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   Chapter 12 No.12

Peck's Bad Boy with the Cowboys By George W. Peck Characters: 10803

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


The Bad Boy Writes His Chum Not to Get So Gay-Dad's Experience with the Pecarries.

"Hot Springs, Ark.-My dear old chum: Dad and I got here three days ago, and have begun to enjoy life. We didn't leave home a minute too soon, as we would have been arrested for running over that banana peddler, and for arson in setting a load of hay on fire and destroying the farmer's pants in our automobile accident. Ma writes that a policeman and a deputy sheriff have camped on our front doorstep ever since we left, waiting for dad and I to show up. Dad wants me to tell you to notify the officers that they can go plum, as we shall never come back. Tell them we have gone to Panama, or Mexico, or any old place.

"By the way, kid, I shall have to give you a little fatherly advice. When dad and I were at the bank getting a wad to travel with, I asked one of the clerks how it was that the bank dispensed with your services, after you had been there nearly a year, and had got your salary up to $60 a month, and were just becoming worth your salt. He said you got too fresh, that every new responsibility that was put upon you caused your chest to swell, and that you walked around as though you were president of the bank, and that you got ashamed to carry your lunch to the bank, to eat it in the back room, but went out to a restaurant and ordered the things to eat that came under the 15-cent list, whether you liked the food or not, just to show off; and instead of quietly eating the wholesome lunch your mother put up for you, and being good natured, you ate the restaurant refuse, and got cross, and all for style, showing that you had got the big head; and that you demanded an increase of salary, like a walking delegate, and got fired, as you ought to have been; and now you are walking on your uppers, and are ashamed to look into the bank, which you think is going to fail because you have withdrawn your support. Dad arranged with the managers to take you back on probation, so you go and report for duty just as though you had been off on a vacation, and then you try and have some sense. Dad says you should get to the bank before you are expected, and stay a little while after it is time to quit, and don't watch the clock and get your coat on before it strikes, and don't make a center rush for the door, as though you were escaping from jail. Let those above you see that there is not enough for you to do, and that you are anxious to help all around the place. Look upon a bale of money just as you would look upon a bale of hay if you were working in a feed store, and don't look covetous upon a pile of bills, and wonder how much there is in it, and think how much you could buy with it if it was yours. It is just a part of the business, that pile of money is, and it is not your place to brood over it with venom in your eyes, or some day you will reach out and take a little, and look guilty, and if they don't find you out, you will take a bigger slice next time, and go and blow yourself for clothes as good as the president of the bank wears, and some night you will open a small bottle of wine, and put your thumbs in the arm-holes of your vest and imagine you are 'it,' and when you flash your roll to pay the score, the quiet man at another table in the saloon, who has been drinking pop, and whom you were sorry for, he looked so forlorn, will take you into the police station, and they will search you, and you will break down and blubber, and then it is all off, and the next day you will be before a judge, and your broken-hearted mother will be there trying to convince the judge that somebody must have put the money in your pocket to ruin you, some one jealous of your great success as a banker, but the judge will know how you came by the money, and you will go over the road, your mother goes to the grave, and your friends will say it is a pity about you.

{Illustration: "Dad Sat in the Parlor with a Widow Until the Porter Had to Tell Him to Cut It Out."}

"Men who employ boys know that half of them will never amount to a tinker's dam, a quarter of them will just pass muster, and if they can't run the place in a year they will find another job, and two out of the 20 will be what are needed in the business. The boy who is always looking for another job is the one that never finds one that suits him. The two boys out of the twenty will seem to look a little rustier each year as to clothes but their round, rosy faces will change from year to year, the jaws begin to show strength, the eyes get to looking through you, and the forehead seems to expand as the brain gets to working.

"The successful boys out of the bunch remind me of the automatic repeating rifle, that you put ten cartridges in and pull the trigger and shoot ten times with your eyes shut, if you want to, and it hits where you point it. Every time an employer pulls the trigger on a successful business boy, and a good idea of business is fired, the recoil puts a new idea into the chamber, and you pull again, and so on until the magazine of the brainy boy is emptied, when you load him up again, and he is ready for business, and the employer wouldn't be without him, and would not go back to the old-fashioned one-idea boy, that goes off half-cocked when not pointed at anything in particular, and whose ideas get stuck in the barrel and have to be pulled out with a wormer, and

primed with borrowed powder, and touched off by the neighbors, most of whom get powder in their eyes, unless they look the other way when the useless employee goes off, for anything in the world. So, chum, you go back to the bank and become an automatic repeater in business, with ideas to distribute to others, instead of borrowing ideas, and you will own the bank some day.

