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Whirligigs by O Henry

Part 4 out of 6

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decent figure, but he was unsteady in the saddle, and he
seemed to be deep in the contemplation of some vexing
problem. Coltrane left him in his mood, relying upon the
influence of changed surroundings to restore his

Once Goree was seized with a shaking fit, and almost
came to a collapse. He had to dismount and rest at the
side of the road. The colonel, foreseeing such a con-
dition, had provided a small flask of whisky for the journey
but when it was offered to him Goree refused it almost
with violence, declaring he would never touch it again.
By and by he was recovered, and went quietly enough
for a mile or two. Then he pulled up his horse suddenly,
and said:

"I lost two hundred dollars last night, playing poker.
Now, where did I get that money?"

"Take it easy, Yancev. The mountain air will soon
clear it up. We'll go fishing, first thing, at the Pinnacle
Falls. The trout are jumping there like bullfrogs. We'll
take Stella and Lucy along, and have a picnic on Eagle
Rock. Have you forgotten how a hickory-cured-ham
sandwich tastes, Yancey, to a hungry fisherman?"

Evidently the colonel did not believe the story of his
lost wealth; so Goree retired again into brooding silence.

By late Afternoon they had travelled ten of the twelve
miles between Bethel and Laurel. Half a mile this side
of Laurel lay the old Goree place; a mile or two beyond
the village lived the Coltranes. The road was now steep
and laborious, but the compensations were many. The
tilted aisles of the forest were opulent with leaf and bird
and bloom. The tonic air put to shame the pharma-
copæia. The glades were dark with mossy shade, and
bright with shy rivulets winking from the ferns and
laurels. On the lower side they viewed, framed in the
near foilage, exquisite sketches of the far valley swooning
in its opal haze.

Coltrane was pleased to see that his companion was
yielding to the spell of the hills and woods. For now
they had but to skirt the base of Painter's Cliff; to cross
Elder Branch and mount the hill beyond, and Goree
would have to face the squandered home of his fathers.
Every rock he passed, every tree, every foot of the rocky
way, was familiar to him. Though he hid forgotten the
woods, they thrilled him like the music of "Home, Sweet

They rounded the cliff, decended into Elder Branch,
and paused there to let the horses drink and splash in
the swift water. On the right was a rail fence that
cornered there, and followed the road and stream.
Inclosed by it was the old apple orchard of the home
place; the house was yet concealed by the brow of the
steep hill. Inside and along the fence, pokeberries,
elders, sassafras, and sumac grew high and dense. At
a rustle of their branches, both Goree and Coltrane glanced
up, and saw a long, yellow, wolfish face above the fence,
staring at them with pale, unwinking eyes. The head
quicky disappeared; there was a violent swaying of the
bushes, and an ungainly figure ran up through the apple
orchard in the direction of the house, zigzagging among
the trees.

"That's Garvey," said Coltrane; "the man you sold
out to. There's no doubt but he's considerably cracked.
I had to send him up for moonshining, once, several years
ago, in spite of the fact that I believed him irresponsible.
Why, what's the matter, Yancey?"

Goree was wiping his forehead, and his face had lost
its colour. "Do I look queer, too?" he asked, trying
to smile. "I'm just remembering a few more things."
Some of the alcohol had evaporated from his brain. "I
recollect now where I got that two hundred dollars."

"Don't think of it," said Coltrane cheerfully. "Later
on we'll figure it all out together."

They rode out of the branch, and when they reached
the foot of the hill Goree stopped again.

"Did you ever suspect I was a very vain kind of fellow,
Colonel" he asked. "Sort of foolish proud about

The colonel's eyes refused to wander to the soiled, sag-
ging suit of flax and the faded slouch hat.

"It seems to me," he replied, mystified, but humouring
him, "I remember a young buck about twenty, with the
tightest coat, the sleekest hair, and the prancingest saddle
horse in the Blue Ridge."

"Right you are," said Goree eagerly. "And it's in
me yet, though it don't show. Oh, I'm as vain as a
turkey gobbler, and as proud as Lucifer. I'm going to
ask you to indulge this weakness of mine in a little

"Speak out, Yancey. We'll create you Duke of
Laurel and Baron of Blue Ridge, if you choose; and you
shall have a feather out of Stella's peacock's tail to wear
in your hat."

"I'm in earnest. In a few minutes we'll pass the house
up there on the hill where I was born, and where my
people have lived for nearly a century. Strangers live
there now -- and look at me! I am about to show myself
to them ragged and poverty-stricken, a wastrel and a
beggar. Colonel Coltrane, I'm ashamed to do it. I
want you to let me wear your coat and hat until we are
out of sight beyond. I know you think it a foolish pride,
but I want to make as good a showing as I can when
I pass the old place."

"Now, what does this mean?" said Coltrane to him-
self, as he compared his companion's sane looks and
quiet demeanour with his strange request. But he
was already unbuttoning the coat, assenting readily,
as if the fancy were in no wise to be considered

The coat and hat fitted Goree well. He buttoned
the former about him with a look of satisfaction and
dignity. He and Coltrane were nearly the same size --
rather tall, portly, and erect. Twenty-five years were
between them, but in appearance they might have
been brothers. Goree looked older than his age;
his face was puffy and lined; the colonel had the
smooth, fresh complexion of a temperate liver. He
put on Goree's disreputable old flax coat and faded
slouch hat.

"Now," said Goree, taking up the reins, "I'm all
right. I want you to ride about ten feet in the rear as we
go by, Colonel, so that they can get a good look at me.
They'll see I'm no back number yet, by any means. I
guess I'll show up pretty well to them once more, any-
how. Let's ride on."

He set out up the hill at a smart trot, the colonel fol-
lowing, as he had been requested.

Goree sat straight in the saddle, with head erect, but
his eyes were turned to the right, sharply scanning every
shrub and fence and hiding-place in the old homestead
yard. Once he muttered to himself, "Will the crazy
fool try it, or did I dream half of it?"

It was when he came opposite the little family burying
ground that he saw what he had been looking for -- a
puff of white smoke, coming from the thick cedars in one
comer. He toppled so slowly to the left that Coltrane
had time to urge his horse to that side, and catch him
with one arm.

The squirrel hunter had not overpraised his aim. He
had sent the bullet where he intended, and where Goree
had expected that it would pass - through the breast
of Colonel Abner Coltrane's black frock coat.

Goree leaned heavily against Coltrane, but he did not
fall. The horses kept pace, side by side, and the Colonel's
arm kept him steady. The little white houses of Laurel
shone through the trees, half a mile away. Goree reached
out one hand and groped until it rested upon Coltrane's
fingers, which held his bridle.

"Good friend," he said, and that was all.

Thus did Yancey Goree, as be rode past his old home,
make, considering all things, the best showing that was
in his power.


Half a dozen people supping at a table in one of the
upper-Broadway all-night restaurants were making too
much noise. Three times the manager walked past
them with a politely warning glance; but their argument
had waxed too warm to be quelled by a manager's gaze.
It was midnight, and the restaurant was filled with
patrons from the theatres of that district. Some among
the dispersed audiences must have recognized among the
quarrelsome sextet the faces of the players belonging to
the Carroll Comedy Company.

Four of the six made up the company. Another was
the author of the comedietta, "A Gay Coquette,"
which the quartette of layers had been presenting with
fair success at several vaudeville houses in the city. The
sixth at the table was a person inconsequent in the realm
of art, but one at whose bidding many lobsters had

Loudly the six maintained their clamorous debate.
No one of the Party was silent except when answers
were stormed from him by the excited ones. That was
the comedian of "A Gay Coquette." He was a young
man with a face even too melancholy for his profession.

The oral warfare of four immoderate tongues was
directed at Miss Clarice Carroll, the twinkling star of the
small aggregation. Excepting the downcast comedian,
all members of the party united in casting upon her with
vehemence the blame of some momentous misfortune.
Fifty times they told her: "It is your fault, Clarice-
it is you alone who spoilt the scene. It is only of late
that you have acted this way. At this rate the sketch
will have to be taken off."

Miss Carroll was a match for any four. Gallic ancestry
gave her a vivacity that could easily mount to fury. Her
large eyes flashed a scorching denial at her accusers. Her
slender, eloquent arms constantly menaced the tableware.
Her high, clear soprano voice rose to what would have
been a scream had it not possessed so pure a musical
quality. She hurled back at the attacking four their
denunciations in tones sweet, but of too great carrying
power for a Broadway restaurant.

Finally they exhausted her patience both as a woman
and an artist. She sprang up like a panther, managed
to smash half a dozen plates and glasses with one royal
sweep of her arm, and defied her critics. They rose and
wrangled more loudly. The comedian sighed and looked
a trifle sadder and disinterested. The manager came
tripping and suggested peace. He was told to go to the
popular synonym for war so promptly that the affair
might have happened at The Hague.

