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Title: Faro Nell and Her Friends - Wolfville Stories
Author: Lewis, Alfred Henry, 1857-1914
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Faro Nell and Her Friends - Wolfville Stories" ***

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[Illustration: WE MAKES FOUR TRIPS BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN WOLFVILLE AND
RED DOG, CRACKIN' OFF OUR GOOD OLD '45'S AT IRREG'LAR INTERVALS, FARO
NELL ON HER CALICO PONY AS THE GODDESS OF LIBERTY, BUSTIN' AWAY WITH THE
REST. Frontispiece. p. 170.]



FARO NELL AND HER FRIENDS

WOLFVILLE STORIES

BY

ALFRED HENRY LEWIS

AUTHOR OF "WOLFVILLE," "WOLFVILLE DAYS," "WOLFVILLE NIGHTS," "WOLFVILLE
FOLKS," "THE BOSS," "THE SUNSET TRAIL," "THE APACHES OF
NEW YORK," "THE STORY OF PAUL JONES," ETC.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY

W. HERBERT DUNTON AND J. N. MARCHAND

G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK



Copyright, 1913, By

G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

Faro Nell and Her Friends



THIS BOOK

IS DEDICATED TO

WILLIAM EUGENE LEWIS

AS MARKING

MY APPRECIATION OF

WHAT QUALITIES PLACE HIM HIGH

AMONG THE BEST EDITORS

BEST BROTHERS AND BEST MEN

I'VE EVER MET

A. H. L.



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE
        I DEAD SHOT BAKER                                            7
       II OLD MAN ENRIGHT'S UNCLE                                   39
      III CYNTHIANA, PET-NAMED ORIGINAL SIN                         61
       IV OLD MONTE, OFFICIAL DRUNKARD                              99
        V HOW THE MOCKING BIRD WAS WON                             126
       VI THAT WOLFVILLE-RED DOG FOURTH                            148
      VII PROPRIETY PRATT, HYPNOTIST                               176
     VIII THAT TURNER PERSON                                       198
       IX RED MIKE                                                 225
        X HOW TUTT SHOT TEXAS THOMPSON                             260
       XI THE FUNERAL OF OLD HOLT                                  295
      XII SPELLING BOOK BEN                                        320



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                  PAGE
  We makes four trips back and forth between Wolfville and Red
      Dog, crackin' off our good old '45's at irreg'lar
      intervals, Faro Nell on her calico pony as the Goddess of
      Liberty, bustin' away with the rest. . . . Frontispiece      170
  We're all discussin' the doin's of this yere road-agent when
      Dan gets back from Red-Dog, an' the result is he unloads
      his findin's on a dead kyard.                                 18
  Dead Shot stops short at this hitch in the discussion, by
      reason of a bullet from the Lightin' Bug's pistol which
      lodges in his lung.                                           28
  The second evening Old Stallins is with us, Dan Boggs an'
      Texas Thompson uplifts his aged sperits with the "Love
      Dance of the Catamounts."                                     42
  "It's you, Oscar, that I want," observes Miss Bark. "I
      concloodes, upon sober second thought, to accept your
      offer of marriage."                                           90
  A couple of Enright's riders comes a packin' a live bobcat
      into town.                                                   118
  Turkey Track, seein' he's afoot an' thirty miles from his home
      ranch pulls his gun an' sticks up the mockin' bird's
      buckboard.                                                   138
  We sees the Turner person aboard an' wishes him all kinds of
      luck.                                                        222
  "What's the subject?" Peets asks. "That, my friend, is the
      'Linden in October,'" returns Mike, as though he's a
      showin' us a picture of Heaven's front gate.                 238
  "Him an' Annalinda shore do constitoote a picture. 'Thar's a
      pa'r to draw to,' says Nell to Texas, her eyes like brown
      diamonds."                                                   280
  Thar's a bombardment which sounds like a battery of gatlings,
      the whole punctchooated by a whirlwind of "whoops!"          316
  "Onless girls is barred," declares Faro Nell, from her perch
      on the chair "I've a notion to take a hand."                 336



FARO NELL AND HER FRIENDS



I

DEAD SHOT BAKER


"Which you never knows Dead Shot Baker?"

This, from the old cattleman, with a questioning glance my way.

"No? Well, you shore misses knowin' a man! Still, it ain't none so
strange neither; even Wolfville's acquaintance with Dead Shot's only
what you-all might call casyooal, him not personally lastin' more'n
three months.

"This yere Dead Shot has a wife. Thar's women you don't want to see
ontil you're tired, an' women you don't want to see ontil you're
rested, an' women you don't want to see no how--don't want to see at
all. This wife of Dead Shot's belongs with the latter bunch.

"Last evenin' I'm readin' whar one of them philosophic sports asserts
that women, that a-way, is shore the sublimation of the oncertain.
That's how he lays it down; an' he never hedges the bluff for so much
as a single chip. He insists that you can't put a bet on women; that
you can bet on hosses or kyards or 'lections, but not on women--women
bein' too plumb oncertain. As I reads along, I can't he'p feelin' that
somehow this philosophic party must have knowed Dead Shot's wife.

"The first time we-all ever sees Dead Shot, he comes trackin' into the
Red Light one evenin' jest after the stage rolls up. Bein' it's
encroachin' on second drink time, he sidles up to the bar; an' then,
his manner some diffident an' apol'getic, he says:

"'Gents, do you-all feel like a little licker, that a-way?'

"It bein' imp'lite to reefuse, we assembles within strikin' distance
of the bottles Black Jack is slammin' the len'th of the counter, an'
begins spillin' out our forty drops. At this he turns even more
apol'getic.

"'Which I trusts,' he says, 'that no one'll mind much if I takes
water?'

"Of course no one minds. Wolfville don't make no speshulty of forcin'
whiskey onto no gent who's disinclined. If they prefers water, we
encourages 'em.

"'An' for this yere reason,' expounds Boggs, once when he ondertakes
to explain the public attitoode towards water to some inquirin'
tenderfoot--'an' for this partic'lar reason: Arizona is a dry an' arid
clime; an' water drinkers bein' a cur'ous rarity, we admires to keep a
spec'men or two buck-jumpin' about, so's to study their habits.'

"As we picks up our glasses, Dead Shot sets to introdoocin' himse'f.

"'My name, gents,' he says, 'is Baker, Abner Baker. The Wells-Fargo
folks sends me down yere from Santa Fe to ride shotgun for 'em.'

"The name's plenty s'fficient. It's him who goes to a showdown with
them three road agents who lays for the stage over in a spur of the
Black Range back of San Marcial, an' hives the three. That battle
saves the company $200,000; an', they're that pleased with Dead Shot's
industry, they skins the company's bankroll for a bundle of money the
size of a roll of blankets, an' gives it to him by way of reward.
It's the talk of the two territories.

"While we-all knows Dead Shot when he speaks his name, none of us lets
on. It's ag'inst ettiquette in the southwest to know more of a gent
than what he tells himse'f.

"'So water's all you samples?' puts in Texas Thompson, as we stands
an' drinks.

"'It's like this,' explains Dead Shot, appealin' round with his eye.
'You see I can't drink nosepaint none, an' drink successful.'

"'Shore,' observes Faro Nell, who's takin' her diminyootive toddy
right at Dead Shot's elbow; 'thar's gents so organized that to go
givin' 'em licker is like tryin' to play a harp with a hammer.'

"That's me,' exclaims Dead Shot; 'that's me, Miss, every time. Give me
a spoonful, an' I deemands a bar'l. After which, thar ain't no se'f
respectin' camp that'll stand for my game.'

"'I savvys what you means,' says Tutt; 'I reecalls in my own case how,
on the hocks of mebby it's the ninth drink--which this is years an'
years ago, though--I mistakes a dem'crat primary for a Methodist
praise meetin', an' comes ramblin' in an' offers to lead in pra'r.
Which I carries the scars to this day.'

"'Which is why, Dave,' interjecks Cherokee Hall, in hopes of settin'
Tutt to pitchin' on his p'litical rope, him bein' by nacher a
oncompromisin' reepublican that a-way--'which is why you always holds
dem'crats so low.'

"'But I don't hold 'em low,' protests Tutt. 'Thar's heaps to be said
for dem'crats, leastwise for the sort that's pesterin' 'round in the
country I hails from.'

"'What be your dem'crats like, Dave?' Texas urges. 'Which I wants to
see if they're same as the kind I cuts the trail of down about
Laredo.'

"'Well,' returns Tutt, 'simply hittin' the high places, them dem'crats
by which I'm born surrounded chews tobacco, sw'ars profoosely, drinks
mighty exhaustive, hates niggers, an' some of 'em can read.'

"'That deescription goes for Laredo, too,' Texas allows. 'This yere
jedge, who gives my wife her divorce that time, an' sets the sheriff
to sellin' up my steers for costs an' al'mony, is a dem'crat. What you
says, Dave, is the merest picture of that joorist.'

"'I expects my wife'll come rackin' along _poco tiempo,'_ Dead Shot
remarks, after a pause. 'I'm yere as advance gyard to sling things
into shape.'

"It's as good as a toone of music to see how softly his face lights
up. He's as big an' wide an' thick an' strong as Boggs, an' yet it's
plain as paint that this yere wife of his, whoever she is, can jest
nacherally make curl-papers of him.

"That mention of a wife as usual sets Texas to growlin'.

"'Thar you be, Dan!' I overhears him whisper, same as if he's been
ill-treated; 'the instant this Dead-Shot says "Water" I'm onto it that
he's a married man. Water an' matrimony goes hand in hand.'

"'Now I don't see why none?' retorts Boggs.

"'Because water's weakenin'. Feed a sport on water, an' it's a cinch
he falls a prey to the first female who ropes at him.'

"'Thar's Dave,' Boggs argyoos, noddin' towards Tutt. 'Ain't he
drinkin' that time he weds Tucson Jennie?'

"'Dave's the exception. Also, you-all remembers them circumstances,
Dan. Dave don't marry Jennie; Jennie simply ups an' has him.'

"'All the same,' contends Boggs, 'I don't regyard Dead Shot's sobriety
as no drawback. Thar's lots of folks who's cap'ble of bein' sober an'
sociable at one an' the same time.'

"These yere low-voiced wranglin's between Texas an' Boggs is off to
one side. Meanwhile, the gen'ral confab proceeds.

"'You ain't been long hooked up?' says Doc Peets, addressin' Dead
Shot.

"'About a year. She's in the stage that time I has the trouble with
them hold-ups in the Black Range, an' she allows she likes my style.'

"'We-all hears about that Black Range battle,' remarks Enright.

"'It's a mighty lucky play for me,' says Dead Shot; 'I don't ree'lize
it while I'm workin' my winchester, but I'm winnin' a angel all the
time. That's on the level, gents! I never puts my arm 'round her yet,
but what I go feelin' for wings.'

"'Don't this make you sick?' Texas growls to Boggs.

"'No, it don't,' Boggs replies. 'On the contrary, I'm teched.'

"'Gents,' goes on Dead Shot, an' I sees his mustache tremble that
a-way; 'I don't mind confessin' she's that angelic I'm half afraid to
marry her. I ain't fine enough! It's like weddin' gunny-sack to
silk--me makin' her my wife. Which I shore has to think an' argyoo
with myse'f a whole lot, before I gets the courage. Ain't you-all ever
noticed'--yere he appeals 'round to Peets--'that every time you meets
up with a angel, thar's always some smoke-begrimed an' sin-encrusted
son of Satan workin' double-turn to support her?'

"Peets nods.

"'Shore! Well, it's sech reflections which final gives me the
reequired sand. An' so, one evenin' up in Albuquerque, we prances over
before a padre an' we're married. You bet, it's like a vision.'

"'Any papooses?' asks Tutt, plumb pompous.

"'None as yet,' confesses Dead Shot, lookin' abashed.

"'Which I've nacherally got one,' an' yere Tutt swells. 'You can put
your case _peso_ on it he's the real thing, too.'

"'Little Enright Peets is certainly a fine child,' remarks Nell.
'Dave, you're shore licensed to be proud of him.'

"'That's whatever,' adds Boggs. 'Little Enright Peets is nothin' short
of bein' the No'th Star of all hoomanity!'

"Mebby a week passes, an' one mornin' Dead Shot goes squanderin' over
to Tucson to bring his wife. An' nacherally we're on what they calls
in St. Looey the 'quee vee' to see her. At that, we-all don't crowd
'round permiscus when the stage arrives, an' we avoids everything
which borders on mob voylence.

"Dead Shot hits the street, lookin' that happy it's like he's in a
dream, an' then goes feelin' about, soft an' solic'tous, inside. At
last he lifts her out, an' stands thar holdin' her in his arms. She's
shore beautiful; only she ain't no bigger 'n a ten year old youngone.
Yellow-ha'red an' bloo-eyed, she makes you think of these yere china
ornaments that's regyarded artistic by the Dutch.

"They're certainly a contrast--him big as a house, her as small an'
pretty as a doll! An' you should see that enamored Dead Shot look at
her!--long an' deep, like a man drinkin'! Son, sometimes I fears
women, that a-way, misses all knowledge of how much they're loved.

"'She ain't sick,' says Dead Shot, speakin' gen'ral; 'only she twists
her off ankle gettin' out at the last station.'

"Dead Shot heads for the little 'dobe he's fitted up, packin' his
bloo-eyed doll in his arms. What's our impressions? No gent who signs
the books as sech'll say anything ag'in a lady; but between us, thar's
a sooperior wrinklin' of the little tipped-up nose, an' a cold feel to
them bloo eyes, which don't leave us plumb enthoosiastic.

"'It's like this,' volunteers Enright, who stacks in to explain
things. 'Every gent's got his ideal; an' this yere wife of his is Dead
Shot's ideal.'

"'Whatever's an ideal, Doc?' asks Boggs, who's always romancin' about
for information.

"'Which an ideal, Dan,' Peets replies, 'is the partic'lar gold brick
you're tryin' to buy.'

"At the time Dead Shot's standin' thar with his fam'ly in his arms,
Nell comes out on the Red Light steps to take a peek. Also, Missis
Rucker an' Tucson Jennie is hoverin' about all sim'lar. After Dead
Shot an' his bride has faded into their 'dobe, them three experts
holds a energetic consultation in the street. Of course, none of us
has the hardihood to go j'inin' in their deelib'rations, but from
what's said later we gets a slant at their concloosions.

"'Dead Shot's a mighty sight too good for her,' is how Missis Rucker
gives jedgment. 'It's peltin' pigs with pearls for him to go lovin'
her like he does.'

"Shore; bein' ladies that-a-way, Missis Rucker, Tucson Jennie an' Faro
Nell all visits Dead Shot's wife. But the feelin' is that they finds
her some stuck up an' haughty. This yere notion is upheld by Nell
callin' her a 'minx,' while Tucson Jennie alloodes to her as a 'cat'
on two sep'rate occasions.

"Dead Shot an' his doll-bride, in the beginnin', seems to be gettin'
along all right. It's only when thar's money goin' over, that Dead
Shot has to buckle on his guns an' ride out with the stage. This gives
him lots of time to hang 'round, an' worship her. Which I'm yere to
reemark that if ever a white man sets up an idol, that a-way, an' says
his pra'rs to it, that gent's Dead Shot. Thar's nothin' to it; prick
her finger, an' you pierce his heart.

"'It'd be beautiful if it wasn't awful,' says Faro Nell.

"It ain't a month when events lifts up their p'isin heads, which goes
to jestify them comments of Nell's. Thar's been a White House shift
back in Washington, an' a new postmaster's sent out. He's a dapper
party, with what Peets calls a 'Van Dyke' beard, an' smells like a
ha'r-dresser's shop.

"Now if affairs stops thar, we could have stood it; but they don't. I
abhors to say so, but it ain't two weeks before Dead Shot's wife's
makin' onmistak'ble eyes at that postmaster. Them times when Dead
Shot's dooties has took him to the other end of the trail, she's over
to the post office constant. None of us says anything, not even to
ourselves; but when it gets to whar she shoves you away from the
letter place, an' begins talkin' milk and honey to him right under
your nose, onless you're as blind as steeple bats, an' as deaf as the
adder of scriptoore which stoppeth her y'ear, you're shore bound to do
some thinkin'.

[Illustration: WE'RE ALL DISCUSSIN' THE DOIN'S OF THIS YERE ROAD-AGENT
WHEN DAN GETS BACK FROM RED-DOG, AN' THE RESULT IS HE UNLOADS HIS
FINDIN'S ON A DEAD KYARD. p. 18.]

"'Which if ever a gov'ment offishul,' exclaims Texas, as he comes
t'arin' into the Red Light one evenin', deemandin' drinks--'which if
ever a gov'ment offishul goes organizin' his own fooneral that a-way,
it's this yere deeboshed postmaster next door!'

"Thar's nothin' said, but we-all knows what's on Texas's mind. That
wife of Dead Shot's, for the fo'th time that day, has gone askin' for
letters.

"'She writes 'em to herse'f,' is the way Missis Rucker lays it down.
'Also, it's doo to the crim'nal besottedness of that egreegious Dead
Shot. The man's shorely love-blind!'

"'You ain't goin' to t'ar into him for that, be you?' Nell asks, her
tones reproachful. 'Him lovin' her like he does shore makes a hit with
me. A limit goes in farobank; but my notion is to take the bridle off
when the game's love.'

"'But all the same he needn't get that lovin' it addles him,' says
Missis Rucker. 'In a way, it's Dead Shot's sole fault, her actin'
like she does. Instead of keepin' them Mexicans to do her work, Dead
Shot ought to make her go surgin' round, an' care for her house
herse'f. Thar ain't nobody needs steady employment more'n a woman.
You-all savvys where it says that Satan finds some mischief still for
idle hands to do? Which you bet that bluff means women--an'
postmasters--every time.'

"Missis Rucker continues along sim'lar lines, mighty inflexible, for
quite a spell. She concloodes by sayin':

"'You keep a woman walsin' round a cook-stove, or wrastlin' a washtub,
or jugglin' pots an' skillets, same as them sleight-of-hand folks at
the Bird Cage Op'ry House, an' she won't be so free to primp an' preen
an' look at herse'f in the glass, an' go gaddin' after letters which
she herse'f's done writ.'

"We-all can't he'p hearin' this yere, seen' we're settin' round the O.
K. dinin' table feedin' at the time; but we stubbornly refooses to be
drawed into any views, Enright settin' us the example. That sagacious
old warchief merely reaches for the salt-hoss, an' never yeeps;
wharupon we maintains ourselves stoodiously yeepless likewise.

"Things goes on swingin' an' rattlin', an' the open-air flirtations
which Dead Shot's wife keeps up with that outcast of a postmaster's
enough to give you a chill. We sets thar, powerless, expectin' a
killin' every minute. An' all the time, like his eyes has took a
layoff, Dead Shot wanders to an' fro, boastin' an' braggin' in the
mushiest way about his wife. Moreover--an' this trenches on
eediotcy--he goes out of his path to make a pard of the postmaster,
an' has that deebauchee over to his shack evenin's.

"Dead Shot even begins publicly singin' the praises of this office
holder.

"'Which it's this a-way,' he says; 'what with him bein' book-read an'
a sport who's seen foreign lands, he's company for my wife. She
herse'f's eddicated to a feather-edge; an', nacherally, that's what
gives 'em so much in common.'

"Thar's all the same a note in Dead Shot's voice that's like the echo
of a groan. It looks, too, as though it sets fire to Texas, who jumps
up as if he's stung by a trant'ler.

"'Come,' he says, grabbin' Boggs by the shoulder.

"Texas has Boggs drug half-way to the door, before Enright can head
'em off.

"'Whar to?' demands Enright; an' then adds, 'don't you-all boys go
nigh that post office.'

"'All right,' says Texas final, but gulpin' a little; 'since it's you
who says so, Sam, we won't. Me an' Dan yere'll merely take a little
_passear_ as far as the graveyard, by way of reecoverin' our sperits
an' to get the air. I'll shore blow up if obleeged to listen to that
Dead Shot any longer.'

"'I sees it in his eye,' Enright explains in a low tone to Peets, as
he resoomes his cha'r; 'Texas is simply goin' to bend his gun over
that letter man's head.'

"'How often has I told you, Dan,' asks Texas, after they gets headed
for Boot Hill, an' Texas has regained his aplomb, 'that women is a
brace game?'

"'Not all women,' Boggs objects; 'thar's Nell.'

"'Shore; Nell!' Texas consents. 'Sech as her has all of the honor an'
honesty of a Colt's-45. A gent can rely on the Nellie brand, same as
he can on his guns. But Nellie's one in one thousand. Them other nine
hundred an' ninety-nine'll deal you the odd-kyard, Dan, every time.'

"When Texas an' Boggs arrives at Boot Hill, Texas goes seelectin'
about, same as if he's searchin' out a site for a grave. At last he
finds a place whar thar's nothin' but mesquite, soapweed an' rocks,
it's that ornery:

"'Yere's whar we plants him,' says Texas; 'off yere, by himse'f, like
as if he's so much carrion.'

"'Who you talkin' about?' asks Boggs, some amazed.

"'Who?' repeats Texas; 'whoever but that postmaster? Dead Shot's got
to get him soon or late. An' followin' the obsequies, thar ain't goin'
to be no night gyards neither. Which if them coyotes wants to dig him
up, they're welcome. It's their lookout, not mine; an' I ain't got no
love for coyotes no how.'

"'Thar ain't no coyote in Cochise County who's sunk that low he'll eat
him,' says Boggs.

"Like every other outfit, Wolfville sees its hours of sunshine an' its
hours of gloom, its lights an' its shadders. But I'm yere to state
that it never suffers through no more nerve-rackin' eepock than that
which it puts in about Dead Shot an' his wife. She don't bother us so
much as him. It's Dead Shot himse'f, praisin' up the postmaster an'
paintin' the sun-kissed virchoose of his wife, which keeps the sweat
a-pourin' down the commoonal face. An' all that's left us is to stand
pat, an' wait for the finish!

"One day the Wells-Fargo people sends Dead Shot to Santa Fe to take a
money box over to Taos. Two days later, Dead Shot's wife finds she's
got to go visit Tucson. Likewise, the postmaster allows he's been
ordered to Wilcox, to straighten out some deepartmental kinks. Which
we certainly sets thar an' looks at each other!--the play's that
rank.

"The postmaster an' Dead Shot's wife goes rumblin' out on the same
stage. Monte starts to tell us what happens when he returns, but the
old profligate don't get far.

"'Gents,' he says, 'that last trip, when Dead Shot's----'

"'Shet up,' roars Enright, an' Monte shore shets up.

"It comes plenty close to killin' the mis'rable old dipsomaniac at
that. He swells an' he swells, with that pent-up information inside
of him, ontil he looks like a dissipated toad. But sech is his awe of
Enright, he never dar's opens his clamshell.

"It's a week before Dead Shot's wife gets back, an' the postmaster
don't show up till four days more. Then Dead Shot himse'f comes
trackin' in.

"Faro Nell, who's eyes is plumb keen that a-way, lets on to Cherokee
private that Dead Shot looks sorrow-ridden. But I don't know! Dead
Shot's nacherally grave, havin' no humor. A gent who constant goes
messin' round with road agents, shootin' an' bein' shot at, ain't apt
to effervesce. Nell sticks to it, jest the same, that he's onder a
cloud.

"Dead Shot continyoos to play his old system, an' cavorts 'round plumb
friendly with the postmaster, an' goes teeterin' yere an' thar tellin'
what a boon from heaven on high his wife is, same as former.

"Faro Nell shakes her head when Cherokee mentions this last:

"'That's his throw-off,' she says.

"One evenin' Dead Shot comes trailin' into the Red Light, an' strolls
over to whar Cherokee's dealin' bank.

"'What's the limit?' he asks.

"At this, we-all looks up a whole lot. It's the first time ever Dead
Shot talks of puttin' down a bet.

"Cherokee's face is like a mask, the face of the thorough-paced kyard
sharp. He shows no more astonishment than if Dead Shot's been settin'
in ag'inst his game every evenin' for a month.

"'One hundred an' two hundred,' says Cherokee.

"_'Bueno!'_ an' Dead Shot lays down two one-hundred dollar bills
between the king and queen.

"Thar's two turns. The third the kyards falls 'ten-king,' an' Nell,
from her place on the lookout's stool, shoves over two hundred dollars
in bloo checks. Thar they are, with the two one-hundred dollar bills,
between the king an' queen.

"'Does it go as it lays?' asks Dead Shot, it bein' double the limit.

"'It goes,' says Cherokee, never movin' a muscle.

"One turn, an' the kyards falls 'trey-queen.' Nell shoves four hundred
across to match up with Dead Shot's four hundred.

"'An' now?' Dead Shot asks.

"'I'll turn for it,' Cherokee responds.

"It's yere that Dead Shot's luck goes back on him. The turn comes
'queen-jack,' an' Nell rakes down the eight hundred.

"Dead Shot's hand goes to the butt of his gun.

"'I've been robbed,' he growls; 'thar's fifty-three kyards in that
deck.'

"Cherokee's on his feet, his eyes like two steel p'ints, gun half
drawed. But Nell's as quick. Her hand's on Cherokee's, an' she keeps
his gun whar it belongs.

"'Steady!' she says; 'can't you see he's only coaxin' you to bump him
off?' Then, with her face full on Dead Shot, she continyoos: 'It won't
do, Dead Shot; it won't do none! You-all can't get it handed to you
yere! You're in the wrong shop; you-all ought to try next door!' An'
Nell p'ints with her little thumb through the wall to the post
office.

"Dead Shot stands thar the color of seegyar ashes, while Cherokee
settles ca'mly back in his cha'r. Cherokee's face is as bar' of
expression as a blank piece of paper, as he runs his eye along the
lay-out, makin' ready for the next turn. Thar's mebby a dozen of us
playin', but not a word is spoke. Everyone is onto Dead Shot's little
game, the moment Nell begins to talk.

"Matters seems to hang on centers, ontil Nell stretches across an'
lays her baby hand on Dead Shot's:

"'Thar ain't a soul in sight,' she says, mighty soft an' good, 'but
what's your friend, Dead Shot.'

"Dead Shot, pale as a candle, wheels toward the door.

"'Pore Dead Shot!' murmurs Nell, the tears in her eyes, to that extent
she has to ask Boggs to take her place as lookout.

"Four hours goes by, an' thar's the poundin' of a pony's hoofs, an'
the creak of saddle-leathers, out in front. It's the Red Dog chief,
who's come lookin' for Enright.

"They confabs a minute or two at a table to the r'ar, an' then Enright
calls Peets over.

"'Dead Shot's gone an' got himse'f downed,' he says.

[Illustration: DEAD SHOT STOPS SHORT AT THIS HITCH IN THE DISCUSSION, BY
REASON OF A BULLET FROM THE LIGHTIN' BUG'S PISTOL WHICH LODGES IN HIS
LUNG. p. 29.]

"'It's on the squar' gents,' explains the Red Dog chief; 'Dead Shot'll
say so himself. He jest nacherally comes huntin' it.'

"It looks like Dead Shot, after that failure with Cherokee in the Red
Light, p'ints across for Red Dog. He searches out a party who's called
the Lightnin' Bug, on account of the spontaneous character of his
six-shooter. Dead Shot finds the Lightnin' Bug talkin' with two fellow
gents. He listens awhile, an' then takes charge of the conversation.

"'Bug,' he says, raisin' his voice like it's a challenge--'Bug, only
I'm afraid folks'll string you up a whole lot, I'd say it's you who
stood up the stage last week in Apache Canyon. Also'--an' yere Dead
Shot takes to gropin' about in his jeans, same as if he's feelin' for
a knife--'it's mighty customary with me, on occasions sech as this, to
cut off the y'ears of----'

"Dead Shot stops short, by reason of a bullet from the Bug's pistol
which lodges in his lungs.

"When Peets an' Enright finds him, he's spread out on the Red Dog
chief's blankets, coughin' blood, with the sorrow-stricken Bug
proppin' him up one moment to drink water, an' sheddin' tears over him
the next, alternate.

"The Red Dog chief leads out the weepin' Bug, who's lamentin' mighty
grievous, an' leaves Enright an' Peets with Dead Shot.

"'It's all right, gents,' whispers Dead Shot; 'I comes lookin' for it,
an' I gets it. Likewise, she ain't to blame; it's me. I oughtn't to
have married her that time--she only a girl, an' me a full-growed man
who should 'av had sense for both.'

"'That's no lie,' says Peets, an' Dead Shot gives him a grateful
look.

"'No,' he goes on, 'she's too fine, too high--I wasn't her breed. An'
I ought to have seen it.' Yere he has a tussle to hang on.

"Peets pours him out some whiskey.

"'It's licker, ain't it?' Dead Shot gasps, sniffin' the glass. 'I'm
for water, Doc, licker makin' me that ornery.'

"'Down with it,' urges Peets. 'Which, if I'm a jedge, you'll pack in
long before you're due to start anything extra serious, even if you
drinkt a gallon.'

"'Shore!' agrees Dead Shot, as though the idee brings him relief. 'For
a moment it slips my mind about me bein' plugged. But as I'm sayin',
gents, don't blame her. An' don't blame him. I has my chance, an' has
it all framed up, too, when I crosses up with 'em recent over in
Tucson, to kill 'em both. But I can't do it, gents. The six-shooter at
sech a time's played out. That's straight; it don't fill the bill; it
ain't adequate, that a-way. So all I can do is feel sorry for 'em, an'
never let 'em know I knows. For, after all, it ain't their fault, it's
mine. You sports see that, don't you? She's never meant for me, bein'
too fine; an', me a man, I ought to have knowed.'

"Dead Shot ceases talkin', an' Enright glances at Peets. Peets shakes
his head plenty sorrowful.

"'Go on,' he says to Dead Shot; 'you-all wants us to do--what?'

"'Thar you be!' an' at the sound of Peets' voice Dead Shot's mind
comes creepin' back to camp. 'She'll be happy with him--they havin' so
much in common--an' him an' her bein' eddicated that a-way--an' him
havin' traveled a whole lot! An' this yere's what I wants, gents. I
wants you-all, as a kindness to me an' in a friendly way--seein' I
can't stay none to look-out the play myse'f--to promise to sort o'
supervise round an' put them nuptials over right. I takes time by the
forelock an' sends to Tucson for a sky-pilot back two days ago. Bar
accidents, he'll be in camp by to-morry. He can work in at the
funeral, too, an' make it a whipsaw.'

"Dead Shot turns his eyes on Enright. It's always so about our old
chief; every party who's in trouble heads for him like a coyote for a
camp fire.

"'You'll shore see that he marries her?--Promise!'

"Thar's a quaver in Dead Shot's voice, Peets tells me, that's like a
pra'r.

"'Thar's my hand, Dead Shot,' says Enright, who's chokin' a little.
'So far as the letter man's concerned, it'll be the altar or the
windmill, Jack Moore an' a lariat or that preacher party you refers
to.'

"Dead Shot's gettin' mighty weak. After Enright promises he leans back
like he's takin' a rest. He's so still they're beginnin' to figger
he's done cashed in; but all at once he starts up like he's
overlooked some bet, an' has turned back from eternity to tend to it.

"'About Cherokee an' his box,' he whispers; 'that's a lyin' bluff I
makes. Tell him I don't mean nothin'; I'm only out to draw his fire.'

"After this Dead Shot only rouses once. His voice ain't more'n a
sigh.

"'I forgets to tell you,' he says, 'to give her my love. An' you say,
too, that I'm bumped off like snuffin' out a candle--too plumb quick
for her to get yere. An' don't blame her, gents; it's not her fault,
it's mine.'

"It's the week after the fooneral. The postmaster's still in town,
partly by nacheral preference, partly because Enright notifies Jack
Moore to ride herd on him, an' fill him as full of lead as a bag of
bullets in event he ondertakes to go stampedin' off.

"In the Red Light the seventh evenin' Enright rounds up Peets.

"'Doc,' he says, 'a month would be more respect'ble, but this yere's
beginnin' to tell on me.'

"'Besides,' Peets chips in, by way of he'pin' Enright out, 'that
preacher sharp corraled over to Missis Rucker's is gettin' restless.
Onless we side-lines or puts hobbles on that divine we-all can't
expect to go holdin' him much longer.'

"Enright leads the way to the r'ar wareroom of the Noo York store,
which bein' whar the stranglers holds their meetin's is Wolfville's
hall of jestice. After licker is brought Enright sends Jack Moore for
the postmaster, who comes in lookin' plenty white. Missis Rucker
brings over the divine; an' next Dead Shot's widow--she's plumb lovely
in black--appears on the arm of Peets, who goes in person.

"Thar's a question in the widow's eye, like she don't onderstand.

"'Roll your game,' says Enright to the preacher sharp.

"It's yere an' now Dead Shot's widow fully b'ars out that philos'pher
who announces so plumb cold, that a-way, that women's the sublimation
of the onexpected. Jack Moore's jest beginnin' to manoover that
recreant public servant into p'sition on the widow's left hand, so's
he can be married to the best advantage, an' the preacher sharp's
gettin' out an' openin' his book of rooles, when the widow draws
back.

"P'intin' at the bridegroom postmaster, same as if he's a stingin'
lizard, she addresses Enright.

"'Whatever's the meanin' of this?'

"'Merely the croode preelim'naries, Ma'am,' Enright explains, 'to what
we-all trusts will prove a fa'rly deesir'ble weddin'.'

"'Me marry him?' an' the onmitigated scorn that relict exhibits, to
say nothin' of her tone of voice, shore makes the postmaster
bridegroom feel chagrined.

"'You'll pardon us, Ma'am,' returns Enright, soft an' depreecatory,
tryin' to get her feelin's bedded down, 'which you'll shore pardon us
if in our dullness we misreads your sentiments. You see, the notion
gets somehow proned into us that you wants this party. Which if we
makes a mistake, by way of repa'rin' that error, let me say that if
thar's any one else in sight whom you preefers, an' who's s'fficiently
single an' yoothful to render him el'gible for wedlock,'--yere Enright
takes in Boggs an' Texas with his gaze, wharat Texas grows as
green-eyed as a cornered bobcat--'he's yours, Ma'am, on your p'intin'
him out.'

"'Which I don't want to marry no one,' cries the widow, commencin' to
sob. 'An' as for marryin' him speshul'--yere she glances at the
bridegroom postmaster in sech a hot an' drastic way he's left
shrivellin' in his own shame--'I'd sooner live an' die the widow of
Dead Shot Abner Baker than be the wife of a cornfield full of sech.'

"Everybody stares, an' Enright takes a modicum of Old Jordan.

"'You don't deeserve this none,' he says at last, turnin' to the
postmaster bridegroom. 'Onder the circumstances, however, thar's
nothin' left for me to do as cha'rman but deeclar' this yere weddin' a
misdeal.'

"Texas is plumb disgusted.

"'Don't some folks have nigger luck, Dan?' he says.

"Later, after thinkin' things up an' down in his mind, Texas takes
ombrage at Enright's invitin' Dead Shot's widow to look him an' Boggs
over that a-way, an' take her pick.

"'Which sech plays don't stand ace-high with me, Sam,' Texas
says--'you tryin' to auction me off like you does. Even a stranger,
with a half-way hooman heart, after hearin' my story would say that I
already suffers enough. An' yet you, who calls yourse'f my friend,
does all that lays in your callous power to thrust me back into
torment.'

"'Texas,' replies Enright, like he's bore about all he can, 'you
shorely worries me with your conceit. If you-all won't take my word,
then go take a good hard look at yourse'f in the glass. Thar's never
the slightest risk, as everybody but you yourse'f sees plainly, of
that lady or any other lady takin' you.'

"'You thinks not?' asks Texas, plenty incensed.

"'Which I _knows_ not. No lady's lot ain't quite that desp'rate.'

"'Well,' returns Texas, after a pause, his face expressin' his
soreness, 'I'm yere to say, Sam, I don't agree with you, none
whatever. You forgets that I've already been took in wedlock bonds by
one lady. An' while that Laredo wife of mine is hard an' crooel, all
Texas knows she's plumb partic'lar. Also, no one ever yet comes
pirootin' up the trail who doubts her taste.'

"It's the evenin' before the preacher sharp goes back to Tucson, when
Enright edges him off into a corner of the O. K. dinin' room.

"'Parson,' says Enright, lookin' like he's a heap bothered about
somethin'--'parson, in addition to your little game as a preacher that
a-way, you don't happen to be up none on table-tippin' or sperit
rappin', same as them mediums, do you?'

"'Which I shore don't,' replies the preacher sharp, archin' his neck,
indignant. 'Likewise, I regyards them cer'monials you alloodes to as
satantic in their or'gin.'

"'Doubtless, parson,' returns Enright, some disapp'inted, 'doubtless.
Still, if you-all but counts the rings on my horns, as givin' some
impression of the years I've lived an' what troubles I've probably
gone through, you'll onderstand that I ain't takin' Satan no more
serious than a empty six-shooter. But the mere trooth is, parson, I'm
pestered by them promises I makes deeceased. Which I'd give a yellow
stack to get put next to Dead Shot's sperit long enough to explain
concernin' them nuptials, an' make cl'ar jest how me an' the Doc falls
down.'"



II

OLD MAN ENRIGHT'S UNCLE


"Which you'll excoose me," and the old cattleman replaced his glass
upon the table with a decisive click, "if I fails to j'ine you in them
sent'ments. For myse'f, I approves onreserved of both lies an' liars.
Also, that reemark goes double when it comes to public liars tellin'
public lies. Which, however se'fish it may sound, I prefers this
gov'ment to last my time; an' it's my idee that if them statesmen back
at Washington ever takes a hour off from their tax-eatin' an' tells
the people the trooth, the whole trooth an' nothin' but the trooth of
their affairs, said people'll be down on the sityooation instanter,
like a weasel on a nest of field mice, an' wipe the face of nacher
free an' cl'ar of these United States."

The above was drawn forth by my condemnatory comments on the published
speech of a Senator, wherein the truth was as a grain of wheat in a
bushel of mendacious chaff.

"Shore," continued the old gentleman, with the manner of one who
delivers final judgment, "lies is not only to be applauded, but
fostered. They're the angle-irons an' corner-braces that keeps plumb
the social fabric, wantin' which the whole frame-work of soci'ty would
go leanin' sideways, same as that Eyetalian tower you shows me the
picture of the other day. Why, if everybody in the world was to go
tellin' the trooth for the next hour ninety-nine folks in every
hundred would be obleeged to put in the rest of their lives hidin'
out.

"Do I myse'f ever lie?

"Frequent an' plumb cheerful. I bases life on the rooles laid down by
that sharp who advises folks to do unto others as others does unto
them, an' beat 'em to it. Believin', tharfore, in handin' a gent his
own system, I makes it my onbreakable practice to allers lie to liars.
Then, ag'in, whenever some impert'nent prairie dog takes to rummagin'
'round with queries to find out my deesigns, I onflaggingly fills him
to the brim with all forms of misleadin' mendac'ty, an' casts every
fictional obstruction in his path that's calc'lated to get between
his heels an' trip him up. I shore do admire to stand all sech
inquirin' mavericks on their heads, an' partic'ler if they're plottin'
ag'in me.

"An' why not? A party that a-way, as I some time ago instructs you,
ain't got no more right to search my head than to search my warbags,
an' a gent who may lock a door may lie. Which, if you'll go off by
yourse'f an' think this yere over, you'll see that it's so, an' so
with a double cinch.

"Thar's statements, too, which, speakin' technical, might be regyarded
as lyin' which don't in jestice class onder no sech head. For
spec'men, when Dick Wooten, upon me askin' him how long he's been
inhabitin' the Raton Pass, p'ints to the Spanish Peaks an' says, 'You
see them em'nences? Well, when I pitches camp in this yere gully them
mountings was two holes in the ground,' I don't feel like he's lyin'.
I merely remembers that he steals the bluff from old Jim Bridger,
grins an' lets it go at that.

"Likewise, I'm sim'larly onaffected towards that amiable multitoode
who simply lies to entertain. These yere latter sports in their
preevar'cations is public ben'factors. You-all can spread yourse'f
out in the ca'm shadow of their yarns, same as if it's the shade of a
tree, an' find tharin reefreshment an' reepose.

"While the most onimag'native of us, from Peets to Cherokee, ain't
none puny as conversationists, the biggest liar, ondoubted, who ever
comes romancin' into Wolfville is Enright's uncle, who visits him that
time. Back in Tennessee a passel of scientists makes what this yere
relative of Enright's deescribes as a 'Theological Survey' of some
waste land he has on Gingham Mountain, an' finds coal. An' after that
he's rich. Thus, in his old age, but chipper as a coopful of catbirds,
he comes rackin' into town, allowin' he'll take a last look at his
nephy, Sam, before he cashes in.

"His name is Stallins, bein' he's kin to Enright on his mother's side,
an' since thar's nine ahead of him--Enright's mother bein' among the
first--an' he don't come along as a infant ontil the heel of the
domestic hunt that a-way, he's only got it on Enright by ten years in
the matter of age.

[Illustration: THE SECOND EVENING OLD STALLINS IS WITH US, DAN BOGGS AN'
TEXAS THOMPSON UPLIFTS HIS AGED SPERITS WITH THE "LOVE DANCE OF THE
CATAMOUNTS." p. 43.]

"No, I shore shouldn't hes'tate none to mention him as a top-sawyer
among liars, the same bein' his constant boast an' brag. He accepts
the term as embodyin' a compliment, an' the quick way to get his
bristles up is to su'gest that his genius for mendac'ty is beginnin'
to bog down.

"For all that, Enright imparts to me, private, that the old gent as a
liar ain't a marker to his former se'f.

"'You've heard tell,' Enright says, 'of neighborhood liars, an'
township liars, an' county liars; an' mebby even of liars whose fame
as sech might fill the frontiers of a state. Take my uncle, say forty
years ago, an' give him the right allowance of baldface whiskey, an'
the coast-to-coast expansiveness of them fictions he tosses off shore
entitles him to the name of champion of the nation. Compar'd to him,
Ananias is but a ambitious amatoor.'

"It's the second evenin' old Stallins is with us, an' Enright takes
him over to Hamilton's Dance Hall, whar Boggs an' Texas--by partic'lar
reequest--uplifts his aged sperits with that y'ear-splittin' an'
toomultuous minyooet, the 'Love Dance of the Catamounts.' Which the
exh'bition sets his mem'ry to millin', an' when we gets back to the
Red Light he breaks out remin'scent.

"'Sammy,' he says to Enright, 'you was old enough to rec'llect when I
has that location over on the upper Hawgthief? Gents,' he goes on,
turnin' to us, 'it's a six-forty, an'--side hill, swamp an' bottom--as
good a section as any to be crossed up with between the Painted Post
an' the 'Possum Trot. It's that "Love Dance of the Catamounts" which
brings it to my mind, since it's then an' thar, by virchoo of a
catamount, I wins my Sarah Ann.

"'She's shore the star-eyed Venus of the Cumberland, is my Sarah Ann.
Her ha'r, black as paint, is as thick as a pony's mane; her lips is
the color of pokeberry juice; her cheeks--round an' soft--is as cl'ar
an' bright an' glowin' as a sunset in Jooly; her teeth is as
milk-white as the inside of a persimmon seed. She's five-foot-eleven
without her mocassins, stands as up an' down as a pine tree, got a arm
on her like the tiller of a scow, an' can heft a full-sized side of
beef an' hang it on the hook. That's fifty years ago. She's back home
on the Hawgthief waitin' for me now, my Sarah Ann is. You'd say she's
as gray as a 'possum, an' as wrinkled as a burnt boot. Mebby so; but
not to me, you bet. She's allers an' ever to me the same endoorin'
hooman sunburst I co'tes an' marries that long time ago.'

"Old Stallins pauses to reefresh himse'f, an' Texas, who's been
fidgetin' an' frettin' since the first mention of Sarah Ann, goes
whisperin' to Boggs.

"'Can't some of you-all,' he says, plenty peevish, 'head this yere
mushy old tarrapin off? This outfit knows what I suffers with that
Laredo wife of mine. An' yet it looks like I'm to be tortured constant
with tales of married folks, an' not one hand stretched out to save me
from them reecitals.'

"'Brace up,' returns Boggs, tryin' to comfort him. 'Thicken your hide
ag'in sech childish feelin's, an' don't be so easy pierced. Besides, I
reckons the worst's over. He's comin' now to them catamounts.'

"Texas grinds his teeth, an' old Stallins resoomes his adventures.

