by Alfred Henry Lewis
The Great Wolfville Strike.
"No, sir, even onder spur an' quirt, my mem'ry can only canter back
to one uprisin' of labor in Wolfville; that was printers."
At this the Old Cattleman looked unduly sagacious, refreshed himself
with a puff or two at his pipe, and all with the air of one who
might, did he see fit, consider the grave questions of capital and
labor with an ability equal to their solution. His remark was growth
of the strike story of some mill workmen, told glaringly in the
newspaper he held in his hands.
"Wolfville is not at that time," he continued, "what you-all East
would call a swirlin' vortex of trade; still she has her marts.
Thar's the copper mines, the Bird Cafe Op'ry House, the Red Light,
the O. K. Restauraw, the Dance Hall, the New York Store an' sim'lar
hives of commerce. Which ondoubted the barkeeps is the hardest
worked folks in camp, an' yet none of 'em ever goes on the warpath
for shorter hours or longer pay, so far as I has notice. Barkeeps
that a-way is a light-hearted band an' cheerful onder their burdens.
Once when Old Monte brings the stage in late because of some boggin'
down he does over at a quicksand ford in the foothills, a shorthorn
who arrives with him as a passenger comes edgin' into the Red Light.
Bein' it's four o'clock in the mornin', the tenderfoot seems amazed
at sech activities as faro-bank, an' high-ball, said devices bein'
in full career; to say nothin' of the Dance Hall, which 'Temple of
Mirth,' as Hamilton who is proprietor tharof names it, is whoopin'
it up across the street.
"'Ain't you open rather late?' says the shorthorn. His tones is
apol'getic an' no offence is took.
"That's one of them gratefyin' things about the Southwest. That
temperate region don't go pirootin' 'round strivin' to run its brand
onto things as insults where none ain't meant. The Southwest ropes
only at the intention. You may even go so far as to shoot the wrong
gent in a darkened way, an' as long as you pulls off the play in a
sperit of honesty, an' the party plugged don't happen to be a
pop'lar idol, about the worst you'd get would be a caution from the
Stranglers to be more acc'rate in your feuds, sech is the
fairmindedness an' toleration of Southwest sentiment.
"As I su'gests, the barkeep, realizin' that the stranger's bluff
arises from cur'osity rather than any notion of what booksports
calls 'captious criticism,' feels no ombrage.
"'What was you-all pleased to remark?' retorts the barkeep as he
slams his nose-paint where the shorthorn can get action.
"'Nothin',' replies the shorthorn, imbibin' of his forty drops,
"only it sort o' looks to my onaccustomed eye like this deadfall is
open rather late."
"'Which she is some late,' admits the barkeep, as he softly swabs
the counter; 'which it is some late for night before last, but it's
jest the shank of the evenin' for to-night.'
"But, as I observes a bit back on the trail, I never do hear of any
murmur of resentment on the part of the toilin' masses of the town,
save in the one instance when that bunch of locoed printers capers
out an' defies the editor an' publisher of the Wolfville COYOTE, the
same bein' the daily paper of the outfit.
"This yere imprint, the COYOTE, is done owned an' run by Colonel
William Greene Sterett. An' I'll pause right yere for the double
purpose of takin' a drink an' sympathisin' with you a whole lot in
not knowin' the Colonel. You nacherally ain't as acootely aware of
the fact as I be, but you can gamble a bloo stack that not knowin'
Colonel Sterett borders on a deeprivation. He is shore wise, the
Colonel is, an' when it comes to bein' fully informed on every
p'int, from the valyoo of queensup before the draw to the political
effect of the Declaration of Independence, he's an even break with
Doc Peets. An' as I've asserted frequent—an' I don't pinch down a
chip—Doc Peet's is the finest eddicated sharp in Arizona.
"We-all will pass up the tale at this crisis, but I'll tell you
later about how Colonel Sterett comes a-weavin' into Wolfville that
time an' founds the Coyote. It's enough now to know that when these
yere printers takes to ghost-dancin' that time, the Colonel has been
in our midst crowdin' hard on the hocks of a year, an' is held in
high regyard by Old Alan Enright, Doc Peets, Jack Moore, Boggs,
Tutt, Cherokee Hall, Faro Nell, and other molders of local opinion,
an' sort o' trails in next after Enright an' Peets in public esteem.
The Colonel is shore listened to an' heeded at sech epocks as
Wolfville sets down serious to think.
"Them printers of the Colonel's stampedes themse'fs jest followin'
the latter's misonderstandin' with Huggins, who conducts the Bird
Cage Op'ry House, an' who as I've allers maintained, incites them
mechanics, private, to rebellion, as a scheme of revenge on the
Colonel. The trouble which bears its final froote in this labor
uprisin' is like this. Huggins, as noted, holds down the Bird Cage
Op'ry House as manager, an' when lie's drunk—which, seein' that
Huggins is a bigger sot than Old Monte, is right along he allows
he's a 'Impressario.' Mebby you saveys 'Impressario,' an'
experiences no difficulty with the same as a term, but Boggs an'
Tutt goes to the fringe of a gun play dispootin' about its meanin'
the time Huggins plays it on the camp first as deescriptif of his
"'A Impressario is a fiddler,' says Boggs; `I cuts the trail of one
in the States once, ropes him up, an' we has a shore enough time.'
"'Sech observations,' observes Tutt, to whom Boggs vouchsafes this
information, 'sech observations make me tired. They displays the
onlimited ability for ignorance of the hooman mind. Boggs, I don't
want to be deemed insultin', but you-all oughter go to night-school
some'ers ontil you learns the roodiments of the American language."
"When this yore colloquy ensooes, I'm away on the spring round-up,
an' tharfor not present tharat; but as good a jedge as Jack Moore,
insists that the remainder of the conversation would have come off
in the smoke if he hadn't, in his capacity of marshal, pulled his
six-shooter an' invoked Boggs an' Tutt to a ca'mer mood.
"But speakin' of this Huggins party, I never likes him. Aside from
his bein' mostly drunk, which, no matter what some may say or think,
I holds impairs a gent's valyoo as a social factor, Huggins is
avaricious an' dotes on money to the p'int of bein' sordid. He'd
gloat over a dollar like it was a charlotte roose, Huggins would.
So, as I says, I ain't fond of Huggins, an' takes no more pleasure
of his company than if he's a wet dog. Still, thar's sech a thing as
dooty; so, when Huggins comes wanderin' wild-eyed into the Red Light
about first drink time one evenin', an' confides to me in a whisper
that thar's a jack rabbit outside which has sworn to take his life,
an' is right then bushwhackin' about the door waitin' to execoote
the threat, I calls Doc Peets, an' aids in tyin' Huggins down so
that his visions can be met an' coped with medical.
"Peets rides herd on Huggins for about a week, an' at last effects
his rescoo from that hostile jack rabbit an' them crimson
rattlesnakes an' blue-winged bats that has j'ined dogs with it in
its attempts ag'in Huggins. Later, when Peets sends his charges,
this yere ingrate Huggins—lovin' money as I states—wants to squar'
it with a quart or two of whiskey checks on the Bird Cage bar.
Nacherally, Peets waves aside sech ignoble proffers as insults to
his professional standin'.
"'An' you all don't owe me a splinter, Huggins,' says Peets, as he
turns down the prop'sition to take whiskey checks as his reward.
'We'll jest call them services of mine in subdooin' your delirium
treemors a contreebution. It should shorely be remooneration enough
to know that I've preserved you to the Wolfville public, an' that
the camp can still boast the possession of the meanest sport an'
profoundest drunkard outside of the Texas Panhandle.'
"Bar none, Doc Peets is the bitterest gent, verbal, that ever makes
a moccasin track in the South-west. An' while Huggins ain't pleased
none, them strictures has to go. To take to pawin' 'round for
turmoil with Peets would be encroachin' onto the ediotic. Even if he
emerges alive from sech controversies—an' it's four to one he
wouldn't; for Peets, who's allers framed up with a brace of
derringers, is about as vivid an enterprise as Wolfville affords—
the Stranglers would convene with Old Man Enright in the cha'r, an'
Huggins wouldn't last as long as a drink of whiskey. As it is,
Huggins gulps his feelin's an' offers nothin' in return to Peets's
"No; of course Doc Peets ain't that diffusive in his confidences as
to go surgin' about tellin' this story to every gent he meets. It's
ag'in roole for physicians that a-way to go draggin' their lariats
'round permiscus an' impartin' all they knows. You-all can see
yourse'f that if physicians is that ingenuous, it would prodooce all
sorts of troubles in the most onlooked-for places an' most
onexpected forms. No; Peets wouldn't give way to conduct so
onbecomin' a medicine man an' a sport. But rooles has their
exceptions; an so Feets, in one of them moments of sympathy an'
confidence, which two highly eddicated gents after the eighth drink
is bound to feel for each other, relates to Colonel Sterett
concernin' Huggins an' his perfidy with them Bird Cage checks.
"This yere onbosomin' of himse'f to the Colonel ain't none discreet
of Peets. The Colonel has many excellencies, but keepin' secrets
ain't among 'em; none whatever. The Colonel is deevoid of talents
for secrets, an' so the next day he prints this yere outrage onder a
derisive headline touchin' Huggins' froogality.
"Huggins don't grade over-high for nerve an' is a long way from
bein' clean strain game; but he figgers, so I allers reckons, that
the Colonel ain't no thunderbolt of war himse'f, so when he reads as
to him an' Peets an' them treemors an' the whiskey checks, he starts
in to drink an' discuss about his honor, an' gives it out he'll have
"It's the barkeep at the Red Light posts Colonel Sterett as to them
perils. A Mexican comes trackin' along into the Colonel's room in
the second story—what he calls his 'sanctum'—with a note. It's
from the barkeep an' reads like this:
RED LIGHT SALOON.
Huggins is in here tankin' up an' makin' war medicine. He's packin'
two guns. He says he's going to plug you for that piece. I can keep
him here an hour. Meanwhile, heel yourse'f. I'll have him so drunk
by the time he leaves that he ought to be easy.
P. S. Better send over to the Express Company for one of them shot-
guns. Buckshot, that a-way, is a cinch; an' if you're a leetle
nervous it don't make no difference. B. J.
"About the time the 10-gauge comes over to the Colonel, with the
compliments of the Wells-Fargo Express, an' twenty shells holdin'
twenty-one buck-shot to the shell, Doc Peets himse'f comes
sa'nterin' into the sanctum.
"'You-all ought never to have printed it, Colonel,' says Peets; 'I'm
plumb chagrined over that exposure of Huggins.'
"'Don't you reckon, Doc,' says the Colonel, sort o' coaxin' the
play, 'if you was to go down to the Red Light an' say to this
inebriated miscreant that you makes good, it would steady him down a
"'If I was to take sech steps as you urges, Colonel,' says Peets,
'it would come out how I gives away the secrets of my patients; it
would hurt my p'sition. On the level! Colonel, I'd a mighty sight
sooner you'd beef Huggins.'
"'But see yere, Doc,' remonstrates the Colonel, wipin' off the water
on his fore'ead, 'murder is new to me, an' I shrinks from it.
Another thing—I don't thirst to do no five or ten years at
Leavenworth for downin' Huggins, an' all on account of you declinin'
whiskey chips as a honorarium for them services.'
"'It ain't no question of Leavenworth,' argues Peets; 'sech thoughts
is figments. Yere's how it'll be. Huggins comes chargin' up,
hungerin' for blood. You-all is r'ared back yere with that 10-gauge,
all organized, an' you coldly downs him. Thar ain't no jury, an'
thar ain't no Vigilance Committee, in Arizona, who's goin' to carp
at that a little bit. Besides, he's that ornery, the game law is out
on Huggins an' has been for some time. As for any resk to yourse'f,
personal, from Huggins; why! Colonel, you snaps your fingers tharat.
You hears Huggins on the stairs; an' you gives him both barrels the
second he shows in the door. It's as plain as monte. Before Huggins
can declar' himse'f, Colonel, he's yours, too dead to skin. It's
sech a shore thing,' concloodes Peets, 'that, after all, since
you're merely out for safety, I'd get him in the wing, an' let it go
at that. Once his arm is gone, it won't be no trouble to reason with
"'Don't talk to me about no arms,' retorts the Colonel, still
moppin' his feachers plenty desperate. 'I ain't goin' to do no fancy
shootin'. If Huggins shows up yere, you can put down a yellow stack
on it, I'll bust him where he looks biggest. Huggins is goin' to
take all the chances of this embroglio.'
"But Huggins never arrives. It's Dan Boggs who abates him an'
assoomes the pressure for the Colonel. Boggs is grateful over some
compliments the Colonel pays him in the Coyote the week previous.
It's right in the midst of Huggins' prep'rations for blood that
Boggs happens up on him in the Red Light.
"'See yere, Huggins,' says Boggs, as soon as ever he gets the
Impressario's grievance straight in his mind, 'you-all is followin'
off the wrong wagon track. The Colonel ain't your proper prey at
all; it's me. I contreebutes that piece in the Coyote about you
playin' it low on Peets myse'f.'
"Huggins gazes at Boggs an' never utters a word; Boggs is too many
"'Which I'm the last sport,' observes Boggs after a pause, `to put a
limit on the reccreations or meddle with the picnics of any gent,
but this yere voylence of yours, Huggins, has gone too far. I'm
obleeged to say, tharfore, that onless you aims to furnish the
painful spectacle of me bendin' a gun over your head, you had better
sink into silence an' pull your freight. I'm a slow, hard team to
start, Huggins,' says Boggs, 'but once I goes into the collar, I'm
"Huggins don't know much, but he knows Boggs; an' so, followin'
Boggs' remarks, Huggins ups an' ceases to clamor for the Colonel
right thar. Lambs is bellig'rent compared with Huggins. The barkeep,
in the interests of peace, cuts in on the play with the news that
the drinks is on the house, an' with that the eepisode comes to a
"Now you-all has most likely begun to marvel where them labor
struggles comes buttin' in. We're within ropin' distance now. It's
not made cl'ar, but, as I remarks prior, I allers felt like Huggins
is the bug onder the chip when them printers gets hostile that time
an' leaves the agency. Huggins ain't feeble enough mental to believe
for a moment Boggs writes that piece. The fact that Boggs can't even
write his own name—bein' onfortunately wantin' utterly in
eddication—is of itse'f enough to breed doubts. Still, I don't
ondervalue Huggins none in layin' down to Boggs, that time Boggs
allows he's the author. With nothin' at stake more than a fact, an'
no money up nor nothin', he shorely wouldn't be jestified in
contendin' with a gent of Boggs' extravagant impulses, an' who is
born with the theery that six-shooters is argyments.
"But, as I was observin', Huggins is no more misled by them bluffs
of Boggs than he is likely to give up his thoughts of revenge on the
Colonel. Bein' headed off from layin' for the Colonel direct—for
Boggs reminds him at closin' that, havin' asserted his personal
respons'bility for that piece, he'll take it as affronts if Huggins
persists in goin' projectin' 'round for Colonel Sterett—thar's no
doubt in my mind that Huggins goes to slyin' about, an' jumpin'
sideways at them printers on the quiet, an fillin' 'em up with nose-
paint an' notions that they're wronged in equal quantities. An'
Huggins gets results.
"Which the Colonel pays off his five printers every week. It's mebby
the second Saturday after the Huggins trouble, an' the Colonel is
jest finished measurin' up the 'strings,' as he calls 'em, an'
disbursin' the dinero. At the finish, the head-printer stiffens up,
an' the four others falls back a pace an' looks plenty hard.
"'Colonel,' says the head-printer, 'we-all sends on to the national
council, wins out a charter, an' organizes ourse'fs into a union.
You're yereby notified we claims union wages, the same bein' forty-
five centouse a thousand ems from now ontil further orders.'
"'Jim,' retorts the Colonel, 'what you an' your noble assistants
demands at my hands, goes. From now I pays the union schedoole, the
same bein' five cents a thousand ems more than former. The Coyote as
yet is not self-supportin', but that shall not affect this play. I
have so far made up deeficiencies by draw-poker, which I finds to be
fairly soft an' certain in this camp, an' your su'gestions of a
raise merely means that I've got to set up a leetle later in a game,
an' be a trifle more remorseless on a shore hand. Wharfore I yields
to your requests with pleasure, as I says prior.'
"It's mighty likely Colonel Sterett acquiesces in them demands too
quick; the printers is led to the thought that he's as simple to
work as a Winchester. It's hooman nature to brand as many calves as
you can, an' so no one's surprised when, two weeks later, them
voracious printers comes frontin' up for more. The head-printer
stiffens up, an' the four others assoomes eyes of iron, same as
before, an' the pow wow re-opens as follows:
"'Colonel,' says the range boss for the printers, while the others
stands lookin' an' listenin' like cattle with their y'ears all
for'ard, 'Colonel, the chapel's had a meetin', an' we-all has
decided that you've got to make back payments at union rates for the
last six months, which is when we sends back to the States for that
charter. The whole throw is twelve hundred dollars, or two hundred
and forty a gent. No one wants to crowd your hand, Colonel, an' if
you don't jest happen to have said twelve hundred in your war-bags,
we allows you one week to jump 'round an' rustle it.'
"But the Colonel turns out bad, an' shows he can protect himse'f at
printin' same as he can at poker. He whirls on them sharps like a
"'Gents,' says the Colonel, 'you-all is up ag'inst it. I don't care
none if the cathedral's had a meetin', I declines to bow to your
claims. As I states before, I obtains the money to conduct this yere
journal by playin' poker. Now I can't play no ex post facto poker,
nor get in on any rectroactive hands, which of itse'f displays your
attitoode on this o'casion as onjust. What you-all asks is
"'See yere, Colonel,' says the head-printer, beginnin' to arch his
back like he's goin' to buck some, 'don't put on no spurs to
converse with us; an' don't think to stampede us none with them
Latin bluffs you makes. You either pays union rates since February,
or we goes p'intin' out for a strike.'
"'Strike!' says the Colonel, an' his tones is decisive, 'strike,
says you! Which if you-all will wait till I gets my coat, I'll
strike with you.'
"Tharupon the entire passel, the Colonel an' them five printers,
comes over to the Red Light, takes a drink on the Colonel, an'
disperses themse'fs on the strike. Of course Wolfville looks on some
amazed at this yere labor movement, but declar's itse'f nootral.
"'Let every gent skin his own eel,' says Enright; 'the same bein' a
fav'rite proverb back in Tennessee when I'm a yooth. This collision
between Colonel Sterett an' them free an' independent printers he
has in his herd is shorely what may be called a private game. Thar's
no reason an' no call for the camp to be heard. What's your idea,
"'I yoonites with you in them statements,' says Peets. 'While my
personal symp'thies is with Colonel Sterett in this involvement, as
yet the sityooation offers no reason for the public to saddle up an'
go to ridin' 'round tharin.'
"'Don't you-all think,' says Boggs, appealin' to Enright, 'don't you
reckon now if me an' Tutt an' Jack Moore, all casooal like, was to
take our guns an' go cuttin' up the dust about the moccasins of them
malcontent printers—merely in our private capacity, I means—it
would he'p solve this yere deadlock a whole lot?' Boggs is a heap
headlong that a-way, an' likin' the Colonel, nacherally he's eager
to take his end.
"'Boggs,' replies Enright, an' his tones is stern to the verge of
being ferocious; 'Boggs, onless you wants the law-abidin' element to
hang you in hobbles, you had better hold yourse'f in more
subjection. Moreover, what you proposes is childish. If you was to
appear in the midst of this industr'al excitement, an' take to
romancin' 'round as you su'gests, you'd chase every one of these
yere printers plumb off the range. Which they'd hit a few high
places in the landscape an' be gone for good. Then the Colonel never
could get out that Coyote paper no more. Let the Colonel fill his
hand an' play it his own way. I'll bet, an' go as far as you like,
that if we-all turns our backs on this, an' don't take to pesterin'
either side, the Colonel has them parties all back in the corral
ag'in inside of a week.'
"Old Man Enright is right, same as he ever is. It's about fourth
drink time in the evenin' of the second day. Colonel Sterett, who's
been consoomin' his licker at intervals not too long apart, is
seated in the Red Light in a reelaxed mood. He's sayin' to Boggs,
who has been faithful at his elbow from the first, so as to keep up
his sperits, that he looks on this strike as affordin' him a much-
"'An' from the standp'int of rest, Dan,' observes the Colonel to
Boggs as the barkeep brings them fresh glasses, 'I really welcomes
this difference with them blacksmiths of mine. I shorely needs this
lay-off; literatoor that a-way, Dan, an' partic'lar daily paper
literatoor of the elevated character I've been sawin' off on this
camp in the Coyote, is fa-tiguin' to the limit. When them misguided
parties surrenders their absurd demands—an' between us, Dan, I
smells Huggins in this an' expects to lay for him later tharfor—I
say, when these obtoose printers gives up, an' returns to their
'llegiance, I'll assoome the tripod like a giant refreshed.'
"'That's whatever!' says Boggs, coincidin' with the Colonel, though
he ain't none shore as to his drift.
"'I'll be recooperated,' continues the Colonel, sloppin' out another
drink; 'I'll be a new man when I takes hold ag'in, an' will make the
Coyote, ever the leadin' medium of the Southwest, as strong an'
invincible as four kings an' a ace.'
"It's at this p'int the five who's on the warpath comes into the Red
Light. The head-printer, lookin' apol'getic an' dejected, j'ins
Boggs an' the Colonel where they sits.
"'Colonel,' observes the head-printer, 'the chapel's had another
meetin'; an' the short an' the long is, the boys kind o' figger
they're onjust in them demands for back pay—sort o' overplays their
hands, They've decided, Colonel, that you're dead right; an' I'm
yere now to say we're sorry, an' we'll all go back an' open up an'
get the Coyote out ag'in in old-time form.'
"'Have a drink, Jim,' says the Colonel, an' his face has a cloud of
regrets onto it; 'take four fingers of this red-eye an' cheer up.
You-all assoomes too sombre a view of this contention.'
"'I'm obleeged to you, Colonel,' replies the head-printer; 'but I
don't much care to drink none before the boys. They ain't got no
bank-roll an' no credit like you has, Colonel—that's what makes
them see their errors—an' the plain trooth is they ain't had
nothin' to drink for twenty-four hours. That's why I don't take
nothin'. It would shore seem invidious for me to be settin' yere
h'istin' in my nose-paint, an' my pore comrades lookin' he'plessly
on; that's whatever! I'm too much a friend of labor to do it,
"'What!' says Boggs, quite wrought up; 'do you-all mean to tell me
them onhappy sports ain't had a drink since yesterday? It's a stain
on the camp! Whoopee, barkeep! see what them gents will have; an'
keep seein' what they'll have endoorin' this conference.'
"'Jim,' says the Colonel, mighty reluctant, 'ain't you-all
abandonin' your p'sition prematoor? Thar's somethin' doo to a
principle, Jim. I'd rather looked for a continyooation of this
estrangement for a while at least. I'd shore take time to consider
it before ever I'd let this strike c'llapse.'
"'That's all right, Colonel,' says the head-printer, 'about
c'llapsin'; an' I onderstands your feelin's an' symp'thises
tharwith. But I've explained to you the financial condition of this
movement. Thar stands the boys, pourin' in the first fire-water that
has passed their lips for a day. An' you knows, Colonel, no gent,
nor set of gents, can conduct strikes to a successful issue without
"'But, Jim,' pleads the Colonel, who hates to come off his vacation,
'if I fixes the Red Light say for fifteen drinks all 'round each
day, don't you reckon you can prevail on them recalcitrant printers
to put this reeconciliation off a week?'
"However, Enright, who at this p'int comes trailin' in, takes up the
head-printer's side, an' shows the Colonel it's his dooty.
"'You owes it to the Wolfville public, Colonel,' says Enright. 'The
Coyote has now been suppressed two days. We-all has been deprived of
our daily enlightenment an' our intellects is boggin' down. For two
entire days Wolfville has been in darkness as to worldly events, an'
is right now knockin' 'round in the problem of existence like a
blind dog in a meat shop. Your attitoode of delay, Colonel, is
impossible; the public requests your return. If you ain't back at
the Coyote office to-morry mornin' by second drink time, dealin'
your wonted game, I wouldn't ondertake to state what shape a jest
pop'lar resentment will assoome.'
"'An', of course,' observes the Colonel with a sigh, 'when you-all
puts it in that loocid an' convincin' way, Enright, thar's no more
to be said. The strike is now over an' the last kyard dealt. Jim,
you an' me an' them printers will return to the vineyard of our
efforts. This over-work may be onderminin' me, but Wolfville shall
not call to me in vain.'"
The Grinding of Dave Tutt.
"Yes," said the Old Cattleman, as he took off his sombrero and
contemplated the rattlesnake band which environed the crown, "cow-
punchers is queer people. They needs a heap of watchin' an' herdin'.
I knowed one by the name of Stevenson down on the Turkey Track, as
merits plenty of lookin' after. This yere Stevenson ain't exactly
ornery; but bein' restless, an' with a disp'sition to be emphatic
whenever he's fillin' himse'f up, keepin' your eye on him is good,
safe jedgment. He is public-sperited, too, an' sometimes takes lots
of pains to please folks an' be pop'lar.
"I recalls once when we're bringin' up a beef herd from the
Panhandle country. We're ag'in the south bank of the Arkansaw,
tryin' to throw the herd across. Thar's a bridge, but the natifs
allows it's plenty weak, so we're makin' the herd swim. Steve is
posted at the mouth of the bridge, to turn back any loose cattle
that takes a notion to try an' cross that a-way. Thar's nothin' much
to engage Steve's faculties, an' he's a-settin' on his bronco, an'
both is mighty near asleep. Some women people—from the far East, I
reckons—as is camped in town, comes over on the bridge to see us
cross the herd. They've lined out clost up to Steve, a-leanin' of
their young Eastern chins on the top rail.
"'Which I don't regyard this much,' says one young woman; 'thar's no
thrill into it. Whyever don't they do somethin' excitin'?'
"Steve observes with chagrin that this yere lady is displeased; an',
as he can't figger nothin' else out quick to entertain her, he gives
a whoop, slams his six-shooter off into the scenery, socks his spurs
into the pony, an' hops himse'f over the side of the bridge a whole
lot into the shallow water below. The jump is some twenty feet an'
busts the pony's laigs like toothpicks; also it breaks Steve's
collarbone an' disperses his feachers 'round some free an' frightful
on account of his sort o' lightin' on his face.
"Well, we shoots the pony; an' Steve rides in the grub wagon four or
five days recooperatin'. It's jest the mercy of hell he don't break
"'Whatever do you jump off for?' I asks Steve when he's comin'
"'Which I performs said equestrianisms to amoose that she-shorthorn
who is cussin' us out.' says Steve 'I ain't permittin' for her to go
back to the States, malignin' of us cow-men.'
"Steve gets himse'f downed a year after, an' strikes out for new
ranges in the skies. He's over on the upper Red River when he gets
creased. He's settin' into a poker game.
"Steve never oughter gambled none. He is a good cow-boy—splendid
round-up hand—an' can do his day's work with rope or iron in a
brandin' pen with anybody; but comin' right to cases, he don't know
no more about playin' poker than he does about preachin'. Actooally,
he'd back two pa'r like thar's no record of their bein' beat. This
yere, of course, leads to frequent poverty, but it don't confer no
wisdom on Steve.
"On this o'casion, when they ships Steve for the realms of light,
one of the boys gets a trey-full; Steve being possessed of a heart
flush, nine at the head. In two minutes he don't have even his
"After he's broke, Steve h'ists in a drink or two an' sours 'round a
whole lot; an' jest as the trey-full boy gets into his saddle, Steve
comes roamin' along up an' hails him.
"'Pard,' says Steve, a heap gloomy, 'I've been tryin' to school
myse'f to b'ar it, but it don't go. Tharfore, I'm yere to say you
steals that pa'r of kings as completed my rooin. Comin' to them
decisions, I'm goin' to call on you for that bric-a-brac I lose, an'
I looks to gain some fav'rable replies.'
"'Oh, you do, do you!' says the trey-full boy. 'Which you-all is a
heap too sanguine. Do you reckon I gives up the frootes of a trey-
full—as hard a hand to hold as that is? You can go ten to one I
won't: not this round-up! Sech requests is preepost'rous!'
"'Don't wax flippant about this yere robbery, says Steve. 'It's
enough to be plundered without bein' insulted by gayeties. Now, what
I says is this: Either I gets my stuff, or I severs our relations
with a gun.' An' tharupon Steve pulls his pistol an' takes hold of
the trey-full boy's bridle. "'If thar's one thing makes me more
weary than another,' says the trey-full boy, 'it's a gun play; an'
to avoid sech exhibitions I freely returns your plunder. But you an'
me don't play kyards no more.'
"Whereupon, the trey-full boy gets off his hoss, an' Steve, allowin'
the debate is closed, puts up his gun. Steve is preematoor. The next
second, 'bang!' goes the trey-full boy's six-shooter, the bullet
gets Steve in the neck, with them heavenly results I yeretofore
onfolds, an' at first drink time that evenin' we has a hasty but
"'I don't reckon,' says Wat Peacock, who is range boss, 'thar's need
of havin' any law-suits about this yere killin'. I knows Steve for
long an' likes him. But I'm yere to announce that them idees he
fosters concerinin' the valyoo of poker hands, onreasonable an'
plumb extrav'gant as they shorely is, absolootely preeclooded
Steve's reachin' to old age. An' Steve has warnin's. Once when he
tries to get his life insured down in Austin, he's refoosed.
"'"In a five-hand game, table stakes, what is a pair of aces worth
before the draw?" is one of them questions that company asks.
"'"Table stakes?" says Steve. "Every chip you've got."
"'"That settles it, says the company; "we don't want no sech resk.
Thar never is sech recklessness! You won't live a year; you're lucky
to be alive right now." An' they declines to insure Steve.'
"However," continued my friend musingly, "I've been puttin' it up to
myself, that mighty likely I does wrong to tell you these yere
tales. Which you're ignorant of cow folks, an' for me to go
onloadin' of sech revelations mebby gives you impressions that's a
lot erroneous. Now I reckons from that one eepisode you half figgers
cow people is morose an' ferocious as a bunch?"
As the old gentleman gave his tones the inflection of inquiry, I
hastened to interpose divers flattering denials. His recitals had
inspired an admiration for cow men rather than the reverse.
This setting forth of my approval pleased him. He gave me his word
that I in no sort assumed too much in the matter. Cow men, he
asserted, were a light-hearted brood; over-cheerful, perhaps, at
times, and seeking amusement in ways beyond the understanding of the
East; but safe, upright, and of splendid generosity. Eager to
correct within me any mal-effects of the tragedy just told, he
recalled the story of a Tucson day of merry relaxation with Dave
Tutt. He opined that it furnished a picture of the people of cows in
lighter, brighter colors, and so gave me details with a sketchy
"Which you're acc'rate in them thoughts," he said, referring to my
word that I held cow folk to be engaging characters. After elevating
his spirit with a clove, He went forward. "Thar ain't much paw an'
bellow to a cowboy. Speakin' gen'ral, an' not allowin' for them
inflooences which disturbs none—I adverts to mescal an' monte, an'
sech abnormalities—he's passive an' easy; no more harm into him
than a jack rabbit.
"Of course he has his moods to be merry, an' mebby thar's hours when
he's gay to the p'int of over-play. But his heart's as straight as a
rifle bar'l every time.
"It's a day I puts in with Dave Tutt which makes what these yere
law-sharps calls 'a case in p'int,' an' which I relates without
reserve. It gives you some notion of how a cowboy, havin' a leesure
hour, onbuckles an' is happy nacheral.
"This yere is prior to Dave weddin' Tucson Jennie. I'm pirootin'
'round Tucson with Dave at the time, Dave's workin' a small bunch of
cattle, 'way over near the Cow Springs, an' is in Tucson for a rest.
We've been sloshin' 'round the Oriental all day, findin' new
virchoos in the whiskey, an' amoosin' ourse'fs at our own expense,
when about fifth drink time in the evenin' Dave allows he's some
sick of sech revels, an' concloods he'll p'int out among the 'dobys,
sort o' explorin' things up a lot. Which we tharupon goes in
"I ain't frothin' at the mouth none to go myse'f, not seein'
reelaxation in pokin' about permiscus among a passel of Mexicans,
an' me loathin' of 'em from birth; but I goes, aimin' to ride herd
on Dave. Which his disp'sition is some free an' various; an' bein'
among Mexicans, that a-way, he's liable to mix himse'f into trouble.
Not that Dave is bad, none whatever; but bein' seven or eight drinks
winner, an' of that Oriental whiskey, too, it broadens him an' makes
him feel friendly, an' deloodes him into claimin' acquaintance with
people he never does know, an' refoosin' to onderstand how they
shows symptoms of doubt. So we capers along; Dave warblin' 'The
Death of Sam Bass' in the coyote key.
"The senoras an' senoritas, hearin' the row, would look out an'
smile, an' Dave would wave his big hat an' whoop from glee. If he
starts toward 'em, aimin' for a powwow—which he does frequent,
bein' a mighty amiable gent that a-way—they carols forth a squawk
immediate an' shets the door. Dave goes on. Mebby he gives the door
a kick or two, a-proclaimin' of his discontent.
"All at once, while we're prowlin' up one of them spacious alleys a
Mexican thinks is a street, we comes up on a Eytalian with a music
outfit which he's grindin'. This yere music ain't so bad, an' I
hears a heap worse strains. As soon as Dave sees him he tries to
figger on a dance, but the 'local talent' declines to dance with
"'In which event,' says Dave, 'I plays a lone hand."
"So Dave puts up a small dance, like a Navajo, accompanyin' of
himse'f with outcries same as a Injun. But the Eytalian don't play
Dave's kind of music, an' the bailee comes to a halt.
"'Whatever is the matter with this yere tune-box, anyhow?' says
Dave. 'Gimme the music for a green-corn dance, an' don't make no
delay.' "'This yere gent can't play no green-corn dance,' I says.
"'He can't, can't he?' says Dave; 'wait till he ropes at it once. I
knows this gent of yore. I meets him two years ago in El Paso; which
me an' him shorely shakes up that village.'
"'Whatever is his name, then?' I asks.
"'Antonio Marino,' says the Eytalian.
"'Merino?' says Dave; 'that's right. I recalls it, 'cause it makes
me think at the jump he's a sheep man, an' I gets plumb hostile.'
"'I never sees you,' says the Eytalian.
"'Yes you do,' says Dave; 'you jest think you didn't see me. We
drinks together, an' goes out an' shoots up the camp, arm an' arm.'
"But the Eytalian insists he never meets Dave. This makes Dave ugly
a lot, an' before I gets to butt in an' stop it, he outs with his
six-shooter, an' puts a hole into the music-box.'
"'These yere tunes I hears so far,' says Dave, 'is too frivolous; I
figgers that oughter sober 'em down a whole lot.'
"When Dave shoots, the Eytalian party heaves the strap of his hewgag
over his head, an' flies. Dave grabs the music-box, keepin' it from
fallin', an' then begins turnin' the crank to try it. It plays all
right, only every now an' then thar's a hole into the melody like
it's lost a tooth.
"'This yere's good enough for a dog!' says Dave, a-twistin' away on
the handle. 'Where's this yere Merino? Whatever is the matter with
that shorthorn? Why don't he stand his hand?'
"But Merino ain't noomerous no more; so Dave allows it's a shame to
let it go that a-way, an' Mexicans sufferin' for melody. With that
he straps on the tune-box, an' roams 'round from one 'doby to
another, turnin' it loose.
"'How long does Merino deal his tunes,' says Dave, 'before he
c'llects? However, I makes new rooles for the game, right yere. I
plays these cadences five minutes; an' then I gets action on 'em for
five. I splits even with these Mexicans, which is shorely fair.'
"So Dave twists away for five minutes, an' me a-timin' of him, an'
then leans the hewgag up ag'in a 'doby, an' starts in to make a
round-up. He'll tackle a household, sort o' terrorisin' at 'em with
his gun; an' tharupon the members gets that generous they even
negotiates loans an' thrusts them proceeds on Dave. That's right;
they're that ambitious to donate.
"One time he runs up on a band of tenderfeet, who's skallyhootin'
'round; an' they comes up an' bends their y'ears a-while. They're
turnin' to go jest before c'llectin' time.
"'Hold on,' says Dave, pickin' up his Colt's offen the top of the
hewgag; 'don't get cold feet. Which I've seen people turn that kyard
in church, but you bet you don't jump no game of mine that a-way.
You-all line up ag'in the wall thar ontil I tucks the blankets in on
this yere outbreak in F flat, an' I'll be with you.'
"When Dave winds up, he goes along the line of them tremblin'
towerists, an' they contreebutes 'leven dollars.
"'They aims to go stampedin' off with them nocturnes, an' 'peggios,
an' arias, an' never say nothin',' says Dave; 'but they can't work
no twist like that, an' me a-ridin' herd; none whatever.'
"Dave carries on sim'lar for three hours; an' what on splits, an'
what on bets he wins, he's over a hundred dollars ahead. But at last
he's plumb fatigued, an' allows he'll quit an' call it a day. So he
packs the tom-tom down to Franklin's office. Franklin is marshal of
Tucson, an' Dave turns over the layout an' the money, an' tells
Franklin to round up Merino an' enrich him tharwith.
"'Where is this yere Dago?' says Franklin.
"'However do I know?' says Dave. 'Last I notes of him, he's
canterin' off among the scenery like antelopes.'
"It's at this p'int Merino comes to view. He starts in to be a heap
dejected about that bullet; but when he gets Dave's donation that a-
way, his hopes revives. He begins to regyard it as a heap good
"'But you'll have to cirkle up to the alcalde, Tutt,' says Franklin.
'I ain't shore none you ain't been breakin' some law.'
"Dave grumbles, an' allows Tucson is gettin' a heap too staid for
"'It's gettin' so,' says Dave, 'a free American citizen don't obtain
no encouragements. Yere I puts in half a day, amassin' wealth for a
foreign gent who is settin' in bad luck; an' elevatin' Mexicans, who
shorely needs it, an' for a finish I'm laid for by the marshal like
"Well, we-all goes surgin' over to the alcalde's. Franklin, Dave an'
the alcalde does a heap of pokin' about to see whatever crimes, if
any, Dave's done. Which they gets by the capture of the hewgag, an'
shootin' that bullet into its bowels don't bother 'em a bit. Even
Dave's standin' up them towerists, an' the rapine that ensoos don't
worry 'em none; but the question of the music itse'f sets the
alcalde to buckin'.
"'I'm shorely depressed to say it, Dave,' says the alcalde, who is a
sport named Steele, 'but you've been a-bustin' of ord'nances about
playin' music on the street without no license.'
"'Can't we-all beat the game no way?' says Dave.
"'Which I shorely don't see how,' says the alcalde.
"'Nor me neither,' says Franklin.
"'Whatever is the matter with counter-brandin' them tunes over to
Merino's license?' says Dave.
"'Can't do it nohow,' says the alcalde.
"'Well, is this yere ord'nance accordin' to Hoyle an' the
Declaration of Independence?' says Dave. 'I don't stand it none
"'Shore!' says the alcalde.
"'Ante an' pass the buck, then,' says Dave. 'I'm a law-abidin'
citizen, an' all I wants is a squar' deal from the warm deck.'
"So they fines Dave fifty dollars for playin' them harmonies without
no license. Dave asks me later not to mention this yere outcome in
Wolfville, an' I never does. But yere it's different."
The Feud of Pickles.
"Thar's a big crowd in Wolfville that June day." The Old Cattleman
tilted his chair back and challenged my interest with his eye. "The
corrals is full of pack mules an' bull teams an' wagon-trains; an'
white men, Mexicans, half-breeds an' Injuns is a-mixin' an'
meanderin' 'round, a-lyin' an' a-laughin' an' a-drinkin' of Red
Light whiskey mighty profuse. Four or five mule skinners has their
long limber sixteen-foot whips, which is loaded with dust-shot from
butt to tip, an' is crackin' of 'em at a mark. I've seen one of
these yere mule experts with the most easy, delicate, delib'rate
twist of the wrist make his whip squirm in the air like a hurt
snake; an' then he'll straighten it out with the crack of twenty
rifles, an' the buckskin popper cuts a hole in a loose buffalo robe
he's hung up; an' all without investin' two ounces of actooal
strength. Several of us Wolfville gents is on the sidewalk in front
of the O. K. Restauraw, applaudin' of the good shots, when Dave Tutt
speaks up to Jack Moore, next to me, an' says:
"'Jack, you minds that old Navajo you downs over on the San Simon
"'I minds him mighty cl'ar,' says Jack. 'He's stealin' my Alizan
hoss at the time, an' I can prove it by his skelp on my bridle now.'
"'Well,' says Dave, p'intin' to a ornery, saddle-colored half-breed
who's makin' himse'f some frequent, 'that Injun they calls "Pickles"
is his nephy, an' you wants to look out a whole lot. I hears him
allow that the killin' of his relatif is mighty rank, an' that he
don't like it nohow.'
"'That's all right,' says Jack; 'Pickles an' me has been keepin'
cases on each other an hour; an' I'll post you-all private, if he
goes to play hoss a little bit, him an' his oncle will be able to
talk things over before night.'
"Which it's mighty soon when Pickles comes along where we be.
"'Hello, Jack,' he says, an' his manner is insultin'; 'been makin'
it smoky down on the old San Simon lately?'
"'No; not since last fall,' says Jack, plenty light an' free; 'an'
now I thinks of it, I b'lieves I sees that Navajo hoss-thief of an
oncle of yours when I'm down thar last. I ain't run up on him none
lately, though. Where do you-all reckon he's done 'loped to?'
"'Can't say, myse'f,' says Pickles, with a kind o' wicked
cheerfulness; 'our fam'ly has a round-up of itse'f over on B'ar
Creek last spring, an' I don't count his nose among 'em none. Mebby
he has an engagement, an' can't get thar. Mebby he's out squanderin'
'round in the high grass some'ers. Great man to go 'round permiscus,
that Injun is.'
"'You see,' says Jack, 'I don't know but he might be dead. Which the
time I speaks of, I'm settin' in camp one day. Something attracts
me, an' I happens to look up, an' thar's my hoss, Alizan, with a
perfect stranger on him, pitchin' an' buckin', an' it looks like
he's goin' to cripple that stranger shore. Pickles, you knows me!
I'd lose two hosses rather than have a gent I don't know none get
hurt. So I grabs my Winchester an' allows to kill Alizan. But it's a
new gun; an' you know what new sights is—coarse as sandburrs; you
could drag a dog through 'em—an' I holds too high. I fetches the
stranger, "bang!" right back of his left y'ear, an' the bullet comes
outen his right y'ear. You can bet the limit, I never am so
displeased with my shootin'. The idee of me holdin' four foot too
high in a hundred yards! I never is that embarrassed! I'm so plumb
disgusted an' ashamed, I don't go near that equestrian stranger till
after I finishes my grub. Alizan, he comes up all shiverin' an'
sweatin' an' stands thar; an' mebby in a hour or so I strolls out to
the deceased. It shorely wearies me a whole lot when I sees him;
he's nothin' but a common Digger buck. You can drink on it if I
ain't relieved. Bein' a no-account Injun, of course, I don't paw him
over much for brands; but do you know, Pickles, from the casooal
glance I gives, it strikes me at the time it's mighty likely to be
your oncle. This old bronco fancier's skelp is over on my bridle, if
you thinks you'd know it.'
"'No,' says Pickles, mighty onconcerned, 'it can't be my oncle
nohow. If he's one of my fam'ly, it would be your ha'r on his
bridle. It must be some old shorthorn of a Mohave you downs. Let's
all take a drink on it.'
"So we-all goes weavin' over to the Red Light, Jack an' Pickles
surveyin' each other close an' interested, that a-way, an' the rest
of us on the quee vee, to go swarmin' out of range if they takes to
"'It's shore sad to part with friends,' says Pickles, as he secretes
his nose-paint, 'but jest the same I must saddle an' stampede out of
yere. I wants to see that old villyun, Tom Cooke, an' I don't reckon
none I'll find him any this side of Prescott, neither. Be you
thinkin' of leavin' camp yourse'f, Jack?'
"'I don't put it up I'll leave for a long time,' says Jack. 'Mebby
not for a month—mebby it's even years before I go wanderin' off—so
don't go to makin' no friendly, quiet waits for me nowhere along the
route, Pickles, 'cause you'd most likely run out of water or chuck
or something before ever I trails up.'
"It ain't long when Pickles saddles up an' comes chargin' 'round on
his little buckskin hoss. Pickles takes to cuttin' all manner of
tricks, reachin' for things on the ground, snatchin' off Mexicans'
hats, an' jumpin' his pony over wagon tongues an' camp fixin's. All
the time he's whoopin' an' yellin' an' carryin' on, an havin' a high
time all by himse'f. Which you can see he's gettin' up his blood an'
nerve, reg'lar Injun fashion.
"Next he takes down his rope an' goes to whirlin' that. Two or three
times he comes flashin' by where we be, an' I looks to see him make
a try at Jack. But he's too far back, or thar's too many 'round
Jack, or Pickles can't get the distance, or something; for he don't
throw it none, but jest keeps yellin' an' ridin' louder an' faster.
Pickles shorely puts up a heap of riot that a-way! It's now that
Enright calls to Pickles.
"'Look yere, Pickles,' he says, 'I've passed the word to the five
best guns in camp to curl you up if you pitch that rope once. Bein'
as the news concerns you, personal, I allows it's nothin' more'n
friendly to tell you. Then ag'in, I don't like to lose the Red Light
sech a customer like you till it's a plumb case of crowd.'
"When Enright vouchsafes this warnin', Pickles swings down an'
leaves his pony standin', an' comes over.
"'Do you know, Jack,' he says, 'I don't like the onrespectful tones
wherein you talks of Injuns. I'm Injun, part, myse'f, an' I don't
"'No?' says Jack; 'I s'pose that's a fact, too. An' yet, Pickles,
not intendin' nothin' personal, for I wouldn't be personal with a
prairie dog, I'm not only onrespectful of Injuns, an' thinks the
gov'ment ought to pay a bounty for their skelps, but I states
beliefs that a hoss-stealin', skulkin' mongrel of a half-breed is
lower yet; I holdin' he ain't even people—ain't nothin', in fact.
But to change the subjeck, as well as open an avenoo for another
round of drinks, I'll gamble, Pickles, that you-all stole that hoss
down thar, an' that the "7K" brand on his shoulder ain't no brand at
all, but picked on with the p'int of a knife.'
"When Jack puts it all over Pickles that a-way, we looks for
shootin' shore. But Pickles can't steady himse'f on the call. He's
like ponies I've met. He'll ride right at a thing as though he's
goin' plumb through or over, an' at the last second he quits an'
flinches an' weakens. Son, it ain't Pickles' fault. Thar ain't no
breed of gent but the pure white who can play a desp'rate deal down
through, an' call the turn for life or death at the close; an'
Pickles, that a-way, is only half white. So he laughs sort o' ugly
at Jack's bluff, an' allows he orders drinks without no wagers.
"'An' then, Jack,' he says, 'I wants you to come feed with me. I'll
have Missis Rucker burn us up something right.'
"'I'll go you,' says Jack, 'if it ain't nothin' but salt hoss.'
"'I'll fix you-all folks up a feed,' says Missis Rucker, a heap
grim, 'but you don't do no banquetin' in no dinin' room of mine.
I'll spread your grub in the camp-house, t'other side the corral,
an' you-all can then be as sociable an' smoky as you please. Which
you'll be alone over thar, an' can conduct the reepast in any
fashion to suit yourse'fs. But you don't get into the dinin' room
reg'lar, an' go to weedin' out my boarders accidental, with them
feuds of yours.'
"After a little, their grub's got ready in the camp house. It's a
jo-darter of a feed, with cake, pie, airtights, an' the full game,
an' Jack an' Pickles walks over side an' side. They goes in alone
an' shets the door. In about five minutes, thar's some emphatic
remarks by two six-shooters, an' we-all goes chargin' to find out.
We discovers Jack eatin' away all right; Pickles is the other side,
with his head in his tin plate, his intellects runnin' out over his
eye. Jack's shore subdooed that savage for all time.
"'It don't look like Pickles is hungry none,' says Jack.
"They both pulls their weepons as they sets down, an' puts 'em in
their laps; but bein' bred across, that a-way, Pickles can't stand
the strain. He gets nervous an' grabs for his gun; the muzzle
catches onder the table-top, an' thar's his bullet all safe in the
wood. Jack, bein' clean strain American, has better luck, an'
Pickles is got. Shore, it's right an' on the squar'!
"'You sees,' says Dan Boggs, 'this killin's bound to be right from
the jump. It comes off by Pickles' earnest desire; Jack couldn't
refoose. He would have lost both skelp an' standin' if he had.
Which, however, if this yere 'limination of Pickles has got to have
a name, my idee is to call her a case of self-deestruction on
Pickles' part, an' let it go at that.'"
Johnny Florer's Axle Grease.
It was the afternoon—cool and
beautiful. I had been nursing my indolence with a cigar and one of
the large arm-chairs which the veranda of the great hotel afforded.
Now and then I considered within myself as to the whereabouts of my
Old Cattleman, and was in a half humor to hunt him up. Just as my
thoughts were hardening into decision in that behalf, a high,
wavering note, evidently meant for song, came floating around the
corner of the house, from the veranda on the end. The singer was out
of range of eye, but I knew him for my aged friend. Thus he gave
A tavern an' a still,
That's all thar is in all Dog-ville."
"How do you feel to-day?" I asked as I took a chair near the
venerable musician. "Happy and healthy, I trust?"
"Never feels better in my life," responded the Old Cattleman. "If I
was to feel any better, I'd shorely go an' see a doctor."
"You are a singer, I observe."
"I'm melodious nacheral, but I'm gettin' so I sort o' stumbles in my
notes. Shoutin' an' singin' 'round a passel of cattle to keep 'em
from stampedin' on bad nights has sp'iled my voice, that a-way.
Thar's nothin' so weakenin', vocal, as them efforts in the open air
an' in the midst of the storms an' the elements. What for a song is
that I'm renderin'? Son, I learns that ballad long ago, back when
I'm a boy in old Tennessee. It's writ, word and music, by little
Mollie Hines, who lives with her pap, old Homer Hines, over on the
'Possum Trot. Mollie Hines is shore a poet, an' has a mighty sight
of fame, local. She's what you-all might call a jo-darter of a poet,
Mollie is; an' let anythin' touchin' or romantic happen anywhere
along the 'Possum Trot, so as to give her a subjeck, an' Mollie
would be down on it, instanter, like a fallin' star. She shorely is
a verse maker, an' is known in the Cumberland country as 'The
Nightingale of Big Bone Lick.' I remembers when a Shylock over to
the Dudleytown bank forecloses a mortgage on old Homer Hines, an'
offers his settlements at public vandue that a-way, how Mollie
prances out an' pours a poem into the miscreant. Thar's a hundred
an' 'levcn verses into it, an' each one like a bullet outen a
Winchester. It goes like this: "Thar's a word to be uttered to the
rich man in his pride.
(Which a gent is frequent richest when it's jest before he died!)
Thar's a word to be uttered to the hawg a-eatin' truck.
(Which a hawg is frequent fattest when it's jest before he's
"Mighty sperited epick, that! You recalls that English preacher
sharp that comes squanderin' 'round the tavern yere for his health
about a month ago? Shore! I knows you couldn't have overlooked no
bet like that divine. Well, that night in them parlors, when he
reads some rhymes in a book,—whatever is that piece he reads?
Locksley Hall; right you be, son! As I was sayin', when he's through
renderin' said Locksley Hall, he comes buttin' into a talk with me
where I'm camped in a corner all cosy as a toad onder a cabbage
leaf, reecoverin' myse'f with licker from them recitals of his, an'
he says to me, this parson party does:
"'Which it's shorely a set-back America has no poets,' says he.
"'It's evident,' I says, 'that you never hears of Mollie Hines.'