Thus was the manager angered. He made a sign
with his hand and a waiter slipped out of the door. In
twenty minutes the party of six was in a police station
facing a grizzled and philosophical desk sergeant.

"Disorderly conduct in a restaurant," said the police-
man who had brought the party in.

The author of "A Gay Coquette" stepped to the front.
He wore nose-glasses and evening clothes, even if his shoes
had been tans before they met the patent-leather-polish

"Mr. Sergeant," said he, out of his throat, like Actor
Irving, "I would like to protest against this arrest. The
company of actors who are performing in a little play
that I have written, in company with a friend and myself
were having a little supper. We became deeply interested
in the discussion as to which one of the cast is responsible
for a scene in the sketch that lately has fallen so flat that
the piece is about to become a failure. We may have
been rather noisy and intolerant of interruption by the
restaurant people; but the matter was of considerable
importance to all of us. You see that we are sober and
are not the kind of people who desire to raise disturbances.
I hope that the case will not be pressed and that we may
be allowed to go."

"Who makes the charge?" asked the sergeant.

"Me," said a white-aproned voice in the rear. "De
restaurant sent me to. De gang was raisin' a rough-
house and breakin' dishes."

"The dishes were paid for," said the playwright.
"They were not broken purposely. In her anger, because
we remonstrated with her for spoiling the scene, Miss -- "

"It's not true, sergeant," cried the clear voice of Miss.
Clarice Carroll. In a long coat of tan silk and a red-
plumed hat, she bounded before the desk.

"It's not my fault," she cried indignantly. "How-
dare they say such a thing! I've played the title rôle
ever since it was staged, and if you want to know who made
it a success, ask the public -- that's all."

"What Miss Carroll says is true in part," said the
author. "For five months the comedietta was a drawing-
card in the best houses. But during the last two weeks
it has lost favour. There is one scene in it in which Miss
Carroll made a big hit. Now she hardly gets a hand out
of it. She spoils it by acting it entirely different from
her old way."

"It is not my fault," reiterated the actress.

"There are only two of you on in the scene," argued
the playwright hotly, "you and Delmars, here -- "

"Then it's his fault," declared Miss Carroll, with a
lightning glance of scorn from her dark eyes. The
comedian caught it, and gazed with increased melancholy
at the panels of the sergeant's desk.

The night was a dull one in that particular police station.

The sergeant's long-blunted curiosity awoke a little.

"I've heard you," he said to the author. And then
he addressed the thin-faced and ascetic-looking lady
of the company who played "Aunt Turnip-top" in the
little comedy.

"Who do you think spoils the scene you are fussing
about?" he asked.

"I'm no knocker," said that lady, "and everybody
knows it. So, when I say that Clarice falls down every
time in that scene I'm judging her art and not herself.
She was great in it once. She does it something fierce
now. It'll dope the show if she keeps it up."

The sergeant looked at the comedian.

"You and the lady have this scene together, I under-
stand. I suppose there's no use asking you which one
of you queers it?"

The comedian avoided the direct rays from the two
fixed stars of Miss Carroll's eyes.

"I don't know," he said, looking down at his patent-
leather toes.

"Are you one of the actors?" asked the sergeant of
a dwarfish youth with a middle-aged face.

"Why, say!" replied the last Thespian witness, "you
don't notice any tin spear in my hands, do you? You
haven't heard me shout: 'See, the Emperor comes!' since
I've been in here, have you? I guess I'm on the stage
long enough for 'em not to start a panic by mistaking me
for a thin curl of smoke rising above the footlights."

"In your opinion, if you've got one," said the sergeant,
"is the frost that gathers on the scene in question
the work of the lady or the gentleman who takes
part in it?"

The middle-aged youth looked pained.

"I regret to say," he answered, "that Miss Carroll
seems to have lost her grip on that scene. She's all right
in the rest of the play, but -- but I tell you, sergeant, she
can do it -- she has done it equal to any of 'em -- and
she can do it again."

Miss Carroll ran forward, glowing and palpitating.

"Thank you, Jimmy, for the first good word I've had
in many a day," she cried. And then she turned her
eager face toward the desk.

"I'll show you, sergeant, whether I am to blame. I'll
show them whether I can do that same. Come, Mr.
Delmars; let us begin. You will let us, won't you,

"How long will it take?" asked the sergeant, dubiously.

"Eight minutes," said the playwright. "The entire
play consumes but thirty."

"You may go ahead," said the sergeant. "Most of
you seem to side against the little lady. Maybe she had
a right to crack up a saucer or two in that restaurant.
We'll see how she does the turn before we take that up."

The matron of the police station had been standing
near, listening to the singular argument. She came
nigher and stood near the sergeant's chair. Two or
three of the reserves strolled in, big and yawning.

"Before beginning the scene," said the playwright, "and
assuming that you have not seen a production of 'A Gay
Coquette,' I will make a brief but necessary explanation.
It is a musical-farce-comedy -- burlesque-comedietta.
As the title implies, Miss Carroll's rôle is that of a gay,
rollicking, mischievous, heartless coquette. She sustains
that character throughout the entire comedy part of the
production. And I have designed the extravaganza
features so that she may preserve and present the same
coquettish idea.

"Now, the scene in which we take exception to Miss
Carroll's acting is called the 'gorilla dance.' She is
costumed to represent a wood nymph, and there is a great
song-and-dance scene with a gorilla -- played by Mr.
Delmars, the comedian. A tropical-forest stage is set.

"That used to get four and five recalls. The main
thing was the acting and the dance -- it was the funniest
thing in New York for five months. Delmars's song,
'I'll Woo Thee to My Sylvan Home,' while he and Miss
Carroll were cutting hide-and-seek capers among the
tropical plants, was a winner."

"What's the trouble with the scene now?" asked the

"Miss Carroll spoils it right in the middle of it," said
the playwright wrathfully.

With a wide gesture of her ever-moving arms the
actress waved back the little group of spectators, leaving
a space in front of the desk for the scene of her vindication
or fall. Then she whipped off her long tan cloak and
tossed it across the arm of the policeman who still stood
officially among them.

Miss Carroll had gone to supper well cloaked, but
in the costume of the tropic wood nymph. A skirt of
fern leaves touched her knee; she was like a humming-
bird -- green and golden and purple.

And then she danced a fluttering, fantastic dance, so
agile and light and mazy in her steps that the other three
members of the Carroll Comedy Company broke into
applause at the art of it.

And at the proper time Delmars leaped out at her
side, mimicking the uncouth, hideous bounds of the
gorilla so funnily that the grizzled sergeant himself gave
a short laugh like the closing of a padlock. They danced
together the gorilla dance, and won a hand from all.

Then began the most fantastic part of the scene --
the wooing of the nymph by the gorilla. It was a kind
of dance itself -- eccentric and prankish, with the nymph
coquettish and seductive retreat, followed by the gorilla
as he sang "I'll Woo Thee to My Sylvan Home."

The song was a lyric of merit. The words were non-
sense, as befitted the play, but the music was worthy of
something better. Delmars struck into it in a rich tenor
that owned a quality that shamed the flippant words.

During one verse of the song the wood nymph per-
formed the grotesque evolutions designed for the scene.
At the middle of the second verse she stood still, with a
strange look on her face, seeming to gaze dreamily into
the depths of the scenic forest. The gorilla's last leap
had brought him to her feet, and there he knelt, holding
her hand, until he had finished the haunting-lyric that
was set in the absurd comedy like a diamond in a piece
of putty.

When Delmars ceased Miss Carroll started, and
covered a sudden flow of tears with both hands.

"There!" cried the playwright, gesticulating with
violence; "there you have it, sergeant. For two weeks
she has spoiled that scene in just that manner at every
performance. I have begged her to consider that it is
not Ophelia or Juliet that she is playing. Do you wonder
now at our impatience? Tears for the gorilla song!
The play is lost!"

Out of her bewitchment, whatever it was, the wood
nymph flared suddenly, and pointed a desperate finger
at Delmars.

"It is you -- you who have done this," she cried
wildly. "You never sang that song that way until lately.
It is your doing."

"I give it up," said the sergeant.

And then the gray-haired matron of the police station
came forward from behind the sergeant's chair.

"Must an old woman teach you all?" she said. She
went up to Miss Carroll and took her hand.

"The man's wearing his heart out for you, my dear.
Couldn't you tell it the first note you heard him sing?
All of his monkey flip-flops wouldn't have kept it
from me. Must you be deaf as well as blind? That's
why you couldn't act your part, child. Do you
love him or must he be a gorilla for the rest of his

Miss Carroll whirled around and caught Delmars
with a lightning glance of her eye. He came toward her,

"Did you hear, Mr. Delmars?" she asked, with a
catching breath.

