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   Chapter 19 No.19

Wolfville Days By Alfred Henry Lewis Characters: 28190

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

When the Stage Was Stopped.

"Camp down into that char thar, son," said the Old Cattleman with much heartiness. "Which I'm waitin' for that black boy Tom to come back; I sends him for my war-bags. No, I don't need 'em none, only I've got to give this yere imbecile Tom money. Them Senegambians is shore a pecooliar people. They gets a new religion same as you-all gets a new hat, an' they changes their names like some folks does their shirt. Which they're that loose an' liable about churches an' cognomens!

"As for money, take this boy Tom. He actooally transacts his life on the theery that he has prior claims on every splinter of my bank- roll. Jest now he descends onto me an' e'labe'rately states his title to ten pesos. Says he's done j'ined a new church, an' has been made round-up boss or somethin' to a outfit called, 'The Afro- American Widows' Ready Relief Society,' an' that his doos is ten chips. Of course, he has to have the dinero, so I dismisses him for my wallet like I says.

"Does them folks change their names? They changes 'em as read'ly as a Injun breaks camp; does it at the drop of the hat. This yere Guinea of mine, his name's Tom. Yet at var'ous times, he informs me of them mootations he's institooted, He's been 'Jim' an' 'Sam' an' 'Willyum Henry,' an' all in two months. Shore, I don't pay no heed to sech vagaries, but goes on callin' him 'Tom,' jest the same. An' he keeps comin' when I calls, too, or I'd shore burn the ground 'round him to a cinder. I'd be a disgrace to old Tennessee to let my boy Tom go preescribin' what I'm to call him. But they be cur'ous folks! The last time this hirelin' changes his name, I asks the reason.

"'Tom,' I says, 'this yere is the 'leventh time you cinches on a new name. Now, tell me, why be you-all attemptin' to shift to "Willyum Henry?"'

"'Why, Marse,' he says, after thinkin' hard a whole lot, 'I don't know, only my sister gets married ag'in last night, an' I can't think of nothin' else to do, so I sort o' allows I'll change my name.'"

A moment later the exuberant and many-titled Tom appeared with the pocket-book. My old friend selected a ten-dollar bill and with an air of severity gave it to his expectant servitor.

"Thar you be," he observed. "Now, go pay them doos, an' don't hanker 'round me for money no more for a month. You can't will from me ag'in before Christmas, no matter how often you changes your name, or how many new churches you plays in with. For a nigger, you-all is a mighty sight too vol'tile. Your sperits is too tireless, an' stays too long on the wing. Which, onless you cultivates a placider mood an' studies reepose a whole lot, I'll go foragin' about in my plunder an' search forth a quirt, or mebby some sech stinsin' trifle as a trace-chain, an' warp you into quietood an' peace. I reckons now sech ceremonies would go some ways towards beddin' you down an' inculcatin' lessons of patience a heap."

The undaunted Tom listened to his master's gloomy threats with an air of cheer. There was a happy grin on his face as he accepted the money and scraped a "Thanky, sah!" To leave a religious impression which seemed most consistent with the basis of Tom's appeal, that dusky claimant of ten dollars, as he withdrew, hummed softly a camp- meeting song:

"Tu'n around an' tu'n yo' face,

Untoe them sweet hills o' grace.

(D' pow'rs of Sin yo' em scornin'!)

Look about an' look aroun',

Fling yo' sin-pack on d' groun'.

(Yo' will meet wid d' Lord in d' mornin'.)"

"Speakin' about this yere vacillatin' Tom," said the old gentleman, as he watched that person disappear, "shiftin' his religious grazin' ground that a-way, let me tell you. Them colored folks pulls on an' pulls off their beliefs as easy as a Mexican. An' their faith never gets in their way; them tenets never seems to get between their hocks an' trip 'em up in anythin' they wants to do. They goes rangin' 'round, draggin' them religious lariats of theirs, an' I never yet beholds that church which can drive any picket pin of doctrines, or prodooce any hobbles of a creed, that'll hold a Mexican or a nigger, or keep him from prancin' out after the first notion that nods or beckons to him. Thar's no whim an' no fancy which can make so light a wagon-track he won't follow it off.

"Speakin' of churches that a-way: This yere Tom's been with me years. One day about two months ago, he fronts up to me an' says:

"'I'se got to be mighty careful what I does now; I'se done j'ined. I gives my soul to heaven on high last night, an' wrops myse'f tight an' fast in bonds of savin' grace wid d' Presbyter'an chu'ch. Yes, sah, I'm a christian, an' I don't want no one, incloodin' mysc'f, to go forgettin' it.'