"'No, never once,' he replies; 'is this yere Miss Hines a poet?'
"Is Mollie Hines a poet!' I repeats, for my scorn at the mere idee
kind o' stiffens its knees an' takes to buckin' some. 'Mollie Hines
could make that Locksley Hall gent you was readin' from, or even the
party who writes Watt's Hymns, go to the diskyard.' An' then I
repeats some forty of them stanzas, whereof that one I jest now
recites is a speciment.
"What does this pulpit gent say? He see I has him cinched, an' he's
plumb mute. He confines himse'f to turnin' up his nose in disgust
like Bill Storey does when his father-in-law horsewhips him."
Following this, the Old Cattleman and I wrapped ourselves in
thoughtful smoke, for the space of five minutes, as ones who
pondered the genius of "The Nightingale of Big Bone Lick"—Mollie
Hines on the banks of the Possom Trot. At last my friend broke forth
with a question.
"Whoever is them far-off folks you-all was tellin' me is related to
"The Japanese." I replied. "Undoubtedly the Indians and the Japanese
are of the same stock."
"Which I'm foaled like a mule," said the old gentleman, "a complete
prey to inborn notions ag'in Injuns. I wouldn't have one pesterin'
'round me more'n I'd eat off en the same plate with a snake. I shore
has aversions to 'em a whole lot. Of course, I never sees them Japs,
but I saveys Injuns from feathers to moccasins, an' comparin' Japs
to Injuns, I feels about 'em like old Bill Rawlins says about his
brother Jim's wife."
"And how was that?" I asked.
The afternoon was lazy and good, and I in a mood to listen to my
rambling grey comrade talk of anybody or anything.
"It's this a-way," he began. "This yere Bill an' Jim Rawlins is
brothers an' abides in Roanoke, Virginny. They splits up in their
yooth, an' Jim goes p'intin' out for the West. Which he shore gets
thar, an' nothin' is heard of him for forty years.
"Bill Rawlins, back in Roanoke, waxes a heap rich, an' at last
clears up his game an' resolves lie takes a rest. Also he concloods
to travel; an' as long as he's goin' to travel, he allows he'll sort
o' go projectin' 'round an' see if he can't locate Jim.
"He gets a old an' musty tip about Jim, this Bill Rawlins does, an'
it works out all right. Bill cuts Jim's trail 'way out yonder on the
Slope at a meetropolis called Los Angeles. But this yere Jim ain't
thar none. The folks tells Bill they reckons Jim is over to Virginny
"It's a month later, an' Bill is romancin' along on one of them
Nevada mountain-meadow trails, when he happens upon a low, squatty
dugout, the same bein' a camp rather than a house, an' belongs with
a hay ranche. In the door is standin' a most ornery seemin' gent,
with long, tangled ha'r an' beard, an' his clothes looks like he's
shorely witnessed times. The hands of this ha'ry gent is in his
pockets, an' he exhibits a mighty soopercilious air. Bill pulls up
his cayouse for a powwow.
"How far is it to a place where I can camp down for the night?' asks
"'It's about twenty miles to the next wickeyup,' says the
"'Which I can't make it none to-night, then,' says Bill.
"'Not on that hoss,' says the soopercilious gent, for Bill's pony
that a-way is plenty played.
"'Mebby, then,' says Bill, ` I'd better bunk in yere.'
"'You can gamble you-all don't sleep yere,' says the soopercilious
gent; 'none whatever!'
'An' why not?' asks Bill.
"'Because I won't let you,' says the soopercilious gent, a-bitin'
off a piece of tobacco. 'This is my camp, an' force'ble invasions by
casooal hold-ups like you, don't preevail with me a little bit. I
resents the introosion on my privacy.'
"'But I'll have to sleep on these yere plains,' says Bill a heap
"'Thar's better sports than you-all slept on them plains,' says the
"Meanwhile, thar's a move or two, speshully the way he bats his
eyes, about this soopercilious gent that sets Bill to rummagin'
'round in his mem'ry. At last he asks:
"'Is your name Rawlins?'
"'Yes, sir, my name's Rawlins,' says the soopercilious gent.
"'Jim Rawlins of Roanoke?'
"'Jim Rawlins of Roanoke;' an' the soopercilious gent reaches inside
the door of the dugout, searches forth a rifle an' pumps a cartridge
into the bar'l.
"'Stan' your hand, Jim!' says Bill, at the same time slidin' to the
ground with the hoss between him an' his relatif; 'don't get
impetyoous. I'm your brother Bill.'
"'What!' says the soopercilious gent, abandonin' them hostile
measures, an' joy settlin' over his face. 'What!' he says; 'you my
brother Bill? Well, don't that beat grizzly b'ars amazin'! Come in,
Bill, an' rest your hat. Which it's simply the tenderness of hell I
don't miss you.'
"Whereupon Bill an' Jim tracks along inside an' goes to canvassin'
up an' down as to what ensooes doorin' them forty years they've been
parted. Jim wants to know all about Roanoke an' how things stacks up
in old Virginny, an' he's chuckin' in his questions plenty rapid.
"While Bill's replyin', his eye is caught by a frightful-lookin'
female who goes slyin' in an' out, a-organizin' of some grub. She's
the color of a saddle, an' Bill can't make out whether she's a
white, a Mexican, a Digger Injun or a nigger. An' she's that
hideous, this female is, she comes mighty near givin' Bill heart
failure. Son, you-all can't have no idee how turribie this person
looks. She's so ugly the flies won't light on her. Yes, sir! ugly
enough to bring sickness into a fam'ly. Bill can feel all sorts o'
horrors stampedin' about in his frame as he gazes on her. Her eyes
looks like two bullet holes in a board, an' the rest of her feachers
is tetotaciously indeescrib'ble. Bill's intellects at the awful
sight of this yere person almost loses their formation, as army
gents would say. At last Bill gets in a question on his rapid-fire
relatif, who's shootin' him up with queries touchin' Roanoke to beat
a royal flush.
"'Jim,' says Bill, sort o' scared like, 'whoever is this yere lady
who's roamin' the scene?'
"'Well, thar now!' says Jim, like he's plumb disgusted, 'I hope my
gun may hang fire, if I don't forget to introdooce you! Bill, that's
"Then Jim goes surgin' off all spraddled out about the noomerous an'
manifest excellencies of this female, an' holds forth alarmin' of
an' concernin' her virchoos an' loveliness of face an' form, an' all
to sech a scand'lous degree, Bill has to step outdoors to blush.
"'An', Bill,' goes on Jim, an' he's plumb rapturous, that a-way,
'may I never hold three of a kind ag'in, if she ain't got a sister
who's as much like her as two poker chips. I'm co'tin' both of 'em
mighty near four years before ever I can make up my mind whichever
of 'em I needs. They're both so absolootely sim'lar for beauty, an'
both that aloorin' to the heart, I simply can't tell how to set my
stack down. At last, after four years, I ups an' cuts the kyards for
it, an' wins out this one.'
"'Well, Jim,' says Bill, who's been settin' thar shudderin' through
them rhapsodies, an' now an' then gettin' a glimpse of this yere
female with the tail of his eye: 'Well, Jim, far be it from me, an'
me your brother, to go avouchin' views to make you feel doobious of
your choice. But candor's got the drop on me an' compels me to speak
my thoughts. I never sees this sister of your wife, Jim, but jest
the same, I'd a heap sight rather have her.'
"An' as I observes previous," concluded the old gentleman, "I feels
about Japs an' Injuns like Bill does about Jim's wife that time. I
never sees no Japs, but I'd a mighty sight rather have 'em."
There was another pause after this, and cigars were produced. For a
time the smoke curled in silence. Then my friend again took up
"Thar comes few Injuns investigatin' into Wolfville. Doorin' them
emutes of Cochise, an' Geronimo, an' Nana, the Apaches goes No'th
an' South clost in by that camp of ours, but you bet! they're never
that locoed as to rope once at Wolfville. We-all would shorely have
admired to entertain them hostiles; but as I su'gests, they're a
heap too enlightened to give us a chance.
"Savages never finds much encouragement to come ha'ntin' about
Wolfville. About the first visitin' Injun meets with a contreetemps;
though this is inadvertent a heap an' not designed. This buck, a
Navajo, I takes it, from his feathers, has been pirootin' about for
a day or two. At last I reckons he allows he'll eelope off into the
foothills ag'in. As carryin' out them roode plans which he forms, he
starts to scramble onto the Tucson stage jest as Old Monte's
c'llectin' up his reins. But it don't go; Injuns is barred. The
gyard, who's perched up in front next to Old Monte, pokes this yere
aborigine in the middle of his face with the muzzle of his rifle;
an' as the Injun goes tumblin', the stage starts, an' both wheels
passes over him the longest way. That Injun gives a groan like
twenty sinners, an his lamp is out.
"Old Monte sets the brake an' climbs down an' sizes up the
remainder. Then he gets back on the box, picks up his six hosses an'
is gettin' out.
"'Yere, you!' says French, who's the Wells-Fargo agent, a-callin'
after Old Monte, 'come back an' either plant your game or pack it
with you. I'm too busy a gent to let you or any other blinded
drunkard go leavin' a fooneral at my door. Thar's enough to do here
as it is, an' I don't want no dead Injuns on my hands.'
"'Don't put him up thar an' go sp'ilin' them mail-bags,' howls Old
Monte, as French an' a hoss-hustler from inside the corral lays hold
of the Navajo to throw him on with the baggage.
"'Then come down yere an' ride herd on the play yourse'f, you
murderin' sot!' says French.
"An' with that, he shore cuts loose an' cusses Old Monte frightful;
cusses till a cottonwood tree in front of the station sheds all its
leaves, an' he deadens the grass for a hundred yards about.
"'Promotin' a sepulcher in this rock-ribbed landscape,' says French,
as Jack Moore comes up, kind o' apol'gisin' for his profane voylence
at Old Monte; 'framin' up a tomb, I say, in this yere rock-ribbed
landscape ain't no child's play, an' I'm not allowin' none for that
homicide Monte to put no sech tasks on me. He knows the Wolfville
roole. Every gent skins his own polecats an' plants his own prey.'
"'That's whatever!' says Jack Moore, 'an' onless Old Monte is
thirstin' for trouble in elab'rate forms, he acquiesces tharin.'
"With that Old Monte hitches the Navajo to the hind axle with a
lariat which French brings out, an' then the stage, with the savage
coastin' along behind, goes rackin' off to the No'th. Later, Monte
an' the passengers hangs this yere remainder up in a pine tree, at
an Injun crossin' in the hills, as a warnin'. Whether it's a warnin'
or no, we never learns; all that's shore is that the remainder an'
the lariat is gone next day; but whatever idees the other Injuns
entertains of the play is, as I once hears a lecture sharp
promulgate, 'concealed with the customary stoicism of the American
"Most likely them antipathies of mine ag'in Injuns is a heap
enhanced by what I experiences back on the old Jones an' Plummer
trail, when they was wont to stampede our herds as we goes drivin'
through the Injun Territory. Any little old dark night one of them
savages is liable to come skulkin' up on the wind'ard side of the
herd, flap a blanket, cut loose a yell, an' the next second thar's a
hundred an' twenty thousand dollars' worth of property skally-
hootin' off into space on frenzied hoofs. Next day, them same
ontootered children of the woods an' fields would demand four bits
for every head they he'ps round up an' return to the bunch. It's a
source of savage revenoo, troo; but plumb irritatin'. Them Injuns
corrals sometimes as much as a hundred dollars by sech treacheries.
An' then we-all has to rest over one day to win it back at poker.
"Will Injuns gamble? Shore! an' to the limit at that! Of course,
bein', as you saveys, a benighted people that a-way, they're some
easy, havin' no more jedgment as to the valyoo of a hand than Steve
Stevenson, an' Steve would take a pa'r of nines an' bet 'em higher
than a cat's back. We allers recovers our dinero, but thar's time
an' sleep we lose an' don't get back.
"Yes, indeed, son, Injuns common is as ornery as soapweed. The only
good you-all can say of 'em is, they're nacheral-born longhorns, is
oncomplainin', an' saveys the West like my black boy saveys licker.
One time—this yere is 'way back in my Texas days—one time I'm
camped for long over on the Upper Hawgthief. It's rained a heap, an'
bein' as I'm on low ground anyhow, it gets that soft an' swampy
where I be it would bog a butterfly. For once I'm took sick; has a
fever, that a-way. An' lose flesh! shorely you should have seen me!
I falls off like persimmons after a frost, an' gets as ga'nt an'
thin as a cow in April. So I allows I'll take a lay-off for a couple
of months an' reecooperate some.
"Cossettin' an' pettin' of my health, as I states, I saddles up an'
goes cavortin' over into the Osage nation to visit an old compadre
of mine who's a trader thar by the name of Johnny Florer. This yere
Florer is an old-timer with the Osages; been with 'em it's mighty
likely twenty year at that time, an' is with 'em yet for all the
notice I ever receives.
"On the o'casion of this ambassy of mine, I has a chance to study
them savages, an' get a line on their char'cters a whole lot. This
tune I'm with Johnny, what you-all might call Osage upper circles is
a heap torn by the ontoward rivalries of a brace of eminent bucks
who's each strugglin' to lead the fashion for the tribe an' raise
the other out.
"Them Osages, while blanket Injuns, is plumb opulent. Thar's sixteen
hundred of 'em, an' they has to themse'fs 1,500,000 acres of as good
land as ever comes slippin' from the palm of the Infinite. Also, the
gov'ment is weak-minded enough to confer on every one of 'em, each
buck drawin' the dinero for his fam'ly, a hundred an' forty big iron
dollars anyooally. Wherefore, as I observes, them Osages is plenty
"These yere two high-rollin' bucks I speaks of, who's strugglin' for
the social soopremacy, is in the midst of them strifes while I'm
visitin' Florer. It's some two moons prior when one of 'em, which
we'll call him the 'Astor Injun,' takes a heavy fall out of the
opp'sition by goin' over to Cherryvale an' buyin' a sooperannuated
two-seat Rockaway buggy. To this he hooks up a span of ponies, loads
in his squaws, an' p'rades 'round from Pawhusky to Greyhoss—the
same bein' a couple of Osage camps—an' tharby redooces the enemy—
what we'll name the 'Vanderbilt Injuns'—to desp'ration. The Astor
savage shorely has the call with that Rockaway.
"But the Vanderbilt Osage is a heap hard to down. He takes one look
at the Astor Injun's Rockaway with all its blindin' splendors, an'
then goes streakin' it for Cherryvale, like a drunkard to a
barbecue. An' he sees the Rockaway an' goes it several better. What
do you-all reckon now that savage equips himse'f with? He wins out a
hearse, a good big black roomy hearse, with ploomes onto it an'
glass winders in the sides.
"As soon as ever this Vanderbilt Injun stiffens his hand with the
hearse, he comes troopin' back to camp with it, himse'f on the box
drivin', an' puttin' on enough of lordly dog to make a pack of
hounds. Which he shorely squelches the Astors; they jest simply lay
down an' wept at sech grandeur. Their Rockaway ain't one, two,
three,—ain't in the money.
"An' every day the Vanderbilt Injun would load his squaws an'
papooses inside the hearse, an' thar, wropped in their blankets an'
squattin' on the floor of the hearse for seats, they would be
lookin' out o' the winders at common savages who ain't in it an'
don't have no hearse. Meanwhiles, the buck Vanderbilt is drivin' the
outfit all over an' 'round the cantonments, the entire bunch as
sassy an' as flippant as a coop o' catbirds. It's all the Astors can
do to keep from goin' plumb locoed. The Vanderbilts win.
"One mornin', when Florer an' me has jest run our brands onto the
fourth drink, an old buck comes trailin' into the store. His blanket
is pulled over his head, an' he's pantin' an' givin' it out he's
"'How is my father?' says Johnny in Osage.
"'Oh, my son,' says the Injun, placin' one hand on his stomach, an'
all mighty tender, 'your father is plenty sick. Your father gets up
this mornin', an' his heart is very bad. You must give him medicine
or your father will die.'
"Johnny passes the invalid a cinnamon stick an' exhorts him to chew
on that, which he does prompt an' satisfactory, like cattle on their
cud. This cinnamon keeps him steady for 'most five minutes.
"'Whatever is the matter with this savage?' I asks of Johnny.
"'Nothin' partic'lar,' says Johnny. 'Last night he comes pushin' in
yere an' buys a bottle of Worcestershire sauce; an' then he gets
gaudy an' quaffs it all up on a theery she's a new-fangled fire
water. He gets away with the entire bottle. It's now he realizes
them errors, an' takes to groanin' an' allowin' it gives him a bad
heart. Which I should shorely admit as much!'
"'Your father is worse,' says the Osage, as he comes cuttin' in on
Johnny ag'in. 'Must have stronger medicine. That medicine,' holdin'
up some of the cinnamon, 'that not bad enough.'
"At this, Johnny passes his 'father' over a double handful of black
pepper before it's ground.
"'Let my father get away with that,' says Johnny, 'an' he'll feel
like a bird. It will make him gay an' full of p'isen, like a
rattlesnake in August.'
"Out to the r'ar of Johnny's store is piled up onder a shed more'n
two thousand boxes of axle grease. It was sent into the nation
consigned to Johnny by some ill-advised sports in New York, who
figgers that because the Osages as a tribe abounds in wagons, thar
must shorely be a market for axle grease. That's where them New York
persons misses the ford a lot. Them savages has wagons, troo; but
they no more thinks of greasin' them axles than paintin' the runnin'
gear. They never goes ag'inst that axle grease game for so much as a
single box; said ointment is a drug. When he don't dispose of it
none, Johnny stores it out onder a shed some twenty rods away, an'
regyards it as a total loss.
"'Axle grease,' says Johnny, 'makes a p'int in civilization to which
the savage has not yet clambered, an' them optimists, East, who
sends it on yere, should have never made no sech break.'
"Mebby it's because this axle grease grows sullen an' feels
neglected that a-way; mebby it's the heats of two summers an' the
frosts of two winters which sp'iles its disp'sition; shore it is at
any rate that at the time I'm thar, that onguent seems fretted to
the core, an' is givin' forth a protestin' fragrance that has stood
off a coyote an' made him quit at a distance of two hundred yards.
You might even say it has caused Nacher herse'f to pause an' catch
"It's when the ailin' Osage, whose malady is too deep-seated to be
reached by cinnamon or pimento, comes frontin' up for a third
preescription, that the axle grease idee seizes Johnny.
"'Father,' says Johnny, 'come with me. Your son will now saw off
some big medicine on you; a medicine meant for full-blown gents like
you an' me. Come, father, come with your son, an' you shall be cured
in half the time it takes to run a loop on a lariat.'
"Johnny breaks open one of the axle grease boxes, arms the savage
with a chip for a spoon, an' exhorts him to cut in on it a whole
"Son, the odors of them wares is awful; Kansas butter is violets to
it; but it never flutters that Osage. Ile takes Johnny's chip an'
goes to work, spadin' that axle grease into his mouth, like he ain't
got a minute to live. When he's got away with half the box, he tucks
the balance onder his blanket an' retires to his teepee with a look
of gratitoode on his face. His heart has ceased to be bad, an' them
illnesses, which aforetime has him on the go, surrenders to the
powers of this yere new medicine like willows to the wind. With
this, he goes caperin' out for his camp, idly hummin' a war song,
sech is his relief.
"An' here's where Johnny gets action on that axle grease. It shorely
teaches, also, the excellence of them maxims, 'Cast your bread upon
the waters an' you'll be on velvec before many days.' Within two
hours a couple of this sick buck's squaws comes sidlin' tip to
Johnny an' desires axle grease. It's quoted at four bits a box, an'
the squaws changes in five pesos an' beats a retreat, carryin' away
ten boxes. Then the fame of this big, new medicine spreads; that
axle grease becomes plenty pop'lar. Other bucks an' other squaws
shows up, changes in their money, an' is made happy with axle
grease. They never has sech a time, them Osages don't, since the
battle of the Hoss-shoe. Son, they packs it off in blankets,
freights it away in wagons. They turns loose on a reg'lar axle
grease spree. In a week every box is sold, an' thar's orders stacked
up on Florer's desk for two kyar-loads more, which is bein' hurried
on from the East. Even the Injuns' agent gets wrought up about it,
an' begins to bellow an' paw 'round by way of compliments to Johnny.
He makes Johnny a speech.
"'Which I've made your excellent discovery, Mr. Florer,' says this
agent, 'the basis of a report to the gov'ment at Washin'ton. I sets
forth the mad passion of these yere Osages for axle grease as a
condiment, a beverage, an' a cure. I explains the tribal leanin'
that exists for that speshul axle grease which is crowned with
years, an' owns a strength which comes only as the cor'lary of hard
experience. Axle grease is like music an' sooths the savage breast.
It is oil on the troubled waters of aboriginal existence. Its feet
is the feet of peace. At the touch of axle grease the hostile
abandons the war path an' surrenders himse'f. He washes off his
paint an' becometh with axle grease as the lamb that bleateth. The
greatest possible uprisin' could be quelled with a consignment of
axle grease. Mr. Florer, I congratulate you. From a humble store-
keep, sellin' soap, herrin' an' salt hoss, you takes your stand from
now with the ph'lanthropists an' leaders among men. You have
conjoined Injuns an' axle grease. For centuries the savage has been
a problem which has defied gov'ment. He will do so no more. Mr.
Florer, you have solved the savage with axle grease.'"
Toothpick Johnson's Ostracism.
"You sees," observed the Old Cattleman, as he moved into the deeper
shade; "you sees this yere Toothpick disgraces Wolfville; that's how
it is. Downs a party, Toothpick Johnson does, an' no gun on the
gent, the same bein' out of roole entire. Nacherally, while no one
blames Toothpick, who makes the play what you-all calls 'bony
fidis,' the public sort o' longs for his eelopement. An' that
settles it; Toothpick has to hunt out for different stampin'
"It all comes from Toothpick bein' by nacher one of these yere over-
zealous people, an' prematoorely prone that a-way. He's born eager,
Toothpick is, an' can't he'p it none.
"You-all has tracked up on that breed of cimmaron plenty frequent
now. They're the kind who picks up a poker hand, kyard by kyard, as
they comes. They're that for'ard,—that headlong to get outer the
present an' into the footure, they jest can't wait for things to
have a chance to happen.
"'Whyever do you pull in your kyards that a-way?' I says to
Toothpick, reprovin' of him. 'Why can't you let 'em lay till the
"'Which I'm shorely that locoed to look if I ain't got three aces or
some sech,' says Toothpick, 'I must turn 'em up to see.'
"'Well,' says I, an' the same is wisdom every time, 'you-all would
appear more like a dead cold sport to let 'em be, an' pick up your
whole hand together. Likewise, you'd display a mighty sight more
savey if you keeps your eyes on the dealer till he lays down the
deck. You'd be less afflicted by disagreeable surprises if you'd
freeze to the last idee; an' you'd lay up money besides.'
"But that's the notion I'm aimin' to convey; Toothpick is too quick.
His intellects, it looks like, is on eternal tip-toe to get in a
"'He's too simooltaneous, is Toothpick,' says Jack Moore once, when
him an' Boggs is discoursin' together, sizin' up Toothpick. 'He's
that simooltaneous he comes mighty near bein' a whole lot too
"What does Toothpick do that time we-all disapproves an' stampedes
him? It's a accidental killin'.
"It's second drink time in the evenin', an' the Tucson stage is in.
Thar's a passel of us who has roped up our mail, an' now we're
standin' 'round in front of the Red Light, breakin' into letters an'
papers, an' a-makin' of comments, when along wanders a party who's
been picnicin' with the camp. As the deal turns, he never does stay
long nohow; never long enough to become a 'genial 'quaintance an' a
fav'rite of all.'
"This party who comes sidlin' up is, as we hears, late from Red Dog;
an' doorin' them four hours wherein he confers his society onto us,
he stays drunk habityooal an' never does lapse into bein' sober for
a second. It's shore remark'ble, now, how all them Red Dog people
stays intox'cated while they sojourns in Wolfville. Never knows it
to fail; an' I allows, as a s'lootion that a-way, it's owin' to the
sooperior merits of our nose-paint. It's a compliment they pays us.
"However, this Red Dog gent's drinkin' is his own affairs. An' his
earnestness about licker may have been his system; then ag'in it may
not; I don't go pryin' none to determine. But bein' he's plumb
drunk, as you readily discerns, it keeps up a barrier ag'in growin'
intimate with this party; an' ontil Toothpick opens on him, his
intercourse with Wolfville is nacherally only formal.
"This visitor from Red Dog—which Red Dog itse'f is about as low-
flung a bunch of crim'nals as ever gets rounded up an' called a
camp—but, as I'm sayin', this totterin' wreck I mentions comes
stragglin' up, more or less permiscus an' vague, an', without sayin'
a word or makin' a sign, or even shakin' a bush, stands about lariat
distance away an' star's at Toothpick, blinkin' his eyes mighty
"It ain't no time when this yere bluff on the part of the drinkin'
Red Dog gent attracts Toothpick, who's been skirmishin' 'round among
us where we're standin', an' is at that time mentionin' Freighter's
Stew, as a good thing to eat, to Dave Tutt.
"'Who be you-all admirin' now?' asks Toothpick of the Red Dog party,
who's glarin' towards him. It's then I notes the lights begin to
dance in Toothpick's eyes; with that impulsive sperit of his, he's
doo to become abrupt with our visitor at the drop of the hat.
"That Red Dog gent don't make no retort, but stands thar with his
eyes picketed on Toothpick like he's found a victim. Toothpick is
fidgetin' on his feet, with his thumbs stuck in his belt; which this
last is a bad symptom, as it leaves a gent's artillery easy to
"It strikes me at the time that it's even money thar's goin' to be
some shootin'. I don't then nor now know why none. But that
ignorance is common about shootin's; two times in three nobody ever
does know why.
"I reckons now it's Toothpick's fidgetin' makes me suspicious he's
on the brink of rousin' the o'casion with his six-shooter. Which if
he's cool an' ca'm, it would never come to me that a-way; a cool
gent never pulls the first gun, leastways never when the pretext is
friv'lous an' don't come onder the head of 'Must'.
"'Well.' savs Toothpick ag'in, 'whatever be you-all gloatin' over, I
asks? Or, mebby you're thinkin' of 'doptin' me as a son or
somethin'?' says Toothpick.
"Still the party from Red Dog don't say nothin'. As Toothpick
ceases, however, this Red Dog person makes a move, which is
reasonable quick, for his hip. He's got on a long coat, an' while no
gent can see, thar's none of us has doubts but he is fully dressed,
an' that he's searchin' out his Colt's.
"That's what Toothpick allows; an' the Red Dog party's hand ain't
traveled two inches onder his surtoot, when Toothpick cuts free his
'44, an' the Red Dog party hits the ground, face down, like a kyard
"Yes, he's dead enough; never does kick or flutter once. It's
shorely a shot in the cross.
"`Do you-all note how he tries to fill his hand on me?' asks
Toothpick, mighty cheerful.
"Toothpick stoops down for the Red Dog man's gun, an' what do you-
all think? He don't have no weapon, none whatever; nothin' more
vig'rous than a peaceful flask of whiskey, which the same is still
all safe in his r'ar pocket.
"'He warn't heeled!' says Toothpick, straightenin' up an' lookin' at
us apol'getic an' disgusted.
"It's jestice to Toothpick to say, I never yet overtakes that gent
who's more abashed an' discouraged than he is when he finds this
person ain't packin' no gun. He surveys the remainder a second, an'
"'Gents, if ever the licker for the camp is on Toothpick Johnson,
it's now. But thar's one last dooty to perform touchin' deceased.
It's evident, departed is about to ask me to drink. It's this yere
motion he makes for his whiskey which I mistakes for a gun play.
Thar I errs, an' stacks up this Red Dog person wrong. Now that I
onderstands, while acknowledgin' my fal'cies, the least I can do is
to respect deceased's last wishes. I tharfore," says Toothpick,
raisin' the Red Dog party's flask, "complies with what, if I hadn't
interrupted him, would have been his last requests. An' regrettin' I
don't savey sooner, I drinks to him."
"No," concluded the Old Cattleman, "as I intimates at the go-off,
Toothpick don't stay long after that. No one talks of stringin' him
for what's a plain case of bad jedgment, an' nothin' more. But
still, Wolfville takes a notion ag'in him, an' don't want him 'round
none. So he has to freight out.
"'You are all right, Toothpick, speakin' gen'ral,' says Old Man
Enright, when him an' Doc Peets an' Jack Moore comes up on Toothpick
to notify him it's the Stranglers' idee he'd better pack his wagons
an' hit the trail, "but you don't hold your six-shooter enough in
what Doc Peets yere calls 'abeyance.' Without puttin' no stain on
your character, it's right to say you ain't sedentary enough, an'
that you-all is a heap too soon besides. In view, tharfore, of what
I states, an' of you droppin' this yere Red Dog gent—not an ounce
of iron on him at the time!—while we exonerates, we decides without
a dissentin' vote to sort o' look 'round the camp for you to-morry,
say at sundown, an' hang you some, should you then be present yere.
That's how the herd is grazin', Toothpick: an' if you're out to
commit sooicide, you'll be partic'lar to be with us at the hour I
The Wolfville Daily Coyote.
You-all remembers back," said the Old Cattleman, "that yeretofore I
su'gests how at some appropriate epock, I relates about the comin'
of Colonel William Greene Sterett an' that advent of Wolfville's
great daily paper, the Coyote."
It was evening and sharply in the wake of dinner. We were gathered
unto ourselves in my friend's apartments. In excellent mood to hear
of Colonel Sterett and his celebrated journal, I eagerly assured him
that his promise in said behalf was fresh and fragrant in my memory,
and that I trusted he would find present opportunity for its
redemption. Thus encouraged, the old gentleman shoved the box of
cigars towards me, poured a generous glass, and disposed himself to
"Red Dog in a sperit of vain competition," observed my friend,
"starts a paper about the same time Colonel Sterett founds the
Coyote; an', son, for a while, them imprints has a lurid life! The
Red Dog paper don't last long though; it lacks them elements of
longevity which the Coyote possesses, an' it ain't runnin' many
weeks before it sort o' rots down all at once, an' the editor jumps
"It's ever been a subject of dissensions between Colonel Sterett an'
myse'f as to where impartial jestice should lay the blame of that
Red Dog paper's failure. Colonel Sterett charges it onto the editor;
but it's my beliefs, an' I'm j'ined tharin by Boggs an' Texas
Thompson, that no editor could flourish an' no paper survive in
surroundin's so plumb venomous an' p'isen as Red Dog. Moreover, I
holds that Colonel Sterett, onintentional no doubt, takes a
ja'ndiced view of that brother publisher. But I rides ahead of my
"Thar comes a day when Old Man Enright heads into the Red Light,
where we-all is discussin' of eepisodes, an' he packs a letter in
"'Yere's a matter,' he says, 'of public concern, an' I asks for a
full expression of the camp for answer. Yere's a sharp by the name
of Colonel William Greene Sterett, who writes me as how he's
sufferin' to let go all holts in the States an' start a paper in
Wolfville. It shall be, he says, a progressif an' enlightened
journal, devoted to the moral, mental an' material upheaval of this
yere commoonity, an' he aims to learn our views. Do I hear any
remarks on this litteratoor's prop'sition?' "Tell him to come a-
runnin', Enright," says Jack Moore; "an' draw it strong. If thar's
one want which is slowly but shorely crowdin' Wolfville to the wall,
it's a dearth of literatoor; yere's our chance, an' we plays it
quick an high."
"I ain't so gala confident of all this," says Dan Boggs. "I'm sort
o' allowin' this hamlet's too feeble yet for a paper. Startin' a
paper in a small camp this a-way is like givin' a six-shooter to a
boy; most likely he shoots himse'f, or mebby busts the neighbor,
"Oh, I don't know,' says Doc Peets, who, I wants to say, is as
sudden a white man, mental, as I ever sees; "my notion is to bring
him along. The mere idee of a paper'll do a heap for the town."
"I'm entertainin' sentiments sim'lar,' says Enright; "an' I guess
I'll write this Colonel Sterett that we'll go him once if we lose.
I'm assisted to this concloosion by hearin', the last time I'm in
Tucson, that Red Dog, which is our rival, is out to start a paper,
in which event it behooves Wolfville to split even with 'em at the
"That's whatever!" says Moore. "If we allows Red Dog to put it onto
us that a-way we might jest as well dissolve Wolfville as a camp,
an' reepair to the woods in a body."
"Enright sends Colonel Sterett word, an' in four weeks he comes
packin in his layout an' opens up his game. Colonel Sterett,
personal, is a broad, thick, fine-seemin' gent, with a smooth, high
for'ead, grey eyes, an' a long, honest face like a hoss. The Colonel
has a far-off look in his eyes, like he's dreamin' of things
sublime, which Doc Peets says is the common look of lit'rary gents
that a-way. Texas Thompson, however, allows he witnesses the same
distant expression in the eyes of a foogitive from jestice.
"Colonel Sterett makes a good impression. He evolves his journal an'
names it the Coyote, a name applauded by us all. I'll read you a few
of them earliest items; which I'm able to give these yere notices
exact, as I preserves a file of the Coyote complete. I shorely
wouldn't be without it; none whatever!
"Miss Faro Nell, Wolfville's beautiful and accomplished society
belle, condescended to grace the post of lookout last night for the
game presided over by our eminent townsman, Mr. Cherokee Hall.
"Ain't it sweet?" says Faro Nell, when she reads it. "I thinks it's
jest lovely. The drinks is on me, barkeep." Then we goes on:
"Mr. Samuel Johnson Enright, a namesake of the great lexicographer,
and the Lycurgus of Wolfville, paid a visit to Tucson last week.
"Any person possessing leisure and a stack of chips can adventure
the latter under conditions absolutely equitable with that
distinguished courtier of fortune, Mr. Cherokee Hall.
"If Mr. John Moore, our efficient Marshal, will refrain from pinning
his targets for pistol practice to the exterior of our building, we
will bow our gratitude when next we meet. The bullets go right
"We were distressed last week to note that Mr. James Hamilton, the
gentlemanly and urbane proprietor of Wolfville's temple of
terpsichoir (see ad, in another column) had changed whiskeys on us,
and was dispensing what seemed to our throat a tincture of the
common carpet tack of commerce. It is our hope that Mr. H., on
seeing this, will at once restore the statu quo at his justly
"A reckless Mexican was parading the street the other night carrying
in his hand a monkey wrench. It was dark, and Mr. Daniel Boggs, a
leading citizen of Wolfville, who met him, mistaking the wrench for
a pistol which the Mexican was carrying for some vile purpose, very
properly shot him. Mexicans are far too careless this way.
"The O. K. Restauraw is one of the few superior hostelries of the
Territory. Mrs. Rucker, its charming proprietress, is a cook who
might outrival even that celebrated chef, now dead, M. Soyer. Her
pies are poems, her bread an epic, and her beans a dream, Mrs.
Rucker has cooked her way to every heart, and her famed
establishment is justly regarded as the bright particular gem in
Wolfville's municipal crown.
"It is not needed for us to remind our readers that Wolfville
possesses in the person of that celebrated practitioner of medicine,
Mr. Cadwallader Peets, M. D., a scientist whose fame is world-wide
and whose renown has reached to furthest lands. Doctor Ports has
beautifully mounted the skull of that horse-stealing ignobility,
Bear Creel. Stanton, who recently suffered the punishment due his
many crimes at the hands of our local vigilance committee, a
tribunal which under the discerning leadership of President Enright,
never fails in the administration of justice. Doctor Peets will be
glad to exhibit this memento mori to all who care to call. Doctor
Peets, who is eminent as a phrenologist, avers that said skull is
remarkable for its thickness, and that its conformation points to
the possession by Bear Creek, while he wore it, of the most powerful
natural inclinations to crime. From these discoveries of Doctor
Peets, the committee which suspended this felon to the windmill is
to be congratulated on acting just in time. It seems plain from the
contour of this skull that it would not have been long, had not the
committee intervened, before Bear Creek would have added murder to
horse larceny, and to-day the town might be mourning the death of a
valued citizen instead of felicitating itself over the taking-off of
a villain whose very bumps indict and convict him with every fair
and enlightened intelligence that is brought to their contemplation.
"Our respected friend and subscriber, Mr. David Tutt, and his
beautiful and accomplished lady, Mrs. David Tutt, nee Tucson Jennie,
have returned from their stay in Silver City. Last night in honor of
their coming, and to see their friends, this amiable and popular
pair gave an At Home. There was every form of refreshment, and joy
and merriment was unconfined. Miss Faro Dell was admittedly the
belle of this festive occasion, and Diana would have envied her as,
radiant and happy, she led the grand march leaning on the arm of Mr.
Cherokee Hall. By request of Mr. Daniel Boggs, the 'Lariat Polka'
was added to the programme of dances, as was also the 'Pocatello
Reel' at the instance of Mr. Texas Thompson. As the ball progressed,
and at the particular desire of those present, Mr. Boggs and Mr.
Thompson entertained the company with that difficult and intricate
dance known as the 'Mountain Lion Mazourka,' accompanying their
efforts with spirited vocalisms meant to imitate the defiant screams
of a panther on its native hills. These cries, as well as the dance
itself, were highly realistic, and Messrs. B. and T. were made the
recipients of many compliments. Mr. and Mrs. Tutt are to be
congratulated on the success of the function; to fully describe its
many excellent features would exhaust encomium.
"Which we reads the foregoin' with onmixed pleasure, an' thar ain't
a gent but who's plumb convinced that a newspaper, that a-way, is
the bulwark of civilizations an' corner-stone of American
institootions, which it's allowed to be by the voices of them ages.
"'This yere imprint, the Coyote,' says Jack Moore, 'is a howlin'
triumph, an' any gent disposed can go an' make a swell bet on it
with every certainty of a-killin'. Also, I remembers yereafter about
"Meanwhile, like I states prior, Red Dog has its editor, who whirls
loose a paper which he calls the Stingin' Lizard. The Red Dog sheet
ain't a marker to Colonel Sterett's Coyote, an' it's the yooniversal
idee in Wolfville, after ca'mly comparin' the two papers, that
Colonel Sterett as a editor can simply back that Red Dog person
plumb off the ground.
"It ain't no time before Colonel Sterett an' the Red Dog editor
takes to cirklin' for trouble, an' the frightful names they applies
to each other in their respectif journals, an' the accoosations an'
them epithets they hurls, would shore curdle the blood of a grizzly
"An' as if to complicate the sityooation for that onhappy sport
who's gettin' out the Red Dog Stingin' Lizard, he begins to have
trouble local. Thar's a chuck-shop at Red Dog—it's a plumb low
j'int; I never knows it to have any grub better than beans, salt pig
an' airtights,—which is called the Abe Lincoln House, an' is kept
by a party named Pete Bland. Which this yere Bland also owns a goat,
the same bein' a gift of a Mexican who's got in the hole to Bland
an' squar's accounts that a-way.
"This goat is jest a simple-minded, every-day, common kind of a
goat; but he's mighty thorough in his way, allers on the hustle, an'
if he ever overlooks a play, no one don't know it. One day, when the
Red Dog editor is printin' off his papers, up comes the goat, an'
diskyardin' of the tin-can which he's chewin', he begins debauchin'
of himse'f with this yere edition of the Stingin' Lizard. It's
mighty soon when the editor discovers it an' lays for the goat
permiscus; he goes to chunkin' of him up a whole lot. The goat's
game an' declar's himse'f, an' thar starts a altercation with the
editor an' the goat, of which thar's no tellin' the wind-up, an'
which ends only when this yere Bland cuts in, an' the goat's drug
Borne. The paper is stopped an' the editor puts in this:
"Our presses are stopped to-day to say that if the weak-minded
person who maintains the large, black goat which infests our
streets, does not kill the beast, we will. To-day, while engaged in
working off our mammoth edition out back of our building, the
thievish creature approached unnoticed and consumed seventeen copies
of the Stingin' Lizard.
"Which this yere Bland gets incensed at this, an' puts it up the
editor can't eat with him no more. But better counsel smooths it
over, an' at last this Bland forgives the editor, an' all is forgot.
The goat, however, never does; an' he stamps his foot an' prowls
'round for a fracas every tine him an' that editor meets.
"All this yere time Colonel Sterett an' this same Red Dog editor
maintains them hostilities. The way they lams loose at each other in
their papers is a terror. I allers reckons Colonel Sterett gets a
heap the best of this yere mane-chewin'; we-all so regards it, an'
so does he, an' he keeps his end up with great sperit an' voylence.
"These yore ink-riots don't go on more'n two months, however, when
Colonel Sterett decides that the o'casion calls for somethin' more
explicit. As he says, 'Patience ceases to be trumps,' an' so he
saddles up a whole lot an' rides over to Red Dog, personal. Colonel
Sterett don't impart them plans of his to no one; he simply descends
on his foe, sole an' alone, like that game an' chivalrous gent of
bell letters which he shorely is; an', son, Colonel Sterett makes a
example of that slander-mongerin' Red Dog editor.
"It's about the last drink time in the mornin', an' a passel of them
Red Dog sports is convened in front of the Tub of Blood s'loon, when
they-all hears a crash an' looks up, an' thar's their editor a-
soarin' out of his second-story window. Of course, in a second or
so, he hits the ground, an' them Red Dog folks goes over to get the
rights of this yere phenomenon. He ain't hurt so but what he gets up
an' limps 'round, an' he tells 'em it's the Wolfville editor does
it. Next time the Stingin' Lizard comes out, we reads about it:
"The gasconading reptile who is responsible for the slimy life of
that prurient sheet, the Coyote, paid us a sneaking visit Saturday.
If he had given us notice of his intentions, we would have prepared
ourselves and torn his leprous hide from his dehauched and whiskey-
poisoned frame, and polluted our fence with it, but he did not. True
to his low, currish nature, he crept upon us unawares. Our back was
toward him as he entered, perceiving which the cowardly poltroon
seized us and threw us through our own window. Having accomplished
his fiendish work, the miscreant left, justly fearing our wrath. The
Stinging Lizard's exposure of this scoundrel as a drunkard,
embezzler, wife-beater, jail-bird, thief, and general all-round
blackleg prompted this outrage. Never mind, the creature will hear
"'Which this newspaper business is shorely gettin' some bilious, not
to say hectic, a whole lot,' says Dan Boggs, as we reads this. 'I
wonder if these yere folks means fight?'
"'Why,' says Enright, 'I don't know as they'd fight none if we-all
lets 'em alone, but I don't see how we can. This sort of racket goes
on for years in the East, but Wolfville can't stand it. Sech talk as
this means blood in Arizona, an' we insists on them traditions that
a-way bein' respected. Besides, we owes somethin' to Colonel
"So Enright an' Cherokee hunts up our editor an' asks him whatever
he aims to do, an' tells him he's aroused public sentiments to sech
heights thar'll be a pop'lar disapp'intment if he don't challenge
the Red Dog editor an' beef him. Colonel Sterett allows he's crazy
to do it, an' that the Wolfville public can gamble he'll go the
distance. So Cherokee an' Jack Moore puts on their guns an' goes
over to Red Dog to fix time an' place. The Red Dog editor says he's
with 'em, an' they shakes dice for place, an' Cherokee an' Moore
"'Which as evidence of good faith,' says Cherokee, 'we picks Red
Dog. We pulls this thing off on the very scene of the vict'ry of
Colonel Sterett when he hurls your editor through his window that
time. I holds the same to be a mighty proper scheme.'
"'You-all needn't be timid none to come,' says the Red Dog sports.
'You gets a squar' deal from a straight deck; you can gamble on
"'Oh, we ain't apprehensif none,' says Cherokee an' Jack; 'you can
shorely look for us.'
"Well, the day's come, an' all Wolfville an' Red Dog turns out to
see the trouble. Jack Moore an' Cherokee Hall represents for our
editor, an' a brace of Red Dog people shows down for the Stingin'
Lizard man. To prevent accidents, Enright an' the Red Dog chief
makes every gent but them I names, leave their weepons some'ers
else, wherefore thar ain't a gun in what you-all might call the
hands of the pop'laces.
"But thar comes a interruption. Jest as them dooelists gets placed,
thar's a stoopendous commotion, an' char gin' through the crowd
comes that abandoned goat. The presence of so many folks seems like
it makes him onusual hostile. Without waitin' to catch his breath
even, he lays for the Red Dog editor, who, seein' him comin', bangs
away with his '45 an' misses. The goat hits that author in the tail
of his coat, an' over he goes; but he keeps on slammin' away with
the '45 jest the same.
"Which nacherally everybody scatters fur cover at the first shot,
'cause the editor ain't carin' where he p'ints, an' in a second
nobody's in sight but them two journalists an' that goat. I'll say
right yere, son, Colonel Sterett an' his fellow editor an' the goat
wages the awfullest battle which I ever beholds. Which you shorely
oughter heard their expressions. Each of 'em lets go every load he's
got, but the goat don't get hit onct.
"When we-all counts twelve shots—six apiece—we goes out an'
subdoos the goat by the power of numbers. Of course, the dooel's
ended. The Red Dog folks borries a wagon an' takes away their man,
who's suffered a heap; an' Peets, he stays over thar an' fusses
'round all night savin' of him. The goat's all right an' goes back
to the Abe Lincoln House, where this yere Pete Bland is onreasonable
enough to back that shockin conduct of his'n.
"Which it's the last of the Red Dog Stingin' Lizard. That editor
allows he won't stay, an' Bland, still adherin' to his goat, allows
he won't feed him none if he does. The next issue of the Stingin'
Lizard contains this:
"We bid adieu to Red Dog. We will hereafter publish a paper in
Tucson; and if we have been weak and mendacious enough to speak in
favor of a party of the name of Bland, who misconducts a low beanery
which insults an honourable man by stealing his name—we refer to
that feed-trough called the Abe Lincoln House—we will correct
ourselves in its columns. This person harbours a vile goat, for
whose death we will pay
5, and give besides a life-long subscription to our new paper. Last
week this mad animal made an unprovoked assault upon us and a
professional brother, and beat, butted, wounded, bruised and ill-
treated us until we suffer in our whole person. We give notice as we
depart, that under no circumstances will we return until this goat
"Followin' the onexpected an' thrillin' finish of Colonel Sterett's
dooel with the Red Dog editor, an' from which Colonel Sterett
emerges onscathed, an' leavin' Peets with his new patient, we all
returns in a body to Wolfville. After refreshments in the Red Light,
Enright gives his views.
"'Ondoubted,' observes Enright, 'our gent, Colonel Sterett, conducts
himse'f in them painful scenes between him an' the goat an' that Red
Dog editor in a manner to command respects, an' he returns with
honors from them perils. Ther's no more to be done. The affair
closes without a stain on the 'scutcheon of Wolfville, or the fair
fame of Colonel Sterett; which last may continyoo to promulgate his
valyooable paper, shore of our confidence an' upheld by our esteem.
It is not incumbent on him to further pursoo this affair.
His name an' honor is satisfied; besides, no gent can afford the
recognitions and privileges of the dooello to a party who's sunk so
low as to have hostile differences with a goat, an' who persists
publicly in followin'em to bitter an voylent concloosions. This Red
Dog editor's done put himself outside the pale of any high-sperited
gent's consideration by them actions, an' can claim no further
notice. Gents, in the name of Wolfville, I tenders congrat'lations
to Colonel Sterett on the way in which he meets the dangers of his
p'sition, an' the sooperb fashion!!! which he places before us one
of the greatest journals of our times. Gents, we drinks to Colonel
William Greene Sterett an' the Coyote.'"
Cherokee Hall Plays Poker.
"Nacherally I'm not much of a sport," remarked the Old Cattleman,
as he laid down a paper which told a Monte Carlo story of a fortune
lost and won. "Which I'm not remorseless enough to be a cleanstrain
gambler. Of course, a kyard sharp can make benevolences an' lavish
dust on the needy on the side, but when it gets to a game for money,
he can't afford no ruthfulness that a-way, tryin' not to hurt the
sore people. He must play his system through, an' with no more
conscience than cows, no matter who's run down in the stampede. "For
which causes, bein' plumb tender an' sympathetic, I'm shore no good
with kyards; an' whenever I dallies tharwith, it is onder the head
of amoosements. "Do I regyard gamblin' as immoral? No; I don't
reckon none now I do. This bein' what you—all church sharps calls
moral is somewhat a matter of health, an' likewise the way you
feels. Sick folks usual is a heap more moral than when their
health's that excellent it's tantalizin'. "Speakin' of morals, I
recalls people who would scorn kyards, but who'd admire to buy a
widow's steers for four dollars an' saw 'em off ag'in for forty.
They'd take four hundred dollars if some party, locoed to a degree
which permits said outrage, would turn up. The right or wrong, what
you calls the morality of gatherin' steers for four dollars an'
plunderin' people with 'em at forty dollars, wouldn't bother 'em a
bit. Which the question with these yere wolves is simply: 'How
little can I pay an' how much can I get?' An' yet, as I says, sech
parties mighty likely holds themse'fs moral to a degree which is
mountainous, an' wouldn't take a twist at faro-bank, or pick up a
poker hand, more'n they'd mingle with t'rant'lers an' stingin'
lizards. An' some of their moral sports is so onlib'ral! I tells
you, son, I've met up with 'em who's that stingy that if they owned
a lake, they wouldn't give a duck a drink.
"'Gamblin' is immoral that a-way,' says these yere sports.
"An' yet I don't see no sech heinous difference between searchin' a
gent for his roll with steers at forty dollars—the same standin'
you in four—an' layin for him by raisin' the ante for the limit
before the draw. Mighty likely thar's a reason why one's moral an'
the other's black an' bad, but I admits onblushin'ly that the
onearthin' tharof is shore too many for dim-eyed folks like me. They
strikes me a heap sim'lar; only the kyard sharp goes out ag'inst
chances which the steer sharp escapes complete.
"I reckons Cherokee Hall an' me discusses how wrong gamblin' is
hundreds of times on leesure days; we frequent talks of it
immoderate. Cherokee's views an' mine is side an' side, mostly,
although, makin' his livin' turnin' kyards, of course he's more
qualified to speak than me.
"'Which I shore finds nothin' wrong in farobank,' says Cherokee.
'Thar's times, however, when some sport who's locoed by bad luck, or
thinks he's wronged gets diffusive with his gun. At sech epocks this
device has its burdens, I concedes. But I don't perceive no
immorality; none whatever.'
"Yes, now you asks the question, I does inform you a while back of
this Cherokee Hall bein' prone to charity. He never is much of a
talker, but in his way he's a mighty gregar'ous gent. About some
things he's game as hornets, Cherokee is; but his nerve fails him
when it comes to seein' other people suffer. He can stand bad luck
himse'f, an' never turn a ha'r; but no one else's bad luck.
"It ain't once a week, but it's every day, when this yere gray-eyed
sport is robbin' his roll for somebody who's settin' in ag'inst
disaster. Fact; Cherokee's a heap weak that a-way.
"Of course, turnin' faro, Cherokee knows who has money an' who needs
it; keeps tab, so to speak, on the fluctooations of the camp's
finances closer'n anybody. The riches an' the poverty of Wolfville
is sort o' exposin' itse'f 'round onder his nose; it's a open book
to him; an' the knowledge of who's flat, or who's flush, is thrust
onto him continyoous. As I says, bein' some sentimental about them
hard ships of others, the information costs Cherokee hard onto a
diurnal stack or two.
"'Which you're too impulsive a whole lot,' I argues onct when a
profligate he's staked, an' who reports himse'f as jumpin' sideways
for grub previous, goes careerin' over to the dance hall with them
alms he's wrung, an' proceeds on a debauch. 'You oughter not allow
them ornery folks to do you. If you'd cultivate the habit of lettin'
every gent go a-foot till he can buy a hoss, you'd clean up for a
heap more at the end of the week. Now this ingrate whose hand you
stiffens ain't buyin' nothin' but nose-paint tharwith.'
"'Which the same plants no regrets with me,' says Cherokee, all
careless an' indifferent. 'If this person is sufferin' for whiskey
worse'n he's sufferin' for bread, let him loose with the whiskey.
