Jed got to the top of the mountain and sat down to rest. The July sun had made him hot.
It had been a long walk to the top and he was tired. He knew the horse he was trying to capture could not be too far away. He looked at the mountain and the valleys below, searching footmarks left by the horse.
Then he saw the marks going down the other side of the mountain. He must capture the horse. He knew better men than he had tried. Tom Raglan, the best rancher in the state, had tried with the help of his cowboys.
But they had not been able to capture it. It had gotten away from others, too. They all said it was too wild. It could not be captured.
After a slow, painful walk down the mountain, Jed came to a cool-looking river. He drank the clear water.
Further down the valley he saw the black horse. It stood under a tree out of the sun. Jed moved closer, then hid behind a tree to watch. It was the biggest and blackest and blackest he had ever seen.
Jed knew all about horse. He had grown into a man caring for them. He had never earned more than '10 but he had dreams: If he could get a male and female house and 10 hectares of land, he could sell horses. That would be all the happiness Jed wanted.
Night came. The big black house moved from under the tree and began to eat grass near the river. Jed watched again. A few hours later, he found a soft place in the ground. He placed his head against an old fallen tree and slept.
The next day he woke with the sun. His eyes searched for the horse, and there it was, grazing. Jed saw how it ate, then lifted its head and looked all around. It was the mark of the wild, always looking for hidden danger.
Jed started to walk toward the horse. The horse stopped eating and looking at Jed. Jed's heart began to beat heavily. Men had said the horse was a killer. Still, he walked closer.
Fifteen meters away from the horse Jed stopped. The horse had lifted its front feet high in the air, then placed them heavily back on the ground. Jed moved closer. He talked to the horse in a soft voice.
Then, with a loud scream, the horse turned and ran down the valley. Jed sank to the ground wet with excitement. He had done what no man had done.
He had almost touched the wild horse. The animal was not a killer. If it had been, Jed would be dead now.
For six days he followed the horse. He rested when the horse rested. Jed did not like the land they were in now. The sides of the valley were high and filled with big rocks. Few trees were around. And the bottom of the valley was soft and wet.
Jed watched the horse a while, and then lay down to sleep.
In the middle of the night, he was awakened by thunder and rain. He walked up the rocks until he found a dry hole, safe from the rain, and he slept again.
The next day was cold and wet. Heavy rains had softened the bottom of the valley. He followed the house most of the day. The wet valley was the only place it could walk now.
The sides of the valley had gotten higher. Toward evening he saw it again. But this time there was fear in its face. He stopped and watched. The horse's nose was smelling the air. It smelled danger. It smelled danger.
Jed thought of wild animals, a wildcat or bear maybe. He pulled his knife from his pants. He looked among the rocks but saw nothing.
He began walking toward the horse. The wildcat could have been on either side of the valley. He walked slowly, trying to watch both sides at the same time.
Slowly he came to the horse's side. Jed kept watching the rocks. If the cat was going to attack, it would do it now. He felt the excitement of danger.
#p#副标题#e#Suddenly the silence was broken. The black horse screamed loudly, a cry of fear. It began running down the wet valley.
At the same time there was a heavy, deep noise from the rocks. Then it happened. Tons of wet earth and big rocks began moving down the sides of the mountain. The land itself was the enemy.
When the air became clear, Jed looked for the horse. In front of him were tons of the fallen earth. He could not see down the valley and could not see the horse.
He slowly climbed over the fallen rocks. On the other side was the horse, more frightened than ever. Its legs were stuck in the soft earth and it could not move. The more it struggled, the deeper it sank in the mud.
Jed walked toward the animal. Each step he took, the soft mud tried to suck him down, too. He walked on the grassy places harder than the mud.
When he got to the horse, it was in the mud up to his stomach. Now it could move only its head. Jed felt wildly happy when he touched the horse. “Don't struggle and do not worry, Horse! I'll get you out!”
Suddenly he felt the horses teeth on his arm. He bit his lip to stop it from crying aloud. His free hand gently calmed the horse and slowly it let go. It pressed its nose against Jed's face. At last they were friends.
Now Jed could go to work. He studied the problem carefully. He had no way to lift the big horse from the mud. Certainly his rope was not strong enough.
Only this time, he placed rocks in the holes he dug. The rocks stayed still and slowly a wall began to form. He did this through the day and when night came, his hands were bloody, torn by the sharp rocks.
He knew night would be a bad time for the horse. He did not want it to become frightened and struggle against the wall of rock he was building in the mud.
He cut some small trees, laid them on the ground next to the horse and all through the night, he spoke soft, kind words to it to calm its fears.
The next morning, he brought grass for it to eat and began his work again. It was slow, hard work. When night came, he lay next to the horse again. He did not want it to struggle yet. The time had not come for the test.
By the middle of the next day, he had enough rocks in the mud on one side of the horse. Now he began to dig near the houses front legs. His rocks began to make the mud harder. The horse was able to move a little.
And when the pressure became less, it raised one of its front legs on to the rocks. It pushed against the rocks on its side and lifted its body a little out of the mud.
Jed got his rope and tied it around the horses neck. He began to pull on the rope.
The horse felt the pull and struggled with all its power against the mud. It raised its other front leg on the rocks and with a mighty push with its back legs and with Jed pulling on its neck, it moved forward toward hard land.
Jed fell on the earth, happy but tired. He had not eaten for three days. He had slept little. Half sleep, he felt the horses nose push against his face. He jumped to his feet and when he brought grass for the horse it made friendly noises and playfully pushed him.
A week later, a big black horse rode on the land owned by Tom Raglan. It stopped near the ranch house. A little man got off the horses back. Tom Raglan looked at the horse with eyes that did not believe. Finally he said: "You got him."
"I got him, Tom, and I brought him back as I said I would."
Raglan looked at the horse. Above all, he was a horseman and there was no need for Jed to tell him how he captured it. Jed's tired face, his torn hands, dirty clothes and thin body told the story.
“Jed,” Raglan said. “that horse will kill anyone except you. I do not want it. But I have not forgotten my promise."
"I will give you some land and the old house in back of the ranch if you will keep the horse there. I pay you '30 a month, if you will let me send my female horses to the black horse."
"I want the black horse's blood in my horses. And you can keep every seventh horse for yourself.”
Jed put his arm around the black horse. The black horse was his. His dream had come true. It was too much all at once.