Kit Carson’s Ride.

Run ?  Now you bet you ; I rather guess so.1
But he’s blind as a badger. Whoa, Pachè, boy, whoa.2
No, you wouldn’t think so to look at his eyes,3
But he is badger blind, and it happened this wise.4
We lay in the grasses and the sun-burnt clover5
That spread on the ground like a great brown cover,6
Northward and southward and west and away7
To the Brazos, to where our lodges lay,8
One broad and unbroken sea of brown,9
Awaiting the curtains of night to come down10
To cover us over and conceal our flight11
With my brown bride, won from an Indian town12
That lay in the rear the full ride of a night.13
We lounged in the grasses—her eyes were in mine,14
And her hands on my knee, and her hair was as wine15
In its wealth and its flood, pouring on and all over16
Her bosom wine-red, and pressed never by one,17
And her touch was as warm as the tinge of the clover18
Burnt brown as it reached to the kiss of the sun,19
And her words were as low as the lute-throated dove,20
And as laden with love as the heart when it beats21
In its hot eager answer to earliest love,22
Or the bee hurried home by its burthen of sweets.23
We lay low in the grass on the broad plain levels,24
Old Revels and I, and my stolen brown bride.25
Forty full miles if a foot to ride,26
Forty full miles if a foot, and the devils27
Of red Camanches are hot on the track28
When once they strike it. Let the sun go down29
Soon, very soon,’ muttered bearded old Revels30
As he peered at the sun, lying low on his back,31
Holding fast to his lasso ; then he jerked at his steed32
And sprang to his feet, and glanced swiftly around,33
And then dropped, as if shot, with his ear to the ground,34
Then again to his feet and to me, to my bride,35
While his eyes were like fire, his face like a shroud,36
His form like a king, and his beard like a cloud,37
And his voice loud and shrill, as if blown from a reed,38
Pull, pull in your lassos, and bridle to steed,39
And speed you if ever for life you would speed,40
And ride for your lives, for your lives you must ride,41
For the plain is aflame, the prairie on fire,42
And feet of wild horses hard flying before,43
I hear like a sea breaking high on the shore,44
While the buffalo come like a surge of the sea,45
Driven far by the flame, driving fast on us three46
As a hurricane comes, crushing palms in his ire.’47
We drew in the lassos, seized saddle and rein,48
Threw them on, sinched them on, sinched them over again49
And again drew the girth, cast aside the macheer,50
Cut away tapidaros, loosed the sash from its fold,51
Cast aside the catenas red and spangled with gold,52
And gold-mounted Colt’s, true companions for years,53
Cast the red silk serapes to the wind in a breath,54
And so bared to the skin sprang all haste to the horse,55
As bare as when born, as when new from the hand56
Of God, without word, or one word of command,57
Turned head to the Brazos in a red race with death,58
Turned head to the Brazos with a breath in the hair59
Blowing hot from a king leaving death in his course ;60
Turned head to the Brazos with a sound in the air61
Like the rush of an army, and a flash in the eye62
Of a red wall of fire reaching up to the sky,63
Stretching fierce in pursuit of a black rolling sea,64
Rushing fast upon us as the wind sweeping free65
And afar from the desert, bearing death and despair.66
Not a word, not a wail, from a lip was let fall,67
Not a kiss from my bride, not a look or low call68
Of love-note or courage, but on o’er the plain69
So steady and still, leaning low to the mane,70
With the heel to the flank and the hand to the rein,71
Rode we on, rode we three, rode we gray nose and nose,72
Reaching long, breathing loud, like a creviced wind blows,73
Yet we broke not a whisper, we breathed not a prayer,74
There was work to be done, there was death in the air,75
And the chance was as one to a thousand for all.76
Gray nose to gray nose and each steady mustang77
Stretched neck and stretched nerve till the hollow earth rang78
And the foam from the flank and the croup and the neck79
Flew around like the spray on a storm-driven deck.80
Twenty miles ! thirty miles ! . . . a dim distant speck . . .81
Then a long reaching line and the Brazos in sight,82
And I rose in my seat with a shout of delight.83
