Part 1 out of 6
DANNY'S OWN STORY
HOW I come not to have a last name is a
question that has always had more or less
aggervation mixed up with it. I might
of had one jest as well as not if Old Hank Walters
hadn't been so all-fired, infernal bull-headed about
things in gineral, and his wife Elmira a blame sight
worse, and both of em ready to row at a minute's
notice and stick to it forevermore.
Hank, he was considerable of a lusher. One
Saturday night, when he come home from the vil-
lage in his usual fix, he stumbled over a basket that
was setting on his front steps. Then he got up and
drawed back his foot unsteady to kick it plumb
into kingdom come. Jest then he hearn Elmira
opening the door behind him, and he turned his
head sudden. But the kick was already started
into the air, and when he turns he can't stop it.
And so Hank gets twisted and falls down and steps
on himself. That basket lets out a yowl.
"It's kittens," says Hank, still setting down and
staring at that there basket. All of which, you
understand, I am a-telling you from hearsay, as
the lawyers always asts you in court.
Elmira, she sings out:
"Kittens, nothing! It's a baby!"
And she opens the basket and looks in and it was
"Hennerey Walters," she says -- picking me
up, and shaking me at him like I was a crime, "Hen-
nerey Walters, where did you get this here baby?"
She always calls him Hennerey when she is getting
ready to give him fits.
Hank, he scratches his head, for he's kind o'
confuddled, and thinks mebby he really has brought
this basket with him. He tries to think of all the
places he has been that night. But he can't think of
any place but Bill Nolan's saloon. So he says:
"Elmira, honest, I ain't had but one drink all
day." And then he kind o' rouses up a little bit,
and gets surprised and says:
"That a BABY you got there, Elmira?" And
then he says, dignified: "So fur as that's consarned,
Elmira, where did YOU get that there baby?"
She looks at him, and she sees he don't really know
where I come from. Old Hank mostly was truth-
ful when lickered up, fur that matter, and she
knowed it, fur he couldn't think up no lies excepting
a gineral denial when intoxicated up to the gills.
Elmira looks into the basket. They was one of
them long rubber tubes stringing out of a bottle
that was in it, and I had been sucking that bottle
when interrupted. And they wasn't nothing else
in that basket but a big thick shawl which had
been wrapped all around me, and Elmira often
wore it to meeting afterward. She goes inside
and she looks at the bottle and me by the light,
and Old Hank, he comes stumbling in afterward
and sets down in a chair and waits to get Hail
Columbia for coming home in that shape, so's he
can row back agin, like they done every Saturday
Blowed in the glass of the bottle was the name:
"Daniel, Dunne and Company." Anybody but
them two old ignoramuses could of told right off
that that didn't have nothing to do with me, but
was jest the company that made them kind of
bottles. But she reads it out loud three or four
times, and then she says:
"His name is Daniel Dunne," she says.
"And Company," says Hank, feeling right
"COMPANY hain't no name," says she.
"WHY hain't it, I'd like to know?" says Hank.
"I knowed a man oncet whose name was Farmer,
and if a farmer's a name why ain't a company a
"His name is Daniel Dunne," says Elmira, quiet-
like, but not dodging a row, neither.
"AND COMPANY," says Hank, getting onto his
feet, like he always done when he seen trouble
coming. When Old Hank was full of licker he
knowed jest the ways to aggervate her the worst.
She might of banged him one the same as usual,
and got her own eye blacked also, the same as
usual; but jest then I lets out another big yowl,
and she give me some milk.
I guess the only reason they ever kep' me at
first was so they could quarrel about my name.
They'd lived together a good many years and
quarrelled about everything else under the sun, and
was running out of subjects. A new subject kind
o' briskened things up fur a while.
But finally they went too far with it one time.
I was about two years old then and he was still
calling me Company and her calling me Dunne.
This time he hits her a lick that lays her out and
likes to kill her, and it gets him scared. But she
gets around agin after a while, and they both see
it has went too fur that time, and so they makes up.
"Elmira, I give in," says Hank. "His name is
"No," says she, tender-like, "you was right,
Hank. His name is Company." So they pretty
near got into another row over that. But they
finally made it up between em I didn't have no
last name, and they'd jest call me Danny. Which
they both done faithful ever after, as agreed.
Old Hank, he was a blacksmith, and he used to
lamm me considerable, him and his wife not having
any kids of their own to lick. He lammed me when
he was drunk, and he whaled me when he was sober.
I never helt it up agin him much, neither, not fur
a good many years, because he got me used to it
young, and I hadn't never knowed nothing else.
Hank's wife, Elmira, she used to lick him jest about
as often as he licked her, and boss him jest as much.
So he fell back on me. A man has jest naturally
got to have something to cuss around and boss,
so's to keep himself from finding out he don't
amount to nothing. Leastways, most men is like
that. And Hank, he didn't amount to much; and
he kind o' knowed it, way down deep in his inmost
gizzards, and it were a comfort to him to have me
But they was one thing he never sot no store by,
and I got along now to where I hold that up agin
him more'n all the lickings he ever done. That
was book learning. He never had none himself,
and he was sot agin it, and he never made me get
none, and if I'd ever asted him for any he'd of
whaled me fur that. Hank's wife, Elmira, had
married beneath her, and everybody in our town
had come to see it, and used to sympathize with
her about it when Hank wasn't around. She'd
tell em, yes, it was so. Back in Elmira, New
York, from which her father and mother come to
our part of Illinoise in the early days, her father
had kep' a hotel, and they was stylish kind o'
folks. When she was born her mother was homesick
fur all that style and fur York State ways, and so
she named her Elmira.
But when she married Hank, he had considerable
land. His father had left it to him, but it was all
swamp land, and so Hank's father, he hunted
more'n he farmed, and Hank and his brothers
done the same when he was a boy. But Hank,
he learnt a little blacksmithing when he was growing
up, cause he liked to tinker around and to show how
stout he was. Then, when he married Elmira
Appleton, he had to go to work practising that
perfession reg'lar, because he never learnt nothing
about farming. He'd sell fifteen or twenty acres,
every now and then, and they'd be high times till
he'd spent it up, and mebby Elmira would get
some new clothes.
But when I was found on the door step, the land
was all gone, and Hank was practising reg'lar,
when not busy cussing out the fellers that had bought
the land. Fur some smart fellers had come along,
and bought up all that swamp land and dreened
it, and now it was worth seventy or eighty dollars
an acre. Hank, he figgered some one had cheated
him. Which the Walterses could of dreened theirn
too, only they'd ruther hunt ducks and have fish
frys than to dig ditches. All of which I hearn
Elmira talking over with the neighbours more'n
once when I was growing up, and they all says:
"How sad it is you have came to this, Elmira!"
And then she'd kind o' spunk up and say, thanks to
glory, she'd kep' her pride.
Well, they was worse places to live in than that
there little town, even if they wasn't no railroad
within eight miles, and only three hundred soles
in the hull copperation. Which Hank's shop and
our house set in the edge of the woods jest outside
the copperation line, so's the city marshal didn't
have no authority to arrest him after he
They was one thing in that house I always
admired when I was a kid. And that was a big
cistern. Most people has their cisterns outside
their house, and they is a tin pipe takes all the rain
water off the roof and scoots it into them. Ourn
worked the same, but our cistern was right in under
our kitchen floor, and they was a trap door with
leather hinges opened into it right by the kitchen
stove. But that wasn't why I was so proud of it.
It was because that cistern was jest plumb full of
fish -- bullheads and red horse and sunfish and
Hank's father had built that cistern. And one
time he brung home some live fish in a bucket and
dumped em in there. And they growed. And
they multiplied in there and refurnished the earth.
So that cistern had got to be a fambly custom, which
was kep' up in that fambly for a habit. It was a
great comfort to Hank, fur all them Walterses was
great fish eaters, though it never went to brains.
We fed em now and then, and throwed back in the
little ones till they was growed, and kep' the dead
ones picked out soon's we smelled anything wrong,
and it never hurt the water none; and when I was
a kid I wouldn't of took anything fur living in a
house like that.
Oncet, when I was a kid about six years old,
Hank come home from the bar-room. He got to
chasing Elmira's cat cause he says it was making
faces at him. The cistern door was open, and Hank
fell in. Elmira was over to town, and I was scared.
