The Blue Roan "Outlaw" by Will C. Barnes
A Tale of the "Hashknife" Range
"Say, Bill, there's that old blue-roan, droop-horned cow that allus runs
over on the Coyote wash. Reckon she ain't got a calf somers' hereabout?"
"Like as not," replied Bill, "an' I'll bet it's a blue-roan, too, for
she's raised a blue calf reg'lar fer these last four or five years.
There's a little hole of water clos't to where she's a-grazin' an' it's
a sure shot the calf's hid away in that tall grass down there clos't to
The two cowboys rode slowly down the gentle slope toward the cow, which
watched them eagerly, but with the cunning of the brute made no sign or
motion to show where her baby was hidden. When, however, one of the boys
played the time-worn trick on her by barking like a dog, it was too much
for her peace of mind. With a mad bellow of defiance she raced toward
the spot where the little fellow was hidden, exactly as the boys knew
The calf, with the instinct of the brute already working in his little
four-day-old brain, did not move, but lay there as quietly as if he were
dead, and, not until the horsemen rode almost onto him in the deep
grass, did they discover his hiding place.
The mother, with the fear of man too strong in her heart to stand by her
guns, ran off a few yards from the spot and the calf followed, bawling
loudly, the already awakened man-fear strong within him.
"He's a sure blue-roan all right," said Bill. "Say, won't that old
Hashknife iron loom up big on them ribs some day?" he asked, for a brand
on a roan animal shows much more plainly than on a hide of any other
"It sure will," replied his companion; "better leave 'em here till
tomorrow an' we can swing around this a-way an' git 'em."
So the boys rode on across the prairie, and the droop-horned blue with
her baby rested in peace that day and night.
It was here, away out on the "staked plains," those mysterious regions
of the great Southwest, and far back from the thin line of settlements
that fringed the Pecos River, in southeastern New Mexico, that the
"blue-roan outlaw" first saw the light.
Early next morning the leaders of the roundup party, engaged in
gathering up the cattle on the range, swung across the prairie in a
great semicircle, sweeping before them in one huge drive, everything of
the cow kind. As they divided up into couples to work down the country,
the leader said: "Bill, you look out an' catch that ole blue-roan we
seen yistiday. The old man wants all them cows to throw into that
Arizony drive, an' her an' the calf will make it in all right, I
So, as they rode along, Bill swung across a little draw toward the water
hole they had seen the day before. He picked up the blue-roan, who, with
her young son beside her, trotted off, following the rest of the cattle
already working down the trails toward the round-up grounds. The two
animals fell in with more of their kind as the trails converged until,
by the time the roundup ground was reached, there were more than fifteen
hundred cattle of all ages and sexes gathered in one great bunch.
The blue-roan's baby kept close to his mother's side; the dust that
settled over the herd like a pall, choking him, while the constant
bawling of the cattle, fairly deafened him.
Once, when two huge bulls, fighting fiercely, drove through that portion
of the herd where he and his mother were, and separated the little
family, he added to the din by raising his voice in pitiful outcry for
Outside of the herd the cowboys rode slowly around, turning back into
the center any stragglers that tried to escape.
Gradually the bunch began to stop "milling" and as cow after cow found
her calf, the bawling stopped. In half an hour the herd was fairly quiet
and the wagon boss dropped off his horse to "cinch up" a little,
preparatory to the work of cutting out.
Having reset his saddle, the boss mounted again and, calling to two
other men near him, said, "Jack, you go out there a ways and hold 'em
up, and Charley and I will get out the cows and the calves." So Jack
rode off about one hundred yards from the herd in readiness to receive
the "cut" as they came out; while the boss and Charley rode slowly into
the mass of cattle.
"What you want out?" he asked of the boss. "The old man wants every
Hashknife cow and calf that will stand the trail trip to Arizony," he
replied. "We got to get two thousand for the first herd if we can, so
cut 'em close."
"There's that ole blue-roan we seen yistiday," the boss remarked, "let's
throw her out first thing, she's a good one to start a bunch on."
