"Locoed"A story of a Texan girl

by Edward Marshall

ohn Fredding had laughingly taken his sister Martha as a partner in his Texas saddle store. She made a good partner although she was only thirteen years old. There were other women on the ranch (the saddle store was only an adjunct of the big cattle-ranch itself), but the grandmother was very old, and the servant-girl was Welsh and would not learn to speak more English than was required in the daily routine of housework.

Not far away was the town of Amarilla (pronounced Ah-ma-ree-ah). There were plenty of women and girls there, but Martha knew none of them well except the preacher's daughter, Scylla. Martha and Scylla were great friends. They saw each other as often as Martha could get time and permission to ride in to Amarilla. Scylla could seldom visit the ranch, for she was an invalid. When she had been a very little girl, a horse had kicked her. She was ill for many weeks, and after the doctor had told her parents that she would live, he had added that she might never have full use of her right side again. It was partially paralyzed.

But Martha was seldom lonely. For in the daytime there was always something to do around the ranch or store. She had her pet calf to attend to, for one thing. He was given to her by a cow-boy who bought a saddle from her brother one day, and who cried that evening when Martha played "Home, Sweet Home" for him on her guitar. The calf was in several respects remarkable. In the first place, he was almost black—an unusual thing among Texas cattle. In the second place, he was not quite black, for he had a white spot on his forehead shaped almost exactly like Martha's guitar. That was why they called him "Gitter." In the third place, Martha had taught him several tricks. He had learned to low three times when he was thirsty, and twice when he was hungry; he would stand on his hind legs and paw the air with his front legs for a moment when Martha cried, "Up, Gitter!" and he would lie down and roll over on the grass when she commanded "Down, Gitter!" She had a cat that would climb up on her shoulder whenever he got the chance, and a clever dog that liked the cat. She had two horses, also. One of them was an ordinary "cow-pony," but the other was a big black Spanish horse who seemed to love Martha as well as she loved him. When she was on his back he never varied his long, swinging, graceful gallop by jumping or shying, but if any one else rode him, he was apt to make them hold fast when he went around corners. His name was "Dan." Martha thought almost as much of the cow-pony, though, as she did of Dan, and called him "Texas," after the great State she lived in.

Her brother, too, did many things to make her happy. In the long winter evenings he often read to her for hours, or taught her new airs on the guitar, of which he was a master; and sometimes, when summer came, they took long rides off on the prairie together. These occurred when there was a band of cow-boys camped near by, and John generally combined business with pleasure by talking with them about cattle and saddles. But that did not detract at all from Martha's enjoyment of the rides. She always carried her guitar swung over her shoulder by a strap when she went out with her brother to see the cow-boys.

"SOMETIMES WHEN SUMMER CAME THEY TOOK LONG RIDES ON THE PRAIRIE TOGETHER." "SOMETIMES WHEN SUMMER CAME THEY TOOK LONG RIDES ON THE PRAIRIE TOGETHER."

The little girl's life was a queer one, but then, she was a queer little girl and among queer people. For instance, there was "Mister Jim," who came up to the store every few weeks to lay in supplies. Mister Jim was one of the men who were hired to keep wild animals out of the Cañon. The Cañon was a favorite place for Amarilla's excursions and picnics, and was very beautiful; but it communicated with other cañons into which picnics could never penetrate, and in which there were wild beasts of many kinds. To prevent these unpleasant visitors from wandering where they were not wanted, men were stationed at various places to shoot them. Mister Jim was the one nearest to Martha's home, and he was Martha's stanch friend. He never went to the ranch without some gift for her—the soft pelt of an animal he had shot, the gay wings of a strange bird, or some crystal or stone he had found in his explorations of the Cañon. Martha returned his admiration. He lived in a cave, and that interested her—she thought she might like to try it herself some time. She considered his clothes very grand and impressive. In the Cañon he wore a leather suit; but when he visited the ranch he was always dressed in black velvet trimmed with gold braid, and wore a high, pointed hat wound with red ribbons like those of the seldom-appearing Mexican cow-boys, only much finer.