I stood in my stirrup and looked to my right,84
But Revels was gone ; I glanced by my shoulder85
And saw his horse stagger ; I saw his head drooping86
Hard on his breast, and his naked breast stooping87
Low down to the mane as so swifter and bolder88
Ran reaching out for us the red-footed fire.89
To right and to left the black buffalo came,90
In miles and in millions, rolling on in despair91
With their beards to the dust and black tails in the air ;92
As a terrible surf on a red sea of flame93
Rushing on in the rear, reaching high, reaching higher.94
And he rode neck to neck to a buffalo bull,95
The monarch of millions, with shaggy mane full96
Of smoke and of dust, and it shook with desire97
Of battle, with rage and with bellowings loud98
And unearthly, and up through its lowering cloud99
Came the flash of his eyes like a half-hidden fire,100
While his keen crooked horns through the storm of his mane101
Like black lances lifted and lifted again ;102
And I looked but this once, for the fire licked through103
And he fell and was lost, as we rode two and two.104
I looked to my left then, and nose, neck, and shoulder105
Sank slowly, sank surely, till back to my thighs ;106
And up through the black blowing veil of her hair107
Did beam fall in mine her two marvellous eyes108
With a longing and love, yet a look of despair,109
And a pity for me, as she felt the smoke fold her,110
And flames reaching far for her glorious hair.111
Her sinking steed faltered, his eager ears fell112
To and fro and unsteady, and all the neck’s swell113
Did subside and recede and.the nerves fall as dead.114
Then she saw that my own steed still lorded his head115
With a look of delight, for this Pachè, you see,116
Was her father’s, and once at the South Santafee117
Had won a whole herd, sweeping everything down118
In a race where the world came to run for the crown ;119
And so when I won the true heart of my bride120
My neighbour’s and deadliest enemy’s child,121
And child of the kingly war-chief of his tribe—122
She brought me this steed to the border the night123
She met Revels and me in her perilous flight124
From the lodge of the chief to the north Brazos side,125
And said, so half guessing of ill as she smiled,126
As if jesting, that I, and I only, should ride127
The fleet-footed Pachè, so if kin should pursue128
I should surely escape without other ado129
Than to ride, without blood, to the north Brazos side,130
And await her—and wait till the next hollow moon131
Hung her horn in the palms, when surely and soon132
And swift she would join me and all would be well133
Without bloodshed or word. And now as she fell134
From the front, and went down in the ocean of fire135
The last that I saw was a look of delight136
That I should escape—a love—a desire137
Yet never a word, not a look of appeal,138
Least I should reach hand, should stay hand or stay heel139
One instant for her in my terrible flight.140
Then the rushing of fire rose around me and under,141
And the howling of beasts like the sound of thunder142
Beasts burning and blind and forced onward and over,143
As the passionate flame reached around them and wove her144
Hands in their hair, and kissed hot till they died145
Till they died with a wild and a desolate moan,146
As a sea heart broken on the hard brown stone.147
And into the Brazos . . . . I rode all alone148
All alone, save only a horse long-limbed,149
And blind and bare and burnt to the skin.150
Then just as the terrible sea came in151
And tumbled its thousands hot into the tide,152
Till the tide blocked up and the swift stream brimmed153
In eddies, we struck on the opposite side.154


Sell Pachè—blind Pachè ?  Now, mister, look here,155
You have slept in my tent and partook of my cheer156
Many days, many days, on this rugged frontier,157
For the ways they were rough and Camanches were near ;158
But you’d better pack up !  Curse your dirty skin !159
I couldn’t have thought you so niggardly small.160
Do you men that make books think an old mountaineer161
On the rough border born has no tum-tum at all ?162
Sell Pachè !  You buy him !  A bag full of gold !163
You show him !  Tell of him the tale I have told !164
Why he bore me through fire, and is blind, and is old !165
Now pack up your papers and git up and spin,166
And never look back. Blast you and your tin !167