The Matter of a Horse

A tale of two men and a horse—and a woman whose dream of happiness found fulfillment tragedy

J. PAUL LOOMIS December 1 1930

The Matter of a Horse

A tale of two men and a horse—and a woman whose dream of happiness found fulfillment tragedy

J. PAUL LOOMIS December 1 1930

The Matter of a Horse


A tale of two men and a horse—and a woman whose dream of happiness found fulfillment tragedy

'S FUNNY,” observed Pete McQuegg as he hooked his chap-clad leg over his saddle-horn, “what diff’rent things it is lies closest the core in diff’rent sorts o’ men. With some it’s money. Sell their hope o’salvation an’sell it cheap; or mebbe dear, the hope bein’ a slim one perhaps. With some it’s women; or a woman, dependin’ on whether they’re unsound or sound at the core. But with many a cowboy it’s a matter of a horse. I’ve knowed pardners that could both love one woman an’ still love each other, but they couldn’t both love an’ own one horse.

Jim Flake an’ Monte Buford was like that. Pardners since they met up as kids on the 7HL down in the Cypress Hills. Punched cattle together in blisterin’ sun an’ freezin’ wind an’ marrow-chillin’ rain, from Swift Current to the foothills an’ from Powder River up here to the North Saskatchewan. They’d took in stampedes together from MacLeod to Meadow Lake, an’fed cattle through five months o’ winter by the big hay sloughs up in the lonesome bush. They had a chance to know each other pretty well, but they didn’t. They only thought they did.

It was like this with Jim an’ Monte. They each had their own line. You see some lastin’ pardnerships where one chap takes the lead in ev’rything an’ the other just does a good job o’ playin’ second fiddle all around. It looked like that with Jim an’ Monte because Jim was always first to have his say, bein’ red-headed an’ hairtrigger like. He was strong on breakin’ bronchos, swappin’ horses, an’ sashayin’ around with the girls. He rode a hand-carved an’ silver-mounted saddle, an’ wore spotted bat-wing chaps an’ a two-gallon hat that cost a steer.

Monte spoke slow an’ it took half a minute for his grin to spread over his wide, sunburned face. He packed a hundred an’ eighty pounds o' muscle laid on thick, an’

moved accordingly—most o’ the time. His chaps was mangylookin’, an’ his blackened saddle hadn’t a mark on it ’cept what had been put there by sizzlin’ ropes an’ spur rowels an’ horses’ teeth. Monte couldn’t see a girl if she was to jump up an’ down in front o’ him, but he could throw a rope an’ bulldog steers. The prizes he won at stampedes wasn’t so big as what Jim sometimes collared on the broncs, but he always won an’ Jim won just usually. An’ Monte knew cattle as Jim never did, nor will. So each kept to his own line an’ Jim swore by Monte the same as Monte swore by Jim.

They got a chance finally to take over a bunch o’ cattle on shares, an’ that was their first step ahead from the old "forty a month an’ found.” So they took ’joinin’ homesteads down by the Saskatchewan an’ built their shack straddle o’ the line. The cattle did well for they took real care of ’em, an’ in a few years they had a neat little herd o’ their own an’ had picked up what cayuses they needed an’ more by Jim’s swappin’ around.

Then come the chance to buy a herd o’ horses Ben Wyngate had trailed into this country Lom down by

Buffalo Lake. Old Ben had caved in an’ died all of a sudden, an’ Jim an’ Monte got the horses cheap— considerin’ the kind o’ stock they was. "Steeldust” breedin’ mostly: of a dean, upstandin’ type that, in this land o’ chunks an’ broomtails, was scarce as feathered frogs. At that, the boys had to sell most o’ their cattle an’ put plasters on their land, but they didn’t hesitate nor disagree.

I was in Belpre the day they closed the deal, an’ 1 jogged along with ’em trailin’ their horses home. Of course Jim Flake was bubblin’ over at the sight of all that good horseflesh, an’ was tollin’ us how this young gelding an' that was goin’ to cut didoes when he cinched his saddle on to him. What I hadn’t known was that Monte cared a picayune for a horse, more than as something to hold his rope for him or carry him after a steer, but now they was a look in his deep blue-grey eyes as they roved over that bunch mares, yearlin’s, little fuzz-tails an’ all—that told me Monte Buford was proud an’ tickled as a kid. An’ yet I saw a little troubled look ’way in the back of his eyes, an’ directly I marked the same thing in Jim’s eyes, too. It showed strongest when either of ’em looked at a big "paint” gelding. For, strange as it was in a bunch of high-grade horses, there was one piebald an’ a rare one at that, for the patches o’ white on the near side of him was exactly matched by black on the off.