Now starting a "cut" is always some little trouble until you get half a
dozen head together, because the instinct of the animal is to endeavor
to either get back into the herd or to run clear off on the range. In
starting a cut, if possible, they pick out some old, sedate cow, and in
this case the blue-roan was known to be a good one for the purpose.
So our youngster found himself being followed up by a great
fierce-looking man mounted on a small wiry "Paint" pony that kept right
at his mother's heels, no matter which way she turned or twisted.
The cow dodged and wound through the herd, while that object behind kept
close to her, never hurrying, never crowding, but always, in some
inexplicable manner, seeming to force her to the outer rim of the herd.
With the dim hope that possibly she could escape his presence by a break
from the herd she worked past half a dozen steers standing idly on the
edge and, with a quick dash, broke from the herd out toward the free
open prairie, the calf racing at her side.
The man who had so persistently hung to her flank made no further
attempt to follow her, but turned his pony and was lost in the mass of
As she widened the distance from the edge of the herd Jack, who, up to
this time had been sitting sideways on his pony some distance from the
herd, straightened up, a movement which caught her eye, so she stopped
to inspect him and decide what new danger was about to present itself.
To her surprise Jack seemed satisfied with her stopping and made no
attempt to come near her. The calf ranged along side of her and began
preparations for a lunch, so she, being a sensible animal, decided to
stay where she was for a time.
A moment later a second cow and calf were also shot out of the edge of
the herd. As she charged across the open space Jack again took interest
enough in the proceedings to ride out and turn her over toward the
blue-roan, which received her with a short bawl. The two calves eyed
each other for a second and then busied themselves with their dinner
The second cow, being young, and with her first calf, was inclined to
run off and leave the spot, but in some way every time she did so she
met Jack and his pony, who, the instant she turned toward the blue cow,
seemed satisfied and took no further steps to interfere with her
Soon a third and fourth cow joined them and, now that there was a
nucleus formed, every new animal turned out of the herd chased straight
for the little bunch, which stood quietly for the next three hours,
their calves sleeping at their feet paying little attention to the
uproar that was going on in the main herd.
Having cut out some three hundred cows and calves, the "choppers" rode
out of the herd, and the "cut" was slowly driven off to water at a
near-by windmill, while the main body of cattle was allowed to drift out
onto the range at their own pleasure.
That night the blue-roan and her calf, together with the rest of the
cut, were "bedded down" near the round-up camp. All night long two men
rode around them and any cow which tried to escape was promptly turned
back into the herd by the watchful riders.
The next day this bunch was called the "day herd" and three herders
looked after them all day long. They were allowed to graze over a piece
of open range where the herders could watch them and see that none of
them escaped. At noon they were driven into a great prairie lake to
That evening another large bunch of cows and calves were brought out to
the day herd and turned into it so that they made quite a respectable
herd that night.
At the end of ten days' work they had over the required number to make
up the "trail herd," and the wagon boss announced one evening that he
would send them into the main ranch on the following day to start for
the long trail trip to Arizona.
The blue-roan calf had by this time become a seasoned traveler, and
found little difficulty in taking care of himself in the herd. A day or
two at the ranch and the preparations for the trip were over.
One fine morning about four o'clock the cook, who had been up in the
cool morning air since half-past two, awoke the sleepers about his wagon
with a long "roll out, roll out, r-o-l-l-o-u-t" which brought the
sleepers in the camp beds scattered about the wagon to the campfire in
By sunrise the herd was strung out on the trail for the West. In the
lead was the old blue-roan with her blue calf marching steadily along,
grazing when the herd was held up for that purpose, resting when the
outfit stopped to rest, and altogether behaving themselves remarkably
One night as the crew sat about the campfire with the herd resting
quietly not far from the wagon, the wagon boss said to one of the boys
near him: "Jim, I wish you'd take your hoss in the mawnin' and go ahead
and see how the river is. We got to cross it before long and I'm afeard
it's going to be pretty high, if all them clouds up toward the head is
good for anything."
