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  • 1909
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“Now, Ches, I don’t want to have your blood on my head,” I sez, “an if you’ve just been jokin’, why say so.” But no, nothin’ would do but I must run him down. I never won much of a reputation for bein’ slow, an’ I weigh one ninety when I’m ganted down to workin’ trim. I took a full breath an’ sailed into him. I intended to give a jump just before I reached him an’ go clear over his head, but I lacked the time. Just as I took my jump he gave a lunge, wrapped himself about my lower extremities, an’ we sailed up among the tree-tops. All the way up I was tryin’ to figure out how it happened; but when we struck the earth again, I didn’t care. I knew it would never happen again. I’d shoot first.

We lit on top of my face an’ whirled around a few times an’ then sort o’ crumbled up in a heap, with him still shuttin’ off the circulation in my legs. “Down!” sez he. “an’ now the ball is dead.”

“I can’t answer for the ball,” sez I, “but I’m about as near bein’ in the coffin mood myself as I ever get at this season of the year. What game did you say we was indulgin’ in?”

“This is football,” sez he.

“I’m glad to know it,” sez I, “so that in the future when any one issues an invitation for me to play football I can make arrangements for provin’ an alibi. If I HAD to play a game like this I should choose to be the ball.”

He was full o’ little ways like this an’ entertained me fine; but it was mighty hard to wring any useful work out of him. He used to prune the rose vines, and now and again he’d do a little dustin’; but once when I had to bake sourdough bread, I pointed out that the garden needed weedin’, an’ explained to him just what effect weedin’ had on garden truck. He sez to me, “My motto is, `Competition results in the survival of the fittest.’ I ain’t no Socialist.” When I asked him what this bunch of words meant, he told me that he didn’t know of any exercise ‘at would do me so much good as learnin’ to think for myself; an’ that’s all the satisfaction I could get out of him. He was some like other edicated persons I’ve met up with: when you tried to get him to do something useful, he’d fall back on his book knowledge, roll out a string of high steppin’ words, an’ then look prepossessed.

He was good about one thing, though: he just about took the night trick off my hands, so that I begun catchin’ up with my sleep again. He used to load himself down with firearms an’ he and Fido would hunt Chinamen two or three hours every night, but he never had no luck. Several times the neighbors rode by an’ they told us that the’ was a gang breakin’ into houses an’ stealin’, but they couldn’t seem to get any track of ’em.

One mornin’ I was tryin’ to find out what made the sewin’ machine drop stitches, when he came runnin’ in with his eyes stickin’ out like a toad’s.

“He’s been sleepin’ in the barn,” sez he.

“Who–the horse?” sez I, thinkin’ it was one of his jokes.

“No,” sez he, “the Chinaman.”

Well, I looked at him, an’ he explained how his suspicions had been aroused, an’ that he had made a practice of stirrin’ up the straw each evenin’, an’ then each mornin’ would find the print of a man’s body but that he had put tar on the ladder without gettin’ any evidence.

I pricked up my ears at this, an’ turned the machine out on pasture for a while. We went to the barn, an’ there, sure enough, was the print of a man’s body. Then we adjourned to the shade to hatch up a sub-tile plot. We smoked an’ hatched until it was time for me to go in an’ help with dinner. We was both thinkin’ hard, an’ finally I sez, “Now, Ches, the craftiest thing for us to do, is for me to cover up in the straw, an’ when he lays down, explode my gun against his ribs.” He had pestered me a mighty sight, an’ I never was partial to ’em nohow. Ches never made any reply; he was what you call engrossed. All of a sudden he leaps to his feet an’ slaps me on the shoulder.

“Happy,” sez he, “are ya game?”

I looked at him a while, an’ then I sez gently, “Now look here, Mister, I ain’t no hero, an’ if you happen to have any more college festivities to introduce, why I’ll own up to a yellow streak a foot wide; but I don’t recollect just what day it was that any livin’ man accused me of bein’ down-right pale-blooded. If you got any hair- raisin’ projec’ in your head, don’t bother to break it gentle. Just tell it right out, an’ I’ll lean up against this tree, so as not to hurt myself should I faint.”

“Well,” sez he, chucklin’ like a prairie-dog. “I propose we paint up the goat with phosphorus, put him in the barn, an’ me an’ you get up in the trees to watch.”

“What’s the goat done?” sez I.

“The goat ain’t done nothin’,” sez he, “but he’ll scare the Chink to death, an’ when he comes out we can shoot him in the leg or something.”

“No,” sez I, “it won’t work. The Chink knows the goat better’n we do; an’ it’ll be the goat that’ll come out an’ get shot in the leg, while the Chink’ll get away.”

“Oh, rats!” sez Ches. “He won’t even know it’s a goat. Can’t you see that?” “Why won’t he know it’s a goat?” I sez, gettin’ impatient. “A Chinaman’s got just as much sense as a human being, an’ you’ll find it out sometime too.”

“Yes, but didn’t I tell you I was goin’ to paint him with phosphorus?” sez Ches, all het up.

“I don’t know what phosphorus is,” sez I, “but you’ll have to do a master job of painting to make that William goat look like a pinchin’-bug. Still, this is your projec’ an’ if you want to play the wheel one whirl, why I’ll help stick up the stake.”

I was busy about the house all afternoon, an’ Ches kept himself penned up in his labatory. He had brought out a lot of stuff in cans an’ bottles, had turned the woodshed into what he called a labatory, an’ spent a good part of his time there, mixin’ up peculiar stenches. They used to smell something frightful; but they only exploded about half the time. No matter what they did do, he always claimed that it was just exactly what he intended; but his hands was colored up constant like a fried egg, an’ I never took much joy in loafin’ about the woodshed.

That night as soon as I had my dishes washed an’ the kitchen red up, we caught the goat an’ took him to the barn. He was considerable of a goat, this one was, with horns on him a foot long an’ a fright of a temper. He was one o’ these fellers what is always out o’ humor, only sometimes farther out than common. Still, me with my rope, an’ Ches with his football habits, was one too many for Mr. Goat; an’ we soon had him up in the haymow. Then I passed up the can o’ paint, an’ took a stroll around to see that no one had been givin’ us the look-over.

The can o’ paint did have a pretty fierce smell, but I didn’t put much faith in it. I’d been in opium joints, an’ I knew that a Chinaman would FATTEN on a smell ‘at would suffocate a goat; an’ when it comes to vigorous an’ able-bodied odors, a billy-goat ain’t no tenderfoot himself.

After a time Ches came down with a heavenly smile on his face, so I knew the goat hadn’t smothered yet; an’ then we went into the house an’ handled the lights in just the regular way; but when the time came, instead of goin’ to bed, we went out an’ cooned up a big tree, about on a level with the mow-window. Ches had nailed up a kind of platform, which was rickety enough to keep a sensible man on the watch; but first I knew he was wakin’ me up. He had his hand over my mouth, an’ whispered, “He’s in the yard now.”

I ain’t one o’ them what yawns an’ grunts an’ stretches; I wake up like an antelope–all in a bunch.

The’ was a little rustlin’ back in some bushes over by the fence. Then, after a pause, we heard a queer scratchin’ noise. He was climbin’ up a tree at the back o’ the barn so as to get in through a scuttle in the roof. ‘T was gettin’ interestin’, an’ I got out my guns an’ held ’em ready. Ches had a whole arsenal spread out around him, an’ I could easy see a week’s work ahead of me, a-policin’ up the premises.

The sky was just literally soggy with stars, an’ you could see the outline of things purty plain. It was one o’ those nights when everything is so still that you hear with the inside of your head, an’ any little real noise fair puts a crimp in ya.

We was leanin’ on the rail of Ches’s platform, when all of a sudden we hear the greatest jabberin’ ever a human man heard. A goat an’ a Chinaman speaks the same langwidge, an’ goodness only knows what Billy Buck was a-tellin’ him but the tone was insistent an’ the effect was most exhilaratin’. I had my ears stretched out to catch every sound–an’ sounds wasn’t nowise scarce just then. Squeals an’ groans, an’ wrastlin’ an’ blows, kept a feller all keyed up, an’ we was bitin’ our lips to keep from laughin’–an’ then it happened!

The door o’ that mow flew open as though it was struck by eleven engines, a dark form shot out, followed by two more–an’ then the devil, himself, poked his head out through that haymow window. Talk about faces–Lord! I attended a ghost dance over in the Sioux country oncet; but it was a Sunday-school picnic alongside the face that poked its way out of that door.

The’ was rings of fire around the eyes, nose, an’ mouth, the whiskers was one long waverin’, ghastly flame, an’ the horns was two others. The’ was a blue gritchety sort o’ smoke curlin’ up around the face, an’ my heart laid right down in its tracks an’ rolled over on its back. I only saw that face a second, but I can shut my eyes an’ see it right now. Gosh!

I ain’t much superstiticus, ‘cept when I’m gamblin’, but of course I know the’ ‘s such things as ghosts an’ devils an’ sich, an’ I don’t take no liberties with ’em. I screeched out, a “Great Scott! what’s that?” My hands shut up voluntary, both my guns went off in the air, the rail broke, an’ me an’ Ches sort o’ chuck-lucked to the ground. We didn’t miss any limbs on the way down, nor the guns didn’t neither. Every time they bumped a limb, they went off, an’ it sounded like Custer’s last stand.

We weren’t hurt none, an’ scrambled to our feet in a second. The’ was an awful squawkin’ goin’ on under the haymow window, an’ that horrible, fire-faced devil seemed to be eatin’ the heads off the Chinamen. I got a better view of it this time, an’ I see it was one o’ the dragons they worship. It made me feel a little better, ’cause I didn’t see why he’d have any grudge against a Christian. Still, I wasn’t takin’ no chances, so I grabbed Ches by the arm an’ headed for the kitchen–him stickin’ his heels in the ground an’ callin’ me coward. I thought he had lost his mind, so I didn’t pay any heed to him.

We threw ourselves against the kitchen door, an’ I hammered on it with my knuckles, while Ches kicked me on the shins an’ tried to get away. Finally Mrs. Cameron raised an upstairs window an’ began shootin’ with her bean-blower. I’ve no idy what she was shootin’ at; but she hit me twice in the boot-leg, an’ blame if it didn’t sting like a whip.

Ches jerked loose while I was rubbin’ the sore spot, an’ as I glanced up I saw the three dark forms comin’ after us followed closer by the devil-dragon, his face fairly drippin’ with liquid fire. The whole bunch of ’em looked outrageous big, an’ I felt about as massive an’ forceful as an angle-worm; but at that, I managed to open the celler door, an’ tried to get Ches to come in too. “Ches,” I whispered, for I hadn’t strength enough to yell, “Ches, come on in an’ save yourself;” but he never gave no heed. He just stood crouching over in the shadow while they headed for him, devil-dragon an’ all.

I wanted to crawl into the cellar alone, but I lacked just one grain of havin’ moral courage enough, so I stood still with my knees beatin’ together, watchin’ ’em come. My heart ached to think that he was out of his head an’ fairly throwin’ himself away, an’ then all of a sudden, it flashed upon me that the blame fool was playin’ football. On they charged like a stampeded herd, a-screechin’ like a run-away freight wagon with dry axles, while that pink-checked tenderfoot stood in his tracks, as calm an’ cool as the North Star, until they arrived at the proper distance, an’ then he sorted out the big one in the center an’ dove for his legs.