She had always told me not to fool around there
none when I was a little kid, fur if I fell in there
I'd be a corpse quicker'n scatt.
So when Hank fell in, and I hearn him splash,
being only a little feller, and awful scared because
Elmira had always made it so strong, I hadn't no
sort of unbelief but what Hank was a corpse already.
So I slams the trap door shut over that there cistern
without looking in, fur I hearn Hank flopping around
down in there. I hadn't never hearn a corpse flop
before, and didn't know but what it might be some-
how injurious to me, and I wasn't going to take no
So I went out and played in the front yard, and
waited fur Elmira. But I couldn't seem to get my
mind settled on playing I was a horse, nor nothing.
I kep' thinking mebby Hank's corpse is going to
come flopping out of that cistern and whale me
some unusual way. I hadn't never been licked by
a corpse, and didn't rightly know jest what one is,
anyhow, being young and comparitive innocent.
So I sneaks back in and sets all the flatirons in the
house on top of the cistern lid. I hearn some flop-
ping and splashing and spluttering, like Hank's
corpse is trying to jump up and is falling back into
the water, and I hearn Hank's voice, and got
scareder yet. And when Elmira come along down
the road, she seen me by the gate a-crying, and she
asts me why.
"Hank is a corpse," says I, blubbering.
"A corpse!" says Elmira, dropping her coffee
which she was carrying home from the gineral
store and post-office. "Danny, what do you
I seen I was to blame somehow, and I wisht then
I hadn't said nothing about Hank being a corpse.
And I made up my mind I wouldn't say nothing
more. So when she grabs holt of me and asts me
agin what did I mean I blubbered harder, jest the
way a kid will, and says nothing else. I wisht I
hadn't set them flatirons on that door, fur it come
to me all at oncet that even if Hank HAS turned
into a corpse I ain't got any right to keep him in
Jest then Old Mis' Rogers, which is one of our
neighbours, comes by, while Elmira is shaking
me and yelling out what did I mean and how did
it happen and had I saw it and where was Hank's
And Mis' Rogers she says, "What's Danny been
doing now, Elmira?" me being always up to some-
Elmira she turned around and seen her, and she
gives a whoop and then hollers out: "Hank is
dead!" and throws her apern over her head and
sets right down in the path and boo-hoos like a
baby. And I bellers louder.
Mis' Rogers, she never waited to ast nothing
more. She seen she had a piece of news, and she's
bound to be the first to spread it, like they is always
a lot of women wants to be in them country towns.
She run right acrost the road to where the Alexan-
derses lived. Mis' Alexander, she seen her coming
and unhooked the screen door, and Mis'
Rogers she hollers out before she reached the
"Hank Walters is dead."
And then she went footing it up the street.
They was a black plume on her bunnet which nodded
the same as on a hearse, and she was into and out
of seven front yards in five minutes.
Mis' Alexander, she runs acrost the street to
where we was, and she kneels down and puts her
arm around Elmira, which was still rocking back
and forth in the path, and she says:
"How do you know he's dead, Elmira? I seen
him not more'n an hour ago."
"Danny seen it all," says Elmira.
Mis' Alexander turned to me, and wants to know
what happened and how it happened and where
it happened. But I don't want to say nothing
about that cistern. So I busts out bellering fresher'n
ever, and I says:
"He was drunk, and he come home drunk, and
he done it then, and that's how he cone it," I says.
"And you seen him?" she says. I nodded.
"Where is he?" says she and Elmira, both to
But I was scared to say nothing about that there
cistern, so I jest bawled some more.
"Was it in the blacksmith shop?" says Mis'
Alexander. I nodded my head agin and let it go
"Is he in there now?" asts Mis' Alexander. I
nodded agin. I hadn't meant to give out no untrue
stories. But a kid will always tell a lie, not meaning
to tell one, if you sort of invite him with questions
like that, and get him scared the way you're acting.
Besides, I says to myself, "so long as Hank has
turned into a corpse and that makes him dead,
what's the difference whether he's in the black-
smith shop or not?" Fur I hadn't had any plain idea,
being such a little kid, that a corpse meant to be dead,
and wasn't sure what being dead was like, neither,
except they had funerals over you then. I knowed
being a corpse must be some sort of a big disad-
vantage from the way Elmira always says keep
away from that cistern door or I'll be one. But
if they was going to be a funeral in our house, I'd
feel kind o' important, too. They didn't have em
every day in our town, and we hadn't never had
one of our own.
So Mis' Alexander, she led Elmira into the house,
both a-crying, and Mis' Alexander trying to comfort
her, and me a tagging along behind holding onto
Elmira's skirts and sniffling into them. And in a
few minutes all them women Mis' Rogers has told
come filing into that room, one at a time, looking
sad. Only Old Mis' Primrose, she was awful late
getting there because she stopped to put on her
bunnet she always wore to funerals with the black
Paris lace on it her cousin Arminty White had sent
her from Chicago.
When they found out Hank had come home with
licker in him and done it himself, they was all
excited, and they all crowds around and asts me
how, except two as is holding onto Elmira's hands
which sets moaning in a chair. And they all asts
me questions as to what I seen him do, which if
they hadn't I wouldn't have told em the lies I did.
But they egged me on to it.
Says one woman: "Danny, you seen him do it
in the blacksmith shop?"
"But how did he get in?" sings out another
woman. "The door was locked on the outside with
a padlock jest now when I come by. He couldn't
of killed himself in there and locked the door on
I didn't see how he could of done that myself,
so I begun to bawl agin and said nothing at all.
"He must of crawled through that little side
window," says another one. "It was open when I
come by, if the door WAS locked. Did you see him
crawl through the little side window, Danny?"
I nodded. They wasn't nothing else fur me to
"But YOU hain't tall enough to look through that
there window," says another one to me. "How
could you see into that shop, Danny?"
I didn't know, so I didn't say nothing at all; I
"They is a store box right in under that window,"
says another one. "Danny must have clumb onto
that store box and looked in after he seen Hank
come down the road and crawl through the window.
Did you scramble onto the store box and look in,
I jest nodded agin.
"And what was it you seen him do? How did
he kill himself?" they all asts to oncet.
_I_ didn't know. So I jest bellers and boo-hoos
some more. Things was getting past anything I
could see the way out of.
"He might of hung himself to one of the iron
rings in the jists above the forge," says another
woman. "He clumb onto the forge to tie the rope
to one of them rings, and he tied the other end
around his neck, and then he stepped off'n the forge.
Was that how he done it, Danny?"
I nodded. And then I bellered louder than ever.
I knowed Hank was down in that there cistern, a
corpse and a mighty wet corpse, all this time; but
they kind o' got me to thinking mebby he was hang-
ing out in the shop by the forge, too. And I guessed
I'd better stick to the shop story, not wanting to
say nothing about that cistern no sooner'n I could
Pretty soon one woman says, kind o' shivery:
"I don't want to have the job of opening the door
of that blacksmith shop the first one!"
And they all kind o' shivered then, and looked at
Elmira. They says to let some of the men open
it. And Mis' Alexander, she says she'll run home
and tell her husband right off.
And all the time Elmira is moaning in that chair.
One woman says Elmira orter have a cup o' tea,
which she'll lay off her bunnet and go to the kitchen
and make it fur her. But Elmira says no, she can't
a-bear to think of tea, with poor Hennerey a-hang-
ing out there in the shop. But she was kind o'
enjoying all that fuss being made over her, too.
And all the other women says:
"Poor thing!" But all the same they was mad
she said she didn't want any tea, for they all wanted
some and didn't feel free without she took it too.
Which she said she would after they'd coaxed a
while and made her see her duty.
So they all goes out to the kitchen, bringing along
some of the best room chairs, Elmira coming too,
and me tagging along behind. And the first thing
they noticed was them flatirons on top of the cistern
door. Mis' Primrose, she says that looks funny.
But another woman speaks up and says Danny must
of been playing with them while Elmira was over
town. She says, "Was you playing they was
I was feeling considerable like a liar by this time,
but I says I was playing horses with them, fur I
couldn't see no use in hurrying things up. I was
bound to get a lamming purty soon anyhow. When
I was a kid I could always bet on that. So they
picks up the flatirons, and as they picks em up they
come a splashing noise in the cistern. I thinks to
myself, Hank's corpse'll be out of there in a minute.