"This yere news don't weigh on me partic'lar, an' I makes no comments. It's three weeks later when Tom cuts loose another commoonication.

"'You rec'llects,' he says, 'about me bein' a j'iner an' hookin' up wid d' Presbyter'ans? Well, I'se done shook 'em; I quit that sanchooary for d' Mefodis.' D' Presbyter'an is a heap too gloomy a religion for a niggah, sah. Dey lams loose at me wid foreord'nation an' preedest'nation, an' how d' bad place is paved wid chil'ens skulls, an' how so many is called, an' only one in a billion beats d' gate; an' fin'lly, las' Sunday, B'rer Peters, he's d' preacher, he ups an' p'ints at me in speshul an' says he sees in a dream how I'm b'ar-hung an' breeze-shaken over hell; an', sah, he simply scare dis niggah to where I jest lay down in d' pew an' howl. After I'se done lamented till my heart's broke, I passes in my resignation, an' now I'se gone an' done attach myse'f to d' Mefodis'. Thar's a deal mo' sunshine among d' Mefodis' folks, an' d' game's a mighty sight easier. All you does is get sprunkled, an' thar you be, in wid d' sheep, kerzip!'

"In less'n a month Tom opens up on them religious topics once more. I allers allows him to talk as long an' as much as ever he likes, as you-all couldn't stop him none without buckin' an' gaggin' him, so what's the use?

"'I aims to excuse myse'f to you, sah,' says Tom this last time, 'for them misstatements about me leavin' d' Presbyter'ans for d' Mefodis.' I does do it for troo, but now I'se gone over, wool an' weskit, to d' Baptis'. An', sah, I feels mighty penitent an' promisin', I does; I'm gwine to make a stick of it dis time. It's resky to go changin' about from one fold to the other like I'se been doin'; a man might die between, an' then where is he?'

"'But how about this swap to the Baptist church?' I asks. 'I thought you tells me how the Methodist religion is full of sunshine that a- way.'

"'So I does, sah,' says Tom; 'so I does, word for word, like you remembers it. But I don't know d' entire story then. The objections I has to d' Mefodis' is them 'sperience meetin's they holds. They 'spects you to stan' up an' tell 'em about all yo' sins, an 'fess all you've been guilty of endoorin' yo' life! Now, sech doin's tu'ns out mighty embarrassin' for a boy like Tom, who's been a-livin' sort o' loose an' lively for a likely numbah of years, sah, an' I couldn't stan' it, sah! I'm too modes' to be a Mefodis'. So I explains an' 'pologizes to d' elders, then I shins out for d' Baptis' folks next door. An' it's all right. I'm at peace now: I'm in d' Baptis' chu'ch, sah. You go inter d' watah, kersause! an' that sets yo' safe in d' love of d' Lamb.'"

Following these revelations of my friend concerning the jaunty fashion in which the "boy Tom" wore his religion as well as his name, I maintained a respectful silence for perhaps a minute, and then ventured to seek a new subject. I had been going over the vigorous details of a Western robbery in the papers. After briefly telling the story as I remembered it, in its broader lines at least, I carried my curiosity to that interesting body politic, the town of Wolfville.

"In the old days," I asked, "did Wolfville ever suffer from stage robberies, or the operations of banditti of the trail?"

"Wolfville," responded my friend, "goes ag'inst the hold-up game so often we lose the count. Mostly, it don't cause more'n a passin' irr'tation. Them robberies an' rustlin's don't, speakin' general, mean much to the public at large. The express company may gnash its teeth some, but comin' down to cases, what is a Wells-Fargo grief to us? Personal, we're out letters an' missifs from home, an' I've beheld individooals who gets that heated about it you don't dar' ask 'em to libate ontil they cools, but as'a common thing, we-all don't suffer no practical set-backs. We're shy letters, but sech wounds is healed by time an' other mails to come. We gains what comfort we can from sw'arin' a lot, an' turns to the hopeful footure for the rest. Thar's one time, however, when Wolfville gets wrought up.

"Which the Wolfville temper, usual, is ca'm an' onperturbed that a- way. Thar's a steadiness to Wolfville that shows the camp has depth; it can lose without thinkin' of sooicide, it can win an' not get drunk. The Wolfville emotions sets squar' an' steady in the saddle, an' it takes more than mere commonplace buckin' to so much as throw its foot loose from a stirrup, let alone send it flyin' from its seat.