"'My Sarah Ann's old pap has his location jest across the Hawgthief
from me. Besides him an' Sarah Ann, thar ain't nobody but the old
woman in the fam'ly, the balance of 'em havin' been swept away in a
freshet. Shore, old man Bender--that's Sarah Ann's pap's name--has
fourteen children once, Sarah Ann, who's oldest, bein' the first
chicken on the domestic roost. But the other thirteen is carried off
one evenin' when, what with the rains an' what with the snow meltin'
back on Gingham Mountain, the Hawgthief gets its back up. Swish comes
a big wave of water, an' you hear me them children goes coughin' an'
kickin' an' splutterin' into the misty beyond.

"'Which I says thirteen only because that's whar old Bender allers
puts his loss. Zeb Stiles, who lives on the Painted Post, insists that
it's fifteen who gets swept away that time. He allows he counts them
infant Benders two evenin's before, perched along on old Bender's
palin's like pigeons on a limb. Thirteen or fifteen, however, it don't
make no difference much, once they're submerged, that a-way.

"'Mebby I've been co'tin' my Sarah Ann for goin' on six months, givin'
her b'ar robes an' mink pelts, with now an' then a pa'r of bald eagle
wings to bresh the hearth. Nothin' heart-movin', however, comes off
between us, Sarah Ann keepin' me at arm's len'th an' comportin'
herse'f plumb uppish, as a maiden should. She's right; a likely girl
can't be too conserv'tive techin' what young an' boundin' bucks comes
co'tin' at her house.

"'Old Bender sort o' likes me in streaks. After he gets bereft of them
thirteen or fifteen offspring he turns morose a whole lot, an' I used
to go 'cross in my dugout an' cheer him up with my lies.

"'Could I lie?

"'My nephy, Sammy, thar'll nar'ate how I once lies a full-grown b'ar
to death. The cunnin' varmint takes advantage of me bein' without my
weepons, an' chases me up a tree. I ensconces myse'f in the crotch,
an' when the b'ar starts to climb I hurls down ontrooth after ontrooth
on top of him ontill, beneath a avalanche of falsehood, he's crushed
dead at the base of the tree. Could I lie, you asks? Even folks who
don't like me concedes that I'm the most irresist'ble liar south of
the Ohio river.

"'While I'm upliftin' the feelin's of old Bender mendacious that
a-way, he likes me; it's only when we gets to kyard-playin' he waxes
sour. He's a master-hand to gamble, old Bender is, an' as shore as I
shows up, followin' a lie or two, he's bound he'll play me seven-up
for a crock of baldface whiskey. Now thar ain't a sport from the Knobs
of old Knox to the Mississippi who could make seed corn off me at
seven-up, an' nacherally I beats old Bender out of the baldface.

"'With that he'd rave an' t'ar, an' make like he's goin' to jump for
his 8-squar' Hawkins rifle, whar she's hangin' on a pa'r of antlers
over the door; but he'd content himse'f final by orderin' me out of
the shack, sayin' that no sech kyard-sharpin' galoot as me need come
pesterin' 'round allowin' to marry no child of his'n. At sech eepocks,
too, it looks like Sarah Ann sees things through the eyes of her old
man, an' she's more'n common icy.

"'One day old Bender goes weavin' over to Pineknot, an' starts to
tradin' hosses with Zeb Stiles. They seesaws away for hours, an' old
Bender absorbs about two dollars' worth of licker, still-house rates.
In the finish Zeb does him brown an' does him black on the swap, so it
don't astonish nobody to death when next day he quiles up in his
blankets sick. Marm Bender tries rekiverin' him with yarbs, an'
kumfrey tea, an' sweet gum sa'v. When them rem'dies proves footile she
decides that perhaps a frolic'll fetch him.

"'It's about second drink time in the afternoon when Marm Bender
starts out Fiddler Abe, givin' notice of the treat. I hears the old
nigger as, mule-back, he goes meanderin' along, singin':

                Thar's a smoke house full of bacon,
                An' a barrel full of rum.
                For to eat an' drink an' shake a laig
                You've only got to come.

"'As soon as Fiddler Abe starts singin' the girls an' boys begin
comin' out of the woods like red ants out of a burnin' log, headin'
hotfoot for old Bender's.

"'Do I go?

"'It ain't a hour after candle lightin' when, with mebby it's a pint
of baldface onder the buckle of my belt, I'm jumpin' higher, shoutin'
louder, an' doin' more to loosen the puncheons in the floor than any
four males of my species who's present at that merry-makin'. It he'ps
old Bender, too, an' inspired by the company an' onder the inflooence
of four or five stiff toddies, he resolves not to let that hoss trade
carry him to a ontimely grave, an' is sittin' up in his blankets,
yellin', "Wake snakes; an' Gin'ral Jackson fit the Injuns!" in happy
accord with the sperit of his times.

"'Fiddler Abe strikes into the exyooberant strains of "Little Black
Bull Come Down the Mountains," an' I hauls Ten-spot Mollie out of the
gin'ral ruck of calico for a reel. We calls her Ten-spot Mollie
because she's got five freckles on each cheek. All the same, when it
comes to dancin', she's shore a she-steamboat. Every time we swings
she hefts me plumb free of the floor, an' bats my heels ag'in the
rafters ontil both ankles is sprained.

"'Sarah Ann falls jealous, seem' me an' Ten-spot Mollie thus
pleasantly engaged, an' to get even goes to simperin' an' talkin'
giggle-talk to Mart Jenkins, who's rid in from Rapid Run. Jenks is a
offensive numbskull who's wormed his way into soci'ty by lickin' all
the boys 'round his side of Gingham Mountain. At that, he's merely
tol'rated.

"'Seein' Sarah Ann philanderin' with Jenks, I lets go of Ten-spot
Mollie, who goes raspin' an' rollin' into a corner some abrupt, an'
sa'nters across to whar they're at. Leanin' over Sarah Ann's
off-shoulder, bein' the one furthest from that onmitigated Jenks, I
says, "Sweetheart, how can you waste time talkin' to this yere hooman
Sahara, whose intellects is that sterile they wouldn't raise
cow-pease?"

"'This makes Jenks oneasy, an' getting up, he reemarks, "Dick
Stallins, I'll be the all-firedest obleeged to you if you'll attend on
me to the foot of the hollow, an' bring your instrooments."

"'At this I explains that I ain't got my instrooments with me, havin'
left both rifle an' bowie in the dugout when I paddles over to the
dance.

"'Jenks makes a insultin' gesture, an' reetorts, "Don't crawl, Dick
Stallins. Borry old Bender's nine-inch bootcher, an' come with me."

"'To appease him I says I will, an' that I'll j'ine him at the before
named slaughter-ground in the flicker of a lamb's tail. Jenks stalks
off plumb satisfied, while I searches out Ben Hazlett, an' whispers
that Jenks is askin' for him some urgent, an' has gone down the trace
towards the foot of the hollow to look him up. Nacherally, my
diplom'cy in this yere behalf sends Ben cavortin' after Jenks; an'
this relieves me a heap, knowin' that all Jenks wants is a fight, an'
Ben'll do him jest as well as me.

"'Which them was shorely happy days!' he continyoos, settin' down the
bottle wharwith he's been encouragin' his faculties. 'Troo, every gent
has to sleep with his head in a iron kettle for fear of Injuns, an' a
hundred dollars is bigger'n a cord of wood, but life is plenty
blissful jest the same.'

"'Was you afraid of this yere Jenks?' asks Boggs.

"'No more'n if he's a streak of lightnin'. Only, I've got on a new
huntin' shirt, made of green blanket cloth, an' I ain't none strenuous
about havin' that gyarment all slashed up.

"'To proceed: After I dispatches Ben on the heels of Jenks that a-way
it occurs to me that mebby I'm sort o' tired with the labors of the
evenin', an' I'll find my dugout, ferry myse'f over to my own proper
wickyup, an' hit the hay for a snooze. I'm some hurried to the
concloosion by the way in which eevents begins to accumyoolate in my
immedyit vicin'ty. Bill Wheeler announces without a word of warnin'
that he's a flyin' alligator, besides advancin' the theery that Gene
Hemphill is about as deeserv'dly pop'lar as a abolitionist in South
Caroliny. I suspects that this attitoode of mind on Bill's part is
likely to provoke discussion, which suspicion is confirmed when Gene
knocks Bill down, an' boots him into the dooryard. Once in the open,
after a clout or two, Gene an' Bill goes to a clinch an' the fightin'
begins.

"'It ain't no time when the circumf'rence of trouble spreads. Bud
Ingalls makes a pass at me pers'nal, an' by way of reeprisal I smashes
a stewpan on him. Bud's head goes through the bottom, like the clown
through them paper hoops in a cirkus, the stewpan fittin' down 'round
his neck same as one of them Elizbethan ruffs. The stewpan ockyoopies
so much of Bud's attention that I gets impatient, an' so, tellin' him
I ain't got no time to wait, I leaves him strugglin' with that
yootensil, an' strolls off down to the Hawgthief whistlin' "Sandy
Land."

"'It's dark as the inside of a cow, an' somehow I misses the dugout;
but bein' stubborn, an' plumb sot about gettin' home, I wades in an'
begins to swim. The old Hawgthief is bank full, but I'd have made
t'other side all right if it ain't that, as I swims out from onder the
overhangin' branch of a tree, somethin' drops into the water behind
me, an' comes snarlin' an' splashin' an' spittin' along in pursoote. I
don't pay much heed at the jump, but when it claws off my nigh
moccasin, leavin' a inch-deep gash in my heel, I glances back an'
perceives by the two green eyes that I've become an object of
comsoomin' int'rest to a pa'nter, or what you-all out yere calls a
mountain lion, an' we-uns back in Tennessee a catamount.'

"'But a panther won't swim,' reemonstrates Tutt.

"'Arizona catamounts won't,' returns old Stallins, 'thar bein' no
rivers to speak of. But in Tennessee, whar thar's rivers to waste,
them cats takes to the water like so many muskrats.

"'When I finds that thar's nothin' doggin' me but a catamount, I heads
all casyooal for whar a tree's done been lodged midstream, merely
flingin' the reemark over my shoulder to the catamount that, if he
keeps on annoyin' me, he'll about pick up the makin's of a maulin'.
As I crawls out on the bole of the lodged tree, I can hear the
catamount sniggerin', same as if he's laughin' me to scorn, an' this
yere insultin' contoomely half-way makes me mad. Which I ain't in the
habit of bein' took lightly by no catamount.

"'Drawin' myse'f out o' the water, I straddles the bole of my tree,
an' organizes for the catamount, who's already crawlin' after me.
T'arin' off a convenient bough the thickness of your laig, I arranges
myse'f as a reeception committee for visitin' catamounts, an' by way
of beginnin' confers on my partic'lar anamile sech a bat over the
snout that he falls back into the drink, an' starts to swimmin' fancy
an' goin' 'round in circles, same as if his funny-bone's been teched.

"'Every time he gets in reach I jabs him in the eye with the splinter
end of the bough, an' at last he grows that disgusted at these
formal'ties he swims off to the bank. Thar he camps down on his
ha'nches, an' glares green-eyed at me across the ragin' flood.

"'Shore, I could have raised the long yell for he'p, but am withheld
by foolish pride. Besides, I can hear Ben an' Jenks tusslin' an'
gruntin' an' carryin' on over in the mouth of the hollow, as they
kyarves into each other with their knives, an' don't want to distract
their attention.

"'As I sets camped thar on my lodged tree, an' the catamount is
planted on the bank, I hears the lippin' splash of a paddle, an' then
a voice which sounds like a chime of bells floats across to ask, "Dick
Stallins, you ornery runnigate, wharever be you?"

"'It's my Sarah Ann, whose love, gettin' the upper hand of maidenly
reeserve, has sent her projectin' 'round in search of me. She's in my
dugout.

"'The catamount identifies her as soon as me; an' thinkin' she ought
to be easy, he slides into the water ag'in an' starts for the
boat. It's that dark I ain't shore of his deesigns ontil I sees
him reach up, tip the dugout over, an' set Sarah Ann to wallowin' in
the rushin' torrent. The dugout upsets on the catamount, an' this so
confooses him that, by the time he's got his bearin's, Sarah Ann's
been swept down to my tree, an' I've lifted her to a seat by my
side. The catamount don't try to lay siege to our p'sition,
recognizing it as impregnable, but paddles back to the shore an'
goes into watchful camp as prior.

"'For myse'f, I'm so elevated with love an' affection at havin' Sarah
Ann with me, I dismisses the catamount as a dead issue, an' as sech
beneath contempt, an' by way of mollifyin' Sarah Ann's feelin's, cuts
loose an' kisses her a gross or two of times, an' each like the crack
of a bull-whacker's whip.

"'Old Bender hears them caresses plumb up to his house--as well he
may, they're that onreeserved an' earnest--an' thinks it's some one
shootin' a rifle. It has the effect of bringin' out the old Spartan
with his Hawkins; an' the first word of it that reaches me an' Sarah
Ann is him, Marm Bender an' the whole b'ilin' of folks is down thar on
the bank, tryin' to make out in the gen'ral dimness whatever be we-all
lovers doin' out thar in the middle of the Hawgthief on a snag.

"'They don't deetect my catamount none, which sagacious feline slinks
off into the shadows covered with confoosion; all they sees is us. An'
the spectacle certainly excites old Bender. "Gen'ral Jackson fit the
Injuns!" he exclaims, as all of a sudden a thought strikes him; "that
measly excoose for a Union Democrat out thar is seekin' to eelope with
our Sarah Ann."

"'The old murderer starts to get a bead on me with the Hawkins.
"Father," yells Marm Bender, pullin' at his sleeve, "you shore must be
mistook."

"'Old Bender won't have it. "Maw," he returns, strivin' to disengage
himse'f, "I was never mistook about nothin' in my life but once, an'
that's when I shifts from baldface whiskey to hard cider on a
temp'rance argyooment. Let me go, woman, till I drill the miscreant
an' wash the stain from our fam'ly honor."

"'Before the old hom'cide can get to launderin' the fam'ly honor in my
blood, however, Sarah Ann has interposed. "Don't go to blazing away at
my Dickey, pop," she sings out, "or I'll shore burn every improvement
you got, an' leave you an' maw an' me roofless in the midst of the
wilderness."

"'This goes a long way towards soberin' down old Bender, because he
knows my Sarah Ann's the Cumberland hollyhock to put them menaces into
execootion. He lowers the muzzle of his old 8-squar', an' allows if I
promises to marry the girl I can swim ashore an' be forgiven.

"'Thus the matter ends mighty amic'ble. We'all goes trackin' up to the
house, a preacher is rushed to the scene from Pineknot, an' them
nuptials between Sarah Ann an' me is sol'mnized. Shore, Jenks an' Ben
is thar. They're found by a committee of their friends scattered about
at the foot of the hollow, an' is collected an' brought up to the
weddin' in blankets. Dave Daniels, who surveys the scene next day,
says you could plant corn whar they fit, it's that plowed up.

"'Followin' the cer'mony Marm Bender an' the old gent takes me into
their hearts an' cabin like I'm their own an' only son. He's a great
old daddy-in-law, old Bender is, an' is ven'rated for forty miles
about Gingham Mountain, as deevoted heart an' soul to baldface,
seven-up an' sin in any shape.

"'That match-makin' catamount?

"'We hives him. Me an' my new daddy-in-law tracks him to his reetreat,
an' when we're through he's plumb used up. I confers the pelt on my
Sarah Ann; an' she spreads it on the floor over by her side of the
bed, so as to put her little number sevens on it when she boils out of
a winter's mornin' to light the fire, an' rustle me my matoot'nal
buckwheat cakes an' sa'sage.'"



III

CYNTHIANA, PET-NAMED ORIGINAL SIN


"This yere speecific heroine is a heap onconventional, so much so as
to be plumb puzzlin' to the common mind. Jest the same, she finishes
winner, an' makes herse'f a gen'ral source of pride. She don't notify
us, none whatever, that she intends a Wolfville deboo; jest nacherally
descends upon us, that a-way, as onannounced as a mink on a settin'
hen. All the same, we knows she's comin' while yet she's five mile out
on the trail. Not that we savvys who she is or what she aims at; we
merely gets moved up next to the fact that she's a lady, an' likewise
no slouch for looks.

"We reads these yere trooths in the dust old Monte kicks up, as he
comes swingin' in with the stage. Which it's the weakness of this
inebriate, as I tells you former, that once let him get a lady aboard,
it looks like it's a signal for him to go pourin' the leather into his
team like he ain't got a minute to live. It's a p'lite attention he
assoomes, in his besotted way, is doo the sex.

"It's the more strange, too, since it's the only attention Monte ever
pays 'em. He never looks at 'em, never speaks to 'em; simply plants
himse'f on the box, as up an' down as a cow's tail, an' t'ars into
them harassed hosses. If the lady he's complimentin' that a-way was to
get jolted overboard--which the same wouldn't be no mir'cal,
considerin' how that dipsomaniac drives--it's even money he leaves her
hunched up like a jack-rabbit alongside the trail, an' never thinks of
stoppin' or turnin' back. He's merely a drunkard with that one fool
idee of showin' off, an' nothin' the stage people's ever able to say
can teach him different. From first to last you-all could measure
Monte's notion of the pulcritoode of a petticoat passenger by the
extent to which he lams loose with his whip. Given what he deems is a
she-sunburst, he shorely does maltreat the company's live stock
shameful.

"'If,' observes Peets, as a bunch of us stands gossipin' round in
front of the Red Light that time, watchin' the dust cloud draw nearer
an' nearer--'if it's poss'ble to imagine the old sot as havin' a
Cleopatra to freight over from Tucson, it's a cow pony to a Mexican
sheep he'd kill one of the wheelers.'

"Thar ain't none of us knows who this yere Cleopatra the Doc refers to
is, onless it's Colonel Sterett, who edits the _Daily Coyote_. Still,
the compar'son is plenty convincin'. Accordin' to the Doc himself,
this Cleopatra's a meteoric female party, as lively as she is lovely,
who sets a passel of ancient sports to walkin' in a cirkle back
some'ers in the mists of time. Also, it's bloo chips to white, an' bet
'em higher than a cat's back, the Doc knows. The Doc is ondoubted the
best eddicated gent that ever makes a moccasin track between Yuma an'
the Raton Pass, an' when he onbuckles techin' any historic feachures,
you can call for a gooseha'r pillow, an' go to sleep on it he ain't
barkin' at no knot.

"Thar's a feeble form of young tenderfoot pesterin' about the suburbs
of the crowd. He's one of them hooman deficits, so plumb ornery as to
be useless East, which their fam'lies, in gettin' rid of 'em, saws
happ'ly off onto a onprotected West. This partic'lar racial disaster's
been on our hands now mebbe it's six months, an' we-all is hopin'
that in some p'intless sort o' way he'll brace up and do overt acts
which entitles us to stampede him out of camp. But so far he don't.

"This yere exile comes wanderin' into the talk by askin'--his voice as
thin as a curlew's:

"'Who is this old Monte you're alloodin' at?'

"'Whoever he is?' says Boggs. 'Which if you-all'd struck camp by way
of Tucson, instead of skulkin' upon us in the low-down fashion you
does along of the Lordsburg-Red Dog buckboard, you wouldn't have to
ask none. He's the offishul drunkard of Arizona, Monte is. Which the
same should be notice, too, that it's futile for you to go ropin' at
that p'sition. I says this, since from the quantity of Old Jordan
you've been mowin' away, I more'n half infers that you nourishes
designs upon the place.'

"The feeble young shorthorn smiles a puny smile, and don't lunge forth
into no more queries.

"Texas, who's been listenin' to what Boggs says, squar's 'round an'
half-way erects his crest for an argyooment. Texas has had marital
troubles, an' him ponderin' the same constant renders him some morbid
an' morose.

"'From your tone of voice, Dan,' remarks Texas, 'I takes it you holds
Monte's appetite for nose paint to be a deefect. That's whar I
differs. That old marauder is a drunkard through sheer excess of
guile. He finds in alcohol his ark of refooge. I only wish I'd took to
whiskey in my 'teens.'

"Boggs is amazed.

"'Texas,' he says, plenty sorrowful, 'it wouldn't astonish me none if
you finds your finish in a wickeyup deevoted to loonatics, playin'
with a string of spools.'

"'That's your onthinkin' way. Do you reckon now, if I'd been a slave
to drink when that Laredo wife of mine first sees me, she'd have
w'irled me to the altar an' made me the blighted longhorn you sees
now? She wouldn't have let me get near enough to her to give her a
bunch of grapes. It's my sobri'ty that's my ondoin', that an' bein'
plumb moral. Which I onerringly traces them divorce troubles, an' her
sellin' up my stock at public vandoo for cost an' al'mony like she
does, to me weakly holdin' aloof from whisky when I'm young.'

"'Which I shore,'--an' Boggs shows he's mighty peevish an' put
out--'never meets up with a more exasp'ratin' conversationist! It's
because you're sech an' egreegious egotist! You-all can't talk ten
minutes, Texas, but what you're allers bringin' in them domestic
affairs of yours. If you desires to discuss whiskey abstract, an' from
what the Doc thar calls a academic standp'int, I'm your gent. But I
declines to be drug into personal'ties, in considerin' which I might
be carried by the heat of deebate to whar I gets myse'f shot up.'

"'I sees your attitood, Dan; I sees your attitood, an' respects it.
Jest the same, thar's an anti-nuptial side to the liquor question, an'
bein' a drunkard that a-way is not without its compensations.'

"'But he's bound to be so blurred,' reemonstrates Boggs, who by nacher
is dispootatious, an' once started prone to swing an' rattle with a
topic like a pup to a pig's y'ear: 'That drunkard is so plumb
blurred.'

"'Blurred but free, Dan,' retorts Texas, mighty firm. 'Don't overlook
no sech bet as that drunkard bein' free. Also, it's better to be free
than sober.'

"'Goin' back to Monte,' says Boggs, returning to the orig'nal text;
'half the time, over to the O.K. Restauraw when Missis Rucker slams
him down his chuck, he ain't none shore he's eatin' flapjacks or
rattlesnakes. The other day, when Rucker drops a plate, he jumps three
feet in the air, throws up his hands an' yells, "Take the express box,
gents, but spar' my life!" It's whiskey does it. The old cimmaron
thinks it's road agents stickin' him up.'

"Dispoote is only ended by the stage thunderin' in--leathers creakin',
chains jinglin', bosses a lather of sweat an' alkali dust, Monte
cocked up on the box as austere as a treeful of owls. He's for openin'
the door, but Peets is thar before him. Let it get dealt down to
showin' attentions to a lady, an' the briskest sport'll have to move
some sudden, or the Doc'll beat him to it. Which he certainly is the
p'litest drug sharp of which hist'ry makes mention!

"The Doc offers his hand to he'p her out, but she hits the ground
onaided as light as any leaf. Nacherally we looks her over. Take her
from foretop to fetlocks, she's as lovely as a diamond flush. She's
got corn-colored ha'r, an' eyes as soft as the sky in Joone. Peets
calls 'em azure--bein' romantic. As for the rest of us, we don't call
'em nothin'. Thar's a sprightly look about 'em, which would shore
jestify any semi-proodent gent in jumpin' sideways. Likewise, she's
packin' a Colt's .45, an' clutchin' a winchester in her little claw,
the same contreebutin' a whole lot toward makin' her impressive as a
pageant.

"'How are you, sports?' she says, tossin' her disengaged hand a
heap arch. 'I gets word about you-all up in Vegas, an' allows I'll
come trundlin' down yere an' size you up. My idee is you needs
regen'ratin'.'

"'Is thar anything we-all can he'p you to, Miss?' asks Enright, who
takes the play away from Peets. 'If aught is wanted, an' thar's a
lariat in the outfit long enough to reach, you-all can trust Wolfville
to rope, throw an' hawg-tie the same accordin' to your wishes.'

"'Yes,' adds Peets, 'as Sam says, if thar's any little way we-all can
serve you, Miss, jest say the word. Likewise, if you don't feel like
speakin', make signs; an' if you objects to makin' signs, shake a
bush. All we reequires is the slightest hint.'

"'Be ca'm,' says the young lady, her manner as se'f-confident as if
she's a queen. 'Thar's nothin' demanded of you outlaws except to
tamely listen. I'm a se'f-respectin', se'f-supportin' young female,
who believes in Woman Suffrage, an' the equality of the sexes in
pol'tics an' property rights. Which my name is Bark, baptized
Cynthiana, the same redooced by my old pap, while yet alive, into the
pet name of Original Sin. It's my present purpose to become a citizen
of this yere camp, an' take my ontrammeled place in its commercial
life by openin' a grogshop. Pendin' which, do you-all see this?'--an'
she dallies gently with a fringe of b'ar-claws she's wearin' as a
necklace, the same bein' in loo of beads. 'That grizzly's as big an'
ugly as him.' Yere she tosses a rose-leaf hand at Boggs, who breaks
into a profoose sweat. 'I downs him. Also, I'll send the first
horned-toad among you, who pays me any flagrant attentions, pirootin'
after that b'ar. Don't forget, gents: my name's Bark, Cynthiana Bark,
pet-named Original Sin, an' thar's a bite goes with the Bark.'

"Havin' conclooded this yere salootatory, Miss Bark, givin' a
coquettish flourish to her winchester, goes trapsein' over to the O.
K. Restauraw, leavin' us--as the story-writer puts it--glooed to the
spot. You see it ain't been yoosual for us to cross up with ladies
who, never waitin' for us to so much as bat an admirin' eye or wag an
adorin' y'ear, opens neegotations by threatenin' to shoot us in two.

"'Thar's a young lady,' says Peets, who's first to ketch his breath,
'that's got what I calls _verve_.'

"'Admittin' which,' observes Enright, some doubtful, havin' been
thrown back on his hocks a whole lot; 'some of you-all young bucks
must none the less have looked at her in a improper way to start her
ghost-dancin' like she does.'

"Enright's eye roves inquirin'ly from Boggs to Texas, an' even takes
in Tutt.

"'Not me!' declar's Texas, plenty fervent; 'not me!--more'n if she's a
she rattlesnake!'

"'As the husband of Tucson Jennie,' observes Tutt, his air some
haughty--which he allers puts on no end of dog whenever he mentions
his fam'ly--'as the husband of Tucson Jennie, an' the ondoubted father
of that public ornament an' blessin', little Enright Peets Tutt, I do
not regyard it as up to me to cl'ar myse'f of no sech charges.'

"'Sam,' says Boggs, his voice reproachful, 'you notes how she makes
invidious compar'sons between me an' that b'ar, an' how she beefs the
b'ar? After which gratooitous slur it's preeposterous to s'ppose I'd
go admirin' her or to takin' any chances.'

"'Then it's you,' says Enright, comin' round on the puny tenderfoot.
'Jack,' he continyoos, appealin' to Jack Moore, who's kettle-tender to
the Stranglers, of which arm of jestice Enright is chief--'Jack, do
you reemark any ontoward looks or leers on the part of this yere
partic'lar prairie dog, calc'lated to alarm a maiden of fastidious
feelin's?'

"'Sir,' breaks in the feeble young tenderfoot, an' all mighty
tremyoolous, 'as shore as my name is Oscar Freelinghuysen I never even
glances at that girl. I ain't so much as present while she's issuin'
her deefiances. I lapses into the Red Light the moment I observes how
she's equipped, an' Black Jack, the barkeep, will ver'fy my words.'

"'All right,' warns Enright, plumb severe, 'you be careful an' conduct
yourself deecorous. Wolfville is a moral camp. Thar's things done
every day an' approved of in Noo York which'd get a gent downed in
Wolfville.'

"'That Miss Bark mentions she's Woman Suffrage, Sam?' observes Boggs,
in a questionin' way, as we stands sloppin' out a recooperative forty
drops in the Red Light.

"'Shore!' replies Enright. 'The Doc yere can tell you all about 'em.
As I onderstands, they're a warlike bevy of women who voylently
resents not bein' born men. Thar's one thing, however; I sincerely
trusts that none of you young sports'll prove that forward an' onwary
as to go callin' her by her pet name of Original Sin. Which she might
take advantage of it. Them exponents of women's rights is plumb full
of the onexpected, that a-way, an' it's my belief that all who ain't
honin' to commit sooicide'll be careful an' address her as Miss
Bark.'

"'Be they many of that Woman Suffrage brand?' persists Boggs.

"'Herds of 'em,' chips in Peets. 'The Eastern ranges is alive with
'em. But they don't last. As a roole they gets married, an' that's
gen'rally speakin' the end of their pernicious activ'ties. Wedlock is
a heap apt to knock their horns off.'

"Faro Nell, Tucson Jennie an' Missis Rucker don't take to this Miss
Bark's Woman Suffrage views.

"'She's welcome,' says the latter esteemable cook an' matron, 'to her
feelin's; but she mustn't come preachin' no doctrine to me, wharof the
effects is to lower me to Rucker's level. I've had trouble enough
redoocin' that ground-hawg to where he belongs, an' I ain't goin' to
sacrifice the work of years for no mere sentiments.'

"'Which I shore agrees with you, Missis Rucker,' says Nell, lookin' up
from some plum preeserves she's backin' off the noonday board to
consider Cherokee, who's settin' next; 'a woman has enough to do to
boss one gent, without tryin' to roole broadcast over whole
commoonities.'

"At this exchange of views Cherokee softly grins like a sharp who can
see his way through. As for Rucker, who's waitin' on the table an'
packin' in viands from the kitchen, he takes it as sullen as a
sorehead dog. Personal, I ain't got no use for Rucker; but between
us, Missis Rucker, one way an' another, does certainly oppress him
grievous.

"Before the week is out we knows a lot more about Miss Bark than we
does when she first comes prancin' out upon us from Monte's stage. Not
that thar's aught ag'inst the lady. It's doo to Enright, who begins
recollectin' things.

"'Which I knows her pop,' explains Enright, 'now my mem'ry's assertin'
itse'f, I knows him when he first comes bulgin' into the Pecos Valley,
eighteen years ago. This Original Sin daughter an' her maw don't show
up none till later. Thar's no more innocent form of tenderfoot than
Bark ever comes weavin' into the Southwest. He's that ignorantly
innocent, wild geese is as wise as serpents to him. But he's full of a
painstakin' energy, all the same, an' mighty assidyoous to learn.'

"'Whatever does he turn to?' asks Texas.

"'He hires out to a peach ranch. An' this'll show you how industrious,
that a-way, this Bark tarrapin is. The peach ranch party has a measly
bunch of sheep. He keeps 'em nights in a box-tight board corral, so's
the coyotes can't get to mingle with 'em none. Days he throws 'em
loose to feed. The first evenin' the peach ranch gent tells this yere
Bark to corral the sheep, an' then come in for supper. "An' be shore,"
says the peach ranch party, "you gets 'em all in."

"'An hour goes by, an' the peach ranch party is about through his
feed, when this yere Bark drifts up to the table. His face is flushed,
but he's w'arin' a look of triumph. "I hives 'em," says he, some
exultant; "only one lamb does shore force me to extend myse'f a lot.
I'll gamble I runs a hundred miles before I rounds him up."

"'Next mornin' the peach ranch party goes out to throw loose them
sheep. As he cranes his neck over the corral fence to count the bunch
he's amazed to see a jack-rabbit galumpin' about among 'em. "Gin'ral
Jackson fit the English!" he exclaims; "however does that jack-rabbit
get himse'f mixed in with them sheep?" An' he p'ints it out to Bark.

"'That ontootered person is all astonishment. "Jack-rabbit!" says he.
"Why, I hopes next fall to vote the reepublican ticket an' die
disgraced if I don't put it down for a lamb! That's the anamile which
makes me run my laigs off roundin' of him up!"'

"'Which, as you says, Sam,' reemarks Tutt, signin' up to Black Jack to
set out the bottles, 'in the face of sech a showin' that Bark party
must have been plenty ardent.'

"'I should shore yell!' coincides Boggs.

"'But he learns in time, of course?' questions Nell.

"'Learns, Nellie?' repeats Enright; 'it ain't three years before he
identifies himse'f with the life about him to that degree he bumps off
two kyard sharps who tries to cold-deck him in a poker game, an' finds
besides his steady employment stealin' old John Chisholm's calves,
tharby assistin' in plantin' the toomultous seed of what comes
subsequent to be called the Lincoln County War.'

"'What's the finish of this interestin' crim'nal?' asks Cherokee.

"'Lynched,' returns Enright. 'They puts him over the jump at Seven
Rivers. You see this Rattlesnake--they calls him Rattlesnake Bark in
them later years--is bunked down in one of these yere jim-crow,
barn-board hotels. Thar's a resoundin' form of guest in the adjoinin'
room, snorin' to beat four kings an' a ace. Rattlesnake tries poundin'
on the partition, an' sw'arin' at him, an' callin' him a hoss thief.
It's no avail. The snores of that boarder sounds like sawin' planks,
an' fa'rly rocks the shack--they're that stormy. Final, when
Rattlesnake's burdens gets to be more'n flesh an' blood can b'ar, he
reaches for his .45, an' bombards that sleeper good an' plenty through
the wall. It turns out it's the new jedge. In the mornin', when this
joorist is discovered too dead to skin, the public is that mortified
it takes Rattlesnake out as soon as breakfast's over, an' strings him
to a limb.'

"'Don't this pore Rattlesnake get no hearin'?' asks Nell.

"'You see, Nellie,' Enright explains, 'what with maverickin' the
Chisholm calves, an' a stage or two hold-up which p'ints to him, the
close season's been out as to this Rattlesnake person for mighty like
a year. Not but what he might have made preperations. Thar's a
reeligious party present who asks Rattlesnake if he wants to pray
some. "Which you'll cross the dark river all the easier," expounds the
reeligious gent. But Rattlesnake reefuses his ministrations. "I'm
what I be," he says; "an' as for that dark river you refers to, I
ain't lookin' for no shallow ford."

"'This Rattlesnake,' continyoos Enright, 'is willin' to learn to the
last. It's his way. Spring a new game on him an' he's out instanter
lookin' for information an' advice. That's why he comes on so fast.
Thar bein' nothin' to stand him on for the purpose of bein' lynched,
the Stranglers posed Rattlesnake a-top of a stack of hay, which is
heaped up onder the tree they're yootilizin'. When the lariat is round
his neck, an' he's disposed of the reeligious party who attempts to
turn the business into a pra'r meetin', Rattlesnake looks at the chief
of the committee an' says, "This yere bein' hanged from hay-cocks is
plumb new to me entire, an' tharfore I'm obleeged to ask whether
you-all expects me to jump off or slide?"'

"'Well,' comments Jack Moore, drawin' a deep breath, 'the old
murderer's game--misguided, mebby, but game.'

"'That may be as it may,' observes Boggs, plenty thoughtful, 'but
after all I regyards these yere details which Sam onfurls as chiefly
valyooable as sheddin' a ray on this Miss Bark. On the chance that she
takes after her old man, from now on I'm goin' to walk 'round her like
she's a swamp.'

"It's ten days after Miss Bark hits camp that things begins to focus.
An old Mexican, the color of a blacksmith's apron, an' his wife, who's
the same prosaic tint, comes creakin' along with a six-mule team--two
wagons, lead an' trail--loaded to the gyards with stock an' fixtures.
Said par'fernalia havin' arrived, Miss Bark busts in the door of the
old deserted Lady Gay, an' takes possession. Armstrong, who runs the
Noo York store, is the owner of the Lady Gay, but onder the
circumstances he allows it'd be the act of a barbarian to interfere.

"Besides, the attitoode of the young lady herse'f is plumb discouragin'.

"'I'd shore admire,' she remarks, as, with the aid of her Mexicans,
she goes tossin' things into p'sition, 'to see some male felon try to
run a bluff about him havin' title to this Lady Gay structure, an'
becomin' my landlord. Men have tyrannized a heap too long as it is
over onprotected women, an' thar's one at least who's took in patient
silence all she will.'

"When Miss Bark's organized, she tacks up over the door a sign which
the painter at the stage station preepar's. It reads:

                        VOTES FOR WOMEN SALOON

"'Only get it straight,' says Miss Bark when she has us close-herded
at chuck time in the dinin' room of the O. K. Restauraw; 'I ain't
openin' this saloon none with a view to sordid gain. I got money
enough right now to buy an' burn this yere deboshed town of Wolfville,
an' then prance over an' purchase an' apply the torch to that equally
abandoned outfit, Red Dog. What I'm reachin' for is the p'litical
uplift of this camp. Recognizin' whiskey as a permanency an' that
saloons has come to stay, I aims to show folks how them reesorts
should be run. I hopes to see the day when every s'loon'll be in the
hands of ladies. For I holds that once woman controls the nosepaint of
the nation the ballot is bound to follow.'

"Once it's started we-all manages to patronize the Votes For Women
S'loon for a average of three drinks a day. Enright advises it as
safer.

"'Otherwise she might resent it,' explains Enright, 'an' armed to the
teeth like she is, an' possessin' them perfervid idees, thar's no
tellin' whar she'd end.'

"None of us feels like hangin' out thar. The atmosphere is too plumb
formal. Besides, this yere Miss Bark has rooles. No kyards is
permitted; an', moreover, you've got to go outdoors to sw'ar. As to
drinks, the soberest among us can't get licker oftener than every
other time, while Monte can't get none at all. That Votes For Women
S'loon, considered as a house of call, is, an' put it mildest,
certainly depressin'.

"When I speaks of us patronizin' Miss Bark for three daily drinks,
that a-way, thar's exceptions. Monte, as I states, is barred by the
lady personal on the grounds of him bein' a slave to drink; while Tutt
is forbid by Tucson Jennie. Tutt chafes some at them mandates of
Jennie's; but bein' keenly alive as to what's comin' to her, as well
as what she's cap'ble of, in her triple rôle of woman, wife an'
mother, he yields.

"As for Texas, while he subscribes to them three diurnal drinks, he
allers insists that he has company.

"'It's all right,' Texas'd say; 'I ain't intimatin' that this Miss
Bark goes cherishin' designs. But it's my onbreakable roole, since
them divoice experiences, to never enter the presence of onmarried
ladies onless attended by witnesses.'

"Owin' to which, some of us allers trails in along with Texas when he
visits the Votes For Women S'loon. Even when thus protected he
onflaggin'ly confines his observations to 'Licker, Miss, please!' an'
stops thar as dumb as graven images. Once the licker's before him he
heaves it into himse'f same as if it's drugs, an' instantly pulls his
freight a heap speedy, breathin' hard. An' all as scared as a
jack-rabbit that's heard the howl of a wolf.

"Does Miss Bark go proselytin' 'round concernin' them Rights of Women?
Which she shore does! You may say she omits no opportoonity. It's
before Wolfville gets that effete it mixes drinks, an' any one who
knows water from whiskey can 'tend bar. Wharfore, Miss Bark stands
watch an' watch with her old Mexican, Pancho. The times she herse'f is
min'sterin' to our needs she's preachin' Woman Suffrage incessant.
Also, not bein' plumb locoed, we bows in concord tharunto. Enright an'
Peets both concurs that it's the thing to do, an' we does it.

"'Whatever difference does it make?' says Enright; 'the price of
steers remains the same, three-of-a-kind continyoos to beat two pa'r,
thar's still fifty-two kyards in a faro deck, an' every other law of
nacher survives onteched. My notion is to agree with this Miss Bark,
verbal, an' trust to Wolfville's onbeatable luck to pull us through.'

"This counsel sounds good to us, an' we follows it. When Miss Bark
sets forth her woman's rights fulm'nations along with her nosepaint,
we murmurs a hearty assent, an' drinks down both impartial. Boggs,
who's 'motional an' easy worked on, even gets to whar he gives it out
he's actchooally a convert.

"Miss Bark has been on the map for mebby it's a week, then thar occurs
a eeposide which, while it makes no profound impression, deceased
bein' a Mexican, shows she ain't packin' her pap Rattlesnake's old
Colt's .45 in a sperit of facetiousness. It's about third drink time
one evenin' when thar's the dull roar of a gun from over in the Votes
For Women S'loon. When we arrives we finds a dead greaser carelessly
quiled up near the door, an' Miss Bark snappin' the empty shell out of
her six-shooter.

"'He was roode,' is the only explanation she vouchsafes; an' Enright,
after lookin' at Peets a spell, who's lookin' at the ceilin', says
it's s'fficient.

"'Only,' says Enright, when we're all back safe in the Red Light, 'I
sincerely trusts she won't get her hindsights notched up to whar she
takes to bumpin' off _Americanos_. I shore don't know whatever in sech
case we could do, vig'lance committees, in the very essence of their
construction, possessin' no joorisdiction over ladies.'

"'That's right, Sam,' says Peets, plenty grave; 'if it ever gets to
whar this Miss Bark turns her artillery loose on the camp permis'cus
the only hope left would be to adjourn Wolfville _sine die_.'

"Miss Bark, however, never does grow homicidal toward any of us, an'
the only effect of her puttin' that Mexican over is that it inclines
folks gen'ral to step high an' softly on what occasions they're found
plantigradin' about in her s'ciety.

"One week, two weeks, three weeks goes by, an' since a dead Mexican
more or less ain't calc'lated to leave no onefface'ble scars the
incident is all but forgot, when a second uprisin' takes place in the
Votes For Women S'loon. This time it's that sickly curlew-voiced Oscar
who's the shriekin' center of eevents. Most of us is jest filin' out
of the O. K. Restauraw, pickin' our teeth after our matootinal
reepast, when we beholds this yere Oscar boilin' fo'th from the Votes
For Women S'loon, all spraddled out. As he goes t'arin' down the
street Miss Bark seelects a graceful p'sition in the door, an' ca'mly
pumps three loads at him out of her winchester. When I says she pumps
them bullets at Oscar it's to be took conserv'tive; for none of 'em
hits him, but only tosses up the dust about his flyin' feet. At the
last shot Oscar cripples down in a shiverin' heap; an' with that Texas
an' Boggs, not knowin' the extent of his injuries, rolls him onto a
blanket an' packs him to his room over at the O. K. House, so's Peets
can prospect his frame all scientific locatin' the lead.

"Thar bein' no lead, as reelated, Peets reeports final to that
effect.

"'Only,' says Peets, 'he's scared up to sech extents that if our Joan
of Arc had dusted his gaiters with so much as two more bullets he'd
have been beyond medical skill.'

"Followin' the foosilade Miss Bark sends for Enright.

"'It's this way,' she goes on, when Enright arrives. 'That shorthorn
Oscar comes lurchin' in, an' asks for nosepaint. As he stands thar,
puttin' it onder his belt--me meanwhile swabbin' off the bar--he
mentions that his paw's rich, an' his step-maw's jest died, leavin'
him an' his paw alone. Then he calls attention to the presence in camp
of that strayed sky-pilot, who preaches an' passes the hat the other
evenin' over in the wareroom of the Noo York store. It's now, havin'
got the bar tittivated to my taste, I has time to look this Oscar
person's way, an' I finds him gloatin' over me in form an' manner not
to be mistook. "Whatever be you leerin' at?" I deemands, bein' I'm in
no mood for insults. Tharupon, he cuts loose a mouthful of platitoodes
concernin' wedlock, an' about me bein' the soul of his soul. Havin'
stood it a while, an' findin' my forbearance makes him worse, I grabs
my winchester whar it's reposin' ready for eemergincies on the
dripboard, an' you knows the rest.'

"'With your free consent, Miss,' says Enright, 'I'd like to put one
query. Was you aimin' to down, or to simply skeer this Oscar?'

"'I was only skeerin' him up some,' replies Miss Bark coyly. 'W'y, if
I was reely out for his skelp, I'd have shore got it a heap. You can
pin a patch the size of a dollar on that disparin' lover's coat, an'
I'll cut it nine times in ten, offhand, at a hundred yards.'

"'Tests is not reequired,' Enright interposes, plenty hasty; 'it's
part of the organic law of this yere camp that a lady's word, even
about her age, is to be took onchallenged.'

"'Which I'm flattered,' says Miss Bark. 'Now, is thar anything else?'

"'Only this,' returns Enright. 'As long as he gives you cause, an' you
can shoot like you says, why ever don't you down him?'

"'Which I confesses,' says Miss Bark, a blush mantlin' her brow,
'that sech is my orig'nal intentions when I reaches for my weepon. But
jest as I sees that Oscar through the sights it comes upon me that
thar's nothin' in bein' preecip'tate, an' mebby I'd better give myse'f
the needed time to think his offer over.'

"Enright shakes his wisdom-freighted head; when he relates his talk to
Peets, the Doc shakes his head sim'lar in sapient yoonison.

"'Which I'll bet a hatful of yellow chips,' says Boggs, who's stood
listenin', 'ag'inst a handful of whites, that this yere Miss Bark
makes herse'f an' that Oscar shorthorn man an' wife.'

"'Now I wouldn't wonder none,' observes Peets, replyin' to the look in
Enright's eye. 'That shootin' needn't count. A troo affection is
freequent boisterous, that a-way.'

