Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

"Big Jim" Hunts Antelope:

"A doe antelope, attracted by the strange appearance of the moving caravan, and impelled by it's innate curiosity, had ventured to a tempting proximity.  Mounted upon a fleet horse and supposing he could easily ride down the antelope, our hero started in pursuit. 

Intently surveying the passing scene, the agile animal permitted him to advance within a few yards of her before she took alarm.  Now was a novel race.  Away went the antelope and away went Jim, in full chase.  The former was soon far ahead, and stopped to gaze upon her pursuer. 

Supposing she had become tired and was about to yield, our hero came dashing on, impetuously, under whip and spur, fully intent upon her capture. But, again, away went antelope, and away went Jim, whose steed, ambitious as its rider, and proud in its own fleetness, strained every nerve for the crisis.  Even the antelope seemed to have found a champion to contest her unrivalled and universally acknowledged superiority.  With distended mouth and protruding tongue, panting in the excitement of fear and foaming in the vehemency of effort, she gained but slowly upon the bounding charger, as both swept over the prairie almost with speed of the storm-wind!

Now, again, she stops to gaze upon her pursuer.  By this time all begin to feel an interest in the result of the strange race.  The word resounded:

"Go it, Jim!  You'll beat the beater, yet!"

Once more, the antelope shoots from before both horse and rider, like the swift-winged arrow twanged from a giant's bow!

A broad ravine intercepting her course was cleared at a bound, and left the flying animal far upon the other side.  At a bound the steed also cleared the barrier, but, in striking upon the opposite bank, it plunged headlong upon the yielding ground, tossing its rider far away in advance all safely sprawling in a sand heap. 

The luckless wight, on recovering, found his noble beast so sprained by the fall it could scarcely stand, and its every nerve vibrating with frightful tremors.  Of course here was the finale of the race, as both now returned to the caravan, the recent rider, on foot, leading his jaded steed, the ridden slowly limping behind, presenting a marked contrast between the opening and closing scene. 

The ill fated horse was too much disabled for further service during the journey.

As our hero joined the company, the joke-loving wags again broke loose:

    "Well, Jim.  I say, ahem!  Did you catch the tarnal critter?"

    "Pooh!  Why didn't you hold on, and not let her slide through your fingers in that way!"

    "Why man!  You wasn't spry enough, when you jumped off your horse or you might have caught her-just as easy"

    "I'd like to know what you was diving arter in that sand-bank!  The antelope wasn't there!"

     "Oh, Jim!  Shoot him grass, kill horse.  Me look next time he run antelope"

The passive recipient of these sallies had little peace from henceforth, and soon began to wish he had never seen an antelope or heard of a crane"

The above passage is from Rufus Sage, Rocky Mountain Life

"Big Jim" Kills a Venomous Serpent
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