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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 92

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started them down the opposite side of the hill and then turned his attention to his horse. Two men could have turned those cattle with ease, but he had had to use his horse so hard that she was breathing heavily, and her legs were scratched by the jagged rocks. Feeling inadequate, I watched him as he unsaddled her and looked around for a proper piece of wood to curry her with. Then he took off his bandana and wiped her eyes and muzzle. If he had been a woman with a hurt child, he could not have been more tender. No matter what walk of life a man may fill, there is always a certain flair, an unmistakable air of competence that constitutes aristocracy, whether he is a financial genius, a wizard engineer, or a professional wrangler. The way Bud sat his horse, the way his kerchief flowed over his shoulder, the angle at which he held his reins - all marked him as a member of that breed. The last day of the roundup, I rode with Sam Worthington. We would be going higher up on the mountains than I had ever been before. Mr. Sam and I circled slowly around the hills, jogging on and on, hour after hour. At last we started to climb the mountain to go over the ridge. Once we passed through a band of sheep. Mr. Sam, with a cattleman’s hatred of the creatures, never even looked at them. But I looked back and yelled, “ Look, Mr. Sam. Look at the sheep in the sagebrush. They look like maggots in green cheese.” He kept on climbing. Suddenly we topped the ridge, and I halted to gaze breathlessly at the view before me. Ranges of mountains, towering one over another, marched away into the distance until the last was only a grey- blue film. Hundreds of feet below us lay the central spot of the roundup, with the familiar brown mass in the center and the distance between filled with curved lines of mountain and plain for miles and miles in every direction. The effect on me was staggering. I thought of every significant line of outdoor poetry I had ever encountered. The one that echoed in my memory now with realization, was Henry Van Dyke’s line from “ God of the Open Air”: Oh, how the sight of the things that are great enlarges the eyes! The vastness, the eternal quiet, the being- ness! Here again no green appeared except the dull grey- green of the sage in the foreground, but tan and brown and lavender, pink and those wonderful pastel blues that shade off into grey. Something within me was released. Tears flooded my eyes. I felt as if all the littlenesses clinging to my character could be swept away if I could capture the bigness of that moment. I had a revelation of the significance of life, something to be grasped no matter how tragic the details of living might become. I wanted to throw up my arms and shout, “ Yippee!” as the boys did.

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 92
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