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The Stampede

The Stampede

Frank Reaugh, The Stampede (24 Hours #5), 1931, drawing : pastel on masonite, 61.0 x 121.8 x 0.5 cm.

“Half past two and the boys are counting the minutes before calling the cocktail guard . . . when a passing cloud causes momentary darkness. A pony stumbled at a badger hole. A slicker becomes loosened and . . . a sudden gust of wind whips it from the cowboy’s hand to sail with eery outspread wings. . . . The cowboy’s warning shout is too late. . . .One shiver pulsates through the great huddled mass, then they are tearing down the coulee . . . toward the narrowing. . .canyon below. Just in front of them are racing the three cowboys, with slack rein and active heel. It is a life-and-death race. . . . They sweep through the break and into the canyon, where the rock walls tower 400 feet overhead. . . . Woe and swift death are the lot of anything living that falls under this thundering mass. . . . ‘Only a half a mile more, boys, and we’re all right,’ shouts Bill Stewart, and even as he speaks his pony trips and horse and rider are buried under the sea of maddened beasts. As Jack, in a moment of sympathy, impulsively draws rein and slackens his pony, the foremost steer buts it to its knees, and they too, are lost. . . . The remaining guard, with hat off and coat thrown back, is still at the head of the herd, with lips close drawn and the expectancy of swift death on his face. . . . A short half mile and . . . the cowboy swings his horse to one side and allows the leading steer to come abreast, when from his leveled pistol he sends a belching stream of fire scarce(ly) three inches in front of the wild eyes. With a sudden snort . . . that animal swerves to one side: quick as lightning the pistol is there again and the flashing fire compels him to make a wide circle . . . back into the tail of the herd that is just emerging from the canyon . . . . bewildered and confused, a wildly whirling maelstrom of milling cattle.”

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