One woman, she says:
"Goodness gracious sakes alive! What's that,
Elmira says that cistern is mighty full of fish,
and they is some great big ones in there, and it must
be some of them a-flopping around. Which if
they hadn't of been all worked up and talking
all to oncet and all thinking of Hank's body hanging
out there in the blacksmith shop they might of
suspicioned something. For that flopping kep' up
steady, and a lot of splashing too. I mebby orter
mentioned sooner it had been a dry summer and
they was only three or four feet of water in our
cistern, and Hank wasn't in scarcely up to his big
hairy chest. So when Elmira says the cistern
is full of fish, that woman opens the trap door and
looks in. Hank thinks it's Elmira come to get him
out. He allows he'll keep quiet in there and make
believe he is drowned and give her a good scare
and make her sorry fur him. But when the cistern
door is opened, he hears a lot of clacking tongues
all of a sudden like they was a hen convention on.
He allows she has told some of the neighbours,
and he'll scare them too. So Hank, he laid low.
And the woman as looks in sees nothing, for it's
as dark down there as the insides of the whale
what swallered Noah. But she leaves the door
open and goes on a-making tea, and they ain't
skeercly a sound from that cistern, only little,
ripply noises like it might have been fish.
Pretty soon a woman says:
"It has drawed, Elmira; won't you have a cup?"
Elmira she kicked some more, but she took hern.
And each woman took hern. And one woman,
a-sipping of hern, she says:
"The departed had his good pints, Elmira."
Which was the best thing had been said of Hank
in that town fur years and years.
Old Mis' Primrose, she always prided herself
on being honest, no matter what come, and she ups
"I don't believe in no hippercritics at a time like
this, no more'n no other time. The departed
wasn't no good, and the hull town knowed it; and
Elmira orter feel like it's good riddance of bad
rubbish and them is my sentiments and the senti-
ments of rightfulness."
All the other women sings out:
"W'y, MIS' PRIMROSE! I never!" And they
seemed awful shocked. But down in underneath
more of em agreed than let on. Elmira she wiped
her eyes and she said:
"Hennerey and me has had our troubles. They
ain't any use in denying that, Mis' Primrose. It
has often been give and take between us and betwixt
us. And the hull town knows he has lifted his hand
agin me more'n oncet. But I always stood up to
Hennerey, and I fit him back, free and fair and open.
I give him as good as he sent on this here earth,
and I ain't the one to carry no annermosities be-
yond the grave. I forgive Hank all the orneriness
he done me, and they was a lot of it, as is becoming
unto a church member, which he never was."
And all the women but Mis' Primrose, they says:
"Elmira Appleton, you HAVE got a Christian
sperrit!" Which done her a heap of good, and she
cried considerable harder, leaking out tears as fast
as she poured tea in. Each one on em tries to
find out something good to say about Hank, only
they wasn't much they could say. And Hank in
that there cistern a-listening to every word of it.
Mis' Rogers, she says:
"Afore he took to drinking like a fish, Hank
Walters was as likely looking a young feller as I
Mis' White, she says:
"Well, Hank he never was a stingy man, nohow.
Often and often White has told me about seeing
Hank, after he'd sold a piece of land, treating the
hull town down in Nolan's bar-room jest as come-
easy, go-easy as if it wasn't money he orter paid
his honest debts with."
They set there that-a-way telling of what good
pints they could think of fur ten minutes, and Hank
a-hearing it and getting madder and madder all the
time. The gineral opinion was that Hank wasn't
no good and was better done fur, and no matter
what they said them feelings kep' sticking out
through the words.
By and by Tom Alexander come busting into the
house, and his wife, Mis' Alexander, was with him.
"What's the matter with all you folks," he says.
"They ain't nobody hanging in that there black-
smith shop. I broke the door down and went in,
and it was empty."
Then they was a pretty howdy-do, and they all
"Where's the corpse?"
And some thinks mebby some one has cut it down
and took it away, and all gabbles to oncet. But
for a minute no one thinks mebby little Danny has
been egged on to tell lies. Little Danny ain't
saying a word. But Elmira she grabs me and shakes
me and she says:
"You little liar, you, what do you mean by that
tale you told?"
I thinks that lamming is about due now. But
whilst all eyes is turned on me and Elmira, they
comes a voice from that cistern. It is Hank's
voice, and he sings out:
"Tom Alexander, is that you?"
Some of the women scream, for some thinks it
is Hank's ghost. But one woman says what would
a ghost be doing in a cistern?
Tom Alexander, he laughs and he says:
"What in blazes you want to jump in there fur,
"You dern ijut!" says Hank, "you quit mocking
me and get a ladder, and when I get out'n here I'll
learn you to ast what did I want to jump in here
"You never seen the day you could do it," says
Tom Alexander, meaning the day he could lick
him. "And if you feel that way about it you can
stay there fur all of me. I guess a little water
won't hurt you none." And he left the house.
"Elmira," sings out Hank, mad and bossy, "you
go get me a ladder!"
But Elmira, her temper riz up too, all of
"Don't you dare order me around like I was the
dirt under your feet, Hennerey Walters," she says.
At that Hank fairly roared, he was so mad. He
"Elmira, when I get out'n here I'll give you what
you won't fergit in a hurry. I hearn you a-forgiving
me and a-weeping over me, and I won't be forgive
nor weeped over by no one! You go and get that
But Elmira only answers:
"You wasn't sober when you fell into there,
Hennerey Walters. And now you can jest stay in
there till you get a better temper on you!" And all
the women says: "That's right, Elmira; spunk
up to him!"
They was considerable splashing around in the
water fur a couple of minutes. And then, all of a
sudden, a live fish come a-whirling out of that hole,
which he had ketched it with his hands. It was
a big bullhead, and its whiskers around its mouth
was stiffened into spikes, and it lands kerplump into
Mis' Rogers's lap, a-wiggling, and it kind o' horns
her on the hands, and she is that surprised she faints.
Mis' Primrose, she gets up and pushes that fish
back into the cistern with her foot from the floor
where it had fell, and she says right decided:
"Elmira Walters, that was Elmira Appleton,
if you let Hank out'n that cistern before he has
signed the pledge and promised to jine the church
you're a bigger fool 'n I take you to be. A woman
has got to make a stand!" With that she marches
out'n our house.
Then all the women sings out:
"Send fur Brother Cartwright! Send fur Brother
And they sent me scooting acrost town to get him
quick. Which he was the preacher of the Baptist
church and lived next to it. And I hadn't got no
I never stopped to tell but two, three folks
on the way to Brother Cartwright's, but
they must of spread it quick. 'Cause when
I got back home with him it seemed like the hull
town was there. It was along about dusk by this
time, and it was a prayer-meeting night at the
church. Mr. Cartwright told his wife to tell the
folks what come to the prayer-meeting he'd be
back before long, and to wait fur him. Which she
really told them where he had went, and what fur.
Mr. Cartwright marches right into the kitchen.
All the chairs in our house was into the kitchen,
and the women was a-talking and a-laughing, and
they had sent over to Alexanderses for their chairs
and to Rogerses for theirn. Every oncet in a while
they would be a awful bust of language come up
from that hole where that unreginerate old sinner
was cooped up in.
I have travelled around considerable since them
days, and I have mixed up along of many kinds
of people in many different places, and some of 'em
was cussers to admire. But I never hearn such
cussing before or since as old Hank done that night.
He busted his own records and riz higher'n his own
water marks for previous times. I wasn't nothing
but a little kid then, and skeercly fitten fur to ad-
mire the full beauty of it. They was deep down
cusses, that come from the heart. Looking back
at it after all these years, I can believe what Brother
Cartwright said himself that night, that it wasn't
natcheral cussing and some higher power, like a
demon or a evil sperrit, must of entered into Hank's
human carkis and give that turrible eloquence to
his remarks. It busted out every few minutes,
and the women would put their fingers into their
ears till a spell was over. And it was personal, too.
