"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
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."
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
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 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 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 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
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.
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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."
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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.