Part 1 out of 6
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by Robert Alexander Wason
MY OLD PAL
I THE DIAMOND DOT
II CONVINCING A COOK
III UNDER FIRE
IV PROFESSIONAL DUTY
V JUST MONODY--A MAN
VI THE RACE
VII MENTAL TREATMENT FOR A BROKEN LEG
VIII THE LETTER
IX ADRIFT AGAIN
X A WINTER AT SLOCUM'S LUCK
XI DRESS REFORM AT THE DIAMOND DOT
XII THE LASSOO DUEL
XIII BUSINESS is BUSINESS
XIV THE CHINESE QUESTION
XV THE DIAMOND DOT AGAIN
XVI THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMAN
XVII IN RETIREMENT
XIX BARBIE MAKES A DISCOVERY
XX RICHARD WHITTINCTON ARRIVES
XXI HAPPY MAKES A DISCOVERY
XXII A FRIENDLY GAME
XXIII CAST STEEL
XXIV FEMININE LOGIC
XXV THE WAYS OF WOMANKIND
XXVI A MODERN KNIGHT-ERRANT
XXVII THE CREOLE BELLE
XXVIII THE DAY OF THE WEDDING
XXIX THE FINAL RECKONING
XXX THE AFTERGLOW
THE DIAMOND DOT
I wasn't really a Westerner an' that's why I'm so different from
most of 'em. Take your regular bonie fide Westerner an' when he dies
he don't turn to dust, he turns to alkali; but when it comes my turn
to settle, I'll jest natchely become the good rich soil o' the
I was born in Indiana and I never left it till after I was ten years
old. That's about the time boys generally start out to hunt Injuns;
but I kept on goin' till I found mine--but I didn't kill him--nor
him me neither, as far as that goes.
I allus did have the misfortune o' gettin' hungry at the most
inconvenient times, an' after I 'd been gone about two weeks I got
quite powerful hungry, so I natchely got a job waitin' on a lunch
counter back in Omaha. The third day I was there I was all alone in
the front room when in walked an Injun. He was about eight feet
high, I reckon; and the fiercest Injun I ever see. I took one look
at him a' then I dropped behind the counter and wiggled back to the
kitchen where the boss was. I gasped out that the Injuns was upon us
an' then I flew for my firearms.
When the boss discovered that the Injun and fourteen doughnuts,
almost new, had vanished, he was some put out, and after we had
discussed the matter, I acted on his advice and came farther West.
That business experience lasted me a good long while. I don't like
business an' I don't blame any one who has to follow it for a livin'
for wantin' to have a vacation so he can get out where the air is
fit to breathe.
Just imagine bein' hived up day after day with nothin' to see but
walls an' nothin' to do but customers. You first got to be friendly
with your visitors to make 'em feel at home, an' then you got to get
as much of their money as you can in order to keep on bein' friendly
with 'em in order to keep on gettin' as much of their money as you
Now out in the open a feller don't have to be a hypocrite: once I
worked a whole year for a man who hated me so he wouldn't speak to
me; but I didn't care, I liked the work and I did it an' he raised
my wages twice an' gave me a pony when I quit.
He was the sourest tempered man I ever see; but it was good trainin'
to live with him a spell. Lots of men has streaks of bein'
unbearable; but this man was the only one I ever met up with who was
solid that way, and didn't have one single streak of bein' likeable.
He was the only man I ever see who wouldn't talk to me. I was a
noticing sort of a kid an' I saw mighty early that what wins the
hearts o' ninety-nine men out of a hundred is listenin' to 'em talk.
That's why I don't talk much myself. But you couldn't listen to old
Spike Williams, 'cause the' wasn't no opportunity--he didn't even
We was snowed up for two weeks one time an' I took a vow 'at I'd
make him talk. I tried every subject I'd ever heard of; but he
didn't even grunt. Just when things was clearin' off, I sez to him,
usin' my biggest trump: "Spike," sez I, "do you know what they say
"No," sez he, "but you know what I say about them," an' he went on
with his packin'.
I thought for a while 'at the year I'd spent with Spike Williams was
a total loss; but jest the contrary. It had kept me studyin' an'
schemin' an' analysin' until, after that year had been stored away
to season, I discovered it was the best year I'd ever put in, an'
while I hadn't got overly well acquainted with Spike, I had become
mighty friendly with myself and was surprised to find out how much
the' was to me.
Did you ever think of that? You start out an' a feller comes along
an' throws an opinion around your off fore foot an' you go down in a
heap an' that opinion holds you fast for some time. When you start
on again another feller ropes you with a new opinion, an' the first
thing you know you are all cluttered up an' loaded down with other
fellers' opinions, an' the' ain't enough o' your own self left to
tell what you're like; but after that winter with Spike I was pretty
well able to dodge an opinion until I had time to learn what it
But the main good I got out of Spike was learnin' how to take old
Cast Steel Judson. It was some years after this before I met up with
him; but the good effect hadn't worn off and me an' Cast Steel just
merged together like butter an' a hot penny. I wasn't much more 'an
a kid even then, but law! I wish I knew just half as much now as I
thought I did then. My self respect was certainly a bulky article
those days an' I wasn't in the habit of undervaluin' my own
judgment--not to any great extent; but that habit o' study I'd
formed with Spike was my balance wheel, an' I generally managed to
keep my conceit from shuttin' out the entire landscape. The' wasn't
a great deal escaped my eye, 'cause I begun to notice purty tol'able
young that experience is consid'able like a bank account: takes a
heap o' sweat to get her started, but she's comfortable to draw on
in a pinch.
Ol' man Judson was a curious affair, had his own way o' doin' every
blessed thing, an' whenever he hired a man he always went through
the same rigamarole. "Now what I'm contractin' for," he'd say, "is
just only your time an' whatever part o' your thinkin' apparatus as
is needed in doin' YOUR share o' my business. If I detail you to sit
in the shade an' count clouds, I don't want no argument, I want the
clouds counted. When I don't specially express a hungerin' for any
of your advice, that's the very time when you don't need to give
any. Whenever you think you have a kick comin'--why think again.
Then if you still see the kick, make it to the foreman. If that
don't work make it to me; but when you make it to me, you want to be
mighty sure it will hold water. Above all things I hate a liar, a
coward, an' a sneak. Now get busy 'cause life is short an' time is
That was the way he used to talk, an' some used to set him down as a
tyrant, an' some had him guessed in as a rough old codger with a
soft heart,--everybody took a guess at him,--but the blood in the
turnip was that ol' Jabez Judson was purty tol'able sizey when you
carne to fence him in. Everybody called him Cast Steel Judson, an'
you might work through the langwidge five times without adding much
to the description. Hard he was an' stern an' no bend to him; but at
the same time you could count on him acting up to his nature. He
wa'n't no hypocrite, an' th''s a heap o' comfort jest in that. A
feller ain't got no kick comin' when a rattler lands on him; but if
a wood dove was to poison him, he'd have a fair right to be put out.
The only child 'at Cast Steel had was one daughter; but that don't
indicate that paternity was one long vacation for Jabez. Barbie--her
full name was Barbara--was the sweetest an' the gamest an' the most
surpriseable creature a human being ever met up with, an' ol' Jabez
could 'a' got along handier with seven sons than he did with that
one girl. Oh, the eyes of her were like the two stars over old
Savage, snappin' an' twinklin' an' sparklin' in the clear winter
nights, or soft an' shy an' tender when the hazy spring moon cuddles
up to them. She wasn't afraid of anything 'at walks the face o' the
earth, an' Jabez had a hard time gettin' used to this--'cause he
thought she ought to be afraid o' him.
Still, he fair worshiped her, an' if he'd been given full charge o'
the earth for jest one day, an' anything would 'a' pestered the girl
durin' that day, why the map-maker would sure have had a job on the
day follerin'; 'cause from his standpoint, that girl was what the
sun shone for an' the rain rained for an' the blossoms blossomed
We was allus havin' a lot o' Easterners string along during the
summer, an' they generally was easy to entice into makin' a little
visit with us. Some of 'em would spend their time crackin' stones
an' makin' up tales about their bein' speciments o' the Zelooic age
or the Palazoric age or some such a fool thing. They was mostly
heathens, an' it didn't do no good to spring the Bible on 'em--in
fact after we got able to read their signs we never contraried 'em
at all, but just let 'em heave out any tale they could think up an'
pretend 'at we believed it; an' hanged if I don't begin to suspicion
that the' 's a heap o' truth in some o' their nonsense.
Purty near every one of 'em insisted that at one time all those
mountains, even old Savage, had been under water, an' they'd take us
out an' show us the signs; but we couldn't stomach that until we
found out that this was one o' the Injun traditions too, an' then we
Well, one o' these strays was what they call an astronomer. His
speciality was the stars, nothing less; an' he knew 'em by name an'
could tell you how far off they are an' what they weigh an' how many
moons they had an'--oh, he knew 'em the same as I know the home
herd, an' he didn't only know what they had done--he knew what they
was a-goin' to do, an' when he called the turn on 'em, why they up
an' done it. Comets an' eclipses an' sech like miracles were jest
the same to this feller as winter an' summer was to me, an' we fed
him until he like to founder himself, tryin' to hold him through the
winter; but at last he had to go, an' after he'd gone Cast Steel was
purty down-hearted for quite a spell.
"It ain't fair, Happy," sez he to me one day after the astronomer
"No," sez I, "I reckon it will rain before mornin'."
"I mean it ain't a fair shake," sez he. "Jupiter has eight of 'em
an' we ain't but one an' the' ain't nobody lives there, while--"
"What do you happen to be talkin' of?" sez I.
"Why moons," sez he. "It seems too doggone bad for that confounded
planet to have eight moons an' no one to enjoy 'em while my little
girl jest dotes on 'em an' we only have one--an' IT don't work
more'n half the time."
That was Cast Steel: he didn't look on life or death, or wealth or
poverty, or anything else except in the way it applied to Barbie--
but she was worth it, she was worth it, an' I never blamed him none.
But you needn't get the idea that Jabez was one o' these fond an'
lovin' parents what sez: "My child, right if perfectly convenient,
but right or wrong, my child." Not on your future prospects! Jabez,
he sez: "My child, right from the shoes up, if the Rocky Mountains
has to be ground to powder to make her so."