{Illustration: "I Got a Gambler to Look Cross at Dad."}

"Now, kid, you don't want to go peddling this around among the neighbors, but dad and I are having the time of our lives here, and since dad has begun to get acquainted with the ladies here at the hotel, and the millionaire sports, he is getting well, and acts like old times. He sat in the parlor of the hotel with a widow the first night until the porter had to tell him to cut it out. Say, I got asleep three or four times on a lounge in the parlor, waiting for dad to get to the 'continued in our next' in talking with that widow about his wealth, and his loneliness since ma died. He said he didn't know what he was worth, because he didn't pay any attention to any of his bonds and securities, except his Standard Oil stock, because the dividends on that stock came regular and increased a little every quarter.

Gee, but I wanted to tell her that all the interest he had in Standard Oil was a gallon kerosene can with a potato stuck in the spout, and when we went to bed I told him that woman's husband was behind the door of the parlor all the time listening, and he had a gun in his hip pocket, and would call him out for a duel the next morning, sure. Dad didn't sleep good that night, and the next morning I got a gambler to look cross at dad and size him up, and dad didn't eat any breakfast. After breakfast I had the hotel stenographer write a challenge to dad, and demand satisfaction for alienating the affections of his wife, and dad began to get weak in the knees. He showed me the challenge, and I told him the only way to do in this climate was to walk around and punch his cane on the floor, and look mad, and talk loud, and the challenger would know he was a fiery fighter, and would apologize, and dad walked around town and through the hotel office most of the day, fairly frothing at the mouth, and he thinks he has scared the challenger away, and, as the woman is gone, dad thinks he is a hero.

"But the worst thing has happened and it will take a week to grow new skin on dad's legs. He got acquainted with a bunch of men who were bear hunters and sports, and they talked of the bear shooting in Arkansas, and dad told about how he had killed tigers, lions, elephants and things until they thought he was great. Dad never saw one of those animals except in a menagerie, but when they suggested that he go with them on a bear hunt, he bit like a bass, and the whole bunch went off in a buckboard one morning with guns, lunches, hounds, bottles, and all kinds of ammunition. They didn't let me go but when the crowd came back about midnight, and they carried dad up to his room, and sent for a doctor, one of the horse race men who went along told me all about it.

{Illustration: "Dad was up on a limb praying, his gun on the ground and his coattails chewed by the wild pigs."}

"He said they went out in a canebrake and stationed dad on a runway for bear, and put in the dogs about a mile away in the swamp, and they left him there for five hours, and when they went to where he was, there was a drove of wild hogs, or peccaries, under a tree, and dad was up, on a limb praying, his gun on the ground; his coat was chewed by the wild pigs, and the wild animals were jumping up to eat his shoes. The fellows hid behind trees and listened to dad confess his sins, and pray, and promise to do better, and be a good man, and when a wild pig would gnash his teeth and make a jump at him, he would talk swear words at the pig, and then he would put up his hands and ask forgiveness, and promise to lead a different life, and say what a fool he was to be off down here in the sunny south being eaten alive by wild hogs, when he ought to be home enjoying religion. Just as dad was about to die there on the limb of a shagbark hickory, the fellows behind the trees touched off a small dynamite cartridge and threw it under the tree, and when it exploded the wild hogs ran away, dad fell off the limb, and he was rescued. He was a sight, for sure, when they brought him to the hotel; his clothes were torn off, his stomach lacerated, and when he was stuck together with plasters, and I was alone with him, he said he was as good a bear hunter as ever came down the pike, but he never worked in a slaughter house, and didn't know anything about slaughtering pigs, and besides, if he ever got out again, and able to use a gun, he would put that bunch of hunters that took him out in the canbrakes under the sod. He said while he sat up the tree praying for strength to endure the ordeal he had a revelation that there wasn't a bear within a hundred miles, and that those fellows had the hogs trained to scare visitors to Hot Springs, so they could be easy to rob. He said one fellow borrowed $50 off him to pay into the state treasury for wear and tear on the wild hogs. Well, dad had forgotten about the monkey-wrench in his system, and I guess we are going to enjoy ourselves here in the old-fashioned way. Yours all right,

"Hennery."

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