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Title: Friar Tuck
Author: Wason, Robert Alexander, 1874-1955
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Friar Tuck" ***

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[Illustration: He shot his hand across an’ pulled his gun quick as a
flash; but Horace didn’t move, he just sat still, with a friendly
smile on his face]

                               FRIAR TUCK

                  JOHN CARMICHAEL, OF WYOMING, U.S.A.,

                         HIS FRIEND AND ADMIRER
                             HAPPY HAWKINS

                          AND HERE RECORDED BY
                         ROBERT ALEXANDER WASON

                               AUTHOR OF
                             HAPPY HAWKINS,
                        THE KNIGHT-ERRANT, ETC.

                             ILLUSTRATED BY
                            STANLEY L. WOOD

                                NEW YORK
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP

                            Copyright, 1912
                     By Small, Maynard and Company

                      Entered at Stationers’ Hall
                     Published, September 7, 1912;
                     Sixth edition, November, 1912

Many there are who respond to the commonplace, monotonous call of
Duty, and year after year uncomplainingly spend their lives on the
treadmill of Routine; but who still feel in their hearts the call of
the open road, the music of the stars, the wine of the western wind,
and the thrilling abandon of a mad gallop out beyond speed limits and
grass signs to where life has ceased to be a series of cogs and—a man
is still a man.

To the members of this fraternity, whose emblem, hidden behind deep
and steadfast eyes, is often missed by man, but always recognized by
dogs and horses, I dedicate this book, in the hope that for an hour or
two it may lift the pressure a little.

                                                              R. A. W.


Reviews are not infrequently colored by a temporary elevation of the
critic’s mind (or a temporary depression of the critic’s liver),
advertisements are not invariably free from bias; so, perhaps, a few
words of friendly warning will not be considered impertinent.

Whosoever is squeamishly sensitive as to the formal technique of
literary construction will save himself positive irritation by
avoiding this book. It is a told, rather than a written story; and
this is a compromise which defies Art and frankly turns to the more
elastic methods of Nature.

It is supposed to be told by an outdoor man in those delightful
moments of relaxation when the restraint of self-consciousness is
dropped, and the spirit flows forth with a freedom difficult to find,
outside the egoism of childhood. This general suggestion is easily
tossed out; but the reader must supply the details—the night camps
with the pipes sending up incense about the tiny fires, the winter
evenings when the still cold lurks at the threshold or the blizzard
howls around the log corners; or those still more elusive moments when
the riding man shifts his weight to a single thigh, and tells the
inner story which has been rising from his open heart to his closed
lips for many a long mile.

Nor will these details suffice to complete the atmosphere in which,
bit by bit, the story is told. The greatest charm in the told story
comes direct from the teller; and, toil as we will over printed pages,
they obstinately refuse to reproduce the twinkle of bright, deep-set
eyes, the whimsical twist which gives character to a commonplace word,
the subtile modulations of a mellow voice, the discriminating accent
which makes a sentence fire when spoken, and only ashes when written;
or, hardest of all, those eloquent pauses and illuminating gestures
which convey a climax neither tongue nor pen dare attempt.

Happy Hawkins is complex, but the basic foundation of his character is
simplicity. His audience is usually a mixed one, men of the range and
an Easterner or two, fortunate enough to find the way into his
confidence. Occasionally he amuses himself by talking to the one group
over the heads of the other; but even then, his own simplicity is but
thinly veiled. The phases of life which he holds lightly are exploited
with riotous recklessness; but whoever would visit his private shrines
must tread with reverent step.

His exaggerations are not to deceive, but to magnify—an adjunct to
expression invariably found among primitive people. A brass monkey is
really not sensitive to variations of temperature; and yet, even among
the civilized, a peculiarly vivid impression is conveyed by stating
that a particular cold snap has had a disintegrating effect upon the
integrity of a brass monkey. There is a philosophy of exaggeration
which is no kin to falsehood.

Happy has an eager, hungry, active mind, a mind worthy of careful
cultivation; but forced by circumstances to gather its nourishment
along lines similar to those adopted by the meek and lowly sponge. A
sponge is earnest, patient, and industrious; but, fixed to a submerged
stone as it is, it is hampered by limitations which no amount of
personal ambition is quite able to overcome. As Happy himself was fond
of saying: “The thing ’at sets most strangers again each other, is the
fact that each insists on judgin’ everything from his own standpoint.
A cow-puncher gets the idee that because an Eastener can’t sit
comfortable on a bronco when it’s sunfishin’ or twistin’ ends, he jes
nachely ain’t fit to clutter up the surface o’ the earth; while the
Eastener is inclined to estimate the puncher an’ his pony as bein’ on
the same intellectual level. If they’d just open up an’ examine each
other impartial, they’d mighty soon see ’at the difference in ’em came
from what they did, instead o’ the choice o’ their lines o’ business
dependin’ on their natural make-up. I once had a no-account pinto
which refused to squat back on the rope, and I rejoiced exceeding when
I got seventy-five bucks for him; but the feller I took advantage of
clipped his mane, docked his tail, introduced him into swell-society,
and got three hundred for him as a polo pony; which all goes to
show—” (The finish of this is an expansive wave of the hand, a tilt
of the head to the right, and an indescribably droll expression.)

The above is a fair sample of the leisurely way in which Happy Hawkins
tells a story. This is not the proper way to tell a story. A story
should travel an air-line and not stop at the smaller stations, while
Happy prefers to take his bed along on a spare horse and camp out
wherever the mood strikes him. The reader who delights in a story
which speeds along like a limited, will probably be disappointed in
this book; while, on the other hand, the reader who enjoys the
intimate association which is lighted with the evening camp fire, runs
a risk of finding some relaxation in taking another little trip with
Happy Hawkins.

                                                              R. A. W.




It’s a curious thing—life. Ya might just as well ask a kitten to
chase her own tail or a dog to bay at the evenin’ star, or a
periodical spring to run constant, as to ask a feller right out to
tell a story. Some things can only be done spontaneous.

Friar Tuck used to say ’at whenever he could cut it, he allus got on
the lee side o’ human nature and let it blow down on him natural; and
my way o’ gettin’ to the lee side o’ human nature in story-tellin’ is
not to ask for a story, but to start tellin’ one myself. And it’s a
good plan not to put over too good a one either; ’cause if it seems as
though a feller is short run on stories, some listener is likely to
take pity on him and fit him out with a new assortment so as he won’t
be such bad company for himself when he’s alone again. This is the way
I’ve picked up most o’ my stories.

Then again, it’s allus hard for me to tell what is the true beginnin’
of a story. It’s easy enough to tell cream from milk—after the milk
has stood long enough for the cream to rise to the top; but the great
trouble is, that a man’s own recollections haven’t stood long enough
for him to skim out just what part he might be in need of.

Without meanin’ the least mite o’ disrespect to any one, it does seem
to me that if I was able to plan out any sort of a memory at all, I
could have made a few improvements on the ones we now have.

My own memory is as stubborn as a mule and as grippy as a bulldog.
What it does remember, it calls up in the shape o’ pictures; and I see
old things just as plain as livin’, breathin’ beings; but try as I
would, I never could keep my memory from loadin’ herself down with so
many trifles that sometimes I’ve had to spade it over as many as six
times to turn up some important item which I was actually in need of.
When my memory’s in a good humor, I like to start a pipe and lean back
and just watch old scenes over again, the same as if I was in a
the-ater; and I can see every twinkle in a pair o’ well-known eyes,
which have been lookin’ up through six feet of earth for this many a
long year, and I can hear—actually hear—the half tones ripplin’
through voices which have no more part in my to-day than the perfume
o’ last year’s flowers; and then, like as not, my memory’ll lay her
ears back and refuse to confide what I did with my shavin’ soap.

When I look back at my own life and compare it with others, it seems
like a curious, patch-worky sort of affair, and not much more my own
than the lives o’ those others with which I compare it. I allus liked
my work, and yet it never attracted my attention much. Side-trips and
such-like stand out plain as figures in a hand-painted picture, such
as I’ve seen in hotels down at Frisco; but the work part is just a
blotchy, colorless sort of smudge, the same as the background o’ one
o’ these pictures.

When I first took on with Jabez—every one called him ol’ Cast Steel
Judson at this time—they wanted to know if I could ride. I was
nothin’ but a regular kid then, so I handed in a purty high average as
to my ridin’ ability; though, truth to tell, I wasn’t no bronco buster
those days. They gave me a genuwine mean one as a starter, and told me
to ride him clean or step off and walk.

At that time I didn’t even know how to discard a hoss when I couldn’t
stand the poundin’ any longer; so when I felt my backbone gettin’
wedged too far into my skull, I made a grab for the horn. My luck was
on the job that day and I got the quirt, instead. At his next pitch,
my hand went up as natural as ever, and I slammed down the quirt as
hard as I could. It landed on a ticklish spot and before he had time
to make up his mind, the cayuse had started to run, me whalin’ him at
every jump and givin’ thanks between ’em. I rode him good and out as
soon as he started to stampede, and they all thought I was a real
rider. Well, this gave me a lot o’ trouble—tryin’ to live up to my
reputation—but that’s a good sort o’ trouble for a kid to have.

Now I can feel all the sensations o’ this ride as plain as though it
was this mornin’; but the’s a thousand rides since then which have all
melted an’ run together. The same with most o’ the rest o’ my work: I
allus aimed to do my bit a little quicker and cleaner ’n the rest; but
as soon as I learned all the tricks of it, it fell into a rut, like
breathin’ and seein’. Easteners seem to have an idee that our life
must be as carefree and joyous as goin’ to a different circus every
day in the year; but it ain’t: it’s work, just like all other work.
We’re a good bit like our ridin’ ponies: when we’re in the thick of it
we’re too busy to take notice; and when we’re through, we’re
hungry—and that’s about the whole story.

Jabez Judson was a high peak, and once a feller knew him, he never ran
any risk o’ gettin’ him mixed up with any one else. He was the settest
in his ways of any man I ever had much doin’s with; but he didn’t
change about any—if he faced north on a question one day, he faced
north on it always; so a feller could tell just how any action would
strike him, and this made livin’ with him as accurate as workin’ out a
problem in multiplication, which I claim to hold qualities o’ comfort.

His daughter, Barbie, was a little tot when I first took on; and she
was the apple of ol’ Cast Steel’s eye; an’ his curb bit, and his spurs
as well. Barbie and I were pals from one end o’ the trail to the
other, and this explains a lot o’ my life which otherwise wouldn’t
have any answer. My ordinary work at the Diamond Dot wasn’t
out-standin’ enough to give me any special privileges; but I happened
to come back one time when the Brophy gang was about to clean things
out, and Jabez gave me credit for savin’ Barbie’s life; so ’at he
didn’t check up my time any and I did purty much as I pleased, only
quittin’ him when I couldn’t put up with his set ways any longer. I
aimed to play fair with Jabez, and he with me; but once in a while we
locked horns, though not often, takin’ everything into account.

It was shortly after ol’ Cast Steel had bought in the D lazy L brand,
an’ we was still pickin’ up strays here an’ there. Whenever he bought
up a brand he allus put the Diamond Dot on the stuff as soon as he
could, his mark commandin’ more respect than some o’ the little

When I’d get tired o’ loafing about the home place, I’d take one o’
the boys an’ we’d start out to look for stray hosses. Spider Kelley
was with me this time, an’ we had meandered here an’ there until we
had picked up a big enough string to stand as an excuse for our trip,
and were about minded to start back.

We had just forded a little crick when we heard a man’s voice singin’
off to the right. The’ was a mess o’ cottonwoods between us, an’ we
stopped to listen. Now I had never heard that voice before, an’ I had
never seen the man who was running it; but right then I was ready to
believe anything he had a mind to tell me. It was a deep, rich voice;
but mellow an’ tender, an’ a feller could tell that he was singin’
simply because he couldn’t help it.

Spider looked at me with his face shinin’, an’ I could feel a sort o’
pleasant heat in my own face. The’ was a lift an’ a swing, and a sort
of rally-around-the-flag to this voice which got right into ya, an’
made you want to do something.

    “’T is thine to save from perils of perdition
      The souls for whom the Lord His life laid down;
    Beware, lest, slothful to fulfill thy mission,
      Thou lose one jewel that should deck His crown.
        Publish glad tidings; tidings of peace;
        Tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.”

“That feller can sing some,” sez Spider Kelley; but just then the
ponies turned back on us an’ by the time we had started ’em on again,
the singer had passed on up the trail, so I didn’t make any reply.

I was tryin’ to figure out whether it was the words or the tune or the
voice, or what it was that had made my whole body vibrate like a
fiddle string. As I said before, I see things in pictures an’ I also
remember ’em in pictures: a sound generally calls up a picture to me
an’ it ain’t allus a picture anyways connected with the sound itself.
This song, for instance, had called to my mind a long procession of
marchin’ men with banners wavin’ an’ set faces, shinin’ with a glad
sort o’ recklessness. There ain’t no accountin’ for the human mind: I
had never seen such a procession in real life, nor even in a picture;
but that was what this song out there on the open range suggested to
me, an’ I hurried out o’ the cottonwoods eager to measure the singer
with my open eyes.

When we climbed up out of the woods, we saw him goin’ up the pass
ahead of us with our ponies followin’ behind as though they was part
of his outfit. We could just catch glimpses of him; enough to show
that he was a big man on a big roan hoss, an’ that he was a ridin’ man
in spite o’ the fact that he was wearin’ black clothes made up Eastern
style. He was still singin’ his song, an’ I straightened up in my
saddle, an’ beat time with my hand as though I held a genuwine sword
in it; which is a tool I’ve never had much doin’s with.

We scrambled on up the trail, an’ when we reached the top we found a
little park with the grass knee high an’ a fringe o’ spruce trees
about it. The song had come to a sudden end, an’ we found the singer
on foot with a noose about his neck an’ nine rather tough-lookin’
citizens holdin’ a parley with him. We came to the same sort of a stop
the song had, an’ Spider Kelley sez in a low tone, “What do ya suppose
this is?”

“I don’t know,” sez I, touchin’ my pony, “but I’m with the singer”; so
me an’ Spider rode on down to ’em.

I purty well sensed what it was: the’ was a heap o’ rebrandin’ bein’
done at that time, an’ stringin’ a man up was supposed to be the only
cure; but I was willin’ to bet my roll that this singer wasn’t a
rustler. The feller in charge o’ the posse was an evil-lookin’ cuss,
an’ if he’d ’a’ had the rope around his neck, it wouldn’t have looked
so misplaced. He was ridin’ a Cross brand hoss; so I guessed him to
belong to the Tyrrel Jones outfit. Most o’ the others in the posse was
ridin’ the same brand o’ hosses an’ wearin’ the same brand of
expressions. It was a tough-lookin’ bunch.

We came up to ’em an’ they looked our ponies an’ us over an’ nodded.
We nodded back an’ I asked ’em what seemed to be the trouble.

“We’ve finally got the feller who has been doin’ the rustlin’ out this
way,” sez the leader, whose name was Flannigan, Badger-face Flannigan.

“That’s good,” sez I; “but he don’t look the part.”

“He acts it all right,” growls Badger-face, showin’ his fangs in what
was meant for a grin. “He’s ridin’ one of our hosses, an’ leadin’ a
string o’ D lazy Ls.”

“Leadin’ ’em?” sez I.

“Yes, he’s got some sort of a charm in his voice. Whiskers, here, saw
him go up on foot an’ rope this colt an’ lead him off the same as a
plow hoss.”

“Did Whiskers, here, see him charm the loose string, too?” I asked.

“No, he came in an’ collected the posse, an’ we decided that this
would be a good place to try him; so we cut up the other pass an’
waited for him. When he came up, this bunch o’ ponies was taggin’
after him.”

I looked at the man with the noose about his neck, an’ he was grinnin’
as easy an’ comfortable as I ever saw a man grin in my life. He was
wearin’ a vest without buttons an’ a gray flannel shirt. He had a
rifle on his saddle an’ a sixshooter on his right hip. He had big gray
eyes set wide apart under heavy brows, an’ they were dancin’ with
laughter. I grinned into ’em without intendin’ to, an’ sez: “Well, I
don’t really think he charmed these loose ponies intentional. Me an’
Spider was takin’ ’em in to the Diamond Dot an’ we had a hard time
makin’ ’em ford the crick. I’m some thankful to him for tollin’ ’em up
the pass.”

Badger-face scowled. “Well, anyhow, he charmed the beast he’s ridin,
all right; an’ he has to swing for it.”

“Are you all done with tryin’ him,” sez I.

“What’s the use of a trial?” snarled Badger-face. “Ain’t he ridin’ a
Cross brand hoss, ain’t the brand unvented, don’t every one know that
we never sell a hoss without ventin’ the brand, an’ can’t any one see
’at this hoss was never rode before?”

“Got anything to say for yourself, stranger?” I asked.

“Not much,” sez the prisoner. “I have an appointment to keep at
Laramie; my hoss gave out; so I just caught a fresh one an’ started

“What more do you want?” asked Badger-face of me.

“Well, now, the’ ain’t any particular hurry; an’ I’m kind o’ curious
to learn a little more of his methods,” sez I impartial. “Don’t ya
know ’at this is what they call hoss-stealin’ out this way?” I asked
of the stranger.

“No, this is not stealin’,” he replied. “I turned another hoss loose
that I had picked up a hundred miles or so farther back; and I should
have turned this one adrift as soon as he had tired. They allus wander
back to their own range.”

This wasn’t no unheard-of custom to practice out our way; but it was a
new sort o’ defence for a man with a noose about his neck to put up,
an’ I see that some o’ the others was gettin’ interested. The big man
had a smile like a boy, an’ steady eyes, an’ a clear skin; an’ he
didn’t look at all the kind of a man to really need stretchin’.

“What’s your plan for earnin’ a livin’?” I asked.

“I am a kind of apostle,” sez he, “an’ I live on the bounty of

“Do you mean ’at you’re a preacher?” asked Badger-face.

“Yes,” the stranger replied with a smile.

[Illustration: We found the singer on foot with a noose about his neck
an’ nine rather tough-lookin’ citizens holdin’ a parley with him]

“Well, I never see a preacher with as short hair as yours, nor one who
carried so much artillery, nor one who made a practice o’ pickin’ up a
fresh hoss whenever he felt like it. Where’d you learn to ride, an’
where’d you learn to rope?”

“Eastern Colorado. I lived there four years, an’ travelled on
hossback,” sez the stranger.

“I’ll bet you left there mighty sudden,” sez Badger-face with an evil

“Yes,” replied the stranger, with a grin, “an’ I also left on

“Well, ya satisfied now?” grunted Badger-face to me.

Livin’ out doors the way I had, I naturally had a big respect for
brands. It’s mighty comfortin’ to feel that ya can turn your stuff
loose an’ know that it’s not likely to be bothered; so I was up
something of a stump about this new doctrine. “Where’d you get your
commission from to pick up a hoss whenever you feel like it?” sez I to
the stranger.

He had a little leather sack hangin’ from his saddle horn, an’ he
reached into it an’ fished out a small book with a soft leather cover.
The feller ’at was holdin’ his hoss eyed him mighty close for fear it
was some sort of a gun; but the stranger ran over the leaves with his
fingers as ready as a man would step into the home corral an’ rope his
favorite ridin’ pony.

“Here’s my commission,” sez he, as self-satisfied as though he was
holdin’ a government document; an’ then he read aloud with that deep,
mellow voice o’ his, the story of the time the Lord was minded to let
himself out a little an’ came into Jerusalem in state. He read it all,
an’ then he paused, looked about, holdin’ each man’s eyes with his own
for a second, an’ then he read once more the part where the Lord had
sent in a couple of his hands after the colt that no man had ever
backed before—an’ then he closed the book, patted it gentle an’
shoved it back into the leather bag. I looked around on the posse, an’
most of ’em was rubbin’ their chins, an’ studyin’. I’ve noticed that
while the earth is purty well cluttered up with pale-blooded an’
partially ossified Christians, the’s mighty few out an’ out atheists
among ’em.

“That don’t go,” sez Badger-face, after he’d taken time to pump up his
nerve a little.

No one said anything for a space, an’ then the stranger put a little
edge on his voice, but spoke in a lower tone than before: “That does
go,” he said. “No matter what else in life may be questioned, no
matter how hard and fast a title may stick, it must crumble to dust
when one comes and says, ‘The Lord hath need of this.’ It may be your
life or it may be your property or it may be the one being you love
most in all the world; but when the Lord hath need, your own needs
must fall away.

“Now, boys, I love the West, I glory in the fact that I can lay
something down and go on about my business an’ come back a month later
and find it just where I left it; and if I was takin’ these hosses to
sell or trade or use for my own selfish ends, why, I wouldn’t have a
word to say again’ your stringin’ me up. I brought my own hoss into
this country and when it gave out I didn’t have time to barter an’
trade for another one; so I just caught one, and when it grew weary, I
turned it adrift. I don’t claim the hosses I ride; I don’t want to own
them; I simply borrow them for a while because my Lord hath need of
them. I treat them well, and when they weary, send ’em back to their
own range with a pat, and pick up another. The next fellow who rides
that hoss will find it a little less trouble than if I hadn’t used it,
and there’s no harm done at all. I’m working with you, I’m going to
make your own work easier out here by raisin’ the respect for brands,
not by makin’ property rights any looser; and you are goin’ to work
with me—whether you want to or not. Now then, how much longer are you
goin’ to keep this fool noose about my neck?”

That posse wasn’t easy minded, not by a jugful. This stranger was
speakin’ as though he had power an’ authority an’ public opinion all
on his side, and they felt consid’able like the tenderfoot who’d roped
the buffalo—they was willin’ to quit any time he was.

The Cross brand boys were purty sullen an’ moody; but four o’ the
posse belonged to another outfit, an’ they couldn’t stand the strain.
One of ’em, a grizzled old codger with one lamp missin’, lifted the
noose from the prisoner’s neck, an’ sez most respectful: “Parson, I’m
an old man. I ain’t heard a sermon for forty years, an’ I’d be right
obliged to ya if you’d make us one.”

Badger-face, he snorted scornful; but the rest of the posse was
scattered all the way from repentance to sheepishness, an’ the
stranger he stepped to a little rise an’ he certainly did speak us a
sermon. First off, he sang us St. Andrew’s hymn—I got to learn a good
many of his songs after this, but o’ course at that time I was as shy
on hymns as the rest o’ the crowd.

I tell you it was wonderful up in that little park, with the lush
grass for a carpet, the spruce trees for panelin’, the bare peaks
stickin’ out for rafter-beams, the blue sky above for ceiling, and
that soft, deep voice fillin’ the whole place an’ yet stealin’ into a
feller’s heart as easy an’ gentle as a woman’s whisper. He sort o’
beat time as though playin’ on an instrument, until before he was
through we were all hummin’ in time with him—an’ then he preached.

He told us about the fisher folks an’ how they lived out doors under
the stars the same as we did; and that this was probably why the Lord
had chose ’em first to follow him. He said that city folks got to
relyin’ on themselves so much ’at they was likely to forget that the
whole earth was still held in the hollow of the hand which had created
it; but that men who lived with nature, out under the sun and the
stars, through the heat and the cold, the wind and the rain, the
chinook and the blizzard, felt the forces and the mysteries all about
them and this kept ’em in touch, even when they didn’t know it
themselves, with the great central Intelligence back o’ these forces
and mysteries. Then he told ’em how grand their lives might be if they
would only give up their nasty little habits of thought, and learn to
think broad and free and deep, the same as they breathed.

He told ’em ’at their minds could breathe the inspiration of God as
easy as their lungs could breathe the pure air o’ the mountains, if
they’d only form the habit. Then he talked to ’em friendly an’
confidential about their natural devilment. He didn’t talk like a
saint speakin’ out through a crack in the gates o’ Paradise, like most
preachers do. He called the turn on the actual way they cut up when
they went to town, and just how it hurt ’em body an’ soul; and his
face grew set and earnest, and his eyes blazed; and then he said a few
words about mothers an’ children and such, and wound up with a short

Well two o’ those fellers owned up right out in public and said that
from that on they was goin’ to lead a decent sort of life; and one
other said ’at he didn’t have any faith in himself any longer; but he
insisted on signin’ the pledge, and said if that worked, why, he’d go
on an’ try the rest of it.

The preacher shook hands with ’em all around—he had a grip ’at
wouldn’t be no disgrace for a silver-tip—an’ then he sez that if any
of ’em has the notion that bein’ a Christian makes a weakling of a
man, why, he’s willin’ to wrastle or box or run a race or shoot at a
mark or do any other sort of a stunt to show ’at he’s in good order;
but they size him up and take his word for it.

“Now, boys,” sez he, “I hope we’ll meet often. I’m your friend, and I
want you to use me any time you get a chance. Any time or any place
that I can serve one of you, just get me word and I’ll do the best I
can. It don’t matter what sort o’ trouble you get into, get me word
and I’ll help—if I can find a way. And I wish ’at you’d speak it
around that I’m hard on hosses, so that the other fellows will
understand when I pick one up, and not cause any delay. I’ll have to
hurry along now. Good-bye; I’m sorry I’ve been a bother to ya.”

He swung up on the big roan, waved his hand and trotted out o’ the
park; and just as he went down the pass on the other side, it seemed
that he couldn’t hold it in any longer; so he opened up his voice in
his marchin’ song again, an’ we all stayed silent as long as we could
hear the sound of it.

“Well we are a lot of soft marks!” sez Badger-face at last.

“That there is a true man,” replied old Grizzly, shakin’ his head,
“an’ I’ll bet my boots on it.”

This seemed to be the general verdict, an’ the Cross brand fellers
went off discussin’ the parson, an’ me an’ Spider Kelley collected our
ponies an’ went along to the ranch, also discussin’ him.

That was the first time I ever saw Friar Tuck; I made up my mind about
him just from hearin’ his voice, an’ before I ever saw him; but I
never had to make it up any different. New lead an’ new steel look
consid’able alike; but the more ya wear on lead, the sooner it wears
out, while the more you wear on steel, the brighter it gets. The Friar
was steel, an’ mighty well tempered.



Yes, this was about the time I got interested in the bettin’ barber
over at Boggs. He hasn’t anything to do with this story I’m about to
tell ya, except that it was him ’at give the Friar his name; so I’ll
just skim through this part as hasty as possible. When a feller is
tellin’ me a story, I want him to stick to the trail of it; but it
seems like when I try to tell one, myself, some feller is allus askin’
me a question ’at takes me clear out o’ range.

All barbers are more or less different, except in what might be called
the gift o’ gab. This one came out to Boggs station, an’ started a
shop. His name was Eugene, an’ he was a little man with two rollin’
curls to his front hair, which he wore short behind. A curious thing
about little men is, that they don’t never find it out. A little man
produces more opinions ’n airy other kind, an’ being small, they
haven’t no place to store ’em up until they get time to ripen. A
little man gives out his opinion an’ then looks savage—just as if
he’d get a switch an’ make ya believe it, whether you wanted to or

Eugene had come from every city the’ is in the world, an’ he used to
tell scandalous tales about the prominent people who lived in ’em
whose hair he had cut. He was also familiar with the other things
which had happened since they’ve begun to write history, an’ if any
one would doubt one of his statements, he’d whirl about holding up his
razor, an’ say: “I’ll bet ya a dollar I can prove it.”

All of us fellers used to go in as often as we got a chance to get our
chins shaved an’ our hair shampooed—just to hear Eugene get indignant
about things which wasn’t none of our business. We used to bet with
him a lot, just for the fun o’ makin’ him prove up things; which he
did by writin’ letters to somebody an’ gettin’ back the answers he
wanted. We didn’t have any way to prove our side; so Eugene got the
money an’ we had the fun.

Ol’ man Dort ran the general store and kept a pet squirrel in a
whirlabout cage, which was the biggest squirrel I ever see, an’ had
its tail gnawed off by a rat, or something, before Eugene came. Ol’
man Dort had a reputation for arguin’, which spread all over our part
of the earth. We had made a habit o’ goin’ to him to get our
discussions settled an’ when we began to pass him up for Eugene, he
foamed about it free an’ frank.

He wore a prodigious tangle o’ hair and a bunch o’ grizzled whiskers,
about as fine an’ smooth as a clump o’ grease-wood. He used to brag
that razor nor scissors hadn’t touched his hide for twenty years, an’
one of us boys would allus add, “Nor soap nor water, neither,” an’ ol’
man Dort would grin proud, ’cause it was a point of honor with him.

Eugene used to send out for his wearin’ an’ sech, so ol’ man Dort
didn’t get a whack at him in his store; ol’ man Dort batched, an’
Eugene boarded, so they didn’t clash up at their meals; an’ finally
ol’ man Dort swore a big oath that he was goin’ to be barbered. The
news got out an’ the boys came in for forty miles to see the fun—an’
it was worth it.

We went early to the shop an’ planted ourselves, lookin’ solemn an’
not sayin’ anything to put Eugene on his guard. When at last ol’ man
Dort hove in sight with his brows scowled down an’ his jaws set under
his shrubbery, we all bit our lips; an’ Eugene stopped tellin’ us
about the hair-roots o’ the Prince of Wales, an’ stood lookin’ at ol’
man Dort with his mouth gapped wide open.

The ol’ man came in, shut the door careful behind him, glared at
Eugene, as though darin’ him to do his worst, an’ said: “I want my
hair shamped, an’ my whiskers shaved off.”

“If you expected to get it all done in one day, you should ought to
have come earlier,” sez Eugene soberly, but tossin’ us a side wink.

“Well, you do as much as you can to-day, an’ we’ll finish up
to-morrow,” sez ol’ man Dort, not seein’ the joke.

Ol’ man Dort peeled off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, an’ climbed
into the chair as if he thought it was liable to buck him off. Then he
settled back with a grunt, an’ Eugene tucked the bib in around his
neck, combed his fingers through ol’ man Dort’s hair a minute, an’
sez; “Your hair’s startin’ to come out. You should ought to use a

“Tonic, hell!” snaps the ol’ man. “My hair sheds out twice a year,
same as the rest o’ the animals.”

“Then you should ought to comb it,” sez Eugene. “I’ve got some hair
here in my hand which was shed out two years ago. Leavin’ dead hair
an’ such rubbish as that layin’ around on your scalp is what kills the
hair globules.”

“It don’t either; it acts like fertilizer, the same as dead grass
does,” sez ol’ man Dort. He had made up his mind to take the contrary
side of everything ’at Eugene said, an’ it was more fun than a dog

Eugene started in by mowin’ away the whiskers, an’ it was a long an’
painful job; ’cause it was almost impossible to tell where they left
off an’ ol’ man Dort began, an’ then they was so cluttered up with
grit an’ dead hair and kindry deb-ris that his scissors would choke up
an’ pull, an’ then ol’ man Dort would bob up his head an’ yell out a
bunch o’ profanity, and Eugene would stand back an’ say that he was a
barber, not a clearer of new ground, an’ that the job ought to be done
with a scythe and hoe, not with scissors an’ razor. Eugene wasn’t
covetous of ol’ man Dort’s trade an’ didn’t care whether he insulted
him or not.

The most fun came, though, after Eugene had got down to where he could
tell the outline of ol’ man Dort’s face. First he soaked it with
lather, combin’ it in with a comb, an’ puttin’ hot towels on it to
draw out the alkalie grit an’ give his razors some show.

One of ol’ man Dort’s manias was, that a man ought to pay his debts,
whether it killed him or not; so as soon as Eugene had him steamin’
under the towels we begun to talk about a man’s first duty bein’
toward his kin, an’ that if he couldn’t pay his debts without bother,
he ought to let the debts go an’ show his relatives a good time while
they was still on earth an’ able to enjoy themselves.

Ol’ man Dort couldn’t stand it, an’ tried to answer back from under
the towels; but got his mouth full o’ suds, an’ choked on the corner
of a towel until Eugene said that if he couldn’t sit still an’ behave
himself he could go out to some alfalfa farmer to get his tonsoral
work completed.

It wasn’t the ol’ man’s fault—he simply couldn’t help it. Touch him
up on a ticklish subject, an’ he just had to come back at ya, same as
a rattler. Finally, however, Eugene had the stubble wore down an’
softened until he decided that he stood a chance again’ it, an’ then
he lathered an’ rubbed, an’ lathered an’ rubbed, until nothin’ stuck
out below ol’ man Dort’s eyes except the peak of his nose; an’ then us
boys pulled out our trump card an’ played it strong. We began to talk
about red squirrels.

Now, we didn’t know anything professional about squirrels, except what
ol’ man Dort had told us; but we slewed his talk around this way an’
that as if it was our own private opinions; an’ the ol’ man began to
groan audible. He gritted his teeth, though, an’ bore up under it like
a hero, until Eugene begin to chip in with what he knew about

Eugene was never content to just speak of a thing in a general
way—his main method of convincin’ us was to allus fall back on his
own personal experience; so this time he began to tell of squirrels
what he had been full acquainted with. He called ’em by name an’ told
how they would run to meet him an’ climb up on his shoulders an’
chatter for nuts, an’ so on; until the ol’ man’s ears turned red with
the strain he was under. And then, we got to discussin’ the size o’

We told about squirrels we had heard about, an’ contested again’ each
other to see which had heard o’ the biggest one; but we never even
mentioned ol’ man Dort’s squirrel. Eugene had shaved his way down to
below the lobe of ol’ man Dort’s right ear, slippin’ in a side remark
to our talk every minute or so; an’ purty soon he sez ’at he knows a
squirrel by the name o’ Daniel Webster back in Montpelier, Vermont,
which was a full half inch longer ’n airy red squirrel we had spoke
of. The ol’ man couldn’t stand this. His head bobbed up, cuttin’ a
gash on the crook of his jaw, and as soon as he could blow the foam
out of his mouth, he sez, “I’ll stake my life, the’ ain’t another
squirrel in this country as big as my own Ben Butler.”

Eugene put his hand on ol’ man Dort’s forehead an’ pushed him back
into the headrest. “You lie there,” sez he, “until I get done shavin’
ya. Then, I’ll bet ya a dollar that I can produce a livin’ squirrel
which’ll out-stand, outweigh, an’ out-fight your squirrel—an’ I ain’t
never seen your squirrel.”

“A dollar!” snorts the ol’ man, flickin’ up his head. “I wouldn’t
bother wakin’ Ben Butler up for a measly dollar. I’ll bet ya ten

“Get back on that headrest,” orders Eugene. “Ten dollars looks a heap
sight better to me than one, an’ I’ll be mighty glad to accommodate

Eugene took his fire-stick an’ burned the ol’ man’s cut, an’ the ol’
man had to scruge up his shoulders with the pain of it; but he did it
without noticin’, ’cause his mind was on squirrels. “What breed o’
squirrels is yours?” he asked.

“If you don’t keep your head where I put it, I’ll throw up the job an’
let you go forth lookin’ like the lost Goog o’ Mayhan,” sez Eugene,
raisin’ his voice. Ol’ man Dort was a whalin’ big man, an’ it tickled
us a heap to see little Eugene givin’ him directions, like as if he
was nothin’ but a pup dog.

Ol’ man Dort settled back with a sigh, an’ Eugene leathered up his
razor without sayin’ anything for a minute or two. Then he sez, as he
begins shavin’ again: “That squirrel I have in mind for ring contests
is the short-tailed grizzly ground-squirrel; and it’s the biggest
breed of squirrels the’ is.”

“The’ ain’t no such a breed of squirrel as that!” yells ol’ man Dort,
springing erect in his chair, an’ dullin’ Eugene’s razor by the

Eugene stepped back an’ looked at the blood flowin’ from the fresh
cut, an’ he sez slow an’ sarcastic; “If it don’t make any difference
to you whether you have any skin on your face or not, why I’ll just
peel it off an’ tack it on a board to shave it; but hanged if I’m
goin’ to duck around tryin’ to shave you on the jump. The’ is too
grizzly ground-squirrels.”

Well, that’s the way they had it back and forth: every time they would
settle down to business an’ Eugene would get a square inch o’ the ol’
man’s face cleared up, one of us boys would speak something in a low
tone about there bein’ rumors of an uncommon big squirrel out at some
ranch house a hundred miles or so from there. Eugene would ask what
breed of squirrel it was, an’ then decide that it couldn’t be a
patchin’ on a genuwine short-tailed grizzly ground-squirrel, an’ then
ol’ man Dort couldn’t stand it no longer an’ he would forget what he
was doin’, bob up in his chair, an’ lose some more of his life fluid.

Eugene scraped down both sides o’ the ol’ man’s face, givin’ all of
his razors a chance to take part in the job, an’ then he set his lips
an’ started in on the chin.

“What does short-tailed grizzly ground-squirrels eat, Eugene?” asked
Spider Kelley, as innocent as an infant pigeon.

“They eat chickens,—” began Eugene, but ol’ man Dort flew clean out
o’ the chair an’ stood over Eugene shakin’ with rage.

“Chickens?” he roars. “Chickens! The’ never was a squirrel foaled into
this world what et chickens.”

Eugene looked at ol’ man Dort, an’ then he wiped his razor an’ sat
down on a chair, so full of disgust that he could hardly breathe.

“I wish you’d take off that apron an’ bleed into the spittoon,” he
said as calm as he could. “I’ve got customers whose patronage is what
makes up my living expenses; an’ I don’t want ’em to come in here an’
see the whole place a welter of gore.

“What do you think this shop is, anyway?” yelled Eugene springing to
his feet an’ entirely losin’ his patience. “Do you think that I make
my livin’ by grubbin’ down wire grass which has been let grow for
fifty years, an’ educatin’ ignoramuses in the knowledge of squirrels?
I don’t care whether you believe in short-tailed grizzly
ground-squirrels or not; but if you don’t let me tie your head down to
that chair, I won’t shave another sprout off your chin. I take some
pride in my profession, an’ I don’t intend to have no man go out o’ my
shop leavin’ a trail o’ blood which will draw all the dogs for miles
around. Now, you can take your choice.”

Ol’ man Dort had to give in that this was reasonable enough; so he
climbed back into the chair, an’ Eugene tied down his head an’
finished him off without any more trouble. As soon as he had stopped
the bleedin’ an’ put on the perfume an’ oil an’ powder, he sez: “Now,
what I am goin’ to do is to get some nourishment to recuperate back my
strength, an’ if you want the waste products washed out o’ your hair,
you come back here at one o’clock prompt.”

“I want to settle on that bet first,” said ol’ man Dort, who was just
as pernicious as Eugene, once you got him riled up.

“I’ll make that bet with you after dinner,” sez Eugene, “but first off
I got to have food; I’m faint with weakness. Now, I’m goin’ to lock up
my shop.”

After Eugene had marched off to his boardin’ house, we all gathered
around ol’ man Dort, an’ complimented him on his improved appearance,
though to be strictly honest, the’ was considerable doubts about it.
He had two teeth out in front, an’ the tobacco habit; and now, with no
shrubbery to catch the spray, he spluttered terrible when he tried to
talk fast. He said, though, that as long as he had started in he
intended to take the full course, an’ was comin’ back, as soon as he’d
had a bite to eat, to get his hair laundried an’ trimmed up some
around the edges; an’ then he was goin’ to make that bet about the

It was some amusin’ to see the ol’ man get his hair sluiced out, but
not near as much fun as seein’ him shaved. Whenever Eugene found any
stray product, he’d call us all over an’ show it to us, an’ this riled
the ol’ man up considerable; but the best joke was when Eugene found a
woman’s hairpin.

The ol’ man vowed an’ declared an’ carried on somethin’ fierce; but
there was the hairpin, an’ we made him pay for three rounds on the
strength of it. As soon as Eugene was all through, the ol’ man settled
the bill, payin’ for a full day’s work like a regular sport, an’ not
tryin’ to beg off at the ordinary retail price; and then he hardened
his face an’ sez: “Now I bet you ten dollars, that you can’t bring
forward a squirrel as big as my Ben Butler.”

“I’ll take that bet,” sez Eugene, “but you got to give me time to
locate a short-tailed grizzly. It’s the scarcest breed the’ is, an’
it’ll probably cost me twice the sum to get one, but I don’t care
about that. What I want is to vindicate myself. I’d like to see that
squirrel o’ yours.”

“You come right along,” sez ol’ man Dort, glowin’ with pride. “I
reckon when you see him, you’ll just hand over the money at once—That
is, if you know anything at all about squirrels.”

We all marched around to the general store, an’ ol’ man Dort pounded
on the cage. When Ben Butler sat up an’ looked around to see what was
up, the ol’ man waved his hand at him, looked down at Eugene, an’ sez:
“Well?” He said it just like that: “Wu-el?”

Ben Butler was rollin’ fat, an’ he certainly did look like some
squirrel to us; but Eugene merely glanced at him, an’ sez: “Hum, what
we call a dwarf red squirrel, up in Nova Scotia. They have tails,
though, up there.”

The ol’ man spluttered till we had to pound him on the back. “Dwarf?”
he chokes out. “Dwarf! You produce a squirrel to match him, will ya,
or else you pack up your truck an’ move on. I don’t intend to have

“See here, ol’ man,” sez Eugene, pointin’ a finger at him the same as
if he’d been a naughty child. “A short-tailed grizzly ground-squirrel
is from two to four times as big as this one, so if you want to
sidestep the bet, you can do it; but if you want to have some show for
your money, I bet you fifty to ten that I can get a squirrel three
times as big as this one. I own up that for its kind, this squirrel is
of fair, average growth; but—”

“I’ll take that bet!” yelled the old man. “We’ll put up our money with
Ike Spargle this minute; but I don’t want your odds. I’ll bet you even

Eugene shook his head as if he pitied the ol’ man, an’ he sez,
“Haven’t you never travelled none, or seen a zoological garden?”

“Yes, I’ve travelled some, an’ I’ve seen all kinds o’ gardens,” flares
back the ol’ man; “but what I want now is to fix up this bet.”

“Who’ll be the judges?” sez Eugene.

“I don’t care a snap. Any man who can see through the holes in a
ladder’ll be able to decide between the claims o’ two squirrels. Ike
Spargle an’ Bill Thompson can be the judges.”

“There has to be three,” sez Eugene. “We’ll have Dan Stedman be the

So they put up the money an’ Eugene was to have six weeks to get his
squirrel; an’ from that on we begun to divide up into rival camps.
The’ wasn’t any tree squirrels out in that neck o’ the woods, an’ we
had all forgot what wild squirrels really was like. We knew the’ was
ground-squirrels, red squirrels, gray squirrels, an’
flyin’-squirrels—although an argument was started about there bein’
flyin’-fish all right, but no flyin’-squirrels, which would have ended
in warfare if Eugene hadn’t been handy to settle it.

You wouldn’t think that a little thing like a bet about the size of a
squirrel would take the way it did; but Eugene was so confident on his
side, an’ ol’ man Dort was so dead sure of Ben Butler, that the rest
of us split up an’ we each had a little side bet on the outcome. It
seemed a tarnation long time while we was waitin’; but in a little
over a month, Eugene got a big box which he took into his back room
without lettin’ even the fellers who had backed his squirrel get a
peep at it.

From that on we got shaved twice a day an’ our heads washed till the
hair started to change color; so that Eugene’s trade was so improved
that even if he lost the bet, he was money ahead; but he scoffed the
idy o’ losin’ the bet, even after his squirrel arrived; and as he was
the only man who had seen both the contestants, he had the whole
country up in the air.

Ol’ man Dort had made his squirrel run around the wheel four hours a
day, pokin’ him up with a stick when he got lazy; an’ this gave Ben
Butler sech a prodigious appetite that the ol’ man had to set up late
at night to give him an extra meal. As the day o’ settlement came
closer, the ol’ man tapered off on the exercise, an’ doubled up on the
feed, until Ben Butler looked a full size larger, an’ us fellers who
had our money on Eugene’s squirrel began to get shaky. If it had been
just an even race, it would have been a fair deal; but to have to show
a squirrel three times larger than Ben Butler seemed an impossibility.

Eugene had been fussin’ over his entry too, an’ we used to sneak up
behind his shop at nights to listen to him. We could hear him snippin’
with scissors and pullin’ stoppers out o’ bottles and when he was
through he’d say: “Stand up there, Columbus”—which was the name of
his champion, an’ then he would seem to pass in a bunch o’ feed, an’
say—“Good boy, Columbus! that dwarf red squirrel can turn a double
handspring in your shadder.”

This used to hearten us up again, and we’d lay a little more money on
Eugene’s squirrel. Ike, an’ Bill, an’ Dan—the judges—said that they
didn’t claim to know anything about the breeds o’ squirrels, an’ all
they was to judge on was the size, which would be settled by weight if
the’ was any dispute. They got kind o’ nervous toward the end, ’cause
the fellers were all on edge, an’ a rank decision meant trouble in

When the final day o’ settlement arrived, Boggs was seven deep with
fellers on edge to see the outcome. Most of us had all we could spare
hung up in bets; but the’ was still a lot o’ coin in the crowd, and a
crew came over from Cheyenne to take charge of it.

They had a game which certainly was attractive, I’ll say that much for
it. It was a round board full o’ numbers, and up the middle was a
tower with slopin’ sides covered with nails. A marble was dropped into
a hole at the top and bobbled on the nails until it went into a row of
holes at the bottom, and came out in a groove leadin’ to one o’ the
numbers. Some o’ these numbers doubled the player’s money, some of ’em
paid it over to the table; but most of ’em was neutral, and a feller
had to double what he already had up, in order to stand a show. It was
an innocent-appearin’ game, but deceptive. When a feller had up all he
could raise, some stranger would offer him two bits for his chance,
put up the doublin’ money—and win. This was a capper o’ course; but
crowds don’t have any sense when they start gamblin’, and this crew
was cleanin’ us out until, all of a sudden, I heard a clear, low-toned
voice say: “If one o’ you boys would upset that table, you’d see the
lever which controls the marble.”

I glanced up, and there was the Singin’ Parson, as cool as a frozen
fish. Ol’ Tom Williams, commonly known as “Tank,” had just lost six
dollars, and he upset the table and saw just how tight braced the
blame game was. Then he unlimbered his gun, and suggested that he
would feel calmer if he had the six dollars back, and the Cheyenne
gambler looked into Tank’s free eye, which was pointin’ at the
ceilin’, and he seconded Tank’s motion. After this the rest o’ the
boys collected what they felt was due ’em, and the Cheyenne crowd had
to fall back on charity for their noon lunch.

Just about one o’clock, the head crook saw the Singin’ Parson standin’
close to Eugene’s barber shop. The shop was locked, and the crowd
around was lookin’ at it. The crook didn’t want to attract any
attention; so, instead o’ usin’ a gun, he struck at the Parson with a
club. He miscalculated, and hit the shoulder instead o’ the head. The
Parson whirled, grabbed the club with his left hand, and the crook’s
shirt collar with his right. The crook started to pull; but we settled
down on him, and were all ready to serve out justice, when the Parson
interrupted to say that it was none of our business, and if we’d just
form a ring, he’d settle it to everybody’s satisfaction. He said he
expected to live among us for the rest of his life, and this would be
a good time to introduce his methods.

We took off the crook’s weapons, and then formed a big ring. The
Parson was smilin’ a business-like smile, while the crook was palin’
up noticeable. “I am convinced that a man must settle some things,
himself, in a new country,” sez the Parson. “I am larger than you, so
it is fair for you to use this club; but I warn you in advance that I
understand how to guard again’ clubs, so do your best. I’m ready,

It was quite eddifyin’ to behold: the crook made a vicious smash at
the Parson’s head, the Parson bent his arm at the elbow, muscle out,
so the bone wouldn’t get bruised, stepped in, and hit the crook a
swing in the short ribs. Some say it lifted him ten feet, some say
only eight; but any way, when he lit, he gave a grunt like an empty
barrel, and the Parson had no trouble in layin’ him over his knee and
givin’ him the most liberal spankin’ with that club I ever was
spectator to; while the crowd howled itself hoarse in the throat.

Now the Parson wasn’t angry, he grinned all the way through, and when
he had taken as much exercise as he felt was good for him, he set the
crook on his feet, and talked fatherly advice to him as sober an’
dignified as was possible—considerin’ the fact that the crook was
dancin’ about like a spider on a hot skillet, and rubbin’ the part
which had got most intimate with the club.

Eugene had seen it all through his window, and when it was over, he
came out and shook the Parson’s hand, and said he was just the kind
needed in such an ungodly community, and that he reminded him for all
the world of Friar Tuck in Robin Hood. Now, we hadn’t none of us heard
of Friar Tuck up to that time; but it was a name well fitted to the
tongue, and from the way Eugene said it, we elected it was a
compliment; so we gave it to the Singin’ Parson on the spot, and it
soaked into his bones, and he hasn’t needed any other since.

This little incident kept us all in a good humor until three o’clock,
which was the fatal hour for the squirrel-contest.

Then ol’ man Dort marched to the center o’ the street, carryin’ his
cage as though it was full o’ diamonds; an’ Ben Butler sat up an’
chattered as if he was darin’ the whole race o’ squirrels to bring
forth his equal.

“I don’t reckon a squirrel could get three times as big as him without
explodin’,” sez Spider Kelley, who also had his money on Eugene’s

“Here comes Eugene with Columbus,” sez I, not carin’ to waste breath
on an opinion I had backed up with good money.

Eugene came down the street carryin’ one end of a box, with Doc Forbes
carryin’ the other. The box was covered with a clean apron, an’ Eugene
wasn’t lookin’ down in the mouth or discouraged.

“From the size o’ that box, we’re goin’ to have a run for our money,”
sez Spider. “If Columbus just looks good enough to make ’em settle by
the scales, I haven’t any kick comin’.”

Well, as Eugene drew closer, that crowd fell into a silence until all
a body could hear was Ben Butler braggin’ about all the nuts he had
et, an’ what a prodigious big squirrel he was; but Eugene never
faltered. He walked up an’ set his box down careful, motioned Doc over
to the side lines, made a graceful motion to ol’ man Dort, an’ sez:
“As yours is the local champion you introduce him first, an’ make your

Ol’ man Dort removed his tobacco, wiped his forehead, an’ sez: “Feller
citizens, I make the claim that Ben Butler is the biggest full-blooded
squirrel ever sent to enlighten the solitude of lonely humanity. This
is him.”

The ol’ man looked lovin’ly down at his squirrel, an’ we every one of
us gave a rousin’ cheer. It was all the family the ol’ man had, an’ it
meant more to him ’n a body who hadn’t never tried standin’ his own
company months at a time could realize. Ol’ man Dort thrust some new
tobacco into his face, bit his lips, winked his eyes rapid, an’ bowed
to us, almost overcome.

Then Eugene stepped a space to the front, bowed to the crowd in
several directions, an’ sez: “Gentlemen, an’ feller citizens—From
Iceland’s icy mountains to India’s coral strands an’ Afric’s sunny
fountains, every nation an’ every clime has produced some peculiar
product o’ nature which lifts it above an’ sets it apart from all the
other localities of the globe. When you speak of the succulent banana,
the golden orange, or the prickly pineapple, Nova Scotia remains
silent; but when you speak of varmints, she rears up on her hind legs
and with a glad shout of triumph, she hands forth the short-tailed
grizzly ground-squirrel, an’ sez, ‘Give me the blue ribbons, the gold
medals, an’ the laurel crowns of victory.’ I have the rare pleasure
an’ the distinctive honor of presenting to your notice Columbus, the
hugest squirrel ever exhibited within the confines of captivity.”

We was so took by Eugene’s eloquence that we hardly noticed him slip
the apron from in front of his cage; but when we did look, we could
hardly get our breath. I was standin’ close to the Friar; and at first
he looked puzzled, and then his face lit up with a regular boy’s grin;
but he didn’t say a word.

Columbus was certainly a giant; he stood full two feet tall as he sat
up an’ scrutinized around with a bossy sort of grin. He was dappled
fawn color on the sides with a curly black streak down the back an’
sort o’ chestnut-red below, with a short tail an’ teeth like chisels.
He won so blame easy that even us what had bet on him didn’t cheer.

Ol’ man Dort give a grin, thinkin’ Ben Butler must have won, an’ then
he stepped around an’ looked into Eugene’s cage. He looked first at
Columbus, an’ then at Ben Butler, then he looked again. “That damned
thing ain’t alive,” he sez. “It’s made up out o’ wool yarn. Poke it up
an’ let me see it move.”

“Poke it yourself,” sez Eugene. He was one o’ these cold-blooded
gamblers who ain’t got one speck o’ decent sentimentality; an’ he was
mad ’cause we hadn’t cheered.

Ol’ man Dort took a stick an’ poked Columbus, an’ Columbus give a
threatenin’ grin, chattered savage, an’ bit the stick in two. “Give
him the money, Ike,” sez ol’ man Dort. “I own up I never was in Nova
Scotia, an’ I never supposed that such squirrels as this grew on the
face o’ the whole earth. What’ll you take for him?” he sez to Eugene.

“It ain’t your fault that you didn’t know about him,” sez Eugene,
thawin’ a little humanity into himself. “I don’t want to rub it in on
nobody; and I’ll give you this here squirrel free gratis, ’cause I
admit that you know more about squirrels ’n anybody else what ever I
met; an’ you have the biggest red squirrel the’ is in the world.”

Then we did give Eugene a cheer, an’ everything loosened up, an’ we
all crowded into Ike Spargle’s so that them what won could spend a
little money on them what lost.

After a time, ol’ man Dort got up on a chair, an’ sez: “I want you
fellers to know that Columbus won’t never be my pet. Ben Butler has
been the squarest squirrel ever was, an’ he continues to remain my
pet; but I’ll study feedin’ this condemned foreign squirrel, an’ give
him a fair show; so that if any outsiders come around makin’ brags, we
will have a home squirrel to enter again’ ’em an’ get their money.”

Eugene led the cheerin’ this time, which made Eugene solider than ever
with the boys, an’ when Spider an’ me got ready to ride home, he an’
ol’ man Dort had their arms around each other tryin’ to sing the Star
Spangled Banner.

Spider talked about Columbus most o’ the way home, but I was still.
The’ was somethin’ peculiar about the Friar’s grin when he first
sighted Columbus, and the’ was somethin’ familiar about that squirrel,
an’ I was tryin’ to adjust myself. Just as we swung to the west on the
last turn, I sez to Spider: “Spider, I don’t know what I ought to do
about this?”

“About what?” sez Spider.

“About this bet?”

“Well, it was a fair bet, wasn’t it? Columbus is full four times as
big as Ben Butler.”

“Yes,” sez I, “but he ain’t no squirrel.”

Spider pulled up to a stop. “Ain’t no squirrel?” he sez. “What do you
take me for, didn’t I see him myself? What is he then?”

“He’s a woodchuck, that’s what he is,” sez I. “He’s a genuwine ground
hog with his hair cut stylish and died accordin’ to Eugene’s idy of
high art. I remember now that I used to see ’em when I was a little
shaver back on my dad’s farm in Indiana.”

Spider give a whoop, an’ then he laughed, an’ then he sobered up, an’
sez: “Well, you can’t do nothin’ now, anyway. The judges have decided
it, ol’ man Dort has give it up, it ain’t your game nohow, an’ if you
was to try to equal back those bets after they have been paid an’
mostly spent, you’d start a heap o’ blood-spillin’; an’ furthermore,
as far as I’m concerned, I ain’t right sure but what a woodchuck, as
you call it, ain’t some kind of a squirrel. We’ll just let this go an’
wait for a chance to put something over on Eugene.”

So that’s what we made up to do; but this gives you an idy of how fine
a line the Friar drew on questions o’ sport. He knew ’at we weren’t
full fledged angels, and that we had to have our little diversities;
but when any professional hold-up men tried to ring in a brace game on
us, he couldn’t see any joke in it, and he upset the money-changers’
tables, the same as they was upset that time, long ago, in the temple.



I’m only about twice as old as I feel; but I’ve certainly seen a lot
o’ changes take place out this way. I can look back to the time when
what most of us called a town was nothin’ but a log shack with a
barrel of cheap whiskey and a mail-bag wanderin’ in once a month or
so, from goodness-knows-where. I’ve seen the cattle kings when they
set their own bounds, made their own laws, and cared as little for
government-title as they did for an Injun’s. Then, I’ve seen the sheep
men creep in an inch at a time until they ate the range away from the
cattle and began to jump claims an’ tyrannize as free and joyous as
the cattle men had. Next came the dry farmer, and he was as comical as
a bum lamb when he first hove into sight; but I reckon that sooner or
later he’ll be the one to write the final laws for this section.

We’re gettin’ a good many towns on our map nowadays, we’re puttin’ up
a lot o’ hay, we’re drinkin’ cow milk, and we’re eatin’ garden truck
in the summer. The old West has dried up and blown away before our
very eyes, and a few of us old timers are beginnin’ to feel like the
last o’ the buffalo. The’s more money nowadays in boardin’ dudes ’n
the’ is in herdin’ cattle, an’ that’s the short of a long, long story.

But still we hammered out this country from the rough, and no one can
take that away from us. The flag follers trouble, an’ business follers
the flag, an’ law follers business, an’ trouble follers the law; but
always the first trouble was kicked up by boys who had got so ’at they
couldn’t digest home cookin’ any longer and just nachely had to get
out an’ tussle with nature an’ the heathen.

They’re a tough, careless lot, these young adventurers; an’ they’re
always in a state of panic lest the earth get so crowded the’ won’t be
room enough to roll over in bed without askin’ permission; so they
kill each other off as soon as possible, and thus make room for the
patienter ones who follow after. From what I’ve heard tell of history,
this has been about the way that the white race has managed from the
very beginning.

As a general rule it has been purt’ nigh a drawn fight between the
dark-skins an’ the wild animals; then the lads who had to have more
elbow-room came along, and the dark-skins and the wild animals had to
be put onto reservations to preserve a few specimens as curiosities,
while the lads fussed among themselves, each one tryin’ to settle down
peaceable with his dooryard lappin’ over the horizon in all
directions. Room, room, room—that was their constant cry. As soon as
one would get a neighbor within a day’s ride, he’d begin to feel shut
in an’ smothered.

Tyrrel Jones was one o’ the worst o’ this breed. He came out at an
early date, climbed the highest peak he could find, and claimed
everything ’at his gaze could reach in every direction. Then he
invented the Cross brand, put it on a few cows, and made ready to
defend his rights. The Cross brand was a simple one, just one straight
line crossin’ another; and it could be put on in about one second with
a ventin’ iron, or anything else which happened to be handy. Tyrrel
thought a heap o’ this brand, an’ he didn’t lose any chances of
puttin’ it onto saleable property. His herd grew from the very

His home ranch was something over a hundred miles northwest o’ the
Diamond Dot; but I allus suspicioned that a lot of our doggies had the
Cross branded on to ’em. Tyrrel was mighty particular in the kind o’
punchers he hired. He liked fellers who had got into trouble, an’ the
deeper they was in, the better he liked ’em. Character seeks its
level, the same as water; so that Tyrrel had no trouble in gettin’ as
many o’ the breed he wanted as he had place for. They did his
devilment free and hearty, and when they had a little spare time, they
used to devil on their own hook in a way to shame an Injun.

The sayin’ was, that a Cross brand puncher could digest every sort o’
beef in the land except Cross brand beef. Tyrrel used to grin at this
sayin’ as though it was a sort of compliment; but some o’ the little
fellers got purty bitter about it. When a small outfit located on a
nice piece o’ water, it paid ’em to be well out o’ Ty’s neighborhood.
No one ever had any luck who got in his road; but his own luck boomed
right along year after year. He allus kept more men than he needed;
an’ about once a month he’d knock in the head of a barrel o’ whiskey,
an’ the tales they used to tell about these times was enough to raise
the hair. Ty would work night an’ day to get one of his men out of a
scrape; but once a man played him false, he either had to move or get
buried. He wasn’t a bad lookin’ man, except that he allus seemed keyed
up an’ ready to spring.

His men all had to be top-notch riders, because he hadn’t any use for
a gentle hoss; he didn’t want his hosses trained, he wanted ’em
busted, an’ the cavey he’d send along for a round-up would be about as
gentle and reliable as a band o’ hungry wolves. If a man killed a
hoss, why Ty seemed to think it a good joke, an’ this was his gait all
the way along—the rougher the men were, the better they suited him.
He kept a pack o’ dogs, and the men were encouraged to kick an’ abuse
’em; but if one of ’em petted a dog, he was fired that instant—or
else lured into a quarrel. The’ didn’t seem to be one single soft spot
left in the man, an’ when they got to callin’ him Tyrant Jones instead
of Tyrrel, why, it suited him all over, an’ he used it himself once in
a while.

The next time I saw Friar Tuck, he recognized me at first glance, an’
his face lit up as though we had been out on some prank together an’
was the best pals in the world ever since. He wanted to know all I
knew about the crowd that had started to string him up; and when I had
finished paintin’ ’em as black as I could, what did he do but say that
he was goin’ up their way to have a talk with ’em.

I told him right out that it was simply wastin’ time; but he was set
in his ways, so I decided to ride part way with him. He had two hosses
along this trip, with his bed an’ grub tied on the spare one; and on
the second day we reached a little park just as the sun was setting.
It was one o’ the most beautiful spots I ever saw, high enough to get
a grand view off to the west, but all the rest shut in like a little
room. He jumped from his hoss, had his saddle off as soon as I did,
and also helped me with the pack. Then he looked about the place.

“What a grand cathedral this is, Happy!” he sez after a minute.

I didn’t sense what he meant right at first, and went on makin’ camp,
until I happened to notice his expression. He was lookin’ off to the
west with the level rays of the sun as it sank down behind a distant
range full in his face. The twilight had already fallen over the low
land and all the hazy blues an’ purples an’ lavenders seemed to be
floatin’ in a misty sea, with here an’ there the black shadows of
peaks stickin’ out like islands. It really was gorgeous when you
stopped to give time to it.

It had been gruelin’ hot all day, an’ was just beginnin’ to get cool
an’ restful, and I was feelin’ the jerk of my appetite; but when I
noticed his face I forgot all about it. I stood a bit back of him,
half watchin’ him, an’ half watchin’ the landscape. Just as the sun
sank, he raised his hands and chanted, with his great, soft voice
booming out over the hills: “The Lord is in His holy temple—let all
the earth keep silence before Him.”

He bent his head, an’ I bent mine—I’d have done it if the’d been a
knife-point stickin’ again’ my chin. I tell you, it was solemn! It
grew dark in a few moments an’ the evening star came out in all her
glory. It was a still, clear night without a speck in the air, and she
was the only star in sight; but she made up for it, all right, by
throwing out spikes a yard long.

He looked up at it for a moment, and then sang a simple little hymn
beginnin’, “Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh; shadows of the
evening steal across the sky.” It didn’t have the ring to it of most
of his songs; it was just close an’ friendly, and filled a feller with
peace. It spoke o’ the little children, and those watchin’ in pain,
and the sailors tossin’ on the deep blue sea, and those who planned
evil—rounded ’em all up and bespoke a soothin’ night for ’em; and I
venture to say that it did a heap o’ good.

Then he pitched in an’ helped me get supper. This was his way; he
didn’t wear a long face and talk doleful; he was full o’ life an’
boilin’ over with it every minute, and he’d turn his hand to whatever
came up an’ joke an’ be the best company in the world; but he never
got far from the Lord; and when he’d stop to worship, why, the whole
world seemed to stop and worship with him.

We had a merry meal and had started to wash up the dishes when he
happened to glance up again. He had just been tellin’ me a droll story
about the first camp he’d ever made, and how he had tied on his pack
so ’at the hoss couldn’t comfortably use his hind legs and had bucked
all his stuff into a crick, an’ I was still laughin’; but when he
looked up, my gaze followed his. It was plumb dark by now, an’ that
evening star was fair bustin’ herself, and the light of it turned the
peaks a glisteny, shadowy silver. He raised his hands again and
chanted one beginning: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is
within me, praise His holy name.”

The’ was a part in this one which called upon all the works o’ the
Lord to praise Him, and I glanced about to see what was happenin’. A
faint breeze had sprung up and the spruce trees were bowin’ over
reverently, the ponies had raised their heads and their eyes were
shinin’ soft and bright in the firelight as they looked curiously at
the singer; and as I stood there with a greasy skillet in my hand,
something inside of me seemed to get down on its knees, to worship
with the other works o’ the Lord.

It was one o’ those wonderful moments which seem to brand themselves
on a feller’s memory, and I can see it all now, and hear the Friar’s
voice as it floated away into the hills until it seemed to be caught
up by other voices rather than to die away.

Well, we sat up about the fire a long time that night. He didn’t fuss
with me about my soul, or gettin’ saved, or such things. I told him
the things I didn’t understand, and he told me the things he didn’t
understand; and I told him about some o’ my scrapes, and he told me
about some o’ his, and—well, I can’t see where it was so different
from a lot of other nights; but I suppose I’d be sitting there yet if
he hadn’t finally said it was bedtime.

He stood up and looked at the star again, and chanted the one which
begins: “Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace”; after which he
pulled off some of his clothes and crawled into the tarp. I crawled in
beside him about two minutes later; but he was already asleep, while I
lay there thinkin’ for the best part of an hour.

Next mornin’ he awakened me by singin’, “Brightest and best of the
sons of the morning”; and after that we got breakfast, and he started
on to Ty Jones’s while I turned back to the Diamond Dot. I didn’t
think he’d be able to do much with that gang; but after the talk I’d
had with him the night before, I saw ’at they couldn’t do much to him,
either. I had got sort of a hint at his scheme of life; and there
isn’t much you can do to a man who doesn’t value his flesh more ’n the
Friar did his.



Ty stood in his door as the Friar rode up, and he recognized him from
the description Badger-face had turned in. Badger-face had been purty
freely tongue-handled for not havin’ lynched the Friar, and Ty Jones
was disposed to tilt his welcome even farther back than usual; so he
set his pack on the Friar. He had six dogs at this time, mastiffs with
a wolf-cross in ’em which about filled out his notion o’ what a dog
ought to be.

The Friar had noticed the dogs, but he didn’t have an idee that any
man would set such creatures on another man; so he had dismounted to
get a drink o’ water from the crick, it havin’ been a hot ride. The
pack came surgin’ down on him while he was lyin’ flat an’ drinkin’ out
o’ the crick. His ponies were grazin’ close by, and as soon as he saw
’at the dogs meant business, he vaulted into the saddle just in time
to escape ’em.

They leaped at him as fast as they came up, and he hit ’em with the
loaded end of his quirt as thorough as was possible. He was ridin’ a
line buckskin with a nervous disposition, and the pony kicked one or
two on his own hook; but as the Friar leaned over in puttin’ down the
fifth, the sixth jumped from the opposite side, got a holt on his arm
just at the shoulder, an’ upset him out of the saddle. In the fall the
dog’s grip was broke an’ he and the Friar faced each other for a
moment, the Friar squattin’ on one knee with his fists close to his
throat, the dog crouchin’ an’ snarlin’.

As the dog sprang, the Friar upper-cut him in the throat with his left
hand and when he straightened up, hit him over the heart with his
right. He says that a dog’s heart is poorly protected. Anything ’at
didn’t have steel over it was poorly protected when the Friar struck
with his right in earnest. The dog was killed. One o’ the dogs the
pony had kicked was also killed, but the other four was able to get up
and crawl away.

The Friar shook himself and went on to where Ty Jones and a few of his
men were standin’. “That’s a nice lively bunch o’ dogs you have,” sez
he, smilin’ as pleasant as usual; “but they need trainin’.”

“They suit me all right,” growls Ty, “except that they’re too blame

The Friar looked at him a minute, and then said drily, “Yes, that’s
what I said; they need trainin’.”

Ty Jones scowled: “They don’t get practice enough,” sez he. “It’s most
generally known that I ain’t a-hankerin’ for company; so folks don’t
usually come here, unless they’re sure of a welcome.”

“I can well believe you,” said the Friar, laughin’, “and I hope the
next time I come I’ll be sure of a welcome.”

“It’s not likely,” sez Ty shortly.

The Friar just stood and looked at him curiously. He didn’t believe
that Ty could really mean it. The’ wasn’t a streak of anything in his
own make-up to throw light on a human actin’ the way ’at Ty Jones
acted; so he just stood and examined him. Ty stared back with a sneer
on his face, and I’m sorry I couldn’t have been there to see ’em
eyein’ each other.

“Do you really mean,” sez the Friar at last, “that you hate your
fellow humans so, that you’d drive a perfect stranger away from your

“I haven’t any use for hoss-thieves,” sez Ty.

The Friars face lighted. “Oh, that’s all right,” sez he in a relieved
tone. “As long as you have a special grievance again’ me, why, it’s
perfectly natural for you to act up to it. It wouldn’t be natural for
most men to act up to it in just this way, but still it’s normal;
while for a man to set his dogs on a total stranger would be
monstrous. I’m glad to know ’at you had some excuse; but as far as
hoss-stealin’ goes, that roan is back with your band again. I saw him
as I came along.”

Ty was somewhat flabbergasted. He wasn’t used to havin’ folks try out
his conduct and comment on it right to his face; and especially was he
shocked to have his morals praised by a preacher. He knew ’at such a
reception as had just been handed to the Friar would have taken the
starch out o’ most men an’ filled ’em with a desire for revenge ever
after; but he could see that the Friar was not thinkin’ of what had
been handed to him, he was actually interested in himself, Ty Jones,
and was honestly tryin’ to see how it was possible for such a
condition to exist; and this set Ty Jones back on his haunches for

“For all time to come,” he sez slow and raspy, “I want you to leave my
stuff alone. If you ever catch up and ride one of my hosses again,
I’ll get your hide; and I don’t even want you on my land.”

Then the Friar stiffened up; any one in the world, or any thing, had
the right to impose upon the Friar as a man; but when they tried to
interfere with what he spoke of as his callin’, why, he swelled up
noticeable. The Friar’s humility was genuine, all right; but it was
about four times stiffer an’ spikier than any pride I’ve ever met up
with yet.

“I shall not ride your hosses,” sez he, scornful, “nor shall I tread
upon your land, nor shall I breathe your air, nor drink your water;
but in the future, as in the past, I shall use for the Lord only those
things which belong to the Lord. The things which are the Lord’s were
His from the beginning, the things which you call yours are merely
entrusted to your care for a day or an hour or a moment. I do not
covet your paltry treasures, I covet your soul and I intend to fight
you for it from this day forward.”

The Friar spoke in a low, earnest tone; and Ty Jones stared at him. Ya
know how earnest an insane man gets? Well, the’ was something o’ this
in the Friar when he was talkin’ business. You felt that he believed
that what he was sayin’ was the truth, and you felt that if it was the
truth, it was mighty well worth heedin’, and you also felt that in
spite of its bein’ so everlastin’ different from the usual view o’
things, it might actually be the truth after all and a risky thing to
pass up careless.

After waitin’ a minute without gettin’ a reply, the Friar turned on
his heel to walk away, stumbled, and slipped to the ground, and then
they noticed a pool of blood which had dripped from him as he stood.
He had forgotten that the dog had torn him, an’ the men had looked
into his eyes, as men always did when he talked, and they had forgot
it, too. Now, when he fell, Olaf the Swede stepped forward to help him

Olaf was the best man ’at Ty Jones had, from Ty’s own standpoint. Ty
had happened to be over at Skelty’s one night when Skelty was givin’ a
dance. Skelty had six girls at this time, an’ he used to give a dance
about once a week. Along about midnight, they got to be purty lively
affairs. This night Skelty had bragged what a fine shot he was, an’
the boys were kiddin’ him about it, because Skelty wasn’t no shot at
all as a rule. It was a moonlight night, and while they was sheepin’
Skelty about his shootin’, two strangers rode up, tied their hosses to
the corral, an’ started up the path toward the door.

Skelty looked at ’em an’ sez, “Why, if I had a mind to, I could pick
one o’ those fellers off with this gun as easy as I could scratch my
nose.” He pulled his gun and held it over his shoulder.

All the boys fair hooted, an’ Skelty dropped his gun an’ shot one o’
the strangers dead in his tracks. The other came along on the run with
Skelty shootin’ at him as fast as he could pop; but he only shot him
once, through the leg, and he limped in an’ made for Skelty with his
bare hands. Skelty hit him in the forehead, knocked him down an’
jumped on him. He kept on beatin’ him over the head until the stranger
managed to get a grip on his wrists. He held one hand still, an’
puttin’ the other into his mouth, bit off the thumb.

The’s somethin’ about bein’ bit on the thumb which melts a man’s
nerve; and in about five minutes, the stranger had Skelty’s head
between his knees, and was makin’ him eat his own gun. It must have
been a hideous sight! Some say that he actually did make Skelty eat
it, and some say that he only tore through the throat; but anyway,
Skelty didn’t quite survive it, and Ty Jones hired the stranger, which
was Olaf the Swede.

Olaf was one o’ those Swedes which seem a mite too big for their
skins. The bones in his head stuck out, his jaws stuck out prodigious,
his shoulders stuck out, his hands stuck out—he fair loomed up and
seemed to crowd the landscape, and he was stouter ’n a bull. When he
let himself go he allus broke somethin’; but he had a soft streak in
him for animals, an’ Ty never could break him from bein’ gentle with
hosses, nor keep him from pettin’ the dogs once in a while. Olaf
hadn’t no more morals ’n a snake at this time, an’ when it came to
dealin’ with humans, he suited Ty to the minute; but he just simply
wouldn’t torture an animal, and that was the end of it. Olaf wasn’t a
talkin’ man; he never used a word where a grunt would do, and he was
miserly about them; but he certainly was set in his ways.

The Friar hadn’t fainted, he had just gone dizzy; so when Olaf gave
him a lift he got to his feet and walked to his horse. He allus
carried some liniment an’ such in his saddle bags, an’ he pulled off
his shirt and cleaned out the wound and tied it up, with Olaf standin’
by and tryin’ to help. Now, it made something of a murmur, when the
Friar took off his shirt. In the first place, the dog had give him an
awful tear, and for the rest, the Friar was a wonderful sight to
behold. He was as strong as Olaf without bein’ bulgey, and his skin
was as white and smooth as ivory. He was all curves and tapers with
medium small hands and feet, and a throat clean cut and shapely like
the throat of a high-bred mare. Olaf looked at him, and nodded his
head solemnly. Badger-face hated Olaf, because Olaf had a curious way
of estimatin’ things and havin’ ’em turn out to be so, which made Ty
Jones put faith in what Olaf said, over and above what any one else

As soon as the Friar had finished tyin’ up the wound, he turned and
walked up to Ty Jones. “Friend,” he said, “I don’t bear you a grain o’
malice, and nothing you can ever do to me will make me bear you a
grain o’ malice. I know a lot about medicine, and perhaps I can help
you that way sometime. I want to get a start with you some way; I want
to be welcome here, and I wish ’at you’d give me a chance.”

“Oh, hell!” sneered Ty Jones. “Do you think you can soft-soap me as
easy as you did the boys? You’re not welcome here now, and you never
will be. I’ve heard all this religious chatter, and there’s nothin’ in
it. The world was always held by the strong, by the men who hated
their enemies and stamped them out as fast as they got a chance; and
it always will be held by the strong. Your religion is only for
weaklings and hypocrits.”

The Friar’s face lighted. “Will you discuss these things with me?” he
asked. “I shall not eat until this scratch is healed, I have my own
bed and will not bother you; won’t you just be decent enough to invite
me to camp here, give me free use of water, and grass for my hosses,
while you and I discuss these things fully?”

“I told you I didn’t want you about, and I don’t,” sez Ty. “The’s
nothin’ on earth so useless as a preacher, and I can’t stand ’em.”

“Let me work for you,” persisted the Friar. “All I ask is a chance to
show ’at I’m able to do a man’s work, and all the pay I ask is a
chance to hold service here on Sundays. If I don’t do my work well,
then you can make me the laughin’ stock o’ the country; but I tell you
right now that if you turn me away without a show, it will do you a
lot more harm than it will me.”

Ty thought ’at probably the Friar had got wind o’ some of his
devilment, and was hintin’ that his own neck depended on his men
keepin’ faith with him; so he stared at the Friar to see if it was a

The Friar looked back into his eyes with hope beamin’ in his own; but
after a time Ty Jones scowled down his brows an’ pointed the way ’at
the Friar had come. “Go,” sez he, stiff as ever. “The’ ain’t any room
for you on the Cross brand range; and if ya try anything underhanded,
I’ll hunt ya down and put ya plumb out o’ the way.”

So the Friar he caught his ponies and hit the back trail; but still it
had been purty much of a drawn battle, for Ty Jones’s men had used
their eyes and their ears, and they had to give in to themselves ’at
the preacher had measured big any way ya looked at him; while their
own boss had dogged it in the manger to a higher degree ’n even they
could take glory in.

As the Friar rode away, he sagged in his saddle with his head bent
over; and they thought him faint from his wound; but the truth was,
that he was only a little sad to think ’at he had lost. He was human,
the Friar was; he used to chide himself for presumptin’ to be
impatient; but at the same time he used to fidget like a nervous hoss
when things seemed to stick in the sand; and he didn’t sing a note as
long as he was on the Cross brand range—which same was an uncommon
state for the Friar to be in, him generally marchin’ to music.



This was the way the Friar started out with us; and year after year,
this was the way he kept up. He was friendly with every one, and most
every one was friendly with him. Some o’ the boys got the idea that he
packed his guns along as a bluff; so they put up a joke on him.

They lay in wait for him one night as he was comin’ up the goose neck.
I, myself, didn’t rightly savvy just how he did stand with regard to
the takin’ of human life in self-defence; but I knew mighty well ’at
he wasn’t no bluffer, so I didn’t join in with the boys, nor I didn’t
warn him; I just scouted along on the watch and got up the hill out o’
range to see what would happen.

He came up the hill in the twilight, singin’ one of his favorite
marchin’ songs. I’ve heard it hundreds of times since then, and I’ve
often found myself singin’ it softly to myself when I had a long,
lonely ride to make. That was a curious thing about the Friar: he
didn’t seem to be tampin’ any of his idees into a feller, but first
thing the feller knew, he had picked up some o’ the Friar’s ways; and,
as the Friar confided to me once, a good habit is as easy learned as a
bad, and twice as comfortin’.

Well, he came up the pass shufflin’ along at a steady Spanish trot as
was usual with him when not overly rushed, and singin’:

    “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah!
      Pilgrim through this barren land;
    I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
      Hold me with Thy powerful hand.”

He came up out of the pass with his head thrown back, and his boy’s
face shinin’ with that radiatin’ joy I haven’t ever seen in another
face, exceptin’ it first caught the reflection from the Friar’s; and
the notion about died out o’ the boys’ minds. They were all friends of
his and wouldn’t have hurt his feelin’s for a lot; but they had itched
about his weapons for such a spell that they finally had to have it
out; so when he rounded a point o’ rock, they stepped out and told him
to put his hands up.

They were masked and had him covered, and his hands shot up with a
jerk; but he didn’t stop his singin’, and his voice didn’t take on a
single waver. Fact was, it seemed if possible a shade more jubilant.
He had reached the verse which sez:

    “Feed me with the heavenly manna
      In this barren wilderness;
    Be my sword and shield and banner,
      Be the Lord my Righteousness”;

and as he sang with his hands held high above his head, he waved ’em
back and forth, playin’ notes in the air with his fingers, the way he
did frequent; and it was one o’ the most divertin’ sights I ever saw.

Those blame scamps had all they could do to keep from hummin’ time to
his song; for I swear to you in earnest that the Friar could play on a
man’s heart the same as if it was a fiddle. He kept on an’ finished
the last verse while I crouched above ’em behind a big rock, and
fairly hugged myself with the joy of it. Ol’ Tank Williams was a big
man and had been chosen out to be the leader an’ do the talkin’, but
he hadn’t the heart to jab into the Friar’s singin’; so he waited
until it was all over. Then he cleared his throat as though settin’
off a blast of dynamite, and growls out: “Here, you, give us your

Ten six-shooters were pointin’ at the Friar, but I reckon if he had
known it would of exploded all of ’em, he’d have had to laugh. He
threw back his head and his big free laugh rolled out into the hills,
until I had to gnaw at a corner o’ the stone to keep from joinin’ in.
“My money!” sez he as soon as he could catch his breath. “Well, boys,
boys, whatever put such a notion as that into your heads. Take it,
take it, you’re welcome to it; and if you are able to find more than
two bits, why, I congratulate you most hearty; because two bits was
all I could find this morning, and that will only be a nickle apiece,
and five cents is small pay for robbin’ a volunteer missionary.”

Ol’ Tank Williams was a serious-minded old relic, and he was feelin’
so sheepish just then that it seemed to him as though the Friar had
imposed on him by lurin’ him into such a fix; so he roars out in
earnest: “If you ain’t got no money, why the deuce do ya tote those
guns about with ya all the time?”

“Would you just as soon tie me to a tree, or take some other measures
of defence?” asked the Friar politely. “My arms are gettin’ weary and
I could talk more comfortable with ’em hanging’ down.”

“Aw put ’em down, and talk on,” sez George Hendricks.