I remember the day she was six year old; he hardly ever laid out the
details for her conduct, he jest sort o' schemed out a general plan
and left her free to adjust herself to it, like a feller does with a
dog or a pony he expects to keep a long time an' don't want to turn
into a machine. He had told Barbie he didn't want her to ride
nothin' 'at wasn't safe. Well, on the mornin' she became a six-year-
old he came out o' the side door an' saw her disappearin' in the
distance on top a big pinto 'at he had sent over for Buck Harmon to
bust; it havin' already pitched Spider Kelley an' dislocated his
"Who roped that pony for her?" yelled Cast Steel.
"I did," sez I. "She said 'at this was her birthday an' she was
tired of actin' like a kid an' intended to ride a real ridin' hoss."
"If a hair of her head is injured, hell won't hide ya!" sez Cast
Steel, an' his lip trembled an' his eyes fairly smoked.
"She's jest as safe as if she was in her bed," sez I, as gentle as I
could. "I taught her how to ride, an' I ain't ashamed o' the job.
She can give Spider Kelley cards an' spades an' beat him to it every
time. But as far as that goes--"
I didn't get to finish because here she come, tearin' back on the
pinto. Her hair was flyin', her eyes was dancin', an' she was
laughin'--laughin' out loud. Light an' easy she pulled the pinto up
beside us an' calls out: "Oh, daddy, this is lovely, this is mag-ni-
fi-cent"--the little scamp used to pick up big words from the
Easterners, an' when she had one to fit she never wasted time on a
measly little ranch word--"oh, I'm never goin' to ride old Kate
"Git off that pony," sez Jabez, makin' a reach for the bit; but the
pony shied, whirled, an' purty nigh kicked his head off. He stood
still in a daze while Barbie was circling the pony an' gettin' him
"How's she goin' to get off?" asked Jabez, turnin' to me.
"Simply climb down," sez I purty short. I had some temper those
days, an' I hadn't got over his insinuations, an' I didn't intend
"She'll be killed!" sez Jabez. I never said a word.
"She'll be killed!" he repeated, an' his voice was filled with
"Get down off the pony, Barbie," sez I, an' she threw her little leg
over the saddle an' hit the grass like an antelope. The pony never
stirred. Ol' Jabez stood watchin' her with his eyes poppin' out.
"Turn the brute loose!" he shouts. "What for?" sez she. "'Cause I
say so!" he fairly roars.
Well, she walks up, pats the pinto on the nose, an' slips the bridle
off his head. He just stands still an' watches her as mild as a pint
"Rope that pony," sez Cast Steel to me.
"Get one o' your own men to rope it," sez I.
He looked into my eyes a moment an' then he called to George
Hendricks to rope the pinto; but when George hove in sight with his
rope the pinto took to his heels an' made for the horizon. "There
goes a ninety-dollar saddle," sez Jabez to me, "an' it's all your
"It ain't either," sez Barbie, as fierce as a wounded bear, "it's
all your damned nonsense. Happy has been trainin' that pony nights
for my birthday an'--"
"Barbara!" yells Jabez, "what do you mean by usin' such langwidge?
I'll line you out for this. You know mighty well--"
"Now you play accordin' to the rule," sez Barbie. "You was teachin'
me to play seven up last week an' you said that everybody had to
play by the same rule. I reckon that goes in cussin' too."
Well, they looked into each other's eyes for quite some while, an'
then Jabez sez: "Go into the house, Barbara, an' we'll both think it
over, an' as soon as we get time we'll settle it."
"All right," sez Barbie, an' she turns around an' marches to the
house, her little head held like a colonel's. Just before she
reached the house she turned an' calls: "You'll get the pinto for
me, won't you, Happy?" I sort o' half nodded my head, an' she went
on into the house.
"Did you ever see such grit?" sez Cast Steel, "an' her only six.
Kids oughtn't to act so grown up at six, had they, Happy?"
"I reckon 'at kids are pretty much like colts an' puppies an' other
young things: give 'em dolls to play with an' they'll play like
children, but start 'em out on cards an' ponies, an' range 'em off
with nothin' but grown folks, an' they're bound to have ways like
Jabez fidgeted around a while, an' then he sez, "Are you goin' to
try to catch the pinto?
"I am goin' to catch it," sez I, rollin' a cigarette.
He kind o' nervoused around a few minutes longer an' then he sez,
"What did you mean a while ago?"
"Jest whatever I said," sez I. "I don't know what you're a-referrin'
to, but if I said it, that's what I meant."
"When I asked you to rope the pinto you told me to git one o' my own
men to rope it; what does that mean?"
"It means that when a man tells me that hell can't hide me from his
wrath, I 'm free to consider myself foot loose. A man don't want to
slaughter none of his own hands, an' if it should be that any one
feels called upon to go after my hide, I don't want to feel that the
time I 'm wastin' in takin' care o' that hide rightfully belongs to
another man who is payin' for it. Therefore I have quit. I'm goin'
to rope the pinto for Barbie, but I wouldn't do it for you, an' when
I get back I'll call around for what's comin' to me."
"Well, go an' be hanged! You always was the most obstinate, high-
headed, bull-intellected thin-skin 'at ever drew down top wages for
punchin' cows. You're nothin' more than a kid, an' yet you swell
around an' expect a man--"
"Well, I don't expect nothin' from you, ceptin' my wages," sez I.
"You go to Jericho, will you!" snaps Jabez. "You don't need to think
that I'd try to argue any man on earth into workin' for me. I can
get an army o' riders as good or better than you--but the gel likes
you, Happy, an'--"
"An' that's why I 'm goin' after the pinto," sez I, an' I flopped
onto a pony an' sailed out to a little glen in the foothills where I
knew I 'd find him, an' as soon as I had towed him back to the
corral I put my saddle on the old beast I had rode there an' set
Just as I rode around the edge o' the corral, ol' man Judson stood
there grittin' his teeth. "What are you ridin' that old skin for?"
"'Cause it's the only pony I got," sez I.
"You leave it here an' take your pick out o' the five-year-olds,"
"All I want out o' this ranch is what I have earned," sez I.
"If you don't get something 'at your pride'll earn some day, I'm the
biggest fool this side o' the big ditch. Here's your pay. You've
been a fair hand, but don't forget that I never hire a man twice,
an' I've hired you once already."
"Now look here, Jabez," sez I, "I ain't so old as I'll get if I live
as long as I may, but I'm old enough to know that it's just as easy,
to find a good boss as it is to find a good man. I've done my work
without fussin', an' you've seen me in a pinch or two; an' yet this
very mornin' you intimated than I 'd risk Barbie on a pony she
couldn't ride. The' ain't nothin' I wouldn't do for that child, but
you don't understand her, an' if you go on in your high-handed way
with her you 're in for the sorrow o' your life--mark my words."
"Here's your money. You ain't got sense enough to know your place
an' I 'm glad to be shut of you." Jabez handed me my pay an' stamped
over to the ranch house, while I kept on down the valley trail.
When I reached the turn I twisted about in my saddle an' looked at
the cluster o' buildings. They looked soft an' gray with old Mount
Savage standin' on guard back of 'em, an' the' was a bigger lump
under my necktie than I generally wore. I didn't have mach call to
go anywhere, an' I sat there on my old pony, wonderin' whether or
not it paid to be game.
If my mother had been alive, jest at that point would have been
where the West would have lost the benefit of my personal
supervision--but then if my mother had lived I shouldn't never 'a'
left home. I stood a stepmother six months out o' respect to my Dad,
but I wouldn't 'a' stood that one a year--well, anyway, not unless
I'd been chained an' muzzled.
It's a funny thing to me how a man can drink an' fight an' carry on
for a year at a clip an' then all of a sudden feel a hurtin'
somewhere inside that nothin' wouldn't help but a little pettin'. He
knows doggone well 'at there ain't none comin' to him, so he hides
it by cuttin' up a little worse than usual but it's there, an' Gee!
but it does rest heavy when it comes. Why, take me even now when
the' wouldn't nothin' but a grizzly bear have the nerve to coddle
me, an' yet week before last I felt so blue an' solitary 'at I
couldn't 'a' told to save me whether I was homesick or whether it
was only 'cause the beans was a little sour.
I sat there on the old pony a good long time, an' then I heaved a
sigh 'at made me swell out like an accordion, an' headed back to the
valley trail. When I turned around, there, standin' in the trail
before me with a streak down each cheek, stood Barbie.
"Ya ain't goin', are ya?" sez she.
"I got to go, honey," sez I.
"Ain't ya never comin' back?" asked she.
"Oh, I'll come back some day, ridin' a big black hoss with silver
trimmed leather--an' what shall I bring little Barbie?" sez I,
tryin' to be gay.
"Just bring me yourself, Happy, that's all the present I want. I
love you because you're the handsomest man in the world"--yes, it
was me she meant, only o' course that was some years ago an' the
child was unthinkable young--"an' cause you tell me the nicest
stories, an' train pintos, an'--an' I'm goin' to marry you when I
"Marry me, kitten?" sez I, laughin' free an' natural this time.
"Why, bless your heart, where did you ever hear o' marriage?"
"My Daddy tells me of my mother, an' what a beautiful lady she was,
an' how happy they were together--an' I'm goin' to marry you when
you come back."
"Well, Barbie," sez I right soberly, "you be true to me an' I'll be
true to you, an' now we'll kiss to bind the promise."
So I lifted her to my saddle an' kissed her. "How did you get here,
child?" sez I.
She didn't answer for a minute. "I rode old Kate," said she at last,
"but I didn't want you to know it. She's over behind that rock. And
now, Happy, don't you dare to forget me. Good-bye."
I set her down in the road with her eyes misty an' her white teeth
set in her lips, an' my own eyes were so hazy like that I couldn't
see her when I looked back, an' then I rode away down the valley
CONVINCING A COOK
I'm as wild as any comet when I first swing out o' my regular orbit,
an' I rode on an' on, sometimes puttin' up for the night at a ranch
house an' sometimes campin' out in the open, where I'd lay till dawn
gazin' up at the stars an' wonderin' how things were goin', back at
the Diamond Dot. I mooned on until at last I wound up in the Pan
Handle without a red copper, an' my pony sore footed an' lookin'
like what a crow gets when the coyotes invite him out to dinner.
I drew rein one night along side a most allurin' camp fire. I had
noticed the herd when I came along in, an' they was dandies; big
solid five-year-olds, hog fat, but they wasn't contented--kept
fidgetin' around. When I struck the fire, a fair haired young feller
was readin' a book, two Greasers an' a half blood Injun was playin'
poker with an old bunch o' whiskers 'at wasn't a ridin' man at all
while the cook had turned in without washin' the dishes.
