His voice was not raised, but it carried through the thin air to Jake’s ears as if it had been shouted through two generations of Rivers. “Be a good passenger, Son. Let the horse drive.”
Jake look a light grip on the saddle horn and let the little gelding have his head. The bull saw an opening and took it, only to find himself nose to nose with Scar. He raced to the other side. Same result. Jake felt as if he were sitting on a spot no larger than a dime, legs loose and easy, body floating with the horse’s graceful movements. For the first time, Jake heard the music his grandfather had always described. Creaking leather; hooves trampling and sliding on hard ground; small bellows of protest from the bull; effortless exhalations of satisfied air from Scar’s nose combined for a beautiful symphony Jake had never heard before. Even the rising dust seemed to find a voice and bring a satisfying crescendo to the music. Scar blocked every escape route the bull tried, and Jake tingled when the bull finally gave up and went into the lane. He took a deep breath and stifled a shout of exultation but could not keep the corners of his mouth from turning up. Rance slipped the post behind the bull’s legs and turned to smile at Mattie as the sound of slow clapping came across the arena. String was putting his hands together and smiling. Jake acted as if he did not hear the clapping, tied his horse to a snub post, climbed the chute, and pulled up the bull’s tail.