Hank, he would listen until he hearn a woman's
voice that he knowed, and then he would let loose
on her fambly, going backwards to her grandfathers
and downwards to her children's children. If her
father had once stolen a hog, or her husband done
any disgrace that got found out on him, Hank would
put it all into his gineral remarks, with trimmings
Brother Cartwright, he steps up to the hole in
the floor when he first comes in and he says, gentle-
like and soothing, like a undertaker when he tells
you where to set at a home funeral:
"Brother!" Hank yells out, "don't ye brother
me, you sniffling, psalm-singing, yaller-faced,
pigeon-toed hippercrit, you! Get me a ladder,
gol dern you, and I'll come out'n here and learn
you to brother me, I will." Only that wasn't
nothing to what Hank really said to that preacher;
no more like it than a little yaller, fluffy canary is
like a buzzard.
"Brother Walters," says the preacher, ca'am but
firm, "we have all decided that you ain't going to
come out of that cistern till you sign the pledge."
And Hank tells him what he thinks of pledges and
him and church doings, and it wasn't purty. And
he says if he was as deep in eternal fire as what he
now is in rain-water, and every fish that nibbles
at his toes was a preacher with a red-hot pitchfork
a-jabbing at him, they could jab till the hull here-
after turned into snow afore he'd ever sign nothing a
man like Mr. Cartwright give him to sign. Hank
was stubborner than any mule he ever nailed shoes
onto, and proud of being that stubborn. That
town was a awful religious town, and Hank he
knowed he was called the most onreligious man in it,
and he was proud of that too; and if any one called
him a heathen it jest plumb tickled him all over.
"Brother Walters," says that preacher, "we are
going to pray for you."
And they done it. They brought all them chairs
close up around that cistern, in a ring, and they
all kneeled down there, with their heads on 'em,
and they prayed fur Hank's salvation. They done
it up in style, too, one at a time, and the others
singing out, "Amen!" every now and then, and they
shed tears down onto Hank. The front yard was
crowded with men, all a-laughing and a-talking
and chawing and spitting tobacco and betting how
long Hank would hold out. Old Si Emery, that
was the city marshal, and always wore a big nickel-
plated star, was out there with 'em. Si was in a
sweat, 'cause Bill Nolan, that run the bar-room,
and some more of Hank's friends, or as near friends
as he had, was out in the road. They says to Si
he must arrest that preacher, fur Hank is being
gradual murdered in that there water, and he'll
die if he's helt there too long, and it will be a crime.
Only they didn't come into the yard to say it
amongst us religious folks. But Si, he says he
dassent arrest no one because it is outside the town
copperation; but he's considerable worried too
about what his duty orter be.
Pretty soon the gang that Mrs. Cartwright has
rounded up at the prayer-meeting comes stringing
along in. They had all brung their hymn books
with them, and they sung. The hull town was
there then, and they all sung, and they sung re-
vival hymns over Hank. And Hank he would jest
cuss and cuss. Every time he busted out into
another cussing spell they would start another
hymn. Finally the men out in the front yard got
warmed up too, and begun to sing, all but Bill
Nolan's crowd, and they give Hank up for lost and
went away disgusted.
The first thing you knowed they was a reg'lar
revival meeting there, and that preacher was
preaching a reg'lar revival sermon. I been to
more'n one camp meeting, but fur jest natcherally
taking holt of the hull human race by the slack
of its pants and dangling of it over hell-fire, I never
hearn nothing could come up to that there sermon.
Two or three old backsliders in the crowd come right
up and repented all over agin on the spot. The
hull kit and biling of 'em got the power good and
hard, like they does at camp meetings and revivals.
But Hank, he only cussed. He was obstinate,
Hank was, and his pride and dander had riz up.
Finally he says:
"You're taking a ornery, low-down advantage
o' me, you are. Let me out'n this here cistern and
I'll show you who'll stick it out longest on dry
land, dern your religious hides!"
Some of the folks there hadn't had no suppers,
so after all the other sinners but Hank had either
got converted or else sneaked away, some of the
women says why not make a kind of love feast out
of it, and bring some vittles, like they does to
church sociables. Because it seems likely Satan
is going to wrastle all night long, like he done with
the angel Jacob, and they ought to be prepared.
So they done it. They went and they come back
with vittles and they made up hot coffee and they
feasted that preacher and theirselves and Elmira
and me, all right in Hank's hearing.
And Hank was getting hungry himself. And he
was cold in that water. And the fish was nibbling
at him. And he was getting cussed out and weak
and soaked full of despair. And they wasn't no
way fur him to set down and rest. And he was
scared of getting a cramp in his legs, and sinking
down with his head under water and being drownded.
He said afterward he'd of done the last with pleasure
if they was any way of suing that crowd fur murder.
So along about ten o'clock he sings out:
"I give in, gosh dern ye! I give in. Let me
out and I'll sign your pesky pledge!"
Brother Cartwright was fur getting a ladder and
letting him climb out right away. But Elmira, she
"Don't you do it, Brother Cartwright; don't
you do it. You don't know Hank Walters like I
does. If he oncet gets out o' there before he's
signed that pledge, he won't never sign it."
So they fixed it up that Brother Cartwright was
to write out a pledge on the inside leaf of the Bible,
and tie the Bible onto a string, and a lead pencil
onto another string, and let the strings down to
Hank, and he was to make his mark, fur he couldn't
write, and they was to be pulled up agin. Hank,
he says all right, and they done it. But jest as
Hank was making his mark on the leaf of the book,
that preacher done what I has always thought was
a mean trick. He was lying on the floor with his
head and shoulders into that hole as fur as he could,
holding a lantern way down into it, so as Hank could
see. And jest as Hank made that mark he spoke
some words over him, and then he says:
"Now, Henry Walters, I have baptized you, and
you are a member of the church."
You'd a thought Hank would of broke out cussing
agin at being took unexpected that-a-way, fur he
hadn't really agreed to nothing but signing the
pledge. But nary a cuss. He jest says: "Now,
you get that ladder."
They got it, and he clumb up into the kitchen,
dripping and shivering.
"You went and baptized me in that water?"
he asts the preacher. The preacher says he has.
"Then," says Hank, "you done a low-down trick
on me. You knowed I has made my brags I never
jined no church nor never would jine. You knowed
I was proud of that. You knowed that it was my
glory to tell of it, and that I set a heap of store by
it in every way. And now you've went and took
it away from me! You never fought it out fair
and square, neither, man playing to outlast man,
like you done with this here pledge, but you sneaked
it in on me when I wasn't looking."
They was a lot of men in that crowd that thought
the preacher had went too far, and sympathized
with Hank. The way he done about that hurt
Brother Cartwright in our town, and they was a
split in the church, because some said it wasn't
reg'lar and wasn't binding. He lost his job after
a while and become an evangelist. Which it don't
make no difference what one of them does, nohow.
But Hank, he always thought he had been bap-
tized reg'lar. And he never was the same after-
ward. He had made his life-long brags, and his
pride was broke in that there one pertic'ler spot.
And he sorrered and grieved over it a good 'eal,
and got grouchier and grouchier and meaner and
meaner, and lickered oftener, if anything. Signing
the pledge couldn't hold Hank. He was worse in
every way after that night in the cistern, and took
to lamming me harder and harder.
Well, all the lammings Hank laid on never
done me any good. It seemed like I was
jest natcherally cut out to have no success
in life, and no amount of whaling could change
it, though Hank, he was faithful. Before I was
twelve years old the hull town had seen it, and they
wasn't nothing else expected of me except not to
be any good.
That had its handy sides to it, too. They was
lots of kids there that had to go to school, but Hank,
he never would of let me done that if I had ast
him, and I never asted. And they was lots of
kids considerably bothered all the time with their
parents and relations. They made 'em go to
Sunday School, and wash up reg'lar all over on
Saturday nights, and put on shoes and stockings
part of the time, even in the summer, and some of
'em had to ast to go in swimming, and the hull thing
was a continuous trouble and privation to 'em.
But they wasn't nothing perdicted of me, and I
done like it was perdicted. Everybody 'lowed
from the start that Hank would of made trash
out'n me, even if I hadn't showed all the signs of
being trash anyhow. And if they was devilment
anywhere about that town they all says, "Danny,
he done it." And like as not I has. So I gets to
be what you might call an outcast. All the kids
whose folks ain't trash, their mothers tells 'em not
to run with me no more. Which they done it all
the more fur that reason, on the sly, and it makes
me more important with them.
