Araphoe, or Buckskin Joe
'Twas a calm and peaceful evening in a camp called Araphoe,
And the whiskey was a running with a soft and gentle flow,
The music was a-ringing in a dance hall cross the way,
And the dancers was a-swinging just as close as they could lay.
People gathered round the tables, a-betting with their wealth,
And near by stood a stranger who had come there for his health.
He was a peaceful little stranger though he seemed to be unstrung;
For just before he'd left his home he'd separated with one lung.
Nearby at a table sat a man named Hankey Dean,
A tougher man says Hankey, buckskin chaps had never seen.
But Hankey was a gambler and he was plum sure to lose;
For he had just departed with a sun-dried stack of blues.
He rose from the table, on the floor his last chip flung,
And cast his fiery glimmers on the man with just one lung.
"No wonder I've been losing every bet I made tonight
When a sucker and a tenderfoot was between me and the light.
Look here, little stranger, do you know who I am?"
"Yes, and I don't care a copper colored damn."
The dealers stopped their dealing and the players held their breath;
For words like those to Hankey were a sudden flirt with death.
"Listen, gentle stranger, I'll read my pedigree:
I'm known on handling tenderfeet and worser men than thee;
The lions on the mountains, I've drove them to their lairs;
The wild-cats are my playmates, and I've wrestled grizzly bears;
"Why, the centipedes can't mar my tough old hide,
And rattle snakes have bit me and crawled off and died.
I'm as wild as the horse that roams the range;
The moss grows on my teeth and wild blood flows through my veins.
"I'm wild and woolly and full of fleas
And never curried below the knees.
Now, little stranger, if you'll give me your address,—
How would you like to go, by fast mail or express?"
The little stranger who was leaning on the door
Picked up a hand of playing cards that were scattered on the floor.
Picking out the five of spades, he pinned it to the door
And then stepped back some twenty paces or more.
He pulled out his life-preserver, and with a "one, two, three, four,"
Blotted out a spot with every shot;
For he had traveled with a circus and was a fancy pistol shot.
"I have one more left, kind sir, if you wish to call the play."
Then Hanke stepped up to the stranger and made a neat apology,
"Why, the lions in the mountains,—that was nothing but a joke.
Never mind about the extra, you are a bad shooting man,
And I'm a meek little child and as harmless as a lamb."