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   Chapter 26 FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Oh, You Tex! By William MacLeod Raine Characters: 4905

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Mr. Peter Dinsmore was of both an impulsive and obstinate disposition. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. Somewhere he had heard that if a man desired his business well done, he must do it himself. Gurley had proved a poor messenger. Peter would call upon Clint Wadley in person and arrange an armistice.

He had another and a more urgent reason for getting to town promptly. A jumping toothache had kept him awake all night. After he reached Tascosa, Dinsmore was annoyed to find that Dr. Bridgman had ridden down the river to look after the fractured leg of a mule-skinner.

"Isn't there any one else in this condemned burg can pull teeth?" he demanded irritably of the bartender at the Bird Cage.

"There certainly is. Buttermilk Brown is a sure-enough dentist. He had to take to bull-whackin' for to make a livin', but I reckon he's not forgot how. You'll probably find him sleepin' off a hang-over at the Four-Bit Corral."

This prophecy proved true, but Dinsmore was not one to let trifles turn him aside. He led the reluctant ex-dentist to a water-trough and soused his head under the pump.

"Is that a-plenty?" he asked presently, desisting from his exercise with the pump-handle.

Buttermilk sputtered a half-drowned assent. His nerves were still jumpy, and his head was not clear, but he had had enough cold water. Heroic treatment of this sort was not necessary to fit him for pulling a tooth.

They adjourned to the room where Buttermilk had stored his professional tools. Dinsmore indicated the back tooth that had to come out. The dentist peered at it, inserted his forceps and set to work. The tooth came out hard, but at last he exhibited its long prongs to the tortured victim.

"We get results," said Buttermilk proudly.

"How much?" asked Pete.

It happened that the dentist did not know his patient. He put a price of five dollars on the job. Dinsmore paid it and walked with Buttermilk to the nearest saloon for a drink.

Pete needed a little bracer. The jumping pain still pounded like a piledriver at his jaw. While the bartender was handing him a glass and a bottle, Dinsmore caressed tenderly the aching emptiness and made a horrible discovery. Buttermilk Brown had pulled the wrong tooth.

Considering his temperament, Pete showed remarkable self-restraint. He did not slay Buttermilk violently and instantly. Instead he led him back to the room of torture.

"You pulled the wrong tooth, you

drunken wreck," he said in effect, but in much more emphatic words. "Now yank out the right one, and if you make another mistake-"

He did not finish the threat, but it is possible that Buttermilk understood. The dentist removed with difficulty the diseased molar.

"Well, we're through now," he said cheerfully. "I don't know as I ought to charge you for that last one. I'll leave that to you to say."

"We're not quite through," corrected the patient. "I'm goin' to teach you to play monkey-shines with Pete Dinsmore's teeth." He laid a large revolver on the table and picked up the forceps. "Take that chair, you bowlegged, knock-kneed, run-down runt."

Buttermilk protested in vain. He begged the bad-man for mercy with tears in his eyes.

"I'm goin' to do Scripture to you, and then some," explained Dinsmore. "It says in the Bible a tooth for a tooth, but I aim to pay good measure."

The amateur dentist pulled four teeth and played no favorites. A molar, a bicuspid, a canine, and an incisor were laid in succession on the table.

Buttermilk Brown wept with rage and pain.

"Four times five is twenty. Dig up twenty dollars for professional services," said Pete.

His tearful patient paid the fee. This was the most painful, violent, and high-handed episode of Buttermilk's young life. Never in Shelbyville, Indiana, from which town he had migrated hopefully westward with his diploma, had such outrages been heard of.

The instruments of Providence are sometimes strange ones. Nobody would have picked Pete Dinsmore for a reformer, but he changed the course of one young dentist's life. Buttermilk fled from the Southwest in horror, took the pledge eagerly, returned to Shelbyville and married the belle of the town. He became a specialist in bridge-work, of which he carried a golden example in his own mouth. His wife has always understood that Dr. Brown-nobody ever called him Buttermilk in his portly, prosperous Indiana days-lost his teeth trying to save a child from a runaway. Be that as it may, there is no record that he ever again pulled the wrong tooth for a patient.

Having completed his deed of justice, Dinsmore in high good humor with himself set out to call on Clint Wadley. He had made an inoffensive human being suffer, and that is always something to a man's credit. If he could not do any better, Pete would bully a horse, but he naturally preferred humans. They were more sensitive to pain.

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