But when I gets a little bigger, all that makes me
feel kind o' bad sometimes. It ain't so handy
then. Fur folks gets to saying, when I would come
"Danny, what do YOU want?"
And if I says, "Nothing," they would say:
"Well, then, you get out o' here!"
Which they needn't of been suspicioning nothing
like they pertended they did, fur I never stole
nothing more'n worter millions and mush millions
and such truck, and mebby now and then a chicken
us kids use to roast in the woods on Sundays, and
jest as like as not it was one of Hank's hens then,
which I figgered I'd earnt it.
Fur Hank, he had streaks when he'd work me
considerable hard. He never give me any money
fur it. He loafed a lot too, and when he'd loaf
I'd loaf. But I did pick up right smart of handiness
with tools around that there shop of his'n, and if
he'd ever of used me right I might of turned into a
purty fair blacksmith. But it wasn't no use trying
to work fur Hank. When I was about fifteen,
times is right bad around the house fur a spell,
and Elmira is working purty hard, and I thinks to
"Well, these folks has kind o' brung you up, and
you ain't never done more'n Hank made you
do. Mebby you orter stick to work a little more
when they's a job in the shop, even if Hank
Which I tried it fur about two or three years,
doing as much work around the shop as Hank done
and mebby more. But it wasn't no use. One
day when I'm about eighteen, I seen awful plain
I'll have to light out from there. They was a
circus come to town that day. I says to Hank:
"Hank, they is a circus this afternoon and agin
"So I has hearn," says Hank.
"Are you going to it?" says I.
"I mout," says Hank, "and then agin I moutn't.
I don't see as it's no consarns of yourn, nohow."
I knowed he was going, though. Hank, he never
missed a circus.
"Well," I says, "they wasn't no harm to ast,
"Well, you've asted, ain't you?" says Hank.
"Well, then," says I, "I'd like to go to that there
"They ain't no use in me saying fur you not to
go," says Hank, "fur you would go anyhow. You
always does go off when you is needed."
"But I ain't got no money," I says, "and I was
going to ast you could you spare me half a dollar?"
"Great Jehosephat!" says Hank, "but ain't
you getting stuck up! What's the matter of you
crawling in under the tent like you always done?
First thing I know you'll be wanting a pair of these
here yaller shoes and a stove-pipe hat."
"No," says I, "I ain't no dude, Hank, and you
know it. But they is always things about a circus
to spend money on besides jest the circus herself.
They is the side show, fur instance, and they is the
grand concert afterward. I calkelated I'd take
'em all in this year--the hull dern thing, jest fur
Hank, he looks at me like I'd asted fur a house 'n'
lot, or a million dollars, or something like that. But
he don't say nothing. He jest snorts.
"Hank," I says, "I been doing right smart work
around the shop fur two, three years now. If
you wasn't loafing so much you'd a noticed it more.
And I ain't never ast fur a cent of pay fur it,
"You ain't wuth no pay," says Hank. "You
ain't wuth nothing but to eat vittles and wear out
"Well," I says, "I figger I earn my vittles and a
good 'eal more. And as fur as clothes goes, I never
had none but what Elmira made out'n yourn."
"Who brung you up?" asts Hank.
"You done it," says I, "and by your own say-so
you done a dern poor job at it."
"You go to that there circus," says Hank, a-flaring
up, "and I'll lambaste you up to a inch of your life.
So fur as handing out money fur you to sling it to
the dogs, I ain't no bank, and if I was I ain't no
ijut. But you jest let me hear of you even going
nigh that circus lot and all the lammings you has
ever got, rolled into one, won't be a measly little
sarcumstance to what you WILL get. They ain't
no leather-faced young upstart with weepin'-willow
hail going to throw up to me how I brung him up.
That's gratitood fur you, that is!" says Hank. "If
it hadn't of been fur me giving you a home when I
found you first, where would you of been now?"
"Well," I says, "I might of been a good 'eal
better off. If you hadn't of took me in the Alexan-
derses would of, and then I wouldn't of been kep' out
of school and growed up a ignoramus like you is."
"I never had no trouble keeping you away from
school, I notice," says Hank, with a snort. "This
is the first I ever hearn of you wanting to go there."
Which was true in one way, and a lie in another.
I hadn't never wanted to go till lately, but he'd
of lammed me if I had of wanted to. He always
said he would. And now I was too big and
Well, Hank, he never give me no money, so I
watches my chancet that afternoon and slips in
under the tent the same as always. And I lays
low under them green benches and wiggled through
when I seen a good chancet. The first person I
seen was Hank. Of course he seen me, and he
shook his fist at me in a promising kind of way,
and they wasn't no trouble figgering out what he
meant. Fur a while I didn't enjoy that circus to
no extent. Fur I was thinking that if Hank tries
to lick me fur it I'll fight him back this time, which
I hadn't never fit him back much yet fur fear
he'd pick up something iron around the shop and
jest natcherally lay me cold with it.
I got home before Hank did. It was nigh sun-
down, and I was waiting in the door of the shop fur
Elmira to holler vittles is ready, and Hank come
along. He didn't waste no time. He steps inside
the shop and he takes down a strap and he
"You come here and take off your shirt."
But I jest moves away. Hank, he runs in on me,
and he swings his strap. I throwed up my arm,
and it cut me acrost the knuckles. I run in on him,
and he dropped the strap and fetched me an open-
handed smack plumb on the mouth that jarred my
head back and like to of busted it loose. Then I
got right mad, and I run in on him agin, and this
time I got to him, and wrastled with him.
Well, sir, I never was so surprised in all my life
before. Fur I hadn't had holt on him more'n
a minute before I seen I'm stronger than Hank is.
I throwed him, and he hit the ground with con-
siderable of a jar, and then I put my knee in the
pit of his stomach and churned it a couple. And
I thinks to myself what a fool I must of been fur
better'n a year, because I might of done this any
time. I got him by the ears and I slammed his
head into the gravel a few times, him a-reaching
fur my throat, and a-pounding me with his fists,
but me a-taking the licks and keeping holt. And
I had a mighty contented time fur a few minutes
there on top of Hank, chuckling to myself, and
batting him one every now and then fur luck, and
trying to make him holler it's enough. But Hank
is stubborn and he won't holler. And purty soon
I thinks, what am I going to do? Fur Hank will
be so mad when I let him up he'll jest natcherally
kill me, without I kill him. And I was scared,
because I don't want neither one of them things to
happen. Whilst I was thinking it over, and getting
scareder and scareder, and banging Hank's head
harder and harder, some one grabs me from behind.
They was two of them, and one gets my collar
and one gets the seat of my pants, and they drug
me off'n him. Hank, he gets up, and then he sets
down sudden on a horse block and wipes his face
on his sleeve, which they was considerable blood
come onto the sleeve.
I looks around to see who has had holt of me, and
it is two men. One of them looks about seven feet
tall, on account of a big plug hat and a long white
linen duster, and has a beautiful red beard. In the
road they is a big stout road wagon, with a canopy
top over it, pulled by two hosses, and on the wagon
box they is a strip of canvas. Which I couldn't
read then what was wrote on the canvas, but I
learnt later it said, in big print:
SIWASH INDIAN SAGRAW.
NATURE'S UNIVERSAL MEDICINAL SPECIFIC.
DISCOVERED BY DR. HARTLEY L. KIRBY
AMONG THE ABORIGINES OF OREGON.
On account of being so busy, neither Hank nor
me had hearn the wagon come along the road and
stop. The big man in the plug hat, he says, or
they was words to that effect, jest as serious:
"Why are you mauling the aged gent?"
"Well," says I, "he needed it considerable."
"But," says he, still more solemn, "the good book
says to honour thy father and thy mother."
"Well," I says, "mebby it does and mebby it
don't. But HE ain't my father, nohow. And he
ain't been getting no more'n his come-uppings."
"Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord," the big
man remarks, very serious. Hank, he riz up then,
and he says:
"Mister, be you a preacher? 'Cause if you be,
the sooner you have druv on, the better fur ye.
I got a grudge agin all preachers."
That feller, he jest looks Hank over ca'am and
easy and slow before he answers, and he wrinkles
up his face like he never seen anything like Hank
before. Then he fetches a kind o' aggervating smile,
and he says:
"Beneath a shady chestnut tree
The village blacksmith stands.
