Part 3 out of 6
"I hadn't noticed it before. I'll close the window, Sir."
"Do," said Mr. Coulson. "They call this spring,
do they? If it keeps up long I'll go back to Palm Beach.
House feels like a morgue."
Later Miss Coulson dutifully came in to inquire how
the gout was progressing.
"'Stantia," said the old man, "how is the weather out-
"Bright," answered Miss Coulson, "but chilly."
"Feels like the dead of winter to me," said Mr. Coulson.
"An instance," said Constantia, gazing abstractedly
out the window, " of 'winter lingering in the lap of spring,'
though the metaphor is not in the most refined taste."
A little later she walked down by the side of the little
park and on westward to Broadway to accomplish a
A little later than that Mrs. Widdup entered the invalid's
"Did you ring, Sir?" she asked, dimpling in many
places. "I asked Higgins to go to the drug store, and I
thought I heard your bell."
"I did not," said Mr. Coulson.
"I'm afraid," said Mrs. Widdup, "I interrupted you
sir, yesterday when you were about to say something."
"How comes it, Mrs. Widdup," said old man Coulson
sternly, "that I find it so cold in this house?"
"Cold, Sir?" said the housekeeper, "why, now, since
you speak of it it do seem cold in this room. But, out-
doors it's as warm and fine as June, sir. And how this
weather do seem to make one's heart jump out of one's
shirt waist, sir. And the ivy all leaved out on the side
of the house, and the hand-organs playing, and the
children dancing on the sidewalk -- 'tis a great time for
speaking out what's in the heart. You were saying
yesterday, sir -- "
"Woman!" roared Mr. Coulson; "you are a fool. I
pay you to take care of this house. I am freezing to
death in my own room, and you come in and drivel to
me about ivy and hand-organs. Get me an overcoat at
once. See that all doors and windows are closed below.
An old, fat, irresponsible, one-sided object like you prat-
ing about springtime and flowers in the middle of winter!
When Higgins comes back, tell him to bring me a hot rum
punch. And now get out!"
But who shall shame the bright face of May? Rogue
though she be and disturber of sane men's peace, no wise
virgins cunning nor cold storage shall make her bow her
head in the bright galaxy of months.
Oh, yes, the story was not quite finished.
A night passed, and Higgins helped old man Coulson
in the morning to his chair by the window. The cold of
the room was gone. Heavenly odours and fragrant mild-
In hurried Mrs. Widdup, and stood by his chair. Mr.
Coulson reached his bony hand and grasped her plump one.
"Mrs. Widdup," he said, "this house would be no
home without you. I have half a million dollars. If that
and the true affection of a heart no lonoer in its youthful
prime, but still not cold, could -- "
"I found out what made it cold," said Mrs. Widdup,
leanin' against his chair. "'Twas ice -- tons of it --
in the basement and in the furnace room, everywhere. I
shut off the registers that it was coming through into your
room, Mr. Coulson, poor soul! And now it's Maytime
"A true heart," went on old man Coulson, a little
wanderingly, "that the springtime has brought to life
again, and -- but what will my daughter say, Mrs.
"Never fear, sir," said Mrs. Widdup, cheerfully.
"Miss Coulson, she ran away with the iceman last night,
A TECHNICAL ERROR
I never cared especially for feuds, believing them
to be even more overrated products of our country than
grapefruit, scrapple, or honeymoons. Nevertheless, if
I may be allowed, I will tell you of an Indian Territory
feud of which I was press-agent, camp-follower, and
inaccessory during the fact.
I was on a visit to Sam Durkee's ranch, where I had a
great time falling off unmanicured ponies and waving
my bare hand at the lower jaws of wolves about two
miles away. Sam was a hardened person of about twenty-
five, with a reputation for going home in the dark with
perfect equanimity, though often with reluctance.
Over in the Creek Nation was a family bearing the
name of Tatum. I was told that the Durkees and Tatums
had been feuding for years. Several of each family had
bitten the grass, and it was expected that more Nebuchad-
nezzars would follow. A younger generation of each family
was growing up, and the grass was keeping pace with them.
