“Well, Shorty, he seen that bull fly up into the air and he lets out a yell like the world was comin’ to an end, and starts runnin’. If he’d run straight back the other way the bull couldn’t of run a step, because I had him fast with my rope, but Shorty seen me, and he come tarin’ for my hoss to get behind him.
“That bull was like a cat gettin’ to his feet, and he sights Shorty tarin’ and lights out after him. There they went lickety-split. That bull was puffin’ on the seat of Shorty’s trowsers and tossin’ his horns and jest missin’ Shorty by inches; and Shorty had his mouth so wide open hollerin’ that you could have throwed a side of beef down his throat; and his eyes was buggin’ out. Them bow-legs of his was stretchin’ ten yards at a clip, most like, and the boys says they could hear him hollerin’ a mile away. But that bull, stretch himself all he could, couldn’t gain an inch on Shorty, and Shorty couldn’t gain an inch on the bull, till the bull come to the other end of the forty-foot rope, and then, whang! up goes the heels of the bull and down goes his head, and his heels comes over—wonk! and hits Shorty right square on the head.
“Been an ordinary feller, and he wouldn’t of lived to talk about it afterwards, but seein’ it was Shorty, he jest goes up in the air and lands about ten yards away, and rolls over and hits his feet without once gettin’ off his stride—and then he did start runnin’, and he didn’t stop runnin’ nor hollerin’ till he got plumb back to the house!”
Buck Daniels sat back in his chair and guffawed at the memory. In the excitement of the tale he had quite forgotten Kate, but when he remembered her, she sat with her head craned a little to one side, her hand raised for silence, and a smile, indeed, upon her lips, but never a glance for Buck Daniels. He knew at once.
“Is it him?” he whispered. “D’you hear him?”
“Hush!” commanded two voices, and then he saw that old Joe Cumberland also was listening.
“No,” said the girl suddenly, “it was only the wind.”
As if in answer, a far, faint whistling broke upon them. She drew her hands slowly towards her breast, as if, indeed, she drew the sound in with them.
“He’s coming!” she cried. “Oh, Dad, listen! Don’t you hear?”
“I do,” answered the rancher, “but what I’m hearin’ don’t warm my blood none. Kate, if you’re wise you’ll get up and go to your room and don’t pay no heed to anything you might be hearin’ to-night.”
THE JOURNEY INTO NIGHT