The smith, a pleasant soul is he
With warts upon his hands--"
He stares at Hank hard and solemn and serious
while he is saying that poetry at him. Hank
fidgets and turns his eyes away. But the feller
touches him on the breast with his finger, and makes
him look at him.
"My honest friend," says the feller, "I am NOT
a preacher. Not right now, anyhow. No! My
mission is spreading the glad tidings of good health.
Look at me," and he swells his chest up, and keeps
a-holt of Hank's eyes with his'n. "You behold
before you the discoverer, manufacturer, and
proprietor of Siwash Indian Sagraw, nature's own
remedy for Bright's Disease, rheumatism, liver and
kidney trouble, catarrh, consumption, bronchitis,
ring-worm, erysipelas, lung fever, typhoid, croup,
dandruff, stomach trouble, dyspepsia--" And
they was a lot more of 'em.
"Well," says Hank, sort o' backing up as the big
man come nearer and nearer to him, jest natcherally
bully-ragging him with them eyes, "I got none of
them there complaints."
The doctor he kind o' snarls, and he brings his
hand down hard on Hank's shoulder, and he
"There are more things betwixt Dan and Beer-
sheba than was ever dreamt of in thy sagacity,
Romeo!" Or they was words to that effect, fur
that doctor was jest plumb full of Scripter quota-
tions. And he sings out sudden, giving Hank a
shove that nearly pushes him over: "Man alive!"
he yells, "you DON'T KNOW what disease you may have!
Many's the strong man I've seen rejoicing in his
strength at the dawn of day cut down like the grass
in the field before sunset," he says.
Hank, he's trying to look the other way, but that
doctor won't let his eyes wiggle away from his'n.
He says very sharp:
"Stick out your tongue!"
Hank, he sticks her out.
The doctor, he takes some glasses out'n his pocket
and puts 'em on, and he fetches a long look at her.
Then he opens his mouth like he was going to say
something, and shuts it agin like his feelings won't
let him. He puts his arm across Hank's shoulder
affectionate and sad, and then he turns his head
away like they was some one dead in the fambly.
Finally, he says:
"I thought so. I saw it. I saw it in your eyes
when I first drove up. I hope," he says, very
mournful, "I haven't come too late!"
Hank, he turns pale. I was getting sorry fur
Hank myself. I seen now why I licked him so
easy. Any one could of told from that doctor's
actions Hank was as good as a dead man already.
But Hank, he makes a big effort, and he
"Shucks! I'm sixty-eight years old, doctor, and
I hain't never had a sick day in my life." But
he was awful uneasy too.
The doctor, he says to the feller with him:
"Looey, bring me one of the sample size."
Looey brung it, the doctor never taking his eyes
off'n Hank. He handed it to Hank, and he says:
"A whiskey glass full three times a day, my
friend, and there is a good chance for even you.
I give it to you, without money and without price."
"But what have I got?" asts Hank.
"You have spinal meningitis," says the doctor,
never batting an eye.
"Will this here cure me?" says Hank.
"It'll cure ANYTHING," says the doctor.
Hank he says, "Shucks," agin, but he took the
bottle and pulled the cork out and smelt it, right
thoughtful. And what them fellers had stopped
at our place fur was to have the shoe of the nigh
hoss's off hind foot nailed on, which it was most
ready to drop off. Hank, he done it fur a regula-
tion, dollar-size bottle and they druv on into the
Right after supper I goes down town. They
was in front of Smith's Palace Hotel. They was
jest starting up when I got there. Well, sir, that
doctor was a sight. He didn't have his duster
onto him, but his stove-pipe hat was, and one of
them long Prince Alferd coats nearly to his knees,
and shiny shoes, but his vest was cut out holler fur
to show his biled shirt, and it was the pinkest shirt
I ever see, and in the middle of that they was a dia-
mond as big as Uncle Pat Hickey's wen, what was
one of the town sights. No, sir; they never was a
man with more genuine fashionableness sticking
out all over him than Doctor Kirby. He jest
fairly wallered in it.
I hadn't paid no pertic'ler attention to the other
feller with him when they stopped at our place,
excepting to notice he was kind of slim and black-
haired and funny complected. But I seen now I
orter of looked closeter. Fur I'll be dad-binged
if he weren't an Injun! There he set, under that
there gasoline lamp the wagon was all lit up with,
with moccasins on, and beads and shells all over
him, and the gaudiest turkey tail of feathers rain-
bowing down from his head you ever see, and a
blanket around him that was gaudier than the
feathers. And he shined and rattled every time
That wagon was a hull opry house to itself. It
was rolled out in front of Smith's Palace Hotel
without the hosses. The front part was filled with
bottles of medicine. The doctor, he begun business
by taking out a long brass horn and tooting on it.
They was about a dozen come, but they was mostly
boys. Then him and the Injun picked up some
banjoes and sung a comic song out loud and clear.
And they was another dozen or so come. And
they sung another song, and Pop Wilkins, he closed
up the post-office and come over and the other
two veterans of the Grand Army of the Republicans
that always plays checkers in there nights come
along with him. But it wasn't much of a crowd,
and the doctor he looked sort o' worried. I had
a good place, right near the hind wheel of the wagon
where he rested his foot occasional, and I seen what
he was thinking. So I says to him:
"Doctor Kirby, I guess the crowd is all gone to
the circus agin to-night." And all them fellers
there seen I knowed him.
"I guess so, Rube," he says to me. And they
all laughed 'cause he called me Rube, and I felt
kind of took down.
Then he lit in to tell about that Injun medicine.
First off he told how he come to find out about
it. It was the father of the Injun what was with
him had showed him, he said. And it was in the
days of his youthfulness, when he was wild, and a
cowboy on the plains of Oregon. Well, one night
he says, they was an awful fight on the plains of
Oregon, wherever them is, and he got plugged full
of bullet holes. And his hoss run away with him
and he was carried off, and the hoss was going at a
dead run, and the blood was running down onto
the ground. And the wolves smelt the blood and
took out after him, yipping and yowling something
frightful to hear, and the hoss he kicked out be-
hind and killed the head wolf and the others stopped
to eat him up, and while they was eating him the
hoss gained a quarter of a mile. But they et him
up and they was gaining agin, fur the smell of human
blood was on the plains of Oregon, he says, and the
sight of his mother's face when she ast him never
to be a cowboy come to him in the moonlight,
and he knowed that somehow all would yet be well,
and then he must of fainted and he knowed no more
till he woke up in a tent on the plains of Oregon.
And they was an old Injun bending over him and
a beautiful Injun maiden was feeling of his pulse,
and they says to him:
"Pale face, take hope, fur we will doctor you with
Siwash Injun Sagraw, which is nature's own cure
fur all diseases."
They done it. And he got well. It had been a
secret among them there Injuns fur thousands and
thousands of years. Any Injun that give away the
secret was killed and rubbed off the rolls of the
tribe and buried in disgrace upon the plains of
Oregon. And the doctor was made a blood brother
of the chief, and learnt the secret of that medicine.
Finally he got the chief to see as it wasn't Christian
to hold back that there medicine from the world
no longer, and the chief, his heart was softened,
and he says to go.
"Go, my brother," he says, "and give to the pale
faces the medicine that has been kept secret fur
thousands and thousands of years among the Siwash
Injuns on the plains of Oregon."
And he went. It wasn't that he wanted to make
no money out of that there medicine. He could
of made all the money he wanted being a doctor
in the reg'lar way. But what he wanted was to
spread the glad tidings of good health all over this
fair land of ourn, he says.
Well, sir, he was a talker, that there doctor was,
and he knowed more religious sayings and poetry
along with it, than any feller I ever hearn. He
goes on and he tells how awful sick people can
manage to get and never know it, and no one else
never suspicion it, and live along fur years and years
that-a-way, and all the time in danger of death.
He says it makes him weep when he sees them poor
diluted fools going around and thinking they is
well men, talking and laughing and marrying and
giving in to marriage right on the edge of the grave.
He sees dozens of 'em in every town he comes to.
