Down the Mother Lode
Part 2 out of 2
"Come, fellows," said Poker Bill, "if Bob's satisfied I reckon we ought
to be. Time to get into our biled shirts for the house warmin', anyway."
"Sorry to disappoint you, boys, but there won't be a house warming. I
built it for them and they're gone. It'll stay locked till they come
again. This old cabin is good enough for me."
So they left him. Bob relit his pipe and settled back on his bench. Once
he roused a moment to mutter. "But they'd ought to know me better. They
needn't have run away from their best friend."
Soon after dark a pinto paced home through the quiet, mourning camp with
a very weary bulldog at her heels. Beckey slid from her side saddle and
crept to Bob's open door. By the light of a full moon she could see the
big lax figure in an attitude of utter despair.
"You! Girl, I thought you'd gone."
"I went because - because I thought you'd come after me. I'd tried
everything else that a woman can do to make you understand * * * He's
begged me so many times to run off. When he understood, he was beastly.
He put me off the horse and told me to walk, then. It was the dog who
fought him, and then I ran for Pinto and came back." Her low voice
failed her, but she controlled herself, and went on, "I thought if I
pretended to go you'd see - "
"See! Girl, you've known ever since you came creeping into Snake Gulch
that night that you were the very heart and soul of me."
"Yes, yes," she sobbed, "that is not what I would have you know."
"You mean - no, I am a great fool. No woman could bring herself to - A
face like mine! Even if you did, it would be from gratitude. I could not
permit such a sacrifice," he finished, with a touch of pride.
The girl waited, then when he was silent she turned with a sob to go to
her mother's cabin. The soft footfalls died away. Bob stood motionless.
Suddenly a scream rang out on the still night air. Bulldoze scrambled
off the door-stone with a snarl of battle-rage and charged for the
sound, but he was easily outdistanced by the huge miner, who ran with
the lithe grace of an Indian. In an incredibly short time the little
form was safe in his arms.
"Oh, there's a terrible animal in the mining ditch. I heard it! It's
coming this way! A grizzley, I know!" Bob peered into the ditch.
"Why, girl, it's only drunken old Solly Jake going home holding his jug
out of the water. He gets into the ditch so he won't lose the way."
"But how does he know when to get out?"
"Well, when he bangs his head on the overbrace of the first flume, he
knows he's home and crawls out." Bob began gently to withdraw his arms.
If you let me go now," she whispered, "I'll wish that it had been a
"I must take you home."
'Oh, you have! I am home," clinging to him desperately, "I want no other
in the world than this one."
"But my scarred - "
The girl reached up, drawing down his tall, dark head in her arms. She
kissed his mutilated cheek, then pressed it tenderly against her soft,
bare throat. It did not stay long, as Bob felt that such kisess should
be returned without delay.
"Hu-ray," cheered Solly Jake, waving his whisky jug, "tale ended right!
Time f'r 'nother drink, boys!" and standing up to his middle in water he
proceeded to demonstrate his idea.
Curley Coppers the Jack
"On Selby Flat we live in style;
We'll stay right here till we make our pile.
We're sure to do it after a while,
Then good-bye to Californy!"
-Canfield's "Diary of a Forty-Niner."
The beautiful Casino at Monte Carlo stands in one of the loveliest
settings on earth. Facing the blue Mediterranean and enhanced by the
exquisitely kept marble villas of Monaco, it may justly be called the
acme of gambling institutions. It has become an institution through the
years. Time has brought it stability.
Its absolute antithesis were the gambling dens of '49. Built over-night,
destined to remain if the mines were rich, and to melt away if they
pinched out, the gambling hells were sometimes the veriest makeshifts.
Canvas covered, dirt floored, except for the dancing platform, rough
red-wood bar and tables; surrounded by all the sordidness of Hurdy Gurdy
town in which fortunes, and reputations, and lives were bid, and
shuffled, and lost, as indiscriminately as grains of dust blown into the
The thirst for gold is universal. In those half-mad days of delirious
seeking, the princeling rubbed sleeves with the scoundrel and the clod,
and each man's ability was his only protection. Fortune played no
favorites. The tale is told of the judge who drove home in his coach
through a shallow creek. Ruin faced him for the lack of a few thousand
dollars. He took out his derringer and shot himself.
Not half an hour later a Chinaman crossed the creek under his pole
between two swinging baskets. He found a nugget there which brought him
This, then, is the tale of what Fortune did to Curly Gillmore.
* * * * *
"Whoop-ee! Ki-yi-ee hick-ee! Yi-ee-ee!"
"There comes Curly," said Teddy Karns," never altering the steady flow
of the whiskey he was pouring into a tin cup for Sailor Jack to drink.
"Made a big strike, I hear."
"Yea-ah. About $25,000, they say. Might be a million, the way the female
critters run," Ted laughed, as the hurdy-gurdy girls with shrieks of
laughter pounced upon the noisy newcomer.
"Well, hel-lo, Nance, and Liz, and Babe, and Bouncin' Bet, old gal! All
ready to help me sling it, ain't you? But where's little pale Alice?"
"Oh, Allie? She's back in the tents. Sick tonight. Awful bad, she's
took. She'll be shufflin' off 'fore long, an' rid o' mortal misery."
"Poor little soldier!"
"Sweet, she was, an' born to be good. Why, I remember (we came 'round
the Horn on the same sailin' vessel) that they wasn't a ailin' baby on
board but what Allie could get a smile out of it, nor a sick soul that
didn't bless 'er for 'er kindness an' care. Sick o' body, sick o' heart,
Allie did for 'em all, bless 'er."
"She was happy, then," put in Babe.
"Yes. Comin' out to Californy to 'er lover, she were, all her folks back
in the States bein' dead. She'd took care of 'er mother, last. 'Twas why
'er man came on ahead. An' when she got here - "
"Aw-w, Bet, don't you cry," said Babe. "Y' see, when we got here, Curly,
we found her boy'd been shot in a fight over a mine. Allie, she hadn't
no money left, and no gumption much, like Bet an' me, to fight her way,
so we took 'er along o' us. We tried to keep her the little lady that
she was, but - Well, we got snowed in last winter up on the divide an' -
Faro Sam - Well, it broke her pure heart, an' most Bet's an' mine, too.
An' she ain't never got over the cold she took, up there in the snow."
