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Art and the Bronco
by [?]

“I thought,” said Mullens, “that maybe five hundred–“

“Five hundred!” interrupted Kinney, as he hammered on his glass for a lead pencil and looked around for a waiter. “Only five hundred for a red steer on the hoof delivered by a grandson of Lucien Briscoe! Where’s your state pride, man? Two thousand is what it’ll be. You’ll introduce the bill and I’ll get up on the floor of the Senate and wave the scalp of every Indian old Lucien ever murdered. Let’s see, there was something else proud and foolish he did, wasn’t there? Oh, yes; he declined all emoluments and benefits he was entitled to. Refused his head-right and veteran donation certificates. Could have been governor, but wouldn’t. Declined a pension. Now’s the state’s chance to pay up. It’ll have to take the picture, but then it deserves some punishment for keeping the Briscoe family waiting so long. We’ll bring this thing up about the middle of the month, after the tax bill is settled. Now, Mullens, you send over, as soon as you can, and get me the figures on the cost of those irrigation ditches and the statistics about the increased production per acre. I’m going to need you when that bill of mine comes up. I reckon we’ll be able to pull along pretty well together this session and maybe others to come, eh, Senator?”

Thus did fortune elect to smile upon the Boy Artist of the San Saba. Fate had already done her share when she arranged his atoms in the cosmogony of creation as the grandson of Lucien Briscoe.

The original Briscoe had been a pioneer both as to territorial occupation and in certain acts prompted by a great and simple heart. He had been one of the first settlers and crusaders against the wild forces of nature, the savage and the shallow politician. His name and memory were revered, equally with any upon the list comprising Houston, Boone, Crockett, Clark, and Green. He had lived simply, independently, and unvexed by ambition. Even a less shrewd man than Senator Kinney could have prophesied that his state would hasten to honour and reward his grandson, come out of the chaparral at even so late a day.

And so, before the great picture by the door of the chamber of representatives at frequent times for many days could be found the breezy, robust form of Senator Kinney and be heard his clarion voice reciting the past deeds of Lucien Briscoe in connection with the handiwork of his grandson. Senator Mullens’s work was more subdued in sight and sound, but directed along identical lines.

Then, as the day for the introduction of the bill for appropriation draws nigh, up from the San Saba country rides Lonny Briscoe and a loyal lobby of cowpunchers, bronco-back, to boost the cause of art and glorify the name of friendship, for Lonny is one of them, a knight of stirrup and chaparreras, as handy with the lariat and .45 as he is with brush and palette.

On a March afternoon the lobby dashed, with a whoop, into town. The cowpunchers had adjusted their garb suitably from that prescribed for the range to the more conventional requirements of town. They had conceded their leather chaparreras and transferred their six-shooters and belts from their persons to the horns of their saddles. Among them rode Lonny, a youth of twenty-three, brown, solemn-faced, ingenuous, bowlegged, reticent, bestriding Hot Tamales, the most sagacious cow pony west of the Mississippi. Senator Mullens had informed him of the bright prospects of the situation; had even mentioned–so great was his confidence in the capable Kinney–the price that the state would, in all likelihood, pay. It seemed to Lonny that fame and fortune were in his hands. Certainly, a spark of the divine fire was in the little brown centaur’s breast, for he was counting the two thousand dollars as but a means to future development of his talent. Some day he would paint a picture even greater than this–one, say, twelve feet by twenty, full of scope and atmosphere and action.