Bill Vanero heard them say
ln Arizona town one day,
"There's a band of 'pache indians,
They're on the trail this way."
Bill had heard of a murder done,
Two men killed on Rocky Run,
Though his thoughts were with the cow ranch
On the borders of Rocky Run.
Bill stood gazing all around,
Picked his lasso from the ground,
Caught his little brown Champion
Not many steps away .
Now Bill, you hold your breath
For you're riding straight to death,
There's a band of approaching indians,
They are on the trail this way.
Soon with bridle and hissing . . .
And jingling of the spurs,
The little brown Champion bore the cowboy
Away from friends and home,
Over oakey spots he sped
As his thoughts drift on ahead
To little Bess at the cow ranch
And the boys on Rocky Run.
Just then a rifle shot
Woke the echoes of the spot,
Bill Vanero said, "I'm wounded,"
As he reeled from side to side.
"As long as there's life there's hope,
Swiftly onward I will lope."
Suddenly Bill Vanero halted
In the shadow of the hills.
From his pocket then he took
With weak hands a little book,
He tore a blank leaf from it
Saying, "This will be my will."
From a tree a twig he broke,
Then he dipped his pen of oak
Into the life-blood that was flowing
From the wound above his heart.
This message he wrote fast,
His first love letter and his last,
Tied it safely to the saddle
And his lips grew white with pain,
"Take this message, Champ," he said,
"To little Bessie if not me,
And if I never reach the cow ranch
Little Bess will know I tried."
Cow ranch forty miles away
In a lonely spot that lay
In a green and shady valley
In a mighty wilderness .
Just at dusk a horse of brown
Covered with sweat come panting down
From the lane into the cow ranch
And stopped at Bessie's door.
The cowhoy was asleep
And his slumber was so deep,
Little Bessie tried to wake him,
She tried it o'er and o'er.
Now you've heard tbe story told
By the young and by the old,
How the indians killed Bill Vanero
On the trail of Rocky Run.
Many years have passed away,
And this maiden's hair turned gray,
But she still puts a wreath of roses
On Bill Vanero's grave.
Note: one of many folk derivations of a poem "The Ride of Paul
Venarez" by Eben Rexford in the late 1800s.
From Ozark Folksongs, Randolph
Collected from the Penrod Family, Arkansas, 1941