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   Chapter 1 No.1

Wolfville Nights By Alfred Henry Lewis Characters: 33022

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


The Dismissal of Silver Phil.

"His name, complete, is 'Silver City Philip.' In them social observances of the Southwest wherein haste is a feacher an' brev'ty the bull's eye aimed at, said cognomen gets shortened to 'Silver Phil.'"

The Old Cattleman looked thoughtfully into his glass, as if by that method he collected the scattered elements of a story. There was a pause; then he lifted the glass to his lips as one who being now evenly equipped of information, proposed that it arrive hand in hand with the inspiration which should build a tale from it.

"Shore, this Silver Phil is dead now; an' I never yet crosses up with the gent who's that sooperfluous as to express regrets. It's Dan Boggs who dismisses Silver Phil; Dan does it in efforts he puts forth to faithfully represent the right.

"Doc Peets allers allows this Silver Phil is a 'degen'rate;' leastwise that's the word Peets uses. An' while I freely concedes I ain't none too cl'ar as to jest what a degen'rate is, I stands ready to back Peets' deescription to win. Peets is, bar Colonel William Greene Sterett, the best eddicated sharp in Arizona; also the wariest as to expressin' views. Tharfore when Peets puts it up, onflinchin', that this yere Silver Phil's a degen'rate, you-all can spread your blankets an' go to sleep on it that a degen'rate he is.

"Silver Phil is a little, dark, ignorant, tousled-ha'red party, none too neat in costume. He's as black an' small an' evil-seemin' as a Mexican; still, you sees at a glance he ain't no Greaser neither. An' with all this yere surface wickedness, Silver Phil has a quick, hyster'cal way like a woman or a bird; an' that's ever a grin on his face. You can smell 'bad' off Silver Phil, like smoke in a house, an' folks who's on the level-an' most folks is-conceives a notion ag'in him the moment him an' they meets up.

"The first time I observes Silver Phil, he's walkin' down the licker room of the Red Light. As he goes by the bar, Black Jack-who's rearrangin' the nosepaint on the shelf so it shows to advantage-gets careless an' drops a bottle.

"'Crash!' it goes onto the floor.

"With the sound, an' the onexpected suddenness of it stampedin' his nerves, that a-way, Silver Phil leaps into the air like a cat; an' when he 'lights, he's frontin' Black Jack an' a gun in each hand.

"'Which I won't be took!' says Silver Phil, all flustered.

"His eyes is gleamin' an' his face is palin' an' his ugly grin gets even uglier than before. But like a flash, he sees thar's nothin' to go in the air about-nothin' that means him; an' he puts up his hardware an' composes himse'f.

"'You-all conducts yourse'f like a sport who has something on his mind,' says Texas Thompson, who's thar present at the time, an' can't refrain from commentin' on the start that bottle-smashin' gives Silver Phil.

"This Silver Phil makes no response, but sort o' grins plenty ghastly, while his breath comes quick.

"Still, while you-all notes easy that this person's scared, it's plain he's a killer jest the same. It's frequent that a-way. I'm never much afraid of one of your cold game gents like Cherokee Hall; you can gamble the limit they'll never put a six-shooter in play till it's shorely come their turn. But timid, feverish, locoed people, whose jedgment is bad an' who's prone to feel themse'fs in peril; they're the kind who kills. For myse'f I shuns all sech. I won't say them erratic, quick-to-kill sports don't have courage; only it strikes me-an' I've rode up on a heap of 'em-it's more like a fear-bit f'rocity than sand.

