth water, eh, Lefty?" In answer to which the said Lefty,
being a man little given to speech, grunted.

"We'll brand 'em in the mornin'," added the ranch boss.

Now most steers and all horses object to the branding process. Even the
spiritless little Indian ponies, accustomed to many ingenious kinds of
abuse, rebel at this. A meek-eyed mule, on whom humility rests as an
all-covering robe, must be properly roped before submitting.

In branding they first get a rope over your neck and shut off your wind.
Then they trip your feet by roping your forelegs while you are on the
jump. This brings you down hard and with much abruptness. A cowboy sits
on your head while others pin you to the ground from various
vantage-points. Next someone holds a red-hot iron on your rump until it
has sunk deep into your skin. That is branding.

Well, this thing they did to the black thoroughbred, who had up to that
time felt not so much as the touch of a whip. They did it, but not
before a full dozen cow-punchers had worked themselves into such a fury
of exasperation that no shred of picturesque profanity was left unused
among them.

Quivering with fear and anger, the black, as soon as the ropes were
taken off, dashed madly about the corral looking in vain for a way of
escape from his torturers. Corrals, however, are built to resist just
such dashes. The burn of a branding iron is supposed to heal almost
immediately. Cowboys will tell you that a horse is always more
frightened than hurt during the operation, and that the day after he
feels none the worse.

All this you need not credit. A burn is a burn, whether made purposely
with a branding iron or by accident in any other way. The scorched
flesh puckers and smarts. It hurts every time a leg is moved. It seems
as if a thousand needles were playing a tattoo on the exposed surface.
Neither is this the worst of the business. To a high-strung animal the
roping, throwing, and burning is a tremendous nervous shock. For days
after branding a horse will jump and start, quivering with expectant
agony, at the slightest cause.

It was fully a week before the black thoroughbred was himself again. In
that time he had conceived such a deep and lasting hatred for all men,
cowboys in particular, as only a high-spirited, blue-blooded horse can
acquire. With deep contempt he watched the scrubby little cow ponies as
they doggedly carried about those wild, fierce men who threw their
circling, whistling, hateful ropes, who wore such big, sharp spurs and
who were viciously handy in using their rawhide quirts.

So when a cowboy put a breaking-bit into the black's mouth there was
another lively scene. It was somewhat confused, this scene, but at
intervals one could make out that the man, holding stubbornly to mane
and forelock, was being slatted and slammed and jerked, now with his
feet on the ground, now thrown high in the air and now dangling
perilously and at various angles as the stallion raced away.

In the end, of course, came the whistle of the choking, foot-tangling
ropes, and the black was saddled. For a fierce half hour he took
punishment from bit and spur and quirt. Then, although he gave it up, it
was not that his spirit was broken, but because his wind was gone. Quite
passively he allowed himself to be ridden out on the prairie to where
the herds were grazing.

Undeceived by this apparent docility, the cowboy, when the time came for
him to bunk down under the chuck wagon for a few hours of sleep,
tethered his mount quite securely to a deep-driven stake. Before the
cattleman had taken more than a round dozen of winks the black had
tested his tether to the limit of his strength. The tether stood the
test. A cow pony might have done this much. There he would have stopped.
But the black was a Kentucky thoroughbred, blessed with the inherited
intelligence of noble sires, some of whom had been household pets. So he
investigated the tether at close range.

Feeling the stake with his sensitive upper lip he discovered it to be
firm as a rock. Next he backed away and wrenched tentatively at the
halter until convinced that the throat strap was thoroughly sound. His
last effort must have been an inspiration. Attacking the taut buckskin
rope with his teeth he worked diligently until he had severed three of
the four strands. Then he gathered himself for another lunge. With a
snap the rope parted and the black dashed away into the night, leaving
the cowboy snoring confidently by the camp-fire.

All night he ran, on and on in the darkness, stopping only to listen
tremblingly to the echo of his own hoofs and to sniff suspiciously at
the crouching shadows of innocent bushes. By morning he had left the Bar
L outfit many miles behind, and when the red sun rolled up over the edge
of the prairie he saw that he was alone in a field that stretched
unbroken to the circling sky-line.

Not until noon did the runaway black scent water. Half mad with thirst
he dashed to the edge of a muddy little stream and sucked down a great
draught. As he raised his head he saw standing poised above him on the
opposite bank, with ears laid menacingly flat and nostrils aquiver in
nervous palpitation, a buckskin-colored stallion.

Snorting from fright the black wheeled and ran. He heard behind him a
shrill neigh of challenge and in a moment the thunder of many hoofs.
Looking back he saw fully a score of horses, the buckskin stallion in
the van, charging after him. That was enough. Filling his great lungs
with air he leaped into such a burst of speed that his pursuers soon
tired of the hopeless chase. Finding that he was no longer followed the
black grew curious. Galloping in a circle he gradually approached the
band. The horses had settled down to the cropping of buffalo grass, only
the buckskin stallion, who had taken a position on a little knoll,
remaining on guard.

The surprising thing about this band was that each and every member
seemed riderless. Not until he had taken long up-wind sniffs was the
thoroughbred convinced of this fact. When certain on this point he
cantered toward the band, sniffing inquiringly. Again the buckskin
stallion charged, ears back, eyes gleaming wickedly and snorting
defiantly. This time the black stood his ground until the buckskin's
teeth snapped savagely within a few inches of his throat. Just in time
did he rear and swerve. Twice more--for the paddock-raised black was
slow to understand such behavior--the buckskin charged. Then the black
was roused into aggressiveness.

There ensued such a battle as would have brought delight to the brute
soul of a Nero. With fore-feet and teeth the two stallions engaged,
circling madly about on their hind legs, tearing up great clods of
turf, biting and striking as opportunity offered. At last, by a quick,
desperate rush, the buckskin caught the thoroughbred fairly by the
throat. Here the affair would have ended had not the black stallion,
rearing suddenly on his muscle-ridged haunches and lifting his
opponent's forequarters clear of the ground, showered on his enemy such
a rain of blows from his iron-shod feet that the wild buckskin dropped
to the ground, dazed and vanquished.

Standing over him, with all the fierce pride of a victorious gladiator
showing in every curve of his glistening body, the black thoroughbred
trumpeted out a stentorian call of defiance and command. The band, that
had watched the struggle from a discreet distance, now came galloping
in, whinnying in friendly fashion.

Black Eagle had won his first fight. He had won the leadership. By right
of might he was now chief of this free company of plains rangers. It
was for him to lead whither he chose, to pick the place and hour of
grazing, the time for watering, and his to guard his companions from all

As for the buckskin stallion, there remained for him the choice of
humbly following the new leader or of limping off alone to try to raise
a new band. Being a worthy descendant of the chargers which the men of
Cortez rode so fearlessly into the wilds of the New World he chose the
latter course, and, having regained his senses, galloped stiffly toward
the north, his bruised head lowered in defeat.