They went up in the air, like a long-horn foolin’ with the leg-throw for the first time, the other two bumped into them, the fire-faced devil-dragon slipped through, caught me full in the pantry, an’ we all avalanched into the celler in one mixed up tangle. I can’t describe it to you. I saw a photograph oncet of the bottomless pit at a revival meeting, and this lay-out was a card out of the same deck. I ain’t stuck-up nor exclusive; but hang me if I ever want to get into such a mixed crowd again. We bit an’ kicked an’ hammered each other till I felt like quartz at a stamp-mill. The only light we had, came from the Chinese devil’-an’ I ‘d a heap sooner had none.

Finally I got hold of two cues, an’ it give me a logical purpose. I simply took a short hold on those cues an’ bumped the heads they belonged to, together, until that dragon caught sight of me an’ hit me a thump in the back that loosened all my teeth. Something began to make an awful bawling sound, an’ it scared the life out of me until I see the Chinese devil go up the stairs leaving a trail of flame behind him; an’ then I knew that one of our own Medicines had arrived.

This was some the worst roar I ever heard. It would start in with a lot of foreign words an’ end up with Rah! Rah Rah! The voice sounded something like Chess; but when I called him he didn’t answer, an’ I feared it was his spirit.

The’ didn’t seem to be any use in bumpin’ my two heads together any more, so purty soon I dropped ’em, an’ straightened up. The’ wasn’t a sound, an’ it was enough sight scarier than the noise had been. I looked around in the dark, an’ the’ was ghastly waverin’ flames all over an’ I could see hideous faces grinnin’ at me.

I scuttled out o’ that cellar like a homin’ rabbit, an’ ran around to the side door. Mrs. Cameron put her head out after a bit, an’ when she found out who I was, she let her lantern down to me on a string, an’ I screwed up my courage an’ went back to the cellar. I listened a moment, an’ it was quiet as a grave–it was too much like a grave to suit me. I needed the touch of an old friend, so I went back an’ hunted up one of my guns, loaded it, an’ went down into that cellar–an’ I never want my nerves stretched no tighter than the’ were right at that minute. I see three Chinamen an’ Ches stretched out in a heap, Ches still huggin’ the big one he had picked out first.

I carried the two of ’em upstairs still locked together, an’ laid ’em on the porch. As I did so, Ches opened his eyes an’ smiled weakly, ail sez to me most beseechful, “Gi’ me the ball, gi’ me the ball, an’ let Hodge an’ Roger throw me over the line. It’s no use tryin’ to buck through.” The doggone loon still thought the was playin’ football, I don’t reckon a railroad wreck would give one o’ them football players a single new sensation.

He jumps up after a minute, shakes himself, an’ seems as good as new. I was for lettin’ the Chinks go, an’ gettin’ indoors; but not for him, so we ties ’em; but I ain’t a mite easy in my mind. I was still lookin’ for old Mister Devil-Dragon to come chargin’ back with his Fourth o’ July face, an’ put an’ everlastin’ crimp in us. His man had a cut in the back of the head, while my two was merely softened up a little; an’ as soon as we got ’em in the kitchen an’ threw some water in their faces, they revived out of it an’ began to jabber enough to give a steam whistle the headache.

“I’d better go an’ let my cousin know we’re all right,” sez Ches.

“Yes, we’ll both go,” sez I, quickly.

“You’d better stay an’ keep guard,” sez Ches.

“The door’s locked an’ they’re tied,” sez I.

We went together, an’ Mrs. Cameron laughed an’ wept an’ made a great fuss. When we came back, the Chinks were gone.

“I told you to stay on guard,” yells Ches.

“Well, I’m mighty glad I didn’t,” sez I.

“What do you mean?” sez he.

“Can’t you see what happened?” sez I. “Their blamed fire-faced dragon came back an’ took ’em off, an’ if I’d been here, like as not, he’d have taken me too. He’d ‘a’ taken ’em down cellar; but your Good Medicine came an’ gave a shriek an’ scared him away.”

Ches stood an’ looked at me. “If you are really crazy, I don’t mind your talkin’ this way;” he sez finally, “but if you have a grain of sense left, tell me what you mean.”

“Do you mean to tell me that you didn’t see him? I sez. “He had horns an’ a long bcard, an’ was about six feet high an’ spouted fire, an’–“

“Do you mean the goat?” he snaps in.

“Goat!” I sez, gettin’ mad. “Now don’t get gay. The goat has tried to butt me fifty times since I been here, an’ I guess I know him by sight; but this thing–“

He see I was in earnest, took a match, wet it, an’ held it in a dark corner. “The goat was painted with that,” sez he, an’ I saw it all, an’ I–well, I just natchly shriveled. I thought it all over. “Well, then,” sez I, “what was the thing that gave the spirit call in the cellar?”

“That was my college yell,” sez Ches, an’ he gave it again, an’ gee, but it would ‘a’ made an Injun’s mouth water.

I was beginnin’ to see that the’ was a heap more in a college edication than I’d ever supposed.



Next day we searched the barn an’ found her just soggy with stolen stuff. We started out the news an’ most of it was claimed up by the neighbors for a hundred miles around. They heroed me an’ Ches right consid’able; but we didn’t tell ’em about the goat. It might put the Chinamen wise, you see. They took up a purse of eighteen hundred dollars for us which had been offered in rewards one place an’ another, an’ we felt purty tol’able contented.

But I was beginnin’ to get lonesome, the same as I allus do when I’ve been in one o’ these quiet, stagnant places for a spell. I was fond o’ Mrs. Cameron an’ the baby an’ the place an’ the cookin’, an’ I thought the world o’ Ches; but the’ was a constant tuggin’ at my heart to get back to the Diamond Dot, back to the big, free sweep o’ plains, back to little Barbie.

I’d been soakin’ away all Ches’s stories an’ ways, an’ I knew she ‘d be full as interested in ’em as I was. I had had enough o’ business too. I could easy see ‘at I wasn’t cut out for a business man, but I generally managed to round up a little wealth one way or another. I knew all along that I didn’t really have a taste for business; it was just that fool talk o’ Bill Andrews that made me want to cut loose from the Diamond Dot. I’d made up my mind now on that question, an’ it was surprisin’ how simple the answer was after I’d finally worked it out. The answer was this: I had as good a right anywhere on earth as any one else did. I was some company for Barbie at the Diamond Dot, an’ it suited us both first rate. If it got on Bill Andrews’ nerves till he couldn’t keep it under his breath, why I’d have to furnish him with an excuse for movin’; but as for myself, I’d just stick around until things began to creak a little.

When Mr. Cameron came back, he made a big fuss over me an’ Ches–he was an’ A1 sort of a man, Cameron was–an’ he wanted me to stay right along offerin’ me big wages, which was a thing that Mrs. Cameron had forgot all about, an’ me too; but I didn’t feel like stayin’; so I set a date an’ then it was settled. Besides, Ches would be goin’ back to college again soon.

Cameron was a real estate broker in the East, but was beginnin’ to study up on minin’ propositions. He knew all about Slocum’s Luck, that is, he knew the’ was such a mine, an’ that they was still lawin’ over it; but when I asked him about ever havin’ heard of a mine called the Creole Belle, he shook his head an’ said he never had. He hadn’t heard of Jack Whitman, nor George Jordan, nor even Sandy Fergoson; so I see the’ wasn’t any use in stayin’ around there, an’ while I hated to part with ’em, I was glad when the time came for me to say good-bye.

They wanted to give some kind of a present when I left; but the only thing I’d accept of, was a pair of chickens. I had got used to eatin’ eggs whilst I was there, an’ I knew ‘at Barbie would like ’em; so they put me up a rooster an’ a hen in a basket, an’ I rolled up my roll, an’ drove off to the depot with Ches. He was mighty sober when we got out of sight of the house, an’ after he did get to talkin’ it was mostly of all the good times we had had, an’ how he wished I was goin’ back with him, or else he was goin’ on with me. I told him all about the Diamond Dot, an’ how to get to it, an’ invited him out for a visit any time he could get away. I didn’t tell him much about Barbie; but I made him promise that if ever his Cousin found out the facts about the Creole Belle mine, he’d let me know at once. I couldn’t bring myself to believe that Sandy Fergoson had been crazy, an’ I was beginnin’ to come to the conclusion that the’ must have been both a woman an’ a mine mixed up–an’ that’s a combination to bowl over the best of us.

Ches said he was so stuck on the West that he half believed he’d learn to be a minin’ engineer an’ come out here an’ live. He tried to get me to promise to come an’ visit him, but I told him that I ranged over the same territory mostly, an’ wouldn’t know how to act in the East; but that if I ever did head in that direction, I’d sure look him ‘up. He bought my ticket while I was gettin’ my roll out of the wagon, an’ I couldn’t make him take the money for it.

“This ain’t on me,” he sez, “the Camerons’s payin’ for this; but even if I was, I reckon I could afford it. You’ve brought me my luck.”

“How about it bein’ your bringin’ me mine?” sez I, but he wouldn’t stand for it, so I got on the train with purty close to a thousand dollars in my clothes an’ a pair of chickens in my basket. He stood on the platform until we were out o’ sight, an’ then I settled back to think things over.

People are more different than the other kinds of animals, an’ yet they’re a heap alike, too. Now, me an’ Ches was about as different as they ever get, most ways, an’ yet we pulled a level double-tree out in the open. I could see the difference between my kind o’ talk an’ his; but neither one of ’em was the booky kind that Mr. Cameron talked, an’ yet we had all three sat out one night watchin’ the stars, an’ the’ wasn’t much difference in what we thought about a lot o’ things; but by the time we reached Oakland, I wasn’t takn’ such friendly views of humanity.

Now, I don’t mind what a feller does as long as it don’t interfere with me, an’ even then, I can put up with a sight o’ bother; but all the passengers on that train, an’ the train crew too, seemed to think that it just about capped the climax to see a man o’ my build totin’ along a pair o’ chickens. The’ wasn’t anybody on that train who behaved any better’n those chickens did, except the first time I tried to water’em out o’ the cup; but they nearly pestered me to death tryin’ to find out what was mysterious about ’em I told ’em the full reasons for my takin’ ’em up to the Diamond Dot; but that didn’t suit ’em, they had to have some outlandish excuse. I stuck to the truth until my good nature began to blister an’ then I fixed up a past history for those chickens that wasn’t nowise common.

When you just glance at it, a chicken ain’t a creature that’s apt to have a adventurous life; but long before we reached Oakland, folks was gettin’ on the train every place we stopped, just to have a look at chickens what had been taught to tell counterfeit money. It was easy enough when I got started. Every one knows that a chicken’s eye is mighty detectin’. They stroll along pickin’ up bugs ‘at you or I can’t see with a magnascope, an’ all ‘at would be necessary to make ’em experts at money, would be to get ’em interested.

The’ ‘s allus somebody in a crowd who don’t swaller bait as easy as the rest, an’ bye an’ bye a feller holds up a silver dollar to the rooster. The rooster was a pretty beast, all red an’ blue, an’ a good feeler; but he didn’t care a hang for money. He turned his head away, an’ I sez, “The dollar’s good.”

But the feller had to keep on makin’ tests, which didn’t interest the rooster any until finally the rooster begun to get some exasperated. The feller held out a five-dollar bill to the rooster, an’ he was tired o’ such nonsense an’ took a sudden peck at it an’ tore it in two. It’s bad,” sez I.

“I knew it was bad,” sez he. “I said when I took it that I bet it wasn’t any good; but one o’ these smooth Easterners give it to me. If I’d had a bird like that I wouldn’t ‘a’ got stuck. What’ll you take for him?”

I smiled and sez, “I don’t reckon you’d believe what these birds is worth, but I wouldn’t want to sell ’em even if I got my price. I wish you’d give me that counterfeit bill though. The hen ain’t fully taught an’ bills like that are scarce.”