But I gathered that they had fought fairly; that they had
not lain in cornfields and aimed at the division of their
enemies' suspenders in the back -- partly, perhaps,
because there were no cornfields, and nobody wore more
than one suspender. Nor had any woman or child of
either house ever been harmed. In those days -- and
you will find it so yet -- their women were safe.
Sam Durkee had a girl. (If it were an all-fiction
magazine that I expect to sell this story to, I should say,
"Mr. Durkee rejoiced in a fiancée.") Her name was
Ella Baynes. They appeared to be devoted to each
other, and to have perfect confidence in each other, as all
couples do who are and have or aren't and haven't. She
was tolerably pretty, with a heavy mass of brown hair
that helped her along. He introduced me to her, which
seemed not to lessen her preference for him; so I reasoned
that they were surely soul-mates.
Miss Baynes lived in Kingfisher, twenty miles from
the ranch. Sam lived on a gallop between the two places.
One day there came to Kingfisher a courageous young
man, rather small, with smooth face and regular features.
He made many inquiries about the business of the town,
and especially of the inhabitants cognominally. He
said he was from Muscogee, and he looked it, with his
yellow shoes and crocheted four-in-hand. I met him
once when I rode in for the mail. He said his name was
Beverly Travers, which seemed rather improbable.
There were active times on the ranch, just then, and
Sam was too busy to go to town often. As an incom-
petent and generally worthless guest, it devolved upon
me to ride in for little things such as post cards, barrels
of flour, baking-powder, smoking-tobacco, and -- letters
One day, when I was messenger for half a gross of
cigarette papers and a couple of wagon tires, I saw the
alleged Beverly Travers in a yellow-wheeled buggy with
Ella Baynes, driving about town as ostentatiously as the
black, waxy mud would permit. I knew that this infor-
mation would bring no balm of Gilead to Sam's soul, so
I refrained from including it in the news of the city that
I retailed on my return. But on the next afternoon an
elongated ex-cowboy of the name of Simmons, an old-
time pal of Sam's, who kept a feed store in Kingfisher,
rode out to the ranch and rolled and burned many cigar-
ettes before he would talk. When he did make oration,
his words were these:
"Say, Sam, there's been a description of a galoot
miscallin' himself Bevel-edged Travels impairing the
atmospheric air of Kingfisher for the past two weeks.
You know who he was? He was not otherwise than
Ben Tatum, from the Creek Nation, son of old Gopher
Tatum that your Uncle Newt shot last February. You
know what he done this morning? He killed your brother
Lester -- shot him in the co't-house yard."
I wondered if Sam had heard. He pulled a twig from
a mesquite bush, chewed it gravely, and said:
"He did, did he? He killed Lester?"
"The same," said Simmons. "And he did more.
He run away with your girl, the same as to say Miss Ella
Baynes. I thought you might like to know, so I rode
out to impart the information."
"I am much obliged, Jim," said Sam, taking the
chewed twig from his mouth. "Yes, I'm glad you rode
Out. Yes, I'm right glad."
"Well, I'll be ridin' back, I reckon. That boy I left
in the feed store don't know hay from oats. He shot
Lester in the back."
"Shot him in the back?"
"Yes, while he was hitchin' his hoss."
"I'm much obliged, Jim."
"I kind of thought you'd like to know as soon as you
"Come in and have some coffee before you ride back,
"Why, no, I reckon not; I must get back to the
"And you say -- "
"Yes, Sam. Everybody seen 'em drive away together
in a buckboard, with a big bundle, like clothes, tied up
in the back of it. He was drivin' the team he brought
over with him from Muscogee. They'll be hard to over-
take right away."
"And which -- "
"I was goin' on to tell you. They left on the Guthrie
road; but there's no tellin' which forks they'll take --
you know that."
"All right, Jim; much obliged."
"You're welcome, Sam."
Simmons rolled a cigarette and stabbed his pony
with both heels. Twenty yards away he reined up and
"You don't want no -- assistance, as you might say?"
"Not any, thanks."
"I didn't think you would. Well, so long!"