"Life's hard for a girl anyways you put it, an' she'll be happier over
the river where there ain't no cold nor sorrer. Bet! Aw-w, she'll sleep
on a finer bed nor you an' I could give 'er, an' wake happy, with
ever'one she loved best around her. She's layin' there so white an'
small an' still it'd most break your hear to see 'er. Like a little
snowdrop you've picked, an' worn, an' slung away. So gentle - "
"Well, what's this, anyway? A wake?" broke in Faro Sam's icy voice. "Do
I hire fiddlers to play a funeral dirge? Get on with you," scattering
the girls in the direction of the card tables and the dancing platform.
"Which ones do you want, Curly?"
"I want Babe and Betsy. Where's that little pale printer's devil, the
one they call the gambler's ghost? I know Sam won't let you girls leave
"He's workin' up on the paper, I guess. They ran out of coal oil and had
to fire up with pine knots."
"He's comin, now. He ain't no gambler's ghost tonight, though; he's pot
"Ghost," said Curly, "you take this around to Allie." It was a $50
"And you say that there's more, all she wants, where that comes from."
Then, shaking his mop of brown, curly hair as though to relieve his head
of a burden, he took the girls for what he felt was a much-needed round
By midnight the place was wild!
"Sam," shouted Curly, "what's the limit on your pesky old game?"
"The ceiling's the limit."
"Well, I'll put up one bet! Bein' on Easy Street I was goin' back to the
States to marry my girl, but I'm blamed if I don't put up my swag for
one turn of the cards."
He sent for his "dust," and piled the long, buckskin bags criss-cross
before Faro Sam's table.
"I'll copper the jack, gentlemen," he shouted. "All on the jack!"
Teddy Karn's face turned a pasty hue, and the tip of his tongue slid
along his puffed lips, but the lines of Faro Sam's face never changed,
and his eyes retained the blank impassivity of a snake's as he slipped
his cards. There was a sudden, tense silence. The girls pressed forward
with hurried breathing and the men waited, rigid as stones.
Somebody's mongrel paced to the middle of the platform and scratched for
fleas, with soft thumping on the floor. That was all.
Suddenly a man swore! A woman's voice shrilled hysterically! Faro Sam
rose to his feet ceremoniously. "The house is yours."
"By Jinks!" yelled Curly, "I've coppered the jack! I've broken the bank!
I've - "
One of the doors swung open quietly. Silence dropped once more, with the
speed of tropical night, upon the blare of the place.
The gambler's ghost stood there silhouetted against the light from a log
fire outside. There were pink streaks down his dirty face, washed by
tears, and his young shoulders drooped woefully. The dog came forward
and licked his twitching fingers.
"Allie is dead," he whispered.
"Curly, I should like to apply for the position of dealer over at your
place, which yesterday was my place," said Faro Sam, next day at noon,
meeting Curly on the street.
"Sure, you can have it, Sam. Too bad it's the custom for the house to
go, too, when somebody breaks the bank. I've turned it over to George
Spellman, with a thousand to start with. He and I come from the same
place back in the States. Great friends we were, till we both got to
sparkin' the same girl. When she took me, George, he got pretty ornery,
but I guess he's all over it by this time. I'm goin' home to marry her,
"I've just been around to the tents seein' about little Allie's funeral,
an' he'll keep on the girls, too. I'm pullin' my freight for Hangtown
(Placerville). This town's a little too small for a fellow of my means."
Faro Sam looked after him with a cynical light in his narrow eyes.
"The pot bubbles loudest when the water's nearest the bottom," he
muttered, and turned to pick a fastidious way through the mud.
Life that night in the gambling hell went on much as usual. Teddy Karns
"poured the rye," and Faro Sam "slipped the cards," whilst Babe worried
over Bouncing Bet's intoxicated condition.
"It's Allie, you know," Babe confided to Red Shirt Pete at midnight.
"She took it awful hard, and Spellman, the new boss, wouldn't let 'er
off tonight. I bin tellin' 'er Allie's better off, but she won't listen
to nobody. She's just bin pourin' 'em down all evenin'. What's that?" at
a loud banging on the doors. Some one opened them and Curly rode into
the place on the handsome horse he had bought that morning.
"Well, boys, I'm cleaned! Tried to copper the jack in Hangtown and the
whole $50,000 went. George, I'll be askin' for this place back, I
"This place belongs to me, Curly Gillmore."
"Who says so?"
'This old lady says so," covering him with his pistol.
Curly laughed, not too musically. "Well, boys, what am I bid for this
horse? I need a grubstake."
"Play you for him," said Faro Sam, laconically.
"Done," said Curly. A moment later he laughed once more and swung down
off the Spanish thoroughbred. "He's yours. Well, good-night, boys."
No one answered. He had, like Hadji the beggar, become in twenty-four
hours again a drifter.
Babe sneaked out after him. "Here, Curly," she slipped her hand into her
bosom and held out the octagonal slug. "When Bet an' I reached Allie
last night she was holdin' it in her little dead hand, an' there was
such a smile on her face! You gave her that happy smile. God bless you
for it! Now, you take this - "
But Curly turned away, blinking his eyes, and trying to swallow the lump
in his throat. Babe stood watching him through her tears as he tramped
down the street, out of the town on the road to the south.
* * * * *
Two years later in a hall in Sonora, a man strolled in to the card
"Why, hel-lo, Curly!"
Curly glanced up briefly. "Hello, George."
"Hear you've made another strike."
"You can hear a lot that ain't true. This happens to be."
"You know, I was telling - "
"Well, the sight of you don't put me in the mood to be told much." There
was an imperceptible shifting of the crowd around the table. They were
moving away from Spellman.
"I was telling my wife - "
"My girl, you mean! It wasn't enough to keep my business, you had to go
home an' marry my girl, too, didn't you?"
"Curly, for the love of heaven - "
"Take your hand off my arm, Pete. I'm going to kill this - -. He's not
the kind of man I thought he was."
Two shots crashed in the room!
Spellman wavered through the smoke haze, then dropped his pistol and
fell slowly across the card table littered with shining cards and poker
chips. An overturned tallow-dip dropped in a pool of wine and rolled
down against the dead man's cheek, dabbling it with the color which
would never return to it again.
* * * * *
"Bet, ain't that Curly Gillmore that we knew three years ago at Coloma,
when Allie died?"
"Must be a-gittin' blind! Where?"
"The feller all dressed up an' walkin' with the lady. Sure it is! Hi,
Curly, hel-lo! It's Babe. Well, ain't I glad - "
The woman with Curly fixed Babe with a stony glare. "If you wish to
converse with this ... woman, kindly do so when your wife is not
accompanying you," she said to him in an angry undertone, and went
"I'll come back, Babe. We've been married just a month and she doesn't
understand. I'll be back later," and he hurried off.