Some months later Arizona stockmen began to hear tales of a great band
of wild horses, led by a magnificent black stallion which was fleeter
than a scared coyote. There came reports of much mischief. Cattle were
stampeded by day, calves trampled to death, and steers scattered far
and wide over the prairie. By night bunches of tethered cow ponies
disappeared. The exasperated cowboys could only tell that suddenly out
of the darkness had swept down on their quiet camps an avalanche of wild
horses. And generally they caught glimpses of a great black branded
stallion who led the marauders at such a pace that he seemed almost to
fly through the air.

This stallion came to be known as Black Eagle, and to be thoroughly
feared and hated from one end of the cattle country to the other. The
Bar L ranch appeared to be the heaviest loser. Time after time were its
picketed mares run off, again and again were the Bar L herds scattered
by the dash of this mysterious band. Was it that Black Eagle could take
revenge? Cattlemen have queer notions. They put a price on his head. It
was worth six months wages to any cowboy who might kill or capture
Black Eagle.

About this time Lefty, the silent man of the Bar L outfit, disappeared.
Weeks went by and still the branded stallion remained free and unhurt,
for no cow horse in all the West could keep him in sight half an hour.

Black Eagle had been the outlaw king of the ranges for nearly two years
when one day, as he was standing at lookout while the band cropped the
rich mesa grass behind him, he saw entering the cleft end of a distant
arroyo a lone cowboy mounted on a dun little pony. With quick
intelligence the stallion noted that this arroyo wound about until its
mouth gave upon the side of the mesa not a hundred yards from where he

Promptly did Black Eagle act. Calling his band he led it at a sharp pace
to a sheltered hollow on the mesa's back slope. There he left it and
hurried away to take up his former position. He had not waited long
before the cowboy, riding stealthily, reappeared at the arroyo's mouth.
Instantly the race was on. Tossing his fine head in the air and
switching haughtily his splendid tail, Black Eagle laid his course in a
direction which took him away from his sheltered band. Pounding along
behind came the cowboy, urging to utmost endeavor the tough little
mustang which he rode.

Had this been simply a race it would have lasted but a short time. But
it was more than a race. It was a conflict of strategists. Black Eagle
wished to do more than merely out-distance his enemy. He meant to lead
him far away and then, under cover of night, return to his band.

Also the cowboy had a purpose. Well knowing that he could neither
overtake nor tire the black stallion, he intended to ride him down by
circling. In circling, the pursuer rides toward the pursued from an
angle, gradually forcing his quarry into a circular course whose
diameter narrows with every turn.

This, however, was a trick Black Eagle had long ago learned to block.
Sure of his superior speed he galloped away in a line straight as an
arrow's flight, paying no heed at all to the manner in which he was
followed. Before midnight he had rejoined his band, while far off on the
prairie was a lone cowboy moodily frying bacon over a sage-brush fire.

But this pursuer was no faint heart. Late the next day he was sighted
creeping cunningly up to windward. Again there was a race, not so long
this time, for the day was far spent, but with the same result.

When for the third time there came into view this same lone cowboy,
Black Eagle was thoroughly aroused to the fact that this persistent
rider meant mischief. Having once more led the cowboy a long and
fruitless chase the great black gathered up his band and started south.
Not until noon of the next day did he halt, and then only because many
of the mares were in bad shape. For a week the band was moved on. During
intervals of rest a sharp lookout was kept. Watering places, where an
enemy might lurk, were approached only after the most careful scouting.

Despite all caution, however, the cowboy finally appeared on the
horizon. Unwilling to endanger the rest of the band, and perhaps wishing
a free hand in coping with this evident Nemesis, Black Eagle cantered
boldly out to meet him. Just beyond gun range the stallion turned
sharply at right angles and sped off over the prairie.

There followed a curious chase. Day after day the great black led his
pursuer on, stopping now and then to graze or take water, never allowing
him to cross the danger line, but never leaving him wholly out of sight.
It was a course of many windings which Black Eagle took, now swinging
far to the west to avoid a ranch, now circling east along a water-course,
again doubling back around the base of a mesa, but in the main going
steadily northward. Up past the brown Maricopas they worked, across the
turgid Gila, skirting Lone Butte desert; up, up and on until in the
distance glistened the bald peaks of Silver range.

Never before did a horse play such a dangerous game, and surely none
ever showed such finesse. Deliberately trailing behind him an enemy bent
on taking either his life or freedom, not for a moment did Black Eagle
show more than imperative caution. At the close of each day when, by a
few miles of judicious galloping, he had fully winded the cowboy's
mount, the sagacious black would circle to the rear of his pursuer and
often, in the gloom of early night, walk recklessly near to the camp of
his enemy just for the sake of sniffing curiously. But each morning, as
the cowboy cooked his scant breakfast, he would see, standing a few
hundred rods away, Black Eagle, patiently waiting for the chase to be

Day after day was the hunted black called upon to foil a new ruse.
Sometimes it was a game of hide and seek among the buttes, and again it
was an early morning sally by the cowboy.

Once during a mid-day stop the dun mustang was turned out to graze.
Black Eagle followed suit. A half mile to windward he could see the cow
pony, and beside it, evidently sitting with his back toward his quarry,
the cowboy. For a half hour, perhaps, all was peace and serenity. Then,
as a cougar springing from his lair, there blazed out of the bushes on
the bank of a dry water-course to leeward a rifle shot.

Black Eagle felt a shock that stretched him on the grass. There arrived
a stinging at the top of his right shoulder and a numbing sensation all
along his backbone. Madly he struggled to get on his feet, but he could
do no more than raise his fore quarters on his knees. As he did so he
saw running toward him from the bushes, coatless and hatless, his
relentless pursuer. Black Eagle had been tricked. The figure by the
distant mustang then, was only a dummy. He had been shot from ambush.
Human strategy had won.

With one last desperate effort, which sent the red blood spurting from
the bullet hole in his shoulder, Black Eagle heaved himself up until he
sat on his haunches, braced by his fore-feet set wide apart.

Then, just as the cowboy brought his rifle into position for the
finishing shot, the stallion threw up his handsome head, his big eyes
blazing like two stars, and looked defiantly at his enemy.

Slowly, steadily the cowboy took aim at the sleek black breast behind
which beat the brave heart of the wild thoroughbred. With finger
touching the trigger he glanced over the sights and looked into those
big, bold eyes. For a full minute man and horse faced each other thus.
Then the cowboy, in an uncertain, hesitating manner, lowered his rifle.
Calmly Black Eagle waited. But the expected shot never came. Instead,
the cowboy walked cautiously toward the wounded stallion.

No move did Black Eagle make, no fear did he show. With a splendid
indifference worthy of a martyr he sat there, paying no more heed to his
approaching enemy than to the red stream which trickled down his
shoulder. He was helpless and knew it, but his noble courage was
unshaken. Even when the man came close enough to examine the wound and
pat the shining neck that for three years had known neither touch of
hand nor bridle-rein, the great stallion did no more than follow with
curious, steady gaze.

It is an odd fact that a feral horse, although while free even wilder
and fiercer than those native to the prairies, when once returned to
captivity resumes almost instantly the traits and habits of domesticity.
So it was with Black Eagle. With no more fuss than he would have made
when he was a colt in paddock he allowed the cowboy to wash and dress
his wounded shoulder and to lead him about by the halter.