"I did," said the comedian. "It is true. I didn't
think there was any use. I tried to let you know with
the song."

"Silly!" said the matron; "why didn't you speak?"

"No, no," cried the wood nymph, "his way was the
best. I didn't know, but -- it was just what I wanted,

She sprang like a green grasshopper; and the comedian
opened his arms, and -- smiled.

"Get out of this," roared the desk sergeant to the
waiting waiter from the restaurant. "There's nothing
doing here for you."


The judge of the United States court of the district
lying along the Rio Grande border found the following
letter one morning in his mail:

When you sent me up for four years you made a talk.
Among other hard things, you called me a rattlesnake.
Maybe I am one -- anyhow, you hear me rattling now.
One year after I got to the pen, my daughter died of --
well, they said it was poverty and the disgrace together.
You've got a daughter, Judge, and I'm going to make
you know how it feels to lose one. And I'm going to
bite that district attorney that spoke against me. I'm
free now, and I guess I've turned to rattlesnake all right.
I feel like one. I don't say much, but this is my rattle.
Look out when I strike.
Yours respectfully,

Judge Derwent threw the letter carelessly aside. It
was nothing new to receive such epistles from desperate
men whom he had been called upon to judge. He felt
no alarm. Later on he showed the letter to Littlefield,
the young district attorney, for Littlefield's name was
included in the threat, and the judge was punctilious in
matters between himself and his fellow men.

Littlefield honoured the rattle of the writer, as far as
it concerned himself, with a smile of contempt; but he
frowned a little over the reference to the Judge's daughter,
for he and Nancy Derwent were to be married in the

Littlefield went to the clerk of the court and looked
over the records with him. They decided that the letter
might have been sent by Mexico Sam, a half-breed border
desperado who had been imprisoned for manslaughter
four years before. Then official duties crowded the mat-
ter from his mind, and the rattle of the revengeful serpent
was forgotten.

Court was in session at Brownsville. Most of the cases
to be tried were charges of smuggling, counterfeiting,
post-office robberies, and violations of Federal laws along
the border. One case was that of a young Mexican,
Rafael Ortiz, who had been rounded up by a clever
deputy marshal in the act of passing a counterfeit silver
dollar. He had been suspected of many such deviations
from rectitude, but this was the first time that anything
provable had been fixed upon him. Ortiz languished
cozily in jail, smoking brown cigarettes and waiting for
trial. Kilpatrick, the deputy, brought the counterfeit
dollar and handed it to the district attorney in his office
in the court-house. The deputy and a reputable druggist
were prepared to swear that Ortiz paid for a bottle of
medicine with it. The coin was a poor counterfeit, soft,
dull-looking, and made principally of lead. It was the
day before the morning on which the docket would reach
the case of Ortiz, and the district attorney was preparing
himself for trial.

"Not much need of having in high-priced experts to
prove the coin's queer, is there, Kil?" smiled Littlefield,
as he thumped the dollar down upon the table, where it
fell with no more ring than would have come from a lump
of putty.

"I guess the Greaser's as good as behind the bars,"
said the deputy, easing up his holsters. "You've got
him dead. If it had been just one time, these Mexicans
can't tell good money from bad; but this little yaller
rascal belongs to a gang of counterfeiters, I know. This
is the first time I've been able to catch him doing the trick.
He's got a girl down there in them Mexican jacals on
the river bank. I seen her one day when I was watching
him. She's as pretty as a red heifer in a flower bed."

Littlefield shoved the counterfeit dollar into his pocket,
and slipped his memoranda of the case into an envelope.
Just then a bright, winsome face, as frank and jolly as
a boy's, appeared in the doorway, and in walked Nancy

"Oh, Bob, didn't court adjourn at twelve to-day until
to-morrow?" she asked of Littlefield.

"It did," said the district attorney, "and I'm very glad
of it. I've got a lot of rulings to look up, and -- "

"Now, that's just like you. I wonder you and father
don't turn to law books or rulings or something! I
want you to take me out plover-shooting this afternoon.
Long Prairie is just alive with them. Don't say no,
please! I want to try my new twelve-bore hammerless.
I've sent to the livery stable to engage Fly and Bess for
the buckboard; they stand fire so nicely. I was sure you
would go."

They were to be married in the fall. The glamour was
at its height. The plovers won the day -- or, rather, the
afternoon -- over the calf-bound authorities. Littlefield
began to put his papers away.

There was a knock at the door. Kilpatrick answered
it. A beautiful, dark-eyed girl with a skin tinged with
the faintest lemon colour walked into the room. A black
shawl was thrown over her head and wound once around
her neck.

She began to talk in Spanish, a voluble, mournful
stream of melancholy music. Littlefield did not under-
stand Spanish. The deputy did, and he translated her
talk by portions, at intervals holding up his hand to check
the flow of her words.

"She came to see you, Mr. Littlefield. Her name's
Joya Treviñas. She wants to see you about -- well,
she's mixed up with that Rafael Ortiz. She's his -- she's
his girl. She says he's innocent. She says she made
the money and got him to pass it. Don't you believe
her, Mr. Little-field. That's the way with these Mexi-
can girls; they'll lie, steal, or kill for a fellow when they
get stuck on him. Never trust a woman that's in love!"

"Mr. Kilpatrick!"

Nancy Derwent's indignant exclamation caused the
deputy to flounder for a moment in attempting to explain
that he had misquoted his own sentiments, and then he
event on with the translation:

"She says she's willing to take his place in the jail if
you'll let him out. She says she was down sick with the
fever, and the doctor said she'd die if she didn't have
medicine. That's why he passed the lead dollar on the
drug store. She says it saved her life. This Rafal.
seems to be her honey, all right; there's a lot of stuff in
her talk about love and such things that you don't want to

It was an old story to the district attorney.

"Tell her," said he, "that I can do nothing. The case
comes up in the morning, and he will have to make his
fight before the court."

Nancy Derwent was not so hardened. She was look-
ing with sympathetic interest at Joya Treviñas and at
Littlefield alternately. The deputy repeated the dis-
trict attorney's words to the girl. She spoke a sentence
or two in a low voice, pulled her shawl closely about her
face, and left the room.

"What did she say then?" asked the district attorney.

"Nothing special," said the deputy. "She said: 'If
the life of the one' -- let's see how it went -- 'Si la vida
de ella a quien tu amas -- if the life of the girl you love is
ever in danger, remember Rafael Ortiz.'"

Kilpatrick strolled out through the corridor in the
direction of the marshal's office.

"Can't you do anything for them, Bob?" asked Nancy.
"It's such a little thing -- just one counterfeit dollar --
to ruin the happiness of two lives! She was in danger
of death, and he did it to save her. Doesn't the law know
the feeling of pity?"

"It hasn't a place in jurisprudence, Nan," said Little-
field, "especially in re the district attorney's duty. I'll
promise you that the prosecution will not be vindictive;
but the man is as good as convicted when the case is called.
Witnesses will swear to his passing the bad dollar which
I have in my pocket at this moment as 'Exhibit A.' There
are no Mexicans on the jury, and it will vote Mr. Greaser
guilty without leaving the box."

The plover-shooting was fine that afternoon, and in
the excitement of the sport the case of Rafael and the
grief of Joya Treviñas was forgotten. The district attor-
ney and Nancy Derwent drove out from the town three
miles along a smooth, grassy road, and then struck across
a rolling prairie toward a heavy line of timber on Piedra
Creek. Beyond this creek lay Long Prairie, the favourite
haunt of the plover. As they were nearing the creek
they heard the galloping of a horse to their right, and
saw a man with black hair and a swarthy face riding
toward the woods at a tangent, as if he had come up
behind them.

"I've seen that fellow somewhere," said Littlefield, who
had a memory for faces, "but I can't exactly place him.
Some ranchman, I suppose, taking a short cut home."

They spent an hour on Long Prairie, shooting from
the buckboard. Nancy Derwent, an active, outdoor
Western girl, was pleased with her twelve-bore. She
had bagged within two brace of her companion's score.

They started homeward at a gentle trot. When within
a hundred yards of Piedra Creek a man rode out of the
timber directly toward them.

"It looks like the man we saw coming over," remarked
Miss Derwent.

As the distance between them lessened, the district
attorney suddenly pulled up his team sharply, with his
eyes fixed upon the advancing horseman. That individ-
ual had drawn a Winchester from its scabbard on his
saddle and thrown it over his arm.

"Now I know you, Mexico Sam!" muttered Littlefield
to himself. "It was you who shook your rattles in that
gentle epistle."

Mexico Sam did not leave things long in doubt. He
had a nice eye in all matters relating to firearms, so when
he was within good rifle range, but outside of danger
from No. 8 shot, he threw up his Winchester and opened
fire upon the occupants of the buckboard.