"Take Enright or Peets or Cherokee or Tutt or Jack Moore or Boggs or Texas Thompson; you're plumb safe with sech gents-all or any. An' yet thar ain't the first glimmer of bein' gun-shy about one of 'em; they're as clean strain as the eternal granite, an' no more likely to hide out from danger than a hill. An' while they differs from each other, yet they're all different from sech folks as Silver Phil. Boggs, goin' to war, is full of good-humoured grandeur, gala and confident, ready to start or stop like a good hoss. Cherokee Hall is quiet an' wordless; he gets pale, but sharp an' deadly; an' his notion is to fight for a finish. Peets is haughty an' sooperior on the few o'casions when he onbends in battle, an' comports himse'f like a gent who fights downhill; the same, ondoubted, bein' doo to them book advantages of Peets which elevates him an' lifts him above the common herd a whole lot. Enright who's oldest is of course slowest to embark in blood, an' pulls his weepons-when he does pull 'em-with sorrowful resignation.

"'Which I'm shorely saddest when I shoots,' says Enright to me, as he reloads his gun one time.

"These yere humane sentiments, however, don't deter him from shootin' soon an' aimin' low, which latter habits makes Wolfville's honoured chief a highly desp'rate game to get ag'inst.

"Jack Moore, bein' as I explains former, the execyootive of the Stranglers, an' responsible for law an' order, has a heap of shootin' shoved onto him from time to time. Jack allers transacts these fireworks with a ca'm, offishul front, the same bein' devoid, equal, of anger or regrets. Tutt, partic'lar after he weds Tucson Jennie, an' more partic'lar still when he reaps new honours as the originator of that blessed infant Enright Peets Tutt, carries on what shootin' comes his way in a manner a lot dignified an' lofty; while Texas Thompson-who's mebby morbid about his wife down in Laredo demandin' she be divorced that time-although he picks up his hand in a fracas, ready an' irritable an' with no delays, after all is that well-balanced he's bound to be each time plumb right.

"Which, you observes, son, from these yere settin's forth, that thar's a mighty sight of difference between gents like them pards of mine an' degen'rates of the tribe of Silver Phil. It's the difference between right an' wrong; one works from a impulse of pure jestice, the other is moved of a sperit of crime; an' thar you be.

"Silver Phil, we learns later-an' it shore jestifies Peets in his theories about him bein' a degen'rate-has been in plenty of blood. But allers like a cat; savage, gore-thirsty, yet shy, prideless, an' ready to fly. It seems he begins to be homicidal in a humble way by downin' a trooper over near Fort Cummings. That's four years before he visits us. He's been blazin' away intermittent ever since, and allers crooel, crafty an' safe. It's got to be a shore thing or Silver Phil quits an' goes into the water like a mink.

"This yere ondersized miscreant ain't ha'nted about Wolfville more'n four days before he shows how onnecessary he is to our success. Which he works a ha'r copper on Cherokee Hall. What's a ha'r copper? I'll onfold, short and terse, what Silver Phil does, an' then you saveys. Cherokee's dealin' his game-farobank she is; an' if all them national banks conducts themse'fs as squar' as that enterprise of Cherokee's, the fields of finance would be as safely honest as a church. Cherokee's turnin' his game one evenin'; Faro Nell on the lookout stool where she belongs. Silver Phil drifts up to the lay-out, an' camps over back of the king-end. He gets chips, an' goes to takin' chances alternate on the king, queen, jack, ten; all side an' side they be. Cherokee bein' squar' himse'f ain't over-prone to expect a devious play in others. He don't notice this Silver Phil none speshul, an' shoves the kyards.

"Silver Phil wins three or four bets; it's Nell that catches on to his racket, an' signs up to Cherokee onder the table with her little foot. One glance an' Cherokee is loaded with information. This Silver Phil, it seems, in a sperit of avarice, equips himse'f with a copper-little wooden checker, is what this copper is-one he's done filched from Cherokee the day prior. He's fastened a long black hoss-ha'r to it, an' he ties the other end of the hoss-ha'r to his belt in front. This ha'r is long enough as he's planted at the table that a-way, so it reaches nice to them four nearest kyards,-the king, queen, jack, ten. An' said ha'r is plumb invisible except to eyes as sharp as Faro Nell's. The deceitful Silver Phil will have a stack on one of 'em, coppered with this yere ha'r copper. He watches the box. As the turns is made, if the kyards come his way, well an' good. Silver Phil does nothin' but garners in results. When the kyards start to show ag'in him, however, that's different. In sech events Silver Phil draws in his breath, sort o' takin' in on the hoss-ha'r, an' the copper comes off the bet. When the turn is made, thar's Silver Phil's bet-by virchoo of said fraud-open an' triumphant an' waitin' to be paid.