"'An' in case,' says Enright, 'the kyards do fall in favor of
matrimony, it'll most likely be the end of that Votes For Women
S'loon. I begins to see how this yere ongrateful outfit may yet get
deep in debt to that egreegious Oscar.'

"None of us ever says so, but it's the common belief that Texas
connives at this yere threatened Oscar's escape. In any case, the
next mornin' Oscar goes catfoot out of the O. K. House before folks is
up, an' takes to hidin' out. The fact is he's layin' for Monte an' the
stage, about ten mile no'th of camp. Leastwise, he's thar a heap when
Monte comes along, an' deemands that he be took up an' carried to
Tucson.

"It ain't first drink time before this Oscar's missed, an' by second
drink time the news has drifted over to Miss Bark. It's Peets who
informs her, an' he tells us, when reelatin' the incident, that the
way that deeserted lady knits her brow is a caution to philos'phers.

"'So,' she says at last, 'that onmitigated seedoocer thinks to leave
me in this heartless way. He'll find before he's through that it's no
light matter to charm into fervent life a love like mine.'

"'It's the theery, Miss,' says Peets, 'of the best minds in camp that
this Oscar's hit the Tucson trail afoot, with a plan of headin' off
the stage.'

"Ten minutes an' Miss Bark is in the saddle, a lead pony gallopin' by
her side, in hot pursoote of the dir'lect.

"'That lead pony looks om'nous, Doc,' observes Enright, as the two
stands watchin' Miss Bark's departure.

"'It's prov'dential,' remarks Peets, as he heads the procession to the
Red Light, 'that that sky-pilot's aboard the stage. Which he ought to
work in plumb handy.'

"Six hours later Miss Bark comes surgin' in with her Oscar foogitive,
his heels tied onder the belly of the lead hoss. Any one can see by
his benumbed expression that he's a married man. The two heads
straight for the Votes For Women S'loon, an' after boltin' her new
he'pmeet into the back room, Miss Bark takes a peek in the glass, pats
down her ha'r, an' goes behind the bar as yoosual.

"'Yes,' she replies, an' all a heap modest an' artless, as Peets an'
Enright--actin' on behalf of the camp--gyardedly inquires if they're
to offer congratulations, 'I reckon you may. An' the best part is that
my dear Oscar's so plumb ready an' willin'. Which I never knows a
bridegroom, gents, who gets married with so little struggle.'

[Illustration: "IT'S YOU, OSCAR, THAT I WANT," OBSERVES MISS BARK. "I
CONCLOODES, UPON SOBER SECOND THOUGHT, TO ACCEPT YOUR OFFER OF MARRIAGE."
p. 93.]

"'How soon, Missis Freelinghuysen,' says Peets, 'do you-all reckon on
lettin' this Oscar husband out?'

"'Oh,' she returns, 'as soon as ever it's safe. Jest now he's some
onstrung; but in a day or two I figger he'll begin to get reeconciled
to his bliss. An' at that, my main idee in lockin' him up is one of
reeform rather than restraint. Oscar's been over-drinkin' himse'f of
late; an' I aims to get the whiskey out of him, so as I can form some
reas'nable estimate of how much of a husband that a-way I've done
roped up.'

"'Is thar any objections,' asks Enright, 'to our visitin' this modern
pris'ner of Chillon? We binds ourselves to say nothin' that'll fret
him, or set him to beatin' his life out ag'inst the bars.'

"'W'y, shore,' she replies, 'you-all is quite welcome. I only hopes
you'll teach him to look at things in their proper light.'

"'It ain't so much,' says this Oscar husband, when Enright an' Peets
calls upon him in his captivity, 'that I've been hurried, onregyardful
of my feelin's, into the married state. But, gents, my parent is doo,
accordin' to his last letter, to come curvin' in yere any minute; an'
whatever do you-all reckon now he's goin' to say?'

"Enright an' Peets is so moved they promises the imprisoned Oscar
their support, an' this leaves him, if not hopeful, at least some
cheered.

"Monte gives his version of them nuptials when he returns from
Tucson.

"'Which it's this a-way, pards,' says Monte. 'I'm twenty miles no'th
of yere, when somethin' flashes by with a lead hoss, like arrows.
Thinks I, "That's a hoss thief gettin' away with some stock"; an',
allowin' Jack Moore'll be hard on his neefarious hocks, I'm lookin'
back to see can I raise Jack's dust. The next I knows, an' all as
sudden as a pan of milk from a top shelf, I hears a silv'ry voice
remarkin': "Set your brake!" an' turnin' my head I finds a winchester
p'intin' as squar' between my eyes as you-all could lay your finger.
Gents, thar's something mighty cogent about a winchester that a-way,
an' I shore shoves on the brake with sech abandon I snaps the shank
short off.'

"'Wharever is this Oscar party?' asks Enright.

"'He's with me on the box; an' when this yere intrepid Miss Bark takes
to dom'neerin' at us with that rifle he collapses. "It's you, Oscar,"
observes this Miss Bark, shiftin' the muzzle to him. "Upon second
thought I concloods to accept your offer of marriage."

"'Which at that crisis,' remarks Peets, 'this Oscar of course breaks
into loud an' joyful cries.'

"'Not exactly. In fact, his tones if anything is some low-sperited. "I
takes it," he says, when he's able to command his feelin's, "that you
declines them proffers with your winchester at the time when made."
But the lady dismisses this as a quibble, an' merely sayin' that she
won't be paltered with no farther, orders Oscar an' the Bible sharp
who's ridin' inside to assemble by the edge of the trail. The Bible
sharp attempts to lay the foundations of fresh objections by askin'
Oscar does he do this of his own free will; but the muzzle of the
winchester--which the bride all along reetains in her hands--begins
movin' 'round in his direction, observin' which man'festation he
pronounces 'em husband an' wife. "What heaven has j'ined together,"
says he, "let no man put asunder." After which he blesses 'em, an'
reeports the last cinch fastened. "Pay him, Oscar," whispers the
bride. Wharupon Oscar, his fingers tremblin', squars the Bible sharp
with the price of a brace of steers, an' the deed is done. Now he's
hers for better or worse, she ropes his heels together onder the belly
of her lead hoss, an' the happy pa'r goes romancin' back for
Wolfville, while I kicks loose what's left of the brake an' p'ints out
ag'in for Tucson.'

"On the third day, by givin' his parole an' promising to fondly
reeport to his spouse once every hour, Oscar is permitted to go
reecreatin' about the camp.

"'Only,' says the lady, by way of warnin' to Black Jack, 'thar's to be
no drinks.'

"These yere strained conditions preevails for mebby it's five days,
when, as the stage swings in to the post office one evenin', a stout
florid old gent gets out. He comes puffin' up to Peets a heap
soopercilious.

"'Do you-all know a addle-pated an' semi-eediotic young party,' says
he, 'who's named Oscar Freelinghuysen?'

"'Why, yes,' returns Peets, 'I do. Onless my mem'ry's pulled its
picket pin an' gone plumb astray he's the eboolient sharp who
conclooded a somewhat toomultuous courtship last week by gettin'
married. He's in the shank of his honeymoon as we stands chattin'
yere.'

"The florid gent glares at Peets, his feachures the color of liver,
his eyes stickin' out like the eyes of a snail.

"'Married!' he gasps, an' falls in a apoplectic fit.

"It takes a week an' all the drugs Peets has got before that
apoplectic's able to sit up an' call for nosepaint. An' whatever do
you think? His daughter-in-law, but onbeknownsts to him as sech,
nurses him from soda to hock. Oscar Joonior? By advice of Enright that
prodigal's took to cover over in Red Dog ontil we've made shore about
the fatted calf.

"The former Miss Bark puts up that nursin' game with Peets, an' day
an' night she hangs over her apoplectic father-in-law like a painter
over a picture. She's certainly as cunnin' as a pet fox! She dresses
as quiet as a quail an' makes her voice as softly sober as a suckin'
dove's. In the end she's got that patient hypnotized.

"After Peets declar's him out of danger, an' all propped up in his
blankets he's subscribed to mighty likely it's the fifth drink, the
apoplectic begins to shed tears a heap profoose, an' relate to his
nurse--the former Miss Bark--how his two wives has died, leavin' him a
lonely man. She, the former Miss Bark, is his only friend--he
says--an' he winds up his lamentations by recommendin' that she become
his third.

"'You're the only hooman heart who ever onderstands me,' he wails,
gropin' for her hand, 'an' now my ongrateful boy has contracted a
messalliance I shore wants you for my wife.'

"She hangs her head like a flower at night, an' lets on she's a heap
confoosed.

"'Speak,' he pleads; 'tell me that you'll be mine.'

"'Which I'd shore admire to, but I can't,' she murmurs; 'I'm wedded to
your son.'

"The old apoplectic asks for more licker in a dazed way, an' sends for
Peets. The Doc an' him goes into execyootive session for most an
hour; meanwhile the camp's on edge.

"At the close the Doc eemerges plumb radiant.

"'Everything's on velvet,' he says; 'thar's never a more joodicious
convalescent. He freely admits, considerin' the sort of daughter-in-law
he's acquired, that Oscar has more sense than folks suspects.'

"Now that the skies is cl'ared, the bridegroom is fetched back from
Red Dog, an' thar's a grand reeconciliation.

"'We'll all go back East together,' sobs father-in-law Freelinghuysen,
holdin' both their hands.

"Two days later they starts, Missis Freelinghuysen Joonier lookin'
after father-in-law Freelinghuysen same as if he's a charlotte
roosse.

"The Votes For Women S'loon?

"It's kept a secret, at Peet's su'gestion, him bein' apoplectic that
a-way. The stock is bought by public subscription of the camp, an'
when the Freelinghuysen household is out of sight an' hearin' we
invites Red Dog over in a body an' onbelts in a mod'rate orgy. The
sign, 'Votes For Women S'loon,' is now preeserved in the custody of
the Wolfville Historical Society, which body is called into active
bein' upon motion of Peets, while Red Dog an' us is drinkin' up the
stock."



IV

OLD MONTE, OFFICIAL DRUNKARD


"Shore; Monte's the offishul drunkard of Arizona." The old cattleman
was answering my question. "Or, seein' that mebby Wolfville's
joorisdiction won't be held none to reach beyond, let's say the
offishul drunkard of Cochise County. That's Monte's civic designation;
offishul drunkard, an' meant to fix his social place.

"Does he resent it?

"Which he proudly w'ars that title like it's a kingly crown! It's as
good as even money that to ondertake to sep'rate him from it, or deny
the same, is the one single thing he bristles up at an' give you a
battle over.

"Which this yere last should mean a heap, since Monte's plumb pacific
by nacher, an' abhors war to the mean confines of bein' timid. To be
shore, he'll steam at the nose, an' paw the sod, an' act like he's out
to spread rooin far an' wide--that he's doo to leave everything in
front of him on both sides of the road. But in them perfervid
man'festations he don't reely intend nothin' either high or heenious,
or more'n jest to give his se'f-respect an outing that a-way. Let the
opp'sition call him down, an' the crafty old cimmaron'll go to the
diskyard instanter.

"Which at that, Monte ain't without his interestin' side. When onder
the inflooence of nosepaint, which last is constant, he has three
distinct moods. About the fo'th drink, let a stranger show up,
an'--all aff'ble an' garyoolous--Monte's right thar to do the honors.
When the stranger, gettin' weary, kicks Monte off him, the same bein'
shore to happen final since no one formed in the image of his Maker
can put up with them verbal imbecil'ties of his beyond a given len'th
of time, he'll arch his back an'--apparently--wax that f'rocious a
wronged grizzly to him is as meek as milk. An' yet, as I tells you,
it's simply a blazer; an' the moment the exasperated stranger begins
betrayin' symptoms of goin' to a showdown, Monte lapses into his third
mood of haughty silence, an' struts off like it's beneath him to bandy
words.

"That's the savin' clause in Monte's constitootion; he may get drunk,
but he never gets injoodicious. Thar's a sport from some'ers over
'round Shakespear in the dance hall one evenin', whose patience has
been plenty treespassed on by Monte. By way of bringin' matters to a
deecisive head, this yere Shakespear party tells Monte he's a liar. Do
you reckon Monte hooks up with him? Not a chance! He simply casts on
that maligner from Shakespear a look of disparagement, an' with nose
held high, as markin' his contempt, moves away with the remark.

"'That's something I refooses to discuss with you.'

"Which thar's no more real p'isin in Monte than in a hired girl.

"We has the chance once to try some experiments on Monte, an' it's the
mistake of our lives we don't. Peets, whose regrets is scientific,
feels speshully acoote. Thar's a partic'lar bar'l of nosepaint gets
trundled into camp, which is nothin' short of bein' the condensed
essence of hostility. Black Jack, after years as barkeep, says himse'f
he never sees nothin' like it. On the hocks of two drinks, folks gets
that ornery Enright has it freighted back to Tucson in alarm, fearin'
for the peace of the camp. At the time, none of us thinks of it; but
later it's a subject of gen'ral regret that some of it ain't saved to
try on Monte. Mebby that speshul brand of licker turns out to be the
missin' ingreedient, an' keys him up to deeds of heroism.

"Jest to show you some of the milder workin's of that licker. Boggs
files away four inches of it onder his belt, an' next, when he's
walkin' by the corral an' meets a Mexican, he reaches out in a
casyooal an' abstracted way, collars that Greaser an' hefts him over a
six-foot 'dobe fence, same as if he's a bag of bran; an' all apropos
of nothin'. Boggs says himse'f he don't know why none. He's thinkin'
of something else at the time, he declar's, an' the eepisode don't
leave no partic'lar traces on his mem'ry. The trooth is, it's that
veehement an' onmuzzled nosepaint, incitin' him to voylence.

"Is the Mexican hurt?

"Which, if I remembers rightly, Peets does mention about a busted
collarbone. But it don't create no interest--him bein' a Mexican. You
see, thar's a feelin', amountin' fa'rly to a onwritten law, that
Mexicans ain't got no rightful call to be seen in public no how; an'
when one does go pirootin' round permiscus, in voylation of this yere
tenet, nacherally he takes his chances. You-all can gamble, though,
that Boggs shore never would have reached for him, only he's
actchooated by that whiskey.

"As modest an' retirin' a sperit as Cherokee, to whom any form of
boastful bluff is plumb reepellant, subscribes to a mod'rate snifter
of that licker; an' in less time than it takes to rope a pony, he's
out in front of the Red Light, onbucklin' in a display of pistol
shootin'. Thar's a brace of towerists in camp, an' Cherokee let's on
he'll show 'em. Which he shore shows 'em! He tosses two tomatter cans
on high, an' with a gun in each hand keeps 'em dancin' an' jumpin'
about in the atmosphere ontil thar's six bullets through each. It's a
heap satisfyin' as a performance, as far as them pop-eyed towerists is
concerned, an' both leaves town that evenin' by speshul buckboard.

"Onaffected by that licker, Cherokee wouldn't have no more gone an'
made sech a spectacle of himse'f, though urged tharunto by the
yoonanimous voice of the outfit. When he so far recovers as to
'ppreeciate what Faro Nell has to say of them exploits--an', while
tender, she's plenty explicit--he comes mighty clost to blushin'
himse'f to death.

"It's after we notes what it does to Cherokee, an' hears of them
exhibitions of broote force by Boggs, that we gets timid about this
yere whisky, an' Enright orders the bar'l sent back. An' right he is!
S'ppose them Red Dogs was to have come prancin' over for a social
call, an' s'ppose in entertainin' 'em we all inadvertent has recourse
to that partic'lar licker, whatever do you-all reckon 'd have been the
finish? Son, thar'd have been one of them things they calls a
catyclism, an' nothin' short.

"It's shore a fightin' form of licker. Tutt reeserves out a tin cup of
it, an' sets it down by a prairie dog's hole. Accordin' to Tutt, the
dog comes out, laps it once, an' starts back same as if he's been shot
with a '45. Thar he squats, battin' his eyes, wrinklin' up his nose,
an' cogitatin'. After thinkin' the thing over, the dog approaches,
mighty gingerly, an' takes three or four more laps. Then he r'ars
back, an' considers for quite a spell. It looks final like he gets his
mind made up, an' with that he capers over, an' he'ps himse'f to what
for a prairie dog is shore a big drink.

"Two minutes later, ha'r bristlin', whiskers standin' out like wire,
eyes full of determination, that dog crosses over to another dog who's
livin' neighbor to him, an' says--accordin' to Tutt:

"'Wharever can I locate that coyote who's been domineerin' round yere
for mebby it's a month, harassin' folks into their holes? Whar's that
coyote at?'

"Peets allers allows Tutt exaggerates, but havin' sampled that licker
some myse'f, I'm a long ride from bein' so shore.

"That lack of war instinct in Monte ain't no speecific drawback. Him
drivin' stage that a-way, he ain't expected none to fight. The
hold-ups onderstands it, the company onderstands it, everybody
onderstands it. It's the law of the trail. That's why, when the stage
is stopped, the driver's never downed. Which if thar's money aboard,
an' the express outfit wants it defended, they slams on some sport to
ride shotgun that trip. It's for this shotgun speshulist to give the
route agents an argyooment. Which they're licensed to go bombardin'
each other ontil the goin' down of the sun. As for the driver,
however, the etikette simply calls for him to set his brake, an' all
peaceful hold his hands above his head. It's inside his rights, too,
accordin' to the rooles, for him to cuss out the hold-ups, an' call
'em all the hard names of which he's cap'ble; an' stage drivers, who
loves their art, spends their time between drinks practisin' new cuss
words, an' inventin' onheard of epithets, so as to be ready when dooty
an' o'casion calls. Havin' downed or driven off the shotgun sport, an'
seen the bottom of the express box, the hold-ups tells the stage
driver to pull his freight. Wharupon he picks up the reins, kicks free
the brake, lets fly a loorid an' final broadside of vitooperation--he
havin' carefully reeserved the same, by way of peroration--an' goes
his windin' way.

"Wolfville's been on the map for most a year, when Monte first shows
up. In the beginnin', an' ontil we-all gets adjusted to him, he's
something of a bore. Leastwise, he ain't what you'd go so far as to
call a boon companion. When it dawns on us that he's plottin' to make
himse'f a permanency, it certainly does look for a spell that, what
with his consumption of nosepaint an' what with his turrific genius
for snorin', he's goin' to be a trifle more'n we can stand.

"Does Monte snore?

"Not to create ondoo excitement, the bar'foot onclothed trooth is that
his snorin' falls nothin' short of bein' sinful. Boggs has plenty of
countenance when he brings them snores to the attention of Enright.

"'Thar's shore a limit somewhar, Sam,' Boggs says, 'to this yere
drunkard's right to snore. Which he's simply keepin' everybody over to
the O. K. House settin' up. Onless something's done to check him,
thar'll be a epidemic of St. Vitus dance. You ask Doc Peets; he'll
tell you that this yere Monte with his snorin' is a scourge.'

"It's not alone their volume, but their quality, which makes them
snores of Monte so ondesir'ble. Some folks snores a heap deprecatory,
an' like they're apol'gizin' for it as they goes along. Others snores
in a manner ca'mly confident, an' all as though the idee that any gent
objects would astonish 'em to death. Still others snores plumb
deefiant, an' like they ain't snorin' so much for comfort, that
a-way, as to show their contempt for mankind. It's to this yere latter
hostile school that drunkard, Monte, belongs.

"After Boggs lodges complaint, Enright takes a corrective peek into
the sityooation. Thar's two rooms over the O. K. kitchen, sort o' off
by themselves. Upon Enright's hint, Missis Rucker beds down Monte in
one, an' Deef Andy, who mends harness for the stage company an' can't
hear nothin', in the other.

"'It's for the safety of your excellent car'vansary, Ma'am,' Enright
explains. 'Which Dan's mighty easy moved; an' some mornin', onless you
adopts them improvements, that somnolent sot you're harborin' 'll go
too far with Dan. I takes it you-all don't want the shack all smoked
up with Dan's six-shooter? In which event you'll put that reverberant
drunkard in the far-corner room, with Andy next.'

"Peets once mentions a long-ago poet party, named Johnson, who,
speakin' of a fellow poet after he's dead an' down onder the
grass-roots, lets on that he teches nothin' he don't adorn. You can
go your ultimate simoleon that ain't Monte's style. The only things he
don't upset is bottles; the only flooid he never spills is licker.
This yere last would be ag'inst his religion. Wharever he goes, he's
otherwise draggin' his rope, an' half the time he's steppin' on it.

"It's him that coaxes that onhappy Polish picture painter our way.
This yere is long after he's drivin' stage, an' as Wolfville's
offishul drunkard becomes a tol'rated feachure of the camp. This
Polish artist person is as much out o' place in Arizona as a faro
lay-out at a Sunday school picnic. Monte crosses up with him over at
Tucson in the Oriental S'loon, an' while thar's no ties between 'em,
more'n what nacherally forms between two gents who sets drinkin'
together all night long, before ever they're through with each other
that inspired inebriate lands the locoed artist party on our hands.
Enright shore does go the limit in rebookin' Monte.

"'Why, Sam,' says Monte, an' he's that depreecatory he whines, 'I
allows you'll look on him as a acquisition.'

"'All the same,' returns Enright, an' I never knows him more
forbiddin', 'yereafter please confine your annoyin' assidooities to
drivin' stage, an' don't go tryin' to improve the outlook of this
camp.'

"Monte, with this, gets that dismal he sheds tears. 'Which it shore
looks like I can't do nothin' right,' he sobs.

"'Then don't,' says Enright.

"From the start, Monte graves himse'f upon the mem'ry of folk as the
first sport, to onroll his blankets in Cochise County, who consoomes
normal over twenty drinks a day. Upon festal occasions like Noo
Year's, an' Christmas, an' Fo'th of Jooly, an' Thanksgivin', no gent
who calls himse'f a gent thinks of keepin' tabs on a fellow gent, no
matter how freequent he signs up to Black Jack. On gala o'casions,
sech as them noted, the bridle is plumb off the hoss, an' even though
you drinks to your capac'ty an' some beyond, no one's that vulgar as
to go makin' remarks. But that ain't Monte; he's different a heap. It
looks like every day is Fo'th of Jooly with him, he's that inveterate
in his reemorseless hankerin' for nosepaint.

"Also, regyarded as to his social side, Monte, as I states former, is
a nooisance. Knowin' folks, too, is his fad. Only so you give him
licker enough, he'll go surgin' round accostin' every gent he sees. No
matter how austere a stranger is, Monte'll tackle him. An' at that he
never says nothin' worth hearin', an' in its total absence of
direction his conversation resembles nothin' so much as a dog chasin'
its tail.

"An' then thar's them footile bluffs he's allers tryin' to run. He's
been pesterin' in an' out of the Red Light one evenin' ontil he's got
Black Jack incensed. As he comes squanderin' along, for say the
twentieth time, Black Jack groans, an' murmurs,

"'Yere's that booze-soaked old hoss-thief ag'in!'

"Monte gets the echo of it, same as folks allers does when it ain't
wanted, but he's onable to say who. So he stands thar by the bar,
glarin' 'round an' snortin'. Final, he roars:

"'Who cuts loose that personal'ty?'

"Thar ain't no answer, an' Monte ag'in takes to pitchin' on his rope.

"'Show me the galoot who insults me,' he roars; 'let him no longer
dog it, but p'int himse'f out as the gent.'

"'All right,' says Black Jack, whose indignation gets the best of his
reespons'bilities as barkeep, 'which I'm the party who alloodes to you
as a booze-soaked old hoss-thief.'

"'An' so you're the gent,' says Monte, castin' a witherin' glance at
Black Jack; 'so you're the would-be sooicide who calls me a
booze-soaked old hoss-thief?'

"'Which I'm the identical stingin' lizard. Now what is it you're so
plumb eager to say?'

"'What am I eager to say? I merely wants to remark that you ain't done
nothin' to swell up over. You-all needn't go thinkin' you're the first
barkeep who calls me a booze-soaked old hoss-thief.'

"Havin' la'nched this yere, Monte turns off as stiffly pompous as
though he ain't left a grease-spot of Black Jack.

"When folks won't listen to him no longer, Monte goes bulgin' forth
into the highways an' the byways, an' holds long an' important
discussions with signs, an' dry-goods boxes, an' sim'lar inan'mate
elements of the landscape. Also, to mules an' burros. I remarks him
myse'f, whisperin' in the onregyardful y'ear of a burro, an' said
anamile as sound asleep as a tree. When that drunkard's through his
confidences, he backs off, an' wavin' his paw plumb myster'ous at the
burro says:

"'Remember, now; I'm givin' you this yere p'inter as a friend.'

"That time Black Jack offends Monte, after the latter hits the
sidewalk followin' what he clar'ly considers is his crushin' come-back
on Black Jack, he gets the feelin' that Jack's ha'ntin' along on his
trail. Before he's gone fifty foot, he w'irls about, an' shouts:

"'Don't you-all follow me! Which, if you crowds me, them places that
has knowed you won't know you no more forever.'

"When Monte gets off this menace, it seems like the Black Jack specter
becomes intim'dated, an' tries to squar' itse'f.

"'What's that?' Monte asks, after listenin' mighty dignified to the
spook's excuses; 'you begs my pardon? Not another word. If you-all
keeps on talkin' now you'll sp'ile it. Thar's my hand,' givin' the
fingers of the phantom a mighty earnest squeeze. 'I'm your friend, an'
that goes.'

"Havin' established a peace, Monte insists that the Black Jack phantom
b'ar him company to the O. K. Restauraw. In spite of all Missis Rucker
can say or do, he plants the spook at the table, feeds it on the best
that's in the kitchen, an' all as confident as if it's shorely troo.
Also, he insists on payin' for two.

"When Missis Rucker tries to show him he's down wrong, he refooses to
have it that way.

"'Do you-all reckon, Ma'am, that I can't trust my eyes none?' he
demands. 'Which you'll tell me next that them airtights I tops of with
is figments.'

"'But thar's only one of you-all,' Missis Rucker persists.

"'Ma'am,' returns Monte, his manner plumb s'picious, 'I don't jest
quite sense your little game. Whatever it is, however, you-all can't
play it on old Monte. You write back to my fam'ly an' the neighbors,
an' the least flatterin' among 'em'll tell you that I'm as cunnin' as
a squinch owl. Thar's two of us who feeds, an' for two of us I
settles. Bein' a woman, you're too feeble-witted for reason, too
mendacious for trooth.'

"'Don't you go callin' me no woman,' says Missis Rucker, her eyes
snappin', 'onless you're ready to cash in.'

"'Women!' repeats Monte, sort o' addressin' the scenery, but still
plenty cynical, 'what be they except a fleetin' show to man's
deloosion given. Also, thar's nothin' to 'em. You opens their front
door, an' you're in their back yard.'

"Texas has been givin' y'ear to the talk. It's before his Laredo wife
starts ropin' for that divorce; but she's already makin' war medicine,
an' the signs an' signal smokes which p'int to an uprisin' is vis'ble
on every hill. Texas is careful not to let Missis Rucker hear him
none, but as he walks away, he mutters:

"'That ghost-seein' sport's got the treemors, but all the same I
strings with him on them estimates of ladies.'

"Texas is that fav'rably affected about Monte, he talks things over
with Tutt, who himse'f ain't married to Tucson Jennie none as yet.
Them nuptials, an' that onbiased blessin', little Enright Peets Tutt,
who results tharfrom, comes along later.

"'Which thar's good in that Monte maverick,' says Texas; 'only so we
could get the nosepaint out of him.'

"'Now, I wouldn't wonder none, neither,' says Tutt.

"'He drinkt up two quarts an' a half yesterday,' says Texas.

"'Ain't thar no steps which can be took?' Tutt asks. 'Two quarts an' a
half, though, shore sounds like he's somethin' of a prop'sition.'

"These yere remarks is made in the Red Light, an' Tutt an' Texas
appeals to Cherokee, whar that courtier of fortune is settin' in
behind his lay-out. Cherokee waves 'em off, p'lite but firm.

"'Don't ask me none,' he says. 'You-all knows my doctrines. Let every
gent kill his own snakes.'

"'That's my theology,' remarks Boggs, who has just come ramblin' in
from the Noo York store, whar he's been changin' in a bundle of money
for shirts; 'I recalls how, when I'm a prattlin' yearlin', hearin'
Parson Ed'ards of the Cambellite Church quotin' whar Cain gives it out
cold that he's not his brother's keeper; an' even at that onthinkin'
age I fully endorses Cain's p'sition.'

"The talk takes in Black Jack, who, by virchoo of him bein' a barkeep,
nacherally savvys a heap about the licker question. Jack reelates how
a sot he knows back in Arkansaw is shocked into never takin' a drink,
by simply blowin' his hand off accidental while tanked up.

"'Whang! goes the old Betsy,' says Jack, 'an' that slave to licker's
shy his left hand. "Which it lets me out!" he exclaims; an' datin'
from said catastrophy he'd no more tech nosepaint, that a-way, than
he'd join the church.'

"'But it's doubtful,' observes Tutt, 'if Enright stands to let us
shoot this yere Monte drunkard's hand off.'

"'It's ten to one he won't,' says Texas; 'still thar ought to be other
schemes for shockin' a party into moral'ty, which stops short o'
cripplin' him for life.'

"'But is this yere inebriate worth the worry?' asks Boggs. 'Also, it
shore strikes me as mighty gratooitous for us to go reorganizin' the
morals of a plumb stranger, an' him not even asked.'

"'Which he's worth the worry all right,' Texas replies. 'Thar's no
efforts too great, when thar's a chance to save a party who has the
same thorough onderstandin' of ladies which this gent has.'

"Up over the Red Light bar is a stuffed bobcat, the same bein' held as
decorative. Only the day before Texas and Tutt stands talkin', a
couple of Enright's riders comes packin' a live bobcat into town,
which between 'em they ropes up over in the foothills of the Tres
Hermanas, an' jams labor'ously into a pa'r of laiggin's. The same idee
seizes on Texas an' Tutt yoonanimous. They sees that it only calls for
the intelligent use of that Bar-8 bobcat, which them cow-punchers of
Enright's ties down, to reegen'rate Monte, an' make him white as
snow.

[Illustration: A COUPLE OF ENRIGHT'S RIDERS COMES A PACKIN' A LIVE BOBCAT
INTO TOWN. p. 118.]

"Monte's ain't present none, bein' over to the O. K. House. By bein'
plumb painstakin', Tutt an' Texas gets a collar onto the captive Bar-8
bobcat, an' chains him up over the Red Light bar, in place of the
stuffed bobcat, deeposed. The Bar-8 bobcat jumps off once or twict
before he learns, an' comes mighty clost to lynchin' himse'f. But
Black Jack is patient, an' each time pokes him back with a cha'r.
After mebby the third jump, it gets proned into the bobcat that thar's
nothin' in it for him to go hurlin' himse'f into space that a-way, an'
bein' saved from death by hangin' only through the cha'r-laig
meditations of Black Jack. Acceptin' this yere view, he stands pat on
his shelf. Likewise, he shore looks mighty vivid up thar, an' has got
that former stuffed predecessor of his beat four ways from the jack.

"We're hankerin' around, now the Bar-8 bobcat's organized, waitin' for
Monte to come amblin' up, an' be reformed.

"'An' you can gamble,' Tutt says, 'that the shock it'll throw into
him'll have a ben'ficial effect. Shootin' off a hand or so ain't in it
with the way that drunkard's goin' to feel.'

"'That's the way I figgers,' Texas remarks. 'One glance at that
bobcat, him on the verge of the treemors, an' thar'll a thrill go
through his rum-soaked frame like the grace of heaven through a camp
meetin'. For one, I antic'pate most excellent effects. Whatever do you
think, Doc?'

"'Whatever do I think?' Peets repeats. 'Which I thinks that, as the
orig'nators of this yere cure for the licker habit, it'll be up to you
an' Dave to convey the patient to his room at the O. K. House, as soon
as ever you can control his struggles.'

"Monte at last heaves in sight, an' comes shiverin' up to the bar,
every nerve as tight as a fiddle string. Black Jack shoves him the
bottle.

"'What stuffed anamile sharp,' says Tutt, craftily directin' himself
at Black Jack, 'mounts that bobcat up thar?'

"Monte nacherally raises his eyes. Thar's that Bar-8 feline,
half-crouched, glarin' down on him with green eyes, big as moons.

"That settles it.

"Monte gives a yell which they hears in Red Dog. Wharupon the bobcat,
takin' it for a threatenin' deemonstration, onfolds in an answerin'
yell, an' makes a scramblin' jump at Monte's head. Shore, he don't
land none, bein' brought up short, like a roped pony. Thar he swings,
cussin' an' spittin' an' clawin', as mad as a drunken squaw, an'
begins all over to hang himse'f afresh.

"Monte?

"That victim of appetite falls to the floor as dead an' flat as a wet
December leaf.

"Actin' on them instructions, Tutt an' Texas picks Monte up an' packs
him across to Peets, who, after fussin' over him for mebby an hour,
brings him round s'fficient so he goes from one convulsion into
another, in what you-all might deescribe as an endless chain of fits.
Thar's nothin' to it; Peets is indoobitable the best equipped drug
sharp that ever breaks loose in Arizona. At that, while Monte lives,
he don't but jest. He's shore close enough at one time to kingdom come
to hear the singin'.

"For two weeks Monte's boilin' an' boundin' round in his blankets,
Texas an' Tutt, feelin' a heap reemorseful, standin' watch and watch.
It's decided that no more attempts to reform him will be made, him
bein'--accordin' to Peets--too far gone that a-way.

"'He's plumb onreform'ble,' explains Peets; 'whiskey's got to be so
much a second nacher with him, that the only way you-all could cure
him now is kill him.'

"By way of partial rep'ration for what he suffers, as soon as Monte
can ag'in move about, Enright calls a meetin' of the camp, an'
dooly commissions him 'Offishul Drunkard,' with a absoloote an'
non-reevok'ble license to go as far as he likes.

"'This yere post of offishul drunkard,' Enright explains to the
meetin', 'carries with it no money, no power, an' means only that he's
free to drink from dark to daylight an' to dark ag'in, oncriticized,
onreproved, an' onsaved. Colonel Sterett imparts to us in the last
_Daily Coyote_ how them Hindoos has their sacred cobras. Cobras not
bein' feas'ble none in Arizona, Wolfville in loo of sech accepts old
Monte. Yereafter, w'arin' the title of offishul drunkard, he takes his
place in the public regyard as Wolfville's sacred cobra.'

"When Monte learns of his elevation, his eyes fills up with gratified
pride, an' as soon as ever he's able to stand the w'ar an' t'ar, he
goes on a protracted public drunk, by way of cel'bration, while we
looks tol'rantly on.

"'Gents,' he says, 'I thanks you. Yereafter the gnawin' tooth of
conscience will be dulled, havin' your distinguished endorsement so to
do. Virchoo is all right in its place. But so is vice. The world
can't all be good an' safe at one an' the same time. Which if we all
done right, an' went to the right, we'd tip the world over. Half has
got to do wrong an' go to the left, to hold things steady. That's me;
I was foaled to do wrong an' go to the left. It's the only way in
which a jealous but inscroot'ble Providence permits me to serve my
hour. Offishul drunkard! Ag'in I thanks you. Which this yere's the way
I long have sought, an' mourned because I found it not, long meter.'

"Boggs is the only gent who takes a gloomy view.

"'That's fine for this yere egreegious Monte,' says Boggs, talkin' to
Enright; 'as Wolfville's pet drunkard an' offishul cobra, he's mighty
pleasantly provided for. But how about the camp? Whar does Wolfville
come in? We're a strong people; but does any gent pretend that we
possesses the fortitoode reequired to b'ar up through all the comin'
rum-soaked years?--an' all onder the weight of this yere onmatched
inebriate, whom by our own act an' as offishul drunkard, we onmuzzles
in our shrinkin' midst? Gents, this thing can't last.'

"'Not necessar'ly, Dan,' retorts Enright, his manner trenchin' on the
cold; 'not necessar'ly. Let me expound the sityooation. I need not
remind you-all that Sand Creek Riley, who drives the Tucson stage,
gets bumped off the other evenin', while preeposterously insistin'
that aces-up beats three-of-a-kind. Realizin' the trooth of half what
you has said, Dan, I this evenin' enters into strategic reelations
with the stage company's agent; an' as a reesult, an' datin' from now
on, old Monte will be hired to fill the place of Sand Creek Riley,
whom we all regrets. It's hardly reequired that I p'int out the
benefits of this yere arrangement. As stage driver, old Monte for
every other night will get sawed off on Tucson. An' I misjedges the
vitality of this camp if, with the pressure on it thus relieved, an'
Tucson carryin' half the load, it's onable to live through. In my
opinion, Dan, by the light of this explanation, you at least oughter
hope for the best.'

"'That's whatever!' says Boggs, who's plumb convinced; 'if I'd waited
ontil you was heard, Sam, I'd never voiced them apprehensions. But the
fact is, this yere Monte cobra of ours, with his bibbin's an' his
guzzlin's, has redooced me to a condition of nervous prostration. It's
all right now. Which I will say, however, that I can't reeflect none
without a shudder on what them Tucson folks'll say an' think, so soon
as ever they wakes up to what's been played on 'em.'"



V

HOW THE MOCKING BIRD WAS WON


"Myst'ries?

"We lives surrounded by 'em. Look whar you will, nacher has a ace
buried. Take dogs, now: Why is it when one of 'em, daylight or dark,
cuts the trail of a anamile, he never makes the fool mistake of
back-trackin' it, but is shore to run his game the way it's movin'?
There must be some kind of head-an'-tail to the scent, that a-way, to
give the dog the hunch. Myst'ry!--all myst'ry! The more a gent goes
messin' 'round for s'lootions, the more he's taught hoomility an' that
he ain't knee-high to toads.

"An' yet when it comes to things myster'ous everything else is bound
to go to the diskyard compared to a lady's heart. Of course, I speaks
only in a sperit of philos'phy, an' not as one who's suffered. I never
myse'f am able pers'nal to approach closter to a lady's heart than
across the street. Peets once reemarks that all trails leads to Rome.
In that business of trails a lady's heart has got Rome left standin'
sideways. Not only does every trail lead tharunto, but thar's sech a
thing as goin' cross-lots. Take gettin' in love; thar's as many ways
as cookin' eggs. While you'll see gents who goes skallyhootin' into
that dulcet condition as straight as a arrer, thar's others who sidles
in, an' still others who backs in. I even knows a boy who shoots his
way in.

"Which the lady in this case is the Mockin' Bird. That Mockin' Bird
maiden has wooers by onbounded scores, but holds herse'f as shy an' as
much aloof as if she's a mountain sheep. Not one can get near enough
to her to give her a ripe peach. Along comes the eboolient Turkey
Track, bulges headlong into her dest'nies, takes to menacin' at her
with a gun an', final, to bombardin' her outright, an'--love an' heart
an' hand--she comes a-runnin'.

"Wolfville's without that last evidence of advancement, a callaboose.
It bein' inconvenient to shoot up or lynch everybody who infringes our
rooles, Jack Moore invents a convincin' but innocuous punishment for
minor offenders. Endorsed by Enright, he established a water
trough--it's big enough to swim a dog--over by the windmill; an' when
some perfervid cow-puncher, sufferin' from a overdose of nosepaint,
takes to aggravatin' 'round Moore swashes him about in the trough some
profoose, ontil he gives his word to live a happier an' a better
life.

"It's like magic the way that water trough works. No matter how gala
some pronghorn of a cowboy may feel, it shore lets the whey out of
him. Given the most voylent, it's only a matter of minutes before he's
soaked into quietood. Enright himse'f says Moore's entitled to a
monyooment for the idee.

"Turkey Track's name is Ford, Tom Ford, but workin' that a-way for the
Turkey Track outfit he nacherally gets renamed for the brand. Turkey
Track an' two boon companions has been goin' to an' fro from the Red
Light to the Dance Hall, ontil by virchoo of a over-accumyoolation of
licker they're beginnin' to step some high. Also, they takes to
upliftin' their tired souls with yells, an' blazin' away at froote
cans with their six-shooters.

"It gets so that Enright tells Moore to give 'em a call-down.

"'What them boys does,' says Enright, 'is done harmless an'
light-hearted to be shore, an' nothin' radic'lly wrong is either
aimed at or meant; but all the same, Jack, it's no more'n proodence
to go knock their horns off. It ain't what them yooths is doin', but
what they may be led to do, which makes the danger. It's like old
Deacon Sopris at the Cumberland Methodist class meetin' says of
kyard-playin'. "It ain't," explains the deacon, "that thar's any harm
in the children playin' seven-up around the kitchen table of a
winter's evenin' for grains of corn, but seven-up persisted in is
shore to lead to dancin'." An' so with these young merry-makers.
They'll keep on slamin' away at empty bottles an' former tomatter cans
that a-way, ontil the more seedate element objects, an' somebody gets
downed. Don't you agree with me, Doc?'

"'Nothin' shorer!' says Peets.

"Moore corrals Turkey Track an' his fellow revellers, an' tosses off a
few fiats.

"'Quit that whoopin' an' shootin', boys,' says Moore. 'Likewise, keep
your hardware in your belts, as more deecorous. So shore as I finds a
gun in any of your hands ag'in, I'll shoot it out.'

"Turkey Track an' his _compadres_ don't say nothin' back. They savvys
about the water trough, an' ain't hungerin' none to have their ardor
dampened in no sech fashion. So they blinks an' winks like a passel of
squinch owls, but never onbuckles in no argyooment. All the same, it
irks 'em a whole lot, an' after Moore reetires they begins mod'rate to
arch their necks an' expand 'round a little.

"They allows--talkin' among themselves in a quer'lous way--that they
ain't hurtin' no one, an' for Moore to come shovin' 'round an'
lecturin' on etiquette is a conceited exhibition of authority as
offensive as it is onjest. Thar's doubts, too, about it's bein'
constitootional.

"'Whatever does that jim-crow sp'ile-sport of a marshal mean?' says
Turkey Track. 'It looks like he's not only deefyin' the organic law of
this country, but puttin' on a heap of dog. Does he reckon this yere
camp's a church?'

"'I moves we treats them mandates,' says one of the boys, who's a
rider for the G-bar ranch, 'with merited contempt.'

"'As how?' asks the third, who belongs with the Four-J brand. 'You
ain't so locoed as to s'ggest we-all t'ars person'ly into this Jack
Moore marshal none I hopes?'

"'Which you fills me with disgust!' says the other, nettled at the
idee of pawin' the onprofit'ble grass 'round Moore; 'but whatever's
the matter with goin' up to the far end of the street, an' w'irl an'
come squanderin' back jest a shootin'?'

"'Great!' says Turkey Track, applaudin' the scheme. 'Which we-all
nacherally shoots up their old prairie dog town, same as if it's a
Mexican plaza, an' then jogs on to our ranches, all triumphant an'
comfortable.'

"The three rides up to the head of the street, an' then turns
an'--givin' their ponies the steel--comes whizzin' down through the
center of eevents, yelpin' like Apaches an' lookin' like fireworks.
They've got a gun in each hand, an' they shakes the flame an' smoke
out of 'em same as three volcanoes on hossback.

"Moore's standin' in front of the Noo York store, talkin' to Tutt. As
you-all might imagine, it frets him to the quick to see how little
them effervescent sperits cares for his injunctions. By way of
rebooke--not wantin' to down 'em outright for what, take it the worst
way, ain't nothin' more heen'ous than a impropriety--Moore gets his
artillery to b'ar, an' as they flashes by like comets, opens on the
ponies. It's hard on the ponies; but it won't do to let them young
roysterers get away with their play. The example'll spread; an',
onless checked at the jump, inside of a month thar'd be nothin' but a
whoopin' procession of cow-punchers chargin' up an' down the
causeways. Tenderfeet might acquire misgivin's techin' us bein' a
peaceful camp, an' the thing op'rate as a blow to trade. It's become a
case of either get the boys or get the ponies, an' onder the
circumstances the ponies has the call.

"Thar's no more artistic gun-player than Moore in town, onless it's
Cherokee, an' mebby Doc Peets, who's a heap soon with a derringer. As
the ponies flash by, Moore's six-shooter barks three times. Two ponies
goes rollin'; the third--it's Turkey Track's--continyoos cavortin'
down the street an' out of town. Turkey Track never pulls up nor looks
back. The last we sees of him is when he's two miles away, an' a
swell rises up behind him an' hides him from view.

"The G-bar boy, an' him from the Four-J outfit, hits the grass twenty
feet ahead of their ponies, like a roll of blankets chucked out of a
wagon, an' after bumpin' an' tumblin' along for a rod or so, an' all
mighty condoosive to fractures an' dislocations, they flattens out
reespective same as a couple of cancelled postage stamps. Shore, the
fall jolts the savvy plumb out of 'em.

