ALFRED HENRY LEWIS (Dan Quin)
TO WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST
CHAPTER I. WOLFVILLE'S FIRST FUNERAL CHAPTER II. THE STINGING LIZARD CHAPTER III. THE STORY OF WILKINS CHAPTER IV. THE WASHWOMAN'S WAR CHAPTER V. ENRIGHT'S PARD, JIM WILLIS CHAPTER VI. TUCSON JENNIE'S HEART CHAPTER VII. TUCSON JENNIE'S JEALOUSY CHAPTER VIII. THE MAN FROM RED DOG CHAPTER IX. CHEROKEE HALL CHAPTER X. TEXAS THOMPSON'S "ELECTION" CHAPTER XI. A WOLFVILLE FOUNDLING CHAPTER XII. THE MAN FROM YELLOWHOUSE CHAPTER XIII. JACKS UP ON EIGHTS CHAPTER XIV. THE RIVAL DANCE-HALLS CHAPTER XV. SLIM JIM'S SISTER CHAPTER XVI. JAYBIRD BOB'S JOKE CHAPTER XVII. BOGGS'S EXPERIENCE CHAPTER XVIII. DAWSON & RUDD, PARTNERS CHAPTER XIX. MACE BOWMAN, SHERIFF CHAPTER XX. A WOLFVILLE THANKSGIVING CHAPTER XXI. BILL HOSKINS'S COON CHAPTER XXII. OLD SAM ENRIGHT'S "ROMANCE," CHAPTER XXIII. PINON BILL'S BLUFF CHAPTER XXIV. CRAWFISH JIM
These tales by the Old Cattleman have been submitted to perhaps a dozen people. They have read, criticised, and advised. The advice was good; the criticism just. Some suggested a sketch which might in detail set forth Toffville; there were those who wanted something like a picture of the Old Cattleman; while others urged an elaboration of the personal characteristics of Old Man Enright, Doc Peets, Cherokee Hall, Moore, Tutt, Boggs, Faro Nell, Old Monte, and Texas Thompson. I have, how-ever, concluded to leave all these matters to the illustrations of Mr. Remington and the imaginations of those who read. I think it the better way-certainly it is the easier one for me. I shall therefore permit the Old Cattleman to tell his stories in his own fashion. The style will be crude, abrupt, and meagre, but I trust it will prove as satisfactory to the reader as it has to me.
A. H. L. New York, May 15,1897.
WOLFVILLE'S FIRST FUNERAL.
"These yere obsequies which I'm about mentionin'," observed the Old Cattleman, "is the first real funeral Wolfville has."
The old fellow had lighted a cob pipe and tilted his chair back in a fashion which proclaimed a plan to be comfortable. He had begun to tolerate—even encourage—my society, although it was clear that as a tenderfoot he regarded me with a species of gentle disdain.
I had provoked the subject of funeral ceremonies by a recurrence to the affair of the Yellowhouse Man, and a query as to what would have been the programme of the public-spirited hamlet of Wolfville if that invalid had died instead of yielding to the nursing of Jack Moore and that tariff on draw-poker which the genius of Old Man Enright decreed.
It came in easy illustration, as answer to my question, for the Old Cattleman to recall the funeral of a former leading spirit of Southwestern society. The name of this worthy was Jack King; and with a brief exposition of his more salient traits, my grizzled raconteur led down to his burial with the remark before quoted.
"Of course," continued the Old Cattleman, "of course while thar's some like this Yallerhouse gent who survives; thar's others of the boys who is downed one time an' another, an' goes shoutin' home to heaven by various trails. But ontil the event I now recalls, the remainders has been freighted east or west every time, an' the camp gets left. It's hard luck, but at last it comes toward us; an' thar we be one day with a corpse all our'n, an' no partnership with nobody nor nothin'.
"'It's the chance of our life,' says Doc Peets, 'an' we plays it. Thar's nothin' too rich for our blood, an' these obsequies is goin' to be spread-eagle, you bet! We'll show Red Dog an' sim'lar villages they ain't sign-camps compared with Wolfville.'
"So we begins to draw in our belts an' get a big ready. Jack King, as I says before, is corpse, eemergin' outen a game of poker as sech. Which prior tharto, Jack's been peevish, an' pesterin' an' pervadin' 'round for several days. The camp stands a heap o' trouble with him an' tries to smooth it along by givin' him his whiskey an' his way about as he wants 'em, hopin' for a change. But man is only human, an' when Jack starts in one night to make a flush beat a tray full for seven hundred dollars, he asks too much.
"Thar ain't no ondertakers, so we rounds up the outfit, an' knowin' he'd take a pride in it, an' do the slam-up thing, we puts in Doc Peets to deal the game unanimous.
"'Gents,' he says, as we-alls turns into the Red Light to be refreshed, 'in assoomin' the present pressure I feels the compliments paid me in the seelection. I shall act for the credit of the camp, an' I needs your help. I desires that these rites be a howlin' vict'ry. I don't want people comin' 'round next week allowin' thar ain't been no funeral, an' I don't reckon much that they will. We've got the corpse, an' if we gets bucked off now it's our fault.'
"So he app'ints Old Monte an' Dan Boggs to go for a box for Jack, an' details a couple of niggers from the corral to dig a tomb.
"'An' mind you-alls,' says Peets, 'I wants that hole at least a mile from camp. In order to make a funeral a success, you needs distance. That's where deceased gets action. It gives the procession a chance to spread an' show up. You can't make no funeral imposin' except you're plumb liberal on distances.'
"It all goes smooth right off the reel. We gets a box an' grave ready, an' Peets sticks up a notice on the stage-station door, settin' the excitement for third-drink time next day. Prompt at the drop of the hat the camp lets go all holds an' turns loose in a body to put Jack through right. He's laid out in splendid shape in the New York Store, with nothin' to complain of if he's asked to make the kick himse'f. He has a new silk necktie, blue shirt an' pearl buttons, trousers, an' boots. Some one—Benson Annie, I reckons—has pasted some co't plaster over the hole on his cheek-bone where the bullet gets in, an' all 'round Jack looks better than I ever sees him.
"'Let the congregation remove its hats,' says Peets, a-settin' down on a box up at Jack's head, 'an' as many as can will please get somethin' to camp on. Now, my friends," he continues, "thar ain't no need of my puttin' on any frills or gettin' in any scroll work. The objects of this convention is plain an' straight. Mister King, here present, is dead. Deceased is a very headstrong person, an' persists yesterday in entertainin' views touchin' a club flush, queen at the head, which results in life everlastin'. Now, gents, this is a racket full of solemnity. We wants nothin' but good words. Don't mind about the trooth; which the same ain't in play at a funeral, nohow. We all knows Jack; we knows his record. Our information is ample that a-way; how he steals a hoss at Tucson; how be robs a gent last fall at Tombstone; how he downs a party at Cruces; how that scar on his neck he gets from Wells-Fargo's people when he stands up the stage over on the Lordsburg trail. But we lays it all aside to- day. We don't copper nary bet. Yesterday mornin', accompanied by the report of a Colt's forty-five, Mister King, who lies yere so cool an' easy, leaves us to enter in behind the great white shinin' gates of pearl an' gold, which swings inward to glory eternal. It's a great set back at this time thar ain't no sky-pilot in the camp. This deeficiency in sky-pilots is a hoss onto us, but we does our best. At a time like this I hears that singin' is a good, safe break, an' I tharfore calls on that little girl from Flagstaff to give us "The Dyin' Ranger."
"So the little Flagstaff girl cl'ars her valves with a drink, an' gives us the song; an' when the entire congregation draws kyards on the last verse it does everybody good.
"'Far away from his dear old Texas, We laid him down to rest; With his saddle for a pillow, And his gun across his breast.'
"Then Peets gets out the Scriptures. 'I'm goin' to read a chapter outen these yere Testaments,' he says. 'I ain't makin' no claim for it, except it's part of the game an' accordin' to Hoyle. If thar's a preacher yere he'd do it, but bein' thar's no sech brand on this range I makes it as a forced play myse'f.'
"So he reads us, a chapter about the sepulcher, an' Mary Magdalene, an' the resurrection; an' everybody takes it in profound as prairie- dogs, for that's the lead to make, an' we knows it.
"Then Peets allows he'd like to hear from any gent onder the head of 'good of the order.'
"'Mister Ondertaker an' Chairman,' says Jim Hamilton, 'I yields to an inward impulse to say that this yere play weighs on me plumb heavy. As keeper of the dance-hall I sees a heap of the corpse an' knows him well. Mister King is my friend, an' while his moods is variable an' oncertain; an' it's cl'arly worth while to wear your gun while he's hoverin' near, I loves him. He has his weaknesses, as do we all. A disp'sition to make new rooles as he plays along for sech games of chance as enjoys his notice is perhaps his greatest failin'. His givin' way to this habit is primar'ly the cause of his bein' garnered in. I hopes he'll get along thar, an' offers a side bet, even money, up to five hundred dollars, he will. He may alter his system an' stand way up with the angels an' seraphs, an' if words from me could fix it, I'd shorely stack 'em in. I would say further that after consultin' with Billy Burns, who keeps the Red Light, we has, in honor of the dead an' to mark the occasion of his cashin' in, agreed upon a business departure of interest to all. This departure Mister Burns will state. I mournfully gives way to him for said purpose.'
"'Mister Peets, an' ladies an' gents,' says Burns, 'like Mister Hamilton, who I'm proud to meet yere as gent, citizen, an' friend, I knows deceased. He's a good man, an' a dead-game sport from 'way back. A protracted wrastle with the remorseless drinks of the frontier had begun to tell on him, an' for a year or so he's been liable to have spells. Referrin' to the remarks of Mister Hamilton, I states that by agreement between us an' in honor to departed, the quotations on whiskey in this yere camp, from now on, will be two drinks for two bits, instead of one as previous. We don't want to onsettle trade, an' we don't believe this will. We makes it as a ray of light in the darkness an' gloom of the hour.
"After this yere utterance, which is well received, we forms the procession. Doc Peets, with two buglers from the Fort, takes the lead, with Jack an' his box in one of the stage coaches comin' next. Enright, Tutt, Boggs, Short Creek Dave, Texas Thompson, an' me, bein' the six pallbearers, is on hosses next in line; an' Jack Moore commandin' of the rest of the outfit, lines out permiscus.
"'This is a great day for Wolfville," says Peets, as he rides up an' down the line. 'Thar ain't no camp this side of St. Looey could turn this trick. Which I only wishes Jack could see it himse'f. It's more calculated to bring this outfit into fav'rable notice than a lynchin'.'