"Cherokee gets posted quick an with a look. As sharp as winkin' Cherokee has a nine-inch bowie in his hand an' with one slash cuts the hoss-ha'r clost up by Silver Phil's belt.

"'That's a yoonique invention!" observes Cherokee, an' he's sarcastic while he menaces with the knife at Silver Phil; 'that contraption is shorely plenty sagacious! But it don't go here. Shove in your chips.' Silver Phil obeys: an' he shows furtive, ugly, an' alarmed, an' all of 'em at once. He don't say a word. 'Now pull your freight,' concloods Cherokee. 'If you ever drifts within ten foot of a game of mine ag'in I'll throw this knife plumb through you-through an' through.' An' Cherokee, by way of lustration lets fly the knife across the bar-room. It comes like a flash.

"'Chuck!'

"Thar's a picture paper pasted onto the wooden wall of the Red Light, displayin' the liniaments of some party. That bowie pierces the picture-a shot in the cross it is-an' all with sech fervour that the p'int of the blade shows a inch an' a half on the other side of that individyool board.

"'The next time I throws a knife in your presence,' remarks Cherokee to Silver Phil, an' Cherokee's as cold an' p'isonous as a rattlesnake, 'it'll be la'nched at you.'

"Silver Phil don't say nothin' in retort. He's aware by the lib'ral way Cherokee sep'rates himse'f from the bowie that said weepon can't constitoote Cherokee's entire armament. An' as Silver Phil don't pack the sperit to face no sech flashlight warrior, he acts on Cherokee's hint to vamos, an fades into the street. Shore, Cherokee don't cash the felon's chips none; he confiscates 'em. Cherokee ain't quite so tenderly romantic as to make good to a detected robber. Moreover, he lets this Silver Phil go onharmed when by every roole his skelp is forfeit. It turns out good for the camp, however, as this yere experience proves so depressin' to Silver Phil he removes his blankets to Red Dog. Thar among them purblind tarrapins, its inhabitants, it's likely he gets prosperous an' ondetected action on that little old ha'r copper of his.

"It's not only my beliefs, but likewise the opinions of sech joodicial sports as Enright, Peets, an' Colonel Sterett, that this maverick, Silver Phil, is all sorts of a crim'nal. An' I wouldn't wonder if he's a pure rustler that a-way; as ready to stand up a stage as snake a play at farobank. This idee settles down on the Wolfville intell'gence on the heels of a vicissitoode wherein Dan Boggs performs, an' which gets pulled off over in the Bird Cage Op'ry House. Jack Moore ain't thar none that time. Usual, Jack is a constant deevotee of the dramy. Jack's not only a first-nighter, he comes mighty clost to bein' a every-nighter. But this partic'lar evenin' when Boggs performs, Jack's rummagin' about some'ers else.

"If Jack's thar, it's even money he'd a-had that second shot instead of Boggs; in which event, the results might have been something graver than this yere minoote wound which Boggs confers. I'm confident Jack would have cut in with the second shot for sech is his offishul system. Jack more'n once proclaims his position.

"'By every roole of law,' says Jack at epocks when he declar's himse'f, 'an' on all o'casions, I, as kettle-tender to the Stranglers, is entitled to the first shot. When I uses the term 'o'casion,' I would be onderstood as alloodin' to affairs of a simply social kind, an' not to robberies, hold-ups, hoss-larcenies, an' other an' sim'lar transactions in spec'latif crime when every gent defends his own. Speakin' social, however, I reasserts that by every roole of guidance, I'm entitled to the first shot. Which a doo regyard for these plain rights of mine would go far to freein' Wolfville upper circles of the bullets which occurs from time to time, an' which even the most onconventional admits is shore a draw-back. All I can add as a closer,' concloods Jack, 'is that I'll make haste to open on any sport who transgresses these fiats an' goes to shootin' first. Moreover, it's likely that said offender finds that when I'm started once, what I misses in the orig'nal deal I'll make up in the draw, an' I tharfore trusts that none will prove so sooicidal as to put me to the test.'