"Bein' they're stretched out an' passive, Moore collects 'em an' sops
'em up an' down in the water trough for mebby it's fifteen minutes.
Which they're reesus'tated an' reeproved at one an' the same time.
When them yooths comes to, they're a model to angels. To be shore,
their intellects don't shine out at first none like the sun at noon,
but continyoos blurred for hours. Even as late as the weddin' of
Turkey Track with the Mockin' Bird--an' that ain't for all of eight
weeks--the G-bar boy informs Boggs confidenshul, as they're takin' a
little licker all sociable, that speakin' mental he's as yet a heap in
eeclipse.

"The maiden name of the Mockin' Bird is Loocinda Gildersleeve, but
pop'lar pref'rence allers sticks to her stage title. She's a fav'rite
at the Bird Cage Op'ry House, at which nursery of the drammy she's
been singin' off an' on for somethin' like three years. She's a
shore-enough singer, too, the Mockin' Bird is. None of your yeepin's
an' peepin's, none of your mice squeaks an' tea-kettle tones an' cub
coyote yelps. Which she's got a round, meelod'yous bellow like a hound
in full cry, an' while she's singin' thar ain't a wolf'll open his
mouth within a mile of town. Which them anamiles is plumb abashed, the
Mockin' Bird outholdin' 'em to that degree.

"You-all don't hear no sech singin' in the East. Thar ain't room; an'
moreover the East's too timid. For myse'f, an' I ain't got no y'ear
for music, them top notes of the Mockin' Bird, like the death yell of
a mountain lion, is cap'ble of givin' me the fantods; while the way
she hands out 'Home, Sweet Home' an' 'Suwannee River,' an' her voice
sort o' diggin' down into the soul, sets eemotional sports like Boggs
an' Black Jack to sobbin' as though their hearts is broke. She's
certainly a jo-darter of a vocalist--the Mockin' Bird is, an' once
when she renders 'Loosiana Loo' an' Boggs's more'n common affected, he
offers to bet yellow chips as high as the ceilin' she can sing the
sights off a Colt's .45.

"'Which I enjoys one of the most mis'rable evenin's of my c'reer,'
says Boggs to Faro Nell, when she expresses sympathy at him feelin' so
cast down. 'I wouldn't have missed it for a small clay farm.'

"'_Yo tambien_' says Black Jack, who's keepin' Boggs melancholly
company while he weeps. 'Only I reckons the odd kyard in my own case
is that, before I'm a man an' in some other existence, I used to be
one of these yere ornery little fice dogs, which howls every time it
hears a pianny. It's some left-over vestiges of that life when I'm a
dog which sets me to bawlin', that a-way, whenever the Mockin' Bird
girl sings. I experiences pensive sensations, sim'lar to what comes
troopin' over a gent, who's libatin' alone, on the heels of the third
drink.'

"The Mockin' Bird looks as sweet as she sings. I mentions long ago
about the phil'sophic old stoodent who says, 'They do say love is
blind, but I'll be ding-danged if some gents can't see more in their
girls than I can.' This yere wisdom don't apply none to the Mockin'
Bird. Them wooers of hers, to say nothin' of Turkey Track, possesses
jestification for becomin' so plumb maudlin'. Lovely? She's as pretty
as a cactus flower, or a sunrise on the staked plains.

"Folks likes her, too. Take that evenin' when a barbarian from over
to'ards the Cow Springs cuts loose to disturb the exercises at the
Bird Cage Op'ry House with a measly fling or two. The public well nigh
beefs him. They'd have shore put him over the jump, only Enright
interferes.

"It's doorin' the openin' scene, when the actors is camped 'round in a
half-circle, facin' the fiddlers. Huggins, who manages the Bird Cage,
an' who's the only hooman who ever consoomes licker, drink for drink,
with Monte, an' lives to tell the tale, is in the middle. Bowin' to
the Mockin' Bird, an' as notice that she's goin' to carol some, he
announces:

"'The world-reenowned cantatrice, Mam'selle Loocinda Gildersleeve,
cel'brated in two hemispheres as the Mockin' Bird of Arizona, will now
sing the ballad wharwith she ravished the y'ears of every crowned
head of Europe, the same bein' that pop'lar air from the op'ry of
_Loocretia Borgia_, "Down in the Valley."'

"At this that oncooth crim'nal from the Cow Springs gets up:

"'The Mockin' Bird of Arizona which you-all is bluffin' about,' he
shouts, 'can't sing more'n a burro, an' used to sling hash in a
section house over by Colton.'

"'Never the less, notwithstandin',' replies Huggins, who's too drunk
to feel ruffled, 'Mam'selle Loocinda Gildersleeve, known to all the
world as the Mockin' Bird of Arizona, will now sing "Down in the
Valley."'

"Huggins would have let things go at that, but not so the Wolfville
pop'lace. In the cockin' of a winchester they swoops down on that Cow
Springs outcast like forty hen-hawks on a single quail, an' as I
yeretofore observes, if it ain't for Enright they'd have made him
shortly hard to find. You can gamble, the Cow Springs savage never
does go out on that limb ag'in.

"While Turkey Track escapes the water trough, an' makes his getaway
that time all right, the pore pony ain't got by Moore onscathed. The
bullet hits him jest to the r'ar of the saddle-flap, an' out about a
brace of miles he stumbles over dead.

"It's yere eevents begins to fall together like a shock of oats. The
Mockin' Bird's been over entrancin' Tucson, an' the reg'lar stage with
Monte not preecisely dove-tailin' with her needs, she charters a
speshul buckboard to get back. Thar's a feeble form of hooman ground
owl drivin' her, one of these yere parties who's all alkali an' hard
luck, an' as deevoid of manly sperit as jack-rabbits onweaned.

"This yere ground owl party, drivin' for the Mockin' Bird, comes
clatterin' along with the buckboard jest as Turkey Track strips the
saddle an' bridle from his deefunct pony. Turkey Track is not without
execyootive ability, an' seein' he's afoot an' thirty miles from his
home ranch, he pulls his gun an' sticks up the buckboard plenty
prompt. At the mere sight of a weepon the hands of that young
owl-person goes searchin' for stars, an' he's beggin' Turkey Track not
to rub him out--him thinkin' it's a reg'lar hold-up. That's all the
opp'sition thar is, onless you counts the reemarks of the Mockin'
Bird, who becomes both bitter an' bitin' in equal parts, but has no
more effect on Turkey Track--an' him afoot that a-way--than pourin'
water on a drowned rat. Shore, a cow-puncher'd fight all day, an' even
face a enraged female, before he'd walk a hour.

[Illustration: TURKEY TRACK, SEEIN' HE'S AFOOT AN' THIRTY MILES FROM HIS
HOME RANCH PULLS HIS GUN AN' STICKS UP THE MOCKIN' BIRD'S BUCKBOARD.
p. 138.]

"Turkey Track piles his saddle an' bridle onto the r'ar of the
buckboard, an' settin' in behind on his plunder, commands the ground
owl driver to head west till further orders. Likewise, he so far
onbends as to say that them orders won't be deecem'nated, none
whatever, ontil he's landed at the Turkey Track home ranch. Since he
backs this yere programme with his artillery, the ground owl ain't got
nothin' to say, an' it's no time when the outfit's weavin' along a
side trail in the sole int'rests of Turkey Track.

"What's worse, to dispell the ennui of sech a trip, an' drive away
dull care, Turkey Track takes to despotizin' over the Mockin' Bird
with his six-shooter, an' compels her to sing constant throughout them
thirty miles. He makes her carrol everythin' from 'Old Hundred' to
'Turkey in the Straw,' an' then brings her back to 'Old Hundred' an'
starts her over. The pore harassed Mockin' Bird, what with the dust,
an' what with Turkey Track tyrannizin' at her with his gun, sounds
final like an ongreased wheelbarrow which has seen better days. She
don't get her voice ag'in for mighty clost to a month, an' even then,
as she says herse'f, thar's places where the rivets reequires
tightenin'.

"It's pressin' onto eight weeks before ever Turkey Track is heard of
'round town ag'in. Also, it's in the Bird Cage Op'ry House he hits the
surface of his times. The Mockin' Bird has jest done drove the vocal
picket-pin of 'Old Kentucky Home,' when, bang! some loonatic shoots at
her. Which the bullet bores a hole in the scenery not a foot above her
head.

"Every one sees by the smoke whar that p'lite attention em'nates from,
an' before you could count two, Moore, Boggs, an' Texas Thompson has
convened themselves on top of that ident'cal spot. Thar sets Turkey
Track, cryin' like a child.

"'It's no use, gents,' he sobs, the tears coursin' down his cheeks,
'she's so plumb bewitchin', an' I adores her so, I simply has to blaze
away or bust.'

"While he don't harm the Mockin' Bird none, the sent'ment of the
Stranglers, when Enright raps 'em to order inform'ly at the Red Light
an' Black Jack has organized the inspiration, favors hangin' Turkey
Track. Even Texas, who loathes ladies by reason of what's been sawed
off onto him in the way of divorce an' alimony, that a-way, by his
Laredo wife, is yoonan'mous for swingin' him off.

"'That I don't believe in marryin' 'em,' says Texas, expoundin' his
p'sition concernin' ladies in answer to Boggs who claims he's
inconsistent, 'don't mean I wants 'em killed. But you never was no
logician, Dan.'

"Cherokee's the only gent who's inclined to softer attitoodes, an'
that leeniency is born primar'ly of the inflooence of Nell. Nell is
plumb romantic, an' when she hears how the Turkey Track's been
enfiladin' at the Mockin' Bird only because he loves her, while she
don't reely know what she does want done with that impossible
cow-puncher, she shore don't want him hanged.

"'It's sech a interestin' story!' says Nell, an' then capers across to
Missis Rucker an' Tucson Jennie to c'llect their feelin's.

"Moore brings in Turkey Track.

"'Be you-all tryin' to blink out this yere young lady?' asks Enright,
'or is that gun play in the way of applause?'

"'It's love,' protests Turkey Track, his voice chokin'; 'it's simply a
cry from the soul. I learns to love her that day on the buckboard
while I'm lookin' at her red ha'r, red bein' my winnin' color. Gents,
you-all won't credit it none, but jest the same them auburn tresses
gets wropped about my heart.'

"'Whatever do you make of it, Doc?' whispers Enright.

"'This boy,' returns Peets, 'has got himse'f too much on his own mind.
He's sufferin' from what the books calls exaggerated ego.'

"'That's one way of bein' locoed, ain't it?'

"'Shore. But him bein' twisted mental ain't no reason for not adornin'
the windmill with his remains. The only public good a hangin' does is
to scare folks up a lot, an' you can scare a loonatic quite as quick
an' quite as hard as a gent whose intellects is plumb.'

"'Thar she stands,' Turkey Track breaks in ag'in, not waitin' for no
questions, 'an' me as far below her as stingin' lizards is from stars!
Then, ag'in, when folks down in front is a'plaudin' her, she wavin'
at 'em meanwhile the gracious smile, it makes me jealous. Gents, I
don't plan nothin', but the first I knows I lugs out the old .45 an'
onhooks it.'

"The Mockin' Bird has come over from the O. K. House with Nell, Missis
Rucker an' Tucson Jennie. As she hears Turkey Track's confession two
drops shows in her eyes like diamonds. Clutchin' hold of Nell, an'
with Missis Rucker an' Tucson Jennie flockin' along in the r'ar, she
rushes out the front door.

"This manoover leaves us some upset, ontil Nell returns to explain.

"'She's overcome by them disclosures,' says Nell, 'an' goes outside to
blush.'

"'The ontoward breaks of that songstress,' observes Enright oneasily,
'has a tendency to confoose the issue, an' put this committee in the
hole.'

"'Thar's nothin' confoosin' about it, Sam Enright.' It's Missis Rucker
who breaks out high an' threatenin', she havin' come back with Nell.
'This yere Mockin' Bird girl's in love with that gun-playin' cowboy,
an' it's only now she finds it out. Do you-all murderers still insist
on hangin' this yere boy, or be you willin' to see 'em wed an' live
happy ever after?'

"'Let's rope up a divine some'ers,' exclaims Boggs, 'an' have 'em
married. If that Mockin' Bird girl wants Turkey Track she shall shore
have him. I'd give her his empty head on a charger, if she asks it,
same as that party in holy writ, she singin' "Suwannee River" like she
does.'

"Cherokee, who's more or less rooled by Nell, thinks a weddin' the
proper step, an' Tutt, who sees somethin' in Tucson Jennie's eye,
declar's himse'f some hasty.

"Even Texas backs the play.

"'But make no mistake,' says Texas; 'I insists on wedlock over
lynchin' only because it's worse.'

"'Which it's as well, Sam Enright,' observes Missis Rucker, blowin'
through her nose mighty warlike, 'that you an' your marauders has
sense enough to see your way through to that deecision. Which if you'd
failed, I'd have took this Turkey Track boy away from you-all with my
own hands. This Vig'lance Committee needn't think it's goin' to do as
it pleases 'round yere--hangin' folks for bein' in love, an' closin'
its y'ears to the moans of a bleedin' heart.'

"'My dear ma'am,' says Enright, his manner mollifyin'; 'I sees nothin'
to discuss. The committee surrenders this culprit into the hands of
you-all ladies, an' what more is thar to say?'

"'Thar's this more to say,' an' Missis Rucker's that earnest her mouth
snaps like a trap. 'You an' your gang, settin' round like a passel of
badgers, don't want to get it into your heads that you're goin' to run
rough-shod over me. When I gets ready to have my way in this outfit,
the prairie dog that stands in my path'll shore wish he'd never been
born.'

"Enright don't say nothin' back, an' the balance of us maintainin' a
dignified silence, Missis Rucker, after a look all 'round, withdraws,
takin' with her Tucson Jennie an' Nell, Turkey Track in their midst.

"'Gents,' observes Enright, when they're shore departed, an' speakin'
up deecisive, 'ways must be deevised to 'liminate the feminine element
from these yere meetin's. I says this before, but the idee don't seem
to take no root. Thar's nothin' lovelier than woman, but by virchoo
of her symp'thies she's oncap'ble of exact jestice. Her feelin's lead
her, an' her heart's above her head. For which reasons, while I
wouldn't favor nothin' so ondignified as hidin' out, I s'ggests that
we be yereafter more circumspect, not to say surreptitious, in our
deelib'rations.'

"Shore, they're married. The cer'mony comes off in the O. K. House,
an' folks flocks in from as far away as Deming.

"'If you was a chemist, Sam,' says Peets, tryin' to eloocidate what
happens when the Mockin' Bird learns she's heart-hungry that a-way for
Turkey Track, 'you'd onderstand. It's as though her love's held in
s'lootion, an' the jar of Turkey Track's gun preecip'tates it.'

"'Mebby so,' returns Enright; 'but as a play, this thing's got me
facin' back'ards. Thar's many schemes to win a lady, but this yere's
the earliest instance when a gent shoots his way into her arms.'

"'Well,' returns Peets, 'you know the old adage--to which of course
thar's exceptions.' Yere he glances over at Missis Rucker. 'It runs:

              "A woman, a spaniel an' a walnut tree,
              The more you beat 'em the better they be."

"Boggs has been congratchoolatin' Turkey Track, an' kissin' the bride.
Texas, as somber as a spade flush, draws Boggs into a corner.

"'That Turkey Track,' says Texas, 'considers this a whipsaw. He misses
hangin', an' he gets the lady. He feels like he wins both ways. Wait!
Dan, it won't be two years when he'll discover that, compar'd to
marriage, hangin' that a-way ain't nothin' more'n a technical'ty.'"



VI

THAT WOLFVILLE-RED DOG FOURTH


"By nacher I'm a patriot, cradle born and cradle bred; my Americanism,
second to none except that of wolves an' rattlesnakes an' Injuns an'
sim'lar cattle, comes in the front door an' down the middle aisle; an'
yet, son, I'm free to reemark that thar's one day in the year, an'
sometimes two, when I shore reegrets our independence, an' wishes thar
had been no Yorktown an' never no Bunker Hill."

The old cattleman tasted his glass with an air weary to the borders of
dejection; after which he took a pathetic puff at his pipe. I knew
what had gone wrong. This was the Fifth of July. We had just survived
a Fourth of unusual explosiveness, and the row and racket thereof had
worn threadbare the old gentleman's nerves.

"Yes, sir," he continued, shoving a 'possum-colored lock back from his
brow, "as I suffers through one of them calamities miscalled
cel'brations, endoorin' the slang-whangin' of the orators an' bracin'
myse'f ag'inst the slam-bangin' of the guns, to say nothin' of the
firecrackers an' kindred Chinese contraptions, I a'preeciates the
feelin's of that Horace Walpole person Colonel Sterett quotes in his
_Daily Coyote_ as sayin', 'I could love my country, if it ain't for my
countrymen.'

"Still, comin' down to the turn, I reckon it merely means, when all is
in, that I'm gettin' too plumb old for comfort. It's five years now
since I dare look in the glass, for fear I'd be tempted to count the
annyooal wrinkles on my horns.

"It's mighty queer about folks. Speakin' of cel'brations, for
thousands of years the only way folks has of expressin' any feelin' of
commoonal joy, that a-way, is to cut loose in limitless an' onmeanin'
uproar. Also, their only notion of a public fest'val is for one half
of the outfit to prance down the middle of the street, while the other
half banks itse'f ag'inst the ediotic curb an' looks at 'em.

"People in the herd ain't got no intelligence. We speaks of the lower
anamiles as though we just has it on 'em completely in the matter of
intelligence, but for myse'f I ain't so shore. The biggest fool of a
mule-eared deer savvys enough to go feedin' up the wind, makin' so to
speak a skirmish line of its nose to feel out ambushes. Any old bull
elk possesses s'fficient wisdom to walk in a half-mile circle, as a
concloodin' act before reetirin' for the night, so that with him
asleep in the center, even if the wind does shift, his nose'll still
get ample notice of whatever man or wolf may take to followin' his
trail.

"That's what them 'lower anamiles' does. An' now I asks, what man,
goin' about his numbskull dest'nies, lookin' as plumb wise as a
too-whoo owl at noon, ever shows gumption equal to keepin' the
constant wind in his face, or has the sense to go walkin' round
himse'f as he rolls into his blankets, same as that proodent elk?
After all, I takes it that these yere Fo'th of Jooly upheavals is only
one among the ten thousand fashions in which hoomanity eternally
onbuckles in expressin' its imbecil'ty.

"Which I certainly do get a heap disgusted at times with the wild
beast called man. With all his bluffs about bein' so mighty sagacious,
I can sit yere an' see that, speakin' mental, he ain't better than an
even break with turkey gobblers. Even what he calls his science turns
finally out with him to be but the accepted ignorance of to-day; an'
he puts in every to-morrow of his existence provin' what a onbounded
jackass rabbit he's been the day before. It's otherwise with them
lower anamiles; what they knows they knows."

Plainly, something had to be done to fortify my old friend. I fell
back, quite as a matter of course, upon that first aid to the injured,
another drink, and motioned the black waiter to the rescue. It did my
old friend good, that drink, the first fruits of which easier if not
better condition being certain fresh accusations against himself.

"The trooth is, I'm a whole lot onused to these yere Fo'th of Jooly
outbursts; an' so I ondoubted suffers from 'em more keenly, that
a-way, than the av'rage gent. You see we never has none of 'em in
Wolfville; leastwise we never does but once. On that single festive
occasion we shore stubs our toe some plentiful, stubs it to that
degree, in fact, that we never feels moved to buck the game ag'in.
Once is enough for Wolfville.

"Which it's the single failure that stains the fame of the camp. At
that, the flat-out reely belongs to Red Dog; or at least to Pete
Bland, for which misguided party the Red Dogs freely acknowledges
reespons'bility as belongin' to their outfit.

"This yere Bland's dead now an' deep onder the doomsday sods. Also, he
died drinkin' like he'd lived.

"'What's the malady?' Enright asks Peets, when the Doc comes trackin'
back, after seein' the finish of Bland.

"'No malady at all, Sam,' says Peets, plumb cheerful an' frisky, same
as them case-hardened drug folks allers is when some other sport
passes in his checks--'no malady whatsoever. His jag simply stops on
centers, as a railroad gent'd say, an' I'm onable to start it ag'in.'

"Was Peets any good as a med'cine man? Son, I'm shocked! Peets is
packin' 'round in his professional warbags the dipplomies of twenty
colleges, an' is onchallenged besides as the best eddicated sharp
personal on the sunset side of the Mississippi. You bet, he
onderstands the difference at least between bread pills an' buckshot,
which is a heap sight further than some of these yere drug folks ever
studies.

"Colonel Sterett, who's fa'rly careful about what he says, reefers to
Peets in his _Daily Coyote_ as a 'intellectchooal giant,' an' thar
ain't no record of any scoffer comin' squanderin' along to contradict.
Mebby you'll say that the omission to do so is doo to the f'rocious
attitoode of the _Daily Coyote_ itse'f, techin' contradictions, an'
p'int to how that imprint keeps standin' at the head of its editorial
columns as a motto, the cynicism:

"'Contradict the _Coyote_ and avoid old age!'

"Thar'd be nothin' in it if you do. That motto's only one of Colonel
Sterett's bluffs, one of his witticisms that a-way. You don't reckon
that, in a sparsely settled country, whar the pop'lation is few an'
far between, the Colonel's goin' to go bumpin' off a subscriber over
mebby a mere difference of opinion? The Colonel ain't quite that
locoed."

"But about your Wolfville-Red Dog Fourth of July celebration?" I
urged.

"Which I'm in no temper to tell a story--me settin' yere with every
nerve as tight as a banjo catgut jest before it snaps. To reelate
yarns your mood ought to be the mood of the racontoor--a mood as rich
an' rank an' upstandin' as a field of wheat, ready to billow an' bend
before every gale of fancy. The way yesterday leaves me, whatever tale
I ondertakes to reecount would about come out of my mouth as stiff an'
short an' brittle as chopped hay. Also, as tasteless. Better let it go
till some other an' more mellow evenin'."

No; I was ready to accept the chances, and said as much. A chopped-hay
style, for a change, might be found acceptable. Supplementing the
declaration with renewed Old Jordan, I was so far victorious that my
aged man of cattle yielded.

"Well, then," he began reluctantly, "I'm onable to partic'larly say
which gent does make the orig'nal s'ggestion, but my belief is it's
Peets. I'm shore, however, that the Cornwallis idee comes from Bland;
an', since it's not only at that Cornwallis angle we-all falls
publicly down, but the same is primar'ly doo to the besotted obstinacy
of this yere Bland himse'f, Wolfville, while ever proudly willin' to
b'ar whatever blame's sawed off on to her shoulders proper, is always
convinced that Red Dog an' not us is to be held accountable. However,
Bland's gone an' paid what the sky scouts speaks of as the debt to
nacher, an' I'm willin' to confess for one that when he's sober he
ain't so bad. Not that them fits of sobriety is either so freequent or
so protracted they takes on any color of monotony.

"Bland's baptismal name is Pete, an' in his way he's a leadin'
inflooence in Red Dog. He's owner of the 7-bar-D outfit, y'earmark a
swallow-fork in both y'ears--which brands seventeen hundred calves
each spring round-up; an' is moreover proprietor of the Abe Lincoln
Hotel, the same bein' Red Dog's principal beanery. Bland don't have to
keep this yere tavern none, but it arranges so he sees his friends an'
gets their _dinero_ at one an' the same time, which as combinin'
business an' pleasure in equal degrees appeals to him a heap.

"Which it's the gen'ral voice that the best thing about Bland is his
wife. She's shore loyal to Bland, you bet! When they're livin' in
Prescott, an' a committee of three from one of them 'Purification Of
The Home' societies comes trapesin' in, to tell her about Bland bein'
ondooly interested in a exyooberant young soobrette who's singin' at
the theayter, an' spendin' his money on her mighty permiscus, Missis
Bland listens plenty ca'm ontil they're plumb through. Then she hands
them Purifiers this:

"'Well, ladies, I'd a heap sooner have a husband who can take keer of
two women than a husband who can't take keer of one.'

"After which she comes down on that Purification bunch like a fallin'
star, an' brooms 'em out of the house. Accordin' to eye witnesses, who
speaks without prejewdyce, she certainly does dust their bunnets
strenuous.

"When Bland hears he pats Missis Bland on the shoulder, an' exclaims,
'Thar's my troo-bloo old Betsy Jane! She knows I wouldn't trade a look
from them faded old gray eyes of hers for all the soobretts whoever
pulls a frock on over their heads!'

"Followin' which encomium Bland sends to San Francisco an' changes in
the money from five hundred steers for an outfit of diamonds, to go
'round her neck, an' preesents 'em to Missis Bland.

"'Thar,' he says, danglin' them gewgaws in the sun, 'you don't notice
no actresses flittin' about the scene arrayed like that, do you? If
so, p'int out them over-bedecked females, an' I'll see all they've got
on an' go 'em five thousand better, if it calls for every 7-bar-D
steer on the range.'

"'Pete,' says Missis Bland, clampin' on to the jooelry with one hand,
an' slidin' the other about his neck, 'you certainly are the kindest
soul who ever makes a moccasin track in Arizona, besides bein' a good
provider.'

"Shore, this yere Bland ain't so plumb bad.

"An' after a fashion, too, he's able to give excooses. Talkin' to
Peets, he lays his rather light an' frisky habits to him bein' a
preacher's son.

"'Which you never, Doc,' he says, 'meets up with the son an' heir of a
pulpiteer that a-way, who ain't pullin' on the moral bit, an' tryin'
for a runaway.'

"'At any rate, Pete,' the Doc replies, all cautious an' conservative,
'I will say that if you're lookin' for some party who'll every day be
steady an' law abidin', not to say seedate, you'll be a heap more
likely to find him by searchin' about among the progeny of some party
who's been lynched.'

"Recurrin' again to that miserabul Fo'th of Jooly play we cuts loose
in, it's that evenin' when we invites Red Dog over in a body to he'p
consoome the left-over stock of lickers in the former Votes For Women
S'loon, an' nacherally thar's some drinkin'. As is not infrequent whar
thar's drinkin', views is expressed an' prop'sitions made. It's then
we takes up the business of havin' that cel'bration.

"Peets makes a speech, I recalls, an' after dilatin' 'round to the
effect that Fo'th of Jooly ain't but two weeks ahead, allows that it'd
be in patriotic line for us to do somethin'.

"'Conj'intly,' says Peets, 'Red Dog an' Wolfville, movin' together
with one proud purpose of patriotism, ought to put over quite a show.
As commoonities we're no longer in the swaddlin' clothes of infancy.
It's time, too, that we goes on record as a whole public in some
manner an' form best calk'lated to make a somnolent East set up an'
notice us.'

"Peets continyoos in a sim'lar vein, an' speaks of the settlement of
the Southwest, wharin we b'ars our part, as a 'Exodus without a
prophet, a croosade without a cross,' which sent'ment he confesses he
takes from a lit'rary sport, but no less troo for that. He closes by
sayin' that if everybody feels like he does Wolfville an' Red Dog'll
j'ine in layin' out a program, that a-way, which'll shore spread the
glorious trooth from coast to coast that we-all is on the map to
stay.

"It's a credit to both outfits, how yoonanimously the s'ggestion is
took up. Which I never does see a public go all one way so plumb
quick, an' with so little struggle, since B'ar Creek Stanton is
lynched; which act of jestice even has the absoloote endorsement of
B'ar Creek himse'f.

"Peets is no sooner done talkin' than Tutt stacks in.

"'Thar's our six-shooters,' says he, 'for the foosilade; an', as for
moosic, sech as "Columbia the Gem" an' the "Star Spangled Banner," we
can round up them Dutchmen, who's the orchestra over at the Bird Cage
Op'ry House.'

"The talk rambles on, one word borryin' another, ontil we outlines
quite a game. Thar's to be a procession between Wolfville an' Red
Dog, an' back ag'in, Faro Nell leadin' the same on a _pinto_ pony as
the Goddess of Liberty.

"'An' that reeminds me,' submits Cherokee, when we reaches Nell;
'thar's Missis Rucker. It's goin' to hurt her feelin's to be left out.
As the preesidin' genius of the O. K. Restauraw she's in shape to give
us a racket we'll despise in eevent she gets her back up.'

"'How about lettin' her in on the play,' says Boggs, 'an' typ'fyin'
Jestice, that a-way?'

"'Thar's a idee, Dan,' says Texas Thompson, 'which plugs the center, a
reecommendation which does you proud! Down in that Laredo Co't House
whar my wife wins out her divorce that time, thar's a figger of
Jestice painted on the wall. Shore, it don't mean nothin'; but all the
same it's thar, dressed in white, that a-way, with eyes bandaged, an'
packin' a sword in one hand an' holdin' aloft some balances in
t'other. Come to think of it, too, that picture shore looks a lot like
Missis Rucker in the face, bein' plumb haughty an' commandin'.'

"'Missis Rucker not bein' yere none,' says Enright softly, an'
peerin' about some cautious, 'I submits that while no more esteemable
lady ever tosses a flapjack or fries salt-hoss in a pan, her figger is
mebby jest a trifle too abundant. As Jestice, she'll nacherally be
arrayed--as Texas says--in white, same as Nell as the Goddess. I don't
want to seem technicle, but white augments the size of folks an' will
make the lady in question look bigger'n a load of hay.'

"'Even so,' reemarks the Red Dog chief indulgently, 'would that of
itse'f, I asks, be reckoned any setback? The lady will person'fy
Jestice; an' as sech I submits she can't look none too big.'

"In compliment to the Red Dog chief Enright, with a p'lite flourish,
allows that he yields his objection with pleasure, an' Missis Rucker
is put down for Jestice. It's agreed likewise to borry a coach from
the stage company for her to ride on top.

"'Her bein' preeclooded,' explains Peets, 'from ridin' a hoss that
a-way, as entirely ondignified if not onsafe. We can rig her up a
throne with one of the big splint-bottom cha'rs from the Red Light,
an' wrop the same in the American flag so's to make it look
offishul.'

"Tucson Jennie, with little Enright Peets as the Hope of the Republic,
is to ride inside the coach.

"Havin' got this far, Pete Bland submits that a tellin' number would
be a sham battle, Red Dog ag'in Wolfville.

"Thar's opp'sition developed to this. Both Enright an' the Red Dog
chief, as leaders of pop'lar feelin', is afraid that some sport'll
forget that it ain't on the level, an' take to over-actin' his part.

"As the Red Dog chief expresses it:

"'Some gent might be so far carried away by enthoosiasm as to go to
shootin' low, an' some other gent get creased.'

"'The same bein' my notion exact,' Enright chips in. 'Of course, the
gent who thus shoots low would ondenyably do so onintentional; but
what good would that do the party who's been winged, an' who mightn't
live long enough to receive apol'gies?'

"'That's whatever!' says Jack Moore. 'A sham battle's too plumb apt to
prove a snare. The more, since everybody's so onused to 'em 'round
yere. A gent, by keepin' his mind firm fixed, might manage to miss
once or twice; but soon or late he'd become preoccupied, an' bust some
of the opp'sition before he could ketch himse'f.'

"Bland, seein' opinion's ag'inst a sham battle, withdraws the motion,
an' does it plenty graceful for a gent who's onable to stand.

"'Enough said,' he remarks, wavin' a acquiescent paw. 'Ante, an' pass
the buck.'

"The Lightnin' Bug, speakin' from the Red Dog side, insists that in
the reg'lar course of things thar's bound to be oratory. In that
connection he mentions a sharp who lives in Phoenix.

"'Which I'm shore,' says the Bug, 'he'd be gladly willin' to assist;
an' you hear me he's got a tongue of fire! Some of you-all sports must
have crossed up with him--Jedge Beebe of Phoenix?'

"'Jedge Beebe?' interjecks Monte, who's given a hostler his proxy to
take out the stage because of thar bein' onlimited licker; 'me an' the
Jedge stands drinkin' together for hours the last time he's in Tucson.
But you're plumb wrong, Bug, about him bein' eloquent.'

"'Wrong?' the Bug repeats, mighty indignant.

"'Of course,' says Monte, rememberin' how easy heated the Bug is, an'
that he looks on six-shooters as argyooments, 'I don't mean he can't
talk none; only he ain't what the Doc yere calls no Demosthenes.'

"'Did you ever hear the Jedge talk?' demands the Bug.

"'Which I shore does,' insists Monte; 'I listens to him for two hours
that time in Tucson. It's when they opens the Broadway Dance Hall.'

"'Whatever is his subject?' asks the Bug, layin' for to ketch Monte;
'what's the Jedge talkin' about?'

"'I don't know,' says Monte, wropped in his usual mantle of
whiskey-soaked innocence; 'he didn't say.'

"The Bug's eyes comes together in a angry focus; he thinks he's bein'
made game of.

"Tharupon Enright cuts in.

"'Bug,' he says, all sociable an' suave, 'you mustn't mind Monte. He's
so misconstructed that followin' the twenty-fifth drink he goes about
takin' his ignorance for information. No one doubts but you're a heap
better jedge than him of eloquence, an' everything else except
nosepaint. S'ppose you consider yourse'f a committee to act for the
con'jint camps, an' invite this yere joorist to be present as orator
of the day.'

"The Bug's brow cl'ars at this, an' he asshores Enright that he'll be
proud to act as sech.

"'An', gents,' he adds, 'if you says he ain't got Patrick Henry beat
to a standstill, may I never hold as good as aces-up ag'in.'

"The Red Dog chief announces that all hands must attend a free-for-all
banquet which, inflooenced by the tenth drink, he then an' thar
decides to give at Bland's Abe Lincoln House.

"'Said banquet,' he explains, 'bein' in the nacher of a lunch to be
held at high noon. If the dinin' room of the Abe Lincoln House ain't
spacious enough, an I'll say right yere it ain't, we'll teetotaciously
set them tables in the street. That's my style! I wants everybody, bar
Mexicans, to be present. When I gives a blow-out, I goes fo'th into
the highways an' byways, an' asks the halt an' the lame an' the
blind, like the good book says. Also, no gent need go prowlin' 'round
for no weddin' garments wharin to come. Which he's welcome to show up
in goat-skin laiggin's, or appear wropped in the drippin' an'
offensive pelt of a wet dog.'

"The Red Dog chief, lest some of us is sens'tive, goes on to add that
no gent is to regyard them cracks about the halt an' the lame an' the
blind as aimed at Wolfville. He allows he ain't that invidious, an' in
what he says is merely out to be both euphonious an' explicit, that
a-way, at one an' the same time.

"To which Enright reesponds that no offence is took, an' asshores the
Red Dog chief that Wolfville will attend the banquet all spraddled
out.

"More licker, followed by gen'ral congratulations.

"Bland ag'in comes surgin' to the fore. This time he thinks that as a
main feachure it would be a highly effective racket to reënact the
surrender of Cornwallis to Washington.

"Tutt goes weavin' across to shake his hand.

"'Some folks allows, Pete,' says Tutt, 'that you're as whiskey-soaked
an old fool as Monte. But not me, Pete, not your old pard, Dave Tutt!
An' you hear me, Pete, that idee about Cornwallis givin' up his sword
to Washington dem'nstrates it.'

"'You bet your life it does!' says Bland.

"'But is this yere surrender feasible?' asks Texas. 'Which, at first
blink, it seems some cumbrous to me.'

"'It's as easy as turnin' jack,' declar's Tutt, takin' the play away
from Bland. 'I've seen it done.'

"'As when an' whar?' puts in Cherokee.

"'Thar's a time,' says Tutt--'it's way back--when I sets into a little
poker game over in El Paso, table stakes she is, an' cleans up for
about $10,000. For mebby a week I goes 'round thinkin' that $10,000 is
a million; an' after that I simply _knows_ it is. These yere
onnacheral riches onhinges me to a p'int whar I deecides I'll visit
Chicago an' Noo York, as calk'lated to broaden me.'

"'Noo York!--Chicago!' interrupts the Bug. 'I once deescends upon them
hamlets, an' I encounters this yere strikin' difference. In Chicago
they wouldn't let me spend a dollar, while in Noo York they wouldn't
let anybody else spend one.'

"'It's otherwise with me,' goes on Tutt, 'because for a wind-up I
don't see neither. I'm young then, d' you see, an' affected by yooth
an' wealth I takes to licker, with the result that I goes pervadin' up
an' down the train, insistin' on becomin' person'ly known to the
passengers.'

"'An' nacherally you gets put off,' says Boggs.

"'Not exactly, neither. Only the conductor, assisted by a bevy of
brakemen, lays the thing before me in sech a convincin' shape that I
gets off of my own accord. It seems that to be agree'ble, I proposes
wedlock to a middle-aged schoolmarm, who allows that she sees no
objection except I'm a perfect stranger. She says it ain't been
customary with her much to go weddin' strangers that a-way, but if
I'll get myse'f reg'larly introdooced, an' then give her a day or so
to become used to my looks, she'll go me. It's then the conductor
draws me aside, an' says, "I've a son about your age, my eboolient
young sport, which is why I takes your part. My theery is that if you
sticks aboard this train ontil we reaches Rock Island, you'll never
leave that village a single man."

"'This sobers me,' Tutt continyoos, 'an' I hides in the baggage kyar
ontil we reaches a camp called Sedalia, whar I quietly makes my
escape. I'm that reelieved I gives the cabman $20 to let me drive, an'
then starts in to wake things up. Which I shore wakes 'em! I comes
down the main street like the breath of destiny; an', say, you ought
to see them Missourians climb trees, an' gen'rally break for cover! It
costs me $50; an' the jedge gives me his word that, only it's the
Fo'th of Jooly, he'd have handed me two weeks in the calaboose. I
clinks down the fifty _pesos_ some grateful, an' goes bulgin' forth to
witness the cer'monies. She's a jo-darter, that Sedalia cel'bration
is! As Pete yere recommends, they pulls off the surrender of
Cornwallis on the Fair grounds. Also, it's plumb easy. All you needs
is mebby a couple of hundred folks on hosses, an' after that the
rest's like rollin' off a log.'

"More is said as the drink goes round, an' Cornwallis surrenderin'
to Washington takes hold of our imaginations. We throws dice,
an' settles it that Red Dog'll be the English, with Bland as
Cornwallis, while Wolfville acts as the Americans, Boggs to perform
as Washington--Boggs bein' six foot an' some inches, besides as
wide as a door. By the time we gets the stock of the Votes for
Women S'loon fully drinked up everything's arranged.

"Onless you sees no objections, son, I'll gallop through the balance
of this yere painful eepisode. The day comes round, bright an'
cl'ar, an' the Copper Queen people gen'rously starts the ball
a-rollin' by explodin' thirteen cans of powder, one for each of
the orig'nal states. Then the procession forms, Nell in front as the
Goddess. Thar's full two hundred of us, Wolfville an' Red Dog, on
ponies. As to Missis Rucker, she's on top of the coach as Jestice,
Tucson Jennie--with little Enright Peets lookin' like a young he
cherub--inside, an' Monte pullin' the reins over the six hosses.
We makes four trips between Wolfville an' Red Dog, crackin' off
our good old '45s at irreg'lar intervals, Nell on her calico pony as
the Goddess bustin' away with the rest.

"Little Enright Peets wants in on the pistol shootin', an' howls jes'
like a coyote--as children will--ontil Boggs, who foresees it an'
comes provided, gives him a baby pistol, a box of blank cartridges,
an' exhorts him to cut loose. Which little Enright Peets shore cuts
loose, all right; an', except that he sets fire to the coach a few
times, an' makes Missis Rucker oneasy up on top--her fearin' that
mebby some of them blanks has bullets in 'em by mistake--he has a
perfectly splendid time.

"The procession over, we eats up the Red Dog chief's banquet, wharat
every brand of airtights is introdooced. That done, we listens to
Jedge Beebe, who soars an' sails an' sails an' soars, rhetorical, for
mebby it's a hour, an' is that eloquent an' elevated he never hits
nothin' but the highest places.

"The Red Dog chief makes a speech, an' proposes 'Wolfville'; to which
Peets--by Enright's request--reesponds, an' offers 'Red Dog.' It's
bottoms up to both sentiments; for thar's no negligence about the
drinks, Black Jack havin' capered fraternally over to he'p out his
overworked barkeep brother of the Red Dog Tub of Blood.

"When no one wants to further drink or eat or talk, we reepa'rs to a
level place between the two camps to go through the Cornwallis'
surrender. The rival forces is arrayed opp'site, Cornwallis Bland in a
red coat, an' Washington Boggs in bloo an' buff, accordin' to the
teachin's of hist'ry. Both of 'em has sabers donated from the Fort.

"When all's ready Washington Boggs an' Cornwallis Bland rides out in
front ontil they're in easy speakin' distance. Cornwallis Bland's been
over-drinkin' some, an' is w'arin' a mighty deefiant look.

"After a spell, nothin' bein' spoke on either side, Washington Boggs
calls out:

"'Is this yere Gen'ral Cornwallis?'

"'Who you talkin' to?' demands Cornwallis Bland, a heap contemptuous
an' insolent.

"Peets has done writ out words for 'em to say, but neither uses 'em.
Observin' how Cornwallis Bland conducts himse'f, Washington Boggs
waves his sword plenty vehement, which makes his pony cavort an'
buckjump, an' roars:

"'Don't you try to play nothin' on me, Gen'ral Cornwallis. Do you or
do you not surrender your mis'rable blade?'

"'Surrender nothin'!' Cornwallis Bland sneers back, meanwhile reelin'
in his saddle. 'Thar's never the horned-toad clanks a spur in Cochise
County can make me surrender. Likewise, don't you-all go wavin' that
fool weepon at me none. I don't valyoo it more'n if it's a puddin'
stick. Which I've got one of 'em myse'f'--yere he'd have lopped off
one of his pony's y'ears, only it's so dull--'an' I wouldn't give it
to a yellow pup to play with.'

"'For the last time, Cornwallis,' says Washington Boggs, face aflame
with rage, 'I commands you to surrender.'

"'Don't let him bluff you, Pete,' yells a bumptious young cow-puncher
who belongs on the Red Dog-English side. 'Which we can wipe up the
plains with that Wolfville outfit.'

"The Red Dog chief bats the young trouble-makin' cow-puncher over the
head with his gun, an' quietly motions to the Lightnin' Bug an' a
fellow Red Dog to pack what reemains of him to the r'ar. This done, he
turns to reemonstrate with Cornwallis Bland for his obstinancy. He's
too late. Washington Boggs, who's stood all he will, drives the spurs
into his pony, an' next with a bound an' a rush, he hits Cornwallis
Bland an' his charger full chisle.

"The pony of Cornwallis Bland fa'rly swaps ends with itse'f, an'
Cornwallis would have swapped ends with it, too, only Washington Boggs
collars an' hefts him out of his saddle.

"'Now, you onwashed drunkard, will you surrender?' roars Washington
Boggs, shakin' Cornwallis Bland like a dog does a rat, ontil that
British leader drops all of his hardware, incloosive of his
pistol--'now will you surrender, or must I break your back across your
own pony, as showin' you the error of your ways?'

"It looks like thar's goin' to be a hostile comminglin' of all hands,
when--her ha'r streamin' behind her same as if she's a comet--Missis
Bland comes chargin' up.

"'Yere, you drunken villyun!' she screams to Boggs, 'give me my
husband this instant, onless you wants me to t'ar your eyes out!'

"'It's him who's to blame, ma'am,' says Enright mildly, comin' to
Boggs' rescoo; 'which he won't surrender.'

"'Oh, he won't, won't he?' says Missis Bland, as she hooks onto
Cornwallis Bland. 'You bet he'll surrender to me all right, or I'll
know why.'

"As the Red Dog chief is apol'gizin' to Enright, who's tellin' him not
to mind, Cornwallis Bland is bein' half shoved an' half drug, not to
mention wholly yanked, towards the Abe Lincoln House by Missis Bland.

"That's the end. This yere ontoward finale to our cel'bration gets
wide-flung notice in print, an' instead of bein' a boost, as we-all
hopes, Wolfville an' Red Dog becomes a jest an' jeer. Also, while it
don't sour the friendly relations of the two camps, the simple mention
of Fo'th of Jooly leaves a bitter taste in the Wolfville-Red Dog mouth
ever since."



VII

PROPRIETY PRATT, HYPNOTIST


"Do I ever see any folks get hypnotized? Which I witnesses a few sech
instances. But it's usually done with a gun. If you're yearnin' to
behold a party go into a trance plumb successful an' abrupt, get the
drop on him. Thar ain't one sport in a hundred who can look into the
muzzle of a Colt's .45, held by a competent hand, without lapsin' into
what Peets calls a 'cataleptic state.'

"Shore, son, I savvys what you means."

The last was because I had begun to exhibit signs of impatience at
what I regarded as a too flippant spirit on the part of my old
cattleman. In the polite kindliness of his nature he made haste to
smooth down my fur.