"At the grave we turns in an' gives three cheers for King, an' three for Doc Peets; an' last we gives three more an' a tiger for the camp. The buglers cuts loose everythin' they knows, from the 'water- call' to the 'retreat,' an' while the niggers is a-shovelin' in the sand we bangs away with our six-shooters for general results delightful. You can gamble thar ain't been no funeral like it before or since.
"At the last Peets hauls outen the stage we uses for Jack, a headboard. When it's set up it looks like if Jack ain't satisfied, he's shorely hard to suit. On it in big letters is:
JaCK KinG LIfE AiN'T IN HOLDiNG A GOOD HAND BUT In PLAYiNG A PORE HANd WeLL.
"'You sees, we has to work in a little sentiment,' says Doc Peets.
"Then we details the niggers to stand watch-an'-watch every night till further orders. No; we ain't afraid Jack'll get out none, but the coyotes is shore due to come an' dig for him, so the niggers has to stand gyard. We don't allow to find spec'mens of Jack spread 'round loose after all the trouble we takes."
THE STINGING LIZARD.
"Thar's no sorter doubt to it," said the Old Cattleman after a long pause devoted to meditation, and finally to the refilling of his cob pipe, "thar ain't the slightest room for cavil but them ceremonies over Jack King, deceased, is the most satisfactory pageant Wolfville ever promotes."
It was at this point I proved my cunning by saying nothing. I was pleased to hear the old man talk, and rightly theorized that the better method of invoking his reminiscences just at this time was to say never a word.
"However," he continued, "I don't reckon it's many weeks after we follows Jack to the tomb, when we comes a heap near schedoolin' another funeral, with the general public a-contributin' of the corpse. To be speecific, I refers to a occasion when we-alls comes powerful close to lynchin' Cherokee Hall.
"I don't mind on bosomin' myself about it. It's all a misonderstandin'; the same bein' Cherokee's fault complete. We don't know him more'n to merely drink with at that eepock, an' he's that sly an' furtive in his plays, an' covers his trails so speshul, he nacherally breeds sech suspicions that when the stage begins to be stood up reg'lar once a week, an' all onaccountable, Cherokee comes mighty close to culminatin' in a rope. Which goes to show that you can't be too open an' free in your game, an' Cherokee would tell you so himse'f.
"This yere tangle I'm thinkin' of ain't more'n a month after Cherokee takes to residin' in Wolfville. He comes trailin' in one evenin' from Tucson, an' onfolds a layout an' goes to turnin' faro- bank in the Red Light. No one remarks this partic'lar, which said spectacles is frequent. The general idee is that Cherokee's on the squar' an' his game is straight, an' of course public interest don't delve no further into his affairs.
"Cherokee, himse'f, is one of these yere slim, silent people who ain't talkin' much, an' his eye for color is one of them raw grays, like a new bowie.
"It's perhaps the third day when Cherokee begins to struggle into public notice. Thar's a felon whose name is Boone, but who calls himse'f the 'Stingin' Lizard,' an' who's been pesterin' 'round Wolfville, mebby, it's a month. This yere Stingin' Lizard is thar when Cherokee comes into camp; an' it looks like the Stingin' Lizard takes a notion ag'in Cherokee from the jump.
"Not that this yere Lizard is likely to control public feelin' in the matter; none whatever. He's some onpop'lar himself. He's too toomultuous for one thing, an' he has a habit of molestin' towerists an' folks he don't know at all, which palls on disinterested people who has dooties to perform. About once a week this Lizard man goes an' gets the treemers, an' then the camp has to set up with him till his visions subsides. Fact is, he's what you-alls East calls 'a disturbin' element,' an' we makes ready to hang him once or twice, but somethin' comes up an' puts it off, an' we sorter neglects it.
"But as I says, he takes a notion ag'in Cherokee. It's the third night after Cherokee gets in, an' he's ca'mly behind his box at the Red Light, when in peramb'lates this Lizard. Seems like Cherokee, bein' one of them quiet wolves, fools up the Lizard a lot. This Lizard's been hostile an' blood-hungry all day, an' I reckons he all at once recalls Cherokee; an', deemin' of him easy, he allows he'll go an' chew his mane some for relaxation.
"If I was low an' ornery like this Lizard, I ain't none shore but I'd be fooled them days on Cherokee myse'f. He's been fretful about his whiskey, Cherokee has,—puttin' it up she don't taste right, which not onlikely it don't; but beyond pickin' flaws in his nose- paint thar ain't much to take hold on about him. He's so slim an' noiseless besides, thar ain't none of us but figgers this yere Stingin' Lizard's due to stampede him if he tries; which makes what follows all the more impressive.
"So the Lizard projects along into the Red Light, whoopin' an' carryin' on by himse'f. Straightway he goes up ag'inst Cherokee's layout.
"I don't buy no chips," says the Lizard to Cherokee, as he gets in opposite. "I puts money in play; an' when I wins I wants money sim'lar. Thar's fifty dollars on the king coppered; an' fifty dollars on the eight open. Turn your kyards, an' turn 'em squar'. If you don't, I'll peel the ha'r an' hide plumb off the top of your head."
"Cherokee looks at the Lizard sorter soopercillus an' indifferent; but he don't say nothin'. He goes on with the deal, an', the kyards comin' that a-way, he takes in the Lizard's two bets.
"Durin' the next deal the Lizard ain't sayin' much direct, but keeps cussin' an' wranglin' to himse'f. But he's gettin' his money up all the time; an' with the fifty dollars he lose on the turn, he's shy mebby four hundred an' fifty at the close.
"'Bein' in the hole about five hundred dollars,' says the Lizard, in a manner which is a heap onrespectful, ' an' so that a wayfarin' gent may not be misled to rooin utter, I now rises to ask what for a limit do you put on this deadfall anyhow?'
"'The bridle's plumb off to you, amigo,' says Cherokee, an' his tones is some hard. I notices it all right enough, 'cause I'm doin' business at the table myse'f at the time, an' keepin' likewise case on the game. 'The bridle's plumb off for you,' says Cherokee, 'so any notion you entertains in favor of bankruptin' of yourse'f quick may riot right along.'
"'You're dead shore of that?' says the Lizard with a sneer. 'Now I reckons a thousand-dollar bet would scare this puerile game you deals a-screechin' up a tree or into a hole, too easy.'
"'I never likes to see no gent strugglin' in the coils of error,' says Cherokee, with a sneer a size larger than the Lizard's; 'I don't know what wads of wealth them pore old clothes of yours conceals, but jest the same I tells you what I'll do. Climb right onto the layout, body, soul, an' roll, an' put a figger on your worthless se'f, an' I'll turn you for the whole shootin'-match. You're in yere to make things interestin', I sees that, an' I'll voylate my business principles an' take a night off to entertain you.' An' yere Cherokee lugs out a roll of bills big enough to choke a cow.
"'I goes you if I lose,' says the Stingin' Lizard. Then assoomin' a sooperior air, he remarks: 'Mebby it's a drink back on the trail when I has misgivin's as to the rectitood of this yere brace you're dealin'. Bein' public-sperited that a-way, in my first frenzy I allows I'll take my gun an' abate it a whole lot. But a ca'mer mood comes on, an' I decides, as not bein' so likely to disturb a peace- lovin' camp, I removes this trap for the onwary by merely bustin' the bank. Thar,' goes on the Stingin' Lizard, at the same time dumpin' a large wad on the layout, 'thar's even four thousand dollars. Roll your game for that jest as it lays.'
"'Straighten up your dust,' says Cherokee, his eyes gettin' a kind of gleam into 'em, 'straighten up your stuff an' get it some'ers. Don't leave it all spraddled over the scene. I turns for it ready enough, but we ain't goin' to argue none as to where it lays after the kyard falls.'
"The rest of us who's been buckin' the game moderate an' right cashes in at this, an' leaves an onobstructed cloth to the Stingin' Lizard. This yere's more caution than good nacher. As long as folks is bettin' along in limits, say onder fifty dollars, thar ain't no shootin' likely to ensoo. But whenever a game gets immoderate that a-way, an' the limit's off, an' things is goin' that locoed they begins to play a thousand an' over on a kyard an' scream for action, gents of experience stands ready to go to duckin' lead an' dodgin' bullets instanter.
"But to resoome: The Stingin' Lizard lines up his stuff, an' the deal begins. It ain't thirty seconds till the bank wins, an' the Stingin' Lizard is the wrong side of the layout from his money. He takes it onusual ugly, only he ain't sayin' much. He sa'nters over to the bar, an' gets a big drink. Cherokee is rifflin' the deck, but I notes he's got his gray eye on the Stingin' Lizard, an' my respect for him increases rapid. I sees he ain't goin' to get the worst of no deal, an' is organized to protect his game plumb through if this Lizard makes a break. "'Do you—all know where I hails from?' asks the Stingin' Lizard, comin' back to Cherokee after he's done hid his drink.
"'Which I shorely don't;' says Cherokee. 'I has from time to time much worthless information thrust upon me, but so far I escapes all news of you complete.'
"'Where I comes from, which is Texas,' says the Lizard, ignorin' of Cherokee's manner, the same bein' some insultin', 'they teaches the babies two things,-never eat your own beef, an' never let no kyard- thief down you:
"'Which is highly thrillin',' says Cherokee, 'as reminiscences of your yooth, but where does you-all get action on 'em in Arizona?'
"'Where I gets action won't be no question long,' says the Lizard, mighty truculent. 'I now announces that this yere game is a skin an' a brace. Tharfore I returns for my money; an', to be frank, I returns a-shootin':
"It's at this p'int we-alls who represents the public kicks back our chairs an' stampedes outen range. As the Lizard makes his bluff his hand goes to his artillery like a flash.
"The Lizard's some quick, but Cherokee's too soon for him. With the first move of the Lizard's hand, he searches out a bowie from som'ers back of his neck. I'm some employed placin' myse'f at the time, an' don't decern it none till Cherokee brings it over his shoulder like a stream of white light.
"It's shore great knife-work. Cherokee gives the Lizard aige an p'int, an' all in one motion. Before the Lizard more'n lifts his weepon, Cherokee half slashes his gun-hand off at the wrist; an' then, jest as the Lizard begins to wonder at it, he gets the nine- inch blade plumb through his neck. He's let out right thar.
"'It looks like I has more of this thing to do,' says Cherokee, an' his tone shows he's half-way mournin' over it, ' than any sport in the Territory. I tries to keep outen this, but that Lizard gent would have it.'
"After the killin', Enright an' Doc Peets, with Boggs, Tutt, an' Jack Moore, sorter talks it over quiet, an' allows it's all right.