"This Bird Cage Op'ry House evenin', however, Jack is absent a heap. Dan Boggs is present, an' is leanin' back appreciatin' the show an' the Valley Tan plenty impartial. Dan likes both an' is doin' 'em even jestice. Over opp'site to Dan is a drunken passel of sports from Red Dog, said wretched hamlet bein' behind Wolfville in that as in all things else an' not ownin' no op'ry house.

"As the evenin' proceeds-it's about sixth drink time-a casyooal gun goes off over among the Red Dog outfit, an' the lead tharfrom bores a hole in the wall clost to Dan's y'ear. Nacherally Dan don't like it. The show sort o' comes to a balk, an' takin' advantages of the lull Dan arises in a listless way an' addresses the Red Dogs.

"'I merely desires to inquire,' says Dan 'whether that shot is inadvertent; or is it a mark of innocent joobilation an' approval of the show; or is it meant personal to me?'

"'You can bet your moccasins!' shouts one of the Red Dog delegation, 'thar's no good fellowship with that gun-play. That shot's formal an' serious an' goes as it lays.'

"'My mind bein' now cl'ar on the subject of motive,' says Dan; 'the proper course is plain.'"

With this retort Dan slams away gen'ral-shoots into the flock like-at the picnickers from Red Dog, an' a party who's plenty drunk an' has his feet piled up on a table goes shy his off big toe.

"As I remarks yeretofore it's as well Jack Moore ain't thar. Jack would have corralled something more momentous than a toe. Which Jack would have been shootin' in his capac'ty as marshal, an' couldn't onder sech circumstances have stooped to toes. But it's different with Dan. He is present private an' only idlin' 'round; an' he ain't driven to take high ground. More partic'lar since Dan's playin' a return game in the nacher of reproofs an' merely to resent the onlicensed liberties which Red Dog takes with him, Dan, as I says, is free to accept toes if he so decides.

"When Dan busts this yere inebriate, the victim lams loose a yell ag'inst which a coyote would protest. That sot thinks he's shore killed. What with the scare an' the pain an' the nosepaint, an' regyardin' of himse'f as right then flutterin' about the rim of eternity, he gets seized with remorse an' allows he's out to confess his sins before he quits. As thar's no sky pilot to confide in, this drunkard figgers that Peets 'll do, an' with that he onloads on Peets how, bein' as he is a stage book-keep over in Red Dog, he's in cahoots with a outfit of route agents an' gives 'em the word when it's worth while to stand-up the stage. An' among other crim'nal pards of his this terrified person names that outlaw Silver Phil. Shore, when he rounds to an' learns it ain't nothin' but a toe, this party's chagrined to death.

"This yere confidin' sport's arrested an' taken some'ers-Prescott mebby-to be tried in a shore-enough co't for the robberies; the Red Dog Stranglers not bein' game to butt in an' hang him a lot themse'fs. They surrenders him to the marshal who rides over for him; an' they would have turned out Silver Phil, too, only that small black outcast don't wait, but goes squanderin' off to onknown climes the moment he hears the news. He's vamoosed Red Dog before this penitent bookkeep ceases yelpin' an' sobbin' over his absent toe.

"It ain't no time, however, before we hears further of Silver Phil; that is, by way of roomer. It looks like a couple of big cow outfits some'ers in the San Simon country-they're the 'Three-D' an' the 'K-in-a-box' brands-takes first to stealin' each, other's cattle, an', final, goes to war. Each side reta

ins bands of murderers an' proceeds buoyantly to lay for one another. Which Silver Phil enlists with the 'Three-D' an' sneaks an' prowls an' bushwhacks an' shoots himse'f into more or less bloody an' ignoble prom'nence. At last the main war-chiefs of the Territory declar's themse'fs in on the riot an' chases both sides into the hills; an' among other excellent deeds they makes captive Silver Phil.