Sam took out and opened a bone-handled pocket-knife
and scraped a dried piece of mud from his left boot. I
thought at first he was going to swear a vendetta on the
blade of it, or recite "The Gipsy's Curse." The few
feuds I had ever seen or read about usually opened that
way. This one seemed to be presented with a new treat-
ment. Thus offered on the stage, it would have been
hissed off, and one of Belasco's thrilling melodramas
"I wonder," said Sam, with a profoundly thoughtful
expression, "if the cook has any cold beans left over!"
He called Wash, the Negro cook, and finding that he
had some, ordered him to heat up the pot and make some
strong coffee. Then we went into Sam's private room,
where he slept, and kept his armoury, dogs, and the sad-
dles of his favourite mounts. He took three or four six-
shooters out of a bookcase and began to look them over,
whistling "The Cowboy's Lament" abstractedly. After-
ward he ordered the two best horses on the ranch
saddled and tied to the hitching-post.
Now, in the feud business, in all sections of the country,
I have observed that in one particular there is a delicate
but strict etiquette belonging. You must not mention
the word or refer to the subject in the presence of a feudist.
It would be more reprehensible than commenting upon
the mole on the chin of your rich aunt. I found, later on,
that there is another unwritten rule, but I think that
belongs solely to the West.
It yet lacked two hours to supper-time; but in twenty
minutes Sam and I were plunging deep into the reheated
beans, hot coffee, and cold beef.
Nothing like a good meal before a long ride," said
Sam. "Eat hearty."
I had a sudden suspicion.
"Why did you have two horses saddled?" I asked.
"One, two -- one, two," said Sam. "You can count,
His mathematics carried with it a momentary qualm
and a lesson. The thought had not occurred to him that
the thought could possibly occur to me not to ride at
his side on that red road to revenge and justice. It was
the higher calculus. I was booked for the trail. I began
to eat more beans.
In an hour we set forth at a steady gallop eastward.
Our horses were Kentucky-bred, strengthened by the
mesquite grass of the west. Ben Tatum's steeds may
have been swifter, and he had a good lead; but if he had
heard the punctual thuds of the hoofs of those trailers of
ours, born in the heart of feudland, he might have felt
that retribution was creeping up on the hoof-prints of
his dapper nags.
I knew that Ben Tatum's card to play was flight --
flight until he came within the safer territory of his own
henchmen and supporters. He knew that the man pur-
suing him would follow the trail to any end where it
During the ride Sam talked of the prospect for rain,
of the price of beef, and of the musical glasses. You
would have thought he had never had a brother or a
sweetheart or an enemy on earth. There are some sub-
jects too big even for the words in the "Unabridged."
Knowing this phase of the feud code, but not having
practised it sufficiently, I overdid the thing by telling some
slightly funny anecdotes. Sam laughed at exactly the
right place -- laughed with his mouth. When I caught
sight of his mouth, I wished I had been blessed with
enough sense of humour to have suppressed those
Our first sight of them we had in Guthrie. Tired and
hungry, we stumbled, unwashed, into a little yellow-pine
hotel and sat at a table. In the opposite corner we saw
the fugitives. They were bent upon their meal, but
looked around at times uneasily.
The girl was dressed in brown - one of these smooth,
half-shiny, silky-looking affairs with lace collar and cuffs,
and what I believe they call an accordion-plaited skirt.
She wore a thick brown veil down to her nose, and a
broad-brimmed straw hat with some kind of feathers
adorning it. The man wore plain, dark clothes, and his
hair was trimmed very short. He was such a man as you
might see anywhere.
There they were -- the murderer and the woman he
had stolen. There we were -- the rightful avenger,
according to the code, and the supernumerary who writes
For one time, at least, in the heart of the supernumerary
there rose the killing instinct. For one moment he joined
the force of combatants -- orally.
"What are you waiting for, Sam?" I said in a whisper.
"Let him have it now!"
Sam gave a melancholy sigh.
"You don't understand; but he does," he said. "He
knows. Mr. Tenderfoot, there's a rule out here among
white men in the Nation that you can't shoot a man when
he's with a woman. I never knew it to be broke yet.
You can't do it. You've got to get him in a gang of men
or by himself. That's why. He knows it, too. We
all know. So, that's Mr. Ben Tatum! One of the
'pretty men'! I'll cut him out of the herd before they
leave the hotel, and regulate his account!"