"To be shore I onderstands you. As to the real thing in hypnotism,
however, thar arises as I recalls eevents but few examples in Arizona.
The Southwest that a-way ain't the troo field for them hypnotists, the
weak-minded among the pop'lation bein' redooced to minimum. Now an'
then of course some hypnotic maverick, who's strayed from the eastern
range, takes to trackin' 'round among us sort o' blind an' permiscus.
But he never stays long, an' is generally tickled to death when some
vig'lance committee so far reelents as to let him escape back.

"Over in Bernilillo once, I'm present when a mob gets its rope onto
one of these yere wizards, an' it's nothin' but the mercy of hell an'
the mean pars'mony of what outcasts has him in charge, which saves him
from bein' swung up. Mind you, it ain't no vig'lance committee, but a
mob, that's got him.

"Whatever is the difference?

"Said difference, son, is as a spanless gulf. A vig'lance committee is
the coolest kind of comin' together of the integrity an' the brains of
a commoonity. A mob, on the other hand, is a chance-blown convention
of deestructionists, as savagely brainless as a pack of timber wolves.
A vig'lance committee seeks jestice; a mob is merely out for blood."

"About this Bernilillo business?"

The old gentleman, as though the recital might take some time,
signalled the black attendant to bring refreshments. The bottle
comfortably at his elbow, he proceeded.

"I was thar, as I says, but I takes no part for either 'yes' or 'no,'
bein' no more'n simply a 'looker on in Vienna,' as the actor party
observes over in the Bird Cage Op'ry House. Thar's one of them
hypnotizin' sharps who's come bulgin' into Bernilillo to give a show.
Nacherally the local folks raps for a showdown; they insists he
entrance some one they knows, an' refooses to be put off by him
hypnotizin' what herd of hirelin's he's brought with him, on the
argyooment that them humbugs is in all likelihood but cappers for his
game.

"Thus stood up, the professor, as he calls himself, begins rummagin'
'round for a subject. Thar's a little Frenchman who's been pervadin'
about Bernilillo, claimin' to be a artist. Which he's shore a painter
all right. I sees him myse'f take a bresh an' a batch of colors, an'
paint a runnin' iron so it looks so much like wood it floats. Shore;
Emil--which this yere genius' name is Emil--as a artist that a-way is
as good as jacks-up before the draw.

"The hypnotic professor runs his eye over the audjence. In a moment
he's onto Emil, an' begins to w'irl his hypnotic rope. It's Emil bein'
thin an' weakly an' bloodless, I reckon, that attracts him. This yere
Emil ain't got bodily stren'th to hold his own ag'in a high wind, an'
the professor is on at a glance that, considered from standp'ints of
hypnotism, he ought to be a pushover.

"Emil don't hone to be no subject, but them Bernilillo hold-ups
snatches onto him in spite of his protests, an' passes him up onto the
stage to the professor. They're plenty headlong, not to say boorish,
them Bernilillo ruffians be; speshully if they've sot their hearts on
anythin', an' pore Emil stands about the same show among 'em as a
cottontail rabbit among a passel of owls.

"For myse'f, I allers adheres to a theery that what follows is to be
laid primar'ly to the door of the Bernilillo pop'lace. Which it's
themselves, not the professor, they'd oughter've strung up. You see
this Emil artist person blinks out onder the spells of the professor,
an' never does come to no more. The professor hypnotizes Emil, but he
can't onhypnotize him. Thar he sets as dead as Davy Crockett.

"This yere Emil bein' shore dead, Bernilillo sent'ment begins to churn
an' wax active. Thar ain't a well-conditioned vig'lance committee
between the Pecos an' the Colorado which, onder the circumstances,
would have dreamed of stretchin' that professor. What he does, them
Bernilillo dolts forces him to do. As for deceased, his ontimely
evaporation that a-way is but the frootes of happenstance.

"What cares the Bernilillo pop'lace, wolf hungry for blood? In the
droppin' of a sombrero they've cinched onto the professor, an' the
only question left open is whether they'll string him up to the town
windmill or the sign in front of the First National Bank.

"While them Bernilillo wolves is howlin' an' mobbin' an' millin'
'round the professor--who himse'f is scared plumb speechless an' is as
white as a lump of chalk--relief pushes to the front in most
onexpected shape. It's a kyard sharp by the name of Singleton,
otherwise called the Planter, who puts himse'f in nom'nation to
extricate the professor.

"Climbin' onto the top step in front of the bank, the Planter lifts up
his voice for a hearin'.

"'Folks!' he shouts, 'I'm in favor of this yere lynchin' like a
landslide. But, all the same, thar's a bet we overlooks. It's up to us
not only to be jest, but to be gen'rous. This yere murderer, who's
done blotted out the only real artist I ever meets except myse'f, has
a wife down to the hotel. As incident to these festiv'ties she's goin'
to be a widow. Is it for the manhood an' civic virchoo of Bernilillo
to leave a widow of its own construction broke an' without a dollar? I
hears the incensed echoes from the Black Range roarin' back in
scornful accents "No!" Sech bein' the sityooation, as preelim'nary to
this yere hangin' I moves we takes up a collection for that widow.
Yere's a fifty to 'nitiate the play'--at this p'int the Planter throws
a fifty-dollar bill into his hat--'an' as I passes among you I wants
every sport to come across, lib'ral an' free, an' prove to the world
lookin' on that Bernilillo is the band of onbelted philanthropists
which mankind's allers believed.

"Hat in hand, same as if it's a contreebution box an' he's passin' the
platter in church, the Planter begins goin' in an' out through the
multitood like a meadowlark through standin' grass. That is, he
starts to go in an' out; but, at the first motion, that entire
lynchin' party exhales like mist on the mornin' mountains. It's the
same as flappin' a blanket at a bunch of cattle. Every profligate of
'em, at the su'gestion he contreebute to the widow, gets stampeded,
an' thar's nobody left but the Planter, the professor, an' me.

"'Which I shore knows how to tech them ground-hawgs on the raw,' says
the Planter, as he onlooses the professor. 'If I was to have p'inted a
gun at 'em now, they'd've give me a battle. But bein' to the last man
jack a bunch of onmitigated misers, a threat leveled at their
bankrolls sets 'em to hidin' out like quail!'

"The professor?

"The instant he's laig-free, an' without so much as pausin' to
congrachoolate his preeserver on the power of his eloquence, he
vanishes into the night. He's headin' towards Vegas as he's lost to
sight, an' I learns later from Russ Kishler he makes that meetropolis
more or less used up. No; he don't have no wife. That flight of fancy
is flung off by the Planter simply as furnishin' 'atmosphere.'

"Wolfville never gets honored but once by the notice of a hypnotist.
This yere party don't proclaim himse'f as sech, but bills his little
game as that of a 'magnetic healer,' an' allows in words a foot high
that he's out to 'make the deef hear, the blind see, the lame to walk
an' the halt to skip an' gambol as doth the hillside lamb.' Also, on
them notices, the same bein' the bigness of a hoss-blanket an' hung up
lib'ral in the Red Light, the post office, the Dance Hall, an' the Noo
York store, is a picture of old Satan himse'f, teachin' Professor
Propriety Pratt--that bein' the name this yere neecromancer gives
himse'f--his trade.

"These proclamations is tacked up a full week before Professor Pratt
is doo, an' prodooces a profound effect on Boggs, him bein' by nacher
sooperstitious to the brink of the egreegious. The evenin' before the
Professor is to onlimber on us, he shows in Red Dog, an' Boggs is that
roused by what's been promised in the line of mir'cles, he rides
across to be present.

"'It ain't that I'm convinced none,' Boggs reports, when quaffin' his
Old Jordan in the Red Light, an' settin' fo'th what he sees, 'but I
must confess to bein' more or less onhossed by what this yere Pratt
Professor does. He don't magnetize none of them Red Dog drunkards in
person, for which he's to be exon'rated, since no self-respectin'
magnetizer would let himse'f get tangled up with sech. He confines his
exploits to a brace of dreamy lookin' ground owls he totes 'round with
him, an' which he calls his "hosses." What he makes these vagrants do,
though, assoomin' it's on the squar', is a caution to bull-snakes.
After he's got 'em onder the "inflooence," they eats raw potatoes like
they're roast apples, sticks needles into themselves same as though
they're pincushions, an' at his slightest behest performs other feats
both blood-curdlin' an' myster'ous.'

"We-all listens to Boggs, of course, as he recounts what marvels he's
gone ag'inst in Red Dog, but we don't yield him as much attention as
we otherwise might, bein' preeockepied as a public with word of a
hold-up that's come off over near the Whetstone Springs. Some
bandit--all alone--sticks up the Lordsburg coach, an' quits winner
sixty thousand dollars. Nacherally our cur'osity is a heap stirred up,
for with sech encouragement thar's no tellin' when he'll make a play
at Monte an' the Wolfville stage, an' take to layin' waste the
fortunes of all us gents. What is done to Lordsburg we can stand, but
a blow at our own warbags, even in antic'pation, is calc'lated to
cause us to perk up. We're all discussin' the doin's of this yere
route agent an' wonderin' if it's Curly Bill, when Boggs gets back
from Red Dog, with the result, as I says, that he onloads his
findin's, that a-way, on a dead kyard. Not that this yere public
inattention preys on Boggs. He keeps on drinkin' an' talkin', same as
though, all y'ears like a field of wheat, we ain't doin' a thing but
listen.

"'Also,' he observes, as he tells Black Jack to rebusy himse'f,
meanwhile p'intin' up to the poster which shows how the devil is
holdin' Professor Pratt in his lap an' laborin' for that hypnotist's
instruction; 'I shall think out a few tests which oughter get the
measure of that mountebank. He won't find this outfit so easy as them
Red Dog boneheads.'

"Professor Pratt has a one-day wait in Wolfville, not bein' able that
evenin' to get the Bird Cage Op'ry House, the same bein' engaged by a
company of histrions called the Red Stocking Blonds. Havin' nothin'
else to do, the Professor wanders yere an' thar, now in the Red
Light, now at the Noo York store, but showin' up at the O. K.
Restauraw at chuck time both rav'nous an' reg'lar. Missis Rucker
allows she never does feed a gent who puts himse'f outside of so much
grub for the money, an' hazards the belief it's because of a loss of
nervous force through them hypnotizin's he pulls off. Not that she's
findin' fault, for the Professor, havin' staked her to a free ticket,
has her on his staff in the shakin' of a dice-box.

"The Professor don't come bulgin' among us, garroolous an' friendly,
but holds himse'f aloof a heap, clingin' to the feelin' mebby that to
preeserve a distance is likely to swell reesults at the Bird Cage
door. Boggs, however, ain't to be stood off by no coldness, carin' no
more for a gent's bein' haughty that a-way than a cow does for a
cobweb. Which you bet it'll take somethin' more'n mere airs to hold
Boggs in check.

"It's in the O. K. Restauraw, followin' our evenin' _frijoles_, that
Boggs breaks the ice an' declar's for some exper'ments.

"'Which you claims,' says he, appealin' to the Professor, 'to make the
deef hear and the blind see. Onforchoonately we're out of deef folks
at this writin', an' thar's nothin' approachin' blindness in this neck
of woods which don't arise from licker. But aside from cures thus
rendered impossible for want of el'gible invalids, thar's still this
yere hypnotic bluff you puts up. What Wolfville hankers for is tests,
tests about the legit'macy of which thar's no openin' for dispoote.
Wharfore I yereby makes offer of myse'f to become your onmurmurin'
dupe. I'll gamble you a stack of bloos you don't make me drink no
water, thinkin' it's nosepaint, same as you pretends to do with them
wretched confed'rates of yours.'

"The Professor is a big b'ar-built sport, an' looks equal to holdin'
his own onder common conditions. But Boggs don't come onder the latter
head. So the Professor, turnin' diplomatic an' compliment'ry, explains
that sech powerful nachers as Boggs' is out of reach of his
rope--Boggs bein' reepellent, besides havin' too strong a will.

"'As to you, Mister Boggs, with that will of yours,' says the
Professor, 'I might as well talk of hypnotizin' Cook's Peak.'

"One after another, Boggs makes parade of everybody in camp. It's no
go; the Professor waves 'em aside as plumb onfit. Missis Rucker's got
too much on her mind; in Rucker the tides of manhood is at so low a
ebb he might die onder the pressure; Monte's too full of nosepaint,
alcohol, that a-way, bein' a nonconductor.

"When the Professor dismisses Monte, the ground he puts it on excites
that inebriate to whar it reequires the united energies of Cherokee
an' Tutt to kick him off the Professor. It's only the direct commands
of Enright which in the end indooces him to keep the peace.

"'Let me at him!' he howls; 'let me get at him! Does any one figger
I'll allow some fly-by-night charl'tan to go reeflectin' on me? Stand
back, Cherokee, get out o' the way, Dave, till I plaster the wall with
his reemains!'

"'Ca'm yourse'f, Monte,' says Enright, who's come in in time to
onderstand the trouble. 'Which if this hypnotizer was reely meanin' to
outrage your feelin's, it'd be different a whole lot, an' this
sod-pawin' an' horn-tossin' might plead some jestification. But what
he says is in the way of scientific exposition, an' nothin' said
scientific's to be took insultin'. Ain't that your view, Doc?'

"'Shore,' replies Peets. The Doc's been havin' no part in the
discussion, him holdin' that the Professor, with his rannikaboo bluff
about healin', is a empirik, an' beneath his professional contempt.
'Shore. Also, I'm free to inform Monte that if he thinks he's goin' to
lap up red licker to the degree he does, an' obleege folks in gen'ral
to treat sech consumption as a secret, he's got his stack down
wrong.'

"'Enough said,' ejacyoolates Monte, but still warm; 'whether or no,
Doc, I'm the sot this outfit's so fond of picturin', I at least ain't
so lost to reason as to go buckin' ag'inst you an' Enright. Jest the
same, though, I'm yere to give the news to any magnetizing horned-toad
who sows the seeds of dispoote in this camp that, if he goes about
malignin' me, he'll shore find I'm preecisely the orange-hued
chimpanzee to wrop my prehensile tail around him an' yank him from his
limb.'

"'Aside from aidin' the deef an' the blind,' says the Professor,
ignorin' Monte utter an' addressin' himse'f to Boggs an' the public
gen'ral, 'my ministrations has been found eff'cacious wharever the
course of troo love has not run smooth. I binds up wounds of
sent'ment, an' cures every sickness of the soul. Which, if thar's any
heart lyin' 'round loose yereabouts an' failin' to beat as one, or a
sperit that's been disyoonited from its mate an' can't remake the
hook-up, trust me to get thar with bells on in remedyin' sech evils.'

"The Professor beams as he gets this off, mighty benignant. Texas,
feelin' like the common eye is on him, commences to grow restless.

"'Be you-all alloodin' to me?' he asks the Professor, his manner
approaching the petyoolant. 'Let me give you warnin', an' all on the
principle that a wink is as good as a nod to a blind mule. So shore as
you go to makin' any plays to reyoonite me an' that divorced Laredo
wife of mine I'll c'llect enough of your hypnotizin' hide to make a
saddle-cover.'

"'Permit me,' says the Professor, turnin' to Texas some aghast, 'to
give you my word I nourishes no sech deesigns. Which I'm driven to
say, however, that your attitoode is as hard to fathom as a fifth ace
in a poker deck. I in no wise onderstands your drift.'

"'You onderstands at least,' returns Texas, still morbid an'
f'rocious, 'that you or any other fortune teller might better have
been born a Digger Injun to live on lizards, sage bresh an'
grasshoppers than come messin' 'round in my mar'tal affairs with a
view to reebuildin' 'em up. My hopes in that behalf is rooined; an'
whoever ondertakes their rehabil'tation'll do it in the smoke. What
I'm out after now is the ca'm onbroken misery of a single life, an'
I'll shore have it or have war.'

"'My heated friend, I harbors no notion,' the Professor protests, 'of
tryin' to make it otherwise. Your romancin' 'round single, that a-way,
ain't no skin off my nose. An' while I never before hears of your
former bride, I'm onable to dodge the feelin' that she herse'f most
likely might reesent to the utmost any attempt on my part to ag'in
bring you an' her together.'

"Texas formyoolates no express reply, but growls. The Professor, still
with that propitiatin' front, appeals to the rest of us.

"'Gents,' he says, 'this yere's the most reesentful outfit I'm ever
inveigled into tryin' to give a show to. I certainly has no thought of
rubbin' wrong-ways the pop'lar bristles. All I aims at is to give a
exhibition of anamile magnetism, cure what halt an' blind--if any--is
cripplin' an' moonin' about, c'llect my _dinero_ an' peacefully hit
the trail. An' yet it looks like a prejewdice exists ag'inst me
yere.'

"'Put a leetle pressure on the curb, thar,' interrupts Peets. 'You're
up ag'inst no prejewdice. On that bill, wharwith you've done defaced
the Wolfville walls, you makes sundry claims. An' now you r'ars back
on your ha'nches, preetendin' to feel plumb illyoosed, because some
one seeks to put the acid on 'em.'

"'That's whatever!' adds Boggs; 'the Doc states my p'sition
equilaterally exact. I sees your Red Dog show. I'll be present a whole
lot at your show to-morry night. Also, I feels the need of gyardin'
ag'inst my own credoolity. What I sees you do in Red Dog, while not
convincin', throws me miles into the oncertain air; an' I don't figger
on lettin' you _vamoos_, leavin' me in no sech a onsettled frame.
Wharfore, I deemands tests.'

"'Yere,' breaks in Nell, who's been listenin', 'what's the matter of
this occult party hypnotizin' me.'

"'The odd kyard in that deck,' says Cherokee, his manner trenchin' on
the baleful--'the odd kyard in that deck is that onless this yere
occultist is cap'ble of mesmerizin' a bowie to whar it looses both
p'int an' edge, for him to go weavin' his wiles an' guiles 'round you,
Nellie, would mark the evenin' of his c'reer.'

"Nell beams an' brightens at these yere proofs of Cherokee's int'rest,
while the pore Professor looks as deeply disheveled mental as he does
when Texas goes soarin' aloft.

"Little Enright Peets waddles up to tell his paw that Tucson Jennie
wants him. As he comes teeterin' along on his short cub-b'ar laigs,
fat an' 'round as forty pigs, the Professor--thinkin' it'll mebby
relieve the sityooation--stoops down to be pleasant to little Enright
Peets.

"'Yere's my little friend!' he says, at the same time holdin' out his
hands.

"Later we-all feels some ashamed of the excitement we displays. But
the trooth is, the Professor offerin' to caress little Enright Peets
that a-way sends us plumb off our feet. I never before witnesses any
sech display of force. Every gent starts for'ard, an' some has pulled
their guns.

"'Paws off!' roars Enright to the pore dazed Professor, who
comes mighty clost to rottin' down right thar; 'in view of them
announcements'--yere Enright p'ints to the bill, whar Satan an'
the Professor is deepicted as teacher an' poopil--'do you-all reckon
we lets sech a devil's baby as you go manhandlin' that child?'

"The Professor throws up his hands like he's growing desp'rate.

"'Folks,' he says, 'I asks, in all hoomility, is thar anythin' I can
say or do in this yere camp without throwing away my life?'

"'Shore,' returns Boggs; 'all you got to do is give a deemonstration.'

"'However be I goin' to give a hypnotic deemonstration,' returns the
Professor, apparently on the verge of nervous breakdown, 'when every
possible subject is either too preeokyoopied, or too obstinate, or too
weak, or too yoothful, or too beautiful, or too drunk? If it's healin'
you're after, bring fo'th the sickest you've got. If he's blind an'
his eye ain't gouged plumb out, I'll make him see; if he's lame an'
his laig ain't cut plumb off, I'll make him walk. An' now, gents, I'm
through. If these yere proffers don't suit, proceed with my bootchery.
I care less, since one day with you-all exactin' tarrapins has
rendered life so distasteful to me that I wouldn't turn hand or head
to live.'

"Havin' got this off his mind, the harassed Professor sets down an'
buries his face in his hands.

"'Why not introdooce him,' breaks in Rucker, who's nosin' about, 'to
that aflickted shorthorn who comes groanin' in on the stage last
night? He's been quiled up in his blankets with the rhoomatism ever
since he hits camp. Which if this yere imposter can make him walk,
it'll shore be kings-up with Missis Rucker, 'cause she wants to make
the bed.'

"'Whar's this sufferer at?' demands Boggs, takin' the Professor by the
sleeve an' with the same motion pullin' his six-shooter. 'This yere
discussion's done reached the mark whar it's goin' to be a case of
kill or cure for some sport.'

"Rucker leads the way up sta'rs, Boggs an' the Professor next, the
rest trailin'. All hands crowds into the little dark bedroom. Thar on
the bed, clewed up into a knot, lies the rhoomatic party. As we-all
files in, he draws himse'f onder the blankets ontil nothin' but his
nose sticks out.

"'Professor,' says Boggs, an' his six-shooter goes 'kluck! kluck!'
mighty menacin', 'onfurl your game! I shore trusts that you ain't
started nothin' you can't stop.'

"The pore Professor don't nurse no doubts. He thinks he's in the
bubblin' midst of blood an' sudden death; wharfore, you bet, he throws
plenty of sperit into his racket. Makin' some hostile moves with his
hands--Boggs elevatin' his gun, not bein' quite content about them
motions--the Professor yells:

"'Get up!'

"Talk of mir'cals! Which you should have seen that rhoomatic! With one
turrific squawk he lands on his knees at the feet of Boggs, beggin'
for mercy.

"'Don't kill me,' he cries; 'I'll show you whar I plants the money.'

"Whoever is that rhoomatic? Which he's the stoodent who stands up the
stage over by Whetstone Springs. His rhoomatism's merely that
malefactor's way of goin' onder cover.

"The Professor later offers to divide with Boggs on the two
thousand-dollar reward the Wells-Fargo folks pays, but Boggs shakes
his head.

"'You take the entire wad, Professor,' says he, wavin' aside that
gen'rous necromancer. 'It's the trophy of your own hypnotic bow an'
spear. What share is borne by my .45 is incidental. Which I'll say,
too, that if I was playin' your hand I'd spread that cure on my
posters as the star mir'cle of my c'reer.'"



VIII

THAT TURNER PERSON


"Talk of your hooman storm-centers an' nacheral born hubs of grief,"
observed the old cattleman, reminiscently; "I'm yere to back that
Turner person ag'inst all competitors. Not but what once we're onto
his angles, he sort o' oozes into our regyards. His baptismal name is
'Lafe,' but he never does deerive no ben'fit tharfrom among us, him
behavin' that eegregious from the jump, he's allers referred to as
'that Turner person.'

"As evincin' how swift flows the turbid currents of his destinies, he
succeeds in focusin' the gen'ral gaze upon him before he's been in
camp a day. Likewise, it's jest as well Missis Rucker herse'f ain't
present none in person at the time, or mighty likely he'd have focused
all the crockery on the table upon him, which you can bet your last
_peso_ wouldn't have proved no desid'ratum. For while Missis Rucker
ain't what I calls onusual peevish, for a lady to set thar quiet an'
be p'inted to by some onlicensed boarder as a Borgia, that away, would
be more'n female flesh an' blood can b'ar.

"It's like this. The Turner person comes pushin' his way into the O.
K. Restauraw along with the balance of the common herd, an' pulls a
cha'r up ag'inst the viands with all the confidence of a oldest
inhab'tant. After grinnin' up an' down the table as affable as a wet
dog, he ropes onto a can of airtights, the same bein' peaches. He
he'ps himse'f plenty copious an' starts to mowin' 'em away.

"None of us is noticin' partic'lar, bein' engaged on our own hook
reachin' for things, when of a sudden he cuts loose a screech which
would have knocked a bobcat speechless.

"'I'm p'isened!' he yells; 'I'm as good as dead right now!'

"Followin' this yere fulm'nation, he takes to dancin' stiff-laiged,
meanwhile clutchin' hold of the buckle on his belt.

"Thar should be no dissentin' voice when I states that, at a crisis
when some locoed maverick stampedes a entire dinin' room by allowin'
he's been p'isened, prompt action should be took. Wharfore it excites
no s'rprise when Jack Moore, to whom as kettle-tender for the
Stranglers all cases of voylance is _ex officio_ put up, capchers the
ghost-dancin' Turner person by the collar.

"'Whatever's the meanin' of this midprandial excitement?' demands
Jack. 'Which if these is your manners in a dinin' room, I'd shore
admire to see you once in church.'

"'I'm p'isened!' howls the Turner person, p'intin' at the airtights.
'It's ptomaines! I'm a gone fawnskin! Ptomaines is a center shot!'

"None of us holds Rucker overhigh, an' yet we jestifies that husband's
action. Rucker's headin' in from the kitchen, bearin' aloft a platter
of ham an' cabbage. He arrives in time to gather in the Turner
person's bluff about 'ptomaines,' an' onderstands he's claimin' to be
p'isened. Shore, Rucker don't know what ptomaines is, but what then?
No more does the rest of us, onless it's Peets, an' he's over to
Tucson. As I freequently remarks, the Doc is the best eddicated sharp
in Arizona, an' even 'ptomaines' ain't got nothin' on him.

"Rucker plants the platter of ham an' cabbage on the table, an'
appeals 'round to us.

"'Gents,' he says, 'am I to stand mootely by an' see this tavern, the
best j'int ondoubted in Arizona, insulted?' An' with that he's down on
the Turner person like a fallin' tree, whar that crazy-hoss
individyooal stands jumpin' an' dancin' in the hands of Moore.

"'What's these yere slanders,' shouts Rucker, 'you-all is levelin' at
my wife's hotel? Yere we be, feedin' you on the fat of the land; an'
the form your gratitoode takes is to go givin' it out broadcast you're
p'isened! You pull your freight,' he concloodes, as he wrastles the
dancin' Turner person to the door, 'an' if you-all ever shows your
villifyin' nose inside this hostelry ag'in I'll fill you full of
buckshot.'

"To be shore, that crack about buckshot ain't nothin' more'n vain
hyperbole, Rucker not possessin' the spunk of bull-snakes. The Turner
person, however, lets him get away with it, an' submits tamely to be
buffaloed, which of itse'f shows he ain't got the heart of a horned
toad. The eepisode does Rucker a heap of good, though, an' he puffs up
immoderate. Given any party he can buffalo, an' the way that
weak-minded married man expands his chest, an' takes to struttin', is
a caution to cock partridges. An' all the time, a jack-rabbit, of
ordinary resolootion an' force of character, would make Rucker take to
a tree or go into a hole.

"Is the Turner person p'isened?

"No more'n I be. Which it's simple that alarmist's heated imagination,
aggravated by what deloosions is born of the nosepaint he gets in
Red Dog before ever he makes his Wolfville deboo at all. Two hookers
of Old Jordan from Black Jack renders him so plumb well he's
reedic'lous.

"Most likely you-all'd go thinkin' now that, havin' let sech a
hooman failure as Rucker put it all over him, this Turner person'd lie
dormant a spell, an' give his se'f-respect a chance to ketch its
breath. Not him. It's no longer away than second drink time the same
evenin' when he locks gratooitous horns with Black Jack. To this last
embroglio thar is--an' could be--no deefense, Jack bein' so amiable
that havin' trouble with him is like goin' to the floor with your
own image in the glass. Which he's shorely a long sufferin'
barkeep, Jack is. Mebby it's his genius for forbearance, that a-way,
which loores this Turner person into attemptin' them outrages on his
sens'bilities.

"The Turner person stands at the bar, sloppin' out the legit'mate
forty drops. With nothin' said or done to stir him up, he cocks his
eye at Jack--for all the world like a crow peerin into a bottle--an'
says,

"'Which your feachers is displeasin' to me, an' I don't like your
looks.'

"Jack keeps on swabbin' off the bar for a spell, an' all as mild as
the month of May.

"'Is that remark to be took sarkastic?' he asks at last, 'or shall we
call it nothin' more'n a brainless effort to be funny?'

"'None whatever!' retorts the Turner person; 'that observation's made
in a serious mood. Your countenance is ondoubted the facial failure of
the age, an' I requests that you turn it the other way while I
drinks.'

"Not bein' otherwise engaged at the moment, an' havin' time at his
command, Jack repairs from behind the bar, an' seizes the Turner
person by the y'ear.

"'An' this is the boasted hospital'ty of the West!' howls the Turner
person, strugglin' to free himself from Jack, who's slowly but
voloominously bootin' him towards the street.

"It's Nell who tries to save him.

"'Yere, you Jack!' she sings out, 'don't you-all go hurtin' that pore
tenderfoot none.'

"Nell's a shade too late, however; Jack's already booted him out.

"Shore, Jack apologizes.

"'Beg parding, Nellie,' he says; 'your least command beats four of a
kind with me; but as to that ejected shorthorn, I has him all thrown
out before ever you gets your stack down.'

"The Turner person picks himse'f out of the dust, an', while he feels
his frame for dislocations with one hand, feebly menaces at Black Jack
with t'other.

"'Some day, you rum-sellin' miscreent,' he says, 'you'll go too far
with me.'

"As showin' how little these vicisitoodes preys on this Turner person,
it ain't ten minutes till he's hit the middle of Wolfville's principal
causeway, roarin' at the top of his lungs,

"'Cl'ar the path! I'm the grey wolf of the mountings, an' gen'ral
desolation follows whar I leads!'

"Yere he gives a prolonged howl.

"The hardest citizen that ever belted on a gun couldn't kick up no
sech row as that in Wolfville, an' last as long as a drink of whiskey.
In half the swish of a coyote's tail, Jack Moore's got the Turner
person corralled.

"'This camp has put up with a heap from you,' says Moore, 'an' now we
tries what rest an' reeflection will do.'

"'I'm a wolf--!'

"'We savvys all about you bein' a wolf. Also, I'm goin' to tie you to
the windmill, as likely to exert a tamin' inflooence.'

"Moore conveys the Turner person to the windmill, an' ropes his two
hands to one of its laigs.

"'Thar, Wolf,' he says, makin' shore the Turner person is fastened
secoore, 'I shall leave you ontil, with every element of wildness
abated, you-all begins to feel more like a domestic anamile.'

"From whar we-all are standin' in front of the post office, we can
see the Turner person roped to the windmill laig.

"'What do you reckon's wrong with that party?' asks Enright, sort o'
gen'ral like; 'I don't take it he's actchooally locoed none.'

"Thar's half a dozen opinions on the p'int involved. Tutt su'gests
that the Turner person's wits, not bein' cinched on any too tight by
nacher in the beginnin', mebby slips their girths same as happens with
a saddle. Cherokee inclines to a notion that whatever mental
deeflections he betrays is born primar'ly of him stoppin' that week in
Red Dog. Cherokee insists that sech a space in Red Dog shore ought to
be s'fficient to give any sport, however firmly founded, a decisive
slant.

"As ag'inst both the others, Boggs holds to the view that the onusual
fitfulness observ'ble in the Turner person arises from a change of
licker, an' urges that the sudden shift from the beverages of Red Dog,
which last is indoobitably no more an' no less than liquid loonacy, to
the Red Lights Old Jordan, is bound to confer a twist upon the
straightest intellectyooals.

"'Which I knows a party,' says Boggs, 'who once immerses a ten-penny
nail in a quart of Red Dog licker, an' at the end of the week he takes
it out a corkscrew.'

"'Go an' get him, Jack,' says Enright, p'intin' to the Turner person;
'him bein' tied thar that a-way is an inhooman spectacle, an' if
little Enright Peets should come teeterin' along an' see him, it'd
have a tendency to harden the innocent child. Fetch him yere, an' let
me question him.'

"'Front up,' says Moore to the Turner person, when he's been conveyed
before Enright; 'front up now, frank an' cheerful, an' answer
questions. Also, omit all ref'rences to bein' a wolf. Which you've
worn that topic thread-bar'; an' besides it ain't calc'lated to do you
credit.'

"'Whatever's the matter with you?' asks Enright, speakin' to the
Turner person friendly like. 'Which I begins to think thar's somethin'
wrong with your system. The way you go knockin' about offendin' folks,
it won't be no time before every social circle in the Southwest'll be
closed ag'inst you. Whatever's wrong?'

"'Them's the first kind words,' ejacyoolates the Turner person,
beginnin' to weep, 'which has been spoke to me in months. Which if
you-all will ask me into yon s'loon, an' protect me from that murderer
of a barkeep while I buys the drinks, I'll show you that I've been
illyoosed to a degree whar I'm no longer reespons'ble for my deeds.
It's a love affair,' he adds, gulpin' down a sob, 'an' I've been
crooelly misonderstood.'

"'A love affair,' repeats Enright plenty soft, for the mention of love
never fails to hit our old warchief whar thar't a palin' off his
fence. 'I ain't been what you-all'd call in love none since the Purple
Blossom of Gingham Mountain marries Polly Hawkes over on the Painted
Post. Polly was a beauty, with a arm like a canthook, an' at sech
dulcet exercises as huggin' she's got b'ars left standin' sideways.
However, that's back in Tennessee, an' many years ago.'

"Enright, breshin' the drops from his eyes, herds the Turner person
into the Red Light an' signals to Black Jack.

"'Onfold,' he says; 'tell me as to that love affair wharin you gets
cold-decked.'

"Nell abandons her p'sition on the lookout stool, an' shows up
interested an' intent at Enright's shoulder.

"Ain't I in this?' she asks.

"'Be thar any feachures,' says Enright to the Turner person,
'calc'lated to offend the y'ears of innocence?'

"'None whatever,' says the Turner person. 'Which I'm oncapable of
shockin' the most fastid'yous.'

"'Is thar time,' asks Nell of Enright, 'for me to round up Missis
Rucker an' Tucson Jennie? Listenin' to love tales, that a-way, is duck
soup to both of 'em.'

"'You-all can tell 'em later, Nellie,' returns Enright. Then, to the
Turner person, 'Roll your game, _amigo_, an' if you needs refreshment,
yere it is.'

"'It ain't no mighty reecital,' says the Turner person loogubriously,
'an' yet it ought to go some distance, among fa'r-minded gents, in
explainin' them vain elements of the weird an' ranikaboo which more or
less enters into my recent conduct. I'm from Missouri; an' for a
livelihood, an' to give the wolf a stand-off, I follows the profession
of a fooneral director. My one weakness is my love for Peggy Parks,
who lives with her folks out in the Sni-a-bar hills.

"'The nuptual day is set, an' I goes hibernatin' off to Kansas City to
fetch the license.'

"'How old be you?' breaks in Enright.

"'Me? I'm twenty-six the last Joone rise of the old Missouri. As I
was sayin', I hitches my hoss in Market Squar', an' takes to
reeconoiterin' along Battle Row, wonderin' wharever them licenses is
for sale, anyway. Final, I discovers a se'f satisfied lookin' party,
who's pattin' a dog. I goes to talkin' about the dog, an' allowin'
I'm some on dogs myse'f, all by way of commencin' a conversation;
an' winds up by askin' whar I go for to get a license. "Over thar,"
says the dog party p'intin' across to a edifice he asshores me is a
City Hall. "First floor, first door, an' the damage is a dollar."

"'Thus steered, I goes streakin' it across, an' follows directions. I
boards my dollar, an' demands action. The outcast who's dealin' the
license game writes in my name, an' shoves the paper across. In a blur
of bliss I files it away in my jeans, mounts my hoss, an' goes
gambodin' back to Peggy, waitin' at ancestral Sni-a-bar.'

"'Is your Peggy sweetheart pretty?' asks Nell.

"'She's a lamp of loveliness! Sweet? Beetrees is gall an' wormwood to
her.

"'As to the weddin', it's settled Peggy an' me is to come flutterin'
from our respective perches the next day. Doubtless we'd have done so,
only them orange blossom rites strikes the onexpected an' goes
glancin' off.

"'It's the Campbellite preacher, who's been brought in to marry us,
that starts it. The play's to be made at Peggy's paw's house, after
which, for a weddin' trip, she an' me's to go wanderin' out torwards
the Shawnee Mission, whar I've got some kin. The parson, when he has
the entire outfit close-herded into the parlor, asks--bein' a car'ful
old practitioner--to see the license. I turns it over, an' he takes it
to the window to read. He gives that docyooment one look, an' then
glowers at me personal mighty baleful. "Miserable wretch," says he,
"do you-all want to get yourse'f tarred an' feathered?"

"'In my confoosion I thinks this outbreak is part of the cer'mony,
an' starts to say "I do!" Before I can edge in a word, however, he
calls over Peggy's old man. "Read that!" he cries, holdin' the license
onder old Pap Parks' nose. Old Parks reads, an' the next news I gets
he's maulin' me with his hickory walkin' stick like he's beatin' a
kyarpet.

"'Without waitin' to kiss the bride or recover my license, I simply
t'ars out the front of the house an' breaks for the woods. The next
day, old Parks takes to huntin' me with hounds. Nacherally, at this
proof of man's inhoomanity to man, I sneaks across into Kansas, an'
makes for the settin' sun.'

"'An' can't you give no guess,' says Enright, 'at why old Parks digs
up the waraxe so plumb sudden?'

"'No more'n rattlesnakes onborn, onless his inordinate glee at gettin'
me for a son-in-law has done drove him off his head.'

"'Which it couldn't be that,' says Enright, takin' a hard, thoughtful
look at the Turner person. Then, followin' a pause, he adds, 'thar's
some myst'ry yere!'

"'Ain't you-all made no try,' asks Nell, 'sech as writin' letters, or
some game sim'lar, to cl'ar things up?'

"'You-all don't know Pap Parks, Miss, in all his curves. Why, it's
lucky he ain't wearin' his old bowie at that weddin', or he'd a-split
me into half apples. If I goes to writin' missives that a-way, he'll
locate me; an' you can take my word that invet'rate old homicide 'd
travel to the y'earth's eends to c'llect my skelp. That ain't goin' to
do me; for, much as I love Peggy, I'd a heap sooner be single than
dead.'

"'That party ain't locoed,' says Texas, noddin' towards the Turner
person, whar he sets sobbin' in a cha'r when Enright gets through
examinin' him. 'He's simply a howlin' eediot. Yere he escapes wedlock
by a mir'cle; an'--chains an' slavery!--now he can't think of no
better way to employ his liberty than in cryin' his heart out because
he's free. If I'm bitter, gents, it's because I speaks from hard
experience. Considerin' how she later corrals that Laredo divorce an'
sells up my cattle at public vandoo for costs an' al'mony, if when I
troops to the altar with that lady whom I makes Missis Thompson, my
gyardian angel had gone at me with a axe, that faithful sperit would
have been doin' no more than its simple dooty in the premises.'

"Enright takes it onto himself to squar' the Turner person at the Red
Light an' the O. K. Restauraw; an', since his ensooin' conduct is much
within decent bounds, except that Rucker steps some high an' mighty
when he heaves in sight an' Black Jack gives him hard an' narrow
looks, nothin' su'gestive of trouble occurs. In less'n a week he
shakes down into his proper place, an' all as placid as a duck-pond.
He's even a sort o' fav'rite with Nell, Missis Rucker an' Tucson
Jennie, they claimin' that he's sufferin' from soul blight because of
a lost love. Certainly, thar's nothin' in this yere fem'nine bluff,
but of course none of us don't say so at the time.

"Boggs holds that the Turner person's only a pecooliarly gifted liar,
an' refooses to believe in him. 'Because it's prepost'rous,' says
Boggs, 'that folks would go in to frame up a weddin', an' then, led by
the preacher, take to mobbin' the bridegroom on the very threshold of
them nuptials.'

"'It ain't by no means shore, Dan,' says Texas, to whom Boggs imparts
his convictions, 'but what you've drove the nail. Which if that Parks
household reely has it in for this Turner person, they'd have let him
go the route. Could even the revenge of a fiend ask more than simply
seein' him a married man?'

"In about a fortnight, that Turner person's got fully cooled out, an'
the worst effects of what Red Dog licker he imbibes has disappeared.
As he feels himse'f approachin' normal, as Peets puts it, he mentions
to Enright casyooal like that, if the town sees nothin' ag'in it, he
reckons he'll open an ondertakin' shop.

"'Not,' he says, 'that I'm the man to go hintin' that what former
foonerals has been pulled off in these yere parts ain't been all they
should; but still, to get a meetropolitan effect, you oughter have a
hearse an' ploomes. Let it be mine to provide them marks of a advanced
civilization. It'll make villages like Red Dog an' Colton sing low,
an' be a distinct advantage to a camp which is strugglin' for
consid'ration. Yes, sir,' goes on the Turner person, warmin' with the
theme, 'what's the public use of obsequies if you-all don't exhaust
'em of every ounce of good? An' how can any outfit expect to do this,
an' said outfit shy that greatest evidence of modern reefinement, a
hearse? Given a rosewood coffin, an' a black hearse with ploomes--me
on the box--an' the procession linin' solemnly out for Boot Hill, if
we-all ain't the instant envy of the territory, you can peg me out by
the nearest ant hill ontil I pleads guilty to bein' wrong.'

"'Thar's no need for all this yere eloquence,' replies Enright,
blandly. 'What you proposes has been a dream of mine for years. You
open your game as fooneral director, an' if we can't find material for
you local, we'll go rummagin' 'round as far as Lordsburg an' Silver
City to supply the deficiency.'

"Feelin' Enright is behind him, the Turner person goes to work with
sech exyooberant enthoosiasm, that it ain't a month before he brings
over his hearse from Tucson, said vehicle havin' been sent on from the
East. She's shore no slouch for a catafalque neither, an' we p'rades
up an' down the street with it, gettin' the effect.

"Boggs voices the common feelin'.

"'Thar's a conveyance,' says he, 'that comes mighty close to robbin'
death of half its sting. Any sport is bound to cash in more content,
when he savvys that his last appearance is bound to be a vict'ry an'
he'll be freighted to the sepulcher in a swell wagon like that.'

"'It is shore calc'lated to confer class on the deeparted,' assents
Tutt.

"These praises certainly exalts the sperits of the Turner person a
whole lot. He buys the old Lady Gay dance hall, which, since the goin'
out of the Votes for Women S'loon, has again become the ondispooted
property of Armstrong, makes a double-door to back in the hearse, an'
reopens that deefunct temple of drink an' merriment as a ondertakin'
establishment. Over the front he hangs up his sign.

                     COFFIN EMPORIUM.

                     L. TURNER, FUNERAL DIRECTOR.

                     CORPSES SOLICITED.

"That sign so much uplifts the sperit of the town it mor'n doubles the
day's receipts at the Red Light. Also, two or three shady characters
vamooses for fear of what a nacheral public eagerness to see that
hearse in action may do.

"It's the day next on the hocks of the installation of the Turner
person in business, an' the fooneral director is lookin' out of the
front window of his coffin emporium wishin' some gent'd start
somethin' with his gun an' mebby bump him off a load for his new
hearse, when Enright eemerges from the post office with a iron look on
his face. Peets is with him, an' the pa'r is holdin' a pow-wow.

"The rest of us might have taken more notice, only our sombreros is
fittin' some tight on account of the interest we evinces the day prior
in he'pin' la'nch the Turner person that a-way. As it is, we bats a
lackluster eye, an' wonders in a feeble way what's done corr'gated
Enright's brow.

"It don't go no further than wonder, however, ontil after a few
moments talk with Nell, Enright sends across for the Turner person. As
showin' how keenly sens'tive are the female faculties that a-way,
Missis Rucker an' Tucson Jennie is canvassin' some infantile mal'dy of
little Enright Peets in the front room of the O. K. House, an' same as
if they smells the onyoosual in the air, they comes troopin' over to
the Red Light to note what happens next.

"'Young man,' says Enright, when the Turner person has been brought
in, 'by way of starter, let me inquire, be you preepared to surrender
your destinies, of which you're plumb onfitted to have charge, into
disgusted albeit kindly hands?'

"The Turner person, some oneasy at seein' Moore, who's carelessly
toyin' with a lariat, edgin' 'round his way, allows in tremblin' tones
he is.

"'Thar be those,' goes on Enright, 'who with the best intentions in
the world, has been explorin' the ins an' outs of your Sni-a-bar
troubles, an' while the clouds is measur'ble lifted the fresh light
shed on your concerns leaves you in a most imbecile sityooation. Which
if I thought that little Enright Peets, not yet in techin' distance of
his teens, hadn't got no more sense than you, much as I dotes upon
that baby I'd shore vote for his deemise. However, proceedin' with the
deal, thar's this to say: Nellie thar, writes to your Peggy
sweetheart, while I opens negotiations with old man Parks. I plans to
read you them replies, but after advisin' with the Doc, an' collectin'
the views of Nell, it's deemed s'fficient to tell you what you're
goin' to do, an' then head you fo'th to its accomplishment. Our
conj'int findin's, the same bein' consented to by old Parks in
writin', an' tearfully deesired by your Peggy sweetheart in what she
commoonicates to Nellie, is that you proceed at once to Sni-a-bar, an'
get them interrupted nuptials over. After which you'll be free to
return yere with your bride, an' take up the hon'rable an' useful
c'reer you've marked out. As the preesidin' officer of the Stranglers,
my word is that you be ready to start by next stage; which, onless
Monte gets so deep in licker that he tips that conveyance over a
bluff, should permit you to clasp your Peggy to your bosom an' kiss
the tears from her cheeks by the middle of next week.'

