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   Chapter 16 No.16

Wolfville Nights By Alfred Henry Lewis Characters: 15984

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Toad Allen's Elopement.

"Four days after that pinfeather person," remarked the Old Cattleman, while refilling his pipe, "four days after that pinfeather person gains Old Man Enright's consent to make use of Wolfville as a pivotal p'int in a elopement, him an' his loved one comes bulgin' into camp. They floats over in one of these yere mountain waggons, what some folks calls a 'buckboard'; the pinfeather person's drivin'. Between him an' his intended-all three settin' on the one seat-perches a preacher gent, who it's plain from the look in his eyes is held in a sort o' captivity that a-way. What nacherally bolsters up this theory is that the maiden's got a six-shooter in her lap.

"'Which if thar's a wearied hectored gent in Arizona,' observes the pinfeather party, as he descends outen the buckboard at the corral an' tosses the reins to a hoss-hustler, 'you-all can come weavin' up an' chance a yellow stack that I'm shore that gent.'

"The preacher sharp, who's about as young an' new as the pinfeather party, looks like he yoonites with him in them views. As they onload themse'fs, the pinfeather person waves his hand to where we-all's gathered to welcome 'em, an' says by way of introduction:

"'Gents, yere's Abby; or as this Bible sport will say later in the cer'mony, Abigail Glegg.'

"Of course, we, who represents the Wolfville public, comports ourse'fs as becomes gents of dignity, an' after takin' off our sombreros, plumb p'lite, Enright su'gests the O.K. Restauraw as a base of op'rations.

"'Don't you-all reckon,' says Enright to the pinfeather party, 'that pendin' hostilities, Abby had better go over to Missis Rucker's? Thar she gets combs an' breshes an' goes over her make-up an' straightens out her game.'

"The pinfeather party allows this yere is a excellent notion, only him an' Abby don't seem cl'ar as to what oughter be done about the preacher sharp.

"'You see, he don't want to come,' explains the pinfeather party, 'an' it's cost me an' Abby a heap of trouble to round him up. I ain't none shore but he seizes on the first chance to go stampedin'; an' without him these rites we-all is bankin' on would cripple down.'

"'No, friends,' says the preacher sharp; 'I will promise to abide by you an' embrace no openin' to escape. Since I'm here I will yoonite you-all as you wish; the more readily because I trusts that as man an' wife you'll prove a mootual restraint one upon the other; an' also for that I deems you both in your single-footed capac'ty as a threat to the commoonity. Fear not; prepare yourse'fs an' I'll bring you together in the happy bonds of matrimony at the drop of the hat.'

"'You notes, Dan,' says Texas Thompson, who's off to one side with Dan Boggs, 'you notes he talks like his heart's resentful. Them culprits has r'iled him up; an' now he allows that the short cut to play even is to marry 'em as they deserves. Which if you-all knows that former wife of mine, Dan, you'll appreciate what I says.'

"Even after the preacher sharp gives his p'role, Abby acts plenty doobious. She ain't shore it's wise to throw him loose. It's Doc Peets who reasshores her.

"'My dear young lady,' says Peets, at the same time bowin' to the ground, 'you may trust this maverick with me. I'll pledge my word to prodooce him at the moment when he's called for to make these nuptials win.'

"'Which I'm aheap obleeged to you, Mister,' says Abby to Peets, sizing him up approvin'; 'an' now that I'm convinced thar's no chance of my footure sufferin' from any absenteeism on the part of this pastor, I reckons I better go over, like you-all hints, an' take a look or two in the glass. It ain't goin' to consoome a moment, however,-this yere titivation I plans; an' followin' said improvements we-all better pull off this play some prompt. My paw,-old Ben Glegg,-is on our trail not five miles behind; he'll land yere in half a hour an' I ain't none convinced he won't land shootin'.' An' with this bluff, an' confidin' the preacher sharp to Peets, Abby goes curvin' over to the O.K. Restauraw.

"However does this yere virgin look? Son, I hes'tates to deescribe a lady onless the facts flows fav'rable for her. Which I'll take chances an' lie a lot to say that any lady's beautiful, if you-all will only give me so much as one good feacher to go on. But I'm powerless in the instance of Abby. That's a blizzard effect to her face; an' the best you can say is that if she don't look lovely, at least she looks convincin'. The gnurliest pineknot burns frequent the hottest, an' you can take my word for it, this Abby girl has sperit. Speakin' of her appearance, personal, Missis Rucker-who's a fair jedge-allows later to Enright that if Abby's a kyard in a faro game, she'd play her to lose.

"'Which she looks like a sick cat in the face, an' a greyhoun' in the waist,' says Missis Rucker; 'an' I ain't got mortal use for no sech spindlin' trollops as this yere Abby girl is, nohow.'

"'I don't know,' says Enright, shakin' his head; 'I ain't been enriched with much practical experience with women, but I reckons now it's love that does it. Whoever is that gent, Peets, who says, "love is blind"? He knows his business, that sport does, an' about calls the turn.'

"'I ain't none so shore neither,' says Peets. 'Love may be blind, but somehow, I don't sign up the play that way. Thar's plenty of people, same as this pinfeather party, who discerns beauties in their sweethearts that's veiled to you an' me.'