Late the next night Jim returned with the information that the river was
indeed high and that it would be necessary to swim the cattle, or wait
for it to run down.
Four days later the herd was bedded down in the valley of the Pecos
River, a mile or two back from the stream. About noon the next day, when
the cattle were thirsty, the whole herd was drifted down to the river at
a place picked out by the wagon boss where the banks were broken down so
the cattle could reach the water. On the opposite side the bank was low,
making a good "coming out" place.
The river here was half a mile wide and running swiftly. It was,
however, not swimming all the way across, and the place was known as a
safe ford because of an underlying rock ledge, which made good footing
for the cattle in a river where quicksand was almost everywhere present.
The water was muddy and red and, as the first cattle, eager for a drink,
waded out into its depths, the old blue in the lead, the men carefully
pointed them out into the stream, keeping them moving.
The others followed, calves bawling, men shouting, the animals plunging
and tearing through the swift waters. Soon the leaders were swimming
and, as the water deepened, the old blue touched her baby on the nose
and told him something in cow language which made him immediately get on
the upstream side of her and stay there as they swam across the river.
The swift water forced the little fellow against her side, where he hung
like a leech, while his mother swam, strong and steadily, for the
opposite bank. If the leaders had any desire to turn downstream they met
a horseman on that side, swinging his slicker, and shouting with all his
might, and keeping just far enough back of the leaders to stop them from
turning downstream, and still not check them in their swimming toward
the other side.
Soon the old blue and her comrades found footing and she and her little
one were among the first to scramble up the muddy bank and stand on dry
land on the western side of the Pecos. The whole herd, including a
thousand calves, crossed safely. After the saddle horses had swum the
river, and the wagon had been floated over, all the beds and plunder
were carried across in a small boat, and the westward journey to Arizona
The day after their arrival on the Arizona range the cattle were turned
out to graze early in the morning. When the calves had all found
their mothers and settled down quietly, the boss "cut off" some three
hundred cows, each with her calf. These the boys drove to a great stone
corral about a mile away, which was almost as large inside as a city
block. In one corner a fire of cedar logs was built, into which was
stuck a lot of iron affairs with handles three or four feet long, which
were the branding irons belonging to the outfit. As he watched the irons
in the fire reaching a white heat, the boss remarked that the old man
was going to run the same old Hashknife brand and mark in Arizony as he
did back in Texas. Finally the boss, throwing away his cigarette, said
to the ropers, "Irons hot, fly at 'em boys." Two men on their horses,
rode into the mass of cattle crowded against the far side of the corral
and, with swift, dextrous throws, began catching the calves. As soon as
the rope settled about the neck of one, the horse was turned toward the
fire, and as the rope was short and tied to the saddle horn, the
unwilling, bawling calf was dragged up to the vicinity of the fire.
There two husky cowboys ran out to meet the rider and, following up the
rope to the calf dancing and bawling about at the end of it, one of them
seized him by the ear or head with one hand and the flank with the other
and, with a quick jerk, threw him upon his side. The instant he struck
the ground, the other man seized a hind leg and pulled it straight out
behind the calf, while the first man, throwing off the rope, sat on the
animal's neck and head, and another seared the tender hide with the
famous "Hashknife" brand. Still another man with a knife cut off the
point of the calf's right ear and took out a little V-shaped piece from
the under side of the left ear. This was the company's earmark. In an
instant the operation was over and the calf running back to its mother.
The blue-roan calf was determined he should not be branded. He watched
the riders as they rode into the herd and buried himself deep in the
middle of the mass, worming under the larger cattle and hiding behind
them, until he began to believe he would escape after all.
All morning long the men worked away with the herd until the poor
animals were half mad with fear and hunger. As the blue-roan dodged to
avoid the whirling, snakelike rope that suddenly shot out from the hand
of a man he had not noticed, he felt it draw up on his hind legs. Before
he knew it, he was lying on his side and being dragged across the rough
ground toward the fire, where he was to receive a mark for life.