The first shot cracked the back of the seat within the
two-inch space between the shoulders of Littlefield and
Miss Derwent. The next went through the dashboard
and Littlefield's trouser leg.

The district attorney hustled Nancy out of the buck-
board to the ground. She was a little pale, but asked no
questions. She had the frontier instinct that accepts
conditions in an emergency without superfluous argument.
They kept their guns in hand, and Littlefield hastily
gathered some handfuls of cartridges from the pasteboard
box on the seat and crowded them into his pockets

"Keep behind the horses, Nan," he commanded.
"That fellow is a ruffian I sent to prison once. He's
trying to get even. He knows our shot won't hurt him
at that distance."

"All right, Bob," said Nancy steadily. "I'm not
afraid. But you come close, too. Whoa, Bess; stand
still, now!"

She stroked Bess's mane. Littlefield stood with his
gun ready, praying that the desperado would come within

But Mexico Sam was playing his vendetta along safe
lines. He was a bird of different feather from the plover.
His accurate eye drew an imaginary line of circumference
around the area of danger from bird-shot, and upon this
line lie rode. His horse wheeled to the right, and as his
victims rounded to the safe side of their equine breast-
work he sent a ball through the district attorney's hat.
Once he miscalculated in making a détour, and over-
stepped Ms margin. Littlefield's gun flashed, and
Mexico Sam ducked his head to the harmless patter of the
shot. A few of them stung his horse, which pranced
promptly back to the safety line.

The desperado fired again. A little cry came from
Nancy Derwent. Littlefield whirled, with blazing eyes,
and saw the blood trickling down her cheek.

"I'm not hurt, Bob -- only a splinter struck me. I
think he hit one of the wheel-spokes."

"Lord!" groaned Littlefield. "If I only had a charge
of buckshot!"

The ruffian got his horse still, and took careful aim.
Fly gave a snort and fell in the harness, struck in the
neck. Bess, now disabused of the idea that plover were
being fired at, broke her traces and galloped wildly
away -- Mexican Sam sent a ball neatly through the
fulness of Nancy Derwent's shooting jacket.

"Lie down -- lie down!" snapped Littlefield. "close
to the horse -- flat on the ground -- so." He almost
threw her upon the grass against the back of the recum-
bent Fly. Oddly enough, at that moment the words of
the Mexican girl returned to his mind:

"If the life of the girl you love is ever in danger, remem-
ber Rafael Ortiz."

Littlefield uttered an exclamation.

"Open fire on him, Nan, across the horse's back.
Fire as fast as you can! You can't hurt him, but keep
him dodging shot for one minute while I try to work a
little scheme."

Nancy gave a quick glance at Littlefield, and saw him
take out his pocket-knife and open it. Then she turned
her face to obey orders, keeping up a rapid fire at the

Mexico Sam waited patiently until this innocuous
fusillade ceased. He had plenty of time, and he did not
care to risk the chance of a bird-shot in his eye when
could be avoided by a little caution. He pulled his
heavy Stetson low down over his face until the shots ceased.

Then he drew a little nearer, and fired with careful aim
at what he could see of his victims above the fallen horse.
Neither of them moved. He urged his horse a few
steps nearer. He saw the district attorney rise to one
knee and deliberately level his shotgun. He pulled his
hat down and awaited the harmless rattle of the tiny

The shotgun blazed with a heavy report. Mexico
Sam sighed, turned limp all over, and slowly fell from
his horse -- a dead rattlesnake.

At ten o'clock the next morning court opened, and the
case of the United States versus Rafael Ortiz was called.
The district attorney, with his arm in a sling, rose and
addressed the court.

"May it please your honour," he said, "I desire to
enter a nolle pros. in this case. Even though the defend-
ant should be guilty, there is not sufficient evidence in the
hands of the government to secure a conviction. The
piece of counterfeit coin upon the identity of which the
case was built is not now available as evidence. I ask,
therefore, that the case be stricken off."

At the noon recess Kilpatrick strolled into the district
attorney's office.

"I've just been down to take a squint at old Mexico
Sam," said the deputy. "They've got him laid out.
Old Mexico was a tough outfit, I reckon. The boys
was wonderin' down there what you shot him with. Some
said it must have been nails. I never see a gun carry
anything to make holes like he had."

"I shot him," said the district attorney, "with Exhibit
A of your counterfeiting case. Lucky thing for me --
and somebody else -- that it was as bad money as it was!
It sliced up into slugs very nicely. Say, Kil, can't you
go down to the jacals and find where that Mexican girl
lives? Miss Derwent wants to know."


AT 8 A. M. it lay on Giuseppi's news-stand, still damp
from the presses. Giuseppi, with the cunning of his ilk,
philandered on the opposite comer, leaving his patrons
to help themselves, no doubt on a theory related to the
hypothesis of the watched pot.

This particular newspaper was, according to its custom
and design, an educator, a guide, a monitor, a champion
and a household counsellor and vade mecum.

From its many excellencies might be selected three
editorials. One was in simple and chaste but illuminat-
ing language directed to parents and teachers, depreca-
ting corporal punishment for children.

Another was an accusive and significant warning
addressed to a notorious labour leader who was on the
point of instigating his clients to a troublesome strike.

The third was an eloquent demand that the police
force be sustained and aided in everything that tended
to increase its efficiency as public guardians and servants.

Besides these more important chidings and requisitions
upon the store of good citizenship was a wise prescription
or form of procedure laid out by the editor of the heart-
to-heart column in the specific case of a young man who
had complained of the obduracy of his lady love, teaching
him how he might win her.

Again, there was, on the beauty page, a complete
answer to a young lady inquirer who desired admonition
toward the securing of bright eyes, rosy cheeks and a
beautiful countenance.

One other item requiring special cognizance was a
brief "personal," running thus:

DEAR JACK: -- Forgive me. You were right. Meet me
comer Madison and -th at 8.30 this morning. We
leave at noon.

At 8 o'clock a young man with a haggard look and the
feverish gleam of unrest in his eye dropped a penny and
picked up the top paper as he passed Giuseppi's stand.
A sleepless night had left him a late riser. There was
an office to be reached by nine, and a shave and a hasty
cup of coffee to be crowded into the interval.

He visited his barber shop and then hurried on his
way. He pocketed his paper, meditating a belated
perusal of it at the luncheon hour. At the next corner
it fell from his pocket, carrying with it his pair of new
gloves. Three blocks he walked, missed the gloves and
turned back fuming.

Just on the half-hour he reached the corner where
lay the gloves and the paper. But he strangely ignored
that which he had come to seek. He was holding
two little hands as tightly as ever he could and looking
into two penitent brown eyes, while joy rioted in his

"Dear Jack," she said, "I knew you would be here
on time."

"I wonder what she means by that," he was saying
to himself; "but it's all right, it's all right."

A big wind puffed out of the west, picked up the paper
from the sidewalk, opened it out and sent it flying and
whirling down a side street. Up that street was driving
a skittish bay to a spider-wheel buggy, the young man
who had written to the heart-to-heart editor for a recipe
that he might win her for whom he sighed.

The wind, with a prankish flurry, flapped the flying
newspaper against the face of the skittish bay. There
was a lengthened streak of bay mingled with the red of
running gear that stretched itself out for four blocks.
Then a water-hydrant played its part in the cosmogony,
the buggy became matchwood as foreordained, and the
driver rested very quietly where he had been flung on the
asphalt in front of a certain brownstone mansion.

They came out and had him inside very promptly. And
there was one who made herself a pillow for his head,
and cared for no curious eyes, bending over and saying,
"Oh, it was you; it was you all the time, Bobby! Couldn't
you see it? And if you die, why, so must I, and -- "

But in all this wind we must hurry to keep in touch
with our paper.

Policeman O'Brine arrested it as a character dangerous
to traffic. Straightening its dishevelled leaves with his
big, slow fingers, he stood a few feet from the family
entrance of the Shandon Bells Café. One headline he
spelled out ponderously: "The Papers to the Front in a
Move to Help the Police."

But, whisht! The voice of Danny, the head bartender,
through the crack of the door: "Here's a nip for ye, Mike,
ould man."

Behind the widespread, amicable columns of the press
Policeman O'Brine receives swiftly his nip of the real
stuff. He moves away, stalwart, refreshed, fortified,
to his duties. Might not the editor man view with pride
the early, the spiritual, the literal fruit that had blessed
his labours.