But the "loco men" were Martha's favorites. There were three of them—Big Billy, Little Billy, and One-eyed Saylo. Why Saylo was called "one-eyed" was a mystery, for he had two of the very best eyes for spying the hated loco-weed ever known in that region. Loco-weed grows, when unmolested, to a height of sixteen or eighteen inches, and its queer leaves shine and sparkle in the sunlight like silver and crystals. Its effects on horses or cattle that happen to eat it are worse than deadly. One good, big meal of loco-weed will ruin an animal forever.

A locoed horse, once locoed, is locoed until he dies. Apparently he may recover wholly, but he is not a safe animal to ride, for at any moment he may stagger and fall, or go suddenly mad. A locoed horse is almost certain to show it when he becomes heated by rapid traveling or hard work. The great danger from locoed cattle is, that they will begin to tumble around in the midst of a herd and frighten their fellows into a stampede.

As it can work such ruin, in order to avoid the danger of having their animals locoed, the ranchmen, in those regions where the weed is plentiful, hire men to search for it, cut it down, and destroy it. Of these men who make their living in searching for the dreaded loco-weed and destroying it wherever found were Big Billy, Little Billy, and One-eyed Saylo.

One summer night John told Martha to get her guitar, while he saddled Texas and his own pony for a ride. In a few moments they were galloping over the prairie on their way to a cow-boy camp about three miles away. When they reached it, they found all the five men, but one, rolled up from top to toe in their tarpaulins, and asleep on the prairie. The one who was awake welcomed them in effusive cow-boy style, and then with a "Wake up, you-uns! Yar's John Fredding an' 'is little woman!" kicked each of his sleeping companions into consciousness with his foot. They were all glad to see John and Martha, for they knew them of old.

In the twinkling of an eye the smoldering fire was livened into a cheery blaze, the visitors' ponies were picketed, and the men were grouped around Martha and the fire. For a little while John talked business with them; but, before long, one of the men arose and, deferentially taking off his broad hat to Martha, asked her if she wouldn't give them a "chune." The music of her guitar was indescribably sweet, there in the little oasis of light in the prairie's desert of darkness, and for a time the men sat silently, with their hands clasped about their knees, enjoying it. Then she struck into a rollicking cow-boy song, and they joined in shouting it out. It is a favorite among the cow-boys of southern Texas, and begins thus:

I'd rather hear a rattler rattle,
I'd rather do a Greaser battle,
I'd rather buck stampeding cattle,
Than
Than to
Than to fight
Than to fight the bloody In-ji-ans.

I'd rather eat a pan of dope,
I'd rather ride without a rope,
I'd rather from this country lope,
Than
Than to
Than to fight
Than to fight the bloody In-ji-ans.
 

After that came "I'm Gwine Back to Dixie," and "'Way Down Upon the Suwanee River," and then John said it was time to start home again. Loud were the protests of the cow-boys, and when John and Martha went, the whole party went with them except one man, who was left to watch the cattle. They were "full of sing," as one of them put it, and it was a jolly ride back to the ranch. When it was finally reached, the cow-boys gave them a "send-off" that could have been heard a mile away. They shouted and yelled like the wild "In-ji-ans" they had sung about, and as they wheeled around to gallop back to camp, they fired all the charges in their revolvers into the air as a parting courtesy. Then there was a mad scamper of horses' hoofs, the yells grew fainter, and the cow-boys were gone.

When John went into the house he found two letters which had been brought up by some passing friend from Amarilla. One of them was from an old schoolmate of his, who had become a professor in a Northern college, asking for some loco-weed, to be added to the college botanical collection. The other was from Scylla's father, saying that if it would be convenient he would bring his little daughter out to the ranch in a few days for a long-promised visit to Martha. This second letter sent Martha to bed a very happy little girl.