"I snared that blue-roan that's been so smart," said the rider as he
passed the other man. "Burn him deep Dick," he said, "for he's a roan
and it will show up fine when he gets grown."
Released from his torture, the roan staggered back to his mother, who
gave him all the comfort she could. His side was bruised and sore where
he had been dragged over the rough ground, and the great burn on his
ribs pained him beyond measure.
Soon after that the bunch was turned out to graze and, sick at heart,
the calf crawled miserably under the shade of a small ironwood bush,
while his mother went to water, leaving him alone in his wretchedness.
From this time on, the blue-roan became a hater of men. The object on
horseback was to him the source of all his suffering and pain—a thing
to be avoided, and upon which to wreak vengeance some day, if possible.
The country in Arizona was very unlike the old range upon the staked
plains in Texas, being rough and rocky, with none of those great grassy
stretches they had been accustomed to back in their old home. There were
trees here, too, a thing they had never known on their old range, and
the cows buried themselves deep in the thickets of cedar and piņon.
There they found many tanks or reservoirs of rain water, and unless the
water gave out they seldom left their hiding places.
Here, the blue-roan calf and his mother made their home, until one day,
when he was about a year old, he was accidentally separated from her and
never saw her again. Two years of life in the thickets made him shy and
wild as a deer; he learned to watch for objects upon horseback, which
were his one great fear. Once in the winter before he lost his mother a
trio of wolves followed them through the cedars for a whole day,
sneaking up on them as closely as they dared, even nipping at their
heels. His mother would turn upon them with a bellow of defiance and
charge toward the tormentors, head down, returning quickly to the little
bunch of friends that stood together, heads to the foe, their calves
within the circle.
A two-year-old heifer, with more pluck than judgment, weak from a long
winter of short grass and poor range, made a dart toward the wolves, and
turning to join the circle of cows, stumbled and fell to her knees. In a
moment the wolves were upon her. While they were busy over their feast,
the other cattle slipped away from the fearsome place, and a new danger
crept into the blue-roan's life.
Three years had passed. The blue-roan was beginning to be a noted
character upon the range. He was broad of horn, and the great black
Hashknife, outlined against the blue hide, could be seen for a long
distance. The sight of a horseman, no matter how far away, was
sufficient to send him plunging down the roughest mountainside, into the
depths of the cedar brakes, and over rocks and lava flows, where no
mounted man could follow. He was too fleet of foot for the older cows,
and the roan soon found himself alone in his glory. He then became what
is known to the cowboys of the western ranges as an "outlaw," an animal,
either horse, bovine, or even human, that, deserted by all its friends,
runs alone and has little to do with the rest of his kind; a "cimarron,"
the Mexicans call them. Such animals are seldom forced into the roundups
that take place at regular intervals upon the ranges, and when caught by
that dragnet, are very hard to hold in the herd long enough to get them
to the stockyards and shipped out of the country.
The next spring, when it was time to start on the roundup, the wagon
boss told the men to keep a sharp lookout for that blue-roan outlaw, and
"get him or bust him," if the opportunity offered.
It fell to the lot of the boss and another man to run into the blue-roan
a few days later. They were working down a grassy draw in a thick cedar
country, when out from the trees on one side of it there burst a great
blue animal with a grand spread of horns, and fleet as a deer. In an
instant the two men had their ropes down and were after him in full
pursuit. "Cut him off from the cedars!" shouted the boss to his partner,
who happened to be closest to the cedars, and the boy spurred his pony
toward the steer, which now was doing his best to gain the friendly
shelter and protection of the trees.
It was but a short distance, and the steer had much the best of the
race, but the boy had his pony alongside the animal before he could get
his rope into shape for a throw. The steer, with the keen instinct of
the hunted, crowded the pony over toward the trees and, just as the
rider was ready to drop his rope over the animal's wide-spread horns, an
overhanging branch caught the loop, jerking it from his grip. In a vain
attempt to turn the steer from the trees into the open, he crowded his
pony close up onto the huge bulk of the outlaw. The man's right knee was
fairly touching the animal's shoulder, while he rapidly coiled his rope
for another throw.