“Thank you,” sez the Friar. “Well, now, boys, the man who doesn’t take
the time to put a value on his own life, isn’t likely to make that
life very much worth while. He mustn’t overvalue it to such an extent
that he becomes a coward, nor he mustn’t undervalue it to such an
extent that he becomes reckless—he must take full time to estimate
himself as near as he is able.

“I don’t know that I can allus keep from judgin’ my fellow men; but I
am sure that I would not judge one to the extent of sayin’ that my
life was worth more than his, so I should never use a gun merely to
save my own life by takin’ away the life of another man—much less
would I use a gun in defence of money; but I am a purty good shot, and
sometimes I can get a man interested by shootin’ at a mark with him.
This is why I carry firearms. Do you want the two bits?”

“Aw, go on,” yells ol’ Tank, madder at himself ’n ever. “We didn’t
intend to rob ya. All we wanted was to hear ya sing and preach a bit”;
and he pulled off his mask and shook the Friar’s hand. All the rest o’
the boys did the same; and I clumb up on my rock, flapped my wings,
and crowed like a rooster.

Well, we sat on the ground, and he sang for us; and then he sobered
and began to talk about cussin’. It used to hurt the Friar to hear
some o’ the double-jointed swear words we used when excited. He tried
not to show it, because he didn’t want anything to shut us away from
him at any time; but whiles his face would wrinkle into lines of
actual pain.

“Now, boys,” he began, “I know, ’at you don’t mean what you say in a
profane way. You call each other terrible names, and condemn each
other to eternal punishment; and if a man said these things in
earnest, his life would be forfeit; but you take it merely as a joke.
Now, I do not know just how wicked this is. I know that it is
forbidden to take the name o’ the Lord thy God in vain; so it is a
dangerous thing to be profane even in thoughtlessness; but I have
heard the Lord’s name used by the perfectly respectable in a way which
must have hurt his tender nature more.

“Once in the crowded slum district of a large eastern city, I saw a
freight car back down on a child and kill it. The mother was frantic;
she was a foreigner and extra emotional, and she screamed, and cursed
the railroad. A man had come to comfort her, and he put his hand on
her arm and said, ‘My dear woman, you must not carry on this way. We
must always bow our heads in submission to the Lord’s will.’

“For years the poor people o’ that neighborhood had begged protection
for their children; and I cannot believe that it was the Lord’s will
that even one o’ the least of ’em should have been slain in order to
drive the lesson a little deeper home; so, as I said before, I am not
going to talk to you of the wickedness of swearing—but I am goin’ to
talk about its foolishness, its vulgarity, and its brutality.”

He went on showin’ that swearin’ was foolish because it wasn’t givin’
a man’s thought on things in a man’s way; but merely howlin’ it out
the way wolves and wild-cats had to, on account o’ their not havin’ a
civilized language with which to express the devilment which was in
’em. He showed how it made a feller lazy; because instead of tryin’ to
sort out words which would tell exactly what he meant, he made a lot
of noises which had no more real meanin’ than a bunch o’

Then his voice got low and serious, and he said ’at the worst thing
about cussin’ was, that it led a feller into speakin’ lightly about
the sacred things of life. “When you speak the word ‘son,’” he said,
“you are bound to also call up the thought of ‘mother’; and I want to
say to you right now that any one who can be coarse and nasty in
thinkin’ or speakin’ about maternity, is not a man at all—or even a
decent brute—but has some sort of soul-sickness which is more
horrible than insanity. Always be square with women—all women, good
and bad. I know your temptations, and I know theirs. Woman has a heavy
cross to carry, and the least we can do, is to play fair.”

Then he sprang some of his curious theories on us: told us how the
body was full of poisons and remedies; and it depended on our plan of
livin’, whether we used the one or the other. He said he allus cut out
food and tobacco on Fridays, and if he didn’t feel bright and clear
and bubblin’ over with vitality, he fasted until he felt able to eat a
rubber boot, and then he knew he had cleaned all the waste products
out of him, and could live at top speed again. He finished up by
tellin’ of a cross old doctor he once knew, who used to say ’at cattle
and kings didn’t have to control themselves; but all ordinary men had
to use self-denial, even in matters of pleasure.

It was more the way the Friar said things than what he said; his voice
and his eyes helped a lot; but the thing ’at counted for most was the
fact ’at you knew it wasn’t none of it put on. He loved to joke when
it was a jokin’ matter; but he was stiff as stone with what he called
the foundations of life. A man, you know, as a rule, is mighty timid
about the things which lie close to his heart, no matter how bold and
free he’ll talk about other things; but the Friar was like a little
child, an’ he’d speak out as bold and frank as one, about the things
he loved and hated, until he finally put a few drops o’ this queer
brand o’ courage into our own hearts.

Of course we didn’t get to be troubled with wing-growth or anything
like that; but a short time after this fake hold-up, ol’ Tank Williams
went in to fill up with picklin’-fluid, and he started in on Monday
and kept fightin’ it all that week until Friday. Then he said that he
wouldn’t neither eat, drink, nor smoke on that day; and they couldn’t
make him do it. He started in on Saturday to continue what had started
out to be one o’ the best benders he had ever took; but the first
quart made him sick as a dog, and he came out to the ranch and said
’at the Friar had made him a temperate man, and for the rest of his
life he intended to set aside one day a week in the Friar’s favor.

After the boys had started for the ranch, the Friar invited me to
spend the night with him; so we unpacked his bed from the lead-hoss
and we built a little fire and had a right sociable time of it. Me and
him was good pals by this time. He had said to me once: “Happy, you do
more general thinkin’ than some varsity men I’ve known.”

“I reckon,” sez I, modest as I could, “that a man who has bossed a
dozen men and ten thousand cattle through a three days’ blizzard, has
to be able to think some like a general.”

Then he explained to me that general thinkin’ meant to think about
stars an’ flowers an’ the human race an’ the past an’ the future, an’
such things, and not to be all the time lookin’ at life just from the
way it touched a feller himself. This was another thing I liked about
him. Most Easteners is so polite that they haven’t the heart to set a
feller right when he has the wrong notion; but the Friar would divvy
up on his knowledge as free as he would on his bacon or tobacco; so I
opened myself up to him until he knew as much about me as I did

He didn’t have much use for the shut-eye this night, nor he wasn’t as
talky as common; so we sat smokin’ and lookin’ into the fire for a
long time. Once in a while he’d speak a verse about some big deed a
man had done years ago, or else one describin’ the mountains or
something like that; until finally I asked him how it came that a man
who loved adventure an’ fightin’ an’ feats of skill, the way he did,
had selected to be a preacher.

“We don’t select our lives, Happy,” sez he. “You’re surely philosopher
enough to see that. As far as we can see, it is like that gamblin’
game; we roll down through a lot o’ little pegs bobbin’ off from one
to another until finally we pop into a little hole at the bottom; but
we didn’t pick out that hole. No, we didn’t pick out that hole.”

So I up and asked him to tell me somethin’ about his start.



I pity the man who has never slept out doors in the Rocky Mountains.
Swingin’ around with the earth, away up there in the starlight, he
fills himself full o’ new life with every breath; and no matter how
tough the day has been, he is bound to wake up the next mornin’ plumb
rested, and with strength and energy fair dancin’ through his veins.
For it to be perfect, a feller has to have a pipe, a fire, and some
one close and chummy to chat with. This night me an’ the Friar both
went down to the crick and washed our feet. We sat on a log side by
side and made noises like a flock of bewildered geese when we first
stuck our feet into the icy water; but by the time we had raced back
and crawled into his bed, we were glowin’ all over.

We didn’t cover up right away, because the Friar just simply couldn’t
seem to get sleepy that night; and after a minute he put some more
wood on the fire, filled his pipe again, and said: “So you want me to
tell you about my story, huh? Well, I believe I will tell you about my

So I filled my pipe, and we lay half under the tarp with our heads on
our hands and our elbows on our boots, which were waitin’ to be
pillows, and he told me about the early days, talkin’ more to himself
than to me.

“My mother died when I was six years old, my father divided his time
between cleanin’ out saloons, beatin’ me, an’ livin’ in the
work-house,” began the Friar, and it give me kind of a shock. I’d had
a notion that such-like kids wasn’t likely to grow up into preachers;
and I’d allus supposed ’at the Friar had had a soft, gentle youth. “I
was a tough, sturdy urchin,” he went on, “but I allus had a soft heart
for animals. I used to fight several times a day; but mostly because
the other kids used to stone cats and tie tin cans on dogs’ tails. I
used to shine shoes, pass papers, run errands, and do any other odd
job for a few pennies, and at night I slept wherever I could. I had a
big dry-goods-box all to myself for several months, once, and I still
look back to it as being a fine, comfortable bedroom.

“One morning I was down at the Union Depot when a farmer drove up a
big Norman hoss hitched to a surrey. Some o’ the other kids joshed
him, called the hoss an elephant and asked where the rest o’ the show
was. The man was big, well fed, and comfortable lookin’, same as the
hoss, and he didn’t pay any heed to the kids except to call one of ’em
up to hold the hoss while he went into the depot. The kid wanted to
know first what he was goin’ to be paid, and he haggled so long ’at
the farmer beckoned to me to come up. ‘Will you hold my hoss for me a
few minutes?’ he asked.

“That big gray hoss with the dark, gentle eyes seemed to me one of the
most beautiful things I had ever seen, and I was mighty anxious to
have charge of him, even for a few minutes; so I sez, ‘You bet I

“The other kids roasted me and made all manner o’ sport; but they knew
I would fight ’em if they got too superfluous, so after a bit they
went on about their business. The’s somethin’ about man’s love for a
hoss that’s a little hard to understand. I had never had no intimate
dealin’s with one before, yet somethin’ inside me reached out and
entwined itself all about this big, gray, velvet-nosed beauty left in
my charge. I reckon it must be in a man’s blood; that’s the only
explanation I can find. All the way back along the trail o’ history we
find the bones of men and hosses bleachin’ together in the same heap;
and about every worthwhile spot on the face o’ nature has been fought
over on hossback, so it’s small wonder if the feel of a hoss has got
to be part of man’s nature.

“The farmer had had a woman and a little girl in his care, to see off
on the train, and he was gone some time. I had a few pennies in my
pocket, and I bought an apple an’ fed it to the hoss, gettin’ more
enjoyment out of it than out of airy other apple I’d ever owned. I can
feel right now the strange movin’s inside my breast as his moist nose
sniffed at my fingers and his delicate lips picked up the bits of
apple, as careful an’ gentle as though my rough, dirty little hand had
been made o’ crystal.

“I was so interested in the hoss that I gave a start of surprise when
the farmer’s voice behind me sez: ‘You seem to like hosses, son.’

“‘I hadn’t no idee ’at a great big one like this could be so smooth
an’ gentle,’ I said, with my hand rubbin’ along the hoss’s throat. ‘I
think he’s a wonder.’

“‘Do you like other animals?’ asked the farmer.

“‘I reckon I must be an animal myself,’ sez I, ‘because I allus get
along well with them, while I have to fight a lot with humans.’

“‘What do you want for tendin’ to this hoss?’ he asked me.

“‘I don’t want nothin’,’ sez I. ‘We’ve got to be friends, an’ I don’t
charge nothin’ for doin’ favors for a friend. Besides, he’s got so
much sense, I doubt if he needs much watchin’.’

“The farmer grinned, looked into my eyes a long time, and gave me a
dollar. ‘Now tell me how you’ll spend your dollar,’ sez he.

“Well, I was purty well floored. I had never owned a dollar before in
my whole life, my father havin’ taken away every cent he had ever
found on me; and I stood lookin’ at the coin, and hardly knowin’ what
to do. The farmer stood lookin’ down at me with his eyes twinklin’,
and after a minute, I handed the dollar back to him. ‘This is too
much,’ I sez. ‘A dime would be plenty for the job, even if I didn’t
like the hoss; but if my old man would find a dollar on me, he’d give
me a beatin’ for hidin’ it from him, take it away, get drunk, and then
give me another beatin’ for not havin’ another dollar.’

“So he asked me all about my father; and I told about him and about my
mother bein’ dead, and the twinkle left his eyes and they grew moist,
so ’at he had to wink mighty fast.

“He told me that his own boy was dead and his girl married, and that
the’ wasn’t any children out at the big farm, and asked me if I
wouldn’t like to come and live with him. He told me about all the
hosses an’ the cows an’ the pigs, an’ that I could have a clean little
room to sleep in, an’ plenty o’ food and clothes, and could go to
school. It sounded like a fairy tale to me, and I sez, ‘Aw go on,
you’re just joshin’ me’; but he meant it; so I got on the seat beside
him, and as soon as we got out o’ town he let me drive the big gray
hoss—and I entered into a real world more wonderful than any fairy
tale ever was.

“When we drove up the shady lane and into the big barn lot, a little
old lady with sad eyes came to the door, and sez: ‘Now, John, who is
that with you?’ and my heart sank, for I thought she wasn’t goin’ to
stand for me; but he took me by the hand and led me up to the door,
put his arm about the little woman’s shoulder, and sez with a tremble
in his voice: ‘This here is a little feller I’ve brought out to be
company for ya, mother. He hasn’t any folks, and he is fond of
animals, and, and—his name is John, too.’

“At first she shook her head and shut her lips tight; but all of a
sudden the tears came to her eyes, and she put her arms about me—and
I had found a real home.

“Those were wonderful years, Happy, wonderful; and I have the
satisfaction o’ knowin’ that I did them about as much good as they did
me. Their hearts had been wrapped up in the boy, and he must have been
a fine feller; but just when he had been promoted out o’ the grammar
grade at the head of his class, he had took the scarlet fever an’
died. I wasn’t used to kindness when I went there; so I never noticed
’at they kept me out o’ the inner circle o’ their hearts at first. I
called the little woman Mrs. Carmichael for some time; but one day
after I’d brought home a good report from school, I called her this,
and she spoke to me sharp—I never knew any soft-hearted person in the
world who got so much solid satisfaction out of actin’ cross as she
did. Well, she spoke to me sharp, and sez: ‘John Carmichael, why don’t
you call me Mother?’

“I looked into her face, and it didn’t look old any longer, and the
sad look had left her eyes, and they were black and snappy an’ full o’
life; so I tried it; and we both broke into tears, but they were tears
o’ joy; and then he insisted that I call him Dad, and we became a
family; and about the happiest one in the world, I reckon.

“I rode the hosses bareback, shot hawks with my rifle, picked berries,
did a lot o’ chores, and worked hard with my books. It was a full,
round life with lots of love and happiness in it, and I grew, body and
mind and spirit, as free and natural as the big oak trees in the woods

“Mr. Carmichael had looked up my blood father and had done what he
could for him; but it was no use, and one winter’s morning he was
found frozen in an alley. I didn’t learn of it until the next June
when he took me down to the city cemetery where my father and mother
lay side by side. I did feel downcast as we all do in the presence of
death; but it wasn’t my real father and mother who were lyin’ there
beneath the quiet mounds. Fatherhood and motherhood are somethin’ more
than mere physical processes. The real fathers and mothers are those
who put the best part o’ their lives into makin’ the big, gloomy world
into a tender home for _all_ the little ones; and after my visit
to the graveyard I felt drawn even closer to Dad and Mother than I had

“Children ought to have dogs and hosses and plenty of air and soil
about ’em, Happy. We don’t learn from preachin’, we learn from
example; and we can learn a heap from the animals. We talk about our
sanitary systems; but we allus mean the sanitary systems outside our
bodies. Now, the animals have sanitary systems, but they are inside
their own skins, where they rightly belong. Look at the beautiful
teeth of a dog—These come from eatin’ proper food at the proper time
and in proper quantities. If a dog isn’t hungry, the dog won’t eat. If
a child isn’t hungry, it is fed candy in a lot o’ cases, and this is
downright wicked. Of course the animals find it hard to live, crowded
up the way man allus fixes things; but as a rule animals are temperate
and clean, patient and honest, wise and strong; and I wish we’d use
’em more as instructors for the young. Most mothers think a dog’s
tongue is dirty—Why, a dog’s tongue is chemically clean, and healin’
in its action; while the human mouth is generally poisonous—ask a

“And a cow’s breath, after she has rolled in with sweetly solemn
dignity from the clover field—Ah, that’s a pleasant memory! I’ll
venture to say ’at mighty few monarchs have been as worthy o’ bein’
kissed before breakfast, as Nebukaneezer was while he was undergoin’
punishment for his sins. I had gone to that farm with my soul all
stunted and gnarly; but it straightened out and shot its little stems
up toward the blue, the same as the stalks o’ corn did.

“All I had as a start was a love of animals; and this is why I allus
try to find the one soft spot in a man’s nature—Even if it’s a secret
vice, it is something to work on. This is what makes such a problem of
Tyrrel Jones. I can’t find out a single soft place in him; but I’m
goin’ to get into the heart of him yet, if I can find the way.

“Well, Dad and Mother passed away within a week of each other a short
time after I had been graduated. I had made up my mind to stay on the
farm with ’em as long as they stayed; although all sorts of voices
were callin’ to me from the big outer world; but their daughter lived
in the city, and had been weaned away from the farm, so she sold it,
and I started on my pilgrimage.

“They had left me an income of three hundred and fifty dollars a year;
and I determined to go to college. When I thought of how rich and full
my own life had been made, after its stunted beginning, I wanted to do
all I could to make the whole earth like that farm had been, and it
seemed to me that the best way was to become a priest of the Lord. I
tried my best; but I have been consid’able of a failure, Happy. Now, I
hardly know where I stand. I am sort of an outcast now, and just doing
what seems best on my own hook.

“A lot of my ideals have been lost, a lot of my hopes have faded, a
lot of my work has seemed like sweeping back the waves of the sea; but
for all I have lost, new things have taken their place, and I have
never lost my faith in the Lord. Now, I am weak in doctrine and a
stranger to dogma; and the things for which I fight with all my soul
and heart and strength, are kindliness and decency.

“As long as one bein’ in the world is cold or hungry or diseased,
every other bein’ is liable to become hungry and cold and diseased.
What I am fighting for is a world without poverty. Most o’ the ills of
life spring from poverty, and poverty is the result of selfishness and
greed. The earth is reeking with riches, but its bounty is not divided

“Happy, if I could only hold up the Lord, so that all men might see
the beauty and fullness of Him, the glory and grandeur of His simple
life and His majestic self-sacrifice, the fleeting cheapness of
material things would sink to their real value, and we would all
become one great family, workin’ together in peace and contentment.
Now, go on to sleep.”

It was purty late by this time sure enough, and I fell asleep soon
after this; but I awakened durin’ the night and found myself alone. It
was cold when I stuck my nose out from under the tarp, but it was a
wonderful night, clear and still, with the stars swingin’ big and
bright just above my reach.

As I lay there, I heard Friar Tuck singin’ softly to himself out where
the trail dipped down into the valley:

    “The night is dark, and I am far from home,
        Lead Thou me on!
    Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
    The distant scene,—one step enough for me.”

I had never heard his voice so wonderfully beautiful before; but, my
stars, the sadness of it made me choke! It wasn’t just a song, it was
a cry; and I knew that it came from a lonely, bleedin’ heart. I put my
head under the covers again, puzzlin’ over what was on his mind; but
first thing I knew I was awakened by the glad voice of the old Friar
Tuck, singin’ his favorite mornin’ hymn: “Brightest and best of the
sons of the morning”; so I cooked breakfast, and he went his way, and
I went mine.



The Diamond Dot, while it was about the idealest ranch in the West
from most standpoints, was run a little loose. Jabez didn’t have any
luxurious tastes, and he wasn’t miserly; so he didn’t strain things
down to the last penny—not by a whole lot. All he asked was to have
his own way and be comfortable; and so he allus kept more punchers ’n
he had actual need of, and unless they got jubilant over imposin’ on
him, he just shut his eyes and grinned about it.

Takin’ his location and outfit into account, and he just simply
couldn’t help but make money; so we all had a fairly easy time of it
and grew tender feelin’s, the same as spoiled children; which is why
we sometimes quit, for we never had any other excuse for it.

Barbie was a notice-takin’ child, if ever the’ was one; and she stood
out for company as a general and standin’ order. Company didn’t affect
ol’ Cast Steel one way or the other; they were just the same to him as
a couple o’ hundred head o’ ponies, more or less; and so the news got
out that we allus had a lot of extra beds made up and any one was
welcome to stretch out in ’em who wanted to. The result o’ this was,
’at we drew visitors as easy as molasses draws flies. I lived at the
home house on account o’ bein’ Barbie’s pal, and so I got into the
habit o’ bein’ a sort of permanent reception committee. Some o’ these
visitors was a plague to me; but Jabez didn’t like to run any risk of
havin’ ’em ruined beyond repair, so it was generally understood that I
had to use ex-treme caution when I started in to file the clutch off
their welcome.

This spring ’at I have in mind, we had as visitor one o’ the
easternest dudes I was ever tangled up with. He came out for his
health, which is the excuse most of ’em gives; but this one took more
ways of avoidin’ health ’n airy other of ’em I ever saw. He smoked
cigars all day long, big black ones, strong enough to run a sawmill,
he ate fattenin’ food from mornin’ till night, and when he drove out
in the buckboard to take his exercise, he suffered from what he called
fatigue. He used to sit up as wide awake as an owl till along about
ten every night; and half the time he didn’t crawl out until near
seven in the mornin’. He certainly was a pest!

What he complained of most, was his nerves; and he’d sit for hours,
talkin’ about ’em to anything ’at had ears. He said the worst of it
was, he couldn’t sleep nights. I had, of course, heard o’ nerves
before ever I saw him; but I had never heard of ’em turnin’ to and
devilin’ a man, the way his did; so at first I was honestly
interested, and asked him all I could think up about ’em; but after a
day or so, I’d ’a’ been perfectly willin’ to put up the coin out o’ my
own pocket to have him go to a dentist and have every last one of his
nerves pulled.

I don’t begrudge sympathy to any afflicted individual; but the more I
sympathized with this feller, the more affectionate toward me he got;
and he used to trot about after me, warbilin’ out dirges about his
nerves until I was tempted to tie a stone around his neck and lose him
down the cistern.

He ran to language, too, this one did. His conversation was so full of
it that a feller could scarcely understand what he was tryin’ to say.
He was ferociously interested in the ancient Greeks; and if a man
succeeded in wedgin’ him away from his nerves, he began immediate to
discourse about these ancient Greeks. Now, I didn’t have a single
thing again’ any o’ these ancient Greeks before this Dude struck us,
none of ’em ever havin’ crossed my trail before; but they sure did
have a rotten outfit o’ names, and they were the most infernal liars
’at ever existed. Three-headed dogs, and women with snakes for hair,
were as common in their tales as thieves among the Sioux. Barbie
didn’t have any use for this Eastener either; so I decided to fit him
out with a deep-rooted desire for home influences.

I took ol’ Tank Williams into my confidence, he bein’ the most
gruesome lookin’ creature we had in our parts. He was a big man of
curious construction and he had one eye which ran wild. Tank never
knew what this free eye was up to; and while he would be examinin’ the
ground, the free eye would be gazin’ up at a tree as intent as though
he had set it to watch for a crow. Durin’ his younger days, Tank had
formed the habit of indulgin’ in gang fights as much as possible, and
all of his features had been stampeded out o’ their natural orbits;
but this free eye beat anything I ever see.

They had him down on his back one time, and he was gnawin’ away
contentedly at some feller’s thumb, when the feller reached up his
trigger finger and scooped out Tank’s eye. The shape and color weren’t
hurt a bit; but some o’ the workin’ parts got disconnected, so that he
couldn’t see with it; but it appeared to be full as good an eye as the
one he looked with.

All the sleep Tank ever wanted was six hours out o’ the twenty-four,
and he didn’t care how he got ’em—ten minutes at a time, or all in
one lump. He could sleep sittin’ up straight, or ridin’, or stretched
out in bed, or most any way. I think he could sleep while walkin,’
though I was never able to surprise him at it. He agreed to back me
up, and Spider Kelley also said he was willin’ to do everything in his
power to furnish our guest some pleasant recollections after he’d gone
back to a groove which fitted him better.

As soon as I began to plan my trip, I started to rehearse curious
secrets about Tank to the Eastener, whose name was Horace Walpole
Bradford. I told Horace that Tank had a case o’ nerves which made his
’n seem like a bundle of old shoe-laces; and that if something wasn’t
done for him soon, I feared he was goin’ to develop insanity. I said
that even now, it wasn’t safe to contrary him none, and that I’d be a
heap easier in my own mind if Tank was coralled up in a cell
somewhere, with irons on.

I didn’t tell Tank what sort of a disposition I was supplyin’ him with
for fear he’d overdo it. Tank didn’t know a nerve from an ingrowin’
hair; but when he and Horace paired off to tell each other their
symptoms, I’ll have to own up that his tales of anguish an’ sufferin’
made Horace’s troubles sound like dance music.

I told Horace that a trip through the mountains would soothe and
invigorate him, until he’d be able to sleep, hangin’ by his toes like
a bat; but the trouble was to find something which interested him
enough to lure him on the trip. There was a patent medicine almanac at
the place, and I studied up its learnin’ until I had it at my tongue’s
end, and I also used a lot o’ Friar Tuck’s health theories; so that I
got Horace interested enough to talk my eardrums callous; but not
enough to take the trip.

I didn’t know much about nerves; but I was as familiar with sleep as
though I had graduated from eleven medical colleges, and I knew if he
would just follow my directions, it would give him such an appetite
for slumber that he’d drop into it without rememberin’ to close his
eyelids. Ol’ Jabez happened to mention an Injun buryin’ ground with
the members reposin’ on top o’ pole scaffolds, and this proved to be
the bait. Horace wanted to see this, and it was a four days’ drive by
buckboard; so I heaved a sigh o’ relief and prepared to do my duty.

When all was ready, we packed our stuff in the good buckboard, putting
in an extra saddle for the accident we felt sure was goin’ to happen.
Spider started as driver, while I rode behind, leadin’ a horse with
Tank’s saddle on, though Horace thought it was Spider’s. We had told
him that it made our backs ache to ride in a buckboard all day, so we
would change off once in a while. Horace wanted to do the drivin’
himself; but we pointed out that he wasn’t used to our kind o’ roads,
and consequently favored the little hills too much. He was inhumanly
innocent, and it was almost like feedin’ a baby chalk and water.

We trotted along gentle, until the rear spring came loose goin’ down a
little dip to a dry crick bed, about ten miles out. We talked it over
and decided ’at the best plan would be for Spider to drive back and
get the old buckboard; so after unloadin’ our stuff, I took the tap
out o’ my pocket, fixed the spring, tied a rope about it to deceive
Horace, and Spider drove back for the old buckboard which had been
discarded years before, but which we had fixed up for this trip and
painted until it looked almost safe to use.

Before long we saw the buckboard comin’ back; but much to our
surprise, Tank Williams was drivin’ it, an’ givin’ what he thought was
the imitation of a nervous man. He would stand up an’ yell, crack his
mule-skinner, and send the ponies along on a dead run. He came up to
us, and said that he had had an attack o’ nerves, hadn’t slept a wink
the night before; and when Spider Kelley had refused to let him go in
his place, he had torn him from the seat an’ had trampled him.

“I trampled him,” sez Tank solemnly, his free eye lookin’ straight
into the sun. “I hope I didn’t destroy him; but in my frenzy I
trampled him.”

Horace looked worried. “Tank,” sez I soothin’ly, “we don’t really need
any one else along. You just help us to load, an’ then go back, like a
good feller.”

Tank stood up on the seat, an’ held the whip ready. “My life depends
on me takin’ this trip!” he yelled. “My life depends on it; it depends
on it, I tell you. My life depends on me takin’ this trip!”

He went on repeatin’ about his life dependin’ on his takin’ that trip,
until I made a sign to Horace, and said ’at we’d better let him go
along. Horace wasn’t ambitious to be trampled; so he concluded to
concur, an’ climbed into the seat beside Tank. Any one else would ’a’
noticed that it was Tank’s saddle on the hoss I was leadin’; but
Horace never noticed anything which wasn’t directly connected with his
own body. He didn’t even have any idee that the sun had set habits in
the matter o’ risin’ an’ settin’—which was another fact I had took
into account.

We were drivin’ four broncs to the buckboard, an’ they was new to the
game and in high spirits. Tank was also in high spirits, an’ we went
at a clip which was inspirin’, even to sound nerves. We did our level
best to give Horace somethin’ real to worry about, an’ from the very
start his nerves was so busy handin’ in idees an’ sensations that his
mind was took up with these instead of with the nerves themselves as
was usual.

Well, we sure had a delightful ride that afternoon: every time ’at
Horace would beseech Tank to be more careful in swingin’ around
down-hill curves, Tank would seize him by the arm with his full
squeezin’ grip, an’ moan: “It’s my nerves, my pore nerves. This is one
o’ the times when I’m restive, I got to have action; my very life
depends on it! Whoop, hit ’em up—Whee!” an’ he’d crack his
mule-skinner about the ears o’ the ponies, an’ we’d have another
runaway for a spell.

Horace hadn’t the mite of an idee in which direction he was travelin’;
all he did was to hang on and hope. The confounded buckboard was
tougher ’n we had figured on, and it didn’t bust until near dark. As
they went up the slope, I could see the left hind wheel weavin’ purty
rapid, an’ as they tore down the grade to Cottonwood Crick, things
began to creak an’ rattle most threatenin’. We had decided to camp on
the crick, an’ Tank swung up his team with a flourish. The hind wheel
couldn’t stand the strain, an’ when it crumbled, Horace, an’ the rest
o’ the baggage, whip-crackered off like a pinwheel. Of course when one
wheel went, the others dished in company, an’ the whole thing was a

The ponies were comfortable weary, an’ after I had roped one an’ the
rest had fallen over him, we soothed ’em down without much trouble,
an’ started to make camp. Horace was all in, an’ was minded to sit on
his shoulder blades an’ rest; but this wasn’t part o’ the plan, an’ we
made him hustle like a new camp-boy. As soon as supper was over, he
lit a cigar, an’ prepared to take a rest. We had decided that those
big, black cigars wasn’t best for his nerves, so we had smuggled out
the box, an’ had worked a little sulphur into all but the top row. He
lit his cigar and gave us one apiece, but he was so sleepy he couldn’t
keep his on fire; and it was comical to watch him.

Every time he’d nod off, Tank would utter an exclamation, an’ walk up
an’ down, rubbin’ his hands an’ cussin’ about his nerves. Horace was
dead tired from bein’ jounced about on the buckboard all day; but he
was worried about Tank, an’ this would wake him effectual.

About ten o’clock I sez: “Tank, what happened that night when you got
nervous up in the Spider Water country?”

“Oh, don’t ask me, don’t ask me,” sez Tank, gittin’ up an’ walkin’ off
into the darkness.

“I wish to glory he hadn’t come along,” I sez to Horace. “I fear we’re
goin’ to have trouble; but chances are that a good night’s rest’ll
quiet him, all right.”

Purty soon Tank came back, lit his pipe, an’ sat facin’ Horace with
his lookin’ eye, an’ everything else in the landscape with his free
one. “You know how it is with nerves,” he sez to Horace. “You perhaps,
of all them I have ever met up with, know how strained and twisted
nerves fill a man’s heart with murder, set his teeth on edge and put
the taste of blood in his throat; so I’m goin’ to tell the whole o’
that horrid experience, which I have never yet confided to a livin’
soul before. Have you got a match?”

Tank’s pipe allus went out at the most interestin’ times; and he
couldn’t no wise talk without smokin’. We all knew this; so whenever
Tank got headed away on a tale, we heaved questions at him, just to
see how many matches we could make him burn. He’d light a match and
hold it to his pipe; but he allus lit off an idee with the match, and
when he’d speak out the idee, he’d blow out the match. Or else he’d be
so took up by his own talkin’, he’d hold the match until it burnt his
fingers; then, without shuttin’ off his discourse, he’d moisten the
fingers on his other hand, take the burnt end of the match careful,
and hold it until it was plumb burnt up, without ever puttin’ it to
his pipe. I didn’t want to waste matches on this trip so I told Horace
to hand Tank his cigar. Horace had already wasted two cigars, besides
the ones he had given us; and I wanted him to get to the sulphur ones
as soon as convenient.

Tank’s mind was preoccupied with the tale we had made up; so he took
Horace’s fresh cigar, lit his pipe by it, threw the cigar into the
fire, and said moodily: “He was unobligin’. Yes, that cross-grained
old miner was unobligin’. Of course, I wouldn’t have done it if I
hadn’t been nervous; but I say now, as I’ve allus thought, that he
brought it on himself by bein’ unobligin’.”

Tank’s gloomy tones had wakened Horace up complete; and as he started
to light another cigar, I got ready for bed. “You two have already got
nerves,” I sez to ’em; “but I don’t want to catch ’em, so I’ll sleep
alone, and you can bunk together.” I unrolled my tarp close to the
fire and crawled into it, intendin’ to take my rest while I listened
to Tank unfold his story.

It was a clean, fresh night, just right for sleepin’; and it almost
seemed a shame to put that innocent little Eastener through his
treatment; but it was for his own good so I stretched out with a sigh
o’ content, and looked at the other two by the fire.

Horace was short and fat around the middle with stringy arms and legs.
He wore some stuff he called side-burns on his face. They started up
by his ears, curved along his jaws and were fastened to the ends of
his stubby mustache. He kept ’em cropped short and, truth to tell,
they were an evil-lookin’ disfigurement, though he didn’t seem to feel
a mite o’ shame at wearin’ ’em. His face was full o’ trouble, and yet
he was so sleepy he had to hitch his eyebrows clear up to his hair to
keep his eyes open. Tank’s face never did have what could rightly be
called expressions. His features used to fall into different kinds o’
convulsions; but they were so mussed up it was impossible to read ’em.
I looked at these two a minute, and then I had to pull my head under
the tarp to keep from laughin’.



“I was all alone,” sez Tank. “I had been up in the Spider Water
country lookin’ for a favorite ridin’ pony; but my hoss broke a leg,
and I packed my saddle and stuff on my head until my nerves began to
swell. Then I threw the stuff away and hunted for a human. I roamed
for weeks without comin’ across a white man, and my nerves got worse
an’ worse. You know how it is with nerves; how they set up that dull
ache along the back o’ your spinal cord until you get desperate, and
long to bite and scratch and tear your feller-bein’s to pieces—well,
I had ’em worse this time ’n ever I had ’em before; and they loosened
up my brain-cells until my self-control oozed out and I longed to
fling myself over a cliff. Have you got a match?”

Horace passed over his fresh cigar, and Tank lit his pipe and tossed
this cigar into the fire also. Horace looked at it sadly for a moment;
but he was game, and lit another.

“Finally,” sez Tank, “I came upon a lonely cabin at the bottom of a
gorge; and in it was a little man who was minin’ for gold. He was
about your build, except that toilin’ with pick and shovel had
distributed his meat around to a better advantage, and he wore his
whiskers complete, without any patch scraped off the chin. It was just
night when I reached the cabin, and he invited me in to eat; which I
am free to say I did until I was stuffed up to my swaller, and then we
prepared to sleep.

“Now, a feller would nachely think I’d ’a’ gone right to sleep; but
instead o’ this, my nerves began to twist an’ squirm an’ gnaw at me
until I was almost beside myself; and after fightin’ it for several
hours, I woke up the miner, and asked him as polite as a lady, if he
wouldn’t rub my brow for a few minutes. Seems like when I’m nervous,
the’ won’t nothin’ soothe me so quick as to have my brow rubbed; but
this little coyote refused pointblank to do it.

“I finally got down on my knees and begged him to; but he still
refused. He said he had fed me six meals at once and given me shelter,
and this was as far as he’d go if my confounded nerves exploded and
blew the place up. I was meek about it, I tried my best to ward off
trouble; but just then a nerve up under my ear gave a wrench which
twisted me all out o’ shape, and I lost patience. I seized that little
cuss by the beard and I yanked him out on the floor, and I said to

Tank had once been unusual gifted in framin’ up bright-colored
profanity, but he had been shuttin’ down on it since the night he had
helped to fake the hold-up on the Friar, and I thought he had lost the
knack. This night, though, he seemed to find a spiritual uplift in
tellin’ to Horace exactly what he had said to the lonely miner. Before
he finished this part, he had used up all of Horace’s good cigars, as
lighters, and the Eastener’s face had turned a palish blue. I’d be
willin’ to bet that Tank made the swearin’ record that night; though
of course, the’ ain’t any way to prove it.

When Tank couldn’t think of any new combinations, he covered his face
and broke into tears. Horace sat and looked at him with his eyes
poppin’ out. “Don’t you think you could go to sleep?” he asked after a

“Sleep!” yelled Tank. “Sleep? I doubt if I ever do sleep again. I feel
worse right now ’n I did that night in the gorge.”

“What did you finally do that time?” asked Horace.

“I hate to think of it,” sez Tank; and he put his elbows on his knees,
his chin in his hands, and stared into the fire as though seein’

Horace watched him a while, and then he lit a cigar out of the second
layer. He took one puff and then removed the cigar and stared at it.
He tried another puff, and then threw it into the fire, where it
spluttered up in a blue flame. He tried six more, and then said
somethin’ I couldn’t quite catch and threw the whole box into the
fire; while Tank continued to stare into it as though he had forgot
the’ was any one else on earth.

“Let’s go to bed,” sez Horace.

“Have you got a match?” sez Tank, lookin’ around with a start. Horace
took a burnin’ stick from the fire, and Tank lit his pipe with it; and
from that on Horace kept a lighted stick handy.

“How in thunder did you get to sleep that night in the gorge?”
demanded Horace, who was gettin’ impatient.

“Well,” sez Tank, “after I had told this unobligin’ little cuss
exactly what I thought of him, he pulled out a gun and tried to shoot
me—actually tried to shoot me in his own cabin, where I was his
guest. My feelin’s were hurt worse ’n they’d ever been hurt before;
but still I tried to calm myself; and if it hadn’t been for my nerves,
I’d have gone out into that gorge in the dead o’ night, and never set
eyes on his evil face again; but I couldn’t get control of myself, so
I took his gun away from him and knocked him down with it. When he
regained consciousness, he was in a repentant mood; and he consented
to rub my head.

“He rubbed my head a while an’ I sank into a dreamless, health-given
repose; but as soon as I was asleep, the traitorious sneak crept out
an’ started to run. I fled after him as swift as I could, an’ caught
him about two A. M. I had to twist his arms to make him come back with
me; but when I had once got him back to the shack, I tied him good an’
tight, an’ made him rub my brow again. When he’d rub slow an’ gentle,
I’d sleep peaceful an’ quiet; but the minute he’d quit, why, I’d wake
up again; so he rubbed an’ rubbed an’ rubbed”—Tank smoothed his left
hand gentle with his right, an’ spoke slow an’ whispery—“an’ I slept
an’ slept an’ slept an’—”

The darn cuss said it so soothin’ an’ natural, that hanged if I didn’t
fall asleep myself, though the last I remember, I was bitin’ my lips
so I could stay awake an’ see the fun. I must have been asleep full an
hour before I was woke up by Tank’s voice, raised in anger. I stuck my
nose out o’ the tarp, an’ there was Tank kneelin’ straddle o’ the
other bed which he had rolled up in the shape of a man. Horace was
standin’ close by with his hands on his hips an’ lookin’ altogether

“I raised his head from the floor, like this,” said Tank, illustratin’
with the bed, “an’ then I beat it down on the planks o’ the floor; an’
then I raised it up again, an’ then I beat it down, an’ then I raised
it up—”

I had to stuff a corner o’ the soogan into my mouth to keep from
laughin’ out loud at the expression in Horace’s eyes; but Tank kept
raisin’ that poor head an’ beatin’ it down again for so long that I
fell asleep again without intendin’ to.

The next time I woke up Horace was speakin’. He was so earnest about
it that at first I thought he had been weepin’; but he was simply
tryin’ to make his voice winnin’ an’ persuadish.

“I’ll rub it,” he sez. “I’ll rub it soft an’ gentle, just like you say
you want it rubbed. Come on, let me rub it.” I looked at Tank with his
free eye rollin’ about as though it was follerin’ the antics of a
delirious mosquito; and I’d just about as soon have rubbed the brow of
a porcupine; but Horace was all perked up with sympathy.

“No,” sez Tank, sadly. “You’re a guest, an’ it wouldn’t be polite. If
you was a stranger, now, why, I’d choke your heart out but what I made
you rub it; but not a guest. No, I couldn’t do that. I’d wake Happy up
an’ make him rub it; but he allus sleeps with a gun under his head,
an’ he’s apt to shoot before he’s full awake.”

“Well, just let me try it a while,” sez Horace.

“I’m feared to,” sez Tank, beginnin’ to weaken. “If you was to start,
an’ I was to fall asleep, an’ you was to quit, I might dream ’at you
was that unobligin’ man which betrayed me back in the lonely shack;
an’ I might strangle you or somethin’ before I came to my senses.
Nope, the best plan is just to sit an’ chat here till daylight. My
nerves is allus better after sun-up.”

“I don’t think I can stay awake much longer,” sez Horace, almost

“What?” sez Tank in surprise. “You claim to have nerves, an’ yet you
can talk o’ fallin’ asleep at this time o’ night. Great Scott, man,
you ain’t got no nerves! You are as flebmatic as a horn toad. Oh, I
wish I could just fall sleepy for one minute.”

“Let me try rubbin’ your brow,” sez Horace, whose eyes were blinkin’
for sleep, but whose face was all screwed up into lines of worry at
what was goin’ to happen to him after he had finally give in an’
drifted off.

“Well,” sez Tank, “I’ll let you try; but if you’re already sleepy, I
doubt if any good comes of it. You sit there at the head o’ the bed,
an’ I’ll lay my head in your lap, an’ you rub my brow soft an’ gentle.
If I do get to sleepin’ natural, why o’ course the’ won’t be no harm
done in you takin’ a few winks; but for the love o’ peace, don’t sleep

I blame near choked while they were gettin’ settled, ’cause Horace was
one o’ those finicky cusses, an’ Tank’s head looked like a moth-eaten
buffalo robe. Finally, however, Tank stretched out with the covers up
around his neck an’ his head pillowed in Horace’s lap, and then Horace
began to rub his brow as soft an’ gentle as he knew how.

“You don’t do it clingy enough,” sez Tank. “You want to just rest your
fingers lightly, but still have ’em draw along so ’at they’ll give a
little tingle. There, that’s better. Now then, I’ll lay as quiet as I
can, an’ try to go to sleep.” Tank was doin’ such an earnest job, he
had plumb fooled himself into believin’ it was mostly true.

He gave a start after layin’ quiet for five or ten minutes, an’ this
put Horace on edge again; but Tank didn’t wake up. Horace had a saddle
blanket around his shoulders; and the last I saw just before I fell
asleep, myself, was Horace gently rubbin’ Tank’s brow, an’ lookin’
down careful for a change of expression. They made a curious sight
with the firelight back of ’em.

It was grayin’ up for the dawn next time I woke up; and I’d had my
sleep out, but when I stuck my nose out from under the tarp, I found
it purty tol’able frosty. I knew it was my duty to roust out an’ keep
Horace from gettin’ more sleep ’n my treatment for his nerves called
for; but I was too comfortable, to pay much heed to the still, small
voice of duty. At the same time I was curious to see what my boon
comrades was up to, so I stretched my neck an’ took a look at ’em.

Horace had keeled over so that his elbow rested on Tank’s chest an’
his head rested on his hand; but the other hand was still on Tank’s
brow, an’ I reckon Horace must have rubbed until he didn’t care
whether it was sleep or death he drew, just so he got rid o’ keepin’
awake. Tank had reached up one hand so it circled Horace’s waist; and
they made the most lovable group a body ever see.

While I was still watchin’ ’em, Horace’s arm gave out, an’ he settled
down on top o’ Tank’s nose. In about two minutes Tank came to with a
jump, an’ heaved Horace to the foot of the bed. Tank was really
startled, an’ he came to his feet glarin’. “You blame little squab,
you!” he yelled. “What are you tryin’ to do—smother me?”

Horace staggered to his feet, but he couldn’t get his eyes open more
’n a narrow slit. “I didn’t do it on purpose, Mr. Williams,” he
blubbled like a drunk man. “I rubbed until I thought my hand would
fall off at the wrist; but I reckon I must ’a’ dropped asleep. Lie
down again, an’ I’ll rub you some more.”

“Too late,” sez Tank, “too late, too late. I never can sleep while
daylight’s burnin’; but still, my nerves don’t get so dangerous until
after nightfall; so we’ll just turn to an’ get breakfast.”

Well, I got up after yawnin’ a few times; and after askin’ if they had
had a restful night, I started to get breakfast. Horace staggered
about, gettin’ wood an’ water an’ doin’ what he was able to, while
Tank wrangled in the hosses.

After breakfast, which I must say for Horace, he et in able shape, we
started to saddle up, puttin’ the spare saddle on the hoss I had rode
the day before. “Which one o’ you is goin’ back after the other
buckboard?” asked Horace.

“Why, we ain’t goin’ back at all,” sez I. “It’s full fifty miles, an’
we can’t keep switchin’ buckboards every day on a trip like this.
We’ll just ride the ponies the rest o’ the way.”

“Ride?” sez Horace. “Ride!”



Horace started to enlarge on how much he didn’t know about ridin’; but
Tank breaks in with a plea for his nerves. “Look here,” he said,
scowlin’ at Horace with his good eye, while the free one rove around
wild in his face, “your nerves are a little out o’ fix, an’ mine is
plumb tied into knots. This here outin’ will be the best thing we can
do for ourselves, an’ you got to come along. No matter which way you
go, you got to ride; so the’ ain’t no sense in makin’ a fuss about it.
We’ll mount you up on as gentle a cayuse as the’ is in the West; an’
we won’t tell no one if you hang on to the saddle horn goin’ down

“That’s right, Mr. Bradford,” sez I respectful. “You’d have to ride
back anyway, so you might as well come on with us an’ have a pleasant

“Besides,” sez Tank, “up there in the Wind River country we stand a
chance o’ gettin’ somethin’ for our nerves, if the Injuns happen to be
in a good humor. Those Injun doctors know all about hurbs an’ which
diseases they grow for, an’ when they’re in a good humor, they’ll sell
ya some.”

“What’ll they do if they’re not in a good humor?” asked Horace.

“Well, that’s the beatin’est question I’ve yet heard!” sez Tank. “How
does any one know what an Injun’ll do when he’s not in a good humor? I
don’t reckon any one ever tried to learn the answer to that question.
When an Injun’s not in a good humor, either you’ve got to kill him or
he’ll kill you. If we hear tell ’at they’re out o’ humor, we’ll simply
scurry back at the first hint, an’ don’t you forget it.”

Horace wasn’t resigned yet; so he kept sawin’ away with his questions
all the time we were tyin’ on the beds an’ grub. The grass had been
purty brown down below, but it was fat an’ green up above, an’ the
ponies felt fine. We had picked out good ones, an’ it took some time
to get ’em wore down to where they was willin’ to pack; but by seven
o’clock we were ready to start, an’ then Tank lifted Horace into the
saddle, while I held the pony’s head. We had chose a steady old feller
for Horace, because we didn’t want any serious accidents. Ol’ Cast
Steel was dead again’ sheepin’ the Easteners, an’ I knew they’d be
doin’s about what we’d done already, let alone havin’ any sort of a

We told Horace just what to do to save himself, an’ we fixed his
stirrups to just fit him; but he took it purty hard. It takes a
ridin’-man a couple o’ weeks to harden up after he’s laid off a spell;
but when a man begins to do his first ridin’ at forty, it comes
ex-tremely awkward. Horace was the first feller I ever saw get
sea-sick on hossback; but he certainly did have a bad attack. I
suppose it was the best thing ’at could have happened to him, an’
after he was emptied out, he rode some easier. We only covered about
thirty miles that day altogether, an’ Tank had plenty o’ time to get
all the sleep he could use; but when he came to lift Horace down from
the saddle, Horace couldn’t make his legs stiff enough to stand on.

We let him stretch out while we were makin’ camp; but he fell asleep,
so we had to wake him up to help get supper. I was beginnin’ to feel
sorry for him, but he had pestered us regardless about his nerves, an’
I knew ’at pity for him now would be the worse for him in the long

After supper, Horace spent consid’able time in bewailin’ his fate
because he had got disgusted an’ thrown his whole box o’ cigars into
the fire. “I’ve got an extra pipe, if you’d like to try that,” sez
Tank. “It’s lots better for the nerves than cigars—though from what I
can tell o’ you, you ain’t bothered much with nerves. I wish to glory
I was in your skin.”

“Oh, man,” sez Horace, “you can’t imagine how I suffer. I ache like a
sore tooth all over, an’ it gives me a cute pain just to sit here on
the grass.”

“Sit on the saddle-blankets,” sez Tank, sympathetic. As soon as Horace
had piled up the blankets an’ sat down on ’em, groanin’ most bitter,
Tank sez with feelin’: “Gee, how I envy you. You have nothin’ but a
few muscle-aches and chafed skin an’ such, while my nerves is
beginnin’ to threaten me again. I’m not goin’ to bother either o’ you
fellers, though. I’m goin’ to have you tie me to a tree to-night if I
can’t sleep.”

Horace filled the pipe, which was an ancient one, bitter as gall; but
when he began to smoke, his face became almost satisfied. The pipe was
purty well choked up, so that he had some bother in keepin’ it goin’,
but after we’d run a grass stem through it, it worked purty well, an’
we was right sociable until along about nine o’clock, when I got
sleepy, myself. Then Tank began to worry about his nerves. Horace had
about forgot his own nerves, he was sufferin’ so from Tank’s.

When we see that Horace couldn’t keep awake any longer without bein’
tortured, Tank began to carry on fiercer. He rumpled up his hair, gave
starts an’ jerks, but the thing ’at worked best, was just to sit an’
look at his fingers, an’ pick at ’em. He’d form a circle with his left
thumb and forefinger, then poke his right finger through this circle
and try to grab it with his right hand before it could back out. It
was the craziest thing I’d ever seen; but before long Horace got to
tryin’ it himself. While Tank was lookin’ at his fingers with his good
eye, the free one rambled around, an’ half the time it rested on
Horace, an’ fair gave him the creeps; but when I couldn’t stay awake
myself, I gave Tank the sign, an’ he got delirious.

“I can’t sleep,” he wailed, “I can’t sleep! My nerves, oh, my nerves!
One minute they’re like hot wires, an’ the next they’re like streaks
of ice. You’ll have to tie me up, boys, you certainly will have to tie
me up.”

I argued again’ it as bein’ inhuman; but Tank begged so that finally I
gave in, an’ we tied him to a down pine tree. Horace helped to tie
him, an’ he sure did his best to make a good job of it. I was a little
doubtful, myself, about Tank gettin’ loose; but he had blowed up his
muscles, an’ he coughed me the all-right signal, so me an’ Horace
turned in.

Horace groaned consid’able while stretchin’ out; but he began to snore
before I had got through findin’ the soft place. When I first go to
bed, I like to roll about a bit, an’ stretch, an’ loosen up my
muscles—I like to stay awake long enough to feel the tired spots sink
down again’ the earth, an’ sort o’ ooze into it; and before I had
drifted off, Horace was buzzin’ away at a log in great shape.

I must ’a’ slept an hour when I was wakened by a bright light, an’
lookin’ out, I saw Tank Williams standin’ with his back to the fire
an’ glowerin’ down at Horace. “As soon as this log burns off, I’m
goin’ to get you,” sez Tank between set teeth.

“What are you goin’ to get me for?” asked Horace. “You asked me to tie
you to it. I didn’t want to tie you to it, but you insisted. I’ll
untie you if you want me to, and rub your brow again.”

“It’s too late,” muttered Tank. “It’s too infernal late. Nothin’ could
put me to sleep now. As soon as this log burns off, I’m goin’ to get
you. You was the one which brought back my nerve trouble, an’ you are
the one what has to suffer.”

Tank hadn’t been able to free himself from the pine tree; so he had
dragged it in an’ across the fire. It wasn’t such a big one as trees
go; but it was a mighty big one for a man, tied to it as he was, to
tote along. Horace reasoned with him a while longer, an’ then when he
saw that the trunk was about burned through, he got purty well off to
one side, an’ threw a chunk at me. I popped out of bed on the instant,
an’ began to shoot about promiscuous; so as to live up to my

When I’d emptied my gun, I looked at Tank, as though seein’ him for
the first time, an’ sez: “What in thunder da you mean, by raisin’ all
this havoc?”

“My nerves,” sez Tank, “my pore nerves. I can’t sleep, an’ I can’t
keep my senses if I’m left tied to this tree any longer. It’s all his
fault, an’ as soon as this log burns up, I’m goin’ ta hunt him down.”

Tank an’ I argued fierce as long as we could think of anything to say;
an’ just as the dead pine was gettin’ too hot for Tank to stand it any
longer, Horace calls in from the darkness, “Don’t you want me to rub
your brow a while an’ see if that won’t put you to sleep?”

“Come in here,” I sez, cross. “This man is liable to kill himself, an’
you know more about nerves ’n I do.”

Horace crawled out from behind a big rock, came in, shiverin’ with the
cold; an’ we untied Tank from the log. He had managed to get his feet
loose; but his hands had been tied behind him an’ when they got cold,
he couldn’t make a go of it. “Well,” sez I, as soon as Tank was free,
“what are you goin’ to do now?”

“I move we get up the hosses, an’ start at once,” sez Tank. “I don’t
trust myself any longer, an’ we can ride faster at night. My one hope,
is to get to an Injun doctor, or else get so tired out that I can fall
into a dreamless sleep.”

“Why don’t you ride alone?” demanded Horace with a sudden burst of
intelligence. “Why don’t you ride alone; an’ then you could ride as
fast as you wanted to, an’ if you found the Injuns out o’ humor, you
could come back an’ let us know.”

This set us back for a minute: we had been playin’ Horace for bein’
utterly thought-loose; but he had figured out the best plan the’ was,
an’ his eyes were bright an’ eager.

“Take the hoss that’s fastened on the rope here,” Horace went on; “an’
we can take the manacled hosses in the mornin’ and foller ya. Yes,
that’s the best plan.”

You see the fact was, we were only twenty or twenty-five miles from
the ranch house. We had been circlin’ an’ zig-zaggin’ through the
hills, an’ at night we hung up Horace’s pony on a picket an’ put
hobbles on the balance. Bein’ fooled on direction wasn’t any sign of
Horace bein’ a complete lunkhead; I’ve known a heap o’ wise ones get
balled up in the mountains.

Tank stood puzzlin’ over it with his free eye trottin’ about in a
circle; but he couldn’t think any way out of it. “All right,” sez he,
“if you two can get along without me, why, I’ll risk my life by bein’
a scout.”

“Nonsense,” sez Horace; “the Injuns haven’t riz for years, an’ they’re
not likely to again.”

Tank only winked his lookin’ eye, an’ proceeded to fling the saddle on
the picketed hoss. Horace was smilin’ purty contented with himself,
until I sez: “Which hoss are you goin’ to ride to-morrow, Mr.

Then his face went blank as he recalled the blow-up we’d had that
mornin’ gettin’ the pack ponies contented with their loads. “By Jove,
I can’t ride any of them!” he exclaims. “It would kill me to have a
hoss buck with me. I’m so sore now I can hardly move.”

“You don’t look as nervous as you did, though,” I sez to him for

He didn’t pay me no heed. “Here, Williams,” he calls, “you can’t take
that hoss. He’s the only one I can ride, and you’ll have to catch

“You ort have thought o’ that before,” sez Tank, goin’ on with his
arrangements, but movin’ slow.

“Well, you two straighten it out among yourselves,” sez I. “I’m goin’
back to bed. No wonder you’re nervous. It would make a saw-horse
nervous to jibe around the way you two do.”

I went off grumblin’, an’ I went to sleep before they settled it; but
Tank stretched it out as much as he could, an’ Horace didn’t oversleep
any that night. Next mornin’ when I looked out, I saw him tied up with
his back again’ a tree, an’ Tank’s head in his lap. He was swathed in
his slicker an’ saddle-blanket to keep warm, an’ was sound asleep. He
looked purty well hammered out, but hanged if he didn’t look a lot
more worth while ’n he did when he started to take my treatment.

It seemed a shame to do it, as it was just gettin’ into the gray; but
I woke him up, an’ asked him in a whisper what he was doin’. He sat
an’ blinked at me for a full minute before he remembered what or where
he was, an’ then he told me that he finally induced Tank to try havin’
his head rubbed again, by lettin’ Tank truss him up so he couldn’t
keel over on him. “Gee, but I’m cold an’ stiff,” he sez in a husky,
raspin’ voice. “I don’t see how it can be so hot daytimes, an’ so cold

“This’ll do you a world of good, Mr. Bradford,” sez I. “You see, you
swell up with the heat daytimes, an’ crimp down with the cold nights;
an’ this will goad on your circulation, fry the lard out o’ ya, an’
give your nerves a chance to get toned up.” I quoted from the patent
medicine almanac occasional, just so he wouldn’t forget he was takin’

“I can’t possibly ride, to-day,” he sez, shakin’ his head. “Honest,
I’m in agony.”

“That’s just ’cause you’re stiff,” sez I, kindly. “That’ll all wear
off when the sun softens up your joint-oil. Why, man, you’ll look back
on this trip as one o’ the brightest spots in your whole life.”

“I got hit in the back o’ the head with a golf ball once,” he flares
back real angry; “an’ that showed me a lot o’ brightness, too. I don’t
want no more brightness, an’ I don’t intend to ride to-day.”

I was especial pleased at the human traits he was displayin’. He
hadn’t acted so healthy an’ natural since he’d been with us, an’ I was
encouraged to keep on with the treatment. “You will have to ride with
us, even if we have to tie you on,” I sez. “We are now close to the
Injun country, an’ we’re responsible for you. O’ course the’ ain’t any
danger from regular war parties; but Injun boys is just as full o’
devilment as white boys, an’ they haven’t as many safety valves.
They’re all the time sneakin’ off an’ playin’ at war, an’ they play a
purty stiff game, too, believe me. If a dozen o’ these voting bucks,
eighteen or twenty years old, was to stalk us, they’d try most earnest
to lift our hair.”

“I’d as soon be killed one way as another,” he sez. “I can’t stand it
to ride, an’ that’s all the’ is to it.”

Here was a queer thing: the little cuss actually wasn’t afeared of
Injuns, which I had counted on as my big card. Nerves or no nerves,
Horace Walpole Bradford wasn’t no coward; ’cause we are all afeared o’
crazy folks, an’ he thought Tank was crazy. If Tank had had two good
eyes, chances are he wouldn’t ’a’ feared him; so I kicked Tank in the
side an’ woke him up.



Well, we sure had a hard time gettin’ Horace in the saddle that day.
He was some like a burro, small but strong minded. Finally he agreed
to try it if we would put the saddle-blanket on top the saddle instead
of underneath.

“The hoss don’t need it as bad as I do,” sez he; “’cause he’s covered
all over with hoss-hide an’ has hair for paddin’ besides; and
furthermore, the saddle is lined with sheepskin underneath, while it’s
as hard as iron on top; and I’m just like a boil wherever I touch it.”

We told him that a hard saddle was lots the easiest as soon as a
feller got used to it; but he broke in an’ said he didn’t expect to
live that long, an’ that we could take our choice of leavin’ him, or
puttin’ the saddle-blanket on top. The’s lots of folks with the notion
that a soft saddle or a soft chair or a soft bed is the easiest; an’
it ain’t much use to argue with ’em, though the truth is, that if a
feller lived on goslin’ down, he’d get stuck with a pin feather some
day an’ die o’ loss of blood; while if he lived on jagged stones, he’d
finally wear into ’em until he had a smooth, perfect fittin’ mold for
his body. Still, the truth is only the truth to them ’at can see it;
so we put the blanket on top, an’ perched Horace astride it.

He stood it two hours, an’ then said it was stretchin’ his legs so ’at
he was afeared a sudden jerk would split him to the chin; an’ then we
put the saddle on right, an’ he found it full as easy as it had been
the day before. The best way, an’ the easiest an’ the quickest, to
toughen up, is just to toughen up. The human body can stand almost
anything in the way o’ hardship. After it has sent up word, hour after
hour, that it is bein’ hurt, an’ no attention gets paid to it, why, it
sets to work to remedy things on its own hook. In order to ride
comfortable, a lot of muscles have to loosen an’ stretch. Most o’ the
pain in ridin’ comes from ridin’ with set muscles. A feller can’t
balance easy with set muscles, it’s just one strainin’ jerk after
another, an’ the trick o’ ridin’ is to move with the horse. Just as
soon as ya get to goin’ right along with the hoss, loose an’ rubbery,
you take the strain off o’ both you an’ him; but while you’re bumpin’
again’ him, it’s painful for both.

We rode about forty miles that day; and at the end of it Horace wasn’t
complainin’ any worse ’n at the start. Well, he couldn’t, as far as
that goes; but his body had already begun to find the motion o’ the
hoss. Of course he hadn’t learned to balance, an’ he still rode rigid;
but we had give him an easy-gaited old hammock, an’ when we drew up to
make camp, he sat on his hoss without holdin’ to the horn, an’ said he
was beginnin’ to like it. When Tank lifted him down, though, his legs
wobbled under him like rubber an’ he squashed down in a heap,
groanin’. We let him sleep where he lit while we were gettin’ supper;
’cause we was sure he would need it before mornin’. He wasn’t nervous
any longer; all he wanted was food, sleep, an’ a lung full o’ tobacco
smoke. I felt rather proud o’ my treatment.

Tank had to boot him about purty freely to waken him up enough to take
his vittles; but he took a good lot of ’em, an’ I was glad of it,
’cause this was the night the Injuns were goin’ to attack us, an’ he
wasn’t scheduled to have any more solid nourishment until we got back
to the ranch house. After supper he went to his pipe like a young duck
to a puddle o’ water. He hadn’t learned to handle his moisture while
smokin’ a pipe, an’ when the pipe began to gargle, he muttered a
little cuss-word under his breath. H. Walpole Bradford was comin’ out

The stiffenin’ had all blew out o’ the rim of his hat, givin’ the sun
full swing at him, an’ his nose looked like a weakly tomato flung in a
bed o’ geraniums. He had wrinkled up his face around where his glasses
fit, an’ now with the sun gone down his skin had loosened up again,
showin’ the unburned wrinkles like painted marks. He sure did look
tough! He was wearin’ a gray suit with a belt around the middle an’
canvas leggins.

Along about nine o’clock he nodded over into the fire, right at the
most excitin’ part of an Injun tale which Tank was makin’ up for his
especial benefit. We fished him out an’ shook him awake; but he came
to as cross as a hornet, an’ swore he was goin’ to sleep right where
he was with all his clothes on.

“You’re a wise pigeon to sleep with your clothes on, to-night,” sez
Tank; “’cause this is the Injun country, an’ ya can’t tell what’ll
happen; but the best plan for us to do is to divide up an’ keep watch
durin’ the night.”

“Keep watch!” yells Horace, glarin’ at Tank. “I wouldn’t keep watch
to-night if I was bound to a torture stake. You can keep watch if you
want to—an’ it wouldn’t discommode you no more ’n if you was an owl.
Your dog-gone, doubly condemned nerves won’t let you nor any one else
sleep—but I’m goin’ to get some rest if I die for it.”

“You’re a nice one, you are!” sez Tank. “This here expedition was got
up just on account o’ your nerves, an’ now that we’ve come to the most
important point of all, why, you flam out an’ put all the risk on us.”

“You make me tired,” sez Horace, scowlin’ at Tank as fierce as a
cornered mouse. “If you’re so everlastin’ feared o’ the Injuns—what
ya got this bloomin’ fire for?”

“We don’t intend to sleep near the fire, Mr. Bradford,” sez I,
soothin’. “We intend to roll up our beds like as if we was in ’em an’
then sneak off into the bushes an’ sleep. We don’t want any trouble if
we can avoid it. If you’ll notice, you’ll see we haven’t turned the
hosses out to-night.”

“These here Injuns is livin’ on a reservation,” sez he, “an’ I don’t
believe ’at they’d dare outrage us.”

I was indignant with the little cuss for not bein’ afeared of Injuns.
My theory was, ’at nerves was a lot like hosses: keep a hoss shut up
an’ he’ll get bad an’ kick an’ raise Cain; but take him out an’ ride
his hide loose, an’ he’ll simmer down consid’able. I wanted to give
Horace’s nerves such a complete stringin’ out that they wouldn’t worry
him any more for a year; an’ here he was, not carin’ a hang for
Injuns. “Beliefs is all right to the believers,” sez I, stiffenin’ up;
“but facts is facts whether you believe in ’em or not. Every Injun
outrage since the Civil War was planned on a reservation, an’ we can’t
take no chances.”

While he was studyin’ over this with a pouty look on his face, Tank
sez: “It’s time we fixed up an’ moved out into the dark”; so we put
rolls o’ brush in the beds, an’ went on up the side o’ the rise where
the’ was a level spot I knew of, Horace stumblin’ an’ grumblin’ every
step o’ the way. We were about two hundred yards from the fire an’ it
looked cozy an’ cheerful, dancin’ away beside the tarps. I was half a
mind to join in with Horace, an’ go on back; but our plans were all
laid, an’ besides, I had a little bet up with Spider Kelley, that I’d
return Horace in such fine condition that he’d be willin’ to drink
blood or milk a cow calf-fashion.

“You go to sleep first,” sez Tank to Horace; “I’ll watch till I get
sleepy an’ then I’ll call Happy, he’ll watch two hours, an’ if it
ain’t dawn by that time, he’ll call you. I may not get sleepy at all,
but you know how nerves is. I stayed awake ninety-six hours once, an’
couldn’t get a speck sleepy. Then I decided to stay out the even
hundred an’ see how far I could jump after stayin’ awake a hundred
hours. I went to sleep in ten minutes an’ didn’t wake up for two
days—so I’m liable to be took sleepy to-night.”

We had brought the slickers up, an’ Horace rolled up in one, under a
low evergreen, and began to snore in half a minute. As soon as he had
got to wrastlin’ with his breath in earnest, I went to the head o’ the
trail an’ whistled for Spider Kelley. He an’ four others were there,
an’ I told ’em it was all right to start in an hour, an’ then I came
back to Horace chucklin’. Spider enjoyed anything like this, an’ he
had fixed up the boys with feathers an’ fringe an’ smears o’ chalk an’
raspberry jam, till they looked as evil-minded as any Injuns I’d ever

We set Horace’s watch ahead five hours. Tank curled up an’ went to
sleep, an’ then I started to wake Horace up. It took so long; to get
him to consciousness that I feared the hour would be up; but he
finally got so he remembered what he was, an’ then I told him not to
make any fuss if he saw any Injuns, but to just wake us up. I tried to
get him to take one o’ my guns, but I didn’t wear triggers on ’em an’
he didn’t savvy snap-shootin’, so he took a club in his hand an’
started to parade.

He looked at his watch while I was stretchin’ out in his warm spot,
an’ he looked at it again before I was through loosenin’ up my
muscles. It beats the world how slow time crawls to a man on watch. I
was sleepy myself, but I’d have bit out my tongue before I’d have give
in. I lay half on my right side with my hat drawn down, watchin’
Horace. After about ten minutes, he pulled out his watch again an’
looked at it. He pulled out the snap to set it ahead, in order to fool
us, but he was troubled with too much morality, so he snapped it shut
an’ spoke to himself between his set teeth for several moments.

I reckon he must have kept on his feet for twenty minutes, an’ then he
settled down with his face to the fire, which I had fed up on my way
back from seein’ Spider, an’ said loud enough for me to hear: “This is
all damn foolishness.”

He said it so slow an’ solemn an’ earnest, that I purt nigh choked;
but I kept still, he kept still, an’ the fire kept dancin’ before him.
His breathin’ grew deep an’ steady, his nerves was all coiled up
comfortable; and tired muscles don’t make a feller wakeful. Purty soon
Horace began to gargle his palate, an’ then I was ready for Spider

The plan was for him to come up close so as to entertain Horace while
his braves sneaked on to the dummies in the tarps; but the’ was no
occasion for sneakin’. Horace had turned over the camp to fate, an’ he
wasn’t worryin’ his head about what was goin’ to happen to it.

Finally, Spider got disgusted an’ he went down an’ joined the others,
an’ they sure raised a riot; but all the time, Horace slumbered on.
Spider caught up our hosses, put our saddles an’ packs on ’em, threw
some pieces of old canvas he brought along on the fire; and he an’ the
rest raised a wild warwhoop and galloped away; but Horace was too busy
to pay any attention. Spider an’ the boys had to work next day, an’
they was some put out not to have a little more fun for their trouble.
It was all Spider could do to keep ’em from sneakin’ back an’
kidnappin’ Horace, but this was liable to give the whole thing away,
so he talked ’em out of it. As soon as the noise had died down, I set
Horace’s watch back five hours, an’ then I went to sleep myself. It
was purty chilly, and I wasn’t quite sure who the joke was on.

When Tank woke up, he started in on Horace; but his noise wakened me
up first. When Horace saw what had happened to the camp, he was about
wordless; but after we had called him down about it for five or ten
minutes, he flared up an’ talked back as harsh as we did. He said ’at
he had kept guard for over three hours, fightin’ off sleep by walkin’
back an’ forth; and hadn’t sat down until it had started to lighten in
the sky. He stuck to this tale, and I’m sure he believed it himself.
He’d been so sleepy the night before that he couldn’t have told a
dream from an actual happenin’, so when he began to get excited, we
dropped it.

“All right,” sez Tank at last; “you’ve put us into a nice fix, but
the’ ain’t no use tryin’ to pickle yesterday. What we’ve got to do is
to hoof it back, an’ we might as well begin. We’re in a nice fix:
nothin’ to eat, not a single cabin on the road back, an’ for all we
know the’s a pack of Injuns watchin’ us this blessid moment.”

“How do ya know it was Injuns?” sez Horace.

“Look there, an’ there, an’ there,” sez Tank, pointin’ at moccasin
prints an’ feathers. “Then besides, no white men would ’a’ burned up
the tarps.”

“Do you mean to say ’at we got to walk all the way back?” sez Horace.

“All the way, an’ without no grub,” sez Tank.

Horace sat down on the end of a charred log. “Well, I’ll die right
here,” sez he. “This spot suits me as well as any other.”

“You don’t have to die at all,” sez I. “A body can go forty days
without food, an’ it does more good than harm.” Friar Tuck had told me
a lot about fastin’, an’ I was keen to try it out on Horace. From all
I could see from the theory o’ fastin’, it was just what was needed
for Horace’s nerves.

“Look at me,” sez Horace, pullin’ at the waist of his clothes. “I bet
I’ve lost twenty pounds already, on this fool trip. Twenty pounds more
would make me a corpse, an’ I’d just as soon be made one here as
anywhere. As soon as I rest up a little, I’m goin’ to begin to yell
until I draw those blame Injuns back, an’ have ’em finish the job in
short order.”

He wasn’t bluffin’, he was simply desp’rit. “You’ll have to walk with
us,” sez I; “come on.”

Tank took one arm, an’ I took the other, an’ we started forth. For the
first hour he hung back, and then he began to step out on his own
hook. When we rested at noon, he was the freshest one of us. Tank an’
I had ridin’ boots, an’ ridin’ muscles; while he had walkin’ shoes,
an’ no muscles at all worth mentionin’. “I can play at this game as
well as any one,” sez Horace, chewin’ a blade o’ grass, an’ lookin’
proud of himself.

Tank was purty well fussed up; he wasn’t workin’ out any theories, he
had just come along to help pester Horace an’ have a little amusement;
but it began to appear to him that his fun was comin’ high-priced.

By nightfall we was all tol’able hungry; but Horace was so set up over
bein’ able to put over a full day’s walk on nothin’ to eat that he was
purty speechy, an’ it was nine o’clock before he went to sleep. As
soon as he had dropped off, I went down to meet Spider Kelley an’ get
the grub he had brought out for me ’n’ Tank. He said ’at the other
boys wasn’t braggin’ none about their trip the night before; but they
were all ready to roast me an’ Tank as soon as we got in. We’d had it
fixed that Spider an’ the rest was to take turns worryin’ Horace on
the back trip; but Spider said that it looked to him as if I’d win the
bet anyway, so he intended to play neutral from that on. As soon as me
an’ Tank had eaten, we turned in, an’ all of us slept like logs.



The next day Horace walked easier ’n any of us. Now I’m tellin’ this
to ya straight ’n’ you can believe it or not just as ya please; but
that little cuss stepped right along, began to notice the scenery, an’
even cracked a few jokes now an’ again; while me an’ Tank just plodded
with our minds fixed on the meal we were goin’ to get that night.
Horace had give up all thought o’ meals, so they didn’t pester him

At the end of the third day Horace had lost his appetite complete.
Friar Tuck had swore that hunger didn’t worry a man more ’n three
days, an’ sure enough, it didn’t. Horace didn’t care whether he ever
et again or not. He’d get a little dizzy when he’d start out, an’ once
in a while he’d feel a bit fainty; but as far as bein’ ravenous went,
me an Tank had him beat a mile.

“Where is the joke o’ this fool trip?” growled Tank to me on the
evenin’ of the fourth day as we were eatin’ the supper Spider Kelley
had brought out. “He ain’t a human at all, Horace ain’t; he’s a
reptile, an’ can live without food.”

Spider was tickled a lot, and said he didn’t care if he did lose his
bet, that it was worth it to find how everlastin’ tough a little
half-hand like Horace could be when drove to it. I’d been thinkin’ it
over all day, but I didn’t say anything.

Friar Tuck had said it was a question of will power, more ’n anything
else: that if a man just held his thoughts away from food it wouldn’t
bother him; but if he kept thinkin’ of it, the digestin’ juices would
flow into his stomach an’ make him think he was starvin’; so I was
minded to try a new plan next day.

“Spider,” I sez, “you put a cow an’ calf up in Nufty’s Corral”—which
was the name of a little shut-in park we would go through the next
afternoon. “Put ’em there in the mornin’, a cow with an off brand, if
you can find one, an’ trim their hoofs down close, so they won’t go
back to the bunch. Remember ’at we’re on foot, an’ trim ’em close
enough to make it hurt ’em to walk. I’m goin’ to make Horace hungry if
I can.”

“I hate to play again’ him and my own bet,” sez Spider; “but I’ll have
the cow there, just to see what you’re up to. If you’re goin’ to
butcher it, though, I don’t see why a young steer wouldn’t be better.”

“I’ll count on you havin’ it there,” sez I; an’ then Spider rode back
to the ranch house, an’ me an’ Tank went to sleep.

Next mornin’ me an’ Tank put the cartridges out of our belts into our
pockets. As soon as we started to walk I began to talk about my
hunger, an’ weakness, an’ the empty feelin’ in my head an’ stomach. At
first Horace didn’t pay any heed; but from the start, ol’ Tank
Williams caught every symptom I suggested; until I feared he’d curl up
on the trail an’ die o’ starvation. Finally, though, Horace began to
pay heed to my suggestions, an’ to sigh an’ moan a little. What
finally got him was my gnawin’ at my rope an’ gauntlet. Tank an’ I had
saved our ropes, ’cause we expected to have need of ’em; and when noon
came an’ I sat with a stupid look in my face, chewin’ first the rope,
an’ then the wrist o’ the gauntlet, Horace began to have some of the
symptoms I was fishin’ for. Finally he borrowed one o’ my gauntlets,
an’ after he had munched on it a while, he was as hungry as any one
could wish.

“I can’t go another peg,” he sez when I got up to start on again.

“How does that come?” I asked him. “When we stopped to rest you was
feelin’ more chipper ’n any of us.”

“I’m dyin’ o’ hunger,” he replied, solemn. “I’ve got a gnawin’ pain in
my stomach, an’ I’m all in. I fear my stomach is punctured or stuck
together or somethin’.”

I had had a lot o’ discussions with Friar Tuck about the power o’
suggestion; but I had never took much stock in it. I could see now,
though, that it actually did work. As long as Horace was tellin’
himself that everything was all right, why, it was all right. Then
when I suggested ’at we were dyin’ of hunger, why, he actually began
to die of hunger; an’ it was wonderful to see the change in him. He
showed us how he had ganted down; and the fact was, his bones had
become purty prominent without any help from suggestin’. He didn’t
have any more belly ’n a snake; but his eyes were bright, an’ his skin
clear, except that it was peelin’ off purty splotchy, from sun-burn.

We finally left him an’ started on; and after we’d got some distance,
he staggered after us; but he was just goin’ on his nerve now, an’ not
gettin’ much joy out of existence.

About four in the afternoon, we reached Nufty’s Corral, a fine little
park with only a narrow entrance at each end. Horace was up with us by
this time, an’ we were all ploddin’ along head down. Suddenly Horace
grabbed us by the arms. “Hush!” he sez.

“What’s up?” sez I, lookin’ at him.

“Look,” he whispers, pointin’ at the cow an’ calf; “there’s food.”

We drew back an’ consulted about it. “The great danger after a fast,”
I sez in warnin’, “lies in overeatin’. All we can do is to drink a
little blood for the first few hours.”

“Why can’t we broil a steak over some coals?” sez Horace.

“It would kill us to eat steak now,” sez I.

He held out for the steak; but I finally sez that if he won’t promise
to be temperate an’ eat only what I tell him, I’ll drive off the cow;
and then he comes around, and agrees to it.

“You sneak around to the far openin’, Tank,” I sez, then I pauses, an’
looks at him as though shocked. “Where’s your cartridges, man?” I

Tank felt of his belt, and seemed plumb beat out, then he looked at
mine, an’ yelled, “Where’s yours?”

We both sat down on stones an’ went over what we had done every minute
o’ the time since we had started out; until Horace became frantic, an’
sez: “What’s the difference what became of ’em? Your revolvers are
loaded. You can sure kill one cow out o’ twenty-four shots.”

“Twenty shots,” I corrected. “We allus carry the hammer on an empty
chamber; an’ I’m so bloomin’ weak I doubt if I could hit a cow in ten

Horace turned loose an’ told us what he thought of us, an’ it was
edifyin’ to hearken to him—he hit the nail on the head so often.
Finally I sez: “Well, a man can do no more than try—Go ahead, Tank,
but don’t let her get by you, whatever happens.”

The cow, which was a homely grade-whiteface with a splotch on her nose
which made it look as if most of the nose had been cut off, stood in
the center of the park, an’ she was beginnin’ to get uneasy, although
the wind was from her way.

As soon as Tank got to his entrance he shot in the air; an’ she came
chargin’ down on me. I shot over her, an’ she charged back. We kept
this up until Horace lost patience an’ called me a confounded dub.
“Here,” sez I, “the’s two cartridges left. You fire ’em, I won’t.”

At first he refused, but he was desperate, and finally after I’d told
him to use both hands, he took a shot. The cow was standin’ closest to
us, but lookin’ Tank’s way, an’ Horace nicked her in the ham. Instead
of chargin’ Tank, like a sensible cow, she came for us head on. Now,
when a bull charges, he picks out somethin’ to steer for, then closes
his eyes, and sets sail; but a cow keeps her eyes open, an’ she don’t
aim to waste any plunges either. Horace stood out in the center of the
entrance an’ banged away again, strikin’ the ground about ten feet in
front of him.

“Run!” I yells to him, jumpin’ back behind a big rock, “Run!”

He forgot all about bein’ hungry, an’ he started to backtrail like a
scared jack-rabbit. The cow had forgot all about havin’ had her hoofs
pared, an’ she took after him like a hungry coyote. As she passed me,
I roped her, took a snub around the rock, an’ flopped her; but she did
just what I thought she’d do—rolled to her feet an’ took after me.
She was angry. I’d have given right smart for a tough little pony
between my knees.

[Illustration: The cow had forgot all about havin’ had her hoofs
pared, an’ she took after him like a hungry coyote]

The rock was too big to get a half hitch over, so I just ran at right
angles from her, hopin’ to stretch out more rope ’n she could cover. I
did it by a few feet; but she swung around into my rope head on, an’
this flung me up again’ her side. I managed to hang on to the rope,
however, an’ this fixed her, ’cause she’d have had to pull that rock
over before she could ’a’ come any farther. Horace had stopped an’ was
gappin’ at us from a safe distance; but Tank arrived by this time an’
put another rope on her an’ we had her cross-tied between two big
rocks by the time Horace arrived.

“What ya goin’ to kill her with?” he asked, his eyes dancin’ like an
Injun’s at the beef whack-up.

“My cartridges are all gone,” sez Tank.

“Mine too,” sez I.

“Can’t you use a knife, or a stone?” sez Horace, the dude.

“You can try it if you want to,” sez I; “but hanged if I will.”

He took a big stone an’ walked to the head of the cow, but his nerve
gave out, an’ he threw down the stone. “What in thunder did you tie
her up for, then?” sez he.

“I beg your pardon,” sez I, “but I thought perhaps she might be a
little vexed with you on account o’ your shootin’ her up. She was
headed your way.”

He sat down on a stone an’ looked at the cow resentful. Suddenly his
face lit up. “Why don’t you milk her?” sez he. “We can live on milk
for weeks.”

