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Wolfville By Alfred Henry Lewis Characters: 21840

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

"No; Dave an' his wife prospers along all right. That is, they prospers all but once; that's when Jennie gets jealous."

The Old Cattleman was responding to my question. I was full of an idle interest and disposed to go further into the affairs of Tutt and Tucson Jennie.

"Doc Peets," continued the old gentleman, "allers tells me on the side thar's nothin' in Dave's conduct onbecomin' a fam'ly man that a-way, an' that Jen's simply barkin' at a knot. But, however that is, Dave don't seem to gain no comfort of it at the time. I can see myse'f she gets Dave plumb treed an' out on a limb by them accusations when she makes 'em. He shorely looks guilty; an' yet, while I stands over the play from the first, I can't see where Dave does wrong.

"However, I don't put myse'f for'ard as no good jedge in domestic affairs. Bein' single myse'f that a-way, females is ondoubted what Doc Peets calls a 'theery' with me. But nevertheless, in an onpresoomin', lowly way, I gives it as my meager jedgement, an' I gives it cold, as how a jealous woman is worse than t'rant'lers. She's plumb locoed for one thing; an' thar's no sech thing as organizin' to meet her game. For myse'f, I don't want no transactions with 'em; none whatever.

"This yere domestic uprisin' of Dave's wife breaks on Wolfville as onexpected as a fifth ace in a poker deck; it leaves the camp all spraddled out. Tucson Jennie an' Dave's been wedded goin' on six months. The camp, as I relates, attends the nuptials in a body, an', followin' of the festivities, Tucson Jennie an' Dave tumbles into housekeepin' peaceful as two pups in a basket.

"Wolfville's proud of 'em, an'every time some ign'rant bein' asks about Wolfville an' the social features of the camp, we allers mentions Tutt an' his wife, an' tells how they keeps house, sorter upholsterin' our bluff.

"That's how the deal stands, when one day up jumps this Tucson Jennie, puts on her sunbunnit, an' goes stampedin' down to the U. K. House, an' allows to Missis Rucker that she's done lived with Dave all she aims to, an' has shore pulled her picket pin for good. She puts it up Dave is a base, deceitful sharp that a-way, an' informs Missis Rucker, all mixed up with tears, as how she now desires to go back in the kitchen an' cook, same as when Dave rounds her up for his wife.

"Yere's the whole story, an' while I nurses certain views tharon, I leaves it to you entire to say how much Tucson Jennie is jestified. I knows all about it, for I'm obleeged to be in on the deal from soda to hock.

"It's mighty likely a month before the time Tucson Jennie breaks through Dave's lines this a-way. Dave an' me's due to go over towards the Tres Hermanas about some cattle. Likewise thar's an English outfit allowin' they'll go along some, to see where they've been stackin' in heavy on some ranch lands. They was eager for Dave an' me to trail along with 'em, an' sorter ride herd on' em, an' keep 'em from gettin' mixed up with the scenery-which the same is shorely complicated in the foot-hills of the Tres Hermanas-an' losin' themse'fs a heap.

"'Which you'd better do it, boys,' says Enright. 'S'pose them folks be some trouble. It's a mighty sight better than havin' 'em go p'intin' off alone that a-way. They would shore miss the way if they does; an' the first we-alls knows, these yere Britons would be runnin' cimmaron in the hills, scarin' up things a lot, an' a- stampedin' the cattle plumb off the range. It's easier to go along careful with 'em an' bring'em back.'

"It comes, then, that one mornin' Dave an' me an' these yere aliens lines out for the hills. They've got ponies, an' wagons, an' camp- outfit to that extent a casooal onlooker might think they aims to be away for years.

"As we p'ints out from the O.K. House, where them Britons has been wrastlin' their chuck pendin' the start, Tucson Jennie is thar sayin' 'goodby' to Dave. I notes then she ain't tickled to death none about somethin', but don't deem nothin' speshul of it.

"The Britons is made up of two gents, mebby as old as Enright- brothers is what they be-an' a female who's the daughter of one of 'em. Which thar's nothin' recent about this yere lady, though; an' I reckons she's mighty likely forty years old. I learns later, however, it's this female which Tucson Jennie resents when she says "adios" to Dave.

