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he seems tơ me to have attempted to depict a Californian Colonel Newcome. Unlike enough in many respects are the two characters. This was to be expected from the difference of education and surroundings. But the points of resemblance are stronger, and they are in essentials, and not in accidents. Both are types of gentleness, manliness, and chivalry, now sadly out of date. Thackeray drew some little of “Newcome” from Cooper's “ Leather Stocking,” and it is pleasing to find traits coming from America to England to be restored to the land of their birth. Those who have read Bret Ilarte's brilliant romance will, I think, recognise the resemblance of which I speak; to those who have not, there is but one piece of advice-“Read it forthwith.”

TILL the custom survive of wearing mourning for deceased

V relatives and friends? To some the question may appear needless and perhaps profane. Some abnegation of enjoyment and some outward indication of the presence of grief seem necessary to our own sense of loss as well as an indispensable tribute to the departed. None the less, mourning practices become gradually lighter and less burdensome, and the period of social sequestration is slowly abridged. Widows' weeds are no longer so deep and repulsive as before, and are, indeed, sometimes smart and coquettish. While deriving in part from the Jews our mourning customs, we have never adopted all the formalities still observed by that persecuted and conservative race. Mourning, however, was once a sufficiently serious matter. Black garb and a hat-band of cloth, no longer of crape, constitute the tribute now customary, though hatchments and mourning liveries are employed by the wealthy classes. Black-edged paper and other matters of the kind scarcely call for mention. In the seventeenth century mourning was a costly process. It was customary to give mourning to intimate friends as well as relatives and dependents; a fact which is still, or was until recently, recalled by the gitt of black gloves. It was then usual, moreover, to drape a bed entirely with black-a sufficiently lugubrious manner of meeting calamity: Black corerlers were indispensable ; saddles and accoutrements were covered with black, and black mourning coaches were emploral, not only for progress to the churchrard, but for ordinary transit. As black coches beus da, were not universal possessions, they pas sumerimes from hand to hand as loans as occasion demandechWe hare so gar der ined from this funeral pomp that the question arises maar nas the practice in the be wholly discontinued ?




August 1892.



CHAPTER I. CHE pulled up her horse until she nearly threw him on his

haunches. They had been pelting along at a good rate, and the sudden stoppage brought him up with a fearful check.

“Hang it!” she cried aloud. “I will go back and see into this thing. I cannot leave him dead, or dying, alone like this."

She was not a lady. She was not even well-educated, as you and I understand the term. Only a bush-girl, with a hand like iron, and a voice that rang over the whole country-side ; a girl who could ride, and shoot, and whistle ; who could throw a lasso, and equal a cowboy at coralling. Strong, straight-limbed, well-featured, if you like ; but ignorant as any Hottentot of music, or painting, or dressing, as the present-day girls understand the art. Sing? could she not !opening her mouth and throwing back her head until the sound rang far and near in a wild tumult of rich volume. Cook? I bet you no she in all the fair land of Texas could go her length at that! From fish to fowl, from game to plain roast-she was the one. A regular “Soyer” of the plain ; and we knew it! And she could ride. Vinegar, Jumper, Black Dan-they all knew the touch of her hand on the reins, the feel of her foot in the stirrup.

Take her all in all, there was not a girl up or down the ranches who could hold a candle to Bessie-our Bessie-Blandford.

I call her “our Bessie," and so she was ; although I may as well state on setting out that I was only a humble dependant, a sort of hanger-on and man of all work-and odd work, too-upon Wolf's Ranche.


Why was it Wolf's Ranche? Why? If you'd heard the wolves tearing round and howling of a night you would not have been quite so particular to know the reason why. It would have been pretty obvious. Well, when Bessie pulled up short on that fine spring morning, and expressed her intentions loudly, she meant business. She wheeled Black Dan round in a twinkling, much against his will, I can tell you ; and she never drew rein again until she had cantered back the length of the Liveoak Wood and reached the gully of the Red Cañon. Here she dismounted. “There he is,” she said. “Stand you still, Black Dan, and stir if you dare . " But for security's sake she fastened the bridle to the branch of a neighbouring tree, and, gathering up her skirt, made her way through the underwood. A man lay under the soft blue sky, his face upturned to it, white and still. His hands hung by his side, nerveless and motionless. He might be dead. He might be dying. She did not know. She pushed on until she reached him, and then bent down for a closer inspection. Slowly pulling off her long thick gloves, and taking her hat from her head, she went away in search of the stream whose trickling sound was clearly heard through the intense stillness. The hat—a serviceable felt one—held the water readily; and filling it, she retraced her steps. Kneeling down, she bathed his forehead, her soft brown hands pushing back the short close crop of hair. Then putting her right hand in the form of a cup to his parched lips, she let a little moisture trickle, drop by drop, into his mouth, and sat back to observe the effect of her manoeuvres. The birds on the branches of the tall trees peeped down at her. Butterflies, bees, and many-hued creeping things flittered and crept by on high intent, the sun mounted in the heavens, and her horse pawed the ground in disgust. “You take an unconscionable time, my good man : " she said in a vexed tone. “Whatever you are going to do, I wish you'd do it quickly ” With that she gave him a poke with the butt-end of her whip; and the vigour of the attack enforced attention on the man's part. He slowly opened his eyes. She hailed the movement. “That's right !” she cried cheerily. “Look alive—I’m downright glad you're not dead anyway. You would have been so heavy . "

