Gateway to the Classics: Davy Crockett by Frank Lee beals
Davy Crockett by  Frank Lee beals

Buffalo and Wild Horses

D AVY held his breath as he watched the buffalo in their thundering stampede. Out of the cloud of dust came the leader, a big black bull. He came roaring, his tail straight on end.

Davy felt his mustang tremble. He patted the animal on the neck. "Steady! Boy, steady!" he said. Then raising Old Betsy, he took careful aim and fired at the old bull.

The bull bellowed and stopped. The buffalo immediately behind the leader stopped, too. But the ones farther to the rear crashed into the buffalo in front of them. Then the herd stood still.

"I hit him!" cried Davy.

The old bull bellowed and pawed the earth. As suddenly as he had stopped he now raced off around a rise in the ground. The herd followed their leader. They swept by. The dust rolled into a cloud and hung over the herd.

Davy and Thimblerig watched. They sat motionless on their mustangs. "Never have I seen anything as wonderful," said Davy.

Davy put spurs to his mustang's flanks and dashed after the herd. He raced over the prairie following the cloud of dust ahead. Davy urged his mustang to greater speed. But he did not overtake the buffalo. The cloud of dust which they made became smaller and smaller.

The herd of buffalo passed out of sight. "I will keep going," said Davy aloud, "maybe they will stop to rest and I can overtake them."

The mustang stumbled and almost fell. "Careful there," said Davy. Then he pulled the mustang to a stop. "You need a rest," he said as he dismounted.

After a short rest Davy again tried to overtake the buffalo. The trail was easy to follow. For almost two hours he followed it. "It's useless," he said. "I cannot overtake them."

A narrow stream wound its way into the distance. "Maybe there are settlers near," said Davy to himself. "I will go ahead."

He looked carefully for signs that would lead him to a cabin. There were no signs or trails. But Davy rode on. He came to the stream.

Suddenly Davy stopped the mustang. His eyes searched the prairie. Aloud he said, "I am lost. No one has ever been here before. I will follow that stream. It must lead to a trail somewhere."

Davy dismounted and leading his mustang, walked for several miles. As he walked along he made a trail that could easily be followed. "If I come to my own trail again," he said quietly, "then I will know I am not gaining ground."

He mounted his mustang and forded the stream.

A short distance ahead was a grove of trees.

"The sun is hot," he said. "I will ride in the shade."

The grove was almost a mile long. Davy rode through it and came out on a prairie.

Tall grass stretched on as far as Davy could see.

The mustang whinnied. "Trouble ahead, Boy?" Davy asked. "Oh, I see your friends. That herd of wild horses."

Davy held the reins tightly as his mustang whinnied again. The herd of horses raised their heads. In a flash they dashed toward Davy and his mustang. They circled around and around. The circle became smaller and smaller. Davy, mounted on his mustang in the middle of the circle, was in trouble.

"I must get out of this circle," said Davy. The mustang reared into the air. "He is trying to throw me," said Davy sitting firmly in the saddle. Again and again the little beast reared into the air. Each time Davy held his seat.

The mustang broke from the circle and raced away. Immediately the herd raced after him.

"You are the wildest of wild horses," said Davy as he tried to control his mustang. He pulled the reins sharply but the animal raced on. Davy tried to control the mustang, but could not.

Ahead lay the flat prairie. Miles and miles of perfect racing ground with no barrier to stop the headlong flight. Every once in a while Davy's mustang whinnied to the racing horses that followed.

For more than half an hour Davy's mustang led the wild race. "He will wear himself out," Davy said. "He has to carry me, the others are free. If I can stay in my saddle all will be well."

A fine handsome bay horse had been following closely behind. Finally he pulled up along side Davy's mustang. Now the little mustang tried to retain his lead. The two horses raced neck and neck for about ten minutes.

Davy spurred his mustang. "Come on," he called. "Let's win this race." But slowly the bay pulled ahead. A second horse now passed by. The little mustang was slowing down. Another and another raced by. The last wild horse passed and raced away into the distance.

The bay stopped for a moment when he came to the bank of the river. Then he plunged into the water. The other horses plunged into the water, too. On reaching the opposite bank the herd of wild horses raced off into the distance.

Davy and his mustang came to the river. The mustang fell and lay still. "You are worn out, and so am I," said Davy as he removed the saddle.

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