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Dunton, W. Herbert / Faro Nell and Her Friends Wolfville Stories
[Illustration: WE MAKES FOUR TRIPS BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN WOLFVILLE AND
RED DOG, CRACKIN' OFF OUR GOOD OLD '45'S AT IRREG'LAR INTERVALS, FARO
NELL ON HER CALICO PONY AS THE GODDESS OF LIBERTY, BUSTIN' AWAY WITH THE
REST. Frontispiece. p. 170.]




FARO NELL AND HER FRIENDS

WOLFVILLE STORIES

BY

ALFRED HENRY LEWIS

AUTHOR OF "WOLFVILLE," "WOLFVILLE DAYS," "WOLFVILLE NIGHTS," "WOLFVILLE
FOLKS," "THE BOSS," "THE SUNSET TRAIL," "THE APACHES OF
NEW YORK," "THE STORY OF PAUL JONES," ETC.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY

W. HERBERT DUNTON AND J. N. MARCHAND

G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK




Copyright, 1913, By

G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

Faro Nell and Her Friends




THIS BOOK

IS DEDICATED TO

WILLIAM EUGENE LEWIS

AS MARKING

MY APPRECIATION OF

WHAT QUALITIES PLACE HIM HIGH

AMONG THE BEST EDITORS

BEST BROTHERS AND BEST MEN

I'VE EVER MET

A. H. L.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE
I DEAD SHOT BAKER 7
II OLD MAN ENRIGHT'S UNCLE 39
III CYNTHIANA, PET-NAMED ORIGINAL SIN 61
IV OLD MONTE, OFFICIAL DRUNKARD 99
V HOW THE MOCKING BIRD WAS WON 126
VI THAT WOLFVILLE-RED DOG FOURTH 148
VII PROPRIETY PRATT, HYPNOTIST 176
VIII THAT TURNER PERSON 198
IX RED MIKE 225
X HOW TUTT SHOT TEXAS THOMPSON 260
XI THE FUNERAL OF OLD HOLT 295
XII SPELLING BOOK BEN 320




ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE
We makes four trips back and forth between Wolfville and Red
Dog, crackin' off our good old '45's at irreg'lar
intervals, Faro Nell on her calico pony as the Goddess of
Liberty, bustin' away with the rest. . . . Frontispiece 170
We're all discussin' the doin's of this yere road-agent when
Dan gets back from Red-Dog, an' the result is he unloads
his findin's on a dead kyard. 18
Dead Shot stops short at this hitch in the discussion, by
reason of a bullet from the Lightin' Bug's pistol which
lodges in his lung. 28
The second evening Old Stallins is with us, Dan Boggs an'
Texas Thompson uplifts his aged sperits with the "Love
Dance of the Catamounts." 42
"It's you, Oscar, that I want," observes Miss Bark. "I
concloodes, upon sober second thought, to accept your
offer of marriage." 90
A couple of Enright's riders comes a packin' a live bobcat
into town. 118
Turkey Track, seein' he's afoot an' thirty miles from his home
ranch pulls his gun an' sticks up the mockin' bird's
buckboard. 138
We sees the Turner person aboard an' wishes him all kinds of
luck. 222
"What's the subject?" Peets asks. "That, my friend, is the
'Linden in October,'" returns Mike, as though he's a
showin' us a picture of Heaven's front gate. 238
"Him an' Annalinda shore do constitoote a picture. 'Thar's a
pa'r to draw to,' says Nell to Texas, her eyes like brown
diamonds." 280
Thar's a bombardment which sounds like a battery of gatlings,
the whole punctchooated by a whirlwind of "whoops!" 316
"Onless girls is barred," declares Faro Nell, from her perch
on the chair "I've a notion to take a hand." 336




FARO NELL AND HER FRIENDS




I

DEAD SHOT BAKER


"Which you never knows Dead Shot Baker?"

This, from the old cattleman, with a questioning glance my way.

"No? Well, you shore misses knowin' a man! Still, it ain't none so
strange neither; even Wolfville's acquaintance with Dead Shot's only
what you-all might call casyooal, him not personally lastin' more'n
three months.

"This yere Dead Shot has a wife. Thar's women you don't want to see
ontil you're tired, an' women you don't want to see ontil you're
rested, an' women you don't want to see no how--don't want to see at
all. This wife of Dead Shot's belongs with the latter bunch.

"Last evenin' I'm readin' whar one of them philosophic sports asserts
that women, that a-way, is shore the sublimation of the oncertain.
That's how he lays it down; an' he never hedges the bluff for so much
as a single chip. He insists that you can't put a bet on women; that
you can bet on hosses or kyards or 'lections, but not on women--women
bein' too plumb oncertain. As I reads along, I can't he'p feelin' that
somehow this philosophic party must have knowed Dead Shot's wife.

"The first time we-all ever sees Dead Shot, he comes trackin' into the
Red Light one evenin' jest after the stage rolls up. Bein' it's
encroachin' on second drink time, he sidles up to the bar; an' then,
his manner some diffident an' apol'getic, he says:

"'Gents, do you-all feel like a little licker, that a-way?'

