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RIDERS OF THE STARS

 

    TWENTY abreast down the Golden Street ten thousand riders marched;

    Bow-legged boys in their swinging chaps, all clumsily keeping time;

    And the Angel Host to the lone, last ghost their delicate eyebrows

        arched

    As the swaggering sons of the open range drew up to the throne

        sublime.

    Gaunt and grizzled, a Texas man from out of the concourse strode,

    And doffed his hat with a rude, rough grace, then lifted his eagle

        head;

    The sunlit air on his silvered hair and the bronze of his visage

        glowed;

    "Marster, the boys have a talk to make on the things up here," he

        said.

    A hush ran over the waiting throng as the Cherubim replied:

    "He that readeth the hearts of men He deemeth your challenge strange,

    Though He long hath known that ye crave your own, that ye would not

        walk but ride,

    Oh, restless sons of the ancient earth, ye men of the open range!"

    Then warily spake the Texas man: "A petition and no complaint

    We here present, if the Law allows and the Marster He thinks it fit;

    We-all agree to the things that be, but we're longing for things that

        ain't,

    So we took a vote and we made a plan and here is the plan we writ:--

    "_'Give us a range and our horses and ropes, open the Pearly Gate,

    And turn us loose in the unfenced blue riding the sunset rounds,

    Hunting each stray in the Milky Way and running the Rancho straight;

    Not crowding the dogie stars too much on their way to the

        bedding-grounds._

    "_'Maverick comets that's running wild, we'll rope 'em and brand 'em

        fair,

    So they'll quit stampeding the starry herd and scaring the folks

        below,

    And we'll save 'em prime for the round-up time, and we riders'll all

        be there,

    Ready and willing to do our work as we did in the long ago._

    "_'We've studied the Ancient Landmarks, Sir; Taurus, the Bear, and

        Mars,

    And Venus a-smiling across the west as bright as a burning coal,

    Plain to guide as we punchers ride night-herding the little stars,

    With Saturn's rings for our home corral and the Dipper our water

        hole._

    "_'Here, we have nothing to do but yarn of the days that have long

        gone by,

    And our singing it doesn't fit in up here though we tried it for old

        time's sake;

    Our hands are itching to swing a rope and our legs are stiff; that's

        why

    We ask you, Marster, to turn us loose--just give us an even break!'_"

    Then the Lord He spake to the Cherubim, and this was His kindly word:

    "He that keepeth the threefold keys shall open and let them go;

    Turn these men to their work again to ride with the starry herd;

    My glory sings in the toil they crave; 'tis their right. I would have

        it so."

    Have you heard in the starlit dusk of eve when the lone coyotes roam,

    The _Yip! Yip! Yip!_ of a hunting cry and the echo that shrilled

        afar,

    As you listened still on a desert hill and gazed at the twinkling

        dome,

    And a viewless rider swept the sky on the trail of a shooting star?

                         _Henry Herbert Knibbs._