But they can't fool him, he says. He can tell at a
glance who's got Bright's Disease in their kidneys
and who ain't. His own father, he says, was deathly
sick fur years and years and never knowed it, and
the knowledge come on him sudden like, and he
died. That was before Siwash Injun Sagraw was
ever found out about. Doctor Kirby broke down
and cried right there in the wagon when he thought
of how his father might of been saved if he was
only alive now that that medicine was put up into
bottle form, six fur a five-dollar bill so long as he was
in town, and after that two dollars fur each bottle
at the drug store.
He unrolled a big chart and the Injun helt it
by that there gasoline lamp, so all could see, turning
the pages now and then. It was a map of a man's
inside organs and digestive ornaments and things.
They was red and blue, like each organ's own
disease had turned it, and some of 'em was yaller.
And they was a long string of diseases printed in
black hanging down from each organ's picture. I
never knowed before they was so many diseases
nor yet so many things to have 'em in.
Well, I was feeling purty good when that show
started. But the doc, he kep' looking right at me
every now and then when he talked, and I couldn't
keep my eyes off'n him.
"Does your heart beat fast when you exercise?"
he asts the crowd. "Is your tongue coated after
meals? Do your eyes leak when your nose is stopped
up? Do you perspire under your arm pits? Do you
ever have a ringing in your ears? Does your
stomach hurt you after meals? Does your back
ever ache? Do you ever have pains in your legs?
Do your eyes blur when you look at the sun? Are
your teeth coated? Does your hair come out when
you comb it? Is your breath short when you walk
up stairs? Do your feet swell in warm weather?
Are there white spots on your finger nails? Do
you draw your breath part of the time through one
nostril and part of the time through the other?
Do you ever have nightmare? Did your nose
bleed easily when you were growing up? Does
your skin fester when scratched? Are your eyes
gummy in the mornings? Then," he says, "if
you have any or all of these symptoms, your blood
is bad, and your liver is wasting away."
Well, sir, I seen I was in a bad way, fur at one
time or another I had had most of them there signs
and warnings, and hadn't heeded 'em, and I had
some of 'em yet. I begun to feel kind o' sick, and
looking at them organs and diseases didn't help
me none, either. The doctor, he lit out on another
string of symptoms, and I had them, too. Seems
to me I had purty nigh everything but fits. Kidney
complaint and consumption both had a holt on me.
It was about a even bet which would get me first.
I kind o' got to wondering which. I figgered from
what he said that I'd had consumption the LONGEST
while, but my kind of kidney trouble was an awful
SLY kind, and it was lible to jump in without no
warning a-tall and jest natcherally wipe me out
QUICK. So I sort o' bet on the kidney trouble.
But I seen I was a goner, and I forgive Hank all
his orneriness, fur a feller don't want to die holding
Taking it the hull way through, that was about
the best medicine show I ever seen. But they
didn't sell much. All the people what had any
money was to the circus agin that night. So they
sung some more songs and closed early and went into
Well, the next morning I'm feeling con-
siderable better, and think mebby I'm go-
ing to live after all. I got up earlier'n
Hank did, and slipped out without him seeing me, and
didn't go nigh the shop a-tall. Fur now I've licked
Hank oncet I figger he won't rest till he has wiped
that disgrace out, and he won't care a dern what
he picks up to do it with, nuther.
They was a crick about a hundred yards from our
house, in the woods, and I went over there and laid
down and watched it run by. I laid awful still,
thinking I wisht I was away from that town. Purty
soon a squirrel comes down and sets on a log and
watches me. I throwed an acorn at him, and he
scooted up a tree quicker'n scatt. And then I
wisht I hadn't scared him away, fur it looked like
he knowed I was in trouble. Purty soon I takes a
swim, and comes out and lays there some more,
spitting into the water and thinking what shall
I do now, and watching birds and things mov-
ing around, and ants working harder'n ever I
would agin unless I got better pray fur it, and these
here tumble bugs kicking their loads along hind
After a while it is getting along toward noon, and
I'm feeling hungry. But I don't want to have no
more trouble with Hank, and I jest lays there. I
hearn two men coming through the underbrush.
I riz up on my elbow to look, and one of them was
Doctor Kirby and the other was Looey, only Looey
wasn't an Injun this morning.
They sets down on the roots of a big tree a little
ways off, with their backs toward me, and they
ain't seen me. So nacherally I listened to what
they was jawing about. They was both kind o'
mad at the hull world, and at our town in pertic'ler,
and some at each other, too. The doctor, he says:
"I haven't had such rotten luck since I played
the bloodhound in a Tom Show--Were you ever
an 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' artist, Looey?--and a
justice of the peace over in Iowa fined me five
dollars for being on the street without a muzzle.
Said it was a city ordinance. Talk about the
gentle Rube being an easy mark! If these country
towns don't get the wandering minstrel's money
one way they will another!"
"It's your own fault," says Looey, kind o' sour.
"I can't see it," says Doctor Kirby. "How did
I know that all these apple-knockers had been filled
up with Sykes's Magic Remedy only two weeks
ago? I may have been a spiritualistic medium in
my time now and then," he says, "and a mind
reader, too, but I'm no prophet."
"I ain't talking about the business, Doc, and you
know it," says Looey. "We'd be all right and have
our horses and wagon now if you'd only stuck to
business and not got us into that poker game.
Talk about suckers! Doc, for a man that has
skinned as many of 'em as you have, you're the
worst sucker yourself I ever saw."
The doctor, he cusses the poker game and country
towns and medicine shows and the hull creation
and says he is so disgusted with life he guesses he'll
go and be a preacher or a bearded lady in a side-
show. But Looey, he don't cheer up none. He says:
"All right, Doc, but it's no use talking. You
can TALK all right. We all know that. The ques-
tion is how are we going to get our horses and wagon
away from these Rubes?"
I listens some more, and I seen them fellers was
really into bad trouble. Doctor Kirby, he had got
into a poker game at Smith's Palace Hotel the night
before, right after the show. He had won from
Jake Smith, which run it, and from the others.
But shucks! it never made no difference what you
won in that crowd. They had done Doctor Kirby
and Looey like they always done a drummer or a
stranger that come along to that town and was
fool enough to play poker with them. They wasn't
a chancet fur an outsider. If the drummer lost,
they would take his money and that would be all
they was to it. But if the drummer got to winning
good, some one would slip out'n the hotel and tell
Si Emery, which was the city marshal. And Si
would get Ralph Scott, that worked fur Jake Smith
in his livery stable, and pin a star onto Ralph, too.
And they would be arrested fur gambling, only them
that lived in our town would get away. Which Si
and Ralph was always scared every time they done
it. Then the drummer, or whoever it was, would
be took to the calaboose, and spend all night
In the morning they would be took before Squire
Matthews, that was justice of the peace. They
would be fined a big fine, and he would get all the
drummer had won and all he had brung to town with
him besides. Squire Matthews and Jake Smith
and Windy Goodell and Mart Watson, which the
two last was lawyers, was always playing that there
game on drummers that was fool enough to play
poker. Hank, he says he bet they divided it up
afterward, though it was supposed them fines went
to the town. Well, they played a purty closte
game of poker in our little town. It was jest like
the doctor says to Looey:
"By George," he says, "it is a well-nigh perfect
thing. If you lose you lose, and if you win you
Well, the doctor, he had started out winning the
night before. And Si Emery and Ralph Scott had
arrested them. And that morning, while I had
been laying by the crick and the rest of the town was
seeing the fun, they had been took afore Squire
Matthews and fined one hundred and twenty-five
dollars apiece. The doctor, he tells Squire Mat-
thews it is an outrage, and it ain't legal if tried
in a bigger court, and they ain't that much money
in the world so fur as he knows, and he won't pay
it. But, the squire, he says the time has come to
teach them travelling fakirs as is always running
around the country with shows and electric belts
and things that they got to stop dreening that
town of hard-earned money, and he has decided
to make an example of 'em. The only two
lawyers in town is Windy and Mart, which has
been in the poker game theirselves, the same as
always. The doctor says the hull thing is a put-up
job, and he can't get the money, and he wouldn't
if he could, and he'll lay in that town calaboose and
rot the rest of his life and eat the town poor before
he'll stand it. And the squire says he'll jest take
their hosses and wagon fur c'latteral till they make
up the rest of the two hundred and fifty dollars.