"It shore strikes me now, when years is passed, as some marv'lous how a han'some, corn-fed female like Tucson Jennie manages to found a fight with Dave over this yere towerist woman. I'm nacherally slow to go decidin' bets ag'in a lady's looks, but whatever Tucson Jennie sees in the appearance of this person which is likely to inviggle Dave is too many for me. I softens the statement a heap when I says she's uglier than a Mexican sheep.

"However, that don't seem to occur to Tucson Jennie; an' Doc Peets- who's the wisest sharp in Arizona-allows to me afterwards as how Tucson Jennie is cuttin' the kyards with herse'f desp'rate to see whether she declar's war at the very time we makes our start. If she does, she turns the low kyard, for she don't say nothin', an' we gets away, an' all is profound peace.

"Four days later we're in camp by a water-hole in the frill of the foot-hills. The Britons has got up a wall tent an' is shorely havin' a high an' lavish time. Dave an' me ain't payin' no attention to 'em speshul, as we don't see how none is needed. Besides, we has some hard ridin' to do lookin' up places for a line of sign camps.

"It's the second day when we notices an outfit of Injuns camped down the valley from us. They's all serene an' peaceful enough; with squaws, papooses, an' dogs; an' ain't thinkin' no more of bein' hostile than we be.

"Of course, no sooner does these yere Britons of ours behold this band of savages than they has to go projectin' round 'em. That's the worst thing about a towerist; he's that loaded with cur'osity, an' that gregar'ous an' amiable, he has to go foolin' 'round every stranger lie tracks up with. In their ign'rance they even gets that roode an' insultin' at times, that I knows 'em who's that regardless an' imp'lite as to up an' ask a rank stranger that a-way to pass'em his gun to look at.

"An' so, as I says, no sooner does them Injuns get near us, than them three blessed foreigners is over after 'em; ropin' at em' with questions an' invadin' of 'em, an' examinin' of 'em like the whole tribe's for sale an' they aims to acquire 'em if figgers is reasonable.

"I never does know what the female towerist says or does to that partic'lar aborigine-nothin' most likely; but it ain't a day when one of them Injuns settles it with himse'f he wants to wed her. The towerists is in ign'rance of the views of this savage, who goes about dealin' his game Injun fashion.

"It's this a-way: Dave an' me trails in one evenin' some weary an' played; it's been a hard ride that day. Which the first thing we lays eyes on at the camp shorely livens us up a lot. Thar, tied to the wagon-wheels, is nine ponies, which the same belongs to the Injuns.

"'Whatever be these y ere broncos doin' yere?' says Dave, for we allows, the first dash outen the box, mebby the Britons makes a purchase.

"One of the towerists tells a long an' delighted story about the gen'rosity of the Injuns.

"'Actooally,' says this towerist,"them gen'rous savages leads up these yere nine ponies an' donates 'em.'

"Dave an' me asks questions; and all thar is to the deal-which it's shore enough to bust Dave's fam'ly before it's over-them Injuns brings up the nine ponies all respectful, an' leaves 'em hobbled out, mebby it's a hundred yards from the Britons, an' rides away. The Britons, deemin' this bluff as in the line of gifts, capers over an' possesses themse'fs of the ponies an' leads 'em in. That's the outside of the store.

"'Well, stranger,' says Dave in reply, takin' of the towerist one side, 'I ain't aimin' to discourage you none, but you-alls has gone an' got all tangled up in your lariat.'

"'What for an ontanglement is it?' asks the towerist.

"'Nothin',' says Dave, sorter breakin' it to him easy, 'nothin', only you've done married your daughter to one of them Injuns.'

"When Dave announces this yere trooth it shore looks like the Briton's goin' to need whiskey to uphold himse'f. But he reorganizes, an' Dave explains that the Injuns, when they trails in with the ponies, is simply shufflin' for a weddin'; they's offerin' what they-alls calls a 'price' for the woman.

"'An' when you-alls leads in the ponies,' says Dave,'that settles it. You agrees to deal right thar. To-morrow, now, this yere buck, whoever he is, will come surgin' in with his relations plumb down to third cousins; an' he expects you'll be dead ready to feed 'em, an' wind up the orgy by passin' over the bride.'