After supper the flying pair disappeared quickly-
Although Sam haunted lobby and stairway and halls half
the night, in some mysterious way the fugitives eluded
him; and in the morning the veiled lady in the brown
dress with the accordion-plaited skirt and the dapper
young man with the close-clipped hair, and the buckboard
with the prancing nags, were gone.
It is a monotonous story, that of the ride; so it shall be
curtailed. Once again we overtook them on a road. We
were about fifty yards behind. They turned in the
buckboard and looked at us; then drove on without
whipping up their horses. Their safety no longer lay
in speed. Ben Tatum knew. He knew that the only
rock of safety left to him was the code. There is no
doubt that, had he been alone, the matter would have been
settled quickly with Sam Durkee in the usual way;
but he had something at his side that kept still the
trigger-finger of both. It seemed likely that he was
So, you may perceive that woman, on occasions, may
postpone instead of precipitating conflict between man
and man. But not willingly or consciously. She is
oblivious of codes.
Five miles farther, we came upon the future great
Western city of Chandler. The horses of pursuers and
pursued were starved and weary. There was one hotel
that offered danger to man and entertainment to beast;
so the four of us met again in the dining room at the
ringing of a bell so resonant and large that it had cracked
the welkin long ago. The dining room was not as large
as the one at Guthrie.
Just as we were eating apple pie -- how Ben Davises
and tragedy impinge upon each other! -- I noticed Sam
looking with keen intentness at our quarry where they
were seated at a table across the room. The girl still
wore the brown dress with lace collar and cuffs, and the
veil drawn down to her nose. The man bent over his
plate, with his close cropped head held low.
"There's a code," I heard Sam say, either to me or to
himself, "that won't let you shoot a man in the company
of a woman; but, by thunder, there ain't one to keep you
from killing a woman in the company of a man!"
And, quicker than my mind could follow his argument,
he whipped a Colt's automatic from under his left arm
and pumped six bullets into the body that the brown
dress covered -- the brown dress with the lace collar and
cuffs and the accordion-plaited skirt.
The young person in the dark sack suit, from whose
head and from whose life a woman's glory had been
clipped, laid her head on her arms stretched upon the
table; while people came running to raise Ben Tatum
from the floor in his feminine masquerade that had given
Sam the opportunity to set aside, technically, the obliga-
tions of the code.
SUITE HOMES AND THEIR ROMANCE
FEW young couples in the Big-City-of-Bluff began
their married existence with greater promise of happiness
than did Mr. and Mrs. Claude Turpin. They felt no
especial animosity toward each other; they were comfort-
ably established in a handsome apartment house that
had a name and accommodations like those of a sleeping-
car; they were living as expensively as the couple on
the next floor above who had twice their income;
and their marriage had occurred on a wager, a ferry-
boat and first acquaintance, thus securing a
sensational newspaper notice with their names attached
to pictures of the Queen of Roumania and M. Santos-
Turpin's income was $200 per month. On pay day,
after calculating the amounts due for rent, instalments
on furniture and piano, gas, and bills owed to the florist,
confectioner, milliner, tailor, wine merchant and cab
company, the Turpins would find that they still had $200
left to spend. How to do this is one of the secrets of
The domestic life of the Turpins was a beautiful picture
to see. But you couldn't gaze upon it as you could
at an oleograph of "Don't Wake Grandma," or "Brook-
lyn by Moonlight."
You had to blink when looked at it; and you heard
a fizzing sound just like the machine with a "scope" at
the end of it. Yes; there wasn't much repose about the
picture of the Turpins' domestic life. It was something
like "Spearing Salmon in the Columbia River," or "Jap-
anese Artillery in Action."
Every day was just like another; as the days are in
New York. In the morning Turpin would take bromo-
seltzer, his pocket change from under the clock, his hat,
no breakfast and his departure for the office. At noon
Mrs. Turpin would get out of bed and humour, put on
a kimono, airs, and the water to boil for coffee.