"It bein' imp'lite to reefuse, we assembles within strikin' distance
of the bottles Black Jack is slammin' the len'th of the counter, an'
begins spillin' out our forty drops. At this he turns even more
apol'getic.

"'Which I trusts,' he says, 'that no one'll mind much if I takes
water?'

"Of course no one minds. Wolfville don't make no speshulty of forcin'
whiskey onto no gent who's disinclined. If they prefers water, we
encourages 'em.

"'An' for this yere reason,' expounds Boggs, once when he ondertakes
to explain the public attitoode towards water to some inquirin'
tenderfoot--'an' for this partic'lar reason: Arizona is a dry an' arid
clime; an' water drinkers bein' a cur'ous rarity, we admires to keep a
spec'men or two buck-jumpin' about, so's to study their habits.'

"As we picks up our glasses, Dead Shot sets to introdoocin' himse'f.

"'My name, gents,' he says, 'is Baker, Abner Baker. The Wells-Fargo
folks sends me down yere from Santa Fe to ride shotgun for 'em.'

"The name's plenty s'fficient. It's him who goes to a showdown with
them three road agents who lays for the stage over in a spur of the
Black Range back of San Marcial, an' hives the three. That battle
saves the company $200,000; an', they're that pleased with Dead Shot's
industry, they skins the company's bankroll for a bundle of money the
size of a roll of blankets, an' gives it to him by way of reward.
It's the talk of the two territories.

"While we-all knows Dead Shot when he speaks his name, none of us lets
on. It's ag'inst ettiquette in the southwest to know more of a gent
than what he tells himse'f.

"'So water's all you samples?' puts in Texas Thompson, as we stands
an' drinks.

"'It's like this,' explains Dead Shot, appealin' round with his eye.
'You see I can't drink nosepaint none, an' drink successful.'

"'Shore,' observes Faro Nell, who's takin' her diminyootive toddy
right at Dead Shot's elbow; 'thar's gents so organized that to go
givin' 'em licker is like tryin' to play a harp with a hammer.'

"That's me,' exclaims Dead Shot; 'that's me, Miss, every time. Give me
a spoonful, an' I deemands a bar'l. After which, thar ain't no se'f
respectin' camp that'll stand for my game.'

"'I savvys what you means,' says Tutt; 'I reecalls in my own case how,
on the hocks of mebby it's the ninth drink--which this is years an'
years ago, though--I mistakes a dem'crat primary for a Methodist
praise meetin', an' comes ramblin' in an' offers to lead in pra'r.
Which I carries the scars to this day.'

"'Which is why, Dave,' interjecks Cherokee Hall, in hopes of settin'
Tutt to pitchin' on his p'litical rope, him bein' by nacher a
oncompromisin' reepublican that a-way--'which is why you always holds
dem'crats so low.'

"'But I don't hold 'em low,' protests Tutt. 'Thar's heaps to be said
for dem'crats, leastwise for the sort that's pesterin' 'round in the
country I hails from.'

"'What be your dem'crats like, Dave?' Texas urges. 'Which I wants to
see if they're same as the kind I cuts the trail of down about
Laredo.'

"'Well,' returns Tutt, 'simply hittin' the high places, them dem'crats
by which I'm born surrounded chews tobacco, sw'ars profoosely, drinks
mighty exhaustive, hates niggers, an' some of 'em can read.'

"'That deescription goes for Laredo, too,' Texas allows. 'This yere
jedge, who gives my wife her divorce that time, an' sets the sheriff
to sellin' up my steers for costs an' al'mony, is a dem'crat. What you
says, Dave, is the merest picture of that joorist.'

"'I expects my wife'll come rackin' along _poco tiempo,'_ Dead Shot
remarks, after a pause. 'I'm yere as advance gyard to sling things
into shape.'

"It's as good as a toone of music to see how softly his face lights
up. He's as big an' wide an' thick an' strong as Boggs, an' yet it's
plain as paint that this yere wife of his, whoever she is, can jest
nacherally make curl-papers of him.

"That mention of a wife as usual sets Texas to growlin'.

"'Thar you be, Dan!' I overhears him whisper, same as if he's been
ill-treated; 'the instant this Dead-Shot says "Water" I'm onto it that
he's a married man. Water an' matrimony goes hand in hand.'

"'Now I don't see why none?' retorts Boggs.

"'Because water's weakenin'. Feed a sport on water, an' it's a cinch
he falls a prey to the first female who ropes at him.'

"'Thar's Dave,' Boggs argyoos, noddin' towards Tutt. 'Ain't he
drinkin' that time he weds Tucson Jennie?'

"'Dave's the exception. Also, you-all remembers them circumstances,
Dan. Dave don't marry Jennie; Jennie simply ups an' has him.'

"'All the same,' contends Boggs, 'I don't regyard Dead Shot's sobriety
as no drawback. Thar's lots of folks who's cap'ble of bein' sober an'
sociable at one an' the same time.'

"These yere low-voiced wranglin's between Texas an' Boggs is off to
one side. Meanwhile, the gen'ral confab proceeds.

"'You ain't been long hooked up?' says Doc Peets, addressin' Dead
Shot.

