the cold, gray wall behind, and, above, the cold, gray

time:2023-11-28 19:02:38 author:year

"Oh, where the devil wuz the DORG?" Dave growled, sliding down the tree--"where th' devil wuz YOU? Where wuz the lot o' y'?"

the cold, gray wall behind, and, above, the cold, gray

"Ah, well!" Dad said "--there's plenty more we can get. Come along." And off we went. The dog pulled himself together and limped after us.

the cold, gray wall behind, and, above, the cold, gray

Bears were plentiful enough, but we wandered far before we found another on a tree that Dave could climb, and, when we DID, somehow or other the limb broke when he put his weight on it, and down he came, bear and all. Of course we were not ready, and that bear, like the other, got up another tree. But Dave did n't. He lay till Dad ran about two miles down a gully to a dam and filled his hat with muddy water and came tearing back with it empty--till Anderson and Mother came and helped to carry him home.

the cold, gray wall behind, and, above, the cold, gray

We did n't go out any more after bears. Dave, when he was able, went and got Maloney's colt and put him in the plough. And, after he had kicked Dad and smashed all the swingle-trees about the place, and got right out of his harness a couple of times and sulked for two days, he went well enough beside Anderson's old grey mare.

And that season, when everyone else's wheat was red with rust--when Anderson and Maloney cut theirs for hay--when Johnson put a firestick in his--ours was good to see. It ripened; and the rain kept off, and we reaped 200 bags. Salvation!

That harvest of two hundred bags of wheat was the turning-point in the history of our selection. Things somehow seemed to go better; and Dad's faith was gradually justified--to some extent. We accumulated out-buildings and added two new rooms to the hut, and Dad was able to lend old Anderson five pounds in return for a promise to pay seven pounds ten shillings in six months' time. We increased the stock, too, by degrees; and--crowning joy!--we got a horse or two you could ride to the township.

With Nell and Ned we reckoned we had two saddle-horses--those were their names, Nell and Ned, a mare and a colt. Fine hacks they were, too! Anybody could ride them, they were so quiet. Dad reckoned Ned was the better of the two. He was well-bred, and had a pedigree and a gentle disposition, and a bald-face, and a bumble-foot, and a raw wither, and a sore back that gave him a habit of "flinching"--a habit that discounted his uselessness a great deal, because, when we were n't at home, the women could n't saddle him to run the cows in. Whenever he saw the saddle or heard the girth-buckles rattle he would start to flinch. Put the cloth on his back--folded or otherwise--and, no matter how smart you might be, it would be off before you could cover it with the saddle, and he would n't have flicked it with his tail, or pulled it off with his teeth, or done anything to it. He just flinched--made the skin on his back--where there was any--QUIVER. Throw on the saddle without a cloth, and he would "give" in the middle like a broken rail--bend till his belly almost touched the ground, and remain bent till mounted; then he'd crawl off and gradually straighten up as he became used to you. Were you tender-hearted enough to feel compunction in sitting down hard on a six-year-old sore, or if you had an aversion to kicking the suffering brute with both heels and belting his hide with a yard or two of fencing-wire to get him to show signs of animation, you would dismount and walk--perhaps, weep. WE always rode him right out, though.

As a two-year-old Ned was Dad's hope. Pointing proudly to the long-legged, big-headed, ugly moke mooching by the door, smelling the dust, he would say: "Be a fine horse in another year! Little sleepy-looking yet; that's nothing!"


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