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IV

THE HORSE AND THE GUN

HAVE THEIR DAY

P

ERHAPS no more striking description
of a landscape was ever attempted than

when Mr. Roosevelt said that in the Bad Lands he always felt as if they somehow looked just as Poe's tales and poems sound. It is with this as I said before: we sometimes forget the man of words in the man of deeds. Mr. Roosevelt's writings occasionally suffer from a lack of patience to edit and to polish, but they are always full of vigor and directness; in other words, he is himself when he writes as when he talks, and never more so than when he writes of the great West to which I often think he belongs more than to the East where he was born. His home ranch in western North Dakota was among the Bad Lands of

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the Little Missouri. To grasp fully the meaning of the comparison with Poe, read this from his account of an elk-hunting trip out there:

The tracks led into one of the wildest and most desolate parts of the Bad Lands. It was now the heat of the day, the brazen sun shining out in a cloudless sky and not the least breeze stirring. At the bottom of the valley, in the deep narrow bed of the winding watercourse, lay a few tepid little pools, almost dried up. Thick groves of stunted cedars stood here and there in the glen-like pockets of the high buttes, the peaks and sides of which were bare, and only their lower, terrace-like ledges thinly clad with coarse, withered grass and sprawling sagebrush; the parched hillsides were riven by deep, twisted gorges, with brushwood on the bottoms; and the cliffs of coarse clay were cleft and seamed by sheer-sided, cañon-like gullies. In the narrow ravines, closed in by barren, sunbaked walls, the hot air stoad still and sultry; the only living things were the rattlesnakes, and of these I have never elsewhere seen so many. Some basked in the sun, stretched out at their ugly length of mottled brown and yellow. Others lay half under stones or twined in the roots of the sage-brush, and looked straight at me with that strange, sullen, evil gaze, never shifting or moving, that is the property only of serpents and of certain men; while one or two coiled and rattled menacingly as I stepped near."

Fit setting, that kind of a landscape, for a man who had come out of the sort of fight he had just been in, and lost. Many of those who had fought with him went out of the Republican party and did not return. Roosevelt had it out with the bucking bronchos on his ranch and with the grizzlies in the mountains, and came back to fight in the ranks for the man he had opposed and to go down with him to defeat. He had come to the bitter waters of which men must drink to grow to their full stature-his most ambitious defeat, that of the Mayoralty campaign of 1886, was yet to come--and, according to his sturdy way, he looked the well through and through, and drank deep

There stands upon a shelf in my library a copy of the “ Wilderness Hunter," which he gave me when once I was going to the woods. On the fly-leaf he wrote: “May you enjoy the

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