"'About a year. She's in the stage that time I has the trouble with
them hold-ups in the Black Range, an' she allows she likes my style.'

"'We-all hears about that Black Range battle,' remarks Enright.

"'It's a mighty lucky play for me,' says Dead Shot; 'I don't ree'lize
it while I'm workin' my winchester, but I'm winnin' a angel all the
time. That's on the level, gents! I never puts my arm 'round her yet,
but what I go feelin' for wings.'

"'Don't this make you sick?' Texas growls to Boggs.

"'No, it don't,' Boggs replies. 'On the contrary, I'm teched.'

"'Gents,' goes on Dead Shot, an' I sees his mustache tremble that
a-way; 'I don't mind confessin' she's that angelic I'm half afraid to
marry her. I ain't fine enough! It's like weddin' gunny-sack to
silk--me makin' her my wife. Which I shore has to think an' argyoo
with myse'f a whole lot, before I gets the courage. Ain't you-all ever
noticed'--yere he appeals 'round to Peets--'that every time you meets
up with a angel, thar's always some smoke-begrimed an' sin-encrusted
son of Satan workin' double-turn to support her?'

"Peets nods.

"'Shore! Well, it's sech reflections which final gives me the
reequired sand. An' so, one evenin' up in Albuquerque, we prances over
before a padre an' we're married. You bet, it's like a vision.'

"'Any papooses?' asks Tutt, plumb pompous.

"'None as yet,' confesses Dead Shot, lookin' abashed.

"'Which I've nacherally got one,' an' yere Tutt swells. 'You can put
your case _peso_ on it he's the real thing, too.'

"'Little Enright Peets is certainly a fine child,' remarks Nell.
'Dave, you're shore licensed to be proud of him.'

"'That's whatever,' adds Boggs. 'Little Enright Peets is nothin' short
of bein' the No'th Star of all hoomanity!'

"Mebby a week passes, an' one mornin' Dead Shot goes squanderin' over
to Tucson to bring his wife. An' nacherally we're on what they calls
in St. Looey the 'quee vee' to see her. At that, we-all don't crowd
'round permiscus when the stage arrives, an' we avoids everything
which borders on mob voylence.

"Dead Shot hits the street, lookin' that happy it's like he's in a
dream, an' then goes feelin' about, soft an' solic'tous, inside. At
last he lifts her out, an' stands thar holdin' her in his arms. She's
shore beautiful; only she ain't no bigger 'n a ten year old youngone.
Yellow-ha'red an' bloo-eyed, she makes you think of these yere china
ornaments that's regyarded artistic by the Dutch.

"They're certainly a contrast--him big as a house, her as small an'
pretty as a doll! An' you should see that enamored Dead Shot look at
her!--long an' deep, like a man drinkin'! Son, sometimes I fears
women, that a-way, misses all knowledge of how much they're loved.

"'She ain't sick,' says Dead Shot, speakin' gen'ral; 'only she twists
her off ankle gettin' out at the last station.'

"Dead Shot heads for the little 'dobe he's fitted up, packin' his
bloo-eyed doll in his arms. What's our impressions? No gent who signs
the books as sech'll say anything ag'in a lady; but between us, thar's
a sooperior wrinklin' of the little tipped-up nose, an' a cold feel to
them bloo eyes, which don't leave us plumb enthoosiastic.

"'It's like this,' volunteers Enright, who stacks in to explain
things. 'Every gent's got his ideal; an' this yere wife of his is Dead
Shot's ideal.'

"'Whatever's an ideal, Doc?' asks Boggs, who's always romancin' about
for information.

"'Which an ideal, Dan,' Peets replies, 'is the partic'lar gold brick
you're tryin' to buy.'

"At the time Dead Shot's standin' thar with his fam'ly in his arms,
Nell comes out on the Red Light steps to take a peek. Also, Missis
Rucker an' Tucson Jennie is hoverin' about all sim'lar. After Dead
Shot an' his bride has faded into their 'dobe, them three experts
holds a energetic consultation in the street. Of course, none of us
has the hardihood to go j'inin' in their deelib'rations, but from
what's said later we gets a slant at their concloosions.

"'Dead Shot's a mighty sight too good for her,' is how Missis Rucker
gives jedgment. 'It's peltin' pigs with pearls for him to go lovin'
her like he does.'

"Shore; bein' ladies that-a-way, Missis Rucker, Tucson Jennie an' Faro
Nell all visits Dead Shot's wife. But the feelin' is that they finds
her some stuck up an' haughty. This yere notion is upheld by Nell
callin' her a 'minx,' while Tucson Jennie alloodes to her as a 'cat'
on two sep'rate occasions.

"Dead Shot an' his doll-bride, in the beginnin', seems to be gettin'
along all right. It's only when thar's money goin' over, that Dead
Shot has to buckle on his guns an' ride out with the stage. This gives
him lots of time to hang 'round, an' worship her. Which I'm yere to
reemark that if ever a white man sets up an idol, that a-way, an' says
his pra'rs to it, that gent's Dead Shot. Thar's nothin' to it; prick
her finger, an' you pierce his heart.