"'This Stingin' Lizard gent,' says Enright, has been projectin' 'round lustin' for trouble now, mebby it's six weeks. It's amazin' to me he lasts as long as he does, an' it speaks volumes for the forbearin', law-abiding temper of the Wolfville public. This Lizard's a mighty oppressive person, an' a heap obnoxious; an' while I don't like a knife none myse'f as a trail out, an' inclines to distrust a gent who does, I s'pose it's after all a heap a matter of taste an' the way your folks brings you up. I leans to the view, gents, that this yere corpse is constructed on the squar'. What do you-all think, Peets?'
"'I entertains ideas sim'lar,' says Doc Peets. 'Of course I takes it this kyard-sharp, Cherokee, aims to bury his dead. He nacherally ain't look. in' for the camp to go 'round cleanin' up after him none.' "That's about how it stands. Nobody finds fault with Cherokee, an' as he ups an' plants the Stingin' Lizard's remainder the next day, makin' the deal with a stained box, crape, an' the full regalia, it all leaves the camp with a mighty decent impression. By first-drink time in the evenin' of the second day, we ain't thinkin' no more about it.
"Now you-all begins to marvel where do we get to the hangin' of Cherokee Hall? We're workin' in towards it now.
"You sees, followin' the Stingin' Lizard's jump into the misty beyond—which it's that sudden I offers two to one them angels notes a look of s'prise on the Stingin' Lizard's face as to how he comes to make the trip-Cherokee goes on dealin' faro same as usual. As I says before, he ain't no talker, nohow; now he says less than ever.
"But what strikes us as onusual is, he saddles up a pinto pony he's got over to the corral, an' jumps off every now an' then for two an' three days at a clatter. No one knows where he p'ints to, more'n he says he's due over in Tucson. These yere vacations of Cherokee's is all in the month after the Stingin' Lizard gets downed. "It's about this time, too, the stage gets held up sech a scand'lous number of times it gives people a tired feelin'. All by one party, too. He merely prances out in onexpected places with a Winchester; stands up the stage in an onconcerned way, an' then goes through everythin' an' everybody, from mail-bags to passengers, like the grace of heaven through a camp-meetin'. Nacheral, it all creates a heap of disgust. "'If this yere industrious hold-up keeps up his lick,' says Texas Thompson about the third time the stage gets rustled, 'an' heads off a few more letters of mine, all I has to say is my wife back in Laredo ain't goin' to onderstand it none. She ain't lottin' much on me nohow, an' if the correspondence between us gets much more fitful, she's goin' p'intin' out for a divorce. This deal's liable to turn a split for me in my domestic affairs.' An' that's the way we-alls feels. This stage agent is shorely in disrepoot some in Wolfville. If he'd been shakin' up Red Dog's letter-bags, we wouldn't have minded so much.
"I never does know who's the first to think of Cherokee Hall, but all at once it's all over camp Talkin' it over, it's noticed mighty soon that, come right to cases, no one knows his record, where he's been or why he's yere. Then his stampedin' out of camp like he's been doin' for a month is too many for us.
"'I puts no trust in them Tucson lies he tells, neither,' says Doc Peets. 'Whatever would he be shakin' up over in Tucson? His game's yere, an' this theery that he's got to go scatterin' over thar once a week is some gauzy.'
"'That's whatever,' says Dan Boggs, who allers trails in after Doc Peets, an' plays the same system emphatic. An' I says myse'f, not findin' no fault with Boggs tharfor, that this yere Peets is the finest-eddicated an' levelest-headed sharp in Arizona.
"'Well,' says Jack Moore, who as I says before does the rope work for the Stranglers, 'if you-alls gets it settled that this faro gent's turnin' them tricks with the stage an' mail-bags, the sooner he's swingin' to the windmill, the sooner we hears from our loved ones at home. What do you say, Enright?'
"'Why,' says Enright, all thoughtful, 'I reckons it's a case. S'pose you caper over where he feeds at the O.K. House an' bring him to us. The signs an' signal-smokes shorely p'ints to this yere Cherokee as our meat; but these things has to be done in order. Bring him in, Jack, an', to save another trip, s'pose you bring a lariat from the corral at the same time.'
"It don't take Moore no time to throw a gun on Cherokee where he's consoomin' flapjacks at the O. K. House, an' tell him the committee needs him at the New York Store. Cherokee don't buck none, but comes along, passive as a tabby cat.
"'Whatever's the hock kyard to all this?' he says to Jack Moore. 'Is it this Stingin' Lizard play a month ago?'
"'No,' says Moore, "t'ain't quite sech ancient hist'ry. It's stage coaches. Thar's a passel of people down yere as allows you've been rustlin' the mails.'
"Old Man Rucker, who keeps the O. K. House, is away when Moore rounds up his party. But Missis Rucker's thar, an' the way that old lady talks to Enright an' the committee is a shame. She comes over to the store, too, along of Moore an' Cherokee, an' prances in an' comes mighty near stampedin' the whole outfit.
"'See yere, Sam Enright,' she shouts, wipin' her hands on her bib, 'what be you-alls aimin' for to do? Linin' up, I s'pose to hang the only decent man in town?'
"'Ma'am,' says Enright, 'this yere sharp is 'cused of standin' up the stage them times recent over by Tucson. Do you know anythin' about it?'
"'No; I don't,' says Missis Rucker. 'You don't reckon, now, I did it none, do you? I says this, though; it's a heap sight more likely some drunkard a-settin' right yere on this committee stops them stages than Cherokee Hall.'
"'Woman's nacher's that emotional,' says Enright to the rest of us, 'she's oncapable of doin' right. While she's the loveliest of created things, still sech is the infirmities of her intellects, that gov'ment would bog down in its most important functions, if left to woman.'
"'Bog down or not,' says Missis Rucker, gettin' red an' heated, 'you fools settin' up thar like a band of prairie-dogs don't hang this yere Cherokee Hall. 'Nother thing, you ain't goin' to hang nobody to the windmill ag'in nohow. I has my work to do, an' thar's enough on my hands, feedin' sech swine as you-alls three times a day, without havin' to cut down dead folks outen my way every time I goes for a bucket of water. You-alls takes notice now; you don't hang nothin' to the windmill no more. As for this yere Cherokee, he ain't stopped no more stages than I be.'
"'But you sees yourse'f, ma'am, you hasn't the slightest evidence tharof,' says Enright, tryin' to soothe her down.
"'I has, however, what's a mighty sight better than evidence,' says Missis Rucker, 'an' that's my firm convictions.'
"'Well, see yere,' says Cherokee, who's been listenin' all peaceful, 'let me in on this. What be you-alls doin' this on? I reckons I'm entitled to a look at your hand for my money.'
"Enright goes on an' lays it off for Cherokee; how he's outen camp every time the stage is robbed, an' the idee is abroad he does it.
"'As the kyards lay in the box,' says Cherokee, 'I don't reckon thar's much doubt but you-alls will wind up the deal by hangin' me?'
"'It's shorely five to one that a-way,' says Enright. 'Although I'm bound to say it ain't none decisive as yet.'
"'The trooth is,' says Cherokee, sorter thoughtful, 'I wasn't aimin' to be hung none this autumn. I ain't got time, gents, for one thing, an' has arranged a heap diff'rent. In the next place, I never stands up no stage.'
"'That's what they all says,' puts in Boggs, who's a mighty impatient man. 'I shorely notes no reason why we-alls can't proceed with this yere lynchin' at once. S'pose this Cherokee ain't stood up no stage; he's done plenty of other things as merits death. It strikes me thar's a sight of onnecessary talk yere."
"'If you ain't out working the road,' says Doc Peets to Cherokee, not heedin' of Bogg's petulance, 'them stage-robbin' times, s'pose you onfolds where you was at?"
"Well, son, not to string this yere story out longer'n three drinks, yere is how it is: This Cherokee it looks like is soft-hearted that a-way,—what you calls romantic. An' it seems likewise that shovin' the Stingin' Lizard from shore that time sorter takes advantage an' feeds on him. So he goes browsin' 'round the postmaster all casooal, an' puts questions. Cherokee gets a p'inter about some yearlin' or other in Tucson this Stingin' Lizard sends money to an' makes good for, which he finds the same to be fact on caperin' over. It's a nephy or some sech play. An' the Stingin' Lizard has the young one staked out over thar, an' is puttin' up for his raiment an' grub all reg'lar enough.
"'Which I yereafter backs this infant's play myse'f,' says Cherokee to the barkeep of the Oriental Saloon over in Tucson, which is the party the Stingin' Lizard pastures the young one on. 'You're all right, Bill,' goes on this Cherokee to the barkeep,' but now I goes back of the box for this infant boy, I reckons I'll saw him off onto a preacher, or some sharp sim'lar, where he gets a Christian example. Whatever do you think?'
"The barkeep says himse'f he allows it's the play to make. So he an' Cherokee goes surgin' 'round, an' at last they camps the boy—who's seven years comin' grass—on the only pulpit-sharp in Tucson. This gospel-spreader says he'll feed an' bed down the boy for some sum; which was shore a giant one, but the figgers I now forgets.
"Cherokee gives him a stack of blues to start his game, an' is now pesterin' 'round in a co't tryin' to get the young one counter- branded from the Stingin' Lizard's outfit into his, an' given the name of Cherokee Hall. That's what takes him over to Tucson them times, an' not stage-robbin'.
"Two days later, in fact, to make shore all doubts is over, Cherokee even rings in said divine on us; which the divine tells the same story. I don't reckon now he's much of a preacher neither; for he gives Wolfville one whirl for luck over in the warehouse back of the New York Store, an' I shore hears 'em as makes a mighty sight more noise, an' bangs the Bible twice as hard, back in the States. I says so to Cherokee; but he puts it up he don't bank none on his preachin'.
"'What I aims at,' says Cherokee, 'is someone who rides herd on the boy all right, an' don't let him stampede off none into vicious ways.'
"'Why don't you keep the camp informed of this yere orphan an' the play you makes?' says Enright, at the time it's explained to the committee,—the time they trees Cherokee about them stages.
"'It's that benev'lent an' mushy,' says Cherokee, 'I'm plumb ashamed of the deal, an' don't allow to go postin' no notices tharof. But along comes this yere hold-up business, an', all inadvertent, tips my hand; which the same I stands, however, jest the same.'
"'It's all right,' says Enright, some disgusted though; 'but the next time you makes them foundlin' asylum trips, don't walk in the water so much. Leave your trail so Wolfville sees it, an' then folks ain't so likely to jump your camp in the dark an' take to shootin' you up for Injuns an' sim'lar hostiles.'