NOW a cowboy likes a pinto or “calico” horse as much as any Indian does, an’ I knew here was something Jim Flake would go through hell an’ high water to own outright. But I didn’t reckon he’d have it to do. Never supposed Monte cared whether his horse looked like a rainbow or a rainy night. An’ maybe he didn’t. I’rob’ly he was seein’ a lot deeper than the gaudy hide when he looked at “Patches,” as Jim had named him, an’ was takin’ stock of twelve hundred pounds o’ sure-nuff horse: horse with spirit that just oozed out o’ him, not in mean tooth-an’-hoof work but in lift to his head an’ tail, an’ flash to his ev’ry move, an’ fire in his eye.

“Here,” says I to myself, “is the ‘thin enterin’ wedge’ that’ll rift a number-one pardnership if they don’t watch out.”

I don’t claim to be no prophet but my hunch proved not far wrong. The first hitch come when Patches threw Jim Flake so high a whiflle-snipe started to build a nest in his hat afore he come down. Jim was all for tyin’ up a front foot an’ roughin’ the horse to get even an’ to show who was boss. Monte wouldn’t stand for it. Piled his old saddle on to that half ton o' dynamite an’ rode him to a standstill, to the everlastin’ amazement o’ Jim an’ me an'

Shorty Foracre, who happened to be lookin’ on. Then he spent the whole rest o’ that day pettin’ the horse, puttin’ the saddle on an’ pullin’ it off an’ the like. An’ all day Jim never said a word but looked like he’d et a bellyful o’ green plums.

This was in the fall, an’ it was early the next spring afore things really come to a head. Monte Buford was like that. Things didn’t happen with him: they developed. Again I come rootin’ along in time for a front seat, for 1 got caught in a spring snow-squall one evenin’ an’ dropped in at the Horseshoe Six, as the boys called their layout, for the night. There was something in the air o’ the little shanty that even the crisp smell o’ fryin’ sow-belly couldn’t down, an’ Jim didn’t even cuss when Monte let the bannock burn. That supper give me indigestion, we ate it so solemnly. Soon ¡is the table was cleared Monte hands Jim a pack o’ cards. Something told me right then what was up. They was decidin’ which one should own the big calico horse.

Jim shuffled neatly, threw down the pack, picked it up again before Monte had seemed to make up his mind whether to cut the deck, an’ dealt each of ’em a card. Jim flipped up the jack o’ diamonds. Monte’s was the trey o’ spades.

Well, sir, Monte couldn’t o’ looked happier if it was four aces an’the joker he held for a thousand dollar pot. He was just that relieved that the fuss between ’em was over an’ that happy to know that seein’s he, Monte, had lost, Jim couldn’t hold any grudge against him. He put out his big hand an’ tried to say somethin’ about

forgettm’ ev’rything, but Jim’s face had a queer look that made me think it wasn’t goin’ to be too easy for him to forget; an’ I couldn’t forget the tiny flicker of Jim’s eyelid I had seen as he dealt those cards.

’S funny how events, when they start happenin’, foller each other like yearlin’s through a hole in the fence. Monte had scarcely got through congratulatin’ Jim over his full possession of Patches when there come a knock on the shanty door; a hurried, anxious rap.

“Come in,” says Jim, expectin’ some other strayed puncher like myself.

The door opened an’ there, blinkin’ in the light, stood a girl. She was dressed like a boy, but she’d lost her hat an’ there was snow gleamin’ in her long dark hair. Her breast was risin’ an’ failin’ like she’d been runnin’ hard. Her face was white an’ drawn, with a bloody scratch on her cheek, an’ her big eyes were full o’ pain. But, even so, I heard them two boys—yes both of ’em—draw in their breath at the loveliness of her.

“Oh, will all of you come help me!” she gasps. “Dad’s hurt. The wagon’s upset on him !”

Y\7E GRABBED our coats an’ hustled along with *V her. Must have been a mile she took us through brush an’ coulees till I wondered if she wasn’t lost, but at last we come to the trail leadin’ down to the old Nadeau place. At the first coulee we found a pretty jack pot for sure; horses down, an’ wagon wheels-up in the bottom of the ravine. Sidlin’ place; wheels had skidded in the new snow; wonder anybody had got out alive!