It’s funny how much alike hungry animals look. As Horace sat on the
stone with his anxious face, his poppin’ eyes, his mussed up
side-burns, an’ the water drippin’ from his mouth at thought o’ the
milk, he looked so much like a setter pup I once knew that it was all
I could do to hold a straight face.

“Do you know how to milk, Tank?” I sez.

“I don’t,” sez Tank; “nor I don’t know what it tastes like.”

“Go ahead an’ milk her, Mr. Bradford,” I sez. “You’re the only one
what knows how to milk, or who cares to drink it. What you goin’ to
milk it in?”

“I never milked in my life,” sez he; “but I saw it done once when I
was a boy, an’ I’m goin’ to try to milk in my hat.”

He had a bad time of it; but he only got kicked twice, an’ both times
it was short, glancin’ blows, not much more ’n shoves. Finally, he
came over to where me an’ Tank was settin’ an’ flopped himself down
beside us. “Can’t you strangle her with those ropes?” he sez, in what
might well be called deadly earnest.

We shook our heads, an’ continued to sit there lookin’ at the cow as
though we expected she’d point the way out of our trouble. Presently
the calf remembered his own appetite, an’ rushed up an’ gave a
demonstration of what neat an’ orderly milkin’ was. Horace sighed.
“Gee, I bet that’s good,” he said, the water drippin’ from his lips
again. He had been four days without food, walkin’ all that time
through the mountains, sleepin’ out doors with no cover but a slicker;
and he had about burned up all his waste products, which Friar Tuck
said was a city man’s greatest handicap. His eyes got a little red as
he watched the calf, an’ I saw that he meant to slaughter it; so I sez
to him: “That’s the way to milk, Mr. Bradford. Why don’t you sneak up
on the other side an’ try it that way, the same time the calf is?”

He studied a moment, an’ then shook his head. “No, she could tell me
from the calf,” he said sorrowful. “Our foreheads are shaped
different, an’ I’d have to get down on my hands and knees. She’d tell
me in a minute, an’ I don’t want to be on my hands an’ knees when she
kicks me.”

“We could throw an’ hog-tie her,” sez Tank; “and you could get it easy
an’ comfortable. Would you want us to do that, Mr. Bradford?”

Horace jumped to his feet an’ shook his fist in Tank’s face. “Don’t
call me Mister again,” he yelled. “I’m plumb sick of it. If I ever
live to get another bath an’ back East where the’s food in plenty,
why, I’ll take up the Mister again; but now that I’ve got to a point
where I have to suck milk from a hog-tied cow, you call me Horace, or
even Dinky—which was my nickname at school. Yes, for heaven’s sake,
tie the cow. I have to have milk, an’ that’s the only way I see to get

Well, Tank an’ I was so full o’ laugh we could hardly truss up the
cow; but we finally got her on her back so ’at she couldn’t do nothin’
but snap her tail, an’ then Horace threw his hat on the ground, an’
started in. I was entirely joyful: I knew ’at Spider Kelley, an’ as
many o’ the boys as could sneak away, were watchin’ us from up on the
hill, an’ this was the grand triumph of my treatment for nerves.

Horace approached the cow with consid’able caution, as she was in an
awkward position. The calf had been interrupted in his meal, before he
had squenched his thirst, an’ he was still prospectin’ about on his
own hook.

“Here,” said Horace, givin’ him a push, “this is my turn.”

You know how a calf is: a calf ain’t afeared o’ nothin’ except hunger.
Here was his food-supply bein’ robbed, right when he was needin’ it.
He blatted down in his throat, an’ tried to nose Horace out of the
way. Horace was findin’ that milk the best stuff he had ever tasted,
an’ he fought off the calf with his right hand, while he steadied
himself by puttin’ his left on the hind leg o’ the calf’s mother, an’
got a nice coat o’ creamy froth in his side-burns. He was so blame
hungry he didn’t see a speck o’ humor in it; but me an’ Tank nearly

“Say,” sez Horace, raisin’ his head, the milk drippin’ from his lips,
“can’t one o’ you fellers fend off this calf till I finish?”

Tank held the calf while I advised Horace to be temperate, an’ after a
bit he gave a sigh an’ said, that that was all he could hold just
then, but not to let the cow escape. We loosened her, left one o’ the
ropes on for a drag picket, an’ took off the other. She was purty well
subdued; but we refused to give Horace any more milk that night, an’
he went to sleep before we had a fire built. Spider Kelley was
wabblin’ with laughter when he brought us our supper. He had been the
only one who could stay after bringin’ up the cow; but he said he
wouldn’t ’a’ missed it for three jobs.



Next mornin’ we fed Horace all the milk he could hold, an’ tried to
drive the cow along with us; but her hoofs had been pared so thin that
it made her cross an’ we had to give that projec’ up.

“How far are we from the ranch house?” asked Horace.

“About sixty miles,” sez Tank.

“That’s what I thought,” sez he. “Now, I can’t see any sense in all of
us hoofin’ that distance. I’d go if I knew the way; but one of you
could go, an’ the other stay with me an’ the cow. Then the one which
went could bring back food on the buckboard, and it would be as good
as if we all went.”

Now this was a fine scheme; but neither Tank nor I had thought of it.
We had intended to follow our own windin’ circle back every step o’
the way; but when the milk set Horace’s brain to pumpin’, he fetched
up this idee which saved us all a lot o’ bother.

“I shall go myself,” sez Tank; “weak as I am, I’ll go myself.”

It was only about fifteen or twenty miles by the short cut, an’ this
would get him back to regular meals in short order; so he left me his
rope an’ set out. Horace helped me with the cow that night, an’ he
proved purty able help. He was feelin’ fine, an’ the milk had filled
him out wonderful. He said he hadn’t felt so rough ’n’ ready for
twenty years; but Spider Kelley failed to arrive with my meal that
night, and I went to bed feelin’ purty well disgusted. Tank had met
him before noon that day, an’ he had gone in for a hoss; and they had
decided that it would be a good stunt to give me some o’ my own

Next mornin’ I felt as empty as a balloon; so after Horace had enjoyed
himself, I took a little o’ the same, myself; but I didn’t take it
like he did. I held my mouth open an’ squirted it in, an’ it was
mighty refreshin’.

“Huh,” sez Horace, “you’re mightily stuck up. The calf’s way is good
enough for me.”

“I got a split lip,” I sez, half ashamed o’ myself.

They left us there three days to allow for the time it would have
taken Tank to walk if it had been as far as we claimed it was; and
then Tillte Dutch drove out the buckboard. He said ’at Spider an’ Tank
had quit and gone into Boggs for a little recreation; but after I had
eaten my first meal out o’ the grub he brought, I didn’t bear ’em any
ill will. The joke was on me as much as it was on Horace; but I’d ’a’
gone through twice as much to test that theory, an’ I’d had the full
worth o’ my bother. Horace was a new man: he was full o’ vim an’ snap,
an’ he gave me credit for it an’ became mighty friendly an’

He stood up in the buckboard an’ made a farewell speech to the cow
which lasted ten minutes. He also apologized to the calf, an’ told him
that when he got back East, he would raise his hat every time he
passed a milk wagon. He sure felt in high spirits, and made up a
ramblin’ sort of a song which lasted all the way back to the house. It
had the handiest tune ever invented and he got a lot o’ fun out of it.
It began:

    “Oh we walked a thousand miles without eatin’ any food,
    An’ then we met a cow an’ calf, an’ gee, but they looked good!
    Her eyes like ancient Juno’s were so in-o-cent an’ mild,
    We couldn’t bear to take her life, we only robbed her child.
    She strove to save the lactual juice to feed her darling boy;
    So we had to fling her on her back to fill our souls with joy.
    Now Tank an’ Happy were too proud to compete with a calf,
    So they sat them down an’ dined on wind, while they weakly
      tried to laugh.
    I’m but a simple-minded cuss, not proud like one of these;
    So I filled myself so full of milk, I’m now a cottage cheese.”

Horace was as proud o’ this song as though it was the first one ever
sung. He used the same tune on it that blind men on corners use. I
reckon that tune fits most any sort of a song; it’s more like the
“Wearin’ of the Green” than anything else but ten times sadder an’
more monotonous. He said he had once wrote a Greek song at college but
it wasn’t a patch on this one, and hadn’t got him nothin’ but a medal.
I used to know twelve or eighteen verses, but I’ve forgot most of it.
It was a hard one to remember because the verses wasn’t of the same
length. Sometimes a feller would have to stretch a word all out of
shape to make it cover the wave o’ the tune, an’ sometimes you’d have
to huddle the words all up into a bunch. Horace said that all high
class music was this way; but it made it lots more bother to learn
than hymns.

The verse which pleased me the most was the forty-third. Horace
himself said ’at this was about as good as any, though he liked the
seventy-ninth one a shade better, himself. The forty-third one ran:

    “A cow-boy does not live on milk, that’s all a boy-cow’ll drink;
    But the cow-ma loves the last the most, which seems a funny think,
    I do not care for milk in pans with yellow scum o’er-smeared.
    I like to gather mine myself; and strain it through my beard.”

I never felt better over anything in my life than I did over returnin’
Horace in this condition. It was some risk to experiment with such a
treatment as mine on a feller who regarded himself as an invalid; but
here he was, comin’ back solid an’ hearty, with his shape shrunk down
to normal, an’ full o’ jokes an’ song.

Tillte Dutch had been one o’ the braves in Spider’s Injun party; so
when we got in, about ten in the evenin’, he lured the rest o’ the
pack out to the corral, an’ we agreed not to make the details of our
trip public. The ol’ man wouldn’t have made a whole lot o’ fuss seein’
as it had turned out all right; but still, he was dead set on what he
called courtesy to guests; and he might ’a’ thought that we had played
Horace a leetle mite strong. Barbie noticed the change in Horace and,
o’ course, she pumped most o’ the story out o’ me.

Horace himself was as game a little rooster as I ever saw. He follered
me around like a dog after that, helpin’ with my chores, an’ ridin’
every chance he had. He got confidential, an’ told me a lot about
himself. He said that he hadn’t never had any boyhood, that his mother
was a rich widow, an’ was ambitious to make a scholar out of him; that
she had sent him to all kinds o’ schools an’ colleges an’
universities, and had had private tutors for him, and had jammed his
head so full o’ learnin’ that the’ wasn’t room for his brain to beat;
so it had just lain smotherin’ amidst a reek of all kinds o’ musty old
facts. He said that he never had had time for exercise, and had never
needed money; so he had just settled into a groove lined with books
an’ not leadin’ anywhere at all. He said that since his mother’s death
he had been livin’ like a regular recluse, thinkin’ dead thoughts in
dead languages, an’ not takin’ much interest in anything which had
happened since the fall o’ Rome; but now that he had learned for the
first time what a world of enjoyment the’ was in just feelin’ real
life poundin’ through his veins, he intended to plunge about in a way
to increase the quality, quantity, and circulation of his blood.

Ya couldn’t help likin’ a feller who took things the way he did—we
all liked him. He told us to treat him just as if he was a
fourteen-year-old boy, which we did, an’ the’ wasn’t nothin’ in the
way of a joke that he wasn’t up against before the summer was over;
but he came back at us now an’ again, good an’ plenty.

Tank an’ Spider tossin’ up their jobs had left me with more work on my
hands ’n I generally liked, so I had to stick purty close to the line
until they went broke an’ took on again. Then one day me an’ Horace
took a ride up into the hills. We had some lunch along and about noon
we sat down in a grassy spot to eat it. We had just finished and had
lighted our pipes for a little smoke when we heard Friar Tuck comin’
up the trail. I hadn’t seen him for months, an’ I was mighty glad to
hear him again. He was fair shoutin’, so I knew ’at things was right
side up with him. He was singin’ the one which begins: “Oh, come, all
ye faithful, joyful an’ triumphant,” and he shook the echoes loose
with it.

Horace turned to me with a surprised look on his face; “Who’s that?”
he sez.

“That’s Friar Tuck,” sez I, “an’ if you’ve got any troubles tell ’em
to him.”

“Well, wouldn’t that beat ya!” exclaimed Horace, an’ just then the
Friar came onto our level with his hat off an’ his head thrown back.
He was leadin’ a spare hoss, an’ seemed at peace with all the world.

When he spied me, he headed in our direction, an’ as soon as he had
finished the chorus, he called: “Hello, Happy! What are you hidin’
from up here?”

I jumped to my feet, an’ Horace got to his feet, too, an’ bowed an’
said: “How do ya do, Mr. Carmichael?”

A quick change came over the Friar’s face. It got cold an’ haughty;
and I was flabbergasted, because I had never seen it get that way
before. “How do you do,” he said, as cheery an’ chummy as a

But he didn’t need to go to the trouble o’ freezin’ himself solid;
Horace was just as thin skinned as he was when it was necessary, an’
he slipped on a snuffer over his welcomin’ smile full as gloomy as was
the Friar’s. I was disgusted: nothin’ pesters me worse ’n to think a
lot o’ two people who can’t bear each other. It leaves it so blame
uncertain which one of us has poor taste.

Well, we had one o’ those delightful conflabs about the weather an’
“how hot it was daytimes, but so cool an’ refreshin’ nights,” an’, “I
must be goin’ now,” an’ “oh, what’s the use o’ goin’ so soon”—and so
on. Then Horace an’ the Friar bowed an’ the Friar rode away as silent
an’ dignified as a dog which has been sent back home.

“Well,” sez Horace, after we’d seated ourselves again, “I never
expected to see that man out here. I wouldn’t ’a’ been more surprised
to have seen a blue fish with yaller goggles on, come swimmin’ up the

“Oh, wouldn’t ya?” sez I. “Well, that man ain’t no more like a blue
fish with goggles on than you are. He’s ace high anywhere you put him,
an’ don’t you forget that.”

“You needn’t arch up your back about it,” he sez. “I haven’t said
anything again’ him. I gave up goin’ to church on his account.”

“That’s nothin’ to brag about,” sez I. “A man’ll give up goin’ to
church simply because they hold it on Sunday, which is the one day o’
the week when he feels most like stackin’ up his feet on top o’
somethin’ an’ smokin’ a pipe. A man who couldn’t plan out an excuse
for not goin’ to church wouldn’t be enough intelligent to know when he
was hungry.”

“You must ’a’ set up late last night to whet your sarcasm!” sez
Horace, swellin’ up a little. “Why don’t you run along and hold up a
screen, so ’at folks can’t look at your parson.”

“How’d you happen to quit church on his account?” sez I.

“He was only a curate, when I first knew him,” sez Horace.

“He’s a curate yet,” sez I. “I tried one of his cures myself, lately;
an’ it worked like a charm.” I turned my head away so ’at Horace
wouldn’t guess ’at he was the cuss I had tried it on.

“A curate hasn’t nothin’ to do with doctorin’,” sez Horace. “A curate
is only the assistant of the regular preacher which is called a
rector. The curate does the hard work an’ the rector gets the big

“That’s the way with all assistants,” sez I; “so don’t bother with any
more details. Why did you quit goin’ to church?”

“I quit because he quit,” sez Horace.

“What did he quit for,” sez I; “just to bust up the church by drawin’
your patronage away from it?”

“He quit on account of a girl,” sez Horace; an’ then I stopped my
foolishness, an’ settled down to get the story out of him. Here I’d
been wonderin’ for years about Friar Tuck; an’ all those weeks I had
been with Horace I had never once thought o’ tryin’ to see what he
might know.



Humans is the most disappointin’ of all the animals: when a mule opens
his mouth, you know what sort of a noise is about to happen, an’ can
brace yourself accordin’; an’ the same is true o’ screech-owls, an’
guinea-hens an’ such; but no one can prepare for what is to come forth
when a human opens his mouth. You meet up with a professor what knows
all about the stars an’ the waterlines in the hills an’ the petrified
fishes, an’ such; but his method o’ bein’ friendly an’ agreeable is to
sing comic songs like a squeaky saw, an’ dance jigs as graceful as a
store box; while the fellow what can sing an’ dance is forever tryin’
to lecture about stuff he is densely ignorant of.

The other animals is willin’ to do what they can do, an’ they take
pride in seein’ how well they can do it; but not so a human. He only
takes pride in tryin’ to do the things he can’t do. A hog don’t try to
fly, nor a butterfly don’t try to play the cornet, nor a cow don’t set
an’ fret because she can’t climb trees like a squirrel; but not so
with man: he has to try everything ’at anything else ever tried, an’
he don’t care what it costs nor who gets killed in the attempt.
Sometimes you hear a wise guy say: “No, no that’s contrary to human
nature.” This is so simple minded it allus makes me silent. Human
nature is so blame contrary, itself, that nothin’ else could possibly
be contrary to it. To think of Horace knowin’ about the Friar, an’ yet
doggin’ me all over the map with that song of his, was enough to make
me shake him; but I didn’t. I wanted the story, so I pumped him for
it, patient an’ persistent.

“I never was very religious,” began Horace. Most people begin stories
about other people, by tellin’ you a lot about themselves, so I had my
resignation braced for this. “I allus liked the Greek religion better
’n airy other,” he went on. “It was a fine, free, joyous religion,
founded on Art an’ music, an’ symmetry—”

I was willin’ to stand for his own biography; but after waitin’ this
long for a clue to the Friar’s past, I wasn’t resigned to hearin’ a
joint debate on the different religions; so I interrupted, by askin’
if him believin’ in the Greek religion was what had made Friar Tuck
throw up his job.

“No, you chump,”—me an’ Horace was such good friends by this time
that we didn’t have any regard for one another’s feelin’s. “No, you
chump,” he sez, “I told you he quit on account of a girl. I don’t look
like a girl, do I?”

“Well,” sez I, studying him sober, “those side-burns look as if they
might ’a’ been bangs which had lost their holt in front an’ slipped
down to your lip; but aside from this you don’t resemble a girl enough
to drive a man out o’ church.”

I allus had better luck with Horace after I’d spurred him up a bit.

“You see, Friar Tuck, as you call him, was a good deal of a fanatic,
those days,” sez Horace, after he’d thrown a stone at me. “He took his
religion serious, an’ wanted to transform the world into what it would
be if all people tried their best to live actual Christ-like lives. He
was a big country boy, fresh from college, an’ full of ideals, an’
feelin’ strong enough to hammer things out accordin’ to the pattern he
had chose.

“It was his voice which got him his place. He had a perfectly
marvelous voice, an’ I never heard any one else read the service like
he did. This was what took me to church, and I’d have gone as long as
he stayed. You see, Happy, life is really made up of sensations an’
emotions; and it used to lift me into the clouds to see his shinin’
youth robed in white, an’ hear that wonderful voice of his fillin’ the
great, soft-lighted church with melody an’ mystery. It was all I asked
of religion an’ it filled me with peace an’ inspiration. Of course,
from a philosophical standpoint, the Greek religion—”

“Did the girl believe in the Greek religion?” I asked to switch him

“No, no,” he snapped. “This Greek religion that I’m speakin’ of died
out two thousand years ago.”

“Then let’s let it rest in peace,” sez I, “an’ go on with your story.”

“You understand that this was a fashionable church,” sez Horace. “They
was willin’ to pay any sum for music an’ fine readin’ an’ all that;
but they wasn’t minded to carry out young Carmichaels plan in the
matter of Christianizin’ the world. They was respectable, an’ they
insisted that all who joined in with ’em must be respectable, too;
while he discovered that a lot o’ the most persistent sinners wasn’t
respectable at all. His theory was, that religion was for the vulgar
sinners, full as much as for the respectable ones; so he made a
round-up an’ wrangled in as choice a lot o’ sinners as a body ever
saw; but his bosses wouldn’t stand for his corralin’ ’em up in that
fashionable church.

“He stood out for the sinners; an’ finally they compromised by gettin’
him a little chapel in the slums, an’ lettin’ him go as far as he
liked with the tough sinners down there through the week; but readin’
the service on Sundays to the respectable sinners in the big church.
This plan worked smooth as ice, until they felt the need of a soprano
singer who could scrape a little harder again’ the ceilin’ than the
one they already had. Then Carmichael told ’em that he had discovered
a girl with a phe-nominal voice, an’ had been teachin’ her music for
some time. He brought her up an’ gave her a trial—”

“An’ she was the girl, huh?” I interrupted.

“She had a wonderful voice, all right,” sez Horace, not heedin’ me;
“but she wasn’t as well trained as that church demanded; so they hired
her for twenty-five dollars a Sunday on the condition that she take
lessons from a professor who charged ten dollars an hour. She was
game, though, an’ took the job, an’ made good with it, too, improvin’
right along until it was discovered that she was singin’ weeknights in
a café, from six to eight in the evenin’, an’ from ten to twelve at

“The girl had been singin’ with a screen o’ flowers in front of her;
and some o’ the fashionable male sinners from the big church had been
goin’ there right along to hear her sing; but they couldn’t work any
plan to get acquainted with her, and this made her a mystery, and drew
’em in crowds. Finally, as her voice got better with the trainin’,
critics admitted ’at she could make an agreeable noise; and the common
sinners was tickled to have their judgement backed up, so they began
to brag about it. The result o’ this was, that one ol’ weasel had to
swaller his extra-work-at-the-office excuse, and take his own wife to
hear the singer. Then the jig was up. The woman recognized the voice
first pop; and within a week it was known that Carmichael had been
goin’ home with her every night.

“Now, you may be so simple-minded that you don’t know it; but really,
this was a perfectly scandalous state of affairs, and the whole
congregation began to buzz like a swarm of angry bees. Carmichael was
as handsome a young feller as was ever seen; but he had never taken
kindly to afternoon teas and such-like functions, which is supposed to
be part of a curate’s duties; so now, when they found he had been
goin’ home nights with a girl ’at sang in a café it like to have
started an epidemic of hysteria.

“They found that the girl lived in a poor part o’ the town, and
supported her mother who was sickly, that they were strangers to the
city, and also not minded to furnish much in the way o’ past history.
They insisted upon her givin’ up the café-singin’ at once; and from
what I’ve heard, they turned up their noses when they said it.

“Carmichael pointed out that she was givin’ up twenty a week for
lessons which they had insisted upon; and asked ’em if they were sure
a girl could be any more, respectable, supportin’ a sickly mother on
five a week, than if she added fifteen to it by singin’ in a café. He
got right uppish about it and said right out that he couldn’t see
where it was one bit more hellish for her to sing at the café than for
other Christians to pay for a chance to listen to her.

“This tangled ’em up in their own ropes consid’able; but what finally
settled it was, ’at their richest member up and died, and they simply
had to have a sky-scrapin’ soprano to start him off in good style; so
they gave her twenty a week and paid for her lessons. The café people
soon found what a card she’d been and they offered her fifty a week;
but she was game and stuck to the agreement.”

“How did you find out all this, Horace?” I asked.

“A friend o’ mine belonged to the vestry,” sez Horace; “and he kept me
posted to the minute. This was his first term at it, and it was his
last; but he was a lucky cuss to get the chance just when he did. I
have since won him over to see the beauty o’ the Greek religion.”

“What became o’ the girl?” sez I with some impatience, for I didn’t
care as much as a single cuss-word for the Greek religion.

“Carmichael was a gentle spoken young feller,” sez Horace, “but for
all that, he wasn’t a doormat by inheritance nor choice, and he kept
on payin’ attention to the girl, and got her to sing at his annex in
the slums. Night after night he filled the place with the best
assortment o’ last-chance sinners ’at that locality could furnish; and
he an’ the girl an’ the sinners all pitched in and offered up song
music to make the stars rock; but St. Holiernthou wasn’t the sort of a
parish to sit back and let a slum outfit put over as swell a line o’
melody as they were servin’, themselves; so they ordered Carmichael to
cut her off his list. He tried to get ’em to hire another curate, and
let him have full swing at the annex; but they told him they’d close
it up first.

“Next, a delegation o’ brave an’ inspired women took it upon ’emselves
to call on the girl. They pointed out that she was standin’ in the way
o’ Carmichael’s career, that, under good conditions, his advance was
certain; but that a false step at the start would ruin it all. They
went on and hinted that if it wasn’t for her, he might have married an
heiress, and grow up to be one o’ the leadin’ ministers o’ the whole

“What did she do, Horace?” sez I.

“The girl was proud; she thanked the delegation for takin’ so much
interest in her—and said that she would not detain ’em any longer;
but would think it over as careful as she could. Then she walked out
o’ the room; and the delegation strutted off with their faces shinin’
like a cavey o’ prosperous cats. The girl vanished, just simply
vanished. She wrote Carmichael a letter, and that was the end of it.
Some say she committed suicide, and some say she went to Europe and
became a preemie donner—a star singer—but anyway, that was the end
of her, as far as that region was concerned.”

“She was a fine girl,” sez I; “though I wish that instead of slippin’
off that way, she had asked me to drown the members o’ that delegation
as inconspicuous as possible. I wouldn’t put on mournin’, if the whole
outfit of ’em was in the same fix your confounded Greek Religion is.
What was her name, Horace?”

“Janet Morris,” sez he.

I said it over a time or two to myself; and it seemed to fit her. “I
like that name,” sez I. “Now tell me the way ’at the Friar cut loose
and tied into that vestry. I bet he made trade boom for hospitals and



Ol’ Tank Williams allus maintained that I had a memory like the Lord;
but this ain’t so. What I do remember, I actually see in pictures,
just like I told you; but what my memory chooses to discard is as far
out o’ my reach as the smoke o’ last year’s fire. I’ve worked at my
memory from the day I was weaned, not bein’ enough edicated to know
’at the proper way is to put your memory in a book—and then not lose
the book. I’ve missed a lot through not gettin’ on friendly terms with
books earlier in life; but then I’ve had a lot o’ fun with my memory
to even things up.

This part about the Friar, though, isn’t a fair test. Horace’s
vestry-man friend was what is known as a short-hand reporter.
Short-hand writin’ is merely a lot o’ dabs and slips which’d strain a
Chinaman; but Horace said it was as plain to read as print letters,
and as fast to write as spoke words. Hugo took it down right as it was
given; and Horace had a copy which I made him go over with me until I
had scratched it into the hardest part o’ my memory; and now it is
just the same as if I had seen it with my own eyes—me knowin’ every
tone in the Friar’s voice, and the way his eyes shine; yes, and the
way his jaws snap off the words when he’s puttin’ his heart into a

Horace sat thinkin’, before he started on with his tale; and I sat
watchin’ his face. It was just all I could do to make out the old
lines which had give me the creeps a few weeks before. Now, it had a
fine, solid tan, the eyes were full o’ fire, and he looked as free
from nerves as a line buckskin. The Friar sez we’re all just bits o’
glass through which the spirit shines; and now that I had cleaned
Horace up with my nerve treatment, the’ was a right smart of spirit
shinin’ out through him, and I warmed my hands at it. He simply could
not learn to roll a cigarette with one hand; but in most things, he
was as able a little chap as ever I took the kinks out of.

“I’m sorry I didn’t belong to that vestry,” sez Horace, after a bit.
“When I look back at all the sportin’ chances I’ve missed, I feel like
kickin’ myself up to the North Pole and back. From now on I intend to
mix into every bloomin’ jambaree ’at exposes itself to the vision of
my gaze. I’m goin’ to ride an’ shoot an’ wrestle an’ box an’ gamble
an’ fight, and get every last sensation I’m entitled to—but I’ll
never have another chance at a vestry-meetin’ like the one I’m about
to tell you of.

“You saw how toppy Carmichael got this afternoon; so you can guess
purty close how he looked when he lined up this vestry.”

“Oh, I’ve seen the Friar in action,” sez I; “and you can’t tell me
anything about his style. All you can tell is the details. So go to
’em without wastin’ any more time.”

“How comes it you call such a man as him Friar Tuck?” asked Horace,
who allus was as hard to drive as an only son burro.

“Well, I don’t approve of it,” sez I, “and I kicked about it to the
Friar; but he only laughed, and said ’at one name was as good as
another. A bettin’ barber over at Boggs give it to him for admonishin’
a gambler from Cheyenne.”

“Was he severe?” asked Horace.

“Depends on how you look at it,” sez I. “He took a club away from the
gambler an’ spanked him with it; but he didn’t injure him a mite.”

“Humph,” sez Horace, “I guess the name won’t rust much while it’s in
his keepin’. He took other methods at this vestry meetin’, though I
don’t say they were any more befittin’. Hugo—such was the name of my
friend—said it was the quietest, but the most dramatic thing he ever

“They started in by treatin’ him like the boy he was, gave him a lot
o’ copy-book advice, especially as to the value o’ patience, how that
Paul was to do the plantin’, Appolinaris, the waterin’; but that the
size an’ time o’ the harvest depended on the Lord, Himself; and that
it was vanity to think ’at a young boy just out o’ college could rush
things through the way he was tryin’ to.

“The’ was a hurt look about Carmichael’s eyes; but the hurt had come
from the letter, not from them, so he sat quiet and smiled down at ’em
in a sort of super-human calmness. They thought he was bluffed
speechless, so they girded up their loins, an’ tied into him a little
harder, tellin’ him that his conduct in walkin’ home nights with a
café-singer was little short of immoral, although they wouldn’t make
no pointed charge again’ the woman herself. Then they wound up by
sayin’ ’at they feared he was too young to spend so much time amid the
environs o’ sin, and that they would put an older man in charge o’ the
annex, and this would leave him free to attend strictly to cu-ratin’.

“When they had spoke their piece, they were all beamin’ with the
upliftin’ effect of it; and they settled back with beautiful smiles o’
satisfaction to listen to Carmichael’s thanks and repentance. He sat
there smilin’ too—not smilin’ the brand o’ smiles ’at they were, but
still smilin’. It would strain a dictionary to tell all there is in
some smiles.

“Presently he rose up, swept his eyes over ’em for a time, and said in
a low tone: ‘Then I am to understand that I am to follow in the
Master’s footsteps only as far as personal chastity goes?’ said he.
‘That I may respectably pity the weak and sinful from a distance; but
must not dismount from my exalted pedestal to take ’em by the hand an’
lift ’em up—Is that what you mean?’ sez he.

“They still thought he was whipped, so one of ’em pulled a little
sarcasm on him: ‘Takin’ the weak an’ sinful by the hand an’ liftin’
’em up is all right,’ said he; ‘but it’s not necessary to go home with
’em after midnight.’

“Carmichael bit his lips; he tried to hold himself down, he honestly
tried for some time; but he wasn’t quite able. His hands trembled an’
his lip trembled while he was fightin’ himself; but when he kicked off
his hobbles an’ sailed into ’em, his tremblin’ stopped an’ the words
shot forth, clear an’ hot an’ bitish. Hugo sat back in a corner durin’
this meetin’, without speakin’ a single word; and he was glad of it.
It saved him from gettin’ his feelin’s kicked into flinders about him,
an’ interferin’ with the view; and it gave him a chance to take his

“‘As a matter o’ faith,’ said Carmichael, ‘we believe that Jesus never
sinned; but we cannot know this as a matter of fact. Yet we can know,
and we do know, as a matter of history, that He mingled an’ had
fellowship with the fallen, the sinful, the outcast, and the
disreputable. With these He lived, and with these and for these He
left the power and the life and the glory of His religion—and you say
that I must live in a glass case, may only look in holy dignity down
at the weak and sinful; but that I mustn’t go home with ’em after
midnight. With God, a thousand years is but as a day—and yet it would
be wrong for me to be in a sinner’s company after midnight!’

“Carmichael paused here to give ’em a comeback at him; but their
mouths were dry, and they only hemmed an’ hawed. ‘Every Sunday, in the
service of this refined an’ respectable church, hunderds of you admit
that you have no health because of your sins—and yet, because of my
youth, you say I must remain with you where sin is robed in silk and
broadcloth, and not risk my soul where sin is robed in rags.’

“He paused again, and this time his eyes began to shoot
jerk-lightning, an’ when he started to speak his deep voice shook the
room like the low notes of a big organ. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I am not
content to walk with the Lord, only on the day of His triumph—The
very ones who strewed the pathway of His majesty with palms, and
filled the air with hosaners, deserted Him at the cross—but I must
walk with Him every step of the way. I do not pray that my earthly
garments be spotless, I do not pray that my sandals be unworn an’ free
from mud; but I do pray that when I stand on my own Calvery I may
stand with those who bear crosses, not with those who have spent their
lives in learnin’ to wear crowns.’

“Carmichael had discarded that entire vestry by this time, and he
didn’t care a blue-bottle fly what they thought of him. He towered
above them with his face shinin’, and his voice rolled down over ’em
like a Norther sweepin’ through the hills. ‘Many there were,’ he went
on, ‘who cried to Him, Lord, Lord; but after the tomb was sealed, it
was the Magdalene whose faith never faltered, it was to her He first
appeared; and on the final resurrection morning, I hope the lesser
Magdalenes of all the ages, and from all the nasty corners of the
world into which man’s greed has crowded ’em, will know that I am
their brother, and, save for a lovin’ hand at the right moment, one of
them to the last sordid detail.’

“Carmichael stopped after this, and the room was so quiet you could
hear the consciences o’ that vestry floppin’ up and down again’ their
pocketbooks. When he began again his voice was soft, an’ the
bitterness had given way to sadness. ‘The old way was best, after
all,’ he said. ‘When you pay a priest a salary, you hire him and he
becomes your servant. The custom is, for masters to dictate to their
servants; it is an old, old custom, and hard to break. I think I could
suit you; but I do not think I shall try. The roots of my own life
lead back to the gutter, and through these roots shall I draw strength
to lift others from the gutter. I do not value my voice as a means to
amuse those already weary of amusement: I look upon it as a tool to
help clean up the world. You are already so clean that you fear I may
defile you by contagion. You do not need me; and with all your careful
business methods, you have not money enough to hire me.

“‘What you need here, is a diplomat; while I yearn to be on the firm’
line. I care little for the etiquette of religion, I want to get down
where the fightin’ is fierce an’ primitive—so I hereby resign.

“‘This girl whom you have driven out of my life, needs no defence from
me or any man. I have known her since she was a little child; poverty
was her lot, and self-sacrifice has become her second nature. We are
forbidden to judge; so I judge neither her nor you; but I will say
that often I have stood silent before the beauty of her character, and
often my face has burned at the tainted money you have put on the
plate. Part of this money comes from the rental of dives. I have seen
the dives themselves, I have seen their fearful product; and I cannot
believe that profit wrung from a helpless slave can find its way to
God—even on the contribution plate.

“‘I love the music an’ the service an’ the vestments o’ this church;
and I hope I need not give them up; but my heart is in rebellion, and
from this time on I take the full responsibility of my acts. I shall
not choose my path; but will go as the spirit moves me; and if ever I
find one single spot which seems too dark for the Light of the world
to enter, then shall the soul in me shrivel and die, and I shall
become a beast, howling in the jungle.’”

Horace said that after the Friar had left the room, those vestry
fellers sat in a sort of daze for some time, and then got up an’
sneaked out one at a time, lookin’ exceeding thoughtful; while Hugo
had hustled around to his room to read off his notes.

We sat there on the hill until dark, me tryin’ to pump him for more
details, but he didn’t have ’em. He said the Friar had started to work
in the slums; but was soon lost sight of, and the first he had heard
of him for years was when he had come up the pass, singin’ his
marchin’ song. Course, I’d liked it some better if the Friar had
knocked their heads together; but still, takin’ his eyes an’ voice
into consideration, it must ’a’ been a fine sight; and if ever I get
the chance, I’m goin’ to take on as a vestry-man, myself, for at least
one term.



Me an’ Horace was regular chums after this. I had got to likin’ him
after he had showed up good stuff under treatment; but I never took
him serious until he got enthusiastic about Friar Tuck. This proved
him to have desirable qualities and made him altogether worth while. A
man never gets too old to dote on flattery; but the older he gets the
more particular he is about its quality. It’s just like tobacco an’
pie an’ whiskey an’ such things: we start out hungry for ’em an’ take
a lot o’ trouble to get ’em in quantity; but after a time we’d sooner
go without altogether than not to have a superior article; an’ it’s
just the same way with flattery.

I took Horace into my most thoughtful moods as soon as I found out
that he was as sound as a nut at heart, an’ that it wasn’t altogether
his fault that he had been a pest to me at first. The human mind is
like new land, some of it’s rich an’ some poor. Facts is like manure,
idees is like seed, an’ education is like spadin’ up an’ hoein’ an’
rakin’. Rich soil is bound to raise somethin’, even if it’s nothin’
but weeds; but poor soil needs special care, or it won’t even raise
weeds. Now, manure can be put on so thick it will turn ground sour,
an’ seeds can be sowed so thick they will choke each other, an’ a
green hand will sometimes hoe up the vegetables an’ cultivate the
weeds; but the soil ain’t to blame for this.

Poor Horace’s mind had been bungled to an infernal degree; an’ it kept
me busy rootin’ up sprouts o’ Greek religion. I’d have stood this
better if the Greek gods an’ godduses had had Christian names; ’cause
I own up ’at some o’ his tales of ’em was interestin’; but I couldn’t
keep track of ’em, an’ so I made him discard ’em in his conversations
with me; an’ the way he flattered me was, to reform himself accordin’
to what I demanded.

I was teachin’ him how to shoot, an’ he was enjoyin’ it a lot. He had
plenty o’ money, and took pleasure in spendin’ it. This was good,
’cause it costs a lot o’ money to become a good shot. I’m glad I don’t
know what it cost me to learn how to shoot a man through both ears
after doin’ the double reverse roll. I never had but one fit chance to
use this, an’ then I shot Frenchy through his ears without rememberin’
to use the roll. I allus felt bad about this, ’cause I had a good
audience, an’ nothin’ saves a man from the necessity o’ shootin’ his
fellows, so much as havin’ it well advertised that he is thoroughly
qualified to do it in proper style. I kept up my own practicin’ while
teachin’ Horace, an’ we had right sociable times.

He could throw up a tin can with his left hand, pull his gun and,
about once out o’ ten shots, hit the can before it fell; which is
purty fair shootin’; but he was beginnin’ to suspect that he was a
regular gun-man; which is a dangerous idee for any one to get into his
head. I tried to weight down his head a little to keep him sensible,
but instead o’ thankin’ me he went off with Tank, who shot up a lot of
his cartridges at target practice; and in return, puffed up the
top-heavy opinion Horace already had of himself.

He took Horace down to a warm cañon where the’ was a lot o’
rattlesnakes, claimin’ it was necessary to test him out an’ see if he
had nerve on a livin’ creature. He shot off the heads o’ three snakes,
hand-runnin’, an’ it nearly broke his hatband.

When he told me about it, I let him know ’at Tank was only workin’
him. “A rattlesnake will strike at a flash, Horace,” sez I; “an’ it
was the snake’s eyes which were accurate, not yours.” This cut him up
an’ made him a little offish with me for a few days, until he found I
had told him the truth. Ol’ Tank Williams wasn’t no fancy shot; but
I’d rather have tackled Horace with a gun, cocked in his hand, than
ol’ Tank, with his gun asleep in its holster.

After Horace had made the test of shootin’ at dead snakes an’ had
found that he couldn’t pop off three heads hand-runnin’, he simmered
down a little an’ paid more heed to what I told him; but after I had
proved that I told him straighter stuff ’n Tank did, I decided it
would be necessary to punish him a little. I didn’t get downright cold
with him, because I didn’t want to exaggerate his vanity any more ’n
it already was; but I made it a point to do my loafin’ with Spider
Kelley. Horace was crazy to go bear-huntin’; but I didn’t seem
interested, an’ I recommended ol’ Tank Williams as bein’ some the best
bear-hunter the’ was in existence. I wasn’t jealous of Horace goin’
off shootin’ with Tank; but still if a feller chooses to dispense with
my company, I allus like to show him ’at I can stand it as long as he

Quite a string o’ years had slipped away since the bettin’ barber o’
Boggs had strung ol’ man Dort; so I reminded Spider ’at we had agreed
to help even that up sometime; and Spider, he said he was ready to do
his part, whatever it happened to be; so we planned idees out among
ourselves, while Horace hung around lookin’ wishful.

We had never given it away about the woodchuck not bein’ a regular
squirrel; so the boys still used to congregate together purty often at
ol’ man Dort’s to marvel at the way Columbus had filled out an’ took
on flesh. He had got rough an’ blotchy soon after he had won the
contest from Ben Butler, the red squirrel, an’ it was plain to all
that Eugene had done some high-toned barberin’ on him before the day
o’ the show.

Ol’ man Dort didn’t have no affection for Columbus—fact is, he sort
o’ hated him for bein’ bigger ’n Ben Butler; but he kept him fat an’
fit so as to be ready to enter in a contest the minute any feller came
along with a squirrel he thought was big enough to back up with a bet.
The trouble was, that mighty few fellers out that way owned any
squirrels, an’ as the years dragged by without him gettin’ any pastime
out o’ Columbus, ol’ man Dort’s affection for him grew thinner an’
thinner. Some o’ the boys discovered him to be a woodchuck; but no one
told of it for fear the old man would slaughter Eugene.

The old man kept on gettin’ barbered, so as to have the chance o’
clashin’ with Eugene about every subject which came up; but finally he
got so he could be shaved in a decent, orderly manner without havin’
his head tied down to the rest. Him an’ Eugene was the most
antagonistic fellers I ever met up with; but it was a long time before
me an’ Spider could think up a way to get ’em fairly at it again.

One day Spider came ridin’ in from Danders, bubblin’ over with
excitement, and yells out—“Pete Peabody’s got a freak guinea-pig.”

“That’s glorious news,” sez I. “Let’s get all the boys together an’
hold a celebration.”

“I guess a freak guinea-pig’s as worthy o’ bein’ commented on as airy
other kind of freak,” sez Spider, stridin’ off to the corral, purty
well pouted up.

He hadn’t more ’n reached it before an idee reached me, an’ I ran
after him. “What is the’ freakish about this guinea-pig, Spider?” sez

“He’s got a tail,” snapped Spider.

“Ain’t they all got tails?” sez I.

“You know they ain’t,” he sez. “You remember what that feller from the
East said last spring—if you hold up a guinea-pig by the tail, his
eyes fall out, an’ then when we didn’t believe it, he told us they
didn’t have no tails. Pete sez that this guinea-pig is the only one in
the world what has a tail.”

“Do you reckon he’d sell it?”

“He’d sell the hair off his head,” sez Spider.

“Well, you go back there an’—But say, has Pete got any others?”

“He had ten when I left, an’ no knowin’ how many he’s got by this
time. Pete sez ’at guinea-pigs is the prolificest things the’ is,” sez

“You buy three of ’em, Spider,” sez I; “a male one an’ a female one,
an’ this here freak.”

“What do I want with ’em?” sez Spider.

“I’ll pay half, an’ show you how to make money out of ’em,” sez I.

“I don’t want to tinker with no such cattle as them,” sez Spider.

“You get a fresh pony, an’ it won’t take you no time at all,” sez I.

So Spider got the pony an’ went off grumblin’. When he brought ’em
back he had ’em in a small box an’ they certainly was curious lookin’
insects. “I paid four bits apiece for the male an’ the female,” sez
Spider, “an’ twenty-five real dollars for the freak.”

“If that’s the way prices run,” sez I, “it ain’t no wonder that
guinea-pigs what are ambitious to be popular, are willin’ to give up
the luxury o’ tails.”

“Now then, what in thunder are we goin’ to do with ’em?” sez Spider.

“Get a fresh pony,” sez I, “an’ we’ll go on over to Boggs.”

“You go to the equator!” yells Spider. “I ain’t had no sleep for a

“Sleep,” sez I, “what’s the use o’ botherin’ about sleep? You keep on
losin’ your strength this way, an’ in about a year they’ll be
trundlin’ you around in a baby cart. All right then, you stay home an’
be company for the freak. We’ll hide him up in the attic so the rats
can’t get him.”

“Oh I could stand it to go without sleep, if I saw any sense in it,”
sez Spider; “but hanged if I’m goin’ to ride my bones through my skin
just to please you.”

“Suit yourself,” sez I. “We’ll put the freak in the tin cake-box an’
punch a few holes in it to give him air. I’ll do that while you’re
makin’ up your mind about goin’ along to Boggs.”

“What you goin’ to do with the male an’ the female?” sez Spider as I
started away.

“I’m goin’ to sell ’em to Eugene,” I calls back over my shoulder, an’
then I knew I’d have company.

“I thought you was goin’ to Boggs,” sez Spider as soon as we had
settled into a travelin’ trot. I allus find that I get along easier
with people if I just leave ’em one or two items to puzzle over.

“Webb Station is closer,” sez I; “an’ if this deal causes any hard
feelin’ it will be just as well not to be mixed up in it ourselves.”

“I thought you was goin’ to sell these to Eugene?” sez Spider.

“If you’d just go to sleep, Spider,” sez I, “it would save your brain
the trouble o’ thinkin’ up a lot o’ thoughts which ain’t no use
anyhow. I’m goin’ to let Shorty take ’em over this evenin’ an’ sell
’em to Eugene.”

“How do you know he wants ’em?”

“’Cause I know Eugene,” sez I. “I’ll fix up Shorty’s tale for him.”

Well, we explained to Shorty the bettin’ principle of guinea-pigs, an’
gave him the pigs, tellin’ him he could have all he won from Eugene on
the first bet; but to then sell ’em to Eugene without lettin’ any o’
the other fellers know anything about it, an’ to make Eugene think
that he had picked ’em up from a train passenger, not from us.

Shorty said that he’d go over that afternoon as soon as the passenger
had gone—Shorty was the telegraph operator—so Spider an’ I came
back, he sleepin’ all the way.

“Where do we come in on this deal?” sez Spider next day.

“We’ll give Eugene a chance to cut their hair a new way, an’ then
we’ll go over to Boggs an’ line things up.”

“I’m beginnin’ to see how it could be worked out,” sez Spider,

In about a week we went over to Boggs, an’ found the town purty well
deserted. We dropped into ol’ man Dort’s to compliment Columbus some
an’ sympathize with Ben Butler a little, while tryin’ to hear if
Eugene had made his play yet. The ol’ man was gloatin’ over the fact
that Eugene wasn’t havin’ much trade, but he didn’t mention anything
about guinea-pigs.

“You don’t seem rushed, yourself,” sez I.

“Course I ain’t,” he flares back. “Most o’ the fellers are still
roundin’ up, an’ the rest are out huntin’ for Red Erickson.”

“Red been gettin’ thoughtless again?” sez I. Red Erickson was a big
Dane who had the habit o’ runnin off stock an’ shootin’ any one who
disagreed with him.

The ol’ man merely pointed to a paper pinned up on the wall offerin’
fifteen hundred dollars for Red, dead or alive. He hadn’t been
operatin’ on Diamond Dot stuff, so we hadn’t paid much heed to him.

We strolled on over to Eugene’s an’ found him sittin’ down an’ talkin’
about the peculiar custom o’ guinea-pigs; so we knew that he had
swallered the bait; but he didn’t offer to bet with us.

Then we went back an’ asked ol’ man Dort if he believed that a
guinea-pig’s eyes would fall out if he was held up by the tail.

“It’s all rot!” sez the ol’ man, indignant. “Any one who sez such
nonsense never studied the way eyes is fastened in. The tail ain’t got
nothin’ to do with it.”

“What kind o’ tails has guinea-pigs got?” sez I.

“Why they got—?” sez the ol’ man, an’ then stopped an’ looked blank.
“What kind o’ tails have they got?”

“They haven’t got any,” sez I. “Now listen; would you be willin’ to
risk a little money to even up with Eugene?”

“I’d risk every thing I got, down to my very hide,” sez the ol’ man,
earnest to a degree.

“Well, then, you play careful an’ we’ll provide you with the cards,”
sez I. “Eugene has some guinea-pigs, an’ he is plannin’ to string you
on a bet. You come right along just as though you was as ignorant as
you look, have a day fixed to decide the bet, let us know, an’ for the
small sum of fifty dollars we’ll provide you with a guinea-pig which
has a tail.”

“I’ll make a pauper out of him,” sez the ol’ man. “I haven’t had a
chance to get a bet on Columbus since I owned him.”

“You just land Eugene,” sez I, “an’ that’ll be sport enough for one

“I got shaved twice to-day,” sez the ol’ man feelin’ his chin, “’cause
we got into a discussion about comets; but I reckon I can stand
another to-morrow.”

The next day the old man asked Eugene what all kind o’ game grew in
Africa. “Elephants, hippopotamusses an’ guinea-pigs,” sez Eugene.

“Guinea-pigs?” sez the ol’ man.

“Yes, they’re the most curious animals the’ is in existence,” sez

“How big are they?” asked ol’ man Dort. He hadn’t an idea in the
world, an’ was beginnin’ to think that if they sized up with elephants
an’ hippopotamusses, he didn’t want to have to lift one by the tail to
win his bet.

“They ain’t any bigger ’n young rabbits,” sez Eugene, stroppin’ his
razor; “but the curious part of ’em is that if you hold up one by the
tail, his eyes’ll drop out.”

“I’ll bet a hundred dollars they wouldn’t do it,” sez the ol’ man.

“That’s a safe enough bet,” sez Eugene, calm an’ easy. “They’re worth
all the way up to five hundred dollars a pair, an’ it ain’t likely
that a man would invest that amount in something, just to win a
hundred-dollar bet.”

They sparred back an’ forth for a couple o’ days until finally Eugene
bet nine hundred in cash—all he had in the world—an’ his shop an’
fixin’s, again’ eleven hundred dollars, that the old man couldn’t lift
a guinea-pig by the tail without his eyes fallin’ out. If the ol’ man
didn’t lift one by the tail, he lost the bet. They set the date for a
week ahead, an’ the ol’ man bet Eugene three hundred dollars that he’d
win the bet, takin’ Eugene’s promissory agreement for his end of it.

We brought in the freak the day before the contest an’ the ol’ man’s
eyes lit up when he see the tail. It wasn’t much of a tail at that;
but it was a sure enough tail an’ plenty long enough to lift him by,
an’ strong enough too, an’ the’ was regular bones in it, just like any

The’ was only a fair sized crowd of us on hand to see the test; but
Eugene went through all the preliminaries, an’ then took the cover off
his box an’ pointed to the guinea-pigs. He had shaved the parts of ’em
where tails naturally belong, an’ when the boys see that they didn’t
have no tails, they howled with laughter an’ began to hoot ol’ man
Dort; an’ Eugene confided to ’em the plans he had for spendin’ the
money he’d won.

Ol’ man Dort, he walked calmly up to the box, examined the
guinea-pigs, an’ sez: “These here is not the full-blooded guinea-pigs.
The full-blooded ones live in a mountainous? country an’ use their
tails to steer with when they jump from rock to rock; while this kind
live in swamps an’ the young alligators keep on eatin’ off their tails
until they don’t have any. I’ll go get a thoroughbred an’ do my
liftin’ on him.”

Well this set ’em back a good ways; an’ as the ol’ man was walkin’ off
to get his own speciment, a good many bets was put up, but Eugene
didn’t take any.

Purty soon, back come the ol’ man; an’ hanged if he hadn’t clipped the
hair off o’ his one’s tail too. He reached in his hand an’ stroked the
long-faced little duffer, an’ sez: “Gently, George the Third, gently.”
Then he put on an anxious look an’ picked up the guinea-pig by the
tail, holdin’ his other hand underneath to catch any eyes what
happened to spill out. They didn’t none drop out, an’ the crowd give a
cheer; but Eugene was all in.

He was a bad loser was Eugene, an’ he didn’t join in the festivities
any. He just took up his two guineas an’ went back to his shop, while
the rest of us celebrated a few. After a time me an’ Spider went to
console with him a little. He was so infernally down in the mouth that
I began to get a little conscience-struck. Eugene said he had been
savin’ up his money to pay off the mortgage on his birthplace; an’ he
made a purty sad story out of it. Fact was, that he made so sad a
story out of it that I decided to get him back his tools and give him
a new start.



“How much money you got, Spider?” I sez.

“I reckon I got sixty dollars,” sez Spider.

“I don’t mean just what you got with ya, I mean how much cash do you
possess in the world.”

“I suppose I could raise a hundred an’ fifteen,” sez Spider, after
thinkin’ a while. “What do you want to know for?”

“We got to give Eugene a start,” sez I.

Spider looked at me until he saw I was in earnest, an’ then he talked
out loud. “What’s the matter with you?” he yells. “We haven’t adopted
Eugene, have we? Why-for do we have to give him a start? Didn’t he
lose at his own game. Great Snakes! You make me tired!”

“That was a low-down trick we played,” sez I.

“It wasn’t no lower down ’n him ringin’ in a woodchuck on the old man;
and all we did it for was to square things up.”

“Yes,” sez I; “but it took us some several years to square it up, and
I don’t intend to have Eugene’s moanful voice surgin’ through my ears
until I’m able to think up a come-back for him. I’m goin’ to give him
a start, and if you don’t feel like riskin’ your money, I’ll do it

“Do you mean ’at you’re just goin’ to pay over the price of his tools,
an’ let it go at that?” sez Spider.

“That wouldn’t be any fun,” sez I. “I’m goin’ to get the tools; but I
intend to get ’em for as little expense as possible, and if I can have
a little fun out of it, I don’t intend to pass it up.”

Spider studied it over a while. “Well, I’ll risk fifty,” he sez after
a bit; so we went back to Eugene’s.

“Would you be willin’ to do a stunt to get back your tools?” sez I.

He raised a pair o’ weepy eyes to me an’ sez: “Aw, the’ ain’t no show.
I’ve a good mind to kill myself.”

“Please don’t do that,” sez Spider, who never could stand a bad loser.
“When you lose your money, you allus stand a chance to win more money;
but when you lose your life, why, the’ ain’t nothin’ left except to go
up an’ find out what reward it earned for you.”

“Aw hell,” muttered Eugene.

“Ye-es,” agreed Spider, talkin’ through his nose, like a missionary
preacher, “I reckon that is about what you’d draw, if you was to cash
in now; but if you stick around an’ do your duty, you run the risk o’
havin’ better luck later on.”

After Spider had insulted Eugene until he began to sass back a little,
I broke in and sez that if Eugene will agree to do what I tell him,
I’ll agree to get him back his outfit; so then he wants to know what I
have in mind.

“Are you willin’ to disguise yourself as a genuwine mountain trapper?”
sez I.

When I sez this, Spider exploded a laugh which would ’a’ hurt the
feelin’s of a sheep, and Eugene tied into us as wordy as a fox
terrier; but I soothed him down an’ told him I was in earnest. “I’m
willin’ to do most anything to get my tools back,” sez Eugene; “but I
don’t see how I can make myself look like a genuwine trapper.”

“Have you got any false wigs and beards?” sez I.

“No, I haven’t,” sez he; “but I saved up the stuff I reaped off o’ ol’
man Dort, and I reckon I could make some.”

“The very thing!” sez I. “You fix up a rig that’ll make you look to be
a hundred years old; and we’ll hunt up clothes for ya. All you’ll have
to do will be to guide a green Eastener out to shoot a bear, and we’ll
have the bear and everything ready for ya.”

“No, ya don’t,” sez Eugene. “I don’t fool around no bears.”

“I thought you was tired o’ life,” sez Spider.

“Well, I’m not so tired of it that I’m willin’ to have it squeezed out
o’ me by a bear,” sez Eugene.

“This won’t be a real bear,” sez I; “and anyhow, they’ll be a ravine
between you and it. You claimed once to be a show actor, and all
you’ll have to do will be to pertend ’at you’re actin’.”

“I once was a genuwine amateur actor,” sez Eugene, “and if you’ll make
it clear to me that there ain’t no danger, I’ll take the job.”

Then I explained just what he had to do; and after this me an’ Spider,
who was now keen for the outcome, went around to dicker with ol’ man
Dort. He was bumpin’ around among the clouds, so we didn’t have any
trouble in buyin’ back Eugene’s stuff on time. When I asked him what
he’d charge for Columbus, the woodchuck, he gave a snort, and said
he’d throw him in for good measure; so I told him to just keep him out
o’ sight for a few days, and we started back to Eugene’s.

“What do you want with that dog-gone woodchuck?” asked Spider.

“I want him to take the part of a grizzly bear,” sez I.

Spider stopped an’ looked at me. “This is goin’ too far,” sez he.
“It’s bad enough to try to fool some one into believin’ ’at Eugene’s a
genuwine trapper; but you couldn’t make a rag doll believe ’at
Columbus was a grizzly bear.”

“You go borrow that squaw dress from Ike Spargle, an’ then we’ll see
how much like a trapper Eugene’ll look,” sez I.

I went on an’ found ’at Eugene had done a master job o’ wig makin’,
even fixin’ false eyebrows, an’ when he put on ol’ man Dort’s
hair-crop he locked older ’n the human race. As soon as Spider came in
with the squaw dress, we put it on Eugene; and while he didn’t look
like anything I’d ever seen before, he looked more like the first man
’at ever started trappin’ than like anything else, an’ Spider Kelley
nearly had a convulsion.

We bunked with Eugene that night; but he kept us awake bemoanin’ his
cruel fate until Spider threatened to drown him head first in a bucket
o’ water and after that we had a little go at slumberin’. I routed ’em
out about two an’ drilled ’em up to the high ground above Spear Crick,
where we waited until sun-up. Eugene was wearin’ his trapper riggin’,
and in the starlight, he sure was a ghastly sight.

Just across from us on the other side o’ the crick was Sholte’s Knoll,
and when the sun rose, I lined us up to be just in a direct line with
it across the knoll. Both Eugene, and Spider bothered me with
questions and discouragin’ kicks; but I felt purty sure my scheme
would work, and only told ’em what was really for their good.

The crick ran south in a gorge, and just below us it ran into Rock
River, which came from the east and made a sharp turn to the south
just where Spear Crick ran into it. After the sun was up, we climbed
down a circlin’ trail until we came to Rock River. Eugene refused to
try to ford it; but Spider and I went across and up to Ivan’s Knoll.
Rock River was bigger than Spear Crick, and Ivan’s Knoll was bigger
than Sholte’s Knoll; but not one tenderfoot in a million could have
told ’em apart, and Spider got gleeful at the plan—except that he
kept at me to know who I was tryin’ to land. Back of Ivan’s Knoll was
a round hole about ten feet across, called the Bottomless Pit, because
the’ was no bottom to it. After examinin’ this place, we went on and
crossed Rock River again until we came out at Sholte’s Knoll across
from where the shootin’ was to be done.

“What you are to do, Spider,” sez I, “is to be at this place before
dawn with Columbus tied by a stout cord. Tie him to the rock at the
south end of the knoll by a weak cord, then pass your stout cord up
over that jag o’ rock at the top, and just as soon as the sun hits the
knoll, pull hard enough to break the weak cord, lead him gently up the
slope until he has been shot at several times, then—”

“Is Eugene, that genuwine, ancient trapper goin’ to do the shootin’?”
interrupted Spider.

“He is not,” sez I. “If Columbus gets shot, all you’ll have to do will
be to wind around to Boggs and meet me there. If he don’t get shot,
you can either turn him adrift, kill him yourself, or pack him back to
ol’ man Dort’s, accordin’ to the dictates o’ your own conscience. I’ll
bring the party ’at does the shootin’ up to Ivan’s Knoll, an’ make him
think the bear has fallen down the Bottomless Pit after he was shot.”

“Happy,” sez Spider, “hanged if I believe it’ll go through; and I
won’t be a sucker unless you tell me who is to do the shootin’.”

“Horace,” sez I, “Horace Walpole Bradford.”

Spider’s face changed expression a half dozen times in two moments;
but he didn’t have any more kicks; so we went back to Eugene, and took
him up to a deserted cabin, where he was to stay until needed. I left
him and Spider to fix up the cabin, while I went back to the Dot to
fix up Horace. Horace had a lot o’ money; but it did go again’ me to
make him pay for Eugene’s outfit by puttin’ up a practical joke on
him. Still, I felt called upon to square it up with Eugene, and this
seemed the fairest way.

When I reached the Dot, Horace came forth to meet me; and he was so
glad to see me ’at I purt’ nigh gave up the scheme; but I had gone too
far to back out now, so I acted cool, and cut him short with my

After supper I got Tank started on bear. He saw I had something up my
sleeve, so he talked bear until Horace’s mouth began to water. “I’d
give a hundred dollars, just to get a shot at a bear,” sez Horace.

“This ain’t the time o’ the year to hunt bear,” sez I. “Food’s so
common at this season that a bear spends most of his time loafin’; and
it’s hard to get sight o’ one. Course, if you was to go to a
professional hunter, he’d know where bears were spendin’ their
vacation; but it might take a month for one of us to root one out.”

“Do you know of any professional hunters?” sez he.

I didn’t say nothin’, and Tank told of some he knew several hundred
miles off. After Tank had talked himself out, I mentioned careless
like that old Pierre La Blanc was livin’ less ’n twenty miles away;
but that I doubted if he’d take a bear-huntin’ job. I went on to state
that he had money saved up, and it would take a sight o’ coin to tempt

“I’d give five hundred dollars for a shot at a real grizzly,” sez

“Did you ever use a rifle?” sez I.

“Ask Tank,” sez Horace.

Tank told about Horace havin’ borrowed ol’ Cast Steel’s
forty-five-seventy, and that he had learned to hit a mark with it in
able shape. Before we turned in that night, I had let Horace tease me
into takin’ him over to Pierre’s next day.

We reached the old cabin next afternoon, and found it lookin’ purty
comfortable. Eugene had soiled his hands and what part of his face
showed; and he certainly did look outlandish. He could act some, I’ll
say that for him; and he pertended so natural that it took Tank a half
hour to tell who he was. He didn’t talk much, but when he did he used
broken French, and he made a contract with Horace to get the five
hundred as soon as he had showed him the bear, Tank to hold the check.

Eugene couldn’t get food through his whiskers; so he said most of his
teeth were gone, and et his supper in private. After supper, I stole
down the gulch and found Spider waitin’. He promised to be on hand the
next mornin’ and we turned in early.

Next mornin’ we started at three, and took up our place at the mark I
had made across from Sholte’s Knoll. Horace thought it perfectly
wonderful that the old trapper would know exactly where a grizzly bear
would be at sun-up; and he chattered constant in a hushed voice. We
told him it was a full quarter across to the knoll, and he had a
regular ecstasy about how deceivin’ the atmosphere was—which was rank
libel, the atmosphere bein’ about the least deceivin’ member o’ that

Presently, I caught the smell o’ dawn, and I told Horace to keep his
eyes glued on Chimney Peak, a little over twenty miles to the west. He
did so, and in about five minutes, a gob o’ rich crimson splashed on
it, rippled down the sides, and poured along the foothills at the
bottom. Horace gave a gasp. You don’t see such a dawn as that with
your eyes alone; you see it with somethin’ inside your bosom; and when
I saw the gleam in Horace’s eyes, it made me feel ashamed of what I
was up to; but I couldn’t stop just for this; so I nudged Eugene, and
that hoary old trapper growled out to Horace to watch the knoll, or
he’d miss his chance.

Horace was surprised to see the east still in a black shadow. He
started to speak words about it, but just then the sun, lookin’ like
an acre of red fire, jumped up from behind Sholte’s Knoll like a
sacred jack-rabbit.

The knoll was consid’able higher than us, and just as the sun was
half-circle behind it, a gigantic form started to walk across it from
south to north. I knew, positive, that this was Columbus the
woodchuck; but it was just all I could do to believe it, myself, and
Horace thought it was the biggest silver-tip in creation. I didn’t
think the woodchuck ran much risk of gettin’ shot; but Horace didn’t
lose his nerve a particle. He banged away, Columbus gave a lurch, took
a snap at his side, and rolled out o’ sight behind the knoll, as
natural as a fried egg.

Horace jumped up and down, hugged himself, slapped us on the back, and
almost knocked the aged trapper’s fur off; but if he had, I doubt if
he would have noticed it, he was so eager to get to his first bear.

We wound down the path, and he complained about it bein’ so much
farther ’n he had expected; but I spoke a few words about the
atmosphere, and he was soothed. When we struck Rock River, he was
surprised to see how much wider it was than it looked from where he’d
shot; but he didn’t falter none about goin’ in; while I purt’ nigh had
to twist off the seasoned trapper’s arm before he’d get his feet wet.
The water was purty high, and Tank and I had our hands full gettin’
’em across.

We climbed the trail on the other side to Ivan’s Knoll. This was about
a mile south o’ Sholte’s Knoll, and naturally I didn’t expect to find
any game on the other side of it; so you can judge my feelin’s when we
got around to the other side, and saw that woodchuck’s carcass, lyin’
flat on its back with its front feet folded across a piece o’ paper.

Horace saw it, too; but he wasn’t interested at first, and dove all
about, lookin’ for his bear. He was plumb wild; but finally he picked
up the piece o’ paper, and read what was wrote on it in scrawly
letters, which I knew to be the work o’ Spider Kelley: “Before I was
shot I was a grizzly bar but it made me feel so small to get shot by a
tender-foot that I have shrank to what you see befor you.”

That confounded Kelley hadn’t been able to resist workin’ the joke
back on me; so he had toted Columbus down from Sholte’s Knoll, and
then skipped. I knew I wouldn’t see him for some time—but I also knew
I wouldn’t forget what was comin’ to him when I did.

Horace read the note through in silence, then he looked at the remains
of the woodchuck, then he read the note again, and his face got like a
sunset. He read the note once more, and then he leaped through the air
for that veteran trapper, and grabbed him by the beard. The beard and
wig came off in his hands, and Eugene started to flee, with Horace a
close second, kickin’ the seat o’ that squaw dress at every jump.
Horace was in able shape, and Eugene was flimsy; so when he tripped
and rolled over, Horace got him by the ears, and proceeded to beat his
head on a stone, the way Tank had told about doin’ to the unobligin’
old miner.

I pulled Horace off to save Eugene’s life, and then Horace pulled out
a gun and tried to take my life. It took us two solid hours to cool
Horace down below the boilin’ point; and then he started off alone
with his lips set and his eyebrows pulled down to the bridge of his
nose. I liked him better ’n ever. He was as game as they made ’em, and
had even forgot the check ’at ol’ Tank Williams was still holdin’; but
I was honestly worried about Eugene.

Part of it may have been due to havin’ his head beat mellow on a
stone; but still he allus did lack sand when he was losin’, and now he
sat tuggin’ at his real hair an’ swearin’ he was ruined, and would
take his own life the first chance he had. It was partly my fault; so
I made Tank help me tote back Eugene’s needin’s from the deserted
cabin to his shop, Eugene goin’ along in a stupor and repeatin’ to us
constant that he intended to drink his own heart’s blood.

I sent Tank back to the Dot to see what he could do toward pacifyin’
Horace, and then I returned the squaw dress to Ike Spargle. He broke
into a side-split when I stepped into his place, and fairly deluged me
with liquor; but I wasn’t in no mood for it. Ike told me ’at Spider
had gone out to the Dot to notify that he had quit temporary; and then
he was goin’ out to hunt down Red Erickson for the bounty. Ike was
equally willin’ to talk about bears or Red Erickson; but I wasn’t
conversational, so I went back to Eugene’s.

He had his door locked, and at first refused me admittance; but
finally he let me in, and I told him I would let him have his outfit
on time. He wouldn’t scarcely listen to me; so the best I could do was
to get his promise that he wouldn’t slay himself inside the house, as
the boys were superstitious again’ it, and would burn it down. As it
was again’ my credit at ol’ man Dort’s, I felt more agreeable toward
payin’ for a standin’ house, than for just the ashes of one.

“When I’m gone, Happy,” sez Eugene, “I want you to send my watch back
to Sommersville, Connecticut. That’s all I ask of ya. You’ve been as
near a friend to me as any one in this ungodly community has, and I
don’t bear ya no ill will. If I could just have paid off that

I shook hands with him and went outside, where I settled myself
comfortable and made ready to keep watch on him until he started to
drink. I felt sure that if he’d once get to elevatin’ a bottle, it
would take his mind off suicide; but he paced up and down inside his
room until I was purt’ nigh out o’ my own head.

It must have been nine in the evenin’ when he stole out his side door
with a forty-five under his coat; and started up the ravine which
opens west o’ town, and I follered like a coyote.

He went up it about a mile, an’ then he stopped an’ I flattened out
an’ crept closer an’ closer. I knew he would make a few remarks first,
even though he was alone, an’ I judged I could wriggle up close enough
to grab him in the act.

He fished out his gun, an’ I see that he didn’t savvy the use of it,
which put a little uncertainty into my end o’ the game.

“Farewell, cruel world,” he muttered mournfully, usin’ his gun to
gesture with. “Farewell, sweet dreams of childhood; farewell ambition
an’ love an’ dear tyranic duty; farewell moon an’ stars an’ gentle
breezes, farewell—”

Eugene would probably have gone on sayin’ farewell to each particular
thing in the world until he talked himself to sleep, but just then a
pebble slipped from the side o’ the ravine and rolled to his feet, and
he stopped with a jerk an’ listened. Then he straightened himself an’
sez in a determined tone: “Nobody can’t prevent me. I shall end it

Before I could move, he placed the muzzle to his forehead an’ fired,
rollin’ over on his back. I heard a sort of cough, like when a man
hits his best with an ax, an’ somethin’ came plumpin’ down the ravine
like an avalanche.

I rushed up, lit a match, an’ there on his back was Eugene, a small
red welt on his forehead, but looking calm and satisfied, while almost
on top of him lay a man in a heap. I straightened him out, lit another
match, an’ looked at the stranger. His hair was flamin’ red an’ you
could have tied his red mustaches around the back of his neck. He was
shot through the forehead an’ plumb dead.

I saw how it was in a flash: Eugene had almost missed himself, but had
shot Red Erickson, who had been hidin’ up the side of the ravine
behind him. I slipped Red’s empty gun into his hand, emptied Eugene’s
gun; an’ then I tore for town, gathered up the boys an’ told ’em that
Eugene had gone up the ravine bent on mischief. We got a lantern and
hurried up the ravine where Eugene was just comin’ back to genuwine
consciousness again.

He sat there with his head in his hands tryin’ to cheer himself with
some o’ the mournfullest moanin’ ever I heard. I held the lantern to
Red’s face a moment an’ bawled out: “Boys, this is Red Erickson! Him
an’ Eugene has been duelin’, an’ they have killed each other.”

This gave Eugene his cue—an’ a cue was all Eugene ever needed. He
pulled himself together, took plenty o’ time to get the lay o’ the
land; an’ then he gave us a tale o’ that fight which laid over
anything I ever heard in that line.

We carried ’em back to town, an’ Eugene was a hero for true. He got
the reward all right, paid off his debts, an’ kept addin’ details to
that fight until it was enough to keep a feller awake nights. His
reputation picked up right along until even ol’ man Dort had to admit
the’ was more to Eugene than he had allowed.

Next day when I got back to the Diamond Dot, I found Horace all packed
up for leavin’; and it made me feel mournful to the bones o’ my soul.
I didn’t know how much I thought of him until he started to pull out;
and I felt so ashamed at what I had done, that I offered to let him
kick me all about the place if he’d just forget about it and stick

But Horace had a stiff neck, all right, and he wouldn’t give in. Tank
had had all he could do to get Horace to take the check back; and now,
try as I would, I couldn’t get him to stay. I drove over to the
station with him, and we had a long talk together. He was in a good
humor when he left, and I could see he was wishful to stay; but havin’
made up his mind, he stuck to it. He said he had had more fun while
with us than durin’ all the procedure of his life; and that if we had
just kept the joke among us Dotters, he wouldn’t have felt so cut up
about it. I told him he had acted just right and that I had acted dead
wrong, although it was him takin’ Tank’s word above mine which had
first made me sore.

This was new light to him, and he softened up immediate. Fact was, we
got purt’ nigh girlish before the train pulled out with him wavin’ his
handkerchief from the back porch.

I still feel some shame about this episode; and if any o’ you fellers
ask any more questions to lead me into tellin’ of my own silly pranks,
why, I’ll drive you off the place, and then get my lips sewed shut.



Horace had left, I felt purty lonely for a while. It’s hard for me to
look back and keep things in regular order; because the different
lines cross each other and get mixed up. Always, little Barbie’s
affairs came first with me; but I reckon most of you have heard her
story, so I’m keepin’ shy of it this time. First of all there was my
innermost life, which would have been mostly mine no matter where I’d
gone; then there was the part of my life which touched Barbie’s, and
this was the best and the highest part of it; and then there was the
part which touched Friar Tuck an’ a lot of others, each one of which
helped to make me what I am; but back of it all was my work; so it’s
not strange if I find it hard to stick to the trail of a story.

Anyway, it was while I was feelin’ lonesome about Horace leavin’ that
the Friar first began to use me as a trump card, and called on me for
whatever he happened to want done. I was mighty fond o’ bein’ with the
Friar; so I lent myself to him whenever I could, and we got mighty
well acquainted. He loved fun of a quiet kind; but the’ was allus a
sadness in his eyes which toned down my natural devilment and softened
me. The’ was lots o’ things I used to enjoy doin’, which I just
couldn’t do after havin’ been with the Friar a spell, until I had give
myself a good shakin’, like a dog comin’ up out o’ water.

For several quiet years about this time, I used to act as scout for
him, now and again, goin’ ahead to round up a bunch when he had time
to give ’em a preachin’; or goin’ after him when some one who couldn’t
afford a doctor was took sick. We talked about purt’ nigh everything,
except that some way, we didn’t talk much about women; so I was never
able to pump his own story out of him, though he knew exactly how I
felt toward Barbie, long before I did myself.

Durin’ these years, the Friar tried his best to get on terms with the
Ty Jones crowd; but they refused to get friendly, and the more he did
to make things better in the territory, the more they hated him.

It was right after the spring round-up that I first heard the Friar’s
name mixed up with a woman. This allus makes me madder ’n about
anything else. When a man and a woman sin, why, it’s bad enough, and
I’m not upholdin’ it; but still in a way it’s natural, the same as a
wolf killin’ a calf. It’s the cow-puncher’s business to kill the wolf
if he can, and he ought to do it as prompt as possible. This is all
right; but gossip and scandal is never all right.

Gossip and scandal is like supposin’ the wolf had only wounded the
calf a little, and a posse would gather and tie the two of ’em
together, the wolf and the wounded calf; and take ’em into the center
square of a town and keep ’em tied there for all to see until they had
starved to death; and then to keep on stirrin’ up the carrion day
after day as long as a shred of it remained.

The Friar was allus a great one to be talkin’ about the power of
habits. He said that if folks would just get into the habit of lookin’
for sunshiny days, an’ smilin’ faces an’ noble deeds, and such like,
that first thing they knew they’d think the whole world had changed
for the better; but instead o’ this they got into the habit of lookin’
for evil, and as that was what they were on the watch for, o’ course
they found it. He said it was like a cat watchin’ for a mouse. The cat
would plant herself in front of the mouse hole and not do anything
else but just watch for the mouse. While she would be on guard, a king
might be assassinated, a city might fall in an earthquake, and a
ship-load o’ people go down at sea; but if the mouse came out and the
cat got it, she would amuse herself with it a while, eat it and then
curl up before the fire and purr about what a fine day it had been,
all because she had got what she had been lookin’ for; and the’s a lot
in this.

Now, when I came to think it over, I hadn’t heard the Friar express
himself very free on women. I had heard him say to allus treat ’em
kind an’ square, the good ones and the bad; but when ya come to ponder
over this, it wasn’t no-wise definite. Still I couldn’t believe ill of
him; so I took a vacation an’ started to hunt him up.

The feller who had told me didn’t know much about it, but the feller
who had told him knew it all. When I found this feller, he was in the
same fix; and he sent me along to the one who had told him. They were
all a lot alike in not knowin’ it all; but I finally found out who the
girl was.

She was a girl named Kit Murray, and she allus had been a lively young
thing with a purty face, an’ could ride an’ shoot like a man. She had
took part in a couple o’ frontier-day exhibitions, and it had turned
her head, and she had gone out with a show. When she had come back,
she had put on more airs ’n ever, and naturally the boys were some
wild about her—though I hadn’t seen her myself.

News o’ this kind travels fast, and I heard buzzin’ about it
everywhere; but it was just like all other scandal. Most people, when
they gossip, believe an’ tell the story which comes closest to what
they’d ’a’ done if they’d had the same chance; and what I figured out
to be true was, that Olaf the Swede and another Cross-brander by the
name o’ Bud Fisher had scrapped about the girl, Olaf near killin’ the
kid and the girl runnin’ off to the Friar. Now, all the good deeds ’at
the Friar had done hadn’t caused much talk; but this news spread like
wild-fire; and a lot o’ those he had helped the most turned again’ him
and said they wished they could find out where he was hidin’.

I took it just the other way; I knew the Friar purty well, and what I
feared most was, that he wasn’t hidin’ at all, and that Olaf would
find him before I could give him warnin’. It was two weeks before I
found the Friar; but once I came upon Olaf, face to face, and we eyed
each other purty close. This was the first time I ever noticed his
eyes. They were the queerest eyes I ever saw, a sort of blue; but a
deeper blue, a bluer blue ’n anything I had ever seen outside a
flower. The’s a flower on the benches in June just the color of his
eyes, a soft, velvety flower; but Olaf’s eyes weren’t soft and velvety
the day we met, and they gave me a queer, creepy feelin’. I hope I
didn’t show it any; but I did feel relieved after I’d passed him.

Finally I found the Friar, just as I might have expected—by the sound
of his voice. I had got clear over into the Basin and was crossin’
through Carter Pass when I heard his voice above me, singin’ one of
his marchin’ songs. I was mightily rejoiced to find him; but I had
that all out of my face by the time I had wound around up to him. He
was totin’ a log on his shoulder, and struttin’ along as jaunty as
though the whole earth was simply his backyard.

“Here,” I growls to him, indignant, “what do you mean by makin’ such a
noise? Haven’t you got a grain o’ gumption!”

He looked up at me with the surprise stickin’ out from under his grin.
“Well, well, well!” sez he. “Who are you—the special officer for the
prevention of noise?”

“I ain’t no special officer of anything,” I answers; “but the’s people
lookin’ for you, and you ought to have sense enough to keep quiet.”

“And I’m lookin’ for people,” sez he, grinnin’ like a boy; “and the
best way to find ’em is by makin’ a noise. The’ ain’t any rules again’
walkin’ on the grass up here, is there?”

“Olaf the Swede is after you on account o’ the gal,” I blunted; “and
he ain’t no bluffer. He intends to do away with you for good and all;
and you’d better be makin’ your plans.”

“Goin’ to do away with me for good an’ all,” he repeats, smilin’.
“Well, Olaf the Swede is a gross materialist. The worst he can do will
be to tear off my wrapper and leave me free to find out a lot of
things I’m deeply interested in. Why, Happy, you’re all worked up!
You’ve lost your philosophy, you’ve become a frettish old woman. What
you need is a right good scare to straighten you up again. This Olaf
the Swede is part of Ty Jones’s outfit, isn’t he?”

“He is,” I replied, shakin’ my head in warnin’, “and the whole gang’ll
back him up in this.”

“Good!” sez the Friar, smackin’ his hand. “I’ve wanted an openin’
wedge into that outfit ever since I came out here. Of a truth, the
Lord doth move in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.”

“Well, he certainly will have to perform some mysterious wonders to
get you out of this scrape,” I said. I was put out at the way he took

“Don’t be irreverent, Happy,” sez he, the joy-lights dancin’ in his
eyes. “We are all merely instruments, and why should an instrument
take it upon itself to question the way it is used. Where is this

“I met him yesterday; and for all I know, he’s been followin’ me.”

“Fine, fine!” sez the Friar. “Now, you go on back to the Diamond Dot,
and I’ll go back over your trail and save Olaf as much bother as

“I’m goin’ along with you,” I sez.

“No,” sez he.

“Yes,” sez I.

“It’ll make folks think ’at I’m afraid for my skin, and have you along
for protection,” sez he, gettin’ earnest.

“If you had good judgment, you would be afraid for your skin,” sez I.
“I tell you that Olaf is after your blood. He’s one o’ the worst; he
kills with his bare hands when he gets the chance.”

“Fine, fine!” sez the Friar again, his eyes glowin’ joyous. “I’d have
a right to defend myself with my hands, Happy. I would have a right to
do this, for the sake of Olaf, you see—to prevent him from risking
his own soul by committin’ murder. This is a great chance for me,
Happy; now, please, please, go on back like a good fellow.”

I was secretly tickled at the argument the Friar had put up for a
chance at physical warfare—and a barehand fight between him and Olaf
would have been worth goin’ a long way to see—but I was as obstinate
as either of ’em; so I just said ’at I was goin’ along.

“Well, you’re not goin’ with, me,” sez the Friar, as pouty as a
schoolboy. “I’ll not speak to ya, and I’ll not have a thing to do with
ya”; and he threw down his log and glared at me.

I took a certain amount o’ pride because the Friar lived up to his own
standards; but I also found a certain deep-rooted amusement in havin’
him slip out from under ’em for a spell and display a human
disposition which was purty much kindred to my own. “What do you
purpose doin’ with that club, Friar?” I asked, pointin’ to the log he
had flung down.

He pulled in his glare and looked to be a little discomposed. “Why
I—I’m livin’ in a cave I got back there.”

