An Antelope, A Rope & A Small Boy
I look out my window to the stable where Bud's two cow ponies and Father's two fancy horses are quartered and to the corral where my two ponies are munching hay. I'm pretty proud of the whole affair, especially the three people downstairs. It is nine now and Sunday school starts at ten. Then church, where I am supposed to sing with he choir. Maybe something will happen before that.
Everything is ready, except Sally to brush my hair and put on the black ribbon tie, when I take a last look out the window. Here is something to gladden the heart of any small boy. On our lawn, eating our wonderful green grass, are five of the prettiest antelope I have ever seen. They evidently have just landed, because when I look out the window before, they were not there.
Three of the bunch I have seen before, the two little guys are new. The three largest ones were here in the winter looking for food on a day when there was a blizzard. Sally fed them some potato peelings and Bud put out some hay on top of the snow. Then they were very thin and didn't look good, but today they are fat and beautiful, with their big bunch of white hair for a tail and their slick coat. They are a sight to see. This is the only time I ever saw antelope this close to town in the summer.
I start to call my family to see the sight, when I have a better idea. Gone is any thought of Sunday school, my blue suit, or future plans. I have immediate business. Down the back stairs I go, through the kitchen and the front room where Bud is playing solitaire and Father is reading. All this without attracting undue attention, and I am out the front door, down the steps and out the front gate. The coast is clear. Ducking down so I won't be seen, I run along the front and turn back to the stable, keeping well out of sight of my antelope until I reach the back of our corral. Here I slow up because it seems I have escaped safely from the house. My babies are still deep in grass.
This is going to be perfect. If I can get my rope in position and open the door quietly but fast and get one shot. If I remember everything Bud has taught me. I will catch this guy, and will Father and Bud ever be proud of me! Clothes I have forgotten all about. Like I have been taught, I make a small loop for a quick throw, with the coil in my left hand, the loop in my right. I am about to open the door with my knee when I remember that, last month out to our ranch, I roped a wild horse going out a gate. I didn't only lose the rope, I got my hands rope-burned. And worst of all, it was one of Bud's best ropes and he spent a full day recovering it, which didn't make him too happy. This time I will be safe. I tie the very end of the rope around my waist, leaving myself plenty to cast. Putting one of Bud's gloves on my left hand, I leave my right hand free to cast my loop.
I am ready. All this has taken me practically no time. With one more look to see just where my prey is, I find everything to my liking. With a quick gentle push of my knee, the antelope and I are as one. My beautiful overhand loop has opened directly above and in front, so Mr. Antelope has no place to go. But go he does, straight up, turning in the air toward the wide open spaces.
This is possibly the first and only time a small boy has been attached to a jet-propelled antelope. This baby hits the end of the rope, jerking me straight up in the air and landing me on my belly, square on top of the broken part of Father's boardwalk from which nail heads stick out everywhere. Mr. Antelope has barely cleared our picket fence, what with having me on the other end of the rope, and is flattened out. By the time I have unscrambled myself from the boards, he is on his feet again and away we go. One jerk and I am flat on my belly in the nice green grass, sliding across the lawn and down the terrace, where my head hits the bottom of the picket fence with a bang. I am not feeling so good. A shadow passes over the top of me and the fence, and I know I am being rescued by my long-suffering but faithful brother, who grabs the rope and, hand over hand, separates the loop from a surprised and very happy antelope. I have come to enough that I am trying to climb the terrace on my knees when Bud gives me a hand and unties the rope from around my waist.
Copyright Frederick Libby. For permission to reprint this excerpt please contact horsesdon'tfly.com
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