"'But,' interjects the Turner person, his voice soundin' like the
terrified bleatin' of a sheep, 'can't you-all give me no glimmer of
what's wrong that time? I don't hanker overmuch to go back in darkened
ignorance, like a lamb to the slaughter. What guarantee have I got
that old Parks won't lay for me with that bootcher knife of his'n? It
ain't fair to leave me to go knockin' about, in the midst of perils
sech as these, like a blind dog in a meat shop.'

"'Your Peggy,' returns Enright, 'encloses a letter to you by the hand
of Nellie yere, which may or may not set fo'th what insults you
perp'trates upon her fam'ly. Also, said missive furnishes the only
chance at this end of the trail of you findin' out the len'th an'
breadth of your ignorant iniquities. For myse'f, the thought of what
you-all does that time is so infooriatin' I must refuse to go over it
in words. Only, if in his first reesentments old Parks had burned you
at the stake, I would not have condemned him. As to your safety
pers'nal, you can regyard it as asshored. Your Peggy will protect you,
an' your footure parent-in-law himse'f acquits you of everything
except bein' an eediot. It's, however, got down to whether he preefers
to have a fool in his fam'ly or see his darter wretched for life, an'
he's done nerved himse'f to take the fool.'

"'Thar's your sweetheart's letter,' an' Nell puts an envelope which
smells of voylets into the Turner person's hands.

"That ondertaker reads it; an' after bein' confoosed by shame for a
moment, he begins to cheer up.

"'Folks,' he says, kissin' his Peggy's letter an' stowin' it away in
his coat, 'I trusts a gen'rous public will permit me, after thankin'
them whose kindness has smoothed out the kinks in my affairs, to close
the incident with onlimited drinks for the camp.' That's all he says;
an' neither can we dig anything further out of Enright or Nell.

"We sees the Turner person aboard the stage, an' wishes him all kinds
of luck. As Monte straightens out the reins over his six hosses an'
cleans the lash of his whip through his fingers, Peets vouchsafes a
partin' word.

"'Neither I nor Sam,' says Peets, 'wants you to go away thinkin' that
you an' your bride ain't goin' to be as welcome as roses when you an'
she comes ramblin' in as one on your return.'

"'That's whatever,' coincides Nell.

"'Also,' breaks in Enright, 'should old Parks go to stampin' the sod
or shakin' his horns, you-all are to put up with them deemonstrations
an' not make no aggrevatin' reemarks. No one knows better than you by
now, how much cause you gives that proud old gent to feel harrowed.'

[Illustration: WE SEES THE TURNER PERSON ABOARD AN' WISHES HIM ALL KINDS
OF LUCK. p. 222.]

"Of course all of us is preyed on by anxiety to know whatever awful
thing it is the Turner person does. In the end it's Missis Rucker who
smokes Enright out.

"'Sam Enright,' says this yere intrepid lady, her manner plenty
darklin', 'you mustn't forget that whenever the impulse moves me I can
shet down utter on your grub. Likewise, as a lady, I not only knows my
p'sition, but keenly feels my rights. Which I don't aim to coerce you,
but onless you comes through with the trooth about this yere Turner
person's felonies, some drastic steps is on their way.'

"'You will see, Missis Rucker,' says Enright, who's to be excoosed for
turnin' a bit white, 'that no present reason exists for threatenin' me
when I asshores you that as far back as last evenin' I fully decides
to lay bar' everything. I do this, onderstand, not through fear; but
lest some folks go surmisin' round to the inj'ry of the innocent. As I
recollects back, too, I can see how the Turner person slumps into that
mistake, him first talkin' dog to that canine party in Battle Row,
an' then askin' whar does he go for the weddin' license.'

"'Sam Enright,' interrupts Missis Rucker, whose flashin' eyes shows
she's growin' hysterical, 'don't harass me with no p'intless speeches.
You say flat what it is he does, or take the consequences.'

"'Why, my dear Missis Rucker,' an' Enright makes haste with his reply,
'the thing is easily grasped. The paper he gives the preacher sharp is
a dog license. Which that Turner person is seekin' to wed the belle of
Sni-a-bar on a permit to keep a dog! The canine party he meets in
Battle Row misonderstands a sityooation.'

"'All the same,' observes Texas to Boggs, as the two meets that
evenin' in the Noo York store, 'thar's one feachure to a dog license,
not perceivable in a marriage license, which is worth gold an'
precious stones. Said docyooment runs out in a year.'"



IX

RED MIKE


"Mebby you-all recalls about that Polish artist person?" suggested the
old cattleman, tentatively; "him I speaks of former?" My gray old
_campañero_ was measuring out what he called his "forty drops," and,
since this ceremony necessitated keeping one eye on his glass, while
he endeavored to keep the other eye on me, the contradictory effort
resulted in a wavering and uncertain expression, not at all in harmony
with his usual positive air. By way of helping conversation, I
confessed to a clear remembrance of the "Polish artist person," and
wound up by urging him to give the particulars concerning that
interesting exile.

"Well," he cautiously returned, "thar ain't nothin' so mighty
thrillin' in his Wolfville c'reer. You see he ain't, for the most, no
pop'lar figure--him bein' a furriner, that a-way, an' a artist, an'
sufferin' besides from conceit in so acoote a form as to make it no
exaggeration to say he's locoed. On account of these yere divers an'
sundry handicaps, he don't achieve no social success, an' while he's
with us, you'd hardly call him of us.

"Not that I objects to this deescendant of Warsaw's last champion,
personal. Which I'm a heap like Enright in sech reespects, an'
shore tol'rant. I finds out long ago that the reason we-all goes
fault-findin' about people, mostly is because we don't onderstand
concernin' them folk's surroundin's. Half the things we arches our
necks over, an' for which mebby we feels like killin' 'em a whole
lot, they can't he'p none. If we only savvys what they're reely up
ag'inst, it's four for one we pities 'em instead.

"It's like one time 'way back yonder, when me an' Steve Stevenson has
a sudden an' abrupt diffukulty with a buffalo bull. We're camped out
on the edge of the Rockies near the Spanish Peaks, an' me an' Steve,
in the course of a little _passear_ we're takin', is jest roundin' a
bunch of plum bushes when, as onexpected as a gun play in a Bible
class, that devil's son an' heir of a bull--who's been hid by the
bushes--ups an charges. Which you should have seen me an' Steve
scatter! We certainly do onbuckle in some hasty moves! He's bigger 'n
a baggage wagon, an' as we leaves our guns ten rods away in camp,
thar's nothin' for it but to dig out.

"Nigh whar I'm at is a measley _pinon_ tree, an' the way I swarms
aloft among that vegetable's boughs an' branches comes mighty clost to
bein' a lesson to mountain lions. Steve, who's the onluckiest sport
west of the Missouri, an' famed as sech, ain't got no tree. The best
he can do is go divin' into a hole he sees in some rocks, same as if
he's a jack-rabbit with a coyote in hot pursoote.

"Me an' Steve both bein' safe, an' reegyardin' that bull as baffled, I
draws a breath of relief. That is, to be ackerate, I starts to draw
it; but before I so much as gets it started, yere that inordinate
Steve comes b'ilin' out of his hole ag'in like he ain't plumb
satisfied about that bull. The bull's done give him up, too, an'
switchin' his tail some thoughtful has started to go away, when, as I
tells you, that fool Steve comes surgin' out upon his reetreatin'
hocks.

"Nacherally, what could any se'f-respectin' bull do but wheel an'
chase Steve back? It's no use, though; Steve won't have it. No sooner
does the bull get him hived that a-way, an' make ready to reetire to
private life ag'in, than, bing! yere Steve comes bulgin' like a cork
out of a bottle. An' so it continyoos, a reg'lar see-saw between Steve
an' the bull. Steve'll go into his cave of refooge, prairie-dog
fashion, a foot ahead of the bull's horns, only to be a foot behind
the bull's tail as that painstakin' anamile is arrangin' to deepart.

"Which sech wretched strategy arouses my contempt.

"'You dad-binged Siwash,' I yells down at Steve, 'whyever don't
you-all stay in that hole, ontil the bull forgets whar you're at?'

"'Go on!' Steve shouts back, as in he dives, head-first, for mebby
it's the twentieth time; 'it's as simple as suckin' aiggs, ain't it,
for you up in your tree? You-all don't know nothin' about this hole;
thar's a b'ar in this hole!'

"Which I allers remembers about that dilemmy of Steve's. An' now, when
I beholds a gent makin' some rannikaboo break, an' everybody's
scoffin' at him an' deenouncin' him for a loonatic or worse, I
reeflects that mighty likely if we-all was to go examine the hole he's
in, we'd find it plumb full of b'ar.

"Returnin' to the orig'nal proposition, the same bein' that Polack,
let me begin by sayin' that whenever it comes to any utterances of
his'n, I'm nacherally onable to quote him exact. What with him rollin'
his 'Rs' ontil they sounds like one of them snare drums, an' the
jiggerty-jerkety fashion wharin he chops up his English, a gent might
as soon try to quote a planin' mill exact.

"That I'm able to give you-all his troo name is doo wholly to him
passin' round his kyard a heap profoose, when he first comes ramblin'
in, said cognomen as printed bein' 'Orloff Ivan Mitzkowanski, Artist
and Painter of Portraits.' We perooses this yere fulm'nation two or
three times, an' Peets even reads it out loud; but since the tongue of
no ordinary gent is capable of ropin' an' throwin' it, to say nothin'
of tyin' it down, we cuts the gordian knot in the usual way by
re-christenin' him _pro bono publico_ as Red Mike, which places him
within the verbal reach of all.

"'Yes,' he says, as he ladles out them kyards, an' all with the
manner of a prince conferrin' favors--'yes, I'm a artist come to you,
seekin' subjects an' color. As you probably observes by my name, I'm a
gallant Pole, one whose noble ancestors shrieks when Kosciusko fell.'

"Him bein' a stranger that a-way, an' no one, onless it's Peets, ever
havin' heard about Poland, or Kosciusko, or whoever does that
shriekin' the time when Kosciusko finds himse'f bumped off, we lets
Mike get by with this yere bluff. Besides, his name of itse'f sort o'
holds us. That anyone, an' specially any furriner, could come as far
as he has, flauntin' a name like that in the sensitive face of
mankind, an' yet live to tell the tale, is shore plenty preepar'tory
to believin' anything.

"When we lets it go that owin' to local conditions we'll be obleeged
to call him 'Red Mike,' he's agree'ble.

"'As you will, my friends,' he cries, bulgin' out his breast an'
thumpin' it. 'What care I, who am destined for immortality, that
barbarians should hail me as Red Mike? It is enough that I am not
destroyed, enough that I still move an' have my bein'!'

"'Mike,' interjecks Tutt, bristlin' a little, 'don't cut loose in no
offensive flights. It's a heap onadvisable when addressin' us to
overwork that word "barbarian." As you says yourself, you're lucky to
be alive; which, bein' conceded, it'd be plenty proodent on your part
not to go doin' nothin' to change your luck.'

"'Steady thar, Dave,' says Enright, 'don't go exhibitin' your teeth to
a pore benighted furriner, an' him not onto our curves.'

"'Him bein' a furriner,' retorts Tutt, 'is but a added argyooment in
favor of him takin' heed. Speakin' for myse'f, I in partic'lar don't
want no furriner to step on my tail an' stand thar, same as if my
feelin's ain't goin' to count.'

"'Be composed, my friend,' says Mike, tryin' to follow Enright out an'
squar' himse'f with Tutt--'be composed. I reetract the "barbarians"
an' suggest a drink.'

"'That's all right, Mike,' returns Tutt, who's easy mollified; 'still
I onreservedly says ag'in that in Arizona thar's nothin' in becomin'
too difoose. All that this time lets you out, Mike, is that havin'
jest had our feed we're happ'ly lethargic. Which if you'd let fly
that crack about barbarians, an' us not fed none, some gent not
otherwise employed 'd have seized upon you as a mop-rag wharwith to
wipe up the floor.'

"Thar's allers a dispoote as to whether or no Mike reely commits
sooicide that time. Tutt an' Texas holds to the last that his light
gettin' blowed out like it does is accidental. Peets, however, insists
it's a shore-enough sooicide. Of course, Boggs goes with Peets.
Whatever's the question at bay, Boggs never fails to string his play
with the Doc's; it's Boggs's system. All you has to do to get a rise
out o' Boggs is get some opinion out o' Peets. Once the Doc declar's
himse'f, Boggs is right thar to back said declaration for his last
dollar every time.

"As sustainin' his claim of sooicide, Peets p'ints out that thar's no
gent, not a howlin' eediot complete, but knows s'fficient of giant
powder to be dead on to how it's cap'ble of bein' fired by friction.

"'Why,' he says, eloocidatin' his p'sition, 'even darkened savages is
posted as to that. I once sees a South Sea Islander, in a moose-yum
East, who sets a bunch of shavin's in a blaze by rubbin' together two
sticks. An' this yere Mike is a eddycated sharp, eddicated at a Dutch
outfit called Heidelberg. Do you-all reckon a gradyooate of sech a
sem'nary ever walks out on a cold collar, him not wise, an' performs
in the numbskull fashions as this yere Mike?'

"'That's whatever!' chimes in Boggs.

"As I tells you, any emphatic idee laid down by Peets instantly sets
Boggs to strikin' same as one of them cuckoo clocks.

"Enright?

"The old silver tip stands nootral, not sidin' with either Peets an'
Boggs or Tutt an' Texas.

"'Which this yere Mike bein' shore dead,' says Enright, 'strikes me as
s'fficient. I plants my moccasins on that, an' don't go pirootin' an'
projectin' about for no s'lootions which may or may not leave me out
on a limb.'

"You recalls how it's Monte who, while gettin' drunk with him over to
the Oriental S'loon in Tucson, deloodes Mike into p'intin' our way.
Also, what Enright says to that deboshed stage driver for so doin'.
Enright's shore fervent on that occasion, an' the language he uses
would have killed two acres of grass. But that don't he'p none. After
the dust Enright paws up has settled, thar's Mike still, all quiled up
in the Wolfville lap.

"Thar's a worse feachure, the same bein' Mike's wife. She's as young,
an' mighty nigh as lovely, too, as Nell; only she's blind, this yere
Mike's girl wife is, blind as any midnight mole. Besides her, an' a
armful of paint breshes an' pictures, about all Mike's got in the way
of plunder is a ten-dollar bill. If it's only Mike, we-all might have
thickened our hides a heap, an' let him go jumpin' sideways for his
daily grub, same as other folks. But girls must be fed, speshully
blind ones.

"Which this egreegious Mike, who calls her his 'little Joolie,' allows
her bein' blind that a-way is why he marries her.

"'It inshores her innocence,' he says; 'because it inshores her
ignorance of the world.'

"'Likewise,' remarks Peets, as we stands discussin' this yere
reasonin' of Mike's in the Red Light, 'it inshores her ignorance of
them onmitigated pictures he paints. Which if ever she was just to get
one good look at 'em, he couldn't hold her with a Spanish bit. But
you-all knows how it is, Sam?'--Yere Peets clinks his glass, an' all
mighty sagacious, ag'inst Enright's--'The wind is tempered to the
shorn lamb. On the whole, I ain't none convinced that her bein' blind,
that a-way, ain't for the best.'

"To look at this little Joolie, you-all'd never know she can't see
none. Her eyes is big an' soft an' deep, an nothin' queer about 'em
except they has a half-blurred, baby look. Peets allows it's the nerve
bein' dead which does it. But blind or not, little Joolie shore dotes
on that Red Mike husband of hers, as though he's made of love an'
gold. Which he's her heaven!

"While it's evident, after a ca'm an' onbiased consideration of
his works, that from standp'ints of art this yere Mike's about
sign-painter size, little Joolie regyards him as the top-sawyer
genius of this or any other age.

"'He'll revolutionize the world of art,' she declar's to Nell, who's
mighty constant about goin' to see her; 'Ivan'--she pronounces it
'Vahn'--'is ondoubted destined to become the founder of a noo
school.'

"'An' her face,' goes on Nellie, as she tells us about it over to the
O. K. Restauraw one evenin', after Mike an' his little Joolie wife's
done pulled their freight for the night--'an' her face glows with the
faith of a angel! So if any of you-all boys finds occasion to speak of
this yere Mike in her presence, you be shore an' sw'ar that, as an
artist, he's got nacher backed plumb off the lay-out.'

"'The wretch who fails,' adds Missis Rucker, plenty fierce, 'don't
wrastle his hash with me no more! You can gamble that marplot has
tackled his final plateful of slapjacks at the O. K. House, an' this
yere's notice to that effect.'

"It's a cinch, of course, that none of us is that obtoose as to go
sayin' anything to pain this yere blind little Joolie; at the same
time no one regyards it as feas'ble to resent them threats of Missis
Rucker! She's a mighty sperited matron, Missis Rucker is, sperited to
the verge of bein' vindictive, an' rubbin' her fur the wrong way is
the same as rubbin' a bobcat's fur the wrong way. As a exercise thar's
nothin' in it. Besides, we're plumb used to it, owin' to her
threatenin' us about one thing or another constant. Menaces, that
a-way, is Missis Rucker's style.

"Mike an' his Joolie wife don't live at the O. K. House, but only gets
their chuck thar. He allows that to do jestice to his art he's got to
have what he calls a 'no'th light,' an' so he goes meanderin' out on
the no'th side of town, an' jumps a empty shack.

"Driv by a lack of money, mighty likely, Mike ain't in camp a week
before he makes it plenty plain that, onless he's headed off or
killed, he's goin' to paint Enright a whole lot. As a preelim'nary he
loores a passel of us over to his wickeyup to show us samples.

"'That's my chef dever,' he says, bringin' for'ard a smudgy lookin'
canvas, plastered all over with reds an' browns.

"We-all takes a slant at it, maintainin' ourselves meanwhile as grave
as a passel of owls. An' at that the most hawk-eyed in the outfit
can't make it look like nothin'. We-all hangs back in the straps, an'
waits for Peets to take the lead. For thar is the pretty little blind
Joolie wife, all y'ears an' lovin' int'rest, an' after what Nell an'
Missis Rucker has done said the gent who lacerates her feelin's is
lost. In sech a pinch Peets is our guidin' light.

"'Massive!' says Peets, after a pause.

"'Which she's shore a heap massive!' we murmurs, followin' Peets'
smoke.

"'An' sech atmosphere!' Peets goes on.

"'Atmosphere to give away!' we echoes.

"At these yere encomiyums the pore pleased face of little Joolie is
beamin' like the sun. As for Mike, he assoomes a easy attitoode, same
as though compliments means nothin' to him.

"'What's the subject?' Peets asks.

"'That, my friend, is the _Linden in October_,' returns Mike, as
though he's showin' us a picture of heaven's front gate. 'Yes, the
_Linden in October_.'

"'Which if this yere Pole,' whispers Texas to Cherokee, 'is able to
make anything out of that smear, he can shore see more things without
the aid of licker than any sport that ever spreads his blankets in
Cochise County.'

"Texas is a heap careful not to let either Mike or the little Joolie
girl ketch on to what he says.

"Also, it's worth recallin' that Mike an' the little Joolie is the
only wedded pa'r, of which the Southwest preeserved a record, that
don't bring bilious recollections to Texas of his former Laredo wife.

[Illustration: "WHAT'S THE SUBJECT?" PEETS ASKS. "THAT, MY FRIEND, IS THE
'LINDEN IN OCTOBER,'" RETURNS MIKE, AS THOUGH HE'S A SHOWIN' US A PICTURE
OF HEAVEN'S FRONT GATE. p. 238.]

"'Not but what thar's a wrong thar, Doc,' he insists, the time Peets
mentions it; 'not but what this yere Red Mike-Joolie sityooation
harbors a wrong. Only it's onavailable to 'llustrate the illyoosage I
suffers at the hands of my Laredo wife.'

"After the _Linden_ Mike totes out mebby it's a dozen other smeary
squar's of canvas. We goes over 'em one by one, cockin' our eyes an'
turnin' our heads first one way an' then another, like a bloo jay
peerin' into a knothole. When Peets lets drive something about 'sky
effects,' an' 'fore-grounds,' an' 'middle-distance,' we stacks in all
sim'lar. Thar's nothin' to it; Mike an' the little Joolie girl puts in
a mighty pleasant hour.

"Mike, feelin' hospit'ble, an' replyin' to a thirsty look which Jack
Moore sort o' sheds about the room, reegrets he ain't got no whiskey.

"'My little Joolie objectin',' he explains.

"'Oh, well,' speaks up Peets, who's plumb eager to bring them art
studies to a wind-up, 'when thar's famine in Canaan thar's corn in
Egypt. S'ppose we-all goes romancin' over to the Red Light an' licker
up. Thar's nothin' like nosepaint, took internal, for bringin' out a
picture's convincin' p'ints.'

"'Right you be, Doc,' says Moore. 'It's only last week, when I myse'f
cuts the trail of Monte, who, as the froote of merely the seventh
drink, is sheddin' scaldin' tears over a three-sheet poster stuck onto
the corral gate. This yere stampede in color deepicts the death of
"Little Eva," as preesented in the _Uncle Tom_ show ragin' over to the
Bird Cage Op'ry House. Monte allows it's one of the most movin' things
he's ever met up with, an' protests between sobs ag'inst takin' out
the stage that day for its reg'lar trip. "Which it's a hour for
mournin'," he groans; an' he's shore shocked when the company insists.
As he throws free the brake he shakes the tears from his eyes, an'
says, "These yere corp'rations ain't got no heart!"'

"If thar's ever any chance of Enright bein' that weak the sight of
them smudges an' smears settles it, an' while we stands shovin' the
Old Jordan along the Red Light bar, he allows to Mike that on the
whole he don't reckon he'll have himse'f painted none. Rememberin',
however, that it's a ground-hawg case with Mike, who needs the money,
Enright gives him a commission to paint Monte.

"'Him bein' a histor'cal character, that a-way,' says Enright.

"Monte is over in Tucson, but you should have heard that drunkard's
language when he's told.

"'Whatever be you-all tryin' to do to me, Sam?' he wails. 'Ain't a
workin' man got no rights? Yere be I, the only gent in camp who has
actchooal dooties to perform, an' a plot is set afoot behind my back
to make me infamous!'

"'It's to go over the Red Light bar,' explains Enright, 'to be a
horr'ble example for folks with a tendency to over-drink. As for you
yellin' like a pig onder a gate, who is it, I asks, that beguiles this
indigent artist party into camp, an' leaves him on our hands? Bein'
he's yere, I takes it that even your whiskey-drowned intell'gence
ree'lizes that this yere Mike, an' speshully the little blind Joolie,
has got to be fed.'

"'Well, gents,' returns Monte, gulpin' down his grief with his
nosepaint, 'I reckons if it's your little game to use me as a
healthful moral inflooence, I'd lose out to go puttin' up a roar. All
the same, as sufferer in chief, I'm entitled to be more consulted by
you uplifters before ever you arranges to perpetchooate me to
poster'ty as a common jeer.'

"Shore; these yere protests of Monte's ain't more'n half on the level.
After a fashion, he's plenty pleased.

"'For,' he says, confidin' in Black Jack over his licker, 'it ain't
every longhorn of a stage driver whose picture is took by one of these
yere gifted Yooropeans.'

"Black Jack agrees to this in full, for he's a good-hearted barkeep,
that a-way.

"In doo time the picture's hung up back of the Red Light bar.
Regyarded as a portrait it's shore some desp'rate, an' even Enright
sort o' half reepents. Monte, after studyin' it a while, begins to get
sore in earnest. Them scales, like the scriptoors say, certainly do
fall from his eyes.

"'Jack,' he says, appealin' to Moore, who happens to be present, 'does
that thing look like me?'

"'Why, yes,' Jack replies, squintin' his left eye a heap critical; 'to
be shore it flatters you some, but then them artists gen'rally does.'

"'Jack, if I'm that feeble as to go believin' what you says, I'd borry
a shotgun from the express company and blow off the top of my head.
That ain't the portrait of no hooman bein"--an' Monte raises a
dispa'rin' hand at the picture; 'it's a croode preesentation of some
onnacheral cross between a coyote and a cowskin trunk.'

"Cherokee gets up from behind his lay-out, an' strolls over so's to
get a line on the picture. He takes a long an' disparagin' survey.

"'It ain't that I'm incitin' you to voylence, Monte,' he remarks
final, 'but if you owes a dooty to s'ciety, don't forget that you owes
also a dooty to yourse'f. You'll be lackin' in se'f-respect if you
don't give Sam Enright two weeks to take that outrage down, an' if it
ain't removed by then you'll bust it.'

"Black Jack is ag'in the picture, too.

"'Not,' he says, 'that I wants to put the smother on it entire; only I
figger it'd look better in the post office, folks not makin' it so
much of a hangout. Regyarded commercial, it's a setback to the Red
Light. Some gent comes trackin' up intent on drinks, an' feelin' gala.
After one glance at Monte up thar it's all off. That reveller's
changed his mind, an' staggers out into the open ag'in without a word.
The joint is daily knocked for about the price of a stack of bloos, as
the direct result of that work of art. Which I'd as soon have a gila
monster in the winder.'

"Mike ain't present none when all this yere flattery is flyin'. If he
was thar in person nothin' would have been said. Whoever'd be that
hardened as to go harrowin' up the sens'tive soul of a artist, even if
his work don't grade as corn-fed?

"Some later tribyoote to his talents, however, reaches the y'ears of
Mike. On the back of Black Jack's protests the Lightnin' Bug, who's
come over from Red Dog for a little visit, drifts in. When he sees
Monte's portrait his eyes lights up like a honka-tonk on Saturday
night.

"'Rattlesnakes an' stingin' lizards!' he cries; 'which I'm a Mexican
if you-all ain't gone an' got him painted! However do you-all manage?
I remembers when we captures him it's the last spring round-up but
one. Two weeks goes by before ever we gets him so he'll w'ar clothes!
An' even then we-all has to blindfold him an' back him in!'

"'Whoever do you reckon that is, Bug?' asks Black Jack.

"'It's that locoed Digger Injun, ain't it?' says the Bug; 'him we
corrals, that time, livin' on ants an' crickets, an' roots an' yarbs,
over in Potato canyon?'

"'It's Monte.'

"'Monte! Does anybody get killed about it?'

"Black Jack mentions Mike as the artist.

"'What, that Dutch galoot with the long ha'r?' says the Bug.

"'Which he's a Pole.'

"'Pole or Dutchman, what's the odds? I sees a party back in Looeyville
whose ha'r's most as long as his. We entices him to a barber shop on a
bet to have it cut, an' I'm ag'in the union if four flyin' squirrels
don't come scootin' out. They've been nestin' in it.'

"The Bug swings lightly into the saddle after a while, an' goes
clatterin' back to Red Dog. No notice would have been took of what he
says, only Monte, who hears it from Black Jack, is that malev'lent he
goes an' tells Mike.

"'You-all will make trouble between 'em, Monte,' Nell reemonstrates,
when Monte's braggin' in his besotted way about what he's done.

"'That's all right, Nellie. Both of 'em's been insultin' me; Mike by
paintin' me so I'm a holy show, an' the Bug by lettin' on to take me
for a Digger buck. S'ppose the Bug downs Mike, or Mike does up the
Bug? Either way it's oats in your uncle Monte's feed box. That's me,
Nellie; that's your old uncle Monte every time! Which, when it comes
to cold intrigue, that a-way, I'm the swiftest sport in our set.'

"On hearin' about the Bug from Monte Mike gets plenty intemp'rate. He
goes plumb in the air, an' stays thar. He gives it out that he's goin'
to prance over to Red Dog an' lay for the Bug. Nothin' but blood is
goin' to do him.

"Thar's nothin' we can say or do to stop Mike, so after talkin' it
over a spell we deecides to throw him loose, Enright first sendin'
word that he's harmless, an' not to be bumped off.

"Upon receivin' Enright's word the Red Dog chief passes on a warnin'
to the Bug. Mike mustn't, onder no circumstances, be killed. Bein'
he's a artist he's not reespons'ble.

"'Me kill him!' cries the Bug, who's scandalized at the idee; 'me take
a gun to sech a insect! Gents, I've too much reespect for them good
old faithful .45's of mine to play it as low down on 'em as all
that.'

"Which there leeniencies I allers feels is on account of the little
Joolie, an' the blind love she entertains for Mike. When the worst
does come we carefully conceals from her the troo details, an' insists
that the powder house goes off by itse'f.

"Then Nell, with Tucson Jennie and Missis Rucker to back her, carries
the little Joolie girl the news. It's shore tough papers; an' Missis
Rucker an' Tucson Jennie is kept racin' an' runnin' an' riotin'
between the O. K. House an' Mike's wickeyup, freightin' over camphor
an' sim'lar reestor'tives to the little Joolie all night long, while
Nellie holds her head.

"Does Mike's kickin' the bucket leave the little Joolie broke? It's
this a-way: You see we-all chips in, an' makes up a fa'rly moderate
pile to buy the _Linden in October_.

"'It's to remember your gifted husband by,' explains Enright, as him
an' Peets an' Boggs goes over to clink down the gold, an' get the
_Linden_. 'This yere transcendent spec'men shall never leave our
hands.'

"'Not while we live!' declar's Peets.

"'It's a marv'lous picture!' returns the little Joolie girl, proud and
tearful both at once.

"'Marv'lous!' repeats Peets; 'it's got the _Angelus_ beat four ways
from the Jack.'

"'Which I should remark!' puts in Boggs. 'Why, Doc, this yere _Linden_
of ours shore makes that _Angelus_ thing look like an old beer
stamp.'

"These yere outpourin's of onreestricted admiration shore does set the
little Joolie to smilin' through her tears. Also, the bankroll they
brings her sends her back to her folks in style.

"So you don't regyard it as the proper caper to go deceivin' the
little Joolie girl? That's preecisely the p'sition a Bible sharp over
in Tucson takes, when some party's mentionin' the business.

"'You go tell that doubtin' Thomas of a sky-pilot,' says Peets, on
hearin' about it, 'that he can bet a ton of Watts' hymn books on it.
You-all say, too, for his pulpit guidance, that what looks like
deceit, that a-way, is often simple del'cacy, while Christian charity
freequent w'ars the face of fraud.'

"But I'm gettin' ahead of the wagons. Mike, who's a heap heated, goes
lookin' for the Bug in the Tub of Blood S'loon. The Bug don't happen
to be vis'ble no whar in the scen'ry when Mike comes clatterin' in. By
way of a enterin' wedge Mike subscribes for a drink. As the Tub
barkeep goes settin' out the glasses Mike, with his custom'ry gifts
for gettin' himse'f in wrong, starts fomentin' trouble. An' at that
it's simply his ignorance, an' a conceited deesire to show off among
them Red Dogs.

"As the Tub barkeep slams down the crockery Mike barks up sort o'
sharp an' peevish:

"'The ice! Ain't you people got no ice?'

"The Tub barkeep takes a sour squinch-owl look at Mike. Then he goes
softly swabbin' off the counter.

"After a while he looks up an' says:

"'Which you don't notice no swirlin' drifts of snow outside, do you?
You ain't been swallowed up in no blizzard, be you, comin' into town?
No, my stilted, stiff-laigged sheep of the mountain, we ain't got no
ice.'

"Mike, feelin' some buffaloed by the barkeep's manner, don't say no
more. In silence he drinks his licker, an' then sets down at a table.

"The barkeep, with the tail of his eye, continyoos to look him over.

"'Whatever do you make of that crazy maverick,' he asks of a
freighter, who's jest rolled in from Lordsburg. 'The idee of him
askin' for ice in August!'

"'Mebby he's the ha'r-brained party they sends word about from
Wolfville,' the freighter replies--'him who's out to crawl the Bug's
hump a whole lot?'

"'That's the identical persimmon!' exclaims the barkeep, slammin' his
hand on the counter. 'Which I ought to have knowed it without bein'
told. I wonder if Peets, or some of them other Wolfville sports, puts
him up to come bully-raggin' round yere about ice to insult us?'

"The freighter allows he'll edge into a pow-wow with Mike, an' feel
him out.

"Planted at the same table, the freighter an' Mike is soon as thick as
thieves. They're gettin' along like two pups in a basket, when in
comes a disturbin' element in the shape of one of them half-hoss
half-alligator felons, whose distinguishin' characteristic is that
they're allers grouchy an' hostile. That's the drawback to Red Dog. It
certainly is the home camp of some of the most ornery reptiles, that
a-way!

"The grouchy sorehead party, from the jump, gets dissatisfied about
Mike's ha'r, which he w'ars a foot long same as all artists. Which a
gent can't be no painter onless he's got ha'r like a cow pony. The
sorehead party marches up an' down by the table whar Mike an' the
freighter is swappin' lies, schemin' as to how he's goin' to make a
warlike hook-up with Mike. After a spell he thinks he sees his way
through, an' rounds to an' growls.

"'What's that? Does one of your onparalleled tarrapins say something
deerog'tory about George Washin'ton?'

"Both the freighter an' Mike looks up some amazed, but pleads not
guilty. They ain't, they says, even thinkin' of Washin'ton.

"'Which I begs your parding,' returns Sorehead, snortin' mighty
haughty an' elab'rate; 'I fancies I hears some one make some
onbecomin' remark about Washin'ton. Mighty likely it's that licker I
drinkt last night.'

"Two minutes later he halts ag'in.

"'It ain't possible I'm mistook this time. An' at that I don't
precisely ketch what you offensive ground-owls is observin' about
Thomas Jefferson?'

"Mike an' the Lordsburg freighter insists vehement that thar's been no
alloosion to Jefferson, none whatever.

"'Parding!' Sorehead snorts; 'ag'in I asks parding! As former, I finds
I'm barkin' at a bunch of leaves. My y'ear deeceives me into thinkin'
that you two fool ground-owls is indulgin' in reecrim'nations ag'inst
Thomas Jefferson.'

"It's the third time, an' Sorehead's back, neck bowed an' fingers
workin'.

"'Now thar's no error! Which one of you cheap prairie dogs makes that
low-flung statement about old Andy Jackson? Let him speak up, an' I'll
give him a hundred dollars before devourin' his heart.'

"'No one mentions Jackson,' says Mike, who's becomin' frightened an'
fretted; 'whatever's the idee of any one talkin' about Jackson,
anyhow?'

"'Oh, ho! Perhaps, my bold galoot, you think old Andy ain't worth
talkin' about!'

"Sayin' which, that sorehead malcontent reaches for Mike, an' the two
go sailin' 'round the room permiscus. Sorehead picks Mike up, an'
sweeps a cord or two of glasswar' off the bar with him. Then he
employs him in bringin' down a picture from the wall. After which he
nacherally tosses him hither an' yon in the most irrel'vant way.

"Sorehead has jest reached up with Mike, an' smashed a chandelier
carryin' fourteen coal-oil lamps, when in t'ars the Lightnin' Bug,
white an' frothin'. The Bug don't waste no time lookin' for holds, but
casyooally, yet no less s'fficiently, snags onto Sorehead. Fixin' his
ten claws in him, the Bug fo'thwith embarks upon sech feats in the
way of ground an' lofty tumblin' with that gladiator, as to make what
happens to Mike seem pooerile.

"'Don't you-all know,' shouts the Bug, as, havin' done broke a cha'r
with Sorehead, he proceeds to deevote what's left of him to smashin' a
table--'don't you-all know, you abandoned profligate, that this yere
artist you've been maltreatin' is a pers'nal friend of mine, yere
present in Red Dog to confab with me on important affairs? An' is it
for a houseless sot like you to take to minglin' with him malignant?
Yereafter don't you-all so much as presoome to breathe without first
gettin' my permission so to do in writin'!'

"As closin' the incident the Bug sends Sorehead hurtlin' through a
window, sash an' all. After which he dusts off his hands an' says:

"'Gents, let's licker.'

"The barkeep's that gratified he declar's the drinks is on the Tub.

"'Also, the glass an' sash, Bug,' he adds.

"Bein' refreshed, the Bug tenderly collects Mike, who's in a frayed
an' fragmentary condition, an' gently freights him over to us on a
buckboard. It's a week before Peets allows he's ag'in ready for the
show ring, an' he uses up enough co't plaster on him to kyarpet the
Red Light. Little Joolie? We let's on to her that Mike meets up with a
she grizzly an' her cubs, an' while he cleans up that fam'ly he
nacherally gets chewed.

"'Mike's shorely some abrated, ma'am,' explains Peets; 'but he's
mendin' fast. When I first lays eyes on him, after he encounters that
bevy of b'ars, it's a question if his skin'll hold his principles. But
don't take on, Ma'am; now I've got him headed right he'll be as good
as new in a week. Don't forget, too, that he shore does land that band
of grizzlies in the scrap-heap.'

"Mike emerges from the hands of Peets filled with a pecooliar furrin'
form of wrath, an' talkin' about his honor. It's Sorehead he's after
now. As a noble Pole, he says, he has been most contoomeliously used,
an' insists upon a dooel. Not with the Bug, who's withdrew them
orig'nal jedgments concernin' old Monte's portrait, an' substitooted
tharfor the view that said picture's bound to become the artistic
pride an' joy of Arizona. Mike wants to fight the onreegen'rate
Sorehead.

"In the flush of their new friendship Mike asks the Bug to heel an'
handle him. Also, it's warmin' to your better nacher to note the
enthoosiasm wharwith the Bug takes up his dooties.

"'It'll be six-shooters at ten paces,' he explains to Mike; 'an' if
you only shoots like you paints, we'll send that tramp whar the wicked
cease from troublin' an' the weary are at rest.'

"The Red Dog chief gives his word to Enright that Mike ain't in no
danger.

"'Comin' down to cases,' says the Red Dog chief; 'it's even money that
this yere Sorehead crawfishes. If he don't we've got it all set up to
hand him the Bug, instead of that Red Mike artist of yours. So you see
thar's lit'rally nothin' for you-all wolves to worry over at all.'

"'We-all wolves ain't in the habit of worryin' to any astoundin'
extent,' returns Enright, some rigid; 'none the less, I allows I'll
take a look through the sights myse'f, merely by way of makin' shore
which way the gun is p'inted. Thar's reasons, one of 'em a lovin'
little blind girl, why we're not so plumb partic'lar about havin' this
yere alleged artist party put over the jump.'

"The fight's a week away, an' by advice of the Bug, Mike decides to
put a polish on his shootin'. This yere's reckoned a bright idee, the
more since as near as we-all can jedge Mike never does pull a trigger
once since when his mother rocks his cradle an' warms his milk.

"'Only,' warns Enright, as Mike goes makin' prep'rations, 'don't
you-all go aimin' towards town none. We don't want no neeophytes
bombardin' the village, which y'ar in an' y'ar out sees bullets enough
in the nacheral onfoldment of eevents.'

"Mike, not havin' no gun, borrys a .45 of Moore. Thus equipped, he
secoores some cartridges at the Noo York store, an' la'nches forth. No
one goes with him, since he allows he'll shoot better if he's by
himse'f.

"Thar's a powder house, belongin' to the Copper Queen Mine, about a
mile outside of town. It stands off by itse'f an' nothin' near it, no
one honin' much to live neighbor to a ton or two of powder. It's about
fifth drink time the mornin' Mike seelects for his practice shootin'
when, like a bolt from the bloo, that Copper Queen powder house goes
up with a most emphatic whang! What Peets calls the 'concussion'
breaks windows in the Wells-Fargo office, an' shakes up the Red Light
to that extent it brings down Monte's picture an' busts it to forty
flinders on the bottles.

"'Which for a moment,' says Black Jack, commentin' on the gen'ral mess
it makes, 'I thinks it's one of Colonel Sterett's _Coyote_ editorials
on the licker question.'

"That powder blow-up marks the onforchoonate last of Mike. Since he
never does show up no more, an' a Mexican tendin' goats in the
vicin'ty informs us he sees him pinnin' a target on the r'ar elevation
of the powder house jest prior to the explosion, it's the common
feelin' that the blow-up's caused by one of Mike's bullets, an' that
Mike an' the powder reepos'tory takes flight simooltaneous. Only, as
already set fo'th, Peets claims that Mike knows what's comin'. Mebby
Peets is right, an' mebby Mike that a-way commits sooicide. Whichever
it is, sooicide or accident, it's a mighty complete success; for the
only trace we're able to find of either Mike or the powder house is a
most elab'rate hole in the ground.

"'The same bein', as I holds, a most excellent feachure,' says Boggs,
who loathes foonerals. 'This yere powder house way of cashin' in meets
with my approval. It shore don't leave no reemains!'"



X

HOW TUTT SHOT TEXAS THOMPSON


"Which they starts the yarn in Red Dog that the shootin' that time
between Tutt an' Texas is born of sectional feelin', an' because
Texas is a southern gent, while Tutt comes from the No'th. Sech
explainations is absurd--as Doc Peets well says. Also, I'm yere to go
one word further an' state that, while it's like them Red Dogs, idle
an' mendacious as they freequent be, to go fosterin' sech fictions,
thar ain't a syllable of trooth tharin from soda to hock. The
flareup has its start in them two children, Annalinda Thompson an'
little Enright Peets, an' what sentiments of rivalry nacherally
seizes on Tutt an' Texas as parent an' uncle reespective."

"Still there must have been some degree of sectional feeling among
you," I said, more by way of stirring my old cattleman up than any
nobler purpose; "coming some of you from the South, and others from
the North, it would have been strange indeed had it been otherwise."

"Which it's shore strange, then. Them Wolfville pards of mine is one
an' all United States men. They ain't Southern men, nor No'thern men,
nor Eastern men, nor even Western men. Likewise, the improodent sport
who'd go trackin' 'round, ondertaikin' to designate 'em as sech, would
get toomultuous action, plenty soon and plenty of it.

"Why, take Texas himse'f: Thar's a fly-by-night party pesterin' 'round
camp for a space, who lets on he's from the same neck of woods as
Texas. This yere annoyin' fraud is a heap proud of it, too, an' makes
a speshulty of bein' caught a lot in Texas' company. He figgers it
gives him a standin'.

"One mornin', when only a few of us is pervadin' 'round, he plants
himse'f plumb comfortable an' important in a Red Light cha'r, an'
followin' the 'nitial drink for the day goes to talkin' with Texas.

"As he sets thar, all fav'rable an' free, thar comes trackin' in a
aged Eastern gent, who's been negotiatin' with Armstrong about
business concernin' the Noo York store. The aged Eastern shorthorn
goes rockin' up to the counter, an' p'litely lets on to Black Jack
that he'll licker. As he does so this yere firegilt party who boasts
he's of the same range an' breed as Texas speaks up, sharp an' coarse,
like the bark of a dog:

"'Yere, you! I wants a word or two with you-all!'

"With that for a start he onfurls what he preetends is his grievances,
the same bein' because of somethin' the aged Eastern sport does or
don't do comin' over on Monte's stage--which they're fellow passengers
that time, it seems--an' next he cuts loose, an' goes to vitooperatin'
an' reecrim'natin', an' pilin' insult on epithet, that a-way, to beat
four of a kind. Which he certainly does give that aged Eastern person
a layin' out! Shore; he's jest showin' off at that, an' tryin' to
impress Texas.

"At the beginnin' the aged Eastern gent stands like he's dazed, onable
to collect himse'f. However, he gets his mental feet onder him, an'
allowin' he won't stay none to listen to sech tirades, tucks away his
nosepaint an' pulls out.

"After he's gone the vitooperative party wheels so's to face Texas,
an' says--mighty pleasant an' agree'ble, like the object of the
meetin's been most happ'ly accomplished:

"'Thar, that shows you.'

"'Whatever does it show?' Texas asks, some grim.

"'Which it shows the difference between a No'thern gent an' a Southern
gent. To be shore, that old cimmaron ain't half my size an' is twict
my age, but all the same, Texas, if he's from the South, you bet, like
you an' me, he'd tore into me, win or lose, if he'd got killed!'

"'You think so?' says Texas, his eyes becomin' as hard an' glitterin'
as a snake's. 'Now let me tell you something, my lionhearted friend.
Thar's brave men South, an' brave men No'th. Also, thar's quitters;
quitters at both ends of that No'thern-Southern trail who'll go into
the water like a mink. Accordin' to my experiences, an' I've been
dallyin' with hoomanity in the herd for quite some time, thar's
nothin' in that geographical bluff of yours at all. Moreover, I
reckons that before I'm through, seein' now you've got me goin', I'll
prove it. For a starter, then, takin' your say-so for it, you're a
Southern man?'