"It's a great error they don't string this Silver Phil instanter. But no; after the procrastinatin' fashion of real law, they permits the villain-who's no more use on the surface of Arizona that a-way than one of them hydrophoby polecats whose bite is death-to get a law sharp to plead an' call for a show-down before a jedge an' jury. It takes days to try Silver Phil, an' marshals an' sheriff gents is two weeks squanderin' about gettin' witnesses; an' all to as much trouble an' loss of time an' dinero as would suffice to round-up the cattle of Cochise county. Enright an' the Stranglers would have turned the trick in twenty minutes an' never left the New York Store ontil with Silver Phil an' a lariat they reepairs to the windmill to put the finishin' touches on their lucoobrations.

"Still, dooms slow an' shiftless as they shore be, at the wind-up Silver Phil's found guilty, an' is put in nom'nation by the presidin' alcade to be hanged; the time bein' set in a crazy-hoss fashion for a month away. As Silver Phil-which he's that bad an' hard he comes mighty clost to bein; game-is leavin' the co't-room with the marshal who's ridin' herd on him, he says:

"'I ain't payin' much attention at the time,'-Silver Phil's talkin' to that marshal gent,-'bein' I'm thinkin' of something else, but do I onderstand that old grey sport on the bench to say you-all is to hang me next month?'

"'That's whatever!' assents this marshal gent, 'an' you can gamble a bloo stack that hangin' you is a bet we ain't none likely to overlook. Which we're out to put our whole grateful souls into the dooty.'

"'Now I thinks of it,' observes Silver Phil, 'I'm some averse to bein' hanged. I reckons, speakin' free an' free as between fellow sports, that in order for that execootion to be a blindin' success I'll have to be thar personal?'

"'It's one of the mighty few o'casions,' responds the marshal, 'when your absence would shorely dash an' damp the gen'ral joy. As you says, you'll have to be thar a heap personal when said hangin' occurs.'

"'I'm mighty sorry,' says Silver Phil, 'that you-all lays out your game in a fashion that so much depends on me. The more so, since the longer I considers this racket, the less likely it is I'll be thar. It's almost a cinch, with the plans I has, that I'll shore be some'ers else.'

"They corrals Silver Phil in the one big upper room of a two-story 'doby, an' counts off a couple of dep'ty marshals to gyard him. These gyards, comin' squar' down to cases, ain't no improvement, moral, on Silver Phil himse'f; an' since they're twice his age-Silver Phil not bein' more'n twenty-it's safe as a play to say that both of 'em oughter have been hanged a heap before ever Silver Phil is born. These two hold-ups, however, turns dep'ty marshals in their old age, an' is put in to stand watch an' watch an' see that Silver Phil don't work loose from his hobbles an' go pirootin' off ag'in into parts onknown. Silver Phil is loaded with fetters,-handcuffs an' laig-locks both-an' these hold-up sentries is armed to the limit.

"It's the idee of Doc Peets later, when he hears the details, that if the gyards that time treats Silver Phil with kindness, the little felon most likely would have remained to be hanged. But they don't: they abooses Silver Phil; cussin' him out an' herdin' him about like he's cattle. They're a evil-tempered couple, them dep'ties, an' they don't give Silver Phil no sort o' peace.

"'As I su'gests yeretofore,' says Doc Peets, when he considers the case, 'this Silver Phil is a degen'rate. He's like a anamile. He don't entertain no reg'lar scheme to work free when he waxes sardonic with the marshal; that's only a bluff. Later, when them gyards takes to maltreatin' him an' battin' him about, it wakes up the venom in him, an' his cunnin' gets aroused along with his appetite for revenge.'