"If anybody's at home," sez I, "I'd like to ask permission to set
down an' rest."
"Why, certainly, make yourself at home," sez the fair hair. The
balance o' the bunch only give me the side eye.
"Would you need any more help?" I asked, most respectful.
"No, thank you," sez the young feller, "I think we'll make it all
"You have a nice bunch here," sez I, "an' I thought perhaps you
might want to get 'em to market in good shape. I am referrin' to the
cows"--I continued, kind o' takin' the cover off my voice.
"We expect to get them to market in good shape," sez the fair-hair,
uncoilin' his dignity. I rolled a cigarette.
"What makes you think we won't get them to market in good shape?"
"'Cause your cook's got a sour temper, an' the' ain't no one bossin'
the job--'at knows how," sez I, mild an' open-faced, an' lookin'
into the fire. The fair-hair straightens up with a snort, while the
pot-openers begin to cuss sort o' growly.
"Where are you from an' how long have you been making my business
your own?" asked the fair-hair.
"Oh, I come from up no'th a ways; but I ain't ever made your
business mine. I never saw your outfit until twenty minutes ago--but
I've seen other outfits."
"Can you handle cattle?" sez he.
"Yes," sez I--"and men."
"Well, I think you can join us," sez he, kind o' slow. "The cattle
don't seem to be as gentle as they did when we started. I think it
is because we are short handed and have to be a little too rough
with them." I didn't answer.
"Well, do you want the job?" sez he.
"Who's the foreman?" sez I.
"I am in charge," he answers stiff like.
"You're the owner, I know, but who's in charge o' the men?"
"I take full supervision," sez he.
"I don't want the job," sez I.
"All right," he snaps, "I don't recall havin' sent for you." "No
offense," sez I, "but up my way it's generally polite to inquire
about the appetite. If any one was to ask me, I'd say I was hungry.
If any one was to urge me, I'd be obliged to meet up with a little
food." I looked him gently in the eyes. He dropped his an' looked
"Tell you the truth, I'm havin' a dog's time of it with my cook.
He's gone to bed an' I don't think there's a thing to eat."
"What'll the night riders do?" I asked.
"Oh, they'll raise Cain as usual, but that's all the good it'll do
"That ain't all they'll do," sez I. "Chances are they'll take it out
on the cattle, an' they may--they may even go so far as to get the
cattle to cut up until the day shift has to turn out an' help quiet
"Is that the reason?" he asked, his face lightin' up.
"I don't know for sure, but that's my first guess," sez I.
He looked down at his feet an' I looked him over. He was a nice
lookin', well built boy, but he was up against it for about the
first time, an' I saw his finish. "I would take the job o' foreman,"
"I hire you--ten a month advance over regular wages, an' you to
"No," sez I, "me to begin to-night--with supper."
"All right," sez he, laughin', "help yourself."
I walked over to the cook wagon, as I hit the shadow I loosened my
guns, an' the very minute they slipped in their holsters my lone-
sickness rolled off like a cloud an' the hurtin' melted out o' my
inwards. They was somethin' rolled up in a Navajo under the cook
wagon an' I sized it up. It appeared to be seven feet long, but I
kicked it in the ribs. Things began to happen at once. A huge
creature of a man slid out on the opposite side of the cook wagon,
an' when he came around the tail of it he was holdin' a bear gun so
it would explode without much ceremony. He was usin' some language
an' his speed was a thing to covet; but I just stood with my back to
the fire, waitin' until I could get a chance to introduce myself. He
was in the light, an' he was enough to make a man reform. Nigger,
Greaser, Injun--oh, he was the hardest lookin' specimen I had ever
seen, an' the think that occurred to me was that some time a woman
had rocked him to sleep an'--kissed him. That's the queer thing
about me. My face don't change, but I never got into a mess in my
life without some outlandish, foreign idea poppin' into my head an'
tryin' to hog my attention.
My attention wasn't much required just at that moment anyhow. He
held the bear gun loose in his hand an' swore on like the roar of a
mountain torrent. Once I glanced over my shoulder an' saw a pained
look on the fair-hair's face, while the ante-up bunch was grinning
wickedly an' waitin' for my finish. Me lookin' younger an' easier at
that time than I really was, proved a big thing in my favor. Well,
as soon as the mongrel cook had cussed himself clean an' dry, he
yells at me, "Who in the hell are you an' what in the hell do you
"I'm the new foreman," sez I in a school-girl voice, "an' I want my
He wasn't prepared for it an' dropped his gun to his side while he
began to narrate false an' profane eulogies about my breedin' an'
past history. He took a few steps toward me so as I wouldn't lose
none of his remarks, an' all of a sudden I swung half around an'
kicked him in the jaw with my heel, which was a trick I had learned
from a French sailor. It took me forty-five minutes to come to,
after I received my first an' only lesson, an' I wasted a full year
huntin' for that sailor. Any time durin' the first six months I'd
have ventilated him completely, but after that I wanted to thank
him, 'cause I had learned an' tried the trick by that time, an' it
was worth all it cost.
But this cook was no wax figger, an' he only lay quiet a moment
before he began to roll around an' groan. I picked up a neck yoke
what was handy, an' I went for him. I hit him in the butt o' the ear
an' on the back o' the neck an' in the center o' the forehead--I
tried him out in all the most stylish places, until finally he dozed
"Bring me a lantern--you man with the whiskers," I called out.
He riz to his feet like a machine. "It ain't filled," he said.
"I don't know much about fillin' LANTERNS," I remarked to him
kindly, "but I have had some experience in fillin' other things.
Bring me the lantern, filled an' lighted--and don't keep me
I then noticed two fellers a hoss back. "Do you belong to this
outfit?" sez I.
"Yes, we're the night riders," answered one o' 'em stickin' up his
hands, which plan seemed good to the other one also.
"What are you doin' here this time o' the evenin'?" I asked 'em.
"We heard the racket an' we--we thought something was wrong, an' we-
-we came in to see--"
"That's all right," sez I, "I'm the new foreman. You don't need to
put your hands up every time we meet, but I want you to understand
right now that I don't want those cows pestered any more. This
outfit is going to run smoother from this on, an' as soon as the
cook feels better he is going to cook my supper. I'll see that there
is plenty o' coffee for your midnight lunch, an' I want you to enjoy
yourselves--but I don't stand for no nonsense."
I made a motion with my eye an' they rode back to the herd, an' by
that time the lantern had arrived, an' I poked around in the cook's
belongings an' confiscated two shootin' irons an' a wicked Mexican
knife. Then I threw a bucket o' water in his face an' he came out of
"How do you feel?" I asked him.
"Oh, hell," he moaned, an' he meant every word of it, an' more.
"Now see here, cook," sez I, in a mild voice, "I hate trouble, an' I
don't intend to be pestered with it. Do you know how to cook?"
"Yes," he muttered.
"Speak out free an' easy," I sez; "no blood at all is better than
bad blood, an' if you don't feel able to forgive me an' go about
your work in a friendly way, why I'll feel compelled to remove you
from our midst. You're not injured none, only bruised a bit, and I'm
famished for my supper. I'm always quick tempered when I'm hungry
an' I'm gettin' hungrier every minute. Are you ready to begin?"
He slowly got up to his feet an' looked at me. "Come over to the
fire an' have a good look," I said, as though we were old friends.
He followed me over to the fire an' he sure gave me a lookover.
"You're bigger'n I thought you was, an' you've been purty well
seasoned. I ain't never yet been licked without a gun an' I didn't
think it could be did. Will you fight me again--without weapons?"
"I'll never fight you again but once," sez I, an' my lips were
smiling, but all of a sudden a hatred of his cruel, evil eyes came
over me, an' my lips curled back over my teeth. "If you had known I
was your foreman an' had mixed with me I'd 'a' killed you a few
moments ago. The very next time you cross me I'll kill you. I sleep
light--when I do sleep. Are you goin' to cook my supper?"
"Yes, you blasted rattler," sez he, with a grin, "you're the killin'
kind an' you're the killin' age, but I know when the jig's up. I
know your name all right, but hanged if I can see through your game.
I ain't goin' to try, either. As long as you choose to play at bein'
foreman, I'll play at bein' cook, an' when you start on again, I'm
willin' to join ya. I'll get your supper in a jiffey, Kid."
I sauntered over to the fair-hair, tryin' to act as if this was an
every day occurrence. He had never changed his position all through
it, although his hands were tremblin'.
I sat down beside him an' he chuckled softly--I liked that chuckle.
It was boyish an' friendly, but most of all it showed a good
foundation. He was new to the game, but he was the kind that
"I suppose I'm purt nigh as old as you," he blurted out.
"In some things, mebbe--not in the cattle business," sez I.
"No," he grinned, "nor in the man-handlin' business, but I want to
tell you right now that I have enjoyed this evenin's performance, no
matter what happens from it. I ain't carryin' much cash with me," he
added after a moment's thought.
"I ain't carryin' any," sez I.
He looked into my face again an' gave his chuckle. A feller couldn't
help but echo when that fair-hair chuckled. "I heard the cook say he
knew you an' he called you Kid--I suppose you are the Pan Handle
Kid?" he asked.
"I didn't know the' was a Pan Handle Kid, but they're pretty common
an' they're all a good bit alike. Forced to begin killin' before
they're able to put the right value on life, an' once they begin, no
way to stop. Now I'll tell you confidential that I'm not the Pan
Handle, nor any other kind of a kid, although I once was the makin'
of one. Still, it will make matters easier if this bunch thinks I
am, so we'll just let it go at that. My name is Happy Hawkins; what
might I call you?"
"Happy?"--he opens his eyes like saucers an' then he laughs like a
boy. "Well, I watched you goin' after the cook with the neck yoke
an' I never in the world would have called you Happy."
"Well, you'll see me trail in this bunch o' beef cattle, smooth an'
contented an' with every man jack rollin' fat an' dimpled to the
knuckles. They've had their last fuss. I'll feed 'em an' I'll work
'em from now on, an' you won't know 'em when we hit the market.
Where you headin' for, K.C.?
"Yes. My name is Mister Jamison--James Jamison."
"This is a warm climate," sez I.
"Yes," he sez sort o' surprised, "it is."
"It has an awful meltin' effect on names," I continued.
He chuckled again. "I'm mighty glad you arrived, Happy," sez he.
"What do you suppose'll happen to my name?"
"Well" I sez, "if you get yours before they learn to like you, it'll
probably be James Jamison on the headboard, but if you make good,
it'll be Jim Jimison on Sundays an' jest plain Jim for every day."