The money's his. When I gives a gent a stake, thar's nothin' held
back. I don't go playin' the despot as to how he blows it. If this
yere party I relieves wants whiskey an' is buyin' whiskey, I
approves his play. If I've a weakness at all, it's for seein' folks
fetterless an' free.'
"While holdin' Cherokee's views erroneous, so far as he seeks to
apply 'em to paupers tankin' up on donations, still I allows it's
dealin' faro which has sp'iled him; an' as you can't make no gent
over new, I quits an' don't buck his notions about dispensin'
charity no more. "Thar's times when this yere Cherokee Hall caroms
on a gent who's high-strung that a-way, an' won't take no donations;
which this yere sport may be plenty needy to the p'int of perishin',
too. That's straight; thar's nachers which is that reluctant about
aid, they simply dies standin' before they'll ever ask.
"Once or twice when Cherokee crosses up with one of these yere
sensitif souls, an' who's in distress, he never says a word about
givin' him anythin'; he turns foxy an' caps him into a little poker.
An' in the course of an hour—for he has to go slow an' cunnin', so
he don't arouse the victim to suspicions that he's bein' played—
Cherokee'll disarrange things so he loses a small stake to him. When
he's got this distressed gent's finances reehabilitated some, he
shoves out an' quits.
"'An' you can put it flat down,' remarks Cherokee, who's
sooperstitious, 'I never loses nothin' nor quits behind on these
yere benevolences. Which I oft observes that Providence comes back
of my box before ever the week's out, an' makes good.'
"'I once knows a sport in Laredo,' says Texas Thompson, to whom
Cherokee is talkin', 'an' is sort o' intimate with him. He's holdin'
to somethin' like your system, too, an' plays it right along.
Whenever luck's ag'in him to a p'int where he's lost half his roll,
he breaks the last half in two an' gives one part to some charity
racket. he tells me himse'f he's been addicted to this scheme so
long it's got to be a appetite, an' that he never fails to win
himse'f outen the hole with what's left. You bet! I believes it; I
sees this hold-up do it.'
"I ain't none shore thar ain't some bottom to them bluffs which
Cherokee an' Texas puts up about Providence stockin' a deck your
way, an' makin' good them gifts. At least, thar's times when it
looks like it a heap. An' what I'll now relate shows it.
"One time Cherokee has it sunk deep in his bosom to he'p a gent
named Ellis to somethin' like a yellow stack, so he can pull his
freight for home. He's come spraddlin' into the West full of hope,
an' allowin' he's goin' to get rich in a day. An' now when he finds
how the West is swift an' hard to beat, he's homesick to death.
"But Ellis ain't got the dinero. Now Cherokee likes him—for Ellis
is a mighty decent form of shorthorn—an' concloodes, all by
himse'f, he'll stand in on Ellis' destinies an' fix 'em up a lot.
Bein' as Ellis is a easy maverick to wound, Cherokee decides it's
better to let him think he wins the stuff, an' not lacerate him by
no gifts direct. Another thing, this yere Ellis tenderfoot is plumb
contrary; he's shore contrary to the notch of bein' cap'ble of
declinin' alms absoloote.
"To make certain Ellis is got rid of, an' headed homeward happy,
Cherokee pulls on a little poker with Ellis; an' he takes in Dan
Boggs on the play, makin' her three-handed, that a-way for a blind.
Dan is informed of the objects of the meetin', an' ain't allowin' to
more'n play a dummy hand tharin.
"This yere Ellis makes a tangle at first, wantin to play faro-bank;
but Cherokee, who can't control no faro game like he can poker, says
'No;' he's dead weary of faro, turnin' it day an' dark; right then
he is out for a little stretch at poker as mere relief. Also Dan
"'Which I don't have no luck at faro-bank,' says Dan. 'I does
nothin' but lose for a month; I'm made sullen by it. The only bet I
stands to win at faro, for plumb four weeks, is a hundred dollars
which I puts on a case queen, coppered, over in Tucson the other
day. An' I lose that. I'm a hoss-thief if, exackly as the queen is
comin' my way, that locoed Tucson marshal don't take a slam at a
gent with his six-shooter an' miss; an' the bullet, which is dodgin'
an' meanderin' down the room, crosses the layout between the dealer
an' me, an' takes the top chip off my bet. An' with it goes the
copper. Before I can restore them conditions, the queen falls to
lose; an' not havin' no copper on my bet, of course, I'm
impoverished for that hundred as aforesaid. You knows the roole—
every bet goes as it lays. Said statoote is fully in force in
Tucson; an' declinin' to allow anythin' for wild shootin' by that
fool marshal, them outcasts corrals my chips. "However do I know
thar's an accident?" says the dealer, as he rakes in that queen bet,
while I'm expoundin' why it should be comin' to me. "Mebby she's an
accident, an' mebby ag'in that hom'cide who's bustin' 'round yere
with his gun, is in league with you-all, an' shoots that copper off
designful, thinkin' the queen's comin' the other way. If accidents
is allowed to control in faro-bank, the house would never win a
chip." So,' concloodes Dan, 'they gets away with my hundred,
invokin' strict rooles onto me. While I can't say they ain't right,
I makes up my mind my luck's too rank for faro, an' registers vows
not to put a peso on another layout for a year. As the time limit
ain't up, I can't buck faro-bank none; but if you an' Ellis,
Cherokee, can tol'rate a little draw, I'm your onmurmurin' dupe.'
"As I relates prior, the play is to let Ellis win a home-stake an'
quit. At last they begins, Ellis seein' thar's no chance for faro-
bank. Dan plays but little; usual, he merely picks up his kyards,
cusses a lot, an' passes out. Now an' then, when it's his ante, or
Cherokee stays out for the looks of the thing, Dan goes to the front
an' sweetens Ellis for a handful of chips.
"Little by little, by layin' down good hands, breakin' pa'rs before
a draw, an' gen'rally carryin' on tail-first an' scand'lous,
Cherokee an' Dan is gettin' a few layers of fat on Ellis' ribs. But
they has to lay low to do it. Oh! he'd kick over the table in a
second if he even smells the play.
"Now yere's where Providence makes its deboo. It happens while these
charities is proceedin', a avaricious gent—a stranger within our
gates, he is—after regyardin' the game awhile, takes to deemin' it
easy. The avaricious gent wants in; an' as Ellis, who's a heap
elated at his luck an' is already talkin' of the killin' he's
makin', says 'Yes,' an' as Dan an' Cherokee can't say 'No' without
bein' onp'lite, the avaricious gent butts in. It all disturbs
Cherokee, who's a nervous sharp; an' when he sees how greedy the
avaricious gent is for what he deems to be a shore thing, he
concloodes to drop him plenty hard. "It's four-hand poker now, an'
the game wags on for a dozen hands. Dan is in hard luck; Cherokee on
his part gets driven out each hand; an' Ellis an' the avaricious
gent is doin' what little winnin's bein' done, between 'em. It's
evident by this time, too, the avaricious gent's layin' for
Cherokee. This oninstructed person looks on Cherokee as both
imbecile an' onlucky to boot.
"The avaricious gent gets action suddener than he thinks. It's a
jack pot. She goes by Ellis an' Dan; then Cherokee breaks her for
the limit, two bloo chips, the par value whereof is ten dollars.
"'You breaks for ten?' says the avaricious gent, who's on Cherokee's
left an' has the last say; 'well, I sees the break an' lifts it the
limit.' An' the avaricious gent puts up four bloos. Ellis an' Dan,
holdin' nothin' an' gettin' crafty, ducks.
"When the avaricious gent puts up his four bloo beans, Cherokee does
somethin' no one ever sees him do before. He gets quer'lous an'
complainin', an' begins to fuss a lot over his bad luck.
"'What did you-all come in for?' he says to the avaricious gent, as
peevish as a sick infant. 'You sees me settin' yere in the muddiest
of luck; can't you a-bear to let me win a pot? You ain't got no hand
to come in on neither, an' I'll bet on it. You jest nacherally
stacks in, relyin' on bluffin' me, or out-luckin' me on the draw.
Well, you can't bluff; I'll see this yere through,' says Cherokee,
puttin' up two more sky-colored beans an' actin' like he's gettin'
heated, 'if it takes my last chip. As I do, however, jest to onmask
you an' show my friends, as I says, that you ain't got a thing, I'll
wager you two on the side, right now, that the pa'r of jacks I
breaks on, is bigger than the hand on which you comes in an' makes
that two-button tilt.' As he says this, Cherokee regyards the
avaricious gent like he's plumb disgusted.
"It turns out, when Cherokee makes this yere long an' fretful break,
the avaricious gent's holdin' a brace of kings. He's delighted with
Cherokee's uproar, an' thinks how soft, an' what a case of open-
work, he is.
"'You offers two bloos I can't beat a pa'r of jacks?' says the
avaricious gent. Which he's plumb wolf, an' out for every drop of
"'That's what I says,' replies Cherokee, some sullen.
"`I goes you,' says the avaricious gent, showin' a pa'r of kings.
"'Thar you be,' snarls Cherokee, with a howl like a sore-head dog,
a-chuckin' the avaricious gent a couple of chips; 'thar you go
ag'in! I can't beat nothin'; which I couldn't beat a drum! "The
avaricious gent c'llects them two azure bones; after which he
diskyards three, drawin' to his two kings, an' sets back to win the
main pot. He shore concloodes it's a red letter round-up for him.
"`I reckons now that I knows what you has,' says Cherokee,
displayin' a ace in a foolish way, 'I upholds this yere ace on the
side an' asks for two kyards.'
"The avaricious gent adds a third king to his list an' feels like
sunny weather. Cherokee picks up his hand after the draw, an' the
avaricious gent, who's viewin' him sharp, notes that he looks a heap
"All at once Cherokee braces up mighty savage, like he's ugly an'
desp'rate about his bad luck.
"'If this yere limit was any size at all, a blooded gent might stand
some show. Which I'd bluff you outen your moccasins if I wasn't
reepressed by a limit whereof a child should be ashamed. I shore
don't know how I mislays my se'f-respect to sech a pitch as to go
settin' into these yere paltry plays.'
"'Which you see yere a lot!' says the avaricious gent, shakin' with
delight, an' lookin' at them three crowned heads he holds; 'don't
howl all night about a wrong what's so easy to rectify. We removes
the limits, an' you can spread your pinions an' soar to any
altitoode you please.'
"Cherokee looks at him hateful as a murderer; he seems like he's
bein' goaded. Then, like he's made up his mind to die right yere,
Cherokee turns in without no more words an' bets five hundred
dollars. It makes Ellis, who's new an' plumb poor that a-way, sort
o' draw a long breath.
"'Which you'll climb some for this pot if you gets it,' says
Cherokee, after his money's up; an' his tones is shore resentful.
"The avaricious gent thinks it's a bluff. He deems them three kings
good. Cherokee most likely don't better by the draw. If he does,
it's nothin' worse than aces up, or a triangle of jacks. That's the
way this sordid sport lines up Cherokee's hand. "'Merely to show you
the error of your ways,' he remarks, 'an' to teach you to lead a
'happier an' a better life, I sees your five hundred an' raises her
back the same.' An' the avaricious gent counts off a thousand
dollars. 'Thar,' he says when it's up, 'now go as far as you like.
Make it a ceilin' play if the sperit moves you.'
"'I sees it an' lifts her for five hundred more,' retorts Cherokee.
An' he shoves his dust to the center. "Cherokee's peevishness is
gone, an' his fault-findin' is over. He's turned as confident an'
easy as a old shoe.
"It strikes the avaricious gent as alarmin', this quick switch in
the way Cherokee feels. It's cl'ar, as one looks in his face, that
them trio of kings ain't no sech monstrosities as they was. He ain't
half so shore they wins. After lookin' a while he says, an' his
tones shows he's plumb doobious:
"'That last raise over-sizes me.'
"`That's it!' groans Cherokee, like his contempt for all mankind is
comin' back. 'By the time I gets a decent hand every sport at the
table's broke. What show do I have! However, I pinches down to meet
your poverty. Put up what stuff you has.'
"The avaricious gent slowly gets up his last peso; he's out on a
limb, an' he somehow begins to feel it. When the money's up,
Cherokee throws down three aces an' a pa'r of nines, an' rakes the
"'Next time,' says Cherokee, 'don't come fomentin' 'round poker
games which is strangers to you complete. Moreover, don't let a gent
talk you into fal'cies touchin' his hand. Which I'm the proud
proprietor of them three aces when I breaks the pot. You-all lose
this time; but if you'll only paste them dogmas I gives you in your
sombrero, an' read 'em over from time to time, you'll notice they
flows a profit. We three, 'concloodes Cherokee, turnin' ag'in to Dan
an' Ellis, 'will now resoome our wrong-doin' at the p'int where this
yere former plootocrat interrupts. A benign Providence has fixed me
plenty strong. Wherefore, if either of you sports should tap me for
a handful of hundreds, them veins of mine will stand the drain. Dan,
it's your deal.'"
The Treachery of Curly Ben
"ere! you black boy, Tom!" and the Old Cattleman's voice rose
loudly as he commanded the approach of that buoyant servitor, who
supervised his master's destinies, and performed in the triangular
role of valet, guardian and friend. "Yere, you; go to the barkeep of
this tavern an' tell him to frame me up a pitcher of that peach
brandy an' honey the way I shows him how. An' when he's got her
organized, bring it out to us with two glasses by the fire. You-all
ain't filin' no objections to a drink, be you?" This last was to me.
"As for me, personal," he continued, "you can put down a bet I'm as
dry as a covered bridge." I readily assented to peach and honey. I
would agree to raw whiskey if it were needed to appease him and
permit me to remain in his graces.
"Thar's one thing, one redeemin' thing I might say, about the East,"
he went on, when the peach and honey appeared, "an' the same claims
my respects entire; that's its nose-paint. Which we shorely suffers
in the Southwest from beverages of the most ornery kind."
"There's a word I've wanted to ask you about more than once," I
said. "What do you mean by 'ornery,' and where do you get it?"
"Where do I get it?" he responded, with a tinge of scorn. "Where do
I rope onto any word? I jest nacherally reaches out an' acquires it
a whole lot, like I do the rest of the language I employs. As for
what it means, I would have allowed that any gent who escapes bein'
as weak-minded as Thompson's colt—an' that cayouse is that imbecile
he used tos wim a river to get a drink—would hesitate with shame to
ask sech questions.
"'Ornery' is a word the meanin' whereof is goin' to depend a heap on
what you brands with it." This was said like an oracle. "Also, the
same means more or less accordin' to who all puts the word in play.
I remembers a mighty decent sort of sport, old Cape Willingham it
is; an' yet Dan Boggs is forever referrin' to old Cape as 'ornery.'
An' I reckon Dan thinks he is. Which the trouble with Cape, from
Dan's standpoint, is this: Cape is one of these yere precise
parties, acc'rate as to all he does, an' plenty partic'lar about his
looks. An Osage buck, paintin' for a dance, wouldn't worry more over
his feachers, an' the way the ocher should be streaked on.
"Now this yere Cape is shy an eye, where an Apache pokes it out with
a lance, back in Cochise's time; an', as he regyards his countenance
as seemin' over rocky, bein' redooced to one eye as I relates, he
sends East an' gets a glass eye. This ain't where Cape's
technical'ties about his looks trails in, however; an', if he had
paused thar in his rehabilitations, Boggs allers put it up he'd a-
found no fault. But Cape notices that about tenth drink time his
shore-enough eye begins for to show up bloodshot, an' is a bad mate
for the glass eye, the same bein' onaffected by drink. So what does
Cape do but have a bloodshot eye made, an' takes to packin' the same
on his person constant. As Cape drinks his forty drops all
commodious, he sort o' keeps tabs on himse'f in the lookin' glass
back of the bar; an' when the good eye commences to turn red with
them libations he's countin' into the corral, he ups an' shifts his
bresh; digs out the white eye an' plants the drunken eye in the
"Shore! none of us cares except Dan Boggs; but Dan feels it to that
extent, it's all Colonel Sterett an' Doc Peets an' Old Man Enright
can do, added to Dan's bein' by nacher a born gent that a-way, to
keep Dan from mentionin' it to old Cape.
"'A gent who comes from a good fam'ly, like you-all,' says Old Man
Enright to Dan, sort o' soothin' of him, 'oughter be removed above
makin' comments on pore old Cape shiftin' his optics. Troo! it's a
weakness, but where is the sport who hasn't weaknesses likewise.
Which you-all is a mighty sight to one side of bein' perfect
yourse'f, Dan, an' yet we don't go 'round breakin' the information
off in you every tinic you makes a queer play. An' you must b'ar
with Cape, an' them caprices of his.' "'I ain't denyin' nothin','
declar's Dan. 'I'm the last longhorn in Wolfville to be revilin' old
Cape, an' refoosin' him his plain American right to go pirootin'
'round among his eyes as suits his taste. But I'm a mighty nervous
man that a-way, an' Cape knows, or oughter know, how, as I states,
I'm nacherally all onstrung, an' that his carryin's on with them
eyes gives me the fantods. Onder all the circumstances, I claims his
conduct is ornery, an' not what a invalid like me has a right to
"No; Dan never says nothin' to Cape; or does anythin' 'cept talk to
Enright an' the rest of us about how he can't stand Cape shiftin'
them eyes. An' it ain't affectation on the part of Dan; he shorely
feels them shifts. Many a time, when it's go to be red eye time with
Cape, an' as the latter is scroop'lously makin' said transfers, have
I beheld Dan arise in silent agony, an' go to bite hunks outen a
pine shelf that is built on the Red Light wall.
"'Which that ornery Cape,' says Dan, as he picks the splinters from
his mouth after sech exercises, 'would drive me as locoed as a
coyote if I don't take refooge in some sech play like that.'
"But, as I su'gests about this term 'ornery;' it depends a lot on
who uses it, an' what for. Now Dan never refers to old Cape except
as 'ornery;' while Enright an' the rest of us sees nothin' from soda
to hock in Cape, doorin' them few months he mingles with us, which
merits sech obloquys.
"No; ornery is a word that means what it says an' is shore
deescriptif. Coyotes is ornery, sheep is ornery; an' them low-flung
hoomans who herds sheep is ornery, speshul. Of course, the term has
misapplications; as an extreme case, I've even heard ign'rant
tenderfeet who alloodes to the whole West as 'ornery.' But them
folks is too debased an' too darkened to demand comments."
"You are very loyal to the West," I remarked.
"Which I shorely oughter be," retorted the old gentleman. "The West
has been some loyal to me. Troo! it stands to reason that a party
fresh from the East, where the horns has been knocked offen
everythin' for two or three hundred years, an' conditions genial is
as soft as a goose-ha'r pillow, is goin' to notice some turgid
changes when he lands in Arizona. But a shorthorn, that a-way,
should reserve his jedgment till he gets acquainted, or gets
lynched, or otherwise experiences the West in its troo colors. While
Arizona, for speciment, don't go up an' put her arms about the neck
of every towerist that comes chargin' into camp, her failure to
perform said rites arises rather from dignity than hauteur. Arizona
don't put on dog; but she has her se'f-respectin' ways, an' stands a
pat hand on towerists.
"If I was called on to lay out a system to guide a tenderfoot who is
considerin' on makin' Arizona his home-camp, I'd advise him to make
his deboo in that territory in a sperit of ca'm an' silent se'f-
reliance. Sech a gent might reside in Wolfville, say three months.
He might meet her citizens, buck her faro-banks, drink her nose-
paint, shake a hilarious hoof in her hurdy gurdies, ask for his
letters, or change in whatever sums seems meet to him at the New
York Store for shirts. Also, he might come buttin' along into the O.
K. Restauraw three times a day with the balance of the band, an'
Missis Rucker would shorely turn her grub-game for him, for the
limit if he so pleased. But still, most likely every gent in camp
would maintain doorin' his novitiate a decent distance with this
yere stranger; they wouldn't onbuckle an' be drunk with him free an'
social like, an' with the bridle off, like pards who has crossed the
plains together an' seen extremes. All this, with a chill onto it, a
tenderfoot would find himse'f ag'inst for the first few months in
"An' yet, my steer to him would be not to get discouraged. The
camp's sizin' him up; that's all. If he perseveres, ca'm an'
c'llected like I states, along the trail of his destiny, he'll shore
come winner on the deal. At the end of three months, or mebby in
onusual cases four months, jest as this yere maverick is goin' into
the dance hall, or mebby the Red Light, some gent will chunk him one
in the back with his shet fist an' say, 'How be you? You double-
dealin', cattle-stealin', foogitive son of a murdererin' hoss-thief,
how be you?'
"Now, right thar is whar this yere shorthorn wants to maintain his
presence of mind. He don't want to go makin' no vain plays for his
six-shooter, or indulge in no sour ranikaboo retorts. That gent
likes him. With Wolfville social conditions, this yere greetin' is
what you sports who comes from the far No'th calls 'the beginnin' of
the thaw. The ice is breakin' up; an' if our candidate sets in his
saddle steady an' with wisdom at this back-thumpin', name-callin'
epock, an' don't take to millin' 'round for trouble, in two minutes
him an' that gregar'ous gent who's accosted him is drinkin' an'
fraternizin' together like two stage hold-ups in a strange camp. The
West ain't ornery; she's simply reserved a whole lot.
"Mighty likely now," continued my friend, following a profound pause
which was comfortably filled with peach and honey; "it's mighty
likely now, comin' down to folks, that the most ornery party I ever
knows is Curly Ben. This yere Ben is killed, final; clowned by old
Captain Moon. Thar's a strange circumstance attendin', as the papers
say, the obliteration of this Curly Ben, an' it makes a heap of an
impression on me at the time. It shows how the instinct to do
things, that a bent is allers carryin' 'round in his mind, gets sort
o' located in his nerves mebby, an' he'll do 'em without his
intellects ridin' herd on the play—do 'em like Curly Ben does,
after his light is out complete.
"This yere is what I'm trailin' up to: When Captain Moon fetches
Curly Ben that time, Curly is playin' kyards. He's jest dealin',
when, onbeknown to him, Moon comes Injunin' up from the r'ar
surreptitious, an' drills Curly Ben through the head; an' the bullet
bein' a '45 Colt's—for Moon ain't toyin' with Curly an' means
business—goes plumb through an' emerges from onder Curly Ben's off
eye. For that matter, it breaks the arm of a party who's playin'
opp'site to Curly, an' who is skinnin' his pasteboards at the time,
thinkin' nothin' of war. Which the queer part is this: Curly, as I
states—an' he never knows what hits him, an' is as dead as Santa
Anna in a moment—is dealin' the kyards. He's got the deck in his
hands. An' yet, when the public picks Curly off the floor, he's
pulled his two guns, an' has got one cocked. Now what do you—all
deem of that for the workin' of a left-over impulse when a gent is
"But, as I remarks yeretofore, Curly Ben is the most ornery person I
ever overtakes, an' the feelin's of the camp is in nowise laid waste
when Moon adds him to the list that time in the Red Light bar. It's
"It's about a month before, when Captain Moon an' his nephy, with
two 8-mule teams and four big three-an'-a-half Bain wagons, two lead
an' two trail they be, comes freightin' out of Silver City with
their eyes on Wolfville. It's the fourth night out, an' they're
camped near a Injun agency. About midnight a half dozen of the bucks
comes scoutin' 'round their camp, allowin' to a moral certainty
they'll see what's loose an' little enough for 'em to pull. The
aborigines makes the error of goin' up the wind from Moon's mules,
which is grazin' about with hobbles on, an' them sagacious anamiles
actooally has fits. It's a fact, if you want to see a mule go plumb
into the air an' remain, jest let him get a good, ample,
onmistakable smell of a Injun! It simply onhinges his reason; he
ain't no more responsible than a cimmaron sheep. No, it ain't that
the savage is out to do anything oncommon to the mule; it's merely
one of the mule's illoosions, as I've told you once before. Jest the
same, if them Injuns is comin' to braid his tail an' braid it tight,
that mule couldn't feel more frantic.
"When these yere faithful mules takes to surgin' about the scene on
two feet, Moon's nephy grabs a Winchester an' pumps a load or so
into the darkness for gen'ral results. An' he has a heap of luck. He
shorely stops one of them Apaches in his lopin' up, an' down the
land for good an' all.
"In less than no time the whole tribe is down on Captain Moon an'
his nephy, demandin' blood. Thar's plenty of some sorts of wisdom
about a savage, an' these yere Apaches ain't runnin' right in on
Moon an' his relatif neither. They was perfeekly familiar with the
accoomulation of cartridges in a Winchester, an' tharfore goes about
the stirrin' up of Moon an' that nepby plumb wary.
"Moon an' the boy goes in between the wagons, blazin' an' bangin'
away at whatever moves or makes a noise; an' as they've been all
through sech festivals before, they regyards their final chances to
be as good as an even break, or better.
"While them Apaches is dodgin' about among the rocks, an' howlin'
contempt, an' passin' resolootions of revenge touchin' the two
Moons, the Injun agent comes troopin' along. He seeks to round-up
his savages an' herd 'em back to the agency. The Apaches, on their
side, is demandin' the capture of the nephy Moon for sp'ilin' one of
their young men.
"The agent is a prairie dog jest out from the East, an' don't know
half as much about what's goin' on inside of a Apache as a horned
toad. He comes down to the aige of hostil'ties, as you-all might
call it, an' makes Moon an' his Winchester workin' nephy a speech.
He addresses 'em a whole lot on the enormity of downin' Apaches who
goes prowlin' about an' scarin' up your mules at midnight, in what
this yere witless agent calls a 'motif of childish cur'osity,' an'
he winds up the powwow with demandin' the surrender of the
"'Surrender nothin'!' says Captain Moon. 'You tell your Injuns to
line out for their camp; an' don't you yourse'f get too zealous
neither an' come too clost, or as shore as I casts my first vote for
Matty Van Buren, I'll plug you plumb center.'
"But the nephy, he thinks different. In spite of Captain Moon's
protests, he gives himse'f up to the agent on the promise of
"'You're gone, lad,' says Moon, when the nephy insists on yieldin';
'you won't last as long as a pint of whiskey in a five-hand poker
"But this yere young Moon is obdurate an' goes over an' gives
himse'f to the agent, who puts it up he'll send him to Prescott to
be tried in co't for beefin' the mule-thief Apache that a-way.
"Shore! it turns out jest as Captain Moon says. Before they'd gone a
half mile, them wards of the gov'ment, as I once hears a big chief
from Washin'ton call 'em, takes the nephy from this yere fallacious
agent an' by fourth drink time that mornin', or when it's been sun-
up three hours, that nephy is nothin' but a mem'ry.
"How do they kill him? In a fashion which, from the coigne your
Apache views things, does 'em proud. That nephy is immolated as
follows: They ropes him out, wrist an' ankle, with four lariats;
pegs him out like he's a hide they're goin' to dry. Thar's a big ant
hill close at hand; it's with reference to this yere ant colony that
the nephy is staked out. In three hours from the tune them ants gets
the word from the Apaches, they've done eat the nephy up, an' the
last vestitch of him plumb disappears with the last ant, as the
latter resoomes his labors onder the earth.
"Why, shore! these yere ants'll eat folks. They re-yards sech
reepasts as festivals, an' seasons of reelaxation from the sterner
dooties of a ant. I recalls once how we loses Locoed Charlie, which
demented party I b'lieve I mentions to you prior. This yere Charlie
takes a day off from where he's workin'—at least he calls it labor-
-at the stage corrals, an' goes curvin' over to Red Dog. Charlie
tanks up on the whiskey of that hamlet, compared to which the worst
nose-paint ever sold in Wolfville is nectar. They palms off mebby
it's a quart of this jooce on Charlie, an' then he p'ints out for
"That's the last of the pore drunkard. His pony is nickcrin' about
the corral gates, pleadin' with the mules inside to open 'em, in the
mornin', but no sign or smoke of Locoed Charlie. An' he never does
show up no more.
"If it's Enright or Cherokee Hall, or any valyooed citizen, thar
would have issooed forth a war party, an' Red Dog would have been
sacked an' burned but what the missin' gent would have been turned
out. But it's different about Locoed Charlie. He hadn't that hold on
the pop'lar heart; didn't fill sech a place in the gen'ral eye; an'
so, barrin' a word or two of wonder, over their drink at the Red
Light, I don't reckon now the Wolfville folks disturbs themse'fs
partic'lar about the camp bein' shy Charlie.
"It's the second day when a teamster, trackin' over from Red Dog,
developes what's left of Locoed Charlie. He falls off his hoss, with
that load of Red Dog whiskey, an' every notion or idee or sensation
absolootely effaced. An' where Charlie loses is, he falls by a ant
hill. Yes; they shorely takes Charlie in. Thar's nothin' left of him
when the teamster locates the remainder, but his clothes, his spurs
an' his 'natomy. The r'ar gyard of them ants has long since retired
with the final fragments of Locoed Charlie. "You-all might o' seen
the story. Colonel Sterett writes it up in the Coyote, an' heads it,
'Hunger is a Terrible Thing.' This sot Charlie comin' to his death
that a-way puts a awful scare over Huggins an' Old Monte. It reforms
'em for more'n two hours. Huggins, who is allers frontin' up as one
who possesses public sperit, tries to look plumb dignified about it,
an' remarks to Dave Tutt in the New York Store as how he thinks we
oughter throw in around an' build a monument to Locoed Charlie. Dave
allows that, while he's with Huggins in them projecks, he wants to
add a monument to the ants. The founders of the scheme sort o'
splittin' at the go-in that a-way, it don't get no further, an' the
monument to Locoed Charlie, as a enterprise, bogs down. But to
continyoo on the trail of Captain Moon.
"Moon comes rumblin' into Wolfville, over-doo mebby it's two weeks,
bringin' both teams. Thar-upon he relates them outrages. Thar's but
one thought, that agent has lived too long.
"'If he was the usual common form of felon,' says Enright,
'ondoubted—for it would be their dooty—the vig'lance committee
local to them parts would string him up. But that ain't possible;
this yere miscreant is a gov'ment official an' wears the gov'ment
brand, an' even the Stranglers, of whatever commoonity, ain't strong
enough, an' wouldn't be jestified in stackin' in ag'in the gov'ment.
Captain Moon's only show is a feud. He oughter caper over an', as
private as possible, arrogate to himse'f the skelp of this yere
agent who abandons his relatif to them hostiles.'
"Wolfville listens to Captain Moon's hist'ry of his wrongs; but
aside from them eloocidations of Enright, no gent says much. Thar's
some games where troo p'liteness consists in sayin' nothin' an'
knowin' less. But the most careless hand in camp can see that Moon's
aimin' at reprisals.
"This Curly Ben is trackin' about Wolfville at the time. Curly ain't
what you-all would call a elevated character. He's a rustler of
cattle, an' a smuggler of Mexican goods, an' Curly an' the Yoonited
States marshals has had more turn-ups than one. But Curly is dead
game; an' so far, he manages to either out-luck or out-shoot them
magistrates; an', as I says, when Moon comes wanderin' in that time
mournin' for his nephy, Curly has been projectin' about camp for
like it's a week.
"Moon sort o' roominates on the play, up an' down, for a day or so,
makin' out a plan. He don't want to go back himse'f; the agent knows
him, an' them Injuns knows him, an' it's even money, if he comes
pokin' into their bailiwick, they'll tumble to his errant. In sech
events, they're shore doo to corral him an' give them ants another
holiday. It's the ant part that gives pore Captain Moon a chill.
"'I'll take a chance on a bowie knife,' says Moon to Dan Boggs,—
Dan, bein' a sympathetic gent an' takin' nacherally to folks in
trouble, has Moon's confidence from the jump; 'I'll take a chance on
a bowie knife; an' as for a gun, I simply courts the resk. But then
ants dazzles me—I lay down to ants, an' I looks on it as no
disgrace to a gent to say so.' "'Ants shorely do sound poignant,'
admits Dan, 'speshully them big black an' red ants that has stingers
like hornets an' pinchers like bugs. Sech insecks, armed to the
teeth as they be, an' laid out to fight both ways from the middle,
is likewise too many for me. I would refoose battle with 'em
"It ain't long before Captain Moon an' Curly Ben is seen confidin'
an' conferrin' with one another, an' drinkin' by themse'fs, an' no
one has to be told that Moon's makin' negotiations with Curly to
ride over an' down the agent. The idee is pecooliarly grateful to
Wolfville. It stands to win no matter how the kyards lay in the box.
If Curly fetches the agent flutterin' from his limb, thar's one
miscreant less in Arizona, if the agent gets the drop an' puts out
Curly Ben, it comes forth jest the same. It's the camp's theery
that, in all that entitles 'em to death, the case stands hoss an'
hoss between the agent an' Curly Ben.
"'An' if they both gets downed, it's a whip-saw, we win both ways;'
says Cherokee Hall, an' the rest of us files away our nose-paint in
silent assent tharwith. "It comes out later that Moon agrees to give
Curly Ben fifteen hundred dollars an' a pony, if he'll go over an'
kill off the agent. Curly Ben says the prop'sition is the
pleasantest thing he hears since he leaves the Panhandle ten years
before, an' so he accepts five hundred dollars an' the pony—the
same bein' the nacher of payments in advance—an' goes clatterin'
off up the canyon one evenin' on his mission of jestice. An' then we
hears no more of Curly Ben for about a month. No one marvels none at
this, however, as downin' any given gent is a prop'sition which in
workin' out is likely to involve delays.
"One day, with unruffled brow an' an air all careless an' free,
Curly Ben rides into Wolfville an' begins orderin' whiskey at the
Red Light before he's hardly cl'ar of the saddle. Thar ain't nobody
in camp, from Doc Peets to Missis Rucker, but what's eager to know
the finish of Curly's expedition, but of course everybody hobbles
his feelin's in them behalfs. It's Captain Moon's fooneral, an' he
oughter have a first, oninterrupted say. Moon comes up to Curly Ben
where Curly is cuttin' the alkali dust outen his throat at the Red
"'Did you get him?' Moon asks after a few p'lite preeliminaries.
'Did you bring back his ha'r an' y'ears like we agrees?'
"'Have you-all got the other thousand ready,' says Curly Ben. 'in
the event I do?'
"'Right yere in my war-bags,' says Moon, 'awaitin' to make good for
your tine an' talent an' trouble in revengin' my pore nephy's
deemise by way of them insecks.' An' Moon slaps his pocket as
locatin' the dinero.
"'Well, I don't get him,' says Curly Ben ca'mly, settin' his glass
on the bar.
"Thar's a pause of mebby two minutes, doorin' which Moon looks
cloudy, as though he don't like the way the kyards is comin'; Curly
Ben, on his part, is smilin' like what Huggins calls 'one of his
songstresses' over in the Bird Cage Op'ry House. After a bit, Moon
resoomes them investigations.
"'Don't I give you four stacks of reds an' a pony,' he says, 'to
reepair to that murderer an' floor-manage his obsequies? An' don't I
promise you eight stacks more when you reports with that outcast's
y'ears an' ha'r, as showin' good faith?'
"'C'rrect; every word,' says Curly Ben, lightin' a seegyar an then
leanin' his elbows on the bar, a heap onmoved.
"'Which I would admire to know, then,' says Moon, an' his eyes is
gettin' little an' hard, 'why you-all don't made good them
"'Well, I'll onfold the reasons an' make it as plain an' cl'ar an'
convincin' as a spade flush,' says Curly Ben. 'When I gets to this
yere victim of ours, I finds him to be a mighty profoose an' lavish
form of sport. The moment I'm finished explainin' to him my mission,
an' jest as I onlimbers my six-shooter to get him where he lives, he
offers me five thousand dollars to come back yere an' kill you.
Nacherally, after that, me an' this yere subject of our plot takes a
few drinks, talks it over, an' yere I be.'
"'But what be you aimin' to do?' asks Moon.
"'What be you aimin' to do?' responds Curly Ben. As I states, he's
shore the most ornery coyote!
"'I don't onderstand,' says Moon.
"'Why it's as obv'ous,' retorts Curly Ben, 'as the Fence Rail brand,
an' that takes up the whole side of a cow. The question now is, do
you raise this yere gent? He raises you as I explains; now do you
quit, or tilt him, say, a thousand better?'
"'An' suppose I don't?' says Moon, sort o' figgerin' for a moment or
so. 'What do you reckon now would be your next move?'
"'Thar would be but one thing to do,' says Curly Ben mighty placid;
'I'd shorely take him. I would proceed with your destruction at
once, an' return to this agent gent an' accept that five thousand
dollar honorarium he offers.'
"Curly Ben is 'bad' plumb through, an' the sights, as they says in
the picturesque language of the Southwest, has been filed from his
guns for many years. Which this last is runnin' in Moon's head while
he talks with his disgustin' emmissary. Moon ain't out to take
chances on gettin' the worst of it. An' tharfore, Moon at once waxes
cunnin' a whole lot.
"'I'm a pore man,' he says, `but if it takes them teams of mine, to
the last tire an' the last hoof, I've got to have this agent's ha'r
an' y'ears. You camp around the Red Light awhile, Curly, till I go
over to the New York Store an' see about more money. I'll be back
while you're layin' out another drink.'
"Now it's not to the credit of Curly, as a crim'nal who puts thought
into his labors, that he lets Captain Moon turn his flank the easy
way he does. It displays Curly as lackin' a heap in mil'tary genius.
I don't presoome to explain it; an' it's all so dead onnacheral at
this juncture that the only s'lootion I'm cap'ble of givin' it is
that it's preedestinated that a-way. Curly not only lets Moon walk
off, which after he hangs up that bluff about takin' them terms of
the agent's is mighty irreg'lar, but he's that obtoose he sits down
to play kyards, while he's waitin', with his back to the door. Why!
it's like sooicide!
"Moon goes out to his wagons an' gets, an' buckles on, his guns.
Quick, crafty, brisk as a cat an' with no more noise, Moon comes
walkin' into the Red Light door. He sees Curly where he sits at
seven-up, with his back turned towards him.
"'One for jack!' says Curly, turnin' that fav'rite kyard. Moon sort
o' drifts to his r'ar.
"'Bang!' says Moon's pistol, an' Curly falls for'ards onto the
table, an' then onto the floor, the bullet plumb through his head,
as I informs you.
"Curly Ben never has the shadow of a tip, he's out of the Red Light
an' into the regions beyond, like snappin' your thumb an' finger.
It's as sharp as the buck of a pony, he's Moon's meat in a minute.
"No, thar's nothin' for Wolfville to do. Moon's jestified. Which his
play is the one trail out, for up to that p'int where Moon onhooks
his guns, Curly ain't done nothin' to put him in reach of the
Stranglers. Committees of vig'lance, that a-way, like shore-enough
co'ts, can't prevent crime, they only punish it, an' up to where
Moon gets decisive action, thar's no openin' by which the Stranglers
could cut in on the deal. Yes, Enright convenes his committee an'
goes through the motions of tryin' Moon. They does this to preserve
appearances, but of course they throws Moon loose. An' as thar's
reasons, as any gent can see, why no one cares to have the story as
it is, be made a subject of invidious gossip in Red Dog, an' other
outfits envious of Wolfville, at Enright's suggestion, the
Stranglers bases the acquittal of Moon on the fact that Curly Ben
deloodes Moon's sister, back in the States, an' then deserts her.
Moon cuts the trail of the base sedoocer in Wolfville, an' gathers
him in accordin', an' as a brother preyed on by his sister's wrongs
is shorely expected to do."
"But Curly Ben never did mislead Moon's sister, did he?" I asked,
for the confident fashion where-with my old friend reeled off the
finding of Wolfville's vigilance committee, and the reasons, almost
imposed on me.
"Which you can bet the limit," he observed fiercely, as he prepared
to go into the hotel, "which you can go the limit open, son, Curly
ain't none too good."
Colonel Sterett's Reminiscences
"An' who is Colonel William Greene Sterett, you asks?" repeated the
Old Cattleman, with some indignant elevation of voice. "He's the
founder of the Coyote, Wolfville's first newspaper; is as cultivated
a gent that a-way as acquires his nose-paint at the Red Light's bar;
an' comes of as good a Kaintucky fam'ly as ever distils its own
whiskey or loses its money on a hoss. Son, I tells you this prior."
This last reproachfully.
"No, Colonel Sterett ain't old none—not what you-all would call
aged. When he comes weavin' into Wolfville that time, I reckons now
Colonel Sterett is mighty likely about twenty-odd years younger than
me, an' at that time I shows about fifty rings on my horns. As for
eddication, he's shore a even break with Doc Peets, an' as I remarks
frequent, I never calls the hand of that gent in Arizona who for a
lib'ral enlightenment is bullsnakes to rattlesnakes with Peets.
"Speakin' about who Colonel Sterett is, he onfolds his pedigree in
full one evenin' when we're all sort o' self-herded in the New York
Store. Which his story is a proud one, an' I'm a jedge because comin
as I do from Tennessee myse'f, nacherally I saveys all about
Kaintucky. Thar's three grades of folks in Kaintucky, the same bein'
contingent entire on whereabouts them folks is camped. Thar's the
Bloo Grass deestrict, the Pennyr'yal deestrict, an' the Purchase.
The Bloo Grass folks is the 'ristocrats, while them low-flung trash
from the Purchase is a heap plebeian. The Pennyr'yal outfit is kind
o' hesitatin' 'round between a balk an' a break-down in between the
other two, an' is part 'ristocratic that a-way an' part mud. As for
Colonel Sterett, he's pure strain Bloo Grass, an' he shows it. I'll
say this for the Colonel, an' it shorely knits me to him from the
first, he could take a bigger drink of whiskey without sugar or
water than ever I sees a gent take in my life.
"That time I alloods to, when Colonel Sterett vouchsafes them
recollections, we-all is in the r'ar wareroom of the New York Store
where the whiskey bar'ls be, samplin' some Valley Tan that's jest
been freighted in. As she's new goods, that Valley Tan, an' as our
troo views touchin' its merits is important to the camp, we're
testin' the beverage plenty free an' copious. No expert gent can
give opinions worth a white chip concernin' nosepaint short o' six
drinks, an' we wasn't out to make no errors in our findin's about
that Valley Tan. So, as I relates, we're all mebby some five drinks
to the good, an' at last the talk, which has strayed over into the
high grass an' is gettin' a whole lot too learned an' profound for
most of the herd to cut in on, settles down between Doc Peets an
Colonel Sterett as bein' the only two sports able to protect their
"An' you can go as far as you like on it,' says the Colonel to
Peets, 'I'm plumb wise an' full concernin' the transmigration of
souls. I gives it my hearty beliefs. I can count a gent up the
moment I looks at him; also I knows exactly what he is before he's a
"'That "transmigration" that a-way,' whispers Dan Boggs to Cherokee
Hall, 'ain't no fool of a word. I'll prance over an' pull it on Red
Dog to-morry. Which it's shore doo to strike'em dumb.'
"'Now yere's Hoppin' Harry,' goes on the Colonel p'intin' to a thin,
black little felon with long ha'r like a pony, who's strayed over
from Tucson; 'I gives it out cold, meanin' tharby no offence to our
Tucson friend—I gives it out cold that Hoppin' Harry used to be a
t'rant'ler. First,' continyoos the Colonel, stackin' Harry up mighty
scientific with his optic jest showin' over his glass, 'first I
allows he's a toad. Not a horned toad, which is a valyooed beast an'
has a mission; but one of these yere ornery forms of toads which
infests the East. This last reptile is vulgar-sluggish, a anamile of
few if any virchoos; while the horned toad, so called, come right
down to cases, ain't no toad nohow. It's a false brand, an' he don't
belong with the toad herd at all. The horned toad is a lizard—a
broad kind o' lizard; an' as for bein' sluggish, you let him have
something on his mind speshul, an' he'll shore go careerin' about
plumb swift. Moreover, he don't hop, your horned toad don't, like
them Eastern toads; he stands up on his toes an' paces—he's what
we-all calls on the Ohio River back in my childhood's sunny hours,
"a side-wheeler." Also, he's got a tail. An' as for sperit, let me
tell you this:—I has a horned toad where I'm camped over by the
Tres Hermanas, where I'm deer-huntin'. I wins that toad's love from
the jump with hunks of bread an' salt hoss an' kindred del'cacies.
He dotes on me. When time hangs heavy, I entertains myse'f with a
dooel between Augustus—Augustus bein' the horned toad's name—, an'
a empty sardine box for which he entertains resentments.
"'"Lay for him, Augustus!" I'd say, at the same instant battin' him
in the nose with the box.
"'Of course, Augustus ain't got savey enough to realize I does it.
He allows it's the box that a-way makin' malev'lent bluffs at him.
An' say, pards, it would have made you proud of your country an' its
starry flag to see Augustus arch himse'f for war on them o'casions.
"'Not that Augustus is malignant or evil disposed, nacheral. No,
sir; I've yet to meet up with the toad who has his simple, even,
gen'rous temper or lovin' heart; as trustful too, Augustus is, as
the babe jest born. But like all noble nachers, Augustus is
sensitive, an' he regyards them bats in the nose as insults. As I
says, you-all should have seen him! He'd poise himse'f on his toes,
erect the horn on his nose, same as one of these yere rhinoceroses
of holy writ, an' then the way Augustus hooks an' harasses that
offensive sardine box about the camp is a lesson to folks.'
"'Where's this yere Augustus now?' asks Dan Boggs, who's got all
wropped up in the Colonel's narratifs.
"'Petered,' says the Colonel, an' thar's feelin's in his tones;
'pore Augustus cashes in. He's followin' me about one mornin'
watchin' me hook up—we was gettin' ready to move camp—an' all
inadvertent I backs the wagon onto Augustus. The hind wheel goes
squar' over him an' flattens Augustus out complete. He dies with his
eyes fixed on me, an' his looks says as plain as language, "Cheer
up, Colonel! This yere contreetemps don't change my affections, for
I knows it's a misdeal." You-all can gamble I don't do nothin' more
that day but mourn.'
"'Which I should shorely say so!' says Dan Boggs, an' his voice is
shakin'; 'a-losin' of a gifted horned toad like Augustus! I'd a-
howled like a wolf.'
"'But as I'm sayin',' resoomes the Colonel, after comfortin' himse'f
with about four fingers; 'speakin' of the transmigration of souls, I
goes off wrong about Hoppin' Harry that time. I takes it, he used to
be one of these yere Eastern toads on account of his gait. But I'm
erroneous. Harry, who is little an' spry an' full of p'isen that a-
way, used to be a t'rant'ler. Any gent who'll take the trouble to
recall one of these hairy, hoppin' t'rant'ler spiders who jumps
sideways at you, full of rage an' venom, is bound to be reminded
partic'lar of Hoppin' Harry.'
"'What did you-all use to be yourse'f, Colonel?' asks Enright, who
notices that Hoppin' Harry is beginnin' to bristle some, like he
ain't pleased none with these yere revelations. 'What for a anamile
was you before you're a hooman?'
"'I was a good-nachered hoss,' says the Colonel mighty confident an'
prompt; 'I'm a good-nachered hoss in a country neighborhood, an'
everybody rides me that wants to. However, I allows we better shift
the subject some. If we-all talks about these yere insects an'
reptiles a little longer, Huggins over thar—whose one weakness is
he's too frank with an' puts too much confidence in his licker—will
have another one of them attacks of second sight, which Peets cures
him of that time, an' commence seein' a multitood of heinous
"'Of course,' says Enright, plumb p'lite, 'of course, Colonel, I can
tell a whole lot about your fam'ly by jest lookin' at you;
partic'lar where as at present you're about ten drinks ahead; still
thar's nothin' gives me more pleasure than hearin' about the sire
from the colt; an' if you won't receive it resentful, I'd ask you as
to your folks back in Kaintuck.'
"'As you-all knows,' observes Colonel Sterett, 'I was foaled in
Kaintucky; an' I must add, I never recalls that jestly cel'brated
commonwealth with-out a sigh. Its glories, sech as they was before
the war, is fast departin' away. In my yooth, thar is nothin' but a
nobility in Kaintucky; leastwise in the Bloo Grass country, whereof
I'm a emanation. We bred hosses an' cattle, an' made whiskey an'
played kyards, an' the black folks does the work. We descends into
nothin' so low as labor in them halcyon days. Our social existence
is made up of weddin's, infares an' visitin' 'round; an' life in the
Bloo Grass is a pleasant round of chicken fixin's an' flour doin's
from one Christmas to another.'
"'Sech deescriptions,' remarks Enright with emotion an' drawin' the
back of his hand across his eyes, 'brings back my yearlin' days in
good old Tennessee. We-all is a heap like you Kaintucks, down our
way. We was a roode, exyooberant outfit; but manly an' sincere. It's
trooly a region where men is men, as that sport common to our neck
of timber known as "the first eye out for a quart of whiskey"
testifies to ample. Thar's my old dad! I can see him yet,' an' yere
Enright closes his eyes some ecstatic. 'He was a shore man. He stood
a hundred-foot without a knot or limb; could wrastle or run or jump,
an' was good to cut a 4-bit piece at one hundred yards, offhand,
with his old 8-squar' rifle. He never shoots squirrels, my father
don't; he barks 'em. An' for to see the skin cracked, or so much as
a drop of blood on one of 'em, when he picks it up, would have
mortified the old gent to death.'
"'Kaintucky to a hair,' assented the Colonel, who listens to Enright
plenty rapt that a-way. 'An' things is so Arcadian! If a gent has a
hour off an 'feels friendly an' like minglin' with his kind, all he
does is sa'nter over an' ring the town bell. Nacherally, the
commoonity lets go its grip an' comes troopin' up all spraddled out.
It don't know if it's a fire, it don't know if it's a fight, it
don't know if it's a birth, it don't know if it's a hoss race, it
don't know if it's a drink; an' it don't care. The commoonity keeps
itse'f framed up perpetyooal to enjoy any one of the five, an'
tharfore at the said summons comes troopin', as I say. "'My
grandfather is the first Sterett who invades Kaintucky, an' my
notion is that he conies curvin' in with Harrod, Kenton, Boone an'
Simon Girty. No one knows wherever does he come from; an' no one's
got the sand to ask, he's that dead haughty an' reserved. For
myse'f, I'm not freighted to the gyards with details touchin' on my
grandfather; he passes in his chips when mebby I'm ten years old,
an' the only things about him I'm shore of as a child, is that he's
the greatest man on earth an' owns all the land south of the Ohio
"'This yere grandfather I'm talkin' of,' continyoos the Colonel
after ag'in refreshin' himse'f with some twenty drops, 'lives in a
big house on a bluff over-lookin' the Ohio, an' calls his place "The
Hill." Up across one of the big stone chimleys is carved "John
Sterett," that a-way; which I mentions the same as goin' to show he
ain't afeard none of bein' followed, an' that wherever he does come
p'intin' out from, thar's no reward offered for his return.'
"'I ain't so shore neither,' interjects Texas Thompson. 'He might
have shifted the cut an' changed his name. Sech feats is frequent
down 'round Laredo where I hails from, an' no questions asked.'
"'Up on the roof of his ranch,' goes on the Colonel, for he's so
immersed in them mem'ries he don't hear Texas where he rings in his
theeries, 'up on the roof my grandfather has a big bell, an' the
rope is brought down an' fetched through a auger hole in the side of
the house, so he can lay in bed if he feels like it, an' ring this
yere tocsin of his while so minded. An' you can bet he shorely rings
her! Many a time an' oft as a child about my mother's knees, the
sound of that ringin' comes floatin' to us where my father has his
house four miles further down the river. On sech o'casions I'd up
"'" Whatever is this yere ringin'?"
"'"Hesh, my child!" my mother would say, smotherin' my mouth with
her hand, her voice sinkin' to a whisper, for as the head of the
House of Sterett, every one of the tribe is plumb scared of my
grandfather an' mentions him with awe. "Hesh, my child," says my
mother like I relates, "that's your grandfather ringin' his bell."
"'An' from calf-time to beef-time, from the first kyard out of the
box down to the turn, no one ever knows why my grandfather does ring
it, for he's too onbendin' to tell of his own accord, an' as I
states prior, no one on earth has got nerve an' force of character
enough to ask him.