Following them came the boss, cursing his rope, a new "Maguey" which had
fouled in his hands and was a mass of snarls and knots, which in his
eager haste he only made worse instead of better. At this instant, the
blue-roan turned suddenly. With a quick upward thrust of his head, he
drove his nearest horn deep into the side of the pony, which was
crowding him so closely, tearing a cruel gash in his side and throwing
horse and rider into a confused, struggling heap on the ground.
In a moment the steer was lost in the trees, while the boss dropped off
his horse to assist his companion, who was working hard to free himself
from the body of the pony, which lay across his leg. The boy cleared
himself from his saddle-rigging, and the pony struggled to his feet. It
was very evident, however, that the animal was wounded to the death; so
the boss, with tears in his eyes, drew his six-shooter and put the poor
animal out of its misery.
From that day the "blue-roan outlaw" became a marked animal upon the
range, and the story of how he killed "Curly Bill's" pony was told
around many a campfire on the round-ups that summer.
Thus the roan outlaw added to his reputation and triumphs until his
capture was the dearest hope of every cowpuncher upon that range. The
word had gone out not to kill him unless absolutely necessary, but
rather to capture him alive just for the satisfaction of the thing.
That fall, when the round-ups were working through the country in which
he was known to be, every man was ambitious to be his captor. Around the
campfires each night plans were laid for the job and stories told of his
prowess and ability to escape from his hunters.
One fine morning, as the riders were working through a country covered
densely with cedar and piņon trees, with occasional open glades and
grassy valleys, the wagon boss and the man with him heard shouts off to
their right. Pulling up their horses they waited to locate the sound,
when suddenly from the thicket of trees along the valley there emerged
two great animals, a black, and a blue-roan steer. It was the famous
blue, together with a black, almost as much an outlaw as himself.
The wagon boss, who had just been lamenting the fact that he was riding
a half-broken horse that day, was nearest to the blue, and professional
etiquette, as well as eagerness to be the one to capture the noted
steer, drove him straight at the big fellow. The pony he rode was a
green one, but he had plenty of speed, and before the steer could reach
the shelter of the cedars the rope, tied hard and fast to the horn of a
new fifty-dollar saddle, was settling over the head of the outlaw.
Unfortunately, however, the rope did not draw up close to the horns, or
even on the neck, but slipped back against the mighty shoulders of the
steer, giving him a pulling power on the rope that no cow-pony could
meet. Then, to quote the words of the man with the boss, "things shore
did begin to pop."
Knowing full well that if he crowded the animal too hard he would turn
on him and probably kill another horse, the boss made a long throw and
consequently had but little rope left in his hand with which to "play"
his steer. The jerk that came, when the steer weighing twelve hundred
pounds, and running slightly down hill, arrived at the end of the rope,
tied to the saddle-horn, was something tremendous. As soon as the strain
came on the cinches the pony threw down his head and began some of the
most scientific and satisfactory bucking that was ever seen on the
Hashknife range, which is compliment enough.
When the boys were gathered about the fire that evening "Windy Bob," who
had been with the boss, related the affair.
"Ye see, fellers, me and Ed was a-driftin' down the wash, not expectin'
anything pertickler, when out from the cedars busts the ole blue, and a
mighty good mate for him.
"'The blue's mine, Windy,' ses Ed, and I, not hankerin' a bit fer the
job, bein' as my shoulder I broke last fall won't stand much funny
business, lets him have the big blue all right, and I takes after his
mate; which was plenty big 'nuf fer me and the hoss I was a-ridin'.
"I made a good throw and, everything going first rate, had my steer on
his side in half a minute, makin' a record throw and tie. Jist as I got
my hoggin' rope onto his feet all safe I heered a big doin's up towards
Ed's vicinity, and lookin' up seen his hoss jist a-pitchin' and
a-sunfishin' like a good feller.