He give me the bill, an’ offered me all kinds o’ prices for the poultry; but I wanted to take ’em to Barbie, an’ I finally stuck ’em under the seat an’ refused to let any one see ’em. That blame fool offered me seventy-five dollars for that pair o’ chickens when he got off the train at Oakland, an’ I was blame glad I had give up business, ’cause it was sure good business to take a price like that. The five-dollar bill was all right an’ I spent part of it at the restaurants along the way.

When I got off the train at Webb Station, who did I see but Spider Kelley an’ the home freight-wagon. Well, we was both glad to see each other, an’ he stayed sober just so we could chat together on the home ride.

“How did you like business?” sez he. “Oh, it pays–in a money way,” sez I, “but it’s too monotonous. I don’t like it.”

“You ain’t been gone long enough to make much money,” sez he.

“Oh, no, not what you would call money in business,” sez I, “but I’ve handled several pieces o’ coin since I been away, an’ I’ll have nine hundred for ol’ Cast Steel to put out on pasture for me.”

“Nine hundred! Well, by gee!” sez Spider. “What kind o’ business have you been in, Happy?”

“Oh, I tried hosses first, but they wasn’t enough change in it, then I went to Frisco an’ give the dry-goods business a work-out. I tried the real estate business next; but, Spider, you’ll be surprised to learn that I made more money out o’ goats an’ chickens than any other business I got into.”

Well, that sure is wonderful,” sez Spider. “Are you goin’ to stay here a spell, or are you just goin’ to try to get Old Cast Steel interested in poultry? I doubt if he goes into chickens deep, he allus likes to herd on a big scale.”

“I’m goin’ to give this here pair to Barbie,” sez I. “If the old man wants me to take on for the fall round-up, why it’s likely I’ll do it, an’ I may even stay through the winter. Money ain’t the whole o’ life, an’ I like this range better’n any I ever rode over.”

“Well, he’ll be glad enough to take you on for the round-up,” sez Spider. “Omaha has quit.”

“The deuce he has,” sez I. “What did he quit for?”

“Him an’ Bill Andrews had some words, an’ I got to own up that Bill was in the right of it. Cast Steel didn’t take any sides, an’ Omaha, he finally pulled out week before last. Bill Andrews is the nearest thing we got to a foreman now.” “How’s everything goin’?” sez I.

“Smoother’n oil,” sez he. “I’ve been around the ranch house ever since you been away, tendin’ to Pluto an’ breakin’ colts.”

“I’m goin’ to get out an’ walk back,” sez I.

“What the ‘ell for?” sez he.

“I never struck this place before when it wasn’t in a tangle,” sez I, “an’ I feel in my bones, it betokens bad luck.”

“Oh, hoofs,” sez he, “you ain’t that superstitious are you? Did you leave last time in the same humor as usual?”

Then I felt a shade easier. “No,” sez I, “every other time me an’ Cast Steel had had a little difference; but this time, I was simply tired o’ the place. Well, I’ll go on an’ chance it; but I’m leery that somethin’ will happen.”

We arrived next day in time for supper, an’ Barbie an’ Jabez was mighty glad to see me. Barbie went wild over the chickens, just as I knew she would, an’ Jabez said that he used to like eggs himself when he was a boy, an’ would have got some poultry long ago if he’d only thought of it. They both of ’em laughed to think that I had at last come back to the Diamond Dot without findin’ any kind of warfare; an’ when I told ’em that it sort o’ worried me, they only laughed the more.

“How did you like business, Happy?” sez Jabez.

“I got nine hundred dollars I wish you’d range out with the rest o’ my herd,” sez I, “but to tell you the simple truth, I don’t like business, not one mite.”

I thought I could stall ’em off without tellin’ ’em what kind o’ business I’d made my stake in, but they wormed it out o’ me before that first meal was over. It was a merry meal, an’ lasted about three hours. I enjoyed it, but I made up my mind that if I took on again, I was goin’ to eat with the rest of the boys. I had allus et with Barbie an’ Jabez; but I didn’t want to have any o’ the outfit get to thinkin’ that I wasn’t nothin’ but a visitor. When bedtime hove around, Jabez sez, “Well, you’ll find your old room ready, Happy.”

“Why, I reckon I’ll sleep in the bunk shack from this on,” sez I.

“I reckon you won’t,” sez he. “You’re worth more to me as a sort o’ reserve than you ‘d be as a straight puncher, an’ the’ ain’t no use o’ your gettin’ so blame finicky all of a sudden. What’s got into you lately?”

“Now, you knob’ how it is, Jabez,” sez I, “if I cut loose from the rest o’ the bunch, they’re bound to talk about it an’–“

“Let ’em talk,” he snaps in. “Talk ain’t expensive; but I don’t think they’re a jealous lot. They all like you, Happy, an’ I got a sort of a suspicion that those who don’t won’t pester you overly much. I ain’t heard the straight of it, but I have heard some talk about him overestimatin’ his ability in the ridin’ line. Now cut out this nonsense an’ just begin where you left off. Barbie here’ll be mighty glad of some company again.”

It didn’t take ’em long to talk me into it–it generally is easy to break down a man’s will when it ain’t braced up by his natural desires; so after I’d balked as long as seemed polite, i settled into the collar again an’ trotted along just in the same old gait.

It was just as I thought. Barbie was plumb wild to hear all those college stories, an’ the queer words that Ches used to talk with. She asked me about a thousand questions that I wasn’t sure on the answers; but I made out to interest her, an’ Jabez’ face used to beam when he’d hear her laugh ring out.

We were sure a happy household; but I noticed mighty soon that Barbie was more restless than ever; but also had more control over herself. She wasn’t so quick about either askin’ questions nor givin’ answers as she used to be, an’ she noticed things closer–an’ this was goin’ some too; ’cause she allus did inspect everything that came on her range.

We had a gang o’ tourists swoop down on us for a couple o’ days, an’ it tickled me to see her watch ’em an’ draw back in her shell any time she thought they was watchin’ her. I knew every line in her face, an’ mighty few of her thoughts came as a surprise when she framed ’em into words. She never said it all now, unless she was het up about something, an’ I like to listen to any one ‘at talks like that. Her best thoughts were never accented, they just came in as packin’ like, an’ it added to the interest. When a feller hands out a little commonplace idy an’ then sends along a couple o’ verses to tell what it means, I get weary; but when I’m able to see into somethin’ that lays too close to his heart to say out, an’ too close to forget, why I feel as if I had found a real jewel, an’ that was the way with Barbie. I knew that somethin’ was tuggin’ at her; but when I found out exactly what it was, it came with almost as much of a shock as if I hadn’t known it was there all the time.



Barbie had grown some more, even durin’ the little time ‘at I’d been away. She had got used to the new rig she wore an’ wasn’t a mite awkward, an’ her face was firmer an’ more self-composed. She was purtier too, though it don’t seem possible. It even seems more impossible when I tell ya that she looked more like of Cast Steel than ever. He an’ the girl was a heap alike, ‘cept that he was big an’ raw-boned an’ spare-featured; while she was as dainty as an antelope, an’ as far as looks went, she was the Queen Bee of Creation, I reckon.

When it came to ridin’ a bucker or shootin’ off an eye-winker or expressin’ herself free an’ frank, she didn’t have to import no testimony to prove ‘at she was his daughter either. She had him skinned on ridin’ though; ’cause while he was able to set anything on four feet, he allus showed ‘at he had begun late in life, an’ he sometimes jerked the bit unintentional; while she–well, I reckon she must ‘a’ been born on hoss-back, an’ besides, I had give her all the pointers the’ was.

One mornin’ about ten days after I’d come back, I heard ’em discussin’ purty heatedly out back of the corral; an’ I just sauntered over to harken to it. It wasn’t a case of eavesdroppin’, ’cause when them two had any comments to make they didn’t care a blue bean what the prevailin’ style in opinions happened to be, they nailed their own personal jedgments on the wall an’ then stuck around handy to back ’em up. I was particular anxious to know what they was crossin’ words over, ’cause I couldn’t get it out o’ my head but what my comin’ back an’ findin’ ’em peaceable betokened something.

Jabez was standin’ with his feet wide apart, his hands on his hips, his hat tilted over one ear, his chin stickin’ out with the lips pursed up, an’ his eyes had a dogged look in ’em. Line by line an’ feature by feature, she shadowed him to the last item; an’ neither one of ’em saw a twinkle o’ comicalness in it, neither.

“Do you know who you’re talkin’ to?” he yells just as I arrived. “I’m your father!”

“What of it?” she snaps back. “It’s too late to remedy that–I just got to make the best of it. But do you know who you’re talkin’ to? I’m the future owner of the Diamond Dot, an’ I ain’t a-layin’ no plans to have the lala-kadinks from the civilized parts o’ this country come out an’ round up my langwidge, same as they gather Injun speciments. You may be my father, but you can just bet your saddle that before I reach the end o’ my trail, a stranger won’t be able to guess it from our talk.”

Now the old man was mighty savin’ with his cuss-words, a’ he put out a purty tol’able fair grade o’ grammar; but the girl had an eye in her head and an ear to listen with, an’ she had been for a long time takin’ notice o’ the side winks o’ the Easterners. Some Easterners put on their manners the same as their complexions, an’ the open air is apt to put cracks in ’em.

The of man looked at her a good long while, but she never blinked a winker; an’ he finally turned away an’ said in a soft-like voice, “I know, child, I ain’t been able to fill the part full measure–but it ain’t ’cause I haven’t tried. I reckon you’ll have to go, honey; but it’ll sure be lonesome while you’re away; an’ when you do come back you’ll never be my little kid any more.” His voice kept gettin’ sadder an’ sadder until I about snuffled myself when he continued “I’ll rub up my talk all I can while you’re away, an’ then if you bring out any friends next summer you can tell ’em that I’m the foreman an’ that you let me eat in the house while your father is takin’ a trip to Europe.”

The ol’ man would have played that part about as natural as a bull buffalo, but he fooled himself into believin’ it, an’ his voice was purty shaky at the end. Barbie’s eyes filled up with tears, an’ when he stopped an’ began to totter feebly toward the house, she ran up an’ threw her arms about his neck, an’ said. “Dad. I just hate you– you don’t play fair. You start the game under one set o’ rules an’ then when you get the worst of it you just simply crawfish. When we were sayin’ mean things out in the open, I just natchly put it all over you; an’ now you flop over on your back an’ work that ‘coals o’ fire’ stunt, an’ I just hate you. You know in your heart I’d be proud of you in any company on earth, but the’ is a heap o’ difference between you an’ me. You have been successful, an’ strangers will respect you for it; but it’s got to be a show-down with me every time. If I don’t learn the new gaits, so a stranger will think I’m city-broke, some fresh tourist is apt to get the idee that I’m as uncivilized as my manners, an’ it won’t do to tramp on my toes–not overly often. But I don’t have to leave you. I’ll just turn in an’ do the job right here on the ranch, an’ accordin’ to the very latest models. You get me a lot o’ books an’ all the magazines an’ fashion papers, an’ hanged if I don’t turn out a job ‘at’ll fool the best of ’em. You’re a mean old Daddy, you are, for a fact; but we snake too dandy a duet for me to go away an’ leave you to grind out a solo all alone. But–but I sure wanted to go.”

Well, Jabez grinned all over; but I saw that he wasn’t through with it so easy. Barbie wasn’t the one to throw her rope before she was all braced for the jerk, an’ the’ wouldn’t be any kinks in her logic, neither. She had thrown a purty stout string of arguments, an’ I was full prepared when they told me that he was to have his way about it, an’ she was to go to college that very fall.