"You can bet them reecitals of Dave's is plenty horrible to the towerist. He allows we must keep it from his daughter; an' then he puts hip whole outfit in Dave's hands, to get 'em safe onto high grounds.

"'Can't we pull our freight in the night?'says the towerist, an' he's shorely anxious.

"'Too much moon,' says Dave; 'an' then, ag'in, the whole Injun outfit's below us in the draw, an' we never gets by once in a thousand times. No,' goes on Dave, 'one shore thing we can't back out nor crawl off. We-alls has to play the hand plumb through:

"Then Dave tells the towerist him an' me talks over this yere weddin' which he done goes into so inadvertent; an' if thar's a chance to save him from becomin' a father-in-law abrupt, we'll play it to win.

"'This yere is the only wagon-track out; says Dave to me, after we pow-wows an hour. 'You go down to them Injuns, an' find the right buck that a-way, an' tell him the squaw's got a buck now. Tell him he's barred. Which at this p'int in your revelations he's due to offer a fight, an' of course you takes him. Tell him at first-drink time to-morrow mornin' he finds me ready to fight for the squaw.'

"'This whole business makes metired, though,' says Dave, a heap disgustad. ' If these eediots had let them Injuns alone-, or even if they disdains the ponies when they was brought up, this yere could be fixed easy. But now it's fight or give up the woman, so you go down, as I says, an' arrange for the dance.'

"Of course thar's no explainin' nothin' to Injuns. You might as well waste time expoundin' to coyotes an' jack-rabbits. All that's left for me to do is trail out after my savage, as Dave says, an' notify him that this weddin' he pro. poses is postponed an' all bets is off.

"I finds him easy enough, an' saws it off on him in Spanish how the game stacks up. But he ain't cheerful about it, an' displays a mighty baleful sperit. Jest as Tutt allows he's out to shoot for the squaw in a minute, an' as thar's no gettin' away from it, I tells him to paint himse'f for war an' come a-runnin'.

"I has to carry a

hard face; for we're shorely in for it. Yere we be four days from Wolfville, an' the Injuns-an' I reckons thar's twenty bucks in the outfit-is camped in between us an' he'p.

"This Injun who's after the woman is named Black Dog. The next mornin' Tutt saddles up an' rides off to one side of our camp, mebby it's a quarter of a mile, an' then gets offen his pony an' stands thar. We-alls don't onfold to the towerists the details of the deal, not even to the Injun's father-in-law. The towerist female is that ign'rant of what's going' on, she's pesterin' 'round all onconscious, makin' bakin'-powder biscuit at the time. I looks at her close, an' I wonders even yet what that Black Dog's thinkin' of. But I don't get much time to be disgusted over this Black Dog's taste before he comes p'intin' out from among his people.

"The sun's jest gettin' over the hills to the east, an', as it strikes him, he's shore a fash'nable lookin' Injun. He ain't got nothin' on but a war-bunnit an' a coat of paint. The rest of his trousseau he confines to his Winchester an' belt. He's on his war- pony, an' the bronco's stripped as bare as this Black Dog is; not a strap from muzzle to tail. This bridegroom Injun's tied its mane full of ribbons, an' throws a red blanket across his pony's withers for general effects. Take it all over, he's a nifty-lookin' savage.

"So far as the dooel goes, Dave ain't runnin' no resk. He stands thar on the ground an' keeps his hoss between him an' this yere Black Dog. It's a play which forces the bridegroom's hand, too. He's due, bein' Injun, to go cirelin' Dave an' do his shootin' on the canter.

"An' that's what this weak-minded savage does. He breaks into a lope an' goes sailin' 'round Dave like a hawk. Durin' them exercises he lays over on the shoulder of his hoss an' bangs away from onder its neck with one hand, permiscus.

"This is mere frivolity. Thar ain't no white gent who could shoot none onder sech conditions; an' Injuns can't shoot nohow. They don't savey a hind sight. An', as I remarks, if Dave's hit any, it's goin' to shorely be an accident, an' accidents don't happen none in Arizona; leastwise not with guns.