"On this yere o'caslon, however, Wolfville gets stirred a whole lot. For that matter, the balance of Southeast Arizona gives way likewise, an' excitement is genial an' shorely mounts plumb high. I remembers plain, now my mind is on them topics, how Red Dog goes hysterical complete, an' sets up nights an' screams. Which the vocal carryin's on of that prideless village is a shame to coyotes!

"It's hold-ups that so wrings the public's feelin's. Stages is stood up; passengers, mail-bags an' express boxes gets cleaned out for their last splinter. An' it ain't confined to jest one trail. This festival of crime incloodes a whole region; an' twenty stages, in as many different places an' almost as many days, yields up to these yere bandits. Old Monte, looks like, is a speshul fav'rite; they goes through that old drunkard twice for all thar is in the vehicle. The last time the gyard gets downed.

"No, the stage driver ain't in no peril of bein' plugged. Thar's rooles about stage robbin', same as thar is to faro-bank an' poker. It's onderstood by all who's interested, from the manager of the stage company to the gent in the mask who's holdin' the Winchester on the outfit, that the driver don't fight. He's thar to drive, not shoot; an' so when he hears the su'gestion, 'Hands up!' that a-way, he stops the team, sets the brake, hooks his fingers together over his head, an' nacherally lets them road agents an' passengers an' gyards, settle events in their own onfettered way. The driver, usual, cusses out the brigands frightful. The laws of the trail accords him them privileges, imposin' no reestrictions on his mouth. He's plumb free to make what insultin' observations he will, so long as he keeps his hands up an' don't start the team none ontil he's given the proper word, the same comin' from the hold-ups or the gyards, whoever emerges winner from said emeutes.

"As I states, the last time Old Monte is made to front the iron, the Wells-Fargo gyard gets plugged as full of lead as a bag of bullets. An' as to that business of loot an' plunder, them miscreants shorely harvests a back load! It catches Enright a heap hard, this second break which these yere felons makes.

"Cherokee Hall an' me is settin' in the Red Light, whilin' away time between bev'rages with argyments, when Enright comes ploddin' along in with the tidin's. Cherokee an' me, by a sing'lar coincidence, is discussin' the topic of 'probity' that a-way, although our loocubrations don't flourish none concernin' stage rustlin'. Cherokee is sayin':

"'Now, I holds that trade-what you-all might call commerce, is plenty sappenin' to the integrity of folks. Meanin' no aspersions on any gent in camp, shorely not on the proprietors of the New York Store, what I reiterates is that I never meets up with the party who makes his livin' weighin' things, or who owns a pa'r of scales, who's on the level that a-way. Which them balances, looks like, weaves a spell on a gent's moral princ'ples. He's no longer on the squar'.'

"I'm r'ared back on my hocks organizin' to combat the fal'cies of Cherokee, when Enright pulls up a cha'r. By the clouds on his face, both me an' Cherokee sees thar's somethin' on the old chief's mind a lot, wherefore we lays aside our own dispootes-which after all, has no real meanin', an' is what Colonel William Greene Sterett calls 'ac'demic'-an' turns to Enright to discover whatever is up. Black Jack feels thar's news in the air an' promotes the nose-paint without s'licitation. Enright freights his glass an' then says:

"'You-all hears of the noomerous stage robberies? Well, Wolfville lose ag'in. I, myse'f, this trip am put in the hole partic'lar. If I onderstands the drift of my own private affairs, thar's over forty thousand dollars of mine on the stage, bein' what balance is doo me from that last bunch of cattle. It's mighty likely though she's in drafts that a-way: an' I jest dispatches one of my best riders with a lead hoss to scatter over to Tucson an' wire informations east, to freeze onto that money ontil further tidin's; said drafts, if sech thar be, havin' got into the hands of these yere diligent hold-ups aforesaid.'

"'Forty thousand dollars!' remarks Cherokee. 'Which that is a jolt for shore!'

"'It shorely shows the oncertainties of things,' says Enright, ag'in referrin' to his glass. 'I'm in the very act of congratulatin' myse'f, mental, that this yere is the best season I ever sees, when a party rides in from the first stage station towards Tucson, with the tale. It's shore a paradox; it's a case where the more I win, the more I lose. However, I'm on the trail of Jack Moore; a conference with Jack is what I needs right now. I'll be back by next drink time;' an' with that Enright goes surgin' off to locate Jack.

"Cherokee an' me, as might be expected, turns our powers of conversation loose with thi

s new last eepisode of the trail.