Turpin lunched downtown. He came home at 6
to dress for dinner. They always dined out. They
strayed from the chop-house to chop-sueydom, from
terrace to table d'hôte, from rathskeller to roadhouse,
from café to casino, from Maria's to the Martha Wash-
ington. Such is domestic life in the great city. Your
vine is the mistletoe; your fig tree bears dates. Your
household gods are Mercury and John Howard Payne.
For the wedding march you now hear only "Come with
the Gypsy Bride." You rarely dine at the same place
twice in succession. You tire of the food; and, besides,
you want to give them time for the question of that souve-
nir silver sugar bowl to blow over.
The Turpins were therefore happy. They made many
warm and delightful friends, some of whom they remem-
bered the next day. Their home life was an ideal one,
according to the rules and regulations of the Book of Bluff.
There came a time when it dawned upon Turpin
that his wife was getting away with too much money.
If you belong to the near-swell class in the Big City,
and your income is $200 per month, and you find at the
end of the month, after looking over the bills for current
expenses, that you, yourself, have spent $150, you very
naturally wonder what has become of the other $50.
So you suspect your wife. And perhaps you give her
a hint that something needs explanation.
"I say, Vivien," said Turpin, one afternoon when they
were enjoying in rapt silence the peace and quiet of their
cozy apartment, "you've been creating a hiatus big
enough for a dog to crawl through in this month's hon-
orarium. You haven't been paying your dressmaker
anything on account, have you?"
There was a moment's silence. No sounds could be
heard except the breathing of the fox terrier, and the
subdued, monotonous sizzling of Vivien's fulvous locks
against the insensate curling irons. Claude Turpin,
sitting upon a pillow that he had thoughtfully placed
upon the convolutions of the apartment sofa, narrowly
watched the riante, lovely face of his wife.
"Claudie, dear," said she, touching her finger to her
ruby tongue and testing the unresponsive curling irons,
"you do me an injustice. Mme. Toinette has not seen a
cent of mine since the day you paid your tailor ten dollars
Turpin's suspicions were allayed for the time. But
one day soon there came an anonymous letter to him
"Watch your wife. She is blowing in your money
secretly. I was a sufferer just as you are. The place
is No. 345 Blank Street. A word to the wise, etc.
"A MAN WHO KNOWS"
Turpin took this letter to the captain of police of
the precinct that he lived in.
"My precinct is as clean as a hound's tooth," said the
captain. "The lid's shut down as close there as it is
over the eye of a Williamsburg girl when she's kissed at
a party. But if you think there's anything queer at the
address, I'll go there with ye."
On the next afternoon at 3, Turpin and the captain
crept softly up the stairs of No. 345 Blank Street. A
dozen plain-clothes men, dressed in full police uniforms,
so as to allay suspicion, waited in the hall below.
At the top of the stairs was a door, which was found
to be locked. The captain took a key from his pocket
and unlocked it. The two men entered.
They found themselves in a large room, occupied
by twenty or twenty-five elegantly clothed ladies. Racing
charts hung against the walls, a ticker clicked in one
corner; with a telephone receiver to his ear a man was
calling out the various positions of the horses in a very
exciting race. The occupants of the room looked up at
the intruders; but, as if reassured by the sight of the
captain's uniform, they reverted their attention to the
man at the telephone.
"You see," said the captain to Turpin, "the value of
an anonymous letter! No high-minded and self-respect-
ing gentleman should consider one worthy of notice.
Is your wife among this assembly, Mr. Turpin?"
"She is not," said Turpin.
"And if she was," continued the captain, "would she
be within the reach of the tongue of slander? These
ladies constitute a Browning Society. They meet to
discuss the meaning of the great poet. The telephone
is connected with Boston, whence the parent society
transmits frequently its interpretations of the poems. Be
ashamed of yer suspicions, Mr. Turpin."
"Go soak your shield," said Turpin. "Vivien knows
how to take care of herself in a pool-room. She's not
dropping anything on the ponies. There must be some-
thing queer going on here."
"Nothing but Browning," said the captain. "Hear
"Thanatopsis by a nose," drawled the man at the
"That's not Browning; that's Longfellow," said
Turpin, who sometimes read books.
"Back to the pasture!" exclaimed the captain. "long-
fellow made the pacing-to-wagon record of 7.53 'way
back in 1868."
