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Danny's Own Story By Don Marquis Characters: 13174

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


Well, the next morning I'm feeling considerable better, and think mebby I'm going to live after all. I got up earlier'n Hank did, and slipped out without him seeing me, and didn't go nigh the shop a-tall. Fur now I've licked Hank oncet I figger he won't rest till he has wiped that disgrace out, and he won't care a dern what he picks up to do it with, nuther.

They was a crick about a hundred yards from our house, in the woods, and I went over there and laid down and watched it run by. I laid awful still, thinking I wisht I was away from that town. Purty soon a squirrel comes down and sets on a log and watches me. I throwed an acorn at him, and he scooted up a tree quicker'n scatt. And then I wisht I hadn't scared him away, fur it looked like he knowed I was in trouble. Purty soon I takes a swim, and comes out and lays there some more, spitting into the water and thinking what shall I do now, and watching birds and things moving around, and ants working harder'n ever I would agin unless I got better pay fur it, and these here tumble bugs kicking their loads along hind end to.

After a while it is getting along toward noon, and I'm feeling hungry. But I don't want to have no more trouble with Hank, and I jest lays there. I hearn two men coming through the underbrush. I riz up on my elbow to look, and one of them was Doctor Kirby and the other was Looey, only Looey wasn't an Injun this morning.

They sets down on the roots of a big tree a little ways off, with their backs toward me, and they ain't seen me. So nacherally I listened to what they was jawing about. They was both kind o' mad at the hull world, and at our town in pertic'ler, and some at each other, too. The doctor, he says:

"I haven't had such rotten luck since I played the bloodhound in a Tom Show-Were you ever an 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' artist, Looey?-and a justice of the peace over in Iowa fined me five dollars for being on the street without a muzzle. Said it was a city ordinance. Talk about the gentle Rube being an easy mark! If these country towns don't get the wandering minstrel's money one way they will another!"

"It's your own fault," says Looey, kind o' sour.

"I can't see it," says Doctor Kirby. "How did I know that all these apple-knockers had been filled up with Sykes's Magic Remedy only two weeks ago? I may have been a spiritualistic medium in my time now and then," he says, "and a mind reader, too, but I'm no prophet."

"I ain't talking about the business, Doc, and you know it," says Looey. "We'd be all right and have our horses and wagon now if you'd only stuck to business and not got us into that poker game. Talk about suckers! Doc, for a man that has skinned as many of 'em as you have, you're the worst sucker yourself I ever saw."

The doctor, he cusses the poker game and country towns and medicine shows and the hull creation and says he is so disgusted with life he guesses he'll go and be a preacher or a bearded lady in a sideshow. But Looey, he don't cheer up none. He says:

"All right, Doc, but it's no use talking. You can TALK all right. We all know that. The question is how are we going to get our horses and wagon away from these Rubes?"

I listens some more, and I seen them fellers was really into bad trouble. Doctor Kirby, he had got into a poker game at Smith's Palace Hotel the night before, right after the show. He had won from Jake Smith, which run it, and from the others. But shucks! it never made no difference what you won in that crowd. They had done Doctor Kirby and Looey like they always done a drummer or a stranger that come along to that town and was fool enough to play poker with them. They wasn't a chancet fur an outsider. If the drummer lost, they would take his money and that would be all they was to it. But if the drummer got to winning good, some one would slip out'n the hotel and tell Si Emery, which was the city marshal. And Si would get Ralph Scott, that worked fur Jake Smith in his livery stable, and pin a star onto Ralph, too. And they would be arrested fur gambling, only them that lived in our town would get away. Which Si and Ralph was always scared every time they done it. Then the drummer, or whoever it was, would be took to the calaboose, and spend all night there.

In the morning they would be took before Squire Matthews, that was justice of the peace. They would be fined a big fine, and he would get all the drummer had won and all he had brung to town with him besides. Squire Matthews and Jake Smith and Windy Goodell and Mart Watson, which the two last was lawyers, was always playing that there game on drummers that was fool enough to play poker. Hank, he says he bet they divided it up afterward, though it was supposed them fines went to the town. Well, they played a purty closte game of poker in our little town. It was jest like the doctor says to Looey:

"By George," he says, "it is a well-nigh perfect thing. If you lose you lose, and if you win you lose."

Well, the doctor, he had started out winning the night before. And Si Emery and Ralph Scott had arrested them. And that morning, while I had been laying by the crick and the rest of the town was seeing the fun, they had been took afore Squire Matthews and fined one hundred and twenty-five dollars apiece. The doctor, he tells Squire Matthews it is an outrage, and it ain't legal if tried in a bigger court, and they ain't that much money in the world so fur as he knows, and he won't pay it. But, the squire, he says the time has come to teach them travelling fakirs as is always running around the country with shows and electric belts and things that they got to stop dreening that town of hard-earned money, and he has decided to make an example of 'em. The only two lawyers in town is Windy and Mart, which has been in the poker game theirselves, the same as always. The doctor says the hull thing is a put-up job, and he can't get the money, and he wouldn't if he could, and he'll lay in that town calaboose and rot the rest of his life and eat the town poor before he'll stand it. And the squire says he'll jest take their hosses and wagon fur c'latteral till they make up the rest of the two hundred and fifty dollars. And the hosses and wagon was now in the livery stable next to Smith's Palace Hotel, which Jake run that too.

Well, I thinks to myself, it IS a dern shame, and I felt sorry fur them two fellers. Fur our town was jest as good as stealing that property. And I felt kind o' shamed of belonging to such a town, too. And I thinks to myself, I'd like to help 'em out of that scr

ape. And then I seen how I could do it, and not get took up fur it, neither. So, without thinking, all of a sudden I jumps up and says:

"Say, Doctor Kirby, I got a scheme!"