"'An' I'm struck speshul,' says Cherokee, 'about what Enright observes at the finish, that it's a instance where the more he wins, the more he loses; an' how this, his best season, is goin' to be his worst. I has experiences sim'lar myse'f onct. Which the cases is plumb parallel!

"'This time when my own individooal game strikes somethin' an' glances off, is 'way back. I gets off a boat on the upper river at a camp called Rock Island. You never is thar? I don't aim to encourage you-all ondooly, still your failure to see Rock Island needn't prey on you as the rooin of your c'reer. I goes ashore as I relates, an' the first gent I encounters is old Peg-laig Jones. This yere Peg- laig is a madman to spec'late at kyards, an' the instant he sees me, he pulls me one side, plenty breathless with a plan he's evolved.

"Son," says this yere Peg-lalg, "how much money has you?"

"'I tells him I ain't over strong; somethin' like two hundred dollars, mebby.

"'"That's enough," says Peg-lalg. "Son, give it to me. I'll put three hundred with it, an' that'll make a roll of five hundred dollars. With a careful man like me to deal, she shorely oughter be enough."

"'"Whatever does these yere fiscal bluffs of yours portend?" I asks.

"'"They portends as follows," says Peg-laig. "This yere Rock Island outfit is plumb locoed to play faro-bank. I've got a deck of kyards an' a deal box in my pocket. Son, we'll lay over a day a' break the village."

"'Thar's no use tryin' to head off old Peg-laid. He's the most invet'rate sport that a-way, an' faro bank is his leadin' weakness. They even tells onct how this Peg-laig is in a small camp in Iowa an' is buckin' a crooked game. A pard sees him an' takes Peg-laig to task.

"'"Can't you-all see them sharps is skinnin' you?" says this friend, an' his tones is loaded with disgust. "Ain't you wise enough to know this game ain't on the squar', an' them outlaws has a end-squeeze box an' is dealin' two kyards at a clatter an' puttin' back right onder your ignorant nose? Which you conducts yourse'f like you was born last week!"

"'"Of course, I knows the game is crooked," says Peg-laig, plenty doleful, "an' I regrets it as much as you. But whatever can I do?"

"'"Do!" says his friend; "do! You-all can quit goin' ag'inst it, can't you?"

"'"But you don't onderstand," says Peg-laig, eager an' warm. "It's all plumb easy for you to stand thar an' say I don't have to go ag'inst it. It may change your notion a whole lot when I informs you that this yere is the only game in town," an' with that this reedic'lous Peg-laig hurries back to his seat.

"'As I asserts former, it's no use me tryin' to make old Peg-laig stop when once he's started with them schemes of his, so I turns over my two hundred dollars, an' leans back to see whatever Peg- laig's goin' to a'complish next. As he says, he's got a box an' a deck to deal with. So he fakes a layout with a suite of jimcrow kyards he buys, local, an' a oil-cloth table-cover, an' thar he is organized to begin. For chips, he goes over to a store an' buys twenty stacks of big wooden button molds, same as they sews the cloth onto for overcoat buttons. When Peg-laig is ready, you should have beheld the enthoosiasm of them Rock Island folks. They goes ag'inst that brace of Peg-laig's like a avalanche.

"'Peg-laig deals for mighty likely it's an hour. Jest as he puts it up, he's a careful dealer, an' the result is we win all the big bets an' most all the little ones, an' I'm sort o' estimatin' in my mind that we're ahead about four hundred simoleons. Of a-sudden, Peg-laig stops dealin', up-ends his box and turns to me with a look which shows he's plumb dismayed. P'intin' at the check-rack, Peg-laig says:

"'"Son, look thar!"

"'Nacherally, I looks, an' I at once realizes the roots of that consternation of Peg-laig's. It's this: While thar's more of them button molds in front of Peg-laig's right elbow than we embarks with orig'nal, thar's still twenty-two hundred dollars' worth in the hands of the Rock Island pop'lace waitin' to be cashed. However do they do it? They goes stampedin' over to this yere storekeep an' purchases 'em for four bits a gross. They buys that vagrant out that a-way. They even buys new kinds on us, an' it's a party tryin' to bet a stack of pants buttons on the high kyard that calls Peg-laig's attention to them frauds.

"'Thar's no he'p for it, however; them villagers is stony an' adamantine, an' so far as we has money they shorely makes us pay. We walks out of Rock Island. About a mile free of the camp, Peg-laig stops an' surveys me a heap mournful.