Policeman O'Brine folded the paper and poked it
playfully under the arm of a small boy that was passing.
That boy was named Johnny, and he took the paper
home with him. His sister was named Gladys, and
she had written to the beauty editor of the paper asking
for the practicable touchstone of beauty. That was
weeks ago, and she had ceased to look for an answer.
Gladys was a pale girl, with dull eyes and a discontented
expression. She was dressing to go up to the avenue to
get some braid. Beneath her skirt she pinned two leaves
of the paper Johnny had brought. When she walked the
rustling sound was an exact imitation of the real thing.

On the street she met the Brown girl from the flat
below and stopped to talk. The Brown girl turned green.
Only silk at $5 a yard could make the sound that she
heard when Gladys moved. The Brown girl, consumed
by jealousy, said something spiteful and went her way,
with pinched lips.

Gladys proceeded toward the avenue. Her eyes now
sparkled like jagerfonteins. A rosy bloom visited her
cheeks; a triumphant, subtle, vivifying, smile transfigured
her face. She was beautiful. Could the beauty editor
have seen her then! There was something in her answer
in the paper, I believe, about cultivating kind feelings
toward others in order to make plain features attractive.

The labour leader against whom the paper's solemn
and weighty editorial injunction was laid was the father
of Gladys and Johnny. He picked up the remains of
the journal from which Gladys had ravished a cosmetic
of silken sounds. The editorial did not come under his
eye, but instead it was greeted by one of those ingenious
and specious puzzle problems that enthrall alike the
simpleton and the sage.

The labour leader tore off half of the page, provided
himself with table, pencil and paper and glued himself
to his puzzle.

Three hours later, after waiting vainly for him at the
appointed place, other more conservative leaders declared
and ruled in favour of arbitration, and the strike with its
attendant dangers was averted. Subsequent editions
of the paper referred, in coloured inks, to the clarion tone
of its successful denunciation of the labour leader's
intended designs.

The remaining leaves of the active journal also went
loyally to the proving of its potency.

When Johnny returned from school he sought a secluded
spot and removed the missing columns from the inside of
his clothing, where they had been artfully distributed so as
to successfully defend such areas as are generally attacked
during scholastic castigations. Johnny attended a private
school and had had trouble with his teacher. As has
been said, there was an excellent editorial against corporal
punishment in that morning's issue, and no doubt it had
its effect.

After this can any one doubt the power of the press?


AT TEN o'clock P. M. Felicia, the maid, left by the
basement door with the policeman to get a raspberry
phosphate around the corner. She detested the police-
man and objected earnestly to the arrangement. She
pointed out, not unreasonably, that she might have been
allowed to fall asleep over one of St. George Rathbone's
novels on the third floor, but she was overruled. Rasp-
berries and cops were not created for nothing.

The burglar got into the house without much difficulty;
because we must have action and not too much descrip-
tion in a 2,000-word story.

In the dining room he opened the slide of his dark
lantern. With a brace and centrebit he began to bore
into the lock of the silver-closet.

Suddenly a click was heard. The room was flooded
with electric light. The dark velvet portières parted to
admit a fair-haired boy of eight in pink pajamas, bearing
a bottle of olive oil in his hand.

"Are you a burglar?" he asked, in a sweet, childish

"Listen to that," exclaimed the man, in a hoarse voice.
"Am I a burglar? Wot do you suppose I have a three-
days' growth of bristly bread on my face for, and a cap
with flaps? Give me the oil, quick, and let me grease
the bit, so I won't wake up your mamma, who is lying
down with a headache, and left you in charge of Felicia.
who has been faithless to her trust."

"Oh, dear," said Tommy, with a sigh. "I thought
you would be more up-to-date. This oil is for the salad
when I bring lunch from the pantry for you. And
mamma and papa have gone to the Metropolitan to hear
De Reszke. But that isn't my fault. It only shows how
long the story has been knocking around among the
editors. If the author had been wise he'd have changed
it to Caruso in the proofs."

"Be quiet," hissed the burglar, under his breath. "If
you raise an alarm I'll wring your neck like a rabbit's."

"Like a chicken's," corrected Tommy. "You had
that wrong. You don't wring rabbits' necks."

"Aren't you afraid of me?" asked the burglar.

"You know I'm not," answered Tommy. "Don't
you suppose I know fact from fiction. If this wasn't a
story I'd yell like an Indian when I saw you; and you'd
probably tumble downstairs and get pinched on the

"I see," said the burglar, "that you're on to your
job. Go on with the performance."

Tommy seated himself in an armchair and drew his
toes up under him.

"Why do you go around robbing strangers, Mr. Burg-
lar? Have you no friends?"

"I see what you're driving at," said the burglar, with
a dark frown. "It's the same old story. Your innocence
and childish insouciance is going to lead me back into
an honest life. Every time I crack a crib where there's
a kid around, it happens."

"Would you mind gazing with wolfish eyes at the plate
of cold beef that the butler has left on the dining table?"
said Tommy. "I'm afraid it's growing late."

The burglar accommodated.

"Poor man," said Tommy. "You must be hungry.
If you will please stand in a listless attitude I will get you
something to eat."

The boy brought a roast chicken, a jar of marmalade
and a bottle of wine from the pantry. The burglar
seized a knife and fork sullenly.

"It's only been an hour," he grumbled, "since I had a
lobster and a pint of musty ale up on Broadway. I wish
these story writers would let a fellow have a pepsin tablet,
anyhow, between feeds."

"My papa writes books," remarked Tommy.

The burglar jumped to his feet quickly.

"You said he had gone to the opera," he hissed, hoarsely
and with immediate suspicion.

"I ought to have explained," said Tommy. "He
didn't buy the tickets." The burglar sat again and toyed
with the wishbone.

"Why do you burgle houses?" asked the boy,

"Because," replied the burglar, with a sudden flow of
tears. "God bless my little brown-baired boy Bessie
at home."

"Ah," said Tommy, wrinkling his nose, "you got that
answer in the wrong place. You want to tell your hard-
luck story before you pull out the child stop."

"Oh, yes," said the burglar, "I forgot. Well, once
I lived in Milwaukee, and -- "

"Take the silver," said Tommy, rising from his chair.

"Hold on," said the burglar. "But I moved away."
I could find no other employment. For a while I man-
aged to support my wife and child by passing confederate
money; but, alas! I was forced to give that up because it
did not belong to the union. I became desperate and a

"Have you ever fallen into the hands of the police?"
asked Tommy.

"I said 'burglar,' not 'beggar,'" answered the

"After you finish your lunch," said Tommy, "and
experience the usual change Of heart, how shall we wind
up the story?"

"Suppose," said the burglar, thoughtfully, "that Tony
Pastor turns out earlier than usual to-night, and your
father gets in from 'Parsifal' at 10.30. I am thoroughly
repentant because you have made me think of my own
little boy Bessie, and -- "

"Say," said Tommy, "haven't you got that wrong?"

"Not on your coloured crayon drawings by B. Cory
Kilvert," said the burglar. "It's always a Bessie that
I have at home, artlessly prattling to the pale-checked
burglar's bride. As I was saying, your father opens the
front door just as I am departing with admonitions and
sandwiches that you have wrapped up for me. Upon
recognizing me as an old Harvard classmate he starts
back in -- "

"Not in surprise?" interrupted Tommy, with wide,
open eyes.

"He starts back in the doorway," continued the burglar.
And then he rose to his feet and began to shout "Rah,
rah, rah! rah, rah, rah! rah, rah, rah!"

"Well," said Tommy, wonderingly, "that's, the first
time I ever knew a burglar to give a college yell when he
was burglarizing a house, even in a story."

"That's one on you," said the burglar, with a laugh.
"I was practising the dramatization. If this is put on
the stage that college touch is about the only thing that
will make it go."

Tommy looked his admiration.

"You're on, all right," he said.

"And there's another mistalze you've made," said the
burglar. "You should have gone some time ago and
brought me the $9 gold piece your mother gave you on
your birthday to take to Bessie."

"But she didn't give it to me to take to Bessie," said
Tommy, pouting.

"Come, come!" said the burglar, sternly. "It's not
nice of you to take advantage because the story contains
an ambiguous sentence. You know what I mean. It's
mighty little I get out of these fictional jobs, anyhow. I
lose all the loot, and I have to reform every time; and all
the swag I'm allowed is the blamed little fol-de-rols and
luck-pieces that you kids hand over. Why, in one story,
all I got was a kiss from a little girl who came in on me
when I was opening a safe. And it tasted of molasses
candy, too. I've a good notion to tie this table cover
over your head and keep on into the silver-closet."

"Oh, no, you haven't," said Tommy, wrapping his
arms around his knees. "Because if you did no editor
would buy the story. You know you've got to preserve
the unities."

"So've you," said the burglar, rather glumly.
"Instead of sitting here talking impudence and taking the
bread out of a poor man's mouth, what you'd like to be
doing is hiding under the bed and screeching at the top
of your voice."