"This Silver Phil, who's lean an' slim like I explains at the jump, has hands no bigger than a cat's paws. It ain't no time when he discovers that by cuttin' himse'f a bit on the irons, he can shuck the handcuffs whenever he's disposed. Even then, he don't outline no campaign for liberty; jest sort o' roominates an' waits.

"It's one partic'lar mornin', some two weeks after Silver Phil's sentenced that a-way. The marshal gent himse'f ain't about, bein' on some dooty over to Tucson. Silver Phil is upsta'rs on the top floor of the 'doby with his gyards. Which he's hotter than a wildcat; the gyards an' him has been havin' a cussin' match, an' as Silver Phil outplays 'em talkin', one of 'em's done whacked him over the skelp with his gun. The blood's tricklin' down Silver Phil's fore'erd as he sits glowerin'.

"One of the gyards is loadin' a ten-gauge Greener-a whole mouthful of buckshot in each shell. He's grinnin' at Silver Phil as he shoves the shells in the gun an' slams her shet.

"'Which I'm loadin' that weepon for you,' says the gyard, contemplatin'

Silver Phil derisive.

"'You be, be you!' replies Silver Phil, his eyes burnin' with rage.

'Which you better look out a whole lot; you-all may get it yourse'f.'

"The gyard laughs ugly an' exasperatin' an' puts the ten-gauge in a locker along with two or three Winchesters. Then he turns the key on the firearms an' goes caperin' off to his feed.

"The other gyard, his compadre, is settin' on a stool lookin' out a window. Mebby he's considerin' of his sins. It would be more in his hand at this time if he thinks of Silver Phil.

"Silver Phil, who's full of wrath at the taunts of the departed gyard, slips his hands free of the irons. Most of the hide on his wrists comes with 'em, but Silver Phil don't care. The gyard's back is to him as that gent sits gazin' out an' off along the dusty trail where it winds gray an' hot toward Tucson. Silver Phil organises, stealthy an' cat-cautious; he's out for the gyard's gun as it hangs from his belt, the butt all temptin' an' su'gestive.

"As Silver Phil makes his first move the laig-locks clanks. It ain't louder than the jingle of a brace of copper centouse knockin' together. It's enough, however; it strikes on the y'ear of that thoughtful gyard like the roar of a '44. He emerges from his reverie with a start; the play comes cl'ar as noonday to him in a moment.

"The gyard leaps, without even lookin' 'round, to free himse'f from the clutch of Silver Phil. Which he's the splinter of a second too late. Silver Phil makes a spring like a mountain lion, laig-locks an' all, an' grabs the gun. As the gyard goes clatterin' down sta'rs. Silver Phil pumps two loads into him an' curls him up at the foot. Then Silver Phil hurls the six-shooter at him with a volley of mal'dictions.

"Without pausin' a moment, Silver Phil grabs the stool an' smashes to flinders the locker that holds the 10-gauge Greener. He ain't forgot none; an' he's fair locoed to get that partic'lar weepon for the other gyard. He rips it from the rack an' shows at the window as his prey comes runnin' to the rescoo of his pard:

"'Oh, you! Virg Sanders!' yells Silver Phil.

"The second gyard looks up; an' as he does, Silver Phil gives him both bar'ls. Forty-two buckshot; an' that gyard's so clost he stops 'em all! As he lays dead, Silver Phil breaks the Greener in two, an' throws, one after the other, stock an' bar'l at him.

"'Which I'll show you-all what happens when folks loads a gun for me!' says Silver Phil.