"That suits me," sez he. "I'm entered for the whole race, an' I'm
glad to get off as soon as possible."
"Supper's ready," called the cooks, an' when I gave a whoop an'
bolted for it he giggled like a big fat mammy. I had turned up the
side of his nature 'at would be most useful to our business. I took
a sip o' the coffee while he kept his eyes glued on me. "Come over
here, Jim," I called.
Jim came over lookin' a little anxious. "Taste that stuff," sez I.
He tasted it an' his face changed as though he had caught a vision
of the better world, but I kept my face like the face of an angry
bear. "What do you call this stuff?" I asked the cook, an' his face
grew dark as a thunder cloud.
"That's coffee!" he roared.
"When was the pot cleaned?" I asked, with my brows drawn down to the
bridge of my nose.
"Not more'n ten minutes ago," he yelled; and I got up an' holding my
cup in my hand I danced about twenty different dances, while that
cook like to split his sides laughin'. He was a cook, the' was no
gettin' around it, an' Jim, he turned in an' fed his face while
first his cheeks would dimple with the gladness o' the moment, an'
then his eyes would sadden as he thought of all the good eatin' he
had missed by not knowin' the proper kind o' diplomacy to use in
handlin' a cook. An' me!--say, I mowed away until my skin begun to
creak under the strain an' I couldn't roll my eyes more'n two
degrees. Then I got up an' I shook hands with the cook.
"Cook," I sez, "no matter how devilish wicked you've been in the
past, an' no matter how faithful you live up to your inner nature in
the future, you're sure of a number nine crown an' a spotless robe
jest fer this one meal"; an' the cook, he fairly glistened in the
Well, this was about all they was to that expedition. We all got to
be so friendly with one another that by the time we had trailed that
bunch into the stock yards, we was like one big family of elder
brothers, an' Jim, he teased me into goin' back to the Pan Handle
Jim was an Englishman--a younger brother. Up to that time I had
allus supposed 'at bein' a younger brother was somewhat in the
nature of an accident, an' not a thing to be hurled in a feller's
teeth; but over in England it's looked upon as a heinius crime, an'
the only thing a younger brother can do to square himself is to get
out o' sight. That's how Tim happened to be in the Texas Pan Handle
with a tidy little fortune his aunt had left him, tucked away in a
good-sized, well-stocked ranch.
I took a good deal o' pains with him, 'cause he didn't have nothin'
but a book education, an' it wasn't altogether easy to get him to
see the true value o' things. He used to talk about Eton an' Oxford
purty solemn, until one night he helped me mill the herd durin' a
Norther', an' after that he took more kindly to the vital things o'
life, but he was a man, Jim was, an' he kept raisin' my wages right
along until I got that opulent feelin'. I never could stand
prosperity those days; just as soon as I had a weight o' money 'at I
could notice, I begun to grow restless, an' nothin' 'at Jim could do
or say had much effect.
If things hadn't run in oil, I'd a-stayed right along, I reckon; but
it got so 'at the' wasn't a hitch from week to week, an' I couldn't
stand it. I never had a better friend in the world'n that cook was
after he'd saved my life.
Jim had a kid sort o' chorin' around the place an' keepin' us from
gettin' old an' stupid. One nice bright winter's day the kid went
out for a ride; his pony came lopin' in just at sun down in the face
of a blizzard, an' I went out to look for the kid. I found him
trudgin' toward home an' cussin' his luck somethin' terrible. I put
him up behind me an' by that time the wind was shootin' needles o'
sleet into my face 'till I couldn't see a yard ahead. The kid
snuggled up to me an' went to sleep, an' I gave the pony his head
an' trusted to luck--no, come to think about it, that night I
trusted to somethin' higher than luck, 'cause it was a perfect demon
of a night.
The pony dropped from a lope to a walk an' then he put his nose to
the ground an' fairly shuffled along. I was wearin' sheepskin with
the wool on, but after a time the needles began to creep in an' I
grew numb as a stone, while my flesh seemed shook loose from my
bones, an' it hurt me to breathe. Oh, Lord, but it was cold! If it
hadn't 'a' been for the kid I'd have gotten down an' walked
alongside the pony, but as it was, he was out o' the wind an'
sleepin' peaceful, so I just sat an' took it.
At last I sort o' drowsed off myself. I didn't sleep, but I wasn't
awake; I seemed to be back at the Diamond Dot an' playin' in a
little sheltered dell with Barbie. She had made up a game called
Fairy Princess; sometimes she was the Fairy Princess an' sometimes I
was, an' it was a mighty amusin' sort of a game, but different from
most o' the games I was familiar with.
Well, that night out in the Texas blizzard I was playin' that game
with little Barbie, an' all of a sudden--smash! Before I knowed what
had happened we had been run into an' knocked down a ravine an' both
the kid an' the pony was lyin' on top o' me. The kid got up all'
begun to cuss as usual, but the pony never moved. I'd a heap sight
rather had the conditions reversed, 'cause the pony was on my right
leg an' my right leg was on a sharp stone.
"Shut up, kid," sez I, "this ain't no time for such talk. Here, you
curl up alongside the pony an' I'll spread part o' my coat over
That kid was a home-maker all right; nothin' ever surprised him, an'
wherever he lit he made himself comfortable. In two minutes he was
asleep, while I began to puzzle it out. We were in a sheltered spot
an' the wind swept above us; but it was so dark that you couldn't
see ten inches. The wind was from the no'th, an' I went over every
bit o' landscape in the country until at last I figgered out the'
was only one place in Texas that filled the bill. A path swung
around a crag an' the' was a shelf of stone ten feet below it an'
eight feet wide, then it cut off sheer, fifty feet to the rocky bank
of a creek. I reached out with my hand an' felt the edge of it, an'
it give me an awful chill. I don't like to come quite so close.
After a time the wind veered around a little more to the east an'
then it sucked up through the cut an' I began to freeze. I didn't
care a great deal 'cause it stopped the horrid hurtin' in my leg;
but the dead pony began to cool, an' I knew it was only a question
o' minutes. Finally I awoke the kid. "Where is your gun, kid?" I
"I shot all my catridges tryin' to bring some one out on a pony,"
sez the kid, drowsily, an' then he dozes off again.
We were only a mile from the ranch house; it was again the wind an'
it wasn't much use to waste ammunition, but I finally got out my gun
an' begun to shoot at intervals.
"What the deuce you makin' that racket for?" grunted the kid at the
third shot. I boxed his ears and went on shootin' until at last the
cold went through sheepskin an' woolens an' hide an' flesh, an' I
grew warm an' contented; an' the next I knew, the cook was rubbin'
my wrists an' pourin' hot coffee into me. I was purty mad at bein'
dragged back to earth an' grumbled about it free an' hearty, but the
cook kept croonin' to me the same as if I'd been a baby: "Neveh
mind, honey, neveh mind; ol' Monody'll bring ya around all right.
Take another sip o' coffee, chile, that's right, that's right."
It took me quite a spell before I could tell whether I was alive or
not, 'cause while the cook had changed a heap since I'd first met up
with him, I'd never heard any such talk as this; but after a time I
came out of it an' the anguish I underwent gettin' back to life
wasn't nowise worth the experiment.
It had stopped blowin', but it was colder than ever, an' at last I
began to take enough interest in things to want 'em to get settled
one way or another. As soon as I was able to think along a straight
line, the cook would give a heave to the pony an' I would give
myself a jerk. The lantern shed a splash o' light on the shelf, but
the jump-off looked like the mouth o' the pit, an' I jerked purty
tol'able careful. At last I was out, an' if you'll believe it, my
leg was only broke in two places. I thought it was broken clear off.
I couldn't get back up the cliff to the trail any way we could
figger, so the cook said I should roll up in the Navajos he'd
brought an' he'd take the kid an' go back an' bring a couple o' the
boys an' pack me in.
The kid had found the blankets all right an' had rolled himself up,
an' we had to shake the stuffin' out of him to rouse him again. He
complained most bitter when he found he had to go back to the ranch
house; but at last they got started an' it wasn't long before they
had me there too, an' next day Phil McLaughlin rode over an' brought
out a doctor who lined up my bones as good as new, while Jim told me
about the cook.
Old Monody was like a salamander for heat, an' you couldn't drag him
away from the fire in the winter time; but when I didn't return he
began to worry: "If the' was a man left in this outfit I reckon he'd
go out an' get him," he'd say scornful. "Riders! you call yourselves
riders? You're loafers an' eaters, that's what you are! I'm a cook,
but if nobody else has the nerve to go an' git him, I'll go myself."
Jim started to go at last, but he wouldn't let him. "You got the
grit, Jim, but you ain't got the night sense yet. You stay where you
are or you'd be on our hands too." Well, he steamed up an' down
makin' new hot coffee an' drinkin' it by the bowl. All of a sudden
he give a scream: "Oh, oh! there he goes over the cliff! Get me a
pony--get me a pony, while I wrap up some coffee an' pick out some
blankets!" Well, the cook was so blame wild by this time 'at they
was glad to get shut of him; so they rigged him out an' he rode a
bee line right to me, an' what led him you can figger out for
yourselves. He was a queer cook, but after that night he was
different: he acted as though he had adopted me; he petted me an'
spoiled me an' you can talk all you want to about the flesh-pots of
Egypt--why, that cook could fix beans eleven different ways, an'
each one better'n the other.
But while I was lyin' there waitin' for my leg to knit up, I kept
thinkin' o' the little lass back at the Diamond Dot, an' when I got
about again, I knew I was signed for a trip No'th.
The cook was mighty good to me while I was backin' it; he used to
deal out fussy little fixin's 'at kept the appetite an' the fever
both down, an' when they wasn't no one around he used to pat out my
pillers an' oncet he smoothed back my hair. He cut out his cussin'
too, an' he used to line up the kid for it.
"You're from the South, ain't ya, Happy?" sez he to me one day.
"Not so you could notice," sez I. "I reckon this is the southest I
ever got before."
"Hu," sez the cook, "Texas ain't south. Texas is just the rubbish
heap o' this whole country. Where did you hook up to that word
"I dunno," sez I, thinkin' back. "A feller just catches words like
the mumps, I suppose; but my pap, he used to use it right often."
"Where did your folks come from?" sez the cook.
"Oh, they come from Kentucky, an' before that from Virginia an'
No'th Carolina, an' before that they came from Scotch Irish an'
English, an' go clear back to Adam an' you'll find us Hawkinses was
a ramblin' crew, I reckon; but what on earth you drivin' at, Monody,
an' where on earth did your line hail from?"