"Ed, he rides him fer about three or four jumps and then, as the saddle
was a crawlin' up onto the pony's neck, from his cinches a-bein too
loose, and it a-tippin' up behind like a old hen-turkey's tail, runnin'
before the wind, Ed, he decides to unload right thar and not go any
"The pony, he keeps up his cavortin' and the steer stripped the saddle
right over his head. Away goes Mr. Blue into the thick timber, draggin'
that new Heiser Ed got up in Denver over the rocks and through the
trees, like as if it want but a picket pin at the end of a stake rope.
"When Ed hit the sod, his Winchester drops out of the scabbard, an' he
grabs it up an' sets there on the ground a pumpin' lead after the blue
as fast as he could pull the trigger. He never stopped the steer at all,
an' when we were trailin' him up, we found the saddle where the rope had
dragged between two rocks. The saddle got hung up, but the steer was a
runnin' so hard that he jist busted the rope and kept on a goin' an' I
reckin is a goin' yet."
"Imagine Ed's shots hit the steer, Windy?" inquired one interested
"Reckon not," was the reply, "but one of them hit the saddle and made a
hole clean through the tree, which didn't help matters much with the
boss, I'm here to tell you. You'd orter heerd Ed talk when he sees that
there new hull of his all skinned up an' a hole shot plumb through the
fork." And Windy grinned at the memory of it.
Not long after this adventure, the blue-roan stood on a high ridge
overlooking a valley. Out in that valley was the salt ground where great
chinks of pure white rocksalt were placed, not only to satisfy the
cravings of the salt-loving brutes, but to coax them out of the cedars
into the open where the wilder ones could be captured.
The roan was salt-hungry and, after a careful survey of the
surroundings, started down the trail for the salt grounds. Away off to
the left, and quite out of his sight, half a dozen cowboys were driving
a bunch of cattle down a draw between two ridges. One of them rode up on
top of the ridge to take a look over the country. Some distance below
him, and well out into the valley, was a single animal. It took but a
short look to satisfy the rider that it was the blue-roan. The boy was
riding his best rope-horse that morning and, with a wave of his hat to
his comrades, he loosened the reins on old "Greyback" and tore off down
the valley toward the steer.
He had not gone fifty yards before the roan saw he was pursued, and
wheeling out of the trail in which he was traveling struck back towards
the sheltering trees on a long swinging trot.
A couple of miles' hard run, and the boy rode his horse out of a deep
wash, to see, across another valley, the blue-roan hurrying
majestically up the ridge, the sheltering trees but a few hundred yards
away. He spurred his horse down the rocky side of the ridge, across a
flat at the bottom, and up the steep side opposite, reaching the top
just as the blue was passing. His horse was winded, but the boy "took a
long chance" and drove after the animal with his rope down ready for a
throw. For an instant the steer hesitated, then plunged off the ridge,
down the steep side, just as the boy's rope dropped over his horns. It
was a fearful risk to rope a steer such as this, with a badly winded
horse; but tenfold more dangerous to do it just as the great animal was
starting down the steep slope. The boy knew his only hope was to keep
the steer from tightening the rope, for if that happened, no horse on
earth could hold the weight of the brute at the end of it, plunging down
hill as they were.
"Turn the rope loose," you say? Oh no; he wasn't that kind of a cow
puncher. Come what might, he meant to hang onto that steer to the bitter
Half way down the hill was a lone piņon tree about twenty feet high, and
true to his nature the steer headed for it. The rider realized his
danger and tried to keep from straddling it with his rope, but, just as
the roan reached the tree, instead of passing it on the same side with
the horse, he dodged around it. This brought the horse and man on one
side, the steer on the other; between them a fifty foot "Tom Horn" rope
fastened firmly; one end to a twelve hundred-pound steer, the other, to
a saddle cinched to a thousand-pound horse.