'Mebby this Black Dog's banged away three times, when Dave, who's been followin' of him, through the sights for thirty seconds, onhooks his rifle, an' the deal comes to a full stop. Dave's shootin' a Sharp's, with a hundred an' twenty grains of powder, an' the way he sends a bullet plumb through that war-pony an' this yere Black Dog, who's hangin' on its off side, don't bother him a bit. The pony an' the Black Dog goes over on their heads.

"Dave rides in, an' brings the blanket an' war-bunnit. Even then, the female towerist, which is the object of the meetin', don't seem informed none of the course of events. The fact is, she never does acquire the rights of it till we-alls is two days back on the return trail.

"Thar's no more bother. Injuns is partic'lar people, that a-way, about etiquette as they saveys it, an' followin' Dave's downin' this Black Dog they ain't makin' a moan or a move. They takes it plenty solemn an' mute, an' goes to layin' out the Black Dog's obsequies without no more notice of us. It's a squar deal; they sees that; an' they ain't filin' no objections. As for our end of the game, we moves out for Wolfville, makin' no idle delays whatever.

"Goin' in, Dave, after thinkin' some, su'gests to me that it's likely to be a heap good story not to tell Tucson Jennie.

"'Females is illogical, that a-way,' says Dave, 'an' I ain't goin' to have time to eddicate Jennie to a proper view of this yere. So I reckons it's goin' to be a crafty play not to tell her.'

"The Britons has been gone two weeks when Tucson Jennie learns the story. Them towerists is plumb weary of Arizona when we trails into Wolfville, an' don't seem to tarry a second before they lines out for Tucson.

"'They jest hits a high place or two,' says Jack Moore, after he hears of them designs of the Black Dog, 'an' they'll be 'way yonder out of the country. I don't reckon none of 'em'll ever come back soon, neither.'

"But it's the towerist woman makes the trouble from start to finish. It's a letter from her which she writes back to Dave, allowin' she'll thank him some more as her preserver, that brings the news to Jennie. Tucson Jennie gets this missive, an' ups an' rifles an' reads it to herse'f a whole lot. It's then Tucson Jennie gives it out cold, Dave is breakin' her heart, an' tharupon prances 'round for her shaker an' goes over to Missis Rucker's.

"The whole camp knows the story in an hour, an' while we-ails

sympathizes with Dave of course, no one's blamin' Tucson Jennie.

She's a female, an' onresponsible, for one thing; an' then, ag'in

Dave's a heap onlikely to stand any condemnations of his wife.

"'She's as good a woman as ever wears a moccasin,' says Dave, while he's recoverin' of his sperits at the Red Light bar.

"An' we-alls allows she shorely is; an' then everybody looks pensive an' sincere that a-way, so's not to harrow Dave none an' make his burdens more.

"'But whatever can I do to fetch her back to camp?' asks Dave, appealin' to Enright mighty wretched. 'I goes plumb locoed if this yere keeps on.'

"'My notion is, we-alls better put Missis Rucker in to play the hand,' says Enright. 'Missis Rucker's a female, an' is shorely due to know what kyards to draw. But this oughter be a lesson to you, Dave, not to go romancin' 'round with strange women no more.'

"'It's a forced play, I tells you,' says Dave. 'Them Injuns has us treed. It's a case of fight or give up that she-towerist, so what was I to do?'

"`Well,' says Enright, some severe,' you might at least have consulted with this yere towerist woman some. But you don't. You simply gets a gun an' goes trackin' 'round in her destinies, an' shootin' up her prospects like you has a personal interest. You don't know but she deplores the deal complete. Peets, an' me, an' Boggs, an' all the rest of us is your friends, an' nacherally partial on your side. We-alls figgers you means well. But what I says is this: It ain't no s'prisin' thing when Tucson Jennie, a- hearin' of them pronounced attentions which you pays this towerist lady, is filled with grief. This shootin' up an Injun, cause he's plannin' to wed this female some, is what I shorely calls pronounced attentions. What do you think yourse'f, Peets?'

"'Why! I readily concedes what Dave says,' remarks Peets. 'Ondoubtedly he acts for the best as he sees it. But jest as you puts it: s'pose Dave ain't hungerin' none for this towerist woman himse'f, the headlong way he goes after this yere Black Dog, settin' of the war-jig the next sun-up, an' all without even sayin' "Let me look at your hand," to this female, jestifies them inferences of yours. Of course I don't say-an' I don't reckon none-Dave thinks of this old-maid maverick once; but, he sees himse'f, ht shore goes to war a heap precipitate an' onconsiderate, an' Tucson Jennie has ondoubted grounds to buck.