"'But one thing more,' continues Enright, an' then we orders the drinks. Jack Moore is yereby instructed to present the compliments of the committee to Rucker, when he trails in from Tucson; which he also notifies him to hobble his wife yereafter durin' sessions of this body. She's not to go draggin' her lariat 'round loose no more, settin' law an' order at defiance durin' sech hours as is given to business by the Stranglers."
THE STORY OF WILKINS
"No; I don't reckon I ever cuts the trail of this yere Wilson you mentions, once. If I does, the fact's done pulled its picket-pin an' strayed from my recollections."
I had recalled the name of a former friend, one Wilson, who, sore given to liquor, had drifted to Arizona many years before and disappeared. Suggesting "Wilson" to the Old Cattleman, I asked if he had met with such a name and character in his Wolfville rambles.
As often chanced, however, the question bore fruit in a story. It frequently needed but a slight blow from the rod of casual inquiry, and the fountains of my old friend's reminiscences gushed forth.
"No, I never crosses up with him," observed the old Cattleman; "but speakin' of Wilson puts in my mind a gent by the name of Wilkins, who it's some likely is as disrepootable as your old pard Wilson."
"What about Wilkins?" I asked.
"Nothin' thrillin', "answered the old gentleman; "nothin' you'd stay up nights to hear, I don't reckon. It's Wilkins's daughter who is the only redeemin' thing about the old Cimmaron; an' it's a heap likely right now it's her I remembers about instead of him.
"Not at all," he continued, "I don't mind onfoldin' as to Wilkins, nor yet of an' concernin' his daughter. You see this Wilkins is herdin' 'round Wolfville when I first trails in. I never does know where he hails from. I don't reckon' though, he ever grades no ways high, an' at the crisis I'm mentionin' his speshul play is gettin' drunk mostly; an' not allowin' to hurt himse'f none with work.
"'Workin' with your fins,' says this Wilkins, 'is low an' onendoorin' to a gent with pride to wound. It ain't no use neither. I knows folks as works, an' folks as don't, an' you can't tell one from which. They gets along entirely sim'lar.
"'But how you goin' to live?' says Dave Tutt, when he makes this remark, an' who is fussin' with Wilkins for bein' so reedic'lous an' shiftless.
"'That's all right about my livin',' says Wilkins; 'don't you-all pass no restless nights on my account. Go read your Scriptures; read that bluff about feedin' the young ravens an' sparrers. Well, that's me this trip. I'm goin' to rap for a show-down on them promises an' see what's in 'em.'
"'This camp ain't strong on Holy Writ, nohow,' says Dave Tutt, 'an' I'm partic'lar puny that a-way. It's your game though, an' your American jedgement goes soopreme as to how you plays it.'
"This Wilkins lives in a wickeyup out on the aige of the town, an' a girl, which she's his daughter, about 19 years old, keeps camp for him. No one knows her well. She stays on her reservation mighty close, an' never seems visible much. I notices her in the New York Store once, buyin' some salt hoss, an'she ain't no dream of loveliness neither as to looks.
"Her face makes you feel she's good people though, with her big soft eyes. They has a tired, broke-down look, like somehow she's been packed more'n she can carry, an' has two or three notions about layin' down with the load.
"It's mebby two weeks after Dave Tutt's talk with Wilkins, when we're all in the Red Light takin' our forty drops, an' Sam Enright brings up this yere Wilkins.
"'It has been a question with me,' he says, 'how this old shorthorn and his girl manages for to make out; an' while I care none whatever for Wilkins, it ain't no credit to a live camp like this to permit a young female to suffer, an' I pauses yere to add, it ain't goin' to occur no more. Yesterday, allowin' to bushwhack some trooth about 'em, I waits till old Wilkins drifts over to the corral, an' then I goes projectin' 'round for facts. I works it plenty cunnin', an' sorter happens up to the old man's tepee. I calls the girl out an' puts it up I wants to see her paw a heap on some business.
"'"I wants to see him speshul,"' I says.
"'"Well, he ain't here now,"' says the girl, "so whatever'll you do?"'
"'"I don't reckon you could prance 'round some an' find him for me, could you, Miss?"' I says.
"'So the girl,' continues Enright, 'which her name is Susan, puts on her shaker an' goes stampedin' off; an' while she's gone I injuns an' spies 'round a whole lot; an', comin' down to the turn, Wilkins an' that girl ain't got nothin' to eat. The question now is, what action does Wolfville 'naugerate at a juncture sech as this?' "'What's the matter with takin' up a donation like they does for a preacher, an' saw it onto the girl?' says Dan Boggs.
"'You couldn't open your game that a-way, nohow,' says Doc Peets. 'That's accordin' to Hoyle for sky-pilots an' missionary people; but a young female a-hoidin' of herse'f high spurns your money. Thar's nothin' ketches me like a female of my species in distress, an' I recalls offerin' to stake a lady, who's lost her money somehow, back in St. Looey once. This yere female was strange to me entire, but if she'd knowed me from 'way back she couldn't a-blazed up more frightful. The minute I pulls my bankroll on her, she goes cavortin' off too hostile to talk. It takes ten minutes to get her back to the agency to hear me 'pologize, an' even then she glares an' snorts like she's liable to stampede ag'in. No; you don't want to try an' give this girl no money. What we-alls needs is to hunt up somethin' for her to work at an' pay her.'
"'The Doc's right,' says Enright, 'an' the thing is to find somethin' for this yere lady to do. Any gent with a notion on the subject can't speak too quick.'
"'No party need take my remarks as personal,' says Burns, who runs the Red Light, 'as nothin' invidjous is intended; but I rises to say that a heap of my business is on credit. A gent comes in free an' sociable, names his sozodont, an' gets it. If he pays cash, all right; if he wants credit, all right. "You names your day to drink, an' you names your day to pay," is my motto, as you-alls knows. This bein' troo, onder present exigences what for a scheme would it be for me to get an outfit of books,—day-books, week-books, ledgers, an' the rest of the layout,—an' let this yere maiden keep 'em a whole lot? I throws this out as a su'gestion.'
"'I ain't meanin' nothin' ag'inst Burns's su'gestion,' says Texas Thompson, 'but in my opinion this camp ain't ripe for keepin' books as yet. Things like that has to be come to by degrees. I've knowed a heap of trouble arise from keepin' books, an' as long as this yere's a peaceful camp let's keep it that a-way.'
"'That settles it,' says Burns, 'thar's enough said, an' I don't keep no books.'
"'You-alls present knows me,' says Cherokee Hall, who, as I says previous, is turnin' faro in the Red Light, 'an' most of you has met me frequent in a business way. Thar's my game goin' every night reg'lar. Thar's nothin' tin-horn about it. It ain't no skin game neither. Any gent with doubts can step over an' test my box, which he'll find all comfortable on the layout awaitin' his convenience. It ain't been usual for me to blow my own bazoo to any extent, an' I only does it now as bein' preliminary to the statement that my game ain't no deadfall, an' is one as a respectable an' virchus female person could set in on with perfect safetytood to her reputation. This yere lady in question needs light, reg'lar employment, an' I lets it fly that if she wants in on any sech deal I'll go her a blue stack a week to hold down the chair as look-out for my game.'
"'Cherokee's offer is all right,' says Enright; 'it's good talk from a squar' man. Women, however, is partic'lar, an' like hosses they shies at things thar ain't no danger in. You sees how that is; a woman don't reason nothin', she feels an' mighty likely this young person is loaded to the gyards with sech notions ag'in gamblin' as would send her flyin' at the bare mention. The fact is, I thinks of somethin' sim'lar, but has to give it up. I figgers, first dash out o' the box, that a safe, easy trail to high ground is to give her a table an' let her deal a little stud for the boys. This yere wouldn't be no resk, an' the rake is a shore thing for nine or ten dollars a night. Bein' a benev'lence, I knows the boys would set in mighty free, an' the trouble would be corraled right thar. With this yere in my mind I taps her gently about our various games when I calls for her paw; an' to put it straight, she takes it reluctant an' disgusted at the mere hint. Of course we-alls has to stand these things from woman, an' we might as well p'int up some other way an' no time lost.'
"'Don't you-alls reckon for to make a speshul rake on all poker goin', same as about that Yallerhouse gent, might be an ondefeasible way to get at the neck of this business?' says Dave Tutt. 'I merely asks it as a question.'
"'That wouldn't do,' says Doc Peets, 'but anyhow yere comes Wilkins how, an' if, as Enright says, the're out of chuck up his way, I reckons I'll lose a small bet to the old shorthorn ontil sech times as we devises some scheme all reg'lar.'
"'Howdy, Wilkins?' says Doc, mighty gay an' genial, 'how's things stackin' up?'
"'Mighty ornery,' says Wilkins.
"'Feel like makin' a little wager this A. M.?' says Doc.
"'What do you-all want to gamble at?' says Wilkins.
"'Oh,' says Doc, 'I'm feelin' a heap careless about what I do gamble at. S'pose I goes you ten dollars's worth of grub the Lordsburg buckboard don't show up none to-day?'
"'If I had ten dollars I'd about call you a lot on that,' says Wilkins, 'but I'm a pore cuss an' ain't got no ten dollars, an' what's the use? None of you-alls ain't got no Red Light whiskey- chips you ain't usin', be you? S'pose you-alls gropes about in your war-bags an' sees. I'm needin' of a drink mighty bad.'
"Old Wilkins looks some queer about the eyes, an' more'n usual shaky, so we gives him a big drink an' he sorter braces up.
"'I'll back Wilkins's end of that bet you offers, Doc,' says Tutt, 'so consider it made, will you?'
"'You was offerin' to bet grub,' says the old man, powerful peevish an' fretful. 'What for do you want to bet grub? Why don't you bet money, so I gets what I wants with it? It's my money when I wins. Mebby I don't want no grub. Mebby I wants clothes or whiskey. You ain't no sport, Doc, to tie up a play with a string like that. Gimme another drink some one, I'm most dyin' for some.'
"The old man 'pears like he's mighty sick that a-way, so thar's nothin' for it but to give him another hooker, which we does accordin'.
"'I'm feelin' like I was shot hard by somethin',' he says, 'an' I don't like for to go home till I'm better, an' scare Sue. I reckon I'll camp down on this yere monte table for an hour till I comes 'round.'
"So Wilkins curls up on the table, an' no one notices him for about twenty minutes, when along comes rattlin' up the Lordsburg mail.
"'You win, Wilkins,' says Peets; 'come over to the New York Store an' cut out your stuff.' "The old man acts like he don't hear, so Doc shakes him up some. No use, thar ain't no get up in him.