"You're right, old man," said Tommy, heartily. "I
wonder what they make us do it for? I think the
S. P. C. C. ought to interfere. I'm sure it's neither
agreeable nor usual for a kid of my age to butt in when a
full-grown burglar is at work and offer him a red sled and
a pair of skates not to awaken his sick mother. And look
how they make the burglars act! You'd think editors
would know -- but what's the use?"

The burglar wiped his hands on the tablecloth and
arose with a yawn.

"Well, let's get through with it," he said. "God
bless you, my little boy! you have saved a man from
committing a crime this night. Bessie shall pray for you
as soon as I get home and give her her orders. I shall
never burglarize another house -- at least not until the
June magazines are out. It'll be your little sister's turn
then to run in on me while I am abstracting the U. S. 4
per cent. from the tea urn and buy me off with her coral
necklace and a falsetto kiss."

"You haven't got all the kicks coming to you," sighed
Tommy, crawling out of his chair. "Think of the sleep
I'm losing. But it's tough on both of us, old man. I wish
you could get out of the story and really rob somebody.
Maybe you'll have the chance if they dramatize us."

"Never!" said the burglar, gloomily. "Between the
box office and my better impulses that your leading juven-
iles are supposed to awaken and the magazines that pay
on publication, I guess I'll always be broke."

"I'm sorry," said Tommy, sympathetically. "But I
can't help myself any more than you can. It's one of the
canons of household fiction that no burglar shall be suc-
cessful. The burglar must be foiled by a kid like me, or-
by a young lady heroine, or at the last moment by his old
pal, Red Mike, who recognizes the house as one in which
he used to be the coachman. You have got the worst
end of it in any kind of a story."

"Well, I suppose I must be clearing out now," said
the burglar, taking up his lantern and bracebit.

"You have to take the rest of this chicken and the
bottle of wine with you for Bessie and her mother," said
Tommy, calmly.

"But confound it," exclaimed the burglar, in an annoyed
tone, "they don't want it. I've got five cases of Chateau
de Beychsvelle at home that was bottled in 1853. That
claret of yours is corked. And you couldn't get either
of them to look at a chicken unless it was stewed in
champagne. You know, after I get out of the story I
don't have so many limitations. I make a turn now and

"Yes, but you must take them," said Tommy, loading
his arms with the bundles.

"Bless you, young master!" recited the burglar,
obedient. "Second-Story Saul will never forget you.
And now hurry and let me out, kid. Our 2,000 words
must be nearly up."

Tommy led the way through the hall toward the front
door. Suddenly the burglar stopped and called to him
softly: "Ain't there a cop out there in front somewhere
sparking the girl?"

"Yes," said Tommy, "but what -- "

"I'm afraid he'll catch me," said the burglar. "You
mustn't forget that this is fiction."

"Great head!" said Tommy, turning. "Come out
by the back door."


The original cause of the trouble was about twenty
years in growing.

At the end of that time it was worth it.

Had you lived anywhere within fifty miles of Sun-
down Ranch you would have heard of it. It possessed
a quantity of jet-black hair, a pair of extremely frank,
deep-brown eyes and a laugh that rippled across the
prairie like the sound of a hidden brook. The name of
it was Rosita McMullen; and she was the daughter of
old man McMullen of the Sundown Sheep Ranch.

There came riding on red roan steeds -- or, to be more
explicit, on a paint and a flea-bitten sorrel -- two wooers.
One was Madison Lane, and the other was the Frio Kid,
But at that time they did not call him the Frio Kid, for
he had not earned the honours of special nomenclature-
His name was simply Johnny McRoy.

It must not be supposed that these two were the sum
of the agreeable Rosita's admirers. The bronchos of a
dozen others champed their bits at the long hitching
rack of the Sundown Ranch. Many were the sheeps'-
eves that were cast in those savannas that did not belong.
to the flocks of Dan McMullen. But of all the cavaliers,
Madison Lane and Johnny MeRoy galloped far ahead,
wherefore they are to be chronicled.

Madison Lane, a young cattleman from the Nueces
country, won the race. He and Rosita were married one
Christmas day. Armed, hilarious, vociferous, mag-
nanimous, the cowmen and the sheepmen, laying aside
their hereditary hatred, joined forces to celebrate the

Sundown Ranch was sonorous with the cracking of
jokes and sixshooters, the shine of buckles and bright
eyes, the outspoken congratulations of the herders of kine.

But while the wedding feast was at its liveliest there
descended upon it Johnny MeRoy, bitten by jealousy,
like one possessed.

"I'll give you a Christmas present," he yelled, shrilly,
at the door, with his .45 in his hand. Even then he had
some reputation as an offhand shot.

His first bullet cut a neat underbit in Madison Lane's
right ear. The barrel of his gun moved an inch. The
next shot would have been the bride's had not Carson, a
sheepman, possessed a mind with triggers somewhat well
oiled and in repair. The guns of the wedding party
had been hung, in their belts, upon nails in the wall when
they sat at table, as a concession to good taste. But
Carson, with great promptness, hurled his plate of roast
venison and frijoles at McRoy, spoiling his aim. The
second bullet, then, only shattered the white petals of a
Spanish dagger flower suspended two feet above Rosita's

The guests spurned their chairs and jumped for their
weapons. It was considered an improper act to shoot
the bride and groom at a wedding. In about six seconds
there were twenty or so bullets due to be whizzing in the
direction of Mr. McRoy.

"I'll shoot better next time," yelled Johnny; "and
there'll be a next time." He backed rapidly out the

Carson, the sheepman, spurred on to attempt further
exploits by the success of his plate-throwing, was first to
reach the door. McRoy's bullet from the darkness laid
him low.

The cattlemen then swept out upon him, calling for
vengeance, for, while the slaughter of a sheepman has
not always lacked condonement, it was a decided mis-
demeanour in this instance. Carson was innocent; he
was no accomplice at the matrimonial proceedings; nor
had any one heard him quote the line "Christmas comes
but once a year" to the guests.

But the sortie failed in its vengeance. McRoy was on
his horse and away, shouting back curses and threats as
he galloped into the concealing chaparral.

That night was the birthnight of the Frio Kid. He
became the "bad man" of that portion of the State.
The rejection of his suit by Miss McMullen turned him
to a dangerous man. When officers went after him for
the shooting of Carson, he killed two of them, and entered
upon the life of an outlaw. He became a marvellous shot
with either hand. He would turn up in towns and
settlements, raise a quarrel at the slightest opportunity,
pick off his man and laugh at the officers of the law. He
was so cool, so deadly, so rapid, so inhumanly blood-
thirsty that none but faint attempts were ever made to
capture him. When he was at last shot and killed by a
little one-armed Mexican who was nearly dead himself
from fright, the Frio Kid had the deaths of eighteen men
on his head. About half of these were killed in fair duels
depending upon the quickness of the draw. The other
half were men whom be assassinated from absolute
wantonness and cruelty.

Many tales are told along the border of his impudent
courage and daring. But he was not one of the breed of
desperadoes who have seasons of generosity and even of
softness. They say he never had mercy on the object
of his anger. Yet at this and every Christmastide it is
well to give each one credit, if it can be done, for what-
ever speck of good he may have possessed. If the Frio
Kid ever did a kindly act or felt a throb of generosity in his
heart it was once at such a time and season, and this is
the way it happened.

One who has been crossed in love should never breathe
the odour from the blossoms of the ratama tree. It stirs
the memory to a dangerous degree.

One December in the Frio country there was a ratama
tree in full bloom, for the winter had been as warm as
springtime. That way rode the Frio Kid and his satellite
aW co-murderer, Mexican Frank. The kid reined in
his mustang, and sat in his saddle, thoughtful and grim,
with dangerously narrowing eyes. The rich, sweet scent
touched him somewhere beneath his ice and iron.

"I don't know what I've been thinking about, Mex,"
he remarked in his usual mild drawl, "to have forgot all
about a Christmas present I got to give. I'm going to
ride over to-morrow night and shoot Madison Lane in
his own house. He got my girl -- Rosita would have
had me if he hadn't cut into the game. I wonder why I
happened to overlook it up to now?"

"Ah, shucks, Kid," said Mexican, "don't talk foolish-
ness. You know you can't get within a mile of Mad
Lane's house to-morrow night. I see old man Allen
day before yesterday, and he says Mad is going to
have Christmas doings at his house. You remember
how you shot up the festivities when Mad was married,
and about the threats you made? Don't you suppose
Mad Lane'll kind of keep his eye open for a certain
Mr. Kid? You plumb make me tired, Kid, with such

"I'm going," repeated the Frio Kid, without heat,
"to go to Madison Lane's Christmas doings, and kill
him. I ought to have done it a long time ago. Why,
Mex, just two weeks ago I dreamed me and Rosita was
married instead of her and him; and we was living in a
house, and I could see her smiling at me, and -- oh! h--l,
Mex, he got her; and I'll get him -- yes, sir, on Christmas
Eve he got her, and then's when I'll get him."