They was a woman an’ a little boy cryin’ an’ shiverin’ by the wagon, an’ a man, face down in the snow with the edge o’ the wagon box on his hips. We got the weight rolled off him, but it sure looked like he was a goner. Then as we picked him up he gave a groan.

We rigged a kind of stretcher out of some poles and a blanket. Jim and me took that, Monte paused to get the horses free for the women an’ little boy to ride. At

last we reached the shanty. They was no way to tell how bad the man was hurt, but Jim lost no time gettin’ started for a doctor.

“I’ll ride Patches,” he says, as he opened the door. “There’s none faster.”

“But, Jim, the river!” Monte calls after hi™ “Ti may still be runnin’

“Patches can sw —nacK

That was the longest night I ever knew. We fixed the man comfortable as we could, but he was unconscious most o’ the time. Monte put down a bunk for the women, an’ somehow he made ’em lie on it. He made ’em believe, too, that their man wasn’t hurt so bad an’ that Jim would be back soon with a doctor.

I’d never heard Monte say a dozen wrords to a woman

before; thought he was plumb scared to death of ’em. Instead, his voice was deep an’ reassurin’, like the way he talked to a frightened horse only softer, till I even found myself believin’ him. Then his hand touched mine an’ it was cold as a frog. I knew that at heart he was with his pardner off down there in the dark, swimmin’ the grim old North Saskatchewan.

At last come daylight an’ somehow we all felt better. An’ then ’bout ten o’clock we heard a shout an’, s’help me Bob, if there wasn’t Jim Flake with Doc Champion. He’d come home ’way round by Cutbank Landing, where he’d got a boat on the south side the river, he said, then he’d borrowed a team at Kershaw’s ranch to bring the doctor on to the Horseshoe Six.

When the doctor had done all that he could for the injured man, which was considerable, we found time to ask Jim about the river.

“Ice,” he says shortly, “an’ plenty.”

“You made it all right though,” Monte says eagerly. “I knowed you would, Jim. You an’ Patches.”

Jim looked out the window. His jaw was hard an’ his voice flat.

“Patches didn’t.”

“What!” Monte’s face turned sort o’ grey.

“The ice got him all bushed in an’ took him down. I scrambled on to a chunk big enough to hold me an’ finally made it to the bank.” He turned to Monte sort o’ defiant like. “Oh, heck, don’t look like a sick owl over a matter of a horse. Let’s have breakfast.”

The man, Walsh Tatman, got better, but he never was strong again. He’d been hunting a homestead an’ was on his way to see the little flat by the river where the Nadeau outfit had squatted years ago when the accident occurred. It was a pretty little pocket, sheltered by spruce an’ popple bluffs an’ overlookin’ the sweepin’ old Saskatchewan. The place suited Tatman better than ever, now that he wasn’t able to do things on a very ambitious scale.

Monte an’ Jim helped fix up the old buildings, plowed a patch o’ land for ’em, an’ fenced in a pasture. But the one that got things goin’ on the place was the girl, Jerry—short for Geraldine, She put in a garden fit to feed a family of twenty, she raised chickens, an’ she combed the country till she found four tol’able milk cows. To be sure they’d kick your hat off, but she gentled ’em. Sold butter to the ranches an’ fed some shotes on the skim milk, an’ she an’ her kid brother even dug seneca root to trade at Mulford’s r^tore. Then the Government put in a ferry on the river near Tatman’s place, an’ Jim Flake an’ Monte Buford rode to ev’ry rancher in forty miles with a petition to have Walsh Tatman appointed ferryman. It was done, an’ now the fam’ly was assured of a livin’, though again it was Jerry shouldered the work. She ran the ferry most o’ the time, ’specially when the river was high or the calls were in the night.

For years we’d gone long miles around by Cutbank, but now young bucks used to come just as far, I think, to cross at Tatman’s Landing. I didn’t wonder, for though you’d always find Jerry in overalls and an old sombrero she was mighty easy to look at just the same. An’ no one, not even the fat, smoky Cree squaws sittin’ flat in the bottoms o’ their wagons or the woolly old trappers from the bush with crickets in their whiskers, got across that ferry without a good word and a rare smile from Jerry. The cowboys may have thought it was a crime to see those smiles wasted, but each one got his share of 'em—an’ no more. ’Cept Jim Flake. He had the inside track—which wasn’t surprisin’ to anyone knowin’ Jim. Jerry, I’m sure, fancied him a lot, besides bein’ no end grateful, yet I often puzzled how Jim’s grand way of nin’ to own her hitched with the spirit that showed »rry’s firm, up-tilted little chin.

