[Illustration: “Resting calm in fancied safety Sat the elder MacIntyre.”]
“You! Why, Billy, where d’you come
What new game you playing now?
If you’re out on posse business
By the gods, jest start your row!
What you saying? You are friendly?
Wal, I’m glad to hear it’s so;
And I s’pose you made the journey
Way out here to let me know!
Oh! you’re talking ’bout our Nancy!
Now I just begin to see.
Set down, Billy; you are askin’
Something that sure puzzles me.
Nancy ain’t like other women—
What I say may hit you queer,
But it’s jest as well to tell you—
That there girl—she isn’t here.
“Don’t stampede your words, now, Billy.
Slow ’em down and let ’em walk.
Lord a’mighty, man! keep quiet!
Never heard such crazy talk!
Where’s the girl? Wal, let me tell you—
T’aint no use to take on so—
Where is Nancy? P’r’aps in heaven;
I can’t tell yer,—I don’t know.
When we left last spring from Kansas,
Travelin’ mostly in the night,
We was chased up by a posse;
Fourth day out we had a fight.
We had jest unhitched the hosses,
Making camp at Old Man’s Creek—
Gimme some o’ that tobacker,
I’ve been out for more’n a week.
“We had jest unhitched the hosses,
Nance was riding Kelly’s mare,
When we heard them all a-comin’—
They had seen us pull in there.
Nancy said,’ I’ll hold ’em, daddie,
Get the outfit over here,
And I’ll trail you in the mornin’;
I will see they don’t get near.’
It was in that heavy timber—
Growing dark and spittin’ rain—
Where the creek runs to the eastward,
Makes that loop, and back again.
We was in a reg’lar pocket;
Creek banks made a kind of bluff
All around us, so it looked like
We was trapped there, sure enough.
“Wal, we had a time in movin’;
Things got mixed up in the rush;
Lead team broke a piece of harness
Pulling through the underbrush.
Then the wagon turned clean over,
But we drug her plumb across,
Hitched with ropes and other fixin’s,
Usin’ every extra hoss.
Wal, you never heard such shootin’,
Bullets whizzin’ everywhere;
Pumped ’em on us till it sounded
Like they had an army there.
Nancy stayed and cracked it to ’em,
Kind o’ circlin’ round and round;
I could tell the two six-shooters
She was usin’, by the sound.
“You can bet we did some trav’lin’
All that night and all next day;
I could still a-hear the shootin’
After we was miles away.
I supposed we’d see the girl come
Ridin’ up to us ’fore long,
That is—I was jest a-thinkin’—
If there wasn’t somethin’ wrong.
But, in spite of all our lookin’,
Sometimes slackin’ up our gait,
Always thinkin’ we should see her
Every time we’d stop and wait.
We have never seen her, Billy,
And I own I’m balked a bit,
Fur I know that she’s a critter
Made of nothin’ else but grit.