The Roping at Pasco's
by Ray Stannard Baker
... Little groups of people were drifting by to the grand stand. Here
and there, from the corner of his eye, as he bent to adjust the
saddle-cinches, Turk McGlory caught the glint of a white skirt or of a
flowing ribbon. Sometimes the girls stopped to discuss the
contestants; he heard them talking of Bud Oliver, and Mason, and
Buster Graham. Suddenly, as he tightened a latigo strap, a saucy,
smiling face looked up at him. Her sister was evidently trying to pull
her away, but she said, half teasingly:
"I'm wearing your colors, Mr. Texas. You must win."
He saw nothing but deep black eyes, and he felt the blood in his face.
He couldn't have spoken if he had known that it was to save his life,
and he knew that he was smiling foolishly....
"We're betting on you, Bud Oliver," came other shouts. The Texas men
were not over-popular in Arizona, and yet it was a sportsmanlike
The babel of voices ceased sharply. A wiry little steer, red and
white, shot into the field as if catapulted. Turk McGlory observed how
like an antelope it ran—long-legged and as easily as the wind blows.
The flag fell, and Bud was off; the judges riding after him were
blurred in his dust. There was no roper like Bud. He waited long
before raising his rope, bending close to his saddle and riding hard;
then in what curious, loose, slow coils he swung it! Would he ride
clean over his steer? There! he had reached out as if to catch the
steer by the tail, and the rope had gone over his head like a hoop,
horns and all. Now he was paying out to trip up the steer. How they
were running! Turk McGlory rose suddenly in his saddle.
"Look out for the fence," he roared.
But Bud had seen it, too, and the little roan squatted like a rabbit.
The steer, reaching the rope's end, doubled up and fell—but fell
against the fence. There had not been quite room enough. Bud was off
saddle, and the little roan, knowing well what was going on, walked
away like a man, pulling hard on the rope to keep the steer down. If
it had been a larger steer or a fatter one, there would have been no
trouble; but this one fought like a cat, now on its knees, now on its
feet. Bud seized it by the tail, and with a single fierce toss he laid
it flat, then he tied—and arms up. Turk McGlory waited with hands
clenched to hear the time.
So Bud was beaten by a second, and beaten because he didn't have a
fair field. How the crowd howled for the Arizona champion. Bud came up
smiling and unconcerned.
"Now, McGlory," he said, "you must make a showing for Texas."
"What am I offered on Turk McGlory against the field?" shouted the
pool-seller. "Now's your last chance."
"Hurrah for the kid from Texas!" shouted other voices.
Turk McGlory was at the line, astonished to find himself coiling his
rope with so much ease. He felt that he wasn't doing it himself, but
that some one else was working in him. The sun blazed hot on the
field, but everything seemed dim and indistinct. To him all the voices
"Turk McGlory, Turk McGlory, Turk McGlory."
"Hurrah for Texas and the calico horse," came a shout from the grand
"Wait till they see you run, Pinto," Turk said between his teeth, and
the pinto stirred nervously under him.
"Ready," called Turk McGlory, though not in Turk McGlory's voice. He
gave one glance behind him. The grand stand was a picture of a girl in
blue and white; she was the picture, all the rest was frame.
There was a clatter at the pen, and the steer shot past him. Instantly
he saw all its points—horns, legs, tail—and they spoke to him with
the meaning of familiarity. So might the old knight have looked for
the points of his adversary's armour. Now that he was off, Turk's
head cleared to his work. The steer ran with hind feet swinging
sideways, hog-like. He remembered a steer in the Lazy A outfit that
had the same habit, and a bad one it was, too. How strange that he
should think of such things at such a time! The steer was swerving
swiftly to the left. The pinto, nose forward and dilating, instantly
slackened pace, swerving in the same direction and cutting off
distance. It was much to have a horse, pinto though he be, that knew
his business. Turk's rope began to swing, but he was wholly
unconscious of it. He seemed now to see only the legless body of a
steer swimming on a billow of dust. The fence! He saw it with a throb,
and he was yet too far off to throw. And there was the grand stand
above it, the men rising, half in terror, and a color of women. The
steer had swung almost round. It was a low rail fence, and between it
and the grand stand lay the racing track. Dimly McGlory heard shouts
of warning. Would the steer plunge into the stand? Dimly, too,
glancing back, he saw the other cow-men charging after him to the
rescue. There was a crash; the steer had gone through the fence as if
it were pasteboard, and the pinto was now close behind. There was all
too little room here in the track. The steer would evidently plunge
full into the crowd. Turk McGlory's arm shot forward and the rope
sped. The pinto sat sharply back, throwing McGlory well over the
pommel. To those in the grand stand it seemed as if the steer, all
horns and eyes, was plucked out of their faces. When they looked
again, McGlory was tying, and the judges and the other punchers were
swarming through the gap in the fence. Hands up; and the pinto easing
away on the rope! It was all lost, McGlory felt. The fence had been in
the way. Why couldn't they provide an open field, as in Texas? These
Arizona men couldn't conduct a contest. The timer lifted his hand, and
the shouting stopped.
"Thirty-six seconds," he announced.
"What a fool of a timer," thought Turk McGlory. "It can't be so."
Then he saw Bud Oliver stride up with outstretched hand, and a lump
came in his throat.
"Good boy!" said Bud. "You've saved the day for Texas."
And then the crowd pounced on him and hooted and shouted, "McGlory!
McGlory!" until he was dizzy with it all. It was not as he thought it
would be. Two hundred dollars won! And he, Turk McGlory!
And then a saucy, flushed face looking up at him.
"I knew you would do it, Mr. Texas," she said.
And with that she pinned a blue and white ribbon on his vest, and he
looked off over her head, and trembled.