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   Chapter 17 No.17

Wolfville Nights By Alfred Henry Lewis Characters: 18524

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

The Clients of Aaron Green.

"And so there were no lawyers in Wolfville?" I said. The Old Cattleman filled his everlasting pipe, lighted it, and puffed experimentally. There was a handful of wordless moments devoted to pipe. Then, as one satisfied of a smoky success, he turned attention to me and my remark.

"Lawyers in Wolfville?" he repeated. "Not in my day; none whatever! It's mighty likely though that some of 'em's done come knockin' along by now. Them jurists is a heap persistent, not to say diffoosive, an' soon or late they shore trails into every camp. Which we'd have had 'em among us long ago, but nacherally, an' as far as argyments goes, we turns 'em off. Se'f-preservation is a law of nacher, an' these maxims applies to commoonities as much as ever they does to gents personal. Wherefore, whenever we notices a law wolf scoutin' about an' tryin' to get the wind on us, we employs our talents for lyin', fills him up with fallacies, an' teaches him that to come to Wolfville is to put down his destinies on a dead kyard; an' he tharupon abandons whatever of plans he's harbourin' ag'in us, seein' nothin' tharin.

"It's jest before I leaves for the East when one of these coyotes crosses up with Old Man Enright in Tucson, an' submits the idee of his professional invasion of our camp.

"'Which I'm in the Oriental at the time,' says Enright, when he relates about his adventure, 'an' this maverick goes to jumpin' sideways at me in a friendly mood. Bein' I'm a easy-mannered sport with strangers, he has no trouble gettin' acquainted. At last he allows that he aims to pitch his teepee in Wolfville, hang out a shingle, an' plunge into joorisprudence. "I was thinkin'," says he, "of openin' a joint for the practice of law. As a condition prior advised by the barkeep, an' one which also recommends itse'f to me as dictated of the commonest proodence, I figgers on gainin' your views of these steps."

"'"You does well," I replies, "to consult me on them p'ints. I sees you're shore a jo-darter of a lawyer; for you handles the language like a muleskinner does a blacksnake whip. But jest the same, don't for one moment think of breakin' in on Wolfville. That outfit don't practice law none; she practices facts. It offers no openin' for your game. Comin' to Wolfville onder any conditions is ever a movement of gravity, an onless a gent is out to chase cattle or dandle kyards or proposes to array himse'f in the ranks of commerce by foundin' a s'loon, Wolfville would not guarantee his footure any positive reward."

"'"Then I jest won't come a whole lot," says this law sharp. Whereupon we engages in mootual drinks an' disperses to our destinies.'

"'What you tells this sport,' says Texas Thompson, who's listenin' to Enright, 'echoes my sentiments exact. Anything to keep out law! It ain't alone the jedgments for divorce which my wife grabs off over in Laredo, but it comes to me as the frootes of a experience which has been as wide as it has been plenty soon, that law is only another word for trouble in egreegious forms.'

"'So I decides,' retorts Enright. 'Still, I'm proud to be endorsed by as good a jedge of public disorder an' its preventives as Texas Thompson. Sech approvals ever tends to stiffen a gent's play. As I states, I reeverses this practitioner an' heads him t'other way. Wolfville is the home of friendly confidence; the throne of yoonity an' fraternal peace. It must not be jeopardised. We-all don't want to incur no resks by abandonin' ourse'fs to real shore-enough law. It would debauch us: we'd get plumb locoed an' take to racin' wild an' cimarron up an' down the range, an' no gent could foresee results. It's better than even money, that with the advent of a law sharp into our midst, historians of this hamlet would begin their last chapter. They would head her: "Wolfville's Last Days."

"'It's twenty years ago,' goes on Enright, 'while I'm that season in Texas, that a sharp packs his blankets into Yellow City an' puts it up he'll practice some law. No; he ain't wanted, but he never does give no gent a chance to say so. He comes trackin' in onannounced, an' the first we-all saveys, thar's his sign a-swingin', an' ashoorin' the sports of Yellow City of the presence of


"'Nobody gets excited; for while we agrees to prevail on him ultimately to shift his camp a heap, the sityooation don't call for nothin' preecipitate. In fact, the idee of him or any other besotted person turnin' loose that a-way in Yellow City, strikes us as loodicrous. Thar's nothing for a law-gent to do. I've met up with a heap of camps in my day; an' I've witnessed the work of many a vig'lance committee; but I'm yere to state that for painstakin' ardour an' a energy that never sleeps, the Stranglers of Yellow City is a even break with the best. They uses up a bale of half-inch rope a year; an' as for law an' order an' a scene of fragrant peace, that outfit is comparable only with flower gyardens on a quiet hazy August afternoon.

