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- - - - - S H 0 R T_S TORY.…


S H 0 R T_S TORY. I HOW BIDDY SAVED A LEG. l I have it on the authority of Robert that Henry Howard Burke could be more kinds of a fool than any other man in Carson. Robert, being the only man on that ranch wno answered to no nickname or sub-title, is an authority I feel bound to respect. When young Mr. Burke, tresh from an Eastern school, came Westward to "row up with the country, the live-stock interest was just then paramount, and all the boys expected to become cattle kings. So some six weeks after closing his school-books Henry found himself taken on trial as horse-wrangler 011 a cattle-ranch, where his associates promptly dubbed I him "Hen." He did not like it, and said fp. Whereupon Robert informed him that if Hen didn't please him he should be called Hen no more. "Your I name is Biddy." And Robert's decision was final. Like a colt in harness, Biddy thrashed about a good bit before he became somewhat adapted to his environment. He was the butt of all the old jokes, tire victim of the usual impositions, until a greener man appeared, when lie settled down to the routine of his work like the other men, except that lie usually did the un- ..pected thing, and reached nis end by devious and difficult ways. It was on the occasion 01 his taking a short cut over a rough iiioxiii, iiii with the horse herd, to save a couple of miles cf smooth road around the point, that Robert first made the remark set down at the beginning. I have an idea that Biddy's versatility in folly was the result of his gieater intelligence. Robert himself probably knew just enough to be a tool in two ways; wnile, with no more effort, Biddy had the choice of half a down. But I never mentioned this view to Robert. The chief work of the horse-wrangler is to graze the saddle-horses at night and bring them into camp at dawn, when each man selects his mount for the day. One early evening a thunder shower I caused the bunch to drift away from camp, and as I the clouds began to break, anri here and here a star shewed through, Biddy realised he had lost his bearings. Robert said afterwards that any other man would have held the bunch right there until morning and turned them into camp half an hour late. But Biddy had another way. Catching sight of Antares through the clouds, he recognised it for the nortn star, and knowing he had drifted south- ward in the rain, he drove his herd for half the night towards the South Pole, and was half the day getting back. And that was the beginning of his carrying a com- pass. On his first trip to town, he bought a pocket compass, and he learnt from the county surveyor that the local variation of the needle was thirteen degrees east. Thus armed and equipped, he felt himself equal to the emergency, and he got along smoothly enough until Robert broke his leg. I. "It was a mighty bad break,' the foreman said; "looked like the bone was crushed." Biddy was sent off post-haste for a doctor. He took a hurried lunch, he took the best horse in his string, he took his compass—and that was the last seen of Biddy until the third day. His orders were to ride forty miles to town, get the doctor, and be back in eight hours. I think Biddy might have made it in that time but for the compass and his saddle. Experimentally, he had used the compass with success, and now had no doubt that it would lead him into the town by midnight. But the saddle he rode had a broken horn, which was mended with soft iron. As Biddy rode along, he lit a match from time to time, and consulted the compass. The night was windy, and to protect the light he held it and compass close down alongside of the saddle-horn, where the iron deflected the needle six to ten degrees. An error of that extent amounts to one mile in eight. When he had been riding an hour, he was well off the true course and already in trouble in the sage-brush. By morning he was in a thicket, in a trackless canyon, his horse played out, himself exhausted. He climbed a hill and found water on the other side; then he could not find his way back to his horse. He spent hours looking for his horse, gave it up, and fortunately lost the compass. It then occurred to him to follow down the canyon, which soon opened out into a little valley with a settler'* cabin. Here he learnt that he was about the same dis- tance from town as when he started upon his ride. Getting a fresh mount, and this time following the travelled road, he reached town just twenty-four hours late. More delay was caused here, the doctor being out. Finally, with Dr. Cutler in tow, he started back for the ranch. During the long hours of waiting the injured man was by his comrades made as comfortable as might be; and as time passed beyond when Biddy should have returned they sought to shorten it by anec- dotes of other accidents. Smithy said it reminded him of a man down in Arizona who got bit by a snake. "They sent me down to the nearest station for whiskey. On the way I intended only to take a sip, but I took two, and I never remember exactly what happened after that, until I got back with the empty jug. And the joke of it was, the man was dead." "Say, boys," said Robert, "put my gun where I can reach it before the doctor comes." The next morning Ed Reese came riding up. Ed was what the cowboys call a natural doctor. He had pulled teeth and cut hair on that range for years. Ed," said Robert, I'm powerful glad to see you; I didn't know you was this side of the moun- tains. You got to stay and fix my leg." "Well," said Ed. "I shaved you lots of times; guess I can mend your leg." Ed at once set about reducing the inflammation by applications of fresh meat, probably newly-killed rabbits, split up the back, and renewed every five minutes, and by other expedients well known to cowboy doctors. After some hours he announced that the leg would come out all right. I may say here that it did, and eventually became a better and a longer one than its mate. Robert was comfortably asleep, and the boys were taking an after-dinner smoke outside, when Biddy came in sight with Dr. Cutler. It was agreed that the doctor was not to be allowed to see Robert, but, Smithy said he ought, to have some kind of a job atter coming so far, and how would it do to break Biddy's leg and let him set that ? When they rode up, Ed Reese stepped forward ani informed the doctor that it all had been a little joke on Burke, that Robert was only slightly bruised, had recovered, and had gone away. Was he mail ? Well, he didn't say much, and only grunted when Ed handed up a twenty, saying they wished to pay for the joke. When the doctor had turned his horse's head towards town, Biddy told the story of his delay. It was doubtful what his standing was to be until Robert settled it. "I'm awfully sorry," said Burke to Robert. "Shucks said Robert; "me and you are pardncrs from this day. You saved my leg." "That's right," said Keese. "Dr. Cutler never lost such a good chance to cut off a leg as yours was yesterday. [TID END. ]

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