And the hosses and wagon was now in the livery
stable next to Smith's Palace Hotel, which Jake run
Well, I thinks to myself, it IS a dern shame, and
I felt sorry fur them two fellers. Fur our town was
jest as good as stealing that property. And I
felt kind o' shamed of belonging to such a town, too.
And I thinks to myself, I'd like to help 'em out of
that scrape. And then I seen how I could do it,
and not get took up fur it, neither. So, without
thinking, all of a sudden I jumps up and says:
"Say, Doctor Kirby, I got a scheme!"
They jumps up too, and they looks at me startled.
Then the doctor kind o' laughs and says:
"Why, it's the young blacksmith!"
Looey, he says, looking at me hard and suspicious:
"What kind of a scheme are you talking about?"
"Why," says I, "to get that outfit of yourn."
"You've been listening to us," says Looey.
Looey was one of them quiet-looking fellers that
never laughed much nor talked much. Looey,
he never made fun of nobody, which the doctor was
always doing, and I wouldn't of cared to make fun
of Looey much, either.
"Yes," I says, "I been laying here fur quite a
spell, and quite natcheral I listened to you, as any
one else would of done. And mebby I can get that
team and wagon of yourn without it costing you
Well, they didn't know what to say. They asts
me how, but I says to leave it all to me. "Walk
right along down this here crick," I says, "till you
get to where it comes out'n the woods and runs
acrost the road in under an iron bridge. That's
about a half a mile east. Jest after the road crosses
the bridge it forks. Take the right fork and walk
another half a mile and you'll see a little yaller-
painted schoolhouse setting lonesome on a sand
hill. They ain't no school in it now. You wait
there fur me," I says, "fur a couple of hours. After
that if I ain't there you'll know I can't make it.
But I think I'll make it."
They looks at each other and they looks at me,
and then they go off a little piece and talk low, and
then the doctor says to me:
"Rube," he says, "I don't know how you can
work anything on us that hasn't been worked
already. We've got nothing more we can lose.
You go to it, Rube." And they started off.
So I went over town. Jake Smith was setting
on the piazza in front of his hotel, chawing and
spitting tobacco, with his feet agin the railing like
he always done, and one of his eyes squinched up
and his hat over the other one.
"Jake," I says, "where's that there doctor?"
Jake, he spit careful afore he answered, and he
pulled his long, scraggly moustache careful, and he
squinched his eyes at me. Jake was a careful man
in everything he done.
"I dunno, Danny," he says. "Why?"
"Well," I says, "Hank sent me over to get that
wagon and them hosses of theirn and finish that
"That there wagon," says Jake, "is in my barn,
with Si Emery watching her, and she has got to
stay there till the law lets her loose." I figgered
to myself Jake could use that team and wagon in
his business, and was going to buy her cheap offn
the town, what share of her he didn't figger he owned
"Why, Jake," I says, "I hope they ain't been no
trouble of no kind that has drug the law into your
"Well, Danny," he says, "they HAS been a little
trouble. But it's about over, now, I guess. And
that there outfit belongs to the town now."
"You don't say so!" says I, surprised-like.
"When I seen them men last night it looked to me
like they was too fine dressed to be honest."
"I don't think they be, Danny," says Jake,
confidential. "In my opinion they is mighty bad
customers. But they has got on the wrong side
of the law now, and I guess they won't stay around
here much longer."
"Well," says I, "Hank will be glad."
"Fur what?" asts Jake.
"Well," says I, "because he got his pay in advance
fur that job and now he don't have to finish it.
They come along to our place about sundown
yesterday, and we nailed a shoe on one hoss. They
was a couple of other hoofs needed fixing, and the
tire on one of the hind wheels was beginning to
I had noticed that loose tire when I was standing
by the hind wheel the night before, and it come in
handy now. So I goes on:
"Hank, he allowed he'd fix the hull thing fur
six bottles of that Injun medicine. Elmira has been
ailing lately, and he wanted it fur her. So they
handed Hank out six bottles then and there."
"Huh!" says Jake. "So the job is all paid
fur, is it?"
"Yes," says I, "and I was expecting to do it
myself. But now I guess I'll go fishing instead.
They ain't no other job in the shop."
"I'll be dinged if you've got time to fish," says
Jake. "I'm expecting mebby to buy that rig off
the town myself when the law lets loose of it. So
if the fixing is paid fur, I want everything fixed."
"Jake," says I, kind of worried like, "I don't
want to do it without that doctor says to go ahead."
"They ain't his'n no longer," says Jake.
"I dunno," says I, "as you got any right to make
me do it, Jake. It don't look to me like it's no
harm to beat a couple of fellers like them out of
their medicine. And I DID want to go fishing this
But Jake was that careful and stingy he'd try
to skin a hoss twicet if it died. He's bound to
get that job done, now.
"Danny," he says, "you gotto do that work.
It ain't HONEST not to. What a young feller like
you jest starting out into life wants to remember
is to always be honest. Then," says Jake, squinch-
ing up his eyes, "people trusts you and you get a
good chancet to make money. Look at this here
hotel and livery stable, Danny. Twenty years
ago I didn't have no more'n you've got, Danny.
But I always went by them mottoes--hard work
and being honest. You GOTTO nail them shoes on,
Danny, and fix that wheel."
"Well, all right, Jake," says I, "if you feel that
way about it. Jest give me a chaw of tobacco and
come around and help me hitch 'em up."
Si Emery was there asleep on a pile of straw
guarding that property. But Ralph Scott wasn't
around. Si didn't wake up till we had hitched 'em
up. He says he will ride around to the shop with
me. But Jake says:
"It's all right, Si. I'll go over myself and fetch
'em back purty soon." Which Si was wore out
with being up so late the night before, and goes
back to sleep agin right off.
Well, sir, they wasn't nothing went wrong. I
drove slow through the village and past our shop.
Hank come to the door of it as I went past. But
I hit them hosses a lick, and they broke into a right
smart trot. Elmira, she come onto the porch and
I waved my hand at her. She put her hand up to
her forehead to shut out the sun and jest stared.
She didn't know I was waving her farewell. Hank,
he yelled something at me, but I never hearn what.
I licked them hosses into a gallop and went around
the turn of the road. And that's the last I ever
seen or hearn of Hank or Elmira or that there little
I slowed down when I got to the school-
house, and both them fellers piled in.
"I guess I better turn north fur about
a mile and then turn west, Doctor Kirby," I says,
"so as to make a kind of a circle around that town."
"Why, so, Rube?" he asts me.
"Well," I says, "we left it going east, and they'll
foller us east; so don't we want to be going west
while they're follering east?"
Looey, he agreed with me. But he said it
wouldn't be much use, fur we would likely be
ketched up with and took back and hung or some-
thing, anyhow. Looey could get the lowest in his
sperrits sometimes of any man I ever seen.
"Don't be afraid of that," says the doctor.
"They are not going to follow us. THEY know they
didn't get this property by due process of law.
THEY aren't going to take the case into a county
court where it will all come out about the way they
robbed a couple of travelling men with a fake
"I guess you know more about the law'n I do,"
I says. "I kind o' thought mebby we stole them
"Well," he says, "we got 'em, anyhow. And
if they try to arrest us without a warrant there'll
be the deuce to pay. But they aren't going to
make any more trouble. I know these country
crooks. They've got no stomach for trouble out-
side their own township."
Which made me feel considerable better, fur I
never been of the opinion that going agin the law
done any one no good.
They looks around in that wagon, and all their
stuff was there--Jake Smith and the squire hav-
ing kep' it all together careful to make things seem
more legal, I suppose--and the doctor was plumb
tickled, and Looey felt as cheerful as he ever felt
about anything. So the doctor says they has every-
thing they needs but some ready money, and he'll
get that sure, fur he never seen the time he couldn't.
"But, Looey," he says, "I'm done with country
hotels from now on. They've got the last cent
they ever will from me--at least in the summer
"How you going to work it?" Looey asts him,
like he hasn't no hopes it will work right.
"Camp out," says the doctor. "I've been think-
ing it all over." Then he turns to me. "Rube,"
he says, "where are you going?"
"Well," I says, "I ain't pinted nowhere in per-
tic'ler except away from that town we just left.
Which my name ain't Rube, Doctor Kirby, but