“Are you dead set again’ havin’ a little company?” sez I, slow an’
insinuatin’, “or are ya livin’ alone?”

First off, he was inclined to be resentful, then he grinned,
shouldered his log again, and said: “Come and see.”

I follered him back into the hills until we came to a little park in
which his ponies were grazin’, and then I hobbled mine, cached my gear
alongside his, and trailed after him again. His path turned a crag and
then skirted along the edge of a cliff as straight up and down as the
real truth. The path kept gettin’ narrower, until every time the Friar
turned a corner ahead of me, I expected to see him walkin’ off in the
air with the log still on his shoulder.

Presently I turned a corner around which he had disappeared, and there
wasn’t a soul in sight. The ledge still led along the cliff; but it
had got thinner than a lawyer’s excuse, and a worm couldn’t have
walked along it without hangin’ on. While I stood there puzzlin’ about
it, a hand reached out o’ the side of the cliff, and the Friar’s voice
said mockingly: “Take my hand, little one; and then shut your eyes for
fear you might get dizzy.”

Then I saw a jag of rock stickin’ out just above my head, I grabbed it
with my left hand, and swung around into what was the mouth of a cave.
It was nothin’ but a crack about eighteen inches wide, and the far
side was sunk in enough to keep it hid from where I was standin’. The
Friar was standin’ a few feet back in the entrance with his log
leanin’ up again’ the side. “I know not what other animals may have
sought shelter here,” he said, “but for the past three years this has
been my castle, and, Happy Hawkins,”—here the Friar bowed
low—“obstinate and unreasonable as you are, I offer you a hearty

The Friar said this in fun, but the’ was an undertone to it which
tightened the laces around my heart consid’able. Well, that cave was a
sure enough surprise; he had three or four pelts and a couple of Injun
blankets on the floor, he had a couple o’ barrels fixed to catch snow
water, he had some cookin’ tools; and books! Say, he must have had as
many as a hundred books, all of ’em hard-shells, and lookin’ so
edicated an’ officious that I had to take off my hat before I had
nerve enough to begin readin’ the titles.

After I’d taken everything in, I sat down in an easy chair he’d made
out o’ saplin’s and rawhide, and looked all about; but I couldn’t see
any signs of their bein’ any other rooms to this cave; and then I
jumped square for the mark, and sez: “Friar, the’s a lot o’ talk about
you havin’ run off with Kit Murray. Now I want the straight of it.”

His face went grave and a little hurt. “It’s strange,” he said after a
time, “how hard it is for a man to believe in his own guilt, and how
easy for him to believe in the guilt of his neighbor. Have you had any

“Yes,” sez I. “I didn’t know just where I was headin’; so I et three
different times this mornin’ to make sure of havin’ enough to run on
in case of emergency.”

“It’s a fine thing to be an outdoor animal,” sez the Friar, smilin’.
“Well then, I’ve made up my mind to take you to see Kit Murray.”

He didn’t waste any time askin’ me not to talk about what was other
folks’ affairs; he just went to the door, grabbed the jag of rock,
swung around to the ledge, and I follered after.

We saddled up, rode down a windin’ path ’at I’d never heard of before,
and then rode up again until we came to a little clump o’ swamp
shrubbery, backed up again’ the north face o’ Mount Mizner. We
follered a twisty path through this and finally came out on an open
space in which stood a fair-sized cabin. He whistled a five-note call,
and the door was opened by an old woman who was a stranger to me.
“Mother Shipley, this is Happy Hawkins,” sez he. “How’s Kit?”

The old woman gave me a gimlet look, and then her sharp features
expanded to a smile, and she bobbed her head. “Kit’s gettin’ hard to
manage,” sez she.

We went into the cabin, and found Kit with a bandage around her ankle,
sittin’ in a rockin’ chair, and lookin’ patiently disgusted. She was a
fine-lookin’ girl, with a fair streak of boy in her, and she had never
had enough practice at bein’ an invalid to shine at it. Her face lit
up at the Friar; but her gaze was mighty inquirin’ when she turned it
at me.

“You know Happy Hawkins, don’t ya?” sez the Friar. She nodded her
head, and he went on. “Well, he’s one o’ the fellers you can trust, if
you trust him entire; but he’s got such a bump of curiosity that if
you don’t tell it all to him in the first place, he can’t do no other
work until he finds it out on his own hook. He’s my friend, and he’ll
be your friend; so I want you to tell him just how things are, and
then he’ll be under obligations to do whatever we want him to.”

So Kit cut loose and told me her story. Her father, ol’ Jim Murray,
had got crippled up about ten years before, and since then had become
a professional homesteader, nosin’ out good places, an’ then sellin’
out to the big cattle outfits. He also made it his business to find
ways to drive off genuwine homesteaders; and in addition to this he
was a home tyrant and hard to live with. He allus had plenty o’ money,
but was generally dead broke when it came to pleasant words an’
smiles—which was why Kit had gone off with the show.

While she was away, she had married a low-grade cuss, who had misused
her beyond endurance; so when he had skipped with another woman, she
had come back to the old man. She didn’t want folks ’at knew her to
find out how bad hit she’d been; so she had tried to bluff it out; but
the young fellers kept fallin’ in love with her and wantin’ to marry
her. She hadn’t meant no harm; but she had played one again’ the
other, hopin’ they’d soon have their feelin’s hurt and let her alone.
This was a fool notion, but she had been honest in it.

Bud Fisher, the Texas kid in the Ty Jones outfit, had got daffy about
her; and then one night at a dance she had shot some smiles into the
eyes of Olaf the Swede. She said he was such a glum-lookin’ cuss she
had no idee he would take it serious; but he had stood lookin’ into
her eyes with his queer blue ones, until she had felt sort o’ fainty;
and from that on, he had declared war on all who glanced at her.

Bud Fisher thought it a fine joke for Olaf to fall in love, and he had
teased him to the limit. This made a bad condition, and all through
the spring round-up, each had done as much dirt as possible to the
other; but Ty was mighty strict about his men fightin’ each other; so
they hadn’t come to a clash.

Finally the kid brags that he is goin’ to elope with Kit; and then
Olaf kicks off his hobbles an’ starts to stampede. The kid was wise
enough to vamoose; so Olaf rides down to ol’ man Murray’s, and reads
the riot act to him. Kit was hidin’ in the back room and heard it all.
He told the old man that he would slaughter any one who eloped with
Kit or who had a hand in it; and then he had gone back to hunt the kid

The ol’ man turned in and gave Kit a complete harrowin’ as soon as
Olaf had left and she had told him pointedly that she’d eat dirt
before she’d eat his food again; so she saddled her pony and started
to ride without knowin’ where. Her pony had slipped on Carter Pass and
she had sprained her ankle so bad she couldn’t stand. Just at this
junction, the Friar had come along, and had put her up on his horse
and held her on with one arm about her, because the pain in her ankle
made her head light. On the way they came smack up again’ the kid, and
he gave ’em a grin, and went out without askin’ questions.

He went straight to Olaf, and told him that Kit had eloped with the
Friar. The Friar had brought her up to Shipley’s, they havin’ been
friends of his in Colorado. They had a daughter livin’ up in Billings,
Montana; and as soon as her ankle could stand it, Kit was goin’ up to
live with the daughter, she havin’ three little children and a
railroad husband who was away from home more ’n half the time.

This was the whole o’ the story; but you can easy see what a fine
prospect it made for gossip, and also what a fine time a young imp
like Bud Fisher could have with a sober feller like Olaf. Olaf
wouldn’t have just grounds for makin’ away with Bud for doin’ nothin’
except grin, so long as the Friar remained alive with the girl in his
keepin’. It was a neat little mess; and from what we found out
afterwards, the kid was as irritatin’ as a half-swallered cockle-burr.

Big, silent fellers like Olaf are just like big, new boilers. A little
leaky boiler fizzes away all the time, but when it comes to explode,
it hasn’t anything on hand to explode with; while a big, tight boiler,
when it does go off, generally musses up the landscape consid’able;
and when Olaf started to stampede he made more noise in a week ’n Bud
Fisher had in his whole life.

When Kit had finished tellin’ me the story, I shook hands with her,
and said that while she hadn’t used the best judgment the’ was, she
had probably used the best she had; and that it was more the men’s
fault than hers, so she could count on me as far as I could travel.
Then I went outside while the Friar and ol’ Mother Shipley fixed up
her ankle.

They all seemed pleased about the way it was healin’, and after it was
tied up, Kit stood on it and even took a few steps. It twisted her
face a time or two at first; but after she’d gone across the room and
back a few times, she said it felt better ’n it had for years. This
made us all laugh, ’cause fact was, she hadn’t been housed in near up
to the average of a sprained ankle. The Friar allowed ’at she’d be fit
to travel day after the next; so it was planned to start in the
evenin’, and for both of us to go with her. Then we had an early
supper an’ started home.

On the way, I complained about the foolish way in which Kit had acted,
for the sole purpose of drawin’ the Friar out and gettin’ his views on
women. Nearly always when I got him started, I was able to pick up
some little sayin’ which furnished me with more thought-food than his
blocked-out sermons did.

“Of course Kit was foolish,” he admitted; “but what show has she ever
had? Her father never was fit to bring her up; and he didn’t even do
the best he could. A woman has more vital strength than a man, because
the future of the race depends on her; but she also has more emotions,
so ’at the wear an’ tear is greater. Man, on the other hand, has more
muscle ’n woman, and more brutality. Foolin’ man has been the best way
a woman had to fight for a good many centuries; and this was the way
poor Kit tried to fight. The plain, simple truth generally works best;
but it takes wisdom to see this, and wisdom is seldom anything more
than the dregs o’ folly. The’ was no one to teach Kit wisdom; so she
has had to strain off her own folly; but she is a fine, brave girl,
and I think she will profit by experience.”

Now this was a new thought to me, about wisdom bein’ nothin’ but the
dregs o’ folly; but it’s a good tough thought, and I’ve had a heap o’
chewin’ on it since then; so I feel repaid in havin’ took sides again’
Kit and lurin’ the Friar into heavin’ it at me.

It was dark when we reached his twistin’ path along the ledge, and I
stepped as cautious as a glow-worm in a powder-mill; but as soon as we
had our pipes an’ the fire goin’, I wouldn’t have swapped seats with
the fattest king in the universe.



As soon as we had eaten breakfast next mornin’, the Friar sez: “You,
bein’ one o’ the earth animals, have never had much chance to see a
view. Yesterday your curiosity was itchin’ so ’at I doubt if you could
have told a mountain peak from a Mexican hat; but now that you have
temporarily suppressed your thirst for gossip, had a good sleep, and a
better breakfast, drag yourself out to the front porch and take a
bird’s-eye view of the world.”

Well, it was worth it, it certainly was worth it! What he called the
front porch, was the ledge after it had flipped itself around the
jutting; and when a feller stood on it, he felt plenty enough like a
bird to make it interestin’. The Big Horns ran across the top o’ the
picture about a hundred an’ forty miles to the north, and gettin’ all
blended in with the clouds. On the other two sides were different
members of the Shoshone family, most o’ which I knew by sight from any
angle; and down below was miles an’ miles of country spread out like a
map, but more highly colored.

“Friar,” I sez, “you’re a wealthy man.”

This tickled him a lot, ’cause he was as proud o’ that view as if he’d
painted it. “I am, Happy,” he said, “and I have yielded to a wealthy
man’s temptations. Any one who comes here will be welcome; but I own
up, I have kept this place a secret to have it all to myself.”

“A man like you needs some quiet place to consider in,” sez I.

“Get thee behind me, Satan, get thee behind me,” cried the Friar. “I
have been on far too friendly terms with that excuse for many a long
month. But I do enjoy this place; so I am going to let you help me lay
in my winter’s supply of wood, and then make you a joint member in
full standing.”

We packed wood along that spider thread of a path all morning; and
finally I got so it didn’t phaze me any more ’n it did him. He sang at
his work most of the time, and I joined in with him whenever I felt so
moved, though it did strike me ’at this was a funny way to keep a
place secret; and my idee is that he sang to ease his conscience by
showin’ it that he wasn’t sneakin’ about his treasure.

I remember him mighty plain as he walked before me on the ledge,
totin’ a big log on his shoulder, and singin’ the one ’at begins,
“Hark, my soul! It is the Lord!” This was one he fair used to raise
himself in, and it seemed as if we two were climbin’ right up on the
air, plumb into the sky. When he’d let himself out this way, he’d fill
me so full of a holy kind of devilment, that it would ’a’ given me joy
to have leaped off the cliff with him, and take chances on goin’ up or

We had about filled his wood place, and were goin’ back after the last
load when just as he swung around a corner, I saw his hand go up as
though warnin’ me to stop; and I froze in my tracks. He hadn’t been
singin’ this trip, for a wonder; but the next moment I heard a sound
which purt nigh jarred me off. It was a low, deep growl which I
instantly recognized as belongin’ to Olaf the Swede. Olaf didn’t talk
with much brogue, though when he got excited he had his own fashion
for hitchin’ words together.

“Where is the girl?” he asked with quiet fierceness, and for a space I
was sorry my parents hadn’t been eagles. There wasn’t room to fight
out on that ledge, the Friar didn’t have a gun on, I couldn’t possibly
shoot around him; and Olaf was seven parts demon when he laid back his
ears and started to kick.

“Where she cannot be bothered,” sez the Friar, full as quiet but
without any fierceness. The’ was a little bush about eight feet up,
and I felt sure it would hide me, so I stuck my fingers in the side o’
the cliff and climbed up; but the’ was no way for me to get out to the
bush, and I had to drop back to the ledge and stand there with the
sweat tricklin’ down between my shoulders until I felt like yellin’.

“I intend to kill you,” said Olaf, as calm as though talkin’ about a
sick sheep.

“It would be a foolish waste of time,” replied the Friar, as if he was
advisin’ a ten-year-old boy not to fish when the Blue Bull was high
and muddy. “It wouldn’t do any good, and I shall not allow it.”

[Illustration: “I intend to kill you,” said Olaf, as calm as though
talkin’ about a sick sheep.

“It would be a foolish waste of time,” replied the Friar, as if he was
advisin’ a ten-year-old boy not to fish when the Blue Bull was high
and muddy. “It wouldn’t do any good, and I shall not allow it.”]

I got out my gun, and made ready to do whatever the angels suggested;
but for some time the’ was silence, and durin’ this time I was keyed
up so tight my muscles began to ache. I knew they were lookin’ into
each other’s eyes, and I’d have given a finger off each hand to see
how the Friar’s steady gray eyes handled those queer blue ones of

“Is she all right?” asked Olaf, and all the threat had left his voice,
and it had just a glint o’ pleadin’ in it. I wouldn’t have been one
bit more surprised to have seen a prairie-dog come flyin’ up the
gorge, blowin’ a cornet with his nose.

“She has sprained her ankle; but aside from this has no physical ill,”
sez the Friar. “You men have caused her a lot of worry, and her soul
is sick; but her body is well.”

After another silence, Olaf said slowly: “Yes, yes; I can tell by the
light that you speak true. What do you intend to do with her?”

“I intend to cure her,” sez the Friar. “I intend to help and
strengthen her; and I want you to help her, too. Olaf, she has had a
lot of trouble, and her wild gaiety is only a veil to hide the wounds
in her heart. I want you to help her.”

“I know, I know she is honest,” said Olaf, and blamed if his voice
didn’t sound like a new boy talkin’ to the boss; “but she made me love
her. Yes, I do love her. I must marry her. Yes, this is so.”

“She cannot marry you, or any one else, now,” sez the Friar, kindly.
“This is why she has gone from one man to another—to disgust them all
and make them leave her alone.”

“That is a damn devil of a way,” cried Olaf in anger. “Why should she
go to dances, and out ridin’, and so on, if she wants men to leave her

“She was foolish, she knows that now; but her father is not the right
sort of a man, and her home was not pleasant,” said the Friar.

“I told him I kill him, if she marry any one but me,” said Olaf. “I
know he is not honest; but he is afraid of me, and he will not bother
her now. I go to see him again purty soon, and tell him some more.
Won’t you tell me where she is?”

“I want to be your friend, Olaf,” said the Friar gently. “I tell you
honest that she cannot marry now. When I see her again, I shall tell
her of meetin’ you, and what you have said. I have no desire except to
do the best for all of you, and if you love her truly, all you will
want will be to do that which is best for her.”

The Friar paused, and I pulled my ear clear to the edge o’ the rock,
so as not to miss a word. “Olaf,” he went on in a low, sorrowful
voice, “the love of a man for a woman is a wonderful thing, a terrible
thing, a soul-testing thing. Don’t let your love become common for men
to talk over. In believing what men have told you of me you have
insulted her, by admitting that such a thing is possible. Go back to
your work, kill no man for what he says of her; but keep her pure in
your own heart, and this will be the best way to keep her pure before
the world. Silence the gossips by living above them; and if it becomes
necessary for you to take your own love by the throat, then do it, and
do it for love of her. I shall do all I can to make her worthy of

You should have heard the Friar’s voice when he was sayin’ this. I
stood on the little ledge, just breathin’ enough to keep my lungs
ventilated, and lookin’ out across the landscape—mountains on all
sides of me, and down below the broken ground and the benches, with
the green strips along the cricks lookin’ like lazy snakes in the hot
sunshine. I couldn’t see a livin’ creature, I felt like the last man
on earth; and that deep, musical voice seemed comin’ to me from
somewhere out beyond the limits of life. I didn’t have any more fear
now: the’ wasn’t anything in the shape of a human who could have done
violence to the Friar after hearin’ him say the words I’d just heard;
so I put up my gun, and listened again.

“Can’t ya tell me why she can’t marry me?” asked Olaf, and the’ was a
tremble in his voice, almost as though it flowed up from a sob.

“I think I can trust you to keep her secret,” sez the Friar. “She is
married already. The man was a beast and deserted her; but he is still
alive, and she cannot marry again.”

I heard Olaf make a queer, animal sound with his breath, and then he
said: “Yes, you speak true—I can tell by the light; but she loves
me—I can tell that also by the light. Will you tell me when she can

“I will,” sez the Friar, and his voice was a pledge. “There’s my hand
on it.”

They brought their hands together with a smack I could hear, and then
Olaf turned on the narrow ledge, with the Friar holdin’ him on, an’
started off. The Friar went along with him, and I sneaked after,
keepin’ a turn between us. Olaf mounted his hoss and rode away without
lookin’ back, which, as a matter o’ fact, was his way o’ doin’ things;
and when he was out o’ sight, I joined the Friar.

The’ was still a look of sadness in the Friar’s face; but back of it,
and shinin’ through it, was a quiet satisfaction. He was full o’ the
scene he had just gone through; and presently he turned an’ said:
“That was a glorious victory he gained over himself, Happy. That man
has a good heart, and who knows but what he will yet be the means of
bringin’ me an’ Tyrrel Jones together.”

“What do you reckon he meant by the light tellin’ him that you were an
honest man?” I asked. This was the most curious part of the whole
thing to me.

“How can I tell,” he sez. “Life is so crowded with wonders that I have
quit wonderin’ about ’em; but I always feel a thrill when I see the
stubborn spirit of a strong man melt and run into the mold the Master
has prepared for it.”

“I’ll own it was about the weirdest thing I ever saw,” sez I; “but I’m
willin’ to bet that whatever else Olaf’s spirit has molded itself
into, it’s not a doormat with ‘welcome’ wrote on it; as the first
feller ’at fools with that girl is likely to find out.”

“Never doubt the power of the Lord, Happy,” sez he. “The hand that
piled up these hills can easy shape even so stubborn a thing as the
human will.”

“Yes,” I agreed; “but it generally takes just about the same length of
time to do it, and a man don’t usually last that long.”

“Time!” sez he; “what do you know about time? It may have taken ages
to form these hills; and then again, it may have been done in the
twinklin’ of an eye. From the way the streaks tilt up, I’m inclined to
think it was done sudden.”

I looked at the lines along the faces o’ the hills, and I was inclined
to believe it, too; so I dropped that subject, and we sat down close
together and looked off down the trail where Olaf had vanished.

We sat in silence a long time, me thinkin’ o’ what sort of a light
Olaf had seen to make him know ’at the Friar was honest; and of the
way the Friar’s voice had gone through me when he had talked of love.

This was a new idee to me, and one o’ the biggest I had ever tried to
grapple with. Before this, my notion o’ love was, for a man to get the
girl any way he could; and it took me some time to see the grandness
of a man takin’ his own love by the throat for love of a woman. I knew
’at the Friar had done this himself; but it never was clear to me
until I heard the heartache moanin’ through his voice as he laid out
this law for Olaf, and Olaf bowed his stiff neck and accepted it.

I’m purty sure that if I’d ’a’ known that day, that a few years later
I would have to take my own love by the throat for the sake of little
Barbie, I wouldn’t ’a’ had the nerve to go on playin’ the game—but
this is life. We pick up a stone here, and another there, and build
them into our wall until the flood comes; and then if the wall isn’t
high enough to turn back the flood, all the sting and bitterness comes
from knowin’ that we haven’t made use of all the stones which came
rollin’ down to our feet.

That night we had an uncommon fine fire in the cave. I used to enjoy
these evenin’ fires with the Friar, as much as a dog likes to have his
ears pulled by the hand he loves best. He would tell me tales of all
the ages ’at man has lived on the face of the whole earth, and I’d sit
and smoke my pipe, and make up what I’d ’a’ done, myself, if I’d been
one o’ these big fellers. These chummy little fire-talks used to
broaden me out and make me feel related to the whole human race, and
it was then ’at I came to know the Friar best—though the’ ain’t no
way to put this into a story.

Along about nine o’clock the Friar began to lecture me again’ the use
o’ violence, pointin’ out that war nor gunfightin’ nor any other sort
o’ violence had ever done any good; and endin’ up with the way he had
handled Olaf as illustratin’ how much better effects spiritual methods

“Humph,” sez I, “so you’re tryin’ to put that over as an ordinary
case, are ya? Did you ever before see such eyes in a man’s head as
what Olaf has?”

“Now that you mention it,” sez he, “I did notice they were peculiar.”

“I ruhly believe you’re right,” sez I, sarcastic. “When he said he saw
light he wasn’t speakin’ in parables. He can see things ’at you nor I
can’t see—though I doubt if he understands ’em himself.”

“Still, violence would have spoiled everything,” persisted the Friar,
who was as human as a raw bronco when you tried to make him back up.

“Now, don’t forget anything,” sez I. “It wasn’t my face ’at lit up
when I said ’at he did his killin’ with bare hands; nor it wasn’t me
who gloated over this as furnishin’ an excuse to use my bare hands in
defendin’ myself.”

“Oh, Happy, Happy,” sez he, with one o’ the bursts ’at made ya willin’
to go through fire and water for him. “I’m the entire human race:
there isn’t a single sin or weakness which hasn’t betrayed me at one
time or another, and yet the wicked pride of me persists in stickin’
up its head an’ crowin’ every time I take my eyes off it.”

“Well, I like your pride full as well as any other part o’ ya,” sez I;
“and before you wrangle it into its corral again, I want to say ’at no
other man in the world could ’a’ told Olaf what you told him this
mornin’, and lived to talk it over around this fire to-night—unless,
he had used the best and the quickest brand o’ violence the’ is, in
the meantime.”

“Now, that you have succeeded in flatterin’ both of us, we’ll go to
sleep,” sez the Friar, and the’ was a deep twinkle in his eyes which
allus rejoiced me to call up.

Next night soon after dark, we started out with Kit Murray. She rode
like a man and could tick out her fifty or sixty a day right along,
without worryin’ her pony. As soon as she was safe located in
Billings, I turned back to the Dot, while the Friar rounded up some
stray sheep he had near the border, and as far as I can recall we
didn’t meet again all that summer.



Olaf’s theories concernin’ violence didn’t harmonize complete with the
Friar’s; but his method for discouragin’ scandal was thorough to a
degree. He silenced the gossipers all right, though so far as I heard,
most of ’em recovered; and the outcome was ’at the Friar stood higher
after the scandal ’n he had before.

The Cross brand outfit was a good deal like a pack o’ dogs: they each
sought Ty Jones’s favor, and they were all jealous of each other. Olaf
stood high on account of his mysterious insight; so Badger-face, the
foreman, backed up Bud Fisher to devil Olaf as far as possible without
givin’ Olaf what Ty would judge a fit excuse for unscrewin’ the kid’s
neck; and from the talk I heard, their outfit trotted along as smooth
an’ friendly as seven he bears hitched to a freight wagon; but our
trails didn’t cross frequent, so it was all hearsay.

The winter before had been so fierce ’at a lot o’ small outfits
couldn’t winter through their stock. Towards spring, ol’ Cast Steel
had bought in the Half Moon brand for a hundred an’ fifty dollars; and
that summer me an’ Spider Kelley put in our spare time huntin’ strays.
Spider had come back, flat broke and full o’ repentance; so after I’d
stood him on his head in a buffalo-wallow full o’ mud, I forgave him
free and frank, and this summer we rode together most o’ the time.

Ol’ Cast Steel was as lucky as a hump-back cat, and this summer the
grass was fatter ’n ever I’d seen it. We rounded up over five hundred
head o’ ponies, and over sixty cows, which was just like bein’ caught
out in a gold storm without your slicker on; so we didn’t sympathize
any with the old man, but prospected around for pleasure whenever we
felt like it.

One afternoon after the fall round-up, me an’ Spider found ourselves
in a mighty rough bit o’ country on the north slope o’ the Wind River
range. We had been herdin’ six or eight Half Moon ponies before us for
several days, devilin’ a parcel of Injuns into thinkin’ ’at we was out
tradin’; but we had got weary o’ this, an’ were just foolin’ around
and wishin’ ’at somethin’ would turn up to amuse us.

“Aw, let’s go on back home,” sez Spider, not knowin’ he was speakin’
wisdom. “I’d sooner work at work than work at huntin’ up somethin’ to
amuse myself with.”

“Well,” I sez, “we’ll finish out this afternoon, an’ then if nothin’
turns up, we’ll go back, draw our pay an’ go into Boggs.”

We saw our ponies start around a butte ahead of us an’ stop to examine
somethin’. We followed ’em around the butte, and there below us on a
little level, was a bunch of men—seven of ’em. We drew up an’ gave
’em a look-over.

“What do you make out?” sez I.

“Olaf the Swede with a rope around his neck, an’ Badger-face Flannigan
holdin’ the other end o’ the rope,” sez Spider. “What do you reckon
they’re goin’ to do to him?”

“Comb his hair, or fit a new sun-bonnet on him,” sez I, sarcastic.
“What else do they put a man’s neck in a noose for? Let’s go down an’
see what happens.”

“A feller’s not sure of a welcome at such times,” sez Spider.

“No,” I agreed; “but I want to see Olaf’s eyes again, and this may be
my last chance.”

“It may be your last chance to see anything,” sez Spider. “The best
thing we can do is just to back-track. We interrupted ’em once before;
and I don’t want ’em to get the idee that we spend all our time
doggin’ their footsteps for a chance to spoil their fun. This ain’t
any of our business.”

“We won’t spoil their fun,” sez I. “If they get suspicious, we can
take a hand in it, an’ that will fix it all right. Olaf ain’t nothin’
to us; and I don’t intend to risk my fat for him, just ’cause he’s got
curious eyes.”

“No, I’m not goin’,” sez Spider.

I looked across at the group again, an’ there comin’ up the trail
behind ’em was Friar Tuck, ridin’ a round little pinto, an’ leadin’ a
big bay.

“Well, you just stay here, an’ be damned to you,” sez I to Spider.
“I’m goin’ on down.” So me an’ Spider rode down together, an’ arrived
at just the same time as the Friar did.

Badger-face looked first at us, an’ then at the Friar. “What the hell
do you fellers want this time?” he sez to us in welcome.

“We just happened along,” sez I. “What’s goin’ on?”

“You’re goin’ on yourselves, first thing,” sez Badger-face. “That’s
what’s goin’ on.”

“I guess ’at you ain’t got neither deeds nor lease to this land,” sez
I. “We haven’t any intention of interferin’ with you; but we don’t
intend to be sent where we don’t want to go. We’ve got business here,
huntin’ up stray hosses, an’ I reckon we’ll just stick around.”

“You got business here, too, I suppose?” sez Badger-face, turnin’ to
the Friar.

“Yes,” sez the Friar calmly. “I came here entirely by accident; but
now it is my business to inquire into why you have a rope about this
man’s neck. You recall havin’ put me into a similar perdicament, Mr.

“Yes, an’ the only thing I regret is, that I was interrupted,” growls
Badger-face. “But this time, the’ ain’t any chance to change the
programme, so you might just as well poke on into some one else’s

“What’s the matter, Olaf?” asked the Friar.

Before Olaf could reply, Badger-face gave a jerk on the rope. “You
shut up,” sez he.

“Surely you will give the man a chance to speak,” cried the Friar,

“It won’t do him no good to speak,” sez Badger-face. “He’s committed a
murder, but of course he denies it. Now, get out o’ here, all three of

“Listen,” sez the Friar, as steady an’ strong as the sweep of a deep
river, “I care more for justice ’n I do for law. I know that hangin’ a
man has never done any good; but it is usually regarded as a legal
form of punishment, and the prejudice in its favor is still too strong
for one man to overcome. If you convince me that this man would be
hung by a court, why, I shall never say a word about it; but if you do
not convince me, I shall stir up all the trouble I can. I have quite a
number of friends, Mr. Flannigan.”

Badger-face studied over this a moment; and he saw it had sense. “All
right,” sez he, “we’ll try him fair an’ square; and then you three
will have to help string him, an’ I guess that’ll keep your mouths

“Tell your story, Olaf,” sez the Friar.

“Well,” sez Olaf, “we came up short on the round-up, an’ the old man
raised Cain about it, an’ sent us out to hunt for strays. Badger-face
split us into pairs, an’ made me an’ Bud Fisher work together. We saw
some cows up on a ledge where we couldn’t ride to; so we left the
hosses below, an’ climbed to see if they had our brand. If they had,
we intended to ride around and get ’em. If not it would save half a
day. Bud Fisher had a rifle along, hopin’ to get a mountain sheep, an’
he insisted on takin’ it with him. He climbed up on a ledge, an’ I
passed up the rifle to him. It was a long stretch, an’ I passed it
muzzle first. The hammer caught on a point of rock, an’ shot him
through the stomach. I didn’t bear him any ill will any more—I ran
down to the hosses, an’ brought up the saddle-blankets an’ the
slickers, an’ made him as comfortable as I could. Then I hunted up
Badger-face an’ told him. When we got back he was dead. This is the

“I think it is,” sez the Friar.

“Aw rot!” sez Badger-face. “Come on, now, an’ finish it. Every one
knows how they hated each other; and it’s plain enough that when the
Swede here got the chance, he just put Bud out o’ the way, an’ Bud was
one o’ the finest boys the’ ever was in the world—always full o’ fun
an’ frolic; while Olaf has allus been sour an’ gloomy.”

Most men are as sappy as green grain, an’ they bow whichever way the
wind blows. The Cross brand punchers all looked extremely sad when
Badger-face spoke o’ what a royal good feller Bud Fisher had been, an’
when he stopped, they all glared at Olaf as friendly as wolves,
especially a skinny feller by the name of Dixon, who had the neck and
disposition of a snake.

“If you thought ’at Olaf an’ Fisher hated each other, why did you make
’em work together?” asked the Friar; and the Cross brand punchers
pricked up their ears an’ looked pointedly at Badger-face.

“I thought they had made it up,” sez Badger-face, surprised into
takin’ the defensive.

“I have noticed that you are likely to jump hasty at conclusions,” sez
the Friar, speakin’ with tantalizin’ slowness. He was a fisher of men,
all right, the Friar was; and just then he was fishin’ for those Cross
brand punchers. “Did Bud speak before he died, Olaf?” he asked

Olaf hung his head: “All he said was, that she hadn’t never cared for
him, an’ that he didn’t know one thing again’ her,” said Olaf.

“Aw, what’s the use o’ stringin’ it out,” sez Badger-face. “Let’s hang
him and have it over with.”

“Hanging a fellow-bein’ is a serious matter, Mr. Flannigan,” sez the
Friar. “I am a party to this now, and shall have to assume my share of
the responsibility. I shall never consent to swingin’ a man on such
evidence as this. Let us go and examine the spot. The hammer may have
left a scratch, or something. If you convince me that Olaf committed
the murder, I pledge to assist in hangin’ him. That’s certainly fair,
men,” he sez to the Cross-branders, an’ they nodded their heads that
it was.

So we clumb up to the spot where Olaf claimed to have handed the gun;
but the’ wasn’t any scratch on the rock. “Did he fall from the ledge
when he was shot?” asked the Friar.

“No,” sez one o’ the punchers. “He fell on the edge an’ hung on.”

“Did the bullet go clean through him?” asked the Friar.

“Yes, it went clear through,” sez the feller.

“Point with your finger just where it went in, an’ just where it came
out,” sez the Friar.

The feller pointed with one finger in front, an’ one behind. The Friar
took a rope an’ had me hold it behind the feller at just the level of
that finger an’ then he made Spider stretch the rope so that it passed
on a line with the finger in front. The whole crowd was interested by
this time. “Now, then,” sez the Friar, “where could Olaf have stood to
shoot such a line as that. He could not have shot while he was
climbin’ up, nor he couldn’t have reached high enough while standin’

“He could, too,” sez Badger-face, “for Bud would have been leanin’
over, reachin’ for the gun.”

“If he had been shot while he was reachin’ over, he would have fallen
from the ledge,” flashed the Friar.

“Maybe he did,” snapped Badger-face, just as quick. “Olaf here is as
strong as a horse, an’ maybe he put him back on the ledge. He had
blood on his hands an’ you can still see it on his shirt. A man don’t
bleed much when shot in the belly.”

Olaf’s queer blue eyes turned from one to the other, but his face
didn’t change expression much. He had about give up hope in the first
place, an’ his face had the look of a hoss, after he’s been throwed
four or five times an’ just keels over on his side an’ sez to himself:
“Well, they’ve put the kibosh on me, an’ I don’t intend to make a fool
of myself any more by tryin’ to break loose.” The rest of us was more
excited about it than Olaf was himself.

“Which one of us is the nearest size to Bud Fisher?” asked the Friar.

They all agreed that Spider Kelley was; so the Friar had him coon up
on the ledge. Then he had Olaf take the empty rifle just as he had
held it when he passed it up; but made him give it to Badger-face
himself to pass up. Badger-face passed it up, Spider Kelley reached
for it, took it, and started to straighten up—The hammer caught on
the precise knob that Olaf had said it had, an’ snapped hard enough to
set off a cartridge. “There,” sez the Friar, sweepin’ his hands wide.
We could all see that the bullet would ’a’ gone through just where it
did go.

“Hand back the rifle, an’ I’ll show ya how he passed it up,” said
Badger-face. Spider passed it down, an’ we all watched intent. It had
become like a real court o’ law; we had forgot what the case was
about, we was so interested in seein’ the scrap the lawyers were
puttin’ up.

Badger-face cocked the rifle so slick we didn’t see him, called out to
Spider to catch it, an’ tossed it up to him. It came just short o’
Spider’s hand; and without thinkin’ o’ what he was doin’, Spider
reached for the gun. This brought him squattin’ just the time the gun
dropped back into Badger’s hands, and quick as a wink, he pulled the
trigger—and hanged if that bullet wouldn’t have traveled through the
same hole the first one had made.

I never saw circumstantial evidence give such a work-out before. If we
had all been fair-minded, it would have puzzled us; but as it was, we
sided accordin’ to our prejudices; an’ the Cross brand fellers chose
Badger-face to Olaf, Badger-face bein’ foreman. The Friar saw he was

“Are there any marks up there?” he asked of Spider.

“There’s some blood streaks on a stone,” sez Spider.

“Did you notice ’em?” asked the Friar of Badger-face.

“Yes,” sez he; “but they don’t mean nothin’.”

“Let’s go up an’ look at ’em,” sez the Friar, so we all clumb up.

They pointed out just where Bud Fisher had laid when they found him;
and close beside him was a smooth white stone with blood marks on it.
The Friar examined the lay o’ the ledge; but it didn’t tell nothin’,
so finally he got down on his knees an’ studied the blood-stained

Presently he nodded his head and straightened up. “Examine that
stone,” he said, pointin’ with his fingers. We all crowded about an’
studied it. The’ was finger an’ thumb prints all over it; but if you
looked close, you could make out the rude image of a man pullin’ up a
gun which had exploded on the edge of a ledge. It was a smudgey,
shakey affair, but if ya looked just right you could make it out. Yet,
even this didn’t floor Badger-face.

“The Swede there did that himself,” he growled; “and this makes him
out sneakier ’n we thought him. Let’s hang him, and get rid o’ this

“Flannigan,” sez the Friar in cold, hard tones, “you have gone too far
this time. If you had hung Olaf at first, you might have done it from
a proverted sense o’ justice; but to do it now would be murder; and
your own men wouldn’t help. Do any of you men chew tobacco?”

If he had asked for a can o’ face-paint, we wouldn’t ’a’ been more
surprised; but to show the hold the Friar had gained over that crowd,
every feller there but Badger-face held out his plug to him.

“Make some tobacco juice, Olaf,” he said.

Olaf bit off a hunk the size of a walnut from his own piece, an’
proceeded to make juice, as though his life depended upon the amount
of it. “Wet your thumb and fingers with it, and make marks on the
white stone,” commanded the Friar.

Olaf did so; and when we saw the difference in size and shape, we
savvied the game.

“Olaf took Bud’s hand and made the marks with Bud’s own blood,” sez

“Did any one here ever try to handle a dead man’s hand?” asked the
Friar; and that settled it. We all nodded our heads, except
Badger-face, an’ he had sense enough to see ’at he had lost the deal,
so he didn’t say nothin’.

“What I can’t see is, why he didn’t write,” sez the Friar.

“He couldn’t write,” chirps up two punchers at once, an’ then they
took the rope off Olaf’s neck.

They talked it over and decided that the best thing to do was to bury
Bud Fisher right there in the cañon. The’ was a little cave on the
ledge back o’ where we were standin’ so two o’ the punchers went down
where they had him laid out under the slickers, an’ brought him up. We
had to hoist him on ropes, an’ the Friar looked a long time into his

It was just a lad’s face: not bad nor hardened; just the face of a
mischievous boy, weary after a day’s sport. We all took a look, an’
then put him in the little cave an’ heaped clods over him an’ piled
stones on until the door was blocked shut again’ varmints.

The Friar sat down on a big rock—he had worked as hard as any of
us—and sat thinkin’ with his chin in his hand. The Cross brand
fellers muttered among themselves for a moment, an’ then one of ’em
took off his hat, an’ sez, “Don’t ya think ya’d ought to speak
somethin’ over him, parson?”

“Do you want me to?” asked the Friar. And they all nodded their heads.

So the Friar, he took off his battered hat and stood up before us an’
spoke a sermon, while we took off our hats, an’ sat around on stones
to listen.

I’m convinced ’at the Friar’s long suit lay in the fact ’at he allus
preached at himself. Most preachers have already divided the sheep
from the goats; and they allus herd off contented with the sheep on
green pastures, and preach down at the goats on the barren rocks; but
if the Friar made any division at all, he classed himself in with the

You see, in agreein’ to help string Olaf should he be convicted, the
Friar had bet his soul on the outcome; and this braced him up in that
crowd as nothin’ else would; for they knew that if he had lost, he’d
have pulled harder on the rope ’n any one else.

It’s child’s play to put out a funeral talk over some old lady who has
helped the neighbors for seventy or eighty years; but to preach the
need of repentance to the livin’, and then to smooth things out for
’em after they’ve died in their sins, in such a way as it will jolly
up the survivors and give ’em nerve to carve cheerful tidings on the
tombstone, is enough to make a discriminatin’ man sweat his hair out.

The Friar stood with his hands clasped in front of him, and his eyes
fixed sort o’ dreamy-like on the distance. It was a perfect day, one
o’ those days ’at can’t happen anywhere except in our mountains in the
fall o’ the year, and my mind drifted off to some lines the Friar was
fond of rehearsin’, “Where every prospect pleases, an’ only man is
vile.” Then I saw a change come to the Friar’s face, and he began to
chant the one which begins: “Lord, let me know mine end, and the
number of my days.”

He chanted slow, and the words didn’t mean much to us; but the solemn
voice of him dragged across our hearts like a chain. One line of it
has haunted me ever since. It seems to suggest a hundred thoughts
which I can’t quite lay my hand on, and every time I get sad or
discouraged, it begins to boom inside me until I see ’at my lot ain’t
so much different from the rest; and I buck up and get back in the
game again: “For I am a stranger with Thee and a sojourner as all my
fathers were.”

The Friar didn’t preach us a long talk, and most of it circled about
his favorite text, that a man’s real children were those who inherited
his character, rather than those who inherited his blood. Once he
raised his finger and pointed it at us and sez: “You were fond o’ this
boy; but did you love him for his good, or did you love him for your
own selfishness? I knew him not save through the dark glass of
reputation; yet after looking into his dead features, to-day, I think
I know him well. Death tells, sometimes, what Life has hid away. I did
not see in his face the hard, deep lines of stealthy sin; I saw the
open face of a child, tired out after a day wasted in thoughtless and
impulsive play; but comin’ home at nightfall to have his small cares
rubbed away by a lovin’ hand—and then, to fall asleep.”

O’ course, the Friar landed on us good and plenty; but this was the
part of his talk which stuck to us after the scoldin’ part was all
forgotten. When he was through he said a short prayer, and sang in a
low tone the one beginnin’, “One sweetly solemn thought.” His eyes
were glistenin’ through a mist when he finished this, and he climbed
down from the ledge, hurried over to his pinto, and rode off without
sayin’ another word.

We all sat silent for quite a spell, and then Spider and I got up and
nodded good day to ’em. The Cross-branders also got up and shook
’emselves, and started down with us—all except Olaf. He sat there on
a stone with his fingers run into his hair, and his face hid in his
hands. Olaf had had regular religion when he was a child; and it had
come back to him up there on the ledge. They say it’s worse ’n a
relapse o’ the typhoid fever when it hits ya that way. I know this
much, Olaf was doubled up worse ’n if he’d had the colic; and from
that time on, the Ty Jones outfit looked mighty worldly to him.

Even Spider Kelley was savin’ of his nonsense until we got in sight of
the Diamond Dot again.



We had a visitor once, which was a business man. One of his chief
diversities was to compare sedentary occupations with what he called
the joyous, carefree outdoor life. He said ’at sedentary came from
sedan-chair, and meant to sit down at your work. I rode the range next
spring until I felt more sedentary ’n an engineer; and sometimes at
night it used to strain my intellect to split the difference between
myself an’ my saddle.

I got out o’ humor an’ depressed and downright gloomy. Fact is, I was
on the point o’ rollin’ up my spare socks and givin’ Jabez a chance to
save my board money, when I heard a sound ’at jerked me up through the
scum and gave me a glimpse o’ the sky again. I was ridin’ in about
dusk, and I had hung back o’ the dust the other fellers had kicked up,
so I could be alone and enjoy my misery, when I heard this inspirin’

Ol’ Tank Williams once tried to learn to play on a split clarinet a
feller had give him, and at first I thought he had found where we had
buried it, and had resumed his musical studies; but this outrage came
from an instrument a feller has to be mighty cautious about buryin’.
It was a human voice, and these were the words it was screechin’:

    “Fair Hera caught her wayward spouse
      With a mortal maid one dawn.
    Zeus charmed the maid into a cow,
      To save himself a jaw’n’.
    This seemed to me a liber-tee
      To take with poor I-oh;
    But now I find that he was kind,—
      ’T was I who did not know.
    For girls use slang and girls chew gum,
      And drape their forms in silk;
    While cows behave with de-co-rum,
      And furnish us with milk.”

Well, I gave a whoop and threw the spurs into my pony. This was the
seventy-ninth verse of Horace’s song, and it was his favorite, because
it was founded on the Greek religion. I found him perched up behind a
rock, and he kept on slammin’ chunks of his song up again’ the welkin
until I shot some dirt loose above his head; and then he climbed down
and reunioned with me.

He was lookin’ fine, except that some of his waist products had come
back, and we talked into each other until the air got too thin to
breathe. Then we suppered up and began talkin’ again. He had tried all
sorts of gymnastical games back East, from playin’ golf to ridin’
hossback in a park, but it didn’t have the right tang. Folks thought
he’d gone insane an’ lost his mind, the air didn’t taste right, he got
particular about how his vittles were cooked; until finally, his
endurance melted and began to run down the back of his neck. This
decided him ’at he’d had full as much East as was good for him; so he
loaded up a box with firearms, tossed some clothin’ into a handbag,
and he said his grin had been gettin’ wider all the way out until it
had hooked holes through the window lights on both sides o’ the train.

We were all glad to see him, an’ he dove into ranch life like a
bullfrog into a cream jar; and he got toughened to a hard saddle in a
mighty short time for a feller who had got used to upholstery back
East. He said ’at the only thing ’at had kept life in him had been to
sing his song constant; but he denied ’at this was his main excuse for
fleein’ from his own range.

He didn’t seem to bear a mite o’ malice for the joke I had put up on
him; but still, I have to own up ’at he half pestered the life out of
me with his song. He had what he called a tenor voice; but it was the
dolefullest thing I ever heard, and the more he sang, the more his
notes stuck to him until I coveted to hear a love-sick hound
serenadin’ the moon. When he saw it was riskin’ his life to drag out
any more o’ the song, he would pause temptingly, and then begin a
lecture on the Greek religion. He got me all mussed up in religion.

Of course, I knew ’at the Injuns had a lot o’ sinful religious idees,
and I was prepared to give the other heathens plenty o’ room to swing
in; but not even an Injun would ’a’ stood for as immoral a lot as the
Greek gods an’ goddusses—especially the top one, which Horace called
Zeus an’ Jove an’ Jupiter.

This one didn’t have as much decency as a male goat, and yet he had
unlimited power. He was allus enticin’ some weak-minded human woman
into a scrape; and when his wife, who was called Hera and Juno, would
get onto his tricks, Zeus would snap his fingers, say “Flip!” and
charm the human woman into some sort of an animal. It was a handy
scheme for him, true enough; and he didn’t care a scene how
embarrassin’ it was for the human women.

He turned one of ’em into a bear, and, like most other women, she was
feared o’ bears an’ wolves an’ snakes, an’ the rest o’ the company she
was forced to associate with. She led a perfectly rotten existence
until her own son went bear huntin’, and was just on the point of
jabbin’ a spear into her, when even Zeus himself admitted ’at this
would be carryin’ the joke a leetle too far; so he grabs ’em up and
sticks ’em into the sky as a group o’ stars.

Horace tried to argue ’at this proved Zeus to be merciful; but as far
as I can see it’s as idiotic as havin’ the law hang a man for murder.
Supposin’ some feller had murdered me—would I feel any happier
because this feller who couldn’t put up with me in this world, is sent
over to pester me in the next? Course I wouldn’t; but if one o’ my
friends was murdered, and I had a chance to slay the feller ’at did
it, this would give me a lot o’ satisfaction an’ joy an’
pleasure—though I don’t say it would be just.

Puttin’ the woman an’ her son up in the sky didn’t square things in
Horace’s religion, neither; ’cause he said ’at Hera got jealous of
Zeus for elevatin’ the woman and she went to her foster parents who
had charge of the ocean, and made ’em bar this woman and her son from
ever goin’ into it, the same as the other stars did, and he could
prove it any clear night. I told him that he might get away with such
a tale as that back East among the indoor people; but that he couldn’t
fool a day-old child with it out our way.

We started this discussion the day after the fall round-up was over,
Horace had toughened up before it began, and he had rode with me all
through it, and takin’ it all in all he was more help than bother,
except that he shot too much. When he had come out before, he had been
so blame harmless he couldn’t have shot an innocent bystander; but
this trip, he was blazin’ away at every livin’ thing ’at didn’t have a
dollar mark on it, and when these wasn’t offered, he’d waste
ammunition on a mark.

I had some details to tend to after the round-up, so we didn’t get a
chance to settle the bet for several days. It was only a dollar bet;
but when the time came, I picked out a couple o’ good hosses, bein’
minded to look at the stars from the top o’ Cat Head.

We reached it about dark, made some coffee, an’ fried some bacon. Then
we smoked an’ talked until it was entirely dark before we ever looked
up at the stars. “Now, bluffer,” sez I, “show me your woman-bear.”

He looked up at the sky, an’ then moved on out o’ the firelight, an’
continued to look at the stars without speakin’. “Don’t seem to see
’em, do you?” I taunted.

He turned to me an’ spoke in a hushed voice: “Man,” he said, “this is
wonderful. Why, the way those stars seem to be hangin’ down from that
velvet dome is simply awe-inspirin’. I’ve looked through three good
telescopes, but to-night, I seem to be viewin’ the heavens for the
first time.”

“I thought you wasn’t much familiar with ’em, or you wouldn’t have put
out that nonsense about a bear-woman,” I sez.

“That,” sez he, pointin’ to the best known group o’ stars in the sky,
“is Ursa Major.”

“That,” sez I, “is the Big Dipper, an’ you needn’t try to fool me by
givin’ it one o’ your Greek names.”

He didn’t argue with me; but came back to the fire an’ fixed some
stones in the shape of the Big Dipper stars, then drew lines with a
stick, an’ sez ’at this made up the Great Bear. I looked him between
the eyes, but he held his face, so I knew he was in earnest. “All
right,” I sez. “I’ll take you huntin’ some o’ these days, an’ if we
chance to come across a silver-tip—a real grizzly, understand, and
not a pet varmint backed up again’ the risin’ sun—you’ll change your
mind about what a bear looks like. If that was all your fool Greeks
knew about wild animals, I wouldn’t waste my time to hear what they
had to say about gods an’ goddusses. I’m goin’ to start back, an’ you
can come or not, just as you please.” This was the first time I had
hinted about the woodchuck; but I was disgusted at his nonsense. He
took it all right, though, which proves he was game.

I rode some comin’ back, an’ he kept tryin’ to square himself; but I
didn’t heed him. Just before we reached the foothills, we saw a fire,
an’ when we reached it, the Friar was just finishin’ his supper. He
an’ Horace bowed stiffly to each other, an’ I was just put out enough
by Horace’s star-nonsense to feel like roastin’ some one; so I decided
to roast ’em both.

I sat on my hoss an’ looked scornful from one to the other. “Here is
two religious folks,” I said, impersonal to the pony, but loud enough
for all to hear. “Here is two genuwine religious folks! One of ’em is
workin’ for universal brotherhood, an’ the other is peddlin’ Greek
religion which he claims to be founded on beauty an’ love an’ harmony.
They meet in the mountains, an’ bow as cordial as a snow-slide. I
think if ever I pick out a religion for myself, I’ll choose the

I couldn’t have asked for any two people to look more foolish ’n they
did. Neither one of ’em seemed to have anything to say; so I said to
my pony: “Don’t you worry none, Muggins, I got a match o’ my own, an’
if we want to set by a fire, why, we can ride on to some place where
wood is free, an’ build us one.”

“Will you not dismount an’ rest a while at my fire?” sez the Friar, in
a tone meant as a slap at me.

“No, thank you,” sez Horace, “we must be goin’.”

“Yes, Friar,” I sez hearty. “Me an’ Horace has a bet up, an’ you can
decide it. Also, you owe him somethin’ on his own hook. You drove him
out o’ your religion an’ into the Greek religion; an’ if that don’t
give him a direct call on you, why then you don’t realize what a pest
the Greek religion is.”

They were so embarrassed they were awkward an’ spluttery; but I was
sure ’at this was good for ’em, so I got off, threw the reins on the
ground, an’ warmed my hands at the fire; while Horace apologized for
me not knowin’ any better, an’ the Friar assured him coldly that
everything was all right, an’ he was rejoiced to have a little

Well, for as much as ten minutes, we sat around enjoyin’ what I once
heard a feller call frapayed convivuality, an’ then I took pity on ’em
an’ loosened things up by tellin’ the Friar about the trip me an’ Tank
an’ Horace had took into the mountains to pacify our nerves, just
before he had stumbled on Horace that other time. O’ course I didn’t
tell it all, as I didn’t want Horace to know any more about it than he
knew already; but I told what a seedy little windfall Horace had been
when we started out, an’ how he had come back crackin’ jokes an’
singin’ the infernalest song ’at ever was made up. I finally got
Horace to sing ten or fifteen minutes o’ this song, an’ he droned it
out so unusual doleful that he fetched a chuckle out o’ the Friar, an’
then we were feelin’ easy an’ comfortable, like outdoor men again.

Then I told the Friar what our bet was, expectin’ o’ course that he’d
back me up; but what did he do but say ’at Horace was right as far as
the stars was concerned. This tickled Horace a lot, an’ he began to
crow over me until I concluded to test the Friar; so I sez to Horace
that his religion havin’ been endorsed by the Friar himself, I’d
become a Greek the first chance I had.

Horace didn’t take any trouble to hide his satisfaction, an’ he began
to expound upon the beauty, an’ the art, an’ the freedom of the Greek
religion at a great rate.

“They certainly was free,” I sez, “an’ easy too, an’ I don’t deny ’at
they might ’a’ been some weight in art an’ beauty; but, confound ’em,
they didn’t know as much about bears as I know about e-lectricity. I’d
just like to see Zeus himself go up into the Tetons in the early
spring, to hunt for Big Dippers. I’ll bet the first hungry grizzly
he’d come across would set him right on the bear question.”

This was a good opener, an’ in about two shakes, the Friar an’ Horace
had locked horns. Horace was a crafty, sarcastic, cold-blooded little
argufier; while the Friar was warm an’ eager an’ open as the day. It
was one o’ the best gabbin’ matches I have ever started.

They dealt mostly in names I had never heard of before, although once
in a while they’d turn up one a little familiar on account of Horace
havin’ told me some tale of it. The Friar knew as much about these
things as Horace did; but he called ’em myths, an’ said while they
didn’t mean anything when took literal, they had great historical
value when regarded merely as symbols. He said that I-oh—the human
maid which Zeus had turned into a cow—was nothin’ but the moon, an’
that Argus of the hundred eyes was simply the sky full o’ stars; and
that the old god which ate up his children was nothin’ but time.

I didn’t really understand much of what they said; but I did enjoy
watchin’ ’em bandy those big words about. We all use a lot o’ words we
don’t understand; but as long as they sound well an’ fill out a gap it
don’t much matter. These two, though, seemed to understand all the
words they used, an’ I was highly edified.

As they talked, an’ I kept watchin’ the Friar’s face, I learned
somethin’: the Friar had been mighty lonesome with only us rough
fellers to talk with, an’ had been hungerin’ for just such a confab as
this to loosen up his subsoil a little.

Every now an’ again, I’d cast an eye up to the stars; an’ while I
didn’t know the religious names of ’em, I knew how to tell time by
’em; an’ I knew ’at those two would have a turn when they remembered
to look at their watches. It was full one o’clock when the
conversation came to its first rest, an’ then the Friar recalled what
I had said when I had dismounted; so he up an’ asked Horace
point-blank what he had had to do with makin’ Horace quit the church.

Horace was minded to sidestep this at first by intimatin’ that I was
not responsible for what I said; but he finally came across and told
the Friar that he had give up that church for about the same reason
that the Friar himself had. This set the Friar back purty well on his
haunches, an’ put him on the defensive. He had hammered Horace freely
before, but now when he conscientiously tried to defend the gang he
had left, and also excuse himself for leavin’, he had some job on his

I thought Horace had him when he compared the Golden Age of Greece an’
Plato’s Republic with the Dark Ages, which was a stretch of years when
the Christian religion about had its own way; but the Friar admitted
that what he called economical interests had put a smirch on the
church durin’ the Dark Ages, an’ then he sailed into the Golden Age of
Greece, showin’ that slavery was the lot of most o’ the decent people
durin’ that period. When I fell asleep, they were shakin’ their fists
friendly at one another, about Plato’s Republic, which I found out
afterwards was only a made-up story.

Bein’ edicated is a good deal like bein’ a good shot in a quiet
community—once in a long while it’s mighty comfortin’, but for the
most part it’s nothin’ but shootin’ at a target.



It was broad day when I woke up—that is, the sun was beginnin’ to
rise—an’ the fire had dwindled to coals, the breeze had begun to stir
itself, an’ I was consid’able chilly. I saw the Friar’s nose stickin’
out o’ one side of his tarp an’ Horace’s nose stickin’ out the other,
an’ I grinned purty contentedly.

My experience is, that quarrelsome people usually get along well
together an’ make good company; but sad, serious, silent, polite folks
is about the wearin’est sort of an affliction a body can have about.

I once heard a missionary preach about what a noble thing it was to
control the temper. He must have been a good man, ’cause he was
unusual solemn an’ wore his hair long an’ oily; but he only looked at
one side o’ the question. I’ve known fellers who had such good control
o’ their tempers that after they’d once been put out o’ humor over
some little thing, they could keep from bein’ good tempered again for
a year. And then again, when a feller keeps too tight a holt on his
temper, his hands get numb, an’ his temper’s liable to shy at some
silly thing an’ get clear away from him.

What I liked about both the Friar an’ Horace was, ’at they hadn’t
froze up all their feelin’s. It was possible to get ’em stirred up
about things, an’ this allus struck me as bein’ human; so I was glad
to see Horace warmin’ his feet in the small o’ the Friar’s back, an’ I
whistled a jig under my breath while gettin’ breakfast.

They grumbled consid’able when I rousted ’em out; but by the time they
had soused their heads in the crick, they were in good humor again;
an’ hungry! Say! Ever since I’d give him his treatment, Horace had had
an appetite like a stray dog; while the Friar allus was a full hand at
clearin’ tables, except on his one off-day a week. I gave the Friar a
wink just as Horace splashed into his third cup o’ coffee, an’ sez:
“Friar, you should have seen this creature when he first came out
here. His muscles had all turned to fat, so that he could hardly
wobble from one place to another, an’ he was so soft that when he’d
lie down at night, his nerves would stick into him an’ keep him awake.
Now, if it wasn’t for that fringy thing he wears on his face, he’d
look almost exactly like a small-sized human.”

The only come-back Horace made was to start to sing with his mouth
full o’ cornbread an’ bacon. This was more ’n any one could stand, so
I tipped him over backward, an’ asked the Friar which way he was

The Friar’s face went grave at once; and then he began to post me up
on Olaf the Swede. I had heard some rumors that summer, but hadn’t
paid much heed to ’em. It now turned out that the Friar and Olaf had
struck up friendly affiliations; so he was able to give me all the

Badger-face had a disposition like a bilious wolf, and when he was
denied the satisfaction o’ jerkin’ Olaf out o’ this world, he had
turned to with earnest patience to make Olaf regret it as much as he
did. Olaf could stand more ’n the youngest son in a large family o’
mules, but he had his limitations, the same as the rest of us; so when
he saw that Badger was engaged in makin’ the earth no fit place for
him to habitate, he began to feel resentful.

When a boss is mean, he is still the boss and he don’t irritate beyond
endurance; but a foreman is nothin’ but a fellow worker, after all; so
when he gets mean, he’s small and spidery in his meanness; and I
reckon ’at Olaf was justified in tryin’ to unjoint Badger-face,
thorough and complete.

O’ course, Ty had to back up Badger for the sake o’ discipline; but he
didn’t wreak any vengeance on Olaf when he tendered in his
resignation, which proves ’at Ty still was full o’ respect for Olaf.
Badger was groanin’ on his back when Olaf left; but he called out that
he intended to get square, if he had to wear all the curves off his
own body to do it.

Olaf had the gift o’ sensin’ men, all right; but his judgment wasn’t
such as to make a yearlin’ bull willin’ to swap, and what he did was
to take the Pearl Crick Spread as a homestead. It was only about
fifteen miles from the Cross brand ranch house, and it was one o’ the
choicest bits in the whole country. This act was on a par with an
infant baby sneakin’ into a wolf den to steal meat. The Friar put the
finishin’ touch by sayin’ that Olaf had bought the old, run-down T
brand, and then I lost patience.

“Does Olaf sleep with a lightnin’ rod connected to the back of his
neck?” I asked as sober as a boil.

“What do ya mean?” asked the Friar, who was innocent about some

“Well, that looks like another good way to attract trouble,” sez I.

“Olaf does not want any trouble,” sez the Friar with dignity. “All he
wants is an opportunity to work his claim in peace. He has more
self-control ’n airy other man I’ve ever known.”

“It’s a handy thing to have, too,” sez I, “providin’ a feller knows
how to use it. Why, ya could change a T brand to a Cross quicker ’n a
one-armed Mexican could roll a cigarette. Ty Jones’ll get more o’ that
brand ’n ever Olaf will. How is Kit Murray gettin’ along?”

“She is a fine girl,” sez the Friar, his face lightin’. “She has cut
out all her wild ways, and Mother Shipley sez her daughter thinks as
much of her as if they was sisters. I got word last week ’at her
husband died in a hospital; and I hope she’ll marry Olaf some day.”

“Well, I’ll bet the liquor again’ the bottle ’at she never does it,”
sez I. “In the first place, she’s got too much style, and in the
second, she’s got too much sense. Ty’s already got more stuff ’n he
can take care of through a dry summer, and the next one we have, he is
goin’ to need Pearl Crick Spread. A grizzly traffics along without
bein’ disturbed, until he gets the idee that he owns consid’able
property, and has legal rights. Then one day the’ don’t seem to be
anything else demandin’ attention, so out go a parcel o’ men and
harvest the grizzly. That’s the way it’ll be with Olaf.”

“I advised him to move,” sez the Friar; “but he’s set in his ways.”

“Self-control,” sez I. “I was workin’ in a mine once with a mule and a
Hungarian; and both of ’em had an unusual stock o’ self-control. One
day right after a fuse had been lit, the mule decided to rest near the
spot; an’ the Hun decided to make the mule proceed. We argued with ’em
as long as it was safe; but the mule had his self-control an’ all four
feet set, and the Hun was usin’ _his_ self-control an’ a shovel.
All we ever found was the mule’s right hind leg stickin’ through the
Hungarian’s hat, and we buried these jus’ as they was.”

The Friar sighed, pursed up his lips, and sez: “I wish I could help

“Help him all you can, Friar,” sez I; “but after the fuse is burnin’,
you pull yourself out to safety. Ty Jones could easy spare you without
goin’ into mournin’.”

The Friar rode on about his business, an’ me an’ Horace went back to
the ranch, him pumpin’ me constant for further particulars about Olaf
an’ Kit. “Horace,” sez I finally, “did you ever see these folks?”

“I never did,” sez he.

“Then,” sez I, “what you got again’ ’em ’at you want ’em to marry?”

“Marriage,” sez he with the recklessness common to old bachelors, “is
the proper condition under which humans should live—and besides, I
don’t like what you tell about Ty Jones.”

From that on, Horace began to talk hunt; and when Horace talked
anything, he was as hard to forget as a split lip. He had brought out
some rifles which the clerk had told him would kill grizzlies on
sight, and Horace had an awful appetite to wipe out the memory o’ that

I admit that no one has any right to be surprised at anything some one
else wants to do; but I never did get quite hardened to Horace Walpole
Bradford. When ya looked at him, ya knew he was a middle-aged man with
side-burn whiskers; but when ya listened to his talk, he sounded like
a fourteen-year-old boy who had run away to slaughter Injuns in
wholesale quantities.

All of his projecs were boyish; he purt’ nigh had his backbone bucked
up through the peak of his head before he’d give in that ridin’ mean
ones was a trade to itself; and the same with ropin’, and several
other things. It ground him bitter because his body hadn’t slipped
back as young as his mind, an’ he worked at it constant, tryin’ to
make it so.

He wore black angora chaps, two guns, silver spurs, rattlesnake
hat-band, Injun-work gauntlets, silk neckerchief through a silver
slip, leather wristlets, an’ as tough an expression as he could work
up; but the one thing of his old life he refused to discard was his
side-burns. Sometimes he’d go without shavin’ for two weeks, an’ we’d
all think he was raisin’ a beard; but one day he’d catch sight of
himself in a lookin’-glass, an’ then he’d grub out the new growth an’
leave the hedge to blossom in all its glory.

We were long handed for the winter as usual, an’ the’ wasn’t any
reason why we couldn’t take a hunt; so Tank an’ Spider egged him on,
an’ I wasn’t much set again’ it myself. Horace agreed to pay us our
wages while we were away, an’ offered Jabez pay for the hosses; but o’
course he wouldn’t listen to it; and for a few days he even talked
some o’ goin’ with us, though he didn’t ever care much for huntin’.

Finally we started out with a big pack train an’ enough ammunition for
an army. Besides me an’ Horace, the’ was Tank, Spider Kelley, Tillte
Dutch, an’ Mexican Slim. Slim was to do the cookin’, an’ the rest of
us were to divvy up on the other chores all alike, Horace not to be
treated much different simply because he was payin’ us our wages; but
he was to have the decidin’ vote on where we should go an’ how long
we’d stay. It was fine weather most o’ the time, though now an’ again
we’d get snowed up for a day or so in the high parts.

I had allus felt on friendly terms with the wild creatures; an’ I had
told him before we started that I wouldn’t have no part in usin’
hosses for bear-bait, nor shootin’ bears in traps, nor killin’ a lot
o’ stuff we had no use for; but Horace turned out to be as decent a
hunter as I ever met up with, an’ after the second day out he did as
little silly shootin’ as any of us. He wasn’t downright blood-thirsty,
like a lot of ’em who get their first taste too late in life. He cared
more for the fun o’ campin’ out an’ stalkin’ game than he did for
killin’. We only got one silver-tip, most of ’em havin’ holed up; but
we found all the other game we wanted. Horace killed the grizzly,
which was a monster big one, and this wiped the woodchuck off his
record, and inflated his self-respect until the safety valve on his
conceit boiler was fizzin’ half the time.

We made a permanent camp not far from Olaf’s shack, an’ it didn’t take
me long to see ’at the foxy Horace was more interested in Olaf an’ his
war with Ty Jones than he was in huntin’. As soon as we had our camp
arranged, he got me to take him over to Pearl Crick Spread to call on
Olaf. I told him that Olaf wasn’t what you’d call sociable; but he
insisted, so we went.

We found Olaf in an infernal temper, an’ some tempted to take it out
on the first human he met; but this didn’t phaze Horace. He thought he
could start Olaf by tellin’ him that Kit Murray was a widow; but the
Friar had already told him and Olaf wouldn’t thaw worth a cent. He
kept on askin’ questions, even when they wasn’t answered, until Olaf
got hungry an’ asked us in to eat dinner with him. After we had eaten,
we sat around the fire smokin’, an’ Horace looked as contented as a
cat. He kept at his questionin’ until he got Olaf to talkin’ freer ’n
I had supposed he could talk.

Horace tried him out on all sorts o’ things, an’ when Olaf snubbed
him, why, he just overlooked it an’ tried somethin’ else. Finally he
tried his hand at religion, an’ this was what loosened Olaf up. Now
Olaf was actually religious, and called himself a Christian, but the’
was a heap o’ difference between his brand o’ it an’ the Friar’s.

Olaf’s God took more solid satisfaction in makin’ hell utterly
infernal than a civilized community takes in a penitentiary; an’ Olaf
was purty certain as to who was goin’ there. When he got to talkin’
religion in earnest, his face grew hard an’ his eyes bright, an’ he
gloated over the souls in torment till he showed his teeth in a grin.
The’ wasn’t any doubt in his mind that Ty Jones was goin’ to be among
those present, an’ this led him into tellin’ what had put him so far
out o’ humor before we’d come along.

He had found another one of his cows shot an’ only a couple o’ steaks
cut off. He fair frothed at the mouth when he told us this, an’ he
didn’t make any bones of givin’ Ty the credit for it. He cut loose an’
told us a string o’ things ’at he knew about Ty, an’ ya couldn’t blame
him for feelin’ sore. He talked along in a rush after he got started,
tellin’ o’ the way ’at Ty changed brands an’ butchered other fellers’
stock an’ wasn’t above takin’ human life when it stood in his way. “He
made me as big a devil as he is,” sez Olaf; “an’ now he knows ’at I
can’t get any backin’; so he is just persecutin’ me; but some o’ these
days, I’ll get a chance at him.”

Horace had dropped into a silence while Olaf was talkin’; but now he
raised a finger at me, an’ said: “I’ll tell you what we’ll do: instead
of huntin’ ordinary wild beasts, we’ll just keep watch on Olaf’s
stuff, an’ when any one bothers it, why, we’ll take ’em into some town
with a jail.”

Olaf shook his head, an’ I told Horace that the’ wasn’t any law for
big cattle men; but Horace was all worked up, an’ after we’d left Olaf
an’ started for camp, he didn’t talk of anything else. He put it
before the boys; but they were all again’ it, an’ told him a lot o’
tales about fellers who had tried to buck the big cattle men. Horace
called us all cowards; but we only laughed at his ignorance an’ let
him carry on as far as he liked. He sat up way into the night broodin’
over it, an’ from that on he did a lot o’ scoutin’ on his own hook. We
used to keep an eye on him, though; so after all he had his own way
about it, an’ Olaf’s stuff was watched purty close.

The boys was proud of Horace, just as they’d have been proud of a
fightin’ terrier; but they was worried about him, too, in just about
the same way.

“I tell you, that little runt would shoot to kill if he got a chance,”
sez Tank Williams, one night while Horace was away.

“Aw ya can’t tell,” sez Spider. “He thinks he would; but he’s never
been up against it yet, an’ ya can’t tell.”

“Well, what if he did shoot,” sez Slim, “we wouldn’t have to mix in,
would we?”

“You know blame well we’d mix in,” sez Tank, “an’ you can’t tell where
it would end. If Horace had ’a’ come out here when he was a kid, he’d
’a’ turned out one o’ the bad men for true. It’s in his blood. Look at
him! when he came here first, he didn’t have no more get-up ’n a sofy
piller; but look what he’s gone through since. I saw him, myself,
march along without food for four days, an’ when we came up with that
cow, he was willin’ to help kill her with a rock or strangle her to
death, an’ he didn’t make no more bones o’ calf-milkin’ her than a
coyote would. He started out in life with more devilment in him ’n any
of us, an’ what he’s achin’ for now is a mix-in with the Cross brand
outfit. That’s my guess.”

“An’ that’s my guess,” I chimed in; but just then we heard two shots
close together, then a pause an’ three more shots. We jammed on our
hats an’ guns an’ rushed outside. It was a moonlight night, an’ we
hustled in the direction o’ the shots. Before long we made out Horace
an’ Tillte Dutch comin’ towards us, an’ Horace was struttin’ like
Cupid the bulldog used to walk, after he’d flung a steer. It was the
first time I’d ever noticed this, but I noticed it plain, out there in
the moonlight.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I reckon ’at somebody knows by now that Olaf’s stuff is havin’ a
little interest took in it,” sez Horace.

We came back into the old log cabin where we was campin’, an’ Dutch
told about how Horace had got him to walk with him, an’ had sat down
on a rock where they could see Olaf’s little bunch o’ cattle grazin’.
He said ’at Horace sat with his rifle across his lap and kept watch
like an Injun scout.

After a time they saw two men creep out of a ravine not far from where
they was sittin’ an’ sneak down on the bunch o’ cows. One of ’em had
shot a cow, an’ Horace had shot him, bringin’ him down, but not
killin’ him. The two had run for the ravine, an’ Horace had tried to
cut ’em off, an’ he had gone along ’cause Horace had; but the two had
got to their hosses first. Each o’ the two had taken one shot, an’
Horace had shot back but none o’ these last shots had hit anything,
an’ the two had got away.

“I’ll bet they haven’t got so far away but what we’ll hear from ’em
again,” sez Tank.

“The thing for us to do is to start back to the Diamond Dot,” sez I.

“We shall stay here, an’ see what happens,” sez Horace, lightin’ his
pipe. His eyes were dancin’ an’ he was all puffed up. I didn’t say any
more. I just looked at him. He was the same old Horace, side-burns an’
all; but still the’ was enough difference for me to begin to regret
havin’ give him the treatment. I had cured his nerve so complete it
seemed likely to boss the whole crowd of us into trouble.



The Friar sez it’s all rot about men bein’ better for havin’ sowed
their wild oats when young. He sez ’at it’s utter foolishness to sow
any crop ya don’t want to harvest; but I dunno. I don’t mind havin’ a
colt try to turn himself inside out with me on its back; but I’m some
prejudiced again’ an old hoss which is likely to pitch when I’ve got
other business to attend to. When a young hoss is mean, why, ya can
reason it out of him; but when an old hoss turns bad, you might just
as well put the outlaw label on him an’ turn him adrift.

We couldn’t do a thing with Horace after he’d taken his shot at the
feller who potted one of Olaf’s cows. Ol’ Tank Williams was huge in
size an’ had a ponderous deep voice which rumbled around in him like a
bulldog croakin’ in a barrel; an’ he decided that it was his duty to
be firm with Horace, seein’ the way ’at he had bluffed him when we
went on that trip for the nerves; so the follerin’ mornin’ he put a
scowl on his face, grabbed Horace by the chest of his shirt, lifted
him so ’at nothin’ but the tips of his toes touched, an’ sez: “Look
here, you little whippersnapper, we agreed to go where you said an’
stay as long as you said; but we meant on a game-huntin’ trip. You
haven’t any idee what you’re up again’ out here, an’ you got to give
in an’ come back with us.”

Tank’s free eye rolled about in his head, runnin’ wilder ’n I’d ever
seen it; but Horace wasn’t as much phazed as if a fly had bit him. He
scowled down his eyebrows, an’ piped out in his squeaky tenor: “Take
your hand off me, Tank—and take it off now.”

“I’ve a notion to raise it up an’ squash ya,” sez Tank.

“Yes,” sez Horace, without blinkin’ a winker, “you’ve got notions all
right; but they lie so far to the interior of ya that they generally
weaken before they find their way out. Take your hand off me.”

Well, Tank was beat. He gave Horace a shove, but Horace was light on
his feet, an’ he never lost his balance. He just danced backward until
he had his brakes set, an’ then he fetched up in front o’ the fire,
put his fists on his hips, an’ stared up at Tank haughty.

“Ignorance,” sez he, “is the trouble with most people. The ignorant
allus judge by appearances. If body-size was what really counted, why,
we’d have an elephant for an emperor. Instead of which we use ’em to
push logs around. Goliath did a lot o’ talkin’ about squashin’ David,
but as soon as David got around to it, he fixed Goliath all ready for
the coroner. Napoleon was of small size, an’ fat, an’ nervous, but he
didn’t count it a fair day’s work unless he had presented one of his
relatives with a full-sized kingdom. Where are the buffalos—where are
they—the big clumsy brutes! They’re shut up out o’ harm’s way, that’s
where they are; but where are the mosquitoes? Why the mosquitoes are
takin’ life easy at all the fashionable summer resorts. If you feel
like freightin’ your big, fat carcass back to where it don’t run any
risk o’ bein’ bumped into, why go ahead; but I’m goin’ to stick around
here an’ see what happens.”

Well, there we were: we didn’t none of us have the courage to own up
’at we were afraid of anything ’at Horace wasn’t afraid of; so we
decided to stick with him, but that he had to take the blame. It was
Tillte Dutch who said this, an’ Horace looked at him an’ grinned.
“Take the blame?” sez he. “Why you big chump, it’s the small-sized men
who allus take the blame. The big boobs rush about, makin’ a lot o’
noise; but they only do what the small-sized men tell ’em to. I’ll
take the blame all right, an’ if you back me up, you’ll be right
pleased to have a share in the kind o’ blame the’s goin’ to be. This
Ty Jones outfit is nothin’ but a set o’ cowardly bullies who sneak
around in the dark doin’ underhanded work; but I intend to let the
daylight in.”

“I’ll bet the daylight will be let in, somewhere,” sez I; “but I’m
just fool enough to stick with ya.”

Tank was still smartin’ from the way it had been handed to him. “Say,”
sez he, “p’raps you don’t know it; but that David you was cacklin’
about a while ago wasn’t nothin’ but a sheep-herder.”

“That don’t change no brands,” sez Horace, who didn’t have any more
use for a sheep-herder ’n we did. “He was a small-sized man, an’ he
just drove sheep a while to help his father out. Sheep-herdin’ wasn’t
his regular trade. Bossin’ men an’ fightin’ an’ bein’ a king was his
natural line o’ business. It allus seems to me ’at big, overgrown men
ought to be sheep-herders, so they could drive about in house-wagons,
an’ not wear down so many good hosses.”

Ol’ Tank slammed about, makin’ a lot o’ noise; but he had lost this
deal, an’ it was plain to see.

“I’m goin’ to ride over to Olaf’s, an’ tell him about what happened
last night, an’ say ’at we’ll keep an eye on his stuff if so be he
wants to take a little trip to Billings,” said Horace; and when he
started I went along with him. At first Olaf was so white-hot about
havin’ another cow killed that he couldn’t think; but finally he
looked at Horace a long time, an’ said: “You have very brave flame,
an’ you speak true. I shall go to Billings, an’ trust everything with

I was flabbergasted clear out o’ line at this; but Olaf packed some
stuff on one hoss, flung his saddle on another, an’ set off at once.
Now, I knew Olaf to be slow an’ stubborn, an’ I couldn’t see through

After Olaf had rode out o’ sight to the north, Horace sez: “Has he
allus been crazy?”

“He’s not crazy,” sez I.

“Then what did he mean by sayin’ I had a very brave flame an’ that I
spoke true?” sez Horace. “Course he’s crazy. Didn’t you notice his

“Yes,” I sez, “I’ve noticed his eyes a lot; but I don’t think he’s
crazy—except in thinkin’ ’at Kit Murray’ll marry him. Why, she would
as soon think o’ marryin’ a he-bear as Olaf.”

“Well, I think they have drove him crazy,” sez Horace; “but I’m goin’
to bestir myself in his favor.”

He took himself as serious as if he had been Napoleon an’ David both;
an’ I could smell trouble plain. We decided to move our camp down to
Olaf’s, an’ wrangle his herd into the Spread every night. Pearl Crick
Spread was as fine a little valley as a body ever saw; filled with
cottonwoods an’ snugglin’ down out o’ the wind behind high benches.
The crick came in through a gorge, an’ went out through a gorge; an’
it was plain to me that the Spread was worth fightin’ for.

When we got back to the camp we found that a couple o’ Cross brand
boys had happened along, by accident, of course, an’ were tryin’ to
swap news o’ the weather for news o’ the neighbors. Our crowd hadn’t
loosened up none; and as soon as we came back the Cross-branders left.

Horace looked pleased. “I bet I got one of ’em last night,” sez he,
shakin’ his head.

Well, we all grinned, we couldn’t help it. “I bet you get another
chance at ’em, too,” sez Slim. Our outfit had been peaceable for so
long that the prospect of trouble actually made us feel nervous enough
to show it.

We moved down to Olaf’s, and each night we fetched in his little bunch
o’ cows, an’ allus kept up some hosses in the corral. The
Cross-branders used to wander by our place purty frequent, but allus
in the matter o’ business.

One day, after we’d been livin’ at Olaf’s about a week, Badger-face
Flannigan, an’ a pair of as mean-lookin’ Greasers as ever I saw, came
ridin’ along. Me an’ Horace had been up in the hills after some fresh
meat, an’ we see them before they saw us. They were ridin’ slow an’
snoopin’ about to see what they could pick up, an’ when they saw us
they looked a bit shifty for a moment.

Then Badger wrinkled up his face in what was meant for a friendly
grin, an’ sez: “Hello, fellers. Have you-un’s bought Olaf out?”

“Nope,” sez I. “We’re just out here for a little huntin’; an’ Olaf got
us to look after his stuff for a few days while he went visitin’.”

“Wasn’t the’ any huntin’ closer to home?” sez Badger-face, a little

“Not the kind o’ huntin’ we prefer,” sez Horace, sort o’ dreamy like.

Badger-face drilled a look into Horace, who had put on his most
no-account expression. “What’s your favorite game,” sez he, “snow-shoe

“Oh, no,” drawled Horace as if he felt sleepy, “silver-tips an’ humans
is our favorite game; but o’ course the spring is the best time—for

“Where might you be from?” asked Badger-face.

“I might be from Arizona or Texas,” sez Horace; “but I ain’t. I’m a
regular dude. Can’t you tell by my whiskers?”

Badger-face was so puzzled when Horace gave a little rat-laugh that I
had to laugh too; and ya could see the blood come into Badger’s
cheeks, but still, he couldn’t savvy this sort o’ game, so he couldn’t
quite figure out how to start anything.

Horace had practiced what he called a muscle-lift, which he said he
used to see the other kids do on parallel bars; and now he slipped to
the ground an’ tightened his cinch an’ cussed about the way it had
come loose, as natural as life. Then he put one hand on the horn an’
the other on the cantle an’ drew himself up slow. He kept on pushin’
himself after his breast had come above the saddle until he rested at
arm’s length. Then he flipped his right leg over, an’ took his seat as
though it was nothin’ at all. Any one could see it was a genuwine
stunt, though it was of no earthly use to a ridin’ man.