"'It'd be beautiful if it wasn't awful,' says Faro Nell.

"It ain't a month when events lifts up their p'isin heads, which goes
to jestify them comments of Nell's. Thar's been a White House shift
back in Washington, an' a new postmaster's sent out. He's a dapper
party, with what Peets calls a 'Van Dyke' beard, an' smells like a
ha'r-dresser's shop.

"Now if affairs stops thar, we could have stood it; but they don't. I
abhors to say so, but it ain't two weeks before Dead Shot's wife's
makin' onmistak'ble eyes at that postmaster. Them times when Dead
Shot's dooties has took him to the other end of the trail, she's over
to the post office constant. None of us says anything, not even to
ourselves; but when it gets to whar she shoves you away from the
letter place, an' begins talkin' milk and honey to him right under
your nose, onless you're as blind as steeple bats, an' as deaf as the
adder of scriptoore which stoppeth her y'ear, you're shore bound to do
some thinkin'.

[Illustration: WE'RE ALL DISCUSSIN' THE DOIN'S OF THIS YERE ROAD-AGENT
WHEN DAN GETS BACK FROM RED-DOG, AN' THE RESULT IS HE UNLOADS HIS
FINDIN'S ON A DEAD KYARD. p. 18.]

"'Which if ever a gov'ment offishul,' exclaims Texas, as he comes
t'arin' into the Red Light one evenin', deemandin' drinks--'which if
ever a gov'ment offishul goes organizin' his own fooneral that a-way,
it's this yere deeboshed postmaster next door!'

"Thar's nothin' said, but we-all knows what's on Texas's mind. That
wife of Dead Shot's, for the fo'th time that day, has gone askin' for
letters.

"'She writes 'em to herse'f,' is the way Missis Rucker lays it down.
'Also, it's doo to the crim'nal besottedness of that egreegious Dead
Shot. The man's shorely love-blind!'

"'You ain't goin' to t'ar into him for that, be you?' Nell asks, her
tones reproachful. 'Him lovin' her like he does shore makes a hit with
me. A limit goes in farobank; but my notion is to take the bridle off
when the game's love.'

"'But all the same he needn't get that lovin' it addles him,' says
Missis Rucker. 'In a way, it's Dead Shot's sole fault, her actin'
like she does. Instead of keepin' them Mexicans to do her work, Dead
Shot ought to make her go surgin' round, an' care for her house
herse'f. Thar ain't nobody needs steady employment more'n a woman.
You-all savvys where it says that Satan finds some mischief still for
idle hands to do? Which you bet that bluff means women--an'
postmasters--every time.'

"Missis Rucker continues along sim'lar lines, mighty inflexible, for
quite a spell. She concloodes by sayin':

"'You keep a woman walsin' round a cook-stove, or wrastlin' a washtub,
or jugglin' pots an' skillets, same as them sleight-of-hand folks at
the Bird Cage Op'ry House, an' she won't be so free to primp an' preen
an' look at herse'f in the glass, an' go gaddin' after letters which
she herse'f's done writ.'

"We-all can't he'p hearin' this yere, seen' we're settin' round the O.
K. dinin' table feedin' at the time; but we stubbornly refooses to be
drawed into any views, Enright settin' us the example. That sagacious
old warchief merely reaches for the salt-hoss, an' never yeeps;
wharupon we maintains ourselves stoodiously yeepless likewise.

"Things goes on swingin' an' rattlin', an' the open-air flirtations
which Dead Shot's wife keeps up with that outcast of a postmaster's
enough to give you a chill. We sets thar, powerless, expectin' a
killin' every minute. An' all the time, like his eyes has took a
layoff, Dead Shot wanders to an' fro, boastin' an' braggin' in the
mushiest way about his wife. Moreover--an' this trenches on
eediotcy--he goes out of his path to make a pard of the postmaster,
an' has that deebauchee over to his shack evenin's.

"Dead Shot even begins publicly singin' the praises of this office
holder.

"'Which it's this a-way,' he says; 'what with him bein' book-read an'
a sport who's seen foreign lands, he's company for my wife. She
herse'f's eddicated to a feather-edge; an', nacherally, that's what
gives 'em so much in common.'

"Thar's all the same a note in Dead Shot's voice that's like the echo
of a groan. It looks, too, as though it sets fire to Texas, who jumps
up as if he's stung by a trant'ler.

"'Come,' he says, grabbin' Boggs by the shoulder.

"Texas has Boggs drug half-way to the door, before Enright can head
'em off.

"'Whar to?' demands Enright; an' then adds, 'don't you-all boys go
nigh that post office.'

"'All right,' says Texas final, but gulpin' a little; 'since it's you
who says so, Sam, we won't. Me an' Dan yere'll merely take a little
_passear_ as far as the graveyard, by way of reecoverin' our sperits
an' to get the air. I'll shore blow up if obleeged to listen to that
Dead Shot any longer.'

"'I sees it in his eye,' Enright explains in a low tone to Peets, as
he resoomes his cha'r; 'Texas is simply goin' to bend his gun over
that letter man's head.'

"'How often has I told you, Dan,' asks Texas, after they gets headed
for Boot Hill, an' Texas has regained his aplomb, 'that women is a
brace game?'

