Colin F. Jones

~ One Spur And The Arrow ~
Part 9 ~ THE FOURTH RIDE

~ 311 ~

From the resting herd of cattle
In the sunlight of the day
The three brave stockmen thundered
Across the burning way

~ 312 ~

Their horses galloped easy
Saving strength and fire
For in the haze the plain was flat,
With fifty miles to tire.

~ 313 ~

One Spur’s white-eyed Arrow
Fought against the rein
But One Spur held him steady
Across the rough terrain.

~ 314 ~

John Stokes purebred paint
Also fought the rein
As he galloped swift and powerful
With wildly flowing mane

~ 315 ~

But the faithful bay of Deacons
Just settled into pace
For his strain was not of fire,
To win a pounding race.

~ 316 ~

The hours passed and the day wore on,
But the horses held their stride
As in their wake the hurling sand
Sprayed many hoof thumps wide.

~ 317 ~

The sun grew hot with merciless heat
And strived to tire them down
But such men and horses would not tire
As they swiftly covered ground.

~ 318 ~

Then suddenly disaster struck
The blood paint broke a rein,
In the wind he opened stride
To display his gallant strain

~ 319 ~

With pounding hoof and flashing limb
He hammered through the dust
Cutting up the sun baked earth
From the hardened crust

~ 320 ~

John Stokes tried to hold him
But the paint had ‘took’ the bit
John new he could not stop him
As he ducked from flying grit.

~ 321 ~

“I’ll slow him when he tires,”
Called John Stokes into the air
“Do not try to catch me
For your horses you must spare.”

~ 322 ~

So deep into the desert
Ran the mighty stallion Sholt
Leaving One Spur and Deacon
To watch his lightning bolt.

~ 323 ~

So the two rode on and on,
Astride slowly tiring steeds
As in the distance the lofty hills
Displayed their towering trees

~ 324 ~

Soon the leaves flashed by them
As they hit the rugged slopes
And there the plunging gullies
Teased their pleasant hopes

~ 325 ~

This was The Arrow country
So slowed not his flashing stride
But Deacon’s bay was striving
To stay by the stallion’s side

~ 326 ~

The shale and pebbles whipped and flew
Dead twigs snapped and sped
The riders ducked from swishing branch
That could crush a human head

~ 327 ~

The land grew more rugged now
The bush was denser yet
The sun grew hotter in the sky
And the pace was slower set

~ 328 ~

A mile away deep in the scrub,
A spark set up a blaze
And only moments later on
The forest was a crimson haze.

~ 329 ~

The riders smelt the swirling smoke
And saw the flames draw near
The Arrow felt the burning heat
And widened stride with fear

~ 330 ~

Deacon’s bay grew skittish
And squealed a fearful scream
In the smoke brave One Spur cried,
“Head for the nearest stream!”

~ 331 ~

A-sway in blackened saddle
One Spur turned his horse
To flee the roaring fire
From its terrible flaming force

~ 332 ~

Blind of eye but forced by fear
The Arrow toothed the bit
One Spur clutching at the mane
With now a stronger grip

~ 333 ~

Deacon now was riding
A wildly bucking bay
Amid the flames and choking smoke
Where the dying bushland lay

~ 334 ~

One Spur plunging hands to mane
Closed his eyes with fear.
“Go great horse! Go wild Arrow
Show your courage here!”

~ 335 ~

And the great horse clothed in fire
with a flash of marvellous speed
Burst through the blazing trees
With a display of his wild breed

~ 336 ~

Plunged through the burning gullies
And over the charred black ground
Down the loose rocked ridge sides
His mighty hooves beat down.

~ 337 ~

Across the open country
The scattered trees flashed by
By the way a wide creek curved
a sight to please the eye

~ 338 ~

Deacon could not stay with them
Upon his faithful bay
And the fire ever closer
was cutting off his way

~ 339 ~

The bay was scorched and burned
Deacon bruised and cut
As all around the fire raged
Escape’s only door was shut

~ 340 ~

But the bay with gallant effort
Stretched his sublime limb
Galloped with a pounding heart
Over the top of the blazing rim

~ 341 ~

Into a furnace of heat and pain
Into a wall of seething fire
Across the flats with smouldering mane
The stream his whole desire

~ 342 ~

There the creak a swirling pool
Bubbling through the bush
Begged the bay to reach its cool
Urged on his powerful rush

~ 343 ~

Then clear air was whipping by them
As they hurtled down the bank
Deacon falling from the saddle
Hit the creek and sank

~ 344 ~

The cold clear stream revived him
As he swam the stream to shore
Where he lay by the water’s edge
Battered bruised and sore

~ 345 ~

There his faithful bay
Stood flank high in the creek
With steaming main and mattered hair
He dropped his head to drink