"'My own father, whose name is the same as mine, bein' Willyum
Greene Sterett, is the oldest of my grandfather's chil'en. He's a
stern, quiet gent, an' all us young-ones is wont to step high an'
softly whenever he's pesterin' 'round. He respects nobody except my
grandfather, fears nothin' but gettin' out of licker.
"'Like my grandfather up at "The Hill," my father devotes all his
talents to raisin' runnin' hosses, an' the old faun would have been
a heap lonesome if thar's fewer than three hundred head a nickerin'
about the barns an' pastures. Shore! we has slaves too; we has
niggers to a stand-still.
"'As I look r'arward to them days of my infancy, I brings to mind a
staggerin' blow that neighborhood receives. A stern-wheeler sinks
about two hundred yards off our landin' with one thousand bar'ls of
whiskey on board. When the news of that whiskey comes flyin' inland,
it ain't a case of individyooals nor neighborhoods, but whole
counties comes stampedin' to the rescoo. It's no use; the boat bogs
right down in the sand; in less than an hour her smoke stack is
onder water. All we ever gets from the wrack is the bell, the same
now adornin' a Presbyter'an church an' summonin' folks to them
services. I tells you, gents, the thoughts of that Willow Run, an'
we not able to save so much as a quart of it, puts a crimp in that
commoonity they ain't yet outlived. It 'most drives 'em crazy; they
walks them banks for months a-wringin' their hands an' wishin' the
"'Is any one drowned?' asks Faro Nell, who comes in, a moment
before, an' as usual plants herse'f clost to Cherokee Hall. 'Is thar
any women or children aboard?'
"'Nell,' says the Colonel, 'I apol'gizes for my ignorance, but I'm
bound to confess I don't know. Thar's no one knows. The awful fact
of them one thousand bar'ls of Willow Run perishin' before our very
eyes, swallows up all else, an' minor details gets lost in the
shuffle an' stays lost for all time. It's a turrible jolt to the
general sensibilities, an' any gent who'll go back thar yet an' look
hard in the faces of them people, can see traces of that c'lamity.
"'As a child,' resoomes the Colonel, 'I'm romantic a whole lot. I'm
carried away by music. My fav'rite airs is "Smith's March," an'
"Cease Awhile Clarion; Clarion Wild an' Shrill." I either wants
something with a sob in it 'like "Cease Awhile," or I desires War
with all her horrors, same as a gent gets dished up to him in
"'Also, I reads Scott's "Ivanhoe," ain longs to be a croosader, an'
slay Paynims. I used to lie on the bank by the old Ohio, an' shet my
eyes ag'in the brightness of the sky, an' figger on them setbacks
we'd mete out to a Payaim if only we might tree one once in old
Kaintucky. Which that Saracen would have shorely become the basis of
"'Most like I was about thirteen years old when the Confederacy
declar's herse'f a nation, elects Jeff Davis President, an' fronts
up for trouble. For myse'f I concedes now, though I sort o' smothers
my feelin's on that p'int at the time, seein' we-all could look
right over into the state of Ohio, said state bein' heatedly
inimical to rebellion an' pawin' for trouble an' rappin' its horns
ag'in the trees at the mere idee; for myse'f, I say, I now concedes
that I was heart an' soul with the South in them onhappy ruptures. I
breathed an' lived with but one ambition, which is to tear this
devoted country in two in the middle an' leave the fragments that a-
way, in opposite fields. My father, stern, ca'm, c'llected, don't
share the voylence of my sentiments. He took the middle ag'in the
ends for his. The attitoode of our state is that of nootrality, an'
my father declar'd for nootrality likewise. My grandfather is dead
at the time, so his examples lost to us; but my father, sort o'
projectin' 'round for p'sition, decides it would be onfair in him to
throw the weight of his valor to either side, so he stands a pat
hand on that embroglio, declines kyards, an' as I states is nootral.
Which I know he's nootral by one thing:
"'"Willyum," he'd say that a-way when he'd notice me organizin' to
go down to the village; "Willyum," he'd say. "if anybody asks you
what you be, an' speshul if any of them Yankees asks you, you tell
'em that you're Union, but you remember you're secesh."
"'The Sterett fam'ly, ondoubted, is the smartest fam'ly in the
South. My brother Jeff, who is five years older than me, gives
proofs of this, partic'lar. It's Jeff who invents that enterprise in
fishin', which for idleness, profit an' pastime, ain't never been
equalled since the flood, called "Juggin' for Cats." It's Jeff, too,
once when he ups an' jines the church, an' is tharafter preyed on
with the fact that the church owes two hundred dollars, and that it
looks like nobody cares a two-bit piece about it except jest him,
who hires a merry-go-round—one of these yere contraptions with
wooden hosses, an' a hewgag playin' toones in the center—from
Cincinnati, sets her up on the Green in front of the church, makes
the ante ten cents, an' pays off the church debt in two months with
the revenoos tharof.
"'As I sits yere, a relatin' of them exploits,' an' Colonel Sterett
tips the canteen for another hooker, 'as I sits yere, gents, all
free an' sociable with what's, bar none, the finest body of gents
that ever yanks a cork or drains a bottle, I've seen the nobility of
Kaintucky—the Bloo Grass Vere-de-Veres—ride up on a blood hoss,
hitch the critter to the fence, an' throw away a fortune buckin'
Jeff's merry-go-round with them wooden steeds. It's as I says: that
sanctooary is plumb out of debt an' on velvet—has a bank roll big
enough to stopper a 2-gallon jug with—in eight weeks from the time
Jeff onfurls his lay-out an' opens up his game.'
"Thar's one thing," suddenly observed my aged companion, as he eyed
me narrowly, pausing in the interesting Colonel Sterett's relation
concerning his family, and becoming doubly impressive with an
uplifted fore-finger, "thar's one thing I desires you to fully
grasp. As I reels off this yere chronicle, you-all is not to
consider me as repeatin' the Colonel's words exact. I ain't gifted
like the Colonel, an' my English ain't a marker to his. The Colonel
carries the language quiled up an' hangin' at the saddle horn of his
intelligence, like a cow puncher does his lariat. An' when he's got
ready to rope an' throw a fact or two, you should oughter see him
take her down an' go to work. Horn or neck or any foot you says;
it's all one to the Colonel. Big or little loop, in the bresh or in
the open, it's a cinch the Colonel fastens every time he throws his
verbal rope. The fact he's after that a-way, is shore the Colonel's.
Doc Peets informs me private that Colonel Sterett is the greatest
artist, oral, of which his'try records the brand, an' you can go
broke on Peets's knowin'. An' thar's other test'mony.
"'I don't lay down my hand,' says Texas Thompson, one time when him
an' me is alone, 'to any gent between the Rio Grande an' the Oregon,
on sizin' up a conversation. An' I'll impart to you, holdin' nothin'
back, that the Colonel is shorely the limit. Merely to listen, is an
embarrassment of good things, like openin' a five-hand jack-pot on a
ace-full. He can even out-talk my former wife, the Colonel can, an'
that esteemable lady packs the record as a conversationist in Laredo
for five years before I leaves. She's admittedly the shorest shot
with her mouth on that range. Talkin' at a mark, or in action, all
you has to do is give the lady the distance an' let her fix her
sights once, an' she'll stand thar, without a rest, an' slam
observation after observation into the bull's eye till you'll be
abashed. An' yet, compared to the Colonel yere, that lady stutters!'
"But now to resoome," said my friend when he had sufficiently come
to the rescue of Colonel Sterett and given him his proper place in
my estimation; "we'll take up the thread of the Colonel's remarks
where I leaves off.
"'My grandfather,' says the Colonel, 'is a gent of iron-bound
habits. He has his rooles an' he never transgresses 'em. The first
five days of the week, he limits himse'f to fifteen drinks per diem;
Saturday he rides eight miles down to the village, casts aside
restraints, an' goes the distance; Sunday he devotes to meditations.
"'Thar's times when I inclines to the notion that my grandfather
possesses partic'lar aptitoodes for strong drink. This I'll say
without no thoughts of boastin', he's the one lone gent whereof I
has a knowledge, who can give a three-ring debauch onder one canvas
in one evenin'. As I states, my grandfather, reg'lar every Saturday
mornin', rides down to the Center, four miles below our house, an'
begins to crook his elbow, keepin' no accounts an' permittin' no
compunctions. This, if the old gent is feelin' fit an' likely, keeps
up about six hours' at which epock, my grandfather is beginnin' to
feel like his laigs is a burden an' walkin' a lost art. That's where
the pop'lace gets action. The onlookers, when they notes how my
ancestor's laigs that a-way is attemptin' to assoome the soopreme
direction of affairs, sort o' c'llects him an' puts him in the
saddle. Settin' thar on his hoss, my grandfather is all right. His
center of grav'ty is shifted an' located more to his advantage. I
esteems it one of them evidences of a sooperior design in the
yooniverse, an' a plain proof that things don't come by chance, that
long after a gent can't walk none, he's plumb able to ride.
"'Once my grandfather is safe in his saddle, as I relates, he's due-
-him an' his hoss, this last bein' an onusual sagacious beast whic
he calls his "Saturday hoss"—to linger about the streets, an'
collab'rate with the public for mebby five more drinks; followin'
which last libations, he goes rackin' off for "The Hill."
"'Up at our house on Saturdays, my father allers throws a skirmish
line of niggers across the road, with orders to capture my
grandfather as he comes romancin' along. An' them faithful servitors
never fails. They swarms down on my grandfather, searches him out of
the saddle an' packs him exultin'ly an' lovin'ly into camp.
"'Once my grandfather is planted in a cha'r, with a couple of
minions on each side to steady the deal, the others begins to line
out to fetch reestoratifs. I'm too little to take a trick myse'f,
an' I can remember how on them impressif occasions, I would stand
an' look at him. I'd think to myse'f—I was mebby eight at the
time,—"He's ondoubted the greatest man on earth, but my! how
blurred he is!"
"'Which as I states yeretofore, the Sterett system is the
patriarchal system, an' one an' all we yields deference to my
grandfather as the onchallenged chief of the tribe. To 'llustrate
this: One day my father, who's been tryin' out a two-year-old on our
little old quarter-mile track, starts for The Hill, takin' me an' a
nigger jockey, an' a-leadin' of the said two-year-old racer along.
Once we arrives at my grandfather's, my father leaves us all
standin' in the yard and reepairs into the house. The next minute
him an' my grandfather comes out. They don't say nothin', but my
grandfather goes all over the two-year-old with eyes an' hand for
mighty likely ten minutes. At last he straightens up an' turns on my
father with a face loaded to the muzzle with rage.
"'"Willyum Greene Sterett," he says, conferrin' on my parent his
full name, the same bein' a heap ominous; "Willyum Greene Sterett,
you've brought that thing to The Hill to beat my Golddust."
"'"Yes," says my father, mighty steady, "an' I'll go right out on
your track now, father, an' let that black boy ride him an' I'll
gamble you all a thousand dollars that that two-year-old beats
"'" Willyum Greene Sterett," says my grandfather, lookin' at my
father an' beginnin' to bile, "I've put up with a heap from you. You
was owdacious as a child, worthless as a yooth, an' a spend-thrift
as a young man grown; an' a score of times I've paid your debts as
was my dooty as the head of the House of Sterett. But you reserves
it for your forty-ninth year, an' when I'm in my seventy-ninth year,
to perform your crownin' outrage. You've brought that thing to The
Hill to beat my Golddust. Now let me tell you somethin', an' it'll
be water on your wheel a whole lot, to give heed to that I says. You
get onto your hoss, an' you get your child Willyum onto his hoss,
an' you get that nigger boy onto his hoss, an' you get off this
Hill. An' as you go, let me give you this warnin'. If you-all ever
makes a moccasin track in the mud of my premises ag'in, I'll fill
you full of buckshot."
"'An' as I says, to show the veneration in which my grandfather is
held, thar's not another yeep out o' any of us. With my father in
the lead, we files out for home; an' tharafter the eepisode is never
"'An' now,' says Colonel Sterctt, 'as we-all is about equipped to
report joodiciously as to the merits of the speshul cask of Valley
Tan we've been samplin', I'll bring my narratif to the closin'
chapters in the life of this grand old man. Thar's this to be
observed: The Sterett fam'ly is eminent for two things: it gets
everything it needs; an' it never gets it till it needs it. Does it
need a gun, or a hoss, or a drink, the Sterett fam'ly proceeds with
the round-up. It befalls that when my grandfather passes his
eightieth year, he decides that he needs religion.
"'" It's about time," he says, "for me to begin layin' up a treasure
above. I'm goin' on eighty-one an' my luck can't last forever."
"'So my grandfather he sets up in bed an' he perooses them
scriptures for four months. I tell you, gents, he shorely searches
that holy book a whole lot. An' then he puts it up he'll be
baptized. Also, that he'll enter down into the water an' rise up out
of the water like it's blazoned in them texts.
"'Seein' she's Janyooary at the time, with two foot of snow on the
ground, it looks like my grandfather will have to postpone them
rites. But he couldn't be bluffed. My grandfather reaches out of bed
an' he rings that bell I tells you-all of, an' proceeds to convene
his niggers. He commands 'em to cut down a big whitewood tree that
lives down in the bottoms, hollow out the butt log for a trough, an'
haul her up alongside the r'ar veranda.
"'For a week thar's a incessant "chip! chop!" of the axes; an' then
with six yoke of steers, the trough is brought into camp. It's long
enough an' wide enough an' deep enough to swim a colt.
"'The day for the baptizin' is set, an' the Sterett fam'ly comes
trackin' in. Thar's two hundred of 'em, corral count. The whole
outfit stands 'round while the water is heatin' for to clip the old
gent. My father, who is the dep'ty chief an' next in command, is
tyrannizin' about an' assoomin' to deal the game. "Thar's a big fire
at which they're heatin' the rocks wherewith to raise the
temperatoor of the water. The fire is onder the personal charge of a
faithful old nigger named Ben. When one of them stones is red hot,
Ben takes two sticks for tongs an' drops it into the trough. Thar's
a bile an' a buzz an' a geyser of steam, an' now an' then the rock
explodes a lot an' sends the water spoutin' to the eaves. It's all
plenty thrillin', you can bet! "My father, as I states, is pervadin'
about, so clothed with dignity, bein' after my grandfather the next
chicken on the roost, that you can't get near enough to him to borry
a plug of tobacco. Once in a while he'd shasee up an' stick his hand
in the water. It would be too hot, mebby. "'"Yere, you Ben!" he'd
roar. "What be you aimin' at? Do you-all want to kill the old man Do
you think you're scaldin' a hawg?" "Then this yere Ben; would get
conscience-stricken an' pour in a bar'l or two of cold water. In a
minute my father would test it ag'in an' say:
"'"Ben, you shorely are failin' in your intellects. Yere this is as
cold as ice; you'll give the old man a chill." "Final, however, the
water is declar'd right, an' then out comes a brace of niggers,
packin' my grandfather in a blanket, with the preacher preevail. in
over all as offishul floor-manager of the festiv'ties. That's how it
ends: my grandfather is baptized an' gets religion in his eighty-
first year, A. D.; an' two days later he sets in his chips, shoves
his cha'r back an' goes shoutin' home.
"'"Be I certain of heaven?" he says to the preacher, when he's down
to the turn. "Be I winner accordin' to your rooles an' tenets?"
"'"Your place is provided," says the preacher, that a-way. "'"If
it's as good a place as old Kaintucky, they shorely ain't goin' to
have no fuss nor trouble with me, an' that's whatever!"'"
How the Dumb Man Rode.
"Now, I don't reckon none," remarked the Old Cattleman with a
confidential air, "this yere dumb man' incident ever arises to my
mind ag'in, if it ain't for a gent whose trail I cuts while I'm
projectin' 'round the post-office for letters.
"It's this mornin', an' I'm gettin' letters, as I states, when I
catches this old party sort o' beamin' on me frank an' free, like
he's shore a friendly Injun. At last he sa'nters over an' remarks,
'Whatever is your callin', pard?' or some sech bluff as that. "I
sees he's good people fast enough; still I allows a small, brief
jolt mebby does hire good.
"'Well,' I says, intendin' to let him know I'm alive an' wakeful
that a-way; 'well, whatever my callin' is, at least it ain't been no
part of my bringin' up to let mere strangers stroll into the corral
an' cinch a saddle onto me for a conversational canter, jest because
they're disp'sitioned that a-way. "'No offence meant,' says the old
party, an' I observes he grows red an' ashamed plumb up to his white
ha'r. "Excuse me, amigo," I says, handin' out my paw, which he
seizes all radiant an' soon, "I ain't intendin' nothin' blunt, nor
to slam no door on better acquaintance, but when you—all ropes at
me about what you refers to as my "callin"' that time, I ain't jest
lookin' for a stranger to take sech interest in me, an' I'm startled
into bein' onp'lite. I tharfore tenders regrets, an', startin' all
over, states without reserve that I'm a cow man. "An' now,' I
retorts, further, "merely to play my hand out, an' not that I looks
to take a trick at all, let me ask what pursoots do you p'int out on
as a pretext for livin'?"
"'Me?' says the old party, stabbin' at his shirt bosom with his
thumb; 'me? I'm a scientist.' "'Which the news is exhilaratin' an'
interestin',' I says; 'shake ag'in! If thar's one thin-I regyards
high, it's a scientist. Whatever partic'lar wagon-track do you-all
follow off, may I ask?' "It's then this old gent an' I la'nches into
a gen'ral discussion onder the head of mes'lancous business, I
reckons, an' lie puts it up his long suit, as he calls it, is `moral
epidemics.' He says he's wrote one book onto 'em, an' sw'ar:; he'll
write another if nobody heads him off; the same bein' on-likely. As
he sees how I'm interested, the old sport sets down an' lays it out
to me how sentiments goes in herds an' droves, same as weather an'
things like that. "'Oneday you rolls out in the mornin',' this old
gent declar's, `an' thar you reads how everybody commits sooicide.
Then some other day it's murder, then robbery, an' ag'in, the whole
round-up goes to holdin' them church meetin's an' gettin' religion.
Them's waves; moral epidemics,' he says.
"Which this don't look so egreegious none as a statement, neither,
an' so after pow-wowin' a lot, all complacent an' genial, I tells
the old gent he's got a good game, an' I thinks myse'f his system
has p'ints. At this, he admits he's flattered; an' then, as we're
gettin' to the ends of our lariats, we tips our sombreros to each
other an' lets it go at that. To-morry he's goin' to confer on me
his book; which I means to read it, an' then I'll savey more about
his little play.
"But," continued my friend, warm with his new philosophy, "this yere
is all preelim'nary, an' brings me back to what I remarks at the
jump; that what that old gent urges recalls this dumb an' deef man
incident; which it sort o' backs his play. It's a time when a passel
of us gets overcome by waves of sentiment that a-way, an' not only
turns a hoss-thief loose entire, after the felon's done been run
down, but Boggs waxes that sloppy he lavishes a hoss an' saddle onto
him; likewise sympathy, an' wishes him luck.
"The whole racket's that onnacheral I never does quit wonderin'
about it; but now this old science sharp expounds his theory of
'moral epidemics,' it gets cl'ared up in my mind, an' I reckons, as
he says, it's shorely one of them waves.
"Tell the story? Thar's nothin' much to said yarn, only the
onpreecedented leeniency wherewith we winds it up. In the first
place, I don't know what this hoss-thief's name is, for he's plum
deef an' dumb, an' ain't sayin' a word. I sees him hoverin' 'round,
but I don't say nothin' to him. I observes him once or twice write
things to folks he has to talk with on a piece of paper, but it's
too slow a racket for me, too much like conversin' by freight that
a-way, an' I declines to stand in on it. I don't like to write well
enough to go openin' a correspondence with strangers who's deef an'
"When he first dawns on the camp, he has money, moderate at least,
an' he gets in on poker, an' stud, an' other devices which is open
an' common; an' gents who's with him at the time says he has a level
notion of hands, an' in the long run, mebby, amasses a little
"While I ain't payin' much heed to him, I do hear towards the last
of his stay as how he goes broke ag'inst faro-bank. But as gents
often goes broke ag'inst faro-bank, an' as, in trooth, I tastes sech
reverses once or twice myse'f, the information don't excite me none
at the time, nor later on.
"It's mighty likely some little space since this dumb person hits
camp, an' thar's an outfit of us ramblin' 'round in the Red Light,
which, so to speak, is the Wolfville Club, an' killin' time by
talkin'. Dave Tutt an' Texas Thompson is holdin' forth at each other
on the efficacy of pray'r, an' the balance of us is bein' edified.
"It looks like Texas has been tellin' of a Mexican he sees lynched
at Laredo one time, an' how a tender gent rings in some orisons
before ever they swings him off. Texas objects to them pray'rs an'
brands 'em as hypocrisies. As happens frequent—for both is powerful
debaters that a-way—Dave Tutt locks horns with Texas, an' they both
prances 'round oratorical at each other mighty entertainin'.
"'Now you gents onderstand,' says Texas Thompson, 'I ain't sayin' a
word about them pray'rs as mere supplications. I'm yere to state I
regyards 'em as excellent, an' thar's gents at that time present
who's experts in sech appeals an' who knows what prayin' is, who
allows that for fervency, bottom an' speed, they shorely makes the
record for what you might call off-hand pray'rs in Southern Texas.
Thar ain't a preacher short of Waco or Dallas could have turned a
smoother trick. But what I complains of is, it's onconsistent.'
"'However is prayin' that a-way onconsistent, I'd shorely like to
know?' says Tutt, stackin' in ag'in Texas plenty scornful.
"'Why, this a-way,' says Texas. 'Yere's a gent who assembles with
his peers to hang a Mexican. As a first flash outen the box, he puts
up a strong pray'r talk to get this crim'nal by the heavenly gate.
Now, whatever do you reckon a saint who knows his business is goin'
to say to that? Yere stands this conceited Laredo party recommendin'
for admission on high a Mexican he's he'pin' to lynch as not good
enough for Texas. If them powers above ain't allowin' that prayin'
party's got his nerve with him, they ain't givin' the case the study
which is shore its doo.'
"'Which I don't know!' says Tutt. 'I don't accept them views nohow.
Prayin' is like goin' blind in poker. All you do is hope a whole
lot. If the angels takes stock in your applications, well an' good.
If they don't, you can gamble your spurs they're plenty able to
protect themse'fs. All you can do is file them supplications. The
angels lets 'em go or turns 'em down accordin'. Now, I holds that
this Laredo sport who prays that time does right. Thar's nothin'
like a showdown; an' his play, since he volunteers to ride herd on
the Greaser's soul, is to do all he knows, an' win out if he can.'
"'That's whatever!' says Dan Boggs, who's listenin' full of
interest, an' who allows he'll butt in on the talk. 'I j'ines with
Tutt in this. My notion is, when it comes a gent's turn to pray, let
him pray, an' not go pesterin' himse'f with vain surmises as to how
it's goin' to strike them hosts on high. You can wager you ain't
goin' to ride 'round Omnipotence none. You can draw up to the layout
of life, an' from the cradle to the grave, you'll not pick up no
sleepers on Providence that a-way. Now, once, when I'm over across
the Mogallon Plateau, I—'
"But we never does hear what happens to Boggs that time over across
the Mogallon Plateau; for when he's that far along, one of the
niggers from the corral comes scurryin' up an' asks Texas Thompson
does he lend his pinto pony an hour back to the party who's deef an'
"'Which I shorely don't,' says Texas. 'You don't aim to tell me none
he's done got away with my pinto hoss?'
"The nigger says he does. He announces that mebby an hour before,
this party comes over to the corral, makes a motion or two with his
hands, cinches the hull onto the pinto, an' lines out for the
northeast on the Silver City trail. He's been plumb outen sight for
more'n half an hour.
"'Which I likes that!' says Texas Thompson. 'For broad, open-air,
noon-day hoss-stealin', I offers even money this dumb gent's
enterprise is entitled to the red ticket.'
"Which we ain't standin' thar talkin' long. If thar's one reform to
which the entire West devotes itse'f, it's breakin' people of this
habit of hoss-stealin'. It ain't no time when four of us is off on
the dumb party's trail, an' half of that is consoomed in takin' a
"Whyever be gents in the West so sot ag'in hoss-thieves? Son, you
abides in a region at once pop'lous an' fertile. But if you was to
put in three months on a cactus desert, with water holes fifty miles
apart, it would begin to glimmer on you as to what it means to find
yourse'f afoot. It would come over you like a landslide that the
party who steals your hoss would have improved your condition in
life a heap if he'd played his hand out by shootin' a hole through
"No, I ain't in no sech hurry to hang people for standin' in on some
killin'. Thar's two sides to a killin'; an' if deceased is framed up
with a gun all reg'lar at the time, it goes a long way toward
exculpatin' of the sport who outlives him. But thar ain't only one
side to hoss-stealin', an' the sooner the party's strung up or
plugged, the sooner thar's a vict'ry for the right.
"As I remarks, it ain't two minutes when thar's four of us gone
swarmin' off after the dumb man who's got Texas Thompson's pinto
pony. From the tracks, he ain't makin' no play to throw us off, for
he maintains a straight-away run down the Silver City trail, an'
never leaves it or doubles once.
"Runnin' of the dumb man down don't turn out no arduous task. It's
doo mainly, however, because the pinto sticks a cactus thorn in its
hoof an' goes lame in less time tharafter than it takes to turn a
"'Hands up,' says Texas, gettin' the drop as we swings up on the
deef an' dumb foogitive.
"But thar's no need of sech preecautions, as the dumb party ain't
packin' no weepons—not so much as a knife.
"Thar's nothin' to say, no talk to make, when we takes him. Texas
hefts him outen the saddle an' ropes his elbows behind with a
"'What do you-all su'gest, gents?' says Texas. 'I s'pose now the
deecorous way is to go on with this yere aggressive an' energetic
person to them pinon trees ahead, an' hang him some?'
"'Which thar's no doubts floatin' in anybody's mind on that
subject,' says Dan Boggs, 'but I'd shore admire to know who this
party is, an' where he's headin' to. I dislikes to stretch the neck
of strangers that a-way; an' if thar's any gent, now, who can ask
this yere person who he is, an' what he's got to say, I'd take it as
a favor, personal, if he'd begin makin' of the needed motions.' "But
thar ain't none of us can institoote them gestures; an' when the
dumb man, on his side, puts up a few bluffs with his fingers, it's a
heap too complicated for us as a means of makin' statements. "'I
shore couldn't tell,' says Dave Tutt, as he sets watchin' the dumb
man's play, 'whether he's callin' us names or askin' for whiskey.'
"'Which if we'd thought to bring some stationery,' says Texas, after
we-all goes through our war-bags in vain, 'we might open some
successful negotiations with this person. As it is, however, we're
plumb up ag'inst it, an' I reckon, Boggs, he'll have to hang without
you an' him bein' formally introdooced.' "'Jest the same, I wishes,'
says Dave Tutt, 'that Doc Peets or Enright was along. They'd shore
dig somethin' outen this citizen.' "'Mebby he's got papers in his
wamus,' says Boggs, 'which onfolds concernin' him. Go through him,
Texas, anyhow: "All Texas can find on the dumb man is one letter;
the postmark: when we comes to decipher the same, shows he only gets
it that mornin'. Besides this yere single missif that a-way, thar
ain't a scrap of nothin' else to him; nor yet no wealth.
"'Tell us what's in the letter,' says Texas, turnin' the document
over to Boggs. 'Read her out, Dan; I'd play the hand, but I has to
ride herd on the culprit.'
"'I can't read it,' says Boggs, handin' the note to Tutt; 'I can't
read readin', let alone writin'. But I'm free to say, even without
hearin' that document none, that I shorely hesitates to string this
party up. Bein' tongueless, an' not hearin' a lick more'n adders,
somehow he keeps appealin' to me like he's locoed.'
"'Which if you ever has the pleasure to play some poker with him,'
says Tutt, as he onfolds the paper, 'like I do three nights ago, you
wouldn't be annoyin' yourse'f about his bein' locoed. I finds him
plenty deep an' wary, not to say plumb crafty. Another thing, it's
plain he not only gets letters, but we-all sees him write about his
drinks to Black Jack, the Red Light barkeep, an' sim'lar plays.'
"By this time, Tutt's got the letter open, an' is gettin' ready to
read. The dumb man's been standin' thar all the time, with his arms
roped behind him, an' lookin' like hope has died; an' also like he
ain't carin' much about it neither. When Tutt turns open the letter,
I notices the tears kind o' start in his eyes, same as if he's some
"'Which this yere commoonication is plenty brief,' says Tutt, as he
rums his eye over it. 'She's dated "Casa Grande," an' reads as
follows, to wit:
"'Dear Ben: Myra is dyin'; come at once. A." "'Now, whoever do you
reckon this yere Myra is?' asks Tutt, lookin' 'round. 'she's cashin'
in, that's obvious; an' I'm puttin' it up she's mighty likely a wife
or somethin' of this yere dumb party.' "'That's it,' says Boggs. 'He
gets this word that Myra's goin' over the big divide, an' bein' he's
gone broke entire on faro-bank, he plunges over to the corral an'
rustles Thompson's hoss. Onder sech circumstances, I ain't none
shore he's respons'ble. I take-it thar ain't much doubt but Myra's
his wife that a-way, in which event my idee is he only borrys
Thompson's pinto. Which nacherally, as I freely concedes, this last
depends on Myra's bein' his wife.' "'Oh, not necessarily,' says
Texas Thompson; 'thar's a heap of wives who don't jestify
hosstealiil' a little bit. Now I plays it open, Myra's this dumb
gent's mother, an' on sech a theery an' that alone, I removes the
lariat from his arms an' throws him loose. But don't try to run no
wife bluff on me; I've been through the wife question with a blazin'
pine-knot in my hand, an' thar's nothin' worth while concealed
tharin.' "'Which I adopts the ainendiricnt,' says Boggs, 'an' on
second thought, I strings my chips with Texas, that this yere Myra's
his mother. I've got the money that says so.' "'At any rate,' says
Tutt, 'from all I sees, I reckons it's the general notion that we
calls this thing a draw. We can't afford to go makin' a preecedent
of hangin' a gent for hoss-stealin' who's only doin' his best to be
present at this Myra's fooneral, whoever she may be. It's a heap
disgustin', however, that we can't open up a talk with this party.
Which I now notes by the address his name is McIntyre.' "An' so it
turns out that in no time, from four gents who's dead set to hang
this dumb man as a boss-thief, we turns into a sympathetic outfit
which is diggin' holes for his escape. It all dovetails in with what
my scientist says this mornin' about them moral epidemics,' an'
things goin' that a-way in waves. For, after all, Myra or no Myra,
this yere dumb man steals that pinto hoss. "However, whether it's
right or wrong, we turns the dumb man free. Not only that, but Boggs
gets out of the saddle an' gives him his pony to pursoo them rambles
with. "'I gives it to him because it's the best pony in the outfit,'
says Boggs, lookin' savage at us, as he puts the bridle in the dumb
gent's hands. 'It can run like a antelope, that pony can; an' that's
why I donates it to this dumb party. Once he's started, even if we-
all changes our moods, he's shore an' safe away for good. Moreover,
a gent whose mother's dyin', can't have too good a hoss. If he don't
step on no more cactus, an' half rides, he's doo to go chargin' into
Casa Grande before they loses Myra, easy.'"
How Prince Hat Got Help.
"Come yere, you boy Torn." It was the Old Cattleman addressing his
black satellite. "Stampede up to their rooms of mine an' fetch me my
hat; the one with the snakeskin band. My head ain't feelin' none too
well, owin' to the barkeep of this hostelry changin' my drinks, an'
that rattlesnake band oughter absorb them aches an' clar'fy my
roominations a heap. Now, vamos!" he continued, as Tom seemed to
hesitate, "the big Stetson with the snakeskin onto it.
"An' how be you stackin' up yours'ef?" observed the old gentleman,
turning to me as his dark agent vanished in quest of head-bear.
"Which you shorely looks as worn an' weary as a calf jest branded.
It'll do you good to walk a lot; better come with me. I sort o'
orig'nates the notion that I'll go swarmin' about permiscus this
mornin' for a hour or so, an cirk'late my blood, an' you-all is
welcome to attach yourse'f to the scheme. Thar's nothin' like
exercise, that a-way, as Grief Mudlow allows when he urges his wife
to take in washin'. You've done heard of Grief Mudlow, the laziest
maverick in Tennessee?"
I gave my word that not so much as a rumor of the person Mudlow had
reached me. My friend expressed surprise. It was now that the black
boy Tom came up with the desired hat. Tom made his approach with a
queer backward and forward shuffle, crooning to himself the while:
"Rain come wet me, sun come dry me.
Take keer, white man, don't come nigh me." "Stop that double-
shufflin' an' wing dancin'," remonstrated the old gentleman
severely, as he took the hat and fixed it on his head. "I don't want
no frivolities an' merry-makin's 'round me. Which you're always
jumpin' an' dancin' like one of these yere snapjack bugs. I ain't
aimin' at pompousness none, but thar's a sobriety goes with them
years of mine which I proposes to maintain if I has to do it with a
blacksnake whip. So you-all boy Tom, you look out a whole lot! I'm
goin' to break you of them hurdy-gurdy tendencies, if I has to make
you wear hobbles an' frale the duds off your back besides."
Tom smiled toothfully, yet in confident fashion, as one who knows
his master and is not afraid.
"So you never hears of Grief Mudlow?" he continued, as we strolled
abroad on our walk. "I reckons mebby you has, for they shore puts
Grief into a book once, commemoratin' of his laziness. How lazy is
he? Well, son, he could beat Mexicans an' let 'em deal. He's raised
away off cast, over among the knobs of old Knox County, Grief is,
an' he's that lazy he has to leave it on account of the hills.
"'She's too noomerous in them steeps an' deecliv'ties,' says Grief.
'What I needs is a landscape where the prevailin' feacher is the
hor'zontal. I was shorely born with a yearnin' for the level
ground.' An' so Grief moves his camp down on the river bottoms,
where thar ain't no hills.
"He's that mis'rable idle an' shiftless, this yere Grief is, that
once he starts huntin' an' then decides he won't. Grief lays down by
the aige of the branch, with his moccasins towards the water. It
starts in to rain, an' the storm prounces down on Grief like a mink:
on a settin' hen. One of his pards sees him across the branch an'
thinks he's asleep. So he shouts an' yells at him.
"'Whoopee, Grief!' he sings over to where Grief's layin' all quiled
up same as a water-moccasin snake, an' the rain peltin' into him
like etarnal wrath; 'wake up thar an' crawl for cover!'
"'I'm awake,' says Grief.
"'Well, why don't you get outen the rain?'
"'I'm all wet now an' the rain don't do no hurt,' says Grief.
"An' this yere lazy Grief Mudlow keeps on layin' thar. It ain't no
time when the branch begins to raise; the water crawls up about
Grief's feet. So his pard shouts at him some more:
"'Whoopee, you Grief ag'in!' he says. 'If you don't pull your
freight, the branch'll get you. It's done riz over the stock of your
"'Water won't hurt the wood none,' says Grief.
"'You Grief over thar!' roars the other after awhile; 'your feet an'
laigs is half into the branch, an' the water's got up to the lock of
"'Thar's no load in the gun,' says Grief, still a-layin', 'an'
besides she needs washin' out. As for them feet an' laigs, I never
"An' thar that ornery Grief reposes, too plumb lazy to move, while
the branch creeps up about him. It's crope up so high, final, that
his y'ears an' the back of his head is in it. All Grief does is sort
o' lift his chin an' lay squar', to keep his nose out so's he can
An' he shorely beats the game; for the rain ceases, an' the branch
don't rise no higher. This yere Grief lays thar ontil the branch
runs down an' he's high an' dry ag'in, an' then the sun shines out
an' dries his clothes. It's that same night when Grief has drug
himse'f home to supper, he says to his wife, 'Thar's nothin' like
exercise,' an' then counsels that lady over his corn pone an'
chitlins to take in washin' like I relates."
We walked on in mute consideration of the extraordinary indolence of
the worthless Mudlow. Our silence obtained for full ten minutes.
Then I proposed "courage" as a subject, and put a question.
"Thar's fifty kinds of courage," responded my companion, "an' a gent
who's plumb weak an' craven, that a-way, onder certain
circumstances, is as full of sand as the bed of the Arkansaw onder
others. Thar's hoss-back courage an' thar's foot courage, thar's day
courage an' night courage, thar's gun courage an' knife courage, an'
no end of courages besides. An' then thar's the courage of vanity.
More'n once, when I'm younger, I'm swept down by this last form of
heroism, an' I even recalls how in a sperit of vainglory I rides a
buffalo bull. I tells you, son, that while that frantic buffalo is
squanderin' about the plains that time, an' me onto him, he feels a
mighty sight like the ridge of all the yooniverse. How does it end?
It's too long a tale to tell walkin' an' without reecooperatifs;
suffice it that it ends disastrous. I shall never ride no buffalo
ag'in, leastwise without a saddle, onless its a speshul o'casion.
"No, indeed, that word 'courage' has to be defined new for each
case. Thar's old Tom Harris over on the Canadian. I beholds Tom one
time at Tascosa do the most b'ar-faced trick; one which most sports
of common sens'bilities would have shrunk from. Thar's a warrant out
for Tom, an' Jim East the sheriff puts his gun on Tom when Tom's
lookin' t'other way.
"'See yere, Harris!' says East, that a-way.
"Tom wheels, an' is lookin' into the mouth of East's six-shooter not
a yard off.
"'Put up your hands!' says East.
"But Tom don't. He looks over the gun into East's eye; an' he
freezes him. Then slow an' delib'rate, an' glarin' like a mountain
lion at East, Tom goes back after his Colt's an' pulls it. He lays
her alongside of East's with the muzzle p'intin' at East's eye. An'
thar they stands. "'You don't dar' shoot!' says Tom; an' East don't.
"They breaks away an' no powder burned; Tom stands East off.
"'Warrant or no warrant,' says Tom, 'all the sheriffs that ever
jingles a spur in the Panhandle country, can't take me! Nor all the
rangers neither!' An' they shore couldn't. "Now this yere break-away
of Tom's, when East gets the drop that time, takes courage. It ain't
one gent in a thousand who could make that trip but Tom. An' yet
this yere Tom is feared of a dark room. "Take Injuns;—give 'em
their doo, even if we ain't got room for them miscreants in our
hearts. On his lines an' at his games, a Injun is as clean strain as
they makes. He's got courage, an' can die without battin' an eye or
waggin' a y'ear, once it's come his turn. An' the squaws is as cold
a prop'sition as the bucks. After a fight with them savages, when
you goes 'round to count up an' skin the game, you finds most as
many squaws lyin' about, an' bullets through 'em, as you finds
"Courage is sometimes knowledge, sometimes ignorance; sometimes
courage is desp'ration, an' then ag'in it's innocence. "Once, about
two miles off, when I'm on the Staked Plains, an' near the aige
where thar's pieces of broken rock, I observes a Mexican on foot,
frantically chunkin' up somethin'. He's left his pony standin' off a
little, an' has with him a mighty noisy form of some low kind of
mongrel dog, this latter standin' in to worry whatever it is the
Mexican's chunkin' at, that a-way. I rides over to investigate the
war-jig; an' I'm a mesquite digger! if this yere transplanted
Castillian ain't done up a full-grown wild cat! It's jest coughin'
its last when I arrives. Son, I wouldn't have opened a game on that
feline—the same bein' as big as a coyote, an' as thoroughly
organized for trouble as a gatling—with anythin' more puny than a
Winchester. An' yet that guileless Mexican lays him out with rocks,
and regyards sech feats as trivial. An American, too, by merely
growlin' towards this Mexican, would make him quit out like a jack
rabbit. "As I observes prior, courage is frequent the froots of what
a gent don't know. Take grizzly b'ars. Back fifty years, when them
squirrel rifles is preevalent; when a acorn shell holds a charge of
powder, an' bullets runs as light an' little as sixty-four to the
pound, why son! you-all could shoot up a grizzly till sundown an'
hardly gain his disdain. It's a fluke if you downs one. That sport
who can show a set of grizzly b'ar claws, them times, has fame.
They're as good as a bank account, them claws be, an' entitles said
party to credit in dance hall, bar room an' store, by merely
slammin' 'em on the counter. "At that time the grizzly b'ar has
courage. Whyever does he have it, you asks? Because you couldn't
stop him; he's out of hoomanity's reach—a sort o' Alexander Selkirk
of a b'ar, an' you couldn't win from him. In them epocks, the
grizzly b'ar treats a gent contemptuous. He swats him, or he claws
him, or he hugs him, or he crunches him, or he quits him accordin'
to his moods, or the number of them engagements which is pressin' on
him at the time. An' the last thing he considers is the feelin's of
that partic'lar party he's dallyin' with. Now, however, all is
changed. Thar's rifles, burnin' four inches of this yere fulminatin'
powder, that can chuck a bullet through a foot of green oak. Wisely
directed, they lets sunshine through a grizzly b'ar like he's a pane
of glass. An', son, them b'ars is plumb onto the play.
"What's the finish? To-day you can't get clost enough to a grizzly
to hand him a ripe peach. Let him glimpse or smell a white man, an'
he goes scatterin' off across hill an' canyon like a quart of licker
among forty men. They're shore apprehensife of them big bullets an'
hard-hittin' guns, them b'ars is; an' they wouldn't listen to you,
even if you talks nothin' but bee-tree an' gives a bond to keep the
peace besides. Yes, sir; the day when the grizzly b'ar will stand
without hitchin' has deeparted the calendar a whole lot. They no
longer attempts insolent an' coarse familiar'ties with folks.
Instead of regyardin' a rifle as a rotton cornstalk in disguise,
they're as gun-shy as a female institoote. Big b'ars an' little
bars, it's all sim'lar; for the old ones tells it to the young, an'
the lesson is spread throughout the entire nation of b'ars. An'
yere's where you observes, enlightenment that a-way means a-
weakenin' of grizzly-b'ar courage.
"What's that, son? You-all thinks my stories smell some tall! You
expresses doubts about anamiles conversin' with one another? That's
where you're ignorant. All anamiles talks; they commoonicates the
news to one another like hoomans. When I've been freightin' from
Dodge down towards the Canadian, I had a eight-mule team. As shore
as we're walkin'—as shore as I'm pinin' for a drink, I've listened
to them mules gossip by the hour as we swings along the trail. Lots
of times I saveys what they says. Once I hears the off-leader tell
his mate that the jockey stick is sawin' him onder the chin. I
investigates an' finds the complaint troo an' relieves him. The nigh
swing mule is a wit; an' all day long he'd be throwin' off remarks
that keeps a ripple of laughter goin' up an' down the team. You-all
finds trouble creditin' them statements. Fact, jest the same. I've
laughed at the jokes of that swing mule myse'f; an' even Jerry, the
off wheeler, who's a cynic that a-way, couldn't repress a smile.
Shore! anamiles talks all the time; it's only that we-all hoomans
ain't eddicated to onderstand.
"Speakin' of beasts talkin', let me impart to you of what passes
before my eyes over on the Caliente. In the first place, I'll so far
illoomine your mind as to tell you that cattle, same as people—an'
speshully mountain cattle, where the winds an snows don't get to
drive 'em an' drift 'em south—lives all their lives in the same
places, year after year; an' as you rides your ranges, you're allers
meetin' up with the same old cattle in the same canyons. They never
moves, once they selects a home.
"As I observes, I've got a camp on the Caliente. Thar's ten ponies
in my bunch, as I'm saddlin' three a day an' coverin' a considerable
deal of range in my ridin'. Seein' as I'm camped yere some six
months, I makes the aquaintance of the cattle for over twenty miles
'round. Among others, thar's a giant bull in Long's Canyon—he's
shoreiy as big as a log house. Him an' me is partic'lar friends,
cnly I don't track up on him more frequent than once a week, as he's
miles from my camp. I almost forgets to say that with this yere
Goliath bull is a milk-white steer, with long, slim horns an' a face
which is the combined home of vain conceit an' utter witlessness.
This milky an' semi-ediotic steer is a most abject admirer of the
Goliath bull, an' they're allers together. As I states, this
mountain of a bull an' his weak-minded follower lives in Long's
"Thar's two more bulls, the same bein', as Colonel Sterett would
say, also 'persons of this yere dramy.' One is a five-year-old who
abides on the upper Red River; an' the other, who is only a three-
year-old, hangs out on the Caliente in the vicinity of my camp.
"Which since I've got to talk of an' concernin' them anamiles, I
might as well give 'em their proper names. They gets these last all
reg'lar from a play-actor party who comes swarmin' into the hills
while I'm thar to try the pine trees on his 'tooberclosis,' as he
describes said malady, an' whose weakness is to saw off cognomens on
everythin' he sees. As fast as he's introdooced to 'em, this actor
sport names the Long's Canyon bull 'Falstaff'; the Red River five-
year-old 'Hotspur,' bein' he's plumb b'lligerent an' allers makin'
war medicine; while the little three-year-old, who inhabits about my
camp in the Caliente, he addresses as 'Prince Hal.' The fool of a
white steer that's worshippin' about 'Falstaff' gets named 'Pistol,'
although thar's mighty little about the weak-kneed humbug to remind
you of anythin' as vehement as a gun. Falstaff, Pistol, Hotspur an'
Prince Hal; them's the titles this dramatist confers on said cattle.
"Which the West is a great place to dig out new appellations that a-
way. Thar's a gentle-minded party comes soarin' down on Wolfville
one evenin'. No, he don't own no real business to transact; he's out
to have a heart-to-heart interview with the great Southwest, is the
way he expounds the objects of his search.
"'An' he's plenty tender,' says Black Jack, who's barkeep at the Red
Light. 'He cornes pushin' along in yere this mornin'; an' wliat do
you-all reckon now he wants. Asks for ice! Now whatever do you
make of it! Ice in August, an' within forty miles of the Mexico line
at that. "Pard," I says, "we're on the confines of the tropics; an'
while old Arizona is some queer, an' we digs for wood an' climbs for
water, an' indulges in much that is morally an' physically the
teetotal reverse of right-side-up-with-care, so far in our
meanderin's we ain't oncovered no glaciers nor cut the trail of any
ice. Which if you've brought snowshoes with you now, or been
figgerin' on a Arizona sleighride, you're settin' in hard luck."'
"Jest as Black Jack gets that far in them statements, this yere
tenderfoot shows in the door.
"'Be you a resident of Wolfville?' asks this shorthorn of Dave Tutt.
"'I'm one of the seven orig'nal wolves,' says Tutt.
"'Yere's my kyard,' says the shorthorn, an' he beams on Dave in a
wide an' balmy way.
"'Archibald Willingham De Graffenreid Butt,' says Dave, readin' off
the kyard. Then Dave goes up to the side, an' all solemn an' grave,
pins the kyard to the board with his bowie-knife. 'Archibald
Willingham De Graffenreid Butt,' an' Dave repeats the words plumb
careful. 'That's your full an' c'rrect name, is it?'
"The shorthorn allows it is, an' surveys Dave in a woozy way like he
ain't informed none of the meanin' of these yere manoovers.
"'Did you-all come through Tucson with this name?' asks Dave.
"He says he does.
"'An' wasn't nothin' said or done about it?' demands Dave; 'don't
them Tucson sports take no action?'
"He says nothin' is done.
"'It's as I fears,' says Dave, shakin' his head a heap loogubrious,
'that Tucson outfit is morally goin' to waste. It's worse than
careless; it's callous. That's whatever; that camp is callous. Was
you aimin' to stay for long in Wolfville with this yere title?' asks
Dave at last.
"The shorthorn mentions a week.
"'This yere Wolfville,' explains Dave, 'is too small for all that
name. Archibald Willingham De Graffenreid Butt! It shorely sounds
like a hoss in a dance hall. But it's too long for Wolfville, an'
Wolfville even do her best. One end of that name is bound to
protrood. Or else it gets all brunkled up like along nigger in a
short bed. However,' goes on Dave, as he notes the shorthorn lookin'
a little dizzy, 'don't lose heart. We does the best we can. I likes
your looks, an' shall come somewhat to your rescoo myse'f in your
present troubles. Gents,' an' Dave turns to where Boggs an' Cherokee
an' Texas Thompson is listenin', 'I moves you we suspends the
rooles, an' re-names this excellent an' well-meanin' maverick,
"'I seconds the motion,' says Boggs. 'Butcherknife Bill is a neat
an' compact name. I congratulates our visitin' friend from the East
on the case wherewith he wins it out. I would only make one
su'gestion, the same bein' in the nacher of amendments to the
orig'nal resolootion, an' which is, that in all games of short
kyards, or at sech times as we-all issues invitations to drink, or
at any other epock when time should be saved an' quick action is
desir'ble, said cognomen may legally be redooced, to "Butch."'
"'Thar bein' no objections,' says Tutt, 'it is regyarded as the
sense of the meetin' that this yere visitin' sharp from the States,
yeretofore clogged in his flight by the name of Archibald Willingham
De Graffenreid Butt, be yereafter known as "Butcherknife Bill"; or
failin' leesure for the full name, as "Butch," or both at the
discretion of the co't, with the drinks on Butch as the gent now
profitin' by this play. Barkeep, set up all your bottles an' c'llect
"But to go back to my long ago camp on the Caliente. Prince Hal is a
polished an' p'lite sort o' anamile. The second day after I pitches
camp, Prince Hal shows up. He paws the grass, an' declar's himse'f,
an' gives notice that while I'm plumb welcome, he wants it
onderstood that he's party of the first part in that valley, an'
aims to so continyoo. As I at once agrees to his claims, he is
pacified; then he counts up the camp like he's sizin' up the
plunder. It's at this point I signs Prince Hal as my friend for life
by givin' him about a foot of bacon-skin. He stands an' chews on
that bacon-skin for two hours; an' thar's heaven in his looks. "It
gets so Prince Hal puts in all his spar' time at my camp. An' I
donates flapjacks, bacon-skins an' food comforts yeretofore onknown
to Prince Hal. He regyards that camp of mine as openin' a new era on
"When not otherwise engaged, Prince Hal stands in to curry my ponies
with his tongue. The one he'd be workin' on would plant himse'f
rigid, with y'ears drooped, eyes shet, an' tail a-quiverin'; an'
you-all could see that Prince Hal, with his rough tongue, is jest
burnin' up that bronco from foretop to fetlocks with the joy of them
attentions. When Prince Hal has been speshul friendly, I'd pass him
out a plug of Climax tobacco. Sick? Never once! It merely elevates
Prince Hal's sperits in a mellow way, that tobacco does; makes him
feel vivid an' gala a whole lot.
"Which we're all gettin' on as pleasant an' oneventful as a litter
of pups over on the Caliente, when one mornin' across the divide
from Red River comes this yere pugnacious person, Hotspur. He makes
his advent r'arin' an' slidin' down the hillside into our valley,
promulgatin' insults, an' stampin' for war. You can see it in
Hotspur's eye; he's out to own the Caliente.
"Prince Hal is curryin' a pony when this yere invader comes crashin'
down the sides of the divide. His eyes burn red, he evolves his
warcry in a deep bass voice, an' goes curvin' out onto the level of
the valley-bottom to meet the enemy. Gin'ral Jackson, couldn't have
displayed more promptitood.
"Thar ain't much action in one of them cattle battles. First,
Hotspur an' Prince Hal stalks 'round, pawin' up a sod now an' then,
an' sw'arin' a gale of oaths to themse'fs. It looks like Prince Hal
could say the most bitter things, for at last Hotspur leaves off his
pawin' ail' profanity an' b'ars down on him. The two puts their
fore'ards together an' goes in for a pushin' match.
