Now and then a raindrop whistled
Like a bullet past my head;
And I hollered out to you, dear,
“Scrooch down in the wagon bed.”
Then they come as big as hen eggs;
Struck the hosses stinging raps,
Till the frightened, tremblin’ critters
Leaped beneath the angry slaps.
Lord a’mighty, how they scampered!
While I gripped the lines in tight,
As the wagon box sailed upward
Like a mighty wind-borne kite.
Down below us ran the hosses,
While we floated through the air,
But through all that roaring shakeup,
You, dear, never turned a hair.
When the lightning flashed around us,
Rabbits stopped to let us by,—
Looked as if they said by halting,
“We can’t race with things that fly!”
Coyotes sneaked off in the slough grass,
Prairie dogs stayed in their holes;
We was lubricated blazes,—
Couldn’t stop to save our souls.
Up the hills we flew like swallows,
Down the slopes, a hurricane,
Bumped and jumped the humps and hollows,
Dragged the ground and riz again.
And I prayed, “Dear Lord, save Nancy,
For a desperate lover’s sake!”
You was hangin’ to my gallus,
And I felt it strain and break.
Felt you holdin’ to my boot-leg,
Slattin’ in the roarin’ gale,
So, to save you, I worked for’ard,
Got the nigh hoss by the tail.
Miles on miles we tore on blindly,
Had to let the critters roam,
Till, at last, they turned their noses
To the north, and towards their home.
We went charging down a valley,
Stopped in something soft and deep;
Wagon box and you and me, dear,
Landed in a mixed-up heap.
Both the hosses’ legs was buried
And I knew that that was proof
We had ’lighted on the top of
Old Jim Davis’s dug-out roof.
Now, old Jim was sleeping soundly
Close beside his faithful wife;
Peace had smoothed his savage wrinkles,
All his dreams were free from strife.
He was safe from ragin’ cyclones,
Wolves could never force his door,
All the ills of life had vanished,
On his mountain torrent snore.
So when our descent awoke him
Sitting bolt upright in bed,
With the flying hoofs above him,
Kicking hair off of his head,
He aroused his sleeping helpmeet;
Loud his curses and abuse,
“Mary, hike your lazy carcass,
Hell has turned the devil loose.”
[Illustration: “Bringing back a hat of water, Through the dim light and the rain.”]
While ole Jim was shooting at us—
Couldn’t make him understand;
Kept his blamed old gun a-going
Till he got me through the hand—
Not a whimper did you utter,
But you grabbed the hosses’ heads,
Coaxed and helped them in their trouble,
While they strove like thoroughbreds,
Lunging, plunging, you stayed with them
Till they both were clear and free.
Riding one, you lashed them forward,
Circled round and picked up me,
Helped me mount, while Jim was loading;
Then we struck off through the night,
Right across the storm-swept prairie,
Till the East was streaked with light.