"Bet, did you see who that was with Curly? His wife, he said."
"Aw-w, Babe, don't you fret! I guess we fill our little place out here
in Californy near as much as some o' the fine ladies do."
"I didn't care. No, I was thinkin' that the ways o' the Lord are
curi-us. That lady used to be married to George Spellman."
"An' Curly shot him, down at Sonora, last year!"
"Well, I'll be - ."
The Race of the Shoestring Gamblers
"Judge not too idly that our toils are mean,
Though no new levies marshall on our green;
Nor deem too rashly that our gains are small,
Weighed with the prizes for which heroes fall."
- Bret Harte.
If dancing was the first form of amusement to emanate from prehistoric
savagery, then racing must surely have come next. It may possibly have
come first. However, we shall leave the "theorizin"' to be settled by
the lips of the first mummy whose centuries-old tissues shall be roused
to full life by modern science. What has science not achieved? We have
gone beyond wonder. We can only believe, and become blase!
Meantime there is still enough red blood in the modern effete
productions of humans to enjoy a contest of stress and strain, and brain
and brawn, and to gamble upon the outcome.
In the '49 days, racing was one of the most popular forms of chance, and
it often reverted in bizarre tangents. This, then, is what happened at a
golden fiesta during the week of races:
"Sweet Lady, are all my importunities to be in vain?"
"I must confess that I can not bring my mind to a decision, Mr. Saul,"
answered Mistress Patty Laughton, blushing and curtsying prettily.
"It is surely not for your lack of worldly goods that you hesitate,"
persisted Slick-heels Saul. "As for what your father is owing me, it
shall, at the moment of your acceptance, be wiped entirely from the
Patty was incensed at the hint of insolence in the gambler's allusion to
her improvident father's financial condition.
"Believe me, Mr. Saul," she said, with spirit, "no ulterior motive for
worldly advancement has the power to coerce my afflections."
"But you will consider my proposition of marriage?"
Patty's honest gaze encountered the appraising glint in the coot grey
eyes of the foppish scape-grace before her. She lowered her own eys
quickly to hid a hunted look in their dark depths as she answered:
"Sir, after the week of races, you shall have your answer."
"And then I shall give up my present means of gaining a livelihood, and,
repairing to San Francisco, shall enter into a profession more fitting
the social station of the lady who is to become my wife." He bowed
deeply and withdrew, leaving Patty with a sad face and tearfilled eyes.
At last she straightened her tall figure resolutely. "I must not give
way to tears. I can not! I will not! There must be some way to pay my
father's debts beside this extremity, to which death is almost
preferable. There is still a week's time. A week - only a week." Panic
overwhelmed her, and when someone gently took her hand, she cried aloud
"Why, Sweetheart, do I frighten you so? I waited long upon the mesa near
the speed-track at the spot we had agreed upon, and when you did not
come I fared forth to meet you."
"Eric, it is Saul again. What can I do?"
"Dear, I have about $2000 which I am resolved to play on the races. I
will win. I must. Old Irish Mike has brought over his whole stableful of
saddle horses and I was raised in Kentucky. Do not despair, we shall
beat the gambler at his own game. Here is Mike, now. Perhaps - Mike,
it's a fine string of horses you've picked up.
"It is so. Many a thoroughbred I've bought that came all the way from
Kentucky or Missouri. All that had the stamina to get to Californy, the
one thing left that many of the poor devils could sell when they reached
"Mike, some of them are faster than others, I suppose."
"'Tis what half the shoe-string gamblers in the camp have tried to find
out. I may have me own opinion, but it's to meself I'll kape it till
afther the races are run. I will not spile sport. Have ye seen the last
cayuse that's bein' put in?
"You mean the cow pony that came in with the bunch of cattle from the
Napa Valley yesterday?"
"The same. The auld boy, whilst in his cups, is bettin' she can beat
anythin' on four legs, even jack rabbits an' antelope. The precious
gamblin' riff-raff are fillin' him up with tanglefoot, proper."
"Why, Mike?" Mike glanced at the silent girl and then down into the
"Miss Patty, have ye visited the claims?"
"No, but I should like to."
"Come, then, if ye will so pleasure an old man. The men will not be
workin' tomorrow. They will be that pleased to show a lady how to wash a
pan o' dirt, they will be saltin' ivery pan wit' nuggets for ye! Eric,
lad," he called back to the tall young man, "ye might look the cow horse
over. She has not been curried for long; yet, whisper, beauty is but
skin deep an' the finest rapier is often encased in a rusty scabbard."
"There is something going forward that Mike wishes me to see," though
Eric, as he hurried off to the livery stable. "That is why he took Patty
A crowd of gamblers were just putting up a pair of riders on two horses.
"Hey, Eric Tallman, you used to own this horse. Can he beat this
rat-tailed kyoodle that runs after steers?"
Eric laid a hand fondly on the magnificent black "half breed," who had
just enough mustang to give him the stamina and spirit and wildness
characteristic of the Spanish-bred horse.
"Keep him on a steady rein and he'll beat anything in the mountains. I'd
never have sold him except - ." He sighed, turning to the cattle horse.
She was long necked, long legged, long haired, wall-eyed, lean, and
badly in need of currying, and yet Irish Mike was no fool, and Mike knew
Eric's extremity - his and the girl's whom he loved.
He noted the deep, broad chest, the tapering barrel and the tremendous
driving power in the steel muscles of the hind quarters, but she
drooped, spiritless. He turned again to the satin-coated half-breed.
"Any dust up yet?"
"Ye-aw, about ten thousand. Old fool seems to be well heeled. We've got
'im full to the eyes, down at String-halt Eddie's place, an' the boys
are goin' to try the plugs out before they put up any more." Two trial
races were ridden and the sad cow horse was outrun with apparent ease.
The next morning as Patty went on her daily stroll to "take the air,"
her way was blocked by a clamoring crowd of undesirables who were
baiting a miserable old cattle man.
"I tell ye, gentlemen, I was indisposed. 'Twas the liquor talking.
Surely you would not take advantage of a poor old man and his honest,
hard-working little mount. Every day of her life she works. Gentlemen, I
beg you - "
"Begging will get you nothing better than a good drubbing, you filthy
cattle lout! If you don't pay up your bets, we'll take it out of your
hide. I, for one, have a special use for my money at the week's end."
It was Slick-heels Saul. Patty turned aside, sick at heart. This was the
creature in whose power she was "like to fall."
