About ten miles out we caught sight of the runaways. They were mounted on Dynamite, Madge holding fast behind. Kid was urging the horse furiously back and forth among a flock of carrion crows, and practising with his lasso upon them as they rose and flapped about in short and heavy flight. They seemed to be having great sport, for Kid was shouting and yelling at the birds, and Madge screaming with laughter at their clumsy efforts to escape. So absorbed were they in their play that they did not see us until we were almost beside them. At first Kid made as if he would start Dynamite off on the gallop, but Mrs. Williams called to him sternly, and he turned and trotted back to us, smiling and looking amazingly innocent.
Madge sat still and stared at us with big, frightened eyes, until Mrs. Williams had twice spoken to her, and then she slipped quickly down, to be folded in her mother’s arms and sob upon her bosom all the way home. I persuaded the Kid to sit between us in the cart and drive us back, tying Dynamite behind.
“He was awful mad at first,” the boy confidingly said, “to have to carry double. But I made him sure hump himself right along.”
At home we found the superintendent just returned. He gave the Kid a paternal lecture, which probably did him as much good as if it had been in Chinese, and then, in cattle-ranch parlance, gave him his time—paid him to date and discharged him.
And a few minutes later we saw the last of the Kid, as the forlorn little figure, with the wide, flopping sombrero, and the big, dragging spur, walked out of the gate and down the road toward Whitewater, and was soon swallowed in the shimmering heat of the plain.
“And I ’m free to say that
the grand results
of my explorations show
That somehow paint gets redder the farther
out West I go!”
One summer night I was on a train that was speeding eastward across southern New Mexico. It was one of the white nights of that region, when the full moon, shining like sun-lighted snow and hanging so low in the sky that it seems to be dropping earthward, fills the clear, dry air with a silvery radiance and floods the barren plain with a transfiguring whiteness, in which the gray sands glimmer as if with some unearthly light of their own.
The day had been long, wearisome, and unspeakably hot and dusty; and with the coming of this beautiful night and its cool breezes most of the passengers betook themselves to the car steps and platforms, where they lingered until we reached the little town of Separ, late in the evening. As the train stopped, we saw that apparently the entire population of the village was crowded inside the station house. One after another, men came cautiously out upon the platform, carrying guns in their hands and casting long, anxious looks across the plain. Their set faces and ready revolvers and rifles showed that it was no ordinary matter which had sent the whole town to find protection in the railroad depot.