He sat there a moment with lights an' shades dartin' over his ugly
face, which somehow wasn't ugly to me any more, an' at last he said:
"I have the blood of an Injun chief an' an African king an' a
Spanish nobleman in my veins, an'--"
"Lord, man, you ought to let some of it out," I interrupted. "You'll
have an eruption in your in'ards some day 'at'll blow you into a
"No, I got 'em all whipped out now, Happy, an' I reckon 'at you did
it. You 're the only man I ever met 'at I ain't once felt like
"It's pleasant to think o' what a good neighbor you've been all your
life, cook; but I'm glad you've turned over since I met up with you.
Anyhow, you've been a heap o' comfort to me, an' anything I got is
on your list too, don't you never forget it."
But just the same, as soon as I got up an' around again, I had a
terrible tuggin' from the no'th an' I couldn't resist it. I'd be
makin' plans for the summer an' then all of a sudden I'd find myself
sayin, "What in the world do you reckon 'at that child is doin' now.
She'll be eight years old shortly, an' I simply have to see her on
her next birthday, even if she don't see me." At last I couldn't
stand it no longer, so I told the boys I had to cut, an' it fell
like a stone on a lamp chimney; but the cook, he took it harder'n
any one else. I liked the boys an' I liked Jim an' I liked the job;
but there was that tuggin' allus at my heart, an' in the end I set a
day. Jim, he made me all kinds of offers, 'cause things were gettin'
easy with him; but when I made it clear to him, he saw how it was
an' he sez: "I know 'at you'll come back to me some day, Happy, an'
if you'll settle down, you can be a rich man. I've kept back five
hundred dollars for you 'at I haven't mentioned in your wages, an'
you can take your pick o' the colts an' just as soon as you've had
your little flier I want you back; we all want you back."
It's a comfortin' feelin' to know 'at you're goin' to be missed; but
I couldn't savvy that cook. He had one big tearin' time of it an'
sluiced himself out with gin an' dug up his old profanity, an' then
he simmered down an' just cooked himself into a new record. Gee! it
was hard to separate from that mess table; but I had set my day an'
the' was no goin' back.
Jim had a black Arabian stallion an' a couple o' high grade mares
an' he was showin' up something fancy in the hoss line. He raised
the colts just like range ponies, an' while they wasn't quite so
tough when it came to livin' on sage brush an' pleasant memories,
they could eat up the ground like a prairie fire, an' they was
gentle. I bought a silver trimmed bridle an' some Mexican didoes,
an' then I said good-bye to all of 'em except the cook--he wasn't
I hunted for him an hour; but he had so many peculiar ways 'at I
just let it go at that an' finally gave him up; so I left him a
nifty present an' pulled out with about a thousand yellow ones in my
belt an' the best mount in the West.
I hadn't gone more than two miles before I turned a corner an' came
face to face with ol' Monody. He was settin' on a big bald-faced
roan, an' he had a serious look on his face. "Well, I wondered if
you was goin' to let me go away without sayin' good-bye," sez I,
tryin' to talk light an' easy.
"I'd be apt to," sez he. "Why, I've been peacefuller since you been
here'n ever I was in my life before, an' it ain't likely I'd let you
scoot out an' leave me. I'm goin' along."
Well, what do you think of that! Me startin' up to where I wasn't
sure of a welcome an' takin' such a tow as ol' Monody along with me.
I argued with him for an hour, an' then I got hot an' told him that
merely savin' my life didn't give him no mortgage on me an' that he
couldn't nowise keep up with me, an' by the time he reached the
Diamond Dot, the chances were 'at I'd be on my way back to the Lion
Head. He didn't waste no time in words, just sat sour an' moody, an'
every tine I'd stop he'd growl out, "I don't care where you go or
how fast you go or nothin' at all about it. I'm goin' along, an'
I'll catch up with you sometime."
I sure gave him a chase; I wanted the black hoss to show up well
when I landed, but I sent him along pretty steady an' took extra
care of him. Ol' Monody had picked out the toughest pony at the Lion
Head, an' he had good hands, but he never sighted me till the night
I reached the ranch and was busy wipin' Starlight's legs. "I got
some news for ya," sez ol' Monody, gettin' down slow from his leg-
weary roan. "I'll tell it to ya while you 're eatin supper,"--an' I
was sure glad to see him--an' glad to eat food again.
As soon as I finished takin' care o' Starlight, I give Monody's
mount a look-over. The old bald-face was whipcord an' steel; but he
looked purty near ready to own up.
"Monody, confound you," I sez. "What the deuce did you hammer this
old skin over the road like this for?"
"That's my pony," he growled.
"Since I bought him, that's since when."
"When did you buy him?"
"It ain't none o' your business when I bought him. I bought him the
mo'nin' you pulled out."
"What did you pay for him?"
"Are you goin' to talk about that ol' cayuse all night?" he snorts,
gettin' wrought up.
"I'm goin' to talk about him until I find out about him," sez I,
"an' you might as well come out of it an' tell what the' is to
"I don't have to tell nothin' about him. He neveh belonged to you.
Jim, he owed me some money on my wages so I just took the pony for
the money. An' now I hope you're through pesterin' me."
"How much did he owe ya?" sez I.
"Now you gone about far enough with this!" yells Monody. "I don't
know how much he owed me, an' I don't care. I reckon he owed me
more'n the pony's worth,'n if he didn't he can just pertend he
raised my wages last month."
"Why didn't you let him raise your wages a little more, an' bring
along a bunch o' five-year-olds too?" sez I, grinning. I was mighty
glad to see the old scamp, an' I knew he had drawed the worst end o'
the bargain; but I wanted him to understand that it was embarrassin'
to go again my wishes without my consent. He had the pot o' coffee
just ready to set on the rock where we was goin' to eat, an' all of
a sudden he straightened up an' shot a scowl into me. "Look here,
Happy." sez he, "I don't care a sky blue flap doodle for the whole
Jim Jimison outfit! I told you I was comin' along, an' I come. I
tells you again that I'm goin' wherever you go; but if you don't
shet up about that royally sequestered ol' ball faced camel, I'll
dash this scaldin' hot coffee--right on the ground!"
Well, I fell on my knees an' begged him to spare me, an' I kept it
up until he was gigglin' with laughter--he had a funny way o'
laughin'--an' then we sat on the stone an'--well, the' never was a
human mortal 'at was qualified to carry water for ol' Monody's
"What's your news, Monody?" I sez, after I 'd satisfied myself that
I couldn't swaller another crumb.
"You're headin' for the Diamond Dot, ain't ya?" sez he.
"This is a corner o' the Diamond Dot range," sez I, lollin' back an'
puffin' slow an' comfortable at my pipe.
"The pony corral stands at the mouth of a little canon, don't it?"
"Yes," sez I.
"An' the cook house is to the right of it?"
"Yes," sez I.
"An' the ranch house is kind o' sprawly with--"
"Look here, Monody," sez I, interruptin', "this ain't no news. What
are you gettin' at?"
"You got friends there, ain't ya?" sez he.
"I got one friend anyhow," sez I, "but as long as you've insisted on
taggin' along after me, you'll see the place an' you'll see my
friend; though I somehow doubt if you'll be invited in for a meal."
"Is your friend a lady?" sez Monody.
"Oh, no," sez I, sarcastic, "she 's a two-year-old heifer. I
wouldn't think o' goin' this distance just to call on a lady."
"How old is she?" asked Monody.
"Now you look here, you old pest," sez I, "lf you're just tryin' to
get even with me about the bald-faced roan, why cut it; but if
you've got anything to tell, why tell it, 'cause I'm gettin' sleepy.
She'll be eight years old to-morrow."
Old Monody shook with silent laughter for a moment. "A lady!" sez
he. Then he sobered an' sez, "Is it your child?"
I heaved a rock at him which he dodged, an' then I sez, "You wicked
of beast you, do I look old enough to have an eight-year-old
"Sometimes you do an' sometimes you don't. You're one o' these
fellers 'at ain't got no age o' their own, but just age up accordin'
to what's goin' on,"--an' ol' Monody stumbled on a bit o' truth when
he said this, an' it's still true.
"Well, what are you gettin' at?" sez I.
"The Diamond Dot is goin' to be raided to-night," sez he.
I jumped to my feet. "Who by?" I sez.
"You're fifteen years older right now than you was two minutes ago,"
sez Monody. "I stumbled onto Bill Brophy's gang last night. Bill has
seven o' the lowest grade wolves 'at ever wore man-hide--I--I used
to know Bill down in the Territory, an' Bill he thought I was still
on the grab. He put me on. I'm supposed to be at the pony corral at
midnight to turn the ponies loose an' bottle up the house gang in
their shack. Brophy's bad medicine; you'd better pass up your eight-
year-old lady friend an' come on back to the Lion Head with ol'
I walked up an' down a time or two, thinkin' it over. "We can ride
right into the ravine 'at leads to the pony corral from here," sez
I. "It's a good average four hours' ride. Now I can do it in three
on Starlight; the old bald-face couldn't do it at all to-night--"
"Look at him now," sez Monody. There he was eatin' grass as lively
as a cricket. "Well, you follow as you can, only you'd better lay
low unless I whistle the Lion Head signal. If I get time to break
you gentle to the home gang, it'll be all right; but you ain't apt
to be due for a cordial welcome, not when strangers to you are
lookin' for hold-ups."
He had tossed the saddles an' bridles on the hosses by this time,
an' we left our outfit lyin' on the rocks. We hit the saddles in the
same tick an' settled into a swing. Big an' heavy as ol' Monody was,
be was a light rider, an' the bald-face hung at my cinch for the
best part of an hour an' then we slowly oozed away from him. The
stars were all full power that night, an' a feller could see most as
plain as if the'd been a moon.
It smelt good to be back at the old place again, an' my blood was
racin' through my veins till I fair tingled. Finally I reached the
canon an' began to ride careful. It was only about eleven; but I
didn't want any o' Brophy's gang to take a pot shot at me. All of a
sudden something moved on a little grassy shelf on the side of the
cliff. Starlight shied off to the left an' my gun flew up over my
head, ready to drop on whatever it happened to be. My eyes were
drillin' into the gloom when a mite of a creature with her hands
clasped rose up an' said, "Oh, Happy, Happy! is it really you? an'
ridin' on the black hoss with the silver trimmed leather!"
"Barbie, child!" I cried, "what on earth you doin' out here this
time o' night an' all by your lone?"