Upon her return she found the old cowboy sitting dejectedly under a
liveoak bush. "Sir," she began timidly, "you are in trouble. I should
like to express my sympathy."
He rose with suspicious nimbleness. "Now, bless your kind heart, Miss,
to stop to console a sad old man."
"I overheard what Mr. Saul said to you, sir. He is - "
"Without doubt, without doubt, he is everything you mention. Could you,
now, be Mistress Patty Laughton, of Kentucky?"
"I knew your Grandfather Laughton, my child, and since I came here I
have heard-of you," he finished, with innate delicacy. Indeed, who had
not heard her story?
She opened her silken reticule and drew forth a small, buckskin bag.
"Will you not accept it?" Yesterday, at the claims, I panned it out
myself. I am sorry for your plight. I am sorry for anyone in the
clutches of Slick-heels Saul."
"But - . Can you - ?"
"It does not matter. Your extremity is greater than mine."
He stood looking after the slim girl who carried her head so high. "How
like a Kentucky Laughton. Thoroughbred stock, all!" He tossed the bag in
his hand. "'Tis why they are where they are today." Then his keen old
eyes softened. "And why they are what they are, today. Bless her tender
heart to stoop to an old cattle man in the mire. As for this - I must
see Irish Mike," and he hurried off with surprising speed.
Bets rose. Every gambler had been apprised of the sure thing and flocked
to the betting like bears to a honey tree.
"Have ye put up ye'r money, Eric?" asked Irish Mike, late the next
"Yes," said Eric, briefly.
"Ah. So." Mike's shrewd gave slid from the young man's face.
"They do say that Slick-heels Saul is beginnin' to worry over the
$20,000 he's staked. The shoestring gang have gathered in the
information fr'm th' express agent that the auld cattle man owns a big
Spanish grant down in the valley, and has $50,00 to his credit in
certificates of deposit from the express company. 'Tis as good as gold."
"Mike, have you ever seen him before?"
"I never spile sport, me boy."
It was the last day of the fiesta and the famous race was at hand.
"There is the old cattle man with his vaqueros."
"Faith, they're a tough lookin' lot, all armed with a brace o' Colts
apiece. 'Tis fun they'd have, cleanin' out a Fandango House."
"Patty, girl, you are pale today."
"Oh, Eric, 'tis the last day of grace. Heaven help us if - "
"See, Patty, gir-r-rl, they're fixin' for the foot race between Cherokee
Bob an' that Australian squirt fr'm Sacramento."
"Why are they placing men with guns every ten feet along the track?"
"The Indian can beat the Australian, but he thried to sell the boys out,
an' if he slackens his gait by ever so little, the b'ys will begin
shootin' sthraight before them. An' maybe afther the race, he'd better
be runnin' right on into the next county."
"Next is a jackass fight, an' then, the race!"
After the billigerent jacks had been led away, Red Pete suddenly took to
the brush, accelerated by a fusillade of bullets.
"Welchin' his bets, he is, an' ivery man he owes is lettin' him have
"Nary a hit!" wailed old Jack Horner. "The shootin' in this camp is
a-gittin' vile! Time we was quittin so d - much pick handlin, an'
a-practicin' up. It's a reflection on the community. Why, there ain't
been a Chinaman drilled with a bullet decent an' clean for weeks!"
"They're leading out the horses! Where did that little nigger jockey
come from? The mare's got more ginger today."
"Eric, surely your horse can win!"
"I don't know, dear."
"He must! He must, or - "
"Slick-heels Saul's face is turnin' the color of me native isle,"
chuckled Irish Mike. "Patty, me little ladybird, 'tis no time to be
"Oh, you can't know - "
"Faith, an' I know more than you t'ink. Bear up, Asthore, the darkest
hour is just forninst the dawn. Whisht, now! They're off!"
"Here they come! The black is ahead! See, the nigger is lying flat on
the mare's neck. She's closing up! Oh, they are neck and neck! I cannot
look. Eric - The black is getting the whip. Good horse! They are even
again! Ah, it is only for a moment. The mare ... is over the line,
first ... It is all ended, life, love, honor, happiness ... I cannot
belong to that man! My poor old father. Dear old ... for his sake, I
must. I - "
"Eric, you are not to blame. You would wager on your own horse. 'Tis but
natural. I must accept my fate with what fortitude I can summon. Please
take me home. All the people staring. I cannot bear it long."
But when Slick-heels Saul pressed forward to her side at the
boarding-house steps, she was as stately and cold as the snow-hooded
rocks of Granite Mountain.
"I have lost everything, but still I hold you to your promise."
"I made no promise, sir," she said haughtily.
"'But you will," he answered meaningly, "tomorrow."
"Stand aside!" thundered Eric.
"Come awn," soothed Irish Mike. "Not with the lady here, Eric, b'y."
"Patty, I cannot let you go! I will shoot the beast on sight."
"That would not vindicate my father's honor. Hush, he is coming. I must
remember that I am a Laughton."
Eric turned to stare moodily out the dusty window. "There goes the
cattle man with his followers and his strong-box. What he must have won!
Here comes Mike. In a hurry, too! I wonder - "
Slick-heels Saul was bowing before the girl.
"Forgive an auld Irishman for intrudin' upon so tender a scene - "
(Slick-heels glared at him malevolently), "but I have he-e-re a
something for Mistress Patty Laughton," pretending to read the
inscription on the package he held out, "from the auld boy, there, who
is just leavin' us."
"'Bread cast upon the waters of sweet charity shall be returned an
hundred fold. Blessed are the pure in heart for they are of the children
of God,' he has written. Why, it is money!" gasped Patty, "and such a
"He had me put up ye'r little bag o' gold on his mare. These are y'er
winnings." Mike smiled inwardly at the sum of money. "Sure, auld Andy
must have put a rock or two in the wee buckskin bag," he thought, but
aloud he said , "I never spile sport, an' I could not tell ye before,
but 'tis auld Andy Magee an' his famous racin' mare, the fastest quarter
mile horse bechune the state of Missouri and the Pacific ocean.
"'Tis the same game he's pulled on the gamblin' crooks all the way from
the Oregon line to Mariposa in the south. Even gettin' filled wit'
tanglefoot is part of the dodge. They cannot touch him an' the vaqueros
protect him fr'm the shootin'."
"But what about the tryout?"
"Also in the schame. The mare was cross-shod; meanin', two of her shoes,
the near front, an' the off hind wans, were twice as heavy as the others
She could not run top speed in th'm f'r love nor gold. Yesterday she was
shod in light racin' pads, an' under her own jockey. No horse on the
coast could catch her. An' always, the smart racin' gamblers play th'
auld man for a fool. Such is often the end of greed.