ANOTHER thing I noticed. Monte Buford was at • Tatman’s nearly as often as Jim was. One time it would be to bring a big hunk of beef from a young critter he’d butchered, again to fix fence or stack some hay. An’ sometimes, shylike, to leave a flamin’ armful o’ red lilies or a bunch o’ dainty wild-rose buds he’d picked at dawn. I might o’ thought it was just his kindness to the

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The Matter of a Horse

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fam’ly, but one day as I rode up to the Horseshoe Six I heard Monte singin’— first known observance of the phenomenon! His voice was all right—same deep tone—an’ the song was all right; it was the way he sang it told the story:

“Jest a wearyin’ for you,

All the time a-feelin’ blue—”

An’ then he clinched it by the guilty look that spread over his face when he saw me outside his corral fence.

“Well, you know where she’s at,” I says. “Go for a boat ride an’ sing it to her, ’stead of to those unappreciative dogies you’re vaccinatin’.”

Monte yanked open a trap gate an’ let half a dozen yearlin’s out o’ the “squeeze.” He put his vaccine gun in a box nailed on top the fence. Monte never forgot to be careful. Then he looked at me with a furrow between his honest eyes. Jokin’ with Monte was like jokin’ with a judge.

“She’s Jim’s,” he says solemnly.

“All’s fair in love an’ horse trades,” I replies.

He shook his head.

“You’re wrong both times,” he says. “An’ what show’d I have with Jerry? Besides Jim swam the river that time he lost—the horse.” Those last two words come out almost reverently. “Patches was Jim’s, y’ remember,” he adds as though anxious I shouldn’t forget.

Right then I knew that to Monte there’d never been but one horse, just as there was only one pardner an’ would likely never be but one girl; that, since Jim had given the life of “the horse” to save Jerry’s pa, he was entitled to a clear track an’ no jockeyin’ from M. Buford.

This thought added something to what was already on my mind, an’ that was a good deal more than just my hat. That very day I’d come across five thin-flanked calves with the Horseshoe Six brand newly burned on their rumps. An’ the day before I’d seen two L-Crcss cows, lame from what looked like rope burns on their heels, with their udders swollen an’ their voices about wore out from bawlin’. I didn’t have to jump at conclusions. An old puncher like me knows cattle. I’d seen them same cows, each with one o’ them calves at her flank, some weeks before.

Now your brain just balked an’ bucked an’ laid down in the harness when you tried to think such a thing of Monte. But Jim . . . Well, I couldn’t forget that little flicker of Jim’s eyelid that time he was dealin’ cards to Monte an’ himself. Times was hard now, horse an’ cattle prices bein’ low, an’ I knew the boys had saddled all the debt they could carry when they bought the Steeldust horses. Jim was takin’ short cuts to get out. An’ Jim was reckoned to marry Jerry Tatman soon !

Seemed like Monte was the only hope to save her, but there was no use sayin’ any more to him about it. An’ he was the last person in the world to tell what I knew about Jim. Later, though, as I was crossin’ the river I did try to draw out Jerry by talkin’ o’ Monte.

“Dependable,” I was sayin’; “solid as granite—”

“And as cold and stupid,” snaps Jerry. Then she bit her lip an’ looked away, but first I’d caught a flash o’ pain in her brown eyes an’ I could see the drum of her pulse in her smooth, tanned throat. “See ’way up there,” she points, “where the river swings ’round that blue butte; isn’t it lovely?”

I agrees with her an’ goes on talkin’ about the scenery, but to myself I cussed Monte Buford up one side an’ down the other for his blind devotion to an unworthy pard.

Things went on to signs o’ Jim’s an’

Jerry’s weddin’. Girls will do queer things sometimes when their pride takes the bit in its teeth. So will men afflicted like Monte. He herded by himself mostly, but one day he had to cross the river an’ he found Jim loafin’ on the scow with Jerry. He nodded to ’em an’ took off his hat, but his throat seemed to have froze up on him. Then, just as they was castin’ off, old man Inkster come tearin’ up with his horse in a lather an’ sparks fairly snappin’ from his red whiskers. He’d found what he knowed to be one o’ his own steers with his Cl brand re-burned into a Horseshoe Six. He launched straight into Jim about it.

We’d called Monte slow. Monte was quicker than two red-headed men reaching for their hardware! He jumped between ’em, an’ the boom of his “Quit hat!” held their guns before they were clear o’ the holsters.