"But this don't last. Hotspur is two years older, an' over-weighs
Prince Hal about three hundred pounds. Prince Hal feels Hotspur out,
an' sees that by the time the deal goes to the turn, he'll be shore
loser. A plan comes into his mind. Prince Hal suddenly backs away,
an' keeps on backin' ontil he's cl'ared himse'f from his foe by
eighty feet. Hotspur stands watchin'; it's a new wrinkle in bull
fights to him. He call tell that this yere Prince Hal ain't
conquered none, both by the voylent remarks he makes as well as the
plumb defiant way he wears his tail. So Hotspur stands an' ponders
the play, guessin' at what's likely to break loose next.
"But the conduct of this yere Prince Hal gets more an' more
mysterious. When he's a safe eighty feet away, he jumps in the air,
cracks his heels together, hurls a frightful curse at Hotspur, an'
turns an' walks off a heap rapid. Hotspur can't read them signs at
all; an' to be frank, no more can I. Prince Hal never looks back; he
surges straight ahead, climbs the hill on the other side, an' is
lost in the oak bushes.
"Hotspur watches him out of sight, gets a drink in the Caliente, an'
then climbs the hillside to where I'm camped, to decide about me. Of
course, Hotspur an' I arrives at a treaty of peace by the bacon-rind
route, an' things ag'in quiets down on the Caliente.
"It's next mornin' about fourth drink time, an' I'm overhaulin' a
saddle an' makin' up some beliefs on several subjects of interest,
when I observes Hotspur's face wearin' a onusual an' highly hang-dog
expression. An' I can't see no cause. I sweeps the scenery with my
eye, but I notes nothin'. An' yet it's as evident as a club flush
that Hotspur's scared to a standstill. He ain't sayin nothin', but
that's because he thinks he'll save his breath to groan with when
dyin'. It's a fact, son; I couldn't see nor hear a thing, an' yet
that Hotspur bull stands thar fully aware, somehow, that thar's a
warrant out for him.
"At last I'm made posted of impendin' events. Across the wide
Caliente comes a faint but f'rocious war song. I glance over that a-
way, an' thar through the oak bresh comes Prince Hal. An' although
he's a mile off, he's p'intin' straight for this yere invader,
Hotspur. At first I thinks Prince Hal's alone, an' I'm marvellin'
whatever he reckons he's goin' to a'complish by this return. But
jest then I gets a glimmer, far to Prince Hal's r'ar, of that
reedic'lous Pistol, the milk-white steer.
"I beholds it all; Falstaff is comin'; only bein' a dark brown I
can't yet pick him out o' the bresh. Prince Hal has travelled over
to Long's Canyon an' told the giant Falstaff how Hotspur jumps into
the Caliente an' puts it all over him that a-way. Falstaff is
lumberin' over—it's a journey of miles—to put this redundant
Hotspur back on his reservation. Prince Hal, bein' warm, lively an'
plumb zealous to recover his valley, is nacherally a quarter of a
mile ahead of Falstaff.
"It's allers a question with me why this yere foolhardy Hotspur
don't stampede out for safety. But he don't; he stands thar lookin'
onusual limp, an' awaits his fate. Prince Hal don't rush up an'
mingle with Hotspur; he's playin' a system an' he don't deviate
tharfrom. lie stands off about fifty yards, callin' Hotspur names,
an' waitin' for Falstaff to arrive.
"An' thar's a by-play gets pulled off. This ranikaboo Pistol, who
couldn't fight a little bit, an' who's caperin' along ten rods in
the lead of Falstaff, gets the sudden crazy-boss notion that he'll
mete out punishment to Hotspur himse'f, an' make a reputation as a
war-eagle with his pard an' patron, Falstaff. With that, Pistol
curves his tail like a letter S, and, lowerin' his knittin'-needle
horns, comes dancin' up to Hotspur. The bluff of this yere ignoble
Pistol is too much. Hotspur r'ars loose an' charges him. This
egreegious Pistol gets crumpled up, an' Hotspur goes over him like a
baggage wagon. The shock is sech that Pistol falls over a wash-bank;
an' after swappin' end for end, lands twenty feet below with a groan
an' a splash in the Caliente. Pistol is shorely used up, an' crawls
out on the flat ground below, as disconsolate a head o' cattle as
ever tempts the echoes with his wails.
"But Hotspur has no space wherein to sing his vict'ry. Falstaff
decends upon him like a fallin' tree. With one rushin' charge, an' a
note like thunder, he simply distributes that Hotspur all over the
range. Thar's only one blow; as soon as Hotspur can round up his
fragments an' net to his hoofs, he goes sailin' down the valley, his
eyes stickin' out so's he can see his sins. As he starts, Prince
Hal, who's been hoppin' about the rim of the riot, claps his horns
to Hotspur's flyin' hocks an' keeps him goin'. But it ain't needed
none; that Falstaff actooally ruins Hotspur with the first charge.
"That night Falstaff, with the pore Pistol jest able to totter,
stays with us, an' Prince Hal fusses an' bosses' 'round, sort o'
directin' their entertainment. The next afternoon Falstaff gives a
deep bellow or two, like he's extendin' 'adios' to the entire
Caliente canyon, an' then goes pirootin' off for home in Long's,
with Pistol, who looks an' feels like a laughin' stock, limpin' at
his heels. That's the end. Four days later, as I'm swingin' 'round
the range, I finds Falstaff an' Pistol in Long's Canyon; Prince Hal
is on the Caliente; while Hotspur—an' his air is both wise an' sad-
-is tamely where he belongs on the Upper Red. An' now recallin' how
I comes to plunge into this yere idyl, I desires to ask you-all,
however Prince Hal brings Faistaff to the wars that time, if cattle
How Wolfville Made a Jest.
"It's soon after that time I tells you of when Rainbow Sam dies
off," and the Old Cattleman assumed the airs of a conversational
Froude, "when the camp turns in an' has its little jest with the
Signal Service sharp. You sees we're that depressed about Rainbow
cashin' in, we needc reelaxatin that a-way, so we-all nacheral
enough diverts ourse'fs with this Signal party who comes bulgin' up
"Don't make no mistaken notions about Wolfville bein' a idle an' a
dangerous camp. Which on the contrary, Wolfville is shorely the home
of jestice, an' a squar' man gets a squar' game every time. Thar
ain't no 'bad men' 'round Wolfville, public sentiment bein' obdurate
on that p'int. Hard people, who has filed the sights offen their
six-shooters or fans their guns in a fight, don't get tolerated,
"Of course, thar's gents in Wolfville who has seen trouble an' seen
it in the smoke. Cherokee Hall, for instance, so Doc Peets mentions
to me private, one time an' another downs 'leven men.
"But Cherokee's by nacher kind o' warm an' nervous, an' bein' he's
behind a faro game, most likely he sees more o'casion; at any rate,
it's common knowledge that whatever he's done is right.
"He don't beef them 'leven in Wolfville; all I recalls with us, is
the man from Red Dog, the Stingin' Lizard, an' mebby a strayed
Mexican or so. But each time Cherokee's hand is forced by these yere
parties, an' he's exculpated in every gent's mind who is made awar'
"No; Cherokee don't rely allers on his gun neither. He's a hurryin'
knife fighter for a gent with whom knives ain't nacher. Either way,
however, gun or knife, Cherokee is a heap reliable; an' you can put
down a bet that what he misses in the quadrille he'll shore make up
in the waltz with all who asks him to a war dance. But speakin' of
knives: Cherokee comes as quick an' straight with a bowie as a
rattlesnake; an' not half the buzz about it.
"But jest the same, while thar's gents in camp like Cherokee, who
has been ag'inst it more'n once, an' who wins an' gets away, still
Wolfviile's its quiet an' sincere an outfit as any christian could
"It's a fact; when Shotgun Dowling capers in an' allows he's about
to abide with us a whole lot, he's notified to hunt another hole the
"'So far from you-all livin' with us, Shotgun,' says Jack Moore,
who's depooted to give Shotgun Dowling the rein; 'so far from you
bunkin' in yere for good, we ain't even aimin' to permit your
visits. My notion is that you better pull your freight some instant.
Thar's a half-formed thought in the public bosom that if anybody
sees your trail to-morry, all hands'll turn in an' arrange you for
"'Never mind about arrangin' nothin',' says Shotgun; 'I quits you
after the next drink; which libation I takes alone.' An' Shotgun
"What is the matter with Shotgun? Well, he's one of these yere
murderin' folks, goin' about downin' Mexicans merely to see 'em
kick, an' that sort of thing, an' all of which no se'f-respectin'
outfit stands. He wins out his name 'Shotgun' them times when he's
dep'ty marshal over at Prescott.
"'You must be partic'lar an' serve your warrant on a gent before you
downs him,' says the judge, as he gives Shotgun some papers. 'First
serve your warrant, an' then it's legal to kill him; but not
"So Shotgun Dowling takes this yere warrant an' crams it down the
muzzle of a shotgun an' hammers her out flat on top them buckshot.
"'Thar you be!' says Dowling. 'I reckons' now the warrant gets to
him ahead of the lead; which makes it on the level.'
"Tharupon Shotgun canters out an' busts his gent—warrant, lead an'
all—an' that gives him the name of 'Shotgun' Dowling.
"But at the time he comes riotin' along into Wolfville, allowin'
he'll reside some, he's regyarded hard; havin' been wolfin' 'round,
copperin' Mexicans an' friskin' about general; so, nacheral, we
warns him out as aforesaid. Which I, tharfore, ag'in remarks, that
Wolfville is a mighty proper an' peaceful place, an' its witticism
with this yere Signal Service party needn't be inferred ag'inst it.
"This yere gent has been goin' about casooal, an' his air is a heap
high-flown. He's been pesterin' an' irritatin' about the post-office
for mighty like an hour, when all at once he crosses over to the Red
Light an' squar's up to the bar. He don't invite none of us to
licker—jest himse'f; which onp'liteness is shore received
"'Gimme a cocktail,' says this Signal person to the barkeep.
"As they ain't mixin' no drinks at the Red Light for man or beast,
nor yet at Hamilton's hurdy-gurdy, this sport in yooniform don't get
"'Can't mix no drinks,' says Black Jack.
"'Can't mix no cocktail?' says the Signal sharp. 'Why! what a band
of prairie dogs this yere hamlet is! What's the matter with you-all
that you can't mix no cocktails? Don't you savey enough?'
"'Do we-all savey enough?' says Black Jack, some facetious that a-
way. 'Stranger, we simply suffers with what we saveys. But thar's a
law ag'in cocktails an' all mixin' of drinks. You sees, a Mexican
female over in Tucson is one day mixin' drinks for a gent she's a-
harborin' idees ag'in, an' she rings in the loco onto him, an' he
goes plumb crazy. Then the Legislatoore arouses itse'f to its peril,
that a-way, an' ups an makes a law abatin' of mixed drinks. This
yere bein' gospel trooth, you'll have to drink straight whiskey; an'
you might as well drink it outen a tin cup, too.'
"As he says this, Black Jack sets up a bottle an' a tin cup, an'
then for a blazer slams a six-shooter on the bar at the same time.
Lookin' some bloo tharat, the Signal sharp takes a gulp or two of
straight nose-paint, cavilin' hot at the tin cup, an' don't mention
nothin' more of cocktails.
"'Whatever is the damage anyhow?' he says to Black Jack, soon as
he's quit gaggin' over the whiskey, the same tastin' raw an' vicious
to him, an' him with his lady-like throat framed ready for
cocktails. 'What's thar to pay?'
"'Nary contouse,' says Black Jack, moppin' of the bar complacent.
'Not a soo markee. That drink's on the house, stranger.'
"When this Signal sharp goes out, Enright says he's got pore
manners, an' he marvels some he's still walkin' the earth.
"'However,' says Enright, 'I s'pose his livin' so long arises mainly
from stayin' East, where they don't make no p'int on bein' p'lite,
an' runs things looser.'
"'Whatever's the matter of chasin' this insultin' tenderfoot 'round
a lot,' asks Texas Thompson, 'an' havin' amoosement with him? Thar
ain't nothin' doin', an' we oughter not begretch a half-day's work,
puttin' knowledge into this party. If somethin' ain't done forthwith
to inform his mind as to them social dooties while he stays in
Arizona, you can gamble he won't last to go East no more.'
"As what Texas Thompson says has weight, thar begins to grow a
gen'ral desire to enlighten this yere sport. As Texas su'gests the
idee, it follows that he goes for'ard to begin its execootion.
"'But be discreet, Texas,' says Enrialit, 'an' don't force no
showdown with this Signal gent. Attainin' wisdom is one thing, an'
bein' killed that a-way, is plumb different; an' while I sees no
objection to swellin' the general fund of this young person's
knowledge, I don't purpose that you-all's goin' to confer no
diplomas, an' graduate him into the choir above none with a gun, at
one an' the same time.'
"'None whatever,' says Texas Thompson; 'we merely toys with this
tenderfoot an' never so much as breaks his crust, or brings a drop
of blood, the slightest morsel. He's takin' life too lightly; an'
all we p'ints out to do, is sober him an' teach him a thoughtful
"Texas Thompson goes a-weavin' up the street so as to cross the
trail of this Signal party, who's headed down. As they passes, Texas
turns as f'rocious as forty timber wolves, an' claps his hand on the
shoulder of the Signal party.
"'How's this yere?' says Texas, shakin' back his long ha'r. An' he
shorely looks hardened, that a-way.
"'How's what?' says the Signal man, who's astonished to death.
"'You saveys mighty well,' says Texas. 'You fails to bow to me,
aimin' to insult an' put it all over me in the presence of this yere
multitood. Think of it, gents!' goes on Texas, beginnin' to froth,
an' a-raisin' of his voice to a whoop; 'think of it, an' me the war-
chief of the Panhandle, with forty-two skelps on my bridle, to be
insulted an' disdained by a feeble shorthorn like this. It shore
makes me wonder be I alive!
"'Stranger,' goes on Texas, turnin' to the Signal party, an' his
hand drops on his gun, an' he breathes loud like a buffalo; 'nothin'
but blood is goin' to do me now. If I was troo to myse'f at this
moment, I'd take a knife an' shorely split you like a mackerel. But
I restrains myse'f; also I don't notice no weepon onto you. Go
tharfore, an' heel yourse'f, for by next drink time the avenger 'll
be huntin' on your trail. I gives you half an hour to live. Not on
your account, 'cause it ain't comin' to you; but merely not to ketch
no angels off their gyard, an' to allow 'em a chance to organize for
your reception. Besides, I don't aim to spring no corpses on this
camp. Pendin' hostil'ties, I shall rest myse'f in the Red Light,
permittin' you the advantages of the dance hall, where Hamilton 'll
lend you pen, ink, paper, an' monte table, wharby to concoct your
last will. Stranger, adios!'
"By the time Texas gets off this talk an' starts for the Red Light,
the Signal sport is lookin' some sallow an' perturbed. He's shorely
"'See yere, pard,' says Dan Boggs, breakin' loose all at once, like
he's so honest he can't restrain himse'f, an' jest as Texas heads
out for the Red Light; 'you're a heap onknown to me, but I takes a
chance an' stands your friend. Now yere's what you do. You stiffen
yourse'f up with a Colt's '44, an' lay for this Texas Thompson. He's
a rustler an' a hoss-thief, an' a murderer who, as he says, has
planted forty-two, not countin' Injuns, Mexicans an' mavericks. He
oughter be massacred; an' as it's come your way, why prance in an'
spill his blood. This camp'll justify an' applaud the play.
"'But I can't fight none,' says the Signal party. 'It's ag'in the
rooles an' reg'lations of the army.'
"'Which I don't see none how you're goin' to renig,' says Dave Tutt.
'This debauchee is doo to shoot you on sight. Them army rooles
shortly should permit a gent to scout off to one side the strict
trail a little; partic'lar when it's come down to savin' his own
"One way an' another, Tutt an' Boggs makes it cl'ar as paint to the
Signal party that thar's only two chances left in the box; either he
downs Texas or Texas gets him. The Signal party says it's what he
calls a 'dread alternatif.'
"'Which when I thinks of the gore this yere murderous Thompson
already dabbles in,' says Boggs to the Signal party, 'I endorses
them expressions. However, you put yourse'f in the hands of me an'
Dave, an' we does our best. If you lives through it, the drinks is
on you; an' if Texas beefs you—which, while deplorable, is none
remote considerin' this yere Texas is a reg'lar engine of
destruction—we sees that your remainder goes back to the States
"The Signal party says he's thankful he's found friends, an'
tharupon they-all lines out for the dance hall, where they gets
drinks, an' the Signal man, who's some pallid by now, figgers he'll
write them letters an' sort o' straighten up his chips for the
worst. Boggs observes that it's a good move, an' that Tutt an' he'll
take an o'casional drink an' ride herd on his interests while he
"Tutt an' Boggs have got their brands onto mebby two drinks, when
over comes Doc Peets, lookin' deadly dignified an' severe, an' says:
"'Who-all represents yere for this gent who's out for the blood of
my friend, Texas Thompson?'
"'Talk to me an' Tutt,' says Boggs; 'an' cut her short, 'cause it's
the opinion of our gent this rancorous Thompson infests the earth
too long, an' he's hungerin' to begin his butchery.'
"'Which thar's enough said,' says Peets; 'I merely appears to notify
you that in five minutes I parades my gent in front of the post-
office, an' the atrocities can proceed. They fights with six-
shooters; now what's the distance?'
"'Make it across a blanket,' says Tutt.
"'An' fold the blanket,' breaks in Boggs.
"'You can't make it too clost for my gent,' says Peets. 'As I starts
to this yere conference, he says: "Doc, make her six-shooters an'
over a handkerchief. I thirsts to shove the iron plumb ag'inst the
heart that insults me, as I onhooks my weepon."'
"Of course, the poor Signal party, tryin' to write over by a monte
table, an' spillin' ink all over himse'f, listens to them remarks,
an' it makes him feel partic'lar pensif.
"'In five minutes, then,' says Peets, 'you-all organize your gent
an' come a-runnin'. I must canter over to see how Texas is holdin'
himse'f. He's that fretful a minute back, he's t'arin' hunks outen a
white-ash table with his teeth like it's ginger-cake, an' moanin'
for blood. Old Monte's lookin' after him, but I better get back.
Which he might in his frenzy, that a-way, come scatterin' loose any
moment, an' go r'arin' about an' killin' your gent without orders.
Sech a play would be onelegant an' no delicacy to it; an' I now
returns to gyard ag'in it.'
"As soon as Peets is started for the Red Light, Tutt ag'in turns to
the Signal party, who's settin' thar lookin' he'pless an' worried,
like he's a prairie dog who's come back from visitin' some other
dog, an' finds a rattlesnake's done pitched camp in the mouth of his
"'Now then, stranger,' says Tutt, 'if you-all has a'complished that
clerical work, me an' Dan will lead you to your meat. When you gets
to shootin', aim low an' be shore an' see your victim every time you
cuts her loose.'
"The Signal party takes it plumb gray an' haggard, but not seein' no
other way, he gets up, an' after stampin' about a trifle nervous,
allows, since it's the best he can do, he's ready.
"'Which it is spoke like a man,' says Boggs. 'So come along, an'
we'll hunt out this annihilator from Laredo an' make him think he's
been caught in a cloudburst.'
"Old Monte has spread a doubled blanket in front of the post-office;
an' as Tutt an' Boggs starts with their Signal party, thar's a yell
like forty Apaches pours forth from across the street.
"'That's Thompson's war yelp,' says Boggs, explainin' of them
clamors to the Signal party. 'Which it would seem from the fervor he
puts into it, he's shorely all keyed up.'
"As Doc Peets comes out a-leadin' of Texas, it's noticed that Texas
has got a tin cup.
"'Whatever's your gent a-packin' of that yootensil for?' demands
Tutt, mighty truculent. 'Is this yere to be a combat with dippers?'
"'Oh, no!' says Peets, like he's tryin' to excuse somethin', 'but he
insists on fetchin' it so hard, that at last to soothe him I gives
"'Well, we challenges the dipper,' says Tutt. 'You-all will fight on
the squar', or we removes our gent.'
"'Don't, don't!' shouts Texas, like he's agitatcd no limit; 'don't
take him outen my sight no more. I only fetches the cup to drink his
blood; but it's a small detail, which I shore relinquishes before
ever I allows my heaven-sent prey the least loophole to escape.'
"When Peets goes up an' takes Texas's cup, the two debates together
in a whisper, Texas lettin' on he's mighty hot an' furious. At last
Peets says to him:
"'Which I tells you sech a proposal is irreg'lar; but since you
insists, of course I names it. My gent yere,' goes on Peets to Boggs
an' Tutt, 'wants to agree that the survivor's to be allowed to skelp
his departed foe. Does the bluff go?'
"'It's what our gent's been urgin' from the jump,' says Boggs; 'an'
tharfore we consents with glee. Round up that outlaw of yours now,
an' let's get to shootin'.'
"I don't reckon I ever sees anybody who seems as fatigued as that
Signal person when Boggs an' Tutt starts to lead him up to the
blanket. His face looks like a cancelled postage-stamp. While
they're standin' up their folks, Texas goes ragin' loose ag'in
because it's a fight over a blanket an' not a handkerchief, as he
"'What's the meanin' of a cold an' formal racket sech as this?' he
howls, turnin' to Peets. 'I wants to go clost to my work; I wants to
crowd in where it's warm.'
"'I proposes a handkerchief,' says Peets; 'but Tutt objects on the
grounds that his man's got heart palp'tations or somethin'.'
"'You're a liar,' yells Tutt; 'our gent's heart's as solid as a sod
"'What do I hear?' shouts Peets. 'You calls me a liar?'
"At this Tutt an' Peets lugs out their guns an' blazes away at each
other six times like the roll of a drum—Texas all the time yellin'
for a weepon, an' cavortin' about in the smoke that demoniac he'd
scare me, only I knows it's yoomerous. Of course Peets an' Tutt
misses every shot, and at the windup, after glarin' at each other
through the clouds, Peets says to Tutt:
"'This yere is mere petulance. Let's proceed with our dooties. As
soon as Texas has killed an' skelped the hold-up you represents,
I'll shoot it out with you, if it takes the autumn.'
"'That's good enough for a dog,' says Tutt, stickin' his gun back in
the scabbard; 'an' now we proceeds with the orig'nal baite.'
"But they don't proceed none. As Tutt turns to his Signal sharp,
who's all but locoed by the shootin', an' has to be detained by
Boggs from runnin' away, Jack Moore comes chargin' up on his pony
an' throws a gun on the whole outfit.
"'Hands up yere!' he says, sharp an' brief; 'or I provides the
coyotes with meat for a month to come.'
"Everybody's hands goes up; an' it's plain Moore's comin' ain't no
disapp'intment to the Signal person. He's that relieved he shows it.
"'Don't look so tickled,' growls Boggs to him, as Moore heads the
round-up for the New York Store; 'don't look so light about it; you
"Moore takes the band over to the New York Store, where Enright's
settin' as a jedge. He allows he's goin' to put 'em all on trial for
disturbin' of Wolfville's peace. The Signal sharp starts to say
somethin', when Peets interrupts, an' that brings Boggs to the
front, an' after that a gen'ral uproar breaks loose like a stampede.
"'Gimme a knife, somebody,' howls Texas, 'an' let me get in on this
as I should. Am I to be robbed of my revenge like this?'
"But Enright jumps for a old Spencer seven-shooter, an' announces it
cold, he's out to down the first gent that talks back to him a
second time. This ca'ms 'em, an' the riot sort o' simmers.
"'Not that I objects to a street fight,' says Enright, discussin' of
the case; 'but you-all talks too much. From the jabber as was goin'
for'ard over that blanket out thar, it shorely reminds me more of a
passel of old ladies at a quiltin' bee, than a convocation of
discreet an' se'f-respectin' gents who's pullin' off a dooel. To cut
her short, the public don't tolerate no sech rackets, an' yere-upon
I puts Texas Thompson an' this Signal party onder fifty-thousand-
dollar bonds to keep the peace.'
"Texas is set loose, with Peets an' Cherokee Hall on his papers; but
the Signal sharp, bein' strange in camp, can't put up no bonds.
"'Whlch as thar's no calaboose to put you into,' says Enright, when
he's told by the Signal party that he can't make no bonds; 'an' as
it's plumb ag'in the constitootion of Arizona to let you go, I shore
sees no trail out but hangin'. I regrets them stern necessities
which feeds a pore young man to the halter, but you sees yourse'f
the Union must an' shall be preserved. Jack, go over to my pony an'
fetch the rope. It's a new half-inch manilla, but I cheerfully parts
with it in the cause of jestice.'
"When Moore gets back with the rope, an' everybody's lookin'
serious, that a-way, it shakes the Signal party to sech a degree
that he camps down on a shoe-box an' allows he needs a drink. Boggs
says he'll go after it, when Tutt breaks in an' announces that he's
got a bluff to hand up.
"'If I'm dead certain,' says Tutt, surveyin' of the Signal party a
heap doubtful; 'if I was shore now that this gent wouldn't leave the
reservation none, I'd go that bond myse'f. But I'm in no sech fix
financial as makes it right for me to get put in the hole for fifty
thousand dollars by no stranger, however intimate we be. But yere's
what I'm willin' to do: If this sharp wears hobbles so he can't up
an' canter off, why, rather than see a young gent's neck a foot
longer, I goes this bail myse'f.'
"The Signal party is eager for hobbles, an' he gives Tutt his word
to sign up the documents an' he wont run a little bit.
"'Which the same bein' now settled, congenial an' legal,' says
Enright, when Tutt signs up; 'Jack Moore he'ps the gent on with them
hobbles, an' the court stands adjourned till further orders.'
"After he's all hobbled an' safe, Tutt an' the Signal party starts
over for the post-office, both progressin' some slow an' reluctant
because of the Signal party's hobbles holdin' him down to a shuffle.
As they toils along, Tutt says:
"'An' now that this yere affair ends so successful, I'd shore admire
to know whatever you an' that cut-throat takes to chewin' of each
other's manes for, anyway? Why did you refoose to bow?'
"'Which I never refooses once,' says the Signal party; 'I salootes
this Texas gent with pleasure, if that's what he needs.'
"'In that case,' says Tutt, 'you make yourse'f comfortable leanin'
ag'in this buildin', an' I'll project over an' see if this embroglio
can't be reeconciled a lot. Mootual apol'gies an' whiskey, looks
like, ought to reepair them dissensions easy.'
"So the Signal party leans up ag'in the front of the post-office an'
surveys his hobbles mighty melancholy, while Tutt goes over to the
Red Light to look up Texas Thompson. It ain't no time when he's
headed back with Texas an' the balance of the band.
"'Give us your hand, pard,' says Texas, a heap effoosive, as he
comes up to the Signal party; 'I learns from our common friend, Dave
Tutt, that this yere's a mistake, an' I tharfore forgives you freely
all the trouble you causes. It's over now an' plumb forgot. You're a
dead game sport, an' I shakes your hand with pride.'
"'Same yere,' says Doc Peets, also shakin' of the Signal party's
hand, which is sort o' limp an' cheerless.
"However, we rips off his hobbles, an' then the outfit steers over
to the Red Light to be regaled after all our hard work.
"'Yere's hopin' luck an' long acquaintance, stranger,' says Texas,
holdin' up his glass to the Signal party, who is likewise p'lite,
"'Which the joyous outcome of this tangle shows,' says Dan Boggs, as
he hammers his glass on the bar an' shouts for another all 'round,
'that you-all can't have too much talk swappin', when the objects of
the meetin' is to avert blood. How much better we feels, standin'
yere drinkin' our nose-paint all cool an' comfortable, an'
congrat'latin' the two brave sports who's with us, than if we has a
corpse sawed onto us onexpected, an' is driven to go grave-diggin'
in sech sun-blistered, sizzlin' weather as this.'
"'That's whatever,' says Dave Tutt; 'an' I fills my cup in approval,
you can gamble, of them observations.'"
Death; and the Donna Anna.
"Locoweed? Do I savey loco?" The Old Cattleman's face offered full
hint of his amazement as he repeated in the idiom of his day and
kind the substance of my interrogatory.
"Why, son," he continued, "every longhorn who's ever cinched a
Colorado saddle, or roped a steer, is plumb aware of locoweed. Loco
is Mexicano for mad—crazy. An' cattle or mules or ponies or
anythin' else, that makes a repast of locoweed—which as a roole
they don't, bein' posted instinctif that loco that a-way is no
bueno—goes crazy; what we-all in the Southwest calls 'locoed.'
"Whatever does this yere plant resemble? I ain't no sharp on loco,
but the brand I encounters is green, bunchy, stiff, an' stands
taller than the grass about it. An' it ain't allers thar when looked
for, loco ain't. It's one of these yere migratory weeds; you'll see
it growin' about the range mebby one or two seasons, an' then it
sort o' pulls its freight. Thar wont come no more loco for years.
"Mostly, as I observes prior, anamiles disdains loco, an' passes it
up as bad medicine. They're organized with a notion ag'inst it, same
as ag'inst rattlesnakes An'as for them latter reptiles, you can
take a preacher's hoss, foaled in the lap of civilization, who ain't
seen nothin' more broadenin' than the reg'lar church service, with
now an' then a revival, an' yet he's born knowin' so much about
rattlesnakes in all their hein'ousness, that he'll hunch his back
an' go soarin' 'way up yonder at the first Zizzz-z-z-z.
"Doc Peets informs me once when we crosses up with some locoweed
over by the Cow Springs, that thar's two or three breeds of this
malignant vegetable. He writes down for me the scientific name of
the sort we gets ag'inst. Thar she is."
And my friend produced from some recess of a gigantic pocketbook a
card whereon the learned Peets had written oxytropis Lamberti.
"That's what Peets says loco is," he resumed, as I handed back the
card. "Of course, I don't go surgin' off pronouncin' no sech words;
shorely not in mixed company. Some gent might take it personal an'
resent it. But I likes to pack 'em about, an' search 'em out now an'
then, jest to gaze on an' think what a dead cold scientist Doc Peets
is. He's shorely the high kyard; thar never is that drug-sharp in
the cow country in my day who's fit to pay for Peets' whiskey.
Scientific an' eddicated to a feather aige, Peets is. "You-all
oughter heard him lay for one of them cliff-climbin', bone-huntin'
stone c'llectors who comes out from Washin'ton for the Gov'ment. One
of these yere deep people strikes Wolfville on one of them rock-
roundups he's makin', an' for a-while it looks like he's goin' to
split things wide open. He's that contrary about his learnin', he
wont use nothin' but words of four syllables-words that runs about
eight to the pound. He comes into the New York Store where Boggs an'
Tutt an' me is assembled, an', you hear me, son! that savant has us
walkin' in a cirkle in a minute. "It's Peets who relieves us. Peets
strolls up an' engages this person in a debate touchin' mule-hoof
hawgs; the gov'ment sport maintainin' thar ain't no such swine with
hoofs like a mule, because he's never heard about 'em; an' Peets
takin' the opp'site view because he's done met an' eat 'etn a whole
lot. "'The mere fact,' says Peets to this scientist, 'that you
mavericks never knows of this mule-hoof hawg, cannot be taken as
proof he does not still root an' roam the land. Thar's more than one
of you Washin'ton shorthorns who's chiefly famed for what he's
failed to know. The mule-hoof hawg is a fact; an' the ignorance of
closet naturalists shall not prevail ag'inst him. His back is arched
like a greyhound's, he's about the thickness of a bowie-knife, he's
got hoofs like a mule, an' sees his highest deevelopment in the
wilds of Arkansaw.' "But speakin' of locoweed, it's only o'casional
that cattle or mules or broncos partakes tharof. Which I might
repeat for the third time that, genial, they eschews it. But you—
all never will know how wise a anamile is till he takes to munchin'
loco. Once he's plumb locoed, he jest don't know nothin'; then it
dawns on you, by compar'son like, how much he saveys prior. The
change shows plainest in mules; they bein'—that is, the mule normal
an' before he's locoed—the wisest of beasts. Wise, did I say? A
mule is more than valise, he's sagacious. An' thar's a mighty sight
of difference. To be simply wise, all one has to do is set 'round
an' think wise things, an' mebby say 'em. It's only when a gent goes
trackin' 'round an' does wise things, you calls him sagacious. An'
mules does wisdom.
"Shore! I admits it; I'm friendly to mules. If the Southwest ever
onbends in a intellectual competition—whites barred—mules will
stand at the head. The list should come out, mules, coyotes, Injuns,
Mexicans, ponies, jack rabbits, sheepherders, an' pra'ry dogs, the
last two bein' shorely imbecile.
"Yes, son; you can lean up ag'inst the intelligence of a mule an' go
to sleep. Not but what mules hasn't their illoosions, sech as white
mares an' sim'lar reedie'lous inflooences; but them's weaknesses of
the sperit rather than of mind.
"While mules don't nacherally go scoutin' for loco, an' commonly
avoids said weed when found, if they ever does taste it once, they
never quits it as long as they lives. It's like whiskey to Huggins
an' Old Monte; the appetite sort o' goes into camp with 'em an'
takes possession. No; a locoed mule ain't vicious nor voylent; it's
more like the tree-mors—he sees spectacles that ain't thar none.
I've beheld a locoed mule that a-way, standin' alone on the level
plains in the sun, kickin' an' pitchin' to beat a straight flush. he
thinks he's surrounded by Injuns or other hostiles; he's that crazy
he don't know grass from t'ran'lers. An' their mem'ry's wiped out;
they forgets to eat an' starves to death. That's the way they dies,
onless some party who gets worked up seein' 'em about, takes a
Winchester an' pumps a bullet into 'em.
"Yes, Peets says if a gent was to take to loadin' up on loco, or
deecoctions tharof, he'd become afflicted by bats, same as cattle
an' mules. But no one I knows of, so far as any news of it ever
comes grazin' my way, is that ongyarded. I never hears tell in
detail of sech a case but onct, an' that's a tale that Old Man
Enright sets forth one evenin' in the Red Light.
"We-all is settin' 'round the faro layout at the time. Cherokee Hall
is back of the box, with Faro Nell on the look-out's stool, but
nobody's feelin' playful, an' no money's bein' changed in. It's only
about first drink time in the evenin', which, as a season, is
prematoor for faro-bank. It's Dave Tutt who brings up the matter
with some remarks he makes touchin' the crazy-hoss conduct of a
party who works over to the stage company's corral. This hoss-
hustler is that eccentric he's ediotic, an' is known as 'Locoed
Charlie.' It's him who final falls a prey to ants that time.
"'An' it's my belief,' asserts Tutt, as he concloodes his relations
of the ranikaboo breaks of this party, 'that if this Charlie,
speakin' mine fashion, was to take his intellects over to the assay
office in Tucson, they wouldn't show half a ounce of idee to the
ton; wouldn't even show a color. Which he's shore locoed.'
"'Speakin' of being locoed that a-way,' says Enright, 'recalls an
incident that takes place back when I'm a yearlin' an' assoomes my
feeble part in the Mexican War. That's years ago, but I don't know
of nothln' sadder than that story, nothin' more replete of sobs. Not
that I weeps tharat, for I'm a thoughtless an' a callous yooth, but,
all the same, it glooms me up a heap.'
"'Is it a love story, Daddy Enright?' asks Faro Nell, all eager, an'
bendin' towards Enright across the layout.
"'It shows brands an' y'ear marks as sech, Nellie,' says Enright;
'love an' loco makes up the heft of it.'
"'Then tell it,' urges Faro Nell. 'I'm actooally hungerin' for a
love story,' an' she reaches down an' squeezes Cherokee's hand onder
"Cherokee squeezes hers, an' turns his deal box on its side to show
thar's no game goin', an' leans back with the rest of us to listen.
Black Jack, who knows his mission on this earth, brings over a
bottle with glasses all 'round.
"'Yere's to you, Nellie,' says Texas Thompson, as we shoves the
nose-paint about. 'While that divorce edict my wife wins back in
Laredo modifies my interest in love tales, an' whereas I don't feel
them thrills as was the habit of me onct, still, in a subdooed way I
can drink happiness to you.'
"'Texas,'says Boggs, settin' down his glass an' bendin' a eye full
of indignant reproach on Thompson; 'Texas, before I'd give way to
sech onmanly weakness, jest because my wife's done stampeded, I'd
j'ine the church. Sech mush from a cow-man is disgraceful. You'll
come down to herdin' sheep if you keeps on surrenderin' yourse'f to
sech sloppy bluffs.'
"'See yere, Dan,' retorts Thompson, an' his eye turns red on Bogs;
'my feelin's may be bowed onder losses which sech nachers as yours
is too coarse to feel, but you can gamble your bottom dollar, jest
the same, I will still resent insultin' criticisms. I advises you to
be careful an' get your chips down right when you addresses me, or
you may quit loser on the deal.'
"'Now you're a couple of fine three-year-olds! breaks in Jack Moore.
'Yere we be, all onbuckled an'fraternal, an' Enright on the brink of
a love romance by the ardent requests of Nell, an' you two longhorns
has to come prancin' out an' go pawin' for trouble. You know mighty
well, Texas, that Boggs is your friend an' the last gent to go
harassin' you with contoomely.'
"'Right you be, Jack,' says Boggs plenty prompt; 'if my remarks to
Texas is abrupt, or betrays heat, it's doo to the fact that it
exasperates me to see the most elevated gent in camp—for so I holds
Texas Thompson to be—made desolate by the wild breaks of a lady who
don't know her own mind, an' mighty likely ain't got no mind to
"'I reckons I'm wrong, Dan,' says Thompson, turnin' apol'getic. 'Let
it all go to the diskyard. I'm that peevish I simply ain't fit to
stay yere nor go anywhere else. I ain't been the same person since
my wife runs cimmaron that time an' demands said sep'ration.'
"'Bein' I'm a married man,' remarks Dave Tutt, sort o' gen'ral, but
swellin' out his chest an' puttin' on a lot of dog at the same time,
'an' wedded to Tucson Jennie, the same bein' more or less known, I
declines all partic'pation in discussions touchin' the sex. I could,
however, yoonite with you-all in another drink, an' yereby su'gests
the salve. Barkeep, it's your play.' "'That's all right about
another drink,' says Faro Nell, 'but I wants to state that I
sympathizes with Texas in them wrongs. I has my views of a female
who would up an' abandon a gent like Texas Thompson, an' I explains
it only on the theery that she shorely must have been coppered in
"'Nellie onderstands my feelin's,' says Texas, an' he's plumb
mournful, 'an' I owes her for them utterances. However, on second
thought, an' even if it is a love tale, if Enright will resoome his
relations touchin' that eepisode of the Mexican War, I figgers that
it may divert me from them divorce griefs I alloodes to. An', at any
rate, win or lose, I assures Enright his efforts will be regyarded.'
"Old Man Enright takes his seegyar out of his mouth an' rouses up a
bit. He's been wropped in thought doorin' the argyments of Boggs an'
Thompson, like he's tryin' to remember a far-off past. As Thompson
makes his appeal, he braces up.
"'Now that Dan an' Texas has ceased buckin',' says Enright, 'an'
each has all four feet on the ground, I'll try an' recall them
details. As I remarks, its towards the close of the Mexican War.
Whatever I'm doin' in that carnage is a conundrum that's never been
solved. I had hardly shed my milk teeth, an' was only 'leven hands
high at the time. An' I ain't so strong physical, but I feels the
weight of my spurs when I walks. As I looks back to it, I must have
been about as valyooable an aid to the gov'ment, as the fifth kyard
in a poker hand when four of a kind is held. The most partial an'
besotted of critics would have conceded that if I'd been left out
entire, that war couldn't have suffered material charges in its
results. However, to get for'ard, for I sees that Nellie's patience
begins to mill an' show symptoms of comin' stampede.
"'It's at the close of hostil'ties,' goes on Enright, 'an' the
company I'm with is layin' up in the hills about forty miles back
from Vera Cruz, dodgin' yellow fever. We was cavalry, what the folks
in Tennessee calls a "critter company," an', hailin' mostly from
that meetropolis or its vicinity, we was known to ourse'fs at least
as the "Pine Knot Cavaliers." Thar's a little Mexican village where
we be that's called the "Plaza Perdita." An' so we lays thar at the
Plaza Perdita, waitin' for orders an' transportation to take us back
to the States.
"'Which most likely we're planted at this village about a month, an'
the Mexicans is beginnin' to get used to us, an' we on our parts is
playin' monte, an' eatin' frijoles, an' accommodatin' ourse'fs to
the simple life of the place. Onct a week the chaplain preaches to
us. He holds that Mexico is a pagan land, an', entertainin' this
idee, he certainly does make onusual efforts to keep our morals
close-herded, an' our souls bunched an' banded up in the Christian
faith, as expressed by the Baptis' church. Candor, however, compels
me to say that this yere pulpit person can't be deescribed as a
heavy winner on the play.' "'Was you-all so awful bad?' asks Faro
"'No,' replies Enright, 'we ain't so bad none, but our conduct is a
heap onhampered, which is the same thing to the chaplain. He gives
it out emphatic, after bein' with the Pine Knot Cavaliers over a
year, that he plumb despairs of us becomin' christians.'
"'Whatever does he lay down on you-all like that for?' says Faro
Nell. 'Couldn't a soldier be a christian, Daddy Enright?'
"'Why, I reckons he might,' says Enright, he'pin' himse'f to a
drink; 'a soldier could he a christian, Nellie, but after all it
"'Still, we-all likes the chaplain because them ministrations of his
is entertainin', an', for that matter, he likes us a lot, an' in
more reelaxed moments allows we ain't so plumb crim'nal—merely
loose like on p'ints of doctrine.'
"'Baptis' folks is shore strong on doctrines,' says Tutt, coincidin'
in with Enright. 'I knows that myse'f. Doctrine is their long suit.
They'll go to any len'ths for doctrines, you hear me! I remembers
once ridin' into a hamlet back in the Kaintucky mountains. Thar
ain't one hundred people in the village, corral count. An' yet I
notes two church edifices.
"You-all is plenty opulent on sanctooaries," I says to the barkeep
at the tavern where I camps for the night. "It's surprisin', too,
when you considers the size of the herd. What be the two
deenom'nations that worships at them structures?"
"'"Both Baptis'," says the barkeep.
"'"Whyever, since they're ridin' the same range an' runnin' the same
brand," I says, "don't they combine like cattle folks an' work their
"'"They splits on doctrine," says the barkeep; "you couldn't get 'em
together with a gun. They disagrees on Adam. That outfit in the
valley holds that Adam was all right when he started, but later he
struck something an' glanced off; them up on the hill contends that
Adam was a hoss-thief from the jump. An' thar you be! You couldn't
reeconcile 'em between now an'the crack of doom. Doctrines to a
Baptis' that a-way is the entire check-rack."
"'To ag'in pick up said narratif,' says Enright, when Tutt subsides,
'at the p'int where Dave comes spraddlin' in with them onasked
reminiscences, I may say that a first source of pleasure to us, if
not of profit, while we stays at the Plaza Perdita, is a passel of
Mexicanos with a burro train that brings us our pulque from some'ers
back further into the hills.'"
"What's pulque?" I interjected.
It was plain that my old gentleman of cows as little liked my
interruption as Enright liked that of the volatile Tutt. He hid his
irritation, however, under an iron politeness and explained.
"Pulque is a disapp'intin' form of beverage, wharof it takes a bar'l
to get a gent drunk," he observed. And then, with some severity: "It
ain't for me to pull no gun of criticism, but I'm amazed that a
party of your attainments, son, is ignorant of pulque. It's, as I
says, a drink, an' it tastes like glucose an' looks like yeast. It
comes from a plant, what the Mexicans calls 'maguey,' an' Peets
calls a 'aloe.' The pulque gatherers scoops out the blossom of the
maguey while it's a bud. They leaves the place hollow; what wood-
choppers back in Tennessee, when I'm a colt, deescribes as
'bucketin' the stump.' This yere hollow fills up with oozin' sap,
an' the Mexican dips out two gallons a day an keeps it up for a
month. That's straight, sixty gallons from one maguey before ever it
quits an' refooses to further turn the game. That's pulque, an' when
them Greasers gathers it, they puts it into a pigskin-skinned
complete, the pig is; them pulduc receptacles is made of the entire
bark of the anamile. When the pulque's inside, they packs it, back
down an' hung by all four laigs to the saddle, a pigskin on each
side of the burro. It's gathered the evenin' previous, an' brought
into camp in the night so as to keep it cool.
"When I'm a child, an' before ever I connects myse'f with the cow
trade, if thar's a weddin', we-all has what the folks calls a
'infare,' an' I can remember a old lady from the No'th who
contreebutes to these yere festivals a drink she calls 'sprooce
beer.' An' pulque, before it takes to frettin' an' fermentin'
'round, in them pigskins, reminds me a mighty sight of that sprooce
beer. Later it most likely reminds you of the pigskin.
"Mexican barkeeps, when they sells pulque, aims to dispose of it two
glasses at a clatter. It gives their conceit a chance to spread
itse'f an' show. The pulque is in a tub down back of the bar. This
yere vain Mexican seizes two glasses between his first an' second
fingers, an' with a finger in each glass. Then he dips 'em full
back-handed; an' allers comes up with the back of his hand an' the
two fingers covered with pulque. He claps 'em on the bar, eyes you a
heap sooperior like he's askin' you to note what a acc'rate, high-
grade barkeep he is, an' then raisin' his hand, he slats the pulque
off his fingers into the two glasses. If he spatters a drop on the
bar, it shows he's a bungler, onfit for his high p'sition, an'
oughter be out on the hills tendin' goats instead of dealin' pulque.
"What do they do with the sour pulque? Make mescal of it—a sort o'
brandy, two hookers of which changes you into a robber. No, thar's
mighty few still-houses in Mexico. But that's no set-back to them
Greasers when they're out to construct mescal. As a roole Mexicans
is slow an oninventive; but when the question becomes the
arrangement of somethin' to be drunk with, they're plenty fertile.
Jest by the way of raw material, if you'll only confer on a Mexican
a kettle, a rifle bar'l, a saddle cover, an' a pigskin full of sour
pulque, he'll be conductin' a mescal still in full blast at the end
of the first hour. But to go back to Enright's yarn.
"'These yere pulque people,' says Enriglit, 'does a fa'rly rapid
commerce. For while, as you-all may know, pulque is tame an' lacks
in reebound as compared with nose-paint, still when pulque is the
best thar is, the Pine Knot Cavaliers of the Plaza Perdita invests
heavily tharin. That pulque's jest about a stand-off for the
chaplain's sermons. "'It's the fourth trip of the pulque sellers,
when the Donna Anna shows in the door. The Donna Anna arrives with
'em; an' the way she bosses 'round, an' sets fire to them pulque
slaves, notifies me they're the Donna Anna's peonies. "'I'm sort o'
pervadin' about the plaza when the Donna Anna rides up. Thar's an
old she-wolf with her whose name is Magdalena. I'm not myse'f what
they calls in St. Looey a "connoshur" of female loveliness, an' it's
a pity now that some gifted gent like Doc Peets yere don't see this
Donna Anna that time, so's he could draw you her picture, verbal.
All I'm able to state is that she's as beautiful as a cactus flower,
an' as vivid. She's tall an' strong for a Mexican, with a voice like
velvet, graceful as a mountain lion, an' with eyes that's soft an'
deep an' black, like a deer's. She's shorely a lovely miracle, the
Donna Anna is, an' as dark an' as warm an' as full of life as a
night in Joone. She's of the grande, for the mule she's ridin',
gent-fashion, is worth forty ponies. Its coat is soft, an' shiny
like this yere watered silk, while its mane an' tail is braided with
a hundred littler silver bells. The Donna Anna is dressed half
Mexican an' half Injun, an' thar's likewise a row of bells about the
wide brim of her Chihuahua hat.
"'Thar's mebby a half-dozen of us standin' 'round when the Donna
Anna comes up. Nacherally, we-all is interested. The Donna Anna,
bein' only eighteen an' a Mexican, is not abashed. She waves her
hand an' says, "How! how!" Injun fashion. an' gives us a white flash
of teeth between her red lips. Then a band of nuns comes out of a
little convent, which is one of the public improvements of the Plaza
Perdita, an' they rounds up the Donna Anna an' the wrinkled
Magdalena, an' takes 'em into camp. The Donna Anna an' the other is
camped in the convent doorin' the visit. No, they're not locked up
nor gyarded, an' the Donna Anna comes an' goes in an' out of that
convent as free as birds. The nuns, too, bow before her like her own
"'Thar's a Lootenant Jack Spencer with us; he hails from further up
the Cumberland than me—some'ers near Nashville. He's light-ha'red
an' light-hearted, Spencer is; an' as straight an' as strong as a
pine-tree. S'ciety ain't throwin' out no skirmish lines them days,
an' of course Spencer an' the Donna Anna meets up with each other;
an' from the onbroken hours they tharafter proceeds to invest in
each other's company, one is jestified in assoomin' they experiences
a tender interest. The Donna Anna can't talk Americano, but Spencer
is a sharp on Spanish; an' you can bet a pony, if he wasn't, he'd
set to studyin' the language right thar.
"'Nothin' much is thought by the Pine Knot Cavaliers of an'
concernin' the attitoodes of Spencer an' the Donna Anna touchin' one
Love it might be, an' less we cares for that. Our army, when it
ain't fightin', is makin' love throughout the entire Mexican War;
an' by the time we're at the Plaza Perdita, love, mere everyday
love, either as a emotion or exhibition, is plenty commonplace. An'
so no one is interested, an' no one keeps tabs on Spencer an' the
Which, if any one had, he'd most likely got ag'inst Spencer's gun;
wharfore, it's as well mebby that this yere lack-luster feelin'
"'It's about the tenth day sicice the Donna Anna gladdens us first.
Orders comes up from Vera Cruz for the Pine Knot Cavaliers to come
down to the coast an' embark for New Orleans. The word is passed,
an' our little jimcrow camp buzzes like bees, with us gettin' ready
to hit the trail. Spencer asks "leave;" an' then saddles up an'
starts at once. He says he's got a trick or two to turn in Vera Cruz
before we sails. That's the last we-all ever beholds of Lootenant
Jack Spencer. "'When Spencer don't show up none in Vera Cruz, an'
the ship throws loose without him, he's marked, "missin'," on the
company's books. If he's a private, now, it would have been
"deserted;" but bein' Spencer's an officer, they makes it "missin'."
An' they gets it right, at that; Spencer is shorely missin'. Spencer
not only don't come back to Tennessee none; he don't even send no
word nor make so much as a signal smoke to let on whar he's at. This
yere, to some, is more or less disapp'intin'. "'Thar's a lady back
in Tennessee which Spencer's made overtures to. before he goes to
war that time, to wed. Young she is; beautiful, high-grade, corn-
fed, an' all that; an' comes of one of the most clean-bred fam'lies
of the whole Cumberland country. I will interject right yere to say
that thar's ladies of two sorts. If a loved one, tender an' troo,
turns up missin' at roll-call, an' the phenomenon ain't accompanied
with explanations, one sort thinks he's quit, an' the other thinks
he's killed. Spencer's inamorata is of the former. She's got what
the neighbors calls "hoss sense." She listens to what little thar is
to tell of Spencer fadin' from our midst that Plaza Perdita day,
shrugs her shoulders, an' turns her back on Spencer's mem'ry. An'
the next news you gets is of how, inside of three months, she jumps
some gent—who's off his gyard an' is lulled into feelin's of false
secoority—ropes, throws, ties an' weds him a heap, an' he wakes up
to find he's a gone fawn-skin, an' to realize his peril after he's
onder its hoofs. That's what this Cumberland lady does. I makes no
comments; I simply relates it an' opens a door an' lets her out.