"I just couldn't sleep, Happy," she said, comin' to the edge o' the
shelf an' sittin' down with her little bare feet swingin' over; "I
got to wonderin' how it would feel just when the birthday was a-
comin' on; so I sneaked out here, an' I was just beginnin' to feel
it when you hove into sight. I been thinkin' o' you lots lately,
"You little minx, you," sez I, "I doubt if you've thought of me
twice since I been away, while I've been thinkin' of you every
minute. But come, jump down behind me an' we'll hurry on. I want you
to go in an' wake Daddy up an' tell him I've got something mighty
important to say to him, while I scurry over an' wake up the home
"The home gang ain't here," sez Barbie." The ponies vamoosed this
afternoon--they nearly always do the days I turn Mr. H. Hawkins with
them,--that's what I call the pinto. He's an awful scamp; but the
best pony on the place."
"Then I reckon they'll bring 'em around the twist an' down this
canon. Now you get down here an' sneak into the house while I stake
out Starlight in the big cathedral--see how well I remember
I set the child down, rode Starlight into a big open nook with a
narrow mouth, an' then hustled into the house. Old Cast Steel was
standin' in the dining room in his stockin'-feet with a gun in each
hand an' a question in his eyes. "Get ready for a raid, Jabez," sez
I. "Who from?" sez he.
"From the Brophy gang," sez I.
"How do you know?" sez he. "They are due to arrive here at midnight,
Jabez," sez I. "I don't know why; but I think we'd better get ready
for 'em now an' argue about it to-morrow."
"I know why," sez lie. "One of 'em stole one o' my ponies an'
started to run off a bunch o' my own cows with it. I strung him up
an' he said 'at Bill Brophy'd get even with me for it. That was two
months ago, an' the' hasn't been a minute since 'at I was so bad
prepared for 'em. How many's in the gang?"
"Bill an' seven others. I found out through the meanest lookin'
mortal you ever set eyes on. He's a giant, nearly black, an' the
ugliest critter you ever set eyes on; but he's white inside. He'll
be along as soon as he can get here--don't shoot him."
"I ain't apt to shoot any help this night," grins Jabez.
"If it wasn't for the little girl, Happy, I'd be right satisfied to
have it out with Bill; but I hate to think of what may happen to
her. How'll we fix for 'em?"
"Get in the dug-out cellar," sez I, for I'd been plannin' it all
"I reckon they'll burn the house down," sez Jabez; "but I'd rather
they destroyed the whole blame outfit than to have anything happen
to the little lass."
"Where's Melisse?" sez I. "She left," sez Jabez; an' I hadn't time
to learn particulars.
By this time we had everything barricaded, an' gettin' Barbie we
made a run for the dug-out. It was only two hundred yards; but we
hadn't left the shadow of the house before a rifle sings out
followed by two revolver shots. The' was a big pile o' winter wood
in the L of the ranch house, an' without sayin' a word I swung Jabez
with little Barbie in his arms back of the wood pile.
We didn't shoot much, although the gang kept pepperin' at the wood
pile purty frequent from behind the cook house. "They'll fire the
house purty soon," mutters Jabez, after we'd beat'em off on their
second rush. "We'll have to try for the dug-out sooner or later."
Just at this minute the six notes o' the Lion Head signal floated
in. "There's ol' Monody," sez I. "I wish Barbie was safe an' we'd
show'em a merry time of it." I answered the call an' the' was
silence for a long time. Presently we heard a rattlin' volley, an'
the cook rolled around the corner o' the house an' joined us.
"The next time they rush," sez Jabez, "we'll charge out after 'em
an' try for the dug-out. They won't monkey much longer."
They didn't monkey at all. Two of 'em had broke into the house from
in front, an' the next we knew a window had been flung open at our
back an' we would a-got it right then, but Monody heard 'em, an' as
soon as the window shutter flew back he emptied his gun inside. At
the same time the remainin' six charged in a body, an' for the next
few minutes we was some busy. But we beat'em off, an' as they
scurried for shelter to load, we made for the dug-out; me in front,
ol' Jabez in the center, an' Monody closin' up the rear.
Just before we reached it, a revolver cracked in the doorway o' the
dug-out, I felt a sting in the left shoulder, spun around and fell,
but jumped up just as Jabez changed directions for the cook shack.
It was only a step from the dug-out an' we rushed in, slammed the
door, dropped in the bar, an' turned to face a man with two guns on
us. Monody dropped on him, an' I was about to shoot from the hip
when of Jabez sez, "By George, Jim, I'd forgot all about you--we can
sure fix'em now. These is friends, Jim." Jim was a savage lookin'
brute an' I eyed him purty close. "This feller is cookin' while
Flapjack is on his bender, Happy," sez Jabez.
The cook shack was built out o' pine logs at the bottom, an' fixed
so the upper sides'd swing out like awnings in hot weather. We felt
purty comfortable. The' was a square window at each end an' one on
the side facin' the house; the stove was on the other side. We made
little Barbie sit in the corner behind the stove. Jabez took the
window facin' the house, me the one facin' the dug-out, an' the sub-
cook facin' the corral. I could shoot cleaner'n Monody, so he stood
by to do my loadin', an' we proceeded to waste ammunition. It's
enough to make the oldest man the' is reckless, when you think of
the weight o' lead good aimers can throw without spillin' any blood.
After a bit things grew quiet, an' then we saw a small freight-wagon
backin' down to the door with a lot o' wood across the back of it.
Jabez came over to my window an' we shot into an' under the wagon;
but it still backed up. The' was a little grade down to the cook
shack, an' after they got it started the' wasn't much to do but
guide. They had fixed a stick o' wood pointin' straight back from
the rear axle, an' when it hit the door the bar broke an' the door
flew off its hinges an' clear across the room.
But gettin' the wagon away for their rush was a different matter,
an' we all shot at one another purty regardless. Once I reached back
my hand for a fresh gun an' failed to get any. I turned around, an'
there was Monody holdin' the sub-cook's right wrist with his left
hand an' grippin' at his throat with his right. The' was a horrid
look on the sub-cook's face, an' just as I turned to interfere,
Monody gave a wrench which tore out the cook's wind-pipe, gave him a
sling which landed him under the table, an' handed me a fresh gun. I
was some bothered about this; but that wa'n't no time to hold an
investigation, so I begun shootin' at flashes again.
"How's your catridges holdin' out?" sez Jabez.
"Ain't many left," sez Monody.
"I'm about cleaned myself," sez Jabez. "Where's Jim?"
"I think he's about once through," sez I, an' we proceeded to shoot
Purty soon they quit firin' again an' then the freight wagon started
up the hill. They had put their ropes on the tongue an' were
draggin' it out with ponies. We knew what that meant an' took a
The lull what followed was the hardest part o' the whole business.
Ther' wasn't a blasted thing we could do, an' it seemed hours before
the neat volley came from the corner o' the dug-out. We didn't reply
to it, which was most uncommon lucky for us; 'cause first thing we
knew, they came rompin' around each corner an' poured in on top of
us. They was used to fightin' against odds, an' it irritated 'em
consid'able to take so long at a job with the odds in their favor.
Outside, the starlight give us a purty fair aim, while they couldn't
do more than guess at us--so we beat 'em off once more.
"The's only three shots in this gun," sez Monody, cheerfully, as he
handed my iron back to me.
"What's that?" sez Jabez.
"We're about out o' fuel, Jabez," sez I.
I heard him grit his teeth in the darkness. "Where is she, Happy?"
"She's still in her corner back of the stove with the shack door in
front of her. They won't hurt her, Jabez--no matter what happens,
an' the' 's a good fight in us yet. Ol' Monody here don't begin to
fight till the ammunition has give out; so keep your mind easy for
the next rush," sez I.
Next moment they surged down on us, shootin' as fast as they could
fan. We didn't explode a catridge until they was bunched in the door
an' then we emptied out. They cussed an' groaned consid'able; but
they surged on into the cabin, just the same. The smoke was like a
cloud inside, an' a newcomer couldn't see an inch; so I backed into
my corner with my left arm danglin' at my side an' holdin' my gun by
The shootin' stopped in a flash an' the silence hurt a feller's
ears. The' was a sloppy, floppin' sound over under the table an' now
an' again a low groan. "Fetch the lantern out o' the freight wagon,
an' let's chalk up." said a deep, heavy voice. In about a minute a
light ripped its way into darkness an' I never saw a worse sight.
Jabez was lyin' face down with a hairy viper on top of him face up.
The feller'd been pinked in the bridge o' the nose an' it was most
horrid ghastly. Two others lay still with their bodies inside the
shack an' their legs outside; while another was lyin' just at my
feet. Some one had swatted him in the temple with a revolver butt;
but the sight that just about made me homesick was Jim, the deputy
Monody hadn't broken the windpipe, an' he wasn't dead yet. It was
him 'at made the floppin' sound. Oh, it was sickening! Brophy was a
fine lookin' man--I recognized him from his description right at
once--an' he hadn't been even grazed. He looked around cool but
quick, an' just about took it all in, in the snap of a finger. Then
he loaded both his guns before us an' made the feller with the
lantern do the same. After which he looked into Monody's eyes--
looked into 'em until Monody's ugly black face turned ashy; but
Brophy hadn't even a scowl, an' when he spoke, his deep voice was
steady an' calm. "How did that happen, Monody?" sez he, pointin' to
"I--I reckon one o' the boys mistook him in the dark," sez Monody.
"I reckon you lie," sez Brophy. "The' ain't no white man would be
beast enough. It's one o' your own heathen tricks."
I was surprised at the way Brophy talked. I'd allus heard 'at he was
a rip-snortin' screamer, an' here he was talkin' low an' level like,
as if he was conversin' about the weather; but when I looked into
Monody's face an' saw it gray an' quivery, I knew 'at Brophy wasn't
no bluffer, whether he yelled or whether he whispered.
I moved about an inch 'cause my leg was strainin', an' three guns
dropped on me. "Don't try nothin'," sez Brophy. I didn't--I stood
The man under the table give a gaspy squawk, Brophy dropped on one
knee to look at him, an' I could see him shudder as he looked at the
torn throat. "My God!" he muttered, an' then he started to git up,
his voice fairly snarlin' with rage. "Monody, you beast!" he yelled,
snap-pin' back the hammer of his gun, "I'll--"
He never finished it. With a queer, guttural cry Monody took a step
forward with his left foot an' kicked him under the chin, lifted him
clear from the ground, an' rolled him over, a crumpled an' broken
thing, on top o' the sub-cook The man with the lantern began to fan-
shoot into Monody, an' I jumped for him an' hit him in the temple
with the butt, o' my gun. He went down with a crash an' the lantern
"Monody!" I called. "Monody, are you hurt?" The' wasn't no answer;
the' wasn't a sound. I felt like the last man on earth. Then I
thought of the girl. I waited a moment to quiet my voice, an' then I
sez, "Are you all right, little Barbie?" Still the' wasn't no
answer, an' I fairly yelled to her.