By a little stream that rounded the base of a big butte, Lefty--for it
was he--made camp, and every day for a week he applied to Black Eagle's
shoulder a fresh poultice of pounded cactus leaves. In that time the big
stallion and the silent man buried distrust and hate and enmity. No
longer were they captive and captor. They came nearer to being congenial
comrades than anything else, for in the calm solitudes of the vast
plains such sentiments may thrive.

So, when the wound was fully healed, the black permitted himself to be
bridled and saddled. With the cow pony following as best it might they
rode toward Santa Fé.

With Black Eagle's return to the cramped quarters of peopled places
there came experiences entirely new to him. Every morning he was
saddled by Lefty and ridden around a fence-enclosed course. At first he
was allowed to set his own gait, but gradually he was urged to show his
speed. This was puzzling but not a little to his liking. Also he enjoyed
the oats twice a day and the careful grooming after each canter. He
became accustomed to stall life and to the scent and voices of men about
him, although as yet he trusted none but Lefty. Ever kind and
considerate he had found Lefty. There were times, of course, when Black
Eagle longed to be again on the prairie at the head of his old band, but
the joy of circling the track almost made up for the loss of those wild
free dashes.

One day when Lefty took him out Black Eagle found many other horses on
the track, while around the enclosure he saw gathered row on row of men
and women. A band was playing and flags were snapping in the breeze.
There was a thrill of expectation in the air. Black Eagle felt it, and
as he pranced proudly down the track there was lifted a murmur of
applause and appreciation which made his nerves tingle strangely.

Just how it all came about the big stallion did not fully understand at
the time. He heard a bell ring sharply, heard also the shouts of men,
and suddenly found himself flying down the course in company with a
dozen other horses and riders. They had finished half the circle before
Black Eagle fully realized that a gaunt, long-barrelled bay was not only
leading him but gaining with every leap. Tossing his black mane in the
wind, opening his bright nostrils and pointing his thin, close set ears
forward he swung into the long prairie stride which he was wont to use
when leading his wild band. A half dozen leaps brought him abreast the
gaunt bay, and then, feeling Lefty's knees pressing his shoulders and
hearing Lefty's voice whispering words of encouragement in his ears,
Black Eagle dashed ahead to rush down through the lane of frantically
shouting spectators, winner by a half dozen lengths.

That was the beginning of Black Eagle's racing career. How it
progressed, how he won races and captured purses in a seemingly endless
string of victories unmarred by a single defeat, that is part of the
turf records of the South and West.

There had to be an end, of course. Owners of carefully bred running
horses took no great pleasure, you may imagine, in seeing so many rich
prizes captured by a half-wild branded stallion of no known pedigree,
and ridden by a silent, square-jawed cowboy. So they sent East for a
"ringer." He came from Chicago in a box-car with two grooms and he was
entered as an unknown, although in the betting ring the odds posted were
one to five on the stranger. Yet it was a grand race. This alleged
unknown, with a suppressed record of victories at Sheepshead, Bennings,
and The Fort, did no more than shove his long nose under the wire a bare
half head in front of Black Eagle's foam-flecked muzzle.

It was sufficient. The once wild stallion knew when he was beaten. He
had done his best and he had lost. His high pride had been humbled, his
fierce spirit broken. No more did the course hold for him any pleasure,
no more could he be thrilled by the cries of spectators or urged into
his old time stride by Lefty's whispered appeals. Never again did Black
Eagle win a race.

His end, however, was not wholly inglorious. Much against his will the
cowboy who had so relentlessly followed Black Eagle half way across the
big territory of Arizona to lay him low with a rifle bullet, who had
spared his life at the last moment and who had ridden him to victory in
so many glorious races--this silent, square-jawed man had given him a
final caress and then, saying a husky good-by, had turned him over to
the owner of a great stud-farm and gone away with a thick roll of
bank-notes in his pocket and a guilty feeling in his breast.

Thus it happens that to-day throughout the Southwest there are many
black-pointed fleet-footed horses in whose veins runs the blood of a
noble horse. Some of them you will find in well-guarded paddocks, while
some still roam the prairies in wild bands which are the menace of
stockmen and the vexation of cowboys. As for their sire, he is no more.

This is the story of Black Eagle. Although some of the minor details
may be open to dispute, the main points you may hear recited by any
cattleman or horse-breeder west of Omaha. For Black Eagle really lived
and, as perhaps you will agree, lived not in vain.




Down in Maine or up in Vermont, anywhere, in fact, save on a fancy
stud-farm, his color would have passed for sorrel. Being a high-bred
hackney, and the pick of the Sir Bardolph three-year-olds, he was put
down as a strawberry roan. Also he was the pride of Lochlynne.

"'Osses, women, and the weather, sir, ain't to be depended on; but,
barrin' haccidents, that 'ere Bonfire'll fetch us a ribbon if any does,
sir." Hawkins, the stud-groom, made this prophecy, not in haste or out
of hand, but as one who has a reputation to maintain and who speaks by
the card.

So the word was passed among the under-grooms and stable-boys that
Bonfire was the best of the Sir Bardolph get, and that he was going to
the Garden for the honor and profit of the farm.

Well, Bonfire had come to the Garden. He had been there two days. It was
within a few hours of the time when the hackneys were to take the
ring--and look at him! His eyes were dull, his head was down, his
nostrils wept, his legs trembled.

About his stall was gathered a little group of discouraged men and boys
who spoke in low tones and gazed gloomily through the murky atmosphere
at the blanket-swathed, hooded figure that seemed about to collapse on
the straw.

"'E ain't got no more life in 'im than a sick cat," said one. "The
Bellair folks will beat us 'oller; every one o' their blooming hentries
is as fit as fiddles."

"Ain't we worked on 'im for four mortal hours?" demanded another. "Wot
more can we do?"

"Send for old 'Awkins an' tell 'im, that's all."

A shudder seemed to shake the group in the stall. It was clear that Mr.
Hawkins would be displeased, and that his displeasure was something to
be dreaded. Bonfire, too, was seen to shudder, but it was not from fear
of Hawkins's wrath. Little did Bonfire care just then for grooms, head
or ordinary. He shuddered because of certain aches that dwelt within

In his stomach was a queer feeling which he did not at all understand.
In his head was a dizziness which made him wish that the stall would not
move about so. Streaks of pain shot along his backbone and slid down
his legs. Hot and cold flashes swept over his body. For Bonfire had a
bad case of car-sickness--a malady differing from sea-sickness largely
in name only--also a well-developed cold complicated by nervous

Tuned to the key, he had left the home stables. Then they had led him
into that box on wheels and the trouble had begun. Men shouted, bells
clanged, whistles shrieked. Bonfire felt the box start with a jerk, and,
thumping, rumbling, jolting, swaying, move somewhere off into the night.

In an agony of apprehension--neck stretched, eyes staring, ears pointed,
nostrils quivering, legs stiffened, Bonfire waited for the end. But of
end there seemed to be none. Shock after shock Bonfire withstood, and
still found himself waiting. What it all meant he could not guess. There
were the other horses that had been taken with him into the box, some
placidly munching hay, others looking curiously about. There were the
familiar grooms who talked soothingly in his ear and patted his neck in
vain. The terror of the thing, this being whirled noisily away in a box,
had struck deep into Bonfire's brain, and he could not get it out. So he
stood for many hours, neither eating nor sleeping, listening to the
noises, feeling the motion, and trembling as one with ague.