"'I'm back in Tennessee mighty nigh a year before ever I hears ag'in
of Lootenant Jack Spencer of the Pine Knot Cavaliers. It's this a-
way: I'm stoppin' with my old gent near Warwhoop Crossin', the same
bein' a sister village to Pine Knot, when he's recalled to my boyish
mind. It looks like Spencer ain't got no kin nearer than a aunt, an'
mebby a stragglin' herd of cousins. He never does have no brothers
nor sisters; an' as for fathers an' mothers an' sech, they all
cashes in before ever Spencer stampedes off for skelps in that
Mexican War at all. "'These yere kin of Spencer's stands his absence
ca'mly, an' no one hears of their settin' up nights, or losin'
sleep, wonderin' where he's at. Which I don't reckon now they'd felt
the least cur'ous concernin' him—for they're as cold-blooded as
channel catfish—if it ain't that Spencer's got what them law
coyotes calls a "estate," an' this property sort o' presses their
hands. So it falls out like, that along at the last of the year, a
black-coat party-lawyer he is-comes breezin' up to me in Warwhoop
an' says he's got to track this yere Spencer to his last camp, dead
or alive, an' allows I'd better sign for the round-up an' accompany
the expedition as guide, feclos'pher an' friend—kind o' go 'long
an' scout for the campaign. "'Two months later me an' that law sharp
is in the Plaza Perdita. We heads up for the padre. It's my view
from the first dash outen the box that the short cut to find Spencer
is to acc'rately discover the Donna Anna; so we makes a line for the
padre. In Mexico, the priests is the only folks who saveys anythin';
an', as if to make up for the hoomiliatin' ignorance of the balance
of the herd, an' promote a average, these yere priests jest about
knows everythin'. An' I has hopes of this partic'lar padre speshul;
for I notes that, doorin' them times when Spencer an' the Donna Anna
is dazzlin' one another at the Plaza Perdita, the padre is sort o'
keepin' cases on the deal, an' tryin' as well as he can to hold the
bars an' fences up through some covert steers he vouchsafes from
time to time to the old Magdalena. "'No; you bet this padre don't at
that time wax vocif'rous or p'inted none about Spencer an' the Donna
Anna. Which he's afraid if he gets obnoxious that a-way, the Pine
Knot Cavaliers will rope him up a lot an' trade him for beef. Shore
don't you-all know that? When we're down in Mexico that time, with
old Zach Taylor, an' needs meat, we don't go ridin' our mounts to
death combin' the hills for steers. All we does is round up a band
of padres, or monks, an' then trade 'em to their par'lyzed
congregations for cattle. We used to get about ten steers for a
padre; an' we doles out them divines, one at a time, as we needs the
beef. It's shorely a affectin' sight to see them parish'ners, with
tears runnin' down their faces, drivin' up the cattle an' takin'
them religious directors of theirs out o' hock.
"'We finds the padre out back of his wickeyup, trimmin' up a game-
cock that he's matched to fight the next day. The padre is little,
fat, round, an' amiable as owls. Nacherally, I has to translate for
him an' the law sport.
"'"You do well to come to me, my children," he says. "The Senor
Juan"—that's what the padre calls Spencer—"the Senor Juan is dead.
It is ten days since he passed. The Donna Anna? She also is dead an'
with the Senor Juan. We must go to the Hacienda Tulorosa, which is
the house of the Donna Anna. That will be to-morrow. Meanwhile, who
is to protect Juarez, my beloved chicken, in his battle when I will
be away? Ah! I remember! The Don Jose Miguel will do. He is skilful
of cocks of the game. Also he has bet money on Juarez; so he will be
faithful. Therefore, to-morrow, my children, we will go to the Donna
Anna's house. There I will tell you the story of the Senor Juan."
"'The Hacienda Tulorosa is twenty miles back further in the hills.
The padre, the law sharp an' me is started before sun-up, an' a good
road-gait fetches us to the Hacienda Tulorosa in a couple of hours.
It's the sort of a ranch which a high grade Mexican with a strong
bank-roll would throw up. It's built all 'round a court, with a
flower garden and a fountain in the centre. As we comes up, I
observes the old Magdalena projectin' about the main door of the
casa, stirrin' up some lazy peonies to their daily toil—which, to
use the word "toil," however, in connection with a Greaser, is plumb
sarcastic. The padre leads us into the cases, an' the bitter-lookin'
Magdalena hustles us some grub; after which we-all smokes a bit.
Then the padre gets up an' leads the way.
"'"Come, my children," says the padre, "I will show you the graves.
Then you shall hear what there is of the Senor Juan an' the Donna
"'It's a set-back,' continyoos Enright, as he signals Black Jack the
barkeep to show us he's awake; 'it's shorely a disaster that some
book-instructed gent like Peets or Colonel Sterett don't hear this
padre when he makes them revelations that day. Not that I overlooks
a bet, or don't recall 'em none; but I ain't upholstered with them
elegancies of diction needed to do 'em justice now. My language is
roode an' corrupted with years of sech surroundin's as cattle an'
kyards. It's too deeply freighted with the slang of the plains an'
the faro-banks to lay forth a tale of love an' tenderness, as the
o'casion demands. Of course, I can read an' write common week-day
print; but when thar's a call for more, I'm mighty near as
illit'rate that a-way as Boggs.'
"'Which, as you su'gests, I'm plumb ignorant,' admits Boggs, 'but it
ain't the fault none of my bringin' up neither. It jest looks like I
never can learn print nohow when I'm young. I'm simply born book-
shy, an' is terrified at schools from my cradle. An', say! I'm yere
to express my regrets at them weaknesses. If I was a eddicated gent
like Doc Peets is, you can put down all you has, I'd be the
cunnin'est wolf that ever yelps in Cochise County.'
"'An' thar ain't no doubt of that, Boggs,' observes Enright, as he
reorganizes to go ahead with them Donna Anna mem'ries of his. 'Which
if you only has a half of Peets' game now, you'd be the hardest
thing—mental—to ride that ever invades the Southwest. Nacherally,
an' in a wild an' ontrained way, you're wise. But to rcsoome: As
much as I can, I'll give the padre in his own words. He takes us out
onder a huddle of pine trees, where thar's two graves side by side,
an' with a big cross of wood standin' gyard at the head. Thar's
quite a heap o' rocks, about as big as your shet hand, heaped up on
'em. It's the Mexicans does that. Every Greaser who goes by, says a
pray'r, an' tosses a rock on the grave. When we-all is camped
comfortable, the padre begins.
"'"This is that which was with the Senor Juan and the Donna Anna,"
he says. "They adored each other with their hearts. It was many
months ago when, from the Plaza Perdita, they came together here to
the Donna Anna's house, the Hacienda Tulorosa. Who was the Donna
Anna? Her mother was an Indian, a Navajo, and the child of a head
man. Her father was the Senor Ravel, a captain of war he was, and
the Americanos slew him at Buena Vista. No; they were not married,
the father and the mother of the Donna Anna. But what then? There
are more children than weddings in Mexico. Also the mother of the
Donna Anna was a Navajo. The Captain Ravel long ago brought her to
the Hacienda Tulorosa for her home—her and the Donna Anna. But the
mother lived not long, for the Indian dies in a house. This is years
gone by; and the Donna Anna always lived at the Casa Tulorosa. "'No;
the Senor Juan and the Donna Anna do not marry. They might; but the
Senor Juan became like a little child-muchachito. This was within a
few days after he came here. Then he lived until ten days ago; but
always a little child. "'When the Senor Juan is dead, the Donna Anna
sends for me. The Seuor Juan is ready for the grave when I arrive.'
Is it to bury him that I come?' I ask. 'No; it is to bury me,' says
the Donna Anna. Ah! she was very beautiful! the Donna Anna. You
should have seen her, my children. "'When the Senor Juan is laid
away, the Donna Anna tells me all. 'He came, the Senor Juan,' says
the Donna Anna, 'and I gave him all my love. But in a day he was to
have gone to his home far away with the Americanos. Then I would
never more see him nor hear him, and my soul would starve and die.
There, too, was a Senorita, an Americana; she would have my place.
Father, what could I do? I gave him the loco to drink; not much, but
it was enough. Then his memory sank and sank; and he forgot the
Senorita Americana; and he remembered not to go away to his home;
and he became like a little child with me. The good loco drove every
one from his heart; and all from his mind-all, save me, the Donna
Anna. I was the earth and the life to him. And so, night and day,
since he came until now he dies, my arms and my heart have been
about the Senor Juan. And I have been very, very happy with my
muchachito, the Senor Juan. Yes, I knew he would go; because none
may live who drinks the loco. But it would be months; and I did not
care. He would be mine, ever my own, the Senor Juan; for when he
died, could I not die and follow him? We were happy these months
with the flowers and the fountain and each other. I was happier than
he; for I was like the mother, and he like a little child. But it
was much peace with love! And we will be happy again to-morrow when
I go where he waits to meet me. Father, you are to remain one day,
and see that I am buried with the Senior Juan.' "Then," goes on the
padre, "I say to the Donna Anna, 'If you are to seek the Senor Juan,
you will first kneel in prayer and in confession, and have the
parting rites of the church.' But the Donna Anna would not. 'I will
go as went the Senor Juan,' she says; 'else I may find another
heaven and we may not meet.' Nor could I move the Donna Anna from
her resolution. 'The Senor Juan is a heretic and must now be in
perdition,' I say. 'Then will I, too, go there,' replies the Donna
Anna, 'for we must be together; I and the Senor Juan. He is mine and
I will not give him up to be alone with the fiends or with the
angels.' So I say no more to the Donna Anna of the church.
"'" On the day to follow the burial of the Senor Juan, it is in the
afternoon when the Donna Anna comes to me. Oh! she was twice lovely!
'Father,' she says, 'I come to say my adios. When the hour is done
you will seek me by the grave of my Senor Juan.' Then she turns to
go. 'And adios to you, my daughter,' I say, as she departs from my
view. And so I smoke my cigars; and when the hour is done, I go also
to the grave of the Senor Juan—the new grave, just made, with its
low hill of warm, fresh earth.
"'" True! it was as you guess. There, with her face on that little
round of heaped-up earth, lay the Donna Anna. And all the blood of
her heart had made red the grave of her Senor Juan. The little knife
she died by was still in her hand. No, I do not fear for them, my
children. They are with the good; the Donna Anna and her Senor Juan.
They were guiltless of all save love; and the good God does not
How Jack Rainey Quit.
"Customary, we has our social round-ups in the
Red Light," observed the Old Cattleman; "which I mentions once it
does us for a club. We're all garnered into said fold that time when
Dave Tutt tells us how this yere Jack Rainey quits out. "'Rainey
gets downed,' says Tutt, 'mainly because his system's obscoore, an'
it chances that a stranger who finds himse'f unmeshed tharin takes
it plumb ombrageous; an' pendin' explanations, gets tangled up with
a pard of Rainey's, goes to a gun play, an' all accidental an'
casooal Rainey wings his way to them regions of the blest. "'Now I
allers holds,' goes on Tutt, 'an' still swings an' rattles with that
decision, that it's manners to ask strangers to drink; an' that no
gent, onless he's a sky-pilot or possesses scrooples otherwise, has
a right to refoose. Much less has a gent, bein' thus s'licited to
licker, any license to take it hostile an' allow he's insulted, an'
lay for his entertainers with weepons.' "'Well, I don't know,
neither,' says Texas Thompson, who's a heap dispootatious an' allers
spraddlin' in on every chance for an argyment. 'Thar's a party, now
deceased a whole lot—the Stranblers over in Socorro sort o'
chaperones this yere gent to a cottonwood an' excloodes the air from
his lungs with a lariat for mebby it's an hour-an' this party I'm
alloodin' at, which his name is Fowler, is plumb murderous. Now,
it's frequent with him when he's selected a victim that a-way, an'
while he's bickerin' with him up to the killin' p'int, to invite
said sacrifice to take a drink. When they're ag'inst the bar, this
yere Fowler we-all strangles would pour out a glass of whiskey an'
chuck it in the eyes of that onfortunate he's out to down. Of
course, while this party's blind with the nose-paint, he's easy; an'
Fowler tharupon e'llects his skelp in manner, form an' time to suit
his tastes. Now I takes it that manners don't insist none on no gent
frontin' up to a bar on the invite of sech felons as Fowler, when a
drink that a-way means a speshul short-cut to the tomb.' "'All this
yere may be troo,' replies Tutt, 'but it's a exception. What I
insists is, Texas, that speakin' wide an' free an' not allowin' none
for sports of the Fowler brand, it's manners to ask strangers to
stand in on what beverages is goin'; that it's likewise manners for
said strangers to accept; an' it shows that both sides concerned
tharin is well brought up by their folks. Sech p'liteness is
manners, goin' an' comin', which brings me with graceful swoops back
to how Jack Rainey gets shot up.' "'But, after all,' breaks in Texas
ag'in, for he feels wranglesome, 'manners is frequent a question of
where you be. What's manners in St. Looey may be bad jedgment in
Texas; same as some commoonities plays straights in poker, while
thar's regions where straights is barred.'
"'Texas is dead right about his State that a-way,' says Jack Moore,
who's heedin' of the talk. 'Manners is a heap more inex'rable in
Texas than other places. I recalls how I'm galivantin' 'round in the
Panhandle country—it's years ago when I'm young an' recent—an' as
I'm ridin' along south of the Canadian one day, I discerns a pony
an' a gent an' a fire', an' what looks like a yearlin' calf tied
down. I knows the pony for Lem Woodruff's cayouse, an' heads over to
say "Howdy" to Lem. He's about half a mile away; when of a sudden he
stands up—he's been bendin' over the yearlin' with a runnin' iron
in his hand—an' gives a whoop an' makes some copious references
towards me with his hands. I wonders what for a game he's puttin'
up, an' whatever is all this yere sign-language likely to mean; but
I keeps ridin' for'ard. It's then this Woodruff steps over to his
pony, an' takin' his Winchester off the saddle, cuts down with it in
my direction, an' onhooks her—"Bang!" The bullet raises the dust
over about fifty yards to the right. Nacherally I pulls up my pony
to consider this conduct. While I'm settin' thar tryin' to figger
out Woodruff's system, thar goes that Winchester ag'in, an' a streak
of dust lifts up, say, fifty yards to the left. I then sees Lem
objects to me. I don't like no gent to go carpin' an' criticisin' at
me with a gun; but havin' a Winchester that a-way, this yere
Woodruff can overplay me with only a six-shooter, so I quits him an'
rides contemptuous away. As I withdraws, he hangs his rifle on his
saddle ag'in, picks up his runnin' iron all' goes back content an'
all serene to his maverick.'" "What is a maverick?" I asked,
interrupting my friend in the flow of his narration. "Why, I
s'posed," he remarked, a bit testily at being halted, "as how even
shorthorns an' tenderfeet knows what mavericks is. Mavericks, son,
is calves which gets sep'rated from the old cows, their mothers, an'
ain't been branded none yet. They're bets which the round-ups
overlooks, an' don't get marked. Of course, when they drifts from
their mothers, each calf for himse'f, an' no brands nor y'ear marks,
no one can tell whose calves they be. They ain't branded, au' the
old cows ain't thar to identify au' endorse 'em, an' thar you stands
in ignorance. Them's mavericks. "It all comes," he continued in
further elucidation of mavericks, "when cattle brands is first
invented in Texas. The owners, whose cattle is all mixed up on the
ranges, calls a meetin' to decide on brands, so each gent'll know
his own when he crosses up with it, an' won't get to burnin' powder
with his neighbors over a steer which breeds an' fosters doubts.
After every party announces what his brand an' y'ear mark will be,
all' the same is put down in the book, a old longhorn named Maverick
addresses the meetin', an' puts it up if so be thar's no objection,
now they all has brands but him, he'll let his cattle lope without
markin', an' every gent'll savey said Maverick's cattle because they
won't have no brand. Cattle without brands, that a-way, is to belong
to Maverick, that's the scheme, an' as no one sees no reason why
not, they lets old Maverick's proposal go as it lays.
"An' to cut her short, for obv'ous reasons, it ain't no time before
Maverick, claimin' all the onbranded cattle, has herds on herds of
'em; whereas thar's good authority which states that when he makes
his bluff about not havin' no brand that time, all the cattle old
Maverick has is a triflin' bunch of Mexican steers an' no semblances
of cows in his outfit. From which onpromisin', not to say barren,
beginnin', Maverick owns thousands of cattle at the end of ten
years. It all provokes a heap of merriment an' scorn. An' ever since
that day, onmarked an' onbranded cattle is called 'mavericks.' But
to go back ag'in to what Jack Moore is remarkin' about this yere
outlaw, Woodruff, who's been bustin' away towards Jack with his
"'It's a week later,' goes on Jack Moore, 'when I encounters this
sport Woodruff in Howard's store over in Tascosa. I stands him up
an' asks whatever he's shootin' me up for that day near the Serrita
"'" Which I never sees you nohow," replies this yere Woodruff.
laughin'. "I never cuts down on you with no Winchester, for if I
did, I'd got you a whole lot. You bein' yere all petulant an'
irritated is mighty good proof I never is shootin' none at you, But
bein' you're new to the Canadian country an' to Texas, let me give
you a few p'inters on cow ettyquette an' range manners. Whenever you
notes a gent afar off with a fire goin' an' a yearlin' throwed an'
hawg-tied ready to mark up a heap with his own private
hieroglyphics, don't you-all go pesterin' 'round him. He ain't good
company, sech a gent ain't. Don't go near him. It's ag'in the law in
Texas to brand calves lonely an' forlorn that a-way, without
stoppin' to herd 'em over to some well-known corral, an' the
punishment it threatens, bein' several years in Huntsville, makes a
gent when he's violatin' it a heap misanthropic, an' he don't hunger
none for folks to come ridin' up to see about whatever he reckons
he's at. Mebby later them visitors gets roped up before a co't, or
jury, to tell whatever they may know. So, as I says, an' merely
statin' a great trooth in Texas ettyquette, yereafter on beholdin' a
fellow-bein' with a calf laid out to mark, don't go near him a
little bit. It's manners to turn your back onto him an' ignore him
plumb severe. He's a crim'nal, an' any se'f-respectin' gent is
jestified in refoosin' to affiliate with him. Wherefore, you ride
away from every outcast you tracks up ag'inst who is engaged like
you says this onknown party is the day he fetches loose his
Winchester at you over by the Serrita la Cruz."
"That's what this Woodruff says," concloodes Jack, windin' up his
interruption, "about what's manners in Texas; an' when it's made
explicit that away, I sees the force of his p'sition. Woodruff an'
me buys nose-paint for each other, shakes hearty, an' drops the
discussion. But it shorely comes to this: manners, as Texas
declar's, is sometimes born of geography, an' what goes for polish
an' the p'lite play in St. Looey may not do none for Texas.'
"'Mighty likely,' says Old Man Enright, 'what Texas Thompson an'
Jack Moore interjecks yere is dead c'rrect; but after all this
question about what's manners is 'way to one side of the main trail.
I tharfore su'gests at this crisis that Black Jack do his best with
a bottle, an' when every gent has got his p'ison, Dave Tutt proceeds
for'ard with the killin' of this Jack Rainey.' "'Goin' on as to said
Rainey,' observes Tutt, followin' them remarks of Enright, 'as I
explains when Texas an' Moore runs me down with them interestin'
outbreaks, Rainey gets ag'inst it over in a jimcrow camp called
Lido; an' this yere is a long spell ago. "'Rainey turns in an'
charters every bar in Lido, an' gets his brand onto all the nose-
paint. He's out to give the camp an orgy, an' not a gent can spend a
splinter or lose a chip to any bar for a week. Them's Jack Rainey's
commands. A sport orders his forty drops, an' the barkeep pricks it
onto a tab; at the end of a week Jack Rainey settles all along the
line, an' the "saturnalia," as historians calls 'em, is over. I
might add that Jack Rainey gives way to these yere charities once a
year, an the camp of Lido is plumb used tharto an' approves tharof.
"'On this sad o'casion when Jack Rainey gets killed, this yore
excellent custom he invents is in full swing. Thar's notices printed
plenty big, an' posted up in every drink-shop from the dance hall to
the Sunflower saloon; which they reads as follows RUIN! RUIN! RUIN!
JACK RAINEY MAKES GOOD
ONE WEEK. NAME YOUR POISON!
"'At this yere time, it's about half through Jack Rainey's week,
an' the pop'lace of Lido, in consequence, is plumb happy an'
content. They're holdin' co't at the time; the same bein' the first
jestice, legal, which is dealt out in Lido.'
"'An' do you—all know,' puts in Dan Boggs, who's listenin' to Tutt,
'I'm mighty distrustful of co'ts. You go to holdin' of 'em, an' it
looks like everybody gets wrought up to frenzy ontil life where them
forums is held ain't safe for a second. I shall shorely deplore the
day when a co't goes to openin' its game in Wolfville. It's "adios"
to liberty an' peace an' safety from that time.'
"'You can go a yellow stack,' remarks Texas Thompson, who sets than
plumb loquacious an' locoed to get in a speech, 'that Boggs sizes up
right about them triboonals. They'rc a disturbin' element in any
commoonity. I knowed a town in Texas which is that peaceful it's
pastoral—that's what it is, it's like a sheep-fold, it's so mcck
an' easy—ontil one day they ups an' plays a co't an' jedge an' jury
on that camp; rings in a herd of law sharps, an' a passel of rangers
with Winchesters to back the deal. The town's that fretted tharat it
gets full of nose-paint to the brim, an' then hops into the street
for gen'ral practice with its guns. In the mornin' the round-up
shows two dead an' five wounded, an' all for openin' co't on an
outfit which is too frail to stand the strain of so much justice to
stand onexpected.' "'As I'm engaged in remarkin',' says Tutt, after
Boggs an' Texas is redooced to quiet ag'in—Tutt bein' married most
likely is used to interruptions, an' is shore patient that a-way—
'as I states, they're holdin' co't, an' this day they emancipates
from prison a party named Caribou Sam. They tries to prove this
Caribou Sam is a hoss-thief, but couldn't fill on the draw, an' so
Caribou works free of 'em an' is what they calls "'quitted."
"'As soon as ever the marshal takes the hobbles off this Caribou
Sam—he's been held a captif off some'ers an' is packed into Lido
onder gyard to be tried a lot—this yore malefactor comes bulgin'
into the Sunflower an' declar's for fire-water. The barkeep deals to
him, an' Caribou Sam is assuaged.
"'When he goes to pay, a gent who's standin' near shoves back his
dust, an' says: "This is Jack Rainey's week—it's the great annyooal
festival of Jack Rainey, an' your money's no good."
"'"But I aims to drink some more poco tiempo," says this Caribou
Sam, who is new to Lido, an' never yet hears of Jack Rainey an' his
little game, "an' before I permits a gent to subsidize my thirst,
an' go stackin' in for my base appetites, you can gamble I want to
meet him an' make his acquaintance. Where is this yere sport Jack
Rainey, an' whatever is he doin' this on?"
"'The party who shoves Caribou's dinero off the bar, tells him he
can't pay, an' explains the play, an' exhorts him to drink free an'
frequent an' keep his chips in his war-bags.
"'"As I tells you," says this party to Caribou, "my friend Jack
Rainey has treed the camp, an' no money goes yere but his till his
further commands is known. Fill your hide, but don't flourish no
funds, or go enlargin' on any weakness you has for buyin' your own
licker. As for seein' Jack Rainey, it's plumb impossible. He's got
too full to visit folks or be visited by 'em; but he's upsta'rs on
some blankets, an' if his reason is restored by tomorry, you sends
up your kyard an' pays him your regyards—pendin' of which social
function, take another drink. Barkeep, pump another dose into this
stranger, an' charge the same to Jack."
"'"This yere sounds good," says Caribou Sam, "but it don't win over
me. Ontil I sees this person Rainey, I shall shorely decline all
bottles which is presented in his name. I've had a close call about
a bronco I stole to-day, an' when the jury makes a verdict that
they're sorry to say the evidence ain't enough to convict, the jedge
warns me to be a heap careful of the company I maintains. He exhorts
me to live down my past, or failin' which he'll hang me yet. With
this bluff from the bench ringin' in my years, I shall refoose
drinks with all onknown sots, ontil I sees for myse'f they's proper
characters for me to be sociable with. Tharfore, barkeep, I renoo my
determination to pay for them drinks; at the same tune, I orders
another round. Do you turn for me or no?" "'"Not none you don't,"
says the friend of Jack Rainey. "You can drink, but you can't pay—
leastwise, you-all can't pay without gettin' all sort o' action on
your money. This Rainey you're worried about is as good a gent as
me, an' not at all likely to shake the standin' of a common hoss-
thief by merely buyin' his nose-paint."
"'"Mine is shorely a difficult p'sition," says Caribou Sam. "What
you imparts is scarce encouragin.' If this yere Rainey ain't no
improvement onto you, I absolootely weakens on him an' turns aside
from all relations of his proposin'. I'm in mighty bad report as the
game stands, an' I tharfore insists ag'in on payin' for my own war
medicine, as bein' a move necessary to protect my attitoodes before
With thesc yere observations, Caribou Sam makes a bluff at the
barkeep with a handful of money. In remonstratin', Jack Rainey's
pard nacherally pulls a gun, as likewise does Caribou Sam. Thar's
the customary quantity of shootin', an' while neither Caribou nor
his foe gets drilled, a bullet goes through the ceilin' an' sort o'
sa'nters in a careless, indifferent way into pore Jack Rainey, where
he's bedded down an' snorin' up above.
"'Shore, he's dead, Rainey is,' concloodes Dave, 'an' his ontimely
takin' off makes Lido quit loser for three days of licker free as
air. He's a splendid, gen'rous soul, Jack Rainey is; an' as I says
at the beginnin', he falls a sacrifice to his love for others, an'
in tryin' at his own expense to promote the happiness an' lift them
burdens of his fellow-men.'
"'This yere miscreant, Caribou,' says Texas Thompson, 'is a mighty
sight too punctilious about them drinks; which thar's no doubt of
it. Do they lynch him?'
"'No,' says Tutt; 'from the calibre of the gun which fires the lead
that snatches Rainey from us, it is cl'ar that it's the gent who's
contendin' with Caribou who does it, Still public opinion is some
sour over losin' them three days, an' so Caribou goes lopin' out of
Lido surreptitious that same evenin', an' don't wait none on
Rainey's obsequies. Caribou merely sends regrets by the barkeep of
the Sunflower, reiterates the right to pay for them drink, an' Lido
sees him no more.'"
The Defiance of Gene Watkins.
"Be I religious that a-way?" More to embark him on some current of
conversation than from any gnawing eagerness to discover his creed,
I had aimed the question at my Old Cattleman.
"No," he continued, declining a proffered cigar, "I'll smoke my old
pipe to-night. Be I religious? says you. Well, I ain't shorely
livin' in what you'd call 'grace,' still I has my beliefs. Back in
Tennessee my folks is Methodis', held to sprinklin' an' sech;
however, for myse'f, I never banks none on them technicalities. It's
deeds that counts with Omnipotence, same as with a vig'lance
committee; an', whether a gent is sprinkled or dipped or is as
averse to water as Huggins or Old Monte, won't settle whether he
wins out a harp or a hot pitchfork in the eternal beyond.
"No, I ain't a believer in that enthoosiastic sense that fights its
way to the mourner's bench an' manifests itse'f with groans that
daunts hoot-owls into silence. Thar don't appear many preachers out
West in my day. Now an' then one of these yere divines, who's got
strayed or drifted from his proper range, comes buttin' his way into
Wolfville an' puts us up a sermon, or a talkee-talkee. In sech
events we allers listens respcetful, an' when the contreebution box
shows down, we stakes 'em on their windin' way; but it's all as much
for the name of the camp as any belief in them ministrations doin'
local good. Shore! these yere sky-scouts is all right at that. But
Wolfville's a hard, practical outfit, what you might call a heap
obdurate, an' it's goin' to take more than them fitful an'
o'casional sermons I alloodes to, a hour long an' more'n three
months apart on a av'rage, to reach the roots of its soul. When I
looks back on Peets an' Enright, an' Boggs an' Tutt, an' Texas
Thompson an' Moore, an' Cherokee, to say nothin' of Colonel Sterett,
an' recalls their nacheral obstinacy, an' the cheerful conceit
wherewith they adheres to their systems of existence, I realizes
that them ordinary, every-day pulpit utterances of the sort that
saves an' satisfies the East, would have about as much ser'ous
effect on them cimmaron pards of mine as throwin' water on a drowned
rat. Which they lives irreg'lar, an' they're doo to die irreg'lar,
an' if they can't be admitted to the promised land irreg'lar,
they're shore destined to pitch camp outside. An' inasmuch as I
onderstands them aforetime comrades of mine, an' saveys an' esteems
their ways, why, I reckons I'll string my game with theirs a whole
lot, an' get in or get barred with Wolfville.
"No; I've no notion at all ag'inst a gospel spreader. When Short
Creek Dave gets religion over in Tucson, an' descends on us as a
exhorter, although I only knows Short Creek thartofore as the
coldest poker sharp that ever catches a gent Muffin' on a 4-flush, I
hesitates not, but encourages an' caps his game. But I can't say
that the sight of a preacher-gent affords me peace. A preacher frets
me; not for himse'f exactly, but you never sees preachers without
seein' p'lice folks—preachers an' p'lice go hand in hand, like
prairie dogs an' rattlesnakes—an' born as I be in Tennessee, where
we has our feuds an' where law is a interference an' never a
protection, I'm nacherally loathin' constables complete.
"But if I ain't religious," he rambled on while he puffed at his
Bull Durham vigorously. "you can resk a small stack that neither I
ain't sooperstitious. Take Boggs an' Cherokee, you-all recalls how
long ago I tells you how sooperstitious them two is. Speakin' of
Boggs, who's as good a gent an' as troo a friend as ever touches
your glass; he's sooperstitious from his wrought-steel spurs to his
bullion hatband. Boggs has more signs an' omens than some folks has
money; everything is a tip or a hunch to Boggs; an' he lives
surrounded by inflooences.
"Thar's a peaked old sport named Ryder pervades Wolfville for a
while. He's surly an' gnurlly an' omeny, Ryder is; an' has one of
them awful lookin' faces where the feachers is all c'llected in the
middle of his visage, an' bunched up like they's afraid of Injuns or
somethin' else that threatenin' an' hostile—them sort of
countenances you notes carved on the far ends of fiddles. We-all is
averse to Ryder. An' this yere Ryder himsc'f is that contentious an'
contradictory he won't agree to nothin'. Jest to show you about
Ryder: I has in mind once when a passel of us is lookin' at a paper
that's come floatin' in from the States. Thar's the picture of a
cow-puncher into it who's a dead ringer for Dave Tutt. From y'ears
to hocks that picture is Tutt; an' thar we-all be admirin' the
likeness an' takin' our licker conjunctive. While thus spec'latin'
on then resemblances, this yere sour old maverick, Ryder, shows up
at the bar for nourishment.
"'Don't tell Ryder about how this yere deelineation looks like
Tutt,' Says Doc Peets; 'I'll saw it off on him raw for his views,
and ask him whatever does he think himse'f.
"'See yere, Ryder,' says Peets, shovin' the paper onder the old
t'rant'ler's nose as he sets down his glass, 'whoever does this
picture put you in mind of? Does it look like any sport you knows?'
"'No,' says Ryder, takin' the paper an' puttin' on his specks, an'
at the same time as thankless after his nose-paint as if he'd been
refoosed the beverage; 'no, it don't put me in mind of nothin' nor
nobody. One thing shore, an' you-all hold-ups can rope onto that for
a fact, it don't remind me none of Dave Tutt.'
"Which Boggs, who, as I says, is allers herdin' ghosts, is
sooperstitious about old Ryder. That's straight; Boggs won't put
down a bet while this Ryder person's in sight. I've beheld Boggs,
jest as he's got his chips placed, look up an' c'llect a glimpse of
them fiddle-feachers of Ryder.
"'Whoop!' says Boggs to Cherokee, who would be behind the box, an'
spreadin' his hands in reemonstrance; 'nothin' goes!' An' then Boggs
would glare at this Ryder party ontil he'd fade from the room.
"He's timid of Boggs, too, this yere Ryder is; an' as much as ever
it's this horror of Boggs which prevails on him to shift his
blankets to Red Dog—-the same bein' a low-down plaza inhabited by
drunkards an' Mexicans, in proportions about a even break of each,
an' which assoomes in its delirium treecnors way to be a rival of
"'Which I'm a public benefactor,' says Boggs, when he's informed
that he's done froze this Ryder out of camp, 'an' if you sports
a'preciates me at my troo valyoo, you-all would proffer me some sech
memento inebby as a silver tea-set. Me makin' this Ryder vamos is
the greatest public improvement Wolfville's experienced since the
lynchin' of Far Creek Stanton. You-all ain't s'fficiently on the
quee vee, as they says in French, to be aware of the m'lignant
atmospheres of this yere Ryder. He'd hoodoo a hill, or a pine-tree,
Ryder would, let alone anythin' as onstable as my methods of buckin'
faro-bank. Gone to Red Dog, has he? Bueno! He leaves us an' attaches
himse'f to our enemies. I'll bet a pinto hoss that somethin' happens
to them Red Dog tarrapins inside of a week.'
"An', son, while said riotous prophecies of Boggs don't impress me a
little bit, I'm bound to admit that the second night followin' the
heegira of this yere Ryder, an' his advent that a-way into Red Dog,
a outcast from the Floridas, who goes locoed as the frootes of a
week of Red Dog gayety, sets fire to the sityooation while shootin'
out the dance-hall lamps, an' burns up half Red Dog, with the dance
hall an' the only two s'loons in the outfit; tharby incloodin' every
drop of whiskey in the holycaust. It was awful! Which, of coarse, we
comes to the rescoo. Red Dog's our foe; but thar be c'lamities, son,
which leaves no room in the hooman heart for anythin' but pity. An'
this is one. Wolfville rolls out the needed nose-paint for Red Dog,
desolated as I says, an' holds the fraternal glass to the Red Dog
lips till its freighters brings relief from Tucson. "All the same,
while as I assures you thar's nothin' sooperstitious about me, I
can't he'p, when Red Dog burns that a-way, but think of them bluffs
of Boggs about this yere old Ryder party bein' a hoodoo. Shore! it
confirms Boggs in them weaknesses. An' he even waxes puffed up an'
puts on dog about it; an' if ever thar's a dispoote about one of his
omens—an' thar's a lot from time to time, because Boggs is plumb
reedic'lous as to 'em—he ups an' staggers the camp by demandin',
'Don't I call the turn that time when Ryder goes retreatin' over to
Red Dog? If I don't, I'll turn Chink an' open a laundry.'
"Speakin' of omens, of course thar be some, as I tell you yeretofore
in that Wolfville book you've done printed, so common an' practical
every gent must yield to'em. Thar's places where mere sooper.
stition gets up from the table, an' mule-sense takes its seat. If I
meets a gent evolvin' outcries of glee, an' walkin' on both sides of
the street, an' most likely emptyin' a Colt's pistol at the
firmament, an' all without obv'ous cause, I dedooces the presence in
that gent's interior of a lib'ral freight of nose-paint. If, as I'm
proceedin' about my destinies, I hears the voice of a gun, I argues
the existence of a weepon in my vicinity. If the lead tharfrom cuts
my saddle-horn, or creases my pony, or plugs a double hole in my
sombrero, or some sech little play, I dies to a theery that the
knight errant who's back of the racket means me, onlimbers my field
piece, an' enters into the sperit of the eepisode. Which I gives you
this in almost them very words before. Still, signs an' omens in
what Doc Peets would term their 'occultisms,' I passes up. I
wouldn't live in them apprehensions that beleaguers Boggs for a full
herd of three-year-olds. "Which I'll never forget them eloocidations
beright onfolds on Boggs one evenin' about the mournin' an' the
howlin' of some hound-dogs that's been sendin' thrills through
Boggs. It's when some outfit of mountebanks is givin' a show called
'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' over to Huggins' Bird Cage Op'ry House, an'
these yere saddenin' canines—big, lop-y'eared hound-dogs, they be—
works in the piece.
"'Do you-all hear them hound-clogs a-mournin' an' a-bayin' last
evenin'?' asked Boggs of Enright.
"'Shore! I hears 'em,' says Enright.
"Enright, that a-way, is allers combatin' of Boggs' sooperstitions.
As he says, if somebody don't head Boggs off, them deloosions
spreads, an' the first news you gets, Wolfville's holdin' table-
tippin's an' is goin' all spraddled out on seances an' sim'lar
imbecilities, same as them sperit-rappin' hold-ups one encounters in
the East. In sech event, Red Dog's doo to deem us locoed, an' could
treat us with jestified disdain. Enright don't aim to allow
Wolfville's good repoote to bog down to any sech extent, none
whatever; an' so stand's in to protect both the camp an' pore Boggs
himse'f from Boggs' weird an' ranikaboo idees. So Enright says
ag'in: 'Shore! I hears 'em. An' what of it? Can't you-all let a pore
pup howl, when his heart is low an' his destinies most likely has
got tangled in their rope?'
"'jest the same,' says Boggs, 'them outcries of theirs makes me feel
a heap ambiguous. I'm drawin' kyards to a pa'r of fours that first
howl they emits, an' I smells bad luck an' thinks to myse'f, "Here's
where you get killed too dead to skin!" But as I takes in three
aces, an' as the harvest tharof is crowdin' hard towards two hundred
dollars, I concloodes, final, them dogs don't have me on their mind
after all; an' so I'm appeased a whole lot. Still, I'm cur'ous to
know whatever they're howlin' about anyhow.'
"'Which you're too conceited, Boggs,' says Tutt, cuttin' in on the
powwow. 'You-all is allers thinkin' everythin' means you. Now, I
hears them dogs howlin', an' havin' beheld the spectacle they
performs in, I sort o' allows they're sorrowin' over their
disgraceful employment—sort o' 'shamed of their game. An' well them
dogs might be bowed in sperit! for a more mendacious an' lyin'
meelodramy than said "Uncle Tom's Cabin," I never yet pays four
white chips to see; an' I'm from Illinoy, an' was a Abe Lincoln man
an' a rank black ab'litionist besides.'
"'Seein' I once owns a couple of hundred Guineas,' says Enright, 'my
feelin's ag'in slavery never mounts so high as Tutt's; but as for
eloocidatin' them dog-songs that's set your nerves to millin',
Boggs, it's easy. Whenever you-all hears a dog mournin' an' howlin'
like them hound-pups does last night, that's because he smells
somethin' he can't locate; an' nacherally he's agitated tharby. Now
yereafter, never let your imagination pull its picket-pin that a-
way, an' go to cavortin' 'round permiscus—don't go romancin' off on
any of them ghost round-ups you're addicted to. Thar's the whole
groosome myst'ry laid b'ar; them pups merely smells things they
can't locate, an' it frets 'em.'
"'None the less,' remarks Cherokee Hall, 'while I reckons Enright
gives us the c'rrect line on dogs that gets audible that a-way, an'
onravels them howls in all their meanin's, I confesses I'm a heap
like Boggs about signs. Mebby, as I says prior, it's because I'm a
kyard sharp an' allers faces my footure over a faro layout. Anyhow,
signs an' omens presses on me. For one thing, I'm sooperstitious
about makin' of onyoosal arrangements to protect my play. I never
yet tries to cinch a play, an' never notes anybody else try, but we-
all quits loser. It ain't no use. Every gent, from his cradle to his
coffin, has got to take a gambler's chance. Life is like stud-poker;
an' Destiny's got an ace buried every time. It either out-lucks you
or out-plays you whenever it's so inclined; an' it seems allers so
inclined, Destiny does, jest as you're flatterin' yourse'f you've
got a shore thing. A gent's bound to play fa'r with Destiny; he can
put a bet down on that. You can't hold six kyards; you can't deal
double; you can't play no cold hands; you can't bluff Destiny. All
you-all can do is humbly an' meekly pick up the five kyards that
belongs to you, an' in a sperit of thankfulness an' praise, an'
frankly admittin' that you're lucky to be allowed to play at all, do
your lowly best tharwith. Ain't I right, Doc?' An' Cherokee, lookin'
warm an' earnest, turns to Peets.
"'As absolootely right as the sights of a Sharp's rifle,' says
Peets; 'an', while I'm not yere to render you giddy with encomiums,
Cherokee, you shore ought to expand them sentiments into a lecture.'
"'Jest to 'llustrate my meanin',' resooms Cherokee, 'let me onbosom
myse'f as to what happens a party back in Posey County, Injeanny.
I'm plumb callow at the time, bein' only about the size an' valyoo
of a pa'r of fives. but I'm plenty impressed by them events I'm
about to recount, an' the mem'ry is fresh enough for yesterday. But
to come flutterin' from my perch. Thar's a sport who makes his home-
camp in that hamlet which fosters my infancy; that is, he's thar
about six months in the year. His long suit is playin' the ponies—
he can beat the races; an' where he falls down is faro-bank, which
never fails to freeze to all the coin he changes in. That's the
palin' off his fence; faro-bank. He never does triumph at it onct.
An' still the device has him locoed; he can't let it alone. Jest so
shorely as he finds a faro-bank, jest so shorely he sets in ag'inst
it, an' jest so shorely he ain't got a tail-feather left when he
"'The races is over for the season. It's the first snow of winter on
the ground, when our sport comes trailin' in to make his annyooal
camp. He's about six thousand dollars strong; for, as I states, he
picks bosses right. An' he's been thinkin', too; this yere sport I'm
relatin' of. He's been roominatin' the baleful effects of faro-bank
in his speshul case. He knows it's no use him sayin' he wont buck
the game. This person's made them vows before. An' they holds him
about like cobwebs holds a cow—lasts about as long as a drink of
whiskey. He's bound, in the very irreg'larities of his nacher, an'
the deadly idleness of a winter with nothin' to do but think, to go
to transactin' faro-bank. An', as a high-steppin' patriot once says,
"jedgin' of the footure by the past," our sport's goin' to be
skinned alive—chewed up—compared to him a Digger Injun will loom
up in the matter of finance like a Steve Girard. An' he knows it.
Wherefore this yere crafty sharp starts in to cinch a play; starts
in to defy fate, an' rope up an' brand the footure, for at least six
months to come. An', jest as I argues, Destiny accepts the challenge
of this vainglorious sharp; acccepts it with a grin. Yere's what he
does, an' yere's what comes to pass. "'Our wise, forethoughtful
sport seeks out the robber who keeps the tavern. "The ponies will be
back in May," says he, "an' I'm perishin' of cur'osity to know how
much money you demands to feed an' sleep me till then." The tavern
man names the bundle, an' the thoughtful sport makes good. Then he
stiffens the barkeep for about ten drinks a day ontil the advent of
them ponies. Followin' which, he searches out a tailor shop an'
accoomulates a libh'ral trousseau, an' has it packed down to the
tavern an' filed away in his rooms. "Thar!" he says; "which I
reckons now I'm strong enough to go the distance. Not even a brace
game of faro-bank, nor yet any sim'lar dead-fall, prevails ag'inst
me. I flatters myse'f; for onct in a way, I've organized my
destinies so that, for six months at least, they've done got to run
troo." "'It's after supper; our sport, who's been so busy all day
treein' the chances an' runnin' of 'em out on a limb, is loafin'
about the bar. O'casionally he congratulates himse'f on havin' a
long head like a mule; then ag'in he oneasily reverts to the faro
game that's tossin' an' heavin' with all sorts o' good an' bad luck
jest across the street.
"'At first he's plumb inflex'ble that a-way, an' is goin' to deny
himse'f to faro-bank. He waxes quite heroic about it, our sport
does; a condition of sperits, by the way, I've allers noticed is
prone to immejetly precede complete c'llapse.
"'These yere reform thoughts of our sport consoomes a hour. About
that time, however, he engages himse'f with the fifth drink of nose-
paint. Tharupon faro-bank takes on a different tint. His attitoode
towards that amoosement becomes enlarged; at least he decides he'll
prance over some an' take a fall out of it for, say, a hundred or so
either way, merely to see if his luck's as black as former. An' over
capers our sport.
"'It's the same old song by the same old mockin'-bird. At second
drink time followin' midnight our sport is broke. As he gets up an'
stretches 'round a whole lot in a half-disgusted way, he still can't
he'p exultin' on how plumb cunnin' he's been. "I don't say this in
any sperit of derision," he remarks to the dealer he's been settin'
opp'site to for eight hours, an' who manoovers his fiscal over-
throw, as aforesaid, "an' shorely with no intent to mortify a wolf
like you-all, who's as remorseless as he's game, but I foresees this
racket an' insures for its defeat. You figgers you've downed me.
Mebby so. All the same, I've got my game staked out so that I eats,
drinks, sleeps, an' wears clothes till the comin' of them ponies;
an' you, an' the angels above, an' the demons down onder the sea, is
powerless to put a crimp in them calc'lations. I've got the next six
months pris'ner; I've turned the keys onto 'em same as if they're in
a calaboose. An' no power can rescoo 'em none; an' they can't break
"'An' jest to show you-all,' continyoos Cherokee, after pausin' to
tip the bottle for a spoonful, as well as let the sityooation sort
o' trickle into us in all its outlines—Cherokee is plenty graphic
that a-way, an' knows how to frame up them recitals so they takes
effect—'an' jest to show you, as I remarks former, that every gent
is bound to take a gambler's chance an' that shore-things don't
exist, let me ask you what happens? Our confident sport ain't hardly
got that bluff humg up before—"Inglegojang! inglegojang!" goes the
church bell in alarm; the tavern's took fire an' burns plumb to the
ground; drinks, chuck, bed, raiment, the whole bunch of tricks; an'
thar's our wise sport out in the snow an' nothin' but a black ruck
of smokin' ruins to remind him of that cinch of his.
"'It's a lesson to him, though. As he stands thar meditatin' on the
expectedness of the unexpected, he observes to himse'f, "Providence,
if so minded, can beat a royal flush; an' any gent holdin' contrary
views is a liar, amen!"'
"'Good, Cherokee!' says Texas Thompson, as Cherokee comes to a halt;
'I'm yere to observe you're a mighty excellent racontoor. Yere's
lookin' at you!' an' Thompson raises his glass.
"'I catches your eye,' says Cherokee, a heap pleased, as he p'litely
caroms his glass ag'in Thompson's.
"'But Cherokee,' whispers Faro Nell, from where she's clost by his
side, 'if thar's somethin' I desires a whole lot, an' is doin' my
level best to deserve an' keep it all my life, do you-all reckon now
that Providence ups an' throws me down?'
"'Not you, Nell,' says Cherokee, as he smiles on Faro Nell, an' kind
o' surreptitious pats her har; 'not you. Providence guides your game
an' guarantees it. I'm only discussin' of men. It's one of the best
things about both Providence an' woman, an' to the credit of all
concerned, that they allers agrees—allers goes hand in hand.'
"'An' that last utterance is a fact,' observes Dave Tutt, who's been
interested deep. 'When I first weds Tucson Jennie that time, I
doubts them tenets. That's over a year ago, an' you bet I'm settin'
yere to-day in possession of a new faith. It takes time to teach me,
but I now sees that Tucson Jennie's the onfalterin' mouth-piece of
eternal trooth; the full partner of Providence, a-holdin' down the
post of lookout; an' that when she sets forth things, them things is
decreed an' foreordained.'"
And now my friend lapsed into silence and began to reload his pipe.
"I used to smoke Lone Jack out on the plains," he murmured, "or
mebby Frootes an' Flowers; but I don't know! I figgers this yere
Bull Durham's got more force of char'cter."
Then came more silence. But the night was young; I was disposed to
hear further of Wolfville and its worthy citizens. My readiest
method was to put forth a question.
"But how about yourself?" I asked. "Do you, like Hall and Boggs,
believe that Heaven especially interferes with the plans of man; or
that a challenge, direct or otherwise, to the Powers Above, is
liable to earn reply?"
"I states ag'in," he retorted, puffing a calmative cloud the while,
"I states ag'in: Thar's no sooperstition ridin' the ranges of my
breast. Yet I sees enough in a long an' more or less eventful life—
not to say an ill-employed life—to know that Providence packs a
gun; an', as more than one scoffer finds out, she don't go heeled
for fun. Thar's that Gene Watkins, who gets killed by lightnin' over
by the Eagle Claw that time; downed for blasphemin', he is."
"Let me hear about this Watkins," I urged; "no one is more
interested in the doings of Providence than I."
"Which from what little I notes of you," he observed, regarding me
with a glance of dubious, sour suspicion, "you-all shore ought to
be. An' I'll tell you one thing: If Providence ever gets wearied of
the way you acts—an' it ain't none onlikely—you might as well set
in your chips an' quit.
"But as to this yere Watkins: I don't know about the wisdom of
burdenin' you with Watkins. It's gettin' plenty late, an' I'm some
fatigued myse'f; I must be organizin' to bed myse'f down a lot for
the night. I ain't so cap'ble of sleeplessness as I am 'way back
yonder in the years when I'm workin' cattle along the old Jones an'
Plummer trail. However, it won't take long, this Watkins killin';
an' seein' my moods is in the saddle that a-way, I may as well let
you have it. This yere ain't a story exackly; it's more like a
aneckdote; but it allers strikes me as sheddin' a ray on them
"This Watkins is a mere yooth; he jumps into Wolfville from the
Texas Panhandle, where, it's rumored, he's been over free with a
gun. However, that don't bother us a bit. Arizona conducts herse'f
on the principle of everybody ridin' his own sign-camps, an' she
ain't roundin' up escaped felons for no commoonity but herse'f.
"The first time I sees this Watkins party is one evenin' when he
sa'nters down the middle aisle of the Bird Cage Op'ry House, with
his lariat in his hands, an' tosses the loop over a lady who's jest
then renderin' that good old hymn:
"In the days of old, the days of gold,
The days of forty-nine!
"It's mighty discouragin', this Watkins breakin' in on them
melodies. It's more than discouragin', it's scand'lous. The loop is
a bit big, an' falls cl'ar down an' fastens to this cantatrice by
the fetlocks. An' then this locoed Watkins turns loose to pull her
over the footlights. Which the worst is, havin' her by the heels,
an' she settin' down that a-way, he pulls that lady over the
footlights the wrong way.
"It's at this epock, Jack Moore, who in his capac'ty of marshal is
domineerin' about down in front, whacks Watkins over the head with
his six-shooter, an' the lady's saved.
"'What be you-all tryin' to do with this diva?' demands Moore of the
"'Which I'm enamored of her,' says this yere Watkins, 'an' thar's a
heap of things I was aimin' to pour into her years. But now you've
done pounded me on top with that gun, they all gets jolted out of my
"'Jest the same,' says Moore, 'if I was you, I'd take the saddle off
my emotions, an' hobble 'em out to rest some. Meanwhile I'd think up
a new system. You-all lacks reticence; also you're a heap too much
disposed to keep yourse'f in the public eye. I don't know how it is
in Texas, but yere in Arizona a gent who gets too cel'brated gets
shot. Also, I might add in concloosion that your Panhandle notions
of a good way to get confidenshul with a lady don't obtain none
yere—they don't go. An' so I warns you, never express your feelin's
with a lariat in this theayter no more. Wolfville yields leeniency
to ign'rance once, but never ag'in.'
"But, as I'm sayin'; about this Watkins over on the Eagle Claw:
Thar's a half-dozen of us—a floatin' outfit we be, ridin' the
range, pickin' up what calves misses the spring brandin'—an' we're
bringin' along mebby three hundred cows an' half-grown calves, an'
headin' for the bar-B-eight—that's Enright's brand—corral to mark
the calves. It's late in August, jest at the beginnin' of the rains.
Thar's a storm, an' everybody's in the saddle, plumb down to the
cook, tryin' to hold the bunch. It's flash on flash of lightnin';
an' thunder followin' on the heels of thunder-clap. As we-all is
cirklin' the little herd, an' singin' to 'em to restore their reason
with sounds they saveys, thar comes a most inord'nate flash of
lightnin', an' a crash of thunder like a mountain fallin'; it sort
o' stands us up on our hocks. It makes the pore cattle bat their
eyes, an' almost knocks their horns off.
"Thar's a moment of silence followin'; an' then this yere ontamed
Watkins, tossin' his hand at the sky, shouts out:
"'Blaze away! my gray-head creator! You-all has been shootin' at me
for twenty years; you ain't hit me yet!'
"Watkins is close to Boggs when he cuts loose this yere defiance;
an' it simply scares Boggs cold! He's afraid he'll get picked off
along with Watkins. Boggs, in his frenzy, pulls his six-shooter, an'
goes to dictatin' with it towards Watkins.