Knowin’ Monte, I can’t Agger out why he didn’t floor Inkster himself or heave him into the river, ’cept that Monte in his range ridin’ must have seen for himself some o’ the evidence an’ already knew the truth. But what he saw now was the distress in Jerry’s eyes and again he acted quick.

“You’re barkin’ up the wrong tree, Bill Inkster,” he says, steady an’ hard. “Jim never saw your muley red steer. I gave him his re-decoratin’ myself.”

I don’t know how many of those who heard about it—an’ that was ev’ryone— believed it. Even Inkster, when he cooled off, hesitated to swear out a warrant. An’ in those few days’ delay two things happened. Jim Flake made some quiet business deals, disposin’ of his homestead for a song an’ his half o’ the stock carryin’ the Horseshoe Six, an’ the river started risin’.

Y/'OU know how quick the old Saskatch can go on a rampage when a spell o’ hot summer weather melts the snow in the mountains. First we knew, she was settin’ new high marks an’ all the ferries had quit runnin’, ’count o’ the driftin’ logs an’ brush, except the one at Tatman’s Landing.

Monte Buford, from the hills above the river, watched the ferry crossin’ one evenin’, an’ it made him plumb weak all over to see how near it come to bein’ hit by a pile o’ drift. He rode hard down the trail to tell Jerry she mustn’t think o’ makin’ another crossin’, but he stopped just ’fore he reached the Landing an’ slipped into the brush. Why not just wait here, he thought, till it was necessary to show himself. Likely no one else would be fool enough to want to cross anyhow. For Monte was keepin’ out o’ sight— ’specially of Jerry—not so much for shame of the stealin’ he’d admitted before her but because he was hurt— deep. To think it o’ Jim, his pard! Only one way a man can be hurt worse, I reckon, an’ that’s when the woman he worships turns out to be only “a rag, a bone an’ a hank o’ hair,” as old Kipling says it.

Come on an ugly night. Storm that had been breedin’ through the week o’ hot weather broke about midnight. Lightnin’ split the stuffy blackness an’ thunder roared between the river hills; then squalls o’ wind an' rain come racin’ up the river, kickin’ up an ugly chop against the swollen current. Just about when it was at its nastiest, Monte, who had gone with his horse into Tatman’s stable, heard the call bell jingle. In two minutes the house door opened an’ he saw Jerry, in a long slicker, step out into the rain. The light of her lantern dimly showed the pretty oval of her face under her old Stetson. In a jump he was before her, the cold rain hittin’ him like a plunge.

“Monte! What’s the matter?” she cried. There was only pure surprise in

her tone. For something must be wrong that anyone should want to cross the river on such a night. “It wasn’t me rang the bell,” explained Monte. “It’s some idiot on the other bank. You mustn’t go!”

“I must, so long as I can.”

“Girl, you don’t know the risk,” cried Monte above the boom o’ thunder. “If a bunch o’ drift fouls the scow the current’ll swamp it. All the other ferries quit runnin’ yesterday.” The thunder died an’ the call bell could be heard in long steady peals an’ short anxious rings. Monte turned toward the sound, catchin’ Jerry’s arm roughly. “The fool,” he snorts. “Let him stay over there.”

“But, Monte, suppose it’s someone coming from town with a doctor? I must go.” Jerry faced him, an’ in a flash o’ lightnin’ that silvered the slanting bars o’ rain between them he saw her dark eyes snap. “Let go my arm. Remember how Jim swam the river when it was ten times worse than this to save dad!”

They threw off the mooring line, an’ Monte started the ferry with a pole. Jerry’s strong arms turned the windlass, heading the scow upstream so the current would carry it to the other shore. She lowered the keels, an’ the muddy river showed grey teeth in the lantern light against the ferry’s side. The upstream wind checked them, the choppy waves came aboard, but the boilin’ old river was stronger than the storm. Between gusts came the rattle of the trolley wheels high up on the cable, an’ the hum of the great taut wire. All the way over Monte stood by with a pike pole, strainin’ his eyes into the lightnin’-split blackness for floatin’ logs, but only the churnin’ water came down against them to drive them across.

As they neared shore something blurry white moved down to meet them, weavin’ about as though leery of the lantern an’ the big scow cornin’ up through the rain an’ night. The ferry grounded.

Without waitin’ for Jerry’s call, a man spurred a big snorting piebald horse aboard. Monte raised the lantern an’ Jerry gave a cry:

“Jim !”

But Monte sucked in his breath an’ let it come out slow over his teeth, his lips finally makin’ one word:

“Patches !”

An’ Monte didn’t believe in ghosts.