"'Not all women,' Boggs objects; 'thar's Nell.'

"'Shore; Nell!' Texas consents. 'Sech as her has all of the honor an'
honesty of a Colt's-45. A gent can rely on the Nellie brand, same as
he can on his guns. But Nellie's one in one thousand. Them other nine
hundred an' ninety-nine'll deal you the odd-kyard, Dan, every time.'

"When Texas an' Boggs arrives at Boot Hill, Texas goes seelectin'
about, same as if he's searchin' out a site for a grave. At last he
finds a place whar thar's nothin' but mesquite, soapweed an' rocks,
it's that ornery:

"'Yere's whar we plants him,' says Texas; 'off yere, by himse'f, like
as if he's so much carrion.'

"'Who you talkin' about?' asks Boggs, some amazed.

"'Who?' repeats Texas; 'whoever but that postmaster? Dead Shot's got
to get him soon or late. An' followin' the obsequies, thar ain't goin'
to be no night gyards neither. Which if them coyotes wants to dig him
up, they're welcome. It's their lookout, not mine; an' I ain't got no
love for coyotes no how.'

"'Thar ain't no coyote in Cochise County who's sunk that low he'll eat
him,' says Boggs.

"Like every other outfit, Wolfville sees its hours of sunshine an' its
hours of gloom, its lights an' its shadders. But I'm yere to state
that it never suffers through no more nerve-rackin' eepock than that
which it puts in about Dead Shot an' his wife. She don't bother us so
much as him. It's Dead Shot himse'f, praisin' up the postmaster an'
paintin' the sun-kissed virchoose of his wife, which keeps the sweat
a-pourin' down the commoonal face. An' all that's left us is to stand
pat, an' wait for the finish!

"One day the Wells-Fargo people sends Dead Shot to Santa Fe to take a
money box over to Taos. Two days later, Dead Shot's wife finds she's
got to go visit Tucson. Likewise, the postmaster allows he's been
ordered to Wilcox, to straighten out some deepartmental kinks. Which
we certainly sets thar an' looks at each other!--the play's that
rank.

"The postmaster an' Dead Shot's wife goes rumblin' out on the same
stage. Monte starts to tell us what happens when he returns, but the
old profligate don't get far.

"'Gents,' he says, 'that last trip, when Dead Shot's----'

"'Shet up,' roars Enright, an' Monte shore shets up.

"It comes plenty close to killin' the mis'rable old dipsomaniac at
that. He swells an' he swells, with that pent-up information inside
of him, ontil he looks like a dissipated toad. But sech is his awe of
Enright, he never dar's opens his clamshell.

"It's a week before Dead Shot's wife gets back, an' the postmaster
don't show up till four days more. Then Dead Shot himse'f comes
trackin' in.

"Faro Nell, who's eyes is plumb keen that a-way, lets on to Cherokee
private that Dead Shot looks sorrow-ridden. But I don't know! Dead
Shot's nacherally grave, havin' no humor. A gent who constant goes
messin' round with road agents, shootin' an' bein' shot at, ain't apt
to effervesce. Nell sticks to it, jest the same, that he's onder a
cloud.

"Dead Shot continyoos to play his old system, an' cavorts 'round plumb
friendly with the postmaster, an' goes teeterin' yere an' thar tellin'
what a boon from heaven on high his wife is, same as former.

"Faro Nell shakes her head when Cherokee mentions this last:

"'That's his throw-off,' she says.

"One evenin' Dead Shot comes trailin' into the Red Light, an' strolls
over to whar Cherokee's dealin' bank.

"'What's the limit?' he asks.

"At this, we-all looks up a whole lot. It's the first time ever Dead
Shot talks of puttin' down a bet.

"Cherokee's face is like a mask, the face of the thorough-paced kyard
sharp. He shows no more astonishment than if Dead Shot's been settin'
in ag'inst his game every evenin' for a month.

"'One hundred an' two hundred,' says Cherokee.

"_'Bueno!'_ an' Dead Shot lays down two one-hundred dollar bills
between the king and queen.

"Thar's two turns. The third the kyards falls 'ten-king,' an' Nell,
from her place on the lookout's stool, shoves over two hundred dollars
in bloo checks. Thar they are, with the two one-hundred dollar bills,
between the king an' queen.

"'Does it go as it lays?' asks Dead Shot, it bein' double the limit.

"'It goes,' says Cherokee, never movin' a muscle.

"One turn, an' the kyards falls 'trey-queen.' Nell shoves four hundred
across to match up with Dead Shot's four hundred.

"'An' now?' Dead Shot asks.

"'I'll turn for it,' Cherokee responds.

"It's yere that Dead Shot's luck goes back on him. The turn comes
'queen-jack,' an' Nell rakes down the eight hundred.

"Dead Shot's hand goes to the butt of his gun.

"'I've been robbed,' he growls; 'thar's fifty-three kyards in that
deck.'

"Cherokee's on his feet, his eyes like two steel p'ints, gun half
drawed. But Nell's as quick. Her hand's on Cherokee's, an' she keeps
his gun whar it belongs.