"'Pull your freight,' roars Boggs; 'don't you stay near me none.
Get, or I'll give you every load in the gun.'
"This Watkins person spurs his cayouse away; at the same time he's
laughin' at Boggs, deemin' his terrors that a-way as reedic'lous. As
he does, a streak of white fire comes down, straight as a blazin'
arrer, an' with it sech a whirl of thunder, which I thought the
earth had split! An' it shorely runs the devil's brand on Watkins.
"When we recovers, thar he lies; dead—an' his pony dead with him.
An' he must have got the limit; for, son, the very rowels of his
spurs is melted. Right in the middle of his leather hat-band, where
it covers his fore'ead, thar's burned a hole about the size of a 44-
calibre bullet; that's where the bolt goes in. I remembers, as we
gathers 'round, how Boggs picks up the hat. It's stopped rainin' of
a sudden, an' the stars is showin' two or three, where the clouds is
partin' away. Boggs stands thar lookin' first at the sky, an' then
at the hat where the hole is. Then he shakes his head. 'She's a long
shot, but a center one,' says Boggs."
Colonel Sterett's War Record.
It had been dark and overcast as to skies; the weather, however, was
found serene and balmy enough. As I climbed the steps after my
afternoon canter, I encountered the Old Cattleman. He was re-
locating one of the big veranda chairs more to his comfort, and the
better to enjoy his tobacco. He gave me a glance as I came up.
"Them's mighty puny spurs," he observed with an eye of half
commiseration, half disdain; "them's shore reedic'lous. Which they'd
destroy your standin' with a cow pony, utter. He'd fill up with
contempt for you like a water-hole in April. Shore! it's the rowels;
they oughter be about the size an' shape of a mornin' star, them
rowels had. Then a gent might hope for action. An' whyever don't
you-all wear leather chapps that a-way, instead of them jimcrow
boots an' trousers? They're plumb amoosin', them garments be. No, I
onderstands; you don't go chargin' about in the bresh an' don't need
chapps, but still you oughter don 'em for the looks. Thar's a wrong
an' a right way to do; an' chapps is right. Thar's Johnny Cook of
the Turkey Track; he's like you; he contemns chapps. Johnny charges
into a wire fence one midnight, sort o' sidles into said boundary
full surge; after that Johnny wears chapps all right. Does it hurt
him? Son, them wires t'ars enough hide off Johnny, from some'ers
about the hock, to make a saddle cover, an' he loses blood
sufficient to paint a house. He comes mighty near goin' shy a laig
on the deal. It's a lesson on c'rrect costumes that Johnny don't
"No, I never rides a hoss none now. These yere Eastern saddles ain't
the right model. Which they's a heap too low in the cantle an' too
low in the horn. An' them stirrup leathers is too short, an' two
inches too far for'ard. I never does grade over-high for ridin' a
hoss, even at my best. No, I don't get pitched off more'n is comin'
to me; still, I ain't p'inted out to tenderfeet as no 'Centaur' as
Doc Peets calls'em. I gets along without buckin' straps, an' my
friends don't have to tie no roll of blankets across my saddle-horn,
an' that's about the best I can report.
"Texas Thompson most likely is the chief equestr'an of Wolfville.
One time Texas makes a wager of a gallon of licker with Jack Moore,
an' son! yere's what Texas does. I sees him with these eyes. Texas
takes his rope an' ties down a bronco; one the record whereof is
that he's that toomultuous no one can ride him. Most gents would
have ducked at the name of this yere steed, the same bein'
'Dynamite.' But Texas makes the bet I mentions, an' lays for this
onrooly cayouse with all the confidence of virgin gold that a-way.
"Texas ropes an' ties him down an' cinches the saddle onto him while
he's layin' thar; Tutt kneelin' on his locoed head doorin' the
ceremony. Then Tutt throws him loose; an' when he gets up he
nacherally rises with Texas Thompson on his back.
"First, that bronco stands in a daze, an' Texas takes advantage of
his trance to lay two silver dollars on the saddle, one onder each
of his laigs. An' final, you should shorely have beheld that bronco
put his nose between his laigs an' arch himse'f an' buck! Reg'lar
worm-fence buckin' it is; an' when he ain't hittin' the ground, he's
shore abundant in that atmosphere a lot.
"In the midst of these yere flights, which the same is enough to
stim'late the imagination of a Apache, Texas, as ca'm an' onmoved as
the Spanish Peaks, rolls an' lights a cigarette. Then he picks up
the bridle an' gives that roysterin' bronco jest enough of the
Mexican bit to fill his mouth with blood an' his mind with doubts,
an' stops him. When Texas swings to the ground, them two silver
dollars comes jinglin' along; which he holds 'em to the saddle that
a-way throughout them exercises. It's them dollars an' the cigarette
that raises the licker issue between Jack an' Texas; an' of course,
Texas quits winner for the nose-paint."
I had settled by this time into a chair convenient to my reminiscent
companion, and relishing the restful ease after a twenty-mile run,
decided to prolong the talk. Feeling for subjects, I became
tentatively curious concerning politics.
"Cow people," said my friend, "never saveys pol'tics. I wouldn't
give a Mexican sheep—which is the thing of lowest valyoo I knows of
except Mexicans themse'fs—or the views of any cow-puncher on them
questions of state. You can gamble an' make the roof the limit, them
opinions, when you-all once gets 'em rounded up, would be shore
loodicrous, not to say footile.
"Now, we-all wolves of Wolfville used to let Colonel Sterett do our
polit'cal yelpin' for us; sort o' took his word for p'sition an'
stood pat tharon. It's in the Red Light the very evenin' when Texas
subdoos that bronco, an' lets the whey outen Jack Moore to the
extent of said jug of Valley Tan, that Colonel Sterett goes off at a
round road-gait on this yere very topic of pol'tics, an' winds up by
tellin' us of his attitood, personal, doorin' the civil war, an' the
debt he owes some Gen'ral named Wheeler for savin' of his life.
"'Pol'tics,' remarks Colonel Sterett on that o'casion, re-fillin'
his glass for the severaleth time, 'jest nacherally oozes from a
editor, as you-all who reads reg'larly the Coyote b'ars witness;
he's saturated with pol'tics same as Huggins is with whiskey. As for
myse'f, aside from my vocations of them tripods, pol'tics is inborn
in me. I gets 'em from my grandfather, as tall a sport an' as high-
rollin' a statesman as ever packs a bowie or wins the beef at a
shootin' match in old Kaintucky. Yes, sir,' says the Colonel, an
thar's a pensive look in his eyes like he's countin' up that
ancestor's merits in his mem'ry; 'pol'tics with me that-away is
"'Congenital!' says Dan Boggs, an' his tones is a heap satisfact'ry;
'an' thar's a word that's good enough for a dog. I reckons I'll tie
it down an' brand it into my bunch right yere.'
"'My grandfather,' goes on the Colonel, 'is a Jackson man; from the
top of the deck plumb down to the hock kyard, he's nothin' but
Jackson. This yere attitood of my grandsire, an' him camped in the
swarmin' midst of a Henry Clay country, is frootful of adventures
an' calls for plenty nerve. But the old Spartan goes through.
"'Often as a child, that old gent has done took me on his knee an'
told me how he meets up first with Gen'ral Jackson. He's goin' down
the river in one of them little old steamboats of that day, an' the
boat is shore crowded. My grandfather has to sleep on the floor, as
any more in the bunks would mean a struggle for life an' death.
Thar's plenty of bunkless gents, however, besides him, an' as he
sinks into them sound an' dreamless slumbers which is the her'tage
of folks whose consciences run trop, he hears 'em drinkin' an'
talkin' an' barterin' mendacity, an' argyfyin' pol'tics on all
"'My grandfather sleeps on for hours, an' is only aroused from them
torpors, final, by some sport chunkin' him a thump in the back. The
old lion is sleepin' on his face, that a-way, an' when he gets
mauled like I relates, he wakes up an' goes to struggle to his feet.
"'"Bars an' buffaloes!" says my grandfather; "whatever's that?"
"'"Lay still, stranger," says the party who smites him; "I've only
got two to go."
"'That's what it is. It's a couple of gents playin' seven-up; an'
bein' crowded, they yootilizes my grandfather for a table. This
sport is swingin' the ace for the opp'site party's jack, an' he
boards his kyard with that enthoosiasm it comes mighty clost to
dislocatin' my old gent's shoulder. But he's the last Kaintuckian to
go interfcrin' with the reecreations of others, so he lays thar
still an' prone till the hand's played out.
"'"High, jack, game!" says the stranger, countin' up; "that puts me
out an' one over for lannyap."
"'This yere seven-up gent turns out to be Gen'ral Jackson, an' him
an' my grandfather camps down in a corner, drinks up the quart of
Cincinnati Rectified which is the stakes, an' becomes mootually
acquainted. An', gents, I says it with pride, the hero of the Hoss-
shoe, an' the walloper of them English at New Orleans takes to my
grandfather like a honeysuckle to a front porch.
"'My grandfather comes plenty near forfeitin' then good opinions of
the Gen'ral, though. It's the next day, an' that ancestor of mine
an' the Gen'ral is recoverin' themse'fs from the conversation of the
night before with a glass or two of tanzy bitters, when a lady, who
descends on the boat at Madison, comes bulgin' into the gents'
cabin. The captain an' two or three of the boat's folks tries to
herd her into the women's cabin; but she withers 'em with a look,
breshes 'em aside, an' stampedes along in among the men-people like
I explains. About forty of 'em's smokin'; an' as tobacco is a
fav'rite weakness of the tribe of Sterett, my grandfather is smokin'
"'"I wants you-all to make these yere miscreants stop smokin'," says
the lady to the captain, who follows along thinkin' mebby he gets
her headed right after she's had her run out an' tires down some.
"You're the captain of this tub," says the lady, "an' I demands my
rights. Make these barb'rous miscreants stop smokin', or I leaves
the boat ag'in right yere."
"'The lady's plumb fierce, an' her face, which is stern an' heroic,
carries a capac'ty for trouble lurkin' 'round in it, same as one of
them bald hornet's nests on a beech limb. Nacherally my
grandfather's gaze gets riveted on this lady a whole lot, his pipe
hangin' forgetful from his lips. The lady's eyes all at once comes
down on my grandfather, partic'lar an' personal, like a milk-crock
from a high shelf.
"'"An' I means you speshul," says the lady, p'intin' the finger of
scorn at my grandfather. "The idee of you standin' thar smokin' in
my very face, an' me a totterin' invalid. It shorely shows you ain't
nothin' but a brute. If I was your wife I'd give you p'isen."
"'"Which if you was my wife, I'd shore take it," says my
grandfather; for them epithets spurs him on the raw, an' he forgets
he's a gent, that a-way, an' lets fly this yere retort before he can
give himse'f the curb.
"'The moment my grandfather makes them observations, the lady
catches her face—which as I tells you is a cross between a gridiron
an' a steel trap—with both her hands, shakes her ha'r down her
back, an' cuts loose a scream which, like a b'ar in a hawg-pen,
carries all before it. Then she falls into the captain's arms an'
orders him to pack her out on deck where she can faint.
"'"Whatever be you-all insultin' this yere lady for?" says a
passenger, turnin' on my grandfather like a crate of wildcats.
"Which I'm the Roarin' Wolverine of Smoky Bottoms, an' I waits for a
"'My grandfather is standin' thar some confoosed an' wrought up, an'
as warm as a wolf, thinkin' how ornery he's been by gettin' acrid
with that lady. The way he feels, this yere Roarin' Wolverine party
comes for'ard as a boon. The old gent simply falls upon him, jaw an'
claw, an' goes to smashin' furniture an' fixin's with him.
"'The Roarin' Wolverine allows after, when him an' my grandfather
drinks a toddy an' compares notes, while a jack-laig doctor who's
aboard sews the Roarin' Wolverine's y'ear back on, that he thinks at
the time it's the boat blowin' up.
"'"She's shore the vividest skrimmage I ever partic'pates in," says
the Roarin' Wolverine; "an' the busiest. I wouldn't have missed it
for a small clay farm."
"'But Gen'ral Jackson when he comes back from offerin' condolences
to the lady, looks dignified an' shakes his head a heap grave.
"'"Them contoomelious remarks to the lady," he says to my
grandfather, "lowers you in my esteem a lot. An' while the way you
breaks up that settee with the Roarin' Wolverine goes some towards
reestablishin' you, still I shall not look on you as the gent I
takes you for, ontil you seeks this yere injured female an'
crawfishes on that p'isen-takin' bluff."
"'So my grandfather goes out on deck where the lady is still sobbin'
an' hangin' on the captain's neck like the loop of a rope, an'
apol'gizes. Then the lady takes a brace, accepts them contritions,
an' puts it up for her part that she can see my grandfather's a
shore-enough gent an' a son of chivalry; an' with that the riot
winds up plumb pleasant all 'round.'
"'If I may come romancin' in yere,' says Doc Peets, sort o' breakin'
into the play at this p'int, 'with a interruption, I wants to say
that I regyards this as a very pretty narratif, an' requests the
drinks onct to the Colonel's grandfather.' We drinks accordin', an'
the Colonel resoomes.
"'My grandfather comes back from this yere expedition down the Ohio
a most voylent Jackson man. An' he's troo to his faith as a adherent
to Jackson through times when the Clay folks gets that intemp'rate
they hunts 'em with dogs. The old gent was wont, as I su'gests, to
regale my childish y'ears with the story of what he suffers, He
tells how he goes pirootin' off among the farmers in the back
counties; sleepin' on husk beds, till the bed-ropes cuts plumb
through an' marks out a checker-board on his frame that would stay
for months. Once he's sleepin' in a loft, an' all of a sudden about
daybreak the old gent hears a squall that mighty near locoes him,
it's so clost an' turrible. He boils out on the floor an' begins to
claw on his duds, allowin', bein' he's only half awake that a-way,
that it's a passel of them murderin' Clay Whigs who's come to crawl
his hump for shore. But she's a false alarm. It's only a Dom'nick
rooster who's been perched all night on my grandfather's wrist where
his arm sticks outen bed, an' who's done crowed a whole lot, as is
his habit when he glints the comin' day. It's them sort o' things
that sends a shudder through you, an' shows what that old patriot
suffers for his faith.
"'But my grandfather keeps on prevailin' along in them views ontil
he jest conquers his county an' carries her for Jackson. Shore! he
has trouble at the polls, an' trouble in the conventions. But he
persists; an' he's that domineerin' an' dogmatic they at last not
only gives him his way, but comes rackin' along with him. In the
last convention, he nacherally herds things into a corner, an'
thar's only forty votes ag'in him at the finish. My grandfather
allers says when relatin' of it to me long afterwards:
"'"An' grandson Willyum, five gallons more of rum would have made
that convention yoonanimous.
"'But what he'ps the old gent most towards the last, is a j'int
debate he has with Spence Witherspoon, which begins with
reecrim'nations an' winds up with the guns. Also, it leaves this
yere aggravatin' Witherspoon less a whole lot.
"'"Wasn't you-all for nullification, an' ain't you now for Jackson
an' the union?" asks this yere insultin' Witherspoon. "Didn't you
make a Calhoun speech over on Mink Run two years ago, an' ain't you
at this barbecue, to-day, consoomin' burgoo an' shoutin' for Old
"'"What you-all states is troo," says my grandfather. "But my party
turns, an' I turns with it. You-all can't lose Jack Sterett. He can
turn so quick the heels of his moccasins will be in front."
"'"Which them talents of yours for change," says Witherspoon,
"reminds me a powerful lot of the story of how Jedge Chinn gives
Bill Hatfield, the blacksmith, that Berkshire suckin' pig.
'"An' whatever is that story?" asks my grandfather, beginnin' to
loosen his bowie-knife in its sheath.
"'"Take your paws off that old butcher of your'n," returns this
pesterin' Witherspoon, "an' I'll tell the story. But you've got to
quit triflin' with that 'leven-inch knife ontil I'm plumb through,
or I'll fool you up a lot an' jest won't tell it."
"'Tharupon my grandfather takes his hand offen the knife-haft, an'
Witherspoon branches forth:
"'"When I recalls how this oncompromisin' outlaw," p'intin' to my
grandfather, "talks for Calhoun an' nullification over on Mink Run,
an' today is yere shoutin' in a rum-sodden way for the union an'
Andy Jackson, as I observes yeretofore, it shore reminds me of the
story of how Jedge Chinn give Bill Hatfield that Berkshire shoat.
'Send over one of your niggers with a basket an' let him get one,
Bill,' says Jedge Chinn, who's been tellin' Hatfield about the pigs.
Neyt day, Bill mounts his nigger boy, Dick, on a mule, with a basket
on his arm, an' Dick lines out for Jedge Chinn's for to fetch away
that little hawg. Dick puts him in the basket, climbs onto his mule,
an' goes teeterin' out for home. On the way back, Dick stops at
Hickman's tavern. While he's pourin' in a gill of corn jooce, a wag
who's present subtracts the pig an' puts in one of old Hickman's
black Noofoundland pups. When Dick gets home to Bill Hatfield's,
Bill takes one look at the pup, breaks the big rasp on Dick's head,
throws the forehammer at him, an' bids him go back to Jedge Chinn
an' tell him that he, Bill, will sally over the first dull day an'
p'isen his cattle an' burn his barns. Dick takes the basket full of
dog on his arm, an' goes p'intin' for Jedge Chinn. Nacherally, Dick
stops at Hickman's tavern so as to mollify his feelin's with that
red-eye. This yere wag gets in ag'in on the play, subtracts the pup
an' restores the little hawg a whole lot. When Dick gets to Jedge
Chinn, he onfolds to the Jedge touchin' them transformations from
pig to pup. 'Pshaw!' says the Jedge, who's one of them pos'tive
sharps that no ghost tales is goin' to shake; 'pshaw! Bill
Hatfield's gettin' to be a loonatic. I tells him the last time I has
my hoss shod that if he keeps on pourin' down that Hickman whiskey,
he'll shorely die, an' begin by dyin' at the top. These yere
illoosions of his shows I drives the center.' Then the Jedge
oncovers the basket an' turns out the little hawg. When nigger Dick
sees him, he falls on his knees. 'I'm a chu'ch member, Marse Jedge,'
says Dick, 'an' you-all believes what I says. That anamile's
conjured, Jedge. I sees him yere an' I sees him thar; an', Jedge,
he's either pig or pup, whichever way he likes.'
"'"An', ladies an' gents," concloodes this Witherspoon, makin' a
incriminatin' gesture so's to incloode my grandfather that a-way;
"when I reflects on this onblushin' turncoat, Jack Sterett, as I
states prior, it makes me think of how Jedge Chinn lavishes that
Berkshire shoat on blacksmith Bill Hatfield. Confessin' that
aforetime he's a nullification pig on Mink Run, he sets yere at this
barbecue an' without color of shame declar's himse'f a union pup.
Mister Cha'rman, all I can say is, it shore beats squinch owls!"
"'As the story is finished, the trooce which binds my grandfather
ends, an' he pulls his bowie-knife an' chases this Witherspoon from
the rostrum. He'd had his detractor's skelp right thar, but the
cha'rman an' other leadin' sperits interferes, an' insists on them
resentments of my grandfather's findin' the usual channel in their
expression. Witherspoon, who's got on a new blanket coat, allows he
won't fight none with knives as they cuts an' sp'iles your clothes;
he says he prefers rifles an' fifty paces for his. My grandfather,
who's the easiest gent to get along with in matters of mere detail,
is agree'ble; an' as neither him nor Witherspoon has brought their
weepons, the two vice pres'dents, who's goin' to act as seconds—the
pres'dent by mootual consent dealin' the game as referee—rummages
about air' borrys a brace of Looeyville rifles from members of the
Black B'ar Glee Club—they're the barytone an' tenor—an' my
grandfather an' the scandal-mongerin' Witherspoon is stood up.
"'"Gents," says the pres'dent, "the words will be, 'Fire-one-two-
three-stop.' It's incumbent on you-all to blaze away anywhere
between the words 'Fire' an' 'Stop'. My partin' injunctions is, 'May
heaven defend the right,' an' be shore an' see your hindsights as
you onhooks your guns."
"'At the word, my grandfather an' Witherspoon responds prompt an'
gay. Witherspoon overshoots, while my grandfather plants his lead in
among Witherspoon's idees, an' that racontoor quits Kaintucky for
the other world without a murmur.
"'"I regyards this event as a vict'ry for Jackson an' principle,"
says my grandfather, as he's called on to proceed with his oration,
"an' I'd like to say in that connection, if Henry Clay will count
his spoons when he next comes sneakin' home from Washin'ton, he'll
find he's short Spence Witherspoon."'
"'Your grandfather's a troo humorist,' says Texas Thompson, as
Colonel Sterett pauses in them recitals of his to reach the bottle;
'I looks on that last witticism of his as plumb apt.'
"'My grandfather,' resoomes Colonel Sterett, after bein' refreshed,
'is as full of fun as money-musk, an' when that audience gets onto
the joke in its completeness, the merriment is wide an yooniversal.
It's the hit of the barbecue; an' in this way, little by little, my
grandfather wins his neighbors to his beliefs, ontil he's got the
commoonity all stretched an' hawgtied, an' brands her triumphant for
"'An' does your own pap follow in the footprints of his old gent, as
a convincin' an' determined statesman that a-way?' asks Doc Peets.
'No,' says Colonel Sterett, 'my own personal parent simmers down a
whole lot compared to my grandfather. He don't take his pol'tics so
much to heart; his democracy ain't so virulent an' don't strike in.
His only firm stand on questions of state, as I relates the other
day, is when he insists on bein' nootral doorin' the late war. I
explains how he talks federal an' thinks reb, an' manages, that a-
way, to promote a decent average.
"'His nootrality, however, don't incloode the fam'ly none. My
brother Jeff—an' I never beholds a haughtier sperit-goes
squanderin' off with Morgan at the first boogle call,' "'That raid
of Morgan's,' says Enright, his eye brightenin', 'is plumb full of
dash an' fire.' "'Shore,' says the Colonel, 'plumb full of dash an'
fire. But Jeff tells me of it later, foot by foot, from the time
they crosses the river into Injeanny, till they comes squatterin'
across at Blennerhasset's Island into Kaintucky ag'in, all' I sadly,
though frankly, admits it looks like it possesses some elements of a
chicken-stealin' expedition also. Jeff says he never sees so many
folks sincere, an' with their minds made up, as him all' Morgan an'
the rest of the Bloo Grass chivalry encounters oil that croosade.
Thar's an uprisin' of the peasantry, Jeff says, whereever they goes;
an' then clods pursoocs Jeff an' the others, from start to finish,
with hoes an' rakes an' mattocks an' clothes-poles an' puddin'-
sticks an' other barbarous an' obsolete arms, an' never lets up
ontil Jeff an' Morgan all' their gallant comrades is ag'in safe in
the arms of their Kaintucky brethren.
Their stay in any given spot is trooly brief.
That town of Cincinnati makes up a bundle of money big enough to
choke a cow to give 'em as a ransom; but Jeff an' Morgan never do
hear of it for years. They goes by so plumb swift they don't get
notice; an' they fades away in the distance so fast they keeps ahead
of the news. However, they gets back to Kaintucky safe an' covered
with dust an' glory in even parts; an' as for Jeff speshul, as the
harvest of his valor, he reports himse'f the owner of a one-sixth
interest in a sleigh which him an' five of his indomitable
companions has done drug across the river on their return. But they
don't linger over this trophy; dooty calls 'em, so they stores the
sleigh in a barn an' rides away to further honors.
"'We never do hear of Jeff none all through that war but once. After
he's j'ined Stonewall Jackson, I recalls how he sends home six
hundred dollars in confed'rate money with a letter to my father. It
runs like this:
In camp with Stonewall Jackson.
The slave who bears this will give you from me a treasure of six
hundred dollars. I desire that you pay the tavern and whatever
creditors of mine you find. To owe debts does not comport with the
honor of a cavalier, and I propose to silence all base clamors on
that head. I remain, most venerated sir, Yours to command,
"'That's the last we-all hears of my sens'tive an' high-sperited
brother ontil after Mister Lee surrenders. It's one mornin' when
Jeff comes home, an' the manner of his return shorely displays his
nobility of soul, that a-way, as ondiscouraged an' ondimmed. No
one's lookin' for Jeff partic'lar, when I hears a steamboat whistle
for our landin'. I, bein' as I am full of the ontamed cur'osity of
yooth, goes curvin' out to see what's up. I hears the pilot give the
engineer the bells to set her back. on the sta'board wheel, an' then
on both. The boat comes driftin' in. A stagin' is let down, an with
the tread of a conqueror who should come ashore but my brother Jeff!
Thar's nothin' in his hands; he ain't got nothin' with him that he
ain't wearin'. An' all he has on is a old wool hat, a hick'ry shirt,
gray trousers, an' a pair of copper-rivet shoes as red as a bay
hoss. As he strikes the bank, Jeff turns an' sweeps the scene with
the eye of a eagle. Then takin' a bogus silver watch outen his
pocket, he w'irls her over his head by the leather string an' lets
her go out into the river, ker-chunk!
"'"Which I enters into this yere rebellion," says Jeff, flashin' a
proud, high glance on me where I stands wonderin', "without nothin',
an' I proposes to return with honor ontarnished, an' as pore as I
"'As me an' Jeff reepairs up to the house, I notes the most
renegade-lookin' nigger followin' behind.
"'"Whoever's dis yere nigger?" I asks.
"'"He's my valet," says Jeff.
"'My arm's a heap too slight,' goes on Colonel Sterett, followin' a
small libation, 'to strike a blow for the confed'racy, but my soul
is shorely in the cause. I does try to j'ine, final, an' is only
saved tharfrom, an' from what would, ondoubted, have been my certain
death, by a reb gen'ral named Wheeler. He don't mean to do it; she's
inadvertent so far as he's concerned; but he saves me jest the same.
An' settin' yere as I be, enjoyin' the friendship an' esteem of you-
all citizens of Wolfville, I feels more an' more the debt of
gratitoode I owes that gallant officer an' man.'
"'However does this Gen'ral Wheeler save you?' asks Dan Boggs.
'Which I'm shore eager to hear.'
"'The tale is simple,' responds the Colonel, 'an' it's a triboote to
that brave commander which I'm allers ready to pay. It's in the
middle years of the war, an' I'm goin' to school in a village which
lies back from the river, an' is about twenty miles from my
ancestral home. Thar's a stockade in the place which some invadin'
Yanks has built, an' thar's about twenty of 'em inside, sort o'
givin' orders to the village an' makin' its patriotic inhabitants
either march or mark time, whichever chances to be their Yankee
"'As a troo Southern yooth, who feels for his strugglin' country, I
loathes them Yankees to the limit, an' has no more use for 'em than
Huggins has for a temp'rance lecturer.
"'One day a troop of reb cavalry jumps into the village, an'
stampedes these yere invaders plumb off the scene. We gets the news
up to the school, an' adjourns in a bunch to come down town an'
cel'brate the success of the Southern arms. As I arrives at the
field of carnage, a reb cavalryman is swingin' outen the saddle. He
throws the bridle of his hoss to me.
"'" See yere, Bud," he says, "hold my hoss a minute while I sees if
I can't burn this stockade."
"'I stands thar while the reb fusses away with some pine splinters
an' lightwood, strugglin' to inaug'rate a holycaust. He can't make
the landin'; them timbers is too green, that a-way.
"'While I'm standin' thar, lendin' myse'f to this yere conflagratory
enterprise, I happens to cast my eyes over on the hills a mile back
from the village, an' I'm shocked a whole lot to observe them
eminences an' summits is bloo with Yankees comin'. Now I'm a mighty
careful boy, an' I don't allow none to let a ragin' clanjamfrey of
them Lincoln hirelings caper up on me while I'm holdin' a reb boss.
So I calls to this yere incendiary trooper where he's blowin' an'
experimentin' an' still failin' with them flames.
"'" Secesh!" I shouts; "oh, you-all secesh! You'd a mighty sight
better come get your hoss, or them Yanks who's bulgin' along over
yonder'll spread your hide on the fence."
"'This reb takes a look at the Yanks, an' then comes an' gets his
hoss. As he gathers up the bridle rein an' swings into the saddle, a
mad thirst to fight, die an' bleed for my country seizes me, an' I
grabs the reb's hoss by the bits an' detains him.
"'"Say, Mister," I pleads, "why can't you-all take me with you?"
"'" Which you're a lot too young, son," says the reb, takin' another
size-up of the Yanks.
"'" I ain't so young as I looks," I argues; "I'm jest small of my
"'" Now, I reckons that's so," says the reb, beamin' on me
approvin', "an' you're likewise mighty peart. But I'll tell you,
Bud, you ain't got no hoss."
"'"That's nothin'," I responds; "which if you-all will only get me a
gun, I can steal a hoss, that a-way, in the first mile."
"'Seein' me so ready with them argyments, an' so dead pertinacious
to go, this yere trooper begins to act oneasy, like his resolootion
gets shook some. At last he gridds his teeth together like his
mind's made up.
"'" Look yere, boy," he says, "do you know who our Gen'ral is?"
"'"No," I says, "I don't."
"'"Well," says the reb, as he shoves his feet deep in the stirrups,
an' settles in his saddle like he's goin' to make some time; "well,
he's a ragin' an' onfettered maverick, named Wheeler; an' from the
way he goes skallyhootin' 'round, he's goin' to get us all killed or
captured before ever we gets back, an' I don't want no chil'en on my
hands." "'With that this yere soldier yanks the bridle outen my
grasp, claps the steel into his hoss's flanks, an' leaves me like a
bullet from a gun. For my part, I stands thar saved; saved, as I
says, by that Gen'ral Wheeler's repootation with his men.'"
Old Man Enright's Love.
"Son, I'm gettin' plumb alarmed about myse'f," observed the Old
Cattleman, as we drew together for our usual talk. "I've been sort
o' cog'tatin' tharof, an' I begins to allow I'm a mighty sight too
garrulous that a-way. This yere conversation habit is shore growin'
on me, an', if I don't watch out, I'm goin' to be a bigger talker
than old Vance Groggins,"
"Was Groggins a great conversationist?" I asked.
"Does this yere Vance Groggins converse? Which I wish I has stored
by a pint of licker for everythin' Vance says! It would be a long
spell before ever I'm driven to go ransackin' 'round to find one of
them life-savin' stations, called by common consent, a 's'loon!'
This Vance don't do nothin' but talk; he's got that much to say, it
gets in his way. Vance comes mighty clost to gettin' a heap the
worst of it once merely on account of them powers of commoonication.
"You see, this yere Vance is a broke-down sport, an' is dealin'
faro-bank for Jess Jenkins over on the Canadian. An' Vance jest
can't resist takin' part in every conversation that's started. Let
two gents across the layout go to exchangin' views, or swappin'
observations, an' you can gamble that Vance comes jimmin' along in.
An' Vance is allers tellin' about his brother Abe. Does a gent
mention that he brands eight hundred calves that spring round-up,
Vance cuts in with the bluff that his brother Abe brands twelve
hundred; does a sport su'gest that he sees a party win four thousand
dollars ag'in monte or roulette or faro or some sech amoosement,
Vance gets thar prompt with some ranikaboo relations of a time when
his brother Abe goes ag'inst Whitey Bob at Wichita, makes a killin'
of over sixty thousand dollars, an' breaks the bank.
"'My brother Abe,' says this yere scand'lous Vance that a-way, 'jest
nacherally wins the kyarpets off Whitey Bob's floor.'
"Son, it's simple egreegious the way this Vance carries on in them
fool rev'lations touchin' his brother Abe.
"It gets so, final, that a passel of sports lodges complaints with
Jenkins. 'What's the use!' says them maddened sports to Jenkins.
'This Vance don't deal faro-bank; he jest don't do nothin' but talk.
Thar we sets, our bets on the layout, an' we don't get no action.
This Vance won't deal a kyard for fear we don't hear about that
brother Abe Groggins of his'n.'
"Them criticisms makes Jenkins plenty quer'lous. He rounds Vance up
an' curries him a whole lot. Then he tells Vance to pull his
freight; he don't want him to deal faro-bank for him no more.
"At this, Vance turns plumb piteous, an' asks Jenkins not to throw
him loose, that a-way. An' he promises to re-organize an' alter his
system. 'I knows my failin's,' says Vance a heap mournful. 'You
don't have to come 'round tauntin' me with 'em; I'm dead onto 'em
myse'f. I'm too frank an' I'm too sociable; I'm too prone to regale
my fellow gents with leafs from my experience; an' I realize, as
well as you do, Jenk, it's wrong. Shorely, I've no right to stop in
the middle of a deal to tell a story an' force the hopes an' fears,
not to say the fortunes, of a half-dozen intense sports, an' some of
'em in the hole at that, to wait till I gets through! I know it
ain't right, Jenk; but I promises you, if you'll let me go behind
the box ag'in to-night, on the honor of a kyard sharp, you-all will
never hear a yelp outen me from soda to hock. An' that's whatever!"
"'It ain't not alone that you talks forever,' remonstrates Jenkins;
'but it's them frightful lies you tells. Which they're enough to
onsettle a gent's play, to say nothin' of runnin' the resk of
raisin' a hoodoo an' queerin' my bank. But I tries you once more,
Vance; only get it straight: So shore as ever you takes to onloadin'
on the company one of them exaggerations about that felon Abe, I
won't say "Go," I'll jest onlimber an' burn the moccasins off you
with my gun.'
"It's that very night; Vance has been dealin' the game for mighty
likely it's three hours, an' no one gets a verbal rise outen him
more'n if he's a graven image. Vance is gettin' proud of himse'f,
an' Jenkins, who comes prowlin' 'round the game at times, begins to
reckon mebby Vance'll do. All goes well ontil a party lets fly some
hyperbole about a tavern he strikes in Little Rock, which for size
an' extensif characteristics lays over anythin' on earth like a
"'You thinks so?' says Vance, stoppin' the deal, an' leanin' a elbow
on the box, while he goes projectin' towards the countenance of the
Little Rock party with the forefinger of his other hand, kind o'
claimin' his attention. 'You thinks so! I allows now you-all reckons
that for a hotel, this yere Little Rock edifice is the old he-coon!
Let me tell you somethin': My brother Abe goes out to one of them
bathin' camps, swept by ocean breezes, on the Pacific slope, an' you
should shorely oughter behold the joint he slams up! Pards, thar's
more than two thousand rooms in that wickeyup! It's 'leven hundred
an' twelve foot high, four thousand two hundred an' fifty-four foot
long, an'—' It's here pore Vance catches Jenkins' eye glarin' on
him hard an' remorseless—'an' twenty foot wide,' says Vance, a heap
hurried, dashin' the kyards outen the box. 'Five lose, jack win,'
concloodes Vance confoosedly, makin' a hasty change of subjects.
"Yes, indeed!" and the old gentleman looked thoughtfully across the
lawn as he wound up his tale of the unfortunate Groggins, "Yes,
indeed If I keeps on talkin' away, I'll become a laughin'-stock,
same as that locoed Vance! Thar's one matter that allers imbues me
with a heap of respect for deef an' dumb folks; which they shorely
do keep things to themse'fs a whole lot."
It was fifteen minutes before I could convince my friend that his
Wolfville stories in no sort diminished his dignity. Also, I
reminded him of a promise to one day tell me of Enright's one affair
of love; plainly his bond in that should be fulfilled. At last he
gave way, and after commanding the coming of a favorite and highly
refreshing beverage, held forth as follows:
"It's never been my beliefs," he said, "that Sam Enright would have
dipped into them old love concerns of his if he'd been himse'f.
Enright's sick at the time. Shore! he ain't sick to the p'int of
bein' down in his blankets, an' is still meanderin' 'round the camp
as dooty dictates or his interest calls, but he's plenty ailin' jest
the same. Thar's the roodiments of a dispoote between Doc Peets an'
Enright as to why his health that time is boggin' down. Peets puts
it up it's a over-accoomulation of alkali; Enright allows it's
because he's born so long ago. Peets has his way, however, bein' a
scientist that a-way, an' takes possession of the case.
"No, it ain't them maladies that so weakens Enright he lapses into
confidences about his early love; but you see, son, Peets stops his
nose-paint; won't let him drink so much as a drop; an' bein' cut off
short on nourishment like I says, it makes Enright—at least so I
allers figgers—some childish an' light-headed. That's right; you
remove that good old Valley Tan from the menu of a party who's been
adherin' an' referrin' to it year after year for mighty likely all
his days, an' it sort o' takes the stiffenin' outen his dignity a
lot; he begins to onbend an' wax easy an' confidenshul. Is seems
then like he goes about cravin' countenance an' support. An' down
onder my belt, it strikes me at the time, an' it shore strikes me
yet, that ravishin' the canteen from Enright, nacherally enfeebles
him an' sets him to talkin' an tellin' of past days. Oh, he don't
keep up this yere onhealthful abstinence forever. Peets declar's
Enright removed from danger, an' asks him to drink, himse'f, inside
of two weeks.
"'Where a gent,' says Peets, elab'ratin' this yere theery of not
drinkin' none, 'has been crookin' his elbow constant, an' then goes
wrong, bodily, it's a great play to stop his nose-paint abrupt. It's
a shock to him, same as a extra ace in a poker deck; an' when a
gent' is ill, shocks is what he needs.'
"'But let me savey about this,' says Dan Boggs, who's allers a heap
inquis'tive an' searchin' after knowledge; 'do you-all impose this
onwonted sobriety as a penalty, or do you make the play meedic'nal?'
Meedic'nal,' says Peets. 'In extreme cases, sobriety is plenty
"Does Enright bow to Doc Peets' demands about no whiskey that a-way?
Son, Peets is plumb inex'rable about them preescriptions of his. He
looks on the mildest argyment ag'in 'em as personal affronts. Peets
is the most immov'ble sharp, medical, that ever I crosses up with;
an' when it comes to them preescriptions, the recklessest sport in
Arizona lays down his hand.
"Once I knows Peets to pass on the failin' condition of a tenderfoot
who's bunked in an' allows he'll die a lot over to the O. K.
Restauraw. Peets decides this yere shorthorn needs abstinence from
licker. Peets breaks the news to the onhappy victim, an' puts him on
water till the crisis shall be past. Also, Peets notified the Red
Light not to heed any requests of this party in respects to said
"It turns out this sick person, bonin' for licker as is plumb
nacheral, forgets himse'f as a gent an' sort o' reckons he'll get
fraudulent with Peets. He figgers he'll jest come Injunin' into the
Red Light, quil himse'f about a few drinks surreptitious, an' then
go trackin' back to his blankets, an' Doc Peets none the wiser. So,
like I says, this yere ill person fronts softly up to the Red Light
bar an' calls for Valley Tan.
"Black Jack, the barkeep, don't know this party from a cross-L
steer; he gets them mandates from Peets, but it never does strike
Black Jack that this yere is the dyin' sport allooded to. In
darkness that a-way, Black Jack tosses a glass on the bar an' shoves
the bottle. It shore looks like that failin' shorthorn is goin' to
quit winner, them recooperatifs.
"But, son, he's interrupted. He's filled his glass—an' he's been
plenty free about it—an' stands thar with the bottle in his hand,
when two guns bark, an' one bullet smashes the glass an' the other
the bottle where this person is holdin' it. No, this artillery
practice don't stampede me none; I'm plumb aware it's Doc Peets'
derringers from the go-off. Peets stands in the door, one of his
little pup-guns in each hand.
"'Which I likes your aplomb!' says Black Jack to Peets, as he swabs
off the bar in a peevish way. 'I makes it my boast that I'm the
best-nachered barkeep between the Colorado an' the Rio Grande, an'
yet I'm free to confess, sech plays chafes me. May I ask,' an' Black
Jack stops wipin' the bar an' turns on Peets plumb p'lite, 'what
your idee is in thus shootin' your way into a commercial affair in
which you has no interest?'
"'This ycre bibulous person is my patient,' says Peets, a heap
haughty. 'I preescribes no licker; an' them preescriptions is goin'
to be filled, you bet! if I has to fill 'em with a gun. Whatever do
you-all reckon a medical practitioner is? Do you figger he's a
Mexican, an' that his diagnosises, that a-way, don't go? I notifies
you this mornin' as I stands yere gettin' my third drink, that if
this outcast comes trackin' in with demands for nose-paint, to
remember he's sick an' throw him out on his head. An' yere's how I'm
"Which, of course, this explains things to Black Jack, an' he sees
his inadvertences. He comes out from behind the bar to where this
sick maverick has done fainted in the confoosion, an' collars him
an' sets him on a char.
"'Doc,' says Black Jack, when he's got the wilted gent planted firm
an' safe, 'I tenders my regrets. Havin' neither brands nor
y'earmarks to guide by, I never recognizes this person as your
invalid at all; none whatever. I'd shore bent a gun on him an'
harassed him back into his lair, as you requests, if I suspects his
identity. To show I'm on the squar', Doc, I'll do this party any
voylence, even at this late hour, which you think will make amends.'
"'Your apol'gy is accepted,' says Peets, but still haughty; 'I
descerns how you gets maladroit through errors over which you has no
control. As to this person, who's so full of stealthy cunnin', he's
all right. So long as he don't get no licker, no voylence is called
for in his case.' An' with that Peets conducts his patient, who's
come to ag'in, back to his reservation.
"But I onbuckles this afternoon to tell you-all about Old Man
Enright's early love, an' if I aims to make the trip before the moon
comes up, I better hit the trail of them reminiscences an' no
"It's in the back room of the New York Store where the casks be, an'
Enright, on whose nerves an' sperits Peets' preescriptions of 'no
licker' has been feedin' for two full days, sits thar sort o'
fidgin' with his fingers an' movin' his feet in a way which shows
he's a heap on aige. Thar's a melancholy settles on us all, as we
camps 'round on crates an' shoe boxes an' silently sympathizes with
Enright to see him so redooced. At last the grand old chief starts
in to talk without questions or requests.
"'If you-all don't mind,' says Enright, 'I'll let go a handful of
mem'ries touchin' my yooth. Thar's nothin' like maladies to make a
gent sentimental, onless it be gettin' shot up or cut up with
bullets or bowies; an' these yere visitations, which Peets thinks is
alkali an' I holds is the burdens of them years of mine, shore
leaves me plumb romantic.
'Which I've been thinkin' all day, between times when I'm thinkin'
of licker, of Polly Hawks; an' I'll say right yere she's my first
an' only love. She's a fine young female, is Polly—tall as a
saplin', with a arm on her like a cant-hook. Polly can lift an' hang
up a side of beef, an' is as good as two hands at a log-rollin'.
"'This yere's back in old Tennessee on the banks of the Cumberland.
It's about six years followin' on the Mexican war, an' I'm shot
up'ards into the semblances of a man. My affections for Polly has
their beginnin's in a coon-hunt into which b'ars an' dogs gets
commingled in painful profoosion.
"'I ain't the wonder of a week with a rifle now, since I'm old an'
dim, but them times on the Cumberland I has fame as sech. More'n
once, ag'inst the best there is in either the Cumberland or the
Tennessee bottoms, or on the ridge between, I've won as good as, say
first, second and fifth quarters in a shoot for the beef.'
"'Whatever do you-all call a fifth quarter of beef?' asks Dan Boggs.
'Four quarters is all I'm ever able to count to the anamile.'
"'It's yooth an' inexperience,' says Enright, 'that prompts them
queries. The fifth quarter is the hide an' tallow; an' also thar's a
sixth quarter, the same bein' the bullets in the stump which makes
the target, an' which is dug out a whole lot, lead bein' plenty
infrequent in them days I'm dreamin' of.
"'As I'm sayin', when Dan lams loose them thick head questions, I'm
a renowned shot, an' my weakness is huntin' b'ars. I finds 'em an'
kills 'em that easy, I thinks thar's nothin' in the world but b'ars.
An' when I ain't huntin' b'ars, I'm layin' for deer; an' when I
ain't layin' for deer, I'm squawkin' turkeys; an' when I ain't
squawkin' turkeys, I'm out nights with a passel of misfit dogs I
harbors, a shakin' up the scenery for raccoons. Altogether, I'm some
busy as you-all may well infer.
"'One night I'm coon huntin'. The dogs trees over on Rapid Run. When
I arrives, the whole pack is cirkled 'round the base of a big beech,
singin'; my old Andrew Jackson dog leadin' the choir with the air,
an' my Thomas Benton dog growlin' bass, while the others warbles
what parts they will, indiscrim'nate.
"'Nacherally, the dogs can't climb the tree none, an' I has to make
that play myse'f. I lays down my gun, an' shucks my belts an' knife,
an' goes swarmin' up the beech. It's shorely a teedious enterprise,
an' some rough besides. That beech seems as full of spikes an'
thorns as a honey locust—its a sort o' porkypine of a tree.
"'Which I works my lacerated way into the lower branches, an' then,
glances up ag'in the firmaments to locate the coon. He ain't vis'ble
none; he's higher up an' the leaves an' bresh hides him. I goes on
till I'm twenty foot from the ground; then I looks up ag'in,
"'Gents, it ain't no coon; it's a b'ar, black as paint an' as big as
a baggage wagon. He ain't two foot above me too; an' the sight of
him, settin' thar like a black bale of cotton, an' his nearness, an'
partic'larly a few terse remarks he lets drop, comes mighty clost to
astonishin' me to death. I thinks of my gun; an' then I lets go all
bolts to go an' get it. Shore, I falls outen the tree; thar ain't no
time to descend slow an' dignified.
"'As I comes crashin' along through them beech boughs, it inculcates
a misonderstandin' among the dogs. Andrew Jackson, Thomas Benton an'
the others is convoked about that tree on a purely coon theery. They
expects me to knock the coon down to 'em. They shorely do not expect
me to come tumblin' none myse'f. It tharfore befalls that when I
makes my deboo among 'em, them canines, blinded an' besotted as I
say with thoughts of coon, prounces upon me in a body. Every dog
rends off a speciment of me. They don't bite twice; they perceives
by the taste that it ain't no coon an' desists.
"'Which I don't reckon their worryin' me would have become a
continyoous performance nohow; for me an' the dogs is hardly tangled
up that a-way, when we're interfered with by the b'ar. Looks like
the example I sets is infectious; for when I lets go, the b'ar lets
go; an' I hardly hits the ground an' becomes the ragin' center of
interest to Andrew Jackson, Thomas Benton an' them others, when the
b'ar is down on all of us like the old Cumberland on a sandbar
doorin' a spring rise. I shore regyards his advent that a-way as the
day of jedgment.
"'No, we don't corral him. The b'ar simply r'ars back long enough to
put Andrew Jackson an' Thomas Benton into mournin', an' then goes
scuttlin' off through the bushes like the grace of heaven through a
camp-meetin'. As for myse'f, I lays thar; an' what between dog an'
b'ar an' the fall I gets, I'm as completely a thing of the past as
ever finds refooge in that strip of timber. As near as I makes out
by feelin' of myse'f, I ain't fit to make gourds out of. Of course,
she's a mistake on the part of the dogs, an' plumb accidental as far
as the b'ar's concerned; but it shore crumples me up as entirely as
if this yere outfit of anamiles plots the play for a month.
"'With the last flicker of my failin' strength, I crawls to my old
gent's teepee an' is took in. An' you shore should have heard the
language of that household when they sees the full an' awful extent
them dogs an' that b'ar lays me waste. Which I'm layed up eight
"'My old gent goes grumblin' off in the mornin', an' rounds up old
Aunt Tilly Hawks to nurse me. Old Aunt Tilly lives over on the
Painted Post, an' is plumb learned in yarbs an' sech as Injun
turnips, opydeldock, live-forever, skoke-berry roots, jinson an'
whitewood bark. An' so they ropes up Aunt Tilly Hawks an' tells her
to ride herd on my wounds an' dislocations.
"'But I'm plumb weak an' nervous an' can't stand Aunt Tilly none.
She ain't got no upper teeth, same as a cow, her face is wrinkled
like a burnt boot, an' she dips snuff. Moreover, she gives me the
horrors by allers singin' in a quaverin' way
"'Hark from the tombs a doleful sound,
Mine y'ears attend the cry.
Ye livin' men come view the ground
Where you shall shortly lie.
"'Aunt Tilly sounds a heap like a tea-kettle when she's renderin'
this yere madrigal, an' that, an' the words, an' all the rest, makes
me gloomy an' dejected. I'm shore pinin' away onder these yere
malign inflooences, when my old gent notes I ain't recooperatin',
an' so he guesses the cause; an' with that he gives Aunt Tilly a
lay-off, an' tells her to send along her niece Polly to take her
"'Thar's a encouragin' difference. Polly is big an' strong like I
states; but her eyes is like stars, an' she's as full of sweetness
as a bee tree or a bar'l of m'lasses. So Polly camps down by my
couch of pain an' begins dallyin' soothin'ly with my heated brow. I
commences recoverin' from them attacks of b'ars an' dogs instanter.
"'This yere Polly Hawks ain't none new to me. I never co'ts her; but
I meets her frequent at barn raisin's an' quiltin's, which allers
winds up in a dance; an' in them games an' merriments, sech as
"bowin' to the wittiest, kneelin' to the prettiest, an' kissin' the
one you loves the best," I more than once regyards Polly as an
alloorin' form of hooman hollyhock, an' selects her. But thar's no
flush of burnin' love; nothin' nore than them amiable formalities
which befits the o'casion.
"'While this yere Polly is nursin' me, however, she takes on a
different attitoode a whole lot. It looks like I begins to need her
permanent, an' every time I sets my eyes on her I feels as soft as
b'ar's grease. It's shorely love; that Polly Hawks is as sweet an'
luscious as a roast apple.'
"'Is she for troo so lovely?' asks Faro Nell, who's been hangin'
onto Enright's words.
"'Frankly, Nellie,' says Enright, sort o' pinchin' down his bluff;
'now that I'm ca'mer an' my blood is cool, this yere Polly don't
seem so plumb prismatic. Still, I must say, she's plenty radiant.'
"'Does you-all,' says Dan Boggs, 'put this yere Polly in nom'nation
to be your wife while you're quiled up sick? '
"'No, I defers them offers to moments when I'm more robust,' says
"'You shore oughter rode at her while you're sick that a-way,'
remonstrates Boggs. 'That's the time to set your stack down. Females
is easy moved to pity, an', as I've heared—for I've nothin' to go
by, personal, since I'm never married an' is never sick none—is a
heap more prone to wed a gent who's sick, than when he's well a
"'I holds them doctrines myse'f,' observes Enright; 'however, I
don't descend on Polly with no prop'sitions, neither then nor final,
as you-all shall hear, Dan, if you'll only hold yourse'f down. No, I
continyoos on lovin' Polly to myse'f that a-way, ontil I'm able to
go pokin' about on crutches; an' then, as thar's no more need of her
ministrations, Polly lines out for old Aunt Tilly's cabin ag'in.
"'It's at this yere juncture things happens which sort o'
complicates then dreams of mine. While I ain't been sayin' nothin',
an' has been plumb reticent as to my feelin's, jest the same, by
look or act, or mebby it's a sigh, I tips off my hand. It ain't no
time before all the neighbors is aware of my love for Polly Hawks.
Also, this Polly has a lover who it looks like has been co'tin' her,
an' bringin' her mink pelts an' wild turkeys indeescrim'nate, for
months. I never do hear of this gent ontil I'm cripplin' 'round on
them stilts of crutches; an' then I ain't informed of him none only
after he's informed of me.
"'Thar's a measley little limberjaw of a party whose name is Ike
Sparks; this Ike is allers runnin' about tellin' things an' settin'
traps to capture trouble for other folks. Ike is a ornery anamile—
little an' furtif—mean enough to suck aigs, an' cunnin' enough to
hide the shells. He hates everybody, this Ike does; an' he's as
suspicious as Bill Johnson's dog, which last is that doubtful an'
suspicious he shore walks sideways all his life for fear someone's
goin' to kick him. This low-down Ike imparts to Polly's other lover
about the state of my feelin's; an' then it ain't no time when I
gets notice of this sport's existence.