"Pay up the dad's gamblin' debts, an' bid this Knight o 'the Green Cloth
a swate an' long fare-ye-well. Then go an' be happy, me child."
The Dragon and the Tomahawk
"Which I wish to remark,
And my language is plain,
That for ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,
Which the same I would rise to explain."
- Bret Harte.
Certain learned archaeologists maintain that there are marked racial
similarities between the American Indians and the Chinese - physical
characteristics dating from unknown centuries, when the widely sundered
continents were probably one.
However that may be, in the days of gold in California the greatest
animosity existed between the Indians and the Chinamen. The feeling
began, presumably, through intermarriage and flourished like the
celebrated milkweed vine of the foothills, which has been known to grow
- I quote a '49er, now dead, which is perhaps taking an advantage - 12
inches in a day.
The tale is told of a Chinaman crossing a suspension footbridge, high
over a winter torrent, from one part of a mining camp to another. An
Indian ran to meet him. John Chinaman started back as quickly as he
could on the swaying bridge. The faster Indian caught him, and, though
miners on both shores sought to save the unfortunate "Chink" by a rain
of bullets, it was too long range, and the Indian threw him to certain
death in the river.
But the Indians did not always win, and this, then, is the tale of an
encounter between Hop Sing and Digger Dan.
"In a game which held accountin',
On an old Sierra mountain - "
* * * * *
"Whassa malla, to-o much nail-o ketchem clo'e (clothes)?" snorted Hop
Sing, coming around to the side verandah with two pins in his hand, to
where Miss Jo Halstead was embroidering an antimacassar in bright
"Oh, Sing, did you hurt your hand?" she cried.
"'Nother boy heap mad."
"Another boy? Aren't you doing the washing?"
"No do. Me - " but Jo had gone to the back yard. She found the tallest
Chinaman she had ever seen, meekly bending to the washing, and quickly
obeying the sharp orders rained upon his queue-circled poll by Hop Sing.
"But - Sing," protested Jo, stifling any sort of smile.
"Him no good! No got place! Me pay one-dollar-hop him stop one month,
Chinee house. He no pay. Me makem work."
"Yes, but - what is that? Those are shots on the stage road over the
hill! Oh, it must be another holdup! And Rand is shotgun messenger on
the stage today. Hark! Hear the horses running! They're coming - fast.
They're trying to make the town!"
"Ketchem, more horse run behind," answered Sing, listening intently, his
slanting eyes glittering.
"Sing, you go and see what - "
"Can do! You get that boy, make 'em wash, alle same. He no good! You
look see?" Joe turned to spy the frightened deputy washerman wriggling
under the verandah. "Bime-by I kill 'um," remarked Sing, composedly. "No
got time now. Missie Jo, wagon come, maybeso better you stop house-o."
Six horses topped the long hill, pulling the huge rockaway stage. They
were coming at full speed, and the near wheeler was dripping with blood.
A dead man hung over the high dashboard, where his feet had caught when
Leaning far out over the team was a young man holding the reins in one
hand, while he lashed the shot-crazed horses to their last ounce of
speed with the fifteen-foot whip. His sawed-off shotgun lay on the seat
beside him. It was Rand!
"Oh, thank God!" moaned Joe, but in another moment, "Poor old Salt
Peter! They must have killed him when he wouldn't stop. Sing - " but Hop
Sing had vanished, leaving only his white apron across the wash bench.
As the stage thundered around the turn at the end of the main street,
the wounded horse threw up his head, coughed bloody spume over the
pointers (the second pair), and fell. Men were already scrambling onto
their horses, and loping in from all directions. Rand cut out a buckskin
leader, mounted, and dashed frantically back up the road followed by a
"Rand, who was it?"
"I don't know, exactly. Thought I saw Digger Dan - " They were over the
hill, and Jo heard no more.
Hop Sing did not turn up for supper, but his tall substitute did fairly
well, and Jo did not worry. Some time after dark, a weary Rand appeared.
"Well, Miss Jo, we got Digger Dan. At least we thought it was, but he
won't say a word except that he wants to see you. I've come to escort
you over to the jail. Will you trust yourself to me that far?"
"That far, yes," archly, "'tis but a short space." Not for worlds would
she have him guess her anxiety of the afternoon.
"I wish that 'twere for always."
"What can Digger Dan want of me," she evaded, thankful for the darkness
which hid her blushes. "Rand, hear the wolves howling!"
"They are only coyotes, dear - Miss Joe, and afraid to venture into town
except to the chicken roosts."
"Why, it's Hop Sing!" exclaimed Jo, upon first sight of the prisoner.
"They've cut off half his queue and braided his hair in two pig tails,
and put different clothes on him, and he does look like an Indian. How
"Kethem Digger Dan cloe," blazed Sing.
"That's a likely tale," said the sheriff, "betcha he knows more about
stage robbin' than he'll let out."
"I am sure he does not about this one. He was with me every moment."
Nevertheless, she could not help remembering the substitute Chinaman
whom Sing had put in to do his washing. But, though the complex Oriental
nature will never be quite understood by the Occidental, she had
confidence in the loyalty of the Chinaman, who had served them for five
years, and whose life had once been saved by her father.
"Ah Sing, will you tell me what happened," she asked, knowing well that
a command would only elicit a stolid "No savvey." Put as a favor, or a
confidence, he might respond.
"Him Digger Dan, no good! He stealem me clo'e. Ketchem. Missa Land
(Rand) an' plenty man come, he lun (run). I ketchem him! Tlee (three)
lobber (robber) come. To-o muchee men. I no can fight! He - "
"They tied him on a horse and drove it down the canyon for us to follow,
while they got away."
"I tell you, he knows more about it than he's telling!"
"I don't think so, sheriff," said Rand, positively. The man turned to
"Me go home, all same Missie Joe?" Hop Sing raised an expressionless
face and glared at the broad belt of the sheriff.
"Well, you can go, but I'm going to keep an eye on you and see that your
apron's hanging in the Halstead's kitchen every day of your heathen
Later that night when Rand started home, strange incantations were going
on in Sing's lean-to. In four china bowls punk was burning, and an old
Chinaman was muttering weird invocations over the clothes of Digger Dan
slowly smouldering in a coal-oil can in the middle of the floor. Hop
Sing held one hand in the smoke, raised the other aloft and made a
blood-curdling oath of some sort which, by the expression of his face,
probably consigned the owner forever more to the nethermost depths 'of
"Why, where is Ali Sing?" asked Jo the next morning, when she found the
tall slave still in the kitchen.
