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Tom Marshall's The Burro '03

GEBB '05

WE know Tom Russell's history. How he was an honored college graduate, European traveler, but still the son of a headstrong old eastern squire. Tom from boyhood had loved, wisely, a maid in his native town. The old squire unreasonably objected when Tom, home from his travels, sought the girl's hand. You see a grudge of long standing stood between the squire and the maid's father.

What will Tom do?
It's up to him and he is penniless.

*   *   *   *

Buck Chowas, foreman for the Graham Bros.' Tonto Basin outfit was apparently puzzled. His eyes wandered from the red face of his right hand man to the walls of the canyon and from them across the mesa to the right where the heat waves made him dizzy.

"He's sure 'nough maverick, Hank, 'an he's off his range. But does his work well, rides his own bronc's and has got the grit. Ask Red Wilson 'bout that eb, Hank?" and Buck chuckled, "yet he's so gol dam particler 'bout keepin' clean and the eatin'. Kin use the genuine palaver, too. Must be some 'ristocrat sour- balled on the world. No, dammit, he's too friendly for that. I like the lad tip top."

"Me, too, Buck."

And they rode on.

*   *   *   *

There was an old geezer,
An' he had a wooden leg:
But he had no terbaccer,
So terbac' he hadder beg.

Another old geezer
as as sly as a fox,
An' he allus had terbaccer
In his old terbacoer box.

So save up yer money,
An' save up yer box
An' you'll always have terbaccer
In your ole ter---

Hank broke off.

"I hope I haven't interrupted?" said the figure which had come into the circle of the light.

" Naw. Was just howlin' to keep myself company. Poor company, too, but there's better here, now."

"Thanks," replied the newcomer. We should not have recognized him in his frontier apparel and with his tanned, bearded face. Tom for the last two years had been through the mill. Arizonians who have mined and cowpunched know what that means. He had struggled hard but his pile of dust was pitifully scant.

"Hank, I took a liking to you from the first-"

"Ditto," broke in Hank.

"You're not like the others. You're younger and have few of their failings."

"Cut 'er out, Tommie," warned the cowboy.

Tom drew near to Hank as though he feared to be overheard. "I've struck it lad," he whispered. "During that long ride last week-gold by the bushel." His voice shook in his eagerness. "And I want you for my pardner, Hank."

'Hooray! I'm your man, Tommie, and thanks to yer." He leaped to his feet and grasped Tom's hand.

*   *   *   *

The long weeks of placer mining had drawn the men closer together. Where before there had been mutual liking there was now strong friendship. Hank bad learned why the accomplished Easterner had marooned himself in the wilds. More than that, her face had once looked at him from Tom's watch charm and he now shared in Tom's eagerness for wealth.

"The grub's gittin low, pard." Tom knew that meant a long trip to Prescott and consequent delay in mining. He also knew that both should be obliged to go as the Apaches were on the warpath. Next morning the little cavalcade started-two pack mules and the two saddle horses.

They had crossed the Verde Mesa, climbed the Black Hills and were going down the southern slope. Only Lonesome Valley and Fort Whipple lay between them and Prescott. They were riding through the last and what is now Mescal Canon when the attack came, they being fired upon from the limestone cliffs on their left. Side by side their horses were carefully picking their way over the rough canon bed. At the first rattle of shots Hank lurched heavily toward the right and would have fallen had not Tom caught him. Frantically and despite the Indian bullets Tom tore the cowboys' shirt open-poor Hank never knew what had struck him.

The halt had given the Apaches a good target and Tom suddenly felt a shaft of fire rip its way from his shoulder down through his right side. With a last, longing look at Hank he threw the rowels into his horse and dashed on. Looking back he saw seven Apaches running down the mountain side. He might have stopped and taken a shot but his right arm hung powerless. On and on he dashed. The first few miles in his excitement he felt no pain. Now he was out in the valley. Back on the level stretch he could sea no trace of the Indians, and concluded they had no horses, Hank's horse having been shot. But now a weakness came over him, the wound was bleeding profusely. He could not staunch the flow. He was reeling in his saddle. The horse was pulled down into a walk. A little farther he was forced to slip from the saddle - the jolting hurt him.

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