"Nacherally, this artillery practice turns out the entire plaza. The folks is standin' about the 'doby which confines Silver Phil, wonderin' whatever that enthoosiast's goin' to do next. No, they don't come after him, an' I'll tell you why. Shore, thar's twenty gents lookin' on, any one of whom, so far as personal apprehensions is involved, would trail Silver Phil single-handed into a wolf's den. Which he'd feel plumb confident he gets away with Silver Phil an' the wolves thrown in to even up the odds. Still, no one stretches forth to capture Silver Phil on this yere voylent o'casion. An' these is the reasons. Thar's no reg'lar offishul present whose dooty it is to rope up this Silver Phil. If sech had chanced to be thar, you can put down a stack he'd come a-runnin', an' him or Silver Phil would have caught up with the two gyards on their journey into the beyond. But when it gets down to private people volunteerin' for dooty as marshals, folks in the Southwest goes some slothful to work. Thar's the friends of the accoosed-an' as a roole he ain't none friendless-who would mighty likely resent sech zeal. Also, in the case of Silver Phil, his captivity grows out of a cattle war. One third the public so far as it stands about the 'doby where Silver Phil is hived that time is 'Three-D' adherents, mebby another third is 'K-in-a-box' folks, while the last third is mighty likely nootral. Whichever way it breaks, however, thar's a tacit stand-off, an' never a sport of 'em lifts a finger or voice to head off Silver Phil.

"'Which she's the inalien'ble right of Americans onder the constitootion to escape with every chance they gets,' says one.

"'That's whatever!' coincides his pard; 'an' moreover this ain't our round-up nohow.'

"It's in that fashion these private citizens adjusts their dooty to the state while pausin' to look on, in a sperit of cur'osity while Silver Phil makes his next play.

"They don't wait long. Silver Phil comes out on the roof of a stoop in front. He's got a Winchester by now, an' promptly throws the muzzle tharof on a leadin' citizen. Silver Phil allows he'll plug this dignitary if they don't send up a sport with a file to cut loose the laig-locks. Tharupon the pop'lace, full of a warm interest by this time, does better. They gropes about in the war-bags of the Virg Sanders sharp who stops the buckshot an' gets his keys; a moment after, Silver Phil is free.

"Still, this ontirin' hold-up goes on menacin' the leadin' citizen as former. Which now Silver Phil demands a bronco, bridled an' saddled. He gives the public ten minutes; if the bronco is absent at the end of ten minutes Silver Phil allows he'll introdooce about a pound of lead into where that village father does his cogitating. The bronco appears with six minutes to spar'. As it arrives, the vivacious Silver Phil jumps off the roof of the stoop-the same bein' low-an' is in the saddle an' out o' sight while as practised a hand as Huggins is pourin' out a drink. Where the trail bends 'round a mesa Silver Phil pulls up.

"'Whoop! whoop! whoopee! for Silver Phil,' he shouts.

"Then he waves the Winchester, an' as he spurs 'round the corner of the hill it's the last that spellbound outfit ever sees of Silver Phil.

"Nacherally now," remarked my old friend, as he refreshed himself with a mouthful of scotch, "you-all is waitin' an' tryin' to guess wherever does Dan Boggs get in on this yere deal. An' it won't take no time to post you; the same bein' a comfort.

"Not one word do we-all wolves of Wolfville hear of the divertin' adventures of Silver Phil-shootin' up his gyards an' fetchin' himse'f free-ontil days after. No one in camp has got Silver Phil on his mind at all; at least if he has he deems him safe an' shore in hock, a-waitin' to be stretched. Considerin' what follows, I never experiences trouble in adoptin' Doc Peets' argyments that the eepisodes wherein this onhappy Silver Phil figgers sort o' aggravates his intellects ontil he's locoed.

"'Bein' this Silver Phil's a degen'rate,' declar's Peets, explanatory, 'he's easy an' soon to loco. His mind as well as his moral nacher is onbalanced congenital. Any triflin' jolt, much less than what that Silver Phil runs up on, an' his fretful wits is shore to leave the saddle.

"Now that Silver Phil's free, but loonatic like Peets says, an' doubly vicious by them tantalisin' gyards, it looks like he thinks of nothin' but wreckin' reprisals on all who's crossed his trail. An' so with vengeance eatin' at his crim'nal heart he p'ints that bronco's muzzle straight as a bird flies for Wolfville. Whoever do you-all reckon now he wants? Cherokee Hall? Son, you've followed off the wrong waggon track. Silver Phil-imagine the turpitoode of sech a ornery wretch!-is out for the lovely skelp of Faro Nell who detects him in his ha'r-copper frauds that time.