Of course it was absurd for Bonfire to go to pieces in that fashion. You
can ship a Missouri Modoc around the world and he will finish almost as
sound as he started. But Bonfire had blood and breeding and a pedigree
which went back to Lady Alice of Burn Brae, Yorkshire.

His coltdom had been a sort of hothouse existence; for Lochlynne, you
know, is the toy of a Pennsylvania coal baron, who breeds hackneys, not
for profit, but for the joy there is in it; just as other men grow
orchids and build cup defenders. At the Lochlynne stables they turn on
the steam heat in November. On rainy days you are exercised in a
glass-roofed tanbark ring, and hour after hour you are handled over
deep straw to improve your action. You breathe outdoor air only in
high-fenced grass paddocks around which you are driven in surcingle rig
by a Cockney groom imported with the pigskin saddles and British
condition powders. From the day your name is written in the stud-book
until you leave, you have balanced feed, all-wool blankets,
fly-nettings, and coddling that never ceases. Yet this is the method
that rounds you into perfect hackney form.

All this had been done for Bonfire and with apparent success, but a few
hours of railroad travel had left him with a set of nerves as tensely
strung as those of a high-school girl on graduation-day. That is why a
draught of cold air had chilled him to the bone; that is why, after
reaching the Garden, he had gone as limp as a cut rose at a ball.


Hawkins, who had jumped into his clothes and hurried to the scene from a
nearby hotel, behaved disappointingly. He cursed no one, he did not even
kick a stable boy. He just peeled to his undershirt and went to work. He
stripped blankets and hood from the wretched Bonfire, grabbed a bunch of
straw in either hand and began to rub. It was no chamois polishing. It
was a raking, scraping, rib-bending rub, applied with all the force in
Hawkins's sinewy arms. It sent the sluggish blood pounding through
every artery of Bonfire's congested system and it made the perspiration
ooze from the red face of Hawkins.

At the end of forty minutes' work Bonfire half believed he had been
skinned alive. But he had stopped trembling and he held up his head.
Next he saw Hawkins shaking something in a thick, long-necked bottle.
Suddenly two grooms held Bonfire's jaws apart while Hawkins poured a
liquid down his throat. It was fiery stuff that seemed to burn its way,
and its immediate effect was to revive Bonfire's appetite.

Hour after hour Hawkins worked and watched the son of Sir Bardolph, and
when the get-ready bell sounded he remarked:

"Now, blarst you, we'll see if you're goin' to go to heverlastin' smash
in the ring. Tommy, dig out a pair o' them burrs."

Not until he reached the tanbark did Bonfire understand what burrs
were. Then, as a rein was pulled, he felt a hundred sharp points
pricking the sensitive skin around his mouth. With a bound he leaped
into the ring.

It was a very pretty sight presented to the horse experts lining the
rail and to persons in boxes and tier seats. They saw a blockily built
strawberry roan, his chiselled neck arched in a perfect crest, his rigid
thigh muscles rippling under a shiny coat as he swung his hocks, his
slim forelegs sweeping up and out, and every curve of his rounded body,
from the tip of his absurd whisk-broom tail to the white snip on the end
of his tossing nose, expressing that exuberance of spirits, that jaunty
abandon of motion which is the very apex of hackney style. Behind him a
short-legged groom bounced through the air at the end of the reins,
keeping his feet only by means of most amazing strides.

It was a woman in one of the promenade boxes, a young woman wearing a
stunning gown and a preposterous picture-hat, who started the applause.
Her hand-clapping was echoed all around the rail, was taken up in the
boxes and finally woke a rattling chorus from the crowded tiers above.
The three judges, men with whips and long-tailed coats, looked earnestly
at the strawberry roan.

Bonfire heard, too, but vaguely. There was a ringing in his ears.
Flashes of light half blinded his eyes. The concoction from the
long-necked bottle was doing its work. Also the jaw-stinging burrs kept
his mind busy. On he danced in a mad effort to escape the pain, and only
by careful manoeuvring could the grooms get him to stand still long
enough for the judges to use the tape.

And when it was all over, after the judges had grouped and regrouped
the entries, compared figures and whispered in the ring centre; out of
sheer defiance to the preference of the spectators they gave the blue to
a chestnut filly with black points--at which the tier seats hissed
mightily--and tied a red ribbon to Bonfire's bridle. Thereupon the
strawberry roan, who had looked fit for a girthsling three hours before,
tossed his head and pranced daintily out of the arena amid a ringing
round of applause.

Hardly had Bonfire's docked tail disappeared before the woman in the
stunning gown turned eagerly to a man beside her and asked, "Can't I
have him, Jerry? He'll be such a perfect cross-mate for Topsy. Please,

To be sure Jerry grumbled some, but inside of a quarter of an hour he
had found Hawkins and paid the price; a price worthy of Sir Bardolph and
quite in keeping with Lochlynne reckonings.

"'E's been car sick an' show sick," said Hawkins warningly, "an' it'll
be a good two weeks afore 'e's in proper condition, sir; but you'll find
'im as neat a bit of 'oss flesh as you hever owned, sir."

Nor was Hawkins wrong. When the burrs were taken off and the effect of
the doses from the long-necked bottle had died out, Bonfire looked
anything but a ribbon-getter. Luckily Mr. Jerry had a coachman who knew
his business. Dan was his name, County Antrim his birthplace. He fed
Bonfire hot mixtures, he rubbed, he nursed, until he had coaxed the cold
out and had quieted the jangled nerves. Then, one crisp December
morning, Bonfire, once more in the pink of condition, was hooked up with
Topsy to the pole of a shining, rubber-tired brougham and taken around
to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Jerry.

"Oh, isn't he a beauty, Dan!" squealed Mrs. Jerry delightedly, as
Bonfire danced up to the curb. "Isn't he?"

Dan, trained to silence, touched his hat. Mrs. Jerry patted Bonfire's
rounded quarter, tried to rub his impatient nose and squandered on him a
bewildering variety of superlatives. Then she was handed to her seat,
the footman swung up beside Dan, the reins were slackened and away they
whirled toward the Park, stepping as if they were going over hurdles.


For three years Bonfire had been in leather and he had found the life
far different from the dull routine of coddling that he had known at the
Lochlynne Farm. There was little monotony about it, for the Jerrys were
no stay-at-homes. Of his oak-finished stable, with its sanded floors
and plaited straw stall-mats, Bonfire saw almost as little as did Mrs.
Jerry of her white and gold rooms on the Avenue.

In the morning it would be a trip down town, where Topsy and Bonfire
would wait before the big stores, watching the traffic and people, until
Mrs. Jerry reappeared. After luncheon they generally took her through
the Park or up and down the Avenue to teas and receptions. In the
evening they were often harnessed again to take Mr. and Mrs. Jerry to
dinner, theatre, or ball. Late at night they might be turned out to
fetch them home.