"'Which that's shore c'rrect,' the other responds, but feeble; 'you
an' me, as I says former, is both Southern men.'

"'_Bueno!_ Now as calk'lated to demonstrate how plumb onfounded is
them theeries of yours'--yere Texas gets up, an' kicks his cha'r back
so he's got room--'I has pleasure in informin' you that you're a
onmitigated hoss-thief;--an' you don't dare stand up. Yes, sir; you're
onfit to drink with a nigger or eat with a dog;--an' you'll set thar
an' take it.'

"Which that aboosive party, pale as paper, certainly does 'set thar
an' take it' preecisely as Texas prophecies; an' after glowerin' at
him, red-eyed an' f'rocious for a moment, Texas sticks his paws in his
jeans, an' sa'nters off.

"It's jest as well. Why, if that humbug so much as curls a lip or
crooks a finger, after Texas takes to enunciatin' them prop'sitions in
philosophy, Texas'd have tacked him to the table with his bowie an'
left him kickin', same as them goggled-eyed professors who calls
themselves nacheralists does some buzzin' fly with a pin.

"'Which, if thar's anything,' Texas explains to Enright, 'that makes
me tired partic'lar, it's them cracks about No'th an' South. If I was
range boss for these yere United States I'd shore have them
deescriptives legislated into a cap'tal offence.'

"'Sech observations as that narrow tarrapin onbosoms,' comments
Enright, 'only goes to show how shallow he is. Comin' down to the
turn, even that old Eastern shorthorn's walkin' away from him don't
necessar'ly mean a lack of sand. Folks does a heap of runnin' in this
vale of tears, but upon various an' varyin' argyooments. A gent runs
from a polecat, an' he runs from a b'ar; but the reason ain't the
same.'

"Thar's no sectionalisms in Tutt's differences with Texas, none
whatever. Also, while it finds, as I holds, its roots in Annalinda an'
little Enright Peets, it don't arise from nothin' which them babies
does to one another. Two pups in the same basket, two birds on the
same bough, couldn't have got along more harmon'ous. The moment Nell
brings little Enright Peets over to see Annalinda them children falls
together like a shock of oats, an' at what times they're onhobbled of
fam'ly reestrictions an' footloose so to do, you'd see 'em playin'
'round from sun-up till dark, same as a pa'r of angels.

"Troo, Annalinda does domineer over little Enright Peets, an' makes
him fetch an' carry an' wait on her; an' thar's times, too, when she
shore beats him up with a stick or quirt some lib'ral. But what else
would you expect? I even encounters little Enright Peets, down on
all-fours, an' Annalinda ridin' him like he's a hoss. Likewise, she's
kickin' his ribs a heap, to make him go faster. But that's nothin';
them two babies is only playin'.

"Not that I'm none so shore it ain't this yere last identical
spectacle which gives Nell the notion of them two children marryin' at
some footure day. That, however, is merest surmise, an' in a manner
onimportant. What I'd like to get proned into you-all is that Texas
an' Tutt lockin' horns like they does has its single cause in them
latent jealousies an' struggles for social preecedence, which is bound
to occur between a only father an' a only uncle wharever found. Which
the single safegyard lies in sech a multitoode of fathers an' uncles
as renders 'em common. To possess but one of each makes 'em puffed up
an' pride-blown, an' engenders a mootual uppishness which before all
is over is shore to man'fest itse'f in war.

"Thar's one boast we-all is able to make, however. That clash between
Tutt an' Texas is the only shore-enough trouble which ever breaks out
among the boys. You onderstands, of course, that when I says 'boys'
that a-way, I alloodes to Enright an' Peets an' them others who
constitootes Wolfville's social an' commercial backbone. Thar's other
embroglios more or less smoky an' permiscus, which gets pulled off one
way an' another, but they ain't held to apply to us of rights. For
sech alien hookups, so to speak, we reefooses all reespons'bility.
Which we regyards them escapades as fortooitous, an' declines 'em
utter. Tutt's goin' against Texas is the only war-jig we feels to be
reely Wolfville's."

"You forget," I said teasingly, "the shooting between Boggs and Tutt,
as incident to the Washerwoman's War."

"Which, that?" There was impatience tinged with acrimony in the tones.
"That's nothin' more'n gallantry. It's what's to be looked for whar
thar's ladies about, an' is doo to a over-effervescence of sperit,
common to the younger males of our species when made gala an' giddy by
the alloorin' flutter of a petticoat. Boggs an' Tutt don't honestly
mean them bullets none. Also, if you-all is goin' to keep on with your
imbecile interruptions, I'll quit."

Abject apologies on my part, supported by equally abject promises of
reform.

The old gentleman, thus mollified, resumed:

"Goin' back to this yere Tutt-Texas collision, thar's no denyin', an'
be fa'r about it, but what Tutt has grounds. For goin' on five years
he's been looked up to as the only father in camp, an' for Texas to
appear at what you-all might call the 'leventh hour an' go crowdin'
disdainfully into the picture on nothin' more'n bein' a uncle, is
preepost'rous. To prance 'round on sech a meager showin', puttin' on
the dog he does, an' all in a somber, overbearin' way like he's
packin' the world on his shoulders an' we-all's got to be a heap
careful not to do nothin' to him to make him drop it, is inexcoosable
to the verge of outrage. No rel'tive in the third or fo'th degree is
jestified to assoome sech sooperiorities; an' Enright tells Texas so
after Peets digs the lead out of the thick of his laig.

"Which we gets orig'nal notice about Annalinda, when a passel of us,
as is our custom followin' first drink time in the evenin', drifts
into the post office. Some gets letters, some don't; an' Texas, who,
as a roole, don't have no voloominous correspondence, is sayin' that
he has the same feelin' about letters he has about trant'lers, as
bein' a heap more likely to sting you than anything else, when the
postmaster shoves him out one.

"It's from Laredo, an' when Texas gets a glimpse at the mark on it he
lets it fall onopened to the floor.

"'It's my former wife!' he says, with a shudder. 'Yere she is,
startin' in to get the upper hand of me ag'in.'

"'Nonsense!' says Peets, pickin' up the letter, 'it's from some
lawyers. Can't you see their names yere up in the corner?'

"'That don't mean nothin',' Texas whispers--he's shore a heap shook;
'it'd be about her speed, as she goes plottin' afresh to ondermine me
in my present peace, to rope up a law-wolf to show her how.'

"Bein' urged by Peets, an' the balance of us asshorin' him we'll stand
pat in his destinies come what may an' defend him to the bitter
finish, Texas manages to open the envelope. As he stands thar readin'
the scare in his face begins to fade in favor of a look of gloom.

"'Gents,' he says, at last, 'it's my brother Ed. He's cashed in.' We
expresses the reg'lation reegrets, an' Texas continyoos: 'Ed leaves me
his baby girl, Annalinda--she's my niece.' After a pause he adds:
'This yere shore requires consideration.'

"'These law sharps,' explains Texas, when we're organized all sociable
in the Red Light, an' Black Jack's come through on right an' reg'lar
lines, 'allows it's Ed's dyin' reequest that I take an' ride paternal
herd on this infant child.'

"'But how about its mother?' urges Enright.

"'Which it ain't got none. Its mother dies two years ago. Now Ed's
packed in, that baby's been whipsawed; it's a full-fledged orphan,
goin' an' comin'.'

"'Ain't thar no rel'tives on the mother's side?' asks Nell, from over
back of Cherokee's lay out.

"'Meanest folks, Nellie,' says Texas, 'bar none, between the Colorado
an' the Mississippi. You see they're kin to my Laredo wife, me an' Ed
both marryin' into the same tribe. Which it shows the Thompson
intell'gence. Thar ain't a Thompson yet who don't need a guardeen
constant.'

"After no end of discussion that a-way it's onderstood to be the
gen'ral notion that Texas ought to bring Ed's orphan baby to
Wolfville.

"'But s'ppose,' says Texas, 'that in spite of Ed wantin' me to cast my
protectin' pinions over this yere infant, its mother's outfit,
thinkin' mebby to shake me down for some _dinero_, objects?'

"'In which case,' says Boggs, who's plumb interested, 'you sends for
me, Texas, an' we mavericks it. You ain't goin' to let no sech callous
an' onfeelin' gang as your wife's folks go 'round dictatin' about Ed's
Annalinda child, be you, an' givin' you a stand-off? Which you're
only tryin' to execoote Ed's dying behests.'

"It's settled final that Texas, ag'inst whatever opp'sition, has got
to bring on Annalinda to us. That disposed of, it next comes
nacherally up as a question how, when we gets Annalinda safe to
Wolfville, she's goin' to be took care of.

"'Which the O. K. Restauraw won't do,' Texas says, lookin' anxious out
of the tail of his eye at Enright an' Peets. 'Mind, I ain't hintin'
nothin' ag'inst Missis Rucker, who hasn't got her Southwest equal at
flapjacks, but I submits that for a plastic child that a-way, at a
time when it receives impressions easy, to daily witness the way she
maltreats Rucker, is to go givin' that infant wrong idees of what's
coming to husbands as a whole. I'm a hard man, gents; but I don't aim
to bring up this yere Annalinda baby so that one day she's encouraged
to go handin' out the racket to some onforchoonate sport, which my
Laredo wife hands me.'

"'Thar's reasons other than Missis Rucker,' Enright is quick to
observe, 'why the O. K. House ain't the fittest place for infancy,
an' any discussion of our esteemable hostess in them marital
attitoodes of hers is sooperfluous. S'ppose we lets it go, without
elab'ration, that the O. K. House, from nursery standp'ints, won't
do.'

"Cherokee thinks that mighty likely a good way'd be to have Annalinda
live with Tutt an' Tucson Jennie.

"Peets shakes his sagacious head.

"'Dave'll onderstand my p'sition to be purely scientific,' he says,
glancin' across at Tutt, 'when I states that sech a move'd be a error.
Tucson Jennie, as wife an' mother, is as fine as silk. But she's also
a female woman, an' owns a papoose of her own. Thar's inborn reasons
why woman, as sech, while sympathetic an' gen'rally speakin' plumb
lovely, is oncapable onder certain circumstances of a squar' deal. In
this yere business of babies, for example, thar's existed throughout
the ages a onbridgable gulf in her eyes between her offspring an'
other folks' offspring; an' while disclaiming all disloyalty to Tucson
Jennie, I'm obleeged to say that as between Annalinda an' little
Enright Peets, she wouldn't be cap'ble of a even break. Do I
overstate the trooth, Dave?'

"'None whatever,' Tutt returns. 'What you discovers scientific, Doc, I
learns more painfully as husband an' father. I fully agrees that when
it comes to other folks' children no female mother can hold the
onbiased scales.'

"'Thar's French an' his wife?' chirps Nell, her elbow on the lay-out,
an' her little round chin in her fist; 'thar's the Frenches, over to
the corrals? French an' Benson Annie ain't got no children, an' they'd
be pleased to death at havin' Annalinda.'

"'But be they competent?' asks Texas, over whom a feelin' of
se'f-importance is already beginnin' to creep like ivy on a wall. 'I
don't want to be considered a carper, but as I sees it I'd be doin'
less'n my dooty as a uncle if I fails to ask, Be them Frenches
competent?'

"'You'll have to rope up a nurse some'ers, anyhow, Texas,' Boggs puts
in. 'Thar's dozens of them good-nachered fat young senoritas among the
Mexicans who'll do. The nurse would know her business, even if the
Frenches don't.'

"'Two nurses,' declar's Tutt. 'Bein' a father, I savvys the nurse
game from start to finish. You'll need two; one to hold it, an' one to
fetch it things.'

"'But about them Frenches?' inquires Jack Moore. 'Ain't we goin' a
little fast? Mebby they themselves has objections.'

"'Which they'd look mighty well,' observes Cherokee, riflin' the deck
an' snappin' it into the box plenty vicious, 'to go 'round objectin'
after Nellie yere's done put 'em in nom'nation for this trust.'

"'Not that they'd reeject it haughty,' explains Moore; 'but, as Texas
himse'f says, who's to know, they bein' mighty modest people, that
they'll regyard themselves as comp'tent? The Frenches ain't had no
practice, an' thar's nothin' easier than a misdeal about a youngone.
Thar's a brainless mother saws her baby off on me over in Prescott one
day, while she goes cavortin' into a store to buy a frock, an' you-all
can go put a bet on it I'm raisin' the he'pless long yell inside of
the first minute. This takin' charge of babies ain't no sech pushover
as it looks. It's certainly no work for amatoors.'

"'Thar's nothin' in them doubts, Jack,' Boggs chips in confidently.
'Even if them Frenches ain't had no practice, an' the nurses should
fall down, thar's dozens of us who'll be ever at the elbow of that
household; an' if in their ignorance they takes to bunglin' the play
we'll be down on 'em in the cockin' of a winchester to give 'em the
proper steer.'

"'I reckon, Nellie,' says Texas, lookin' wistful across at Nell,
'that if some of the boys yere'll stand your watch as lookout,
you'd put in a day layin' in a outfit of duds? You could be doin'
it, you know, while I'm down in Laredo, treating with them hostiles
for possession.'

"'Shore,' an' Nellie smiles at the prospect. 'Which I'll jest go
stampedin' over to Tucson for 'em, too. How old is Annalinda?'

"Texas gives Annalinda's age as three.

"'She'll be four next fall,' says he; 'I remembers Ed writes me she's
born durin' the beef round-up.'

"'In that case,' comments Enright, 'she ought to stand about eight
hands high. In clawin' together said raiment, Nellie, that'll give you
some impression of size.'

"'An', Nellie,' continyoos Texas, 'my idee is you'll want to change
in say a thousand dollars?'

"'Why, Texas, you talk like you're locoed. One hundred'll win out all
the clothes she could sp'ile, w'ar or t'ar to pieces in a year.'

"'Shore,' coincides Tutt; 'take little Enright Peets. One hundred
_pesos_ leaves him lookin' like a circus.'

"'But Annalinda,' objects Texas doubtfully, 'is a She. It costs more
for girls. That Laredo wife of mine'd blow in the price of sixty head
of cattle, an' then allow she ain't half dressed.'

"'One hundred'll turn the trick,' Nell insists.

"All that night we sets up discussin' an' considerin'. The more we
talks the better we likes that Annalinda idee.

"At sun-up, b'arin' the best wishes of all, Texas cinches a hull into
his quickest pony, an' hits the trail for Tucson to take the railroad
kyars for Laredo.

"'Which, onless they gives me more of a battle than I anticipates,' he
remarks, as he pushes his feet into the stirrup, 'I'll be back by ten
days.'

"'An', Texas,' says Boggs, detainin' him by the bridle rein, 'you-all
beat it into that baby that I'm her Uncle Dan. It'll give you
something to do comin' back.'

"'Which, jedgin' from what I goes through that day in Prescott,'
remarks Moore, mighty cynical, 'Texas'll have plenty to do.'

"Texas don't meet up with no partic'lar Laredo opposition, them
relatives appearin' almost eager to give him Annalinda. One of 'em
even goes the insultin' len'th of offerin' to split the expense, but
withdraws his bluff when Texas threatens to brain him with a
six-shooter.

"Boggs, hearin' of this Laredo willin'ness, can't onderstand it no
how.

"'It's too many for me,' he says. 'If it's me, now, I'd have clung to
that blessed baby till the cows come home. They must shore be
deeficient in taste, them Laredo yahoos!'

"As exhibitin' how soon bein' moved into cel'bration as a uncle begins
to tell on Texas he ups an' in the fullness of his vanity deecides,
even before he arrives at Laredo, ag'inst the scheme which the camp's
half laid out about the Frenches an' Annalinda, an' arranges to have
a 'doby of his own. It's a blow to the Frenches, too, for since we
notifies 'em, they has set their hearts on the racket.

"But Texas is immov'ble.

"'Ed's dyin',' says he, 'an' namin' me to be reespons'ble for
Annalinda, creates a sityooation best met by me havin' a wickeyup of
my own. I'm sorry to disapp'int, but after matoore reeflection, that
a-way, I've conclooded to play a lone hand.'

"While he's away Texas goes projectin' 'round an' cuts out a couple of
old black mammies from a day nursery over in Dallas, an' brings 'em
along. They an' Annalinda rides over from Tucson in the stage; but,
bein' more familiar with the saddle, an' because he's better able
tharfrom to soopervise an' go dictatin' terms to Monte, he himse'f
comes on his pony.

"'An', gents,' whines Monte, as, throwin' down the reins, he heads for
the Red Light bar, 'between us he ain't the same Texas. That
Annalinda child has shore changed him turrible. All the way from
Tucson, when he ain't crowdin' up to the wheel to give orders to them
Senegambians about how to hold or when to feed her, he's menacin' at
me. That's why I'm three hours late. At rough places it looks like
thar ain't no name mean enough for him to call me; an' once, when
the front wheel jolts into a chuckhole an' Annalinda sets up a
squall, he pulls a gun an' threatens in the most frenzied way to shoot
me up. "You be more careful," he roars, "or I'll blow you plumb off
your perch! Childhood, that a-way, is a fragile flower; an' if you
figgers I'll set yere an', in the tender instance of my own pers'nal
niece, see some booze-besotted drunkard break that flower short off
at the stalk, I'll fool you up a whole lot." An' do you-all know,'
Monte concloodes, almost with a sob, 'he never does let down the
hammer of his .45 ag'in for most a mile.'

"Annalinda is plumb pretty. The whole camp goes her way like a
landslide. Tucson Jennie approves of her--with reeservations, of
course, in favor of little Enright Peets; Missis Rucker finds time to
snatch a few moments, between feedin' us an' bossin' Rucker, to go see
her every day; while, as for Nell, she's in an' out of Texas' 'doby
mornin', noon an' night to sech extents that half the time Cherokee
ain't got no lookout, an' when he has it's Boggs.

[Illustration: "HIM AN' ANNALINDA SHORE DO CONSTITOOTE A PICTURE. 'THAR'S
A PA'R TO DRAW TO,' SAYS NELL TO TEXAS, HER EYES LIKE BROWN DIAMONDS."
p. 281.]

"Nell brings over little Enright Peets, an' thar's no backin' away
from it him an' Annalinda shore do constitoote a picture.

"'Thar's a pa'r to draw to!' says Nell to Texas, her eyes like
diamonds.

"Bein' romantic, like all girls, an' full of fancies that a-way, Nell
indulges in playful specyoolations about Annalinda an' little Enright
Peets gettin' married later on. Not that she intends anything,
although Texas takes it plenty serious, which shows how his egotism is
already workin' overtime.

"When Monte puts up them groans about how Texas is changed, we-all
lays it to the complainin' habit which, on account of whiskey mebby,
has got to be second nacher with him. He's always kickin' about
something; an' so, nacherally, when he onbosoms himse'f of that howl
about Texas, we don't pay no speshul heed. It ain't three days,
however, before it begins to break on us that for once Monte's right.
Texas has certainly changed. Thar's a sooperior manner, what you'd
call a loftiness, about him, which is hard to onderstand an' harder
to put up with. It gets to be his habit constant to reemark in a
wearied way, as he slops out his drinks, that we-all'll have to
excoose him talkin' to us much, because he's got cares on his mind,
besides bein' played out on account of settin' up all night with
Annalinda.

"'Which she's sheddin' her milk teeth,' he'd say, 'an' it makes her
petyoolant.'

"After which he'd turn away in dignified tol'ration, same as if we're
too low an' dull to a'preeciate what he has to b'ar.

"Or, ag'in--an' always before the draw--he'd throw down his hand in a
poker game, an' scramble to his feet, sayin':

"'Heavens! I forgets about that Annalinda child!'

"An' with that he'd go skallyhootin' off into space, leavin' us
planted thar with a misdeal on our hands, an' each one of us holdin'
mebby better than aces-up, an' feelin' shore we could have filled.
It's nothin' less'n awful the way he acts; an' that we lets him get
away with it exhibits them sentiments of Christian charity which
permeates our breasts.

"Thar's the way, too, he goes hectorin' at Boggs! Two occasions in
partic'lar I reecalls; an' it's only Boggs' forbearance that
hostil'ties don't ensoo. One time when Annalinda's out for a walk with
her two old black mammies Boggs crosses up with the outfit an' kisses
Annalinda. Wharupon Texas yells out from across the street, like he's
been bit by a rattlesnake:

"'Don't do that, Dan! You'll mebby give her something. In Mother
Shrewsbury's "What Ails Babies and Why" it's laid down emphatic that
you mustn't kiss 'em.'

"'But you kisses her,' retorts Boggs.

"'Me? But I'm her uncle. Besides, I only kisses her hands. Which I'll
permit you-all to kiss her hands, Dan, if that'll do you. Only don't
you go to overplay it none. Don't forget that hands is the limit, an'
it's thar whar you gets off.'

"'Which I ain't none shore,' says Boggs, who's some hurt, as he's
talkin' the thing over with Enright an' Cherokee in the Red
Light--'which I ain't none shore but Texas is right; only he oughtn't
to throw out them rooles of health of his so plumb offensive. You'd
have reckoned from the row he makes I'm eatin' Annalinda.'

"Another time Boggs gives Annalinda his six-shooter to play with, she
havin' deemanded it with screams. Texas comes steamin' up.

"'Dan,' he cries, grabbin' the weepon from Annalinda, 'sometimes I
asks myse'f in all ser'ousness be you got common sense! Is this yere a
snare you're settin' for this innocent child? Do you-all want her to
blow her head plumb off?'

"'But, Texas,' Boggs expostyoolates, 'thar ain't a chance. How's
she goin' to cock that gun, an' the mainspring fifteen pounds
resistance?'

"'But she might drop it.'

"'Which, if she does, it can't go off none; I sets the hammer between
two shells on purpose.'

"'Whoever's bringin' up this yere baby, you or me?' Texas deemands, as
he tosses Boggs his gun. 'Please don't pass her no more artillery. If
it's got to whar her existence is goin' to be a failure onless she's
foolin' with a gun, I as her uncle preefers to furnish said hardware
myse'f.'

"Shore, Boggs stands it, it's so evident Texas is onhinged.

"'An' if you look at it straight it ain't no wonder, neither,' says
Boggs, who's mighty forgivin' that a-way. 'It's apples to ashes if you
was to suddenly up an' enrich any of us with a niece like Annalinda,
we-all in goin' crazy over her 'd give Texas kyards an' spades.'

"Texas, who's always readin' medicine books, likes to go bulgin'
'round eloocidatin' about measles an' scarlet fever an' whoopin'
cough, an' what other maladies is allers layin' in wait to bushwhack
infancy. At sech moments he's plenty speecious an' foxy, so's to trap
us into deebates with him. Mebby it'll be about the mumps, an' what's
to be done; an' then, after he gets us goin', he'll r'ar back the
actchooal image of insult an' floor us with 'Mother Shrewsbury.' It
ain't no overstatin' a sityooation to say he pursoos these yere
tactics ontil he's the admitted pest of the camp, an' thar ain't one
of us but would sooner see a passel of Apaches comin' than him. He
can't confab two minutes about Annalinda but he grows so insultin' you
simply has to hold onto your manhood by the scruff of the neck not to
go for him.

"Even Enright ain't exempt. It comes out casyooally one evenin', as
Texas goes layin' down the law about how he's r'arin' Annalinda, that
Enright's mother was wont to sooth an' engage his infantile hours with
a sugar-rag an' a string of spools. Which you should have shore seen
Texas look at him! Not with reespect, mind you; not like he's heard
anything worth while or interestin'. But like he's sayin' to himse'f,
'An' you sets thar offerin' yourse'f as a argyooment in favor of
sugar-rags an' strings of spools! On the back of sech a warnin' you
don't figger none I'll go givin' sugar-rags an' strings of spools to
Annalinda, do you?' While he's thinkin' this he grins that patronizin'
it'd set your teeth on edge.

"Texas in a simple sperit of vain-glory'd take advantage of Tutt bein'
a father that a-way to back him into a corner; an' then, ignorin' the
rest of us as belongin' to the barb'rous herd, he'd insist on
discussin' skunk oil as a remedy for croup. An' the worst of it is he
finally has Tutt, who's bad enough before, gyratin' 'round, his addled
nose to the sky in redoubled scorn of childless men. From the two
sociablest sports in camp it gets so that the uncle in one an' father
in the other so far supplants an' shoves aside the mere man in 'em
that Job himse'f would have had to make a new record for meekness an'
long sufferin' to get along with 'em. Which we-all suffers from both
to that extent that when they does start to bombardin' each other the
eepisode in some of its angles appeals to us as a welcome relief.

"Even Peets goes after Texas. It don't do no good. He's become that
opinionated he ain't got no more reespect for Peets than for Monte.
Texas mentions that Annalinda's got a ache some'ers, an' asks Peets
what's his idee.

"'Thar's nothin' onder the firmament, Texas, the matter with that
baby,' says Peets, 'but you. Which if you'd ever got to him as a
yearlin' you'd a-killed Hercules himse'f! Quit yore fussin', an' give
Annalinda a chance. Take a lesson from the cub coyote. Roll Annalinda
out in the sand, an' let her scuffle. That's the way to bring a
youngone up.'

"'Mother Shrewsbury don't agree with you,' says Texas. 'Also, thar's
nothin' in them cub coyote claims of yours for r'arin' children.'

"'Mother Shrewsbury,' retorts Peets, 'is nothin' but a patent med'cine
outfit, which feeds an' fattens on sech boneheads as you.'

"'Excoose me, but scattered throughout that invalyooable work is the
endorsements of doctors of divinity.'

"'Shore! Half the time a gold brick comes to you wrapped in a tract.
All the same, Texas, the way you're carryin' on about Annalinda is
fast bringin' your sanity into doubt.'

"Texas snorts his scorn at this, an' goes back to 'Mother Shrewsbury.'

"As I've already s'ggested, however, thar's a bitter drop in Texas'
cup, an' Tutt's the drop. As a ondeniable father, Tutt can put it all
over Texas or any other mere uncle whenever he feels like it, an' deep
down in his heart Texas knows it. He struggles to hide the feelin',
but any one can tell that the very sight of Tutt is wormwood to him.

"Likewise, Tutt fully ree'lizes his sooperiority, an' in no wise
conceals the same. It comes as easy to Tutt as suckin' aiggs, he
havin' had plenty of practice. Ever since little Enright Peets is
born Tutt has conducted himse'f in a downhill manner towards all of
us, an' been allowed to do so; as why not? This manner has become so
much a part of Tutt that even after Texas inherits Annalinda an' sets
up house for himse'f, while it makes the rest of us look up to him
some, it don't he'p him none with Tutt. Tutt's too thoroughly aware of
the difference between bein' a father an' bein' a uncle. Likewise, he
lets Texas see it at every twist in the trail.

"That time Nell takes to pa'rin' off little Enright Peets an'
Annalinda, an' in a sperit of lightness speaks of how mebby some day
they'll wed, she springs the notion on Texas, as stated, an' asks him
what he thinks. Texas, who always has to have time to make up his mind
about anything with Annalinda in it, is onable to say, first dash out
of the box, whether he feels tickled or sore. He grows plenty solemn,
as I mentions, grunts mighty elevated an' austere, an' mumbles about
some things bein' a long shot an' a limb in the way, an' the wisdom of
not crossin' a bridge till you gets to it.

"Ten minutes later, while he's still got Annalinda an' little Enright
Peets on the skyline of his regyard, Texas comes upon Tutt, who's
talkin' pol'tics to Armstrong. Armstrong has tossed off a few
weak-minded opinions about a deefensive an' offensive deal with
Russia, an' Tutt's ag'in it as solid as a sod house.

"'Yes, sir,' Tutt's saying; 'I'm ag'in any sech low alliance. I'd be
ashamed to call myse'f a white man an' consent to sech open-eyed
disgrace.'

"Texas turns white. It's among his deefects that he can't escape the
feelin' that the whole world is always thinkin' an' talkin' about
whatever he himse'f is thinkin' an' talkin' about. Overhearin' what
Tutt says, he concloodes that Tutt's declarin' his sent'ments as to
little Enright Peets marryin' Annalinda, an' is out to reeject all
sech alliances as a disgrace to the Tutts. An' Texas foomes. To be eat
up by Tutt's sooperior station as a shore father is bad enough! An'
now yere's Tutt, aggravatin' injury with insult! Which it's too much!

"'Draw your weepon, Dave,' calls out Texas, bringin' his own gun to
the front. 'Your bein' a father don't overawe me none, you bet!
Likewise, if you're a Tutt I'm a Thompson, an' I've stood about all
I'm going to.'

"Tutt, as a old experienced gun-player, sees at a glance that he ain't
got no time to throw out skirmishers. For reasons onknown, but
s'fficient, thar's Texas manooverin' to plug him. Wharupon, Tutt takes
steps accordin', an' takes 'em some abrupt. So abrupt, in trooth, that
Texas ain't got through oratin' before his nigh hind laig has stopped
a bullet midway above the knee. Shore, he gets a shot at Tutt, but it
goes skutterin' along in the sand a full foot to one side. Thar's only
them two shots, Enright, Armstrong an' Jack Moore gettin' in between
'em, an' nippin' any further trouble in the bud.

"It's two hours later, an' Enright has come 'round to beat some sense
into Texas.

"'Accordin' to the Doc yere,' says Enright, as Peets ladles the
invalid out a hooker of Old Jordan, 'that laig'll be so you can ride
ag'in in a month. Pendin' which, while I don't preetend to savvy
what's been goin' on between you an' Dave, nor what insults has been
give or took, I no less tells you, Texas, that you're wrong.'

"'As how?' growls Texas, gulpin' down the nosepaint.

"'As to them airs which of late you dons. You know you can't defend
'em none. Dave's been the sole onchallenged father in this yere outfit
for crowdin' nigh five years; an' for you to come swaggerin' up,
insistin' that he divide the pot with you an' you holdin' nothin'
higher than a niece, nacherally exasperates him beyond endoorance.
Which you'd feel the same yourse'f in Dave's place.'

"'But you don't onderstand, Sam. It's him connivin' round an' archin'
his neck ag'inst them babies marryin' each other when they're growed
up--it's that which sets my blood to b'ilin'. Wharever does Dave come
in to get insultin' action at sech a prop'sition? It'll be a cold day
when a Thompson ain't equal to a Tutt, an' I'll make that good while I
can pull an' p'int a .45.'

"'Which Dave,' interjecks Peets, as he goes cockin' up Texas' foot on
a gooseha'r pillow, so's the shot laig'll feel it less--'which Dave
thinks right now, an' so informs me personal, that you-all starts to
mussin' with him on account of pol'tics, an' him havin' been a
reepublican back East. Armstrong b'ars him out, too.'

"'Pol'tics?' gasps Texas, full of wonder. 'Whatever do I care about
pol'tics? I shore ain't no nigger-lovin' reepublican. At the same
time, I ain't no cheap hoss-thief of a democrat, neither, even if I
does come from Texas. Why, Doc, takin' jedge an' opposin' counsel an'
the clerk who records the decree, on down to that ornery auctioneer of
a sheriff who sells up my stock at public vandoo for costs an' al'mony
the time my Laredo wife grabs off her divorce, every stick-up among
'em's a democrat. An' while I don't know nothin' about pol'tics, an'
never aims to, you can go the limit on it I ain't nothin' them bandits
be. Which I'd sooner be a prohibitionist!'

"Enright an' Peets an' Texas keeps on discussin' ontil the
misonderstandin' is laid bar', an' Texas is quick to admit that he's
been mistook. Tutt, who's willin' an' ready, is brought in, an' the
pa'r reeconciled.

"'An', old man,' says Tutt, usin' both hands to shake with Texas, 'I'd
on the level feel a heap better if it's me who gets busted in the
laig.'

"'Don't mention it, Dave,' returns Texas, who, now he reelizes what
he's done, is deeply affected. 'I was plumb wrong; I sees it now.
Also, if in the fullness of time Annalinda declar's in favor of
weddin' little Enright Peets, I yereby binds myse'f to back them
nuptials for a thousand head of steers.'

"'Texas,' an' the water stands in Tutt's eyes, 'while it's the first I
hears of sech a racket, yere's my hand that I'll go with you, steer
for steer an' hoof for hoof.'

"What Peets calls 'the logic of the sityooation' p'ints to licker all
around; an', as we-all drinks to the onclouded future of Annalinda an'
little Enright Peets, Texas an' Tutt ag'in shakes mighty fervent for
the second time."



XI

THE FUNERAL OF OLD HOLT


"That Turner person! Does he remain in Wolfville long?" The old
cattleman repeated my question as though feeling for its bearings.
"Well, he don't break no records. Which I should say now he sojourns
with us mebby it's six months before he ups stakes an' pulls his
freight back East. Oh, no; it ain't that any gent who's licensed to
call himse'f a molder of public opinion, sech as Enright or Peets,
objects to the Turner person's further presence none. Speakin'
gen'ral, the heft of feelin' is in his favor. Not but what he has
deeficiencies. It's no easy shot, offhand, to tell you preecisely whar
this Turner person is camped in common esteem. Perhaps it's enough to
say he's one of them parties who, while they don't excite your
disapproval, is shore to keep you loaded with regrets.

"Ain't you met up frequent with that form of horned toad? Thar's
nothin' you can lodge ag'inst 'em, nothin' at which a vig'lance
committee can rope an' fasten; they're honest, well meanin', even
gen'rous; an' yet thar they be, upholstered by nacher in some occult
way with about the same chance of bein' pop'lar as a wet dog. Speakin'
for myse'f, I feels sorry for these yere onforchoonate mavericks,
condemned as they be at birth to go pirootin' from the cradle to the
grave, meetin' everywhar about the same welcome which awaits a polecat
at a picnic.

"Thar's no predom'natin' element of evil in this Turner person. Which
in his case the trouble swings an' rattles on the way he's built. His
crownin' deefect, mighty likely, is that he's got one of them sidehill
minds, an' what idees he does evolve can't find no foothold, but is
robbed at the start of everything reesemblin' perm'nancy. I watches
his comin's in an' goin's out for months on eend, an' I'm yere to
say--at the same time ascribin' to him no ill intentions--that onder
all condition an' on all o'casions he's as onreli'ble as a woman's
watch.

"About that weddin' he goes east to consummate?

"Which it looks like, speakin' mod'rate, he quits winner. He travels
back to Sni-a-bar as tame as tabby cats in persooance with Enright's
commands, an', once thar, old man Parks an' the rest of 'em whistles
him through the marital chute a heap successful. When he shows up
among us, his blushin' Peggy bride on his arm, he's wearin' all the
brands an' y'ear marks of a thor'ughly married man; to sech degrees,
indeed, as renders Texas oncomfortable.

"'It recalls,' says Texas, 'them honeymoon days I passed with my
Laredo wife before she wins out that divorce. It's like a icicle
through my heart to look at him,' he goes on, aloodin' to the Turner
person an' the fatyoous fog of deelight he's evident in. 'Thar he is,
like a cub b'ar, his troubles all before him, an' not brains enough
onder his skelp-lock to a'preeciate his awful p'sition.'

"'Why, Texas,' remonstrates Nell as, the turn comin' trey-nine, she
picks a stack of bloos off the trey an' puts it in the check rack,
'you talks of wedlock as though that sacriment's a brace. Plenty of
folks has beat the game. Thar's Tutt an' Tucson Jennie.'

"'Them nuptials of Dave's an' Jennie's, Nell,' returns Texas, shakin'
his head a heap gloomy, 'ain't far enough to the r'ar to afford a
preecedent. Wait till Dave wakes up.'

"'Till Dave wakes up?' says Boggs, who's busy at the lay-out, an' has
jest planted a stack of reds coppered in the big squar'. 'Sech
pess'mism, Texas, is reedic'lous. Bein' married that a-way, I takes
it, is somethin' like walkin' a tightrope. It reequires care, but it
can be did. To be shore, if anything happens, you're in for a
jo-darter of a jolt. Still, the resk don't render the feat imposs'ble,
an' a brave man disregyards it.'

"'That's whatever,' comments Nell, as, the king fallin' to win, she
draws down Boggs's reds.

"Thar's no chill on the reception we confers on the Turner person an'
his Peggy bride. Monte has orders, in case they're aboard, to onlimber
his shotgun a mile or two outside of camp, so's we gets notice an' is
not caught off our gyard. For once the old drunkard is faithful to his
trust, an' when we hears him whangin' away with both bar'ls, we turns
out, as they say in Noo York, _en masse_. Every gent empties the six
chambers of his gun as the stage pulls up, an' the Turner person
he'ps out his Peggy bride into the center of a most joyful foosilade.
We couldn't have done more if she's the Queen of Sheba.

"The Turner person an' his Peggy bride is in right from the go. Missis
Rucker declar's that the bride's a lady; Nell proclaims her as 'shore
corn-fed,' while Tucson Jennie allows she's a whole lot too good for
sech a jack-rabbit of a husband as she gets.

"Her beauty?

"Which you couldn't say it's calc'lated to blind.

"For mere loveliness she ain't a marker to Nell. To be frank, it's
somethin' more'n a simple question that a-way if she splits even with
Tucson Jennie. As for Missis Rucker, that matron bein' past her yooth
ain't properly speakin' in the runnin', an' to go comparin' her with
girls would be injestice.

"Once landed, an' havin' escaped from that ovation we prepar's, the
Turner person an' his Peggy bride moves into the wickeyup okyoopied
former by Cash Box Billie an' Missis Bill, an' opens up their domestic
game. Hearin' nothin' to the contrary, no howls of anguish from him,
no yelps of complaint from her, it's safe to say that in what joys is
supposed to attend the connoobyal state, they coppers all of them
loogubrious forebodin's of Texas, an' gets at least as good as a even
break.

"Old man Parks back at Sni-a-bar?

"It looks like the Turner person, him bein' nacherally timid,
exaggerates the perils which lurks in that aged cimmaron. Leastwise,
old Parks don't offer no voylance to him, neither at the weddin' nor
later. Some waifword does come creepin' along that durin' the cer'mony
two of the guests has to hold old Parks, an' that he's searched for
weepons by the preacher before ever said divine consents to turn his
game at all. Which I'm free to say, however, I never lends no
creedence to them yarns.

"The Turner person, now he's established as a married gent an' a
cit'zen in full standin', gives himse'f horn an' hide to business that
a-way. He's as prompt about openin' his coffin emporium as ever is
Black Jack in throwin' wide the portals of the Red Light. Once thar,
he stays ontil the evenin' lamps is lit, layin' for a corpse to use
his new hearse on.

"Also, the Turner person has hopes: an' equally also he ain't without
foundations wharon to build. That's an uncle of Armstrong who has come
totterin' into camp, as he says himse'f, to die. Likewise, it's the
onbiased view of every gent in the outfit that this reelative of
Armstrong possesses reasons. He's a walkin' wreck. Peets concedes that
he's got every malady ever heard of, besides sev'ral as to which
science is plumb in the dark.

"Nacherally, not alone the Turner person, but the public at large,
figgers that this yere uncle'll shore furnish employment for the
hearse, an' at no distant day. But it looks like that onmitigated
invalid is out to test our patience. Mornin' after mornin' he comes
scufflin' into the Red Light on two canes to get his matootinal
nosepaint, an' this he keeps up ontil it begins to look like malice.
Ree'lizin', too, the pecooliar int'rest we-all is bound to take in him
onder the circumstances, he puts on airs, an' goes by us when he meets
us as coldly haughty as a paycar by a tramp. Or, ag'in, he's prone to
grin at us plenty peevish an' malev'lent, an' this he does partic'lar
if the Turner person's hoverin' round.

"'Which I shore deespises to keep you boys waitin',' he'd say, with a
cacklin', aggravatin' laugh; 'but the way I feels it'd be prematoore
to go greasin' up the hubs of that hearse.'

"Sech taunts he flings forth constant, ontil he comes mighty near
drivin' Boggs frantic.

"'It seems,' says Boggs, 'like simply livin' ain't good enough for
that old hoss thief. To be wholly happy he's obleeged to make his stay
on earth a source of mis'ry to other folks. Which he ought to've been
in his tomb ten years ago. Every day he draws his breath is so much
velvet; an', instead of bein' thankful, all he thinks of is makin'
mean reemarks an' sayin' bitin' things. He'll keep on till some
over-provoked sport bends a six-shooter on his insultin' head.'

"Weeks of waitin' goes by. Armstrong's old badger of a uncle hangs on,
an' no outside corpse falls in, Arizona, as you doubtless savvys,
bein' scand'lously healthy that a-way. So far, too, from any el'g'ble
subject arrivin' in the usual way, the town never experiences sech a
period of rippleless an' onruffled peace. As showin', too, how far the
public is willin' to go to he'p along the play, I need only mention
that on two o'casions Boggs leaves out his best pony all night,
himse'f sprawled in behind a mesquite bush with his winchester, hopin'
some Mexican'll prove weak enough to want it. All is in vain, however.
Thar we be, framed up to give a fooneral from which Cochise County
could date time, an' nothin' in the line of raw mater'al wharwith to
pull it off. Which I never sees the gen'ral feelin' more exasperated.
It's as though in a sperit of sarcasm our destinies is mockin' us.

"The Turner person, in the face of this yere disheartenin' idleness,
takes refooge in a trottin' hoss, which form of equine is as strange
to us as camelopards. Shore, we has our runnin' races, pony ag'inst
pony, a quarter of a mile dash; but that's as far as we goes.

"The Turner person says that for himse'f he prefers trottin' races,
an' after seein' him ride once I shore quits marvellin' at that
pref'rence. You could no more keep him on a pony than you could keep
him on a red-hot stove. We ties a roll of blankets across the horn of
the saddle, an' organizes him with buckin' straps besides, an' in the
face of all them safegyards he rolls off that hoss same as you'd
expect some chambermaid to do.

"Accordin' to the Turner person, trottin' races is the sport of kings,
an' actin' on this feelin' he sends back East for a hoss. He drives it
in one evenin' behind the stage, an' we-all goes over to the corral to
size it up. It's consid'rable of a hoss, too, standin' three hands
higher than the tallest of our ponies. Also, it has a ewe neck an'
lib'ral legs. It's name is 'Henry of Navarre,' but we sees at once
that sech'll never do, an' re-christens him 'Boomerang Bob.'

"When this hoss arrives Boggs gets excited, an' him an' the Turner
person lays out a track all around town like a belt. Boggs allows it's
a mile long, or near enough, an' after a passel of Greasers cl'ars
away the cactus an' mesquite an' Spanish bayonet, the Turner person
hooks up Boomerang to a mountain wagon, an' sends him 'round an'
'round an' 'round at a pace that'd make your eyes stick out so far you
could see your sins. Old Boomerang is shore some eevanescent! When
that Turner person shakes the reins an' yells 'Skoot!' you could hear
him whizz. On sech occasions he's nothin' short of a four-laigged
meteor, an' looks forty feet long passin' a given p'int.

"The big drawback is that thar ain't no quadrooped anywhar about to
race Boomerang ag'inst. Leastwise, we don't hear of none for goin' on
some months, an' when we do it's as far away as Albuquerque. Some
consumptive tenderfoot, it looks like, has got a trottin' hoss over
some'ers between Albuquerque an' Socorro, sech at least is the word
which comes to us.

"When this pulmonary sport hears of Boomerang, which he does by
virchoo of the overblown boastin's of the Turner person, he announces
that his hoss, Toobercloses, can beat him for money, marbles or chalk.
Then comes a season of bluff an' counter-bluff, the pulmonary party
insistin' that the Turner person bring Boomerang up to Albuquerque,
an' the Turner person darin' the pulmonary sport to fetch his 'dog,'
as he scornfully terms Toobercloses, down to Wolfville.

"It's to be said for the Turner person that he'd have shore took
Boomerang, an' gone romancin' off to Albuquerque, lookin' for that
weak-lunged reprobate an' his hoss, only sent'ment is plumb ag'inst
it. We-all don't propose to lose the camp the advantages of that
contest, an' so to put an eend to discussion, we urges upon the Turner
person that we-all'll shore kill him if he tries. This yere firmness
gives us the pref'rence over Albuquerque, an' the pulmonary sport
allows final that he'll come to Wolfville, but don't say when.

"While eevents is thus a-whirl, an' the camp's all keyed up to concert
pitch over the comin' race between Boomerang an' Toobercloses, the
long-hoped for comes to pass an' the Turner person, as fooneral
director, receives his 'nitial call. Over in Red Dog is a party named
Holt. He ain't standin' none too high, him havin' married a Mexican
woman, an' even them Red Dogs has the se'f-respect to draw the social
line at Mexicans. One sun-up, however, she goes trapesin' across the
line to visit her people down near Casa Grande, an' she never does
come back. It looks like she's got enough of old Holt, which to gents
who knows him don't go trenchin' on the strange.