"Which the first intimations we has of Silver Phil after that escape, is one evenin' about fifth drink time-or as you-all says 'four o'clock.' The sun's still hot an' high over in the west. Thar's no game goin'; but bein' it's as convenient thar as elsewhere an' some cooler, Cherokee's settin' back of his layout with Faro Nell as usual on her lookout perch. Dan Boggs is across the street in the dancehall door, an' his pet best bronco is waitin' saddled in front. Hot an' drowsy; the street save for these is deserted.

"It all takes place in a moment. Thar's a clattering rush; an' then, pony a-muck with sweat an' alkali dust, Silver Phil shows in the portals of the Red Light. Thar's a flash an' a spit of white smoke as he fires his six-shooter straight at Faro Nell.

"Silver Phil is quick, but Cherokee is quicker. Cherokee sweeps Faro Nell from her stool with one motion of his arm an' the bullet that's searchin' for her lifts Cherokee's ha'r a trifle where he 'most gets his head in its way.

"Ondoubted, this Silver Phil allows he c'llects on Faro Nell as planned. He don't shoot twice, an' he don't tarry none, but wheels his wearied pony, gives a yell, an' goes surgin' off.

"But Silver Phil's got down to the turn of that evil deal of his existence. He ain't two hundred yards when Dan Boggs is in the saddle an' ridin' hard. Dan's bronco runs three foot for every one of the pony of Silver Phil's; which that beaten an' broken cayouse is eighty miles from his last mouthful of grass.

"As Dan begins to crowd him, Silver Phil turns in the saddle an' shoots. The lead goes 'way off yonder-wild. Dan, grim an' silent, rides on without returnin' the fire.

"'Which I wouldn't dishonour them guns of mine,' says Dan, explainin' later the pheenomenon of him not shootin' none, 'which I wouldn't dishonour them guns by usin' 'em on varmints like this yere Silver Phil.'

"As Silver Phil reorganises for a second shot his bronco stumbles.

Silver Phil pitches from the saddle an' strikes the grass to one side.

As he half rises, Dan lowers on him like the swoop of a hawk. It's as

though Dan's goin' to snatch a handkerchief from the ground.

"As Dan flashes by, he swings low from the saddle an' his right hand takes a troo full grip on that outlaw's shoulder. Dan has the thews an' muscles of a cinnamon b'ar, an' Silver Phil is only a scrap of a man. As Dan straightens up in the stirrups, he heaves this Silver Phil on high to the length of his long arm; an' then he dashes him ag'inst the flint-hard earth; which the manoover-we-all witnesses it from mebby a quarter of a mile-which the manoover that a-way is shore remorseless! This Silver Phil is nothin' but shattered bones an' bleedin' pulp. He strikes the plains like he's crime from the clouds an' is dead without a quiver.

"'Bury him? No!' says Old Man Enright to Dave Tutt who asks the question. 'Let him find his bed where he falls.

"While Enright speaks, an' as Dan rides up to us at the Red Light, a prompt raven drops down over where this Silver Phil is layin'. Then another raven an' another-black an' wide of wing-comes floatin' down. A coyote yells-first with the short, sharp yelp, an' then with that multiplied patter of laughter like forty wolves at once. That daylight howl of the coyote alters tells of a death. Shore raven an' wolf is gatherin'. As Enright says: 'This yere Silver Phil ain't likely to be lonesome none to-night.'

"'Did you kill him, Dan?' asks Faro Nell.

"'Why, no, Nellie,' replies Dan, as he steps outen the stirrups an' beams on Faro Nell. She's still a bit onstrung, bein' only a little girl when all is said. 'Why, no, Nellie; I don't kill him speecific as Wolfville onderstands the word; but I dismisses him so effectual the kyard shore falls the same for Silver Phil.'"

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