"'This Aaron Green who prounces thus on Yellow City, intendin' to foment litigations an' go ropin' 'round for fees, is plenty young; but he's that grave an' dignified that owls is hilarious to him. One after the other, he tackles us in a severe onmitigated way, an' shoves his professional kyard onto each an' tells him that whenever he feels ill-used to come a-runnin' an' have his rights preserved. Shore! the boys meets this law person half way. They drinks with him an' fills him up with licker an' fictions alternate, an' altogether regyards him as a mighty yoomerous prop'sition.

"'Also, observin' how tender he is, an' him takin' in their various lies like texts of holy writ, they names him "Easy Aaron." Which he don't look on "Easy Aaron" none too well as a title, an' insists on bein' called "Jedge Green" or even "Squar' Green." But Yellow City won't have it; she sticks to "Easy Aaron"; an' as callin' down the entire camp offers prospects full of fever an' oncertainty, he at last passes up the insult an' while he stays among us, pays no further heed.

"'Doorin' the weeks he harbours with us, a gen'ral taste deevelops to hear this Easy Aaron's eloquence. Thar's a delegation waits on him an' requests Easy Aaron to come forth an' make a speech. We su'gests that he can yootilise the Burnt Boot Saloon as a auditorium, an' offers as a subject "Texas: her Glorious Past, her Glitterin' Present, an' her Transcendent Footure!"

"'"Thar's a topic!" says Shoestring Griffith to Easy Aaron-Shoestring is the cha'rman of the committee,-"thar's a burnin' topic for you! An' if you-all will only come surgin' over to the Burnt Boot right now while you're warm for the event, I offers two to one you makes Cicero look like seven cents."

"'But Easy Aaron waves 'em arrogantly away. He declines to go barkin' at a knot. He says it'll be soon enough to onbuckle an' swamp Yellow City with a flood of eloquence when proper legal o'casion enfolds.

"'In the room to the r'ar of the apartments where this Easy Aaron holds forth as a practitioner, thar's a farobank as is nacheral enough. It's about second drink time in the afternoon, bein' a time of day when the faro game is dead. A passel of conspirators, with Shoestring Griffith in the lead, goes to this room an' reelaxes into a game of draw. Easy Aaron can hear the flutter of the chips through the partition-the same bein' plenty thin-where he's camped like a spider in its web an' waitin' for some sport who needs law to show up. Easy Aaron listens careless an' indifferent to Shoestring an' his fellow blacklaigs as they deals an' antes an' raises an' rakes in pots, an' everybody mighty joobilant as is frequent over poker.

"'Of a suddent, roars an' yells an' reecriminations yoosurps the place of merriment. Then the guns! An' half the lead comes spittin' an' splittin' through that intervenin' partition like she's kyardboard. The bullets flies high enough to miss Easy Aaron, but low enough to invoke a gloomy frame of mind.

"'This yere artillery practice don't continyoo long before Yellow City descends on Shoestring an' his band of homicides; an' when they've got 'em sorted out, thar's Billy Goodnight too defunct to skin, an' Shoestring Griffith does it.

"'Thar's no time lost; the Stranglers convenes in the Burnt Boot, an' exact jestice stands on expectant tiptoe for its prey. But Shoestring raises objections.

"'"Which before ever you-all reptiles takes my innocent life," says

Shoestring, "I wants a lawyer. I swings off in style or I don't swing.

You hear me! send across for Easy Aaron. You can gamble, I'm going to

interpose a defense."

"'"That's but right," says Waco Anderson who's the chief of the Stranglers. "Assembled as we be to revenge the ontimely pluggin' of the late Billy Goodnight, still this Shoestring may demand a even deal. If some gent will ramble over an' round up Easy Aaron, as Shoestring desires, it will be regyarded by the committee, an' this lynchin' can then proceed."