"'Looks like he's gone to sleep for good,' says Doc.
"Then he walks 'round him, shakes him, an' takes a look at his eye, a-openin' of it with his finger. Finally he stands back, sticks his thumb in his belt, an' whistles.
"'What's up?' says Cherokee Hall. 'He ain't tryin' to work us for another drink I hopes.'
"Well, this is a deal,' says Doc, 'an' no humbug neither. Gents, I'm blessed if this yere old prairie-dog ain't shorely up an' died.'
"We-alls comes up an' takes a look at him, an' Doc has called the turn. Shore enough the old man has cashed in.
"'This is a hoss on us, an' no doubt about it,' says Enright. 'I ain't worryin' for Wilkins, as he most likely is ahead on the deal; but what gets me is how to break the news to this yere maiden. It's goin' to be a hair-line play. I reckons, Doc, it's you an' me.'
"So they goes over to Wilkins's wickeyup an' calls the young Sue girl out, an' Enright begins tellin' her mighty soft as how her paw is took bad down to the Red Light. But the girl seems to get it as right as if she's scouted for it a month.
"'He's dead!' she says; an' then cripples down alongside of the door an' begins to sob.
"'Thar ain't no use denyin' it, Miss,' says Enright, 'your paw struck in on the big trail where the hoof-prints all p'ints one way. But don't take it hard, Miss, thar ain't a gent don't give you sympathy. What you do now is stay right yere, an' the camp'll tend to the funeral, an' put it up right an' jest as you says, you bein' mourner-in-chief. You can trust us for the proper play; since we buries Jack King, obsequies is our long suit.'
"The little Sue girl struggles through somehow, an' has her nerve with her. The funeral, you bet, is right. This time we ropes in a preacher belongin' to some deep-water outfit over in Tucson. He somehow is strayed, an' happens along our way, an' we gets him squar' in the door. He jumps in an' gives them ceremonies a scientific whirl as ain't possible nohow to amatures. All 'round we wouldn't have put on more dog if we'd been plantin' Enright; all of course on the little Sue girl's account. Next day the outfit goes over to find out whatever she allows to do.
"'You sees, Miss; says Enright, 'anythin' you says, goes. Not waitin' to learn its name, even, I'm directed to state as how the camp backs your play an' makes good.'
"'I'm allowin' to go to the States,' says the girl, 'an' I'm obleeged to you.'
"'We was hopin',' says Enright, 'as you'd stay yere. We-alls sorter figgers you'd teach us a school. Of course thar ain't no papooses yet, but as a forced play we arranges to borrow a small herd from Tombstone, an' can do it too easy. Then, ag'in, a night-school would hit our needs right; say one night a week. Thar's a heap of ignorance in this yere camp, an' we needs a night-school bad. It would win for fifty dollars a week, Miss; an' you thinks of it.'
"No, the pore girl couldn't think of it nohow.
"'Of course, Miss, says Enright, 'we alls ain't expectin' you to open this yere academy the first kyards off the deck. You needs time to line up your affairs, an' am likewise wrung with grief. You takes your leesure as to that; meanwhile of course your stipend goes on from now.'
"But the little Sue girl couldn't listen. Her paw is dead, an' now she's due in the States. She says things is all right thar. She has friends as her paw never likes; but who's friends of hers, an' she'll go to them.
"'Well, Miss,' says Enright, mighty regretful, 'if that's how it lays, I reckons you'll go, so thar's nothin' for us to do but settle up an' fork over some dust we owes your paw. He bein' now deceased, of course you represents.'
"The girl couldn't see how any one owes her paw, ''cause he's been too sick to work,' she says.
"'We owes him all the same,' says Enright, mighty ferocious. 'We onderstands well enough how we comes to owe him, don't we, Doc?'
"'You can stack in your life we do,' says Doc, plenty prompt an' cheerful. 'We-alls owes for his nailin' them hoss-thiefs when they tries to clean out the corral.'
"'That's it,' says Enright, 'for ketchin' of some rustlers who lays for our stock. It's all right, Miss; you needn't look so doubtful. You wouldn't if you knowed this camp. It's the last outfit on earth as would go an' give money to people. It's a good straight camp, Wolfville is; but business is business, an' we ain't pirootin' 'round none, givin' nothin' away, be we, Doc?'
"'Not much,' says Doc. 'It's enough for a gent to pay debts, without stampedin' 'round makin' presents of things.'
"'That's whatever,' says Enright; 'so Miss, me an Doc'll vamos over to the Red Light an' get the dust, an' I reckons we'll be back in an hour. I s'pose we owes Mister Wilkins about 'five hundred dollars, don't we, Doc?'
"'Tain't so much,' says Doc, who's guileful that a-way. As he sees the little Sue girl archin' for another buck, he pulls out a paper an' makes a bluff. 'Yere it is,—four hundred an' ninety-three dollars an' seventy-four cents. I puts it down all accurate, 'cause I don't allow no sharp to come 'round an' beat me none.'
"We-alls throws 'round an' makes up the pot to come to Doc's figger- -which I wants to say right yere, Doc Peets is the ablest gent I ever sees—an' the little Sue girl has to take it.
"Which this money lets her out right, an' she cries an' thanks us, an' the next day she takes the stage for Tucson. We're thar to say 'good-by' an' wish the little Sue girl luck.
"'Adios,' says Peets, takin' off his hat to her; 'it ain't down on the bills none, but if you-all could manage to kiss this yere outfit once apiece, Miss, it would be regarded. You needn't be afraid. Some of 'em looks a little off, but they're all right, an' b'ar huggin' is barred.'
"So the little Sue girl begins with Enright an' kisses us all, a- sobbin' meantime some free. As the affection proceeds, Cherokee sorter shoves back an' allows he'll pass.
"'Not any pass!' says Enright. 'Any gent who throws off on that thar little Sue girl, she willin', needn't look for any luck but lynchin'.'
"'That settles it,' says Cherokee, 'I saloots this yere lady.'
"So he ups an' kisses the little Sue girl like she's a hot flat- iron, an' backs into the crowd.
"'Cherokee makes me tired,' says Peets, who's ridin' herd on the play. When it comes his turn he kisses her slow an' rapturous, an' is contemptuous of Cherokee.
"When she's in the stage a-startin', Cherokee walks up, all respectful.
"'You've been away from the States some time, Miss,' he says, 'an' it's an even break you won't find things the way you expects. Now, you remember, shore; whatever game's bein' turned back thar, if it goes ag'in you, raise the long yell for a sharp called Cherokee Hall; an' his bank's yours to go behind your play.'"
THE WASHWOMAN'S WAR.
It was evening. The first dark foreshadowing of the coming night clothed all in half obscurity. But I knew the way; I could have travelled the little path at midnight. There he was, the Old Cattleman, under a favorite tree, the better to avoid the heavy dew. He sat motionless and seemed to be soaking himself, as one might say, in the balmy weather of that hour.
My wisdom had ordered Jim, my black man, to attend my steps. The laconic, half-sad salutation of my old friend at once gave Black Jim a mission. He was dispatched in quest of stimulants. After certain exact and almost elaborate commands to Black Jim, and that useful African's departure, I gently probed my companion with a question.
"No, thar's nothin' the matter of me; sorter pensive, that's all," was my return.
The Old Cattleman appeared silent and out of sorts. Following the coming of Black Jim, however, who brought a lusty toddy, he yielded to a better mood.
"It simply means I'm gettin' old; my settin' 'round balky this a- way. Thar's some seventy wrinkles on my horns; nothin' young or recent about that. Which now it often happens to me, like it does to old folks general, that jest when it begins to grow night, I gets moody an' bad. Looks like my thoughts has been out on some mental feed-ground all day, an' they comes stringin' in like cattle to get bedded down for the night. Nacheral, I s'pose they sorter mills an' stands 'round oneasy like for a while before they lies down all comfortable. Old people partic'lar gets dissatisfied. If they's single-footers like me an' ain't wedded none; campin' 'round at taverns an' findin' of 'em mockeries; they wishes they has a wife a whole lot. If they be, they wish she'd go visit her folks. Gettin' old that a-way an' lonely makes folks frequent mighty contrary.
"No, as I imparts to you yeretofore,—mebby it's a month,—I never marries nothin'. I reckons too, I'm in love one round-up an' another mighty near a dozen times. But somehow I allers lose the trail an' never does run up with none of 'em once.
"Down in the Brazos country thar was a little blue-eyed girl,—back forty years it is,—an' the way I adores her plumb tires people. I reckons I ropes at her more'n fifty times, but I never could fasten. Thar comes a time when it looks powerful like I'm goin' to run my brand onto her; but she learns that Bill Jenks marks 150 calves the last spring round-up, an' me only forty, an' that settles it; she takes Jenks.
"It's astonishin' how little I deems of this yere maiden after Bill gets her. Two months before, I'd rode my pony to death to look once in her eyes. She's like sunshine in the woods to me, an' I dotes on every word she utters like it's a roast apple. But after she gets to be Bill's wife I cools complete.
"Not that lovin' Bill's wife, with his genius for shootin' a pistol, is goin' to prove a picnic,—an' him sorter peevish an' hostile nacheral. But lettin' that go in the discard, I shore don't care nothin' about her nohow when she's Bill's.
"I recalls that prior to them nuptials with Bill I gets that locoed lovin' this girl I goes bulgin' out to make some poetry over her. I compiles one stanza; an' I'm yere to remark it's harder work than a June day in a brandin' pen. Ropin' an' flankin' calves an' standin' off an old cow with one hand while you irons up her offspring with t'other, from sun-up till dark, is sedentary compared to makin' stanzas. What was the on I makes? Well, you can bet a hoss I ain't forgot it none.
"'A beautiful woman is shorely a moon, The nights of your life to illoomine; She's all that is graceful, guileful an' soon, Is woman, lovely woman.'
"I'm plumb tangled up in my rope when I gets this far, an' I takes a lay-off. Before I gathers strength to tackle it ag'in, Jenks gets her; so bein' thar's no longer nothin' tharin I never makes a finish. I allers allowed it would have been a powerful good poem if I'd stampeded along cl'ar through.
"Yes, son; women that a-way is shorely rangy cattle an' allers on the move. Thar's a time once when two of 'em comes mighty near splittin' Wolfville wide open an' leavin' it on both sides of the trail. All that ever saves the day is the ca'm jedgement an' promptitood of Old Man Enright.
"This is how Wolfville walks into this petticoat ambush. The camp is gettin' along all peaceful an' serene an' man-fashion. Thar's the post-office for our letters; thar's the Red Light for our bug-juice; thar's the O. K. Restauraw for our grub; an' thar's the stage an' our ponies to pull our freight with when Wolfville life begins to pull on us as too pastoral, an' we thirsts for the meetropolitan gayety of Tucson.