She did go in less’n a month to a prep-school clear down East. A prep-school is a sort of a calf college, you know; an’ she had to train there a solid year before they had the nerve to turn her loose on a full-grown university. But she had a head on her, Barbie had; an’ when she got squared away, she made ’em all get down an’ scratch. They do say that she put more life an’ vim in that institution than anybody what had ever give it a work-out before.

Ol’ Cast Steel went down twice the first winter, an’ never let her know ‘at he was in the neighborhood, for fear it would make her think ‘at he was pinin’ for her. He just went down there an’ bought some store clothes an’ prowled around waitin’ for the chance to see her at a distance–never even lined out the professors to see if they were doin’ their duty, nor mixed in the game the slightest bit. Talk about bein’ game? I reckon that puts a shadow on anything ever that man had to face.

She used to come back every summer, bringin’ a lot of chums an’ all kinds o’ pets with her. She was just daffy over any kind of a wild animal from an Injun papoose to a white mouse; an’ when she’d go back in the fall, Jabez had his hands full with parrots an’ alligators an’ butterfly coons an’ sech–to say nothin’ of a lot of potted flowers what was mighty notionable in their tastes.

I was so busy tendin’ to this branch o’ the outfit that about all the ridin’ I did was for exercise–yes, an’ for company, ’cause it allus seemed as if she was along when I’d be out on the range. Then, again, I allus felt a kind of drawin’, myself, to the silent people, who think an’ wish an’ feel, just the same as we do, but aren’t able to handle our langwidge. I got so I could purt’ nigh tell what an animal had on his mind, just from tendin’ to her speciments.

She had one speciment which was a possom, an’ the blame thing bit me eight times one winter, me tryin’ to give it baths–an’ then she wrote back home that the doggone critter didn’t need’em nohow. She purt’nigh got expended for takin’ a rattlesnake back to the university an’ keepin’ it hid in her room; an’ after I’d had a deuce of a time catchin’ ’em, they made her send a bob-cat an’ a mountain lion to some kind of a garden–wouldn’t let her keep ’em at all. The professors allus was a sore trial to her, but once she began a thing she allus fought it through, so she put up with ’em the best way she could.

She used to tell us that bein’ housed up like to ‘a’ drove her crazy at first, an’ they was so tarnation fussy that she felt like a hobbled pony in a stampede. They wouldn’t even let her picket her ponies out in what they call the campus, which she said was just drippin’ fat with rich grass, an’ nary a hoof to graze it. Why, they even had fool notions about havin’ certain hours about goin’ to bed, an’ even when you had to put your lights out.

One night she got fidgety an’ nervous with the lonesomeness of it, an’ she got up about one o’clock an’ fired her revolvers out the window,–just for sport, you know, like a feller sometimes will when he’s–well, when his soul gets kind o’ itchy like,–an’ it purt’ nigh started a riot. She said ‘at we wouldn’t never believe how different the people was down there. I reckon a university must be run a good bit like a penitentiary. But as I said, she wasn’t no quitter, an’ I reckon, takin’ it all in all, she give ’em back about as good as they sent.

Course we could see a lot o’ change in her when she’d first come back, but it seemed to slide off as the tan came on, an’ by the time she left in the fall again she’d be purty much the same old Barbie. She went full five years, countin’ the prep-school, an’ I don’t suppose they was much in the way o’ learnin’ they didn’t filter through her; but it didn’t spoil her, an’ the very moment her knees clamped on a pony again you could see that her blood was as red as ever, even if her face was roses an’ cream. My heart allus beat out of time when I knew she was headin’ back; but the very minute she gave my hand the old-time grip I knew she was still the old-time girl, an’ when she’d turn to the chums an’ say, “Girls, this is Happy,” why, I was big brother to the lot, an’ before they went back I’d teach ’em ridin’ till they could giggle on hoss-back without fallin’ off. They all owned up that she was the takin’est girl at the university, and while her pals was a mighty attractive lot, they didn’t have to use any arguments to convince me it was the truth.

She allus left me so much to do when she was away that I never felt like leavin’ through the winter; while durin’ vacation time I wouldn’t have gone without bein’ drove; but toward the middle of her fourth year, me an’ Bill Andrews had another little run in.

We was havin’ a terrible streak of weather, an’ Bill wanted to move a herd over to the southwest corner of the ranch where the’ was some extra good bunch grass. It was a wise move all right, an’ I said so; but when he wanted me to help trail ’em, I vetoed it. I was watchin’ up some experiments with silkworms an’ I didn’t want to leave ’em. We were short-handed an’ Jabez ‘lowed ‘at I’d better go. Well, we argued back an’ forth until he finally said that he could take full care o’ the silkworms, an’ intimated that my work with ’em wasn’t much but pastime, anyway.

That settled it with me. I helped drive the herd, an’ it was the bitterest weather we’d ever had. The sleet blew in the cow’s faces an’ it was simply one long fight. Three o’ the boys gave up an’ pulled back to the ranch house, but not me. I don’t believe I slept on that drive, night or day, an’ when, the boys finally told Bill Andrews that it couldn’t be done, I told ’em that it could, an’ that if any more of ‘ern dropped out I’d count it a personal insult. We got ’em there all right, an’ then I rode back to the ranch house.

Jabez had let the silkworms die–an’ I told him what I thought of him, an’ pulled out. It was cold weather an’ I was travelin’ on foot, but it wasn’t cold I was suffer in’ from, it was heat.



I plugged along through the cold, gettin’ hotter an’ hotter all the time, ’cause I didn’t want to go away at all. Barbie’d be home in a few months and I wanted to be there when she came–but I couldn’t get over those silkworms. She was goin’ to write somethin’ about ’em for some kind of a paper, an’ it meant a good deal to her, an’ I had kept a record of all the projec’s she’d written me to do with ’em– only to have Cast Steel an’ flint fool Bill Andrews flounder in with that herd o’ cows.

I piked on over to Danders thinkin’ I’d get on a train an’ go somewhere; but on my way there I met the foreman o’ the E. Z. outfit ridin’ into town to see if he couldn’t pick up a fence-rider. Then I see old Mrs. Fate nudgin’ me in the ribs with her finger again. We was all down on fences at the Diamond Dot. Jabez said that as far as he was concerned, he preferred to have his fences mounted on hoss- back, ’cause they was easiest moved, an’ we didn’t have a foot o’ wire on the place. I knew that no one would ever think o’ me ridin’ fence, so I just up an’ spoke for the job. The foreman, Hank Midders was his name, didn’t know me an’ he was suspicious of me bein’ on foot. “Can you ride?” sez he.

“I used to could,” sez I. “How many days’ ridin’ does it take to go around?”

“We don’t ride that way,” sez he, “we put two men in a camp an’ they ride out fifteen miles an’ then double back.” “They waste the return trip,” sez I.

“We think different,” sez he. “We keep a big run o’ cows, an’ we want the whole fence rode twice a day. We allus have plenty o’ good ridin’ ponies.”

“Well, they ain’t ridin’ on my time,” sez I, “so it ain’t nothing to me. Do I get the job?”

“Where you been ridin’ at?” sez he.

“At the Lion Head, for Jim Jimison,” sez I.

“I’ve seen some o’ their stuff,” sez he. “It’s a good outfit; but it’s a rather lengthy walk from here.”

“Yes, I stopped off a while in Californie an’ Idaho to rest,” sez I. “Do I get the job?”

“We don’t find a man’s saddle an’ bridle for him,” sez he.

“I got mine cached over at Danders,” sez I, recallin’ the ones I had left there before I went into business.

“What’s your name?” sez he.

“I ain’t nowise choicy,” sez I, “call me anything you want.”

“I guess you won’t do,” sez he, ridin’ on into Danders.

I reached it myself about two hours later, an’ went to the hotel. Hank was settin’ by the stove when I came into the bar-room. The’ was eight or ten other fellers still restin’ from last summer’s work, but I didn’t see the old landlord. “Where’s Peabody?” sez I.

“He’s dead,” sez a tall, snarley lookin’ feller; “what do ya want with him?”

“I don’t want nothin’ with him–if he’s dead,” sez I. “Who’s runnin’ this place now?”

“I am,” sez the snarley one. I didn’t take to him at all.

“Would you be so kind enough as to tell me where my saddle an’ bridle is?” sez I in my softest voice. “What the ‘ell do I know about your saddle an’ bridle?” sez he.

“I left ’em here with Peabody,” sez I.

“How would I know it was yours?” sez he, sneerin’.

“I’d recognize it,” sez I. “It had H. H. burned into it.”

“What does H. H. stand for?” sez he.

“It stands for Henry Higinson–sometimes,” sez I. Then I turned to the bar mop an’ said, “Where’s that saddle an’ bridle?”

“Why, it’s back in–” he began; but Snarley snaps in “You shut up, will ya? Even if this puncher did leave an old saddle here years ago, I bought everything on the place from Peabody, an’ the storage on the rubbish would amount to more than it’s worth.”

“That ‘s kind o’ new doctrine out this way,” sez I; “an’ I’m ‘bliged to request you to produce the articles so I can claim ’em up.”

“You go ahead an’ make me do it,” sez he, grinnin’.

“Wouldn’t you sooner do it of your own free will?” sez I, like a missionary tryin’ to get up enthusiasm over a donation.

“I’m good an’ sick o’ your fool nonsense,” sez he, comin’ down toward me. I was wearin’ a gun on each leg, an’ I pulled ’em out an’ punctuated both his ears at one time; but I never stopped smilin’. He grabbed an ear in each hand an’ begun to swear in a foreign langwidge, dancin’ around most comical. “Won’t you please get my leather for me,” sez I, “or would you sooner have me guess off the center o’ those two shots?”

“Yes,” he roared, usin’ a lot o’ high-power words ‘at ain’t needful in repetin’, “take your blame junk an’ get out o’ here.” I nodded to the bar mop. “Shall I get ’em, Frenchy?” sez he.

“Yes, for heaven’s sake, get ’em,” sez the snarley one, while some o’ the boys snickered, but not too noticeable.

Well, they was my saddle an’ bridle all right, an’ I thanked the bar mop an’ flung ’em in a corner. Then I went over an’ sat down by Hank Midders. “Did you get your fence-rider yet?” sez I.

“No, I ain’t got him yet, but I got two days to look for him in,” he sez.

Just then who should come in but the same old Diamond Dot hand who had beat me out of the pony. “Well, sign my name! If there ain’t Happy Hawkins!” sez he, rushin’ over an’ shakin’ my hand, “Still in business, Happy?” sez he.

“Nope, I’ve retired,” sez I.

“You’d ought to have stuck around here until that tourist went home from his vacation,” sez Bill,–I reckon his name was still Bill, though for the life o’ me I can’t remember it plain,–“he got the whole town hilarious on account o’ the joke we’d played on him. He was game all right, an’ he got me a job out to his uncle’s, which I’ve held ever since–off an’ on.”

“Happy?” sez Hank Midders, “Happy what?”

“Happy Hawkins,” sez Bill. “Haven’t you never heard o’ Happy Hawkins?”

“Happy Hawkins is down in the Texas-Pan Handle,” sez I, in a matter- o’-fact voice. “Don’t forget that, Bill.”

“Surest thing there is,” sez Bill, winkin’. “I seen him get on the train myself.”

“When will supper be ready, Frenchy?” I sez to the snarley one, who had been puttin’ some grease on his ears an’ wishin’ he’d had better manners.