Several days passed before Scylla arrived at the ranch; but when she did come there was great rejoicing. After she was comfortably ensconced in her wheeled chair on the porch, she held a mimic reception. John and Martha did the honors, and every human being within call was introduced to the little invalid. In the store there were a dozen leather-decked cow-boys, and Scylla felt quite like a queen as each one scrambled up to her, and with his broad sombrero in one hand took her tiny fingers in the other as he turned red and tried to say something polite. Nor did her impromptu court end with that. After the introductions were over, all the visitors sat down on the porch or the grass before it, while Martha exhibited her pets to her friend. Gitter, the calf, was put through all his tricks, the cat was placed in Scylla's poor little arms, where he purred contentedly, and the dog chased sticks thrown by whoever could find any to throw. After Gitter had been led away, Martha came up from the stables with her two horses—Texas and Dan. Big black Dan was inclined to frisk a bit and jump about at the unusual scene; but little Texas worked his way right into Scylla's heart by marching steadily and straight up to her, despite Martha's laughing pulls on the lariat looped about his neck. With ears pricked forward, he made friendly overtures to the new-comer on the spot. He poked his nose into her lap and rubbed it against her hands and ate sugar from her fingers.

MARTHA RIDES DAN OVER THE HURDLE. MARTHA RIDES DAN OVER THE HURDLE.

"Oh, I wish I could ride him!" said Scylla.

"He never was so cordial before, not even with me," said Martha.

Then she suddenly thought of something, and after intrusting her horses to one of the cow-boys, went and talked it over in whispers with her brother, Scylla's father, and the doctor, who had been discussing politics together on one end of the porch. After this mysterious conversation had lasted a little while, Martha danced back to Scylla, so happy that she "just had to hop."

"Oh, Scylla!" she exclaimed, "you can ride him. Your papa says so and the doctor says so and Brother says so. John is going to fix up one of my saddles for you with an extra strap to keep you from falling, and Texas likes you so much he will be gentle and careful as he can be, I know. And the doctor says he thinks it will do you good, if John and I keep close by you all the time, so there won't be any danger."

The following days at the ranch were very pleasant ones for Martha and her visitor. In the morning after the work was done—Martha always did some of the light house duties—they would watch with never-flagging interest the great herds of cattle as they were driven on their way for shipment from Amarilla, and gossip as girls do. Sometimes the cattle passed quite near to the house, but oftener they were half a mile or more away on the prairie—sometimes so far that the great herds seemed to be mere black blots moving over the dun brown of the Texas grass.

Every afternoon the two girls went riding, escorted either by John or one of the men employed about the ranch. John had fixed one of Martha's saddles so that poor little Scylla could not fall, and Texas seemed to bear his tiny burden with more than ordinary care. At first they rode very slowly, and for only a few moments at a time; but Scylla gained strength daily, and by the end of the second week had improved so much that she could ride for an hour without great fatigue, and Texas was occasionally allowed to start his gentle gallop.

It was as they were returning from one of these rides that Scylla's sharp eyes spied the figure of a horseman rushing out to them from the ranch. He waved his hat and yelled, firing his revolver between whoops and generally conducted himself like a madman. Martha recognized him at once.

"It's One-eyed Saylo," she said. "He always acts like that—he thinks it wouldn't be showing proper respect to a lady unless he wasted half a dozen cartridges and showed off his horsemanship."

Saylo acknowledged his introduction to Scylla with great ceremony, and then told John that he had come to bring the loco-weed for the college professor. By dint of much searching and hard riding he had gathered a gunny-sack full of it.

Then, as they rode slowly toward the ranch, he told John how the cattle in the whole region seemed to be getting "panicky." All the cow-boys he had met had had the same story to tell. It was only by the most careful handling that they were able to keep their herds from stampeding.

By this time the little cavalcade had reached the ranch. After Scylla had been lifted from the saddle and carried to her seat on the porch, Martha, full of the irrepressible good spirits of a healthy girl, had a long frolic with her big black horse. She took his saddle off, and let him enjoy the luxury of a long roll on the grass, and then she made him do all his tricks. First he shook hands with great dignity—"just to show that this was friendly fun," Martha said. Then she replaced the saddle, clambered to its easy seat, and put him through his paces. He walked, slow and stately, with much self-consciousness, as a real Spanish horse should; he trotted, he loped, he paced, and went single-foot, greatly to the admiration of the three spectators. Martha kept her seat with perfect ease and grace.

