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142 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

rode out to be with the men while they drove the deer on the bottom, and Merrifield shot one; so you see, we have had very typical experiences, especially at the round-up yesterday."

Happy days, indeed, they were, full of varied excitements. Merrifield's little boy, Frank, only eleven years old, was the chief factor in finding the herd of ponies in the morning, for it was the custom to let them loose after twilight. Many and many a time I would hear him unslip the halter of the one small pony ("Little Moke" by name) which was still tied to the ranchhouse steps and on which he would leap in the early dawn to go to round up the ponies for the day's work. I would jump up and look out of the ranch window, and see the independent little fellow fording the river, starting on his quest, and an hour or so later the splashing of many feet in the water heralded the approach of "Little Moke," his young rider, and the whole bunch of four-legged friends.

The relationship between my brother and his men was one of honest comradeship but of absolute respect, each for the other, and on the part of the cowboys there was, as well, toward their "Boss," a certain reverential attitude in spite of the "man to man" equality. How I loved that first night that we sat around the fire, when the men, in their effort to give my brother all the news of the vicinitylduring his absence, told the type of tale which has had its equivalent only in Owen Wister's "The Virginian." "There is a sky-pilot a good many miles from here, Mr. Roosevelt," said Sylvan, "who's bringin' a suit against you." Sylvan announced this unpleasant fact with careless gaiety, stretching his long legs toward the fire. No one was ever so typically the ideal cowboy of one's wildest fancy as was Sylvane Ferris. Tall and slender, with strong fair hair and blue eyes of an almost unnatural clearness, and a splendid broad brow and aquiline nose, Sylvane looked the part. His leather chaps, his broad sombrero hat, his red handkerchief knotted carelessly around his strong, young, sunburned throat, all made him such a picture that one's eye invariably followed him as he rode a vicious

pony, "wrastled" a calf, roped a steer, or branded a heifer; but now sitting lazily by the fire, such activities seemed a thing of the past, and Sylvane was ready for an hour's gossip.

"A sky-pilot? Why should a sky-pilot bring suit against me?" said my brother laughingly. [In telling this story he sometimes referred to this man as a professor.]

"Well," said Sylvane, "it was this way, Mr. Roosevelt. You see, we was all outside the ranch door when up drives the skypilot in a buggy. He was one of them wanderin' ones that thought he could preach as he wandered, and just about as he drove up in front of our ranch his horse went dead lame on him and his old buggy just fell to pieces. He was in a bad fix, and he said he knew you never would let him be held up like that, because he had heard you was a good man too, and wouldn't we lend him a horse, or send him with the team to the next place he was going to, some forty miles away. We felt we had to be hospitable-like, with you so far away and the sky-pilot in such a fix, so we said `Yes,' we would send him to where he wanted to go, and there he is now, lyin' in a hut with one leg broken and one arm nearly wrenched off his body, and he's bringin' suit against you, which ain't really fair, we think."

"What do you mean, Sylvane; what have I got to do with his broken leg and arm?" said my brother, beginning to feel a trifle nervous.

"Well, you see, it is this way," said Sylvane; "he says we

sent him to where he is with a runaway team and he was thrown

out and broken up in pieces-like; but we says how could that

team we sent him with be a runaway team-how could a team

be called a runaway team when one of the horses ain't never

been hitched up before, and the other ain't run away not more'n

two or three times; but I guess sky-pilots are always unrea

sonable !"

This conclusion seemed to satisfy Sylvane entirely; the un

fortunate condition of the much-battered sky-pilot aroused

no sympathy in his adamantine heart, nor did he feel that the


The Elkhorn Ranch


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