Gibbon reaching for the moon’s reflection, Ohara Koson (1926)

By William C. White

From Story (1943)


THE GREAT LEGENDARY cowboy of Texas, Pecos Bill, used to sing of himself,

Oh, I’m wild and woolly
And full of fleas,
Ain’t never been curried
Below the knees.

I’m a wild she-wolf
From Bitter Creek
And it’s my night
To h-o-w-l!

No one of the many stories tells precisely what happened to him at the end of his career. They don’t tell because no one knows except Panhandle Pete who was there and he wouldn’t talk until just recently.
Here, for the first time, is Pete’s story.

There were a lot of things Pecos Bill used to like, Pete says, and liquor and women and the smell of sagebrush and the way the prairie looked in spring and shooting and riding and singing and the taste of beef broiled over a little outdoor fire were just a few of the things he liked. But I guess what he liked best was hunting coyotes. Ever since he’d been a small boy he’d chased coyotes, trapped coyotes, shot coyotes, thrown rocks at coyotes, and run them ragged on foot until they dropped, with their tongues hanging out. “They’re smart animules,” Bill always said. “It’s a test of a man’s intelligence to out-think ‘em.”

As Bill got older and his wind wasn’t so good any more he had to give up chasing coyotes, that is, until Baby came along.

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