"Of course, these yere discussions concernin' Abby's charms takes place weeks later. On the weddin' day, Wolfville's too busy trackin' 'round an' backin' Abby's game to go makin' remarks. In this connection, however, it's only right to Abby to say that her pinfeather beau don't share Missis Rucker's views. Although Abby done threatens him with a gun-play to make him lead her to the altar that time her old paw creases him, an' he begins to wax low-sperited about wedlock, still, the pinfeather party's enamoured of Abby an' wropped up in her.

"'Shore! says this pinfeather party to Texas Thompson, who, outen pity for him, takes the bridegroom over to the Red Light, to be refreshed; 'shore! while thar's no one that egreegious to go claimin' that my Abby's doo to grade as "cornfed," all the same she's one of the most fascinatin' ladies,-that is, an' give her a gun,-in all the len'th an' breadth of Arizona. I knows; for I've seen my Abby shoot.'

"'Excoose me, pard,' says Texas, after surveyin' the pinfeather party plenty sympathetic; 'pardon my seemin' roodness, if I confers with the barkeep aside. On the level! now,' goes on Texas to Black Jack as he pulls him off to a corner an' whispers so the pinfeather party don't hear; 'on the level, Jack! ain't it my dooty-me who saveys what he's ag'inst-to go warn this victim ag'in matrimony in all its horrors?'

"'Don't you do it!' remonstrates Black Jack, an' his voice trembles with the emphasis he feels; 'don't you do it none! You-all stand paws off! Which you don't know what you'll be answerable for! If this yere marriage gets broke off, who knows what new line of conduct this Abby maiden will put out. She may rope onto Boggs, or Peets, or mebby even me. As long as Abby ain't marryin' none of us, Wolfville's attitoode oughter be one of dignified nootrality.'

"Texas sighs deep an' sad as he turns ag'in to the pinfeather party; but he sees the force of Black Jack's argyments an' yields without a effort to combat 'em.

"'After all,' says Texas bitterly to himse'f, 'others has suffered; wherefore, then, should this jaybird gent escape?' An' with that, Texas hardens his heart an' gives up any notion of the pinfeather person's rescoo.

"Which Abby now issues forth of the O.K. Restauraw an' j'ines the pinfeather party when he emerges from the Red Light.

"'This sky pilot,' says Dan Boggs, approachin' the happy couple, 'sends word by me that he's over in the New York store. In deefault of a shore-enough sancho

oary, he allows he yootilises that depot of trade as a headquarters; an' he's now waitin', all keyed up an' ready to turn his little game. Likewise, he's been complainin' 'round some querulous that you folks is harsh with him, an' abducts him an' threatens his skelp.'

"'Now, see thar!' ejac'lates Abby, liftin' up her hands. 'Does mortal y'ears ever before listen to sech folly! I suppose he takes that gun I has as threats! I'm a onprotected young female, an' nacherally, when I embarks on this yere elopement, I packs one of paw's guns. Besides, this sweetheart of mine might get cold feet, an' try to jump the game, an' then I'd need said weepon to make good my p'sition. But it's never meant for that pastor! When I'm talkin' to him to prevail on him to come along, an' that gun in my hand at the time, I does sort o' make references to him with the muzzle. But he needn't go gettin' birdheaded over it; thar's nothin' hostile meant!'

"'Enright explains to him satisfact'ry,' says Boggs. 'An' as you urges, it don't mean nothin'. Folks on the brink of bein' married that a-way gets so joyfully bewildered it comes mighty near the same as bein' locoed.'

"'Well,' says the pinfeather party, who's been stackin' up a dust-cloud where some one's gallopin' along about three miles over on the trail, 'if I'm any dab at a guess that's your infuriated paw pirootin' along over yonder, an' we better get these matrimonial hobbles on without further onreasonable delays. That old murderer would plug me; an' no more hes'tation than if I'm a coyote! But once I'm moved up into p'sition as his son-in-law, a feelin' of nearness an' kinship mighty likely op'rates to stay his hand. Blood's thicker than water, an' I'm in a hurry to get reelated to your paw.'

"But Enright has his notions of what's proper, an' he su'gests the services be delayed ontil old Glegg gets in. Meanwhile he despatches Jack Moore an' Dan Boggs as a gyard of honor to lead old Glegg to our trystin' place in the New York store.

"'An' the first thing you-all do, Jack,' says Enright, as Jack an' Dan rides away, 'you get that outcast's guns.'

"It ain't no more'n time for one drink when Jack an' Dan returns in company of this Glegg. He's a fierce, gray old gent with a eye like a wolf. Jest before he arrives, Enright advises the pinfeather person an' the bride Abby, to go camp in the r'ar room so the sudden sight of 'em won't exasp'rate this parent Glegg to madness.

"'Whatever's the meanin' of this yere concourse?' demands old Glegg, as he comes into the New York store, an' p'intin' to where Peets an' Texas an' Cherokee Hall, along with Enright, is standin' about; 'an' why does these hold-ups'-yere he indicates Dan an' Jack,-'denoode me of my hardware, I'd like to know?'