He turned his head and gave her a long stare.

“Know me again, will you? All right, I'm game! Now. Can you move ? that's the point. I'll help you if you try."

But without the trial on his part, she had raised him to a sitting posture.

“There ! Hold on a bit, and we'll fix you yet!”

She propped him against her knee, as if he were a baby, and with infinite trouble and unceasing toil contrived to raise him to his feet.

"If we can only get you on to my horse,” said she, "we'll soon have you homé and tucked up !”

She did all the talking ; he scarcely opened his mouth, except to groan. So she effected the removal, he passively enduring without making much effort, if indeed he were capable of making one.

She brought the horse to his side.

“I reckon you'll have to do this bit of play yourself, neighbour,” said Bessie. “See, I'll start you fair and soft! Once to stop.” She gave him a mighty list half-way up to the bare back.

“Twice to stay !”. He was a little further on the way.
“Three to be ready !” He helped her as much as he could.
"And four-away! Now you are safe. Stick fast, I'll lead."

It was a long trot, and a longer walk ; and Bess was jaded and tired.

“A man's terribly heavy,” she said as she wiped her brow with her disengaged hand, “and the day is hot. I wonder what happened to the dinner !”.

The man had his work before him. It was as much as he could do to hold on.

The curious procession went forward, and presently the ranche was reached.

We three men were on the verandah smoking. It had not been a blissful day, and our tempers, as well as our dinners, had suffered.

" I'll see if I let Bess go for the letters again,” growled the master over and over. Growls were of no use. We were minus Bess, and we fared accordingly.

Nothing was right-except our smoke.

Jim cooked our steak, and got more kicks than ha'pence by way of reward.

I washed up, and had to stand the jeers of the other two.

The master reclined in lordly state, and we both endured his rage.

Where was Bess? Why did she not return?

were of the letters again,"grouw, bad suffered."

Our work done, we thankfully took seats outside, and smoked the pipe of peace. The master condescended to “shut up,” and unbent sufficiently to ask our opinion as to his sister's misdemeanour. Jim gave his freely ; I did not. Jim is another brother. He is privileged ; I am not. For reasons best known to myself, I declined to be “drawn,” and held my tongue discreetly. Presently Jim looked up. “Hallo ' " he cried ; and said no more. Seeing he stared in silence, we looked up also. “Hallo 1" echoed the master in profoundest amazement. It was a queer sight to be sure, and Bessie looked fagged. But waving her hand triumphantly she turned in at the gate, and led her horse to the verandah steps. “Come, some of you, and take him. Tumble him into a bed— anybody's bed. Mine if you like. He'll die if you don't be sharp.” We were used to her ordering. We took to it kindly now. The master leisurely walked round the horse. I took the stranger on my back. Jim ran to prepare a bed. We could not land him in her room, so he was planted down in mine. It came handiest; and I am not above a turn-over or a shake-down anywhere. Bess hunted out her dinner from the pantry, and put it down to warm. She retired for a few moments, and reappeared as neat and as fresh as a new pin. “There !” she exclaimed gaily. “Is there a cupful of broth to be had in the land, Matt 2 I want to give my man a feed.” She washed him and fed him, as any grannie might, and then, at a growl from the master, bethought herself of her own provender. “Who is he?” asked Jim earnestly. “Don’t know—don't care He'd have died if I had not picked him up. That's all I have to do with it.” She ate her dinner and removed the dishes. “Where's Black Dan P” she asked, coming out to look at us. I signified that he was already stabled. “Who put him up? You, Matt 2 I thought so. They'll kill you off if you don't mind. The master is growing fearfully lazy . " She disappeared before any of us had recovered from this backhander, and we could hear her singing about her work in the kitchen. The master knocked the ashes out of his pipe. “Shouldn't wonder if he's a cut-throat,” he said solemnly. This

was his way of taking revenge.

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