"The long suit of this yere Mexican wife of old Holt's is thinkin'
she's sick, she holdin' that she's got as many things the matter with
her as is preyin' on Armstrong's uncle. When she breaks out of the
corral an' goes stampedin' off to her tribe, she leaves behind mebby
it's a hundred bottles or more of patent med'cine, rangin' all the way
from arnica to ha'r dye.

"Followin' her flight that a-way old Holt goes to takin' an account of
stock by way of seein' what she cabbages an' what she leaves, an' the
first flash he blunders upon this yere bushel or so of drugs. He's too
froogal to throw 'em away, old Holt is, bein' plumb pars'monious that
a-way, an' after revolvin' the play in his mind for a spell, he ups
an' swallows 'em to save 'em.

"No one ever does figger out jest what individyooal med'cine bumps
old Holt off that time, an' thar's no sayin' whether it's the arnica
or the ha'r dye or some other deecoction, or simply the whole
clan-jamfrey in comb'nation. Not that any gent goes to reely delvin'
for the trooth, the gen'ral interest pitchin' camp contentedly on
the simple fact that old Holt's been shore put over the jump. Doc
Peets? Old Holt's packed in before the Doc's half way to Red Dog.
Shore; some of them bottled med'cines is as ack'rate an' as full
of action as a six-shooter.

"Of course we-all is pleased to think the Turner person, as fooneral
director, ain't been born to bloom onseen, but the rift in the floote
is that the corpse belongs to Red Dog. Old Holt ain't ours none, an'
from whatever angle we looks at it it appears like Wolfville ain't
goin' to get a look in.

"It's at pinches sech as this that Enright shows his genius for
leadership. While all of us is lookin' bloo, to see how Red Dog beats
us to it for our own hearse, our fertile old war chief is ribbin' up a
game for pop'lar relief.

"The Red Dog del'gation, headed by the Red Dog chief, comes over to
round up the Turner person an' his hearse to entomb old Holt. At their
showin' up Enright begins to onkiver his diplomacy.

"'Which we symp'thizes with you-all in your bereevement, gents,' says
he to the Red Dog bunch, 'but it's ag'inst our rooles for this yere
hearse to go outside of camp.'

"'Ain't you actin' some niggardly about that hearse?' asks the Red Dog
chief coldly.

"'Not niggardly, only proodent. Death cometh as a thief in the night,
speshully in Arizona, an' we-all'd be a fine band of prairie dogs to
go lendin' our only hearse all over the territory, an' mebby have it
skallyhootin' 'round som'ers up about the Utah line jest when we needs
it at home. However, as refootin' your onjest charge of bein'
niggards, if you-all Red Dogs wants to bring deceased over yere, our
entire lay-out is at your disposal. Allowin' you can find your own
sky-pilot, we stands ready to not only let you have our hearse, but
furnish you likewise with moosic from the Bird Cage Op'ry House,
cha'rs from the dance hall, the Noo York store to hold serv'ces in, to
say nothin' to considerin' you-all as our guests from soda to hock,
with every Red Light thing said term implies.'

"'Also,' observes Peets, who, from his place at Enright's elbow, is
ridin' circumspect herd on the play--'also, we presents you-all,
without money an' without price, a sepulcher in our buryin' ground on
Boot Hill.'

"This yere last provokes a storm of protest, the Red Dog del'gation
takin' turns exposchoolatin'. But Enright an' the Doc stands ca'mly
pat.

"'Which now,' says the Red Dog chief, an' his tones is bitter--'which
now I begins to ketch onto your plot. You savvys as well as I do that
old Holt don't ought to go into your pile at all. He belongs in our
pile--to Red Dog's pile. An' let me reemind you intriguers that Red
Dog owns its own cem'tery over in Headboard Hollow, an' ain't askin'
graveyard odds of any outfit west of the Spanish Peaks. This is a fine
idee,' he concloods, turnin' sneerin'ly to his cohorts; 'not content
with tryin' to grab off these yere obs'quies, they're brazenly
manooverin' to purloin the corpse.'

"At these contoomelius reemarks Boggs, Tutt, Moore an' Cherokee takes
to edgin' to the fore, but Enright reepresses 'em with a admon'tory
wave of his hand.

"'Gents,' he says, to the Red Dog hold-ups, 'as vis'tors, even though
se'f-invited, you're entitled to courtesy. But thar's a limit goes
with courtesy even, an' you-all mustn't press it.'

"This last sets the Red Dog outfit back on its apol'getic ha'nches,
an' after a few more footile but less insultin' bluffs, they retires
to consult. The wind-up is that they yields to Enright's terms,
incloosive of Boot Hill, an' after libatin' at the Red Light they
canters off to freight over old Holt, so's to be ready to hold the
fooneral next day.

"As I looks back to them prep'rations thar's no denyin' that as a
fooneral director the Turner person proves himse'f plumb cap'ble of
gettin' thar with the goods. Once he reeceives the word, everything
goes off as measured an' steady as the breathin' of a sleepin' child.
Even the Red Dog chief is moved to softer views, as gents frequent be
followin' the eighth drink, an' whispers to Enright, confidenshul,
that when all's in the only thing he deplores is that old Holt is
bein' planted on Boot Hill instead of in Headboard Hollow. At this
Enright, meetin' the Red Dog chief half-way, whispers back that later,
if Red Dog desires the same, we'll jump in an' move old Holt a whole
lot to Headboard Hollow. At this lib'ral'ty the Red Dog chief squeezes
Enright's hand a heap fraternal, an' chokes with emotion. He sobs out
that this is the one thing wanted to reestore them former friendly
reelations between the camps.

"The procession is one of the most exhil'ratin' pageants ever seen in
the Southwest. At the head is the ploomed hearse, old Holt inside,
the Turner person on the box. Next comes the stage coach, Monte
drivin', an' Nell, Missis Rucker, Tucson Jennie, little Enright Peets,
the Turner person's Peggy bride an' other ladies inside. The balance
of us attends on our ponies, ridin' two an' two.

"As we're waitin' for the preacher sharp, who's goin' in the stage, to
get tucked in among the ladies, a hollow-chested, chalk-cheeked,
sardonic-lookin', cynical-seemin' bandit, drivin' a lean-laigged hoss
to one of them spid'ry things they calls a quill-wheel, comes
pirootin' along over to one side of the fooneral cortege at a walk.
He's p'intin' in from over Red Dog way, but I savvys from the
wonderin' faces of them Red Dog sports that he's as new to them as us.
The cynical bandit skirts along our procession ontil he's abreast of
the hearse. Then he pulls up, we-all not havin' had the word to start
as yet.

"The Turner person has hooked up old Boomerang to the hearse, so as to
confer on this his first fooneral all the style he can. Havin' halted
his quill-wheel, the hectic bandit, coughin' a little, p'ints his whip
at Boomerang an' says to the Turner person:

"'Is this the skate you're tryin' to match ag'inst my Toobercloses?'

"'Grizzly b'ars an' golden eagles!' exclaims Boggs, who's ridin' next
to me, 'if he ain't that lunger from Albuquerque!' An' Boggs pulls out
to the left, an' crowds up towards the hearse for a closer look.

"'As fooneral director,' the Turner person replies to the hectic,
quill-wheel bandit, whom he fathoms instantly--'as fooneral director,
I must preeserve the decorums. But only you wait, you onblushin'
outlaw, ontil I've patted down the sods on old Holt yere, an' I'll
race you for every splinter you own.'

"'That's all right,' retorts the hectic bandit, givin' another little
cat-cough. 'Which you needn't get your ondertakin' back up none.
Meanwhile, I'll nacherally string along with these obs'quies, so's to
be ready to talk turkey to you when you're through.'

"Enright gives the signal an', with Boomerang an' the hearse at the
head, the procession lines out at a seedate walk for the grave.

"Boot Hill's been located about a mile an' a half off, so as to give
our foonerals doo effect. As we pushes for'ard, everything mighty
solemn, the hectic bandit, keepin' a few feet off to one side, walks
his hoss parallel with the hearse. Every now an' then his hoss, makin'
a half bolt as if he's been flicked by the lash, would streak ahead a
rod or two like a four-laigged shadow. Then he'd pull him down to a
walk, an' sort o' linger along ontil the hearse comes up ag'in. He
does this a half dozen times; an' all in a hectorin' sperit that'd
anger the pulseless soul of a clam.

"One way an' another it stirs up the feelin's of old Boomerang, who's
beginnin' to bite at the bit an' throw his laigs some antic an'
permiscus. The Turner person himse'f acts like a party who's holdin'
onto his eemotions by the tail, so as to keep 'em from breakin' loose.
His face is set, his elbows squar'd, an' he's settin' up on his hearse
as stiff an' straight as a rifle bar'l, lookin' dead ahead between old
Boomerang's two y'ears. So it goes on for likely half a mile, the
hectic bandit seesawin' an' pesterin' an' badgerin' old Boomerang, now
dartin' ahead, now slowin' back to let the hearse ketch up.

"As I yeretofore explains, the Turner person ain't arranged mental to
entertain more'n one idee at a time. My own notion is that as the
hectic bandit, with Toobercloses, commences to encroach more an' more
upon his attention, he loses sight that a-way of old Holt an' the
fooneral. Whatever the valyoo of this as a theery, thar comes a
moment, about a mile from Boot Hill, when, as sudden as the crack of a
rifle, away goes Boomerang with the rush of a norther. Toobercloses
ain't a second behind. Thar they be, Toobercloses ag'inst Boomerang,
quill-wheel ag'inst hearse, old Holt inside, racin' away to beat a
royal flush.

"As hearse an' quill-wheel go t'arin' down the trail Monte gets the
fever, an' sets to pourin' the buckskin into his three span, an'
yellin' like forty Apaches. The six hosses goes into their collars
like lions, an' the stage takes to rockin' an' boundin' an' bumpin' in
clost pursoote of the hearse. Nor be we-all on ponies left any behind,
you bet. We cuts loose, quirt an' spur, an' brings up the r'ar in a
dust-liftin', gallopin' half-moon. It's ondoubted the quickest-movin'
fooneral that ever gets pulled off.

"Old Holt, an' put it lightest, is a one hundred an' eighty pounder,
an' the hearse itse'f is as heavy as a Studebaker wagon. From
standp'ints of weight pore old Boomerang ain't gettin' a squar' deal.
Which the old hero ain't got no notion of bein' beat, though. He's all
heart an' bottom; an', game?--bald hornets is quitters to him!

"The load begins to tell at last, though, an' inch by inch Toobercloses
starts to nose Boomerang out. It's then the flood-gates is lifted.
Nell, head out of one of the coach windows, starts screamin' to
Boomerang; Missis Rucker's got her sunbonnet out of another,
expressin' her opinion of the hectic bandit an' Toobercloses; Tucson
Jennie is shoutin' for Dave to come an' rescue her; the Turner
person's Peggy is shriekin' with hysterics; the preacher sharp--who's
tryin' to get at Monte--is talkin' scriptoorally but various, while
little Enright Peets is contreebutin' his small cub-coyote yelps of
exultation to the gen'ral racket.

"Back among us riders the bets is flyin' hither an' yon as thick as
swallow birds at eventide, we offerin' hundreds on Boomerang an' them
Red Dogs backin' Toobercloses. It's as the tech of death to the
Wolfville heart when we sees Toobercloses slowly surgin' to the fore.

[Illustration: THAR'S A BOMBARDMENT WHICH SOUNDS LIKE A BATTERY OF
GATLINGS, THE WHOLE PUNCTCHOOATED BY A WHIRLWIND OF "WHOOPS!" p. 317.]

"Half-way to Boot Hill Boggs spurs up on the nigh flank of Boomerang.

"'Yere's whar we puts a little verve into this thing!' he roars; an'
pullin' his guns he begins shakin' the loads out of 'em like roman
candles.

"Wolfville an' Red Dog, every gent follows Boggs' example. It sounds
like a battery of gattlings, the whole punctchooated by a whirlwind of
'Whoops!' that'd have backed a war party of Apaches over a bluff. They
almost hears us in Tucson.

"Old Boomerang reesponds noble to Boggs's six-shooters. They was the
preecise kind of encouragement he's been waitin' for, an' onder their
inspiration he t'ars by Toobercloses like a thrown lance. We sweeps on
to Boot Hill, makin' a deemoniac finish, old Boomerang leadin' by the
len'th of the hearse.

"Nobody's hurt, onless you wants to count that hectic bandit from
Albuquerque. After he's beat cold, Toobercloses gets tangled up
accidental in a mesquite bush, the quill-wheel swaps eends with
itse'f, an' the hectic Albuquerque bandit lands head on in a bunch of
cactus. He's shore a spectacle; an' Peets says private that for a
while thar's hopes he'll die. As for the parson, who's the sorest
divine in Arizona, he allows that the only bet he ever knows
prov'dence to overlook is not breakin' the hectic bandit's neck.

"Nacherally, the Red Dogs feels some grouchy at the way things has
gone, an' while they gives up their orig'nal thought of lynchin' the
hectic bandit, they're plenty indignant at him for turnin' old Holt's
fooneral into a hoss race. It ain't old Holt that's frettin' 'em so
much as that they feels like it's a disgrace on their camp.

"This yere Red Dog feelin' prodooces a onlooked for effect. They goes
gloomin' an' glowerin' 'round, an' talkin' to themselves to sech a
hostile extent it ups an' scares the Turner person. Plumb timid by
nacher, he gets afraid the Red Dogs' indignation'll incloode him
final, an' eend by drawin' their horns his way. It's no use tryin' to
ca'm him. Argyooment, reemonstrance, even a promise to protect him
with our lives, has no effect. The Turner person, in a last stampede
of his nerve, is for dustin' back to Missouri--him an' his Peggy
bride. He says it's more peaceful, more civ'lized thar, which shore
strikes us as a heap jocose. In the end, however, we has to let him
go.

"The hearse?

"We keeps the hearse, that an' Boomerang; Armstrong's uncle buys 'em.
He says he don't aim to be sep'rated none from the only hearse within
a hundred miles, an' him on the verge of the grave.

"'Which my only reason for livin' now,' says he, 'is to lac'rate
Boggs, an' even that as a pastime is beginnin' to pall.'

"What time does Boomerang make?

"No one preetends to hold a watch. Thar's one thing, though, which
looks like he was shore goin' some. Tutt on the way back picks up a
dead jack-rabbit, that's been run over by the hearse."



XII

SPELLING BOOK BEN


"Which it's as you states." The old cattleman assumed the easy
attitude of one sure of his position. "Reefinement, that a-way, will
every now an' then hit the center of the table in manner an' form most
onexpected. Thar's Red Dog. Now whoever do you reckon would look for
sech a oncooth outfit to go onbeltin' in any reefined racket? An' yet
thar's once at least when Red Dog shows it's got its silken side.

"An', after all, mebby I'm too narrow about Red Dog. Thar's times
when I fears that drawn aside by prejewdyce I misjedges Red Dog
utter, an' takes for ignorant vulgar'ty what comin' down to cases is
merely noise. It's the whiskey they drinks, most likely. They're
addicted to a kind of cat-bird whiskey over thar, which sets 'em to
whistlin' an' chirpin' an' twitterin' an' teeterin' up an' down on
the conversational bough, to sech a seemin'ly empty-headed extent it's
calc'lated to mislead the ca'mest intellects into a belief that the
c'rrect way to deal with Red Dog is to build one of these yere
stone corrals 'round it, call it a loonatic asylum, an' let it go at
that.

"Wolfville's whiskey?

"We-all confines ourselves to Valley Tan an' Willow Run an' Old
Jordan, all lickers which has a distinct tendency to make a gent
seedate, an' render him plumb cer'monious. I in no wise exaggerates
when I avers that I freequent cuts the trail of parties who, after the
tenth or mebby it's the 'leventh drink across the Red Light bar, waxes
that punctillious they even addresses a measly Mexican as 'Sir.'

"Recurrin' to Red Dog, that silken occasion which I has in mind occurs
when, proceedin' without invitation an' wholly as volunteers, they
strings up the book-keep sharp who bumps off Spellin' Book Ben. Thar's
a brief moment when said action runs a profound risk of bein'
misconstrooed into becomin' the teemin' source of complications. You
see we ain't lookin' for nothin' in the way of a play from Red Dog
more del'cate than the butt of a six-shooter, an' it ain't ontil the
Red Dog chief himse'f onlimbers in planations, an' all plenty loocid,
that we ketches fully on.

"Red Dog goes further an' insists on payin' over what money they
wagers, an' all as honorable as though that contest which they bets on
goes to a showdown. Enright won't have it, though, none whatever; an'
what with one side heatedly profferin' an' the other coldly refoosin',
it looks for a time like thar's goin' to be feelin'. Friction is
averted, however, when Peets--who's allers thar with the s'lootion to
any tangle--recommends that Red Dog an' Wolfville chip in half an'
half conj'intly, to buy a tombstone for Spellin' Book, with a
inscription kyarved tharon, the same to read:

                          TO
                      THE MEMORY OF
                    SPELLING BOOK BEN.
                  PREFERRING DEATH TO THE
                  APPEARANCE OF IGNORANCE,
                        HE DIED
                  A MARTYR TO LEARNING AND
                        BRAVELY
                  DEFENDING A RIGHTFUL ORTHOGRAPHY.
                   THE LANGUAGE MOURNS
                       HIS LOSS.

"'Which we simply aims by this yere hangin',' says the Red Dog chief
in makin' them explanations, the same bein' addressed to Enright, 'to
save you-all from a disagree'ble dooty.'

"'As how?' deemands Enright, who's a heap deefensive by instinct, an'
never puts down his stack while the kyards is in the hands of the
dealer.

"'As how to wit,' returns the Red Dog chief. 'Troo, this book-keep
malefactor ain't by rights no shore-enough Red Dogger, seein' he's a
importation of the express company's an' at best or worst no more'n a
sojourner within our gates. But, considerin' how he trails in yere
this evenin' in our company, we feels respons'ble. Wharfore, allowin'
that mebby--you-all standin' towards us visitors, that a-way, in the
light of hosts--your notion of hospital'ty gets its spurs tangled up
in your deelib'rations so it impedes the march of jestice, we
intervenes. Which I shorely trusts that no gent present regyards Red
Dog as that ontaught as to go cuttin' in on what's cl'arly a alien
game onasked. Red Dog ain't quite that exyooberantly bumptious, not to
say croodly gay. It's only to relieve the shoulders of you-all from a
burden that we strings said offender up.'

"'_Bueno!_' replies Enright, followin' a dignified pause, like he's
weighin' the Red Dog chief's eloocidations. 'A gent, onless his hand
is crowded by some p'int of honor, allers takes the word of a fellow
gent. In view of which, the execootion you pulls off is yereby
accepted as kindly meant, an' as sech is kindly took. I'm preepared on
behalf of Wolfville to regyard the same as performed in a sperit of
del'cate courtesy. Whatever, Doc, do you-all say?'

"'Like yourse'f, Sam,' says Peets, 'I grasps an' a'preeciates the Red
Dog attitoode. Also, I holds that the business thus constrooed is
calc'lated to cement relations between the two camps which, havin'
their roots in mutyooal esteem, is shore to b'ar froote in fraternal
affection.'

"The Doc then goes on an' onbends in flatterin' asshorances that
nothin' could be finer worded than the Red Dog chief's oration, onless
it's Enright's reply.

"'As a jedge of diction,' he concloods, 'an' a lover of proper
speakin', I'm onreserved in the view that the statements of both ought
to be preeserved as spec'mens of English ondeefiled.'

"Thar havin' been talk enough, an' Enright an' Peets contendin' that
it's Wolfville's treat, both sides goes weavin' over to the Red Light
an' onbends in quite a frolic.

"It'd shore been better if we had first cut down the corpse, an'
tharby dodged the wrath of Missis Rucker. It's certainly a oversight.
Bar that single incident, thar arises nothin' to mar the good feelin'
which everywhar preevails. Forchoonately, that don't occur none ontil
noon next day; an' by that time the Red Dog folks has all gone home,
leastwise all who can go without fallin' out of the saddle. Which if
them Red Dogs is present, an' able to form opinions, them intemp'rate
exhibitions of Missis Rucker, an' what she says an' threatens ag'inst
us, speshully Enright, would have mortified us to death.

"As showin' the vagaries of the female mind, Missis Rucker seelects
that lynchin' as a topic at chuck time, an' she shore does carry on
scand'lous. We ain't but jest filed into the dinin' room, when she
t'ars loose at Enright like a cyclone in a calico dress. Son, she
certainly does curry our old Lycurgus frightful!

"What does Enright do?

"Whatever can he do more'n mootely arch his back, same as a mule in a
storm of hail, an' stand it?

"When Missis Rucker has done freed her feelin's, an' got them
reecrim'nations dealt down to the turn, she shakes a finger onder
Enright's subdooed nose, an' fulm'nates a warnin'.

"'I tells you once before, Sam Enright,' she says, 'an' I tells you
now ag'in, that you-all drunkards is either goin' to cease pesterin'
me the way you does, or I'm bound I'll make some among you plenty hard
to locate. Now don't you go tellin' me nothin',' she shouts, as
Enright starts to say somethin'; 'don't go harrowin' me up with none
of your fabrications. It's nothin' but your egreegious pompos'ty that
a-way, an' a gen'ral deesire to put on dog an' lord it over us pore
females with meals to cook an' water to draw, which sets you-all to
hangin' parties to the windmill whar they're plumb in the way. An' all
after me takin' my hands out of the dough, too, the time you
Stranglers puts that B'ar Creek Stanton over the jump, an' goin' in
person to the stage corral to p'int out a beam which is a heap better
adapted.'

"'But, ma'am,' expostyoolates Enright, 'you've done followed off the
wrong wagon track entire. It ain't us none; it's them Red Dog savages.
So far as Wolfville's concerned, him bein' swung to the windmill, that
a-way, is plumb fortooitous.'

"'Jest the same,' returns Missis Rucker, who's merciless an' refooses
to be softened, 'you better take heed a heap. This once I lets you get
away with that Red Dog crawl-out. But if ever I finds another party
suspended to the windmill so's I can't get no water, thar's a passel
of sots, of whom you, Sam Enright, is the onregen'rate chief, who'll
shore get their grub fortooitous.'

"Peets, at this yere crisis, jogs Enright's elbow, by way of signin'
up to him to draw out; an', except from her domineerin' over Rucker
more'n common for a couple of days, she ceases her demonstrations.

"Not but what Missis Rucker has some rights on her side. What with
feedin' forty of us folks three times a day, she's got a lot on her
mind; an' to find some sooperfluous sport hangin' in her way, when she
goes to fill her bucket, necessar'ly chafes her.

"An' yet the Stranglers is up ag'inst it, too. Hangin' a culprit,
dooly convicted, is a public game; an' the windmill's the only piece
of public property in sight, besides bein' centrally sityooated. Also,
thar's nothin' in that corral bluff of Missis Rucker's. The beam she
alloodes to ain't big enough, an' is likewise too low.

"Boggs, who sympathizes with Missis Rucker, once when we has a hoss
thief we don't need on our hands, su'gests we rope him up to the sign
over Armstrong's Noo York store. But thar's rival trade interests, an'
Enright fears it'll be took invidious as a covert scheme for drawin'
custom to Armstrong's emporium.

"'Personally,' says Enright, 'I favors Dan's idee. But since
Armstrong's a member of the committee, you-all sees yourselves that
for us to go execootin' culprits on his sign that a-way, the direct
effects of which distinguishes him an' booms his game, would shore
breed jealousies.'

"'How would it do,' asks Texas, 'if we takes them marts seeriatim,
an' one after another yootilizes all their signs?'

"'With doo deference to Texas,' interjecks Tutt, 'this swingin' round
from sign to sign, with deeds of jestice, is a heap likely to subtract
from the deterrent effects. It's better we stick to the windmill, an'
takes chances on beddin' them resentments of Missis Rucker's down.'

"'That's all right for you, Dave,' retorts Boggs; 'you're a married
man, an' eats at home. You wouldn't feel so plumb gala about quietin'
Missis Rucker if you-all was obleeged diurnal to depend upon that
easily exasperated matron for your _frijoles_, same as us. Tucson
Jennie's the best cook in Cochise County, an', bein' her husband that
a-way, you ain't in no place to jedge.'

"'Dan's right, Dave,' declar's Peets; 'surrounded as you be, you can't
sense our peril, that is, sense it proper. Admirable as Tucson Jennie
is as wife an' mother, an' I says this onbiased by bein' one of two
after whom little Enright Peets is named, she's still more admirable
in her rôle of cook. For which reason, Dave, you-all, when Missis
Rucker threatens us, ain't able, as Dan says, to rightly gauge said
menaces.'

"Them coolinary compliments to Tucson Jennie placates Tutt. He's half
started to bow his neck at Boggs, but they mollifies him.

"'Mighty likely you're correct, Doc,' he returns, his face cl'arin';
'an' I begs Dan's pardon for some things I was goin' to say. My wife
is shore an exempl'ry cook, an' mebby I ain't no fit jedge. None the
less, you-all'll find, as to them hangin's, that this yere goin' about
from pillar to post with 'em is doo to rob 'em of their moral side.'

"'I feels like Dave,' observes Enright, comin' in on the pow-wow.
'Lynchin's, to have weight an' be a credit to us, ought not to be
erratic. A lack of reg'larity about 'em would shake our standin' as a
camp.'

"Monte starts the business that time when Red Dog astounds us with its
del'cacy, by comin' bulgin' in one evenin' with word about how the
leadin' inflooences in Tucson is broke out in a perfect deebauch of
spellin' schools.

"'An' I'm yere to remark,' says he, in his conceited, rum-soaked way,
'that these yere contests contreebootes a mighty meetropol'tan
atmosphere.'

"'Who orig'nates spellin' schools, anyway?' asks Boggs, whose
curiosity is allers at half-cock. 'Which it's the first time I hears
of sech things.'

"'Spellin' schools ain't nothin' new,' Peets replies. 'They're as
common as deelirum treemons in the East.'

"'Which they certainly be,' corroborates Enright. 'Back along the
Cumberland, as far away as when I'm a boy, we has 'em constant same as
chills an' fever. We-all young bucks attends 'em mighty loyal, too,
an' fights to see who-all goes home with the girls. When it comes to
bein' pop'lar, spellin' schools is a even break with gander
pullin's.'

"'Thar's a Tucson kyard sharp,' continyoos Monte, 'over to the
Oriental s'loon, who tells me them spellin' schools is likewise all
the rage in Prescott an' Benson an' Silver City. That Lightnin' Bug
tarrapin' from Red Dog is loafin' about, too, while the kyard sharp's
talkin', his y'ears a-wavin' like a field of clover. You don't figger
thar's a chance that Red Dog gets the notion, Sam, an' takes to
holdin' them tournaments of learnin' itse'f?'

"What Monte says sets us thinkin'. As a roole we don't pay much heed
to his observations, the same bein' freequent born of alcohol. But
that bluff about Red Dog sort o' scares us up a lot. Good can come out
of Nazareth, an' even Monte might once in a while drive the center as
a matter of luck.

"'It wouldn't do us, Doc,' says Enright, who's made some oneasy by the
thought--'which it shore wouldn't do us, as an advanced camp, to let
Red Dog beat us to them spellin' schools.'

"'I should confess as much!' admits Peets, mighty emphatic. 'Speakin'
from commoonal standp'ints, it'd mark us as too dead to skin.'

"The sityooation takes shape in a resolootion to hold a spellin'
school ourselves, an' invite Red Dog to stand in. Sech steps is
calc'lated, we allows, to head off orig'nal action on the Red Dog
part.

"'Let's challenge 'em to spell ag'in us,' says Texas. 'That's shore to
stop 'em from holdin' spellin' schools of their own, an' it'll be as
simple as tailin' steers to down 'em. I'll gamble what odds you
please that, when it comes to edyoocation that a-way, we can make them
Red Dogs look like a bunch of Digger Injuns.'

"'Don't move your stack to the center on that proposition, Texas,'
observes Tutt, 'ontil you thoroughly skins your hand. Edyoocation
ain't wholly dead in Red Dog. Thar's a shorthorn over thar, him who
keeps books for the Wells-Fargo folks, who's edyoocated to a razor
edge.'

"'Him?' says Boggs. 'That murderer ain't no book sharp speshul. Put
him ag'in the Doc or Col'nel Sterett, an' he wouldn't last as long as
a quart of whiskey at a barn raisin'. Which he's a heap sight better
fitted to shine in a gun-play than a spellin' contest.'

"'But Col'nel Sterett ain't here none,' Tutt urges, 'havin' gone back
to see his folks; an' as for the Doc, he'll be needed to put out the
words. Some competent gent's got to go back of the box an' deal the
game, an' the Doc's the only stoodent in town who answers that
deescription.'

"Armstrong, who's happened along lookin' for his little old forty
drops, lets on he knows a party down in El Paso who can spell any
word that ever lurks between the covers of a dictionary.

"'That's straight,' Armstrong declar's. 'This yere El Paso savant can
spell anything. Which I've seen him spell the hind shoes off a
shavetail mule for the drinks. He's the boss speller of the Rio
Grande, so much so they calls him "Spellin' Book Ben."'

"'Let's rope him up,' Peets suggests. 'Which them Red Dogs never will
quit talkin' if we-all lets 'em down us.'

"'Do you-all reckon,' asks Enright, appealin' to Armstrong, 'you could
lure that El Paso expert up yere to partic'pate in this battle of the
intellects?'

"'It's as easy as playin' seven-up,' Armstrong replies. 'Which I'll
write him I needs his aid to count up the stock in my store, an' you
bet he'll come a-runnin'.'

"'But s'ppose,' argues Tutt, 'these Red Dog crim'nals wakes up to it
that this yere Spellin' Book Ben's a ringer?'

"'In that event,' declar's Texas, 'we retorts by beltin' 'em over the
heads with our guns. Be they, as guests, to go dictatin' terms to
us?'

"'Not onless they're tired of life,' says Boggs. 'While I can't spell
none to speak of, seein' my Missouri youth is more or less neglected
by my folks, showin' some Red Dog felon whar he's in wrong is duck
soup to me. In a play like that I sees my way triumphant.'

"'Shore!' Texas insists, mighty confident; 'let Red Dog wag one feeble
y'ear, an' we buffaloes it into instant submission.'

"'They can't make no objections stick,' Enright observes, after
thinkin' things over. 'This Spellin' Book Ben person'll be workin' for
Armstrong, an' that, as the Doc says, makes him a _pro tem._ citizen
of the camp. As sech he's plumb legit'mate. Red Dog couldn't lower its
horns at him as a hold-out, even if it would.'

"It's settled, an' from then on thar's nothin' talked of but spellin'
schools. We issues our deefiance, Peets b'arin' the same, an' Red Dog
promptly calls our bluff. Regyardin' themselves as entrenched in that
gifted Wells-Fargo book-keep, they're mighty eager for the fray. The
_baile_ is set two weeks away, with Peets to hold the spellin' book.

"After the time is fixed Monte comes squanderin' along an' gets
Enright to move it one day further on.

"'Because, Sam,' the old sot urges, puffin' out his chest like he
amounts to somethin', 'that partic'lar evenin' you pitches upon I'll
be at the other end of the route, an' I proposes to get in on this
yere contest some myse'f.'

"'You?' says Boggs, who overhears him, an' is nacherally astonished
an' contempchoous at Monte's nerve. 'Whatever be you-all talkin'
about? You can't spell none no more than me. The first word the Doc
names'll make you look like a pig at church.'

"'All the same'--for Monte's been drinkin', an' allers gets stubborn
in direct proportion to what licker he tucks onder his belt--'all the
same, Dan, as to this yere spellin', I proposes to ask for kyards.
Even if I ain't no Bach'lor of Arts, so long as the Doc don't fire
nothin' at me worse'n words of one syllable, an' don't send 'em along
faster than two at a clatter, your Uncle Monte'll get thar, collars
creakin', chains a-rattlin', with both hoofs.'

[Illustration: "ONLESS GIRLS IS BARRED," DECLARES FARO NELL, FROM HER
PERCH ON THE CHAIR "I'VE A NOTION TO TAKE A HAND." p. 337.]

"Red Dog not only accepts our challenge, but gets that brash it offers
to bet. Shore, we closes with the prop'sition. It ain't no part of our
civic economy to let Red Dog get by with anything. I reckons, up one
side an' down the other, we puts up the price of eight hundred steers.
Texas and Boggs simply goes all spraddled out at it, while Cherokee
calls down one eboolient Red Dog specyoolator for three thousand
dollars. It's Wolfville ag'inst Red Dog, the roole to govern, 'Miss
an' out!'

"The excitement even reaches the gentler sect.

"'Which onless girls is barred,' declar's Nell, speakin' from her
lookout cha'r the second evenin' before the spellin' school is held,
'I've a notion to take a hand.'

"'It wouldn't be a squar' deal, Nellie,' says Texas. 'With you in,
everybody'd miss a-purpose.'

"'I don't see why none,' says Nell.

"'For two reasons; first, because you're dazzlin'ly beautiful; an',
second, because Cherokee's too good a shot.'

"'Shore,' says Boggs, plantin' a stack of reds open on the high kyard.
'Them contestants'd all lay down to you, Nellie. You certainly don't
reckon Cherokee'd set thar, him all framed up with a Colt's .45, an'
be that ongallant as to permit some clown to spell you down?'

"Nell don't insist, an' the turn fallin' 'king-jack,' she nacherally
moves Boggs's reds to the check-rack.

"On the great evenin' Red Dog comes surgin' in upon us, snortin' an'
prancin' an' pitchin'. Which it certainly is a confident band of
prairie dogs. Wolfville's organized and ready, Armstrong's Spellin'
Book Ben party havin' come over from El Paso three days prior.

"Seein' how mighty se'f-possessed them Red Dogs feel, Boggs begins to
grow nervous.

"'You don't reckon, Dave,' says he, speakin' to Tutt, 'that them
miscreents has got anything up their sleeve?--any little thing like a
ace buried?'

"'Which they wouldn't dare. Also, since you brings the matter up, Dan,
I now gives notice that for myse'f I shall regyard success on their
part as absoloote proof of perfidy. That settled, I sacks that hamlet
of Red Dog, an' plows an' sows its deboshed site with salt.'

"'That's the talk!' says Boggs. 'Let 'em win once, an' you an' me,
Dave,'ll caper over in our individyooal capac'ty, an' lay waste that
Red Dog hamlet if it's the last act of our lives.'

"The spellin' school is schedjooled for the r'ar wareroom of the Noo
York store, whar the Stranglers convenes. All Red Dog is thar,
dressed up like a hoss, their Wells-Fargo book-keep in their exultant
midst. Enright calls the meetin' to order with the butt of his
six-shooter; our old warchief allers uses his gun as a gavel that
a-way, as lookin' more offishul. Also, since the dooty of a
presidin' officer is to preserve order, it's in line to begin with a
show--not too ondecorous--of force.

"Enright states the object of the gatherin', an' Peets, spellin' book
in hand, swings into the saddle an' in a moment is off at a road gait.
The words falls thick an' sharp, like the crackin' of a rifle. Which
they shore does thin out them contestants plenty rapid! Boggs goes
down before 'Theery,' spellin' it with a extra 'e.' Tutt lasts through
three fires, but is sent curlin' like a shot jack-rabbit by 'Epitaph,'
which he ends with a 'f.' Texas dies on 'Definite,' bein' misled by
what happens to Tutt into introdoocin' tharin a sooperfluous 'ph.'

"'I ain't none astonished,' Texas says sadly, when Peets informs him
that he's in the diskyard; 'since ever my former Laredo wife acquires
that divorce, together with al'mony an' the reestoration of her maiden
name, the same bein' Suggs, I ain't been the onerrin' speller I once
was.'

"Cherokee has luck, an' lasts for quite a time. It's the 'leventh word
that fetches him. An' at that thar's a heap to be said on the side of
Cherokee.

"The word's 'Capitol,' as Peets lets it fly.

"'C-a-p-i-t-a-l,' spells Cherokee.

"'Dead bird!' Peets says, plenty sententious.

"'Whatever kind o' capital?'

"'Capitol of a State.'

"'Then I misonderstands you. Which I takes it you're referrin' to a
bankroll.'

"The Doc, however, is obdoorate, an' Cherokee shoves back.

"'I think,' says Nell, whisperin' to Missis Rucker an' Tucson Jennie,
who, with little Enright Peets, is off to one side--'I think the Doc's
a mighty sight too contracted in his scope.'

"Monte falls by the wayside on 'Scenery,' an' is that preepost'rous
he starts to give Peets an argyooment. Monte spells it 'Seenry.'

"'Whar do you-all get your licence, Doc,' he demands, when Peets tells
him how it's spelled, 'to jam in that misfit "c"? Me havin' drove
stage for twenty years, I've seen as much scenery as any gent present,
an' should shore know how it's spelled. Scenery is what you sees.
"S-e-e" spells see; an' tharfore I contends that "S-e-e-n-r-y" spells
scenery. That "c" you springs on us, Doc, is a solecism, an' as much
out of place as a cow on a front porch.'

"Enright raps Monte down. '"Scenery" is spelled any way which the Doc
says,' declar's Enright, his eye some severe, 'an' I trusts no gent'll
compel the cha'r to take measures.'

"'Say no more,' responds Monte, plenty humble and prompt. 'What I
urges is only to 'licit information. I still thinks, however, that
onder the gen'ral wellfare clause of the constitootion, an' with an
onfenced alphabet to pick an' choose from, a sport ought to have the
inalienable right to spell things the way he likes. Otherwise,
whatever is the use of callin' this a free country? If a gent's to be
compelled to spell scenery with a fool "c," I asks you why was
Yorktown an' wharfore Bunker Hill?'

"Monte, havin' thus onloaded, reetires to the r'ar, coverin' his
chagrin by hummin' a stanzy or two from the well-known ditty, 'Bill,
of Smoky Hill.'

                 Bill driv three spans of hosses,
                   An' when Injuns hove in sight,
                 He'd holler "Fellers, give 'em hell!
                   I ain't got time to fight."

                 But he chanced one time to run ag'in
                   A bullet made of lead,
                 An' when they brung Bill into town,
                   A bar'l of tears was shed.

"While Texas an' Boggs an' Tutt an' Cherokee an' Monte an' the rest of
the Wolfville outfit is fallin' like November's leaves, them Red Dog
bandits is fadin' jest as fast. If anything, they're fadin' faster.
They're too p'lite or too proodent to cavil at the presence of
Spellin' Book Ben, an' by third drink time after we starts thar's no
gents left standin' except that Wells-Fargo book-keep sharp for Red
Dog, an' Spellin' Book for us. It's give an' take between 'em for
mebby one hundred words, an' neither so much as stubs his orthographic
toe.

"The evenin' w'ars into what them poets calls the 'small hours.'
Missis Rucker is wearily battin' her eyes, while little Enright Peets
is snorin' guinea-pig snores in Tucson Jennie's lap.

"Thar comes a pause for Black Jack to pass the refreshments, an' Nell
takes advantage of the lull.

"'Hopin' no one,' says Nell, 'will think us onp'lite, we ladies will
retire. Jedgin' from the way little Enright Peets sounds, not to
mention how I feels or Missis Rucker looks, it's time we weaker
vessels hits the blankets.'

"'Yes, indeed,' adds Missis Rucker, smothering a yawn with her hand;
'I'd certainly admire to stay a whole lot, but rememberin' the hour I
thinks, like Nellie, that we-all ladies better pull our freight.'

"Enright settin' the example, we gents stands up while the ladies
withdraws, little Enright Peets bein' drug along between Nell an'
Tucson Jennie plumb inert.

"Peets resoomes his word-callin', an' them two heroes spells on for a
hour longer.

"At last, however, the Wells-Fargo book-keep sharp commences to turn
shaky; the pressure's beginnin' to tell. As for Spellin' Book Ben,
he's as steady as a church.

"'By the grave of Moses, Dan,' Tutt whispers to Boggs, 'that Red Dog
imposter's on the brink of a stampede.'

"Peets gives out 'colander'; it's Spellin' Book Ben's turn. As he
starts to whirl his verbal loop the Red Dog adept whips out his gun,
an' jams it ag'inst Spellin' Book's ribs.

"'Spell it with a "u,"' says the Red Dog sharp, 'or I'll shore send
you shoutin' home to heaven! Which I've stood all of your dad-binged
eryoodition my nerves is calk'lated to endoore.'

"Spellin' Book Ben's game, game as yaller wasps. With the cold muzzle
of that book-keep murderer's hint to the onconverted pushin' into his
side, he never flickers.

"'C-o,' he begins.

"But that's as far as he ever gets. Thar's a dull roar, an' pore
Spellin' Book comes slidin' from his learned perch. It's done so
quick that not even Jack Moore has time to hedge a stack down the
other way.

"'It's too late, Doc,' says pore Spellin' Book, as Peets stoops over
him; 'he gets me all right.' Then he rolls a gen'ral eye on all.
'Gents,' he says, 'don't send my remainder back to El Paso. Boot Hill
does me.'

"Them's Spellin' Book's last words, an' they does him proud.

"It's the Lightnin' Bug who grabs the murderin' book-keep sharp, an'
takes his gun away. Then he swings him before Enright.

"'He's your pris'ner,' says the Red Dog chief, actin' for his outfit,
an' Enright bows his acknowledgments.

"Son, it's a lesson to see them two leaders of men. Enright never
shows up nobler, an' you can wager your bottom peso that the Red Dog
chief is a long shot from bein' a slouch.

"Jack Moore takes the Wells-Fargo book-keep homicide in charge, while
Enright, who declar's that jestice to be effectyooal must be swift,
says that onless shown reason he'll convene the committee at once. He
adds, likewise, that it'll be kindly took if the Red Dog chief, an'
what members of his triboonal is present, will b'ar their part.

"In all p'liteness, the Red Dog chief deeclines.

"'This is your joorisdiction,' he says, 'an' we Red Dogs can only
return the compliment which your su'gestion implies by asshorin'
you-all of our advance confidence in the rectitoode of what jedgments
you inflicts.'

"'Speak your piece,' says Enright to the Wells-Fargo book-keep
culprit, when stood up before him by Moore. 'Whatever prompts you to
blow out this Spellin' Book Ben's candle that a-way?'

"'Let me say,' exclaims the Wells-Fargo book-keep murderer, an' his
manner is some torrid, 'that I has five hundred dollars bet on this
yere contest----'

"'That is a question,' interrupts Enright, suave but plenty firm,
'which will doubtless prove interestin' to your execooter. This,
however, is not the time nor place. I asks ag'in, whatever is your
reason for shovin' this yere expert in orthography from shore?'

"'Do you-all think,' returns the Wells-Fargo murderer, 'that I'll
abide to see a obscoority like him outspell me?--me, who's the
leadin' speller of eight States and two territories, an' never scores
less than sixty-five out of a poss'ble fifty? Which I'd sooner die.'

"'So you'd sooner die?' repeats Enright, as cold an' dark an' short as
a November day. 'Well, most folks don't get their sooners in this
world, but it looks a heap like you will!' Turnin' to Moore, he goes
on: 'Our friends from Red Dog'll hold your captive, Jack, while
you-all goes rummagin' over to the corral an' gets a rope, the
committee havin' come onprovided.'

"Moore gives the Wells-Fargo homicide to the Red-Dog chief, an'
tharupon, we Stranglers bein' ready to go into execyootive session,
all hands except Enright an' the committee steps outside. We're in
confab mebby it's ten minutes, an' Enright has jest approved a
yoonanimous vote in favor of hangin', when thar's a modest tap at the
door.

"It's the Lightnin' Bug.

"'It ain't,' he says, when we asks his mission, 'that we-all aims to
disturb your deelib'rations none, gents, but the chief'd like to
borry Doc Peets for five minutes to say a few words over the corpse.'

"Upon this yere hint we-all gambols forth, an' finds what's left of
the Wells-Fargo book-keep murderer adornin' the windmill. Thar's whar
their del'cacy comes in; that's how them Red Dogs saves us from a
disagree'ble dooty.

"We plants Spellin' Book Ben on Boot Hill as per that sufferer's last
request, an' Red Dog graces the obsequies to a man. Thar Spellin' Book
lies to-day; an' the story of his ontoward takin' off, as told on that
tombstone conj'intly erected as aforesaid by Wolfville an' Red Dog, is
anyooally read by scores of devotees of learnin' who, bar'-headed an'
mournful, comes as pilgrims to his grave."

THE END



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FARO NELL AND HER FRIENDS

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