"As I says we alls has all that heart can hunger for; that is hunger on the squar'.
"Among other things, thar's a Chink runnin' a laundry an' a-doin' of our washin'. This yere tub-trundler's name is Lung, which, however. brands no cattle yere.
"It's one afternoon when Doc Peets gets a letter from a barkeep over
in Tucson sayin': Dear Doc:
Thar's an esteemable lady due in Wolfville on to-morrer's stage. She's p'intin' out to run a laundry. Please back her play. If thar's a Chinaman in town, run him out.
And obleege, yours,
"'Whatever do you think, Enright?' says Doc Peets after readin' us the letter.
"'That's all right,' says Enright, 'the Chink goes. It's onbecomin' as a spectacle for a Caucasian woman of full blood to be contendin' for foul shirts with a slothful Mongol. Wolfville permits no sech debasin' exhibitions, an' Lung must vamos. Jack,' he says, turnin' to Jack Moore, 'take your gun an' sa'nter over an' stampede this yere opium-slave. Tell him if he's visible to the naked eye in the scenery yere-abouts to-morrow when this lady jumps into camp, he's shore asked the price of soap the last time he ever will in this vale of tears.'
"'What's the matter of lynchin' this yere Chink?' says Dan Boggs. 'The camp's deadly dull, an' it would cheer up things a whole lot, besides bein' compliments to this young female Old Monte's bringin' in on the stage.'
"'Oh no,' says Enright, 'no need of stringin him none. On second thought, Jack, I don't reckon I'd run him out neither. It dignifies him too much. S'pose you canter up to his tub-camp an' bring him over, an' we'll reveal this upheaval in his shirt-burnin' destinies by word of mouth. If he grows reluctant jest rope him 'round the neck with his queue, an' yank him. It impresses 'em an' shows 'em they're up ag'in the law. I s'pose, Peets, I voices your sentiments in this?'
"'Shore,'" says Doc Peets—which this Peets is the finest-eddicated man I ever meets. 'This Chinaman must pull his freight. We-alls owes it not only to this Tucson lady, but to the lovely sex she represents. Woman, woman, what has she not done for man! As Johanna of Arc she frees the sensuous vine-clad hills of far-off Switzerland. As Grace Darling she smooths the fever-heated pillow of the Crimea. In reecompense she asks one little, puny boon—to fire from our midst a heathen from the Orient. Gents, thar's but one answer: We plays the return game with woman. This Chinaman must go.'
"When Jack comes back with Lung, which he does prompt, Enright starts in to deal the game.
"'It ain't no use, Lung,' says Enright, 'tryin' to explain to you- all what's up. Your weak Asiatic intellect couldn't get the drop onto it no-how. You've been brought to a show-down ag'in a woman, an' you're out-held. You've got to quit; savey? Don't let us find you yere to-morrow. By third-drink time we'll be a-scoutin' for you with somethin' besides an op'ry glass, an' if you're noticed as part of the landscape you're goin' to have a heap of bad luck. I'd advise you to p'int for Red Dog, but as to that you plays your hand yourse'f."
"Next day that old drunkard Monte comes swingin' in with the stage; the six hosses on the jump, same as he allers does with a woman along. Over at the post-office, where he stops, a lady gets out, an' of course we-alls bows p'lite an' hopes she's well an' frisky. She allows she is, an' heads for the O. K. House.
"It floats over pretty soon that her name's Annie, an' as none of us wants to call her jest 'Annie'—the same bein' too free a play—an' hearin' she lives a year or two at Benson, we concloods to call her Benson Annie, an' let it go at that.
"'The same bein' musical an' expressive,' says Doc Peets, as we all lines up ag'in the Red Light bar, 'I su'gests we baptize this lady "Benson Annie," an' yere's to her success.'
"So we-alls turns up our glasses, an' Benson Annie it is.
"The next day the fetid Lung is a thing of the past, an' Benson Annie has the game to herse'f. Two days later she raises the tariff to fifty cents on shirts, instead of twenty-five, as previous with the Chink. But no one renigs.
"'A gent,' says Doc Peets, 'as holds that a Caucasian woman is goin' to wash a shirt for the miserable stipend of a slave of the Orient must be plumb locoed. Wolfville pays fifty cents for shirts an' is proud tharof.'
"Things goes along for mighty like a month, an' then this yere Benson Annie allows she'll have a visitor.
"'I'm plumb, clean sick,' she says, 'of seein' nothin' but a lot of drunken, good-for-nothin' sots a-pesterin' 'round, an' I done reckons I'll have my friend Sal come over from Tombstone an' see me a whole lot. It'll be some relaxation.'
"Mebby it's four days after when this yere Sal hops outen the stage, an' for the next week thar ain't no washin' done whatever, while Benson Annie an' Sal works the wire aige offen their visit.
"'A gent as would begretch two pore, hard-workin' girls a lay-off of a week,' says Enright, 'ain't clean strain, an' I don't want to know sech a hoss-thief nohow'; an' we-alls feels likewise.
"But slap on the heels of all this yere gregar'ousness on the part of Benson Annie an' Sal, the deal begins to come queer. At the end of the week the two girls has a row, an' in the turn Sal goes to t'other end of camp an' opens a laundry. That does settle it. Benson Annie gives Sal fits, an' Sal shorely sends 'em back. Then they quits speakin', an when they meets on the street they concocts snoots at each other. This scares Enright, but he does his level best an' tries to keep the boys from takin' sides.
"'In a play like this yere,' he says, 'this camp don't take no kyards. For the first time Wolfville passes out, an' offers to make it a jack'
"But as one day an' the next trails by, the boys sorter gets lined up one way an' t'other; some for Benson Annie an' some for Sal, an' things is shorely gettin' hot. Hamilton, over at the dance-hall, ups an' names his place the 'Sal Saloon,' an' Burns takes down the sign on the Red Light an' calls it the 'Benson Annie House.' Finally things sorter culminates.
"Dan Boggs, who's a open, voylent Annie man, comes a-prancin' into the Red Light one night, an' after stampin' an' rappin' his horns 'round a whole lot, allows his shirt is cleaner than Dave Tutt's.
"Tutt says he don't care nothin' for himse'f, an' none whatever for the shirt; an' while he an' Dan's allers been friends an' crossed the plains together, still he don't allow he'll stand 'round much an' see a pore ondefended female, like Sal, maligned. So Tutt outs with his gun an' gets Boggs in the laig.
"This yere brings things down to cases. Enright is worried sick at it. But he's been thinkin' mighty arduous for quite a spell, an' when Boggs gets creased, he sees somethin' must be done, an' begins to line himse'f for a play for out.
"It's the next day after Boggs gets ag'in Tutt, an' Doc Peets has plugged up the hole, when Enright rounds up the whole passel of us in the Red Light. He looks that dignified an' what you-alls calls impressive, that the barkeep, yieldin' to the gravity of the situation, allows the drinks is on the house. We-alls gets our forty drops, an' sorter stands pat tharon in silence, waitin' for Enright to onfold his game. We shore knows if thar's a trail he'll find it.
"'I Gents,' he says at last,—an' it seems like he's sorry an' hurt that a-way,—'I'll not drift into them harrowin' differences which has rent asunder what was aforetimes the peacefullest camp in Arizona. I wants you-alls, however, to take note of my remarks, for what I says is shorely goin' to go.'
"Yere Enright pauses to take a small drink by himse'f, while we-alls tarries about, some oneasy an' anxious as to what kyards falls next. At last Enright p'ints out on the trail of his remarks ag'in.
"'It is with pain an' mortification,' he says—an' yere he fixes his eye some hard an' delib'rate on a young tenderfoot named French, who's been lost from the States somethin' like six months—'it is with pain an' mortification, I says, that I notes for a week past our young friend an' townsman, Willyum French, payin' marked an' ondiscreet attentions to Benson Annie, a female person whom we all respects. At all times, day an' night, when he could escape his dooties as book-keep for the stage company, he has pitched camp in her s'ciety. Wolfville has been shocked, an' a pure lady compromised. Standin' as we-alls does in the light of a parent to this pore young female, we have determined the wrong must be made right, an' Mister French must marry the girl. I have submitted these yere views to Benson Annie, an' she concurs. I've took the trouble to bring a gospel-sharp over from Tucson to do the marryin', an' I've set the happy event for to-night, to conclood with a blow-out in the dance-hall at my expense. We will, of course, yereby lose Benson Annie in them industrial walks she now adorns, for I pauses to give Mister French a p'inter; the sentiments of this camp is ag'in a married female takin' in washin'. Not to play it too low down on Mister French, who, while performin' a private dooty, is also workin' for a public good, I heads a subscription with fifty dollars for a present for the bride. I'd say in closin' that if I was Mister French I wouldn't care to object to this union. The lady is good-lookin', the subscription is cash, an' in the present heated condition of the public mind, an' with the heart of the camp set on this weddin', I wouldn't be responsible if he does. Now, gents, who'll follow my fifty dollars with fifty more? Barkeep, do your dooty while the subscription-paper goes 'round.'
"The biddin' is mighty lively, an' in ten minutes seven hundred dollars is raised for a dowry. Then French, who has been settin' in a sort of daze, gets up:
"'Mister Enright an' gents,' he says, 'this yere is a s'prise-party to me, but it goes. It's a hoss on me, but I stands it. I sees how it is, an' as a forced play I marries Benson Annie in the interests of peace. Which the same bein' settled, if Benson Annie is yere, whirl her up an' I'll come flutterin' from my perch like a pan of milk from a top shelf, an' put an end to this onhealthful excitement.
"We-alls applauds French an' is proud to note he's game.
"'An' to be free an' open with you, French,' says Texas Thompson, so as to make him feel he's ahead on the deal; which he shore is, for this yere Benson Annie is corn-fed, 'if it ain't for a high-sperited lady back in Laredo who relies on me, I'd be playin' your hand myse'f.'
"Well, no one delays the game. Enright brings over Benson Annie, who's blushin' some, but ain't holdin' back; an' she an' French fronts up for business. This yere preacher-sharp Enright's roped up is jest shufflin' for the deal, when, whatever do you reckon takes place? I'm a Mexican if this yere Sal don't come wanderin' in, a- cryin' an' a-mournin' powerful. She allows with sobs if her dear friend Annie's goin' to get married she wants in on the game as bridesmaid.