Now, just because the’ was no sense to this antic, it made more of an
impression on Badger-face than the fanciest sort o’ shootin’ or ropin’
would ’a’ done; an’ he puzzled over what sort of a speciment Horace
might be, till it showed in his face.

“Come on down an’ have supper with us,” sez Horace. “You can see for
yourself what the prospect for fresh meat is; so you can be sure of a

“No, we can’t very well come this evenin’,” sez Badger-face.

“Why not?” sez Horace. “You look to me like a man who was gettin’
bilious for the want of a little sociability. Come on down an’ we’ll
swap stories, an’ have a few drinks, an’ I’ll sing ya the best song
you ever hearkened to.”

“No, we got to be goin’,” sez Badger-face; an’ he an’ the Greasers
rode off while Horace chuckled under his breath as merry as a magpie.

“That’s what you call a bad man, is it?” sez he. “I tell you that
feller’s a rank coward.”

“Would you have the nerve to pick up a horn-toad?” sez I.

“No,” sez he; “cause they’re poison.”

“They ain’t no more poison ’n a frog is,” I sez; “but most people
thinks they are, an’ that is why strangers are afraid of ’em. Now,
Badger-face ain’t no coward. He’s a shootin’ man; but he can’t make
you out, an’ this is what makes him shy of ya.”

“Well,” sez Horace, “I’d rather be a free horn-toad than a mule in
harness. Come on, let’s go eat.”

The next afternoon Horace went along to help bring in the bunch o’
cattle; an’ some one up on the hill took a shot at him. He couldn’t
ride up the hill, so he hopped off the pony, an’ started up on foot.
Mexican Slim was closest to him, an’ he started after; but the feller
got away without leavin’ any trace. Horace was wonderful pleased about
it, an’ strutted more than common.

“There now,” sez he after supper; “do you mean to tell me ’at that
feller wasn’t a coward? Why the’ ain’t enough sand in their whole
outfit to blind a flea!”

We just set an’ smoked in silence. When a feller as little as him once
begins to crow, the’s nothin’ to do but wait till his spurs get



It’s curious how hard it is, sometimes, to get trouble started. We all
knew ’at the Cross-branders was ready to clean us out, an’ itchin’ for
the job; but the’s one curious little holdback in the make-up of every
healthy animal in the world. Every sane animal the’ is wants
self-defence as his excuse for takin’ life. I admit that now and again
beasts an’ men both get a sort o’ crazy blood-lust, an’ just kill for
the sake of it; but it’s the rare exception.

One of us allus made it a point to go along with Horace; an’ most
times when we’d meet up with any o’ the Cross-branders, they’d never
miss the chance to fling some polite smart talk at him; but the little
cuss could sass back sharper ’n they could, an’ I reckon they was
suspicious that he wouldn’t ’a’ been so cool if he hadn’t had bigger
backin’ than was in sight. It was perfectly natural to think ’at he
had been sent out as a lure by some big cattle outfit, or even the
government; so they went cautious till they could nose out the game.

One day Badger-face an’ the two Greasers came along when Horace was
out ridin’ with Tillte Dutch. Dutch was one o’ these innocent-lookin’
Germans—big, wide-open eyes, a half smile, an’ a sort of a leanin’ to
fat. He never had but one come-back to anything—which was to
splutter; but he was dependable in a pinch.

“Whatever made you so unspeakable little?” sez Badger-face to Horace.

Horace looked behind him, an’ all about, an’ then sez in surprise:
“Who, me?”

“Yes, you,” sez Badger-face. “You seem to dry down a little smaller
each day.”

“Well,” sez Horace, speakin’ in a low secret-tellin’ tone, “I’ll tell
ya; but I don’t want ya to blab it to every one ya see. When I was a
young chap, I used to go with a big, awkward, potato-brained slob,
about your size. I could out-shoot him, out-ride him, run circles
around him, an’ think seven times while he was squeezin’ the cells of
his brain so they’d touch up again’ each other; but one day he made a
bet that he could eat more hog-meat ’n I could; an’ he won the bet.
When I found out that the’ was one single thing ’at this big,
loose-jointed galoot could beat me at, I felt so blame small that I
never got over it, an’ this is why I disguise myself in these

The two Greasers couldn’t help but grin, an’ the fool Dutchman
sniggered. This was more ’n Badger-face could stand. He shot his hand
across an’ pulled his gun quick as a flash; but Horace didn’t move, he
just sat still, with a friendly smile on his face; an’ Badger-face sat
there with his gun in his hand, scowlin’ jerk-lightnin’ at him.

Spider an’ Slim had gone after meat that day, an’ they came into view
with the carcase of a doe, just as Badger drew his gun. Me an’ Tank
was listed to wrangle in the bunch, an’ we came ridin’ along just
after the other two came into view. The Greasers gave a little cough
an’ Badger-face looked up an’ saw us. It looked like a put-up job, all
right; an’ chariots of fire, but he was mad! Pullin’ a gun on a man is
the same as shootin’ at him. Badger-face had been tricked into givin’
us just grounds to slaughter him, and he wasn’t quite sure what move
to make next. Our outfit had been purty well advertized, through
cleanin’ out the Brophy gang, me an’ Mexican Slim were both two-gun
men an’ known to be quick an’ accurate, while Tank was ever-lastin’ly
gettin’ into trouble, owin’ to his friendly feelin’s for liquor. As we
drew closer we made our smoke-wagons ready, while his two Greasers
kept their hands in plain view, and harmless.

Badger had a trapped look in his face; but he didn’t say anything, an’
he didn’t cover Horace with his gun; he just held it ready. We did the
same with ours, an’ it was the foolest lookin’ group I was ever part
of. Ol’ Tank was the one who finally started things. “Look here,
Badger-face,” he bellowed, “if you so much as harm a hair o’ those
blamed ol’ whiskers, why, we’ll have to put ya out o’ business.”

Horace turned an’ looked at Tank in surprise. “Aw, put up your gun,”
he said. “Badger-face ain’t in earnest. We had an argument the other
day: I said ’at a man lost time crossin’ his hand to pull his gun, an’
he said it could be done quicker that way ’n any other; so to-day he
joked me about bein’ as small in the body as he is in the brain, an’ I
came back at him, also jokin’ in a friendly way; an’ he took this
excuse to pull his gun on me, without any ill intent; but only to
prove how quick he could do it. It stuck in his holster, though; an’
if we’d been in earnest, I’d have had to kill him. I’ve had him
covered all this time; but you can see for yourselves ’at his gun
ain’t cocked. Now put up your guns, and next time, don’t be silly.”

I know ’at Horace didn’t have any gun in his hand when we came up; but
when he stopped speakin’, he pulled his hand with a cocked gun in it
out from under his hoss’s mane, an’ Badger-face was the most surprised
of any of us.

“Come on down to supper, Badger-face, an’ I’ll sing ya my song,” sez
Horace. “We allus seem to have fresh deer meat when you happen along.”

We all put up our guns along with Badger-face, an’ he mumbled some
sort of an excuse an’ rode away with the Greasers. O’ course we’d
ought to ’a’ killed him right then, ’cause he was more full o’ hate
than a rattler; but the simple truth was, that Horace had gained
control over us complete, an’ we let him have his way.

“When did you get that gun in your hand, Horace?” I sez to him after
supper. “You didn’t have no gun when I rode up.”

“That’s what’s puzzlin’ Badger-face right this minute,” sez Horace. “I
didn’t draw that gun until Tank made his talk; but at the same time I
wasn’t as defenceless as I looked. I have told you all the time ’at
that man didn’t have the nerve to harm me. He’s a coward.”

“I reckon you’ll be killed one o’ these days, still believin’ that,”
sez ol’ Tank. “How much fightin’ experience have you ever had?”

“How much did Thesis ever have?” asked Horace.

“Never heard of him,” sez Tank. “Who was he?”

“He was a Greek hero,” sez Horace. “He never had had a fight till he
started out to go to his father; but he cleaned out all the toughs
along the way, an’ when he reached his father, who was king of Athens,
he found ’em just ready to send out seven young men an’ seven maidens,
which they offered up each year to the Minnietor, which was a beast
with the body of a man, and the head of a bull, just like Badger-face.
Thesis volunteered, an’ what he did was to kill the Minnietor an’ end
all that nonsense.”

“Well, I never heard tell o’ that before, an’ I don’t more ’n half
believe it now,” sez Tank; “but I’m willin’ to bet four dollars ’at
the Minnietor didn’t know as much about gunfightin’ as what
Badger-face does. He’ll get ya yet, you see if he don’t.”

“Tell ya what I’m game to do,” sez Horace. “I’m game to go right to Ty
Jones’s ranch house alone. Do ya dare me?”

“No, you don’t do that,” sez I. “That’s a heap different proposition.
Ty Jones wouldn’t pull his gun without shootin’; and besides, he’d
most likely set his dogs on ya.”

“Well, I own up ’at I don’t want no dealin’s with dogs,” sez Horace,
thoughtful. “Dogs haven’t enough imagination to work on. If they’re
trained to bite, why, that’s what they do; but give a human half a
chance, an’ he’ll imagine a lot o’ things which are not so. You
couldn’t tell Badger-face a big enough tale about me to make him doubt
it. I tell ya, I got him scared.”

We didn’t argue with him none; the’ was some doubt about him havin’
Badger-face fooled; but the’ wasn’t any doubt about him havin’ himself
fooled—which is the main thing after all, I reckon. Anyway, we let
Horace sit there the whole evenin’, tellin’ Greek-hero tales which
must have blistered the imagination o’ the feller ’at first made ’em

Along about nine o’clock we began to stretch an’ yawn; but before we
got to bed, Mexican Slim said ’at he heard a noise at the corral, an’
we all looked at one another, thinkin’ it was the Cross-branders; but
Horace was the first one to get back into his boots an’ belt; an’ he
also insisted on bein’ the first to open the door, which he did as
soon as we blew out the candle. Then we all filed out an’ sneaked down
toward the corral; but first thing we knew, a voice out o’ the dark
whispered: “This is me—Olaf. Is everything all right?”

We told him it was, an’ he whistled three times. You could ’a’ knocked
me down with a feather when Kit Murray an’ the Friar came ridin’ up;
an’ then we turned the ponies loose an’ went into the house. It only
had two rooms, countin’ the lean-to kitchen, an’ we made consid’able
of a crowd; but we were all in good spirits, on account of Olaf
gettin’ the girl an’ us bein’ able to hand him back his stuff with not
one head missin’.

It had been some interval since I’d seen Kit Murray, an’ I was
surprised to view the change in her. She didn’t look so much older,
but all the recklessness had gone out of her face, an’ it had a sort
of a quiet, holy look about it. “Kit,” I sez, “I wish ya all the joy
the’ is; but I’d ’a’ been willin’ to have bet my eyes ’at you’d never
take Olaf. I was glad to see him go up after ya, ’cause gettin’
knocked on the head is some better ’n bein’ kept hangin’ on a hook;
but you sure got your nerve with ya. This homestead is purty likely to
get in some other folks’ way.”

Kit had as snappy a pair o’ black eyes as was ever stuck in a face;
and now they flashed out full power. “I know it’s goin’ to be hard to
hold this place,” sez she, “but I reckon I can help a little. I can
ride an’ shoot as well as a man, if I have to, and you know it. I
don’t want anything but the quietest sort of a life the’ is; but I’m
ready to stand for any sort o’ luck ’at comes along. As for Olaf, he’s
the only man in the world for me. I saw something o’ the big cities
back east, an’ Billings, an’ the boys on the range here, and out of
’em all, Olaf’s my man. The thing I hope more ’n anything else is,
that we can die together.”

Her voice caused a hush to come to the room. I had meant to be jovial
an’ hearty; but the’ was an undercurrent of earnestness in her voice
which put a tingle into a feller. Kit Murray had changed a heap, but
all for the better.

Olaf cleared his throat, an’ we all took a look at him. He had
changed, too. He had lost the chained-bear look he generally wore, an’
the’ was a light o’ pride an’ satisfaction in his face which was good
to look upon. “Boys,” he said, “I’ve been purty tough an’ unsociable,
an’ I don’t see why you’ve took so much trouble for me; but I tell ya
right here that I stand ready to square it in any way or at any time I
can. Now, it seems mighty funny ’at Kit Murray should love me, an’ I
can’t account for it any more ’n you can; but I knew right from the
start that she did love me—I could tell by the light. If ever the
time comes that she don’t love me any more, I get out of her way,
that’s all about that; but I’m not goin’ to make her stay here any
longer ’n I have to. I sell out when I get the first chance. Friar
Tuck, he softened my heart, an’ he watched over her. He’s a man.
That’s all I can say.”

Well, this was an all-around noble speech for a stone image like Olaf
had been, an’ we cheered him to the echo; but Horace had sort o’ been
jostled to the outside an’ forgot. Now, he come forward an’ shook Olaf
by the hand an’ congratulated him, an’ sez: “The’s one thing I’d like
mightily to know, an’ that is—what the deuce do you mean by this
light you’re allus alludin’ to?”

Olaf was some embarrassed; but it never seemed to fuss Horace any when
he had turned all the fur the’ was in sight the wrong way; so he just
waited patiently while Olaf spluttered about it.

“I don’t know myself,” sez Olaf. “Always, since I was a little child,
I have seen a floating light about people. I thought every one saw
this light an’ I spoke of it when I was a child an’ asked my mother
about it many times; but at first she thought I lie, an’ then she
thought my head was wrong; so I stopped talkin’ about it; but always I
see it an’ it changes with the feelings and with the health. All the
colors and shades I cannot read, but some I know. I knew that Kit
Murray loved me before she knew it, and I knew that the Friar was a
true man when they told me tales of him. Animals, too, have this
floatin’ light about ’em, an’ I can tell when they are frightened an’
when they are mean. This is why I handle hosses without trouble. Now I
do not know why my eyes are this way; but I have told you because you
have been good friends to me. I do not want you to tell of this
because it makes people think I am crazy.”

“Course it does,” sez Horace. “It made me think you were crazy. I
never heard of anything like this before. Tell me some more about it.”

“There is no more to tell,” sez Olaf. “When I see the flame I do not
see the people. The flame wavers about them, and sometimes I have seen
it at night, but not often. I do nothing to make myself see this way.
Always my eyes did this even when I was only a baby.”

“Well, you have everything beat I ever saw yet,” sez Horace. “What do
you think o’ this, Friar?”

“I never heard of such a case,” sez the Friar; “although it may have
been that many have had this gift to some extent. I think it is due to
the peculiar blue of Olaf’s eyes. I think that this blue detects
colors or rays, not visible to ordinary eyes. I wish that some
scientist would study them.”

“I’ll pay your way back East, Olaf,” sez Horace, “if you’ll have your
eyes tested.”

“No, no,” sez Olaf, shakin’ his head. “I don’t want to be a freak.
What is the use? I can not tell how I do it, so it cannot be learned;
and I do not want things put into my eyes for experiments. No, I will
not do it.”

“Tell me how Badger-face looks to you,” sez Horace.

“Oh, he is bad,” sez Olaf. “He has the hate color, he loves to kill;
but he is like the wolf; he does not like the fight, he wants always
to kill in secret.”

“I bet my eyes are a little like yours,” sez Horace, noddin’ his head.
“I knew ’at Badger-face was this way as soon as I saw him.”

“Oh, here now,” sez the Friar. “You are puttin’ down a special gift to
the level of shrewd character-readin’.”

“What sort of a flame does a dead person have, Olaf?” sez Horace.

A queer look came into Olaf’s face, a half-scared look. “A dead person
has no flame,” sez he, with a little shudder. “It is a bad sight. I
have watched; I have seen the soul leave. When a man is killed, the
savage purple color fades into the yellow of fear, then comes the
blue, it gets fainter and fainter around the body; but it gathers like
a cloud above, and then it is silver gray, like moonshine. It is not
in the shape of the body, it is just a cloud. It floats away. That is

“Well, that’s enough,” sez Horace. “Can you see any flame about a
sleeping person?”

“Yes,” sez Olaf, “just like about a waking person; and there is marks
over a wound or a sick place.”

“Well, Mrs. Svenson,” sez Horace to Kit, “you’ll have to be mighty
careful or your husband will find you out.”

“I am perfectly willin’,” sez Kit with a proud little smile. She was
game, all right, Kit was.

“That is why I say it is all right,” sez Olaf. “She is young, she
cannot know how she will change. If ever she no longer love me, I will
not bother her. That would be a foolishness; but so long as she love
me, no other man will bother her. That would be devilishness!”

“You certainly have a nice, simple scheme of life,” sez Horace. “If
ever you change your mind, I’ll put up the money to take you back
East, an’ pay you high wages.”

“No,” sez Olaf, “I hate circuses an’ shows, an’ such things. I not

“You say you can tell sick places, an’ fear, an’ hate, an’ honesty,”
sez Horace. “Now, when I came out here, I was just punk all over. You
give me a look-over, an’ tell right out what you see.”

At first Olaf shook his head, but we finally coaxed him into it; an’
he opened his eyes wide an’ looked at Horace. As he looked the blue in
his eyes got deeper an’ deeper, like the flowers on the benches in
June, then when the pupil was plumb closed, the blue got lighter
again, and he said: “You have not one sick point, you have good
thoughts, you are very brave, you are too brave—you are reckless. You
have very great vitality, an’ will live to be very old—unless you get
killed. I knew an old Injun—over a hundred years old he was—he had a
flame like yours. It is strange.”

You could actually see Horace swellin’ up with vanity at this; but it
made ol’ Tank Williams hot to see such a fuss made about a
small-caliber cuss; so he rumbles around in his throat a minute, an’
sez: “Well, you fellers can fool around all night havin’ your souls
made light of, if ya want to; but as for me I’m goin’ to bed.”

Kit insisted that we sleep on the floor just as we had been, while she
an’ Olaf bunked in the lean-to; but a warm chinook had been blowin’
all day, an’ it was soft an’ pleasant, so we took our beds out in the
cottonwoods. Horace an’ the Friar got clinched into some kind of a
discussion; but the rest of us dropped off about as soon as we
stretched out. The moon was just risin’, an’ one sharp peak covered
with glitterin’ snow stood up back o’ the rim. I remember thinkin’ it
might be part o’ the old earth’s shiny soul.



Whenever the’s anything on my mind I sleep purty light; an’ the whole
Cross brand outfit was on my mind that night; so it’s not surprisin’
that I woke up after a bit. The moon had climbed consid’able, an’ the
stars told me it was about two. I had been sleepin’ alone; Horace
havin’ decided to crawl in with the Friar so they could quarrel at
short range.

The Friar’s tarp was next to mine, an’ I raised myself on my elbow an’
looked at it. I could hear him breathin’ natural, an’ the bulk of him
was so large that Horace wouldn’t have made much of a mound anyway; so
at first I couldn’t tell whether he was there or not. I crept out till
I could sit up an’ get a clear view; but Horace wasn’t there, so I put
on my boots as quick as ever.

I sneaked over to the Friar’s tarp; but Horace’s hat was gone, so I
knew he was up to some mischief, an’ started for the corral to see if
he had taken a hoss. What I feared was, that he had got to thinkin’
about what a super-wonderful flame he had, and had decided to give it
a fair work-out by sneakin’ down to Ty Jones’s on his own hook. I was
worried about this because I knew they’d do for him in a minute, if
they’d catch him where they could hide all traces.

Olaf had built a large square corral an’ a smaller round one, to do
his ropin’ in; and when I reached the near side o’ the square one, I
heard a slight noise near the gate of the round one. I peered through
the poles of the corral, but the dividin’ fence got in the road so ’at
I couldn’t see, an’ I started to prowl around. All of a sudden,
Horace’s squeaky tenor piped out: “Halt”; an’ I flattened out on the
ground, thinkin’ he had spotted me; but just then the’ was a smothered
curse from the round corral, an’ when I started to get up I saw
Badger-face vault over the fence in the direction of Horace’s voice.

Then I saw Horace standin’ behind a clump with his gun on Badger-face.
“Put up your hands,” sez Horace.

Badger was runnin’ straight for him; but he put up his hands at this
order, and came to a slow stop about five feet from Horace. The square
corral was still between me an’ them, an’ I drew my right gun an’
started around, keepin’ my eye on ’em as much as I could through the

“I reckon I got ya this time,” sez Horace, just as I reached the

“I reckon you have,” sez Badger in a give-up voice; but at the same
moment he took a step forward, threw his body back, an’ kicked the gun
out of Horace’s hand. Then he lunged forward an’ got Horace by the
throat, flung him on his back an’ straddled him—an’ I broke for ’em
on the run. Just before I reached ’em, the’ came a heavy, muffled
report, an’ Badger-face fell on his side an’ rolled over on his back,
clutchin’ at his breast.

Horace rose to his feet, holdin’ a toy pistol, put his hands on his
hips, looked down at Badger-face, an’ sez: “If you’d ’a’ just asked
Olaf what kind of a light I give out, you’d ’a’ stayed at home an’
saved your life.” That’s how nervous Horace was.

“Don’t stand an’ talk to a shot man,” I sez. “Allus get his gun

Horace gave a jump at the sound o’ my voice, an’ covered me with his
pop-gun. “Oh, it’s you, is it?” he sez. “Well, then, you get his gun;
but I don’t much think he can use it.”

By the time I had lifted Badger’s gun, the other boys were arrivin’,
an’ when they found that Horace had gone out alone an’ shot a hole
through Badger-face, they certainly was some surprised. Purty soon Kit
Murray came out with Olaf, an’ then Horace told about not feelin’
sleepy an’ bein’ so disgusted at the way we were snorin’ that he had
got up to take a little stroll. He said he just went toward the corral
’cause that was the least uninterestin’ place he could think of, and
that Badger had sneaked down an’ started to cut the stirrups off the
saddles right before his eyes.

“I gave him all the time he wanted,” sez Horace, “so ’at there
wouldn’t be any doubt as to his intentions. I reckon ’at cuttin’ up
saddles in another man’s corral is goin’ about far enough, ain’t it?”

Just then the Friar finished his examination of Badger, an’ went after
his saddle bags for a bandage. “Went clear through his lung,” was all
he said as he passed us on the run.

It was purty chilly at that time o’ night; and as the cold began to
eat in, it suddenly came over Horace that no matter how much justified
he was, he had shot an’ most likely killed a feller human, an’ he
began to shake. He went over to Badger-face an’ put his coat over him,
an’ sez: “Great heavens! are ya goin’ to let this man lie out here in
the cold till he dies? Ain’t the’ some place we can put him? This is

“Bring him in the house,” sez Kit. “He don’t deserve it; but we can’t
let him lie out here—can we, Olaf?”

“No,” sez Olaf. “If you say bring him in, in he comes.”

“That’s right, that’s fine. I don’t bear him any malice,” sez Horace.
“I hope he gets over it an’ lives to repent.”

We packed him into the house an’ Kit made a fire an’ heated some
water. As soon as the water was hot, the Friar cleaned out the wound
with it an’ some foamy stuff out of a bottle. Then he dissolved a drab
tablet in some water an’ tied up both openings. Horace sat in a corner
durin’ this operation, with his head in his hands, shiverin’. The
reaction had set in; an’ all of us knew what it was, though I don’t
suppose any of us had had the chance to give way to it as free as
Horace did.

Badger-face was all cut an’ scarred when we stripped him; but he
looked as tough an’ gnarly as an oak tree, an’ the Friar said he had
one chance in a hundred to pull through. He didn’t speak to us until
after the Friar had finished with him. Then he said in a low, snarly
voice: “I don’t much expect to get over this; but before I slip off, I
wish you’d tell me who the little cuss who got me really is, an’
what’s his game.”

We didn’t hardly know what to say; but finally Tank sez: “We don’t
feel free to tell you who he is, Badger-face; but I’ll say this much,
he ain’t no officer of the law.”

I thought it would be the quickest way to straighten Horace up, so I
told him ’at Badger-face wanted to talk to him. Sure enough, Horace
took a deep breath an’ stiffened his upper lip. Then he walked over to
the bed. “How do ya feel, Badger-face?” sez he.

“Oh, I been shot before,” sez Badger; “but it burns worse ’n usual
this time, an’ I reckon you’ve got me. It grinds me all up to think
’at a little runt like you did it, an’ it would soothe me to know ’at
you had some sort of a record.”

Horace looked thoughtful: he wanted to comfort the man he was
responsible for havin’ put out o’ the game; but he could see that the
whole truth wouldn’t in no wise do, so he put on a foxy look an’ sez:
“I never worked around these parts none; but if you’ve ever heard o’
Dinky Bradford, why, that’s me. I know just how you feel. You feel as
much put out at bein’ bested by a small-like man, as I would at havin’
a big feller get ahead o’ me; but you needn’t fret yourself. There’s
fellers right in this room who have seen me go four days without food
an’ then do a stunt which beat anything they’d ever seen. Don’t you
worry none. Now that you’re down an’ out, we all wish ya the best o’

Me an’ Spider an’ Tank had to grin at this; but it was just what
Badger needed to quiet him, an’ his face lit up when he asked Horace
how he had managed to shoot him.

“I used my auxilary armyment,” sez Horace, but that’s all the
explanation he’d make. I found out afterward that he had a thing
called a derringer, a two-barreled pistol, forty-one caliber, which he
carried in his vest pocket. I told him ’at this sneaky sort of a
weapon would give him a bad name if it was found out on him; but he
said ’at he shot from necessity, not choice, and that when it came to
gettin’ shot, he couldn’t see why the victim should be so blame
particular what was used—which is sensible enough when you come to
think it over, though I wouldn’t pack one o’ those guns, myself.

Badger-face was out of his head next day, and for two weeks followin’.
The Friar an’ Kit an’ Horace took turns nursin’ him, an’ they did an
able job of it. Water, plain water an’ wind, was about all the Friar
used in treatin’ him. Kit wanted to give him soup an’ other sorts o’
funnel food; but the Friar said ’at a man could live for weeks on what
was stored up in him; an’ Horace backed him up. Kit used to shake her
head at this, an’ I know mighty well that down deep in her heart, she
thought they would starve him to death before her very eyes.

We tore up the old shack on the hill, snaked the poles down with
Olaf’s work team, an’ set it up in the Spread; so ’at we’d be handy in
case we was needed. A couple o’ the Cross-branders drifted by, an’ we
gave ’em the news about Badger-face an’ Dinky Bradford havin’ come
together an’ Badger havin’ got some the worst of it; but they wouldn’t
go in to see him, an’ they quit wanderin’ by; so ’at we didn’t hardly
know what to expect.

We had hard work thawin’ out the clay for chinkin’, an’ we didn’t get
the cabin as tight as we’d ’a’ liked; but we had plenty o’ wood, so it
didn’t much matter as far as warmth was concerned; but we had the
blamedest time with a pack-rat I ever did have.

I don’t know whether pack-rats an’ trade-rats is the same varmints or
not; but neither one of ’em has a grain o’ sense, though some tries to
stick up for the trade-rats on account o’ their tryin’ to be honest. A
pack-rat is about three times as big as a barn rat, an’ fifteen times
as energetic. His main delight is to move things. Horace said ’at he
was convinced they were the souls o’ furniture-movers who had died
without repentin’ of all the piano-lamps an’ chiny-ware they had
broke. A pack-rat don’t care a peg whether he can use an article or
not; all he asks is the privilege of totin’ it about somewhere.

We weren’t at all sure ’at we wouldn’t be routed out in the night; so
when we went to sleep, we’d stack our boots an’ hats where we could
find ’em easy. Sometimes the pack-rat would toil so industrious ’at
he’d wake us up an’ we’d try to hive him; but most o’ the time he’d
work sly, an’ then next mornin’ we’d find our boots all in a heap on
the table, or in the corner under the bunk or somewhere clear outside
the shack; until we was tempted to move the shack back where it was,
there not bein’ any pack-rats up there.

Then either the pack-rat reformed into a trade-rat, or else he sold
out his claim to a trade-rat. Anyway, four nights after we’d been
settled, we began to get trades for our stuff.

Horace was sleepin’ this whole night with us, an’ next mornin’ he
wakened before light an’ started to dress so as to relieve the Friar.
He had put his boots on the floor under the head o’ his bunk, an’ when
he reached down for ’em he found one potato an’ the hide of a rabbit.
The rabbit hide had been tossed out two days before, an’ it had froze
stiff an’ had a most ungainly feel at that hour o’ the mornin’. Horace
scrooged back into bed an’ pulled all the covers off Tank whom he was
sleepin’ with. When Tank awoke, he found Horace sittin’ up in the bunk
with the covers wound around him, yellin’ for some one to strike a

We all struck matches an’ finally got a candle lit. When Horace saw
what it was, he was hos-tile for true, thinkin’ it was a joke one o’
the boys had put up. We had had a hard time convincin’ him o’ the ways
o’ pack-rats, an’ now when we sprung trade-rats on him, he thought we
were liars without mercy; but when the Friar came out to learn what
the riot was, an’ told Horace it was all so about trade-rats, he had
to give in.

“Well, they’ve got a heap o’ nerve,” sez he, from the center o’ the
beddin’ which was still wound around him, “to lug off a good pair o’
high-heeled ridin’ boots, an’ leave an old potato an’ the shuck of a
rabbit in place of ’em!”

After this Horace took a tarp into Badger’s room an’ bedded himself
down in a corner, which was all around the most handy thing he could
do; but the rest of us had a regular pest of a time with that rat. We
couldn’t find out where the deuce he got in; but he distributed our
belongin’s constant, an’ generally brought us some of Olaf’s
grub-stuff in exchange. We couldn’t trap him nor bluff him, an’ it
generally took a good hour mornin’s, to round up our wearin’ apparel.

One night we kept the fire goin’ an’ changed watchers every two hours.
Ol’ Tank was on guard from two to four, an’ he woke us up by takin’ a
shot. We found him on his back in the middle o’ the floor, an’ he
claimed he had been settin’ in a chair an’ had seen the rat walkin’
along the lower side o’ the ridgepole with one o’ Tillte Dutch’s boots
in his mouth. Dutch had the spreadin’est feet in the outfit, an’ we
couldn’t believe ’at a trade-rat could possibly tote it, hangin’ down
from the ridgepole; but Tank showed us a lot o’ scratches along the
ridgepole, an’ a bruise on his chin where the boot had hit him when
the rat dropped it. The’ was also a hole in the boot where his bullet
had gone, but this didn’t prove anything. Still, Tank stuck to his
story, so we had to apologize for accusin’ him of lettin’ his good eye
sleep while he kept watch with his free one.

We stuffed burlap into the hole about the ridgepole, an’ that night
bein’ Christmas eve, we all gathered in and held festivities. We
danced an’ told tales an’ sang until a late hour. None of us were
instrument musicians; but we clapped our hands an’ patted with our
feet, an’ Kit took turns dancin’ with us, till it was most like a
regular party. Mexican Slim bet that he could do a Spanish dance as
long as Horace could sing different verses of his song; but we
suppressed it at the ninety-first verse. Tank wanted to let him
finish, in the hope it might kill the trade-rat; but we couldn’t stand
any more, ourselves.

Then the Friar taught us a song called, “We three Kings of Orient
are”; an’ we disbursed for the night. It was a gorgeous night, an’ me
an’ the Friar took a little walk under the stars. One of ’em rested
just above the glisteny peak up back o’ the rim, an’ he sang soft an’
low, the “Star of beauty, star of night” part o’ this song. He allus
lifted me off the earth when he sang this way. Then he sez to me:
“After all, Happy, life pays big dividends, if we just live it hard
enough”; an’ he gave a little sigh an’ went in to tend to Badger-face.



Trade-rats haven’t as much idee of real music as coyotes have.
Ninety-one verses of that infernal cow-song, sung in Horace’s
nose-tenor, was enough to drive bed-bugs out of a lumber-camp; but
that night the trade-rat worked harder than ever. We had hid our stuff
an’ fastened it down, an’ used every sort of legitimate means to
circumvent the cuss; but he beat us to it every time, an’ switched our
stuff around scandalous.

“Merry Christmas!” yelled Spider Kelley, holdin’ up a rusty sardine

The trade-rat had remembered us all in some the same way, but we
recalled what day it was an’ took it in good part; until, all of a
sudden, ol’ Tank gave a whoop, an’ held up a brown buck-skin bag. We
crowded around an’ wanted him to open it up an’ see what was inside;
but he said it most probably belonged to Olaf or Kit or the Friar; so
we toted it into the cabin an’ asked the one who could identify it to
step out an’ claim his diamonds.

Then we had a surprise—not one o’ the bunch could identify the bag!
We stood around an’ looked at the bag for as much as five minutes,
tryin’ to figure out how the deuce even a trade-rat could spring stuff
on us none of us had ever seen before.

“This is a real trade, sure enough,” sez Horace.

“I tell ya what this is,” sez I. “This is a Christmas-gift for the
Friar. Go on an’ open it, Friar.”

The’ was some soft, Injun-tanned fawn-skin inside, wrappin’ up a
couple o’ papers, an’ two photographs, and an old faded letter. “I
don’t think we have the right to look at these,” sez the Friar.

“How’ll we ever find out who they belong to, then?” asked Horace.
“Look at the letter anyway.”

It was in a blank envelope, an’ it began, “My dear son,” and ended,
“Your lovin’ mother.” The letter was just the same as all mothers
write to their sons, I reckon: full of heartache, an’ tenderness, an’
good advice, an’ scoldin’; but nothin’ to identify nobody by; so we
said ’at the Friar should read the papers. One of ’em was an honorable
discharge from the army; but all the names an’ dates an’ localities
had been crossed out. It was what they call an “Excellent” discharge,
which is the best they give, an’ you could tell by the thumb print ’at
this part had been read the most by whoever had treasured it.

The other paper was simply a clippin’ from a newspaper. It was a
column of items tellin’ about Dovey wishin’ to see Tan Shoes at the
same place next Sunday, an’ such things. The Friar said ’at this was
the personal column, an’ he sure labeled it; ’cause if a feller chose
to guess any, some o’ those items was personal enough to make a
bar-tender blush; but they didn’t convey any news to us as to where
the trade-rat had procured the buck-skin bag.

The photographs were wrapped in tissue paper an’ then tied together
with pink string, face to each. The Friar balked a little at openin’
’em up; but we deviled him into it. The first he opened was a cheap,
faded little one of an old lady. She had a sad, patient face, an’
white hair. Horace was standin’ on a chair, lookin’ over the Friar’s
shoulder, an’ he piped out that the photograph had been took in New
York, an’ asked if we knew any one who lived there, which most of us
did; but not the subject of the photograph.

Then the Friar opened the other one. He took one look at it, an’ then
his face turned gray. “This one was took in Rome,” sez Horace. “Does
any one here have a list o’ friends livin’ in Rome, Italy?”

He hadn’t looked at the face on the photograph, nor at the Friar’s
face; but when we didn’t answer, he looked up, saw that we had sobered
in sympathy with the Friar, an’ then he looked at the face on the
photograph an’ got down off the chair. The face was of a beautiful
lady in a low-necked, short-sleeved dress. Not as low nor as short as
some dresses I’ve seen in pictures, but still a purty generous

The Friar’s hands shook some; but he gradually got a grip on himself,
an’ purty soon, he sez in a steady voice: “This is a picture of
Signorina Morrissena. Does any one here know of her?”

Well, of course none of us had ever heard of her; so the Friar wrapped
up the package again an’ put it back into the buck-skin bag. We had
expected to have some high jinks that day, an’ Kit had baked a lot o’
vinegar pies for dinner, we had plenty o’ fresh deer-meat, an’ we had
agreed to let the Friar hold a regular preachin’ first; but when we
saw how the picture had shook him up we drifted back to our own shack
an’ sat talkin’ about where the deuce that blame trade-rat could
possibly have got a holt o’ the buck-skin bag. I was purty sure that
it was a picture o’ the Friar’s girl, the extra trimmin’s on the name
not bein’ much in the way of a disguise, an’ as soon as I got a chance
to see Horace I questioned him, an’ he said it was the girl, all
right; but that she had developed a lot.

The Friar had taken a hoss an’ gone up into the mountains, an’ had
left word that he didn’t want any dinner. We were as full o’ sympathy
with him as we could stand, but not in the mood to sidestep such a
meal as Kit had framed up; so we ate till after three in the
afternoon. We didn’t want to do anything to fret him a speck; so we
hardly knew what to do. Generally it tickled him to have us ask him to
preach to us; but we couldn’t tell how he’d feel about it now, and we
were still discussin’ it about the fire when the Friar came back.

He looked mighty weary, an’ we knew he had been drivin’ himself purty
hard, although it wasn’t just tiredness which showed in his face.
Still, the’ was a sort of peace there, too; so after he’d warmed
himself a while, ol’ Tank asked him if he wouldn’t like to preach to
us a bit.

The Friar once said that back East some folks used good manners as
clothin’ for their souls, but that out our way good-heartedness was
the clothin’, an’ good manners nothin’ more than a silver band around
the hat. “And some o’ the bands are mighty narrow, Friar,” I added to
draw him out. “Yes,” sez he, “but the hats are mighty broad.”

You just couldn’t floor the Friar in a case like this. He knew ’at the
politeness an’ the good-heartedness in Tank’s request was divided off
about the same as the band an’ the hat; and that all we wanted was to
ease off the Friar’s mind an’ let him feel contented; so he heaved a
sigh and shook his head at Tank.

When a blacksmith goes out into company, folks don’t pester him with
questions as to why tempered steel wasn’t stored up in handy caves,
instead of havin’ nothin’ but rough ore hid away in the cellar of a
mountain; and a carpenter is not held responsible because a sharp saw
cuts better ’n a dull one; but it seems about next to impossible for a
human bein’ to pass up a parson without insultin’ him a little about
the ways o’ Providence, and askin’ him a lot o’ questions which would
moult feathers out o’ the ruggedest angel in the bunch.

We could all see ’at the Friar had been havin’ a rough day of it; so
Tank began by askin’ him questions simply to toll him away from
himself; but soon he was shootin’ questions into the Friar as rough
shod as though they was both strangers to each other.

“You say it was sheep-herders what saw the angels that night the Lord
was born,” sez Tank. “How come the’ wasn’t any cow-punchers saw ’em?”
Tank had about the deep-rootedest prejudice again’ sheep-herders I
ever saw.

“The’ wasn’t any cow-punchers in that land,” sez the Friar. “It was a
hilly land an’—”

“Well I’d like to know,” broke in ol’ Tank, “why the Lord picked out
such a place as that, when he had the whole world to choose from.”

O’ course the Friar tried his best to smooth this out; but by the time
he was through, Tank had got tangled up with another perdicament.
“Then, there was ol’ Faro’s dream,” he said, “the one about the seven
lean cows eatin’ the seven fat ones. I’ve punched cows all my life,
and I saw ’em so thin once, when the snow got crusted an’ the chinook
got switched off for a month, that the spikes on their backbones
punched holes through their hides; but they’d as soon thought o’
flyin’ up an’ grazin’ on clouds, as to turn in an’ eat one another.”

By the time the Friar had got through explainin’ the difference
between dreams and written history, Tank was ready with another query.
“I heard tell once ’at the Bible sez, ‘If thy eye offends thee, pluck
it out.’ Does the Bible say this?”

“Well, it does,” admitted the Friar; “but you see—”

“Well, my free eye offends me,” broke in Tank. “It never did offend me
until Spike Groogan tried to pluck it out, and it don’t offend me now
as much as it does other folks. Still, I got to own up ’at the blame
thing does offend me whenever I meet up with strangers, ’cause it
allus runs wilder in front of a stranger ’n at airy other time. Now,
what I want to know is, why an’ when an’ how must I pluck out that
eye—specially, when it sez in another place that if a man’s eye is
single his whole body is full o’ light. My eye is single enough to
suit any one. Fact is, it’s so blame single that some folks call it
singular; but the’ ain’t no more light in my body ’n there is in airy
other man’s.”

You couldn’t work off any spiritual interpretation stuff on Tank. He
thought an allegory was the varmint which lives in the Florida swamps.
Well, as far as that goes, I did, too, until the Friar pointed out
that it was merely a falsehood used to explain the truth; but Tank, he
didn’t join in with any new-fangled notions, an’ a feller had to talk
to him as straight out as though talkin’ to a hoss. The’ was lots of
times I didn’t envy the Friar his job.

But after he had satisfied Tank that it wasn’t required of him to
discard either of his lamps, especially the free one, he drifted off
into tellin’ us how he had spent the day—and then I envied him a
little, for he certainly did have the gift o’ wranglin’ words.

He told about havin’ rode up the mountain as far as he could go, and
then climbin’ as far as he could on foot. He showed how hard it was to
tell either a man or a mountain by the lines in their faces, and he
went on with this till he made a mountain almost human. Then he
switched around and showed how much a mountain was like life, ambition
bein’ like pickin’ out the mountain, the easy little foothills bein’
the start, the summit allus hid while a feller was climbin’, and each
little plateau urgin’ him to give up there and rest. He compared life
and a mountain, until it seemed that all a feller needed for a full
edication, was just to have a mountain handy. Then he wound up by
sayin’ that he hadn’t been able to reach the peak. He had sat in a
sheltered nook for a time, gazin’ up at the face of a cliff with an
overhangin’ bank o’ snow on top, the wind swirlin’ masses o’ snow down
about him, and everything tryin’ to point out that he had been a
failure, and might as well give up in disgust. He stopped here, and we
were all silent, for, as was usual with him, he had led us along to
where we could see life through his eyes for a space.

“After a time,” sez the Friar as soon as he saw we were in the right
mood, “I caught my breath again and followed the narrow ledge I was on
around to where I could see the highest peak stand out clear and
solitary; and from my side of it, it wasn’t possible for any man to
reach it. There was no wind here, the air was as sweet and pure as at
the dawn o’ creation, and everywhere I looked I met glory heaped on
glory. A gray cloud rested again’ the far side o’ the peak, and back
o’ this was the sun. Ah, there was a silver and a golden linin’ both
to this cloud; and all of a sudden I was comforted.

“I had done all I could do, and this was my highest peak. Whatever was
the highest peak for others, this was the highest peak for me; and
there was no more bitterness or envy or doubt or fear in my heart. I
stood for a long time lookin’ up at the gray cloud with its dazzling
edges, and some very beautiful lines crept into my memory—‘The paths
which are trod, by only the evenin’ and mornin’, and the feet of the
angels of God.’”

The Friar had let himself out a little at the end, and his eyes were
shinin’ when he finished. “I guess I have given you a sermon, after
all, boys,” he said, “and I hope you can use it to as good advantage
as I did when it came to me up on the mountain. We all have thoughts
we can’t put into words, and so I’ve failed to give you all ’at was
given me; but it’s some comfort to know that, be they big or be they
little, we don’t have to climb any mountains but our own, and whether
we reach the top or whether we come to a blind wall first, the main
thing is to climb with all our might and with a certain faith that
those who have earned rest shall find it, after the sun has set.”

This was one of the days when the magic of the Friar’s voice did
strange things to a feller’s insides. We knew ’at he was talkin’ in
parables, an’ talkin’ mostly to himself; but each one of us knew our
own little mountains, an’ it was darn comfortin’ to understand that
the Friar could have as tough a time on his as we had on ours.

We all sat silent, each feller thinkin’ over his own problems; and
after a time, the Friar sang the one beginnin’, “O little town of
Bethlehem!” It was dark by this time, but the firelight fell on his
face, an’ made it so soft-like an’ tender that ol’ Tank Williams
sniffled audible once, an’ when the song was finished he piled a lot
more wood on the fire, an’ pertended ’at he was catchin’ cold. When
Kit called us in to supper, we all sat still for a full minute, before
we could get back to our appetites again.



The bullet which had gone through Badger-face hadn’t touched a single
bone. It had gone through his left lung purty high up, but somethin’
like the pneumonie set in, an’ he was a sorry lookin’ sight when the
fever started to die out after havin’ hung on for two weeks. He had
been drinkin’ consid’able beforehand, which made it bad for him, an’
the Friar said it was all a question of reserve. If Badger-face had
enough of his constitution left to tide him over, he stood a good
chance; but otherwise it was his turn.

He didn’t have much blood left in him at the end of two weeks on air
and water, and he didn’t have enough fat to pillow his bones on. We
all thought ’at he ought to have something in the way o’ feed; but the
Friar wouldn’t stand for one single thing except water. He said ’at
food had killed a heap more wounded men ’n bullets ever had; so we let
him engineer it through in his own way.

When the fever started to leave, he got so weak ’at Horace thought he
was goin’ to flicker out, an’ he felt purty bad about it. He didn’t
regret havin’ done it, an’ said he would do just the same if he had it
to do over; but it calls up some mighty serious thoughts when a fellow
reflects that he is the one who has pushed another off into the dark.
On the night when it seemed certain that Badger-face would lose his
grip, we all went into his room an’ sat around waitin’ for the end, to
sort o’ cheer him up a little. Life itself is a strange enough
adventure, but death has it beat a mile.

Along about nine o’clock, Badger said in a low, trembly voice: “What’d
you fellers do to me, if I got well?”

He didn’t even open his eyes; so we didn’t pay any heed to him. When
he first got out of his head, he had rambled consid’able. Part o’ the
time he seemed to be excusin’ himself for what he had done, an’ part
o’ the time he seemed to be gloatin’ over his devilment; but the’
wasn’t any thread to his discourse so we didn’t set much store by it.
After waitin’ a few minutes, he quavered out his question again, an’
the Friar told him not to worry about anything, but just to set his
mind on gettin’ well.

Badger shook his head feebly from side to side an’ mumbled, “That
don’t go, that don’t go with me.” He paused here for a rest, an’ then
went on. “I’ve been in my right mind all day, an’ I’ve been thinkin’ a
lot, an’ tryin’ some experiments. I can breathe in a certain way which
makes me easier an’ stronger, an’ I can breathe in another way which
shuts off my heart. I don’t intend to get well merely for the pleasure
o’ gettin’ lynched; so if that’s your game, I intend to shut off my
heart an’ quit before I get back the flavor o’ life. It don’t make
two-bits difference with me either way. What d’ ya intend to do?”

He had been a long time sayin’ this, an’ we had exchanged glances
purty promiscuous. We hadn’t give a thought as to what we would do
with him, providin’ he responded to our efforts to save his life; but
it was purty generally understood that Badger had fitted himself to be
strung up, just the same as if he hadn’t been shot at all. Now,
though, when we came to consider it, this hardly seemed a square deal.
There wasn’t much common sense in chokin’ a man’s life down his throat
for two weeks, only to jerk it out again at the end of a rope, an’ we
found ourselves in somethin’ of a complication.

“What do ya think we ort to do to ya?” asked Tank.

“Lynch me,” sez Badger, without openin’ his eyes; “but I don’t intend
to wait for it. I don’t blame ya none, fellers. I did ya all the dirt
I could; but I don’t intend to furnish ya with no circus
performance—I’m goin’ on.”

He began to breathe different, an’ his face began to get purplish an’
ghastly. “Can he kill himself that way?” I asked the Friar.

“I don’t know,” sez the Friar. “I think ’at when he loses
consciousness, nature’ll take holt, an’ make him breathe the most
comfortable way—but I don’t know.”

“Let Olaf take a look at his flame,” sez Horace; so Olaf looked at
Badger a long time.

Olaf hadn’t wasted much of his time on Badger. He wasn’t long on
forgiveness, Olaf wasn’t; an’ ever since the time ’at Badger had been
so enthusiastic in tryin’ to have him lynched for killin’ Bud Fisher,
Olaf had give it out as his opinion that Badger was doomed for hell,
an’ he wasn’t disposed to take any hand in postponin’ his departure.
Olaf was the matter-o’-factest feller I ever knew. The’ don’t seem to
be much harm in most of our cussin’, but when Olaf indulged in
profanity, he was solemn an’ earnest, the same as if he was sayin’ a
prayer backwards.

“It don’t look like Badger’s flame,” sez he after a time. “It’s
gettin’ mighty weak an’ blue, an’ the’s a thick spot over his heart
which shows plainer ’n the one over his wound.”

“I move we give him a fresh start,” sez Horace.

“He’d ort to be lynched,” sez Tank. “I don’t see why we can’t try him
out now, an’ if we find him guilty, why he can kill himself if he
wants to, or else get well again an’ we’ll do it for him.”

Neither what Horace said nor what Tank said called out much response.
We knew the’ wasn’t any one could say a good word for Badger-face an’
so he well deserved his stretchin’; but on the other hand, there he
was turnin’ gray before our eyes, an’ it went again’ our nature to
discard him, after havin’ hung on to him for two weeks. The Friar left
the side of the bed an’ retired into a corner, leavin’ us free to
express ourselves.

“I don’t see how we can let him go free,” sez Tank. “He sez himself
’at he ort to be lynched; an’ when a feller can’t speak a good word
for himself, I don’t see who can.”

“Badger-face,” sez Horace, “you’re the darnedest bother of a man I
ever saw. First you infest us until we have to shoot a hole through
you, an’ then we have to nurse you for two weeks, an’ now you’re
diggin’ your heels into our consciences. I give you my word we won’t
lynch you if you get well. We’ll turn you over to the law.”

Badger’s thin lips fell back over his yellow teeth in the ghastliest
grin a live man ever hung out. “The law,” sez he with bitter sarcasm,
“the law! Have you ever been in a penitentiary?”

“No,” sez Horace, “I have not.”

“Well, I have,” sez Badger. “I was put in for another feller’s deed;
an’ they gave me the solitary, the jacket, the bull-rings, the
water-cure, and if you’ll roll me over after I’m dead, you can still
see the scars of the whip on my back. I’ve tried the law, an’ I’ll see
you all damned before I try it again.”

Badger-face was as game as they generally get. As soon as he stopped
talkin’ he began to breathe against his heart again. Horace stood
lookin’ at him for a full minute, an’ then he lost his temper.

“You’re a coward, that’s what you are!” sez Horace. “I said all along
’at you were a coward, an’ another feller said so too, an’ now you’re
provin’ it. You can sneak an’ kill cows an’ cut saddles in the dark,
but you haven’t the nerve to face things in the open. Now, you’re
sneakin’ off into the darkness o’ death because you’re afraid to face
the light of life.”

This was handin’ it to him purty undiluted, an’ Badger opened his eyes
an’ looked at Horace. His eyes were heavy an’ dull, but they didn’t
waver any. “Dinky,” sez Badger-face, “the only thing I got again’ you
is your size. I’ve been called a lot o’ different things in my time;
but you’re the first gazabo ’at ever called me a coward—an’ you’re
about the only one who has a right to, ’cause you put me out fair an’
square. I wish you had traveled my path alongside o’ me, though. You
ain’t no milksop, but after you’d been given a few o’ the deals I’ve
had, you’d take to the dark too. You can call me a coward if you want
to, or, after I’m gone, you can think of me as just bein’ dog tired
an’ glad o’ the chance to crawl off into the dark to sleep. I don’t
want to be on your conscience; that’s not my game. All I want is just
to get shut o’ the whole blame business.”

He talked broken an’ quavery, an’ it took him a long time to finish;
but when he did quit, he turned on his bad breathin’ again. Horace had
flushed up some when Badger had mentioned milksop; but when he had
finished, Horace took his wasted hand in a hearty grip, an’ sez: “I
take it back, Badger. You ain’t no coward. I only wanted to taunt you
into stickin’ for another round; but I think mighty well o’ ya. Will
you agree to cut loose from the Ty Jones crowd an’ try to be a man, if
we give you your freedom, a new outfit, and enough money to carry you
out of the country?”

It was some time before Badger spoke, an’ then he said: “Nope, I can’t
do it. Ty knows my record, an’ he’s treated me white; but if I quit
him, he’ll get me when I least expect it. Now understand, Dinky, that
I don’t hold a thing again’ you, you’re the squarest feller I’ve ever
met up with; but I’m not comin’ back to life again. From where I am
now, I can see it purty plain, an’ it ain’t worth the trouble.”

“You could write back to Ty that you made your escape from us,” sez

“That’s the best idee you’ve put over,” sez Badger, after he’d thought
it out; “but I haven’t enough taste for life to make the experiment.
Don’t fuss about me any more. I don’t suffer a mite. I feel just like
a feller in the Injun country, goin’ to sleep on post after days in
the saddle. He knows it’ll mean death, but he’s too tired out to care
a white bean.”

“Have you ever been in the army?” asked the Friar from his place in
the corner. We all gave a little start at the sound of his voice, for
it came with a snap an’ unexpected.

Badger’s lips dropped back for another hideous grin. “Yes,” he said,
“I’ve been in both the penitentiary and the army—and they’re a likely

“Did you have a buck-skin bag?” asked the Friar, comin’ up to the bed.

Badger-face tried to raise himself on his elbow, but he couldn’t quite
make it. “Yes, I did,” sez he, droppin’ back again. “What became of

“I am keepin’ it for ya,” sez the Friar. “Do you wish to leave any
word in case you do not recover?”

“No,” sez Badger, “the’ ain’t no one to leave word to. That letter was
from my mother, an’ that was her picture. She’s been dead a long
string o’ years now.”

“There was another picture an’ a newspaper clippin’,” sez the Friar.

Badger-face didn’t give no heed; an’ after a time the Friar sez: “What
shall I do with them?”

“Throw ’em away,” sez Badger-face. “They don’t concern me none. I was
more took with that woman’s picture ’n airy other I ever saw. That was

“Where did you get it?” asked the Friar.

“I got it from a young Dutchy,” sez Badger wearily. “He killed a
feller over at Leadville an’ came out here an’ took on with Ty Jones.
He said she was an opery singer, an’ got drugged at a hotel where he
was workin’.”

Badger-face was gettin’ purty weak by now, an’ he stopped with a sort
of sigh. The Friar took holt of his hand. “I am very much interested
in this woman,” he said, lookin’ into Badger’s face as if tryin’ to
give him life enough to go on with. “Can you tell me anything else
about her?”

“Not much,” sez Badger-face. “She was singin’ at what he called the
Winter Garden at Berlin, Germany. Some Austrian nobility got mashed on
her an’ drugged her at the hotel. Dutchy was mashed on her, too, I
reckon. They had advertised for him in a New York paper, an’ when he
got shot, over at Little Monte’s dance hall, he asked me to write
about it. His mother had died leavin’ property, an’ all they wanted
was to round up the heirs. I reckon they were glad enough to have
Dutchy scratched from the list. I don’t know why I did keep that

“Have you any idee how long ago it was ’at the woman was drugged?”
asked the Friar.

“I haven’t any idee,” sez Badger-face weakly. “Carl was killed four
years ago this Christmas eve; so it had to be before that.”

“Listen to me, Badger-face,” sez the Friar, grippin’ his hand tight.
“I want you to get well. I know that all these men will stand by you
and help you to start a new life.”

“How long is it since I’ve been laid up?” asked Badger.

“Two weeks,” sez the Friar. “This is two days after Christmas.”

“Who tended to me?” asked Badger.

“We all did,” sez the Friar, “and we all stand ready to help you make
a new start.”

“I had a good enough start,” sez Badger; “but I fooled it away, an’
I’m too old now to make a new one.”

“Is there any word you want sent to your friends at Ty Jones’s?” asked
the Friar.

Once more Badger skinned his face into the grin. “Friends?” sez he.
“When you trap a wolf, does he send any word to his friends? I haven’t
got no friends.”

“Swallow this milk,” sez Horace holdin’ some of it out to him in a big
spoon. Kit had made Olaf start to milkin’ a cow, ’cause she wanted to
use milk in cookin’, and intended to make butter when she had the
cream saved up. Badger put the milk in his mouth, an’ then spit it out

“Don’t you put anything else in my mouth,” he sez. “I told you I was
goin’ to die; an’ by blank, I am goin’ to die.”

“Fellers,” sez Horace, turnin’ to us, “do you think this man is goin’
to die?” We all nodded our heads. “Then, will you give his life to me,
to do with as I will?” asked Horace; and we nodded our heads again.

Horace took off his coat, an’ rolled up his sleeves, an’ then he came
over an’ shook Badger-face by the shoulder. “Listen to me,” he sez. “I
fought ya once before, for your life, and I’m goin’ to fight you for
it now. Do you hear what I say—I’m goin’ to fight you for your own
life. I’m goin’ to make you swallow milk, if I have to tie you an’
pour it in through a funnel. You can’t hold your breath an’ fight, an’
I’m goin’ to fight you.”

Badger-face opened his eyes an’ looked up into Horace’s face. He
looked a long time, an’ the ghost of a smile crept into his face.
“Well, you’re the doggonedest little cuss I ever saw!” he exclaimed.
He waited a long time, an’ then set his teeth. “You beat me once,” he
muttered. “Now, see if you can beat me again.”

It was after midnight; so when Horace dropped the hint that he
wouldn’t need any help except from me an’ the Friar, the rest o’ the
boys dug out for the bunk shack. Then Horace took us over to the
fireplace an’ asked us what was the best thing to do.

“I do believe ’at you have stumbled on the right plan to save him,”
sez the Friar. “He has no fever, the wound is doin’ splendid, and he
has a powerful constitution. The trouble is that he does not will to
live. We must spur on his will, and if we can make him fight back,
this’ll help. Also we must control him as much as possible through
suggestion. Have you any plan o’ your own?”

“No,” sez Horace candidly. Horace didn’t need anything for any
emergency except his own nerve. “I am determined that he must live,
but I have no plan.”

“The first thing is to give him a little warm milk,” sez the Friar.

“All right,” sez Horace. “You tell me what to do—by signs, as much as
possible—but let me give the orders to Badger-face. My size has made
an impression on him, and we can’t afford to lose a single trick.” The
Friar agreed to this an’ we went back to the bunk.

“Badger-face,” sez Horace, “I’d rather give you this milk peaceful;
but I’m goin’ to give it to ya, an’ you can bet what ya like on that.”

Badger opened his eyes again, an’ they were dull an’ glazy. “This
reminds me o’ the water-cure at the pen,” he said, an’ then set his

“Hold his hands, Happy,” sez Horace, as full o’ fight as a snow-plow.
“Hold his head, Friar. Now then, swallow or drown.”

It looked purty inhuman, but Badger had to swallow after a bit, an’
when we had put as much milk into him as we wanted—only a couple o’
spoonfuls—we let him go, an’ he fell asleep, pantin’ a little. We
woke him up in half an hour, an’ put some more milk into him. When he
slept, his breathin’ was more like natural, an’ the fourth time, I
didn’t have to hold his hands; so I went to sleep myself.

Well, Horace won this fight, too. In about four days, Badger-face
began to have an appetite, an’ then it was all off with him. He
couldn’t have died if we’d left him plumb alone; but he hadn’t give up
yet. The Friar kept him down to a mighty infan-tile diet, sayin’ that
a lung shot was a bad one, an’ the pure mountain air was all that had
saved him; but even now fever was likely to come back on him.

It was close to the tenth o’ January when Horace came in from a ride
one evenin’, an’ went in to see Badger-face, still wearin’ his gun.
Quick as a wink, Badger grabbed the gun; but Horace threw himself on
Badger’s arm, an’ yelled for help. The Friar an’ Olaf rushed in from
the lean-to, an’ corraled the gun in short order.

“You blame little bob-cat, you!” sez Badger. “I didn’t intend to use
the gun on you.”

“I know what you intended to do,” sez Horace; “but you don’t win this
deal as easy as all that.”



After this we tied Badger-face in bed an’ kept watch of him. He kept
on gettin’ stronger all the time, an’ a good percent of his meanness
came back with his strength. Sometimes he’d spend hours tauntin’
Horace an’ the Friar; but they didn’t mind it any more ’n if Badger
had been a caged beast. Then one night he concluded to try cussin’. He
started in to devise somethin’ extra fancy in the way o’ high-colored
profanity; but he hadn’t gone very far on this path, before Olaf came
in as black as a thunder cloud.

“Do you want to be whipped with a whip?” he demanded.

“Naw, I don’t want to be whipped with a whip,” sez Badger-face.

“Then you stop swearin’,” sez Olaf. “We been to enough trouble about
you, and I don’t intend to have my wife listen to any more o’ your
swearin’. If you don’t stop it, I whip all your skin off. You say you
want to die—I whip you to death before your very eyes.”

Badger heaved at his ropes a time or two, an’ then he realized his
weakness, sank back on the bed, an’ the tears rolled down his cheeks.
He fair sobbed. “You’re a set o’ cowards,” he yelled, “the whole pack
o’ you! You wouldn’t let me die, and now you threaten to whip me to
death. I dare any one of ya to shoot me—you yellow-hearted cowards!”

“I care not for what you say I am,” said Olaf. “You know if I am a
coward, and you know if I keep my word. I say to you, slow an’
careful, that if you yell swear words again in my house, I whip your
hide off.”

Well, this had a quietin’ influence on Badger’s conversation; but he
fretted himself a good deal as to what we intended to do with him.
Finally one day when he began to look a little more like a live man
than a skeleton, Horace sez to him: “Badger, you said you didn’t have
any friends, an’ it must be true, ’cause not one of your own outfit
has ever been to see you, not even Ty Jones.”

“Ty Jones don’t stay out here through the winter,” sez Badger-face.
“If he’d been here, he’d have squared things up for this, one way or

“Where does he go?” asked Horace.

“I don’t know,” sez Badger-face.

Horace asked Olaf about it, and Olaf said ’at Ty Jones allus pulled
out in December, an’ didn’t come back until March.

Then Horace came in and sat by Badger again. “I’ve got a proposition
to make to you,” sez he, “and you think it over before you answer. I
have plenty o’ money; but I’ve wasted most o’ my life, sittin’ down.
If you are sick of livin’ like a wolf, I’ll pay your expenses and half
again as much as Ty Jones is payin’ you, and all you’ll have to agree
to is to go along as a sort of handy-man for me. I think we can get to
be purty good friends, but that can wait. I intend to ramble around
wherever my notions take me. If you’ll give your word to be as decent
as you can, I’ll give my word to stand by you as far as I’m able. Your
life is forfeit to me, an’ if you’ll do your part, I intend to make
the balance of it worth while to ya. Now, don’t answer me; but think
it over an’ ask all the questions you want to. I’ll answer true what I
do answer; but I won’t answer any ’at I don’t want to.”

If Horace had crept in an’ cut off his two ears, Badger wouldn’t have
been any more surprised. Well, none of us would, as far as that goes;
though why we should let anything ’at Horace chose to do surprise us
by this time is more ’n I know.

He an’ Badger talked it over complete for several days, Horace
agreein’ that he wouldn’t ask Badger to go anywhere the army or the
law was likely to get him an’ not to make him do any stunts ’at would
make him look foolish. He told Horace ’at he had served one enlistment
an’ got a top-notch discharge, an’ had then took on again; but a
drunken officer had him tied on a spare artillery wheel because Badger
had laughed when the officer had fallen off his horse into a mud
puddle. He said they had laid the wheel on the ground and him across
it, the small of his back restin’ on the hub o’ the wheel, an’ his
arms an’ legs spread an’ tied to the rim, an’ had kept him there ten
hours. He said that he had deserted the first chance he got; but he
refused to tell what had happened to the officer afterward.

Finally Badger said he would take up Horace’s proposition; an’ Horace
called Olaf in to see if Badger was speakin’ true. This was the first
Badger had ever heard about Olaf’s eyes seein’ soul-flames; but he
said ’at this explained a lot to him he hadn’t understood before. Olaf
looked at him careful; an’ Badger held up his right hand an’ said that
as long as Horace treated him square, he would be square with Horace,
even to the point of givin’ up his life for him.

“He is speakin’ true,” sez Olaf; and from that very minute,
Badger-face became a different man, an’ Horace took off the ropes.

“You do look some like a badger with that bum beard on,” sez Horace;
“but I don’t like this name, and I want you to pick out a new one.
Pick out some Christian name, your own or any other; but now that you
are startin’ on a new life, it will help to have a new name.”

Badger-face studied over this a long time, but he couldn’t root up any
name to suit him so he told Horace to pick out a name, and he’d agree
to wear it.

“Well,” sez Horace, after he’d give it a good thinkin’ over, “I think
I’ll call you Promotheus.”

Badger looked at him purty skeptical. “I don’t intend to take no
Greaser name,” sez he. “Is that Mexican?”

“No,” sez Horace. “That’s Greek; an’ the original Promotheus was an
all around top-notcher. He was a giant, so you couldn’t complain none
on your size; he rebelled again’ the powers, so you couldn’t call him
a dog-robber; but the thing ’at you two are closest together in, is
your infernal stubbornness. They tried to break Promotheus down by
chainin’ him to a rock while the vultures fed on his liver, but they
couldn’t make him give in. ‘Pity the slaves who take the yoke,’ sez
he; ‘but don’t pity me who still have my own self-respect.’”

Badger-face was so blame weak that his eyes filled up with tears at
this; an’ the only way he could straighten himself up was to put a few
florid curses on his own thumby left-handedness; but Olaf had gone
after some wood, so it didn’t start anything. “I’ll take that name,”
sez he, “an’ I’ll learn how to spell an’ pronounce it as soon as I
can; but you’ve diluted down my blood so confounded thin with your
doggone, sloppy milk diet that I’m a long way from havin’ that
feller’s grit, right at this minute.”

Horace stood over Badger-face, an’ pointed his finger at him, fierce.
“Listen to me,” sez he. “The next time you heave out an insult to
milksops or milk diets, I’ll sing you my entire song—to the very last

We set up a howl; but Badger-face didn’t realize all he was up against
when he took on with Horace, so he only smiled in a sickly way, an’
looked puzzled.

“I’ll tell ya what I’m willin’ to do, Dinky,” said he, as soon as we
stopped our noise; “now that I’ve took a new name, I don’t need to
wear this sort of a beard any more, an’, if ya want me to, I’ll trim
it up the same fool way ’at you wear yours; an’ I’ll wear glasses,
too, if you say the word.”

“We’ll wait first to see how you look in a biled shirt,” sez Horace;
“but in honor of your new name, I’m goin’ to let you have some
deer-meat soup for your dinner, an’ a bone to gnaw on.”

We had a regular feast that day, and called Badger-face Promotheus
every time we could think up an excuse; so as to have practice on the
name. The Friar did his best to take part; but I knew every line in
his face, and it hurt me to see him fightin’ at himself.

After dinner we took a walk together; but we didn’t talk none until we
had climbed the rim, fought the wind for a couple of hours, an’
started back again. It was his plan to think of some big, common chunk
of life when he was in trouble, so as to take his mind as much as
possible off himself; and he started to talk about Horace an’
Promotheus. He even laughed a little at the combination which
Promotheus Flannigan an’ Horace Walpole Bradford would make when they
settled down on the East again.

“The more I think it over,” said the Friar, “the plainer I can see
that most of our sorrow an’ pain and savageness comes from our custom
of punishin’ the crops instead of the farmers. Look at the
possibilities the’ was in Promotheus when he started out. He has a
strong nature, and in spite of his life, he still has a lot o’ decent
humanity in him. Who can tell what he might have been, if his good
qualities had been cultivated instead o’ smothered?”

“That’s true enough,” sez I; “and look at Horace, too. They simply let
him wither up for forty years, and yet all this time he had in him
full as much devilment as Promotheus himself.”

“Oh, we waste, we waste, we waste!” exclaimed the Friar. “Instead o’
usin’ the strength and vigor of our manhood in a noble way, we let
some of it rust and decay, and some of it we use for our own
destruction. The outlaw would have been the hero with the same
opportunity, and who can tell what powers lie hidden behind the mask
of idleness!”

“Well, that’s just it,” sez I. “A human bein’ is like a keg o’ black
stuff. For years it may sit around perfectly harmless; and only when
the right spark pops into it can we tell whether it’s black sand or
blastin’ powder. Even Horace, himself, thought he was black sand; but
he turned out to be a mighty high grade o’ powder.”

We walked on a while without talkin’; but the Friar was wrastlin’ with
his own thoughts, an’ finally he stopped an’ asked me as solemn as
though I was the boss o’ that whole country: “If you had started a lot
o’ work, and part of it promised to yield a rich harvest with the
right care, and part of it looked as though it might sink back to
worse than it had been in the beginnin’—is there anything in the
world which could make you give it up?”

The Friar knew my life as well as I did; so I didn’t have to do any
pertendin’ with him. “Yes,” I sez, “the right woman would.”

The Friar didn’t do any pertendin’ with me either. He stood, shakin’
his head slowly from side to side. “I wish I knew, I wish I knew,” he

We walked on again, an’ when we came in sight o’ the cabin, I sez to
him, in order to give him a chance to free his mind if he saw fit:
“Horace told me what he knew about it.”

“Yes, I know,” sez the Friar; “but no one knew very much. She was a
splendid brave girl, Happy. I had known her when she was a little girl
and I a farmer boy. I was much older than she was, but I was allus
interested in her. There wasn’t one thing they could say against
her—and yet they drove her out o’ my life. I thought she was dead, I
heard that she was dead; so I buried her in my heart, and came out
here where life was strong and young, because I could not work back
there. I tried to work in the slums of the cities; but I could not
conquer my own bitterness, with the rich wastin’ and the poor starvin’
all about me. I have found joy in my life out here; but she has come
to life again with that picture, and once more I am at war with

“Well, I’ll bet my eyes, Friar,” sez I, “that you find the right
answer; but I haven’t got nerve enough to advise ya—though I will say
that if it was me, I’d pike out an’ look for the girl.”

“I wish I knew, I wish I knew,” was all the Friar said.

Promotheus didn’t have any set-backs after this. We talked over
whether it would be better to have him go up to Ty’s an’ tell the boys
some big tale about Dinky Bradford, or to just pull out an’ leave ’em
guessin’; and we finally came to the conclusion ’at the last would be
the best.

He was still purty weak by the first o’ February; but he was beginnin’
to fret at bein’ housed up any longer, so we began to get ready to hit
the back-trail. By takin’ wide circles we could get through all right,
at this season; but with Promotheus still purty wobbly, it wasn’t
likely to be a pleasant trip, an’ we didn’t hurry none with our
preparations. Horace insisted on payin’ Olaf two hundred dollars for
his share o’ the bother, an’ I’m purty certain he slipped Kit another
hundred. He wasn’t no wise scrimpy with money.

We started on the tenth of February, Promotheus ridin’ a quiet old
hoss, an’ still lookin’ purty much like a bitter recollection. They
were consid’able surprised when we arrived at the Diamond Dot; but we
only told ’em as much of our huntin’ as we felt was necessary.

Horace intended to start for the East at once; but next day when he
put on his dude clothes again, Promotheus purty nigh bucked on him.
Most of Horace’s raiment was summer stuff, nachely; but he had a long
checked coat ’at he wore with a double ended cap, which certainly did
look comical. He had cut some fat off his middle, an’ had pushed out
his chest an’ shoulders consid’able; so that his stuff wrinkled on
him; and it took a full hour to harden Promotheus to the change.

“Do I have to look like that?” sez he.

“You conceited ape you!” sez Horace. “You couldn’t look like this if
you went to a beauty doctor for the rest o’ time; but as soon as we
get where they sell clothes for humans, I’m goin’ to provide you with
somethin’ in the nature of a disguise.”

Disguise sounded mighty soothin’ to Promotheus, so he gritted his
teeth, an’ said he wouldn’t go back on his word. The fact was, that it
did give ya an awful shock to see Horace as he formerly was. We had
got so used to seein’ him gettin’ about, able an’ free, that it almost
seemed like a funeral to have him drop down to those clothes again.

The Friar went over to the station with us, and he an’ Horace had a
confidential talk; and then Horace and Promotheus got on the train and
scampered off East.

“I’m goin’ to stick right here, Happy,” sez the Friar. “I have let my
work get way behind, in tendin’ to Promotheus; but from now on I’m
goin’ to tie into it again. I’d like to do something to put the cattle
men and the sheep men on better terms; but this seems like a hard

“Yes,” sez I, “that ain’t no job for a preacher, and I’d advise you to
let it alone. The cattle men will put up the same sort of an argument
for their range ’at the Injuns did; but between you and me, I doubt if
they stand much more show in the long run.”

“I can’t see why there isn’t room for both,” sez the Friar. “It seems
to me that the cattle men are too harsh.”

“Nope,” sez I, “there ain’t room for ’em both, an’ the’s somethin’
irritatin’ about sheep that makes ya want to be harsh with all who
have dealin’s with ’em. Hosses can starve out cattle an’ sheep can
starve out hosses; but after a sheep has grazed over a place, nothin’
bigger ’n an ant can find any forage left. Cattle are wild an’
tempestus, an’ they bellow an’ tear around an’ fight, and the men who
tend ’em are a good bit like ’em; while sheep just meekly take
whatever you’ve a mind to give ’em; but they hang on, just the same,
an’ multiply a heap faster ’n cattle do. A sheep man is meek—like a
Jew. If a Jew gets what he wants he’s satisfied, an’ he’s willin’ to
pertend ’at he’s had the worst o’ the deal; but a cattle man is never
satisfied unless he has grabbed what he wanted away from some one
else, an’ then shot him up a little for kickin’ about it. It’ll
probably be fifty or a hundred years yet, before the sheep men are
strong enough to worry the cattle men; but they’ll sure do it some
day.” That’s what I told the Friar that time at the station, an’ I
guessed the outcome close enough, though I didn’t make much of a hit
as to the time it was goin’ to take.

Well, the Friar, he rode away east to Laramie, and I went north to the
Diamond Dot, and got things ready for the summer work.



Late the next summer, I got a fine long letter from Horace—and blame
if he didn’t succeed in surprisin’ me again. He wrote this letter from
Africa, which is about the foreignest parts this world is able to
exhibit, I reckon. He told about the East not findin’ favor with
Promotheus, though he had done all he could for him, startin’ out with
high society and endin’ up by takin’ him down one night to a sailor’s
saloon and lettin’ him mix into a general fight; but that Promotheus
just simply couldn’t stand the tameness, and so they had gone to
Africa to hunt big game, and give the folks out our way a chance to
forget there ever had been such a cuss as Badger-face.

He sent along some photographs, too, and they was as novel as a blue
moon—Horace, Promotheus, and a lot o’ naked niggers totin’ packs on
their heads. Horace was the funniest lookin’ mortal a body ever saw;
but Promotheus had him beat a mile. They both wore bowls on their
heads an’ colored glasses; but Promotheus with side-burns was sure
enough to frighten a snake into convulsions! His gnawin’ teeth stuck
out through a self-satisfied grin; and I was willin’ to bet that as
soon as the heathen saw him, they’d give up bowin’ down to wood an’

The next time I saw Friar Tuck, he told me about receivin’ a letter
from Horace who had gone to Berlin on his way to Africa, but hadn’t
been able to learn anything satisfactory. The singer had been the big
card at their concerts, an’ there had been some talk about her gettin’
drugged by an Austrian who belonged to the em-bassy; but she had
disappeared complete, an’ nobody could be found who seemed to know
anything about it. The Friar kept himself goin’ like a steam-engine
these days; but while he became a little more tender if possible, he
lacked something of his old-time spirits. Before this, he used to come
sweepin’ along like a big cool breeze, an’ a feller’s spirits just got
up an’ whirled along with him, like dry leaves dancin’ in the wind.

He said ’at since Promotheus had slipped out o’ the country, the
Cross-branders hadn’t bothered Olaf any; but I called his attention to
the fact that this was a wet spring, an’ told him ’at when we had a
long dry spell, Ty Jones would just swallow Olaf like quicksand.

Things drifted along purty steady in our parts for several years. Once
in a while, the Friar would tell me something about Olaf or something
about Ty Jones; but for the most part, I was too much took up with
other things to care much for even the Friar’s doin’s.

I was takin’ my own Moses-trip durin’ these years; and I say now, as I
allus have said, that it wasn’t a square shake to show Moses the
promised land, an’ then not let him into it for even one meal o’ milk
an’ honey. I’ve handled a small bunch o’ men an’ trailed cattle with
’em for only three months at a stretch; but I don’t mind tellin’ you
that the’ was times when I had to sit up till after midnight, sewin’
up the rips in my patience—an’ we didn’t have any women an’ children
along either. Moses had forty years of it in the desert; with a whole
blame tribe of Israelites; and yet, instead o’ praisin’ him for
hangin’ on to his sanity with all the odds again’ him, he was handed a
tantalizer, simply because he said he couldn’t see why somethin’
didn’t happen in a natural, orderly way, once in a while, without
everlastingly ringin’ in some new kind of a miracle on him.

If I had to pilot a mob like that through a desert for forty years,
follerin’ a cloud by day an’ a pillar o’ fire by night, havin’ dressed
quail an’ breakfast-food tossed to me out o’ the sky, gettin’ my
drinkin’ water by knockin’ it out of a rock, an’ tryin’ to satisfy the
tourists that it wasn’t altogether my fault that we traveled so
everlastin’ slow—I’d ’a’ been mad enough to bite all the enamel off
my teeth, and yet as far as I could see, Moses didn’t do a single
thing but show out a little peevish once in a while.

Still, we didn’t choose our natures nor the kind o’ life to range ’em
over nor the sorts o’ temptations we’d prefer to wrastle with; an’
even our own experiences are more ’n we can understand—to say nothin’
o’ settin’ back an’ decidin’ upon the deeds of others. My own test
wasn’t the one I’d ’a’ chosen; and yet, for all I know, it may ’a’
been the very best one, for me.

Little Barbie had finally grown up through childhood to the gates o’
womanhood—and as generally happens, she had found a man waitin’ for
her there. Through all the years of her growin’, she had been sendin’
out tendrils which reached over an’ wound about my heart, and grew
into it an’ through it, and became part of it. If it hadn’t ’a’ been
for Friar Tuck, I might ’a’ married her, myself; for I could have done
it, if all the men I’d had to fight had been other men—but the man I
couldn’t overcome, was myself.

Through all the years I had known Friar Tuck an’ rode with him an’
worked with him an’ slept out under the stars with him, he had been
quietly trainin’ me for the time when it would be my call to take my
own love by the throat, for the sake of the woman I loved. It don’t
weaken a man to do this; but it tears him—My God, how it does tear

I, my own self, brought back the man she loved to her, and gave her
into his arms; and I’ve never regretted it for one single minute; but
I doubt if I’ve ever forgot it for much longer ’n this either.

I did what it seemed to me I had to do—an’ the Friar thinks I did
right, which counts a whole lot more with me ’n what others think. I
went through my desert, I climbed my hill, for just one moment I saw
into my promised land—and then I was jerked back, and not even given
promotion into the next world, which Moses drew as his consolation
prize. And yet, takin’ it all around, I can see where life has been
mighty kind and generous to me after all, and I’m not kickin’ for a

The great break in my life came in the fall, and it left ol’ Cast
Steel a more changed man ’n it did me. I wanted to swing out wide—to
ride and ride and ride until I forgot who I was and what had happened;
but the ol’ man worked on my pity, an’ I agreed to stay on with him a
spell. Durin’ the three years precedin’, I had got into the handlin’
of the ranch, more ’n he had, himself; so I spent the winter makin’ my
plans, an’ goin’ over ’em with him. He came out toward spring and was
more like himself; but when the first flowers blossomed on the
benches, they seemed to be drawin’ their life blood out o’ my very
heart. All day long I had a burnin’ in my eyes, everywhere I went I
missed somethin’, until the empty hole in my breast seemed likely to
drive me frantic; an’ one day I pertended to be mad about some little
thing, an’ threw up my job for good and all.

The ol’ man was as decent as they ever get. He knew how I had been
hit, an’ he didn’t try any foolishness. He gave me what money I
wanted, told me to go and have it out with myself, an’ come back to
him as soon as I could. I rode away without havin’ any aim or end in
view, just rode an’ rode an’ rode with memories crowdin’ about me so
thick, I couldn’t see the trail I was goin’.

Then one night I drew up along side o’ Friar Tuck’s fire, saw the
steady light of his courage blazin’ out through his own sadness, the
same as it had done all those years; an’ I flopped myself off my hoss,
threw myself flat on the grass, an’ only God and the Friar know how
many hours I lay there with his hand restin’ light on my shoulder, the
little fire hummin’ curious, soothin’ words o’ comfort, and up above,
the same ol’ stars shinin’ down clear and unchangin’ to point out,
that no matter how the storms rage about the surface o’ the earth,
it’s allus calm and right, if a feller only gets high enough.



I hadn’t done much eatin’ or sleepin’ on that trip, an’ I was plumb
beat out; so after I fell asleep, the Friar put a soogan over me and
left me by the fire. He awakened me next mornin’, gettin’ breakfast,
and it didn’t take him very long to talk me into joinin’ on to him for
company. I had been avoidin’ humans, for fear I might be tempted to
start trouble and find the easy way out of it all; but his plan was
just the opposite—to dive so deep into humanity that I could catch a
glimpse o’ the scheme o’ things.

The Friar held that we all had crosses comin’ to us any way. If we
picked ’em up an’ put ’em on our own shoulders, we’d still be free,
an’ the totin’ of our crosses would make us stronger; while if we
tried to run away, we’d be roped an’ thrown, an’ the crosses chained
on us. I’d a heap sooner be free than a slave; so I decided to carry
mine, head up, an’ get right with myself as soon as possible.