The tremendous force of the pull, when the rope drew up on the tree,
uprooted it. This prevented the rope from breaking, but there was
sufficient jerk upon it to bring both horse and steer to the ground in a
The man who was "riding for a fall," with both feet out of the stirrups,
in anticipation of just such a wreck, flew off into space, landing in a
pile of rocks twenty-five feet away by actual measurement. The horse
fell with his head under him in such a way that his neck was instantly
When the other men who were following reached the scene, they found the
man just regaining his senses, badly cut about the head, but otherwise
unhurt. The blue, in falling, had landed flat on his back, his hind feet
down the steep hill, both his long horns buried to the very skull in the
ground. Thus he was absolutely helpless and unable to regain his feet,
no matter how hard he struggled. To "hog-tie" him in this position, was
the work of but a moment, and at last the blue-roan outlaw was a
It was no trouble to roll him down the steep hillside to the level
ground below, and inside of half an hour the rest of the men arrived on
the scene with the bunch of cattle they had been driving.
In the bunch was a large steer which they roped and dragged up to where
the outlaw lay, and, in cowboy parlance "dumped" him on top of the
outlaw. They then proceeded to "neck" the two steers together with a
short rope they cut for the purpose. Having done this to their
satisfaction they untied the hogging ropes and allowed the steers to
gain their feet. As this was done the bunch of cattle they had driven up
was carefully crowded around the two animals. After a few minutes of
pulling and fighting the outlaw sulkily allowed himself to be dragged
along by his unwilling mate, with the rest of the cattle, and was
eventually landed safely in the main herd.
Great was the rejoicing in camp that night over the capture, and the
guards about the herd were cautioned not to let the two escape under any
At the end of the week the herd had been worked down to the river for
shipping. As the country was open and the herd easily handled the
"twins," as the boys called them, came apart when the old rope wore out
and were not necked up again.
That night one of the men, who had a family in town, hired a town kid to
take his place on herd, while he went up and spent the night at home. As
the boy rode his guard around the edge of the herd which lay quietly in
the cool night air, he found a big blue steer standing at the very edge
of the bunch looking off toward the mountains in a dreamy, meditative
mood. Kidlike, he could not withstand the temptation to play the
"smarty," so, instead of passing him by or gently turning him into the
herd, the boy took off his hat and swung it into the steer's face.
It was a distinct challenge to the old warrior, and he rose to the
occasion. Gathering himself for one mighty plunge he struck the pony the
boy was riding with his powerful head, knocking him flat. Away he dashed
over horse and rider, while the herd broke into a mad stampede which
carried them five miles in the opposite direction before they could be
"milled" into a bunch and held up again. Two men were left with them,
the rest returning to camp.
Daylight showed the blue-roan missing, and the wagon boss swore a solemn
oath that, if ever again he was captured, he would be necked and also
have his head tied down to a foot until he was safely inside the
Four weeks later a party of cattle men, gathering steers in the
mountains, ran across the blue outlaw, right on the brink of a deep,
rough caņon. He was seen, with the aid of a glass, across a bend in the
caņon lying under the rim rock in fancied security. Near him were
several other steers, and it was determined to make the attempt to
capture the lot.
Carefully driving their bunch of gentle steers as close to the place
where the outlaw was lying as they could, with the thought that, if he
ran up the trail, he would see the steers and possibly go to them and
stop; three men rode into the caņon some distance below and started up
the trail toward where he was lying.
The instant the blue-roan saw the horsemen he jumped to his feet,
hesitated a moment, and instead of taking the smooth trail out, dove
down the steep, rocky sides of the caņon where neither horse nor man
Surefooted as he was, he misjudged his agility and strength, and plunged
into a mass of loose rock, which gave him no foothold. The walls of the
caņon were frightfully steep and in the loose rock, sliding, slipping,
and rolling, he was swiftly hurried towards the edge of a cliff two
hundred feet high, over which he dropped to death and destruction. Tons
of loose rock followed him to the bottom, making a roar like a thousand
cannons. It was the end of the road for the blue-roan.
When the men climbed down the trail to see just what had happened they
found him dead and half buried in the mass of fallen rock.
The cliff was an over-hanging one, smooth and soft enough to show
markings, and one of the men, taking a piece of hard flintrock, spent
half an hour cutting deep into the smooth, white wall the words:
"Here died the Blue-Roan Outlaw. He was a King."