"'Steady!' she says; 'can't you see he's only coaxin' you to bump him
off?' Then, with her face full on Dead Shot, she continyoos: 'It won't
do, Dead Shot; it won't do none! You-all can't get it handed to you
yere! You're in the wrong shop; you-all ought to try next door!' An'
Nell p'ints with her little thumb through the wall to the post
office.

"Dead Shot stands thar the color of seegyar ashes, while Cherokee
settles ca'mly back in his cha'r. Cherokee's face is as bar' of
expression as a blank piece of paper, as he runs his eye along the
lay-out, makin' ready for the next turn. Thar's mebby a dozen of us
playin', but not a word is spoke. Everyone is onto Dead Shot's little
game, the moment Nell begins to talk.

"Matters seems to hang on centers, ontil Nell stretches across an'
lays her baby hand on Dead Shot's:

"'Thar ain't a soul in sight,' she says, mighty soft an' good, 'but
what's your friend, Dead Shot.'

"Dead Shot, pale as a candle, wheels toward the door.

"'Pore Dead Shot!' murmurs Nell, the tears in her eyes, to that extent
she has to ask Boggs to take her place as lookout.

"Four hours goes by, an' thar's the poundin' of a pony's hoofs, an'
the creak of saddle-leathers, out in front. It's the Red Dog chief,
who's come lookin' for Enright.

"They confabs a minute or two at a table to the r'ar, an' then Enright
calls Peets over.

"'Dead Shot's gone an' got himse'f downed,' he says.

[Illustration: DEAD SHOT STOPS SHORT AT THIS HITCH IN THE DISCUSSION, BY
REASON OF A BULLET FROM THE LIGHTIN' BUG'S PISTOL WHICH LODGES IN HIS
LUNG. p. 29.]

"'It's on the squar' gents,' explains the Red Dog chief; 'Dead Shot'll
say so himself. He jest nacherally comes huntin' it.'

"It looks like Dead Shot, after that failure with Cherokee in the Red
Light, p'ints across for Red Dog. He searches out a party who's called
the Lightnin' Bug, on account of the spontaneous character of his
six-shooter. Dead Shot finds the Lightnin' Bug talkin' with two fellow
gents. He listens awhile, an' then takes charge of the conversation.

"'Bug,' he says, raisin' his voice like it's a challenge--'Bug, only
I'm afraid folks'll string you up a whole lot, I'd say it's you who
stood up the stage last week in Apache Canyon. Also'--an' yere Dead
Shot takes to gropin' about in his jeans, same as if he's feelin' for
a knife--'it's mighty customary with me, on occasions sech as this, to
cut off the y'ears of----'

"Dead Shot stops short, by reason of a bullet from the Bug's pistol
which lodges in his lungs.

"When Peets an' Enright finds him, he's spread out on the Red Dog
chief's blankets, coughin' blood, with the sorrow-stricken Bug
proppin' him up one moment to drink water, an' sheddin' tears over him
the next, alternate.

"The Red Dog chief leads out the weepin' Bug, who's lamentin' mighty
grievous, an' leaves Enright an' Peets with Dead Shot.

"'It's all right, gents,' whispers Dead Shot; 'I comes lookin' for it,
an' I gets it. Likewise, she ain't to blame; it's me. I oughtn't to
have married her that time--she only a girl, an' me a full-growed man
who should 'av had sense for both.'

"'That's no lie,' says Peets, an' Dead Shot gives him a grateful
look.

"'No,' he goes on, 'she's too fine, too high--I wasn't her breed. An'
I ought to have seen it.' Yere he has a tussle to hang on.

"Peets pours him out some whiskey.

"'It's licker, ain't it?' Dead Shot gasps, sniffin' the glass. 'I'm
for water, Doc, licker makin' me that ornery.'

"'Down with it,' urges Peets. 'Which, if I'm a jedge, you'll pack in
long before you're due to start anything extra serious, even if you
drinkt a gallon.'

"'Shore!' agrees Dead Shot, as though the idee brings him relief. 'For
a moment it slips my mind about me bein' plugged. But as I'm sayin',
gents, don't blame her. An' don't blame him. I has my chance, an' has
it all framed up, too, when I crosses up with 'em recent over in
Tucson, to kill 'em both. But I can't do it, gents. The six-shooter at
sech a time's played out. That's straight; it don't fill the bill; it
ain't adequate, that a-way. So all I can do is feel sorry for 'em, an'
never let 'em know I knows. For, after all, it ain't their fault, it's
mine. You sports see that, don't you? She's never meant for me, bein'
too fine; an', me a man, I ought to have knowed.'

"Dead Shot ceases talkin', an' Enright glances at Peets. Peets shakes
his head plenty sorrowful.

"'Go on,' he says to Dead Shot; 'you-all wants us to do--what?'

"'Thar you be!' an' at the sound of Peets' voice Dead Shot's mind
comes creepin' back to camp. 'She'll be happy with him--they havin' so
much in common--an' him an' her bein' eddicated that a-way--an' him
havin' traveled a whole lot! An' this yere's what I wants, gents. I
wants you-all, as a kindness to me an' in a friendly way--seein' I
can't stay none to look-out the play myse'f--to promise to sort o'
supervise round an' put them nuptials over right. I takes time by the
forelock an' sends to Tucson for a sky-pilot back two days ago. Bar
accidents, he'll be in camp by to-morry. He can work in at the
funeral, too, an' make it a whipsaw.'