Two posts near the house Martha had turned into the uprights of a jumping-hurdle with bars which could be placed at various heights. Over these bars that afternoon, Dan, with Martha sticking to his back like a burr, jumped many times, surpassing, to the delight of both girls, his previous best record.

John, in the meantime, was busy in the shop, where One-eyed Saylo had followed him to gossip with the workmen about the all-absorbing topic of saddles and bridles. Martha had finished her fun, led Dan away and picketed him, and was sitting by Scylla's side talking about that happy day when health and strength should have come back to the preacher's little daughter, when the men came out again. The gunny-sack of loco-weed was lying at the side of the porch, and both girls watched John and Saylo with interest as they shook out and examined its contents.

"So they all want some of this stuff to look at an' study, up No'th, do they?" said Saylo, and added: "I reckon we-all wouldn't be so over-flowin' with grief ef they'd take all th' loco thar is in th' State o' Texas."

Just then the Welsh servant blew loud and long on a great tin horn, and they all went in to supper. Saylo and John had picketed their ponies, Saylo intending to ride in to Amarilla that night, and John having in view a visit to the camp of cow-boys four or five miles away. Martha had tethered Texas near the other ponies, because he was "such a sociable little beast."

It was nearing sundown when supper was over. One-eyed Saylo vaulted into his saddle after elaborate good-bys and went off toward Amarilla in a wild canter, and John prepared to start off on his saddle mission to the cow-boys. His pony and Texas stood with heads hanging dejectedly down, close together, as far away from the house as their long lariats would let them go, when John, carrying on his arm a new saddle that he wanted to try, went toward them. As he walked away from the house he called cheerily: "Come, Mattie,—want to go along?"

"Oh, no; I'll stay here with Scylla to-night," she answered.

"Why can't she go too?—it's too nice an evening to stay at home. I'll ride as slow as you like, and it isn't far."

Both girls were delighted at this.

"Isn't he good to poor little me!" Scylla exclaimed to Martha as John fixed her on Texas's back.

Martha ran around, brought Dan, and in a very few moments they were riding leisurely toward the setting sun.


The evening was perfect. As the great, clean-cut disk of the sun dropped slowly below the far-off edge of the prairie, the breeze that had been busy all day rustling the prairie-grass died away, and the silence was so complete that they all stopped involuntarily "to listen to it." They had ridden until they were three or four miles from the ranch, when they paused again, this time to hear the crooning of far-away cow-boys. They were between two great herds of cattle. One, on the left, was half a mile away; and the moon, which now shed a great white light over the prairie showed it only as a black mass. Those cattle had been "bedded" for the night—that is, two cow-boys had ridden around and around them driving them closer together so that they would be easy to watch, and much less likely to be restless. The other herd was a little nearer, and the cow-boys were bedding it as the trio from the ranch approached. The camp-fire flickered between the riders and the herd, and its flaring light seemed to make the cow-boys and cattle nearest it lurch back and forward in and out of the gloom while their changing shadows danced fantastically over the prairie. Here the three riders paused again to listen. Closer by, the cow-boys' crooning would have sounded harsh and unmusical, but at this distance it shaped itself into a plaintive, minor melody that was very pleasing. For many moments they waited and enjoyed it in silence. Then suddenly a quick gust of wind and a low, muttering rumble of thunder made them turn quickly and look at the sky behind them.

A bank of dead black clouds was rising on the eastern horizon.

John stopped, gazed at it ruefully for a moment, and said:

"There's a big thunder-storm coming; but we can get home all right before it strikes us. You girls ride slowly back. I'll rush to the camp and tell the boys to stop in in the morning. I'll overtake you before you've gone far."

With that he was off at a brisk canter toward the herd.