"'" Son," he says, "we was winnin', wasn't we?

"'"Which we shore was," I replies.

"'"Exactly," says Peg-laig, shakin' his head, "we was shorely winners. An' I want to add, son, that if we-all could have kept on winnin' for two hours more, we'd a-lost eight thousand dollars."

"'It's like this yere stage hold-up on Enright,' concloodes Cherokee; 'it's a harassin' instance of where the more you wins, the more you lose.'

"About this time, Enright an' Jack Moore comes in. Colonel Sterett an' Dan Boggs j'ines us accidental, an' we-all six holds a pow wow in low tones.

"'Which Jack,' observes Enright, like he's experimentin' an' ropin' for our views, 'allows it's his beliefs that this yere guileless tenderfoot, Davis, who says he's from Buffalo, an' who's been prancin' about town for the last two days, is involved in them felonies.'

"'It ain't none onlikely,' says Boggs; 'speshully since he's from

Buffalo. I never does know but one squar' gent who comes from

Buffalo; he's old Jenks. An' at that, old Jenks gets downed, final,

by the sheriff over on Sand Creek for stealin' a hoss.'

"'You-all wants to onderstand,' says Jack Moore, cuttin' in after Boggs, 'I don't pretend none to no proofs. I jest reckons it's so. It's a common scandal how dead innocent this yere shorthorn Davis assoomes to be; how he wants Cherokee to explain faro-bank to him; an' how he can't onderstand none why Black Jack an' the dance-hall won't mix no drinks. Which I might, in the hurry of my dooties, have passed by them childish bluffs onchallenged an' with nothin' more than pityin' thoughts of the ignorance of this yere maverick, but gents, this party overplays his hand. Last evenin' he asks me to let him take my gun, says he's cur'ous to see one. That settles it with me; this Davis has been a object of suspicion ever since. No, it ain't that I allows he's out to queer my weepon none, but think of sech a pretence of innocence! I leaves it to you-all, collectif an' individooal, do you reckon now thar's anybody, however tender, who's that guileless as to go askin' a perfect stranger that a-way to pass him out his gun? I says no, this gent is overdoin' them roles. He ain't so tender as he assoomes. An' from the moment I hears of this last stand-up of the stage back in the canyon, I feels that this yere party is somehow in the play. Thar's four in this band who's been spreadin' woe among the stage companies lately, an' thar's only two of 'em shows in this latest racket which they gives Old Monte, an' that express gyard they shot up. Them other two sports who ain't present is shore some'ers, an' I gives it as my opinions one of 'em's right yere in our onthinkin' center, actin' silly, askin' egreegious questions, an' allowin' his name is Davis an' that he hails from Buffalo.'

"While Jack is evolvin' this long talk, we-all is thinkin'; an', son, somehow it strikes us that thar's mighty likely somethin' in this notion of Jack's. We-all agrees, however, thar bein' nothin' def'nite to go on, we can't do nothin' but wait. Still, pro an' con like, we pushes forth in discussion of this person.

"'It does look like this Davis,' says Colonel Sterett, 'now Jack brings it up, is shorely playin' a part; which he's over easy an' ontaught, even for the East. This mornin', jest to give you-all a sample, he comes sidlin' up to me. "Is thar any good fishin' about yere?" he asks. "Which I shore yearns to fish some."

"'"Does this yere landscape," I says, wavin' my arm about the hor'zon, "remind you much of fish? Stranger," I says, "fish an' christians is partic'lar sparse in Arizona."

"'Then this person Davis la'nches out into tales deescriptif of how he goes anglin' back in the States. "Which the eel is the gamest fish," says this Davis. "When I'm visitin' in Virginny, I used to go fishin'. I don't fish with a reel, an' one of them limber poles, an' let a fish go swarmin' up an' down a stream, a-breedin' false hopes in his bosom an' lettin' him think he's loose. Not me; I wouldn't so deloode-wouldn't play it that low on a fish. I goes anglin' in a formal, se'f-respectin' way. I uses a short line an' a pole which is stiff an' strong. When I gets a bite, I yanks him out an' lets him know his fate right thar."

"'"But eels ain't no game fish," I says. "Bass is game, but not eels."