What long, cold waits they had, standing in line sometimes for hours,
stamping their hoofs and shivering under heavy blankets; for a stylish
hackney, you know, must be kept closely clipped, no matter what the
weather. Why, even Dan, muffled in his big coat and bear-skin
shoulder-cape, was half frozen. But Dan could leave the footman on the
box and go to warm himself in the glittering corner saloons, and when he
came back it would be the footman's turn. For Topsy and Bonfire there
was no such relief. Chilled, tired, and hungry, they must stamp and wait
until at last, far down the street, could be heard the shouting of the
strong-lunged carriage-caller. When Dan got his number they were quite
ready for the homeward dash.

Seeing them come down the street, heads tossing, pole-chains jingling,
the crest and monogram of the house of Jerry glistening on quarter cloth
and rosette, their polished hoofs seeming barely to touch the asphalt,
you might have thought their lot one to be envied. But Bonfire and Topsy
knew better.

It was altogether too heavy work for high-bred hackneys, of course. Mr.
Jerry pointed this out, but to no use. Mrs. Jerry asked pertinently
what good horses were for if not to be used. No, she wanted no livery
teams for the night work. When she rode she wished to ride behind Topsy
and Bonfire. They were her horses, anyway. She would do as she pleased.
And she did.

Summer brought neither rest nor relief. Early in July horses, servants,
and carriages would be shipped off to Newport or Saratoga, there to
begin again the unceasing whirl. And fly time, to a docktailed horse, is
a season of torment.

Of Mrs. Jerry, who had once roused the Garden for his sake, Bonfire
caught but glimpses. After that first day, when he was a novelty, he
heard no more compliments, received no more pats from her gloved hands.
But of slight or neglect Bonfire knew nothing. He curved his neck and
threw his hoofs high, whether his muscles ached or no; in winter he
stamped to keep warm, in summer to dislodge the flies; he did his work
faithfully, early or late, in cold and in heat; and all this because he
was a son of Sir Bardolph and for the reason that it was his nature to.
Had it been put upon him he would have worked in harness until he
dropped, prancing his best to the last.

No supreme test, however, was ever brought to the endurance and
willingness of Bonfire. They just kept him on the pole, nerves tense,
muscles strained, until he began to lose form. His action no longer had
that grace and abandon which so pleased Mrs. Jerry when she first saw
him. Long standing in the cold numbs the muscles. It robs the legs of
their spring. Sudden starts, such as are made when you are called from
line after an hour's waiting, finish the business. Try as he might,
Bonfire could not step so high, could not carry a perfect crest. His
neck had lost its roundness, in his rump a crease had appeared.

To Dan also, came tribulation of his own making. He carried a flat brown
flask under the box and there were times when his driving was more a
matter of muscular habit than of mental acuteness. Twice he was
threatened with discharge and twice he solemnly promised reform. At last
the inevitable happened. Dan came one morning to Bonfire's stall, very
sober and very sad. He patted Bonfire and said good-by. Then he

Less than a week later two young hackneys, plump of neck, round of
quarter, springy of knee and hock, were brought to the stable. Bonfire
and Topsy were led out of their old stalls to return no more. They had
been worn out in the service and cast aside like a pair of old gloves.

Then did Bonfire enter upon a period of existence in which box-stalls,
crested quarter blankets, rubber-tired wheels and liveried drivers had
no part. It was a varied existence, filled with toil and hardship and
abuse; an existence for which the coddling one gets at Lochlynne Farm is
no fit preparation.


Just where Broadway crosses Sixth Avenue at Thirty-third Street is to be
found a dingy, triangular little park plot in which a few gas-stunted,
smoke-stained trees make a brave attempt to keep alive. On two sides of
the triangle surface-cars whirl restlessly, while overhead the elevated
trains rattle and shriek. This part of the metropolis knows little
difference between day and night, for the cars never cease, the
arc-lights blaze from dusk until dawn and the pavements are never wholly

Locally the section is sometimes called "the Cabman's Graveyard." During
any hour of the twenty-four you may find waiting along the curb a line
of public carriages. By day you will sometimes see smartly kept hansoms,
well-groomed horses, and drivers in neat livery.

But at night the character of the line changes. The carriages are mostly
one-horse closed cabs, rickety as to wheels, with torn and faded
cushions, license numbers obscured by various devices and rate-cards
always missing. The horses are dilapidated, too; and the drivers, whom
you will generally find nodding on the box or sound asleep inside their
cabs, harmonize with their rigs.

These are the Nighthawkers of the Tenderloin. The name is not an
assuring one, but it is suspected that it has been aptly given.

One bleak midnight in late November a cab of this description waited in
the lee of the elevated stairs. The cab itself was weather-beaten,
scratched, and battered. The driver, who sat half inside and half
outside the vehicle, with his feet on the sidewalk and his back propped
against the seat-cushion, puffed a short pipe and watched with indolent
but discriminating eye those who passed. He wore a coachman's coat of
faded green which seemed to have acquired a stain for every button it
had lost. On his head sat jauntily a rusty beaver and his face,
especially the nose, was of a rich crimson hue.

The horse, that seemed to lean on rather than stand in the patched
shafts, showed many well-defined points and but few curves. His thin
neck was ewed, there were deep hollows over the eyes, the number of his
ribs was revealed with startling frankness and the sagging of one
hind-quarter betrayed a bad leg. His head he held in spiritless fashion
on a level with his knees. As if to add a note of irony, his tail had
been docked to the regulation of absurd brevity and served only to tag
him as one fallen from a more reputable state.

Suddenly, up and across the intersecting thoroughfares, with a sharp
clatter of hoofs, rolled a smart closed brougham. The dispirited bobtail
looked up as a well-mated pair pranced past. Perhaps he noted their
sleek quarters, the glittering trappings on their backs and their
gingery action. As he dropped his head again something very like a sigh
escaped him. It might have been regret, perhaps it was only a touch of

The driver, too, saw the turnout and gazed after it. But he did not
sigh. He puffed away at his pipe as if entirely satisfied with his lot.
He was still watching the brougham when a surface-car came gliding
swiftly around a curve. There was a smash of splintering wood and
breaking glass. The car had struck the brougham a battering-ram blow,
crushing a rear wheel and snapping the steel axle at the hub.

From somewhere or other a crowd of curious persons appeared and circled
about to watch while the driver held the plunging horses and the footman
hauled from the overturned carriage a man and a woman in evening dress.
The couple seemed unhurt and, although somewhat rumpled as to attire,
remarkably unconcerned.

"Keb, sir! Have a keb, sir?"

The Nighthawker was on the scene, like a longshore wrecker, and waving
an inviting arm toward his shabby vehicle.

The man coolly restored to shape his misused opera hat, adjusted his
necktie, whispered some orders to his coachman and then asked of the
Nighthawker: "Where's your carriage, my man?"

Eagerly the green-coated cabby led the way until the rescued couple
stood before it. The woman inspected the battered vehicle doubtfully
before stepping inside. The man eyed the sorry nag for a moment and then
said, with a laugh: "Good frame you have there; got the parts all

But the Nighthawker was not sensitive. The intimation that his horse
might fall apart he answered only with a good-natured chuckle and asked:
"Where shall it be; home, sir?"

