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neck was stretched for the towering bluff, and the thrilling screams of his voice told the secret that was behind him. Our horses were swift, and we struggled hard; yet hope was feeble, for the bluff was yet blue, and nature nearly exhausted. The sunshine was dying, and a cool shadow was advancing over the plain. Not daring to look back, we strained every nerve.
The roar of a distant cataract seemed gradually advancing on us; the winds increased, the howling tempest was maddening behind us, and the swift-winged beetle and heath hens instinctively drew their straight lines over our heads. The fleet-bounding antelope passed us also ; and the still swifter long-legged hare, who leaves but a shadow as he flies. Here was no time for thought, but I recollect the heavens were overcast, the distant thunder was heard, the lightning's glare was reddening the scene, and the smell that came on the winds struck terror to my soul! The piercing yell of my savage guide at this moment came back upon the winds - his robe was seen waving in the air, and his foaming horse leaping up the towering bluff.
Our breath and our sinews, in this last struggle for life, were just enough to bring us to its summit. We had risen from a sea of fire! "Great God!" I exclaimed, "how sublime to gaze into that valley, where the elements of nature are so strangely convulsed!" Ask not the poet or painter how it looked, for they can tell you not; but ask the naked savage, and watch the electric twinge of his manly nerves and muscles, as he pronounces the lengthened "hush-sh-," his hand on his mouth, and his glaring eyeballs looking you to the very soul!
I beheld beneath me an immense cloud of black smoke,
which extended from one extremity of this vast plain to the other, and seemed majestically to roll over its surface in a bed of liquid fire; and above this mighty desolation, as it rolled along, the whitened smoke, pale with terror, was streaming and rising up in magnificent cliffs to heaven! I stood secure but tremblingly, and heard the maddening wind, which hurled this monster o'er the land
I heard the roaring thunder, and saw its thousand lightnings flash; and then I saw behind the black and smoking desolation of this storm of fire!
-From "Manners and Customs of the North American Indians."
KIT CARSON'S RIDE.
BY JOAQUIN MILLER.
We lay in the grasses and the sunburnt clover
That spread on the ground like a great brown cover
Northward and southward, and west and away
To the Brazos, to where our lodges lay,
One broad and unbroken sea of brown,
Awaiting the curtains of night to come down
To cover us over and conceal our flight
With my brown bride, won from an Indian town
That lay in the rear the full ride of a night.
We lay low in the grass on the broad plain levels,
Old Revels and I, and my stolen brown bride ;
And the heavens of blue and the harvest of brown
And beautiful clover were welded as one,
To the right and the left, in the light of the sun.
"Forty full miles, if a foot, to ride,
Forty full miles, if a foot, and the devils
Of red Comanches are hot on the track
When once they strike it. Let the sun go down
Soon, very soon," muttered bearded old Revels,
As he peered at the sun, lying low on his back,
Holding fast to his lasso. Then he jerked at his steed,
And he sprang to his feet, and glanced swiftly around,
And then dropped, as if shot, with his ear to the ground;
Then again to his feet, and to me, to my bride,
While his eyes were like fire, his face like a shroud,
His form like a king, and his beard like a cloud,
And his voice loud and shrill, as if blown from a reed-
"Pull, pull in your lassos, and bridle to steed,
And speed you, if ever, for life you would speed,
And ride for your lives, for your lives you must ride!
For the plain is aflame, the prairie on fire,
And feet of wild horses hard flying before
I hear like a sea breaking high on the shore,
While the buffalo come like a surge of the sea,
Driven far by the flame, driving fast on us three,
As a hurricane comes, crushing palms in his ire.'
We drew in the lassos, seized saddle and rein,
Threw them on, sinched them on, sinched them over
And again drew the girth, cast aside the macheers,
Cut away tapidaros, loosed the sash from its fold,
Cast aside the catenas red-spangled with gold,
And gold-mounted Colt's, the companions of years,
Cast the silken serapes to the wind in a breath,
And so bared to the skin sprang all haste to the horse-
Turned head to the Brazos in a red race with death,
Turned head to the Brazos with a breath in the hair
Blowing hot from a king leaving death in his course;
Turned head to the Brazos with a sound in the air
Like the rush of an army, and a flash in the eye
Of a red wall of fire reaching up to the sky,
Stretching fierce in pursuit of a black rolling sea
Rushing fast upon us, as the wind sweeping free
And afar from the desert blew hollow and hoarse.
Gray nose to gray nose, and each steady mustang Stretched neck and stretched nerve till the arid earth
And the foam from the flank and the croup and the neck Flew around like the spray on a storm-driven deck. Twenty miles? . . . thirty miles . . . a dim distant
Then a long reaching line, and the Brazos in sight,
And I rose in my seat with a shout of delight.
I stood in my stirrup and looked to my right -
But Revels was gone; I glanced by my shoulder
And saw his horse stagger; I saw his head drooping
Hard down on his breast, and his naked breast stooping
Low down to the mane, as so swifter and bolder
Ran reaching out for us the red-footed fire.
To right and to left the black buffalo came,
A terrible surf on a red sea of flame
Rushing on in the rear, reaching high, reaching higher.
And he rode neck to neck to a buffalo bull,
The monarch of millions, with shaggy mane full
Of smoke and of dust, and it shook with desire
Of battle, with rage and with bellowings loud
And unearthly, and up through its lowering cloud
Came the flash of his eyes like a half-hidden fire,
While his keen crooked horns, through the storm of his
Like black lances lifted and lifted again;
And I looked but this once, for the fire licked through, And he fell and was lost, as we rode two and two.
I looked to my left then and nose, neck, and shoulder
Sank slowly, sank surely, till back to my thighs;
And up through the black blowing veil of her hair
Did beam full in mine her two marvelous eyes,
With a longing and love, yet a look of despair
And of pity for me, as she felt the smoke fold her,
And flames reaching far for her glorious hair.
Her sinking steed faltered, his eager eyes fell
To and fro and unsteady, and all the neck's swell
Did subside and recede, and the nerves fall as dead.
Then she saw sturdy Paché still lorded his head,
With a look of delight; for nor courage nor bride,
Nor naught but my bride, could have brought him to me.
For he was her father's, and at South Santa Fé
Had once won a whole herd, sweeping everything down
In a race where the world came to run for the crown.
And so when I won the true heart of my bride
My neighbor's and deadliest enemy's child,
And child of the kingly war chief of his tribe-
She brought me this steed to the border the night
She met Revels and me in her perilous flight
From the lodge of the chief to the North Brazos side;
And said, so half guessing of ill as she smiled,
As if jesting, that I, and I only, should ride