The Friar didn’t work off any solemn stuff on me, nor he didn’t try to
be funny; he just turned himself into a sun-glass, an’ focused enough
sunshine on to me to warm me up without any risk of blisterin’. I got
to know him even better those days than I had before. His hair was
gettin’ a bit frosty at the temples; but aside from this, he hadn’t
aged none since the first day I had seen him. He was like some big
tree growin’ all by itself. Every year it seems a little ruggeder,
every year it seems to offer a little roomier shade; but the wind and
the rain and the hot sun don’t seem to make it grow old. They only
seem to make it take a deeper root, and throw out a wider spread o’

He told me o’ some o’ the scraps between the cattle men an’ the sheep
men—the Diamond Dot was out o’ the way of sheep at that time. Then I
began to take a little more interest in things, an’ after takin’ note
for a day or so, I prophesied a dry summer; and this brought us around
to Olaf.

The Friar warmed up at mention of him. He said ’at he had never seen a
match turn out better ’n Olaf’s. He said Kit had just what Olaf
lacked, an’ Olaf had just what Kit lacked, an’ their boy was just
about the finest kid he knew of anywhere. We decided to head up their
way an’ pay a visit.

As we rode along we took notice of the way things were changin’. We
passed several sheep wagons, five or six irrigation ditches, an’ here
and there, we found men who put more faith in alfalfa ’n they did in
stock. The Friar had been well to the north when I happened upon him,
and we traveled a sight o’ country before we reached our destination.
Everywhere folks knew him, an’ he knew them; and when I saw their
faces light up at sight of him, I had to admit that he had done the
right thing in stickin’.

Mostly he sang the “Art thou weary,” one for his marchin’ song, now;
and it got into my blood and did a lot to healthen me up again. I
can’t rightly say ’at I ever got religion; but more ’n once religion
has got me an’ lifted me up like the Crazy Water in flood, bearin’ me
on over rocks an’ through whirlpools, an’ showin’ me what a weak,
useless thing I was at the best. The’s somethin’ inside me ’at allus
responded to the Friar’s music, an’ made me willin’ to sweep on over
the edge o’ the world with him; but when he tried to reason out
religion to me, I have to own up ’at the’ was a lot of it I couldn’t
see into.

We passed Skelty’s old place on our way in, an’ found a red-eyed,
black-headed man runnin’ it. His name was Maxwell, but they still
called the place Skelty’s. We went in an’ had dinner, an’ found five
or six Cross-branders there. They were doin’ plenty o’ drinkin’ an’
crackin’ idiotic jokes with the girls; but they nodded friendly enough
to us, an’ we nodded back.

As soon as we finished, the Friar went outside for his smoke; but I
leaned back right where I was for mine. One o’ the Cross-branders, a
tall, gaunt, squinty cuss by the name o’ Dixon, was sittin’ near me,
and presently he turned an’ sez: “You’re Happy Hawkins, ain’t ya?”

“That’s me,” sez I.

“Well, on the level,” sez he, “what became o’ Badger-face?”

“I’ve often wondered about that myself,” sez I.

“We supposed he got killed,” sez he; “but two fellers claimed they saw
him goin’ south in the spring with your huntin’ party.”

“What made ya think he got killed?” sez I.

“’Cause he started over here one night, and never showed up again,”
sez he.

“I don’t know what become of him,” sez I. “Dinky Bradford said he was
goin’ to take him to Africa; but whether he did or not I can’t say. I
never felt no call to pry into Dinky’s business. Looks to me as though
we were goin’ to have an extra dry summer.”

“I say so too,” sez Dixon. “Who was this Dinky Bradford?”

“That’s bothered me a heap,” sez I. “He claimed to be a Greek hero,
though what sort o’ business that is, I can’t say. Finished your
round-up yet?”

“Just got through. Where is this Greek hero these days?” sez he.

“Can’t prove it by me,” sez I. “He’s one o’ these fellers no one seems
to know anything about. I saw him go without eatin’ for four days
once, an’ he came out of it in better shape ’n he went in. Badger-face
was your foreman, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” sez he. “Ol’ Pepper Kendal is foreman now.”

“I should think a foreman would have some load on his shoulders with
the boss gone all winter,” sez I.

“The boss brought a woman back with him this time,” sez Dixon.

“What!” sez I. “You don’t mean ta tell me ’at Ty Jones has got him a
woman after all these years?”

“That’s what,” sez Dixon. “Somethin’ queer about her, too. Ty has had
a new shack built for her up back o’ the old house. They don’t seem
overly friendly for a bride an’ groom.”

“Ain’t nothin’ overly friendly with Ty, is the’?” sez I.

“Oh, I dunno,” sez he. “Ty ain’t as sticky as taffy, but he’s a mighty
good man to work for.”

“What sort of a woman did he get?” sez I.

“She don’t show herself much,” sez he. “She’s tall an’ shapely, an’
right smart younger ’n Ty; but she spends most of her time in the new
shack; and from all we can tell, she’s froze up tighter ’n Ty is.”

“Well, I guess we’ll have to jog on. Good luck,” sez I, and me an’ the
Friar rode on. He was as much beat out over Ty Jones gettin’ a woman
as I was; but first thing he thought of was, ’at this might have a
softenin’ effect on Ty, an’ give him an openin’.

We reached Olaf’s in time for supper, and found Kit bustlin’ about as
happy as a little brown hen. The Friar hadn’t sprung it none about the
kid. He was a solid little chunk with a couple o’ dimples and all the
signs o’ health. I looked careful into his eyes. They were full o’
devilment, an’ he scowled his brows down over ’em when I held him; but
they were brown like Kit’s.

“Oh, he’s too dirty to touch,” sez Kit, beamin’ all over with pride.
“I just can’t keep him clean, try as I will.”

“Be careful, Happy, and don’t soil your hands on that baby!” yells the
Friar as though in a panic. “Let me have him. I was dirty once,

It was plain to see ’at the kid an’ the Friar were old cronies; and it
was a pleasant sight to see ’em together. The Friar got down on the
floor with him an’ played bear an’ horse an’ the kid entered into it
an’ fair howled with merriment. Kit scolded ’em both an’ took so much
interest in their antics she hardly knew what she was doin’ to the
supper things.

Before long Olaf came in. He still took up all the space not otherwise
occupied; but he had an altogether-satisfied expression which made ya
forget how everlastin’ ugly he really was. He took us out an’ showed
us the garden, an’ the new wire fencin’ an’ the baby’s swing, an’ all
the rest of his treasures. Olaf didn’t want any more changes to take
place in the world. If his vote could have made it, things would just
continue as they were until the earth wore out. It made me feel a
little lonely for a moment; but I entered in as hearty as I could.

Durin’ supper I sez to Kit: “Well, Ty Jones has a woman, now; and if
it improves him as much as it has Olaf, he may blossom out into a good
neighbor to you yet.”

“Ty Jones got a woman!” exclaimed Kit. “Well, I’d just like to lay my
eyes on the woman ’at would take Ty Jones.”

“Oh, all women ain’t so set on havin’ a handsome man as you were,” sez

“Well, I wouldn’t have any other kind,” sez Kit, an’ she gave her head
a toss while Olaf grinned like a full moon.

They were both purty well beat out to think o’ Ty Jones havin’ a
woman, an’ we all talked it over durin’ the rest o’ the meal. After
supper, Olaf took the kid on his lap and sat by the fire tellin’ us
his plans, while Kit cleared up the dishes an’ stuck in a word of her
own now and again. It was plain to see ’at she did full as much o’ the
plannin’ as he did, an’ this was probably what made her so satisfied.
The kid regarded Olaf’s mustache as some sort of an exercisin’
machine, an’ Olaf had to fight him all the time he was talkin’, but he
certainly did set a heap o’ store by that boy.

He told us he had about sixty cows and a fair run o’ two an’ three
year olds with a high average of calves; but that he intended to sell
the whole run to the Double V outfit up on the Rawhide, and get a
small band of sheep. This flattened me out complete; but he had a lot
of arguments on his side. He was also experimentin’ with grain seed
which he had got from Canada, an’ he already had a patch of alfalfa
which was doin’ fine. He was one o’ those fellers who can’t tire
’emselves out, an’ so just keep on workin’ as long as the law allows
’em to use daylight. He had a young Swede workin’ for him, but just at
that time, he was off lookin’ for the work hosses which had voted
’emselves a vacation, an’ had gone up into the hills.

The Friar wanted to go up into the Basin country next day, so we
bedded down purty early. I lay awake a long time thinkin’ over what a
fright Olaf had once been, and how he had straightened out of it.

Next mornin’ we started soon after sun-up. The Friar had a couple o’
women runnin’ a Sunday School at Bosco, and he wanted to see how they
were gettin’ along. They had belonged to his brand of church clear
back in England, and he set a lot of store by ’em; but owned up that
they had their work cut out for ’em at Bosco; it bein’ one o’ the most
ungodly little towns in the whole country.

We nooned on Carter, slipped over Boulder Creek Pass, and reached
Bosco at sun-down. It allus surprised me to see how much travel the
Friar could chalk up, takin’ his weight into account; but he was less
irritatin’ to a hoss ’n airy other man I ever met up with. The more of
a hurry he was in, the more time he took on the bad hills; and he
never robbed a hoss by sleepin’ an hour late in the mornin’, an’
makin’ the hoss even up by travelin’ beyond his gait.

The husband of one o’ these women ran a saloon, the husband of the
other—the women were sisters—was the undertaker and also ran a meat
market. I thought this about the queerest business arrangement I had
ever been confronted against; but the man himself was full as peculiar
as his business.

I have a game I have played with myself all my life. I call it “why,”
an’ I suppose it has furnished me more fun ’n anything else has. I
take any proposition I come across an’ say all the whys about it I can
think up an’ then try to answer ’em. Why did anything ever happen just
as it did happen just when it did happen? This is the joke o’ life to
me. I have played it on myself times without end; but only once in a
while even with myself can I follow the line back to common sense.



Bosco was a regular town with twenty or thirty houses, a post office,
two general stores, three saloons, an’ all such things; and right on a
good stage road runnin’ north an’ south. We stopped with the
meat-market undertaker, ’cause they didn’t think it quite respectable
for the Friar to live off the profits of the liquor traffic; though
the Friar allus said ’at he had a heap more respect for a square
saloon-keeper ’n for a sneaky drygoods merchant.

Shindy Smith was the saloon-keeper, an’ Bill Duff was the undertaker.
Duff was the absent-mindedest man I ever got intimate with, an’ about
drove his wife to distraction, she bein’ one o’ these hustlers who
never make a false move. He had the idee that bein’ an undertaker took
away his license to laugh, so he allus walked on his toes an’
disported as solemn a face as nature would allow; but nature had
intended him for a butcher, an’ had made his face round and jowly.
Whenever he didn’t have anything else to do, he used to sit down an’
practice lookin’ solemn. He’d fix his eyes on the ceilin’, clasp his
hands across his stomach, pull up his eyebrows, droop his mouth, an’
look for all the world like a man dyin’ o’ the colic.

He was so absent-minded that he’d raise his cup to take a drink of
coffee, forget what he had started to do, an’ like as not pour it over
his flapjacks for syrup. He started to engineer a funeral once with
his butcher’s apron on, and they told all sorts of stories about him
which was shockin’ to an extent; though his wife kept such a sharp eye
on him, that I don’t believe more ’n half of ’em. Still it wasn’t any
sort o’ business for an absent-minded man to be in.

It was an uncertain business. Of course all lines o’ trade in a thinly
settled country go by fits an’ starts; but his was worst of all.
Sometimes he’d have as many as three funerals a month, and at others
it would take him six weeks to sell out a beef carcass. A feller who
had a spite again’ him started the story ’at he soaked his meat in
embalmin’ fluid, an’ then if they came an extra special rush in both
lines of his business at the same time, he’d—but then his wife kept
such a skeptical eye on him, ’at I don’t believe a word of these
stories, an’ I’m not goin’ to repeat ’em. The worst I had again’ him
was that he was so everlastin’ careless. I lay awake frettin’ about
his carelessness till I couldn’t stand it a second longer; and then I
rolled up half the beddin’ an’ started to sleep on the side porch.

“Where you goin’?” sez the Friar.

“This here Bill Duff is too absent-minded an’ forgetful for me,” sez

“What do ya mean?” sez the Friar.

“Well,” sez I, “I don’t want to make light o’ sacred things, nor
nothin’ like that; but Bill Duff’s got somethin’ stored up in this
room which should ’a’ been a funeral three weeks ago, and I intend to
sleep outside.”

The Friar chuckled to himself until he shook the whole house; but it
wasn’t no joke to me; so I shunted the beddin’ out on the roof o’ the
porch, which was flat, and prepared to take my rest where the air was
thin enough to flow into my nostrils without scrapin’ the lid off o’
what Horace called his ol’ factory nerve.

As soon as the Friar could recover his breath, he staggered to the
window, an’ sez: “That’s nothin’ but cheese, you blame tenderfoot.
Limburger cheese is the food Bill Duff is fondest of, and he has four
boxes of it stored in this room.”

“Then,” sez I, comin’ in with the beddin’, “I’ll sleep in the bed, an’
the cheese can sleep on the porch; but hanged if I’ll occupy the same
apartment with it.” I set the cheese out on the porch—it was the
ripest cheese in the world, I reckon—and it drew all the dogs in town
before mornin’. After they found it was above their reach, I’m
convinced they put up the best fight I ever listened to.

It took a long time for the memory o’ that cheese to find its way out
the window; and I lay thinkin’ o’ the Friar’s work, long after he had
drifted off himself. He wasn’t squeamish about small things, the Friar
wasn’t, and this was one of his main holts. When we had got ready to
eat that night, Mrs. Duff had tipped Bill a wink to ask the Friar to
say blessin’. Bill was in one of his vacant spells, as usual, so he
looked solemn at the Friar, and sez: “It’s your deal, Parson.” Now, a
lot o’ preachers would ’a’ gone blue an’ sour at that; but the Friar
never blinked a winker.

Then after supper, all the young folks o’ that locality had swooped in
to play with him. This winnin’ o’ young folks was a gift with the
Friar, and it used to warm me up to watch him in the midst of a flock
of ’em. He showed ’em all kinds o’ tricks with matches an’ arithmetic
numbers, an’ taught ’em some new games, and then he put up a joke on
’em. He allus put up one joke on ’em each visit.

This time he puts a glass of water under his hat, looks solemn, and
sez ’at he can drink the water without raisin’ the hat. They all bet
he can’t, and finally he goes into a corner, makes motions with his
throat, and sez he is now ready to prove it. Half a dozen rush forward
and lift the hat, and he drinks the water, and thanks ’em for liftin’
the hat for him so he could drink the water an’ make his word good.

Some folks used to kick again’ him and say he was worldly; but his
methods worked, an’ that’s a good enough test for me. He took out the
shyness an’ the meanness an’ the stupidity, and gave the good parts a
chance to grow; which I take it is no more again’ religion than the
public school is. Why, he even taught ’em card tricks.

He could take a deck of cards and turn it into a complete calendar,
leap year and all; and then he could turn it into a bible, showin’
easy ways to learn things, until a feller really could believe ’at
cards was invented by the early Christians who had to live in caves,
as some claim. All the time he was playin’ with ’em, he was smugglin’
in wise sayin’s with his fun, pointin’ out what made the difference
between deceivin’ for profit, and deceivin’ for a little joke, tellin’
’em how to enjoy life without abusin’ it—Why, he even went so far as
to say that if a feller couldn’t be religious in a brandin’ pen he
couldn’t be religious in a cathedral—which is a two-gun church with
fancy trimmin’s.

By the time he had expanded the young folks and made ’em easy and at
home, the older ones had arrived; and then he held a preachin’. The
whole outfit joined in with the singin’, and when he began to talk to
’em every eye in the room was glistenin’. You see, he knew them and
their life; and they knew him and his. He had nursed ’em through
sickness, he had tended their babies, he had helped to build their
cabins an’ turn ’em into homes; so the words flowed out of his heart
and into theirs without any break between. This was the Friar and this
was his work—but I can’t put it into a story.

The’ was a no-account cuss by the name o’ Jim Stubbs who lived—if ya
could call it livin’—at Boggs; and the Friar induced him to go along
on one of his trips. When Jim came back he was a made-over man, and
every one asked him if he had religion. “Hell, no,” sez Jim, tryin’ to
be independent, “I ain’t got religion; but a feller catches somethin’
from the Friar the same as if he had the measles; and I don’t covet to
be a bum no more.”

This gives ya the best idy of the Friar that I can think of; and I
finally fell asleep there at Bill Duff’s, with my mind made up to bury
my own heartache, keep the grave of it green, but live out my life as
hard as the Friar was livin’ his.

We had intended to projec about in the Basin next day to rustle up
some new trade in the Friar’s line; but my pony turned up lame, so we
held over to get him shod. When the stage pulled in that evenin’, me
an’ the Friar went down to see it. A little feller sat on the seat
with the driver. His hat was covered with dust an’ pulled down over
his eyes, an’ what ya could see of him was the color o’ coffee; but
the moment I lay eyes on his side-burns, I grabbed the Friar’s arm an’
whispered, “Horace!” and by dad, that’s who it was. Promotheus was in
the back seat, an’ he looked for all the world like an enlarged copy,
except that his side-burns were red an’ gray, while Horace’s were
mostly brown. But they were cut exactly the same, startin’ from his
ears, runnin’ across his cheeks an’ lips, an’ then curvin’ down to the
crook of his jaw, close cropped an’ bristly.

Horace an’ Promotheus hit the ground as soon as the stage stopped, an’
me an’ the Friar dropped back out o’ sight inside the hotel. Horace
gave orders about his two boxes an’ started into the hotel. Just as he
came through the door, I stepped out an’ gave him a shove. “You can’t
come in here,” I growled.

He stepped back as fierce as a rattler. “I can’t, huh?” he piped.
“Well, we’ll see if I can’t.”

Then he recognized me, an’ we began to pump hands. He said ’at he and
Promotheus had only reached home three weeks before; but they couldn’t
stand it, an’ so had made a streak for the West. He said they had been
in Africa an’ India, until they had become plumb disgusted with
tropical heat, an’ so had come out the northern route, expectin’ to
outfit at Bosco an’ ride down to the Diamond Dot.

We suppered with ’em an’ next day they bought a string o’ hosses,
packed their stuff on ’em, an’ said they were ready for some
amusement. Horace had got a little snappier in his talk an’ his
movements; but that was about the only change. As soon as we told ’em
about Ty Jones havin’ a woman, that settled it. Horace insisted upon
seein’ the woman, an’ Promotheus echoed anything ’at Horace said,
though his face clouded a bit at the idee of foolin’ around the Cross
brand ranch. The Friar didn’t feel any call to go along with us; but
it was more to my mind just then ’n his line was, so I jumped at the

Horace was also mighty glad to add me to his outfit. He had been used
to havin’ a lot o’ Zulus an’ Hindus waitin’ on him, and hadn’t
adjusted himself to a small outfit yet. He said he had sent a lot o’
hides an’ heads an’ horns and other plunder from London, England, to
the Diamond Dot; but had been too busy to write durin’ the past few
years. He and the Friar had quite a talk together before we left; but
I could tell from their faces ’at Horace didn’t have any news for him.

We had high jinks when we reached Olaf’s; but Horace didn’t make any
hit with the kid. The kid had a jack-in-the-box toy ’at looked
consid’able like Horace, an’ the kid couldn’t square things in his own
mind, to see a big size one, out an’ walkin’ about like a regular
human; but when he also got to studyin’ Promotheus, he was all undone.
Olaf tried to have him make up to Horace, but he wouldn’t stand for
it. He’d sit on Olaf’s knee and look first at his jack-in-the-box,
then at Horace, and wind up with a long look at Promotheus. Promotheus
would try to smile kind an’ invitin’, and then the kid would twist
around and bury his face in Olaf’s vest. Horace nor Promotheus didn’t
mind it any; but as far as that goes, the kid was only actin’ honest
an’ natural, accordin’ to his lights, an’ the jack-in-the-box had as
much of a kick comin’ as anybody.

Ty had been down there just the day after we had left, an’ had wanted
to buy Olaf’s place; but only offered half what it was worth. He had
done this half a dozen times, an’ allus insulted Olaf as much as he
could about it. Olaf had wanted to sell out at first; but Kit had been
able to see ’at they had a homestead fit for any thing, and she had
allus insisted that they get full price or hang on. Now, it was
improved way beyond common, an’ they were both fond of it; so they had
decided to stick it out.

“This is goin’ to be a dry summer,” sez I.

Olaf’s face clouded up but he only shut his lips tighter. We told ’em
we were on our way up to try an’ have a look at Ty Jones’s woman, and
Olaf said he’d go along if he didn’t have to trail his cattle up to
the Raw Hide, this bein’ part o’ the deal he had made. He said it
would take him about ten days probably, an’ wanted us to camp in the
Spread, an’ keep an eye on his stuff. Olaf clipped the first joint off
o’ Promotheus’s name, an’ I was glad of it.

We chucked our stuff into the barn next mornin’ an’ started to stalk
the Cross brand neighborhood. Horace had a small field glass which was
a wonder, and we worked as careful as we could. It was only fifteen
miles across from Olaf’s; but all we were able to do the first day was
to find a little sheltered spot up back o’ the ranch buildin’s where
we could get a good view of ’em through the field glass.

Next day Olaf an’ Oscar started with the bunch o’ cattle, an’ we rode
along part way with ’em to give ’em a good start; but Olaf had handled
his stuff so gentle that it was no trouble, an’ we turned back an’
took up our watch again. We watched for a week without seein’ a thing,
ridin’ in each night to sleep back of Olaf’s shack. Me an’ Theus—I
had seen Olaf’s ante an’ had raised him one—were gettin’ purty weary
o’ this sort o’ work; but Horace was as patient as a spider. Finally
though, we got a little more risky, and leavin’ our hosses up in our
sheltered spot, we follered down a ravine to get nearer to the new

We had caught several glimpses of a woman to prove to us ’at the’ was
one there; but that was about all, an’ so we went down this ravine,
tryin’ to figure out what excuse we’d give if we came across any of Ty
Jones’s men. Neither me nor The—Promotheus had said ’at we couldn’t
be no politer ’n he could, so he had lopped off the last joint, and
now had as neat a workin’ name as any one, although Horace still
insisted on usin’ the whole outfit when he had occasion to address
him. Well, neither me nor The felt just easy in our minds at snoopin’
about Ty’s when we hadn’t any business to, especially The; but Horace
was as selfcomposed as though he was herdin’ lions out o’ tall grass,
which it seems had been his favorite pastime durin’ the last few

The knew the ravine well; he said it ran full o’ water in the spring,
but after that was dry all the year. We got about half-way down it,
an’ then we came to a path ’at was plain enough to see. The stopped
an’ wagged his head. “No one ever used to use this,” sez he.

“Well, some one uses it purty constant, now,” sez I.

“The woman is the one who uses it,” sez Horace. “She’s lonely, that’s
plain enough. The path climbs the opposite bank—let’s cross an’ go

Me an’ The bucked at this for some time; but Horace hung out; so we
went along with him. We finally came to a little glen with a spring in
it, an’ grass, and in a little clump o’ small trees, we came across a
book lyin’ face down on a Navajo blanket.

“That’s gettin’ close,” sez Horace.

“Yes!” sez we, in low tones.

We scouted all around; but no one was there, an’ then we took a line
on the hill back of us, picked out a likely spot, and returned the way
we had come, this bein’ the only direct way. We didn’t meet a soul—at
least none wearin’ bodies, though from the creepy feelin’ I had part
of the time, I won’t ever be certain we didn’t meet any souls.

Next day, we circled the peak and got up to the spot we had picked
out. We could see the clump o’ trees plain enough; and along about
three in the afternoon, we saw the woman come up the path, walkin’
slow an’ actin’ weary. She had two big dogs with her, and whenever
she’d stop to rest a bit, she’d pet ’em. “Well,” sez The, “things has
changed a heap when ol’ Ty Jones stands for havin’ his dogs patted.”

We couldn’t get a good view of her face from where we were, but we
could get a fine view o’ the ranch buildin’s. The’ didn’t seem to be
much work on hand, and we saw eight or ten men foolin’ around an’
pretendin’ to do chores. The recognized the two Greasers he had been
ridin’ with the day he had pulled on Horace, and one or two others;
but most of ’em was strangers to him. He said the Greasers were about
the most devilish speciments he had ever herded with—an’ Ty’s whole
outfit was made up o’ fellers who had qualified to wear hemp.

Horace was keen to go on down to her an’ get a good look; but me an’
The took the bits in our teeth at this. We knew what those dogs were
like, an’ refused pointblank to go a peg unless he could think up a
good enough excuse for us to give to Ty Jones—and we wouldn’t let
Horace go down alone.

“The best plan I can see,” sez I, pointin’ to a cluster o’ big rocks
down the slope to the left, “is to circle back to those rocks. We can
see her face plain from there when she comes back the path.”

After examinin’ this plan we decided it was the best; but when we went
after our hosses, Horace’s had broke his reins an’ gone back through
the hills. By the time me an’ The had rounded him up, it was too late,
so we had to wait till next day.

Next day I left the other two at our first look-out and rode on to the
new one. As soon as she came in sight, I waved my hat to ’em and they
sneaked down to the bunch o’ rocks. I rode back an’ left my hoss with
theirs, an’ then joined ’em.

She didn’t come into view till after five o’clock. When she reached
the edge of the ravine an’ started down, she paused an’ looked off
into the valley with her face in plain view. Horace looked at it
through his glasses, gave a start, and then handed the glasses to The.
“Have you ever seen any one who looked like her?” sez he.

The looked and broke out into a regular expression. “That’s the
original of the photograph I had,” sez he.

“That’s the Friar’s girl, sure as the sky’s above us,” sez Horace.

I grabbed the glass and took a look. She did look like the picture,
but older and more careworn. Some way I had allus thought o’ the
Friar’s girl as bein’ young and full of high spirits, with her head
thrown back an’ her eyes dancin’; but just as I looked through the
glasses, she pressed her hands to her head, and her face was wrinkled
with pain. She was better lookin’ than common, but most unhappy.

“That devil, Ty Jones, is mean to her!” I growled between my teeth.

“Dogs or no dogs, I’m goin’ down to have a talk with her,” sez Horace.

He started to get up, but I pulled him back to the ground. I had kept
my eyes on her, and had seen the two dogs turn their heads down the
ravine, and her own head turn with a jerk, as though some one had
called to her. Horace looked through the glasses again, and said he
could see her lips move as though talkin’ to some one, and then she
went down into the ravine. We couldn’t see the bottom of the ravine
from where we were, nor we couldn’t see the ranch buildin’s; so we
hustled back through some washes to our look-out, and reached it just
as she and Ty came out at the bottom.

They were walkin’ side by side, but Horace, who was lookin’ through
the glasses, said they seemed to be quarrelin’. “It’s moonlight
to-night,” sez Horace, “and I’m goin’ to sneak down and try to see

We argued again’ it all we could, but he stood firm; so all we could
do was to sit there and wait for the lights to go out in the
bunk-house. As she was a reader, we figured ’at she’d be the last one
to turn in; normal habits an’ appetites not havin’ much effect on



Human emotions are like clocks: some of ’em will run longer ’n others;
but they’ll all run down unless they’re wound up again every so often.
Even fear will only run so long, as several late-lamented bullies have
been forced to learn just before they passed over the Great Divide.
After you’ve scared a feller as bad as he can get, it is well enough
to let him alone. If you keep on addin’ horror onto horror, his fear
is likely to run down; and the chances are ’at he’ll get irritated,
and slaughter ya.

I don’t know whether or not patience can rightly be called an emotion;
but anyway, mine runs down a little easier ’n airy other o’ my
faculties, and sittin’ up in the chill an’ waitin’ for a lot o’
festive fools to go to bed, allus was just the sort o’ thing to
disgust me. Those Cross-branders didn’t seem to have any more use for
shut-eye that night than a convention o’ owls. Some of ’em rode off at
dusk, but more of ’em arrived, and they held some sort of high jinks
in the bunk-house, till I began to talk back at myself loud enough for
all to hear. It was full moon an’ we could see dogs loafin’ an’
fightin’ down at the ranch, the light in the new cabin was the first
to go out, an’ for the life of me, I couldn’t see where we had a
single pair to stay on; but Horace seemed to accumulate obstinacy with
every breath he drew. The sided with me, but criticizin’ Horace went
again’ his religion, so he didn’t make any more uproar than a gnat

Finally I calmed down until I could stretch each word out a full
breath an’ sez in my doviest voice: “Horace, will you kindly tell me
what in hell you intend to do?”

He studied the situation careful, and took all the time he needed to
do it. “I’m goin’ back to camp,” sez he. “To-morrow night they’ll be
sleepy, and we’ll have the whole place to ourselves.”

“Hurrah for hot weather! Greece has finally melted!” I yelled, an’ we
hustled for our ponies.

I have a buck-skin riggin’ I put on the bridle of a hoss who gets into
the evil way of steppin’ on his reins; and I had fixed one on Horace’s
hoss to bring him back to his senses should he attempt to play the
same trick he had worked on us the day before. When a hoss wearin’ one
o’ these contrivances steps on his reins it pinches his ears, down
close to his head where they’re tender, and generally works a
reformation in short order.

We forgot all about this, and when Horace jumped into his saddle, he
gave a jerk on the reins—and got bucked into a clump o’ cactus. The
hoss didn’t try any runnin’, though, which proves he had learned a
proper respect for trailin’ reins. Still, Horace wasn’t quite in the
mood to see the beauty o’ my method, so he insisted upon my swappin’
hosses with him. It was a good two-hours’ ride to Olaf’s, and by the
time we had changed saddles, and I had convinced the pony that his
idees of buckin’ were childish an’ fu-tile, and his show of temper had
only given him a hundred an’ ninety pounds to carry instead of a
hundred an’ twenty, it was after nine o’clock.

We were hungry enough to call for speed; but still it was eleven by
the time we reached the Spread. We thought we had seen a horseman go
into it from the other direction; but the moon had ducked under a
cloud and we couldn’t be certain.

We didn’t intend to waken Kit if we could help it; so we started to
put the hosses into the corral as quiet as possible. Just as we had
thrown our saddles over the top bar, we heard a commotion from the
cabin, and started for it on the run.

There wasn’t any light in the cabin; but we heard Kit screamin’, and
before we arrived, we saw a man rush around the corner just as the
door was flung open, and two other men jumped towards him from the
inside. These two had knives in their hands; and the man outside took
a step back. They rushed him, but he hit one with his right fist, and
the other with his left, and curled ’em both up again’ the side o’ the
house in a way to make a feller’s heart dance for joy. Then we saw it
was the Friar himself, and we gave a whoop.

Kit had banged the door shut, put up the bar, got a rifle and made
ready for what was to come next; but when she heard our whoop, she put
on her wrapper and opened the door. The two men ’at the Friar had
crumpled up were those same two Greasers ’at The had told us were the
meanest pair he had ever herded with.

We took ’em by the heels an’ straightened ’em out, while Kit indulged
in a few little hystericals. The Friar had allus been a great hand to
expound upon moral force an’ spiritual force, and such items, and now
when the two Greasers refused to come back an’ claim their own bodies,
he got a little fidgetty.

“Friar,” I sez, “I give in to you. Your quiet way o’ lettin’ the right
work out its own salvation is the surest way I know; and in an
emergency like this, it does full as well as violence.”

The Friar wasn’t in no mood for hilarity, though; so after gettin’
their weapons an’ tyin’ ’em up, we soused the Greasers with water, and
brought ’em back to give an account o’ themselves, Kit all the time
tellin’ us what had happened.

It seems ’at Kit had been hoein’ in her beloved garden that day an’
had been purty tired at night; so after waitin’ for us until she got
exasperated, she had eaten her own supper, put ours on the table, an’
turned in. Olaf had put up another cabin the same size as his first.
He had put ’em side by side with a porch joinin’ at their eaves. In
one cabin was the dinin’ room an’ kitchen, all in one, and in the
other was the bedroom an’ settin’ room.

Kit had heard a noise in the settin’ room and had opened the door
before she was full awake, thinkin’ it was the dog or cat. The minute
she had opened the door they had grabbed her, and she had begun to
scream. They shut off her wind a little; but they wasn’t rough with
her—quite the contrary. They leered into her eyes, and patted her on
the shoulders, and made queer, gurglin’ noises in their dirty brown
throats; but they didn’t speak to her, not one word.

Kit was strong, an’ she had fought ’em to a standstill for what she
thinks was twenty minutes, at least; but she was beginnin’ to weaken.
One of ’em kept his arm about her neck, and whenever she tried to
scream, shut off her wind. She had heard the Friar’s hoss nicker when
he opened the first pole gate, and this provided her with enough moral
courage to sink her teeth into the wrist of the arm about her neck.
The feller had give a yell, and struck her; but at the same time, she
had opened up a scream of her own which loosened things all over the

The Friar had first put for the settin’ room door; but they had locked
this door on the inside, intendin’ to go out the side door. He savvied
this so he dove into the porch-way between the two cabins, and made a
rattlin’ on this door. They had paused at this; but he had to rattle
several times before they took down the front bar. We had been fordin’
the crick about this time.

The Greasers had tried to get out the window once; but Kit had called
out what they were up to; so they had turned on her an’ choked and
beat her scandalous.

This was Kit’s side, and by the time she had finished tellin’ it, the
Greasers had begun to moan an’ toss. The Friar gave a sigh of relief,
as soon as they came to enough to begin grittin’ their teeth. I sat
’em up with their backs again’ the side of the cabin, and intimated
that we were ready to receive their last words.

We had to encourage ’em a bit, one way or another; but we finally got
out of ’em that they had poisoned the dog, and then cut a crack in the
door till they could raise the bar. They said ’at Ty Jones hadn’t had
no hand in plannin’ their trip; but had offered ’em a hundred apiece
if they could put Olaf in the mood of wishin’ he had sold out

“Well,” sez I, as soon as they were through, “shall we finish with ’em
to-night, or give ’em till to-morrow to repent?”

“We shall of course deliver them to the proper officials to be tried
by due process of law,” sez the Friar.

“What for?” sez I. “Ya never can tell how a trial will turn out; but
we know ’at they have forfeited the right to live; so we’ll just give
’em what they’ve earned and save all fuss.”

“No good ever comes of men taking the law into their own hands,” sez
the Friar firmly.

“How come, then, that you didn’t run an’ tell some justice o’ the
peace, ’at these two snakes was actin’ disrespectful—instead of
knockin’ ’em up again’ the logs?” sez I.

“I should have done so if I had had time,” sez the Friar with dignity.

“Well, you’re better trained ’n we are,” sez I; “but it still takes a
little time for you to make your hands mind your self-control, after
you’ve been het up. You can do it in ten minutes, say; but it takes us
about a week, and by that time the’ won’t be any need for the law.”

“No,” sez the Friar, “I insist that we rely upon the law. We count
ourselves as of the better element; and the most vicious conditions
arise when the better element takes the law into its own hands. When a
vicious man does illegal violence, it does not establish a precedent;
but when the decent man does the same thing, it tears away forms of
civilization which have taken centuries to construct.”

“That sounds like sense,” sez I; “and after this is all over, I don’t
mind arguin’ it out with you; but right now, it would seem to me that
if we went to law about this, it would be because we wanted to
shoulder onto the law the responsibility of doin’ what we feel ought
to be done, but which we haven’t the nerve to do ourselves.”

“If you attempt to lynch these men, I shall ride at once and give the
alarm,” sez the Friar.

“And when you came back, you would find ’em swingin’ from a limb,” sez
I. “I’m with you in most things, Friar, and if the’ was a shred o’
doubt, I’d be with you in this; but it’s too plain a case. I’m willin’
to hold these two in secret until we can collect a posse o’ twelve to
give ’em a jury trial; but this is the most I’ll do. Ty Jones has got
others of his gang away from the law, but he don’t get these two—not
if I can help it.”

Horace sided with me, and so did The, though he didn’t have much to
say. He was thinkin’ of his own trip to pester Olaf, and it came back
to him purty strong. The Friar finally had to agree not to notify the
law until I’d had time to gather up a posse. I made Horace promise not
to tell the Friar about our seein’ the woman back at Ty’s, saw that
the Greasers were planted safe in Olaf’s log barn, and set out at once
for the Diamond Dot on a fresh hoss. I never want to eat none before
startin’ a ride like this.

I rode all that night through the moonlight; swingin’ up over the
passes, fordin’ the rivers, and reachin’ the Diamond Dot at noon the
next day. I didn’t let on to Jabez ’at I was there at all; but I got
Spider Kelley, ol’ Tank Williams, Tillte Dutch, and Mexican Slim to
take a vacation and come on back with me. This gave five for the jury,
as I didn’t intend to have Horace or The sit on it, not knowin’ how
far their prejudice might prevent ’em from executin’ my idee of
justice. We set out to return, about five o’clock, and rode into the
Spread at seven the next mornin’ with eight other fellers we had
brought along for good measure.

Old Jimmy Simpson and his four grown sons were in this bunch, and I
was purty well acquainted with ’em. I knew ’at they had been amply
pestered by Ty Jones’s outfit, and wouldn’t be too particular about
what book-law might have to say on the subject, though ol’ man Simpson
was up on book-law. The other three were fellers they knew and were
willin’ to guarantee. We were all a little sleepy, so we decided to
hold the trial after dinner.

The Friar had spent as much time with the Greasers as they’d stand
for; but he hadn’t made much impression on ’em. I knew ’at he was
heart-whole in his attitude, an’ I hated to cross him; but this was a
case o’ principle with me, so when we got ready for the trial, I tried
to get him to take a long walk, but he refused.

We held the trial in front o’ the barn, and it was as legal as any
trial ever was, and as solemn, too. We untied the prisoners, and
called Kit for the first witness. She told it just as she had told it
to us, but her bruised face would have been all that was necessary.
Then we called the Friar and he told his part, and we let him make a
speech in favor o’ law and order; and cheered him hearty, too, when he
got through.

I had just begun to give my part, when Olaf and Oscar rode up. Olaf
sat on his hoss and looked at us a moment, at Kit with her bruised
face, holdin’ the boy in her arms, at the prisoners and us; and then
he asked the Friar what it all meant. The Friar was sunonomous with
truth, as far as Olaf was concerned.

Olaf listened quietly, the dark red risin’ in his cheeks bein’ about
the only change in him. When the Friar finished, Olaf got off his
hoss. “The’ won’t be need of any more trial,” sez he. “Kit, you go to
the house.”

Kit started for the house, and the Friar asked Olaf what he intended
to do.

“Kill ’em,” sez Olaf, “with my two hands.”

He unbuckled his belt and threw it on the ground, then kicked off his
chaps, and stepped through the ring we had formed. “Stop,” said the
Friar. “Olaf, I forbid this.”

“You had better go to the house, Friar,” said Olaf with pleadin’ in
his voice. “Go in—please go in—an’ comfort Kit.”

The Friar made a rush, but we fended him off. The Greasers also tried
to make a get-away; and between the three of ’em we were some busy;
but it didn’t last long. When the Greasers saw they couldn’t break our
ring, they turned on Olaf like cornered rats. They struck him and they
choked him; but not once did he speak, and whenever his grip closed on
their flesh, he ruined that part forever. It was a horrid sight; but I
couldn’t have turned my eyes away if I’d wanted to. In the end he
broke their necks, one after the other, and then he stood up straight
and wiped his forehead. “I take the blame,” said he. “I take all the
blame, here and hereafter”; which certainly was a square thing to do,
though we hadn’t counted on it, any.



The Friar had been in earnest tryin’ to get to Olaf; so ’at the four
Simpson boys had finally been forced to throw, an’ sit on him. As soon
as it was over, they got up and apologized, offerin’ to let him take
out any spite on ’em he saw fit, and promisin’ not to feel any
ill-will; but the Friar wasn’t angry. He was hurt and sad to think ’at
we’d do such a thing; but he had no resentment towards us.

“I know most of you men well,” said he; “and I know you have done this
because you felt it was right. I don’t put you on one side and myself
on the other. I take my full share o’ the blame. It merely proves that
my influence with you during the many years we have been together has
not been for the best, and I am very sorry to learn how poor my work
has been.”

He turned and went up to the house; and we all felt nearly as bad
about the way he had taken it as though the confounded Greasers had
got away altogether. We talked it over and finally loaded their bodies
into Olaf’s wagon, and hauled ’em up on the rim, where we buried ’em
and heaped a lot o’ stones over ’em. We began to feel better after
this, and shook hands all around, and the Simpsons and their three
friends rode away.

Then we told the others about havin’ seen the Friar’s girl at Ty
Jones’s and held a council as to how we should tell him. We finally
delegated Horace to do it, though he wasn’t ambitious for the job. The
Friar had told Kit that it was all over, and had left to take a walk
without eatin’ any supper. We still felt purty low-spirited, and we
didn’t eat much ourselves; though we felt certain he wouldn’t bother
his head much about a couple o’ Greasers, as soon as he found out his
own girl was Ty Jones’s woman.

The boys had come light from the Diamond Dot, but Horace had outfitted
way beyond his needs, intendin’ to do consid’able campin’ around, and
Olaf also had a couple of extra tarps and plenty o’ beddin’; so we
fixed up our old bunk-shack which had been left standin’, and settled
down as though the interval between our previous visit hadn’t been
more ’n ten days.

The Friar came back about ten o’clock. He came into our shack as quiet
as he could; but Horace was sittin’ before the fire waitin’ for him.
It was a warm night; but we had built the fire to make it a little
more cheerful, and had left the door wide open. Horace saw the Friar
the minute he reached the doorway, and he got up and went outside with

They were gone nearly an hour, and then Horace sneaked in, and wakened
me up. I follered him outside; and he said that the Friar intended to
ride down to see Ty Jones as soon as it was day, and that he insisted
on ridin’ alone. The Friar was walkin’ up and down in the moonlight,
his face was all twisted up, through his tryin’ to hold it calm, when
I took my turn at reasonin’ with him; but it wasn’t any use.

“Well, you’ll not go alone,” I said at last; “and you can make up your
mind to that now. We don’t know how much Ty already knows about our
puttin’ the Greasers out o’ the game, and we don’t know how much of it
he’ll lay to you; but we do know that he hates you, and would wipe
your name off the list the first good chance he had. I’m goin’ along.”

The Friar was hot; we stood there in the moonlight facin’ each other
and takin’ each other’s measures. He was a shade taller and some
heavier ’n I was; and ya could see ’at he’d have given right smart to
have felt free to mix it with me. “Do you think I’m a baby?” he burst
out. “Do you think ’at I’m not fit to be trusted out o’ your sight?
You take entirely too much on yourself, Happy Hawkins!”

I didn’t want to taunt him to hurt him—I’d rather been kicked by a
hoss than to do this—but I did want to arouse him to a sense o’ the
truth. “You have adjusted yourself to this locality purty well,
Friar,” sez I; “but the’s still a lot you don’t quite savvy. Some
cases must be settled by a man himself, but some must be left to the
law. If this woman is the wife o’ Ty Jones, he has the law on his

He turned from me and stamped off into the night with his hands
clenched. He disappeared in the cottonwoods, and I was just beginnin’
to wonder if I hadn’t better foller him, when he came back again. “Oh,
I’ve been a fool, I’ve been a fool!” he cried. “All my life I have
tried not to judge others, but all my life I have judged them. I have
tried to put myself in their place, but allus I judged and condemned
them for giving way to temptations which I felt that I, in their
place, could have resisted. I have been a fool, and I still am a fool.
I admit that you are right, and I am wrong—but, I am going to Ty
Jones’s at dawn, and I’m goin’ alone.”

Well, that settled it—me an’ the Friar had to buck each other again.
He continued to stalk up an’ down through moonlight and shadow; while
I tried to plan a way to head him off. I was dead sleepy, but I went
around and wakened up all the other fellers, and told ’em not to get
up in the mornin’ until called; next I got Tank to help me, and we
waited until the Friar had walked in the opposite direction, and then
we took the ponies out o’ the corral and headed ’em toward the hills.
The farther we got, the rougher with ’em we got, and then we turned
our own mounts loose, and sent ’em after the bunch. It was a big job
to pack our saddles back on our heads, but we did it, and tore down
the fences to pertend ’at the ponies had vamoosed on their own hook.
Horace was walkin’ with the Friar now, arguin’ the benefit of a little
sleep, so ’at he’d be at his best. After a time the Friar did go to
bed in Horace’s tarp in the corner.

I didn’t wake up till after seven, myself, and all the fellers were
pertendin’ to sleep as though it wasn’t more ’n three. The Friar
didn’t wake up till eight. He was beside himself when he found the
ponies gone; but he ate breakfast as calm as he could, and then set
out with us to wrangle in some hosses on foot.

Goin’ after hosses on foot is sufficiently irritatin’ to a ridin’
outfit to make it easy enough to believe ’at this was all an accident,
and we didn’t come up with the ponies till nearly noon. When we
cornered ’em up, I never in my life saw as much poor ropin’, nor as
much good actin’; but we finally got enough gentle ones to ride
bareback, so we could wrangle in the rest; and after a quick lunch,
the Friar started to make his hoss ready.

We all started along with him. He stopped and faced on us, givin’ us a
long, cold look-over. You can say all you want to again’ swearin’, but
the’s times when it springs out of its own accord in a man, as natural
and beautiful and satisfyin’ as the flowers blossom forth on the
cactus plants; and I haven’t a shred of doubt that if the Friar had
handed us some o’ the remarks that came ready-framed to his tongue
just then, they’d have been well worth storin’ up for future needs;
but all he did was to fold his arms, and say: “Your methods are not my
methods. I am not goin’ there to start trouble, and I do not even wish
to give them the slightest excuse to start it of their own vo-lition.
If you are my friends, you will respect my wishes.”

“Well, but you’ll take at least one of us along, won’t ya, Friar?” sez
ol’ Tank. “Likely as not we wouldn’t take it up, nohow; but still if
they made away with ya, we’d sort o’ like to know about it as early as
possible, in order not to feel suspensed any longer ’n was necessary.”

“I should like to take one man along as a guide, as I am not entirely
familiar with the trail from here,” sez the Friar, still talkin’ to us
as though we were a lot of evil-lookin’ strangers. “If one of you were
to go along until we came within sight o’ the ranch buildin’s—No,
they might see him and get the idee that he had gone back to join a
reserve body, and I do not wish them to have the slightest grounds for
resorting to force on their side. I shall have to go alone.”

“I can see what you’ve been drivin’ at, now,” sez Tank, whose face was
so muddled up that no one ever tried to read his thoughts in his
features, and so he could lie with impunity. “Yes, I can see what you
mean, now, and I got to own up ’at you’re right about it. Still, you
know, Friar, we’re bound to worry about ya. How long do you want us to
wait before we start to projectin’ around to get some news of ya?”

A look of relief came to the Friar’s face: “Why, if I don’t come back
within a week,” sez he, “I haven’t any objections to your notifyin’
the legal authorities that you fear something has happened to me—but
don’t make much fuss, for it doesn’t really matter.”

We all kicked about waitin’ a week, but finally compromised on five
days as bein’ about the right interval to allow before notifyin’ the
legal authorities. Then we advised the Friar to go down by the ravine
as it would take him to the ranch by the back way where he wouldn’t be
so likely to attract attention, especially from the dogs.

He asked Horace to ride with him until he could get a landmark; so
Horace flung his saddle on a hoss an’ started along, while the rest of
us made ready to go trout-fishin’, or take a snooze, or shake the
cards, accordin’ to the way we generally amused ourselves when
loafin’. The Friar turned back once on the pretense that he wanted to
get a good drink o’ water before startin’; but he found us scattered
out peaceful an’ resigned, so he headed away at good speed.

Horace took him the open road, while we went mostly through cuts, the
way we had allus gone to our look-out. Our way was some the longer;
but we pushed our hosses a little more, and made the look-out just as
the Friar reached the point where the path went down into the ravine.
Horace had agreed to do all he could to get the Friar to go up to the
clump of bushes where the woman spent her afternoons, though he said
he doubted if the Friar would do it.

I had the field glasses with me, and kept ’em on the Friar’s face when
he paused to examine the spot and make sure he was right. He couldn’t
see the ranch buildin’s from where he was, nor the path leadin’ to the
clump of trees. I could see his face plain through the glasses, and he
had taken the guy ropes off and let it sag into just the way he felt.
It was filled with pain an’ sufferin’.

As soon as Horace came, he and I sneaked down to the bunch o’ big
rocks from which we could see the path as it dipped from the opposite
edge of the ravine, leavin’ the rest of the boys to watch the ranch
buildin’s. We could see them from where we were, and they could see
us, and we had a signal for us to come back, or them to come to us;
and another that the Friar was gettin’ it bad down below, and to make
a rush for him. We hadn’t seen any one about the buildin’s, except the
Chinese cook. Our plan was to not rush the buildin’s right away,
unless we saw the Friar gettin’ manhandled beyond his endurance.
Horace said ’at the Friar had refused to go to the clump o’ trees to
see the woman, as it might give the impression that she had sent word
to him to meet her there, and he wouldn’t cast the slightest suspicion
upon her name.

“Horace,” I said, as an awful fear struck me, “supposin’ after all, it
ain’t the right woman!”

Horace’s eyes stuck out like the tail lights on a freight caboose.
“Oh, I’m sure it’s the same woman,” sez he. “Course she’s changed
some; but we couldn’t all three be mistaken.”

“I still think it’s the same woman,” sez I; “but as far as all three
not bein’ mistaken, the’s nothin’ to that. Half o’ the fellers who
make bets are mistaken, and most of us make bets. Still I think she’s
the same woman.”

In spite of this doubt, I was feelin’ purty comfortable. The other
time we had been there, I hadn’t been able to think up any excuse as
to why; but this time I felt I was in right and it left me free to
enjoy the prospects of a little excitement. I allus try to be honest
with myself; and when I’m elated up over anything, I generally aim to
trail back my feelin’s to their exact cause. I’m bound to admit that
when I’m certain that any trouble likely to arise will be thrust upon
me in spite of my own moral conduct, I allus take a pleasant
satisfaction in waitin’ for it.

The Friar slid his hoss down the bank o’ the ravine, and disappeared
just a few moments before we saw the woman comin’ along the path from
the clump of trees. We kept glancin’ up at the look-out now and again,
but mostly we glued our eyes on the woman. Horace hogged the field
glasses most o’ the time, but my eyes were a blame sight better ’n
his, so I didn’t kick about it much.

When she reached the edge o’ the ravine, she paused and gave a little
start. “Does she know him, Horace?” I sez.

“She don’t seem to,” sez Horace. “She’s speakin’ down at him; but her
face looks as though she didn’t know him.”

“If it’s the wrong woman,” sez I, “I’m goin’ to start to the North
Pole to locate the fool-killer.”

While I spoke, she started down the path slow and matter o’ fact; and
me an’ Horace scuttled back to the look-out to be in time to see ’em
come out at the bottom—providin’ the Friar went on with her.

We didn’t get there more ’n two minutes before they came out at the
bottom; but it seemed a week. When they finally came into sight, the
Friar was walkin’ an’ leadin’ his hoss, and she was walkin’ at his
side about four feet from him with a big dog on each side of her. Just
then we saw six Cross-branders ride in toward the corral.

“It looks calm an’ quiet,” drawled ol’ Tank, his free eye bouncin’
about like a rubber ball; “but I’ll bet two cookies again’ the hole in
a doughnut that we have a tol’able fair sized storm before mornin’.”



As Friar Tuck and the woman came out of the mouth of the ravine, Ty
Jones came out of the back door of the old cabin. He stopped a moment,
lookin’ at ’em, rubbed his eyes an’ looked again. Then he walked
towards ’em. He spoke somethin’ to the Friar, and the Friar answered
it. The woman didn’t pay any heed at all; but went around the new
cabin to the door which was on the other side. Three more
Cross-branders rode in, and Ty Jones shook his fist at the Friar.

Ol’ Tank was cussin’ under his breath for comfort, but it didn’t keep
him from gettin’ fidgetty. “Isn’t the’ no sort of a tool, Horace,” he
blurted out, “that’ll stretch out your hearin’ the way these field
glasses stretch out your eyesight? I’d be willin’ to have one of my
ears run as wild as my free eye, forever after, if it could just hear,
now, what Ty Jones is a-speakin’ to the Friar. I’m beginnin’ to get

We all felt about the same way; but it was about two miles down to
where they were, so all we could do was to watch.

Olaf had come with us, leavin’ Oscar with Kit, and now Horace turned
to him and said: “You and Promotheus know more about Ty Jones ’n the
rest of us. I have never tried to pump Promotheus, but now I want you
to tell us what you think he’ll do with the Friar.”

They said ’at Ty was generally purty cold blooded, and likely to take
enough time in gettin’ rid of a feller to make it purty hard to tell
just how it had been done; but that when he once let go of himself, he
didn’t care what happened, and if the Friar angered him about the
woman, the chances were ’at the Friar would never leave the ranch

The shadows were beginnin’ to fall, down in the valley; but Ty and the
Friar kept on talkin’, Ty wavin’ his hands now and again, while the
Friar stood straight with his hands hangin’ easy at his side. I
couldn’t stand it any longer.

“I believe ’at a feller could get almost to ’em without bein’ seen, by
goin’ along the edge o’ the ravine,” sez I; “and I’m goin’ to do it.
It’ll be dark in a few minutes. If you want me to hustle to the Friar,
wave a torch up and down; if you want me to come back here, wave it

“I’m goin’, too,” sez Horace.

“So ’m I,” sez Olaf and The.

“Well, that’s full enough,” sez I, “and the rest of ya keep a sharp
watch, and also keep the hosses ready, in case we need ’em.”

The four of us started down the side o’ the slope at good speed. There
were only two places on the way down where we caught sight o’ the
ranch buildin’s; but just before we reached the top o’ the cliff, we
heard a sound down below in the ravine. Glancin’ cautious over the
side, I saw the Friar comin’ back alone, on foot and leadin’ his hoss.

I drew back and whispered to the others, and we felt purty blame
cheap. We hardly knew what to do, as the Friar was likely to see us if
we tried to run back to our look-out before he reached the place where
the path came up out o’ the ravine, and most of all, we didn’t want
him to know ’at we were follerin’ him.

He had passed us by this time, so we looked over the edge o’ the
ravine at him. He was walkin’ slow with his head down, and his hands
in his pockets. “He’ll ride home slow,” sez I; “and we can easy beat

“Hush,” sez The, draggin’ us back from the edge, “the’s two fellers
follerin’ him.”

“Horace,” I said, quick and firm, so as not to have any back-talk,
“you go about forty yards up the ravine, and keep your eyes on these
fellers. Don’t shoot ’em unless they try to pass you. Hurry, now! I’ve
given you the most important post. If you shoot, shoot in earnest.”

Horace stooped over and ran to where a rock jutted out. “Now, then,”
sez I, “as soon as these fellers pass us, we’ll try to bowl ’em over
with one stone each, and then drop back out o’ sight. We don’t want to
shoot unless we have to.”

“They’re wavin’ us to come back,” whispered The, who had took a glance
at our look-out.

“Never mind,” sez I, lookin’ down and seein’ the two fellers crouched
over and sneakin’ after the Friar. “Now then, throw and drop back.”

We stood on our knees, threw one stone each, and dropped back. They
rattled in the ravine below, and we heard a sharp yelp of pain. I had
only dodged away from the edge of the ravine and ran to where Horace

“One feller was hit in the shoulder and knocked down,” sez he; “but he
got up again right away, and both of ’em ran back.”

“What did the Friar do?” I asked, not darin’ to look over, lest he see

“He turned around and started back,” sez Horace. “I was afraid he’d
see my head again’ the sky, so I pulled it back. I haven’t heard him
move since those fellers started to run.”

“Well, I don’t believe ’at even the Friar would be daffy enough to go
back,” sez I; “so we’ll just lay here and listen. They signalled us
from above a while back, but they’ve stopped again.”

We waited some time without hearin’ any one pass us, and then we
sneaked up along the edge of the ravine. Before long we saw the Friar
come up the side. He paused on top and looked back, then mounted and
started for Olaf’s at a slow shuffle. As soon as he was well under
way, we pushed for the look-out, and mounted.

“Slim, you and Tillte wouldn’t be missed as soon as the rest of us; so
you trail the Friar, while we try to beat him home,” sez I. “If you
need us, shoot. Otherwise come in as unnoticeable as you’re able.”

We reached Olaf’s, had our saddles off and the hosses turned loose
before the Friar rode in. His face was white, but this was the only
thing ’at showed what he was goin’ through. We made a big fuss about
his gettin’ back all right and asked him plenty o’ questions, without
overdoin’ it enough to make him suspicious. He answered our questions
right enough, but he didn’t open up and talk free. Slim and Tillte
joined us at supper without bein’ noticed.

After supper we gathered around the fire in Olaf’s settin’ room, and
the Friar gave us a purty complete account of what had happened. He
said that it was his old girl all right; but he said that the’ was
somethin’ the matter with her, that she didn’t recognize him even
after he had made himself known to her. He said she seemed dazed-like
and not to take any interest in anything.

He said they had walked down the ravine together, and she had told him
that she was comfortable enough but not happy. That she had lost
something which she could not find; but that she was getting stronger
since havin’ come out to the mountains. He said ’at when Ty Jones saw
’em together, he had carried on somethin’ fierce, and had ordered her
into the house. Then he had turned on the Friar and told him that he
would give him two weeks to leave the state and after that his life
wouldn’t be safe in it. He said he had tried to reason with Ty; but it
wasn’t any use; so he had just come away.

“If he had set upon you, would you have shot him?” asked Tank.

“I didn’t have anything to shoot him with,” sez the Friar. “I was
careful to leave my weapons behind.”

“Well, you didn’t show much judgment in doin’ it,” sez Tank. “He might
have sent a couple o’ fellers after ya, and finished you out in the
dark somewhere so ’at we never could ’a’ proved it on him.”

“I did think for a minute that some one was follerin’ me,” sez the
Friar. “I heard a rattle of stones and a cry a few hundred feet behind
me in the ravine; but I think it was some animal slippin’ down the

“Like as not,” sez Tank. “If it had been any o’ Ty’s gang, they
wouldn’t have give it up so easy; but another time we’ll some of us go
along with you; so as to get your last words anyhow, if so be ’at
you’re bent on suicide. What do you intend to do now?”

“That’s the worst of it,” sez the Friar. “I don’t know what to do. She
said she did not think she was married; but she was not sure; and Ty
refused to give me any satisfaction about it.”

“Isn’t the’ any law out here, at all?” sez Horace. “Seems to me as
though there ought to be some way to get at Ty Jones.”

“What would you charge him with?” asked the Friar. “She is not being
abused or kept a prisoner, she says she is comfortable and gettin’
stronger—I can’t think of any way to bring him under the law. If you
had not taken the law into your own hands in regard to his two men, we
might have made the claim that he was behind them in this; but really,
I do not see where we have any just grounds to go to law.”

“That little matter o’ the Greasers don’t hobble us none,” sez ol’
Tank. “Don’t you get the idee that you’re bound in any way by this.
The whole country would uphold us; so if you want to use it as a
lever, just make your claims again’ Ty to the law officers, and we’ll
tell ’em ’at the Greasers confessed ’at Ty put ’em up to it.”

This seemed to us like sage advice; and we all chipped in and urged
the Friar to act on it. Laws are all right, I haven’t a word to say
again’ laws. Fact is, I believe ’at we’re better off for havin’ a few
than not; but after all, laws come under the head of luxuries like
diamonds and elevators and steam heat. We all know there is such
things, and we haven’t any objections to those usin’ ’em who can
afford it; but most of us have to wear cut-glass, pack in our own
wood, do our climbin’ on foot or hossback, and settle our troubles in
our own way with as little bother as possible. When you figure it down
to the foundation, laws depend on public opinion, not public opinion
on laws; and all the public opinion worth takin’ into account would
have said ’at we had done the right thing with those Greasers. If
they’d ’a’ tried to law us for a little thing like this, it would have
started an upraisin’ which would have let the law see how small a
shadow it really does throw when it comes to a show-down.

The Friar didn’t answer us right away, and when he did, it was in the
most discouraged voice I’d ever heard him use. “I’m in the dark,
boys,” sez he, “I don’t know what to do. Even if I could find some way
to take her away from Ty Jones, I do not know what to do with her. She
is not herself, she needs care and protection—and I am not in a
position to supply them. I have an income of three hundred and fifty
dollars a year, which is much more than enough for my own needs, for I
live mostly upon the hospitality of my friends as you well know”—we
also knew ’at he spent most of his money in helpin’ those who never
saw enough money to get on intimate terms with it; while all they gave
him in return was a little meal and bacon for savin’ their souls and
doctor-bills. “I don’t know what I could do for her, even if I had the
right to take her away from him,” continued the Friar. “My life has
been a good deal of a failure; and I—”

“For the love o’ common sense, Friar!” broke in Horace. “You don’t
seem to have the smallest degree o’ judgment. You know mighty well ’at
I’m bothered to death to know what to do with my money. You get her if
you can, send her to any sort of a sanitarium you want to, and I’ll
foot the bills. Don’t you ever sit around and whine about money in my
presence again. It worries and disgusts and irritates me—and I came
out here for rest. You talk about faith and takin’ no heed for the
morrow, and such things; but you act as though you were riskin’ a
man’s soul when you gave him a chance to be of some little use in the

The Friar was purty well overcome at this; but figure on it the best
we were able, we couldn’t see just how to get a man’s wife away from
him without provin’ that he had abused her. It was a complication, any
way we looked at it; so we all went to bed in the hope that one of us
would have a lucky dream.

We didn’t have any more idees next mornin’ than we’d had the night
before; so after breakfast, the Friar took a walk and the rest of us
sat around in bunches talkin’ it over. About ten o’clock a feller
named Joyce who lived about fifteen miles east of Olaf came by on his
way for a doctor, his boy havin’ been kicked above the knee and his
leg broke. The Friar could patch up a human as good as any doctor; so
we went after him, knowin’ that this would be the best way to take his
mind off his own troubles, and the’ was a look o’ relief in the
Friar’s face when he rode away with Joyce.

I never knew any feller yet who didn’t spend a lot o’ time wishin’ he
had a chance to loaf all the laziness out of his system; but the fact
of the matter is, that work gives us more satisfaction than anything
else. A wild animal’s life is one long stretch after enough to eat;
but he’s full o’ health an’ joy an’ beauty. On the other hand, put one
in a cage and feed it regular and it turns sick immediate. What we
need is plenty o’ the kind o’ work we are fitted for—this is the
answer to all our discontented feelin’; and what the Friar was best
fitted for, was to help others.



Thinkin’, just plain thinkin’, is about the hardest work the’ is; and
for the next several days, we lay around doin’ mighty little else. The
trouble was, ’at we couldn’t devise a way to put Ty Jones out o’
business. He wasn’t an outlaw; fact was, he stood high with the big
cattle men; and we got light headed tryin’ to scare up a plan which
would remove Ty in a decent manner, and leave the Friar free to take
the woman without causin’ him any conscience-pains. We were the
mournfulest lookin’ bunch o’ healthy men ever I saw; and finally I
decided to loaf with Kit and the kid, they not bein’ expected to do
any thinkin’ and therefore havin’ smooth an’ pleasant faces.

Sometimes I wonder if women don’t get along just as well without
thinkin’ as men do with it. I hadn’t talked seven minutes with Kit
before she suggested just what I would have thought up if I’d been
able. She didn’t even know she had suggested it; so I didn’t call her
attention to it for fear it might up-heave her vanity and give Olaf
bother. I had a plan now and it was of such a nature that I was glad
the Friar wasn’t there to mess into it.

I found Promotheus an’ Tank lyin’ on the grass along the crick. They
were back to back, and their faces were so lined with genuwine
thought, that they looked like a pair of overgrown nutmegs. I sat down
beside ’em lookin’ worried.

Presently Tank sez: “What ya thinkin’ about?”

I shook my head, and in about half an hour The asked the same
question. I waited a minute, hove out a sigh, and sez: “Gee, I wish I
was you.”

“Why do you wish you was me?” sez he.

“’Cause,” sez I, “you’ve got a chance to do the biggest deed I know

“What is it?” sez he, examinin’ my face to see if I was sheepin’ him.

“No,” sez I, shakin’ my head; “I ain’t got any right to even think of
it, let alone hint at it. You might think I was buttin’ into your
affairs, and then again—No, I refuse to suggest it. If it’s your
duty, you’ll see it yourself; but I won’t take the responsibility of
pointin’ it out.”

“What in thunder did you mention it at all for, then?” sez The,
gettin’ curious an’ exasperated.

“And then besides,” sez I to myself, out loud, “there’s Horace. Like
as not he wouldn’t allow you to run your head into danger any more.”

“What!” yelled The. “Didn’t we run our heads into danger all over the
tropics of the Orient, didn’t we goad up danger an’ search for it and
roust it out of its hidin’ places and—Why, confound you—”

In about ten minutes I stopped him, an’ sez in a quiet voice: “Well,
then, if I was you, I’d go on down to Ty Jones’s and take on with him

We lay on the grass there, along Pearl Crick for some time without
speakin’. Up on the rim, the grass was burned to a crisp; but along
the crick it was still green. Promotheus pulled blade after blade of
it and chewed ’em up in his mouth, while me an’ Tank watched him.

“What you mean, is for me to take on with Ty Jones—and then to act
spy on him. Ain’t that what ya mean?” sez The after a time.

I’d ’a’ sooner he hadn’t put it into words—it did look rather raw
when he stood it up before us naked. “I don’t mean nothin’ in
particular, The,” sez I. “You and I are different, and what I could do
without feelin’—”

“That’s all right,” he broke in. “The’ ain’t any need to treat me like
an infant baby. Come right out with it—What you want me to do is to
play spy, ain’t it?”

“That’s the only way I can see to help the Friar,” sez I; “but he
wouldn’t want you to do anything for him you didn’t feel was right.”

“I know, I know,” he sez, lookin’ down at his hands. “Ty Jones is as
mean as a snake, and I don’t deny it; but he’s been square with me,
and once he saved my life. Then again, the Friar has been square with
every one, and if he hadn’t nursed me night and day, Horace wouldn’t
have had a chance to save my life. If Horace had killed me it would
have spoiled his life; so that the whole thing is held together in a
tangle. I’m willin’ to cash in my life for the Friar—it ain’t
that—but I do hate to turn again’ Ty Jones underhanded.”

“Better just forget I mentioned it,” sez I.

“No,” sez Promotheus, “I intend to lay the plan before Horace, and let
him settle on it.”

“That’s a good scheme, that’s the best way out of it,” sez ol’ Tank,
and I joined in with him.

We sat there on the bank a long time, thinkin’ the thing over, and
finally just before supper, Horace hove in sight and started to josh
us; but when he saw how sober we were, he settled down, and asked us
what was up.

“Horace,” sez The, “what would you think of my takin’ on with Ty
Jones, and playin’ the spy on him?”

“That would be madness!” exclaimed Horace. “He’d see through it and
kill you first pop. I don’t know though—you might fix up a tale—but
then it would be too infernal risky. Nope, don’t you try it.”

“If it could be done,” persisted The, “what would you think of it?”

“Oh, it would be a great thing for the Friar,” sez Horace; “but,
Promotheus, I don’t like to have you take the risk.”

“It ain’t the risk I’m fussin’ about,” sez The. “Ty was square to me
in his own way. The Friar has been square to me also, and I know ’at
his way is the best; but at the same time—don’t you think it would be
downright snakish for me to go back to Ty, tell him some excuse for my
stayin’ away, and then plot again’ him while I’m eatin’ his vittles?”

It didn’t sound good to us when Promotheus came out with it so
everlastin’ unpolluted; but he had worked up a sense of honesty since
bein’ with Horace, which wouldn’t let him do any pertendin’. Horace
didn’t answer, and he went on after waitin’ a minute: “I haven’t any
prejudices again’ fightin’ him in the open; but it does go again’ my
grain to wear a dog hide when I’m playin’ wolf, and Ty Jones was
square to me.”

“Well,” sez Horace, “I haven’t the heart to advise you to do this,
Promotheus. We’ll sure be able to find some other way, and as long as
it goes again’ your grain the way it does, I don’t want you to do it.”

“Would you think any the less of me if I did?” asked The, his eyes
takin’ on a sad, hungry look, like a dog’s eyes get when he’s worried
over what his master’ll say about some trick he’s been up to.

“Course I wouldn’t think any less of ya,” sez Horace without
hesitatin’; “but hang it, I’m afraid somethin’ ’ll happen to ya.”

“Would the Friar think any the less of me?” sez The.

“If the Friar heard about it, he wouldn’t let ya go,” sez Horace.

“I’ve puzzled more about the Friar ’n about airy other man I ever
saw,” sez The, thoughtful. “I wanted to lynch Olaf that time, guilty
or not guilty; but the Friar straightened things out by riskin’ his
own soul. He hates lynchin’, it goes square again’ his grain; but he
made a bet with us to help stretch Olaf if we could prove him guilty;
and this has stuck with me. This was a big thing to do, and I’d like
to do somethin’ big for the Friar—But I swear it would hurt me to spy
on Ty Jones!”

We didn’t have anything to say on the subject; so we just sat and
chewed grass.

“I’ve been thinkin’ about that old Greek feller, ’at you named me
after,” sez Promotheus at last. “He didn’t ask no one else to take the
responsibility of tellin’ him what to do. He just decided what was
right, and then did it. If I go to Ty Jones, and he treats me right,
my own thoughts’ll tear at me like vultures; but this here other
Promotheus, he stood it, ’cause it was for man’s good; and I’m game to
do the same.

“I don’t intend to be any more sneakier ’n I have to be. All I intend
to do is to find out what I can about the woman, and, if Ty ain’t
treatin’ her right, to help get her away from him; but I want it
understood right now that I’m not goin’ to work any tricks on Ty to
get him into the law for what he’s done in bygone days. Now then, I
take all the blame on my own shoulders; but we’ll have to fix up a
tale to fool a wise one, ’cause Ty won’t be took in by chaff.”

We talked things over a long time; but it seemed mighty unreasonable
for Promotheus to have pulled out without sayin’ a word, and then to
come back without writin’ in the meantime; and we couldn’t quite hit
on it. Finally the idee came to me.

“They’re goin’ to graze the grass down to the roots, this summer,” sez
I; “but still, the’ won’t be enough to go around. A lot o’ cattle will
have to be sold off early, and some will be trailed up into Montana,
and cow-punchers are goin’ to be in demand. Ty is long on cattle and
short on grass, and he’ll be glad to have extra help he can trust; so
he won’t question ya too close. You tell him ’at Horace here was a
government agent, and that he arrested you as a deserter, and took you
to prison where you was given a life sentence; that you broke out a
couple o’ months ago, and have been workin’ your way back as cautious
as you could.”

“My Lord, I hate to tell him that!” sez The. “It’s too infernal much
like what I told him the first time.”

“You got to make up a good story, or else give up your plan,” sez I.

“Yes, that’s so,” he agreed. “Ty’d believe that, too. What prison had
I better say I’ve been in?”

“Which one was you in?” sez I.

“I never was in any government prison,” sez he. “I was in a state

“Have ya ever seen a government prison?” sez I.

“Yes, I’ve seen two, one in Kansas, and one in Frisco,” sez he.

“Which would be the hardest to get out of?” sez I.

“The one in Frisco; it’s on an island,” sez he.

“Choose that one,” sez I; “and make up your escape just as it might
have happened.”

“Ty won’t haggle me with questions,” sez The sadly. “He’ll just
believe me, an’ this’ll make it ten times as hard.”

“You ought to be paler an’ more haggard,” sez I; “but I doubt if the’s
a way to do it.”

“Keep soakin’ his face in hot towels for a few days,” sez Horace.
“That’ll bleach him out.”

“Are ya goin’ foot or hossback?” sez I.

“I stole a hoss down in Texas the last time I came,” sez he, “and
traded him off when he got footsore.”

“We got some hosses with a Nevada brand, over at the Dot,” sez I.
“I’ll slip over an’ get one while you’re havin’ your complexion
bleached off. They broke out an’ got with the herd before we finished
brandin’ ’em, and we just let it go. The chances are they haven’t been
rebranded yet.”

“All right,” sez The. “If I’m to do it at all, I want it to go
through; but I have an idee ’at those vultures pickin’ at my liver are
goin’ to be mighty unpleasant company.”

Me an’ Spider Kelley, Tillte Dutch an’ Mexican Slim rode over to the
Dot and found two o’ those Nevada hosses, still rangin’ with their old
brands untouched; so we roped one, and came back with it, without
havin’ word with any of the outfit. The Diamond Dot range was the best
of any we rode over, and they had put up a lot o’ hay that summer; but
still I felt sure ’at they would have to cut down purty close, though
I knew ’at Jabez would hold as many as he could for a high price the
followin’ year.

We found The’s complexion purty well stewed out and haggard, Kit
havin’ put soda in the hot water; so I told him to play sick, and loaf
around the house as long as possible. He agreed to it; but the’ was a
settled look o’ regret in his face which was a heap different from the
one he had wore when he dismounted from the stage at Bosco.

“Night and day,” sez I, “the’ll be at least two of us at the look-out,
and you come up with any news you have. Get into the habit of
whistlin’ Horace’s tune; so that if ever you’d want to warn us to
vamose rapid, you can whistle it. You might ride that way with some o’
Ty’s outfit, or somethin’.”

“It’s not likely,” sez he. “The’s no range up that way, and no trail
leadin’ near it; but you fellers want to scatter your tracks all you
can, so as not to make a path.”

We made plans for all the unexpected details we could think up; and
then he started forth one night, meanin’ to circle to the southwest,
and come in from that direction. He wore a red handkerchief under his
nose as if to shut out the dust; but shaved clean, and pale as he was,
mighty few would have recognized him either as Badger-face, or as the
feller what had come in with us a few weeks before. We all shook hands
solemn when he left, and promised to be at the look-out the followin’
night, and to be there steady from that on.

“What makes you fellers trust me?” sez he just as he started. “I came
down here to put Olaf out o’ business, and then I turned over to your
side. Now I’m goin’ back to Ty’s. What makes you think I won’t turn
again’ ya, if I get into a tight place?”

Horace went over and took his hand. “Promotheus,” sez he, “I’ve been
with you through hot days and cold nights, I’ve been with you through
hunger and thirst and danger; and I’d trust you as long as I’d trust
myself. You’re not goin’ to Ty’s because you’re a traitor. You’re
goin’ because you’re a changed man, and the new man you’ve become is
willin’ to risk his life for what he thinks is right. No matter what
happens, I’ll trust ya; so take that along to think over.”

Promotheus winked his eyes purty fast, then he gave a sigh and rode
off into the night. The’ wasn’t the hint of a smile about his lips,
nor a glint o’ gladness in his eyes; but somethin’ in the straight way
’at he held his back let ya know ’at the inside man of him was finally
at peace with what the outside man was doin’—and if ya don’t know
what that means, the’s no way to tell ya.



We all felt purty down-hearted after Promotheus had rode away, and we
sat before the fire in Olaf’s settin’ room a good deal the same as if
we were holdin’ a wake.

“Olaf,” I sez, “you can’t have any finicky notions about treatin’ Ty
Jones square, after all the persecutin’ he’s handed you. Do you know
anything on him you could have him sent to prison for?”

Olaf shook his head. “He’s too clever to get caught in a trap,” sez
he. “He scarcely ever gave any orders to have things done. He’d just
say aloud as though talkin’ to himself, that some one or other was in
his way; and then his men would begin to take spite on that feller. If
the calf tally showed a hundred percent increase, he would think that
about right, and no questions; but if ever it fell short o’ what he
expected, we had it to make up some way. He’d send us out until we had
brought in enough to satisfy; but he’d never give us straight orders
to rustle. He is a smart man. When one of his men got into trouble, he
got him out, no matter what cost; but he expected his men to do what
he wanted, without askin’ questions. He has no fear, none at all. I
know, I have seen. He has no fear, and he is very strong. It is bad to
be at war with him; but I should like to have my hands at his throat
once, and none to interfere.”

“Maybe you will, Olaf,” sez I, “maybe you will; and I don’t mind
sayin’ that I hope to be on hand to see it.”

We kept two men allus at the look-out with Horace’s field glasses. It
was a queer sort o’ summer, the air wasn’t clear like it usually is,
but hazy, as though full o’ dust; and in lots of places they were
turnin’ stock on the grass they generally aimed to save for winter.
There were only a few punchers around the Cross brand ranch houses;
but we saw Promotheus every day. He hobbled about with a stick part o’
the time, holdin’ his hand on his back as though he had the rheumatiz,
which was natural enough from bein’ shut up in an island prison. Some
days we saw the woman; but she never came up the ravine path any more.

Promotheus didn’t make a report to us for about a week. Then he came
out one night about eleven. He said ’at Ty hadn’t doubted a word he’d
said; but had done everything possible to make him comfortable,
tellin’ him to just loaf until he got in good order. He said ’at Ty
and the woman didn’t have much to do with each other and hadn’t had
since she’d come out. He said ’at the woman was kind to all the
animals, in spite of everything ’at Ty could do, and the dogs was
gettin’ to act like regular, ordinary dogs. He said all but a few new
pups had remembered him, and one had even wagged his tail, though he
couldn’t see any sense in this, he never havin’ as much as spoke a
kind word to the dog, so far as he could recollect.

He said he had held several talks with Ty, and Ty had asked him if he
thought ’at Olaf was in league with any big outfits. He said ’at he
had told Ty that he was sure Olaf had been in league with ’em several
years before, but o’ course, he couldn’t know anything o’ what had
happened since. Ty said he had come to the conclusion that Olaf was
set out for a kind of bait to draw him into trouble, which was why he
had let him alone; but that he was short o’ grass this season, and
wanted Pearl Crick Spread bad. He also told The about the two Greasers
disappearin’, though he wasn’t sure what had happened to ’em. He knew
about us bein’ over at Olaf’s off and on, and The warned us to be
careful, as Ty expected to have Olaf’s place watched as soon as he got
through movin’ several bands o’ cattle.

The said ’at the woman had a soft spot for any dumb brute, or even a
human in distress, and that he had touched her by hobblin’ around with
the stick. He said she had cooked him some flabby invalid-food with
her own hands, and that it was mighty captivatin’. He said she didn’t
speak much; but he was tryin’ his best to get on the good side of her.
He said ’at all the boys claimed ’at Ty treated her well; but didn’t
seem to care much for her. Horace didn’t happen to be with us when The
came; but we said we’d move our camp higher up on the slope, to be on
the safe side when Olaf’s was watched, and would have Horace on deck
sure the next time The came out; and we did this the next day.

The land was all slashed an’ twisted around and broken, up west o’ the
Cross brand ranch houses. The ravine leadin’ down to ’em ran east and
west, the path leadin’ up out of it to the trees where we had first
seen the woman wasn’t near so steep as the one comin’ out of it on the
north side toward the clump o’ rocks. After the north path came out,
the ravine narrowed down until it wasn’t more than a crack, the south
side not risin’ so high as on the north; so that soon the north side
stood up like a cliff above the land leadin’ down to the clump of
trees, and the only way we could get over to it was to go down the
ravine and up again on the other side.

We made our camp consid’able higher than our look-out had been, and it
was a well sheltered spot. An easy slopin’ stretch led up to it from
the north, and a ledge skirted the face o’ the cliff up back of it, to
the south. We examined this some distance; but it didn’t seem to lead
anywhere. We found several dips back in the hills where the snow water
made grazin’ for our ponies, and we were as comfortable as it’s ever
possible to be while waitin’.

I know what my plan would be for makin’ a hell which would be
punishment for any mortal sin, and yet not severe enough to make me
hate all the peace out o’ my own existence. I’d make the wicked sit in
the dark for a hundred years, waitin’ to hear what their sentence was.
Then, I’d let ’em into heaven, and I bet they would be in a fair way
to appreciate it. I never met up with any one able to out-wait me
without showin’ it more ’n I did; but I’ll wager what I got, that the
suspense was gorin’ into me worse ’n into them, all the time.

One evenin’, me an’ Tank went up to camp after doin’ our stunt at the
look-out, and as we went, we caught sight o’ two riders headin’ our
way. We hastened along so as to be ready to move in case this was a
pair we didn’t care to draw to; but by the time we reached camp, they
were close enough to recognize as the Friar and Olaf. The plan was to
keep the Friar in the dark as long as possible, and we waited their
comin’ with consid’able interest.

The Friar had squeezed the whole thing out of Olaf, as we might have
known he would. You couldn’t trust Olaf with a secret where the Friar
was concerned. Tank, now, would have sent the Friar off to Bosco or
Laramie as contented as a bug; but just as soon as Olaf was backed
into a corner, he told the truth, and spoiled all our arrangements.

The Friar rode into our camp, dismounted, threw his reins to the
ground, and sez: “Where is Promotheus?”

