Down the Mother Lode

Cover of book Down the Mother Lode
Categories: Fiction » Classic

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" "Again swings the lash on the high mountain trail, And the pipe of the packer is scenting the gale; For the trails are all open, the roads are all free, And the highwayman's whistle is heard on the lea." ?Bret Harte. We were riding one day under the Digger pines, down an abandoned old road toward Mountaineer House. As usual, my spirited half-Arab, as white as she was fleet, had put me far in the lead. She loved a race as well as I did, but she ran it to suit herself. If I tried to interpose any theories of my own, she calmly took the bit in her teeth and after that I devoted most of my energies to hanging on! Mammy Kate, own daughter of Nancy Gooch of Coloma, would scold when I came home with torn skirt and a bump on my forehead: "Now, den, look at dat chile! Been hoss-racin' agin su'ah as Moses was in Egypt! I shall suttenly enjine yo' fathah to done gin' yo' plow-hoss to ride so yo's gwi' git beat wiff yo' racin', and quit Spects yo' had 'nothah tumble, didn't you'? You' wait till Katie gits de camph-fire an' put on dat haid." So did Katie's scoldings invariably end in renewed pampering of her "chile," and so did I continue to race every horse in the community and usually to win. With one small ear laid back to listen for the other horses, little white Flossie flew along the grassy track, darting around the chapparal bushes which had grown up and jumping the fallen tree trunks. Suddenly we came out of the woods and she shied violently at a manwho was digging a fence-post hole directly in the road. I always rode Indian fashion without stirrups of any kind, so of course I was catapulted neatly over her head. "Hello. Otto," I said, remaining seated in the road and catching at Floss' bridle rein, "what have you found?" Otto was sifting the...

Down the Mother Lode
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