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THE DANCE AT SILVER VALLEY

 

         _DON'T you hear the big spurs jingle?_

         _Don't you feel the red blood tingle?_

         _Be it smile or be it frown,_

         _Be it dance or be it fight,_

         _Broncho Bill has come to town_

         _To dance a dance tonight._

    Chaps, sombrero, handkerchief, silver spurs at heel;

    "Hello, Gil!" and "Hello, Pete!" "How do you think you feel?"

    "Drinks are mine. Come fall in, boys; crowd up on the right.

    Here's happy days and honey joys. I'm going to dance tonight."

    (On his hip in leathern tube, a case of dark blue steel.)

    Bill, the broncho buster, from the ranch at Beaver Bend,

    Ninety steers and but one life in his hands to spend;

    Ready for a fight or spree; ready for a race;

    Going blind with bridle loose every inch of space.

    Down at Johnny Schaeffer's place, see them trooping in,

    Up above the women laugh; down below is gin.

    Belle McClure is dressed in blue, ribbon in her hair;

    Broncho Bill is shaved and slick, all his throat is bare.

    Round and round with Belle McClure he whirls a dizzy spin.

    Jim Kershaw, the gambler, waits,--white his hands and slim.

    Bill whispers, "Belle, you know it well; it is me or him.

    Jim Kershaw, so help me God, if you dance with Belle

    It is either you or me must travel down to hell."

    Jim put his arm around her waist, her graceful waist and slim.

    Don't you hear the banjo laugh? Hear the fiddles scream?

    Broncho Bill leaned at the door, watched the twirling stream.

    Twenty fiends were at his heart snarling, "Kill him sure."

    (Out of hell that woman came.) "I love you, Belle McClure."

    Broncho Bill, he laughed and chewed and careless he did seem.

    The dance is done. Shots crack as one. The crowd shoves for the door.

    Broncho Bill is lying there and blood upon the floor.

    "You've finished me; you've gambler's luck; you've won the trick and

        Belle.

    Mine the soul that here tonight is passing down to hell.

    And I must ride the trail alone. Goodbye to Belle McClure."

    Downstairs on the billiard cloth, something lying white,

    Upstairs still the dance goes on, all the lamps are bright.

    Round and round in merry spin--on the floor a blot;

    Laugh, and chaff and merry spin--such a little spot.

    Broncho Bill has come to town and danced his dance tonight.

         _Don't you hear the fiddle shrieking?_

         _Don't you hear the banjo speaking?_

         _Don't you hear the big spurs jingle?_

         _Don't you feel the red blood tingle?_

         _Faces dyed with desert brown,_

         _(One that's set and white);_

         _Broncho Bill has come to town_

         _And danced his dance tonight._

                           _William Maxwell._