"'Easy Aaron is onearthed from onder his desk where he's still quiled up, pale an' pantin', by virchoo of the bullets. Jim Wise, who goes for him, explains that the shower is over; an' also that he's in enormous d

emand to save Shoestring for beefin' Billy Goodnight. At this, Easy Aaron gets up an' coughs 'round for a moment or two, recoverin' his nerve; then he buttons his surtoot, assoomes airs of sagacity, tucks the Texas Statootes onder his arm, reepairs to the Burnt Boot an' allows he's ready to defend Shoestring from said charges.

"'"But not onless my fees is paid in advance," says this Easy Aaron.

"'At that, we-all passes the hat an' each chucks in a white chip or two, an' when Waco Anderson counts up results it shows wellnigh eighty-five dollars. Easy Aaron shakes his head like it's mighty small; but he takes it an' casts himse'f loose. An', gents, he's shore verbose! He pelts an' pounds that committee with a hailstorm of observations, ontil all they can do is set thar an' wag their y'ears an' bat their eyes. Waco Anderson himse'f allows, when discussin' said oration later, that he ain't beheld nothin' so muddy an' so much since the last big flood on the Brazos.

"'After Easy Aaron holds forth for two hours, Waco preevails on him with a six-shooter to pause for breath. Waco's tried twenty times to get Easy Aaron to stop long enough to let the Stranglers get down a verbal bet, but that advocate declines to be restrained. He treats Waco's efforts with scorn an' rides him down like he, Easy Aaron, is a bunch of cattle on a stampede. Thar's no headin' or holdin' him ontil Waco, in desperation, takes to tyrannisin' at him with his gun.

"'"It's this," says Waco, when Easy Aaron's subdooed. "If the eminent gent will quit howlin' right yere an' never another yelp, the committee is willin' to throw this villain Shoestring loose. Every one of us is a slave to dooty, but we pauses before personal deestruction in a awful form. Billy Goodnight is gone; ondoubted his murderer should win the doom meted out for sech atrocities; but dooty or no dooty, this committee ain't called on to be talked to death in its discharge. Yellow City makes no sech demands of its servants; wherefore, I repeats, that if this Easy Aaron sits mute where he is, we agrees to cut Shoestring's bonds an' restore him to that freedom whereof he makes sech florid use."

"'At this, Easy Aaron stands up, puffs out his chest, bows to Waco an' the others, an' evolves 'em a patronisin' gesture signifyin' that their bluff is called. Shoestring Griffith is saved.

"'Doorin' the subsequent line-up at the bar which concloods the ceremonies, Easy Aaron waxes indignant an' is harrowed to observe Billy Goodnight imbibin' with the rest.

"'"I thought you-all dead!" says Easy Aaron, in tones of wrathful reproach.

"'"Which I was dead," says Billy, sort o' apol'getic, "but them words of fire brings me to."

"'Easy Aaron don't make no answer, but as he jingles the fee the sour look relaxes.

"'As I remarks, Easy Aaron ain't with us over long. Yellow City is that much worse off than Wolfville that she has a little old 'doby calaboose that's been built since the old Mexico days. Thar's no shore-enough jedge an' jury ever comes to Yellow City; an' if the kyards was so run that we has a captive which the Stranglers deems beneath 'em, he would be drug 'way over yonder to some county seat. It's but fair to say that no sech contretemps presents itse'f up to the advent of Easy Aaron; an' while thar's now an' then a small accoomulation of felons doorin' sech seasons as the boys is off on the ranges or busy with the roundups, thar never fails to come a clean-up in plenty of time. The Stranglers comes back; jestice resoomes her sway, an' the calaboose is ag'in as empty as a church.

"'It befalls, however, that doorin' the four or five weeks to follow the acquittal of that homicide Shoestring, an' while Waco Anderson an' a quorum of the committee is away teeterin' about in their own affairs, the calaboose gets filled up with two white men and either four or five Mexicans-I can't say the last for shore, as I ain't got a good mem'ry for Mexicans. These parties is held for divers malefactions from shootin' up a Greaser dance-hall to stealin' a cow over on the Honeymoon.

"'To his joy, Easy Aaron is reetained to defend this crim'nal herd. It's shore pleasant to watch him! I never sees the sport who's that proudly content. Easy Aaron visits these yere clients of his every day; an' when he has time, he walks out onto the plains so far that you-all can't hear his tones, an' rehearses the speeches he's aimin' to make when he gets them cut-throats before a jury. We-all could see him prancin' up an' down, tossin' his hands an' all in the most locoed way. As I states, he's too far off to be heard none; but he's in plain view from the front windows of the Burnt Boot, an' we-all finds them antics plumb divertin.'