“In about an hour,” sez he, an’ I knew the’ wouldn’t be any more trouble from him. He was one o’ these fellers what can take a lickin’ without gettin’ all broke up over it, an’ he’d be just as gay about bluffin’ the next stranger as ever, an’ he’d be just as dominatin’ over them what he had already bluffed.

“Well, I’m goin’ out for a little stroll,” sez I, “but I’ll be back in time for supper, an’ I’ll likely be hungry.”

I knew they’d all want to ask a few questions, so I went outside an’ walked down the street. I couldn’t make up my mind what to do, an’ I wanted that fence-ridin’ job more than ever. When T turned around to come back, I see Hank Midders walkin’ toward me. “So you’re Happy Hawkins?” sez he.

“Well, that’s what some folks call me,” sez I.

“I thought ‘at you had finally settled down at the Diamond Dot?” sez he.

“The’ ain’t nothin’ that I know of that changes any oftener than the style in thoughts,” sez I. “Do you think it’s goin’ to snow?”

He laughed. “You’re Happy Hawkins all right,” sez he. “Do you want that fence-ridin’ job?”

“That’s what I went to the trouble o’ rootin’ out that saddle an’ bridle for,” sez I, “but I don’t care to have it advertised that I’m ridin’ fence at my time o’ life, an’ I don’t promise to continue at it more’n a few months.”

“I see,” sez he, “an’ it’ll be all right. Kid Porter’ll be down with the buckboard day after to-morrow, an’ you can go out with him.”

When I went back I see that Bill hadn’t spared no details to make me interestin’, an’ all the boys was friendly to me–an’ called me Higinson. Me an’ Frenchy got along all right, an’ when I threw my saddle an’ bridle into the back o’ the buckboard, an’ sez, “Well, good-bye, fellers! I’m on my way to the Pan Handle,” they all calls out, “Goodbye, Happy! If any o’ your friends inquire for you we’ll tell ’em we saw you start; but the next time you come this way, Higinson, don’t forget to drop in for a little sport.”

Things generally even up pretty well in this life, an’ before we had driven very far I was able to see where I had got full value out o’ that seven-dollar pony ‘at Bill had beat me out of. Kid Porter explained things to me an’ I saw it was goin’ to be a purty fair sort of a layout. Our shack was closer to Danders than it was to headquarters, so we got our needin’s there. He said that Colonel Scott was an allright man to work for, but that he’d only seen him once since he’d been on the job.

Ridin’ fence is about as excitin’ as waitin’ for sun-up, an’ after a couple of months at it I was feelin’ the need of a little change, so I drove down to Danders the first day of April, an’ while I was standin’ on the platform watchin’ the train pull in an’ take water, a cute little feller dismounted an’ after givin’ me a complete look- over, he sez: “Me good man, are you a type of this comunity?”

I put my hand to my ear as though I had heard a noise close to the ground. After a bit I let my gaze rest on him sort o’ surprised like, an’ then I sez in a soft, oozy voice, like a cow conversin’ to her first calf, “Be you speakin’ to me, little one?” sez I.

It allus riles me some, to be called “me good man.” It seems to give me a curious, itchy feelin’ in the right hand, an’ I have had to make several extra peculiar speciments dance a few steps for no other reason; but this little cuss never batted an eye. He looks me square in the face, an’ sez, “It is perfectly obious that I could be addressin’ nobody else. I am out in the West hunting for a place to study the most pronounced types of American citizens, an’ I am very favorable impressed with your appearance.”

Did you ever have a stranger brace you like that? I suppose the fat lady an’ the livin’ skeleton gets used to it, but I allus feel a trifle too big for my background. I stand six foot two an’ dress easy an’ comfortable, an’ some o’ the guys on the trains allus seem to think ‘at I’m part of the show, out for an airin’.

“Well, to tell you the truth, honey,” I sez to the little feller, “I ain’t fully maychured yet. We get hair on our faces pretty young out here, but we don’t get our growth till we’re twenty-five. I’m water- boy to the E. Z. outfit. If you want to see somethin’ worth lookin’ at, you ought to come out where the men are. You’ll find American citizens out there, a darn sight harder type to pronounce than what I am. They sent me to town on an errant.”

He examined me, but I never blinked a winker, an’ then his face lit up, like as if he’d found a whole plug of tobacco, when he thought his last chew was gone. Finally he gave a wink an’ a chuckle, an’ sez, “Here, smoke a cigar on me, an’ tell me if I can get board out your way. I think you’ll make copy.”

He was just what I needed as a time-killer, so I spun him a yarn about the lovely life me an’ Kid Porter was livin’. We jerked out his trunk just before the train left, bought a month’s grub, an’ came along out to our shack. His name was William Sinclair Hammersly, an’ the’ never was a squarer boy on the face o’ the earth, after he’d shed off those spectator ways. He won my affections, as the storybooks say, before we was out o’ sight o’ Danders.

He said he had relations scattered all over the British Empire, an’ owned up that he had just come back from a long visit to England, where he had picked up the “good man” habit. I told him that it might suit that climate all right, but that out our way I couldn’t recommend it to a peace-lovin’ man for every-day use. He thanked me an’ said he was ashamed to know so little about his own country, this bein’ the first time he had ever been west of Philadelphia. He said that he was minded to become an author, an’ had come out to study the aboriginal types an’ get the true local color. Whenever I hear this little bunch o’ sounds, I know I got a nibble. Any time a man goes nosin’ around after local color, you can bet your saddle he’s got several zigzags in his think-organ.

These fellers is a breed to themselves. I wouldn’t exactly call ’em wise–wordy’d come a sight nearer fittin’ these local-color fellers without wrinklin’. The”s a ringin’ in my ears yet from the time that I was penned up with Hammy an’ Locals, an’ this one had a good many o’ the same outward an’ visible signs, but more o’ the inward an’ spiritual grace, as Friar Tuck sez.

Bill slid right into our mode of livin’ like a younger brother, but it took us some consid’able time to savvy his little private oddities. The’ was one wide bunk in the shack an’ one narrow one. Me an’ Bill took the wide one, but it wasn’t so eternal wide that a feller could flop around altogether accordin’ to the dictates of his own conscience. When she was carryin’ double we had to hold a little consultation of war, to see whether we’d turn over or not.

We used to start out early in the mornin’, an’ if the’ wasn’t much fixin’ to be done we got back long before dark. About seven-thirty was our perchin’ time before Bill took a hand, but after that we got so convivual that sometimes we’d sit up till purt’ nigh half-past nine, playin’ cut-throat an’ swappin’ tales. Sleep allus was a kind of a nuisance to Bill. Purt’ nigh every night when me an’ the Kid would stretch ourselves out, Bill would speak a piece about “God bless the man what first invented sleep”; but he was only joshin’, an’ all the time he was sayin’ it he’d be buildin’ up the fire an’ changin’ his clothes. He had one suit which he never wore for nothin’ except just to sleep in. Pajamers, he called ’em, an’ they sure was purty.

Well, he’d put on this suit an’ a pair o’ red-pointed slippers, light his pipe, pick his guitar, an’ saw his fiddle till along toward mornin’, all the while singin’ little batches o’ song an’ speakin’ pieces. Then he’d heave a sigh an’ lay down alongside o’ me; but in about fifteen minutes he’d jump out o’ bed, sayin’, “That’s good! That’s great! I mustn’t lose that!” an’ he’d get out a book an’ write something into it. Sometimes he’d laugh over it an’ sometimes he’d cry.

The Kid’d never had no experiences with geniuses before, an’ at first he feared that he might get violent durin’ the night, so he took his gun to bed with him, but I knowed the’ wasn’t a mite o’ danger in him. When breakfast was ready we purt’ nigh had to get a hoss to pull him out o’ bed.

I was interested in his tales of foreign countries, an’ he used to tell me all about the castles he had been to. One day I happened to think of the letter what the drug clerk at Slocum’s Luck had wrote us, an’ I asked Bill what kind of a lookin’ place Clarenden Castle was. “Clarenden Castle?” sez Bill. “Where the deuce did you ever hear of Clarenden Castle?”

“Well, I might have heard of it from the younger son,” sez I. “He came over to this country, you know.”

“Where is he now?” sez Bill, mighty interested.

“Minin’ law is, that the first feller what stakes out a claim gets it,” sez I. “Now my question staked out the first claim. You answer my questions an’ then we’ll be ready for yours.”

“Humph,” sez Bill.

“Where is St. James Court, Bill?” sez I.

“Well, I never expected you to know anything about such things!” sez Bill.

“‘Tis wonderful how intelligent some trained animals are, ain’t it?” sez I, sarcastic. “But you must remember, little one, that I’ve been livin’ right in the house with folks a good part of my life. Now if you’ll just answer my questions the same as if I was human, I’ll sit up an’ beg, jump over a stick, an’ do all my other tricks for you.”

Bill would allus tumble if you hit him hard enough, so after a bit he grinned an’ said, “Well, Clarenden Castle is one o’ the seats of the Cleighton family–“

“Seat?” sez I. “I allus thought it was a house.”

“You see, over in England they call–” Bill began to explain it to me an’ then he saw me grinnin’ an’ he broke off short. “I know what a seat is, Bill,” sez I. “They have country seats an’ town seats; but some o’ you fellers pout when you’re obliged to live up to the rules, an’ I wanted to see if you was square enough to own up after you’d been shown–the’s lots o’ fellers, not as well edicated as you, who can’t do it without groanin’.”

Bill studied out this last remark before he answered, an’ I was glad to notice it. Most fellers look for a marked passage, but I like to train ’em out to pan everything I say, an’ then do their own testin’. Bill was all right. “Now, dear teacher,” sez he, “if we are through with that lesson, we shall return to the original subject.” We both laughed, lookin’ into each other’s eyes, an’ it did us good.

“Now this Cleighton family is a great family in England and Scotland,” sez Bill, “The Earl of Clarenden is the head of one branch an’ the Duke of Avondale is the head of another. The sons are called lords, an’ they have lots of land, but are running shy on money, an’ the main stem of the family is getting purty well thinned out.”

“About this younger son that came to America, now?” sez I.

“Well, the present Earl married beneath him–I visited close to Clarenden Castle, an’ I know all about it,” sez Bill. “He married an American girl with lots of money, Florence Jamison of Philadelphia.”

“Jamison?” sez I.

“Yes, Jamison,” sez Bill. “I suppose you are well acquainted with the Philadelphia Jamisons?”

“Well, that name does awaken a purty tol’able fairsized echo,” sez I, “but still, to be perfectly frank with you, me an’ the Jamisons ain’t on what you could call intimate terms any more.”

“I’m glad to learn it,” sez Bill. “I’d hate to think that I had irritated you by implicatin’ that it was a come-down for an English Earl to marry into your circle.” Bill most generally squoze all the dampness out of his jokes. “This was his second marriage,” Bill went on, “an’ he had one son by it, named James Arthur Fitzhugh Patrick– “

“That’s plenty for me,” sez I, breakin’ in. “The first two names is interestin’ to me, but the’ ain’t no use loadin’ down a feller with names till he has to pay excess baggage on ’em. Now, how did this one get to be a younger son?”

“Why, the first marriage of the Earl also resulted in a son,” sez Bill. “His first wife was a lady of quality, but she had a weak constitution an’ the son has epolepsy. The younger son was fitted for the army, but he got into a scrape, was given a lump sum by his father, an’ came to this country, where he disappeared. He also had an inheritance from an aunt, a maiden sister of his mother, who didn’t like the first son for a minute.”

“What kind of a scrape did the youngster get into, Bill?” sez I.

“He was engaged to the daughter of the curat at Avondale Chapel,” sez Bill, “an’ he bein’ the heir presumptive to the title–“

“What is that, Bill?” sez I.