"Dead Shot turns his eyes on Enright. It's always so about our old
chief; every party who's in trouble heads for him like a coyote for a
camp fire.

"'You'll shore see that he marries her?--Promise!'

"Thar's a quaver in Dead Shot's voice, Peets tells me, that's like a
pra'r.

"'Thar's my hand, Dead Shot,' says Enright, who's chokin' a little.
'So far as the letter man's concerned, it'll be the altar or the
windmill, Jack Moore an' a lariat or that preacher party you refers
to.'

"Dead Shot's gettin' mighty weak. After Enright promises he leans back
like he's takin' a rest. He's so still they're beginnin' to figger
he's done cashed in; but all at once he starts up like he's
overlooked some bet, an' has turned back from eternity to tend to it.

"'About Cherokee an' his box,' he whispers; 'that's a lyin' bluff I
makes. Tell him I don't mean nothin'; I'm only out to draw his fire.'

"After this Dead Shot only rouses once. His voice ain't more'n a
sigh.

"'I forgets to tell you,' he says, 'to give her my love. An' you say,
too, that I'm bumped off like snuffin' out a candle--too plumb quick
for her to get yere. An' don't blame her, gents; it's not her fault,
it's mine.'

"It's the week after the fooneral. The postmaster's still in town,
partly by nacheral preference, partly because Enright notifies Jack
Moore to ride herd on him, an' fill him as full of lead as a bag of
bullets in event he ondertakes to go stampedin' off.

"In the Red Light the seventh evenin' Enright rounds up Peets.

"'Doc,' he says, 'a month would be more respect'ble, but this yere's
beginnin' to tell on me.'

"'Besides,' Peets chips in, by way of he'pin' Enright out, 'that
preacher sharp corraled over to Missis Rucker's is gettin' restless.
Onless we side-lines or puts hobbles on that divine we-all can't
expect to go holdin' him much longer.'

"Enright leads the way to the r'ar wareroom of the Noo York store,
which bein' whar the stranglers holds their meetin's is Wolfville's
hall of jestice. After licker is brought Enright sends Jack Moore for
the postmaster, who comes in lookin' plenty white. Missis Rucker
brings over the divine; an' next Dead Shot's widow--she's plumb lovely
in black--appears on the arm of Peets, who goes in person.

"Thar's a question in the widow's eye, like she don't onderstand.

"'Roll your game,' says Enright to the preacher sharp.

"It's yere an' now Dead Shot's widow fully b'ars out that philos'pher
who announces so plumb cold, that a-way, that women's the sublimation
of the onexpected. Jack Moore's jest beginnin' to manoover that
recreant public servant into p'sition on the widow's left hand, so's
he can be married to the best advantage, an' the preacher sharp's
gettin' out an' openin' his book of rooles, when the widow draws
back.

"P'intin' at the bridegroom postmaster, same as if he's a stingin'
lizard, she addresses Enright.

"'Whatever's the meanin' of this?'

"'Merely the croode preelim'naries, Ma'am,' Enright explains, 'to what
we-all trusts will prove a fa'rly deesir'ble weddin'.'

"'Me marry him?' an' the onmitigated scorn that relict exhibits, to
say nothin' of her tone of voice, shore makes the postmaster
bridegroom feel chagrined.

"'You'll pardon us, Ma'am,' returns Enright, soft an' depreecatory,
tryin' to get her feelin's bedded down, 'which you'll shore pardon us
if in our dullness we misreads your sentiments. You see, the notion
gets somehow proned into us that you wants this party. Which if we
makes a mistake, by way of repa'rin' that error, let me say that if
thar's any one else in sight whom you preefers, an' who's s'fficiently
single an' yoothful to render him el'gible for wedlock,'--yere Enright
takes in Boggs an' Texas with his gaze, wharat Texas grows as
green-eyed as a cornered bobcat--'he's yours, Ma'am, on your p'intin'
him out.'

"'Which I don't want to marry no one,' cries the widow, commencin' to
sob. 'An' as for marryin' him speshul'--yere she glances at the
bridegroom postmaster in sech a hot an' drastic way he's left
shrivellin' in his own shame--'I'd sooner live an' die the widow of
Dead Shot Abner Baker than be the wife of a cornfield full of sech.'

"Everybody stares, an' Enright takes a modicum of Old Jordan.

"'You don't deeserve this none,' he says at last, turnin' to the
postmaster bridegroom. 'Onder the circumstances, however, thar's
nothin' left for me to do as cha'rman but deeclar' this yere weddin' a
misdeal.'

"Texas is plumb disgusted.

"'Don't some folks have nigger luck, Dan?' he says.

"Later, after thinkin' things up an' down in his mind, Texas takes
ombrage at Enright's invitin' Dead Shot's widow to look him an' Boggs
over that a-way, an' take her pick.

