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Mark Twain > A Horse's Tale > Chapter XV

A Horse's Tale

Chapter XV


To return, now, to where I was, and tell you the rest. We shall
never know how she came to be there; there is no way to account for
it. She was always watching for black and shiny and spirited
horses - watching, hoping, despairing, hoping again; always giving
chase and sounding her call, upon the meagrest chance of a
response, and breaking her heart over the disappointment; always
inquiring, always interested in sales-stables and horse
accumulations in general. How she got there must remain a mystery.

At the point which I had reached in a preceding paragraph of this
account, the situation was as follows: two horses lay dying; the
bull had scattered his persecutors for the moment, and stood
raging, panting, pawing the dust in clouds over his back, when the
man that had been wounded returned to the ring on a remount, a poor
blindfolded wreck that yet had something ironically military about
his bearing - and the next moment the bull had ripped him open and
his bowls were dragging upon the ground: and the bull was charging
his swarm of pests again. Then came pealing through the air a
bugle-call that froze my blood - "IT IS I, SOLDIER - COME!" I
turned; Cathy was flying down through the massed people; she
cleared the parapet at a bound, and sped towards that riderless
horse, who staggered forward towards the remembered sound; but his
strength failed, and he fell at her feet, she lavishing kisses upon
him and sobbing, the house rising with one impulse, and white with
horror! Before help could reach her the bull was back again -

She was never conscious again in life. We bore her home, all
mangled and drenched in blood, and knelt by her and listened to her
broken and wandering words, and prayed for her passing spirit, and
there was no comfort - nor ever will be, I think. But she was
happy, for she was far away under another sky, and comrading again
with her Rangers, and her animal friends, and the soldiers. Their
names fell softly and caressingly from her lips, one by one, with
pauses between. She was not in pain, but lay with closed eyes,
vacantly murmuring, as one who dreams. Sometimes she smiled,
saying nothing; sometimes she smiled when she uttered a name - such
as Shekels, or BB, or Potter. Sometimes she was at her fort,
issuing commands; sometimes she was careering over the plain at the
head of her men; sometimes she was training her horse; once she
said, reprovingly, "You are giving me the wrong foot; give me the
left - don't you know it is good-bye?"

After this, she lay silent some time; the end was near. By-and-by
she murmured, "Tired . . . sleepy . . . take Cathy, mamma." Then,
"Kiss me, Soldier." For a little time, she lay so still that we
were doubtful if she breathed. Then she put out her hand and began
to feel gropingly about; then said, "I cannot find it; blow
'taps.'" It was the end.

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