"'Which, when you-alls puts it so cl'ar, I thinks so too,' says Dave, who's listenin' to Enright an' Peets a mighty sight dejected. I But I ain't been wedded long-ain't more'n what you might call an amature husband. What you-alls oughter do now is he'p me to round her up. If Tucson Jennie's a bunch of cattle, or a band of ponies as has stampeded, you'd be in the saddle too quick.'

"Missis Rucker shore does all she knows to soften Tucson Jennie. She reminds her how in the old times, when Dave gets his chile con carne at the O. K. House, and the party from the States takes to reprovin' of Missis Rucker about thar bein' nothin' but coffee an' beans to eat, Dave onlimbers his six-shooter an' goes to the front.

"'The grub's dealt down,' says Dave, explainin' to this obnoxious tenderfoot, 'till thar's nothin' left in the box but beans, coffee, an' beans. It's a cat-hop, but it can't be he'ped none.'

"'Cat-hop or no cat-hop,' says this tenderfoot, 'I'm dead ag'in beans; an' you can gamble I ain't out to devour no sech low veg'tables; none whatever.'

"'You jest thinks you don't like beans,' says Dave, an' with that he sorter dictates at the tenderfoot with his gun, an' the tenderfoot thar-upon lays for his frijoles like he's actooally honin' tharfor.

"'Which it all shows Dave's got a good heart,' says Missis Rucker to

Tucson Jennie.

"'That's nothin' to do with his makin' love to the British woman,' says Tucson Jennie, grittin' her teeth like she could eat the sights offen a six-shooter.

"'He never makes no love to this yere woman,' says Missis Rucker.

"'When he ketches her flirtin' with that Injun,' demands Tucson Jennie, 'don't Dave shoot him up a lot? What do you-all call makin' love? He never downs no Injuns for me, an' I'm his lawful wife.' An' yere Missis Rucker allows, when she reports to Enright an' Dave an' the rest of the outfit in the Red Light, Tucson Jennie weeps like her heart is shorely broke.

"'Which the pore girl's to be pitied,' says Enright. 'Dave,' he goes on, turnin' to Tutt some fierce, 'you don't deserve no sech devotion as this.'

"'That's whatever,' says Dan Boggs, lookin' red an' truculent, 'this yere Tucson Jennie's a angel.'

"But thar we be, up ag'inst it, an' not a man knows a thing to do to squar' the deal with Dave's wife. We-alls, calls for drinks all 'round, an' sets about an' delib'rates. At last Dave speaks up in a low-sperited way.

"'I reckons she done jumps the game for good,' he says. 'But if she's goin', I wants her to have a layout. If you-alls cares to go over to the New York Store, I allows I'll play in a blue stack or two an' win her out some duds. I wants her to quit the deal ahead.'

"So Dave sets out for the New York Store, an' the rest of us sorter straggles along. Thar's nothin' gay about us. Dave gets a shawl an' a dress; nothin' gaudy; it's a plain red an' yaller. Missis Rucker packs 'em over to Tucson Jennie an' gets that wrapped up in the deal she forgets utter to rustle us our grub.

"Which, it's the onexpeeted as happens in Wolfville same as everywhere else. The minute Tucson Jennie sees the raiment, an' realizes how Dave loves her, that settles it. Her heart melts right thar. She ain't sayin' nothin'; jest ropes onto the dry-goods an' starts sobbin' out for the 'doby where she an' Dave lives at.

"Dave, when he observes this yere from 'cross the street, shakes hands all 'round, but don't trust himse'f with no remarks. He gives our paws a squeeze like he knows he can rely on our friendship an' hunts his way across to Tucson Jennie without a word.

"'It's all right about bein' yoothful an' light, that a-way,' says Enright, after Dave pulls his freight, 'but Tutt oughter remember yereafter, before he goes mixin' himse'f up with sech vain things as towerists an' Injuns an' British, that he's a married man.'"

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