We looked at Olaf, and he nodded his head as sheepish as the under dog
at a bee-swarmin’. “He’s down at the ranch,” sez Horace.

“Has he brought any news?” asked the Friar. So we told him all ’at The
had reported. He took a few steps up and down, ponderin’.

“I can’t permit this,” he said after a minute. “He is riskin’ his life
down there, and I can’t allow him to continue.”

The rest all joined in and argued with him; but he was as obstinate as
a burro, once he got his back up; so I didn’t say anything. I went off
and started to eat my supper. When I was about half through, Horace
came over and said the Friar was bent on goin’ down to Ty’s himself.
“Well, let him go,” sez I as cool as a snow-slide.

“Yes, but if he goes, Ty will kill both him and Promotheus!” sez
Horace raisin’ his voice. I noticed the others headin’ toward us so I
only flung my hands into the air, meanin’ that it was none o’ my

“Do you mean to say ’at you back the Friar up in this?” demanded

“Do I look like a fool?” sez I. The Friar’s eyes were on me, and I
knew they were cold; but I pertended not to notice him.

“You don’t look like a fool; but you act like one,” sez Horace,
gettin’ riled.

“You can’t blame me, Horace,” I sez in my most drawly voice, “because
the Friar cares more for havin’ his own way than he does for human

“What do you mean by that?” demanded the Friar.

“Oh, nothin’,” sez I, “except that if you go down there, it shows
Prometheus up at once, we’d all have to go along to save Promotheus,
and this would start a fight, with us to blame; and no one knowin’
what the woman is, or how she stands in the matter. She seems
perfectly satisfied with Ty Jones; and no matter how it turned out,
all of us who survived would have to leave the country. I don’t intend
to argue with you, or to cross you in any way; but I do intend to
stand by Promotheus, as it was me who first put the idee into his

I sympathized with the Friar, I knew that he wasn’t himself. To find
the woman he loved in the hands of the man who hated him, after all
the years he had been in suspense about her was enough to tip any one
off his balance; and I also knew the Friar. He had trained himself for
eternity so long that some of his earthly idees weren’t sound, and the
surest way to bring him to himself was to let him bark his knees a
time or two. Some imported hosses carry their gaze so high they can’t
see their footin’ but after they’ve stepped into a few prairie-dog
holes, they learn to take a little more interest in what they’re
treadin’ on.

The Friar came over and looked down at me. “I shall wait until
Promotheus comes up here, and then he can stay; and I shall go down,”
said the Friar in the voice a man uses when he thinks it’s wrong to
show the sarcasm he can’t help but feel. “Have you any objection to

“I have no objection to anything you choose to do, Friar,” I said,
finishin’ my supper.

“Do I understand that you approve?” sez he.

“Certainlee not,” sez I. “Ty would see the connection between you and
Promotheus at once. He knows ’at The was a deserter, and he would set
the law on him in one direction, and try to run him down on his own
hook in the other. If you had been on hand while we were discussin’
the plan, you would have had the right to veto it; but now, it looks
to me as though Prometheus was the one to consider.”

The Friar sat down and ran his hands through his hair. “I can’t see
any way out!” he sez at last; “but I’m forced to admit that since
Promotheus has gone down there, it would put him in danger for me to

“Well,” sez ol’ Tank, “here is The himself. Now, we’ll know better
what to do.”

We looked up, and there was Promotheus with a bruise over his eye,
comin’ into our little nook.



We all crowded around him, thinkin’ ’at the bruise betokened some sort
of trouble; but he said he’d got afraid they’d begin to suspicion him;
so he had tried to ride a hoss that day, and had let it buck him off.
He said the’ wasn’t much lettin’ needed, as it had been a mean one;
but he had got his forehead grazed, and had lain on the ground,
claimin’ his back was hurt. It was only about eight o’clock, and we
wondered how he had the nerve to come so early; but he said they were
havin’ a drinkin’ bout over havin’ dogged a feller by the name o’
Bryce off his claim on Ice Crick, thus gettin’ a new outlet to grass
and water.

He said the woman had been mighty good to him after his fall; but that
he couldn’t get her to talk about herself at all. “Have you ever
mentioned the name of Carmichael to her?” I asked.

“No,” sez he, “why should I?”

“That’s the Friar’s name,” sez I. “He used to preach in a regular
church down east, and she sang in the choir. Next time you get a
chance, try to draw her out about this.”

The Friar told him a lot o’ small details to ask her about; and went
part way back with him, as he wouldn’t stay long for fear o’ bein’
missed. The Friar insisted on stayin’ along with us, while Olaf went
back to the Spread.

Two nights after this Promotheus came up to our camp again. He said he
had had several talks with her, and that she remembered the names and
places, all right, but insisted that Carmichael was dead. She said he
often came to her in her dreams; but that she knew he had died long

“Does she ever sing?” asked the Friar.

“Never,” sez The. “She don’t even talk much. She has some sort of a
pain in her head, and sometimes she seems to wander; but at other
times she is perfectly clear.”

“Is Ty Jones ever mean to her?” asked the Friar.

“Never,” sez The. “Ty ain’t mean to those about him. He has his own
idees—he likes to have his men and dogs and hosses all fierce and
nervy—but he’s not mean to ’em. And all the boys treat her
respectful, too. Fact is, I don’t see where we got any grounds to take
her away.”

“But she does not care for him,” sez the Friar; “she could not care
for him! He must have used trick or force to bring her here; and you
must find out the truth about it. It all depends on you, now.”

“I’m doin’ all I can, Friar,” sez The; “but it’s a hard tangle to see

When he left to go back, me an’ the Friar and Horace went with him.
“Supposin’ they should see you comin’ back?” sez the Friar.

“Well,” sez The, “Ty don’t keep his men in prison, and I’d tell ’em I
was up takin’ a little air after bein’ shut away from it so long.”

“Supposin’ they got suspicious an’ follered ya?” asked the Friar.

“I try to be as careful as I can,” sez The; “but I own up I allus feel
a bit nervous till I get back to my bunk.”

“The best plan is for one of us to wait where the path leads down into
the ravine each night at eleven,” sez the Friar. “We could go at ten
and wait until twelve. If we went any closer, the dogs might get scent
of us.”

We agreed ’at this would be the best plan; and after this, two of us
made it a point to spend a couple of hours waitin’ there, while the
rest stayed at the look-out ready to hustle down if the’ was any
excitement; but nothin’ happened and we got purty fidgetty.

“Tank,” sez I one afternoon, “let’s ride over to Skelty’s. The’s
generally some Cross-branders there, and perhaps we can find a little

We reached there about seven, and ordered supper. There were five
Cross-branders there already, eatin’ and drinkin’; and one of ’em was
the tall feller by the name o’ Dixon. I nodded to him when I sat down
and he nodded back. It’s funny the way a man feels when he goes into
an unfriendly place to measure an’ be measured. It’s not like fear,
that is, not like panicky fear; but still I suppose it’s something
like what a jack-rabbit feels when the hounds are strung out after
him. He knows well enough what’ll happen if he can’t run fast
enough—but then he takes a heap of exhilaration in the thought that
he most certainly can run fast enough.

All those fellers knew something o’ me an’ ol’ Tank; while Dixon was
the only one we knew, the rest bein’ mostly young chaps who had taken
on with Ty durin’ the last few years; but as most o’ Ty’s men were
trailed out o’ some other state by a posse, it was a safe bet that
they had more or less rattler blood in ’em. They were all on friendly
terms with the girls, and the girls called ’em by name, whenever they
couldn’t think up some other term ’at suited their taste better. One
o’ these young fellers still had a boy’s eyes; but most o’ their eyes
were purty hard an’ chilly.

I never did set any store on havin’ a strange woman call me “dear”;
and neither did ol’ Tank. With his eye runnin’ wild, and his mussed-up
features, the term dear fitted him about as snug as false bangs an’
face-powder would; but one o’ these young hussies came over an’ stood
behind his chair, and sez: “Why hello, dearie, where have you been all
the time?”

“I’ve been over teachin’ my grandchildren how to play the pianer,” sez
Tank. “Have you got any pork an’ beans?”

Most any girl knows ’at most any man’ll stand for most anything; so
this one grabbed hold o’ Tank’s hair and gave it a pull; but she
savvied ’at he didn’t have any love for her, so she brought in his
grub, threw it down in front of him, and went back to soft-soapin’ the
feller with a boy’s eyes. He was still young enough to feel flattered
by it, and truth to tell, she wasn’t a bad lookin’ girl, except that
she drenched a feller so constant with her feminine charms that she
washed away any hankerin’s for ’em he might have had to begin with.

Any healthy woman has all the allurement she can possibly need, if
she’ll just take care of it. I like to see a hoss full o’ fire, and I
like to see a woman full of enticement; but I like to see both the
fire an’ the enticement kept under good control, and not made to show
out unnecessary.

Once, when I was in Frisco, I saw a parade of the Friendly Order of
Hindu Cats, and the Grand Thomas Cat o’ Creation rode in front on an
old gray hoss. This hoss had feet like worn-out brooms, and the’ was
knots all over his legs. All he asked in the way of entertainment was
to pass a peaceful day in a quiet stable, face to face with a bale of
hay; but they had clipped his mane an’ tail, hung a beaded belt across
his brisket, put a scarlet blanket on him, and jabbed him with spurs
until he was irritated to a degree.

The feller ridin’ him had learned to ride in a barber’s chair; but he
had a heavy frown, and a lot o’ gold lace, and a big canoe-shaped hat;
and I have to admit that if they had tied him fast to the saddle, and
put rubber spurs on him, he would have looked the part like a picture.
Every time he’d see one of his friends he’d stab the hoss on the off
side, then jerk back on the curb, and smile benevolent, as though he
intended to save the populace from that fiery steed or sprain every
bone in his face.

The old gray was as forgivin’ a hoss as I ever see; but he had his
limits as well as the rest of us. For the first ten or fifteen blocks,
he’d only swish his tail and prance when his rider jabbed him an order
for a little more fire; but finally his flanks got touchy, and his
sense o’ justice began to write the declaration of independence on his
patience. This would have been the time an intelligent human would
have traded off his spurs for an apple or a lump o’ sugar, or some
other welcome little peace-offerin’; but just then the parade passed
under a window jammed full o’ the Grand Thomas Cat’s closest friends,
and o’ course, they had to see a little fire.

He straightened out his legs, and then clamped the spurs into the old
gray’s flanks. I had fought my way through the crowd for fifteen
squares just to see it happen, and it was well worth it. The gray was
stiff and awkward, but in his youth he had taken a few lessons in
buckin’, and what he lacked in speed and practice, he made up in
earnestness. The Thomas Cat didn’t know any more about balancing than
a ball, and the grip of his knees wouldn’t have put a dent in a
pullet’s egg; the’ was no horn to the saddle, and the mane had been
clipped, so all he had to hang on with was the spurs and the curb bit;
and things certainly did happen.

The old gray pitched and kicked and reared and backed and snorted and
got mixed up with flags and citizens and umbrellas and red-lemonade
stands and policemen; until finally he scraped off the Grand Thomas
Cat of Creation on an awning, and tore off home, jumpin’ and kickin’;
while the population threw their hats in the air and yelled their
palates loose. They threw fruit and popcorn and friendly advice at the
Grand Cat as he hung from the awning; but friend or foe, the’ wasn’t a
soul in that crowd to help him get down; so as soon as he got calm
enough to remember what he was, he dropped the three feet to the
sidewalk, and ran into the store and hid.

If ya want to fill a crowd with content and satisfaction and joy and
felicity and such-like items, just have some terrible accident happen
to a popular hero, and all the joy-wells’ll overflow and gush forth
like fountains—But what made me think o’ this little incident was the
fact that this girl at Skelty’s put the spurs to her feminine charms a
leetle too continuous.

Dixon, the Cross-brander, was one o’ these lean, skinny ones, and as a
rule, I don’t crave to make their acquaintance. His Adam’s apple ran
up and down in his neck like a dumbwaiter, and the’ was plenty o’
distance for consid’able of a run. If ya looked at just the part of
him between his chin and his shoulders, he resembled an ostrich,
chokin’ on an orange; but I decided to be as friendly as possible; so
as soon as I’d filled a cigarette paper, I offered him my sack o’
tobacco. He took it, and while he was rollin’ himself a cigarette, he
sez: “I see you’ve cut loose from your preacher.”

“Nope,” sez I, “he cut loose from me.”

“How come you fellers spend so much time out this way?” sez he.

“Nice country and pleasant folks,” sez I.

“I’ve heard tell ’at you got so familiar over at the Diamond Dot, that
the old man turned ya loose,” sez he. “Is the’ anything to it?”

I didn’t reply at once. My first impulse was to see if I couldn’t pull
him and his Adam’s apple apart; for this wasn’t no accident. This was
a studied insult, and every one there was watchin’ to see what would
happen; but the’ was too much at stake; so I gripped myself until I
had time to put that remark where it wouldn’t run any risk o’
spoilin’; and then I sez: “Well, I don’t just like to have it put that
way; but I will admit that you haven’t missed it so terrible far.”

“Lookin’ for a job?” sez he.

“Oh, I’m not carin’ much,” sez I. “I’m thinkin’ some o’ takin’ a
homestead, or buyin’ some other feller out; but I ain’t in any hurry.
I may go on down into Texas, or take on again up here. Any chance for
a job with your outfit?”

Durin’ the time I had been decidin’ on what I’d say, Dixon had been
wonderin’ how I’d take it; and I don’t doubt he was some relieved.
Anyway, he thawed out a little. “Nope, I hardly think so,” sez he.
“We’ve been hard pushed for grass this season; but Ty bought a
water-right on Ice Crick, and things has smoothed out again. Another
thing is, that Badger-face has come back.”

I gave a start as natural as life, and I didn’t put it on, neither. I
had no idy he’d mention Badger-face without a lot o’ pumpin’.
“Badger-face?” sez I. “Good Lord, I thought he was dead!”

“Well, we thought so, too,” sez Dixon. “We hadn’t heard a word from
him; but he showed up a while back, and as soon as he gets able, he’ll
take to ridin’ again.”

“What’s wrong with him?” sez I.

“He’s purty well played out,” sez Dixon. “He sez ’at that feller,
Bradford, is some sort of a government agent. Now, we ain’t got
nothin’ again’ the government out this way, so long as it minds its
own business; but when it gets to interferin’ with our rights, why it
generally has to find a new agent. You were along with this feller,
Bradford, when he scooped in Badger-face; and I doubt if that has
slipped Badger’s mind yet. Badger’s memory for such things used to be
purty reliable.”

“Well, if it comes to that,” sez I, “I’d rather have Badger-face on my
trail than Dinky Bradford; though I own up, I don’t just know what
government position Dinky holds.”

“Ol’ man Williams there was along with ya, too, wasn’t he?” sez Dixon.

“Sure he was,” sez I. “We got a heap better paid, for that trip ’n we
usually get.”

“Yes,” sez he, slow an’ drawly, “but a feller can never tell when he’s
all paid out for such a trip as that.”

“A feller has to take chances in everything,” sez I. “I still got a
little money left to amuse myself with.”

“It don’t seem to make ya reckless,” sez he. Dixon had been drinkin’
purty freely, and I rather liked the effect liquor had on him.

“Maxwell,” I called, “this is a dry summer. Set up the drinks for the
house.” Some saloon-keepers fawn on ya as if they’d melt the money out
o’ your clothes while some of ’em are cold and haughty, as though it
was an insult to offer ’em money. Maxwell was one o’ this kind. He
glared his red eyes at me as if I’d been rude; but he set out the
drinks all right.

Tank had been shut away from drink for so long that I had plumb forgot
how he had happened to win his title; but as soon as I had give the
order, I sensed that he was in the mood to sluice himself out
thorough. The very minute we had cooled off from the drinks—Maxwell
kept a brand o’ poison which would eat holes in an iron kettle, if you
let it set five minutes—Well, the very instant the steam had stopped
comin’ out of our mouths, Tank ordered a round; and before that had
got on good terms with the first drink, Spider Kelley had arrived.

Mexican Slim had guessed where we were headin’ for, and Tank had owned
up to it, and Slim had told Spider, and, o’ course, Spider hadn’t been
able to stay behind; so when he stuck his nose in the door, Tank sez
’at the drinks was always on the last-comer, and Spider ordered a

I can journey about with a fair amount o’ booze, without lettin’ it
splash over into my conversation; but I was there on business, so I
drank as short drinks as would seem sociable. Tank, on the other hand,
had formerly been as immune to liquor as a glass bottle; but he was
out o’ practice without realizin’ it; and he splashed into Maxwell’s
forty-rod as though he was a trout hurryin’ back to his native
element. Spider was a wise old rat, and he played safe, the same as
me. O’ course, the Cross-branders couldn’t stand by and see us
purchase Maxwell’s entire stock, without makin’ a few bids themselves;
so for a while, we peered at the ceiling purty tol’able frequent.

The young feller with the boy’s eyes was chin-ful to begin with, the
other three Cross-branders were purty well calloused to a liberal
supply o’ turpentine; while Dixon would load up his dumb-waiter and
send it down as unconcerned as though his throat was a lead pipe,
connectin’ with an irrigation ditch. He had reached the stage where he
was reckless but not thoughtless, and the’ didn’t seem any way to wash
him down grade any farther.

“Any more o’ you fellers liable to drop in?” sez he, lookin’ at me. I
waved my hand towards Spider, as though he, bein’ the last to arrive,
would have the latest news; and Spider sez: “Nope, I reckon not.
Leastwise, not so far as I know.”

“Badger-face has come back and taken on with Ty again,” sez I.

“The hell he has!” exclaimed Spider, just as I knew he would.

“Yes,” sez Dixon with an evil chuckle, “he’s come back, and I doubt if
he’d feel any sorrow at meetin’ up with some o’ you boys.”

“As far as I remember,” sez ol’ Tank, bulkin’ up as ponderous as a
justice o’ the peace, “I don’t recall havin’ asked Badger’s permission
to do anything in the past, and I don’t intend to begin now.”

“Well,” sez Dixon, “I don’t mind tellin’ ya that Ty Jones ain’t so
sure o’ Badger as he used to be; and nothin’ would suit him so well as
to see Badger cut loose and get some o’ you fellers for helpin’ to
have him railroaded.”

This surprised me. Dixon didn’t seem a shade worse ’n he’d been when
Spider arrived, but he’d sure enough leaked out the news I was after.
Ty was suspicious o’ Promotheus, and we’d have to finish our job as
soon as possible. I didn’t want to start anything at Skelty’s so I
proposed a little friendly poker. The Kid was asleep in the corner; so
the seven of us played stud for an hour or so until Tank fell out of
his chair, and then we broke up for the night.

Tank was all in; so we had to put him to bed, and the Kid had to be
put to bed, also; but Dixon and the other three took a final drink and
started back to Ty’s.



Tank weighed like a beef when he got liquor-loose, and it was all me
and Spider could do to get him to bed. His legs were like rubber; but
he insisted on tellin’ us what he thought about things. He begged us
to start back and let him ride, sayin’ that it was only the heat o’
the room, not the drink, which had upset him; but he was in no shape
to ride a hay wagon, so we put him to bed.

“I think more o’ the Friar than of airy other man I know,” he sez to
us at the head o’ the stairs; “but I own up ’at I don’t take kindly to
religion; and I’ll tell ya why. The’s hundreds an’ dozens of hymns to
the doggone sheep-herders; but the’ ain’t one single one to the
cow-punchers. Now, what I sez is this, if ya want to round me up in a
religion, you got to find one ’at has hymns to cattle men.”

We didn’t bother to explain it to him, ’cause he wasn’t in condition
to know a parable from a pair o’ boots. We dragged him along the hall
and flung him on his bed. By chance we put him on the bed with his
boots on the piller; but he went sound asleep the moment he stretched
out; so we just hung his hat on his toe, folded the blanket over him,
locked the door, put the key in my pocket, and went across the hall to
our own room.

I didn’t want to harbor that liquor any longer ’n I had to, so me an’
Spider slipped down, got some salt an’ mustard, soaked it in water,
drenched ourselves—and repented of havin’ been such fools. Then we
went up to bed. It had been some time since we had stretched out on
springs, and we were cordial for sleep; so we mingled with it in short

Still, I wasn’t easy in my mind, and twice I woke up and went into the
hall; but I couldn’t hear anything, though I had a feelin’ that the’d
been some good cause for my wakin’ up. I lay on the bed the last time
with my mind made up to watch. Skelty’s had allus had the name o’
bein’ a tough joint, and this red-eyed Maxwell with his Injun hair
wasn’t of the kind to purify it to such an extent that the old
customers wouldn’t feel at home.

As I lay there, I saw the window rise, slow and careful. The’ wasn’t
any moon; but I could see a hand in the starlight. I made up my mind
to sneak out o’ bed, grab the hand, pull it in to the shoulder, and
then throw all my weight on it, and yell for Spider. I got up as
noiseless as cider turnin’ into vinegar—and then upset a confounded
chair, which sounded like two houses runnin’ together.

The window dropped with a bang; and at the same moment the’ came a
shriek from across the hall, followed by some scufflin’ and the sound
o’ broken glass. After this all we heard was Tank’s voice tryin’ to
explain his opinion o’ that part o’ the country and all its
inhabitants. I had thought that Tank had discarded most of his
profanity; but by the time we had got our guns and crossed the hall to
him, I changed my mind. When I put the key in the lock, he suggested
to us what was likely to happen to any unfriendly individuals who
attempted to enter that particular room.

I told him gently to stuff the piller into his mouth, if he couldn’t
find any other way to stop his yappin’; and then I unlocked the door,
just as Maxwell and his bartender came into the hall. The bartender
had one gun and one candle, and Maxwell had two guns.

When we opened the door, there was Tank with the blood runnin’ down
his leg, while he stood in a corner of the room holdin’ his weapon up
above his shoulder. “What’s the matter with you?” I sez, a little

“I’m homesick, you blame ijiot!” sez Tank. “What else would likely be
the matter with me?” Tank was about as far out o’ humor as I ever saw
him get.

Maxwell came in and looked at the pool of blood. “Don’t stand there
and bleed on the floor,” sez he.

Tank looked at him baleful. “What do ya wish me to do—upset your
rotten dive and bleed on the ceilin’?” sez he. “I didn’t come here
determined to smear up your place with my life blood; and I want ya to
understand that I didn’t punch this hole in myself simply to cool off.
I know what you’re afraid of—You’re scared that some o’ your liquor
has got into my blood, an’ that it’ll leak out and set your floor on

“You run get a bucket for him to bleed into,” sez Maxwell to the

“Yes,” sez Tank, sarcastic; “and be sure to get a big one, as I am
minded to draw off all o’ my blood, just to see how much I have in me
at this time o’ the year.”

Sayin’ which, Tank walked over an’ sittin’ on the bed, held out his
boot for me to pull off. He had been stabbed through the leg, through
the thick part o’ the calf, and a jet was spoutin’ out of the top cut,
and a steady stream oozin’ from the bottom one. I put my finger
knuckle above the top jet, and the palm of my other hand over the
lower one, and then sent Maxwell after a small rope and some bandages.

While he was gone, a couple o’ the girls strolled down the hall to see
what the excitement was; but Tank began to lecture about morals and
manners, and they didn’t bother us long. We patched Tank up in good
order, and made him lie down again. He said that he had been woke up
when his leg got stabbed, and had grappled with a man; but the man had
got out the window again.

Skelty had built his place on a side hill. The bar and dinin’ hall was
in front, and a small dance hall and kitchen back of it. Upstairs were
bedrooms, and the ground sloped so, that the back rooms were only
about five feet from the ground. This made the downstairs easier to
heat in winter—and it was also convenient for any one who wanted to
get in through a window.

Me and Spider ate breakfast next mornin’; but we wouldn’t let Tank
eat, rememberin’ the Friar’s rules for wounds. When we started away,
Tank insisted on goin’ along; so we had to ride slow. We went north,
instead of in the direction we wanted to go, for fear some one might
be spyin’ on us. I was mighty sorry we had come, even though I had
found out that Promotheus was under suspicion; and as soon as we had
come to a pass where we could see a good distance in all directions, I
sent Spider on a circle to tell the boys to bring things to a head as
soon as possible.

Tank’s leg ached him consid’able; and we had to ride purty slow; but
by noon we had come to the Simpsons’ cabin. We told ’em that Ty Jones
was suspicious about the Greasers and intended to get square with all
who had took a hand in removin’ ’em; so they agreed to stand with us
whenever we were ready to make a raid on Ty.

I made Tank lie down all afternoon, and drink all the water he could
swallow, but that night when I started to ride over to the look-out,
he insisted on goin’ along. It was a hard ride, and I wanted him to
wait until the next night, but he tagged along, so I had to ride slow.
We had figured out that the feller who had tried to get him had seen
the hat on his foot at the head o’ the bed; and before he had had time
to locate him proper, the noise the other one had made slammin’ the
window to my room had scared him, so he had taken his stab haphazard.

This must ’a’ been the way, ’cause when drinkin’, Tank was usually a
regular long range snorer, and only a hurried man would have mistaken
his feet for his head. Tank insisted that he had seen the feller’s
outline again’ the window, and that it had been Dixon. I doubted this;
but Tank insisted that the feller had had a neck like a beer bottle,
and then I had to give in.

We didn’t reach camp until sun-up, and then we found ’at Promotheus
had been there the night before, with word that he had had a long talk
with the woman, who had been in the most rational mood he had ever
seen her in. He had drawn her into tellin’ him all she could remember.
She had told him about havin’ her head full o’ pictures; but not bein’
able to tell the real ones from those she had dreamed. She said she
had lost the key to them and could not understand ’em, that she
remembered havin’ sung on many different platforms, but could not tell
where or when, and could not sing any more, though she sometimes
tried. She said that whenever he said the name Carmichael, she saw the
picture of a young man in white robes, but that he had died. When
Promotheus had tried to make her understand that he was still alive,
she had become frightened, and told him never to speak the name again.

He asked her about the Winter Garden in Berlin, and she said ’at this
called up the picture of a man with curled-up mustaches, and then she
had covered her eyes, and told him he must not mention this again,
either. Horace was tellin’ me all this; and when he finished, I sez:
“Well, if this is the most rational she has ever got, she’d be a nice
one to handle in her usual condition. I don’t see what we’re to do;
but we have to move fast, as Ty Jones is suspicious.”

The next night the Friar and I were down at the head of the path
leadin’ into the ravine when Promotheus came. He said that Dixon had
come in with his face cut, and had told about seein’ us over at
Skelty’s, and how we had bragged about gettin’ him rail-roaded, and
Dixon and the others had told him they were ready to back him up any
time he wanted to go an’ get even. He also said ’at Ty had been
roastin’ the whole gang of ’em for bein’ afraid of Olaf, and advised
us to warn Olaf to be on guard. He said the woman had told him that
day that at all times she had a dull pain in the top part of her head.
The was beginnin’ to get worried, this was plain to see, and he didn’t
stay very long.

When we told the others what he had said, we decided it was our duty
to go and tell Olaf that very night, so that he could send over the
next day and get a couple o’ the Simpson boys to come over and help
watch his place at night, until we were ready to finish with Ty. We
wanted to put it off as long as possible, as Ty would soon be in the
fall round-up and there wouldn’t be so many men at the home place.

Mexican Slim and Tillte Dutch started to ride to Olaf’s; but I was
restless that night, so I rode along with ’em. Just before we reached
the Spread, we saw a bright light at the side o’ the cabin. In a
minute two other lights shot up, and we knew they were firin’ brush at
the side of it. We threw in the spurs and rode, keepin’ close watch.
Two men rode towards us, and we drew off to the side of the road. Just
as they got opposite, we ordered ’em to halt; but they whirled and
fired at us. We fired back, and started after ’em; but it was dark in
the cottonwoods, and they gave us the slip and got away.

When we reached the cabin, we saw it was doomed. Piles o’ brush had
been heaped on all sides of it and fired one after the other.
Everything was so dry that even the dirt on the roof would have
burned, and there was nothing to do. Kit with the boy in her arms, and
Olaf and Oscar beside her were standin’ close by, watchin’ it burn,
and they felt mighty bitter. We told ’em why we had come, and advised
’em to go and leave Kit with the Simpsons, and come to our camp the
next night. Then we rode back before daylight and told the others what
had happened. We were all purty hosstile. Settin’ fire to a cabin with
a sleepin’ woman inside wasn’t no fair way o’ fightin’.

That afternoon as we were watchin’ the ranch through the field
glasses, we saw the woman and Promotheus walkin’ together toward a
little open space in the cottonwoods where the’ was some grass close
to the edge o’ the crick. Thick bushes was all about this place, and
it was cool and pleasant in the heat o’ the day. They hadn’t been gone
very long when we saw two others sneakin’ after them. I looked through
the glasses, and one appeared to be the skinny feller, Dixon, and the
other, the Chinese cook. We saw ’em sneak into the bushes and
disappear close to where the woman and Promotheus were sittin’. Part
o’ the time they talked together, and part of the time she read to him
out of a book.

We fair ached to yell to ’em and put ’em on their guard; but all we
could do was to sit up above in our look-out, feelin’ weak and
useless. I suppose we felt like a mother bird when she sees some
inhuman human foolin’ about her nest.

After a time the Chink crept out and scurried along to the old house.
He bounced across the porch, all crouched over, and we knew he had
some evil tale to cheer up his yellow soul with. In half a minute, Ty
came out with him and follered him into the clump o’ bushes. We could
see the woman and Promotheus plain, with our naked eyes. It was a good
thing, too; for Horace hung on to his glasses as though they were life

In about ten minutes, the bushes parted, and Ty stepped into the open
space in front of ’em. Promotheus got to his feet slow, but the woman
sat still, and didn’t seem much interested.

Ty glared at Promotheus durin’ the few minutes he was questionin’ him,
and then they all went back towards the ranch house. The woman went on
to her own cabin, and Ty blew on the horn which hung at the side of
the door, and that sneak of a Dixon came on the run, as though he had
no idee what was wanted. Actin’ under orders from Ty, he took The’s
gun and then tied his hands behind him and shut him up in an out
buildin’ near the stables. There didn’t appear to be any one else
about the ranch, and I suggested that we make a rush and take
possession right then.

While we were debatin’ it, we saw the punchers comin’ in from the
east, across the crick. There were about a dozen of ’em, strung out
and ridin’ hard the way they generally rode.

“They’re likely to string him up this very night,” sez I; “and we’ll
have to settle this business before sun-up.”

“They are not likely to be in any hurry,” sez the Friar. “If we go
to-night it will mean a lot o’ bloodshed. To-morrow they will go out
on the range again, and we stand a good chance of rescuing him without
even a fight.”

Olaf, of course, sided with the Friar, Horace sided with me, and we
had a purty heated discussion. The Friar argued that he had the most
at stake and had a right to select the plan with the least risk. I
argued that Promotheus had the most at stake, and we had no right to
take risk into account. We got purty excited, I usin’ the word coward
freely, while the Friar stuck to the word folly and kept cooler ’n I
did. He finally won ’em over to a compromise. We were to go down close
and keep watch durin’ the night; but not to make a rush until we saw
Promotheus actually in instant danger.



Ty Jones had been as wise as a fox when he located his ranch house. It
sat on high ground, while back of it rose a cliff; so ’at the only way
you could get to it without ropes from the back, was through the
little ravine. The cliffs circled around to the crick on both sides,
and the crick was so full o’ rocks that the’ was only two places a
hoss could cross. He had strung barb wire through the cottonwoods in a
regular tangle along the crick, and the only places he had to watch in
case of an attack, were the ravine and these two fords. He could see
for miles in all directions by goin’ to the head o’ the ravine; and
you could hardly pick out a purtier place for a last-stand ’n the one
he had selected.

The new cabin for the woman was right in front o’ the mouth o’ the
ravine, the old cabin a hundred yards or so farther on, the cook-house
and the Chink’s quarters to the north o’ this, the mess-hall for the
men to the east of this, the barn, wagon-sheds, workshop, and so on,
some distance to the south, and the bunk-shack a little to the north
of the stables. He had several corrals back o’ the barn and a pasture
of about thirty acres shut in by a wire fence.

After I had cooled off a little, I saw that the Friar was right. The
thing we couldn’t tell was, just how much they had forced Promotheus
to confess. If they had simply got Ty jealous that he was tryin’ to
get the woman away, we might make it all the worse by chargin’ down on
’em; while on the other hand he might have told where we were, and Ty
might take it into his head to try to get us all. This last would have
been the finest thing ’at could happen to us; but the’ was no way to
tell; so after eatin’ supper, we went down to the edge o’ the cliff to
see what we could see.

We were most of us surprised to see how far the cabin stood from the
cliff. In lookin’ down from our look-out, we had failed to take the
slope into account so it had looked as though we had been able to see
the woman the minute she had come out o’ the mouth of the ravine,
while the fact was the cabin stood several hundred feet from the
mouth. If it hadn’t been for the confounded dogs, we could have gone
down and found out what we wanted to know. We made some remarks about
those dogs which would have seared their hair off if they’d ’a’ been a
little closer.

The light was kept in the mess-hall long after time to finish eatin’;
and we guessed they were tryin’ Promotheus, right while we were
lookin’ on from above. All of a sudden, Olaf struck his palm with his
fist, and exclaimed: “What a fool I have been! Those dogs remembered
Promotheus, and he never patted ’em. I have patted ’em and spoke
soothin’ words to ’em, and they would know me. I shall go down and

Now this was a noble thought and we hadn’t a word to say again’ it; so
Olaf went back to camp, shed his boots and put on moccasins. Slim was
a good shot with a rifle, so he staid with Horace, who had an elephant
gun and a yearnin’ to use it, up on the cliff above the mouth o’ the
ravine. They had seven rifles of one kind and another, and they
thought they could make a disturbance if Olaf started anything. The
rest of us went down the ravine to the last curve. We tried to get the
Friar to stay behind; but his blood was up, and he wouldn’t heed us.
We had it made up to rope and tie him hand and foot, when we were
finally ready to wind things up with Ty Jones.

Olaf left us with his big, hard face set into rigid lines. He had a
long score to settle with Ty Jones, and he had made a funny gruntin’
hum in his throat every few steps as we had walked down the ravine. We
waited what seemed weeks; but the’ was no uproar, and finally, he came
out o’ the gloom, and spoke to us in a whisper. We went back with him
to the top o’ the path before he told us what he had heard.

He said they were tryin’ to make Promotheus confess who was back of
him; but that Promotheus had steadily refused. He said ’at Ty had told
him over and over that if he would tell him where he could lay hands
on either the Friar or Dinky Bradford, he would give him a month to
get out o’ the country himself; but Promotheus had stood firm, and
they had shut him up in the workshop again, tellin’ him he would get
nothin’ but water until he did confess.

This made us some easier in our minds. Promotheus had acted so worn
out and done up since his return, that he had fooled Ty; and Ty looked
upon him as a broke-down man, and nothin’ but a tool in the hands of
some stronger men. Olaf said ’at Ty acted as though he thought the
Friar had sent in a report to the government, and had got Bradford to
come out here the time that Promotheus had disappeared; and in some
way they had got word o’ Horace comin’ through Bosco this last time.
Dixon had told about seein’ us at Skelty’s, and a strange feller told
about bein’ shot at, the night Olaf’s cabin had been fired. They
bunched all this together, and decided ’at the best thing to do was to
trade Promotheus for Horace or the Friar, if it could be done. I had a
chuckle all to myself, when I pictured Horace as he had been when I
took him in hand, and now with the reputation he hadn’t quite earned,
bein’ a worry to the Ty Jones outfit.

“I allus said they were cowards,” sez Horace, as soon as Olaf had
finished his tale. “A man’s got an imagination, and as soon as he
starts to live like a wolf, this imagination fills the world with
watchdogs. Ty Jones never has fought in the open, and we’ll have no
trouble with him as soon as we once get him on the run.”

“Ty Jones has no fear,” sez Olaf. “I know; I have seen with my own
eyes. He is too clever to be trapped; but he has no fear.”

“Well, wait and see,” sez Horace.

Me and Tank kept watch on the cliff until mornin’ and then as nothin’
had happened, we went up to camp, and Slim and Dutch took watch at our
regular look-out. As we sat down to breakfast, we noticed ’at the
Friar was gone. Several spoke of him havin’ been restless the night
before and not turnin’ in when the rest did. The Friar allus was
unregular in his habits, especially at night; so we didn’t pay much
heed to him when he wrote by the fire, or went off by himself in the
quiet starlight, to sing some o’ the pressure off his heart; but at
such a time as this, we anticipated him to be as circumspect as

We started to hunt him up, but it didn’t take long. Horace found a
note pinned to the Friar’s tarp, and the note told us that he had
thought it all over careful durin’ the night, and had decided that his
duty compelled him to go down and offer himself in exchange for
Promotheus. He said that when things came to such a tangle that no
human ingenuity could unmix ’em, it was time to put trust in a higher
power; that it was for him that Promotheus had risked his life, and
that he felt he must take his place, as Ty had promised to let
Promotheus go if he would betray him. He said that he could not see
any way to help the woman, and that if he lost his life, for us not to
think of revenge, as it would all turn out for the best in some
mysterious way. The Friar had gone through a lot durin’ the last few
years, and it had finally undermined his patience. I knew just how he
felt: he wanted something to happen which would end his suspense, and
he didn’t care much what it was.

As soon as Horace had finished readin’; we all sat around in complete
silence, gawkin’ at each other. “Things has finally come to a head,”
sez Spider Kelley, solemnly.

“There now, that’s the Christian religion!” exclaimed Horace. “The
Christian religion is founded on self-sacrifice and martyrdom, and all
those who get it bad enough spend the bulk o’ their time on the
lookout to be martyrs and sacrifice theirselves for something—and
they don’t care much what for. Look at the crusades—the flower o’
Europe was lured into the desert and dumped there like worn-out junk,
even children were offered up in this sacrifice. Nothing but
sentimentality, rank sentimentality. Now, when the ancient Greeks—”

“The thing for us, is to decide on what we’re to do next, not what the
ancient Greeks did a few thousand years before we were born,” sez I.
“There is no use hidin’ any longer. The strongest card we have up our
sleeve is the fake reputation of Dinky Bradford, and what we must do
is to make up the best plan to play it.”

“Why do you say fake reputation?” demanded Horace.

“Well, you’re not a government agent, are ya?” I asked.

“No,” sez he; “but at the same time—”

“I didn’t say ’at you was a fake, Horace,” sez I in a soothin’ voice.
“I merely intimated that the things Ty Jones most fears about you are
the things which were not so.”

“I see what you mean,” sez Horace, “and it’s all right. What’s your

“Well, as soon as we are sure ’at the Friar has reached Ty’s,” sez I,
“we’ll send Ty word to deliver him back at once, and to appoint a
meetin’ place to explain things to us. Not make any threats nor bluffs
nor nothin’. Just a plain, simple statement of what we want done, and
sign your name to it.”

“I think it would be better to tell him we had his place surrounded,”
said Horace.

“Nope,” said I, “your old theory is best: let their imaginations
supply the details. If we put the government into their minds too
strong, they’re likely to find some way to deliver Promotheus over to
the law. I have a sort of impediment that The was a little rough with
an officer or two, after he deserted, and Ty knows all about him.”

“How the deuce will we get word to Ty?” sez Horace. “As fast as we’d
send messengers, Ty would shut ’em up.”

“One thing is certain, at least,” sez I. “Ty won’t string ’em up as
long as he knows he’s bein’ watched. And another thing is, that all of
Ty’s men are wanted for one thing or another, and the longer we keep
’em in suspense, the sooner they’ll weaken. We ought to send word to
the Simpson boys. They are at least two to one again’ us as we stand

Just at this junction, Slim arrived with the news that the Friar was
ridin’ up to the ford. I was purty sure ’at he wouldn’t go down by the
ravine. The Friar might lack judgment in certain matters; but you
could count on him lookin’ out for his friends, every time.

We hustled down to the look-out, and saw the Friar ride out into the
open, and hail the house. In a minute the’ was a crowd about him and
they pulled him from his hoss and dragged him toward the mess-hall,
actin’ mighty jubilant. The dogs raised a consid’able fuss; but they
didn’t let any of ’em get to the Friar this time. I don’t know whether
they were tryin’ to save the Friar or the dogs.

They took the Friar into the mess-hall, and kept him there a good long
time; but I felt sure he wouldn’t tell more ’n he wanted to. Then they
brought him out and shut him up in the workshop with Promotheus.

“You don’t see ’em turnin’ Promotheus loose, do ya?” sez ol’ Tank.

“Ty Jones would cheat himself playin’ solitaire,” sez Spider Kelley.

“He didn’t agree to turn Promotheus loose if the Friar surrendered,”
sez Olaf. “He only said he would if Promotheus enticed the Friar into
a trap.”

Ty Jones certainly did have what ya call personal magnetism. His men
stuck up for him, even when they was willin’ to help snuff him out.

We sent Oscar over to get the Simpson boys; and then we made our
plans. The’ was no way to get to our camp from above, and we could
easy guard the two trails ’at led up from below. Nothin’ would have
suited us better ’n to have Ty decide to come and get us; so we told
Oscar to make all the fuss he wanted when he came back.

Nothin’ happened down at the ranch that day. The woman drifted about,
the same as usual, not seemin’ to observe ’at the’ was anything
different from ordinary, and the punchers all stayed in sight. A few
of ’em rode up to high spots across the crick and took gappin’s, and a
couple of ’em came up the ravine and examined the ground on top; but
they didn’t seem to find anything to interest ’em.

That night Horace wrote an order on Ty Jones to release the Friar—we
had decided not to mention Promotheus—and Olaf started down with the
message. We posted ourselves the same as we had done before; and after
about an hour, Olaf returned.

He said he had examined the workshop, which was of logs, the same as
the rest o’ the buildin’s, and had heard the Friar and Promotheus
talkin’; but hadn’t ventured to say anything for fear they were
watched. He said ’at the Friar was holdin’ out on the value o’
fastin’; while Promotheus was speakin’ in defence of ham an’ eggs.
Then he said he had crept up to the front door of the old cabin, and
had fastened up the order with a dagger.

Olaf looked to me as though he had been enjoyin’ himself a little more
’n his tale gave reason for; so I pressed him, and finally he admitted
that there had been a man on watch at the mouth o’ the ravine. He said
he had wriggled through it on his belly, thinkin’ it too good a place
to be overlooked since the Friar had put ’em on their guard; and after
lyin’ still a moment, he had heard the man move. He said he had snaked
up to him, and had got him by the throat. He said he thought it was
Dixon because the’ was so much throat to get hold of. Dixon had been
perfectly resigned to havin’ Olaf lynched that time and Olaf’s memory
was not o’ the leaky kind.

“What became of him, Olaf?” I asked.

“Oh, he fought some,” said Olaf.

“Did he get away?” I asked.

“Un, yes—yes he got away,” sez Olaf.

“Where did he go to?” sez I.

“I think he went down—way down,” sez Olaf.

“Down where?” sez I. “Why don’t you tell us what happened to him?”

Olaf looked down at his right hand. It didn’t resemble a hand much;
but it would ’a’ been a handy tool to use in maulin’ wedges into a
log. “Why,” sez he, “he wriggled about, and started to squeak; and
when I squeezed in on his neck to shut off the squeak, why his neck
broke. It was too thin to be stout.”

I held out my hand. “Olaf,” I sez, “I want to shake the hand that
shook his neck.”

“Yes,” sez Tank, “and by dad, so do I!” Tank’s leg was still tender.



Oscar arrived durin’ the night with the whole four Simpson boys; and
word that Kit and the kid were in fine shape, with ol’ man Simpson
keepin’ a sharp watch, and Kit ready to take a standpat hand any time
trouble crowded too close. We expected to keep Ty busy, and so didn’t
worry any about Kit. Before dawn we started the four Simpsons out to
make a circle and cross the crick, tellin’ ’em to use their own
judgment to some extent; but not to run any risk. We wanted ’em to act
like scouts and, if possible, to draw Ty into chasin’ ’em, and then to
lead him back to our camp. We could see all of the other side o’ the
crick from our look-out.

By dawn the rest of us were down on the edge of the cliff, and we saw
’em find Dixon’s body. They were consid’able excited about it; so we
judged they had also read the notice on the door.

“What shall we do, to-day?” asked Horace.

“Shoot dogs,” sez I. “There ain’t any call to play safe any longer,
and those dogs are the worst bother we have.”

“All right,” sez Horace. “This will be a good chance for me to see if
I’m still in practice. I’m a purty good rifle-shot, Happy.”

I never could quite harden myself to Horace. The change in him was
almost as much as that between an egg and a chicken; but yet the’ was
still a suggestion of what he had been at first—his side-burns, most
likely—and it allus jarred me to see him steamin’ ahead with
self-confidence fizzin’ out of his safety valve. He took his elephant
gun and trained it on one o’ the dogs which was sniffin’ around the
place where Dixon’s body had lain. We were purty well off to the north
of the ravine; but it was still a consid’able angle of a down-shot,
and a good long one too.

“Remember,” sez I, “that when shootin’ down grade, you are mighty apt
to shoot too high.”

He lowered his gun an’ looked at me as though I had called him a girl
baby. “I have shot from every angle the’ is,” sez he; “and I’ve shot
big game, too.”

“Ex-cuse _me_!” sez I. “Shoot now, and let’s see what happens.”

You had to take off your hat to Horace when it came to a cultivated
taste in firearms. The thing he had got Promotheus with had been small
enough to conceal in your back hair, while his present instrument
wasn’t rightly a rifle at all, it was a half-grown cannon. It shot a
bullet as big as your thumb which mushroomed out and exploded, as soon
as it hit. The dog died a merciful death; but he left a mighty
disquietin’ bunch o’ remains.

“Good boy, Horace!” I said, slappin’ him on the shoulder. “You keep on
removin’ the dogs, and I’ll go up the slope, and pertect your rear,
should they try to come up the ravine.”

I heartily endorsed this slaughter o’ the dogs; but I wasn’t ambitious
to see it done. I have been well acquainted with a large number o’
dogs of all sorts and sizes, and I have deep feelin’s for dogs. When
it comes to livin’ accordin’ to a feller’s own standard, a dog has us
all beat. When a dog signs up, he don’t whisper nothin’ under his
breath. He signs up for the full trip, and he don’t ask a lot o’
questions about how long the hours’ll be, or what sort o’ grub and
quarters and pay he’ll draw. He just wags his tail, and sez: “This
here feller is my idea of exactly what a feller ought to be; and I’m
for him in all he does. If he wants me to fight, I’m hungry for it, if
he wants me to be polite and swaller a lot o’ insults, I’ll do it, or
if the time comes when my death is worth more to him ’n my life, why,
I don’t know nothin’ about future rewards or such truck; but I’m
perfectly willin’ to swap life for death in his name, and I’m proud to
take the consequences—so long as he gets the reward.”

I own up ’at a dog has no morality; he’s only a reflection of his
master. A decent man has a decent dog, a vicious man has a vicious
dog—and this is why it would have hurt me more to watch Horace
testin’ his aim on the dogs ’n it would if he had been minded to pot a
few Cross-branders themselves, especially Ty Jones.

Now, the sound o’ this gun, and the sight of the dead dog made things
buzz down below. The men peered out from all directions, but hardly
knew what to do. I had sent Mexican Slim off to the right, just above
the ravine, to pick off any dogs ’at came in that direction, and soon
after Horace got his, Slim also got one; and Ty whistled the dogs to
come to the house. Here was where his method of treatin’ a dog showed
up bad. Any time before this, a dog which so much as set foot on the
porch had been belted with anything capable of inflictin’ pain, and
now they refused to go inside.

The Chink was able to whistle ’em to the cook-house; but that was as
far as they’d go; and while they were standin’ in a bunch, Horace and
Slim each got one. Ty was standin’ near one o’ the poles which upheld
the back porch, and Horace exploded a slab from this pole in such a
way that it knocked Ty down. This put the whole bunch into a
consternation. Horace certainly could shoot some. It made me think o’
the poorhouse, when I reflected on what it had cost him to learn how.

Nothin’ much happened that day. Horace and Slim stuck to their
knittin’, and the Simpson boys played their part well. They rode in a
bunch, and when they’d come in sight o’ the ranch house, one would
hold the field-glass case to his eyes, as though lookin’ through the
field glasses, and another would turn and wave his hands, as though
signallin’ to some one up in the hills. Once, two punchers went to the
corral and saddled hosses; but Horace shot one o’ the hosses, and both
men flew for the stable without waitin’ to take off the saddles. They
had never seen such wounds as Horace’s elephant gun created, and it
put ’em in a mighty thoughtful mood.

The Simpson boys came in soon after dark; and we all held a council of
war while eatin’ supper. I was purty certain that we had a better
bunch o’ men than those we were fightin’. It is no test of nerve to
kill a man: a lot o’ men who got the reputation o’ bein’ bad were
nothin’ but accidents or sneaks; but when you have to stick through a
slow fight without knowin’ the odds again’ ya, it gives your nerve a
mighty searchin’ try-out. I had hopes that after a day or so, they’d
be certain that the hills on all sides of ’em were full of enemies,
and they’d be mighty glad to settle on our terms. I didn’t want to
kill a single man more ’n was necessary. Horace also thought we could
wear out their nerve; but Olaf shook his head.

“Some o’ the punchers may desert in the night,” sez he; “but as long
as a single one remains to stand back to back with Ty Jones, Ty
Jones’ll stay and fight. He has no fear—I have seen.”

“The question is this,” sez I, “if those fellers are the kind to get
fiercer the longer they’re kept in suspense, the thing to do is to
raid ’em to-night; but, on the other hand, if they’re the kind whose
nerve evaporates when it is kept uncovered, the thing to do is to wear
’em down. Let’s vote on it.”

We decided to do some more wearin’; so we kept a guard at the camp,
and the rest of us went down to the cliff, and tossed over stones to
where we thought they’d be hid, providin’ they had put guards at the
mouth of the ravine. We raised a yelp the first throw, and heard a
rush o’ men from the new cabin, though the shadow was so dense down
below we couldn’t see a thing. This showed us that some o’ the dogs
still survived and were bein’ used as guards, and also that there were
men quartered in the woman’s cabin. This was a bother, as it would
force us to be careful until we found out where she was livin’.

We posted a guard at the top of the path leadin’ up from the ravine,
another at our camp, and went to sleep, feelin’ purty tol’able well
fixed. Nothin’ happened that night, and the next day, we made ready to
do about the same as we had done the day before; but when we reached
the cliff, the’ wasn’t a sign o’ life below—not a single, breathin’
thing in sight, not even a hoss in the pasture.

“They’ve got away!” exclaimed Horace.

“Where to?” sez Olaf. “Ty Jones hasn’t any more use for the law ’n we
have, and you’ll never make me believe ’at he’s pulled out and left
all his belongin’s for whoever wants ’em.”

“That’s so,” sez I; “but where the deuce are they?”

We watched all mornin’; but not a sign, not a bit o’ smoke from the
cook-house, just the ranch buildin’s settin’ there as deserted as the
Garden of Eden. The Simpsons were workin’ their stunts across the
crick; so about ten in the mornin’, Slim and Dutch rode over to tell
’em to come in, as they would look mighty foolish, providin’ they were
makin’ signals to one of the hills where the Cross-branders themselves
were hid.

After eatin’ dinner, the rest of us went down to the lookout, Horace
shoulderin’ his elephant exterminator, and lookin’ peevish and
fretful, ’cause the’ was nothin’ to shoot at. “Boys,” sez I, “do ya
suppose ’at poor old Promotheus has been goin’ all this time on
nothin’ but water.”

“He’s gone longer ’n this on nothing but water,” sez Horace; “and so
have I. Over in Africa, once, we sent a tribe o’ blacks around to beat
some lions out for us; but they fell in with another tribe who were
not friendly, and they just kept on goin’. Promotheus and I were lost
from everything, and we got into a desert before we found a way out.
We went for I don’t know how long without water. Anyway, we went long
enough to get into that numb condition when the earth becomes molten
copper, and the sky a sun glass, and a man himself feels like another
man’s nightmare. That tender old Promotheus you’re sympathizin’ with,
carried me the best part of a day, or a century—time had melted
entirely away—and when we came back to our senses we lay beside a
pool of water. He’s tough, Promotheus is.”

“At the same time,” sez Tank, “settin’ cooped up in a log hut with
nothin’ to cheer ya but water, isn’t my idy of havin’ high jinks.”

“Perhaps, too,” sez Spider Kelley, who didn’t have enough sense of
fitness to change a nickel, “those mongrel coyotes lynched both him
an’ the Friar before they vamosed.”

“They wouldn’t do that,” sez Olaf; “but I wish we knew what they had

“Let’s go and shoot at the old cabin or the bunk-shack,” sez Oscar.

“I move we wait, and raid ’em to-night,” sez I, and this was what we
decided to do.

The rest of us lolled about purty patient—as active men, an’ beasts
too, are likely to do when the’s nothin’ on hand—but Horace who had
lived in a room most of his life, hadn’t quite learned to turn off his
steam when he hadn’t any use for it; so he kept bobbin’ up and fussin’
about. All of a sudden, he gave a sort of gasp, and pointed up the

We looked and saw one man crouched over and runnin’ along where the
south trail to our camp swung around a crag; and we sprang to our
feet, and looked up at the camp. As we looked, the face of Ty Jones
with a grin on it, poked up over a stone and leered down at us most



Now, you can mighty easy understand that this was a fair sized,
able-bodied, bite-and-kick consternation for us, if ever the’ was one
in the world. Our look-out was behind a ridge which sheltered it
complete from below, but left it as open from above as the straw hat
which Stutterin’ Sam made the dude crawl through. Up above us, lookin’
down from the rocks in front of our camp was Ty Jones, grinnin’ as
self-composed an’ satisfied as a cat which has just removed all
evidence of there ever havin’ been any Canary birds; and truth to
tell, we felt as indiscriminate and embarrassed as a naked man at a
dance party.

All we saw was just Ty and his grin. We knew the’ was one other man
with him, but that was all we did know; while our strength was as
plain to them, as Tillte Dutch was the time he fell in love and used
iodaform on his hair instead o’ perfume. We just stood and looked up
at Ty, and then we turned our heads and looked at each other, and I
never saw as many stupid expressions in one mess. We felt as though
every minute was liable to be our next.

Whenever ol’ Tank Williams was surprised or puzzled or wrastlin’ with
his own thoughts, he allus put me in mind of a picture I once saw of a
walrus. The walrus was loungin’ up on a rock, and he looked as solemn
and philosophical as though some young snip of a school boy had tested
his intellect by askin’ him what two times one made. I never saw Tank
look so much like the walrus as he did this time ’at Ty Jones
surprised us. O’ course Tank’s teeth was different, but his mustaches
stuck down in much the same way, and when I looked at him, I busted
out laughin’, though I own up I was scared enough to stampede the
moment before. When I laughed, it seemed to break the charm, and
before I buttoned up my lips again, Horace had pulled up his elephant
gun, and taken a blast at Ty’s grin. Ty pulled down his face behind
the stone as soon as Horace aimed at him; but the range was long
enough to strain even such a devil-tool as this half-grown cannon, so
nothin’ came of it.

After my chuckle, I began to think in streams. The ground to the right
of us—as we looked up towards Ty—was broken, and it occurred to me
that he had been holdin’ us with his grin so as to give some of his
men time to sneak down and cut us off, he and the balance were above
us, the ravine to our left, and straight back of us the cliff. We
couldn’t stick where we were again’ odds, and there wasn’t any water
in the clump of rocks which faced the path where it come out of the
ravine. As I ran over these details in my mind, I had as little
temptation to laugh as I ever did have; but the second I thought of
the clump o’ rocks facin’ the path, I saw that the path itself was the

There was no reason to hurry, as far as I could see; they could not
come to us without exposin’ themselves, and every moment we waited,
the closer would come Dutch, Slim, and the four Simpson boys. To the
right of us, as I said, the ground was broken, and here was where they
would be most likely to sneak down on us. By goin’ in a diagonal
direction, we could get to where we could see straight up the washes
which made up this broken ground, and so know what we had to fight.

“Come on, fellers,” sez I, climbin’ up over the ridge.

“Where ya goin’?” sez Horace.

I sat down on top o’ the ridge. “Have you got any plan?” sez I calmly.

“No,” sez he, “I haven’t; but I’d like to know—”

“If you’re willin’ to take charge,” sez I, “why, go ahead, and I’ll
obey orders; but I don’t care how small the body is, it can’t do quick
work with more ’n one head, as you ought to know better ’n any of
us—it havin’ been tried frequent in those Greek tales you’re all the
time inflictin’ us with.”

Horace put his back up a little. “I’m willin’ to agree to anything
reasonable,” sez he; “but I don’t see any sense in leavin’ this spot
until we know where we’re goin’.”

I folded my fingers together, set my thumbs to chasin’ each other, and
began to whistle. I wasn’t jealous of Horace; but it just occurred to
me that I had handled men before he’d mustered up courage enough to
stay out after seven o’clock P. M. without gettin’ his mother’s
permission, and I wanted to test the others and see if they thought he
had picked up more craft in three years ’n I had in a lifetime; so I
whistled the tune to his song, and looked up at the clouds.

“What’s your idee, Happy?” sez ol’ Tank. I had nourished Tank on
thought-food for a good long session, and I knew he’d feel mighty much
like a lost calf if I left him to rustle up his own idees; so I just
gave my hands a little toss and kept on with my whistlin’.

“Aw, don’t be so blame touchy,” sez Spider Kelley. I had pulled Spider
through a number o’ tight places, also, and I knew he’d soon begin to
feel trapped up and smothery, if I left him to sweat out his own idees
for a few minutes longer; so I gave him the same gesture I had
bestowed on Tank.

“What do you think we’d better do, Olaf?” sez Horace.

Olaf looked all around but did not see anything. “They have come up
the ravine, took the path up the other side, through the clump o’
trees, made a wide circle and got to our camp,” sez Olaf. “If we try
to get away, they cut us off. If we stay here, we die for want of
water. If we rush up the hill, they shoot us from behind the rocks.
All I can see is to wait until night, and then make a rush for it.”

“Well, that don’t look like much of an idee to me,” sez Horace. I kept
on whistlin’.

“I move we foller Happy,” sez Spider Kelley.

“I second the motion,” sez Tank.

“I’m willin’ to,” sez Olaf, and Oscar nodded his head. This was about
all Oscar ever used his head for except to hang his hat on; but he was
a good boy and sizey.

“All right,” sez Horace. “Now then, Happy Hawkins, the responsibility
is on you.”

“Now, be sure you mean this,” sez I; “for my plan is a foolish one,
and I don’t care to explain each step. I don’t claim ’at my scheme is
the best; but my experience has been, that a poor plan carried out
beats a good plan which never came in. Climb up here, and we’ll walk
off in that direction without lookin’ behind us.”

They couldn’t see any sense in this; but they follered me without
chatterin’, and I was satisfied. Horace had the field glasses in his
pocket; so when we had reached the place I thought would do, I set him
to lookin’ across the crick careful to see if he could see anything.
All the others watched him, and I got behind and looked up the slope.
I saw several men hidin’ in the washes, and I said in a low tone:
“Keep on lookin’ across the hill, Horace. Now, you others get out from
behind him. Now, Horace, whirl and examine the washes up the slope and
see how many men you can count.”

Horace whirled, as did all the rest of ’em, and we found seven fellers
in sight. We figured ’at there must be at least fifteen Cross-branders
in the neighborhood, and probably more, and the ones we were able to
see in the washes convinced me ’at Ty had staked everything on gettin’
us cornered. They didn’t have enough to split up, so I felt sure they
would leave the ravine open, not thinkin’ it likely we’d try to go
down there.

“Now,” sez I, “let’s go to that clump o’ rocks and hide.” They all
came along; but didn’t seem enthusiastic, because the washes led down
close to the rocks—we, ourselves, havin’ sneaked down ’em while we
were waitin’ for the woman that day. We couldn’t see the path the boys
would take in comin’ up to our camp from across the crick, while the
Cross-branders could see ’em a good part o’ the way, and this fretted
me a lot; though I hoped they had heard Horace’s elephant gun.

After a time, Horace, through the glasses, saw a feller’s head
watchin’ us from our old look-out; so we knew they had crept up along
the back o’ that ridge. Then we heard consid’able shootin’ off to the
right, and knew the boys had got back. There were several good places
for ambush, and we felt purty blue at what had most likely happened;
but they were on hossback, and would be on their guard after knowin’
’at the Cross-branders were up to some trick; so we hoped for the

This clump o’ rocks we were in was composed of one big crag and a lot
o’ little ones. The big one shut off our view, and finally Horace said
it would be a good plan to get on top of it, as the chances were we
could get a good view in all directions. It was fifteen feet up to
where the’ was footin’, and we didn’t see how it could be done; but he
said it was simple; so we let him try it. He made Olaf and Tank face
the rock, holdin’ on to each other. Then I climbed to their shoulders
and they passed up Horace. I handed him up as far as I could reach,
and it was as simple as peelin’ a banana. The signal was for him to
drop a pebble when he wanted to come down.

In about two moments a stone the size o’ your fist fell on Oscar’s
head; which was a good thing, for it might otherwise have hurt a head
we had more use for. We laddered ourselves again’ the rock, and Horace
came down without missin’ a single one of our ears. When he reached
the level, he put his finger on his lips, and said he had seen ten men
sneakin’ up toward the rock and only a few hundred feet away. Oscar
was still holdin’ to the lump on his head, so Horace explained ’at
the’ hadn’t been any pebbles on top the crag.

“Now, what ya goin’ to do?” asked Horace to me.

“You, Olaf, and Oscar go around the rock to the left,” sez I; “and
Tank, Spider, and I’ll go around to the right. Each fire only once,
and then run around the rock again and make for the path leadin’ down
into the ravine. Keep close together all the way.”

“The ravine!” exclaimed Spider.

“Sure,” sez I.

“All right,” sez Spider, draggin’ out the “all” until it would do for
“I told ya so,” in case we got pocketed.

It worked fine; we flew around, surprised ’em, shot a volley into ’em,
made ’em seek cover, and then we flew for the head o’ the path. Ol’
Tank, with his damaged prop, was as nimble as a one-legged Norman
hoss, and Horace was loaded down with elephant ammunition; so that it
was wise to have all the time we could get. Ty and five others jumped
up from our look-out, and tried to head us off; but they had to go
twice as far as we did. Ty and two others had rifles, and they stopped
and took shots at us, but nothin’ came of it.

“Hurry on to the ranch buildin’s,” I called as we went down the path.
Then I turned back, to see what they were doin’.

“Let me take a shot at ’em,” sez Horace’s voice at my elbow.

“Why didn’t you go on with the rest?” sez I. “I can give you half way
and beat you runnin’.”

“Let me take just one shot,” sez Horace, so I gave in and let him. Two
fellers were runnin’ at a long angle toward the mouth o’ the ravine to
head us off, and get a shot from above; so I told him to try for one
o’ them. He fiddled with his hind sight as calm as though shootin’ for
a Christmas turkey, and hanged if he didn’t topple one over. The other
stopped, and then ran back with his head ducked low to the ground,
while the wounded one crawled behind a rock.

“Now dust for the buildin’s,” sez I; “and don’t try any more nonsense.
Let me carry the weapon, and you won’t be so overloaded. I’ll start
after you in a jiffy.”

When I looked back, I saw that all of ’em had slowed down consid’able,
out o’ respect to the elephant gun; but I could still count seventeen,
so we hadn’t seen ’em all before. When they started towards the head
of the path again, I took a shot at Ty Jones; but I didn’t savvy the
rear sight, and all it did was to make ’em slow down once more. Then I
slid down the path and hot-footed it down the ravine. I saw signs o’
hosses, so I knew they had rode most of their trip, and would be in a
position to circle around all they wanted to.

I soon caught up with the others, and Tank was puffin’ purty freely.
All the rest were runnin’ easy, and we came out o’ the mouth o’ the
ravine without seein’ a single soul. Now, we hardly knew what to do.
It was about the same distance from the mouth o’ the ravine to the
first curve in it, as it was to the woman’s cabin; so I told Spider to
stay at the corner o’ the cabin, and watch that curve.

Then we went around and found the door locked. We called twice to the
woman, but the’ was no reply; so Olaf picked up a big stone and
knocked off the lock. We made a quick examination; but the’ was no one
there. I posted Horace and Spider in this cabin to watch the mouth o’
the ravine through the window facin’ it, and to shoot into ’em, should
they foller us close.

We next went to the big house, where we had more trouble as everything
was fastened with bars on the inside, except the front door which had
an immense padlock on the outside. We finally broke it off, and out
dashed three o’ their confounded dogs. We killed ’em, and went inside;
but the’ was no one else there. Next we went to the workshop, and
after breakin’ off the padlock, we found the Friar and Promotheus
gagged and tied. The Friar was sad, and Promotheus was mad. We sent
’em up to the cook-shack to get on speakin’ terms with food again, and
rummaged the rest o’ the buildin’s; but could find neither the woman
nor the Chink, and by the time we were through, it was gettin’ along
towards dark.

I set Tank to cookin’ a meal while the rest of us carried logs and
piled ’em in the mouth o’ the ravine. It would be moonlight up to ten
o’clock, and after that I intended to have a fire to see by. We also
set up some logs at each o’ the two fords. After supper we divided
into two equal groups o’ four each, to stand guard, each man to watch
two hours, one at the window of the new cabin, the other from the
porch of the old one, where a view across both fords could be had.

The Friar was purty downcast at our not bein’ able to find the woman,
and at our still bein’ in a state o’ war; but he didn’t kick none. He
promised not to go over and surrender himself any more, and said he
would stand guard careful, and warn us the first thing ’at happened.
We decided ’at they would probably attack us that night, and we
finally chose the old shack, as it had water piped into it from a
spring a hundred yards above. I figured ’at they’d be most apt to come
down the ravine, so I picked out the Friar, Olaf, and Tank to help me
watch it, and the others to take turns watchin’ the fords.

About half past nine, we lit the fires and turned in, with Oscar on
the porch, and Olaf at the window of the new cabin. I thought they
wouldn’t come before two o’clock, and had it arranged so ’at the last
ford watches would be held by Spider and Promotheus.



I wasn’t sleepy, and lyin’ stretched out is the worst cure for
sleeplessness ’at ever I tried; so after twistin’ about for a while, I
got up and took a look around. Oscar hadn’t seen a thing, which I took
to be a mighty encouragin’ sign. Mostly, when you set a boy on guard
he rouses ya out to meet the enemy every fifteen minutes, and then
goes to sleep just before the enemy actually does arrive; but Olaf had
trained Oscar to do what he was told, as he was told—when he was
told—and then not to talk about it for a couple o’ years afterward.
Oscar was reliable to a degree; but for conversational purposes, I’d
sooner have been shipwrecked with a brindle bull pup.

I didn’t have any doubts of Olaf; but I dropped in to see what sort of
a view he had, now that it had got dark. The fire was burnin’ high,
and the ravine was as bright as day. Enough o’ the fire would last
until mornin’ to give a good view, so I strolled down around the
bunk-shack and stables. I saw a form movin’ in the shadow o’ the
cottonwoods, and stalked it careful, finally gettin’ close enough to
make out the Friar.

“Can’t ya sleep, Friar?” sez I.

“No, no, I can’t sleep,” sez he with a sigh. “Where do you think she
is, Happy?”

“They probably took her with ’em; and left the Chink to guard her,
back in the hills,” sez I. “No matter what happens, they’re not liable
to harm her.”

“It’s sore hard to be patient,” sez the Friar. “I am honestly opposed
to all violence and bloodshed. I have allus believed that all wars
were useless and unnecessary; but it’s sometimes hard for me to love
my enemies.”

“You’re just worried and can’t see clear,” sez I soothin’ly. “It’s
plain enough if you just think it out—that’s the best part o’
religion. One place it sez: ‘Love your enemies.’ In another it sez:
‘Foller the Lord’s example.’ In still another it sez: ‘Whom he loves,
he chasteneth’—which you said meant to punish. Now then, you have it
all worked out: the proper way to love your enemy is to punish him;
and, accordin’ to this rule, we’re goin’ to love the hide off o’ one
o’ your enemies, if so be we’re able to do it.”

But the Friar never would stand for havin’ his religion doctored to
suit the taste, he had to take it as stiff and raw as alcohol, where
he was concerned, himself; so he turned in and explained things to me
until from my standpoint, misery was the only religious excuse a
feller had for bein’ happy.

By this, it was time to change watches, so the Friar relieved Olaf,
while Horace and his elephant-pest went out on the front porch to
watch the fords, and I turned in. None of us took our boots off that
night; we had a little fire in the big room, and slept on the floor,
holdin’ our belts in our hands. I drowsed off quick enough this time,
knowin’ ’at Tank and Promotheus would be next on watch and certain not
to let anything surprise them.

Sure enough, just about the time we had slept ourselves into complete
forgetfulness, we were all jerked to our feet by the first shot Tank
fired, and this one shot was followed by a bunch of others. The
Cross-branders had crept down the ravine, and a little after three
when the fire had burned low, they had tried to get by unnoticed. Ol’
Tank only had one eye, but it was a workin’ eye, if ever the’ was one,
and he shot two of ’em with one o’ their own rifles, and when they
rushed him in a body, spreadin’ out wide, he retreated to the old
cabin, accordin’ to directions.

The old cabin had loopholes in it, and we had found three fairly good
rifles, but not much ammunition. We didn’t waste any shots while it
was still dark; but they fired at us now and again. They had brought
the five rifles we had left at our camp, and used ’em freely. Slim had
taken the other rifle with him.

All durin’ that day they broke the monotony by takin’ frequent shots
at us; but the logs in the cabin had been matched up for just such a
purpose, and not one of us was even scratched with a splinter. What we
were most afraid of was, ’at they would find some way to set fire to
the cabin, and we counted on that bein’ one o’ the night’s

There were three good sized rooms in the old cabin which was only one
story high. One big room occupied the full south half o’ the cabin, a
bedroom was in the northeast corner, and a library in the northwest
corner. Yes, sir, a regular library, and the Friar and Horace both
said it was a choice collection o’ books. Horace showed us one book
which had a photograph of the original Prometheus chained to a rock
with the vultures peckin’ at his liver, and he certainly must have
been some man to stand it. This picture made The’s eyes light up

The’ was also some chromos of naked stone images on the wall, which
the Friar and Horace called mighty fine copies. They were purty well
dumb-founded to find ’at Ty Jones didn’t live as much like a bob-cat
as they’d thought. Under the book shelves was a row o’ locked drawers.
They stuck out farther than the shelves above ’em, and we wanted to
pry ’em open to see what was inside; but the Friar wouldn’t let us.

That was a wearin’ day, and we were all glad when it finally dragged
itself to the lake o’ darkness, and dove in. We had our minds made up
for a busy night, but waitin’ for trouble is more crampin’ to the soul
than bein’ in the midst of it, so we felt cheerfuller as soon as night
actually settled down.

We didn’t dare have a fire in the fireplace, for fear it would show
’em our loopholes, and we didn’t care to advertise these any more ’n
was necessary; but we set a lighted candle far back in the fireplace,
to see to load by. The fireplace was across the southwest corner o’
the big room. There were no loopholes in the library, but we feared
the light might leak through a chink in the window shutter, so we
didn’t have any light there. We kept one man watchin’ through
loopholes in the bedroom, and two watchin’ in the big room, and were
able to cover the whole neighborhood.

The cook-shack was the nearest buildin’, and only the two loopholes in
the north end o’ the bedroom covered that; so we decided to fling the
library window open and fire through that, in case they made a rush
from that direction. We knew they wouldn’t be likely to start anything
until after eleven, as the moon wouldn’t set until then, so we
stretched out on the floor, leavin’ Oscar, Horace, and Spider on

When a feller has been keepin’ his attention wound up for several
days, his mainspring finally gets strained, and the cogs in his head
get to cuttin’ up regardless. I managed to get a purty fair dab o’
sleep; but it seemed as though I dove straight out o’ wakefulness into
a dream, and it was some the rottenest dream I ever had. I dreamed
that Ty Jones had come and stooped over me and asked me what I thought
o’ the way he had conducted his life. In a dream a feller is apt to do
the foolest things imaginable, so I looked up into Ty’s face and told
him my true opinion. I sez to him: “Ty, if your brains were blastin’
powder, they wouldn’t make enough explosion to raise your hat.”

Ty didn’t take kindly to this opinion; so he jumped into the air and
lightin’ on my face, began to trample it with his heels. The
discomfort of this wakened me; but at first I didn’t know I was awake.
Several men had been actually tramplin’ on me, and the’ was a general
fight takin’ place in that room which was hard to make head or tail

In the flickerin’ candle rays, it was mighty bothersome to tell who
from which; so the’ was no shootin’. Aside from Ty and Pepper Kendal,
we averaged bigger ’n they did, except Horace and Spider. Spider had
length but he ran small in the arms and legs, while Horace was
twenty-two caliber any way you looked at him. They abused Horace some
consid’able, and he got kicked and trampled on purty liberal; but he
was of terrier blood, and the second or third time he got kicked into
a corner, he crawled out on his hands an’ knees, picked out a pair o’
legs which was strange to him, wrapped his arms about ’em, and fetched
their owner to the floor with a thump. I spared enough time to knock
the feller on the head; and then Horace played his trick over again.

Olaf was a mad bull in a mix-up like this—Horace said he had
beershirker blood in him, and this must be good stuff for it made Olaf
grin when Horace accused him of it. O’ course the’ ain’t much head or
tail to such a fight, and in lookin’ back on it, it’s just like
spurtin’ the pages of a picture-book with your thumb and tryin’ to
observe the pictures. I saw the Friar leanin’ again’ the mantel-piece
with a hurt look on his face; and it disgusted me.

In times o’ peace, I respected his prejudice again’ violence; but this
was no time for foolishness, and I recall mutterin’ to myself a wish
that Horace might have the loan of his big body for the next half
hour. I saw Olaf knock down two men with one blow, I saw The save ol’
Tank’s life, just as a half-breed was about to knife him from behind;
but for the most part it was just about as orderly a mess as a
popper-ful o’ corn over a bed o’ coals.

The fight didn’t last more ’n five or ten minutes. They had banked on
surprisin’ us; and when this failed they were ready to back out. I
afterward found out that it was the Friar who had caught sight of ’em
first, he not’ bein’ able to sleep.

Ty and Pepper Kendal were the last to leave the big room; and when
their own men were out of it, they opened fire on us; we fired back,
and when they backed into the library where the rest o’ their gang had
disappeared, we made a rush for ’em. I supposed they had come in
through the library window, and I called for a candle, hopin’ to grab
Ty before he could get out.

Spider Kelley had already picked up the candle, and he had it in the
doorway in a second. The big drawers at the bottom o’ the bookcase
were swung back, showin’ a stairway behind ’em, and Ty Jones stood at
the top with Pepper Kendal just behind him. I dove through the air,
catchin’ Ty’s wrist with my left hand and his throat with my right,
Pepper Kendal bent his gun on me, Olaf grabbed the gun which was fired
just as The grabbed Pepper’s arms. It looked to me as though the
bullet must have gone into Olaf’s head; but just then we tripped,
rolled down the stairs and the imitation drawers swung to behind us.

All holts were broke on the way down, and when I reached the bottom, I
lay as quiet as a frozen moonbeam. I heard steps runnin’ away from me
in the dark, and presently the legs of the man next to me moved, and
he got up. I rose to a crouchin’ position, held my arm above my head,
and whispered, “Who is this?”

For answer, I got a smash on the arm with the butt of a forty-five
which drove it down again’ my head hard enough to bring me to my knees
and wake up my horse-sense. I might ’a’ known they’d have a signal.

I waited with my back again’ the wall until the silence began to soak
into my nerve. One o’ my guns had got lost durin’ the mess upstairs;
but I still had the other, and when I closed my grip around it, it
seemed like I was shakin’ hands with my best friend. As far as I could
discover I hadn’t been shot; but several knife-cuts and bruises began
to hum little tunes which wasn’t in nowise cheerin’. I just simply
don’t like to be kept waitin’ in the dark!

After a bit I reached my hand out cautious, and felt the heel of a
ridin’ boot. I examined as careful as though the feller inside the
boot was a disguised bear-trap; but the’ was no need. His neck was
broke. I felt of his face, and it was soft and smooth. The face of the
young feller with the boy’s eyes, I had seen put to bed drunk that
night at Skelty’s, flashed across me, and I gave a sigh; but I had too
much on my mind to turn soft, so I began to feel around again.

Presently my fingers struck the heel of another boot. I shut down on
my bellows until the breath didn’t get down past the top inch o’ my
neck, and I was as gentle with the heel o’ that boot, as though it was
a bitin’ man’s eyeball; because I sure felt a quiver in it. I slid my
fingers up that boot a quarter inch at a time, and I didn’t use no
more rudeness ’n a mouse would use in tryin’ to sneak a cheese piller
out from under a sleepin’ cat. When my fingers finally struck
corduroy, I purt nigh gave a shout, for this was what Promotheus wore.

It allus embarrasses a man to be felt over in the dark, so I took my
time with The; but after locatin’ both hands and his crooked mouth, I
discovered he’d been knocked out complete. I rubbed his wrists until
he began to moan, and then I pinched his nose until he was able to
notice my name when I whispered. He had bumped his head in fallin’,
and it made him sick to the stomach; so while he was gettin’ tuned up
again, I prospected around.

I crawled up the stairs but couldn’t hear a sound, I scratched with my
fingers, knocked softly, and pushed until my eyes began to hurt; so I
knew ’at the only way out for us was to follow the Cross-branders.
Things had happened so sudden up above that I hadn’t an idy as to how
many were fightin’ us; but I was still purty certain that a fair sized
bunch had run out the tunnel just as I dove into it, and I didn’t
choose to bump into ’em in the dark.

When I came down the stairs, The felt able again; so we started to
prospect. We agreed that strikin’ our teeth together would be our
signal, and then we made our examination. The right side o’ the tunnel
was smooth, the way Nature works, the left side was rough, and
indicated man’s doin’s. Aside from us two, the only other one in the
tunnel was the boy with the broken neck; but the tunnel opened into a
big cave, and we didn’t know what to do about it.

Finally we started around the right hand wall, me crawlin’ first, and
The’s fingers touchin’ my boot at every move. After goin’ some
distance, a great, straggly gray form rose up from the floor o’ the
cave, and gave me a shock which stopped my entire works. I kept my
presence o’ mind all right; but I’d ’a’ been mighty glad to swap it
off for absence of body. This was a most ghastly lookin’ form, and I
nestled up again’ the side o’ the wall, and felt my hand back for The.
He crawled up alongside o’ me, and when he spied it, he gave a start
which made his teeth click. “What’s that?” he whispered.

It’s funny how the mind works. This form didn’t resemble anything
earthly; so I hadn’t really tried to figure on it much; but when The
threw his question at me, I looked at the shape more careful, and grew
ashamed o’ myself. Here was I, a feller who had spent consid’able time
around mines, and yet had got all balled up over seein’ things

“That’s your old friend, daylight, comin’ down through a hole, The,” I
whispered so prompt that I doubt if he noticed any gap.

He gave a sniff through his nose, and then we crept on to where this
light was comin’ in through the opposite tunnel. It was mighty weak
and sickly lookin’ light, but the outline o’ the tunnel mouth soon got
perfectly plain to us. Every few inches we stopped to listen; but we
got clear to the mouth without hearin’ anything. Then we paused. Just
at that time, I’d have given right smart to have had my eyes fastened
on like those of a lobster I once saw in a window down at Frisco. This
insect had his eyes fixed to the ends o’ fingers which he could
stretch out in any direction.

To be honest, I felt some reluctant to push my face around that
corner; but when I did there wasn’t a thing in sight. The tunnel
stretched ahead of us for what seemed miles, but we couldn’t see the
outer openin’, although the light was strong enough to recognize each
other by. The was a sight, for the bump on his head had leaked
continuous; but it hadn’t disabled him none, so we drew back to
consult a little.

If we had known whether they were ahead or behind us, it would have
been easy to decide; but under the circumstances, we hardly knew what
to do. Bein’ in the dark was one thing; but bein’ out where we could
be seen was still another; so we thought full and deep.

After a few minutes I told The a little story about a feller I helped
to pick up after he had jumped from a thirty-foot ledge onto a pile o’
stone. “Why did you do it?” sez I. He blinked his eyes at me a time ’r
two, hove a long sigh, an’ said: “The’ was a purple dragon in front o’
me, a lot o’ long-legged yaller snakes back o’ me, and the peskiest
pink jack-rabbit you ever saw kept swoopin’ into my face an’ peckin’
at my eyes. If I ever drink another drop, I hope it’ll drown me.”

The considered this story careful, an’ then we crawled out into the
tunnel, rose to our feet, an’ ran along crouchin’. The tunnel ran
upward at a sharp incline, which was why the light came down it so
far. We kept to the right wall, and after goin’ some distance, we came
across a small cave. In this we found another dead Cross-brander; but
we weren’t enough interested in him to risk strikin’ a light; so we
sat down a moment to rest and listen.