“The one what gets the title as soon as the one who is holding it, dies, is the heir apparent, an’ the one who gets the next chance is the heir presumptive. It’s a legal term an’–“

“Never mind explainin’ it then,” sez I, “If I was to live as long as Methusleh, all I’d know about law would be that ignorance wasn’t no excuse for it; but what is a curat?”

“A curate is a sort of preacher,” sez Bill.

“I thought it was some kind of a doctor. But what in thunder did you mean when you said that gettin’ engaged to the daughter of one was a scrape?” sez I.

“Why, it wouldn’t do for the heir presumptive to Clarenden, and a possible claimant to Avondale, to get engaged to a person in that station of life; he had to make up either to a heap of money or else a big title; he simply had to marry a lady of quality,” sez Bill.

“So he could contribute his share of epolepsy to the family collection,” I suppose,” sez I.

“Well, James gets an awful callin’ down,” sez Bill, “an’ he cuts loose from the family an’ goes to live in London, where he’s a leftenant. Richard Cleighton, his cousin, who is the heir presumptive, once removed, sneaks down there an’ comes back with the report that James is married to Alice LeMoyne, a music-hall dancer.”

Jim swung purty wide in his taste for women, didn’t he?” sez I.

“The upshot of it was,” sez Bill, never heedin’ me, “that they settled with James, an’ he lit out–his mother had died several years before. About four years after, this Alice LeMoyne dies, an, on her deathbed she confesses that she is the wife of Richard Cleighton an’ helped to put up the job on James to get him out of the way, as the heir apparent didn’t look like a long-liver, an’ she thought she would like to be an Erless, with a chance of being a Duchess even.”

An’ you mean to tell me that this low-grade Dick Cleighton puts up that job on Jim, just so he can beat him to the title?” sez I.

“Yes,” sez Bill, “you see he was the heir presumptive, only once removed.”

“Well, if I’d had the job o’ removin’,” sez I, “once, would ‘a’ been plenty.”

“That put Richard out o’ the runnin’,” sez Bill, “Lord Wilfred, the apparent, was livin’ along all right, an’ the old Earl had come to the conclusion that when it came to a presumptive, he’d sooner have Jim; so he turned the hose on Dick, an’ started out to find Jim. Jim wrote ’em from New York that he was goin’ to South Africa, an’ then he wrote ’em from Australia that he was goin’ to India, an’ then he wrote ’em from–“

“Oh, those was only jokes,” sez I. “Jim’s all right; but what become of Dick?”

“Nobody knows,” sez Bill, “an’ nobody cares. He’s got lots better health than Lord Wilfred, but he’s got some epolepsy, too, an’ he’s a mean sneak. His mother was insane, but she left him a little bunch of money.”

“She must have had more quality than the average of ’em;” sez I, “but hanged if I wouldn’t sooner do without the quality than to have all that epolepsy thrown in with it. Jim’s all right though, I’ll say that for the breed.”

“Yes, Jim was a fine feller from all accounts,” sez Bill, “but where the Jink did you meet up with him?”

“It’s a state secret,” sez I, “or I’d let you in. Jim’s doin’ fine an’ I wouldn’t for the world have him dragged down where he’d have to marry up with a lot o’ quality. Now while you’re givin’ your concert, I’m goin’ out an’ check up the stars.”

I was purty yell pleased with Bill. I had bothered him all I could in the tellin’ an’ yet he had kept his temper an’ handed out the facts; an’ I wanted to go over ’em forward an’ hack till I could get the full hang of ’em. It was wonderful queer how a ridin’ man like me had brushed shoulders, as you might say, with the Earl of Clarenden, an’ I was beginnin’ to think that old Mrs. Fate was stirrin’ things up a shade extra. As a usual thing I don’t go into scandal an’ gossip so prodigious; but I was hungry to have another look at Jim, now that I knew he was the son of an Earl, an’ I decided to pull out an’ give the Pan Handle a look-over as soon as it was handy. I spent about two hours that night lookin’ at the stars an’ wishin’ they could tell me all they’d ever seen. They knew all that Barbie wanted to know, an’ I didn’t seem able to git on the track, in spite of me readin’ detective stories every chance I had.



Well, I didn’t go down to the Pan Handle after all. I just fatten on a new variety of entertainment an’ the sample that Bill was puttin’ out amused me to the limit. Me an’ Bill drove down to Danders on the first o’ May to get some grub. Most o’ this breed has a purty tol’able active thirst, but Bill was unusual harmless when it came to storin’ away liquor. About the only excitement Danders held out to a temperance crank was goin’ down to the depot to watch the train come in. This time the west-bound had to take a sidin’ and wait twenty minutes for the cast bound; an’ a feller got his dog out o’ the baggage car an’ started to climb the mountains.

You fellers all know how this air is, but a stranger thinks he can spit on a mountain that’s ten miles off. When the whistle blew, he made a good run an’ got on all right; but the pup was havin’ the time of his life an’ missed his chance of gettin’ on the same car that the feller did. He was game all right an’ give a purty jump onto the front platform of the last car, where a big buck nigger was standin’ with a white coat on. He give the pup a kick under the chin an’ sent him rollin’ over backward.

“Why, the vile wretch!” yells Bill, at the same time snatchin’ my gun out of the holster. I had barely time to bump up his arm, an’ even as it was he knocked the paint off right above the coon’s head. Bill turned on me with his eyes snappin’ sparks, an’ in a voice as cold as the click of a Winchester, he sez, “Next time, John Hawkins, I’ll thank you to mind your own business.” An’ he held the gun kind o’ friendly like, with the muzzle pointin’ at my watch pocket.

I own up I was jarred; he’d been as gentle as a butterfly up to that minute, an’ here he was lookin’ into me with the chilly eyes of a killin’ man; but I put a little edge on my own voice an’ sez, “Heretofore, I allus counted it my business to look after what my own gun was engaged in doin’. When you’re sure that you’re all through with it, I’ll thank you to return it to where you found it.”

Then I turned on my heel an’ strode up toward town; but be grabbed me by the shoulder an’ whirled me around. “Here’s your gun, Happy.” sez he. “You know I didn’t aim to offend you. It was that confounded Zulu ‘at riled me up.”

The pup had give up his chase after the train an’ was comin’ back the track to town, lookin’ mighty down in the mouth–he had a purty prominent mouth, too, the pup had. He was a brindle bull; not one o’ these that look like an Injun idol, but a nice, clean-built, upstandin’ feller with a quiet, business-like air.

“Purty tough on the pup to be turned out to starve this way,” sez I.

“Who’s goin’ to let him starve?” sez Bill. “Come here, old feller.” “Better look out,” sez I, “bulldogs is fierce.”

“So is men,” sez Bill; “an’ besides, this ain’t no bulldog, this is a London brindle bull-terrier, an’ a crackerjack. Look at the brass collar he’s wearin’. This is ain’t no stray. I’ll telegraph ahead an’ see if they want him expressed.”

Bill caught the feller at the next station, an’ he telegraphed back that he’d been havin’ trouble with the pup all along the line; an’ if we’d keep him a month, he’d stop an’ get him on his way back. He sent us ten dollars to pay expenses. I never believed that they could send money by telegraph before; but I saw the agent give it to Bill, with my own eyes.

We all went to the hotel for dinner, the pup lookin’ miserable sorrowful. Frenchy was goin’ to kick the pup out–he was a low-grade heathen, but he was big an’ he didn’t mind a little trouble now and again.

“If this dog can’t eat here, neither can I,” sez Bill, “but as for your kickin’ him out, you ‘d better pray for guidance before you tackle that job.”

“Do you think I’m afraid o’ that cur?” sneers Frenchy.

“Cur!” yells Bill. “Cur? Why you maul-headed, misshapen blotch on the face o’ nature, what do you mean by callin’ this dog a cur! I never saw this dog before to-day; but I’ll bet ten to one that I can find out who his great-great-grandfather’s great-great-grandfather was; an’ I doubt if you know who your own father happened to be.”

Bill was firin’ at random o’ course, but it looked as if he had hit somethin’. Frenchy was fair crazy. He pulled out his gun an’ came chargin’ down on us. Bill tried to get mine again, but I thought I’d better run it myself just then. I covered Frenchy, Frenchy covered Bill, an’ the bull pup turned his back on us and looked down toward the depot, to see if his train was comin’ back.

“Better put up your gun, Frenchy,” I sez, soft as a wood dove, “or you’ll get this office all mussed up.”

Well, he knew me; so we arbitrated a little an’ then we all went in an’ the pup et his dinner like any other Christian, payin’ for it himself out of his own money. First thing after dinner, Bill went out an’ bought a gun of his own, an’ I scented trouble. He wasn’t old enough to shoot only from principle, not merely for practice.

The’ was another young feller at Frenchy’s with a lot o’ hot money in his clothes. He seemed to have a deep-felt prejudice against fire, too, the way he was blowin’ it in. When Bill came back, the young feller tried to buy the dog from him. Bill was polite an’ refused to sell, givin’ as the main reason that the dog didn’t fully belong to him yet, but the feller pestered around until finally he offered Bill two hundred dollars for the dog.

“You ain’t no fool when it comes to a dog,” sez Bill, “but I’m givin’ you the honest truth. This here pup don’t belong to me– though if I can buy him I sure intend to do it.”

“How far would you go when it came to payin’ for him?” sez the man.

“Well, I’d give two fifty for him just on speculation,” sez Bill. “He’s put together, this pup is; but I didn’t suppose ‘at you people out here in the cattle country would know enough about the points of a dog, to offer two hundred for just a fancy one.”

“I don’t know nothin’ about the points o’ that dog,” sez the feller. “I never even saw a dog like that one before; but when I see a man willin’ to go the pace you went for this dog, I’d kind o’ sort o’ like to own the dog.”

Bill got interested in the feller an’ began pumpin’ him for what he called copy. The young feller had punched cattle most of his life, blowin’ in his wages at variegated intervals. About a month before he had slipped over to Laramie an’ had gone against Silver Dick’s game, winnin’ over eleven hundred dollars. He said that Silver Dick was plumb on the square an’ that he never intended to work again, just spend down to his last hundred an’ then go an’ play at Silver Dick’s. Bill got a paper an’ figured out what he called percents, showin’ how an outsider was bound to lose to the game in the end; but most o’ the fellers there had been up against Dick’s game an’ they took sides against Bill, tryin’ to prove that they stood a show to win, until finally Bill give it up an’ we started back home.

When we started home, Bill was still discoursin’ about us Westerners. He said that we wasn’t nothin’ but a lot o’ children playin’ games an’ believin’ in fairy tales, that we never provided for the future, that we was allus willin’ to risk anything we had on some fool thing that wouldn’t benefit us none, an’ so on until I got weary of it, an’ after I’d took a shuffle I dealt him out this hand.

“An’ the”s another breed,” sez I, “that ain’t nothin’ but children an’ that’s the writers. An idea comes along an’ stings ’em like a bee, an’ they immejetly begin to swell. They swell an’ swell until the whole earth ain’t nothin’ but the background for that bee-sting. They howl about it as if it was the most important thing in creation; but if you call around next week, you find that swellin’ gone down an’ they’re howlin’ just as fierce over a new swellin’ where a different idea has stung ’em; ain’t it so?”

“Not exactly,” sez Bill; “for we set down our thoughts an’ emotions while we’re smartin’ from the sting an’ the other fellers can get the sense of ’em an’ pass judgment on ’em in cold blood without gettin’ stung at all.”