They jumps up too, and they looks at me startled. Then the doctor kind o' laughs and says:

"Why, it's the young blacksmith!"

Looey, he says, looking at me hard and suspicious:

"What kind of a scheme are you talking about?"

"Why," says I, "to get that outfit of yourn."

"You've been listening to us," says Looey. Looey was one of them quiet-looking fellers that never laughed much nor talked much. Looey, he never made fun of nobody, which the doctor was always doing, and I wouldn't of cared to make fun of Looey much, either.

"Yes," I says, "I been laying here fur quite a spell, and quite natcheral I listened to you, as any one else would of done. And mebby I can get that team and wagon of yourn without it costing you a cent."

Well, they didn't know what to say. They asts me how, but I says to leave it all to me. "Walk right along down this here crick," I says, "till you get to where it comes out'n the woods and runs acrost the road in under an iron bridge. That's about a half a mile east. Jest after the road crosses the bridge it forks. Take the right fork and walk another half a mile and you'll see a little yaller-painted schoolhouse setting lonesome on a sand hill. They ain't no school in it now. You wait there fur me," I says, "fur a couple of hours. After that if I ain't there you'll know I can't make it. But I think I'll make it."

They looks at each other and they looks at me, and then they go off a little piece and talk low, and then the doctor says to me:

"Rube," he says, "I don't know how you can work anything on us that hasn't been worked already. We've got nothing more we can lose. You go to it, Rube." And they started off.

So I went over town. Jake Smith was setting on the piazza in front of his hotel, chawing and spitting tobacco, with his feet agin the railing like he always done, and one of his eyes squinched up and his hat over the other one.

"Jake," I says, "where's that there doctor?"

Jake, he spit careful afore he answered, and he pulled his long, scraggly moustache careful, and he squinched his eyes at me. Jake was a careful man in everything he done.

"I dunno, Danny," he says. "Why?"

"Well," I says, "Hank sent me over to get that wagon and them hosses of theirn and finish that job."

"That there wagon," says Jake, "is in my barn, with Si Emery watching her, and she has got to stay there till the law lets her loose." I figgered to myself Jake could use that team and wagon in his business, and was going to buy her cheap offn the town, what share of her he didn't figger he owned already.

"Why, Jake," I says, "I hope they ain't been no trouble of no kind that has drug the law into your barn!"

"Well, Danny," he says, "they HAS been a little trouble. But it's about over, now, I guess. And that there outfit belongs to the town now."

"You don't say so!" says I, surprised-like. "When I seen them men last night it looked to me like they was too fine dressed to be honest."

"I don't think they be, Danny," says Jake, confidential. "In my opinion they is mighty bad customers. But they has got on the wrong side of the law now, and I guess they won't stay around here much longer."

"Well," says I, "Hank will be glad."

"Fur what?" asts Jake.

"Well," says I, "because he got his pay in advance fur that job and now he don't have to finish it. They come along to our place about sundown yesterday, and we nailed a shoe on one hoss. They was a couple of other hoofs needed fixing, and the tire on one of the hind wheels was beginning to rattle loose."

I had noticed that loose tire when I was standing by the hind wheel the night before, and it come in handy now. So I goes on:

"Hank, he allowed he'd fix the hull thing fur six bottles of that Injun medicine. Elmira has been ailing lately, and he wanted it fur her. So they handed Hank out six bottles then and there."

"Huh!" says Jake. "So the job is all paid fur, is it?"

"Yes," says I, "and I was expecting to do it myself. But now I guess I'll go fishing instead. They ain't no other job in the shop."

"I'll be dinged if you've got time to fish," says Jake. "I'm expecting mebby to buy that rig off the town myself when the law lets loose of it. So if the fixing is paid fur, I want everything fixed."

"Jake," says I, kind of worried like, "I don't want to do it without that doctor says to go ahead."

"They ain't his'n no longer," says Jake.

"I dunno," says I, "as you got any right to make me do it, Jake. It don't look to me like it's no harm to beat a couple of fellers like them out of their medicine. And I DID want to go fishing this afternoon."

But Jake was that careful and stingy he'd try to skin a hoss twicet if it died. He's bound to get that job done, now.

"Danny," he says, "you gotto do that work. It ain't HONEST not to. What a young feller like you jest starting out into life wants to remember is to always be honest. Then," says Jake, squinching up his eyes, "people trusts you and you get a good chancet to make money. Look at this here hotel and livery stable, Danny. Twenty years ago I didn't have no more'n you've got, Danny. But I always went by them mottoes-hard work and being honest. You GOTTO nail them shoes on, Danny, and fix that wheel."

"Well, all right, Jake," says I, "if you feel that way about it. Jest give me a chaw of tobacco and come around and help me hitch 'em up."

Si Emery was there asleep on a pile of straw guarding that property. But Ralph Scott wasn't around. Si didn't wake up till we had hitched 'em up. He says he will ride around to the shop with me. But Jake says:

"It's all right, Si. I'll go over myself and fetch 'em back purty soon." Which Si was wore out with being up so late the night before, and goes back to sleep agin right off.

Well, sir, they wasn't nothing went wrong. I drove slow through the village and past our shop. Hank come to the door of it as I went past. But I hit them hosses a lick, and they broke into a right smart trot. Elmira, she come onto the porch and I waved my hand at her. She put her hand up to her forehead to shut out the sun and jest stared. She didn't know I was waving her farewell. Hank, he yelled something at me, but I never hearn what. I licked them hosses into a gallop and went around the turn of the road. And that's the last I ever seen or hearn of Hank or Elmira or that there little town.

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