"There's other ways of committing suicide," advised
Mexican. "Why don't you go and surrender to the

"I'll get him," said the Kid.

Christmas Eve fell as balmy as April. Perhaps there
was a hint of far-away frostiness in the air, but it tingles
like seltzer, perfumed faintly with late prairie blossoms
and the mesquite grass.

When night came the five or six rooms of the ranch-
house were brightly lit. In one room was a Christmas
tree, for the Lanes had a boy of three, and a dozen or
more guests were expected from the nearer ranches.

At nightfall Madison Lane called aside Jim Belcher
and three other cowboys employed on his ranch.

"Now, boys," said Lane, "keep your eyes open. Walk
around the house and watch the road well. All of you
know the 'Frio Kid,' as they call him now, and if you
see him, open fire on him without asking any questions.
I'm not afraid of his coming around, but Rosita is. She's
been afraid he'd come in on us every Christmas since we
were married."

The guests had arrived in buckboards and on
horseback, and were making themselves comfortable

The evening went along pleasantly. The guests
enjoyed and praised Rosita's excellent supper, and after-
ward the men scattered in groups about the rooms or
on the broad "gallery," smoking and chatting.

The Christmas tree, of course, delighted the youngsters,
and above all were they pleased when Santa Claus himself
in magnificent white beard and furs appeared and began
to distribute the toys.

"It's my papa," announced Billy Sampson, aged six.
"I've seen him wear 'em before."

Berkly, a sheepman, an old friend of Lane, stopped
Rosita as she was passing by him on the gallery, where
he was sitting smoking.

"Well, Mrs. Lane," said he, "I suppose by this Christ-
mas you've gotten over being afraid of that fellow McRoy,
haven't you? Madison and I have talked about it, you

"Very nearly," said Rosita, smiling, "but I am still
nervous sometimes. I shall never forget that awful time
when he came so near to killing us."

"He's the most cold-hearted villain in the world," said
Berkly. "The citizens all along the border ought to
turn out and hunt him down like a wolf."

"He has committed awful crimes," said Rosita, but
-- I -- don't -- know. I think there is a spot of good
somewhere in everybody. He was not always bad --
that I know."

Rosita turned into the hallway between the rooms.
Santa Claus, in muffling whiskers and furs, was just
coming through.

"I heard what you said through the window, Mrs.
Lane," he said. "I was just going down in my
pocket for a Christmas present for your husband. But
I've left one for you, instead. It's in the room to your

"Oh, thank you, kind Santa Claus," said Rosita,

Rosita went into the room, while Santa Claus stepped
into the cooler air of the yard.

She found no one in the room but Madison.

"Where is my present that Santa said he left for me
in here?" she asked.

"Haven't seen anything in the way of a present," said
her husband, laughing, "unless he could have meant me."

The next day Gabriel Radd, the foreman of the X 0
Ranch, dropped into the post-office at Loma Alta.

"Well, the Frio Kid's got his dose of lead at last," he
remarked to the postmaster.

"That so? How'd it happen?"

"One of old Sanchez's Mexican sheep herders did it!
-- think of it! the Frio Kid killed bv a sheep herder!
The Greaser saw him riding along past his camp about
twelve o'clock last night, and was so skeered that he up
with a Winchester and let him have it. Funniest part of
it was that the Kid was dressed all up with white Angora-
skin whiskers and a regular Santy Claus rig-out from head
to foot. Think of the Frio Kid playing Santy!"


I mentioned to Rivington that I was in search of
characteristic New York scenes and incidents -- some-
thing typical, I told him, without necessarily having to
spell the first syllable with an "i."

"Oh, for your writing business," said Rivington; "you
couldn't have applied to a better shop. What I don't
know about little old New York wouldn't make a sonnet
to a sunbonnet. I'll put you right in the middle of so
much local colour that you won't know whether you are
a magazine cover or in the erysipelas ward. When do
you want to begin?"

Rivington is a young-man-about-town and a New
Yorker by birth, preference and incommutability.

I told him that I would be glad to accept his escort and
guardianship so that I might take notes of Manhattan's
grand, gloomy and peculiar idiosyncrasies, and that the
time of so doing would be at his own convenience.

"We'll begin this very evening," said Rivington, him-
self interested, like a good fellow. "Dine with me at
seven, and then I'll steer 'you up against metropolitan
phases so thick you'll have to have a kinetoscope to
record 'em."

So I dined with Rivington pleasantly at his club, in
Forty-eleventh street, and then we set forth in pursuit
of the elusive tincture of affairs.

As we came out of the club there stood two men on the
sidewalk near the steps in earnest conversation.

"And by what process of ratiocination," said one of
them, "do you arrive at the conclusion that the division
of society into producing and non-possessing classes
predicates failure when compared with competitive
systems that are monopolizing in tendency and result
inimically to industrial evolution?"

"Oh, come off your perch!" said the other man, who
wore glasses. "Your premises won't come out in the
wash. You wind-jammers who apply bandy-legged
theories to concrete categorical syllogisms send logical
conclusions skallybootin' into the infinitesimal ragbag.
You can't pull my leg with an old sophism with whiskers
on it. You quote Marx and Hyndman and Kautsky -
what are they? -- shines! Tolstoi? -- his garret is full of
rats. I put it to you over the home-plate that the idea
of a cooperative commonwealth and an abolishment of
competitive systems simply takes the rag off the bush and
gives me hyperesthesia of the roopteetoop! The skoo-
kum house for yours!

I stopped a few yards away and took out my little

"Oh, come ahead," said Rivington, somewhat ner-
vously; "you don't want to listen to that."

"Why man," I whispered, "this is just what I do
want to hear. These slang types are among your city's
most distinguishing features. Is this the Bowery variety?
I really must hear more of it."

"If I follow you," said the man who had spoken flrst,
"you do not believe it possible to reorganize society on
the basis of common interest?"

"Shinny on your own side!" said the man with glasses.
"You never heard any such music from my foghorn.
What I said was that I did not believe it practicable just
now. The guys with wads are not in the frame of
mind to slack up on the mazuma, and the man with the
portable tin banqueting canister isn't exactly ready to
join the Bible class. You can bet your variegated socks
that the situation is all spifflicated up from the Battery to
breakfast! What the country needs is for some bully old
bloke like Cobden or some wise guy like old Ben Frank-
lin to sashay up to the front and biff the nigger's head
with the baseball. Do you catch my smoke? What?"

Rivington pulled me by the arm impatiently.

"Please come on," he said. "Let's go see something.
This isn't what you want."

"Indeed, it is," I said resisting. "This tough talk is
the very stuff that counts. There is a picturesqueness
about the speech of the lower order of people that is quite
unique. Did you say that this is the Bowery variety
of slang?"

"Oh, well," said Rivington, giving it up, "I'll tell you
straight. That's one of our college professors talking.
He ran down for a day or two at the club. It's a sort
of fad with him lately to use slang in his conversation.
He thinks it improves language. The man he is talking
to is one of New York's famous social economists. Now
will you come on. You can't use that, you know."

"No," I agreed; "I can't use that. Would you call
that typical of New York?"

"Of course not," said Rivington, with a sigh of relief.
"I'm glad you see the difference. But if you want to
hear the real old tough Bowery slang I'll take you down
where you'll get your fill of it."

"I would like it," I said; "that is, if it's the real thing.
I've often read it in books, but I never heard it. Do
you think it will be dangerous to go unprotected among
those characters ?

"Oh, no," said Rivington; "not at this time of night.
To tell the truth, I haven't been along the Bowery in a
long time, but I know it as well as I do Broadway. We'll
look up some of the typical Bowery boys and get them to
talk. It'll be worth your while. They talk a peculiar
dialect that you won't hear any-where else on earth."

Rivington and I went east in a Forty-second street car
and then south on the Third avenue line.

At Houston street we got off and walked.

"We are now on the famous Bowery," said Rivington;
"the Bowery celebrated in song and story."

We passed block after block of "gents'" furnishing
stores -- the windows full of shirts with prices attached
and cuffs inside. In other windows were neckties and
no shirts. People walked up and down the sidewalks.

"In some ways," said I, "this reminds me of Koko-
mono, Ind., during the peach-crating season."

Rivington was nettled.

"Step into one of these saloons or vaudeville shows,"
said he, "with a large roll of money, and see how quickly
the Bowery will sustain its reputation."

"You make impossible conditions," said I, coldly.

By and by Rivington stopped and said we were in the
heart of the Bowery. There was a policeman on the
corner whom Rivington knew.