"'"Eels ain't game none, ain't they?" says this yere Davis, lettin' on he's a heap interested. "You-all listen to me; let me tell you of a eel I snags onto down by Culpepper. When he bites that time I gives him both hands. That eel comes through the air jest whistlin' an' w'irlin'. I slams him ag'inst the great state of Virginny. Suppose one of them bass you boasts of takes sech a jolt. Whatever would he have done? He'd lay thar pantin' an' rollin' his eyes; mebby he curls his tail a little. That would be the utmost of them resentments of his. What does my eel do? Stranger, he stands up on his tail an' fights me. Game! that eel's game as scorpions! My dog Fido's with me. Fido wades into the eel, an' the commotion is awful. That eel whips Fido in two minutes, Washin'ton time. How much does he weigh? Whatever do I know about it? When he's done put the gaffs into Fido, he nacherally sa'nters back into the branch where he lives at. I don't get him none; I deems I'm plumb lucky when he don't get me. Still, if any gent talks of game fish that a-way, I wants it onderstood, I strings my money on that Culpepper eel."'

"'Thar, it's jest as I tells you-all, gents!' says Jack Moore a heap disgusted, when Colonel Sterett gets through. 'This yere Davis is a imposter. Which thar's no mortal sport could know as little as he lets on an' live to reach his age.'

"We sets thar an' lays plans. At last in pursooance of them devices, it gets roomored about camp that the next day but one, both Enright an' the New York Store aims to send over to Tucson a roll of money the size of a wagon hub.

"'Thar's no danger of them hold-ups,' says Enright to this Davis, lettin' on he's a heap confidenshul. 'They won't be lookin' for no sech riches bein' freighted over slap on the heels of this yere robbery. An' we don't aim to put up no gyards alongside of Old Monte neither. Gyards is no good; they gets beefed the first volley, an' their presence on a coach that a-way is notice that thar's plenty of treasure aboard.'

"It's in this way Enright fills that Davis as full of misinformation as a bottle of rum. Also, we deems it some signif'cant when said shorthorn saddles his hoss over to the corral an' goes skally- hootin' for Tucson about first drink time in the mornin'.

"'I've a engagement in the Oriental S'loon,' he says, biddin' us good-bye plenty cheerful, 'but I'll be back among you-all sports in a week. I likes your ways a whole lot, an' I wants to learn 'em some.'

"'Which I offers four to one,' says Jack Moore, lookin' after him as he rides away, 'you'll be back yere sooner than that, an' you-all won't know it none, at that.'

"It's the next day when the stage starts; Old Monte is crackin' his whip in a hardened way, carin' nothin' for road agents as long as they don't interfere with the licker traffic. Thar's only one passenger.

"Shore enough, jest as it's closin' in some dark in Apache Canyon, an' the stage is groanin' an' creakin' along on a up grade, thar's a trio of hold-ups shows on the trail, an' the procession comes to a halt. Old Monte sets the brake, wrops the reins about it, locks his hands over his head, an' turns in to cuss. The hold-ups takes no notice. They yanks down the Wells-Fargo chest, pulls off the letter bag, accepts a watch an' a pocket-book from the gent inside, who's scared an' shiverin' an' scroogin' back in the darkest corner, he's that terror-bit, an' then they applies a few epithets to Old Monte an' commands him to pull his freight. An' Old Monte shorely obeys them mandates, an' goes crashin' off up the canyon on the run.

"Them outlaws hauls the plunder to one side of the trail an' lays for the mail-bag with a bowie. All three is as busy as prairy dogs after a rain, rippin' open letters an' lookin' for checks an' drafts. Later they aims at some op'rations on the express company's box.

"But they never gets to the box. Thar's the lively tones of a Winchester which starts the canyon's echoes to talkin'. That rifle ain't forty foot away, an' it speaks three times before ever you- all, son, could snap your fingers. An' that weepon don't make them observations in vain. It ain't firin' no salootes. Quick as is the work, the sights shifts to a new target every time. At the last, all three hold-ups lays kickin' an' jumpin' like chickens that a-way, two is dead an' the other is too hard hit to respond.

"Whoever does it? Jack Moore, he's that one shiverin' passenger that time. He slides outen the stage as soon as ever it turns the angle of the canyon, an' comes scoutin' an' crawlin' back on his prey. An' I might add, it shore soothes Jack's vanity a lot, when the first remainder shows down as that artless maverick, Davis. Jack lights a pine splinter an' looks him over-pale an' dead an' done.

"'Which you-all is the victim of over-play,' says Jack to this yere Davis, same as if he hears him, 'If you never asks to see my gun that time, it's even money my suspicions concernin' you might be sleepin' yet.'"

End Project Gutenberg Etext of Wolfville Days, by Alfred Henry Lewis

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