X_TE FIGGERED it all out without 1 movin’ a muscle. He wasn’t the sort to go off at half cock. Jim had lied to him ! Probably never rode Patches into the river at all the time he went for the doctor an’ claimed the horse was drowned. Else he’d been game to swim the river tonight ’stead of askin’ Jerry to risk her life to get him across. He’d found a boat somewhere that night, an’ he’d kept Patches hidden with some friend south o’ the river now for more’n a year. Why? To better play the hero, maybe—but there must have been more reason than that.

Jim had got down to kiss Jerry. Failin’ in which, he helped her start the scow, explainin’ that he was goin’ north on business that couldn’t wait.

It couldn’t neither. Corporal Segner o’ the Mounties was only an hour behind him in gettin’ to the river. Jim had shot Inkster—hurt him pretty bad--when they’d met in Belpre, an’ now he'd got his Patches horse to take him somewheres else. But this wasn’t known till mornin’.

When they were in mid-river Jim turned to Monte.

“Why you standin’ there like a wooden Indian?” he shouts in a brittle voice.

“Jim,” says Monte, an’ his tone wasn’t loud but seemed to carry above the gurgle o’ water an’ the sounds o’ wind an’

rain; “did you give me a straight deal the night you won this horse?”

“What’s that?” yells Jim. “A straight deal? You’re dam’ right!”

That cinched it. There was a better man than Jim Flake once tried to deny by cursin’. Jim could bring disgrace on the two of them by rustlin’ cattle under their partnership brand, an’ he could steal Jerry’s love by pretendin’ to be a hero when he was yellow clean through, an’ by doin’ these he could only break Monte’s heart. But what he couldn’t do was cheat Monte Buford in the matter of a horse; the horse.

Like a hawk's claw on a field mouse Monte’s big hand fell on Jim’s shoulder and yanked him around; held him though he twisted in terror at what the flickerin’ lantern showed in Monte’s eyes—a fierceness like that of a wild stallion rearin’ to strike. An’ then both men wheeled ’round at Jerry’s scream, for a tangled raft o’ driftwood loomed down out o' the dark an’ hit the scow.

The cables screeched. There was a sickenin’ feelin’ as the scow lurched an’ settled. Then a great surge o’ foamin’ water came aboard. The lantern, o’ course, was doused, an’ girl, men an’ horse were washed against the downstream railing.

Jim twisted free. Was it to him that Jerry called as the water swirled her over the railing? It was not; nor him that answered neither. Monte caught her an’ pulled her to him, while Jim grabbed for the reins of Patches an’ for the saddle horn.

But again Monte was too quick for him. His free arm fell, with his fist like a poleaxe. Jim went under.

“Monte! Oh, Monte!" Jerry cried, but he tore her clinging arms from around his neck. Then for a fierce second he crushed her against him, kissed her an' threw her upon the plunging Patches. The big horse was someone who could take her to shore ten times more surely than could any man.

The scow sank deeper an’ the current took them over the railing. Monte grabbed for Patches’ tail an’ got it. But he grabbed also for Jim, who’d come to the surface, an’ Jim he didn’t get. So he let go the horse, an' Jerry, lookin' back, saw only black water an’ black night.

It was an hour after Jerry landed, safe —the body of her, at least, though she was numb, like the heart of her had been carried down by the river— that Monte come staggerin’ up the brushy shore to Tatman’s. He was carryin’ a limp but still livin’ Jim.

'^’O, THEY didn’t “forgive an' forget” all around. Monte staked Jim to the horse he’d left in Tatman's stable, an' at daylight they said a hard-eyed good-by. That is, Monte’s eyes were hard; Jim kept his eyes pointed at the ground. An hour later Monte, impartial as a referee, brought Segner over in a rowboat an’ set him on Jim’s trail, but it seems Jim was good at playin’ coyote. We ain’t heard o’ him since along the North Saskatchewan River.

Oh, yes, something else come off not so long after. Soon as a new ferryman could be found. An’ then, when the lazy,

south-bound cranes were sendin’ down their haunting sky music an’ the poplars were a wonder o’ green an’ gold, Jerry an’ Monte trailed north into the bush to some big, still, steely lake for their honeymoon. Which same, by the way, don’t ’pear to be over with yet.

Not that it was so recent, exactly. They’ve a pair o’ good-sized, laughingeyed youngsters now; boy an’ girl. Patches, bein’ a member o’ the fam’ly, has helped to bring ’em up proper; an’ you can’t beat neither one of ’em when it comes to a matter of a horse.