"Why, yes, drive us to number----"

"Oh, we know the house well enough, sir, Bonfire and me."

"Bonfire! Bonfire, did you say?" Incredulously the fare looked first at
the horse and then at the driver. "Why, 'pon my word, it's old Dan! And
this relic in the shafts is Bonfire, is it?"

"It's him, sir; leastways, all there's left of him."

"Well, I'll be hanged! Kitty! Kitty!" he shouted into the cab where my
lady was nervously pulling her skirts closer about her and sniffing the
tobacco-laden atmosphere with evident disapproval. "Here's Dan, our old

"Really?" was the unenthusiastic reply from the cab.

"Yes, and he's driving Bonfire. You remember Bonfire, the hackney I
bought for you at the Garden the year we were married."

"Indeed? Why, how odd? But do come in, Jerry, and let's get on home. I'm
so-o-o-o tired."

Mr. Jerry stifled his sentiment and shut the cab-door with a bang. Dan
pulled Bonfire's head into position and lightly laid the whip over the
all too obvious ribs. Bonfire, his head bobbing ludicrously on his thin
neck and his stubby tail keeping time at the other end of him, moved
uncertainly up the avenue at a jerky hobble.

And there let us leave him. Poor old Bonfire! Bred to win a ribbon at
the Garden--ended as the drudge of a Tenderloin Nighthawker.



Long, far too long, has the story of Pasha, son of Selim, remained

The great Selim, you know, was brought from far across the seas, where
he had been sold for a heavy purse by a venerable sheik, who tore his
beard during the bargain and swore by Allah that without Selim there
would be for him no joy in life. Also he had wept quite convincingly on
Selim's neck--but he finished by taking the heavy purse. That was how
Selim, the great Selim, came to end his days in Fayette County,
Kentucky. Of his many sons, Pasha was one.

In almost idyllic manner were spent the years of Pasha's coltdom. They
were years of pasture roaming and bluegrass cropping. When the time was
ripe, began the hunting lessons. Pasha came to know the feel of the
saddle and the voice of the hounds. He was taught the long, easy lope.
He learned how to gather himself for a sail through the air over a
hurdle or a water-jump. Then, when he could take five bars clean, when
he could clear an eight-foot ditch, when his wind was so sound that he
could lead the chase from dawn until high noon, he was sent to the
stables of a Virginia tobacco-planter who had need of a new hunter and
who could afford Arab blood.

In the stalls at Gray Oaks stables were many good hunters, but none
better than Pasha. Cream-white he was, from the tip of his splendid,
yard-long tail to his pink-lipped muzzle. His coat was as silk plush,
his neck as supple as a swan's, and out of his big, bright eyes there
looked such intelligence that one half expected him to speak. His lines
were all long, graceful curves, and when he danced daintily on his
slender legs one could see the muscles flex under the delicate skin.

Miss Lou claimed Pasha for her very own at first sight. As no one at
Gray Oaks denied Miss Lou anything at all, to her he belonged from that
instant. Of Miss Lou, Pasha approved thoroughly. She knew that
bridle-reins were for gentle guidance, not for sawing or jerking, and
that a riding-crop was of no use whatever save to unlatch a gate or to
cut at an unruly hound. She knew how to rise on the stirrup when Pasha
lifted himself in his stride, and how to settle close to the pigskin
when his hoofs hit the ground. In other words, she had a good seat,
which means as much to the horse as it does to the rider.

Besides all this, it was Miss Lou who insisted that Pasha should have
the best of grooming, and she never forgot to bring the dainties which
Pasha loved, an apple or a carrot or a sugar-plum. It is something, too,
to have your nose patted by a soft gloved hand and to have such a person
as Miss Lou put her arm around your neck and whisper in your ear. From
no other than Miss Lou would Pasha permit such intimacy.

No paragon, however, was Pasha. He had a temper, and his whims were as
many as those of a school-girl. He was particular as to who put on his
bridle. He had notions concerning the manner in which a curry-comb should
be used. A red ribbon or a bandanna handkerchief put him in a rage,
while green, the holy color of the Mohammedan, soothed his nerves. A
lively pair of heels he had, and he knew how to use his teeth. The black
stable-boys found that out, and so did the stern-faced man who was known
as "Mars" Clayton. This "Mars" Clayton had ridden Pasha once, had ridden
him as he rode his big, ugly, hard-bitted roan hunter, and Pasha had not
enjoyed the ride. Still, Miss Lou and Pasha often rode out with "Mars"
Clayton and the parrot-nosed roan. That is, they did until the coming of
Mr. Dave.

In Mr. Dave, Pasha found a new friend. From a far Northern State was Mr.
Dave. He had come in a ship to buy tobacco, but after he had bought his
cargo he still stayed at Gray Oaks, "to complete Pasha's education," so
he said.

Many ways had Mr. Dave which Pasha liked. He had a gentle manner of
talking to you, of smoothing your flanks and rubbing your ears, which
gained your confidence and made you sure that he understood. He was firm
and sure in giving commands, yet so patient in teaching one tricks, that
it was a pleasure to learn.

So, almost before Pasha knew it, he could stand on his hind legs, could
step around in a circle in time to a tune which Mr. Dave whistled, and
could do other things which few horses ever learn to do. His chief
accomplishment, however, was to kneel on his forelegs in the attitude of
prayer. A long time it took Pasha to learn this, but Mr. Dave told him
over and over again, by word and sign, until at last the son of the
great Selim could strike a pose such as would have done credit to a
Mecca pilgrim.

"It's simply wonderful!" declared Miss Lou.

But it was nothing of the sort. Mr. Dave had been teaching tricks to
horses ever since he was a small boy, and never had he found such an apt
pupil as Pasha.

Many a glorious gallop did Pasha and Miss Lou have while Mr. Dave stayed
at Gray Oaks, Dave riding the big bay gelding that Miss Lou, with all
her daring, had never ventured to mount. It was not all galloping
though, for Pasha and the big bay often walked for miles through the
wood lanes, side by side and very close together, while Miss Lou and Mr.
Dave talked, talked, talked. How they could ever find so much to say to
each other Pasha wondered.

But at last Mr. Dave went away, and with his going ended good times for
Pasha, at least for many months. There followed strange doings. There
was much excitement among the stable-boys, much riding about, day and
night, by the men of Gray Oaks, and no hunting at all. One day the
stables were cleared of all horses save Pasha.

"Some time, if he is needed badly, you may have Pasha, but not now,"
Miss Lou had said. And then she had hidden her face in his cream-white
mane and sobbed. Just what the trouble was Pasha did not understand, but
he was certain "Mars" Clayton was at the bottom of it.

No longer did Miss Lou ride about the country. Occasionally she galloped
up and down the highway, to the Pointdexters and back, just to let Pasha
stretch his legs. Queer sights Pasha saw on these trips. Sometimes he
would pass many men on horses riding close together in a pack, as the
hounds run when they have the scent. They wore strange clothing, did
these men, and they carried, instead of riding-crops, big shiny knives
that swung at their sides. The sight of them set Pasha's nerves
tingling. He would sniff curiously after them and then prick forward
his ears and dance nervously.