"Hallo, Donahue!" said my guide. "How goes it?
My friend and I are down this way looking up a bit of
local colour. He's anxious to meet one of the Bowery
types. Can't you put us on to something genuine in that
line -- something that's got the colour, you know?"

Policeman Donahue turned himself about ponder-
ously, his florid face full of good-nature. He pointed with
his club down the street.

"Sure!" he said huskily. "Here comes a lad now
that was born on the Bowery and knows every inch of
it. If he's ever been above Bleecker street he's kept it
to himself."

A man about twenty-eight or twenty-nine, with a smooth
face, was sauntering toward us with his hands in his
coat pockets. Policeman Donahue stopped him with a
courteous wave of his club.

"Evening, Kerry," he said. "Here's a couple of gents,
friends of mine, that want to hear you spiel something
about the Bowery. Can you reel 'em off a few yards?"

"Certainly, Donahue," said the young man, pleas-
antly. "Good evening, gentlemen," he said to us,
with a pleasant smile. Donahue walked off on his beat.

"This is the goods," whispered Rivington, nudging
me with his elbow. "Look at his jaw!"

"Say, cull," said Rivington, pushing back his hat,
wot's doin'? Me and my friend's taking a look down
de old line -- see? De copper tipped us off dat you was
wise to de bowery. Is dat right?"

I could not help admiring Rivington's power of adapt-
ing himself to his surroundings.

"Donahue was right," said the young man, frankly;
"I was brought up on the Bowery. I have been news-
boy, teamster, pugilist, member of an organized band
of 'toughs,' bartender, and a 'sport' in various mean-
ings of the word. The experience certainly warrants the
supposition that I have at least a passing acquaintance
with a few phases of Bowery life. I will be pleased to
place whatever knowledge and experience I have at the
service of my friend Donahue's friends."

Rivington seemed ill at ease.

"I say," he said -- somewhat entreatingly, "I thought --
you're not stringing us, are you? It isn't just the kind
of talk we expected. You haven't even said 'Hully gee!'
once. Do you really belong on the Bowery?"

"I am afraid," said the Bowery boy, smilingly, "that
at some time you have been enticed into one of the dives
of literature and had the counterfeit coin of the Bowery
passed upon you. The 'argot' to which you doubtless
refer was the invention of certain of your literary 'dis-
coverers' who invaded the unknown wilds below Third
avenue and put strange sounds into the mouths of the
inhabitants. Safe in their homes far to the north and
west, the credulous readers who were beguiled by this
new 'dialect' perused and believed. Like Marco Polo
and Mungo Park -- pioneers indeed, but ambitious souls
who could not draw the line of demarcation between dis-
covery and invention -- the literary bones of these
explorers are dotting the trackless wastes of the sub-
way. While it is true that after the publication of the
mythical language attributed to the dwellers along the
Bowery certain of its pat phrases and apt metaphors
were adopted and, to a limited extent, used in this locality,
it was because our people are prompt in assimilating
whatever is to their commercial advantage. To the
tourists who visited our newly discovered clime, and
who expected a realization of their literary guide books,
they supplied the demands of the market.

"But perhaps I am wandering from the question. In
what way can I assist you, gentlemen? I beg you will
believe that the hospitality of the street is extended to
all. There are, I regret to say, many catchpenny places
of entertainment, but I cannot conceive that they would
entice you."

I felt Rivington lean somewhat heavily against me.
"Say!" he remarked, with uncertain utterance; "come
and have a drink with us."

"Thank you, but I never drink. I find that alcohol,
even in the smallest quantities, alters the perspective.
And I must preserve my perspective, for I am studyinc,
the Bowery. I have lived in it nearly thirty years, and
I am just beginning to understand its heartbeats. It is
like a great river fed by a hundred alien streams. Each
influx brings strange seeds on its flood, strange silt and
weeds, and now and then a flower of rare promise. To
construe this river requires a man who can build dykes
against the overflow, who is a naturalist, a geologist, a
humanitarian, a diver and a strong swimmer. I love
my Bowery. It was my cradle and is my inspiration.
I have published one book. The critics have been kind.
I put my heart in it. I am writing another, into which
I hope to put both heart and brain. Consider me your
guide, gentlemen. Is there arything I can take you to
see, any place to which I can conduct you?"

I was afraid to look at Rivington except with one

"Thanks," said Rivington. "We were looking up
. . . that is . . . my friend . . . confound
it; it's against all precedent, you know . . . awfully
obliged . . . just the same."

"In case," said our friend, "you would like to meet
some of our Bowery young men I would be pleased to
have you visit the quarters of our East Side Kappa Delta
Phi Society, only two blocks east of here."

"Awfully sorry," said Rivington, "but my friend's got
me on the jump to-nioht. He's a terror when he's out
after local colour. Now, there's nothing I would like
better than to drop in at the Kappa Delta Phi, but --
some other time!"

We said our farewells and boarded a home-bound car.
We had a rabbit on upper Broadway, and then I parted
with Rivington on a street corner.

"Well, anyhow," said he, braced and recovered, "it
couldn't have happened anywhere but in little old New

Which to say the least, was typical of Rivington.


If you should chance to visit the General Land Office,
step into the draughtsmen's room and ask to be shown
the map of Salado County. A leisurely German -- pos-
sibly old Kampfer himself -- will bring it to you. It will
be four feet square, on heavy drawing-cloth. The lettering
and the figures will be beautifully clear and distinct.
The title will be in splendid, undecipherable German
text, ornamented with classic Teutonic designs -- very
likely Ceres or Pomona leaning against the initial letters
with cornucopias venting grapes and wieners. You
must tell him that this is not the map you wish to see;
that he will kindly bring you its official predecessor.
He will then say, "Ach, so!" and bring out a map
half the size of the first, dim, old, tattered, and

By looking carefully near its northwest corner you will
presently come upon the worn contours of Chiquito
River, and, maybe, if your eyes are good, discern the
silent witness to this story.

The Commissioner of the Land Office was of the old
style; his antique courtesy was too formal for his day.
He dressed in fine black, and there was a suggestion of
Roman drapery in his long coat-skirts. His collars were
"undetached" (blame haberdashery for the word); his
tie was a narrow, funereal strip, tied in the same knot as
were his shoe-strings. His gray hair was a trifle too long
behind, but he kept it smooth and orderly. His face was
clean-shaven, like the old statesmen's. Most people
thought it a stern face, but when its official expression was
off, a few had seen altogether a different countenance.
Especially tender and gentle it had appeared to those
who were about him during the last illness of his only

The Commissioner had been a widower for years, and
his life, outside his official duties, had been so devoted
to little Georgia that people spoke of it as a touching and
admirable thing. He was a reserved man, and dignified
almost to austerity, but the child had come below it all
and rested upon his very heart, so that she scarcely missed
the mother's love that had been taken away. There was
a wonderful companionship between them, for she had
many of his own ways, being thoughtful and serious
beyond her years.

One day, while she was lying with the fever burning
brightly in her checks, she said suddenly:

"Papa, I wish I could do something good for a whole
lot of children!"

"What would you like to do, dear?" asked the Com-
Missioner. "Give them a party?"

"Oh, I don't mean those kind. I mean poor children
who haven't homes, and aren't loved and cared for as
I am. I tell you what, papa!"

"What, my own child?"

"If I shouldn't get well, I'll leave them you -- not
give you, but just lend you, for you must come to mamma
and me when you die too. If you can find time, wouldn't
you do something to help them, if I ask you, papa?"

"Hush, hush dear, dear child," said the Commissioner,
holding her hot little hand against his cheek; "you'll
get well real soon, and you and I will see what we can
do for them together."

But in whatsoever paths of benevolence, thus vaguely
premeditated, the Commissioner might tread, he was
not to have the company of his beloved. That night
the little frail body grew suddenly too tired to struggle
further, and Georgia's exit was made from the great stage
when she had scarcely begun to speak her little piece
before the footlights. But there must be a stage manager
who understands. She had given the cue to the one who
was to speak after her.

A week after she was laid away, the Commissioner
reappeared at the office, a little more courteous, a little
paler and sterner, with the black frock-coat hanging a
little more loosely from his tall figure.

His desk was piled with work that had accumulated
during the four heartbreaking weeks of his absence. His
chief clerk had done what he could, but there were ques-
tions of law, of fine judicial decisions to be made concern-
ing the issue of patents, the marketing and leasing of
school lands, the classification into grazing, agricultural,
watered, and timbered, of new tracts to be opened to

The Commissioner went to work silently and ob-
stinately, putting back his grief as far as possible, forcing
his mind to attack the complicated and important busi-
ness of his office. On the second day after his return he
called the porter, pointed to a leather-covered chair that
stood near his own, and ordered it removed to a lumber-

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