"He got heap sick cousin. He go way. I stay. He come back bime-by." Jo
knew that it was useless to question further.
The summer drifted by and still Sing did not return. Rand walked in one
day with the first flurry of snow, from his claim in the south. He
caught both of Jo's hands in his without a word, kissed them tenderly
and let them go.
"Rand," she faltered, "it is so long since I've heard from you. You have
been acting so strangely-for months!"
"Jo, have you not heard the talk that has been whispered with my name
ever since Sing disappeared? They say that I know too much about the
holdups; that I helped the Chinaman to escape; that Digger Dan and Hop
Sing are one; that - "
"I would not listen to such falsehoods," cried the girl, her grey eyes
"You blessed little woman! But considering this, how can I say to you
what - tell you that which glorifies the very life in my frame. How can
I offer you a name tarnished by the suspicions of my fellow men?"
"Rand, I acknowledge no such allegations. Oh, I may be lost to all sense
of womanly reserve, but - "
"When my name is cleared, I shall hope to enter Paradise. Till then I
must not. I cannot bring disgrace upon you. I shall return to my old
post of shotgun messenger - "
"Rand! No! Listen to me one moment. Last evening Digger Dan came to
this very place. He told me that if you went back to the stage you would
certainly be killed. They have been robbing all summer. It is said that
Joaquin is in the mountains."
"No, they are Tom Bell's men."
Jo glanced up, startled. "Whoever it is, has sent you a warning."
"Miz Halstead," called a strident voice, "th' stage's jest in, an'
you're paw's took awful sick up on the Middle Fork, at his mine."
"I shall have to go on the morning stage. Will you not please - " to
"Jo, I do not fear death. It is dishonor that maddens me, for your sake.
The snows have come. They are already fitting runners to the stages. The
mails and the 'dust' must get through in spite of all. I go out on the
first sleigh; this one you must take. This winter I shall vindicate my
name, if it is humanly possible to do so." He kissed the end of one long
curl of her hair, and was gone.
Some weeks later, during a lull between storms, Rand's face lit up with
the feeling which but one woman in the world could inspire, as the stage
pulled in to Middle Fork.
"Father is not quite recovered, but I thought it best to get him out
before we were snowed in. Rand, Digger Dan came," she added, in a
whisper; 'the stage will be stopped today. Yet, it is gathering for a
storm. I dare not stay. What shall I do?"
"Come along. I will protect you."
Two miles further, as they topped a hill, Texas, the driver, pulled the
laboring six far to the side.
"Why?" asked Rand.
"Cut, there," answered Texas, "an' it's piled high with a drift."
"Look out for stumps."
"I've got 'em spotted," muttered Tex.
"What's that?" swinging his gun quickly to the right. The horses
plunged, snorting, quickly to the left, the sleigh hit a snow-covered
stump, and it was only Tex's expert driving that saved it from
"Some animal. I saw his hide." A hide Rand had seen, but it was the
coyote-skin coat of an Indian who had made one sign and instantly
vanished. Very quickly the dreaded halt came.
"Look out, Tex! There's a rifle barrel from behind that tree trunk."
"Halt it is. There's nothing we can do." Was it Jo's presence in the
stage below that made him give in without a struggle, or did he know
that the Wells-Fargo box had vanished from under the driver's seat? Or
was it knowledge of the horde of yelling Indians which rose from the
snowy brush, and swooped down upon the shooting robbers? Four of them
were brought, in triumph, to the town on the stage.
"Where is the express box?" asked the sheriff.
"I do not know," answered Rand, defiantly.
"Cached away up on the mountain, I suppose, where the others are."
"Sir!" thundered Rand, "I have brought in, the bandits, as I promised,
to clear my own namen - all but Digger Dan, who escaped. When I say that
I do not know what happened to the box, you will please understand that
"Here comes Digger Dan now, carrying something."
"No Indian ever carried anything in baskets slung on a pole!"
"Hel-lo, Missie Jo, how you do?" blandly remarked Digger Dan's double.
"Ketchem Missa Land's money, nis bas-a-kit."
"What's in the other one.
"Nat one, lock (rock). Makern heap easy carry-em."
"Where did you get the box?"
"You savvey place him horse get scare; him wagon, he fa' over top-side
down. Him money, he fa' out. Him stop place snow melt away by heap big
tlee tlunk. Me see. Missa Land, I know he like. I ketchem."
When Rand took Jo home they were met by a smiling Sing in a snowy white
"Where's the other boy?" asked Jo.
"Him boy? I tellum get out quick, or I killum, sure!"
"Ah Sing, how can I ever thank you for all the six months you've spent
in the brush?"
"He all-li, Massa Land. You ketchem me come out nat jail. I heap savvey
you come see Missie Jo. Missie papa, lo-ong time now, he ketchee me no
die. Missie Jo, alla same my girl-o."
"Those Indians - "
"Were Sing's friends, dear, dressed up."
"Sing, where did Digger Dan go to?"
"He go hell," remarked Sing, pleasantly. "He lun away to Oustamah
(Indian village). Me ketchum. Alla squaw ketchern plenty tar on head,
makern big cly (cry, Indian word for wake). Me killum him. Goo-bye, me
go cookem velly fine dinner. Missie Jo, Massa Land, you get marry now.
Me hope you ketchem plenty boy!" From his point of view what greater
blessing could he wish them? Later, he peeked in curiously from the
kitchen, but, as kisses are not included in the Chinese curriculum, he
failed to be interested and returned to his baking.
The Barstow Lynching
"This is my story, sir; a trifle, indeed, I assure you.
Much more, perchance, might be said -
but I hold him of all men most lightly
Who swerves from the truth in his tale. No, thank you
Well, since you are pressing,
Perhaps I don't care if I do: you may give me the same,
Jim - no sugar."
- Bret Harte.
Contests of every sort were the order of the day in '49. Any ferocious
encounter which would promulgate betting was countenanced, and even
encouraged. There were dog fights, bull fights, bobcat or mountain lynx
fights, and fights between game chickens.
The tale is even told of cootie fights during long, rainy winter
evenings which must be spent indoors. The harborers of the contestants
simply reached under their shirts, drew forth a doughty grey-backed
warrior, placed him on a child's slate which was used as an arena, and
the fight was on.
A camp named Lousy Level is said to have made a specialty of this sort
of battle. Thousands of dollars were sometimes bet upon the outcome.