"'Which you-all shorely gets a hand as sech,' says Doc Peets, who's actin' lookout for the deal; an' so he stakes out Sal over by the nigh side of Benson Annie, who kisses her quite frantic, an' unites her wails to Sal's. Both of 'em weepin' that a-way shorely makes the occasion mighty sympathetic an' damp. But Peets says it's the reg'lar caper, an' you can gamble Peets knows. "'Thar,' says Enright, when the last kyard's out an' the French fam'ly is receivin' congratulations, 'I reckons that now, with only one laundry, Wolfville sees a season of peace. It's all right, but I'm yere to remark that the next lady as dazzles this camp with her deebut, an' onfurls a purpose to plunge into work, ain't goin' to keep a laundry none. Gents, the bridle's plumb off the hoss. We'll now repair to the dance-hall, if so be meets your tastes, an' take the first steps in a debauch from which, when it's over, this yere camp of Wolfville dates time.'"
ENRIGHT'S PARD, JIM WILLIS.
"If my mem'ry's dealin' a squar' game," remarked the Old Cattleman, as he moved his chair a bit more into the shade, "it's some'ers over in the foot-hills of, the Floridas when Enright vouchsafes why he hates Mexicans."
The morning was drowsy. Conversation between us had in a sleepy way ranged a wide field. As had grown to be our habit we at last settled on Wolfville and its volatile inhabitants. I asked to be enlightened as to the sage Enright, and was informed that, aside from his courage and love of strict justice, the prominent characteristic of our Wolfville Lycurgus was his wrath against Mexicans.
"Not that Enright loathes so much as he deplores 'em, "continued the old gentleman. "However, I don't aim to be held as sayin' he indorses their existence a little bit; none whatever.
"Enright's tellin' of this tale arises outen a trivial incident which a Mexican is the marrow of. We're out on the spring round-up, an' combin' the draws an' dry ARROYAS over between the cow springs an' the Floridas, when one night a Mexican runs off a passel of our ponies. The hoss-hustler is asleep, I reckons, at the time this Mexican stacks in. He says himse'f he's lyin' along the back of his bronco gazin' at the stars when this robber jumps at the ponies an' flaps a blanket or somethin', an' away patters every hoof in the band.
"This yere Mexican don't run off with only about a handful; I takes it he can't round up no more in the dark. When you-all stampedes a bunch of ponies that a-way they don't hold together like cattle, but plunges off diffusive. It's every bronco for himse'f, disdainful of all else, an' when it's sun-up you finds 'em spattered all over the scene an' not regardin' of each other much.
"But this yere Mexican, after he stampedes 'em, huddles what he can together—as I says mebby it's a dozen—an' p'ints off into the hills.
"Of course it ain't no time after the sun shows the tracks when Enright, Jack Moore, an' myse'f is on the trail. Tutt an' Dan Boggs wants in on the play, but we can't spar' so many from the round-up.
"It's one of the stolen ponies tips this Greaser's hand. It's the second day, an' we-alls loses the trail for mebby it's fifteen minutes. We're smellin' along a canyon to find it ag'in, when from over a p'int of rocks we hears a bronco nicker. He gets the scent of an acquaintance which Moore's ridin' on, an' says 'How!' pony- fashion.
"Thar's no need goin' into wearyin' details. Followin' the nicker we comes surgin' in on our prey, an' it's over in a minute. Thar's two Mexicans,—our criminal trackin' up with a pard that mornin'. But of course we-alls knows he's thar long hours back by the tracks, so it ain't no s'prise.
"This yere second Mexican is downed on the run-in. He shows a heap of interest in our comin', an' takes to shootin' us up mighty vivid with a Winchester at the time; an' so Enright, who's close in, jumps some lead into him an' stretches him. He don't manage to do no harm, nohow, more'n he creases my hoss a little. However, as this yere hoss is amazin' low-sperited, an' as bein' burnt that a-way with a bullet sorter livens him up a heap, I don't complain none. Still Enright's all-wise enough to copper the Greaser, for thar ain't no sayin' what luck the felon has with that little old gun of his if he keeps on shootin'. Which, as I observes, Enright downs him, an' his powder-burnin' an' hoss-rustlin' stops immediate.
"As for the other Mexican, which he's the party who jumps our ponies in the first place, he throws up his hands an' allows he cashes in his chips for whatever the bank says.
"We-alls ropes out our captive; sorter hog-ties him hand an' foot, wrist an' fetlock, an' then goes into camp all comfortable, where we runs up on our game.
"Jack Moore drops the loop of his lariat over the off moccasin of the deceased Mexican, an' canters his pony down the draw with him, so's we ain't offended none by the vision of him spraddled out that a-way dead. This yere's thoughtful of Jack, an' shows he's nacherally refined an' objects to remainders lyin' 'round loose.
"'No, it ain't so much I'm refined,' says Jack, when I compliments him that he exhibits his bringin' up, an' him bein' too modest that a-way to accept; 'it ain't that I'm refined none—which my nacher is shore coarse—I jest sorter protests in my bosom ag'in havin' a corpse idlin' 'round that a-way where I'm camped. Tharfore I takes my rope an' snatches deceased off where he ain't noticeable on the scenery.'
"Jack does it that gentle an' considerate, too, that when we passes the Mexican next day on our way in, except he's some raveled an' frayed coastin' along where it's rocky, an' which can't be he'ped none, he's as excellent a corpse as when he comes off the shelf, warm as the rifle Enright throws him with.
"'Whatever be we goin' to do with this yere hoss-thief pris'ner of ours?' says Jack Moore to Enright the next day, when we're saddlin' up an' organizin' to pull our freight. 'He's shore due to bother us a lot. We're plumb sixty miles from Tutt an' the boys, an' ridin' herd on this yere saddle-colored gent, a-keepin' of him from lopin' off, is mighty likely to be a heap exhaustin'. I knows men,' Jack remarks at the close, lookin' wistful at Enright, 'as would beef him right yere an' leave him as a companion piece to that compadre of his you downs.'
"'Nachers as would execute a pris'ner in cold blood,' says Enright, 'is roode an' oncivilized. Which I don't mean they is low neither; but it's onconsiderate that a-way to go an' ca'mly kill a pris'ner, an' no co't nor committee authorizin' the same. I never knows of it bein' done but once. It's Mexicans who does it then; which is why they ain't none pop'lar with me since.'
"'It's shore what you calls a mighty indurated play,' says Jack, shakin' his head, 'to go shootin' some he'pless gent you've took; but, as I states, it's a cinch it'll be a heap fatiguin' keepin' cases on this yere Mexican till we meets up with a quorum of the committee. Still it's our dooty, an' of course we don't double-deal, nor put back kyards on what's our plain dooty.'
"'What you-all states,' says Enright,''is to your credit, but I'll tell you. Thar ain't no harm mountin' this marauder on a slow pony that a-way; an' bein' humane s'fficient to leave his hands an' feet ontied. Of course if he takes advantage of our leniency an' goes stampedin' off to make his escape some'ers along the trail, I reckons you'll shorely have to shoot. Thar's no pass-out then but down him, an' we sadly treads tharin. An',' goes on Enright, some thoughtful, if this yere Mexican, after we-alls is that patient an' liberal with him, abuses our confidences an' escapes, we leaves it a lone-hand play to you. My eyes is gettin' some old an' off, any way; an' besides, if we three takes to bangin' away simooltaneous, in the ardor of competition some of us might shoot the pony. So if this yere captive runs—which he looks tame, an' I don't expect none he will—we leaves the detainin' of him, Jack, to you entire."
"In spite of Enright's faith it shore turns out this Mexican is ornery enough, where the trail skirts the river, to wheel sudden an' go plungin' across. But Jack gets him in midstream. As he goes over the bronco's shoulder, hat first, he swings on the bridle long enough with his dyin' hand to turn the pony so it comes out ag'in on our side.
"Which I'm glad he lives s'fficient to head that hoss our way,' says jack. "It saves splashin' across after him an' wettin' your leggins a lot."
"It's that night in camp when jack brings up what Enright says about the time the Mexicans downs a pris'ner, an' tharby fixes his views of 'em.
"'It's a long trail back,' says Enright,' an' I don't like this yarn enough to find myse'f relatin' it to any excessive degrees. It draws the cinch some tight an' painful, an' I don't teach my mind to dwell on it no more'n is necessary.
"'This is all when I'm a boy; mebby I ain't twenty years yet. It's durin' the Mexican war. I gets a stack of white chips an' stands in on the deal in a boyish way. All I saveys of the war is it's ag'in the Mexicans, which, while I ain't got no feud with 'em personal at the time, makes it plenty satisfactory to me.
"'It's down off two days to the west of Chihuahua, an' seven of us is projectin' 'round seein' whatever can we tie down an' brand, when some Mexicans gets us out on a limb. It ain't a squar' deal; still I reckons it's squar' enough, too; only bein' what you-alls calls strategic, it's offensive an' sneakin' as a play.
"'This yere lieutenant who's leadin' us 'round permiscus, looks like he's some romantic about a young Mexican female, who's called the Princess of Casa Grande. Which the repoote of this yere Princess woman is bad, an' I strikes a story several times of how she's that incensed ag'in Americans she once saws off a thimbleful of loco on a captain in some whiskey he's allowin' to drink, an' he goes plumb crazy an' dies.