Of course Pasha knew that something unusual was going on, but what it
was he could not guess. There came a time, however, when he found out
all about it. Months had passed when, late one night, a hard-breathing,
foam-splotched, mud-covered horse was ridden into the yard and taken
into the almost deserted stable. Pasha heard the harsh voice of "Mars"
Clayton swearing at the stable-boys. Pasha heard his own name spoken,
and guessed that it was he who was wanted. Next came Miss Lou to the

"I'm very sorry," he heard "Mars" Clayton say, "but I've got to get out
of this. The Yanks are not more than five miles behind."

"But you'll take good care of him, won't you?" he heard Miss Lou ask

"Oh, yes; of course," replied "Mars" Clayton, carelessly.

A heavy saddle was thrown on Pasha's back, the girths pulled cruelly
tight, and in a moment "Mars" Clayton was on his back. They were barely
clear of Gray Oaks driveway before Pasha felt something he had never
known before. It was as if someone had jabbed a lot of little knives
into his ribs. Roused by pain and fright, Pasha reared in a wild attempt
to unseat this hateful rider. But "Mars" Clayton's knees seemed glued to
Pasha's shoulders. Next Pasha tried to shake him off by sudden leaps,
side-bolts, and stiff-legged jumps. These manoeuvres brought vicious
jerks on the wicked chain-bit that was cutting Pasha's tender mouth
sorrily and more jabs from the little knives. In this way did Pasha
fight until his sides ran with blood and his breast was plastered thick
with reddened foam.

In the meantime he had covered miles of road, and at last, along in the
cold gray of the morning, he was ridden into a field where were many
tents and horses. Pasha was unsaddled and picketed to a stake. This
latter indignity he was too much exhausted to resent. All he could do
was to stand, shivering with cold, trembling from nervous excitement,
and wait for what was to happen next.

It seemed ages before anything did happen. The beginning was a tripping
bugle-blast. This was answered by the voice of other bugles blown here
and there about the field. In a moment men began to tumble out of the
white tents. They came by twos and threes and dozens, until the field
was full of them. Fires were built on the ground, and soon Pasha could
scent coffee boiling and bacon frying. Black boys began moving about
among the horses with hay and oats and water. One of them rubbed Pasha
hurriedly with a wisp of straw. It was little like the currying and
rubbing with brush and comb and flannel to which he was accustomed and
which he needed just then, oh, how sadly. His strained muscles had
stiffened so much that every movement gave him pain. So matted was his
coat with sweat and foam and mud that it seemed as if half the pores of
his skin were choked.

He had cooled his parched throat with a long draught of somewhat muddy
water, but he had eaten only half of the armful of hay when again the
bugles sounded and "Mars" Clayton appeared. Tightening the girths, until
they almost cut into Pasha's tender skin, he jumped into the saddle and
rode off to where a lot of big black horses were being reined into line.
In front of this line Pasha was wheeled. He heard the bugles sound once
more, heard his rider shout something to the men behind, felt the
wicked little knives in his sides, and then, in spite of aching legs,
was forced into a sharp gallop. Although he knew it not, Pasha had
joined the Black Horse Cavalry.

The months that followed were to Pasha one long, ugly dream. Not that he
minded the hard riding by day and night. In time he became used to all
that. He could even endure the irregular feeding, the sleeping in the
open during all kinds of weather, and the lack of proper grooming. But
the vicious jerks on the torture-provoking cavalry bit, the flat sabre
blows on the flank which he not infrequently got from his ill-tempered
master, and, above all, the cruel digs of the spur-wheels--these things
he could not understand. Such treatment he was sure he did not merit.
"Mars" Clayton he came to hate more and more. Some day, Pasha told
himself, he would take vengeance with teeth and heels, even if he died
for it.

In the meantime he had learned the cavalry drill. He came to know the
meaning of each varying bugle-call, from reveille, when one began to paw
and stamp for breakfast, to mournful taps, when lights went out, and the
tents became dark and silent. Also, one learned to slow from a gallop
into a walk; when to wheel to the right or to the left, and when to
start on the jump as the first notes of a charge were sounded. It was
better to learn the bugle-calls, he found, than to wait for a jerk on
the bits or a prod from the spurs.

No more was he terror-stricken, as he had been on his first day in the
cavalry, at hearing behind him the thunder of many hoofs. Having once
become used to the noise, he was even thrilled by the swinging metre of
it. A kind of wild harmony was in it, something which made one forget
everything else. At such times Pasha longed to break into his long,
wind-splitting lope, but he learned that he must leave the others no
more than a pace or two behind, although he could have easily
outdistanced them all.

Also, Pasha learned to stand under fire. No more did he dance at the
crack of carbines or the zipp-zipp of bullets. He could even hold his
ground when shells went screaming over him, although this was hardest of
all to bear. One could not see them, but their sound, like that of great
birds in flight, was something to try one's nerves. Pasha strained his
ears to catch the note of each shell that came whizzing overhead, and,
as it passed, looked inquiringly over his shoulder as if to ask, "Now
what on earth was that?"

But all this experience could not prepare him for the happenings of
that never-to-be-forgotten day in June. There had been a period full of
hard riding and ending with a long halt. For several days hay and oats
were brought with some regularity. Pasha was even provided with an
apology for a stall. It was made by leaning two rails against a fence.
Some hay was thrown between the rails. This was a sorry substitute for
the roomy box-stall, filled with clean straw, which Pasha always had at
Gray Oaks, but it was as good as any provided for the Black Horse

And how many, many horses there were! As far as Pasha could see in
either direction the line extended. Never before had he seen so many
horses at one time. And men! The fields and woods were full of them;
some in brown butternut, some in homespun gray, and many in clothes
having no uniformity of color at all. "Mars" Clayton was dressed better
than most, for on his butternut coat were shiny shoulder-straps, and it
was closed with shiny buttons. Pasha took little pride in this. He knew
his master for a cruel and heartless rider, and for nothing more.

One day there was a great parade, when Pasha was carefully groomed for
the first time in months. There were bands playing and flags flying.
Pasha, forgetful of his ill-treatment and prancing proudly at the head
of a squadron of coal-black horses, passed in review before a big,
bearded man wearing a slouch hat fantastically decorated with long
plumes and sitting a great black horse in the midst of a little knot of

Early the next morning Pasha was awakened by the distant growl of heavy
guns. By daylight he was on the move, thousands of other horses with
him. Nearer and nearer they rode to the place where the guns were
growling. Sometimes they were on roads, sometimes they crossed fields,
and again they plunged into the woods where the low branches struck
one's eyes and scratched one's flanks. At last they broke clear of the
trees to come suddenly upon such a scene as Pasha had never before

Far across the open field he could see troop on troop of horses coming
toward him. They seemed to be pouring over the crest of a low hill, as
if driven onward by some unseen force behind. Instantly Pasha heard,
rising from the throats of thousands of riders, on either side and
behind him, that fierce, wild yell which he had come to know meant the
approach of trouble. High and shrill and menacing it rang as it was
taken up and repeated by those in the rear. Next the bugles began to
sound, and in quick obedience the horses formed in line just on the
edge of the woods, a line which stretched and stretched on either flank
until one could hardly see where it ended.