Martha and Scylla did as he told them. The rising but still distant clouds, lighted on their edges by the moon, added greatly to the beauty of the night, and both the girls appreciated the sight. They walked their horses and talked girlish nonsense. John had promised to take Martha to the North the next winter, and she told Scylla some of the wonderful things she had heard about the great cities and the curious things to be seen up there.

Suddenly Scylla interrupted her with:

"Martha, I believe there's something the matter with Texas—he's trembling all over."

"Oh, I guess not," said Martha; "he's just tired. Texas has had a pretty hard day of it. But yet, he doesn't often get tired."

She rode up close to Scylla and put her hand on Texas's neck. It was wet with sweat, although he had hardly gone faster than a walk since he had left the ranch.

And, sure enough, he was trembling slightly.

"There is something the matter with him, I know," said Scylla.

"Stop a minute and take my reins; I'll get off and see what it is," said Martha. "You're right. Texas is trembling like a leaf. Perhaps we'd better wait here for John."

There was an anxious little quaver in her voice as she dismounted and, going in front of Texas, took his head between her hands. There was no longer any doubt that the horse was sick, and very sick. His eyes closed sleepily, and his head dropped low. Then he suddenly began to sway and totter on his feet.

"Oh, Martha, I'm afraid!" cried Scylla.

Martha was badly frightened, too, but she acted instead of saying anything. She rushed to Scylla's side and hastily unbuckled the straps that held the weak little body in the saddle.

"Quick, jump into my arms!" she commanded as the last buckle fell jinglingly downward and Texas gave another alarming sidewise lurch. With more strength than she supposed she had, she half lifted, half pulled Scylla out of the saddle and eased her, almost fainting, to the ground. It was none too soon, for in an instant more Texas had fallen with a groan and lay quiet on the prairie.

This lasted only for a few seconds; then with an unsteady stagger the little horse scrambled to his feet. For another instant he stood quiet; then he began to tremble again and looked around toward the girls. But the pony's eyes had changed; they were wild and blood-shot. With a mad snort he started off on a wild run into the gloom.

For a moment the girls were too surprised to speak. Scylla was sobbing on the ground, and Martha stood by her. She had the reins of Dan's bridle in her hand, and gazed dumfounded after the rapidly-disappearing Texas. Finally she turned to her companion:

"Oh, Scylla," she said, "I'm so glad I got you off his back!"

"What do you think is the matter with him?" Scylla asked.

"I can't imagine, unless—yes, that's it—he's locoed! Oh, my poor little Texas! My dear, gentle little pony! You ate that loco-weed Saylo brought for the college professor!"

Now Martha was crying, too, for she knew that her pony was lost to her.

"They—they left it lying by the porch," she went on, "and—you ate it while we were at supper. Oh, my little Texas!"

Martha had forgotten everything but her grief, but soon she remembered that there was a storm coming and that Scylla must be taken home in some way. At first she tried to lift her to Dan's high back, but she was not strong enough. Then she thought of his education, and commanded him to lie down. He was nervous and excited and did not, at first, obey her, but finally she coaxed him into getting down on his knees. Then, with great pains and trouble, she pulled and lifted Scylla into the saddle. As Dan struggled to his feet again, it was hard work to keep the little invalid from falling, but it was done. Then Martha led him slowly toward the ranch. The exciting events that had just passed had made her nervous, and for the first time in a long while she felt afraid.

"Oh, I wish John would hurry and catch up with us!" she exclaimed. "Please don't fall, Scylla—hang on to the pommel tight."

Scylla, who had stopped crying, told Martha not to worry, that she would not fall; and the slow journey over the prairie continued silently for a minute or two. Every once in a while Martha turned back and looked toward the flickering camp-fire of the cow-boys. An exclamation of surprise was drawn from her when she failed to see it shining in the distance, and she stopped. Then, faintly, she heard shouts and the thumping of racing hoofs on the prairie.

"John is coming at last," she said.

But then she realized that more than one animal's hoofs were drumming desperately on the turf. While she stood wondering if some of the cow-boys were coming home with John, she heard the hoof-beats merge into a steady roar. Even the shouts of the men which she had just heard were drowned in this dull, threatening rumble. For just an instant she thought it was thunder, and then her quick reasoning told her the truth.