"'Which sech plays don't stand ace-high with me, Sam,' Texas
says--'you tryin' to auction me off like you does. Even a stranger,
with a half-way hooman heart, after hearin' my story would say that I
already suffers enough. An' yet you, who calls yourse'f my friend,
does all that lays in your callous power to thrust me back into
torment.'

"'Texas,' replies Enright, like he's bore about all he can, 'you
shorely worries me with your conceit. If you-all won't take my word,
then go take a good hard look at yourse'f in the glass. Thar's never
the slightest risk, as everybody but you yourse'f sees plainly, of
that lady or any other lady takin' you.'

"'You thinks not?' asks Texas, plenty incensed.

"'Which I _knows_ not. No lady's lot ain't quite that desp'rate.'

"'Well,' returns Texas, after a pause, his face expressin' his
soreness, 'I'm yere to say, Sam, I don't agree with you, none
whatever. You forgets that I've already been took in wedlock bonds by
one lady. An' while that Laredo wife of mine is hard an' crooel, all
Texas knows she's plumb partic'lar. Also, no one ever yet comes
pirootin' up the trail who doubts her taste.'

"It's the evenin' before the preacher sharp goes back to Tucson, when
Enright edges him off into a corner of the O. K. dinin' room.

"'Parson,' says Enright, lookin' like he's a heap bothered about
somethin'--'parson, in addition to your little game as a preacher that
a-way, you don't happen to be up none on table-tippin' or sperit
rappin', same as them mediums, do you?'

"'Which I shore don't,' replies the preacher sharp, archin' his neck,
indignant. 'Likewise, I regyards them cer'monials you alloodes to as
satantic in their or'gin.'

"'Doubtless, parson,' returns Enright, some disapp'inted, 'doubtless.
Still, if you-all but counts the rings on my horns, as givin' some
impression of the years I've lived an' what troubles I've probably
gone through, you'll onderstand that I ain't takin' Satan no more
serious than a empty six-shooter. But the mere trooth is, parson, I'm
pestered by them promises I makes deeceased. Which I'd give a yellow
stack to get put next to Dead Shot's sperit long enough to explain
concernin' them nuptials, an' make cl'ar jest how me an' the Doc falls
down.'"




II

OLD MAN ENRIGHT'S UNCLE


"Which you'll excoose me," and the old cattleman replaced his glass
upon the table with a decisive click, "if I fails to j'ine you in them
sent'ments. For myse'f, I approves onreserved of both lies an' liars.
Also, that reemark goes double when it comes to public liars tellin'
public lies. Which, however se'fish it may sound, I prefers this
gov'ment to last my time; an' it's my idee that if them statesmen back
at Washington ever takes a hour off from their tax-eatin' an' tells
the people the trooth, the whole trooth an' nothin' but the trooth of
their affairs, said people'll be down on the sityooation instanter,
like a weasel on a nest of field mice, an' wipe the face of nacher
free an' cl'ar of these United States."

The above was drawn forth by my condemnatory comments on the published
speech of a Senator, wherein the truth was as a grain of wheat in a
bushel of mendacious chaff.

"Shore," continued the old gentleman, with the manner of one who
delivers final judgment, "lies is not only to be applauded, but
fostered. They're the angle-irons an' corner-braces that keeps plumb
the social fabric, wantin' which the whole frame-work of soci'ty would
go leanin' sideways, same as that Eyetalian tower you shows me the
picture of the other day. Why, if everybody in the world was to go
tellin' the trooth for the next hour ninety-nine folks in every
hundred would be obleeged to put in the rest of their lives hidin'
out.

"Do I myse'f ever lie?

"Frequent an' plumb cheerful. I bases life on the rooles laid down by
that sharp who advises folks to do unto others as others does unto
them, an' beat 'em to it. Believin', tharfore, in handin' a gent his
own system, I makes it my onbreakable practice to allers lie to liars.
Then, ag'in, whenever some impert'nent prairie dog takes to rummagin'
'round with queries to find out my deesigns, I onflaggingly fills him
to the brim with all forms of misleadin' mendac'ty, an' casts every
fictional obstruction in his path that's calc'lated to get between
his heels an' trip him up. I shore do admire to stand all sech
inquirin' mavericks on their heads, an' partic'ler if they're plottin'
ag'in me.

"An' why not? A party that a-way, as I some time ago instructs you,
ain't got no more right to search my head than to search my warbags,
an' a gent who may lock a door may lie. Which, if you'll go off by
yourse'f an' think this yere over, you'll see that it's so, an' so
with a double cinch.

"Thar's statements, too, which, speakin' technical, might be regyarded
as lyin' which don't in jestice class onder no sech head. For
spec'men, when Dick Wooten, upon me askin' him how long he's been
inhabitin' the Raton Pass, p'ints to the Spanish Peaks an' says, 'You
see them em'nences? Well, when I pitches camp in this yere gully them
mountings was two holes in the ground,' I don't feel like he's lyin'.
I merely remembers that he steals the bluff from old Jim Bridger,
grins an' lets it go at that.

"Likewise, I'm sim'larly onaffected towards that amiable multitoode
who simply lies to entertain.



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