But there are other scenes, and terrible ones. The cattle have been herded. The sky is fairly clear. The stars are shining, and yet in the distance there are some few black clouds just rising over the horizon. The experienced foreman believes that a sudden storm is brewing. There is an ominous mist, and the cattle seem uneasy. The Cowboys have been slowly riding around the herd, calling them with their weird singing. Jim the boss is watchful. He sees the rising bank of cloud, and now he hears the muttering of the distant thunder. Cattle are subject to panics, and when they are once started, it can be impossible to stop them. Jim can no longer stand it. He cries out.
“Tumble out, fellers! Git up! There’s going to be a storm.”
With grunts of protest the cow puncher’s rollout of their blankets and sit up in the night, rubbing their eyes. They see the bank of cloud now reaching over them, and here the steady roar of the thunder approaching. The wind begins to sob in the grass, and little particles of dust go whirling by.
The skylight queerly, so that objects may be faintly seen, men riding along the edge of the herd, keeping the cattle back and closing them up. The sounds of a confused sort come from among the cattle, grumblings and mutterings, mingled with the chanting of the cowboys riding. The storm is nearly passed, but the whole air it is alive with electricity. The discharge of the thunder is as is the noise of the cannon. The lightning falls not a jagged lines, putting bursting balls of flame, which detonate with terrible reports. Along the tips of the horns of the cattle the faint flames play in weird ways, as the fires of St. Elmo upon the spars of a ship caught in a storm at sea. The men still hold the line, Colling to the cattle, which are now clattering and shuffling about in a way not pleasant to hear, though they still do not break into any concerted rush. Now and again some start is made by some frightened animal, but the nearest cowboy turns it back, riding against the head of each break showing toward the edge. The herd is shifting ground in a little, edging a trifle downwind. This brings it nearer to the camping place, nearer also to the wagon of the cook, which stands with its white cover broken loose and flapping upon the gale. There is a call of a voice which begins to shout out something.
The sound of the rushing hose of near 10,000 cattle is imposing enough at any time, but heard mangled and confused in the running of the dark it is something terrible. A loud cracking of clothes comes through the fog of sound, and the mad rattling of the great horned song together in the crush as the cattle struggle to head out of the suffocating press behind them. And on all sides. Mandy indeed is this chase tonight, and far will be its ending, this ride with the accompaniment of the booming thunder and with the rip in light of the lightning for its only beacon.
Now, if ever, you must be men of proof. Into the rattle of it, up into the head of it, press, spur, turn them aside, right into them, over them, but ride fast and thoughtless of yourself! There is no possibility of taking care. The pony must do it all. The pony knows what a stumble means. The herd will rollover horse and man, and crush them as if they were but prairie flowers.”
The story of the stampede is gravely told, and immensely dramatic. When the cowboy is to be consigned to mother earth there is no funeral service. He is “buried in his blankets, with his hat over his face and his boots and his spurs in place, as he slept when he was alive. A soldier of the plains, he dared the risks of his calling and met them like a man.” The cowboy in the old time was known to have roped a buffalo.