"Yes, I'm all right, Happy, but I want to get out. Are you all
right?" Her voice was steady, but it sounded a long ways off.
"Yes, Honey Bird, I'm all right," I sez.
"And is my Daddy all right?" she asked.
My! but it was a world o' comfort to hear the child's voice again,
an' some way I felt unreasonable tickled to think 'at she had asked
about me first. "Your Daddy ain't here just now, Barbie," I sez.
"You'd better just stay where you are until we make sure 'at they're
"Well, all right," she said in the same muffled voice; "but I'd like
to get out."
I hunted through my pockets for a match, but I couldn't find one,
an' what I wanted just then was light--Lord, how I did want a light!
And then I heard a tramplin' an' a poundin' as the herd swept down
the ravine an' into the corral, an' next minute I heard George
Hendricks give the yell he allus give when a job was done, an' I
yelled back--yelled till my voice cracked; an' it was the biggest
relief I ever had.
I kept on yellin' until they got to the cook shack. "What the
bloomin' blue blasted blazes is the matter?" sez Spider Kelley. "An'
who the fiber fingered flub-dub are ya?"
"Get a light, get a light an' see!" I yells, hatin' to move.
"It's Happy Hawkins!" yells the whole bunch, an' the tone they used
was all-fired welcome.
Purty soon they come in with a lantern, an' then they stopped askin'
questions. For a moment we all just looked at that floor, an' it was
sure a hideous sight. I put my finger on my lips an' pointed to the
corner back of the stove where I'd put the shack door in front o'
little Barbie, an' then I motioned for 'em to drag the bodies out.
Monody was alive an' he had a satisfied grin on his face when I
helped to carry him out in the air. Jabez never moved, an' the boys
lifted him mighty tender--he'd been a good man to work for, spite of
his queer ways. The two men in the doorway were still gaspin', but
the rest of Brophy's gang had passed on as they had a right to
expect, wearin' their boots an' their guns hot in their hands.
Brophy himself had his neck broken, but his face didn't look bad. It
was peaceful under the lantern light.
As soon as they was all lined up on the side porch I took the shack
door down, but Barbie wasn't there. "Barbie!" I called. "Barbie,
child! where are you?"
"Here I am, Happy," answered a muted voice. "I'm in the oven. Can't
I come out now?" I opened the door to the big oven an' there she
was, wrapped in a coat an' all rumpled up as if she'd been sleepin'.
"Who put you in there, child?" I asked.
"A woman," she answered. "A woman with a soft, kind voice. She put
me in here an' she told me to go to sleep, an' I did sleep most o'
the time. When you'd all shoot together it would wake me up; but
then after a minute I'd doze off again, an' now it's gettin'
daylight an' I'm eight years old, an' I didn't get to see how it
felt comin' on. Where's my Daddy, an' are all the robbers gone?"
"A woman!" sez I.
"Yes, an' she had the kindest voice," sez Barbie. "Ain't she here
now? I want to talk to her. I've missed ol' Melisse something
fierce--but I never let on to Daddy. Where is Daddy, Happy?"
"You ask more questions'n an almanac, Barbie," sez I, tryin' to
speak easy. "I'm goin' to carry you in an' put you to bed, an' you
can go on dreamin' about your beautiful lady, an' then in the
mornin' I'll tell you all about what's happened."
My heart weighed about a ton in my breast as I carried the child
into the house with the gray dawn light drippin' over her an' the
still form of her father lyin' around on the side porch. I thought
o' the mother she hadn't never seen, an' I hoped that things was
fixed so 'at that mother could keep on comin' back now an' again to
put a dream into her lonely little heart like she'd already done
that night; but I carried her into her little white bedroom hummin'
a dance-tune, took off her shoes an' stockin's, covered her up warm,
an' told her she could sleep late, as we wasn't goin' to have an
early breakfast. The big lids closed down over her bright little
eyes, an' purty soon she was breathin' soft an' quiet, an' then I
left her. I stopped in the doorway an' looked back, an' my heart
ached when I thought of her havin' to wake up an' face it all. It
ain't just killin' a man that's so bad, it's the awful hole most of
'em makes in some innocent woman's heart.
When I got back to the side porch my breath liked to 'a' stopped,
for there was Jabez sittin' up an' complainin' most bitter because
he had an achin' in the back of his neck. I stopped in my tracks
gappin' at him, an' purty soon he noticed me an' sez, "Well, what
are YOU starin' at? Remember 'at I ain't no chicken heart, an'
remember 'at what I hate worse'n anything else is a liar. Now where
is my child?"
"She's in bed and asleep, an' if you're sure you 're alive you've
lifted a ton off my heart. I thought you was dead," sez I.
"This whole pack of idiots thinks so yet," he yells, "an' they won't
let me get up. I got to see her, Happy, I got to touch her an' make
sure for myself that she's all right."
"Where was you hit, Jabez?" I sez.
"I was creased--I was creased the same as they crease a mustang" he
sez. "I was just touched in the back o' the neck an' it paralyzed
me. These blame pin-heads are crazy to strip me an' see if I ain't
shot all to pieces, but I won't stand for it." He tried to get up,
but his legs wouldn't work, an' he sank back again.
"You just set an' rest a bit, Jabez," I sez. "I want to see how old
The boys hadn't paid much attention to him, thinkin' him one o'
Brophy's gang, an' not carin' much whether or not he was
comfortable, 'cause he was the most bloodthirsty lookin' of the
whole bunch. "Are you hurt bad, Monody" I said. His face lit up with
a smile. "I don't hurt at all, Happy, but I reckon I 'm done for--
the' ain't no feelin' in me from the waist down."
I got three o' the boys to help me, an' we put him on the shack door
an' packed him into the house an' put him into one o' the spare
beds. He was shot three times in the left shoulder, an' it wasn't
till I noticed it that I recalled my own fix. Monody's shoulder was
all shattered to smash, but still, it wasn't no reason for him to
die, so I begun to kid him about it. He grinned an' said he didn't
intend to die on purpose, but he reckoned it was his turn, an' he
didn't intend to side step. He was most unreasonable an' wouldn't
let us bandage him nor nothin', said he had a salve 'at beat
anything a doctor had, an' we got it for him out of his coat which
was the one wrapped around Barbie. He examined my shoulder with his
right hand, an' his fingers worked around inside my bones clear and
true, but some way without hurtin' me much. "It ain't broke," sez
he, "just grooved a bit. You got bones like a grizzly."
When his salve came he rubbed it on me an' then he rubbed it on
himself, an' then he told us to clear out so he could sleep. We all
left him after a little, an' I sent Spider Kelley after the doctor.
The' was only one member of Brophy's gang alive when I got back to
the side porch, an' he was sinkin' fast. He had told Jabez 'at then
intended to clean him out completely, an' that Jim, the sub-cook,
was one o' the gang an' had let the ridin' ponies loose so 'at the'
was no choice but to walk after the herd when they stampeded. He
said that if he hadn't 'a' had that chance he would 'a' put knock-
out drops in the coffee that night, which made all the men madder'n
ever. Knock-out drops ain't no fair way o' fightin'.
Well, this feller had been with Brophy a long time, an' he gave us a
purty complete list of his doin's an' his ways. As a rule a man only
lasted about a year with the gang, an' when it was possible Brophy
tried to get boys to fill up the vacancies,--boys likin' the game
an' not carin' much for the consequences. He tried to tell us where
Brophy had a lot o' gold salted down in Nevada, but it was hard to
understand him, an' before he made it clear he tuckered out.
We sent out word to the neighbors, an' that evening about forty of
'em rode over to the buryin', and they made a good bit of a fuss
over us, 'cause the gang had been worse'n a plague an' a famine. You
can judge o' their nerve when they made war on the Diamond Dot, we
havin' one o' the biggest outfits in the territory, an' all
patriotic toward the old man. Jabez give me more credit'n was due
me, but he sure tried to do the fair thing by of Monody too. Monody
had saved us all, an' that was the simple truth. It seemed odd to
think of how that kick I had in the jaw won me a friend in Monody,
an' then, when it was passed on, saved the Diamond Dot. I 'd like to
know what it did for the French sailor an' the feller what handed it
to him. Funny thing, life.
We tried to get Monody to take his clothes off an' be comfortable;
the boys fairly pestered the life out of him tryin' to do somethin'
for him, but he was obstinate, said 'at his clothes was clean, an'
he didn't intend to take 'em off till they got dirty. They bothered
him so that finally he made me bring him one of his guns, an' he
swore he'd use it before they got his clothes off. "I want to be
buried in 'em, Happy," he said to me, most earnest. "If I die with
'em on you won't let 'em take 'em off, will ya?" He had a lot o'
fever, so I humored him; but I wished, myself, he wasn't so set in
his ways. His salve was the bulliest stuff I ever used on a bullet
hole, an' my arm begun to mend right from the start. His shoulder
was splintered purty bad, but still, it didn't seem as if it ought
to have bothered his legs none. The next day he was a little wobbly
in his head, an' it seemed to rest him to hold my hand. He didn't
want no one else in the room, so I just sat an' talked nonsense to
him, an' twice Barbie came in to see him.
In spite of his ugly face the child wasn't a mite afraid of him, an'
she would smooth back his black, coarse hair; but she didn't talk to
him much--just looked into his eyes an' smiled.
"I wish Melisse was here," she said to me once when Monody was
dozin', "she'd cook somethin' nice an' tasty, an' she's such a good
"Melisse?" sez Monody comein' to, "who's Melisse?"
"She's my old nurse," sez Barbie. "I told her a story--just a little
one--an' she wouldn't whip me for it, so Daddy told her to clear out
until she was willin' to do her duty. He thinks she's gone for good,
but I know where she is."
"Melisse, Melisse," muttered Monody. "Well, after all, it might be.
The' ain't nothin' too strange to happen."
I see 'at he was a bit out of his head, so I didn't question him
none. "Where is she, Barbie?" I asked in a low tone.