From the distant line came no answering cry, but Pasha could hear the
bugles blowing and he could see the fronts massing. Then came the order
to charge at a gallop. This set Pasha to tugging eagerly at the bit, but
for what reason he did not know. He knew only that he was part of a
great and solid line of men and horses sweeping furiously across a field
toward that other line which he had seen pouring over the hill-crest.

He could scarcely see at all now. The thousands of hoofs had raised a
cloud of dust that not only enveloped the onrushing line, but rolled
before it. Nor could Pasha hear anything save the thunderous thud of
many feet. Even the shrieking of the shells was drowned. But for the
restraining bit Pasha would have leaped forward and cleared the line.
Never had he been so stirred. The inherited memory of countless desert
raids, made by his Arab ancestors, was doing its work. For what seemed a
long time this continued, and then, in the midst of the blind and
frenzied race, there loomed out of the thick air, as if it had appeared
by magic, the opposing line.

Pasha caught a glimpse of something which seemed like a heaving wall of
tossing heads and of foam-whitened necks and shoulders. Here and there
gleamed red, distended nostrils and straining eyes. Bending above was
another wall, a wall of dusty blue coats, of grim faces, and of
dust-powdered hats. Bristling above all was a threatening crest of
waving blades.

What would happen when the lines met? Almost before the query was
thought there came the answer. With an earth-jarring crash they came
together. The lines wavered back from the shock of impact and then the
whole struggle appeared to Pasha to centre about him. Of course this was
not so. But it was a fact that the most conspicuous figure in either
line had been that of the cream-white charger in the very centre of the
Black Horse regiment.

For one confused moment Pasha heard about his ears the whistle and clash
of sabres, the spiteful crackle of small arms, the snorting of horses,
and the cries of men. For an instant he was wedged tightly in the
frenzied mass, and then, by one desperate leap, such as he had learned
on the hunting field, he shook himself clear.

Not until some minutes later did Pasha notice that the stirrups were
dangling empty and that the bridle-rein hung loose on his neck. Then he
knew that at last he was free from "Mars" Clayton. At the same time he
felt himself seized by an overpowering dread. While conscious of a
guiding hand on the reins Pasha had abandoned himself to the fierce joy
of the charge. But now, finding himself riderless in the midst of a
horrid din, he knew not what to do, nor which way to turn. His only
impulse was to escape. But where? Lifting high his fine head and
snorting with terror he rushed about, first this way and then that,
frantically seeking a way out of this fog-filled field of dreadful
pandemonium. Now he swerved in his course to avoid a charging squad, now
he was turned aside by prone objects at sight of which he snorted
fearfully. Although the blades still rang and the carbines still spoke,
there were no more to be seen either lines or order. Here and there in
the dust-clouds scurried horses, some with riders and some without, by
twos, by fours, or in squads of twenty or more. The sound of shooting
and slashing and shouting filled the air.

To Pasha it seemed an eternity that he had been tearing about the field
when he shied at the figure of a man sitting on the ground. Pasha was
about to wheel and dash away when the man called to him. Surely the
tones were familiar. With wide-open, sniffing nostrils and trembling
knees, Pasha stopped and looked hard at the man on the ground.

"Pasha! Pasha!" the man called weakly. The voice sounded like that of
Mr. Dave.

"Come, boy! Come, boy!" said the man in a coaxing tone, which recalled
to Pasha the lessons he had learned at Gray Oaks years before. Still
Pasha sniffed and hesitated.

"Come here, Pasha, old fellow. For God's sake, come here!"

There was no resisting this appeal. Step by step Pasha went nearer. He
continued to tremble, for this man on the ground, although his voice was
that of Mr. Dave, looked much different from the one who had taught him
tricks. Besides, there was about him the scent of fresh blood. Pasha
could see the stain of it on his blue trousers.

"Come, boy. Come, Pasha," insisted the man on the ground, holding out an
encouraging hand. Slowly Pasha obeyed until he could sniff the man's
fingers. Another step and the man was smoothing his nose, still speaking
gently and coaxingly in a faint voice. In the end Pasha was assured that
the man was really the Mr. Dave of old, and glad enough Pasha was to
know it.

"Now, Pasha," said Mr. Dave, "we'll see if you've forgotten your tricks,
and may the good Lord grant you haven't. Down, sir! Kneel, Pasha,

[Illustration: "Come, boy. Come, Pasha," insisted the man on the

It had been a long time since Pasha had been asked to do this, a very
long time; but here was Mr. Dave asking him, in just the same tone as of
old, and in just the same way. So Pasha, forgetting his terror under the
soothing spell of Mr. Dave's voice, forgetting the fearful sights and
sounds about him, remembering only that here was the Mr. Dave whom he
loved, asking him to do his old trick--well, Pasha knelt.

"Easy now, boy; steady!" Pasha heard him say. Mr. Dave was dragging
himself along the ground to Pasha's side. "Steady now, Pasha; steady,
boy!" He felt Mr. Dave's hand on the pommel. "So-o-o, boy; so-o-o-o!"
Slowly, oh, so slowly, he felt Mr. Dave crawling into the saddle, and
although Pasha's knees ached from the unfamiliar strain, he stirred not
a muscle until he got the command, "Up, Pasha, up!"

Then, with a trusted hand on the bridle-rein, Pasha joyfully bounded
away through the fog, until the battle-field was left behind. Of the
long ride that ensued only Pasha knows, for Mr. Dave kept his seat in
the saddle more by force of muscular habit than anything else. A man who
has learned to sleep on horseback does not easily fall off, even though
he has not the full command of his senses. Only for the first hour or so
did Pasha's rider do much toward guiding their course. In
hunting-horses, however, the sense of direction is strong. Pasha had
it--especially for one point of the compass. This point was south. So,
unknowing of the possible peril into which he might be taking his rider,
south he went. How Pasha ever did it, as I have said, only Pasha knows;
but in the end he struck the Richmond Pike.

[Illustration: Mr. Dave kept his seat in the saddle more by force of
muscular habit than anything else.]

It was a pleading whinny which aroused Miss Lou at early daybreak.
Under her window she saw Pasha, and on his back a limp figure in a blue,
dust-covered, dark-stained uniform. And that was how Pasha's cavalry
career came to an end. That one fierce charge was his last.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Washington home of a certain Maine Congressman you may see, hung
in a place of honor and lavishly framed, the picture of a horse. It is
very creditably done in oils, is this picture. It is of a cream-white
horse, with an arched neck, clean, slim legs, and a splendid flowing

Should you have any favors of state to ask of this Maine Congressman, it
would be the wise thing, before stating your request, to say something
nice about the horse in the picture. Then the Congressman will probably
say, looking fondly at the picture: "I must tell Lou--er--my wife, you
know, what you have said. Yes, that was Pasha. He saved my neck at
Brandy Station. He was one-half Arab, Pasha was, and the other half,
sir, was human."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Horses Nine - Stories of Harness and Saddle" ***

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