The herd had stampeded!

That she and Scylla were directly in its path she was certain, for the camp-fire had, a moment before, been between them and the herd and was now invisible. It had either been trampled out or was hidden by the advancing mass of cattle.

"JUST THEN ANOTHER FLASH CAME AND SHOWED A COW-BOY
LEANING FAR OVER THE NECK OF HIS PONY, RIDING FOR HIS LIFE." "JUST THEN ANOTHER FLASH CAME AND SHOWED A COW-BOY LEANING FAR OVER THE NECK OF HIS PONY, RIDING FOR HIS LIFE."

Martha well knew what it meant to be in the path of a stampede; but, strangely enough, all her fear left her. She was puzzled, that was all. Had she been alone, she could easily have escaped by jumping on Dan's back and riding hard. Dan could have distanced the cattle, even when they were stampeding. But now she had helpless Scylla to take care of.

The advancing thunder-clouds had wholly hidden the moon and put the prairie in inky darkness. At first Martha thought of starting Dan away with Scylla and trusting to Providence to keep the little invalid on his back, while she remained to face the danger alone; then she thought of trying to ride with her. But she knew Scylla could not possibly keep her place in the saddle of the horse while he ran, even if she herself should mount him too and try to hold Scylla on.

She stepped back to Scylla's side. There was a deathly doubt in her heart as to whether she was doing the right thing; but she had made a desperate resolve. Scylla had heard the thunder of the approaching herd too, and was too frightened to speak. Martha held her arms up toward her just as the first flash of lightning came.

"Come, Scylla," she said, "slide off into my arms. The herd has stampeded and is coming toward us, but I will try to save us both."

Without a word Scylla did as she was told, and in a few seconds was half kneeling, half lying on the ground.

Then Martha struck Dan as hard as she could with her flat hand.

"Hey up, Dan!" said she, "run! run! You needn't stay here, too!"

The horse galloped off into the darkness.

Just then another lighting-flash came and showed a cow-boy leaning far over the neck of his pony, riding for his life. He passed only a dozen yards from them, but did not see them. Behind him Martha could dimly see two or three other riders coming toward them at desperate speed, while still beyond she caught a glimpse of the tossing horns and lurching heads of the cattle.

Without a moment for thought, and as coolly as if she had nothing in the world to fear, she bent over trembling Scylla, unfastened the waistband of her dress-skirt and pulled it deftly from under her. Then she quickly removed her own and took one of the bright-colored garments in each hand.

Just then the storm broke furiously. The night was suddenly lighted by lightning-flashes that followed one another so closely they seemed to make one long, lasting flare. The cow-boys had all passed, and Martha saw that the herd was scarcely two hundred yards away.

She stepped directly in front of Scylla's prostrate form and raised the skirts.

"Scream, Scylla, scream!" she cried.

Then, while the driving rain fell in torrents, and the lightning made the prairie as light as day, she stood straight up and waved those skirts wildly about her head, and shouted at the top of her voice.

She was dimly conscious that her shouts shaped themselves into a prayer that her brother was safe, and that the herd might divide and pass them. Her face was as pale as paper. Her long hair was tossed about by the wind, and by her own violent motions.

The foremost of the cattle was only a hundred yards away now. She could see the lightning shining on his horns and in his red, rolling eyes. He was coming straight toward her. Louder she shouted and more wildly she swung the skirts. Would he crush her, or would he turn aside? She felt an almost overpowering impulse to turn and run away, but that would mean certain death. Her only hope was to keep her position firmly, and to swing her skirts and scream. If the first steer swerved and passed her, his followers might do so too.