Presently we noticed some curious noises, but for some minutes we
couldn’t decide on what they were. Suddenly The grabbed my wrist an’
said: “That’s shootin’; that’s what that is!”

It was as plain as home-cookin’ the minute he pointed it out; so we
rose to our feet and made a rush for the mouth o’ the cave. We came
out about half way up the face o’ the cliff; and for a moment we
paused to admire Ty Jones’s foxiness. This openin’ couldn’t be seen
from below, nor noticed from above, and for the most part the whole
tunnel was natural, only havin’ been hand-widened in three or four

The fightin’ was goin’ on near the face o’ the cliff between us an’
the mouth of the ravine; so we circled around until we caught sight of
’em. The first feller we made out was Mexican Slim; so we knew our
boys hadn’t been ambushed up above, and this raised our spirits like a
balloon. We crept up until we could get good angle-shots, hid
ourselves, gave the old Diamond Dot yell, and began to shoot. Ty’s men
had been losin’ their bullet-appetite for some time, and they took us
to be genuwine reinforcements. They were well planted where they were,
but they started to retreat, and we crowded ’em close.

Then it was that Ty made Olaf’s word good: he exposed himself to
shots, he rallied his men, and that wolf-grin never left his face; but
still the tide had changed, and he had to go back with the rest. The
woman, with her hands tied behind her, was in charge o’ the Chink, who
was tall and heavy-set with a dark, evil, leathery face. He kept a
grin on his face, too, which reminded me most of a rattlesnake at
sheddin’ time. He used the woman as a shield, an’ this checked our
fire an’ kept us dodgin’ for new positions. Still, all in all, this
part o’ the fight was about as satisfactory as any I ever took part

Finally they retreated to the dip where the tunnel came out, and we
had to skirmish up the rocks to keep our vantage. Soon we discovered
that Ty had lost control of his men. He, Pepper Kendal, and two others
stood in the mouth o’ the tunnel, and took a few shots at us before
disappearin’; but six of his men ran straight across the dip, and down
the other side toward the crick. Tillte Dutch was standin’ close to
me, and I asked him where the hosses were. He said they were tied
across the crick just above the upper ford; so I sent him for ’em full

Horace and Tank stayed to watch the mouth o’ the openin’, while the
rest of us wrangled the six Cross-branders through the cottonwoods.
They had a good start, and so had time to cut the wire and cross the
crick toward some broken land on the left. By this time Tillte had
tied the reins and thrown ’em over the horns o’ the saddles so as to
lead a string, and he came lopin’ into view.

Slim, two o’ the Simpson boys, Olaf, and myself mounted and cut off
the six Cross-branders, who were too weary to even scatter. They had
had enough and surrendered. We tied their hands, and herded ’em back
to the old shack, where Oscar, Spider, and three disabled
Cross-branders were runnin’ a little private hospital. We fixed up
wounds as well as we could, sat the last six on a bench along the
wall, and left Dick Simpson to guard ’em. Spider had been shot and cut
consid’able; but he was able to stagger around some, while Oscar had
been punctured below the ribs, and things looked bad for him. Olaf had
been shot in the head, all right, just as The and I dove down the
stairway the night before, but his skull was bullet-proof, so nothin’
came of it.

The Friar had been ransackin’ the locality, and had found one o’ the
Simpson boys dead, and one badly hurt. Badly crippled, as we were, we
didn’t see any way to get at Ty except to starve him out. First off,
we made some coffee, and those who weren’t hurt dangerous were given
some side-meat and corn bread; for, truth to tell, we were about once
through. We spent the afternoon under a tree half way between the
mouth o’ the tunnel, and the old cabin, so as to be handy in case we
were needed. After talkin’ it all over, we couldn’t quite see why they
had split up, some of ’em tryin’ to escape, and some stayin’ with Ty.

Finally I went to the cabin, durin’ a time the Friar was on watch at
the cave mouth, and picked out the weakest lookin’ of the prisoners. I
brought him down, and we tortured him with questions until he got
fuddled and told us that the two who had stuck to Ty had been so bad
hurt, they couldn’t go any farther; but that neither Ty nor Pepper
were hurt to speak of.

The fact is, that in a general fight a feller loses his aim complete.
We had all aimed at Ty and Pepper the most, and here they were the two
not hurt at all. As darkness fell, the Friar couldn’t hold himself in.
All afternoon he had done what he could for the wounded; but at
thought of the woman spendin’ another night in the cave with those
men, he became as wild-eyed as a bronc at his first brandin’. Durin’
the afternoon, Tank had stiffened until he couldn’t do much travelin’;
but I saw the Friar had his mind made up to take a plunge, so I tried
to fix things to prevent it.

Olaf, two o’ the Simpson boys, Promotheus, Tillte, Slim, Horace, and
myself lined up as bein’ still in workin’ order; but while he was in
the act of claimin’ to be all right, Slim doubled up in a faint, and
we found he had been bad hurt without even himself knowin’ of it; so
countin’ Horace who had two black eyes and a shot through the
fore-arm, the’ was seven of us able to get about purty nimble. Hid
away in the cave, somewhere, were Ty Jones, Pepper Kendal, and the
Chink, unhurt so far as we knew, and two others, still probably able
to help a little.

We placed a couple o’ logs again’ the fake drawers in the library, and
left Tank to take charge of the prisoners and the cabin. Then we
rustled up some tarps from the bunk-shack, and prepared to camp near
the openin’ with a man allus on guard, to prevent them from comin’
out—and the Friar from goin’ in. We kept a lantern lit under shelter
of a rock, and made ready to rest up a bit.

I had told all the fellers to watch the Friar close, for he just
simply couldn’t get the upper hand of himself. He tried his best to
simmer down and go to sleep, but every few minutes he’d boil over
again. I lay awake in my tarp watchin’ him for some time; but I was so
sore and weary myself I could scarcely recall what business I was on,
and first I knew I had drifted off—and been shook awake again.

Promotheus was bendin’ over me with the news ’at the Friar had decided
to go into the tunnel, and they couldn’t hold him back. I sprang up
and started for the opening with the rest following me. Dan Simpson
had relieved The on watch and when he found what was in the Friar’s
mind, he had crept down and told The, who had awakened the rest of us.

We reached the Friar, just as he was goin’ into the openin’. I called
to him in a low tone; but he only shook his head. It was eleven
o’clock, and the shadow from the moon had already crept out from the
base o’ the cliff almost to the openin’. I saw that the Friar had took
the bit; so I whispered to the others: “I am goin’ in there with him;
but more ’n this would be bad. We’d be in each other’s way. Listen and
watch, but do not follow us in.”

“I know the way as well as you, and we could keep side by side,” sez
Promotheus; but I shook my head.

He came over to the openin’ and said in a low tone: “I haven’t time to
make you understand; but—but I just have to go in with you.”

“If you come, the rest’ll come too,” sez I, exasperated.

“You fellers stay here,” sez he to them in a pleadin’ tone; “but I
have reasons. I just have to go in.”

So we shed our boots and started down the incline after the Friar,
Promotheus touchin’ my feet with his fingers at every step I crawled.
I didn’t want to be there, I couldn’t see how we could do any good;
but the Friar had made my world for me, such as it was, and I
understood better ’n the rest what was gnawin’ at his heart; so I
hadn’t any choice. I had to go in, and somethin’ inside Promotheus
drove him in also. The only crumb o’ comfort I could find, lay in the
fact that Horace had been winged, and so couldn’t foller us, whether
he wanted to or not.



At first it was black as pitch; but I crawled as fast as I could in
the hope of catchin’ up with the Friar. It is instinct with most men
to follow the right wall when goin’ through a strange place in the
dark, though I never could see why. A man carries his weapon in the
right hand and naturally ought to be as free with it as possible.
Still, most men do it, so I follered the right wall, hopin’ each time
I put out my hand it would touch the Friar.

After a time, I saw a faint glimmer o’ light to the left, and I
stopped and pointed it out to The. We came to the conclusion that they
had a candle lighted in the offset where we had come upon the body,
and we discussed whether they were likely to be in there, or had gone
on farther back and left the light to see any one who tried to crawl
after ’em. I held out ’at they wouldn’t expect any one to crawl after
’em; but The said ’at Ty would be likely to go into just such a place
himself, and so would expect others to do the same. Ty certainly had
the way of impressin’ his own men.

When we got a little closer, I lay flat and scanned along the floor,
tryin’ to make out the Friar between me and the light; but I couldn’t
see him, and we went on again. I hope I may never have to do any more
such work as this. Creepin’ along in the dark eats up a feller’s nerve
like a forest fire.

When we got so close ’at I could see my hands by the light, I sent The
across to the other side, remindin’ him to knock his teeth should he
chance upon the Friar, or in case we come together again, ourselves.

Then I lay flat with my hat down low, and nudged myself along with my
elbows and toes. I couldn’t even make out The across the tunnel, which
was only about twelve feet wide, and just for the fraction of a second
it came across me that he had formerly been a Cross-brander, himself;
but this thought didn’t live long enough to draw its second breath.

Finally I reached the spot where the light threw a splash on the walls
and floor, and I made my gun ready and stuck out my neck in what was
the most breathless silence I ever tried to listen to. Across the
splash o’ light in front of me, all was a solid wall o’ darkness; and
I’d have paid over quite a sum to know what eyes were lookin’ out of

Farther and farther I pushed myself into the light without seein’ a
thing; until finally I saw the candle, itself, and beside it—the

I wriggled across the tunnel just as The crept into the room from his
side, and we felt a little better to be in the light, together again.
The body still lay again’ the wall, and The looked at the face; but he
didn’t know it. The Friar hadn’t seen or heard anything, either; and
we were up a tree to the top branches. We talked it all over, tryin’
to imagine what we would do under the same circumstances, and finally
decided they had gone on down the tunnel, leavin’ a man on guard just
below the light, and that the man had gone to sleep.

“Well,” sez I after we had discussed things around in a circle for a
while, “here we are holed up again, as cozy as a cavey o’ rats with
traps set at all the openin’s and en-thusiastic terrier dogs diggin’
down from above. If it’s not bein’ too inquisitive, Friar, what plan
did you have in comin’ down here?”

“I wanted to be close to her,” sez Friar Tuck. “I kept thinkin’ o’ how
lonely it must be for her through the dark, and I hoped the’ might be
some chance o’ helpin’ her to escape. I did not have any definite
plan—only faith and hope.”

“Like the shark which swallered the parasol,” sez I, for I was
consid’able put out; “he had faith in his digestion and hoped the
parasol was some new sort o’ health-food. But to get down to
facts—Have you any weapon with you, and are you willin’ to fight?”

“I have no weapon,” sez the Friar; “but I am willin’ to do whatever
seems best. I am trusting in the same power which upheld Gideon, and I
ask to see no farther than he saw.”

This was the Friar all right, so I merely swallowed a couple o’ times
and didn’t say anything. Whether he lived or died was the same to the
Friar, as whether he lived in Idaho or Montana would be to another
man; so I saved myself a certain amount of irritation by just thinkin’
quietly as to what was best for us to try. Fact was, I didn’t take, as
much stock in Gideon just then as I did in Ty Jones.

“I’ll tell you what I think is best,” I sez after a bit; “for me to
crawl down the hall in the hope that the watcher really has gone to
sleep; while you two stand ready in this offset. If they chase me,
I’ll run up the tunnel, and you spring out and take ’em at a
disadvantage as they go by.”

O’ course they both wanted to do the crawlin’, but it was my plan, so
I stuck out for it, and started. I was really glad to be out o’ the
light again, and I crawled as gentle as though crossin’ a bridge of
eggs. Before long my fingers struck a boot, and I felt of it
ex-treme-lee careful. If ever I go blind, my experience durin’ those
days will help consid’able in transferrin’ my eyesight to my fingers.

The feller had toppled over again’ the right wall, and I crept up
alongside, holdin’ my gun by the barrel, and ready to swat his head as
soon as I had located it; but the’ was no use—the man had already
died. He had been shot twice, but they thought he could last a while
on guard, and this was why we had been able to cross the lighted

Just beyond this, I came upon another offset, on the opposite side
from where the candle was. We hadn’t noticed it that mornin’ ’cause we
had gone out along the other wall. I heard some heavy breathin’ in
here; but I also heard some one tossin’ about an’ mutterin’, and I
hardly dared risk an examination. I looked back at the splash of
light, and it seemed mighty cheery and sociable, compared with the
darkness and company I was in.

It’s astonishin’ the way pictures fly across a feller’s mind at such a
time: I saw the boy down at the foot of the stairs, I saw him as he
must have been, a few years before some quick, rash deed of his had
drawn a veil across the laughter in his eyes; I saw the feller in the
offset, and wondered how much it had taken to turn the expression of
his face into that beastlike hunger for revenge, and then dozens of
schemes and plans for capturin’ Ty began to flash upon me; but each
time, the presence of the woman spoiled everything. They had used her
for a shield once, they would do it again, and I couldn’t see a way to
get around her.

We knew ’at Ty had vowed he would never be taken alive; and I couldn’t
see what we would do with him even if we did take him alive; but I
could see that he would take pleasure in draggin’ as big a bunch into
the next world with him as possible, and yet every scheme ’at came to
me was blocked by the presence of the woman. Finally I crept a little
way into the offset. My hand touched a piece of cloth, I felt over it
with nothin’ except the ridges on my fingers touchin’; but just when I
made sure it was the Chink, he moved and sat up. I stopped breathin’;
but after a minute, he sighed and settled back.

I waited a little longer and then crawled back and told what I had
discovered. “If the’ was only some way we could throw a light into
that offset,” sez I, “I think we could fix ’em.”

We studied over this for some time before the Friar thought up a way
which seemed worth tryin’. I said I’d go back and stay at the far side
o’ the openin’, and when they brought the rope back, to come right on
with it along the left wall, and I’d knock my teeth together to show
it was me—provided I was still there and able. So the Friar pulled
off his boots, and The kept watch in the offset while the Friar ran
back. I thought it must be several days since we’d come in, but he
looked at his watch before startin’, and it was only two o’clock.

From where I was, I could make out the shape o’ the feller they had
put on watch, and knew I could keep cases on all within the little
rock room. After an age, I saw two forms creep like ghosts out of the
dark beyond the candle, and ooze into the offset without makin’ a
sound. Then in a moment, Promotheus came stealin’ along the wall with
the end of the rope. I made my signal to him, and he went on down the
tunnel, slowly pullin’ the rope after him.

I was mighty curious to see how they had fixed the lantern, which they
were to light with the candle in the offset, and it made me feel a lot
better when it came out of the recess. Horace had done the fixin’, I
afterward found out, and it had nearly broke his heart not to come in
with it; but he realized that it was necessary to have an outer guard,
so he had stayed with the two Simpson boys. He had put the lantern
into a box after nailin’ a couple o’ short pieces of rope on the
bottom for runners; and now it came slidin’ along without makin’ a
sound. He had sawed a piece out of the side, so that all the light
came up again’ the ceilin’, and onto the side where the openin’ was.

Slowly it came along, and I stood in the shadow watchin’ it. Finally
it fell on the face of the man lyin’ near the openin’, and I saw he
was one of those who had been at Skelty’s that night—for all I know,
it was his hand I had seen raisin’ the window to my room. Next, it
lighted up the openin’, itself; and then The stopped pullin’ and crept
up opposite me. We heard ’em sighin’ and groanin’, in the recess, and
finally the woman’s voice gave a weary moan as she came awake.

In a second, Ty’s voice was heard, askin’ what was the matter; and we
all braced up our nerves. A weak, delirious voice started to babble,
but it was broken by a shot, and a bullet ripped through the box, but
without puttin’ out the light. I started across the hall; but The had
already seen it, and had taken the rope and ran down the tunnel with
it. He turned the box, so ’at just the left edge o’ the light touched
the openin’, and then came across to my side. We weren’t in a black
shadow now; but still, with the light in their faces, it would have
been hard to see us.

A hand reached out of the openin’, and fired in our direction, I
dropped to my knee and aimed at the hand, but neither shot counted;
and for the next few minutes, all we heard was that weak voice,
babblin’ indistinctly. It hadn’t worked out as I thought it would. I
figured that they’d be surprised when the light shone in their faces,
and would rush out and give us a chance. Now that it was too late, I
thought up half a dozen better schemes.

Even while I was thinkin’ up a perfect one, I saw a form come out from
the recess, and threw my gun up—but I didn’t snap the hammer. It was
the woman, and behind her I could make out the shaved head o’ the

We all stayed silent for some time, an’ then Ty’s voice said: “Well,
what kind of a settlement do you fellers want?”

He spoke as self-composed as though puttin’ through a beef-dicker, and
no reply was made for several seconds. Then, as no one else spoke, I
sez: “All we want is just the woman and what’s left o’ your outfit,

“Who’s that speakin’?” sez Ty.

“He’s generally called Happy Hawkins, Ty,” sez I.

“Who’s in charge o’ your gang?” sez he.

“Dinky Bradford,” sez I after thinkin’ a moment; “but I’m delegated to
speak for him.”

“Tell ya what I’ll do,” sez Ty; “I’ll trade ya the woman for Dinky
Bradford an’ the Singin’ Parson. Send those two in to me, and I’ll
send her out to you.”

This was the foolest proposition ever I heard of. The woman wouldn’t
’a’ been any use to us without the Friar. “Dinky Bradford is guardin’
the mouth o’ the tunnel,” sez I; “but he wouldn’t stand for any such
nonsense, nohow.”

“Is the preacher here?” asked Ty.

“Yes, I am here,” sez the Friar, steppin’ out from the offset and
comin’ toward us. Olaf, who was with him, caught his arm and kept him
from exposin’ himself.

“Damn you,” sez Ty, slow an’ deliberate. “I hate you worse ’n any man
in this territory. You’re at the bottom of all this kick-up. You’re
the one which has turned my own men again’ me; and all I ask is a
chance to settle it out with you.”

“You’re mistaken if you think that I advised this method,” began the
Friar; but Ty broke in, and said: “Never mind any o’ that
preacher-talk. I know what’s what, and I’m all prepared to have you
hide behind your religion, after havin’ started all the trouble. I’ll
offer you a plan which any man would accept—but I don’t class you as
a man. The fair way to settle this would be for the men who are with
us to empty their guns an’ lay ’em on the floor, then you and me strip
to the waist an’ fight it out with knives. They haven’t anything at
stake; but I suppose you’ll be true to your callin’, and make them
take all the risk.”

“I want to be true to my callin’,” sez the Friar; “and fightin’ with
knives isn’t part o’ my callin’.”

Ty laughed as mean as a man ever did laugh; and both Olaf and I
offered to take the Friar’s place; but Ty said he didn’t have anything
special again’ us any more ’n he’d have again’ the Friar’s ridin’
hoss; and then he offered to fight the Friar and Dinky Bradford at the
same time.

He kept on roastin’ the Friar till I bet I was blushin’; but the Friar
just stood out straight in the gloom o’ the tunnel and shook his head
no. Then the woman took a half step forward, an’ the Chink jerked her
back, twistin’ her wrist and makin’ her give a smothered scream.

I had moved the box around to give us a little more light; and when
she screamed, I saw the blood rush up the Friar’s pale face to his
eyes, where it burst into flame. Livin’ fire it was, and in a flash it
had burned away his religion, his scruples again’ violence, the whole
outer shell o’ civilization, and left him just a male human with his
woman in the power of another. “Strip,” he said, and his words rolled
down the tunnel like a growl of a grizzly. “Strip, and fight for your
life, for I intend to destroy you.”

I can still hear the laugh Ty gave when the Friar said this. “Destroy
me?” he said. “Destroy me? That’s a good one! Now, do your men agree
to let us go free if I win?”

“I do,” sez The.

“I do,” said I, after I’d taken another look at the Friar, who was
already unbuttonin’ his shirt.

“I do—if you fight fair,” said Olaf slowly.

“Then one of ya hold the lantern while we empty the guns,” said Ty.

I didn’t like this part of it; but couldn’t see any way out; so while
The held the lantern, one on each side emptied a gun and tossed it to
the center of the tunnel. We emptied all of ours, and they emptied all
of theirs, and then while Ty was takin’ off his shirt, I went up to
the Friar. When I saw the taut muscles ripplin’ beneath his white
skin, I felt comforted; but when I saw him holdin’ his knife point
down, the way they do in the picture-books, I got worried again.

“Take your knife the other way, Friar,” I whispered; “and strike up
under the floatin’ ribs on his left side. That’s the way to his

“I know how to fight with a knife,” he snapped; so I didn’t say any
more. Horace had become a gun-fighter, here was the Friar claimin’ to
know the knife game, and if the woman had stepped out and challenged
the winner to a fight with stones, why, I was so meek I wouldn’t ’a’
got het up over it.

Then Ty Jones came out of the other offset, stripped to the waist also
and holdin’ his knife in his left hand. The woman had gone into the
niche on our side, me an’ Olaf leaned again’ our wall, Pepper Kendal
and the Chink leaned again’ the wall opposite us, The held up the
lantern, and for a full minute the only sound was the wounded
Cross-brander, babblin’ out his delirium back in the cave-room.

Ty was a shade beefier ’n the Friar; but his skin was dull, and the
muscles didn’t cut off into the tendons so sharp, nor they didn’t seem
quite so springy or well oiled; but there was half a dozen knife scars
on his chest, and he had come up our way from Mexico.

They walked toward each other, Ty’s eagle eyes an’ wolf-grin tryin’ to
beat down the grim set to the Friar’s face. They both crouched over
an’ circled about each other like a pair o’ big cats. Ty made a few
lunges, but the Friar parried ’em as simple as though it was a game,
and purty soon Ty was forced to slip his knife to his right hand with
the blade pointin’ up for a rip. When he did this, the Friar smiled,
turned his own knife the same way; and I recalled the Friar havin’
told me about learnin’ knife tricks from an I-talian he had helped
back East.

I don’t like knife fightin’, and I don’t approve of it; but I will say
’at this fight was the cleanest, quickest thing I ever saw. The Friar
was the best man, but Ty was the best posted; and time and again the
Friar saved himself by foot work. The follered ’em close with his
lantern, while Olaf and I kept a half watch on the two opposite us.

They kept movin’ faster and faster and the’ was a continuous spattin’
as they parried with their left hands. Finally the Friar grabbed Ty by
the wrist, Ty grabbed the Friar’s wrist at the same time, lowered his
head, and butted the Friar in the pit o’ the stomach. It looked bad;
but the Friar had raised his knee and caught Ty on the chin; so they
staggered apart and breathed deep for a minute, before beginnin’

The grin had left Ty’s face, and it had settled into black hate. When
they began again, the Friar seized Ty’s wrist every chance he got,
twistin’ it, bendin’ the arm, and tryin’ to thrust with his knife; but
Ty was tough and wiry, and managed to twist out every time. At last
the Friar caught Ty’s right wrist, dropped his own knife, ran his head
under Ty’s right arm, caught the slack of his right pant leg, gave a
heave and threw him over his head. It was a clean throw and the Friar
stooped, picked up his knife and started for Ty before he had time to
get to his feet. Ty rolled to his feet and dodged away as though to
run, whirled, took the blade of his knife between thumb and
forefinger, and spun it through the air. It struck the Friar’s
collarbone, cut a gash through his shoulder, and twanged again’ the
wall o’ the tunnel.

The two men eyed each other for a moment, the calm of victory in the
Friar’s eyes, the red of baffled hate in Ty’s. They were about eight
feet apart. “Will you give up?” asked the Friar.

“No,” sez Ty. He doubled up his fists as though to spring, then
whirled and stepped into the offset behind him. In a moment, he came
out with a gun in his hand.

As soon as he had said no, Pepper Kendal an’ the Chink had made a dive
for the offset, and Olaf and I had made a dive for them. I got Pepper
who was old and stiff, and I managed to hit him in the center o’ the
forehead just as Ty came out with his gun. Olaf was havin’ trouble
with the Chink, and I picked up a gun and tapped Pepper on the head
with it, and then turned to knock the Chink. Just as I turned, I saw
the woman walkin’ slowly down the tunnel behind the Friar, and I saw
Ty bend his gun on him. Even then he had to pause a moment to enjoy
his deviltry, and I still see that picture in my dreams—the Friar
standin’ silent and proud, with his head thrown back and his level
eyes full on Ty, while back of him stood the woman as unconcerned as a
snow-bird. About six feet beyond ’em stood Promotheus holdin’ the
light above his head, while his face seemed frozen with horror.

For an instant they stood like stone images. Then The lunged forward
and caught Ty’s arm, the lantern went out, I heard one clear report,
and one muffled one, and then I started for ’em. I bumped into a heavy
form, two naked arms went around me in a bear-grip, and we rolled to
the floor. The candle in our offset had burned out; but I knew it was
the Friar, ’cause his was the only smooth face among us. “This is
Happy,” I muttered, and we rose to our feet.

A struggle was goin’ on beyond us, and I thought it was Olaf and the
Chink; so I lit a match, knowin’ that Ty would ’a’ had plenty o’ time
to get away already. As the match burned up, I saw the Chink lyin’
stretched out, and Olaf and Ty locked together. Olaf had his leg
wrapped around Ty’s, and was bendin’ his back. Ty’s eyes were stickin’
out white an’ gruesome, and he was gurglin’ in the throat. Suddenly,
somethin’ cracked and they both fell to the floor o’ the tunnel just
as the match went out.

I heard hard breathin’, and then Olaf’s harsh voice came out o’ the
darkness. “Well,” he said, “I guess that squares things.”

“What’s happened, what’s happened?” asked a panting voice, and then I
knew ’at Horace hadn’t been able to stand it any longer, and had come
in, game wing and all.

“We’ve settled up with Ty Jones—that’s what’s happened,” said Olaf;
and as we stood there in the gloom, the drip o’ the dawn came rollin’
cold and gray down the slant o’ the tunnel; and I shuddered and turned
away to find somethin’ for my hands to do.



The first thing I did was to light the lantern, for the daylight which
came down there was too much in keepin’ with the conditions to suit
me. Promotheus was doubled up an’ holdin’ his side; so the first thing
I did was to ask him if he was bad hurt. The’ was a smile on his lips,
a regular satisfied, self-composed smile, but I didn’t just like the
look in his eyes.

“Nope, I don’t ache at all, Happy,” he said in a firm voice; “but I
can’t move much. Tend to the others first.”

It seems ’at Ty’s first shot had hit the woman in the head, and his
next had got The in the side—but The had managed to get the gun away
from him, which is why the rest of us were spared.

The Friar had carried the woman into our offset, and was rubbin’ her
wrists and workin’ over her, though the’ didn’t appear to be much use.
She was still alive; but that was just all, so I left them and
examined the rest. Ty was all twisted out o’ shape, and lay with his
eyes open, glassy an’ stary and horrible. Olaf hadn’t had time to
quite finish the Chink, and he was crawlin’ down the tunnel when I
nabbed him. Then Horace took the lantern while Olaf and I hog-tied
Pepper Kendal and the Chink.

We next examined the cave-room where Ty had made his last stand. It
was fair-sized an’ well stocked, and also had half a dozen extra guns
in it. When I saw these fresh guns, I gave a low whistle to think what
a lot o’ suckers we’d been to discard our own trumps and set in a game
against a marked deck; but as the Friar allus said: “Wrong feeds on
death and Right feeds on life; so the’ can’t be no doubt as to the
final result, even though things do look blue sometimes.”

There was a fine spring in the corner o’ this room—the same spring
which afterwards came out near the mouth of the ravine and was piped
into the old cabin. The wounded Cross-brander was still babblin’, so
we fed him some water and eased him around a little.

Next we went outside and nailed some pieces to a couple o’ light
poles, and we were mighty glad to have enough left to man this vehicle
when it was finished, for we were all purt nigh used up, Tillte, the
two Simpson boys, and myself carried the litter, while Horace ran the
illumination, and Olaf tended to Pepper and the Chink.

We took ’em all out, even to the dead; and the one at the foot of the
stairs turned out to be the boy, just as I’d thought. Next to the
woman, with the Friar walkin’ beside her his head on his breast, this
trip with the boy cut me worse ’n any. Promotheus got off three
average good jokes while we were packin’ him out, and cheered us up a
lot; but we put Ty Jones down with the dead. As we straightened him
out he gave a groan which made us all jump. The whole thing had become
a nightmare, and we staggered about like the ingredients of a dream.

The woman’s head was shattered on top an’ the’ wasn’t any hope for
her; but still, it gave the Friar comfort to work over her, so we
acted as though we thought she had a chance. The nearest doctor was at
Meltner’s stage station, a full day’s ride. Tillte went after him,
while Dan Simpson rode over to his father’s to break the news and
bring back Kit. What with the prisoners still on our hands, the dead
to bury, and the wounded to wait on, we were in chin-deep; and the
worst of it was, ’at we didn’t want the news to get out. We had tried
to settle things without botherin’ the law, and we preferred to finish
that way if possible.

We buried the four Cross-branders across the crick and down stream
from the lower ford, and we buried Tim Simpson just a little way above
the upper ford. The Friar went along and helped dig the graves and
carry them to it; but he didn’t preach nor sing, and his face was
drawn with sorrow.

By evenin’ we had got things to some system. Spider, Tank, Slim, and
Horace were able to help quite a little; but Oscar, Tom Simpson, and
Promotheus were in bad shape; while we had seven prisoners, countin’
the Chink, and seven wounded enemies to look after. The feller Horace
had shot, up on top, got out o’ the country, I reckon. Anyway they
left him above with the horses, and we never heard of him again.

Ol’ man Simpson, Kit, and the boy arrived durin’ the moonlight, and we
were all mighty glad to see Kit, though we hated to face the old man.
Still, he was game, and took it mighty well. Tillte had got a fresh
hoss at Meltner’s and had started right back with the doctor; so they
arrived a little after seven next mornin’. The doctor was purty young
lookin’ to me; but he had a bagful o’ shiny instruments, and he made
himself at home without any fuss. He had been in a Colorado hospital
for two years, a minin’ hospital, and he was as familiar with a
feller’s insides, as a pony is with the range he was foaled on. He had
took a claim near Meltner’s, and was able to talk a long time on why
it was better for a young doctor to come west.

He praised the Friar’s work to the skies—and then turned in and did
it all over to suit himself. He said that all the wounded stood a good
show except the woman, Promotheus, and Ty Jones. We none of us thought
’at The was in much danger; but the doctor shook his head. Ty’s spinal
column had been unjointed near the base, and he was paralyzed from the
hips down; but in all that skirmishin’, he was the only one who hadn’t
lost a drop o’ blood. The Friar, himself, had two flesh-wounds beside
the one Ty had give him.

I was with the doctor when he started to work on the woman’s head; but
I couldn’t stand it. I’m not overly squeamish; but I own up I couldn’t
stand this; so I backed out, leavin’ the Friar with his face like
chalk, to hand instruments while little old Kit held a basin. I hated
to leave ’em; but I didn’t take a full breath until I was beside
Promotheus again.

His voice had got weaker, but the smile never left his lips, and it
was restful just to sit and watch him. Horace hovered over him like a
young hen, and The drank so much water, simply to please Horace, that
I feared his bones would dissolve. Horace had told the doctor he would
pay all the bills, and to go the full limit and not try to economize
none on his patch-work. We put the seven prisoners in the workshop,
and slept in tarps around the door, which was fastened with a chain,
so ’at if they got it open, a board would fall on these sleepin’ next,
and wake ’em.

The Friar was all for notifyin’ the authorities; but old man Simpson
had been a notorious public, or some such official, back in Vermont
and naturally he was up on all the twists and windin’s of the law. He
said it would take the Su-preme Court itself fifteen years to sift out
the actual legalities of our tangle; and even then he wasn’t sure
which side would get the worst of it, so he advised us to just work it
out on our own hook, which we had decided to do anyway.

For three days, the woman lay in a stupor. Kit had told me that her
skull hadn’t been actually shattered—that she had been shot in just
about the same way that Olaf had, but that Nature had counted on Olaf
gettin’ into some such a fix, and had provided for it by givin’ him a
flint skull, while the woman’s skull wasn’t of much use except in
times of peace. Kit said the doctor had taken out a few splinters of
bone, and had fastened up the openin’, but had said the’ wasn’t any
show for her.

On the other hand, Olaf had looked at her careful, and had said that
all the vital part of her was workin’ on just this point. He said that
the light about her body was the blue o’ weakness; but that just at
this point, the’ was a constant bulgin’ out o’ different colors in a
way he had never before seen. The doctor heaved up his eyebrows at
Olaf’s verdict, and looked as though he thought perhaps Olaf’s brain
had been shifted a little out o’ line, in spite of his flint skull.

On the third night I was what the doctor called his orderly, and went
on duty at midnight. I was sittin’ out on the porch of the old cabin
when the Friar came out holdin’ his hand across his eyes. We had moved
the wounded men over to the bunk-shack, and the woman was in Ty’s
bedroom. I didn’t speak to him, and he stood leanin’ against one o’
the posts for some time without seein’ me.

He trembled all over, and his breath came quick and catchy. Finally he
looked up at the stars and said in a low tone, as though speakin’
personal to some one near at hand: “Save me, oh God, from mockery! I
have spoken for others in my vanity; and now that my own hour has
come, oh save me from the rebellion of my flesh; and give me grace to
say in my heart, Thy will be done.”

As he stood with his face upraised, the late moon crept out and shone
full upon it, and the agony in it struck me like a blow; but even as I
looked, the change came. Before my very eyes, I saw the sign of peace
made upon the Friar’s brow. A moment before and it had been torn into
wrinkles and covered with beads of sweat; but now it was smooth and
calm. He clasped his hands across his breast, closed his eyes, and
the’ came a smile to his lips which drew a mist to my own eyes. I
can’t be absolutely certain of it, because o’ this blur in my eyes;
but I think, I actually and honestly do think, that I saw white forms
hoverin’ in the moonlight above him.

He drew a full breath and turned to go in, but saw me settin’ with my
back again’ the wall o’ the cabin, and came over and put a hand on my
shoulder. I couldn’t say anything. I wanted to say somethin’ to
comfort him; but I couldn’t speak a word, until he asked me how the
others were gettin’ along. I told him they were all doin’ fine, and
that even Ty had been restin’ well. He turned to go in, and then I
found the nerve to ask him how things were inside.

“It is all over, Happy,” sez he, without even a catch in his voice.
“Just before I came out here, the doctor said the pulse had stopped.”

He caught his breath with a little gasp at this; but that was all.
“What did Olaf say?” I asked.

“Olaf says that she still lives,” he answered; “but I fear that Olaf
is not to be relied upon this time. He has a strange gift; but he does
not understand it himself, and while I know he would not deceive me, I
feel that the doctor must know best.”

“Well, I’ll not give up until Olaf does!” I blurted.

He smiled again and put his hand back on my shoulder. “Come in and
look at her,” he said, “she is very beautiful. The strange mask has
fallen from her face, and she is once more as she was in those old,
happy days when we walked together through our own Garden of Eden.
Come in, I want you to see her.”

I went in with him, though I didn’t want to. I knew what love did to a
man, and that I hadn’t seen the same woman he had; but the’ was
another face allus before my eyes, and no one else was beautiful to
me. I didn’t want to do any pertendin’ to the Friar, even at such a
time as this.

I follered him inside, feelin’ out o’ place and embarrassed; but when
I looked down at the quiet face in the bed, I was glad I had come. She
didn’t look like the same woman, not at all. All the weary, puzzled
expression had left her face, and in spite of its whiteness, it looked
like the face of a girl. I looked at her a long time and the thought
that came to me over and over was, what a shame she couldn’t have had
just a few words with the Friar before she was called on; just a few
words, now that her right mind was back.

After a time I looked up. Kit sat near the head of the bed, leanin’
over and holdin’ a handkerchief to her eyes, Olaf sat near her, a
strange, grim set to his lips. His head was bandaged and he looked
less like a human than usual, as he kept his eyes fixed on the white
face o’ the woman. The’ was a lamp on the stand and I could see his
eyes. Blue they were, deep blue, like the flowers on the benches in
June, and they didn’t move; but kept a steady gaze upon the white,
still face. The doctor sat in a corner, his eyes on the floor. At
first I thought he was asleep, and goodness knows, he was entitled to
it; but just as I looked at him he rubbed his fingers together a
moment and stood up.

He walked over and put his hand on the Friar’s shoulder. “You might as
well all go to sleep, now,” he said, gently. “There is nothing more to

“Are you positive?” asked the Friar.

“Positive,” said the doctor. “There is no heart action, and when I
held a mirror to her lips no vapor was formed.”

“She is still alive,” said the deep voice of Olaf, and we all gave a
little start.

The doctor took a silver quarter and held it to the woman’s nose for a
minute, and then looked at it. A puzzled look came to his face, and he
went back and sat down in the corner again.

“Was it discolored?” asked the Friar.

“No,” sez the doctor slowly; “but I am sure there is no life
remaining. I have seen several cases of suspended animation, but
nothin’ like this.”

“She lives, and the light is getting stronger,” said Olaf.

Kit took the handkerchief from her eyes which were still full o’
tears. She wiped them away, and looked first at the woman and then at
Olaf, and then she gave a sigh. The Friar’s hands were opening and
shutting. He had fought his fight out on the porch; but the suspense
was beginnin’ to undermine him again.

I went back to the porch and stayed a while. When I went in again,
they were all as I had left them; and after a few minutes I made my
rounds, found everything all right, and came back. I went into the
room several times, and just as I caught the first whiff o’ the dawn
breeze, I went in once more, determined to coax the Friar to lie down
and try to sleep.

They were still in the same positions. Not a line had changed in the
woman’s face, the Friar was almost as white as she was but still stood
at the foot o’ the bed lookin’ down at her; while the wrinkles on
Olaf’s set face seemed carved in stone.

I had just put my hand on the Friar’s arm to get his attention when
Olaf rose to his feet, pressed his hand to his blinkin’ eyes, and said
wearily: “The blue color is givin’ way to pink. She will get well.”

“Don’t say it unless you’re sure!” cried the Friar, his voice like a

For answer Olaf pointed down at the woman’s face. A faint color stole
into her cheeks, and as we looked her eyes opened. The first thing
they rested upon was the Friar’s face bent above her, and her lips
parted in a wonderin’ smile—a smile which lighted her face like the
mornin’ sun on ol’ Mount Savage, and made her beautiful, to me an’ to
all who’ve ever seen her.

“Is it you?” she whispered. “Is it really you?”

A warm, rosy beam of sunshine slipped in through the window and fell
across the bed, and the rest of us tiptoed out, leavin’ the Friar
alone with the gift of life which the Dawn had brought back to him.



It was a week after this before Olaf could see properly again. The
doctor was wild to take Olaf back East and hold doin’s with him; but
Olaf wouldn’t listen to it. He hated to have people take him for a
freak, and said it wasn’t any fault of his that he saw the way he did.
The doctor said ’at what Olaf saw was called the aurora; he said that
science had been tryin’ to locate it, but hadn’t found any way to do
it, and that it was some sort o’ rays shootin’ out from this which had
put the inflammation into Olaf’s eyes.

Olaf had had one of his teeth filled when he was young, and ever since
that he’d been suspicious o’ science; so he just clouded up his face
when they tried to devil him into bein’ an experiment, and they
couldn’t do anything with him. The Friar might have been able to, but
the Friar would have sent his own eyes East by freight before he’d
have asked Olaf to do a single thing he didn’t want to do. The
ignorant allus scoff at the idee of Olaf seein’ the soul-flame; but
the edicated allus take a serious interest which seems mighty
funny—don’t it?

From the very moment Janet opened her eyes and smiled up at the Friar
that mornin’ she continued to improve. The doctor listened to all that
was told him about her havin’ pains in the top of her head and not
bein’ right intellectually, and he said she must have had a blow there
at some former time which had probably formed a tumor on the brain or
knocked off a few splinters of bone into it, and that in removin’ the
pressure, she had been put into perfect order again.

She had the smoothest voice I had ever heard, and I just doted on
hearin’ her speak the Friar’s name, John Carmichael. I had a legal
right to use the name John, myself; but it allus had the feel of a
stiff collar to me, so I was glad enough to have it forgotten. But
when Janet spoke the words John Carmichael, why, it cleared up the
atmosphere and started a little breeze. She didn’t recall how she had
come to Cross Crick, nor anything much which had happened to her since
the night in Berlin. She said she had took singin’ lessons in a place
called Italy, and had expected to reach grand opery.

She had sung for pay whenever she got a chance, in order to get money
enough to go on with her studies, and was gettin’ what I’d call mighty
lucrative wages at the Winter Garden; but was all the time bothered by
a lot o’ foreign dudes who had the desire to make love, but not the
capacity. She said her manager had introduced an Austrian count for
advertizin’ purposes, and she had finally consented to eat a meal with
him; but had been taken sick and had fallen. This was when she had
bumped her head and she never got clear in it again until that morning
when she had hovered between goin’ out with the night or comin’ back
with the dawn.

She said she had a hazy, dreamlike remembrance of havin’ tried all
kinds o’ work after this; but couldn’t tell the real from the unreal;
and she didn’t have any recollection of how she had come to the ranch.
We never mentioned Ty Jones to her for she was comin’ along like a
colt on grass, and we didn’t want to risk any set-back. She said she
still had it on her mind that she had lost something precious; but she
couldn’t make out what it could have been, and the Friar allus told
her not to worry, but to just rest herself back to complete strength.

Oscar and Tom Simpson had turned the corner, and it was only a
question of time when they’d be all right again—which was true of all
the others except Ty and Prometheus. Ty wouldn’t speak to us at all,
though he didn’t seem to suffer to amount to anything. The doctor said
he might live for years, or he might slip away at a moment’s notice;
but either way, he was doomed to be paralyzed for the rest of his
life; while the’ wasn’t any hope for Promotheus at all.

He had been shot through the liver, which pleased him a lot as bein’
so in keepin’ with his name; but we couldn’t see why a feller who had
survived bein’ shot in so many other places, should have to give in on
account of an extra hole in his liver. Horace divided his time between
waitin’ on The and spurrin’ up the doctor to try some new treatment.
He read aloud to The out o’ Ty’s books, and he seemed as fond o’ those
old Greek fellers as Horace was himself. He was also mighty pleased to
have the Friar read and talk to him, and it softened us all a lot to
see how patient and gentle Promotheus had become. Humanity is about
the finest thing the’ is about a human; and all humans have a showin’
growth of it, if ya can just scratch the weeds away and give it a

The prisoners bothered us a heap; we feared they might have some
leanin’s toward revenge; so we didn’t dare turn ’em loose until they
showed some decided symptoms of repentance. Finally we got to bringin’
’em up two at a time to talk with The. At first it didn’t do any good,
as Ty sat propped up in a bunk, grinnin’ scornful, while The lay flat
on his back lookin’ mighty weak and wan; but after several trials at
it, they seemed to pay more heed to what The told ’em. We figured that
Ty must have ten or a dozen men still out on the range somewhere; but
they never showed up.

In about two weeks, or it might ’a’ been three, all the wounded were
able to walk about except Promotheus, Ty Jones, and Oscar. Oscar was
doin’ fine; but the noise of the other men bothered The a little at
night, though he denied it up and down. Still, we thought best to move
him and Ty to a couple o’ cots at the east end of the mess-hall, which
was large and airy, with a big fireplace for cool nights. By this time
Janet was able to take short walks, leanin’ on the Friar’s arm; but
the Friar hadn’t come any closer to findin’ out what it was she had
lost, nor whether or not she was Ty’s wife. The only reply Ty ever
made to questions, was to skin back his lips in a wolf-grin.

The used to lay with his eyes fixed on Ty’s face and a look of
hopeless sadness in his own. When we’d come and talk to him, his face
would light up; but as soon as we left him, he would look at Ty again
with a sorrow that fair wrung a feller’s heart. I wanted to separate
’em; but when I suggested this to The, he shook his head. “Nope,” he
said, “he may speak to me before the vultures finish with my liver;
and if ever the mood crosses his mind for a second, I want to be so
handy ’at he won’t have time to change his mind.”

I told The ’at what was worryin’ the Friar most was that all the
fightin’ had been on his account; but that next to this, it was
because he didn’t know whether or not Ty was married to Janet.

That evenin’ just when the thinky time o’ twilight came along, I was
settin’ by the fire in the mess-hall, where I could see Ty, and his
face didn’t have quite so much the eagle look to it as common. The’s
eyes rested on Ty’s face most o’ the time, and he, too, noticed it
bein’ a little less fierce than usual.

“Ty,” he said in a low tone, “I was drove into turnin’ again’ ya. Not
by force, ya understand, nor by fear; but by something which has crept
into me durin’ the last few years, and which I can’t understand,
myself. Horace and the Friar have been mighty good to me—they saved
my life, ya know, after I had forfeited it by raidin’ ’em durin’ the
night. I told ’em I wouldn’t be a spy on you about anything else
except the woman. You haven’t much excuse to bear me any ill will,
seein’ as it was your own hand which shot the move-on order into me.
I’m goin’ to slip out yonder before long; but the’s no knowin’ how
long you’ll have to sit penned up in a chair.”

The’s voice gave out here, and he stopped a few minutes to cough. Ty’s
face hadn’t changed, and his eyes looked out through the south window
to where the western sky was still lighted into glory by the rays o’
the sun, which had already sunk.

“I’ve been locked up in a stone prison, Ty,” said Promotheus as soon
as he had quieted down again; “and I want to tell you that the minutes
drag over ya like a spike-tooth harrow, when you haven’t nothin’ to
look at but four gray walls and the pictures on your memory. A feller
feeds himself on bitter recollections in order to keep his hate lusty;
but all this pilin’ up o’ hate is just one parchin’ hot day after
another—like we’ve had this summer. Everything green and pleasant in
a feller’s nature is burned down to the roots, and in tryin’ to hate
all the world, he ends by hatin’ himself worst of all. Every kindly
deed he’s done seems like a soothin’ shower, and counts a lot in
keepin’ him from fallin’ down below the level o’ snakes and coyotes.

“I’m not preachin’ at ya, I’m tellin’ you just what I know to be so
from actual experience. I don’t bear you no ill will, Ty, whether you
tell me what I want to know, or not; but you have it in your power to
give me more content than airy other man in all the world. Are you
married to the woman, Ty?”

For a moment Ty didn’t move, and then his lips tightened and he nodded
his head. Promotheus gave a sigh and settled back. He stayed quiet for
some time and then said in a weak voice: “Thank ya, Ty. I’m purty
certain that at such a time as this, you wouldn’t deceive me. I’m
sorry you are married to her—on the Friar’s account, understand—but
I’m mightily obliged to you for tellin’ me the truth. The Friar is a
square man, and he’s a strong man. He’ll be able to fight what he has
to fight; but none of us can fight uncertainty, without losin’ our
nerve in the end. I wish you would talk to me, Ty. I thought more o’
you than of airy other man I ever knew, except Horace and the Friar;
and I wish, just for old time’s sake, you’d talk to me a little before
I slip away. You can talk, can’t ya?”

“Yes, I can talk,” sez Ty Jones, facin’ The with a scowl; “but I
haven’t any talk I want to waste on traitors. If I was to speak at
all, it would be to ask ’em to separate me from your sloppy yappin’.
You may think ’at you sound as saintly as a white female angel when
you whine about duty and forgiveness and such-like rubbish; but the
more oil you put on your voice, the more I know you to be a sneak, a
hypocrite, and a traitor. I won’t ask ’em to move me; because I’m not
in the habit of _askin’_ any man. When I had two legs to stand
on, I gave orders. Now that I can’t give orders, I don’t speak at all;
but every time you try to speak like a hen-missionary, you can know
that I’m sayin’ to myself—sneak, hypocrite, traitor!”

One thing you’ll have to say about Ty Jones, an’ that is, that when he
started north, he didn’t wobble off to the east or west much, let what
would come in his path. The only reply The made was to sigh; but what
I wanted to do, was to lull Promotheus into a deep sleep, and then to
fasten Ty Jones’s neck to a green bronco, and let them two settle it
out between ’em which was the tougher beast. What I did do, was to
steal out and tell Horace what had been said, and I also told him not
to separate Ty and Promotheus as I thought The would set him an
example which might finally soften him a little and make him more fit
to die, when the time came ’at some quick tempered individual lost
patience and tried to knock a little decent conversation out of him
with an ax.

Horace, though, thought only o’ The, and he hurried in and sat beside
him. I also went in and took my seat by the fire again. Horace took
The’s hand in one of his and patted it with the other. Horace didn’t
have any upliftin’ words to match the Friar’s; but he had some chirky
little ways which were mighty comfortin’ to The, and when Horace would
be with him, all the sadness would leave his eyes, and he would talk
as free as he thought—which, to my mind, is the final test of
genuwine courage.

Mighty few of us can do it. I know I can’t. Time and again, I have had
deep feelin’s for some one in trouble; but when I’d try to put ’em
into words, the knees o’ my tongue would allus knock together, and I’d
growl out somethin’ gruff, cough, blow my nose, and get into a corner
as soon as possible. The Friar was the first man who ever showed me
’at a feller could speak out his softness without losin’ any of his
strength, and I have honestly tried to do it myself; but I generally
had to dilute it down over half, and even then, it allus sounded as
though I had wrote it out and learned it by heart.

The asked Horace to either move him or Ty, said he didn’t feel quite
comfortable beside Ty, and made out that it was his own wish; but
Horace vetoed the motion, and pertended to scold The for not havin’ a
more forgivin’ nature. The thought he had been as circumspect as a
land agent, and when his request rebounded back on him, he found
himself without any dry powder.

He lay quiet for some time, and then spoke in so low a tone I could
hardly hear him. “I can understand the real Promotheus purty well,
Horace,” sez he; “and I’ve tried to be as game as he was; but I can’t
quite understand the One the Friar tells about. I have thought of Him
a heap since I’ve been laid up this time; but I don’t believe I could
bring myself to forgive them who had nailed me on a cross for doin’
nothin’ but good—I don’t believe I could do that.

“I can feel things clearer now ’n I ever could before; and when I
picture my own self as hangin’ from nails drove through my hands and
feet, it just about takes my breath away. I’ve been handled purty
rough in my time, but allus when my blood was hot, and pain don’t
count then; but to have nails drove—My God, Horace, that’s an awful
thought! That’s an awful thought.

“Then, too, I don’t feel that any one has ill used me lately. The
treatment I got in the army, and in the pen, was consid’able hellish;
but I haven’t had much chance to try forgivin’ any one for the last
few years. Horace, you can’t imagine all the joy the last part of my
life has been to me. I didn’t know what life really was, until you and
the Friar pointed it out to me. I’ve been so happy sometimes it has
hurt me in the throat; and now that I’m goin’ on, I don’t want to
cause any one any bother. I asked Ty to tell me if he was married to
the woman, and he did tell me. I’m sorry to say ’at he is married to
her, Horace; but I’m thankful to Ty for tellin’ me. He don’t feel easy
near me; so I wish you’d move me back to the bunk-shack.”

It was some minutes before Horace could speak, and when he did, he had
to put on pressure to keep his voice steady. “I don’t care one single
damn what Ty Jones wants,” sez he. “Let him stay right where he is and
learn the meanin’ of friendship from the best friend a man ever had.”
After which Horace gave The’s hand a grip and hurried out of the room.



I have seen some mighty quick changes brought about by flood o’
circumstances breakin’ on a man all of a sudden—ol’ Cast Steel
Judson, himself, had melted and run into a new mold the night o’
Barbie’s weddin’—but I never saw such a complete change as had took
place in The since I’d first seen him. He loved devilment then, like a
bear loves honey; while now he had swung back with the pendulem clear
to the other side, until he was more unworldly ’n the Friar himself.
It wasn’t what he said ’at made a feller feel funny inside, it was his
eyes. His eyes were all the time tryin’ to tell things ’at his tongue
couldn’t frame up, and it acted like brakes on a feller’s breathin’

I asked the Friar about it one evenin’ while we were walkin’ back
through the ravine. He walked along with his brows wrinkled a few
minutes, and then said: “You see, Happy, the whole human race is made
up o’ millions of individuals, and each one is some alike and some
different. A man goes through childhood, youth, his fightin’ period,
and old age; and the race has to do the same thing.

“Now, ages ago when the childhood o’ the race began, folks were
downright primitive; they used stone axes, skins for clothing, and ate
raw flesh. They were fierce, impulsive, passionate, just like children
are if you watch ’em close enough; but they lived close to nature,
just like the children do, and their bodies were vigorous, and their
minds were like dry sponges, ready to absorb whatever fell upon ’em.

“The outdoor man of to-day is still primitive; he delights in his
dissipations, and recklessness, but the grim, set face which he wears,
is a mask. The rich, pure air is all the time washin’ his body clean,
his active life keeps his nerves sound and accurate, and his heart is
like the heart of a little child—hungry for good or evil, and needin’
a guiding hand all the time.

“In the mornin’ a child is so full o’ life that words don’t mean much
to him; but when the play o’ the day is over, he comes home, through
the twilight shadows, bruised an’ disappointed an’ purty well tired
out. All day long he’s waged his little wars; but now he is mighty
glad to pillow his head close to his mother’s heart; and then it is
that the seeds o’ gentleness are easiest sprouted. This is the
twilight time for Promotheus.”

We didn’t have anything more to say on this walk; but we both had
plenty to think of. It allus seemed to me that in some curious way,
the Friar, himself, was better ’n his own religion. His religion made
badness a feller’s own fault; but after gettin’ to know the Friar, it
allus made ya feel more like takin’ some share in the other feller’s
sin, than like pointin’ your finger at him and sayin’ he never was any
good, nohow.

A couple o’ days after this, the doctor told us that the sands were
runnin’ mighty low in The’s hour-glass, and it wouldn’t be long to the
end; but still we couldn’t believe it. He didn’t look bad, nor he
didn’t suffer; and we had seen him come back from the grave almost,
that time at Olaf’s when Horace had claimed his life, and had saved
him in spite of himself.

Then again, the doctor had missed it on Janet, and we were all hopin’
he’d get slipped up on again; but The himself seemed to side with the
doctor, and Olaf took one long look, an’ then shut his lips tight an’
shook his head. The said he wanted to live, and had done all he could
to get a clinch on life; but that it was slippin’ away from him drop
by drop, and he couldn’t stay with us much longer.

He seemed to want us about him, so we dropped in and sat beside him as
long as we could keep cheerful. All through the afternoon he lay with
a serious, gentle smile on his lips, but the sadness was mostly gone,
even from his eyes. I closed my own eyes as I sat beside him, and
called up the picture o’ Badger-face the day he had wanted to lynch
Olaf. Then I opened my eyes and looked at the real Promotheus, and I
understood what the Friar meant by bein’ born again.

I spoke o’ this to ol’ Tank Williams, and he fired up at me as though
I had poured red pepper in the nose of a sleepin’ cripple. “You’re a
nice one, you are!” sez he. “I’d sooner fill myself with alcohol and
die in a stupor than to call up The’s past at such a time as this. You
ought to be ashamed o’ yourself.”

The’ was no way to make Tank see what I meant so I sent him in to set
with The a while, and took a little walk up the ravine. Every step I
took brought some memory o’ the time The and Horace and I had first
started to find out about the woman; and it wasn’t long before I was
ready to turn back.

Janet was quite strong by this time, though she still had to wear a
bandage; and after supper, the Friar took her in to see Promotheus. He
had told her all about him, and she was mighty sorry to think ’at his
end was near. She didn’t recall havin’ been kind to him when he was
playin’ cripple; but the Friar had told her about this, too. Horace
had told the Friar about what Ty had said, and it had cut him purty
deep; but he had braced up better ’n we expected. We didn’t any of us
know what effect bringin’ Janet in sight o’ Ty would have, and when
she came into the mess-hall, we watched purty close.

Ty sat propped up, with his clenched hand restin’ outside the blanket,
and an expression on his face like that of a trapped mountain-lion. He
glared up at her as she came near; but she only looked at him with
pity in her eyes, and she didn’t seem to recognize him, at all—just
looked at him as though he was a perfect stranger which she was sorry
for, and Tank, who was settin’ next me, gave me a nudge in my short
ribs, which was about as delicate as though it had come from the hind
foot of a mule. “Well?” I whispered. “What do ya mean by that?”

“Couldn’t ya see ’at she didn’t know him?” sez Tank.

“That’s nothin’,” sez I. “He knew her all right.”

“Yes, but Great Scott,” sez he, “a man can’t claim that a woman’s his
wife if she don’t know him, can he?”

“Pshaw,” sez I, “if you’d settle things that way, the’ wouldn’t be any
married people left. The’ ain’t one woman in fifty ’at knows her
husband, and the’ ain’t any men at all who know their wives.”

“You’re just dodgin’ the question,” sez Tank. “I claim that if a man
marries a woman when she’s out of her mind, he ain’t got any claim on
her when she gets back into her mind again.”

“Look here, Tank,” sez I; “you’ve never had much experience with the
world, ’cause every time you went where experience was to be had, you
got too intoxicated to take notice; but I’m tellin’ you the truth when
I say that if women didn’t sometimes get out o’ their right minds,
they wouldn’t get married at all.”

“Aw, shut up,” sez Tank.

Janet had gone over to Promotheus, and was smoothin’ his forehead. She
had a beautiful, shapely hand, and it made me feel a little wishful to
watch her. The lay perfectly still, and his sensations must ’a’ been
peculiar. Ty Jones didn’t even look at ’em. He kept his brows scowled
down and his gaze out the south window.

Presently Janet turned and walked out to the porch. It was an
unusually warm night, and she sat there alone, while the Friar came
back to The. Horace had gone off by himself to get a grip on his
feelin’s; but he came in about nine o’clock, and went up and took
The’s hand. “Well,” sez he, “have you finally got over your nonsense?
I have a lot o’ plans I want to carry out, and you know I can’t have
you loafin’ much longer.”

Nothin’ suited The so well as to have a little joke put at him; but he
didn’t have any come-back to this. He caught at his breath a time or
two, and then said: “I can’t do it, this time, Horace. I hate to
disappoint ya—I’ve been countin’ on what a good time we were goin’ to
have—up there in the hills—but I can’t come back this time—I,
can’t, quite, make it.”

He ended with a little gurgle and sank back on the pillow. Horace
shook him a little and then flew for the doctor, who was on the porch
o’ the old cabin. They were back in half a minute, Horace pushin’ the
doctor before him; and we all held our breaths when he felt The’s
pulse. The doctor squirted somethin’ into The’s arm, and after a bit,
he opened his eyes with a long sigh, and when he saw Horace bendin’
over him, he smiled.

“I mighty near slipped away that time,” sez he. “It’s not goin’ to be
hard, Horace; and I don’t want you to worry. I feel as comfortable as
if I was sleepin’ on a cloud, and there isn’t one, single thing to
grieve about. I’ve been like one o’ those hard little apples which
take so long to ripen. I’ve hung up on a high bough and the rains beat
on me, and the sun shone on me, and the winds shook me about, and the
birds pecked at me until at last just the right sort o’ weather came
along and I became softer and softer, and riper and riper, until now
my hold on the stem begins to weaken. Purty soon a little gust’ll come
along and shake me down on the green grass; but this is all right,
this is perfectly natural, and I don’t want you to feel bad about it.

“I own up now, that I’ve been afraid o’ death all my life; but this
has passed. I don’t suffer a bit; but I’m tired, just that pleasant
weariness a feller feels when his last pipe has been smoked, and the
glow o’ the camp fire begins to form those queer pictures, in which
the doin’s o’ that day mingle with the doin’s of other days. I’m
liable to drop off to sleep at any moment, now; and I’d like—I’d kind
o’ like to shake hands with the boys before I go.”

Well, this gave Horace something to do, and he was mighty glad to do
it. After we had all shaken hands with The, he marched up the
prisoners, even to the Chink, and they all shook hands, too; and by
this time Prometheus was purty tired; but he did look unusual
contented. He glanced across at Ty; but Ty had turned his face to the
wall, and The gave a little sigh, settled down into the pillow again,
and closed his eyes. Horace backed around until The couldn’t see him,
and shook his fist at Ty, good and earnest.

Purty soon a regular grin came to The’s face, and he opened his eyes
and looked at the Friar with a twinkle in ’em. “Friar Tuck,” sez he,
“I don’t know as I ever mentioned it before, but I’ll confess now that
I’m right glad I didn’t lynch you for stealin’ those hosses.” He lay
there smilin’ a minute, and then held out his hand. “Good-bye,
Horace,” he said in a firm voice.

Horace had been doin’ uncommon well up to now; but he couldn’t stand
this. He threw himself on the bed, took both o’ The’s hands and looked
down into his face. “Promotheus, Prometheus,” he called to him in a
shakin’ voice. “Don’t give up! You can win if you fight a while
longer. Remember that day in the desert, when I wanted to lie down and
end it all. You said you didn’t take any stock in such nonsense; and
you picked me up and carried me over the molten copper, while queer
things came out o’ the air and clutched at us. You reached the
water-hole that time, Promotheus, and you can do it again, if you just
use all your might.”

Promotheus opened his eyes and his jagged, gnarly teeth showed in a
smile, weak and trembly, but still game to the last line of it.
“Nope,” he said so low we could hardly hear him, “I’m Promotheus, all
right. I hung on as long as I could; but the vultures have finished my
liver at last, Horace—they have finally finished it. I hate to leave
you; but I’ll have to be goin’ soon. The’s only one thing I ask of
ya—don’t send a single one o’ the boys to the pen. They don’t know
what the world really is; but shuttin’ ’em out of it won’t ever teach
’em. If the’s anything you can do to give ’em a little start, it would
be a mighty good thing—a mighty good thing.” His voice was gettin’
awful weak, an’ he’d have to rest every few words.

“And Ty Jones, too,” he went on, “Ty was square with me in the old
days. Try to make him understand what it was ’at turned me again’ him;
and if the’s any way to make things easier for Ty, I want you to have
it done. Ty had a lot o’ tough times, himself, before he turned all
the hard part of his nature outside. Don’t bear him any malice,
Horace. Seventy times seven, the Friar sez we ought to forgive, and
that many’ll last a long time, if a feller don’t take offence too
easy. The’s a lot o’ things I don’t understand; but some way it seems
to me that if I could just go out feelin’ I had squared things with
Ty, I’d be a leetle mite easier in my mind.”

Horace stepped to Ty’s bed and shook him by the arm. “Did you hear
what he said?” he demanded. “You know he’s achin’ to have you speak to
him decent. Why don’t ya speak to him?”

Ty looked cold and stony into Horace’s eyes, and then took his left
hand and pushed Horace’s grip from off his arm. Horace stood lookin’
at Ty with his fist clinched. The turned and saw it and a troubled
look came into his face.

“Friar Tuck,” he said, “you meant it, didn’t ya—that about forgivin’
seventy times seven?”

“I did,” sez the Friar, his voice ringin’ out clear and strong in
spite of its bein’ low pitched. “Be at peace, Promotheus, the laws of
man are at war with the laws of God; but they’re bound to lose in the
end. I want you to know that I forgive Ty Jones as fully as you
do—and I shall do everything in my power to square things up with

The held out his hand to the Friar, and they clasped in a
comrade-grip. “I can trust you,” he said; “and I know you’ll do all
you can to make Horace see it that way, too.”

“I forgive him, too, you big goose!” cried Horace. “I promise you that
I’ll do all I can for him—on your account. Though I must say—but no,
I mean it, Promotheus. I forgive him from my heart, and I’ll be as
good a friend to him as I can.”

“Now, let the little gust o’ wind come,” sez The. “I’m perfectly ripe
and ready for it, now.”

The’ was silence for several minutes; and then Promotheus said in a
faint voice: “Friar, I wish you’d sing to me. All my life I’ve longed
to hear a cradle-song, a regular baby cradle-song. I know it’s a
damn-fool notion; but I never had it so strong as I’ve got it now—and
I wish you’d sing one to me. My mother was a widow, mostly. She
cleaned out offices at night to earn enough to keep us alive. She
sacrificed her life for me, but I couldn’t understand this then.

“Night after night I used to creep in from the street through dirty,
stinkin’ halls, and cry myself to sleep. An achin’ came into my heart
then which hasn’t never quite left it; and it was this lonesomeness
’at finally made me run away—leavin’ her to face it out—all by

“My blood has turned to water, I reckon, and I feel like a baby
to-night. I don’t suffer, understand; I feel as though I was a little
chap again, and that my mother didn’t have to work; but was holdin’ me
on her lap. She did hold me that way once—the time the ambulance
brought my old man home—but she couldn’t sing then. It seems to me
that if you’d just sing me a regular cradle-song—I could slip away
into pleasant dreams.”

The Friar cleared his throat a time or two before he found his voice;
and then he said in a low tone: “I used to sleep in a store-box,
Promotheus, when I was a lad—and I know exactly what you feel. I’ll
sing you a cradle-song, a song for little children of all ages. It is
a great privilege to be a little child, Promotheus, and—and I wish
you pleasant dreams.”

Then Friar Tuck drew a deep, full breath, and held it down until all
the quiver had gone from his lips. When he started to sing, his voice
was low an’ soothin’, and full o’ tenderness; and after the first
line, Promotheus gave a little sigh o’ content, nodded his head, and
shut his eyes.

The’ was one tune we every last one of us liked. The Friar generally
sang it to words which began: “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah”; and he
usually sang it with a swing which was like a call to battle; and this
time he sang the same tune, but soft and close and restful, and the
words he used began: “Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me.” These words
sound purty flat when ya give ’em cold; but they didn’t sound empty to
us, as we stood lookin’ down at Promotheus. All alone, he had taken
his chance when he took on with Ty Jones; and now he was cashin’ in
this chance and it made us mighty sober.

The Friar finished the first four lines alone, and then the angels
seemed to join in with him. We had all been purty certain that the’
wasn’t nothin’ in the shape of earthly melody fit to hold a candle to
the Friar; but just at this point a new voice joined onto the Friar’s
which sent a thrill through us and made us stop breathin’. A queer,
half frightened look crossed the Friar’s face for a second; but his
voice didn’t waver for a single note. Instead, the’ came a new tone of
thanksgivin’ and confidence in it which took all the sting out o’
death and made it all right and pleasant, like the cool and
restfulness o’ night, after the heat of day.

    “All this day Thy hand has led me,
    And I thank Thee for Thy care;
    Thou hast warmed me, clothed and fed me;
    Listen to my evening prayer,”

went on the song and the’ came an expression of wonder and of joy into
The’s tired face.

There are only three little verses to this one, and to fill out the
tune they had to sing the first one over again, soft and low. The
candles threw a soft glow on The’s face which hid the pallor of it and
the rough lines, but brought out all the kindly strength we had come
to be so fond of; and when the music died away, we all sat still for
fear o’ disturbin’ him.

Horace had been settin’ holdin’ one of his hands, and after a bit he
leaned forward and whispered, “Was that what you wanted, Promotheus?”

But the’ wasn’t any reply. The little gust o’ wind had come with the
song—and fully ripe, and soft to the core of his big, warm heart,
Promotheus had loosed his hold on the bough of life, and dropped off
onto the soft, deep grass of eternity.

“Promotheus! Promotheus!” cried Horace, and then covered his face with
his hands and dropped forward upon The’s quiet breast.

“Badger-face,” called a harsh voice, and we looked at Ty Jones and saw
him leanin’ towards The. “Wait, Badger-face, wait—I want to speak to
ya. I want to tell you that I lied to ya. Oh Lord, it’s too late, it’s
too late!” And Ty Jones pressed his hand across his eyes and sank

Horace whirled to tell Ty what he thought of him; but the Friar placed
his big hand on Horace’s shoulder, and pointed down to The’s placid
face. Horace gave a shudderin’ sob, and settled back into his former

Janet Morris crossed the floor to the Friar just then and said to him
in a low tone: “I have found it again—my voice has come back to me.”

Ty Jones took his hand down from his eyes and straightened up and
looked at her. All the eagle had gone from his face, and it looked old
and haggard. “Don’t you really know who I am?” he asked.

She looked at him and shook her head.

“I’m your half-brother,” he said. “I’m Tyrell Jones Morris. Your
mother might have been a good woman, but she was not good to me—she
wasn’t fair; she prejudiced my father again’ me. You were sellin’
tickets at an elevated station in New York when I found you. You
looked a good deal like your mother, for you were weak and sickly. I
didn’t know then, whether I brought you back with me because we had
the same blood in our veins, or because I hated you—and I don’t know
yet. I’m not tellin’ you this now, because I care any thing for you,
or the preacher; but Badger-face was square, and I know now ’at he’d
never have turned again’ me if the rest of ya hadn’t tampered with
him. I’m sorry I didn’t tell him before he died—and that’s why I’m
tellin’ you now.”

I winked my eyes to the boys, and we filed out and went over to the
bunk-shack. We lighted our pipes and sat a long time smokin’ in
silence. One by one they dropped off to bed until only me and ol’ Tank
Williams was left. Tank sat with a sour look on his face, and so
deeply buried in thought that the burnt matches around his stool
looked like a wood pile. “What are ya thinkin’ of, Tank?” I said to

“I’m not kickin’, understand,” sez he; “but it does seem to me that
when all The asked for was a cradle-song, the Friar could ’a’ thought
up somethin’ besides another one o’ those doggone sheep-herder hymns.
The didn’t have any more use for sheep-herders ’n I have.”

This was the real Tank, all right. Once an idee took possession of
him, it rode him rough shod till he keeled over with his tongue
hangin’ out.



We buried The by the side o’ Tim Simpson. Horace insisted on makin’ a
coffin for him—fact was, he wanted to have a regular funeral, but we
talked him out o’ this; so he made a coffin himself and lined it with
silk which Ty Jones had brought out for Janet to make dresses of. The
Friar held some short services, but he didn’t sing or preach any. Some
way, the’ didn’t seem to be any need of it. After we had covered him
over we stood around talkin’ for quite a while; and then only turned
away because the first rain we had had for months came rattlin’ down
from the mountains.

“Do you see that, now?” asked ol’ Tank after we had reached the porch
and were sittin’ watchin’ it come down in torrents.

“I’m not totally blind,” sez I.

“Well, I’m not superstitious,” sez Tank; “but I’m bettin’ that he’s
had that tended to, himself. He wasn’t one to forget his friends, and
he knew ’at what we needed most was rain—so he’s called attention to
it the first chance he’s had.”

Fact was, Tank was so everlastin’ superstitious that he spelt Tomas
with an “h” in it to keep from havin’ thirteen letters in his full
name; but it did seem queer about this rain, because they wasn’t any
sane man in the world who would have expected a rain just at this
time. It’s astonishin’ how many curious things there is if a feller
just takes notice of ’em.

The Friar and Ty had had a long talk the night ’at Promotheus slipped
away, and the Friar had agreed to settle down at the ranch and do what
he could for Ty. Ty wasn’t thankful; but he hadn’t much choice, so he
behaved better ’n any one would have expected. The Friar wanted me to
stay and be foreman for him; but I told him I had promised Jabez to
come back as soon as I had got a good holt on myself again; and I
intended to leave for the Diamond Dot the minute things were right at
the Cross brand. The Friar didn’t much trust Pepper Kendal for
foreman; but the minute I thought it over, I saw that Olaf was the
very man, and this suited the Friar to a T.

We brought the prisoners up to Ty and he told ’em how things were and
advised ’em to adjust themselves to new conditions as fast as
possible, and they all agreed to do it and went to work under Olaf.
The Friar knew a preacher at Laramie; so Horace gave Tillte Dutch the
job o’ goin’ after him, and as soon as he came, the Friar and Janet
were married, and then I made plans to hit the trail for the Diamond

Horace had made up his mind to build himself a cabin up at our old
camp and he tried to hire me for life; but I had taken root at the
Diamond, and when I explained things to him, he owned up I was right.
I suggested to Horace that ol’ Tank Williams was the very man for him,
and he admitted, when he came to look it over, that Tank would suit
him a heap better for hired help ’n I would. He even went so far as to
say he never could understand how it came ’at a stiff-necked man like
ol’ Jabez could put up with my independent ways. I told Horace the’
was a lot of things it wasn’t necessary for him to understand, and
then I whistled to Tank, and he came over and joined us.

Tank rolled the notion about in his head a while, and then he sez:
“Horace, I’ll take ya up. We both got cured up of our nerves on the
same trip, and ever since then I have to own that you’ve found favor
in my sight; but the one thing ’at counts bigger ’n anything else, is
the fact that, come what will, you’ll never have any more hankerin’ to
be pestered by a lot o’ sheep, than I will.”

Olaf started to get things ready for the round-up and us Diamond Dot
boys, aside from ol’ Tank, rode off home, where we found things in
consid’able of a muddle. Durin’ the three years previous I had been
takin’ more and more o’ the responsibility onto my own shoulders, and
ol’ Cast Steel found himself purty rusty. We turned to and
straightened things out, and then I settled down to the sober business
o’ handlin’ a big outfit with a view on the future.

After this, I didn’t do any more skitin’ around than my peculiar
nature seemed to insist on; but I did make out to pay the Cross brand
a visit every once in a while. The Friar only intended to stay long
enough to get things to slidin’ easy; and then he and Janet were to go
back East and work among the city poor; but the chance never came.

Janet grew perfectly strong and well again; but the city allus made
her nervous to return to the mountains, and they were kept so busy on
the ranch that the years slipped away without bein’ noticed.

Ty’s backbone was all in one piece, and solid—except where Olaf had
unjointed it—and it took years to wear him down to friendliness; but
when the Friar’s first baby got big enough to creep, the contrary
little cuss took more interest in ol’ Ty Jones, than in airy other
thing the’ was on the place. I never saw any one yet who didn’t feel
flattered at a baby’s endorsement—though why a baby should be
supposed to actually have better judgment than grown folks has never
been fully explained to me yet.

Horace kept his word to The, and he did all he could for Ty. Ty didn’t
like him and he didn’t like Ty; but Ty was human, and it made him
lonely to sit in one spot all the time, so that while he refused to be
thankful, he gradually got to relyin’ on Horace; and Horace was also
human, and the more he did for Ty on The’s account, the more fond he
grew of Ty on his own account. He got him a wheelchair first, and this
was a big help. Then he fixed up a trapeze for Ty to practice on. Ty
got mad about this and said that cripple though he was, no man could
make a monkey of him; but one night when he couldn’t sleep he
practiced on it, and it gave him a lot o’ relief.

The name of the Chinaman was Yuen Yick, and he thought ’at Ty Jones
was some sort of a god, and fair worshipped him—every one o’ Ty’s men
swore by him, even after he turned decent. Ty used to abuse the Chink
all he could and it pleased ’em both; and the Chink saw that Horace
meant well by Ty, so he kept Horace posted on just what Ty did and
thought; and Horace had Janet make some flannel bricks filled with
cotton for Ty to throw at the Chinaman. Ty got a lot o’ satisfaction
out o’ these bricks, and the exercise helped him too.

Next, Horace had a wide porch built all around Ty’s house, and he
swung ropes with rings on ’em from the ceiling, an equal distance
apart; and Ty got so he could swing from ring to ring, and go all
around the house, and climb ladders, and as the boy got big enough to
become tyrannical, which was soon enough, goodness knows, he made Ty
do all manner o’ stunts—throw balls and juggle ’em, tell stories,
draw pictures—Well, the fact was, that between ’em all, they kept Ty
so active that first we knew, the devil had all been worked out of him
and he was as civilized as any of us. One day when Horace was down
visitin’ him, he sent in the Chink and had him bring out a set of
ivory figures, carved most beautiful and called chess-men; and he
dared Horace to play him a game, and this was the final surrender of
the old Ty Jones.

He was a well edicated man, Ty was; and each winter when he had left
the ranch, he had gone to some big city where he had pertended to be a
regular swell. No one ever found out just what had soured him so on
the world, for his nature was to be sociable to a degree. He said that
no one knew the cause of it except ol’ Promotheus, and it was mightily
to his credit that he hadn’t devulged the secret.

Ty strung out his surprises quite a while. It seems he was also an
inventor, and had patents which brought him in a lot o’ money. He had
found this cave and had just widened it where widenin’ was necessary,
and had built his cabin above it. The floor was double and filled with
earth, and the fake drawers were also filled with earth, so ’at no
sound would show that it was hollow underneath. The drawers swung on a
steel piller which could be worked from above by a rope which hung
back o’ his bookcase and from below by a lever.

It was a curious thing to see Ty Jones with his bristly eyebrows and
his eagle’s beak of a nose, makin’ mechanical toys for the Friar’s and
Olaf’s children. They didn’t put any limit on what he was able to do,
and he used to grumble at ’em as fierce as a grizzly—and then
back-track like an Injun, and do whatever they wanted him to.

The Friar never quite gave up his plot to go back and work among the
poor; but the’ was allus so many things imposed upon him by the home
folks that he was pestered with letters every time he left; and
usually compromised by gatherin’ up a bunch o’ the poor as hasty as
possible, and bringin’ ’em back with him. His head was full of what he
called welfare plans, and he settled the poor along all the likely
cricks he found vacant, and bulldozed ’em into goin’ to work. It’s a
curious coincident; but most of ’em turned out well.

The’ was a bilious feller out visitin’ me once, which called himself a
sosologist. I told him about some o’ the Friar’s projects; and he said
that the Friar was nothin’ but a rank Utopian, and that this sort o’
work would never remove all the evils of the world.

“You can call him anything ya want to,” sez I, “so long as it’s a word
I don’t understand; but the Friar’s not tryin’ to remove all the evils
in the world. He only removes those evils he can find by spendin’ his
whole life in huntin’ for ’em; but he certainly does remove these ones
in quick and able shape.”

Another time, right after the Friar had brought about a settlement
between some sheep and cattle men, a preacher dropped off to give his
appetite a little exercise at the Diamond Dot. He belonged to the same
herd that the Friar had cut out from, and I thought he would be
interested; so I told him consid’able about the Friar. He was a most
judicious-lookin’ man, but baggy under the eyes and chin. He got all
fussed up when I spoke well o’ the Friar, and said he was
un-co-nonical, said he was unorthodox—Oh, he cut loose and swore at
the Friar in his own tongue ’til I about lost my temper.

“Look here,” I sez to him, “it would take me some months to tell you
all the good deeds the Friar has actually done; but I’ll just give you
one single example. If I was to live up to my natural disposition, I’d
wring your neck, or shoot off your ears, or somethin’ like that; but
owin’ to the Friar havin’ taught me self-control, I’m not even goin’
to snap my fingers again’ your blue nose. Make yourself perfectly at
home here, and stay as long as the East can spare ya; but you’ll have
to excuse me for a while, as the Friar has just written me an order to
go over into the Basin to see what can be done for a young feller who
has been arrested for hoss-stealin’.”

Horace contributes liberally to the Friar’s projects; but he don’t
take a hand in the game, himself—except with the imported poor which
are gathered at the Cross brand, waitin’ to be transplanted. Every
year he seems to shrink about an eighth of an inch smaller, and get
about that much tougher. He lights out for a trip now and again, and
ol’ Tank allus tags along, grumblin’. Tank thinks full as much of
Horace as The did; but Tank’s a different proposition. The easier his
lot is the more he grumbles; but I like nothin’ better than to have a
chat with him over old times.

One night I was up visitin’ Horace, and after supper we got a little
restless and started out for a walk. We sauntered down to our old
look-out and stood gazin’ down at the lights of the Cross brand ranch.
Ty had rigged up a water power to manufacture e-lectricity, simply
because the children had needed it to run some o’ their idees, but
the’ was plenty of it to light the whole place. In token of Ty’s
brand, and also as a symbol of his own callin’, the Friar had built an
immense cross on the cliff just above the mouth of the ravine, and on
the upright, and at each end o’ the cross-piece were big electric
lights. These could be seen for miles, and every one knew ’at whatever
troubles they had, there was allus welcome, cheery hospitality, and
sound advice waitin’ for ’em in the shadow of this cross.

It was a moonlight night, one of those crisp, bright nights, when it
makes a feller feel solemn just to get up high and look down at the
beauty of the old, hard Earth. We had been talkin’ o’ the old days as
usual; but not talkin’ much, for we each saw the same set of pictures
when we looked down from here, and they didn’t need many words.

“Life is like a game o’ chess,” sez Horace. “The openin’ is not so
absolutely vital; but after a time the’ comes one little move which is
the keynote of all the balance of the game—and the same is true o’
life. The way things has turned out down yonder seems to be the very
best way they could have turned out; but it’s hard to look back and
tell just what was the keynote of it all. Of course
Promotheus—Promotheus was the prime mover; but then all the way along
you can see the Friar’s influence. What would you say was the keynote
o’ this tangled game, Happy?”

I looked down at Horace: he was wearin’ a battered old hat, rough
clothes and leggins, and smokin’ a corncob pipe. “That’s an easy one,”
sez I, tryin’ to shake off a feelin’ o’ sadness which was beginnin’ to
creep over me, in spite of all I could do; “gettin’ your nerves cured
up, Horace, was the keynote of it all.”

“That was a long time ago,” sez Horace, “a long, long time ago.”

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