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The Cow Puncher   By: (1880-1959)

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[Frontispiece: The Cow Puncher]

The Cow Puncher

By

ROBERT J. C. STEAD

Author of "The Homesteaders," "Kitchener and Other Poems," "The Bail Jumper," "Songs of the Prairie," "Prairie Born," "The Empire Builders," etc.

TORONTO

THE MUSSON BOOK COMPANY

LIMITED

Copyright Canada, 1918

THE MUSSON BOOK CO., LIMITED

Publishers TORONTO

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I CHAPTER II CHAPTER III CHAPTER IV CHAPTER V CHAPTER VI CHAPTER VII CHAPTER VIII CHAPTER IX CHAPTER X CHAPTER XI CHAPTER XII CHAPTER XIII CHAPTER XIV CHAPTER XV CHAPTER XVI CHAPTER XVII CHAPTER XVIII CHAPTER XIX CHAPTER XX CHAPTER XXI CHAPTER XXII

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

The Cow Puncher . . . . . . Frontispiece

These long rides afforded her many side lights on the remarkable nature of her escort.

"You aren't talking to day . . . what's wrong?"

"There is only one answer, Dave. Because I love you."

THE COW PUNCHER

CHAPTER ONE

The shadows of the spruce trees fell north eastward, pointing long, cool fingers across belts of undulating prairie, or leaning lazily against the brown foothills. Like an incandescent globe the afternoon sun hung in the bowl of a cloudless heaven, filmy with heat, but the hot rays were met by the high altitude of the ranch country and lost their force like a blow half struck. And among the spruce trees it was cool and green, and clear blue water rippled over beds of shining gravel.

The ranch buildings lay a little to the rear, as though the trees stood sentinel between them and the prairies. The house was of round straight logs; the shingles of the squat roof were cupped and blistered with the suns of many summers. Refuse loitered about the open door; many empty tins; a leaky barrel, with missing hoops; boxes, harness, tangled bits of wire. Once there had been a fence; a sort of picket fence of little saplings, but wild bronchos had kicked it to pieces and range steers had straggled unscarred across its scattered remnants.

Forward, and to the left, was the corral; mill slabs on end, or fences of lodge pole pine; a corner somewhat covered in, offering vague protection from the weather. The upper poles were worn thin with the cribbing of many horses.

The sunlight bathed the scene; nursed it in a soft, warm silence. The desertion seemed absolute; the silence was the silence of the unspoken places. But suddenly it was broken by a stamping in the covered part of the corral, and a man's voice saying, "Hip, there; whoa, you cayuse; get under your saddle! Sleepin' against a post all day, you sloppy eye. Hip, come to it!"

Horse and rider dashed into the sunlight. The boy for he was no more than a boy sat the beast as though born to it, his lithe frame taking every motion of his mount as softly as a good boat rides the sea. His red shirt and thick hairy schaps could not disguise the lean muscularity of his figure; the broad felt hat, and the revolver at his belt, gave just the touch of romance. With a yell at his horse he snatched the hat from his head, turning to the sun a smooth, brown face and a mane of dark hair, and slapped the horse across the flank with his crumpled headgear. At the signal the animal sprang into the air, then dashed at a gallop down the roadway, bearing the boy as unconcerned as a flower on its stem.

Suddenly he brought his horse to a stop; swung about, and rode back at a gentle canter. A few yards from the house he again spurred him to a gallop, and, leaning far down by the animal's side, deftly picked a bottle from among the grass. Then he circled about, repeating this operation as often as his eye fell on a bottle, until he had half a dozen; then down the road again, carefully setting a bottle on each post of the fence that skirted it to the right.

Again he came back to the house, but, when he turned, his eye was on the row of posts, and his right hand lay on the grip of his revolver... Continue reading book >>




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