He seemed of mammoth proportions as he lurched toward her. His head was lowered, and his great hoofs pounded the ground like trip-hammers. Closer! Closer! He was not twenty feet away. His big, crazy eyes seemed to look straight into hers. Closer! Closer!—Then he changed his course a trifle. In an instant he had passed her like a great fury. Others were only a few feet behind him, and back of them was the compact mass of the herd. She screamed louder and redoubled her waving. The thunder in the heavens, and the thunder of the hoofs, drowned her voice so that she could not even hear it herself. A dozen cattle passed her. Fifty cattle passed her. She was in the midst of the herd which seemed to make a solid, living wall on each side of her. The earth trembled beneath the hammering of the hoofs. Her throat seemed ready to burst, and she was certain that no sound came from her lips. It seemed a long time since that first one had plunged toward her, but still the maddened beasts advanced with lowered heads and lunging bodies. They did not seem to turn aside, and each instant she expected to be struck down and trampled under their feet. She could not even try to scream any longer, but still she waved the skirts.

At last, slowly, she saw that the herd was thinning. Short gaps began to appear between the animals. She knew that the herd had nearly passed. Then the living walls on each side melted away behind her, and only stragglers were left. Then these, too, were gone. The stampeding herd had passed her, and she was still alive.

She turned dizzily toward Scylla.

The little invalid—the cripple—was standing straight up, close behind her. For a second Martha doubted her eyes. The storm still raged, and she thought it was a vagary of the lightning. She held her hands out, though, and convinced herself that it was true. Scylla was standing on her feet, for the first time in many years. The two girls threw their arms around each other, and sank to their knees on the prairie. As they said a prayer of thanks together, the uneven glare of the lightning, which had kept up almost uninterruptedly ever since a few seconds before the cattle reached them, died away. One or two feeble flashes followed, and then the storm had passed.

Martha took Scylla's face between her hands and kissed her. Then she said:

"Wasn't it awful?"

"Oh, Martha," Scylla answered, "I thought every second that we'd be killed, but there you stood as brave as a lion, and waved those dresses right in the faces of the cattle. You saved both our lives. I lay here on the ground for a minute after you took my skirt, and then I got up."

"You got up, Scylla! How could you, all alone?"

"I don't know, Martha, but I felt as if I must. I tried to rise once, and fell back. Then the cattle came and I tried again, and all the weakness seemed to be gone, and I stood right up behind you and stayed there while the herd went by. I don't feel as I used to—I feel as if the paralysis had all gone. See, I can get up again,—don't help me,—all alone."

And, sure enough, Scylla scrambled to her feet. She stood a little unsteadily on them, but she stood. They were so glad it was true that they did not try to understand it.

After Scylla's new-found strength had been rejoiced over for a moment, they began to wonder how they could get home. They knew that they could not walk—Martha was terribly tired, and Scylla, even if she could stand up, was not equal to the long tramp back to the ranch, of course. They were dripping wet. The elation that followed their escape, and the discovery of Scylla's great good fortune, was followed by a nervous breakdown on the part of both girls, and they cuddled in each other's arms on the wet grass, sobbing and frightened, to wait for morning to come.

Hardly half an hour had passed before they heard horses. Martha stood up and saw the shadowy form of a rider away off to the right. She tried to scream, but her overstrained voice was hoarse and husky. Scylla called out as well as she could, but the horseman rode on. By and by they changed their course, however, and came near enough for the girls to make their presence known.

As the horses approached, Martha recognized in the foremost one the big black form of Dan. Her brother John was on his back, and with him were men from the ranch.

There were tears in the eyes of the big men as they lifted the girls in their arms, and started home. They had not expected to find them alive.

Before they went to sleep, the thrilling story of Martha's bravery had been fully told, and to it had been added the news of Scylla's strange recovery.

The next day the doctor was called in to see about it. He gravely shook his head, and said it was strange, but that such things had happened before. The great mental excitement of the stampede had wrought what seemed a miracle.

Her recovery after that was rapid. When John and Martha went North the next winter, Scylla went with them, and was able to walk about almost as easily as Martha herself.

A few days after the stampede, the bruised body of poor Texas was found where he had been trampled to death by the herd. What was left of the loco-weed that had wrought his ruin was burned, and the Northern college professor is still without his specimens.