Arguments arising from various combats often developed into robbing,
murdering and lynching. This, then, is the tale of a certain lynching.
* * * * *
"Step up, gents. Only a dollar to see the big fight. One little dollar
to view the greatest contest of the age. See the champion fighting
jackass of the state vanquish the biggest grizzly in the Sierra
"The unconquerable battling jackass who has whipped two bulls down at
Sonora, and caused a mountain lion to turn tail. Step up, gents. Only a
dollar to get inside the ropes," and Webfoot Watson waved a well-kept
hand toward the arena. It was a pine-staked palisade, bound around the
top with rawhide thongs. At one end, the "champion donk" was tethered,
and at the other the "fiercest grizzly" was confined in a stout cage of
"Step in, gents! There are logs and stumps to stand on. The show will
begin immediately. We are now loosing the lion-eating jack. He - "
"Hey!" roared Swipe-eye Weller, pointing to the laden trees outside the
enclosure, "ef you think I'm agoin' to pay a dollar for this here show
jest because I ain't no tree-climbin' animal, you're pickin' out the
wrong customer. They coughs up a screamer apiece, or this act don't
begin actin'. That's final!"
Nothing loath, Webfoot claimed the penalty from the crowd perched in the
trees, in some instances not without the aid of his six-shooter, and the
jack was then turned loose in the palisade.
"He's eatin' grass," piped up old Grease-top Jamie. "Say, I can see
twenty jackasses eatin', down to the boardin' house at Blue Tent any
day, an' I don't have to pay no dollar, neither. Turn out ye'r baar!"
"Hi! Here he comes! Eat 'im up, jack! Why, that ain't no grizzly.
Sufferin' stars, he's only a little scared cinnamon."
"He's goin' after mister-old-donk, though."
"Ye-aw. Lookin' fer protection. Hey, look at the donk landin' kicks on
'is ribs. Ride 'im baar! Claw 'im up! Give 'im - " but the little
cinnamon bear reached the fence in three jumps, scaled it, and took to
the grease-wood thickets in record time in spite of the yells and
bullets of the disgruntled spectators.
Webfoot had made even better time than the bear, and only the placid
jack remained as a memento of the occasion. He was taken at the head of
a long procession of miners and made the occasion for a call upon the
whole round of fandango houses, and dispensaries of liquid rowdyism in
"Partners, aren't you getting somewhat rough with the little fellow?"
asked a young man in unimpeachable black broadcloth.
"Why, it's Anthony Barstow! Look at the purple raiment! Man, you must
have struck pay dirt."
"Yes, thank you, my claim has turned out to be a rich one. What will you
take for the donk?"
"Help yourself. He's a maverick. What's that? Dog fight? Sic 'im,
Rover!" and the fickle and drink-befuddled mob hurried off down the
street to the newest excitement.
Anthony took half an apple from his pocket. "I was saving it for
tomorrow, but do you think you could manage it, Little Pard?" The long
ears lifted at once, and the soft hairy muzzle took the delicacy
daintily out of his fingers. Anthony petted him and sauntered on, into
the best of the gambling halls. He seated himself at a table presided
over by a woman dealer.
"Monsieur, it is not permitted zat ze gamblair shall play," she told him
courteously, with a flash of very beautiful white teeth.
"Ho! Ho! Barstow," roared Copper-down Hicks. "That's one on you! The
madam, here, sees your brand new togs and thinks you tickle the green
cloth for a livin'."
"It is monsieur's toilette zat 'ave cause ze mistake. I have now better
observe he's face. He is welcome."
"Don't think your friend can sit in, though," observed Champer-down,
Anthony turned. The donkey had followed him in, and was standing just
behind his chair, head hanging, ears lopping, lethargic patience showing
in every contour of his shaggy body.
"I have consorted with many of his kind," said Anthony, smiling, "and I
prefer his frank sincerity, his bravery under stress, his worldly poise,
his calm exterior, which does conceal the fiery depths of his nature; in
fact, all his so-called animal attributes I prefer, to the more
sophisticated allure of his human gender." Anthony laid a strong hand on
the little beast's shoulder, while the French woman regarded him
curiously out of long black eyes.
"There, take that, you good for nothing cur," and a man kicked a dog in
through the door, to lie in a twisted, bloody heap upon the floor.
"What do you mean, you brute!" called Anthony, springing upon the miner,
who immediately closed with him. Mignon screamed, and ran to stop them.
"Monsieur, for why you do - ?"
"Aw, he got licked. I lost money on him."
"Yes, and you haven't paid me, neither. You shell out, you Buckeye
Pete!" spoke up a tall Kentuckian, with a mastiff on a leash.
"It wasn't a fair fight, Spotty Collins," whined Buckeye.
"It was - it was, so!" called a chorus of voices.
"I'll buy your dog," said Anthony. "That will pay your debts." Anthony
handed the money to Collins, picked up the half dead dog, and, holding
him against his immaculate new frilled shirt, he strode away toward his
claim over the mountain. The jack, whose attitude had hair," never
changed "by so much as the waving of a suddenly raised an alert head
and as his benefactor vanished, he ambled quickly after him.
Pete sought to stop him at the door and in one lightning and concerted
movement, he bit and struck and kicked, scattering the crowd in all
directions. When the men watching Anthony down the street, burst into
laughter at the bizarre procession, the French girl silenced them with
fierce, hissing syllables..
"Heh! Dude Anthony, beloved of the b - "
"Zose words you shall not call la petite hound an' me. Even name of a
dog is for such as you too good to be call'. Monsieur, we take pleasaire
in your departure from hence."
"Go on, please the lady, Buckeye. There's no other jackass to keep you
here any longer."
And Buckeye departed in a perfect indigo haze of profanity.
* * * * *
"Mignon, have you heard the news?"
"Non, Monsieur, I 'ave sleep all ze day."
"Spotty Collins was found in Blue Ravine this morning, robbed and
murdered. You see, he had a lot of money on him from the dog fight."
"But ze beeg hound?"
"He was shot, too."
"Ze murderer, zey 'ave caught?"
"Not yet. They say the sheriff's on his trail, though. He just got back
from Sacramento and he went right out. By jinks, he's coming now! An'
he's got 'im!"
"Mon Dieu! It is Monsieur Ant'ony!"
"Oui! Heem, my woman's heart knows well."
"By jinks, you must be right! There's the fightin' jack followin' the
horses. Dude Anthony of all people!"
"It is not true! It cannot be!"
"Think I've got my man, boys. His clothes are covered with blood and the
money was in his cabin."