"'These gents,' says Enright, 'is a quorum of that respectable body known as the Wolfville Stranglers, otherwise a Vig'lance Committee; an' your guns was took so as to redooce the chances of hangin' you-the same bein' some abundant, nacheral,-to minimum. Now who be you? also, what's your little game?'

"'My name's Benjamin Glegg,' responds old Glegg. 'I owns the Sunflower brand an' ranch. As for my game: thar's a member of my fam'ly escapes this mornin'-comes streamin' over yere, I onderstands-an' I'm in the saddle tryin' to round her up. Gents,' concloods old Glegg, an' he displays emotion, 'I'm simply a harassed parent on the trail of his errant offspring.'

"Then Enright makes old Glegg a long, soft talk, an' seeks to imboo him with ca'mness. He relates how Abby an' the pinfeather sport dotes on each other; an' counsels old Glegg not to come pesterin' about with roode objections to the weddin'.

"'Which I says this as your friend,' remarks Enright.

"'It's as the scripter says,' replies old Glegg, who's mollified a lot, 'it's as the good book says: A soft answer turneth away wrath; but more speshully when the opp'sition's got your guns. I begins to see things different. Still, I hates to lose my Abby that a-way. Since my old woman dies, Abby, gents, has been the world an' all to me.'

"'Is your wife dead?" asks Enright, like he sympathises.

"'Shore!' says old Glegg; 'been out an' gone these two years. She's with them cherubim in glory. But folks, you oughter seen her to onderstand my loss. Five years ago we has a ranch over back of the Tres Hermanas by the Mexico line. The Injuns used to go lopin' by our ranch, no'th an' south, all the time. You-all recalls when they pays twenty-five dollars for skelps in Tucson? My wife's that thrifty them days that she buys all her own an' my child Abby's clothes with the Injuns she pots. Little Abby used to scout for her maw. "Yere comes another!" little Abby would cry, as she stampedes up all breathless, her childish face aglow. With that, my wife would take her hands outen the wash-tub, snag onto that savage with her little old Winchester, and quit winner twenty-five right thar.'

"'Which I don't marvel you-all mourns her loss,' says Enright consolin'ly.

"'She's shorely-Missis Glegg is-' says old Glegg, shakin' his grizzly head; 'she's shore the most meteoric married lady of which hist'ry says a word. My girl Abby's like her.'

"'But whatever's your objection,' argues Enright, 'to this young an' trusty sport who's so eager to wed Abby?'

"'I objects to him because he gambles,' says old Glegg. 'I can see he gambles by him pickin' up the salt cellar between his thumb an' middle finger with the forefinger over the top like it's a stack of chips, one evenin' when he stays to supper an' I asks him to "pass the salt." Then ag'in, he don't drink; he tells me so himse'f when I invites him to libate. I ain't goin' to have no teetotal son-in-law around, over-powerin' me in a moral way; I'd feel criticised an' I couldn't stand it, gents. Lastly, I don't like this yere felon's name none.'

"'Whatever is his name, then?' asks Enright. 'So far he don't confide no title to us.'

"'An' I don't wonder none!' says old Glegg. 'It shows he's decent enough to be ashamed. Thar's hopes of him yet. Gents, his name's Toad Allen. "Allen" goes, but, gents, I flies in the air at "Toad." Do you-all blame me? I asks you, as onbiased sports, would you set ca'mly down while a party named "Toad" puts himse'f in nom'nation to be your son-in-law?'

"'None whatever!' says Jack Moore; an' Dan an' Cherokee an' Texas echoes the remark.

"'You-all camp down yere with a tumbler of Valley Tan,' says Enright, 'an' make yourse'f comfortable with my colleagues, while I goes an' consults with our Gretna Green outfit in the r'ar room.'

"Enright returns after a bit, an' his face has that air of se'f-satisfaction that goes with a gent who's playin' on velvet.

"'Your comin' son-in-law,' says Enright to old Glegg, 'defends himse'f from them charges as follows: He agrees to quit gamblin'; he says he lies a whole lot when he tells you-all he don't drink none; an' lastly, deplorin' "Toad" as a cognomen, an' explainin' that he don't assoome it of free choice but sort o' has it sawed off on him in he'pless infancy, he offers-you consentin' to the weddin'-to reorganise onder the name of "Benjamin Glegg Allen."'

"Son, this yere last proposal wins over old Glegg in a body. He not only withdraws all objections to the nuptials, but allows he'll make the pinfeather sport an' Abby full partners in the Sunflower. At this p'int, Enright notifies the preacher sharp that all depends on him; an' that excellent teacher at once acquits himse'f so that in two minutes Wolfville adds another successful weddin' to her list of triumphs.

"'It 'lustrates too,' says Enright, when two days later the weddin' party has returned to Tucson, an' Wolfville ag'in sinks to a normal state of slumbrous ease, 'it sort o' 'lustrates how open to argyments a gent is when once he's lost his weepons. Now if he isn't disarmed that time, my eloquence wouldn't have had no more effect on old Glegg than throwin' water on a drowned rat.'"

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