"'"These cases," says Easy Aaron to me, for he's that happy an' enthoosiastic he's got to open up on some gent; "these cases is bound to fix my fame as the modern Demosthenes. You knows how eloquent I am about Shoestring? That won't be a marker to the oration I'll frame up for these miscreants in the calaboose. For why? Shoestring's time I ain't organised; also, I'm more or less shook by the late bullets buzzin' an' hummin' like a passel of bloo-bottle flies about my office. But now will be different. I'll be ready, an' I'll be in a cool frenzy, the same bein' a mood which is excellent, partic'lar if a gent is out to break records for rhetoric. I shore regyards them malefactors as so many rungs for my clamberin' up the ladder of fame." An' with that this Easy Aaron goes pirootin' forth upon the plains ag'in to resoome his talking at a mark.

"'It's mebby a week after this exultation of Easy Aaron's, an' Waco Anderson an' the others is in from the ranges. Yellow City is onusual vivacious an' lively. You-all may jedge of the happy prosperity of local feelin' when I assoores you that the average changed in at farobank each evenin' ain't less than twenty thousand dollars. As for Easy Aaron, he's goin' about in clouds of personal an' speshul delight. It's now crowdin' along towards the time when him an' his clients will adjourn over to that county seat an' give Easy Aaron the opportoonity to write his name on the deathless calendars of fame.

"'But black disapp'intment gets Easy Aaron squar' in the door. One morning he reepairs to the calaboose to consult with the felons on whose interests he's ridin' herd. Horror seizes him; he finds the cells as vacant as a echo.

"'"Where's these clients?" asks Easy Aaron, while his face grows white.

"'"Vamosed!" says the Mexican who carries the calaboose keys; an' with that he turns in mighty composed, to roll a cigarette.

"'"Vamoosed, where at?" pursoos Easy Aaron.

"'"Por el inferno!" says the Mexican; he's got his cigarette lighted, an' is puffin' as contented as hoss-thieves. "See thar, Amigo!" goes on the Greaser, indicatin' down the street.

"'Easy Aaron gazes where the Mexican p'ints, an' his heart turns to water. Thar swayin' an' swingin' like tassels in the mornin' breeze, an' each as dead as Gen'ral Taylor, he beholds his entire docket hangin' to the windmill. Easy Aaron approaches an' counts 'em up. Which they're all thar! The Stranglers shorely makes a house cleanin'. As Easy Aaron looks upon them late clients, he wrings his hands.

"'"Thar hangs fame!" says Easy Aaron; "thar hangs my chance of eminence! That eloquence, wherewith my heart is freighted, an' which would have else declar'd me the Erskine of the Brazos, is lynched with my clients." Then wheelin' on Waco Anderson who strolls over, Easy Aaron demands plenty f'rocious: "Whoever does this dastard deed?"

"'"Which this agitated sport," observes Waco coldly to Shoestring Griffith, who comes loungin' up likewise, "asks whoever does these yere dastard deeds! Does you-all recall the fate, Shoestring, of the last misguided shorthorn who gives way to sech a query? My mem'ry is never ackerate as to trifles, an' I'm confoosed about whether he's shot or hung or simply burned alive."

"'"That prairie dog is hanged a lot," says Shoestring. "Which the boys was goin' to burn him, but on its appearin' that he puts the question more in ignorance than malice, they softens on second thought to that degree they merely gets a rope, adds him to the windmill with the others, an' lets the matter drop."

"'Easy Aaron don't crowd his explorations further. He can see thar's what you-all might call a substratum of seriousness to the observations of Waco an' Shoestring, an' his efforts to solve the mystery that disposes of every law case he has, an' leaves him to begin life anew, comes to a halt!

"'But it lets pore Easy Aaron out. He borrys a hoss from the corral, packs the Texas Statootes an' his extra shirt in the war-bags, an' with that the only real law wolf who ever makes his lair in Yellow City, p'ints sadly no'thward an' is seen no more. As he's about to ride away, Easy Aaron turns to me. He's sort o' got the notion I ain't so bad as Waco, Shoestring, an' the rest. "I shall never return," says Easy Aaron, an' he shakes his head plenty disconsolate. "Genius has no show in Yellow City. This outfit hangs a gent's clients as fast as ever he's retained an' offers no indoocements-opens no opportoonities, to a ambitious barrister."'"

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