"I have just made a strike in my claim. That is my own money."
"Yes, of course, but the court thinks you oughtn't to keep it too long!"
"The 'court' is in his cups. He's sittin' over there in the plaza with
his back against the flag pole, an' he won't budge. You listen - .
"Judge, can I see you to your room for a few hours' sleep?"
"What for?" asked the judge, eyeing the questioner solemnly. "Is there
anything in the statutes of the State of California which forbids my
pre-empting this small space on the highway? Is there any reason, if I
am so inclined, that I should not teach my fellow-citizens the great
moral lesson of the overthrow and debasement of genius by the demon rum?
Am I not better employed than if in a stifling, tobacco-perfumed
courtroom, beating law into the thick skull of a lawyer, who doesn't
know Blackstone from white quartz? But, if you have four bits on you,
and should ask me to join you - Ah, you have?"
"Well," said the sheriff to Anthony, after they had vanished into a near
bar, "I'll have to put you in the jug till court convenes."
* * * * *
Buckeye Pete was celebrating. He seemed to be suddenly flush with "dust"
and was dispensing drinks with a liberality which soon brought him a
numerous following. By midnight it was a well-mellowed assemblage.
"Mignon, how long have you been dealin'?"
"About tree, four mont', Monsieur."
"I don't mean here. I mean altogether."
"About six ye-ar, Monsieur."
"You must be well off by this time. An' they say that you've earned it
all workin', and that you're straight. Say, I'll marry you, if you say
the word - "
"You say, they say, too much, Monsieur."
"Here! Don't you go givin' me no orders, you French crinoline fluff!"
"I ordair no man, an' no man is ordair me!" She stared him down with her
glittering, black eyes, and returned to her dealing. Pete strolled out,
followed by his satellites. When the noises in the street grew louder it
caused no particular comment. It was the usual thing. But when a crowd
burst into the Royal Flush, Mignon sprang to her feet with a cry of
"Dealt me a raw deal, didn't yeh, you smart Frenchie?" gloated Buckeye
Pete. "Well, look at your man. Take a good look, an' don't miss the
necktie he's wearin'. Pretty li'l rope choker we got for Dandy Anthony.
Ain't no man can go killin' an' get away with it, while I'm here,"
looking around for applause.
"Name of a pig!" hissed Mignon. "You - you would."
"Sure' we would! Right out on the lynchin' tree." She turned and dashed
for the rear. "Ze sheriff! He must come toute suite!"
"Min," whispered Soft-soap Joe, the bartender, "he left two hours ago on
a new case, otherwise they wouldn't a-dared do this."
"Mon Dieu! An' ze justice, he is intoxicate! Mother Marie, pray for
him," she cried, in her own language, and she ran after the lynching
Once she stopped, shaking with terror at what she took to be a grizzly
in the path. It was only the fighting donkey still following the master
whom he had adopted. He made his way to the very center of the mob. The
French girl followed and, climbing onto a barrel, faced the crowd with
"Consider what you do! The judgment of le bon Dieu will be upon you!"
"Aw! Choke her off! Pull her down, somebody."
But the three or four who tried to reach Mignon on her barrel next to
the bound man on the horse beneath the hanging tree, fell victim to the
"greatest battling jack in the state."
"My friend," orated the old judge afterwards, in describing these
events, "what mere man, however filled with tanglefoot, could face the
wicked teeth, and hoofs, and kicks which had conquered wild Texas bulls,
caused the mountain lion to cringe in his lair, and the invincible
grizzly to flee across the Sierras?"
At any rate, the little donkey was everywhere at once, biting, striking,
kicking, squealing, with the venom and speed and precision of a
rattlesnake, while Mignon railed, unmindful of Anthony's protests.
"Ze blood on hees clothes! Bah! You 'ave all see 'ow he is carry home la
petite so-hurt dog. Oui! ze dog of Monsieur Pete. Who is know where
Monsieur Collins is go for new dog fight? Monsieur Pete! Who has anger
at Monsieur Ant'ony for because I, Mignon, 'ave look once again at
Monsieur, who is so kind to all who I ave pain? Monsieur Pete! Who is
insult good girl? That's me. Monsieur Pete! Who is spend much money
tonight, who yesterday was br-r-oke? Monsieur Pete! Who, zen, should you
swing on ze rope?"
She waited. There was absolute silence save for the crackle of the
flaming pine-pitch torches.
"Ver' well,' 'in a low voice. "I, me, Mignon, shall answer." Again she
paused. A long way down the canyon she heard horses galloping on the
hard road. "Monsieur Pete!" she screamed, at the top of her voice.
The mob struggled forward, yelling.
"Ver' well!" she cried, snatching a silver-mounted pistol out of her
bosom. "Come on! Ze jackass, he is ke-e-ll five! I, Mignon, I ke-e-ll
five! Ten shall go to le diable before mon brave shall hang!"
They hesitated, those in front pressing back from the certain death
which awaited them. Mignon set her arms akimbo, the gun gleaming at her
hip, and taunted them in contemptuous French.
The horsemen had reached the camp and soon thundered into view. "What's
this going on, anyway?" demanded the sheriff, angrily. "Anthony Barstow
is innocent. These men can prove that they spent the night at Barstow's
cabin. When I learned the truth, I came straight back. Buckeye Pete, you
throw up your hands! You're wanted for the murder of Spotty Collins."
Mignon tore the noose from Anthony's neck, laughing and crying in true
"Anthony, you're snared in another kind of noose," laughed the sheriff.
"I know you're need in' your arms, but that rip-snortin' little jack
won't let me get near enough to cut your bonds."
"By Salsifer!" he said, later on, "I'll have to swear that fighting jack
in as a deputy sheriff, and set him to watchin' road agents confined in
the jail. Well, goodnight, all. Pete's locked up safe and sound."
An hour later a sober band of grim spectres returned to the jail,
overpowered the guard, and, for the second time that night, took out
grisly fruit to hang on the lynching tree. There were no pine knots and
no attempts at conversation till the leader asked: "Buckeye Pete, have
you anything to say before you join your Maker?"
"Ain't no use prayin' for yourself," spoke up another voice. "Better
pray for the soul of the man you sent to Purgatory, and for the
well-bein' of the other innocent man you tried to destroy."
"It's that fightin' jack, prowlin' 'round."
"Let 'im prowl! Now, then, boys, are you ready? Then pull!" and, as the
old judge always told in conclusion, "they say, as the men gave a mighty
heave on the rope the donkey ran forward and kicked the barrel from
under the doomed man's feet!"
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