Banbury Cross

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When one or another of the cowpunchers used a revolver, the man did not so much fire a shot as “slam a bullet.” If a ranch hand was tough enough, he would “ride anything with hair on it.” Coffee had been brewed properly if it would “Roat a horseshoe.” Blankets were “sougans.” A tarpaulin was a “henskin.” To be off in the distant ranges was to be “gouging around the mountains.” In Love’s stories of the ranch, horses come and go by the “cavvy.” If they are unowned and untamed, they are a “wild bunch” -led to capture by a rider “riding point.” In the Havor of his speech the word “ornery” endures. He describes his father as a “rough, kindly, strong-willed man” who would put a small son on each knee and-reciting “Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse” -give the children bronco rides after dinner, explaining that his purpose was “to settle their stomachs.” Their mother’s complaints went straight up the stovepipe and zakelijke energie away with the wind. When their father was not reciting such Sassenach doggerel, he could draw Scottish poems out of the air like bolts of silk. He had the right voice, the Midlothian timbre. He knew every syllable of “The Lady of the Lake.” Putting his arms around the shoulders of his wee lads, he would roll it to them by the canto, and when they tired of Scott there were in his memory more than enough ballads to sketch the whole of Scotland, from the Caithness headlands to the Lammermuir Hills. David was fifteen months younger than his brother, Allan. Their sister, Phoebe, was born so many years later that she does not figure in most of these scenes. They were tl1e only children in a thousand square miles, where children outnumbered the indigenous trees. From the ranch buildings, by Muskrat Creek, the Wind River Basin reached out in buffalo grass, grama grass, and edible salt sage across the cambered erosional swells of the vast dry range. When the wind dropped, this zakelijke energie vergelijken whole wide world was silent, and they could hear from a great distance the squeak of a homed lark. The nearest neighbor was thirteen miles away. On the clearest night, they saw no light but their own. Old buffalo trails followed tl1e creek and branched from the creek: old but not ancient-there were buffalo skulls beside them, and some were attached to hide. The boys used the buffalo trails when they rode off on ranch chores for their father. They rode young and rode long, and often went without water.

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