“Well, you landed there,” sez I, “but the’ wasn’t one o’ those fellers there to-day, who was a quarter whit more childish’n what you was. Talk about providin’ For their future! Why, the way you went on over this stray pup, purt’ nigh put you in the position of a man who didn’t have no future to provide for, an’ what in thunder good can this here pup ever do you, no matter what happens?”

The pup was sittin’ with his head between Bill’s knees, an’ Bill pulled his ear a time or two, an’ then sez, “I reckon you’re right; the whole earth ain’t nothin’ but a kindergarten. We all play different games an’ when you stop an’ look at it they all cost about the same in the end an’ they all bring in about the same profit; but I’m glad I’m livin’ anyhow; an’ I’m glad I’ve got this dog. I’m special fond o’ dogs.”

You couldn’t help likin’ Bill; he allus played in the open an’ when he kept score, he give you all the points you made without fussin’ over ’em; but I didn’t like the look o’ that new outfit on his hip. He was too impulsive to carry a gun, an’ he was too young. Take it when a man has had some experience in gun-fightin’, he gets purty sober over the effect of it; but a young feller–well, who on earth knows what way a young feller is goin’ to jump when he gets touched up a little?

“That’s a purty likely lookin’ gun you got there, Bill,” sez I. “Do you savvy how to run one?”

He took it out of his pocket an’ looked around, but the’ wasn’t nothin’ in sight that needed killin’, so he began to pop at an old single-tree lyin’ about thirty yards away. The ponies were trottin’ along purty jerky, but hanged if he didn’t hit it four times out of six.

“It don’t just hang to suit me,” sez Bill, “but I’ll learn it after a bit.”

I looked at him a moment, but he was merely speakin’ his mind, an’ I sez: “Bill, where in Goshen did you get to be a killin’ man?”

“Me?” sez Bill. “I never shot a man in my life, but I used to knock down glass balls purty accurate, an’ I’ve hunted big game in Africa an’ India. I don’t want no trouble, but I’m set in my ways about dogs. It’s a heap o’ responsibility to raise a pup; but I’m goin’ to give this one a fair show, an’ I’m goin’ to own him some way or another–I feel it in my bones that this here dog was sent to me. I had a dog, the livin’ picture o’ this feller once, an’ he traded his life for mine, out there in the Indian Jungle. Now don’t ask me any questions about it.”

That night after we’d got the supper things red up, Bill sez; “Now I don’t want no one to punish this dog but me, till he gets his edication. I don’t care a bean for a trick dog; all I expect him to learn is jest English an’ a part o’ the sign langwidge, so as he’ll be pleasant company an’ useful in an emergency. I’ll pay for any property he destroys, but please don’t punish him.”

The pup was about fifteen months old when he came, an’ at first he sorrowed a heap for his old boss; but purty soon he see that Bill knew more about dogs’n he did himself, so he just transferred his affections over to Bill. Bill never raised his voice, he never whipped him nor even threatened him; he just reasoned with him an’ explained why it was necessary to learn the conventionalities o’ polite society. It took him a solid week to learn that pup how to shake hands, an’ yet Bill told us confidential that he was certain that the pup knew it all the while; but at the end of the week the pup gave in, an’ from that on he was as eager for knowledge as a new-born baby.

Cupid was the name of the pup, engraved right on to his brass collar, an’ when he set his mind on acquirin’ an edication, he made me an’ the Kid leery ‘at he’d beat us at the finish in spite of our start. He could walk on his hind legs an’ speak an’ open an’ shut doors an’ wipe his feet on the door-mat an’ roll over an’ pray an’– oh, well he knew ’em all an’ six more; but Bill said it wasn’t learnin’ the tricks that counted, it was learnin’ to think for himself. Bill used to put obstacles in his way, so that the pup would have to cipher a while to figger out how to work it, an’ this was what Bill called stretchin’ his intellect to match his envirament. He was some the solemnest pup I ever see, an’ it was kind o’ creepy to see him come to the shack, open the door, slam it after him, wipe his feet on the burlap, look into Bill’s face, an’ give a short bark. This was to ask if Bill had any new jobs for him.

I had it all planned out that the pup was to sleep in the wagon shed; but this didn’t look good to the pup, nor to Bill, neither. When night would come, Cupid would go through his lessons, eat his supper, an’ fling himself slaunchways on the wide bunk. He didn’t weigh more’n sixty pounds, but they was the solidest sixty ever wrapped up in a dog hide. He wouldn’t mind no one but Bill, an’ it was all I could do to get room enough on the perch to hang on. Then Bill would open up his vau-dee-ville show, an’ when he’d simmer down, the pup would begin to chase jackrabbits, which was the most devilish-lookin’ sight I ever see. He’d lay there with his eyelids rolled up, an’ his eyes turned inside out, givin’ short barks an’ jerkin’ his legs.

“Bill,” I sez one night, “I ain’t no chronic coward, but doggone me if I want to be mistook for a jack-rabbit, an’ have this bulldog sock his ivories into me.”

“He ain’t no bulldog,” snaps Bill. “It looks to me as if you might learn purty soon that he’s a brindle bull-terrier!”

“Oh, I know that all right, an’ I’m willin’ to swear to it,” sez I, “but just now it’s his teeth, not his ancestors, that are botherin’ me. If I’m to be mistook for a jack-rabbit, I ain’t nowise particular just which kind of a bulldog is goin’ to do the mistakin’.”

Bill, he smiled sadly an’ walked over an’ stuck his naked finger right into the pup’s mouth. I looked to see it bit off, but the pup only opened his eyes, looked foolish, an’ tramped down another acre of imaginary grass; finally goin’ to sleep again an’ usin’ my feet for a piller.

Talk about grit! That little cuss was willin’ to fight any-thing that walked. We took him out to the herd one day, an’ after he’d been kicked an’ tossed an’ trampled, he got on to throwin’ a steer by the nose, an’ from that on it was his favorite pastime. He played the game so enthusiastic, that I finally sez to Bill, “Bill, you mustn’t forget that Colonel Scott has other uses for these cattle besides usin’ ’em for dog exercisers.” From that on, Bill made the pup be a little more temperate in the use o’ steers.

The muscles on that pup got to be like hard rubber, an’ you couldn’t pinch him hard enough to make him squeak. He allus took a serious view o’ life except when the’ was a chance for a little rough an’ tumble; then his face would light up like an angel’s. Pullin’ on a rope was his idee o’ draw poker, an’ he could wear out the whole bunch of us at it. Bill fair idolized him–fact is, we all thought a heap of him; but I’d ‘a’ liked him a mite better if the’ ‘d been more bunks in the shack.

If he got cold, he’d scratch your face till you let him under the covers, an’ then when he got too hot, he’d pull the covers off an’ roll ’em into a nice soft heap, with himself on top. He never overlooked himself much, the pup didn’t. First I knew, I got to missin’ a right smart o’ sleep that really belonged to me; ’cause, while I’m opposed to speakin’ ill o’ the absent, I’d just about as soon try to sleep with a colicky hoss as with Bill an’ the pup. When the pup wasn’t chasin’ imaginary jack-rabbits or live fleas, Bill was jumpin’ up an’ down to write somethin’ new into his book; until Kid Porter swore that if any more came, he was goin’ to leave.

I like a dog the full limit, but I never hankered to sleep with ’em, not when they have fleas; an’ when they don’t, they allus put me in mind of a man ‘at uses perfumery. I tried to devise a plan for sleepin’ on the floor, but I couldn’t engineer it through.

“No,” sez Bill, in a hurt kind of a tone, “I wouldn’t inconvenience you for the world. Me an’ Cupid will sleep on the floor.” Well, there I was. I’m as tender-hearted as a baby antelope, so I just turned it off as a joke, an’ got to sleepin’ in the saddle on the return trip.

Nothin’ on earth made Bill so mad as to call the pup a bulldog, though if he wasn’t one, he sure looked the part. I knowed it wouldn’t do to take too many chances, so me an’ the Kid used to post the boys, an’ when one of ’em would drop in an’ say as natural as though he was chattin’ about the weather: “That’s a mighty fine London, brindle, bull-terrier you-uns have got,” Bill’s face would light up as if he was the mother of it, an’ he would turn in an’ preach us a sermon on dogs. That was why you liked Bill; he was just the same all the way through an’ if he was friendly when it paid, you was certain sure he’d be just as friendly when it cost.

Colonel Scott’s niece came out to visit him some time in May, an’ we heard of her long before we saw her. ‘Bout every one we met had somethin’ to tell about what a really, truly heart-buster she was. She learned to ride, an’ one afternoon she an’ the Colonel struck our outfit just in front of a howlin’ storm.

The’ wasn’t no show to get back to headquarters that night, so we smoothed out the wide bunk for the lady, an’ us men planned to flop in the shed. She sure had dandy manners! She pitched in an’ helped us get supper, an’ we had about everything to eat that a man could think of–side meat an’ boiled beans an’ ham an’ corn-bread an’ baked beans an’ flapjacks an’ fried potatoes an’ bean soup, an’ coffee so stout that you couldn’t see the bottom in a teaspoonful of it. We just turned ourselves loose an’ gave her a banquet.

As soon as the dishes was off our hands, we started in to be jovial. Me an’ the Kid wasn’t just altogether at home, but Bill was right in his element. He played, an’ him an’ her sang, an’ they talked, an’ it was the most festive function I ever see; until the pup came in an’ jumped up on the wide bunk where she was settin’. “Oh, take that horrid bull-dog away!” she squealed.

I dreaded the result; but I sez to myself, “Now surely that doggone ijit won’t throw a call-down into the lady.” but he did. “Miss Johnston,” sez he, “that ain’t no bulldog. That’s a high-bred London bull-terrier. How would you like to be called a Chinaman? Come here, Cupid.”

It was like throwin’ a bucket o’ water on a bed o’ coals. Bill was like an oyster from that on, an’ the girl looked as if she’d been slapped. I was mad all the way through. It’s all right for a man to be crazy, if he’ll only keep it private, but the’ ain’t no sense in tryin’ to get the whole balance o’ creation over to his side.

The Colonel thought it a mighty prime joke to have his niece called down over a bull pup, an’ he chuckled about it consid’able. Next mornin’ he made Bill promise to come over an’ visit him; but the girl said HER good-byes to me an’ the Kid. From that on, Bill was over to headquarters half his time, but it didn’t do him much good. The girl wouldn’t stand for the pup, an’ Bill wouldn’t go back on him; so it looked purty much like a deadlock.

One Sunday about the first of August, we was all sittin’ in the shade of the shack, lookin’ down into the valley. The shack backed up against a massive crag on the edge of a high plateau. The road from headquarters came in from the North, wound around a steep butte, then along the top o’ the cliff to where it slid down into the valley to Danders.

We heard the thud o’ hoofs an’ turnin’ around, we saw the Colonel’s niece tearin’ down the road on a big hoss. It was a plain case of runaway, an’ I felt something break inside my chest. They were headin’ straight for the top o’ the cliff, the hoss was goin’ too fast to make the turn, an’ we was too far off to beat him to it.

We simply stood there like a flock o’ sheep, without a single thought among us. The’ didn’t seem to be a thing to do, but just watch ’em plunge two hundred feet into the ravine. I glanced at Bill, but I hardly knew him. His brows was drawn down like a wildcat’s, his jaws was clamped so tight you could hear ’em grit, an’ his eyes seemed to smoke.