"I don't know just exactly where she is or I'd go bring her back, of
course," she sez; "but I know 'at she's somewhere hereabouts, 'cause
the day before my birthday--why, it was only day before yesterday,
wasn't it? It seems years ago. Well, day before yesterday I found a
big pan o' cakes in my playhouse, an' no one can't bake 'em but
Monody didn't say anything more until after Barbie'd gone from the
room, and then he made me tell him all I knew of Jabez, which was
mighty little. He lay there a long time without speakin', an' then
he sez: "O' course the' may not be anything in it, but if ever you
an' this Jabez lock horns, you just ask him about the Creole Belle,
an' if he's the man I mean--an' he sure favors him--it'll most
likely unnerve him. Now I want to sleep."
Spider Kelley an' the doctor got back about ten that night, an' ol'
Monody was in a ragin' fever an' some out of his head, but he kept
his gun handy an' wouldn't stand for any one startin' to undress
"The''s somethin' worse'n that shoulder," sez the doctor, "though
that's bad enough, goodness knows. He's hurt somewhere in the spine,
an' I'll have to examine him. Take that fool gun away from him."
I put my hand on Monody's an' he loosened his hold on the gun an'
took hold of my hand, his face lightin' up contented. Then I handed
the gun to one o' the boys an' took tight hold of his right arm
while the doctor started to unbutton his shirt. Ol' Monody's eyes
opened with a jerk, an' the fever had left 'em. "Happy, Happy!" he
pleaded. "You know 'at I'd give my life for ya! You won't let 'em
bother me, will ya? I'm done for, I know it; an' the' ain't nothin'
to do. Happy, Happy, let me go in peace, won't ya? Let me die like a
The' wa'n't no fever in his eyes, an' he was sure earnest about it.
I knew 'at if things was changed an' I was in his place he'd give me
my way, so I sez to the doctor, "Dock, ol' Monody here is a cure-all
himself; he give me the best salve ever I see for my own shoulder,
an' when he sez it's all up with him, he ain't bluffin'. I reckon
you'd better just let him alone." I hadn't never seen this doctor
before; he was a youngish buck with sharp features an' an obstinate
chin. "No," sez he, "it wouldn't be professional. I got to make an
examination. Now some o' you boys hold his feet an' some o' you hold
his good hands an'--"
"Some o' you go to hell!" sez I. "If ol' Monody here wants to die
with his clothes on he's sure goin' to do it or else the' 's goin'
to be consid'able more funerals on this place than we've already
had. Now you git!"
The Dock, he was the first to go, an' then the rest o' the boys
"You're square, Happy," sez Monody, after they'd gone. "You're
square, an' I knew it the first time I looked into your eyes. If I'd
fell in with square ones at the start it would 'a' been a heap
easier--a heap easier."
Cast Steel hadn't hardly taken his eyes off Barbie since lie 'd got
up an' around again, but right after the Dock had left, in he
popped. "What's this I hear, Happy?" he sez, excited.
"I don't know, Jabez," I replied.
"Dock Wilson sez 'at you chased hire out o' the room with a gun an'
wouldn't let him examine this man."
"Well," sez I, "as far as that goes, this man has a right to judge
for himself. He saved your life an' your outfit an' your daughter,
an' I don't reckon you're goin' to tie him into a knot so as a
doctor can go pokin' around in him when he don't want it."
"You're as obstinate as ever!" shouts Jabez. "He 's probably out of
"No, he ain't out of his head," sez Monody, in a low, soft voice,
but without openin' his eyes more'n a crack.
"He ain't out of his head an' he ain't forgot nothin' he ever knew,
an' it'll be better all around if he's allowed to go in peace."
Jabez looked at him in surprise, and Monody scowled up his face till
he looked like a wounded Silver Tip, but the' came a queer hunted
look into Jabez' eyes for a moment, an' then he muttered, "Well,
this is a free country an' I reckon lie has the right to decide. He
has sure saved us, an' if the' 's anything on earth I can give him,
all lie has to do is to ask for it, an' I hope he pulls through in
his own way."
Jabez fidgeted around a minute or two longer an' then he oozed out
o' the room. When he'd gone of Monody chuckled a wicked, contented
chuckle, an' after a bit lie sez,
"It's him all right, it's him, but he never did me any harm, an' I
wouldn't worry the child, not for worlds. She ought to have a woman
around her though. You get old Melisse back, Happy, an' remember--if
it ever comes to a question of you or him--just call him George
Jordan an' say 'at Jack Whitman wasn't killed "--Monody chuckled
again, an' then sobered--"but don't spring it except as a last
resort, 'cause the little girl couldn't help nothin' about the
Creole Belle, an' she ain't no call to be worried by it. Jim
Jimison, he's white, Happy, but he 'd 'a' been killed that trip if
you hadn't taken bolt when you did. He's learned the game purty well
now, though, an' I reckon he'll make good."
Poor old Monody kept on talkin' disconnected until about midnight,
first tellin' some devilish deed he'd seen or took part in, an' then
tellin' o' some joke or some act o' kindness. Just at midnight he
took my hand, an' the' came a look into his eyes like as if he was
about overcome by some beautiful vision; but in a moment he cohered
down an' he gripped my hand till it hurt. "Happy," he gasped, "I
allus loved ya, Happy. You won't let--you won't let 'em--" an' it
was all over with ol' Monody.
I sat by the bed a long time thinkin' it over, an' then I went out
into the settin' room. Jabez an' a couple o' the boys was there an'
I told 'em it was over. I went out into the night to have a look at
the stars. Whenever somethin' has happened in my little wobbly life
down here I like to get out an' see the same old stars in their same
old places, calm an' steady an' true. That was one thing which allus
drew me to the child Barbie,--she was a star-worshiper too, same as
When I got back I see the little doctor explainin' somethin' to
Jabez. I thought he had gone long ago, but the hooked-nosed buzzard
couldn't leave without satisfyin' his curiosity. "What do you reckon
was the reason your friend wouldn't let himself be examined?" sez
he, with a leer.
"It wasn't nowise my business," sez I," so I didn't think about it
"Well, it was because he wasn't a man at all--he was a woman."
For a moment I stood an' looked at him, while a lot o' things became
clear as day to me. A woman--ol' Monody was a woman! When I thought
of what a girl is, an' what it must have took to make one want to
really be a man, I felt plumb ashamed o' my sex; but here was
another creature in man's clothes standin' an' grinnin' into my face
as though he had done somethin' smart.
"How do you know?" I sez soft an' steady.
"I went in an' examined--it was my professional duty. She had been
shot in the abdomen and the bullet had lodged in the spine. She had
stuffed a rag into the hole an' all the bleedin' was internal. I
"Who was with you?" I asked him.
"Nobody," he said with pride; "I went in alone an' I found--"
"I'm obliged to ya, Boys," sez I, "an' I'll be obliged to you still
more if you'll just stand to one side an' watch me make an
examination. I only got one arm, so it's perfectly fair. It seems to
be the fashion now days to examine human beings who wear men's
clothes--but who ain't men--so I feel it my PROFESSIONAL DUTY to
examine this here speciment before us."
The grin kind o' left his face when I started for him. He wasn't
near my size, but me only havin' one workin' arm made it fair. He
looked to the boys to help him, but they was unusual placid. I
reached out an' grabbed him by the collar an' put my knee in his
stomach as a brace; he struck me in the face an' in my wounded
shoulder, but in about one minute I had his clothes off him, an'
there he stood the shamedest thing I ever see. "Now you get out o'
here an' ride home," sez I, "an' I believe if I was you I'd pick
myself out a new home--one 'at would take about six weeks to ride
to. You won't be popular around here from this on."
"Can't I put my clothes on," he sez.
"Not these," sez I. "If you have any more where you've been livin'
you can put them on; but I hope in my heart the sun peels your back
before you arrive, an' I hope when you do arrive the' 'll be enough
women awake to give you a raw-hidin' for bein' indecent. Now git."
He looked into the boys' faces again, but they wasn't friendly--they
wasn't even smilin', an' then he went outside, got his pony, an'
rode away. He rode clear out o' the West I reckon, 'cause while I
heard of the story purty much everywhere I went after that, I ain't
never heard o' the buzzard himself since that day long, long ago.
It was dawn by the time he'd rode out o' sight with his white skin
shinin' on his hunched up form, an' then I went in to set with ol'
Monody a while.
JUST MONODY--A MAN
He looked mighty peaceful, did ol' Monody. Curious thing about
death, is the way it seems to beautify a person. In life Monody was
the homeliest human I ever see, an' yet the' was something so
kindly, an' gentle, an'--an' satisfied in his face there under the
lamplight, that I reached out an' patted his hand, almost envious--
even though my fool eyes was a-winkin' mighty fast.
We all of us would give the first ten years of our life to know what
it's like out yonder; when he was here, ol' Monody would 'a' done
anything he could for me,--well, he lay down his life an' I reckon
that's about skinnin' the deck,--but here I was achin' to know how
it was with him, an' there he was with all his guesses answered, an'
him not able to pass back a single tip to me.
It wasn't him that I was lookin' down at, it was just the shell of
him, scarred and battered and bruised, but all his life--or at least
most of it--he had twisted up his face to make it as ugly as
possible, so 'at no one wouldn't take him for a woman. Now it could
relax an' give a sort of a hint as to what it might have been if
he'd had a chance to live. Oh, it's sure a crime the way we torture
some o' the white souls 'at drift to this Sorrowful Star, as I once
heard a feller call it.
Injun, Nigger, an' Greaser--why, such a combination as that ain't
entitled to trial in a civilized nation--it's guilty on sight. Any
one would know 'at such a bein' would be cruel an' treacherous an'
thievin' an' everything else 'at was bad--but yet the' come a good
streak into Monody some way or other. All in the world I had ever
done for him was to beat him over the head when he acted like a
beast, an' then to treat hint like a human when he acted like one.
The' wasn't nothin' especially kind nor thoughtful in it, just
simple justice as you might say, an' yet in spite of his treacherous
mixture he wasn't askin' no favors; all he wanted was a square deal,
an' when he got it he was square clear to the finish. It's a funny
In spite of all he'd done to kill it the' was a mother streak in him
which made him fair hungry for somethin' to pet an' fondle. He was
allus good to any kind of an animal, an' though I didn't notice it
at the time, he was allus motherin' me; an' look at the way he had
soothed little Barbie with a touch that night in the cook shack! O'
course I ain't questioning the judgment o' the Almighty, but for the
life o' me the I can't see why it was necessary to make a woman as
big an' as tall as ol' Monody was, an' yet perhaps if I just knew