"'It's in the licker room of the tavern at Pine Knot, to which
scenes I've scrambled on them crutches one evenin', where this party
first meets up with me in person. He's a big, tall citizen with
lanky, long ha'r, an' is dressed in a blanket huntin' shirt an' has
a coon-skin cap with the tail hangin' over his left y'ear. Also, he
packs a Hawkins rifle, bullets about forty to the pound. For myse'f,
I don't get entranced none with this person's looks, an' as I ain't
fit, physical, for no skrimmage, I has to sing plumb low.
"'Thar's a band of us settin' 'round when this lover of Polly's
shows in the door, drinkin' an' warblin' that entertainin' ditty,
"'"Thar sits a dog, by a barn door,
An' Bingo is his name, O!
An' Bingo is his name."
"'As Polly's other beau comes in, we ceases this refrain. He pitches
his rifle to the landlord over the bar, an' calls for a Baldface
whiskey toddy. He takes four or five drinks, contemplatin' us
meanwhile a heap disdainful. Then he arches his back, bends his
elbows, begins a war-song, an' goes dancin' stiff-laig like a Injun,
in front of the bar. This is how this extravagant party sings. It's
what Colonel Sterett, yere, to whom I repeats it former, calls
"'"Let all the sons of men b'ar witness!" sings this gent, as he
goes skatin' stiff-laig about in a ring like I relates, arms bent,
an' back arched; "let all the sons of men b'ar witness; an'
speshully let a cowerin' varmint, named Sam Enright, size me up an'
shudder! I'm the maker of deserts an' the wall-eyed harbinger of
desolation! I'm kin to rattlesnakes on my mother's side; I'm king of
all the eagles an' full brother to the b'ars! I'm the bloo-eyed lynx
of Whiskey Crossin', an' I weighs four thousand pounds! I'm a he-
steamboat; I've put a crimp in a cat-a-mount with nothin' but my
livin' hands! I broke a full-grown allagator across my knee, tore
him asunder an' showered his shrinkin' fragments over a full section
of land! I hugged a cinnamon b'ar to death, an' made a grizzly plead
for mercy! Who'll come gouge with me? Who'll come bite with me?
Who'll come put his knuckles in my back? I'm Weasel-eye, the dead
shot; I'm the blood-drinkin', skelp-t'arin', knife-plyin' demon of
Sunflower Creek! The flash of my glance will deaden a whiteoak, an'
my screech in anger will back the panther plumb off his natif heath!
I'm a slayer an' a slaughterer, an' I cooks an' eats my dead! I can
wade the Cumberland without wettin' myse'f, an' I drinks outen the
spring without touchin' the ground! I'm a swinge-cat; but I warns
you not to be misled by my looks! I'm a flyin' bison, an'
deevastation rides upon my breath! Whoop! whoop! whoopee! I'm the
Purple Blossom of Gingham Mountain, an' where is that son of thunder
who'll try an' nip me in the bud! Whoop! whoopee! I'm yere to fight
or drink with any sport; any one or both! Whoopee! Where is the
stately stag to stamp his hoof or rap his antlers to my
proclamations! Where is that boundin' buck! Whoopee! whoop! whoop!"
"'Then this yere vociferous Purple Blossom pauses for breath; but
keeps up his stilt-laig dance, considerin' me meanwhile with his
eye, plenty baleful. We-all on our parts is viewin' him over a heap
respectful, an' ain't retortin' a word. Then he begins ag'in with a
yelp that would stampede a field of corn.
"'"Who is thar lovelier than Polly Hawks!" he shouts. "Show me the
female more entrancin', an' let me drop dead at her feet! Who is
lovelier than Polly Hawks, the sweetheart of Flyin' Bison, the
onchained tornado of the hills! Feast your gaze on Polly Hawks; her
beauty would melt the heart of Nacher! I'm the Purple Blossom of
Gingham Mountain; Polly Hawks shall marry an' follow me to my
wigwam! Her bed shall be of b'ar-skins; her food shall be yearlin'
venison, an' wild honey from the tree! Her gown shall be panther's
pelts fringed 'round with wolf-tails an' eagles' claws! She shall
belt herse'f with a rattlesnake, an' her Sunday bonnet shall be a
swarm of bees! When I kiss her it sounds like the crack of a whip,
an' I wouldn't part with her for twenty cows! We will wed an'
pop'late the earth with terror! Where is the sooicide who'll stand
in my way?"
"'At this p'int the Purple Blossom leaves off dancin' an' fronts up
to me, personal.
"'"Whoopee!" he says; "say that you don't love the girl an' I'll
give you one hundred dollars before I spills your life!"
"'Which, of course, all these yere moosical an' terpshicoreen
preeliminaries means simply so much war between me an' this sperited
beau of Polly's, to see who'll own the lady's heart. I explains that
I'm not jest then fit for combat, sufferin' as I be from that
overabundance of dog an' b'ar. The Purple Blossom is plumb p'lite,
an' says he don't hunger to whip no cripples. Then he names a day
two months away when he allows he'll shore descend from Gingham
Mountain, melt me down an' run me into candles to burn at the
weddin' of him an' Polly Hawks. Then we drinks together, all
fraternal, an' he gives me a chew of tobacco outen a box, made of
the head of a bald eagle, in token of amity, that a-way.
"'But that rumpus between the Purple Blossom an' me never does come
off; an' them rites over me an' Polly is indef'nitely postponed. The
fact is, I has to leave a lot. I starts out to commit a joke, an' it
turns out a crime; an' so I goes streakin' it from the scenes of my
yoothful frolics for safer stampin' grounds.
"'It's mebby six weeks followin' them declarations of the Purple
Blossom. It's co't day at War-whoop Crossin', an' the Jedge an'
every law-sharp on that circuit comes trailin' into camp. This yere
outfit of Warwhoop is speshul fretful ag'inst all forms of gamblin'.
Wherefore the Jedge, an' the state's attorney, an' mebby five other
speculators, at night adjourns to the cabin of a flat-boat which is
tied up at the foot of the levee, so's they can divert themse'fs
with a little draw-poker without shockin' the hamlet an' gettin'
themse'fs arrested an' fined some.
"'It's gone to about fourth drink time after supper, an' I'm
romancin' about, tryin' to figger out how I'm to win Polly, when as
I'm waltzin' along the levee—I'm plumb alone, an' the town itse'f
has turned into its blankets—I gets sight of this yere poker
festival ragin' in the cabin. Thar they be, antein', goin' it blind,
straddlin', raisin' before the draw, bluffin', an' bettin', an'
havin' the time of their c'reers.
"'It's the spring flood, an' the old Cumberland is bank-full an'
still a-risin'. The flat boat is softly raisin' an' fallin' on the
sobbin' tide. It's then them jocular impulses seizes me, that a-way;
an' I stoops an' casts off her one line, an' that flat boat swims
silently away on the bosom of the river. The sports inside knows
nothin' an' guesses less, an' their gayety swells on without a
"'It's three o'clock an' Jedge Finn, who's won about a hundred an'
sixty dollars, realizes it's all the money in the outfit, an' gets
cold feet plenty prompt. He murmurs somethin' about tellin' the old
lady Finn he'd be in early, an' shoves back amidst the scoffs an'
jeers of the losers. But the good old Jedge don't mind, an' openin'
the door, he goes out into the night an' the dark, an' carefully
picks his way overboard into forty foot of water. The yell the Jedge
emits as he makes his little hole in the Cumberland is the first
news them kyard sharps gets that they're afloat a whole lot.
"'It ain't no push-over rescooin' Jedge Finn that time. The one
hundred an' sixty is in Mexican money, an' he's got a pound or two
of it sinkered about his old frame in every pocket; so he goes to
the bottom like a kag of nails.
"'But they works hard, an' at last fishes him out, an' rolls him
over a bar'l to get the water an' the money outen him. Which onder
sech treatment, the Jedge disgorges both, an' at last comes to a
trifle an' is fed whiskey with a spoon.
"'Havin' saved the Jedge, the others turns loose a volley of yells
that shorely scares up them echoes far an' wide. It wakes up a
little old tug that's tied in Dead Nigger Bend, an' she fires up an'
pushes forth to their relief. The tug hauls 'em back to Warwhoop for
seventy dollars, which is paid out of the rescooed treasure of Jedge
Finn, the same bein' declar'd salvage by them bandits he's been
"'It's two o'clock in the afternoon when that band of gamblers pulls
up ag'in at Warwhoop, an' they're shorely a saddened party as they
files ashore. The village is thar in a frownin' an' resentful body
to arrest 'em for them voylations, which is accordin' done.
"'At the same time, I regyards the play as the funniest, ondoubted,
that's ever been evolved in Tennessee; but my mood changes as
subsequent events assoomes a somber face. Old Jedge Finn goes fumin'
about like a wronged lion, an' the rest is as hot as election day in
a hornet's nest. Pards, I'm a Mexican! if they don't indict me for
piracy on the high seas, an' pledge their words to see me hanged
before ever co't adjourns.
"'That lets me out, right thar! I sees the symptoms of my
onpop'larity in advance, an' don't procrastinate none. I goes
sailin' over the divide to the Tennessee, down the Tennessee to the
Ohio, down the Ohio to the Mississippi, down the Mississippi to the
Arkansaw, up the Arkansaw to Little Rock; an' thar I pauses,
exhausted shore, but safe as a murderer in Georgia. Which I never
does go back for plumb ten years.
"'Nacherally, because of this yere exodus, I misses my engagements
with the Purple Blossom; also them nuptials I plots about Polly
Hawks, suffers the kybosh a whole lot. However, I survives, an'
Polly survives; she an' the Purple Blossom hooks up a month later,
an' I learns since they shore has offsprings enough to pack a
primary or start a public school. It's all over long ago, an' I'm
glad the kyards falls as they do. Still, as I intimates, thar's them
moments of romance to ride me down, when I remembers my one lone
love affair with Polly Hawks, the beauty of the Painted Post.'
"Enright pauses, an' we-all sets still a moment out of respects to
the old chief. At last Dan Boggs, who's always bubblin' that a-way,
"'Which I'm shore sorry,' says Dan, 'you don't fetch the moosic of
that Purple Blossom's war-song West. I deems that a mighty excellent
lay, an' would admire to learn it an' sing it some myse'f. I'd shore
go over an' carol it to Red Dog; it would redooce them drunkards to
Where Whiskey Billy Died.
"Lies in the lump that a-way," said the Old Cattleman, apropos of
some slight discussion in which we were engaged, "is bad—an' make
no doubt about it!—that is, lies which is told malev'lent.
"But thar's a sort of ranikaboo liar on earth, an' I don't mind him
nor his fabrications, none whatever. He's one of these yere amiable
gents who's merely aimin' to entertain you an' elevate your moods;
an' carryin' out sech plans, he sort o' spreads himse'f, an' gets
excursive in conversation, castin' loose from facts as vain things
onworthy of him. Thar used to be jest sech a mendacious party who
camps 'round Wolfville for a while—if I don't misrecollect, he gets
plugged standin' up a through stage, final—who is wont to lie that
a-way; we calls him 'Lyin' Amos.' But they're only meant to
entertain you; them stories be. Amos is never really out to put you
on a wrong trail to your ondoin'.
"We-all likes Amos excellent; but, of course, when he takes to the
hills as a hold-up, somebody has to down him; an' my mem'ry on that
p'int is, they shorely do. What for lies would this yere Amos tell?
Well, for instance, Amos once regales me with a vivid picture of how
he backs into a corner an' pulls his lonely gun on twenty gents, all
'bad.' This yere is over in Deming. An' he goes on dilatin' to the
effect that he stops six of 'em for good with the six loads in his
weepon, an' then makes it a stand-off on the remainin' fourteen with
the empty gun.
"'It is the slumberin' terrors of my eye, I reckons,' says this
"Which it's reason, an' likewise fact, that sech tales is merest
figments on their faces; to say nothin' of the hist'ry of that camp
of Deming, which don't speak of no sech blood.
"But, as I says, what of it? Pore Lyin' Amos!—he's cashed in an'
settled long ago, like I mentions, goin' for the Wells-Fargo boxes
onct too frequent! Which the pitcher goes too often to the well,
that a-way, an' Amos finds it out! Still, Amos is only out to
entertain me when he onfurls how lucky an' how ferocious he is that
time at Deming. Amos is simply whilin' the hours away when he
concocts them romances; an' so far from bein' distrustful of him on
account tharof, or holdin' of him low because he lets his fancy
stampede an' get away with him, once we saveys his little game in
all its harmlessness, it makes Amos pop'lar. We encourages Amos in
"Speakin' of lyin', an' bein' we're on the subject, it ain't too
much to state that thar's plenty o'casions when lyin' is not only
proper but good. It's the thing to do.
"Comin' to cases, the world's been forever basin' its game on the
lies that's told; an' I reckons now if every gent was to turn in an'
tell nothin' but the trooth for the next few hours, thar would be a
heap of folks some hard to find at the close of them mootual
confidences. Which places now flourishin' like a green bay-tree
would be deserted wastes an' solitoodes. Yes, as I says, now I gets
plumb cog'tative about it, sech attempts to put down fiction might
result in onpreecedented disaster. Thar be times when trooth should
shorely have a copper on it; but we lets that pass as spec'lative.
"As my mind is led back along the trail, thar looms before the
mirror of mem'ry a hour when the whole Wolfville outfit quits every
other game to turn itse'f loose an' lie. Which for once we takes the
limit off. Not only do we talk lies, we acts 'em; an' Enright an'
Doc Peets an' Texas Thompson, as well as Moore an' Tutt an' Boggs,
to say nothin' of myse'f an' Cherokee Hall, an' the rest of the
round-up, gets in on the play. Which every gent stands pat on them
inventions to this yere day, disdainin' excooses an' declinin'
forgiveness tharfor. Moreover, we plays the same system ag'in,
layout an' deal box bein' sim'lar. The fact is, if ever a outfit's
hand gets crowded, it's ours.
"The demands for these yere falsehoods has its first seeds one
evenin' when a drunken party comes staggerin' into camp from Red
Dog. It's strange; but it looks like Wolfville has a fasc'nation for
them Red Dog sots; which they're allers comin' over. This victim of
alcohol is not a stranger to us, not by no means; though mostly he
holds his revels in his Red Dog home. His name I disremembers, but
he goes when he's in Wolfville by the name of 'Whiskey Billy.' If he
has a last name, which it's likely some he has, either we never
hears it or it don't abide with us. Mebby he never declar's himse'f.
Anyhow, when he gets his nose-paint an' wearies folks in Wolfville,
sech proceedin's is had onder the nom de ploome of 'Whiskey Billy,'
with nothin' added by way of further brands or y'ear-marks tharonto.
"This partic'lar date when he onloads on us his companionship,
Whiskey Billy is shore the drunkest an' most ediotic I ever sees.
Troo, he saveys enough to pull his freight from Red Dog; but I
allers allows that's merely the work of a loocid interval.
"Whiskey Billy ain't brightened Wolfville with his society more'n an
hour—he only gets one drink with us—when he lapses into them
treemors. An', you hear me, son, he shorely has 'em bad; Huggins'
attacks that a-way is pooerile to 'em.
"It looks like that Red Dog whiskey is speshul malignant. I've
beheld gents who has visions before ever Whiskey Billy emits that
preelim'nary yelp in the Red Light, an' allows that Black Jack is
pawin' 'round to skelp him; but I'm yere to remark, an' ready to
enforce my statements with money, argyments or guns, I never
witnesses no case which is a four-spot to Whiskey Billy's.
"Why, it gets so before he quits out—which he does after frothin'
at the mouth for days, an' Boggs, an' Tutt, an' Jack Moore, with Doc
Peets soopervisin', ridin' herd onto him an' holdin' him down in his
blankets all the time—that if Whiskey Billy goes to take a drink of
water, he thinks the beverage turns to blood. If he sees anythin' to
eat, it changes into a Gila monster, or some sech creepin' an'
disrepootable reptile; an' Billy jest simply r'ars back an' yells.
"As I intimates, he yields to them errors touchin' his grub an'
drink for days; followin' which, Billy nacherally gives way to
death, to the relief of all concerned.
"'You can gamble I'm never so pleased to see a gent die in my life!'
says Dan Boggs.
"It's most likely the second day after Billy's been seein' things,
an' we've corraled him in a wickeyup out back of the dance hall,
when Doc Peets is in the Red Light thoughtfully absorbin' his
"'This yere riotous patient of mine,' says Peets, as he leans on the
bar an' talks general an' free to all, 'this noisy party whom you
now hears callin' Dan Boggs a rattlesnake, bein' misled to that
extent by Red Dog licker, has a ca'm moment about first drink time
this mornin', an' beseeches me to send for his mother. As a sick
gent has a right to dictate terms that a-way, I dispatches a
telegram to the lady he names, sendin' of the same by Old Monte to
be slammed through from Tucson. I reckons she gets it by now. Old
Monte an' the stage has been in Tucson for more'n an hour, an' as
'lectricity is plenty sudden as a means, I takes it Whiskey Billy's
mother is informed that he's askin' for her presence.'
"'Which if he's callin' an' honin' for his mother,' says Texas
Thompson, who's at the bar with Peets, 'it's cattle to sheep he's a
goner. You can allers tell when a sport is down to his last chip; he
never omits to want to see his mother.'
"'That's whatever!' says Enright. 'Like Texas, I holds sech desires
on the part of this yere Red Dog martyr as markin' the beginnin' of
"'Bein' he's plumb locoed,' remarks Pests, after Texas an' Enright
expresses themse'fs, 'I takes the liberty to rustle them clothes of
Billy's for signs. I developed letters from this near relatif he's
clamorin' for; also a picture as shows she's as fine a old lady as
ever makes a flapjack. From the way she writes, it's all plain an'
easy he's been sendin' her some rainbows about how he's loomin' up,
like Slim Jim does his sister that a-way. He's jest now
industriously trackin' 'round, lookin' to locate himse'f as a
lawyer. I don't reckon this yere mother has the slightest idee he's
nothin' more'n a ragged, busted victim of Red Dog. Lookin' at it
that a-way,' concloodes Pests, 'I'm wonderin' whether I don't make a
crazy-boss play sendin' this lady them summons.'
"'When she gets here, if she comes,' says Enright, an' his voice
shows a heap of sympathetic interest; 'when she finds out about
Whiskey Billy, it's goin' to break her heart. That she ain't game to
make the trip is shorely to be hoped.'
"'You can gamble a pony she comes,' says Texas. 'If it's a wife,
now, like mine—which goes ropin' 'round for a divorce over in
Laredo recent; an', as you-all is aware, she shorely ties it down—
thar might be a chance out ag'in her advent. But bein' she's his
mother, Wolfville may as well brace itse'f for the shock.'
"'I don't reckon thar's no doubt of it, neither,' replies Enright,
drawin' a sigh; 'which bein' the case, we've got to organize. This
camp must turn in when she gets here an' deloode that pore old
mother into the belief that her son Billy's been the prop an' stay
of Arizona, an' that his ontimely cuttin' off quenches the most
shinin' light that a-way of the age wherein we lives.'
"'Mighty likely,' says Peets, 'we gets a message from her to-morry,
when Old Monte trails in. That'll tell us what to expect. I'm like
you-all, however; I don't allow thar's a morsel of doubt about that
"'Which I shorely hopes she does,' says Texas 'an' I yereby drinks
to it, an' urges every gent likewise. If thar's a thing on earth
that melts me, it's one o' them gray-ha'red old ladies. Young
females that a-way is all right, an' it's plenty nacheral for a gent
to be cur'ous an' pleased tharwith; but I never does track up with
an old lady, white-ha'red an' motherly mind you, but I takes off my
sombrero an' says: "You'll excuse me, marm, but I wants to trespass
on your time long enough to ask your pardon for livin'." That's
right; that's the way I feels; plumb religious at the mere sight of
'em. If I was to meet as many as two of 'em at onct, I'd j'ine the
church. The same bein' troo, I'm sayin' that this yere Whiskey
Billy's mother can't strike camp too soon nor stop too long for
"'Every gent I reckons feels all sim'lar,' says Cherokee Hall. 'A
old lady is the one splendid thing the Lord ever makes. I knows a
gent over back of Prescott, an' the sight of a good old woman would
stop his nose-paint for a week. Wouldn't drink a drop nor play a
kyard, this party wouldn't, for a week after he cuts the trail of
somebody's old mother. He allows it revives mem'ries of his own, an'
that he ain't out to mix no sech visions with faro-bank an' whiskey
"'An' I applauds this yere Prescott person's views,' says Texas
Thompson, 'an' would be proud to know the gent.'
"'How long, Peets,' says Enright, who's been thinkin' hard an'
serious, 'how long—an' start at onct—before ever this yere Whiskey
Billy's parent is goin' to strike the camp?'
"'It'll be five days shore,' answers Peets. 'She's 'way back yonder
the other side of the Missouri.'
"When Old Monte comes rumblin' along in next day, thar's the message
from Whiskey Billy's mother. She's shore a-comin'. This yere Billy
is so plumb in the air, mental, he never does know it, an' he dies
ten hours before the old lady drives in. But Wolfville's ready.
That's the time when the whole band simply suspends everythin' to
"Whiskey Billy is arrayed in Doc Peets' best raiment, so, as Peets
says, he looks professional like a law sharp should. An' bein' as we
devotes to Billy all the water the windmill can draw in a hour, he
is a pattern of personal neatness that a-way.
"Enright—an' thar never is the gent who gets ahead of that old
silver tip—takin' the word from Peets in advance, sends over to
Tucson for a coffin as fine as the dance-hall piano, an' it comes
along in the stage ahead of Billy's mother. When she does get thar,
Billy's all laid out handsome an' tranquil in the dinin'-room of the
O. K. Restauraw, an' the rest of us is eatin' supper in the street.
It looks selfish to go crowdin' a he'pless remainder that a-way, an'
him gettin' ready to quit the earth for good; so the dinin'-room
bein' small, an' the coffin needin' the space, the rest of us
vamoses into the causeway, an' Missis Rucker is dealin' us our chuck
when the stage arrives.
"Thar's a adjournment prompt, however, an' we-all goes over to cheer
up Whiskey Billy's mother when she gets out. Enright leads off, an'
the rest trails in an' follows his play, shakin' the old lady's hand
an' givin' her the word what a success her boy is while he lives,
an' what a blow it is when he peters. It comes plumb easy, that
mendacity does, for, as Texas Thompson surmises, she is shorely the
beautifulest old lady I ever sees put a handkerchief to her eyes.
"'Don't weep, marm,' says Enright. 'This yere camp of Wolfville,
knowin' Willyum an' his virchoos well, by feelin' its own onmeasured
loss, puts no bound'ries on its sympathy for you.'
"'Death loves a shinin' mark, marm,' says Doc Peets, as he presses
the old lady's hand an' takes off his hat, 'an' the same bein' troo,
it's no marvel the destroyer experiments 'round ontil he gets your
son Willyum's range. We're like brothers, Willyum an' me, an' from a
close, admirin' friendship which extends over the year an' a half
since he leaves you in the States, I'm shore qualified to state how
Willyum is the brightest, bravest gent in Arizona.'
"An' do you know, son, this yere, which seems a mockery while I
repeats it now, is like the real thing at the time! I'm a coyote! if
it don't affect Texas Thompson so he sheds tears; an' Dan Boggs an'
Tutt an' Moore an' Cherokee Hall is lookin' far from bright about
the eyes themse'fs.
"We-all goes over to the O. K. House, followin' the comin' of the
stage, an' leads the old gray mother in to the side of her son, an'
leaves her thar. Enright tells her, as we turns cat-foot to trail
out so she won't be pestered by the presence of us, as how Peets'll
come back in a hour to see her, an' that as all of us'll be jest
across the street, it'll be plenty easy to fetch us if she feels
like company. As we starts for the Red Light to get somethin' to
cheer us up, I sees her where she 's settin' with her arm an' face
on the coffin.
"It's great work, though, them lies we tells; an' I notes how the
mother's pride over what a good an' risin' sport her son has been,
half-way breaks even with her grief.
"Thar is only one thing which happens to disturb an' mar the hour,
an' not a whisper of this ever drifts to Whiskey Billy's mother.
She's busy with her sorrow where we leaves her, an' she never hears
a sound but her own sobs. It's while we're waitin', all quiet an'
pensif, camped about the Red Light. Another outlaw from Red Dog
comes cavortin' in. Of course, he is ignorant of our bein' bereaved
that a-way, but he'd no need to be.
"'Whatever's the matter with you-all wolves yere?' he demands, as he
comes bulgin' along into the Red Light. 'Where's all your howls?'
"Texas arises from where he's settin' with his face in his hands,
an' wipin' the emotion outen his eyes, softly an' reverentially
beats his gun over this yere party's head; whereupon he c'llapses
into the corner till called for. Then we-all sets down silent an'
"It's the next day when Whiskey Billy takes his last ride over to
Tucson on a buckboard. A dozen of us goes along, makin' good them
bluffs about Billy's worth; Enright an' Peets is in the stage with
the old mother, an' the rest of us on our ponies as a bodygyard of
"'An' it is well, marm,' says Enright, as we-all shakes hands, as
Billy an' his mother is about to leave Tucson, an' we stands b'ar-
headed to say adios; 'an' death quits loser half its gloom when one
reflects that while Willyum dies, he leaves the world an' all of us
better for them examples he exerts among us. Willyum may die, but
his mem'ry will live long to lead an' guide us.'
"I could see the old mother's eyes shine with pride through her
tears when Enright says this; an' as she comes 'round an' shakes an'
thanks us all speshul, I'm shorely proud of Wolfville's chief. So is
everybody, I reckons; for when we're about a mile out on the trail
back, an' all ridin' silent an' quiet, Texas ups an' shakes Enright
by the hand a heap sudden, an' says:
"'Sam Enright, I ain't reported as none emotional, but I'm yours to
command from now till death, an' yere's the hand an' word of Texas
Thompson on it.'"
When the Stage Was Stopped.
"Camp down into that char thar, son," said the Old Cattleman with
much heartiness. "Which I'm waitin' for that black boy Tom to come
back; I sends him for my war-bags. No, I don't need 'em none, only
I've got to give this yere imbecile Tom money. Them Senegambians is
shore a pecooliar people. They gets a new religion same as you-all
gets a new hat, an' they changes their names like some folks does
their shirt. Which they're that loose an' liable about churches an'
"As for money, take this boy Tom. He actooally transacts his life on
the theery that he has prior claims on every splinter of my bank-
roll. Jest now he descends onto me an' e'labe'rately states his
title to ten pesos. Says he's done j'ined a new church, an' has been
made round-up boss or somethin' to a outfit called, 'The Afro-
American Widows' Ready Relief Society,' an' that his doos is ten
chips. Of course, he has to have the dinero, so I dismisses him for
my wallet like I says.
"Does them folks change their names? They changes 'em as read'ly as
a Injun breaks camp; does it at the drop of the hat. This yere
Guinea of mine, his name's Tom. Yet at var'ous times, he informs me
of them mootations he's institooted, He's been 'Jim' an' 'Sam' an'
'Willyum Henry,' an' all in two months. Shore, I don't pay no heed
to sech vagaries, but goes on callin' him 'Tom,' jest the same. An'
he keeps comin' when I calls, too, or I'd shore burn the ground
'round him to a cinder. I'd be a disgrace to old Tennessee to let my
boy Tom go preescribin' what I'm to call him. But they be cur'ous
folks! The last time this hirelin' changes his name, I asks the
"'Tom,' I says, 'this yere is the 'leventh time you cinches on a new
name. Now, tell me, why be you-all attemptin' to shift to "Willyum
"'Why, Marse,' he says, after thinkin' hard a whole lot, 'I don't
know, only my sister gets married ag'in last night, an' I can't
think of nothin' else to do, so I sort o' allows I'll change my
A moment later the exuberant and many-titled Tom appeared with the
pocket-book. My old friend selected a ten-dollar bill and with an
air of severity gave it to his expectant servitor.
"Thar you be," he observed. "Now, go pay them doos, an' don't hanker
'round me for money no more for a month. You can't will from me
ag'in before Christmas, no matter how often you changes your name,
or how many new churches you plays in with. For a nigger, you-all is
a mighty sight too vol'tile. Your sperits is too tireless, an' stays
too long on the wing. Which, onless you cultivates a placider mood
an' studies reepose a whole lot, I'll go foragin' about in my
plunder an' search forth a quirt, or mebby some sech stinsin' trifle
as a trace-chain, an' warp you into quietood an' peace. I reckons
now sech ceremonies would go some ways towards beddin' you down an'
inculcatin' lessons of patience a heap."
The undaunted Tom listened to his master's gloomy threats with an
air of cheer. There was a happy grin on his face as he accepted the
money and scraped a "Thanky, sah!" To leave a religious impression
which seemed most consistent with the basis of Tom's appeal, that
dusky claimant of ten dollars, as he withdrew, hummed softly a camp-
"Tu'n around an' tu'n yo' face,
Untoe them sweet hills o' grace.
(D' pow'rs of Sin yo' em scornin'!)
Look about an' look aroun',
Fling yo' sin-pack on d' groun'.
(Yo' will meet wid d' Lord in d' mornin'.)"
"Speakin' about this yere vacillatin' Tom," said the old gentleman,
as he watched that person disappear, "shiftin' his religious grazin'
ground that a-way, let me tell you. Them colored folks pulls on an'
pulls off their beliefs as easy as a Mexican. An' their faith never
gets in their way; them tenets never seems to get between their
hocks an' trip 'em up in anythin' they wants to do. They goes
rangin' 'round, draggin' them religious lariats of theirs, an' I
never yet beholds that church which can drive any picket pin of
doctrines, or prodooce any hobbles of a creed, that'll hold a
Mexican or a nigger, or keep him from prancin' out after the first
notion that nods or beckons to him. Thar's no whim an' no fancy
which can make so light a wagon-track he won't follow it off.
"Speakin' of churches that a-way: This yere Tom's been with me
years. One day about two months ago, he fronts up to me an' says:
"'I'se got to be mighty careful what I does now; I'se done j'ined. I
gives my soul to heaven on high last night, an' wrops myse'f tight
an' fast in bonds of savin' grace wid d' Presbyter'an chu'ch. Yes,
sah, I'm a christian, an' I don't want no one, incloodin' mysc'f, to
go forgettin' it.'
"This yere news don't weigh on me partic'lar, an' I makes no
comments. It's three weeks later when Tom cuts loose another
"'You rec'llects,' he says, 'about me bein' a j'iner an' hookin' up
wid d' Presbyter'ans? Well, I'se done shook 'em; I quit that
sanchooary for d' Mefodis.' D' Presbyter'an is a heap too gloomy a
religion for a niggah, sah. Dey lams loose at me wid foreord'nation
an' preedest'nation, an' how d' bad place is paved wid chil'ens
skulls, an' how so many is called, an' only one in a billion beats
d' gate; an' fin'lly, las' Sunday, B'rer Peters, he's d' preacher,
he ups an' p'ints at me in speshul an' says he sees in a dream how
I'm b'ar-hung an' breeze-shaken over hell; an', sah, he simply scare
dis niggah to where I jest lay down in d' pew an' howl. After I'se
done lamented till my heart's broke, I passes in my resignation, an'
now I'se gone an' done attach myse'f to d' Mefodis'. Thar's a deal
mo' sunshine among d' Mefodis' folks, an' d' game's a mighty sight
easier. All you does is get sprunkled, an' thar you be, in wid d'
"In less'n a month Tom opens up on them religious topics once more.
I allers allows him to talk as long an' as much as ever he likes, as
you-all couldn't stop him none without buckin' an' gaggin' him, so
what's the use?
"'I aims to excuse myse'f to you, sah,' says Tom this last time,
'for them misstatements about me leavin' d' Presbyter'ans for d'
Mefodis.' I does do it for troo, but now I'se gone over, wool an'
weskit, to d' Baptis'. An', sah, I feels mighty penitent an'
promisin', I does; I'm gwine to make a stick of it dis time. It's
resky to go changin' about from one fold to the other like I'se been
doin'; a man might die between, an' then where is he?'
"'But how about this swap to the Baptist church?' I asks. 'I thought
you tells me how the Methodist religion is full of sunshine that a-
"'So I does, sah,' says Tom; 'so I does, word for word, like you
remembers it. But I don't know d' entire story then. The objections
I has to d' Mefodis' is them 'sperience meetin's they holds. They
'spects you to stan' up an' tell 'em about all yo' sins, an 'fess
all you've been guilty of endoorin' yo' life! Now, sech doin's tu'ns
out mighty embarrassin' for a boy like Tom, who's been a-livin' sort
o' loose an' lively for a likely numbah of years, sah, an' I
couldn't stan' it, sah! I'm too modes' to be a Mefodis'. So I
explains an' 'pologizes to d' elders, then I shins out for d'
Baptis' folks next door. An' it's all right. I'm at peace now: I'm
in d' Baptis' chu'ch, sah. You go inter d' watah, kersause! an' that
sets yo' safe in d' love of d' Lamb.'"
Following these revelations of my friend concerning the jaunty
fashion in which the "boy Tom" wore his religion as well as his
name, I maintained a respectful silence for perhaps a minute, and
then ventured to seek a new subject. I had been going over the
vigorous details of a Western robbery in the papers. After briefly
telling the story as I remembered it, in its broader lines at least,
I carried my curiosity to that interesting body politic, the town of
"In the old days," I asked, "did Wolfville ever suffer from stage
robberies, or the operations of banditti of the trail?"
"Wolfville," responded my friend, "goes ag'inst the hold-up game so
often we lose the count. Mostly, it don't cause more'n a passin'
irr'tation. Them robberies an' rustlin's don't, speakin' general,
mean much to the public at large. The express company may gnash its
teeth some, but comin' down to cases, what is a Wells-Fargo grief to
us? Personal, we're out letters an' missifs from home, an' I've
beheld individooals who gets that heated about it you don't dar' ask
'em to libate ontil they cools, but as'a common thing, we-all don't
suffer no practical set-backs. We're shy letters, but sech wounds is
healed by time an' other mails to come. We gains what comfort we can
from sw'arin' a lot, an' turns to the hopeful footure for the rest.
Thar's one time, however, when Wolfville gets wrought up.
"Which the Wolfville temper, usual, is ca'm an' onperturbed that a-
way. Thar's a steadiness to Wolfville that shows the camp has depth;
it can lose without thinkin' of sooicide, it can win an' not get
drunk. The Wolfville emotions sets squar' an' steady in the saddle,
an' it takes more than mere commonplace buckin' to so much as throw
its foot loose from a stirrup, let alone send it flyin' from its
"On this yere o'caslon, however, Wolfville gets stirred a whole lot.
For that matter, the balance of Southeast Arizona gives way
likewise, an' excitement is genial an' shorely mounts plumb high. I
remembers plain, now my mind is on them topics, how Red Dog goes
hysterical complete, an' sets up nights an' screams. Which the vocal
carryin's on of that prideless village is a shame to coyotes!
"It's hold-ups that so wrings the public's feelin's. Stages is stood
up; passengers, mail-bags an' express boxes gets cleaned out for
their last splinter. An' it ain't confined to jest one trail. This
festival of crime incloodes a whole region; an' twenty stages, in as
many different places an' almost as many days, yields up to these
yere bandits. Old Monte, looks like, is a speshul fav'rite; they
goes through that old drunkard twice for all thar is in the vehicle.
The last time the gyard gets downed.
"No, the stage driver ain't in no peril of bein' plugged. Thar's
rooles about stage robbin', same as thar is to faro-bank an' poker.
It's onderstood by all who's interested, from the manager of the
stage company to the gent in the mask who's holdin' the Winchester
on the outfit, that the driver don't fight. He's thar to drive, not
shoot; an' so when he hears the su'gestion, 'Hands up!' that a-way,
he stops the team, sets the brake, hooks his fingers together over
his head, an' nacherally lets them road agents an' passengers an'
gyards, settle events in their own onfettered way. The driver,
usual, cusses out the brigands frightful. The laws of the trail
accords him them privileges, imposin' no reestrictions on his mouth.
He's plumb free to make what insultin' observations he will, so long
as he keeps his hands up an' don't start the team none ontil he's
given the proper word, the same comin' from the hold-ups or the
gyards, whoever emerges winner from said emeutes.
"As I states, the last time Old Monte is made to front the iron, the
Wells-Fargo gyard gets plugged as full of lead as a bag of bullets.
An' as to that business of loot an' plunder, them miscreants shorely
harvests a back load! It catches Enright a heap hard, this second
break which these yere felons makes.
"Cherokee Hall an' me is settin' in the Red Light, whilin' away time
between bev'rages with argyments, when Enright comes ploddin' along
in with the tidin's. Cherokee an' me, by a sing'lar coincidence, is
discussin' the topic of 'probity' that a-way, although our
loocubrations don't flourish none concernin' stage rustlin'.
Cherokee is sayin':
"'Now, I holds that trade—what you-all might call commerce, is
plenty sappenin' to the integrity of folks. Meanin' no aspersions on
any gent in camp, shorely not on the proprietors of the New York
Store, what I reiterates is that I never meets up with the party who
makes his livin' weighin' things, or who owns a pa'r of scales,
who's on the level that a-way. Which them balances, looks like,
weaves a spell on a gent's moral princ'ples. He's no longer on the
"I'm r'ared back on my hocks organizin' to combat the fal'cies of
Cherokee, when Enright pulls up a cha'r. By the clouds on his face,
both me an' Cherokee sees thar's somethin' on the old chief's mind a
lot, wherefore we lays aside our own dispootes—which after all, has
no real meanin', an' is what Colonel William Greene Sterett calls
'ac'demic'—an' turns to Enright to discover whatever is up. Black
Jack feels thar's news in the air an' promotes the nose-paint
without s'licitation. Enright freights his glass an' then says:
"'You-all hears of the noomerous stage robberies? Well, Wolfville
lose ag'in. I, myse'f, this trip am put in the hole partic'lar. If I
onderstands the drift of my own private affairs, thar's over forty
thousand dollars of mine on the stage, bein' what balance is doo me
from that last bunch of cattle. It's mighty likely though she's in
drafts that a-way: an' I jest dispatches one of my best riders with
a lead hoss to scatter over to Tucson an' wire informations east, to
freeze onto that money ontil further tidin's; said drafts, if sech
thar be, havin' got into the hands of these yere diligent hold-ups
"'Forty thousand dollars!' remarks Cherokee. 'Which that is a jolt
"'It shorely shows the oncertainties of things,' says Enright, ag'in
referrin' to his glass. 'I'm in the very act of congratulatin'
myse'f, mental, that this yere is the best season I ever sees, when
a party rides in from the first stage station towards Tucson, with
the tale. It's shore a paradox; it's a case where the more I win,
the more I lose. However, I'm on the trail of Jack Moore; a
conference with Jack is what I needs right now. I'll be back by next
drink time;' an' with that Enright goes surgin' off to locate Jack.
"Cherokee an' me, as might be expected, turns our powers of
conversation loose with this new last eepisode of the trail.
"'An' I'm struck speshul,' says Cherokee, 'about what Enright
observes at the finish, that it's a instance where the more he wins,
the more he loses; an' how this, his best season, is goin' to be his
worst. I has experiences sim'lar myse'f onct. Which the cases is
"'This time when my own individooal game strikes somethin' an'
glances off, is 'way back. I gets off a boat on the upper river at a
camp called Rock Island. You never is thar? I don't aim to encourage
you-all ondooly, still your failure to see Rock Island needn't prey
on you as the rooin of your c'reer. I goes ashore as I relates, an'
the first gent I encounters is old Peg-laig Jones. This yere Peg-
laig is a madman to spec'late at kyards, an' the instant he sees me,
he pulls me one side, plenty breathless with a plan he's evolved.
"Son," says this yere Peg-lalg, "how much money has you?"
"'I tells him I ain't over strong; somethin' like two hundred
"'"That's enough," says Peg-lalg. "Son, give it to me. I'll put
three hundred with it, an' that'll make a roll of five hundred
dollars. With a careful man like me to deal, she shorely oughter be
"'"Whatever does these yere fiscal bluffs of yours portend?" I asks.
"'"They portends as follows," says Peg-laig. "This yere Rock Island
outfit is plumb locoed to play faro-bank. I've got a deck of kyards
an' a deal box in my pocket. Son, we'll lay over a day a' break the
"'Thar's no use tryin' to head off old Peg-laid. He's the most
invet'rate sport that a-way, an' faro bank is his leadin' weakness.
They even tells onct how this Peg-laig is in a small camp in Iowa
an' is buckin' a crooked game. A pard sees him an' takes Peg-laig to
"'"Can't you-all see them sharps is skinnin' you?" says this friend,
an' his tones is loaded with disgust. "Ain't you wise enough to know
this game ain't on the squar', an' them outlaws has a end-squeeze
box an' is dealin' two kyards at a clatter an' puttin' back right
onder your ignorant nose? Which you conducts yourse'f like you was
born last week!"
"'"Of course, I knows the game is crooked," says Peg-laig, plenty
doleful, "an' I regrets it as much as you. But whatever can I do?"
"'"Do!" says his friend; "do! You-all can quit goin' ag'inst it,
"'"But you don't onderstand," says Peg-laig, eager an' warm. "It's
all plumb easy for you to stand thar an' say I don't have to go
ag'inst it. It may change your notion a whole lot when I informs you
that this yere is the only game in town," an' with that this
reedic'lous Peg-laig hurries back to his seat.
"'As I asserts former, it's no use me tryin' to make old Peg-laig
stop when once he's started with them schemes of his, so I turns
over my two hundred dollars, an' leans back to see whatever Peg-
laig's goin' to a'complish next. As he says, he's got a box an' a
deck to deal with. So he fakes a layout with a suite of jimcrow
kyards he buys, local, an' a oil-cloth table-cover, an' thar he is
organized to begin. For chips, he goes over to a store an' buys
twenty stacks of big wooden button molds, same as they sews the
cloth onto for overcoat buttons. When Peg-laig is ready, you should
have beheld the enthoosiasm of them Rock Island folks. They goes
ag'inst that brace of Peg-laig's like a avalanche.
"'Peg-laig deals for mighty likely it's an hour. Jest as he puts it
up, he's a careful dealer, an' the result is we win all the big bets
an' most all the little ones, an' I'm sort o' estimatin' in my mind
that we're ahead about four hundred simoleons. Of a-sudden, Peg-laig
stops dealin', up-ends his box and turns to me with a look which
shows he's plumb dismayed. P'intin' at the check-rack, Peg-laig
"'"Son, look thar!"
"'Nacherally, I looks, an' I at once realizes the roots of that
consternation of Peg-laig's. It's this: While thar's more of them
button molds in front of Peg-laig's right elbow than we embarks with
orig'nal, thar's still twenty-two hundred dollars' worth in the
hands of the Rock Island pop'lace waitin' to be cashed. However do
they do it? They goes stampedin' over to this yere storekeep an'
purchases 'em for four bits a gross. They buys that vagrant out that
a-way. They even buys new kinds on us, an' it's a party tryin' to
bet a stack of pants buttons on the high kyard that calls Peg-laig's
attention to them frauds.
"'Thar's no he'p for it, however; them villagers is stony an'
adamantine, an' so far as we has money they shorely makes us pay. We
walks out of Rock Island. About a mile free of the camp, Peg-laig
stops an' surveys me a heap mournful.
"'" Son," he says, "we was winnin', wasn't we?
"'"Which we shore was," I replies.
"'"Exactly," says Peg-laig, shakin' his head, "we was shorely
winners. An' I want to add, son, that if we-all could have kept on
winnin' for two hours more, we'd a-lost eight thousand dollars."
"'It's like this yere stage hold-up on Enright,' concloodes
Cherokee; 'it's a harassin' instance of where the more you wins, the
more you lose.'
"About this time, Enright an' Jack Moore comes in. Colonel Sterett
an' Dan Boggs j'ines us accidental, an' we-all six holds a pow wow
in low tones.
"'Which Jack,' observes Enright, like he's experimentin' an' ropin'
for our views, 'allows it's his beliefs that this yere guileless
tenderfoot, Davis, who says he's from Buffalo, an' who's been
prancin' about town for the last two days, is involved in them
"'It ain't none onlikely,' says Boggs; 'speshully since he's from
Buffalo. I never does know but one squar' gent who comes from
Buffalo; he's old Jenks. An' at that, old Jenks gets downed, final,
by the sheriff over on Sand Creek for stealin' a hoss.'
"'You-all wants to onderstand,' says Jack Moore, cuttin' in after
Boggs, 'I don't pretend none to no proofs. I jest reckons it's so.
It's a common scandal how dead innocent this yere shorthorn Davis
assoomes to be; how he wants Cherokee to explain faro-bank to him;
an' how he can't onderstand none why Black Jack an' the dance-hall
won't mix no drinks. Which I might, in the hurry of my dooties, have
passed by them childish bluffs onchallenged an' with nothin' more
than pityin' thoughts of the ignorance of this yere maverick, but
gents, this party overplays his hand. Last evenin' he asks me to let
him take my gun, says he's cur'ous to see one. That settles it with
me; this Davis has been a object of suspicion ever since. No, it
ain't that I allows he's out to queer my weepon none, but think of
sech a pretence of innocence! I leaves it to you-all, collectif an'
individooal, do you reckon now thar's anybody, however tender, who's
that guileless as to go askin' a perfect stranger that a-way to pass
him out his gun? I says no, this gent is overdoin' them roles. He
ain't so tender as he assoomes. An' from the moment I hears of this
last stand-up of the stage back in the canyon, I feels that this
yere party is somehow in the play. Thar's four in this band who's
been spreadin' woe among the stage companies lately, an' thar's only
two of 'em shows in this latest racket which they gives Old Monte,
an' that express gyard they shot up. Them other two sports who ain't
present is shore some'ers, an' I gives it as my opinions one of
'em's right yere in our onthinkin' center, actin' silly, askin'
egreegious questions, an' allowin' his name is Davis an' that he
hails from Buffalo.'
"While Jack is evolvin' this long talk, we-all is thinkin'; an',
son, somehow it strikes us that thar's mighty likely somethin' in
this notion of Jack's. We-all agrees, however, thar bein' nothin'
def'nite to go on, we can't do nothin' but wait. Still, pro an' con
like, we pushes forth in discussion of this person.
"'It does look like this Davis,' says Colonel Sterett, 'now Jack
brings it up, is shorely playin' a part; which he's over easy an'
ontaught, even for the East. This mornin', jest to give you-all a
sample, he comes sidlin' up to me. "Is thar any good fishin' about
yere?" he asks. "Which I shore yearns to fish some."
"'"Does this yere landscape," I says, wavin' my arm about the
hor'zon, "remind you much of fish? Stranger," I says, "fish an'
christians is partic'lar sparse in Arizona."
"'Then this person Davis la'nches out into tales deescriptif of how
he goes anglin' back in the States. "Which the eel is the gamest
fish," says this Davis. "When I'm visitin' in Virginny, I used to go
fishin'. I don't fish with a reel, an' one of them limber poles, an'
let a fish go swarmin' up an' down a stream, a-breedin' false hopes
in his bosom an' lettin' him think he's loose. Not me; I wouldn't so
deloode—wouldn't play it that low on a fish. I goes anglin' in a
formal, se'f-respectin' way. I uses a short line an' a pole which is
stiff an' strong. When I gets a bite, I yanks him out an' lets him
know his fate right thar."
"'"But eels ain't no game fish," I says. "Bass is game, but not
"'"Eels ain't game none, ain't they?" says this yere Davis, lettin'
on he's a heap interested. "You-all listen to me; let me tell you of
a eel I snags onto down by Culpepper. When he bites that time I
gives him both hands. That eel comes through the air jest whistlin'
an' w'irlin'. I slams him ag'inst the great state of Virginny.
Suppose one of them bass you boasts of takes sech a jolt. Whatever
would he have done? He'd lay thar pantin' an' rollin' his eyes;
mebby he curls his tail a little. That would be the utmost of them
resentments of his. What does my eel do? Stranger, he stands up on
his tail an' fights me. Game! that eel's game as scorpions! My dog
Fido's with me. Fido wades into the eel, an' the commotion is awful.
That eel whips Fido in two minutes, Washin'ton time. How much does
he weigh? Whatever do I know about it? When he's done put the gaffs
into Fido, he nacherally sa'nters back into the branch where he
lives at. I don't get him none; I deems I'm plumb lucky when he
don't get me. Still, if any gent talks of game fish that a-way, I
wants it onderstood, I strings my money on that Culpepper eel."'
"'Thar, it's jest as I tells you-all, gents!' says Jack Moore a heap
disgusted, when Colonel Sterett gets through. 'This yere Davis is a
imposter. Which thar's no mortal sport could know as little as he
lets on an' live to reach his age.'
"We sets thar an' lays plans. At last in pursooance of them devices,
it gets roomored about camp that the next day but one, both Enright
an' the New York Store aims to send over to Tucson a roll of money
the size of a wagon hub.
"'Thar's no danger of them hold-ups,' says Enright to this Davis,
lettin' on he's a heap confidenshul. 'They won't be lookin' for no
sech riches bein' freighted over slap on the heels of this yere
robbery. An' we don't aim to put up no gyards alongside of Old Monte
neither. Gyards is no good; they gets beefed the first volley, an'
their presence on a coach that a-way is notice that thar's plenty of
"It's in this way Enright fills that Davis as full of misinformation
as a bottle of rum. Also, we deems it some signif'cant when said
shorthorn saddles his hoss over to the corral an' goes skally-
hootin' for Tucson about first drink time in the mornin'.
"'I've a engagement in the Oriental S'loon,' he says, biddin' us
good-bye plenty cheerful, 'but I'll be back among you-all sports in
a week. I likes your ways a whole lot, an' I wants to learn 'em
"'Which I offers four to one,' says Jack Moore, lookin' after him as
he rides away, 'you'll be back yere sooner than that, an' you-all
won't know it none, at that.'
"It's the next day when the stage starts; Old Monte is crackin' his
whip in a hardened way, carin' nothin' for road agents as long as
they don't interfere with the licker traffic. Thar's only one
"Shore enough, jest as it's closin' in some dark in Apache Canyon,
an' the stage is groanin' an' creakin' along on a up grade, thar's a
trio of hold-ups shows on the trail, an' the procession comes to a
halt. Old Monte sets the brake, wrops the reins about it, locks his
hands over his head, an' turns in to cuss. The hold-ups takes no
notice. They yanks down the Wells-Fargo chest, pulls off the letter
bag, accepts a watch an' a pocket-book from the gent inside, who's
scared an' shiverin' an' scroogin' back in the darkest corner, he's
that terror-bit, an' then they applies a few epithets to Old Monte
an' commands him to pull his freight. An' Old Monte shorely obeys
them mandates, an' goes crashin' off up the canyon on the run.
"Them outlaws hauls the plunder to one side of the trail an' lays
for the mail-bag with a bowie. All three is as busy as prairy dogs
after a rain, rippin' open letters an' lookin' for checks an'
drafts. Later they aims at some op'rations on the express company's
"But they never gets to the box. Thar's the lively tones of a
Winchester which starts the canyon's echoes to talkin'. That rifle
ain't forty foot away, an' it speaks three times before ever you-
all, son, could snap your fingers. An' that weepon don't make them
observations in vain. It ain't firin' no salootes. Quick as is the
work, the sights shifts to a new target every time. At the last, all
three hold-ups lays kickin' an' jumpin' like chickens that a-way,
two is dead an' the other is too hard hit to respond.
"Whoever does it? Jack Moore, he's that one shiverin' passenger that
time. He slides outen the stage as soon as ever it turns the angle
of the canyon, an' comes scoutin' an' crawlin' back on his prey. An'
I might add, it shore soothes Jack's vanity a lot, when the first
remainder shows down as that artless maverick, Davis. Jack lights a
pine splinter an' looks him over-pale an' dead an' done.
"'Which you-all is the victim of over-play,' says Jack to this yere
Davis, same as if he hears him, 'If you never asks to see my gun
that time, it's even money my suspicions concernin' you might be