I looked back to the road again, an’ there was the pup, standin’ down by the road watchin’ the hoss runnin’ toward him. I touched Bill on the shoulder, an sez, “Can the pup do anything, Bill?” Bill gave a sigh as though he had just come back from the dead, an’ in a voice that wavered an’ trembled, but still rang out like a trumpet, he yelled: “Throw him, Cupid, throw him!” Lord, man! I wish you could have seen it. The mane bristled up on that dog’s back an’ his muscles bulged out till he looked like a stone image. We heard him give a low whine, like as if he knowed it was too big a job for a little feller like him. But did he try to flunk it? Not him. Then I knew ‘at he wasn’t neither a bulldog nor a bull-terrier, but a little sixty-pound hero, willin’ to pass out his life any time ‘at Bill would draw a check for it.

We fair helt our breath as he backed away from the road an’ took a little easy gallop until the hoss was near even with him. Another dog would have blown his lungs loose, tellin’ what he was a-goin’ to do; but Cupid never said a word. His lip curled up till you could catch the glisten of those wicked white teeth of his, an’ then when the hoss was right alongside an’ it looked as if he had lost his chance, he gave a couple of short jumps an’ threw himself for the critter’s nose.

Well, I can’t rightly tell you just what did happen then. I saw him make his spring an’ swing around full sweep, hangin’ on to the hoss’s nose; but from that on the whole earth seemed to be shook loose. The boss keeled over like he was shot, the girl seemed to turn a somerset in the air, an’ light all in a heap, with one arm hangin’ over the edge of the cliff. We heard a shriek, a little smothered yelp, an’ then we ran down to them.

Bill looked first toward the girl an’ then toward the pup, an’ it was tearing his heart apart to tell which one he would go to first. Finally he ran to the girl an’ carried her back from the cliff. He knelt an’ put his ear to her heart, then he took her wrist an’ after what seemed a mighty long time. he gave a little sigh, an’ sez, “Kid, run for some water. Run! What do you stand lookin’ at me for?” Cupid

The Kid, he certainly did run, while Bill stepped over to where Cupid was layin’, still an’ quiet, but with a piece o’ the hoss’s nose still in his grip. The hoss’s right shoulder was broke an’ he couldn’t get up, but was thrashin’ an’ strugglin’ around. “Get your gun an’ put that hoss out of his misery, Happy,” sez Bill, an’ the’ was somethin’ in his tone that filled me plumb full o’ the spirit of action.

When I came back, the Kid was pourin’ a bucket o’ water over the girl, an’ Bill, with the tears rollin’ down his cheeks, was feelin’ over the body of the little bull-pup. I put the muzzle to within an inch o’ the soft spot in the hoss’s forehead, an’ fired. The hoss’s head sank, an’ then I gulped a couple o’ times like a flabby galoot, an’ sez, “Bill, do you reckon the brindle bull-terrier’ll pull through?”

“Get me some o’ that water,” sez Bill. When I got it, he showed me a place where the whole o’ the pup’s scalp had been kicked loose. I couldn’t see what good water was goin’ to do, but Bill wouldn’t give up. “I can’t find where the skull is broke,” he sez, “an’ maybe the water’ll fetch him around.”

He poured some water over the little feller’s face, but it didn’t seem to be no use. He just lay still with his head on Bill’s knee, an’ I knew it was all up with little Cupid; but just to please Bill, I gave him a flask, I happened to have, an’ sez, “Give the little feller a drink, Bill. He never was used to hittin’ it none, an’ it’ll have a powerful effect on him.” Bill opened the pup’s mouth an’ poured in a tol’able stiff swig, an’ by cracky, the pup opened his eyes, an’ when he saw Bill bendin’ down over him, he tried to wag his little tail.

Well, Bill took that pup up in his arms an’ hugged him–an’ if the’ ‘s any one in this crowd that feels like laughin’, it’ll be healthier for ‘im to step outside.

Then Bill picked up the pup, an’ motioned for me an’ the Kid to tote the lady up to the shack, an’ we did it, though it wasn’t fittin’ work for a couple o’ ridin men. She had fully come to when we reached the shack, an’ we laid her on the wide bunk. Bill put the pup on the narrow bunk, washed out the hole in his head, an’ tied it up with a clean handkerchief. Then he crossed over an’ spoke to the girl. I could easy tell by his voice that the last time they had parted it had been a little stormy.

“Miss Johnston,” he sez in a low tone, “are you sufferin’ much?”

She owned up to a perfectly rippin’ headache, an’ said she was sore all over; but it was her ankle ‘at pained her most. Bill started to look at it; but she reddened up an’ tried to draw it under her. Bill never paid any attention to her, but sez calmly, “I’ve had consid’able experience, Miss Johnston. A great deal depends on promptness. Now just let the limb lay natural till I remove the shoe.”

Me an’ the Kid started to break for the foothills, but he set me to makin’ bandages, an’ sent the Kid after some more water. We was losin’ our age fast, an’ Bill’s voice sounded like grandpa’s. He said it was a corkin’ bad sprain, but he tied it up an’ wet down the bandages; an’ then he sent me to headquarters after the spring- wagon, an’ the Kid to Danders for the doctor.

We both got back before daylight, an’ by that time Bill an’ the girl had come to a purty harmonious agreement concernin’ the proper standin’ of a brindle bull-terrier. When I came in he was holdin’ the lady’s hand–an’ I was the only one what reddened up.



Jessamie, that was Miss Johnston’s real name, had been ridin’ one o’ the Colonel’s high-breds, an’ again orders at that; but the Colonel was purty comfortable like at the upshot. Bill was fitted out with a pedigree an ‘a bank account what made him a parlor guest purty much everywhere he went, an’ on top o’ that it tickled the Colonel a heap to have things ironed out by the bull pup himself.

I didn’t much suppose when I see that sorrowful pup pikin’ back the track that he was doomed to achieve prominence an’ fame, but Fate had him entered on her book all right, an’ he made so everlastin’ good that it wouldn’t have surprised me a mite if they’d have run him for Governor.

You just bet your life the other feller never got him again! Why they’d ‘a’ had to bring the whole standin’ army to filch that dog away from Bill after the big doin’s. Out here in Wyoming it’s a test of class–owners of one of Cupid’s pups are first-class, others belong to the herd.

It was two weeks after the accident that us four–countin’ Kid Porter–was sittin’ in exactly the same place back of the shack; only this time, Bill was pullin’ the pup’s ears. Bill hadn’t spent overly much time with us the last fortnight, an’ we were talkin’ it all over, when hanged if we didn’t hear the thud of hoofs again, an’ I reckon we all turned blue.

Cupid himself appeared a shade disgusted at the prospect of an encore. He had only just shed his bandages, an’ the flap on his lid was still too tender to scratch, so that you can’t hardly blame him for takin’ the narrow view of it. We jumped around the corner of the house, but the’ was two riders this time, an’ while they was spinnin’ along at a purty merry clip, they had control of the hosses all right. Both of ’em was girls, an’ one of ’em was Jessamie. When I see who the other was, I felt as though I was standin’ on the outer edge of a fleecy cloud. It was Barbie. I ducked back around the corner of the house.

Bill, he ran down an’ helped his lady to alight, while Barbie flopped herself off her mount an’ ran up to Cupid. Oh, they know a heap, dogs do. Cupid took just one look in her eyes, an’ when she squatted down on her knees, he tried to get into her lap an’ they made a heap o’ fuss over each other. I could tell by her eyes that Jessamie felt a shade jealous, ’cause Cupid hadn’t quite forgiven her for slightin’ him at the first. I was watchin’ ’em through a chink in the shack and I was feelin’ purty glum myself, to think that Barbie would spend all that time on a dog an’ never give one little inquiry about me.

Well, they examined the spot where Cupid had made his tackle, an’ the dent in the earth where the hoss an’ Jessamie had lit, an’ then they meandered up to the house to see just how helpless we’d been, aside from Cupid.

“Well, you all had a share in it;” Barbie was sayin’ as they neared the shack. “Cupid did the actual work, you trained him for it, and Higinson had the kind of a nerve that don’t melt under fire.”

“Sure thing,” sez Bill, “I own up that I was plumb petrified, an’ Cupid wasn’t carin’ much one way or the other; but Hank Higinson never lost his self-possession a second,”–this was all bosh, ’cause I was purty nigh stampeded, an’ that’s the simple truth.

“Where is he?” sez Barbie. “I want to see him an’ then I can tell just about how much he could do on his own hook.”

I was feelin’ a sight better. I saw exactly how it was. Bill an’ all the rest o’ the fellers had done exactly what I had hinted at an’ hadn’t divulged my identity, an’ Barbie hadn’t the slightest idea that I was in the state. Those people who know precisely the right time to disobey orders, are a big help to humanity; but they’re mighty scarce.

Bill, he opened the door of the shack, an’ sez, “Come on out. Hank, a lady wants to be introduced to you.”

I stepped to the door feelin’ wonderful bashful, but when Barbie saw me, she went several different colors an’ shouts:

“Happy, Happy Hawkins! What on earth do you mean by bein’ here?”

Her voice was trembly an’ accusin’ an’ reproachful an’ glad an’ a lot of other things; an’ I found it mighty hard to come back with a joke, quick enough to suit me. I felt sort o’ flighty, with her big dark eyes lookin’ into me, an’ while I was stutterin’ she opened up on me an’ give me a good old-fashioned scoldin’–an’ I felt dandy. Bill, he was troubled some with startin’ eyes. Jessamie was breedy all right, but compared to Barbie, she looked like a six o’ suit alongside the queen o’ trumps.

“Why,” sez Barbie, turnin’ to Jessamie, “everything always goes right when Happy’s present. I might have known from your description that it was Happy who saw the only way–“

“Oh, pshaw, now,” sez I, breakin’ in, “I didn’t do a blasted thing. Cupid here was the master workman on this job, while Bill–“

“That’s all true enough,” sez Barbie, “you have the gift of hidin’ yourself in your work; but I can see you just the same.”

It was certainly comfortin’ to hear the way she went on about it; but it was a little too cold-blooded for my nerves, ’cause I hadn’t done a thing this time but make one small suggestion; so we finally compromised by admnittin’ that now an’ again, I was picked out to be the nail on the finger of Fate. Sometimes I rather think that comes purty close to hittin’ me.

Jessamie had graduated from the university where Barbie was goin’, at the close of Barbie’s first year. They had met, an’ remembered each other; an’ as soon as the news of the doin’s had reached the Diamond Dot, of course Barbie piked over to make a call. The outcome was that when the Colonel sent out a man to take my place, I rode back to the Diamond Dot with Barbie, an’ it was mighty good to be there again.

Jabez give me a good firm hand-shake, an’ didn’t rub it in about the silkworms; so that everything just slid along as smooth as joint- oil, an’ I had a good opportunity to estimate the benefit of Barbie’s schoolin’. She was a heap more changed than I had supposed at first; the’ was a way she had of holdin’ her head an’ walkin’ an’ talkin’, that showed me quick enough that money spent on her edication wasn’t nowise wasted.

But she went back to her last year soon after this, intendin’ to be the best maid at Jessamie’s weddin’. This weddin’ was a curious thing an’ opened my eyes purty wide to the ways of women. I’d ‘a’ been willin’ to bet my saddle that the one man she never would marry, was Bill; but she owned up herself that she had made up her mind to marry him the first night they met. She wasn’t quite sure of it until him an’ her had the fall-out over Cupid, and that settled it. She said a man who had the spunk to stick up for his dog the way Bill did would be a purty handy kind to have around the house, an’ she was just tryin’ him out to see how far he’d go. She was actually fond of dogs all the time, especially bulldogs. A girl-baby three years old could have fooled Methusaleh in his prime, an’ that means after he’d had about six hundred years of experience. She’s a wonderful invention, woman.

All the while before Barbie left, she was tryin’ to plan out what