"'But loco or no loco, this yere Princess person is shore that good lookin' a pinto pony don't compare tharwith; an' when she gets her black eyes on our lieutenant,
that settles it; we rounds up at her hacienda an' goes into camp. "'Besides
the lieutenant thar's six of us. One of 'em's a shorthorn who matches me for age; which his name's Willis—Jim Willis. "'Now I ain't out
to make no descriptions of the friendship which goes on between this yere Willis an' me. I sees a show one time when I'm pesterin' 'round back in St. Looey—an' I'm yere to remark I don't go that far east
no more—which takes on about a couple of sports who's named Damon an' Pythias. Them two people's all right, an' game. An' they shore deems high of one another. But at the time I sees this yere Damon an'
Pythias, I says to myse'f, an' ever since I makes onhesitatin' assertion
tharof, that the brotherly views them two gents entertains ain't a
marker to Jim Willis an' me. "'This yere Jim I knows since we're yearlin's. We-alls jumps outen the corral together back in Tennessee, an' goes off into this Mexican war like twins. An' bein' two boys that a-way
among a band of men, I allows thar ain't nothin' before, nor then, nor after. which I loves like Jim. "'As I observes, Jim an' me's in
the outfit when this yere lieutenant comes trackin' 'round that Princess of Casa Grande; which her love for him is a bluff an' a deadfall; an' the same gets all of us before we're through. An' it gets my Jim Willis speshul. "Mebby it's the third mornin' after we- alls meanders into this nest of Mexicans, an' the lieutenant gets lined out for that Princess of Casa Grande. We ain't been turnin' out early nohow, thar bein' nothin'
to turn out about; but this third mornin' somebody arouses us a heap vigorous, like they aims to transact some business with us. Which they shorely does; it's an outfit of Greaser guerillas, an' we-alls ain't nothin' more or less than captives. "'The ornery an' ongrateful part is that the Princess sends one of her own peonies scoutin' 'round in the hills to bring in this band of cattle-eaters onto us. "'When the lieutenant hears of the perfidy of the Princess female, he's that mortified he gets a pistol the first jump he makes an' blows off the top of his head; which if he only blows off the top of hers it would have gone a heap further with the rest of us. If he'd consulted any of us, it would have shorely been advised. But he makes an impulsive play that
a-way; an' is that sore an' chagrined he jest grabs a gun in a frenzied way an' cashes his chips abrupt. "'No, as I states,' says Enright, musin' to himse'f, 'if the lieutenant had only downed that Princess who plays us in as pris'ners so smooth an' easy, it would have been
regarded. He could have gone caperin' over the brink after her with the bridle off the next second, an' we-alls would still talk well of him. "'As it is, however, this riotous female don't last two months. Which it's also a fact that takin' us that time must have been a heap
on. lucky for them Greasers. Thar's nine of 'em, an' every last man dies in the next five months; an' never a one, nor yet the Princess, knows what they're ag'inst when they quits; or what breeze blows their light out. I knows, because me an' a party whose name is Tate- -Bill Tate—never leaves them hills till the last of that outfit's got his heap of rocks piled up, with its little pine cross stickin' outen the peak tharof, showin' he's done jumped this earthly game for good. "'This Bill Tate an' me breaks camp on them Greasers together while they're tankin' up on mescal, mebby it's two days later; an' they never gets their lariats on us no more. "'"You ain't got no dates, nor speshul engagements with nobody in the States, have you?" says Tate to me when
we're safe outen them Mexican's hands. "'"No,"says I,"whatever makes you ask? "'"Oh, nothin',"says Tate lookin' at the sky sorter black an' ugly, "only since you-all has the leesure, what for a play would it be to make a long camp back in these hills by some water-hole some'ers,
an' stand pat ontil we downs these yere Greasers—squaws an' all— who's had us treed? It oughter be did; an' if we-ails don't do it none, it's a heap likely it's goin' to be neglected complete. It's easy as a play; every hoss-thief of 'em lives right in these yere valleys, for I hears 'em talk. All we has to do is sa'nter back in the hills, make a camp; an' by bein' slow an' shore, an' takin' time an' pains, we bushwhacks an' kills the last one." "'The way I feels about Willis makes the prospect
mighty allurin,' an' tharupon Tate an' me opens a game with them Mexicans it takes five months to deal. "'But it's plumb dealt out, an' we win. When Tate crosses the Rio Grande with the army goin' back, he shorely has the skelp of every Mexican incloosive of said Princess. "'But I wanders from Willis. Where was I at when I bogs down? As I says, this
lieutenant nabs a pistol an' goes flutterin' from his limb. But this don't do them Greasers. They puts up a claim that some Americans tracks up on one of their outfit an' kills him off, they says, five days before.
They allows that, breakin' even on the deal, one of us is due to die. Tate offers to let 'em count the lieutenant, but they shakes their heads till the little bells on their sombreros tinkles, an' declines the lieutenant emphatic. "'They p'ints out this yere lieutenant dies in his own game, on his own deal. It's no racket of theirs, an' it don't go to match the man they're shy. "'One of us six who's left has to die to count even for this Greaser who's been called in them five days ago. Tate can't move 'em; all he says is no use; so he quits,
an' as he's been talkin' Spanish—which the same is too muddy a language for the rest of us—Tate turns in an' tells us how the thing sizes up. "'"One of us is shorely elected to trail out after the lieutenant,"says Tate. "The rest they holds as pris'ners. Either way it's a hard, deep crossin', an' one's about as rough a toss as the other." "'This last
Tate stacks in to mebby win out a little comfort for the one the Mexicans cuts outen our bunch to kill. "'After a brief pow-wow the Greaser who's actin' range-boss for the outfit puts six beans in a buckskin bag. Five is white an' one's black. Them Greasers is on the gamble bigger'n wolves, an' they crowds up plenty gleeful to see us take a gambler's chance for our lives. The one of us who draws a black bean is to p'int out after the lieutenant. "'Sayin' somethin' in Spanish which most
likely means" Age before beauty,"the Mexicans makes Willis an' me stand back while the four others searches one after the other into the bag for his bean. "'Tate goes first an' wins a white bean. "'Then a shiftless, no-account party whom we-alls calls "Chicken Bill" reaches in. I shorely hopes, seein' it's bound to be somebody, that this Chicken Bill acquires the black bean. But luck's ag'in us; Chicken Bill backs off with a white bean. "'When the third gent turns out a white bean the shadow begins to fall across Jim Willis an' me. I looks at Jim; an' I gives it to you straight when I says that I ain't at that time thinkin' of myse'f so much as about Jim. To see this yere deal, black as midnight, closin' in on Jim, is what's hurtin'; it don't somehow occur to me I'm likewise up ag'in the iron my se'f. "'"Looks like this yere amiable deevice is out to run its brand onto one of us,"says Jim to me; an' I looks at him. "'An' then, as the fourth finds a white bean in the bag, an' draws a deep sigh an' stands back, Jim says: "Well, Sam, it's up to us." Then Jim looks at me keen an' steady a whole lot, an' the Mexicans, bein' rather pleased with the situation, ain't goadin' of us to hurry up none.
"'When it's to Jim an' me they selects me out as the one to pull for the next bean. Jim's still lookin' at me hard, an' I sees the water in his eye.'
"'"Let me have your draw, Sam," he says.
"'"Shore,"I replies, standin' a step off from the bag." It's yours too quick."
"' But the Mexicans don't see it that a-way. It's my turn an' my draw, an' Jim has to take what's left. So the Mexicans tells Tate to send me after my bean ag'in.
"'"Hold on a second, Sam," says Jim, an' by this time he's steady as a church. "Sam," he goes on, "thar's no use you—all gettin' the short end of this. Thar's reasons for you livin', which my case is void tharof. Now let me ask you: be you up on beans? Can you tell a black from a white bean by the feel? "
"'"No," I says, "beans is all a heap the same to me."
"'"That's what I allows," goes on this Jim. "Now yere's where my sooperior knowledge gets in. If these Mexicans had let me draw for you I'd fixed it, but it looks like they has scrooples. But listen, an' you beats the deal as it is. Thar's a difference in beans same as in ponies. Black beans is rough like a cactus compared to white beans, which said last vegetable is shorely as smooth as glass. Now yere's what you—all does; jest grp[e an' scout 'round in that bag until you picks out the smooth bean. That's your bean; that's the white bean. Cinch the smooth bean an' the black one comes to me."
"When Jim says all this it seems like I'm in a daze an' sorter woozy. I never doubts him for a moment. Of course I don't take no advantage of what he says. I recalls the advice my old mother gives me; it's long enough ago now. The old lady says: "Samyool, never let me hear of you weakenin'. Be a man, or a mouse, or a long-tail rat." So when Jim lays it off about them two beans bein' smooth an' rough that a-way, an' the white bein' the smooth bean, I nacherally searches out the rough bean, allowin' she'll shore be black; which shows my intellects can't cope with Jim's none.
"'The bean I brings to the surface is white. I'm pale as a ghost. My heart wilts like water inside of me, an' I feels white as the bean where it lays in my hand. Of course I'm some young them days, an' it don't need so much to stagger me. "'I recollects like it was in a vision hearin' Jim laugh. "Sam," he says, "I reads you like so much sunshine. An' I shorely fools you up a lot. Don't you reckon I allows you'll double on the trail, p'intin' south if I says 'north' at a show like this? The white bean is allers a rough, sandy bean; allers was an' allers will be; an' never let no one fool you that a- way ag'in. An' now, Sam, ADIOS."
"'I'm standin' lookin' at the white bean. I feels Jim grip my other hand as lie says "ADIOS," an' the next is the" bang! "of the Mexicans's guns. Jim's dead then; he's out in a second; never bats an eye nor wags a y'ear.
"'Which now,' says Enright at the end, as he yanks his saddle 'round so he makes a place for his head, 'which now that you-alls is fully informed why I appears averse to Greasers, I reckons I'll slumber some. I never does see one, I don't think of that boy, Jim Willis; an' I never thinks of Jim but I wants to murder a Mexican.'
"Enright don't say no more; sorter rolls up in his blankets, drops his head on his saddle, an' lays a long time quiet, like he's asleep. Jack Moore an' me ain't sayin' nothin'; merely settin' thar peerin' into the fire an' listenin' to the coyotes. At last Enright lifts his head off the saddle.
"'Mebby it's twenty years ago when a party over on the Rio Grande allows as how Jim's aimin' to cold-deck me when he onfolds about the habits of them beans. It takes seven months, a iron constitootion, an' three medicine-sharps—an' each as good as Doc Peets,—before that Rio Grande party is regarded as outen danger.'"
TUCSON JENNIES HEART.
"'Whyever ain't I married?' says you." The Old Cattleman repeated the question after me as he settled himself for one of our many "pow-wows," as he described them. "Looks like you've dealt me that conundrum before. Why ain't I wedded? The answer to that, son, is a long shot an' a limb in the way.
"Now I reckons the reason why I'm allers wifeless a whole lot is mainly due to the wide pop'larity of them females I takes after. Some other gent sorter gets her first each time, an' nacherally that bars me. Bill Jenks's wife on that occasion is a spec'men case. That's one of the disapp'intments I onfolds to you. Now thar's a maiden I not only wants, but needs; jest the same, Bill gets her. An' it's allers sim'lar; I never yet holds better than ace-high when the stake's a lady.
"It's troo," he continued, reflectively puffing his pipe. "I was disp'sitioned for a wife that a-way when I'm a colt. But that's a long time ago; I ain't in line for no sech gymnastics no more; my years is 'way ag'in it.
"You've got to ketch folks young to marry 'em. After they gets to be thirty years they goes slowly to the altar. If you aims to marry a gent after he's thirty you has to blindfold him an' back him in. Females, of course, ain't so obdurate. No; I s'pose this yere bein' married is a heap habit, same as tobacco an' jig-juice. If a gent takes a hand early, it's a good game, I makes no sort of doubt. But let him get to millin' 'round in the thirties or later, an' him not begun none as yet; you bet he don't marry nothin'.