"I believe there's something queer about this joint,"
"I don't see it," said the captain.
"I know it looks like a pool-room, all right," persisted
Turpin, "but that's all a blind. Vivien has been dropping
a lot of coin somewhere. I believe there's some under-
handed work going on here."
A number of racing sheets were tacked close together,
covering a large space on one of the walls. Turpin,
suspicious, tore several of them down. A door, pre-
viously hidden, was revealed. Turpin placed an ear to
the crack and listened intently. He heard the soft hum
of many voices, low and guarded laughter, and a sharp,
metallic clicking and scraping as if from a multitude of
tiny but busy objects.
"My God! It is as I feared!" whispered Turpin to
himself. "Summon your men at once!" he called to the
captain. "She is in there, I know."
At the blowing of the captain's whistle the uniformed
plain-clothes men rushed up the stairs into the pool-
room. When they saw the betting paraphernalia distrib-
uted around they halted, surprised and puzzled to know
why they had been summoned.
But the captain pointed to the lock-ed door and bade
them break it down. In a few moments they demolished
it with the axes they carried. Into the other room sprang
Claude Turpin, with the captain at his heels.
The scene was one that lingered long in Turpin's
mind. Nearly a score of women -- women expensively
and fashionably clothed, many beautiful and of refined
appearance -- had been seated at little marble-topped
tables. When the police burst open the door they
shrieked and ran here and there like gayly plumed birds
that had been disturbed in a tropical grove. Some
became hysterical; one or two fainted; several knelt at
the feet of the officers and besought them for mercy on
account of their families and social position.
A man who had been seated behind a desk had seized
a roll of currency as large as the ankle of a Paradise
Roof Gardens chorus girl and jumped out of the window.
Half a dozen attendants huddled at one end of the room,
breathless from fear.
Upon the tables remained the damning and incon-
trovertible evidences of the guilt of the habituées of that
sinister room -- dish after dish heaped high with ice
cream, and surrounded by stacks of empty ones, scraped
to the last spoonful.
"Ladies," said the captain to his weeping circle of
prisoner "I'll not hold any of yez. Some of yez I recog-
nize as having fine houses and good standing in the
community, with hard-working husbands and childer
at home. But I'll read ye a bit of a lecture before ye go.
In the next room there's a 20-to-1 shot just dropped in
under the wire three lengths ahead of the field. Is this
the way ye waste your husbands' money instead of help-
ing earn it? Home wid yez! The lid's on the ice-cream
freezer in this precinct."
Claude Turpin's wife was among the patrons of the
raided room. He led her to their apartment in stem
silence. There she wept so remorsefully and besought
his forgiveness so pleadingly that he forgot his just anger,
and soon he gathered his penitent golden-haired Vivien
in his arms and forgave her.
"Darling," she murmured, half sobbingly, as the moon-
light drifted through the open window, glorifying her
sweet, upturned face, "I know I done wrong. I will
never touch ice cream again. I forgot you were not
a millionaire. I used to go there every day. But to-day
I felt some strange, sad presentiment of evil, and I was
not myself. I ate only eleven saucers."
"Say no more," said Claude, gently as he fondly
caressed her waving curls.
"And you are sure that you fully forgive me?" asked
Vivien, gazing at him entreatingly with dewy eyes of
"Almost sure, little one," answered Claude, stooping
and lightly touching her snowy forehead with his lips.
"I'll let you know later on. I've got a month's salary
down on Vanilla to win the three-year-old steeplechase
to-morrow; and if the ice-cream hunch is to the good
you are It again -- see?"
THE WHIRLIGIG OF LIFE
JUSTICE-OF-THE-PEACE Benaja Widdup sat in
the door of his office smoking his elder-stem pipe. Half-
way to the zenith the Cumberland range rose blue-gray
in the afternoon haze. A speckled hen swaggered down
the main street of the "settlement," cackling foolishly.
Up the road came a sound of creaking axles, and then
a slow cloud of dust, and then a bull-cart bearing Ransie
Bilbro and his wife. The cart stopped at the Justice's
door, and the two climbed down. Ransie was a narrow
six feet of sallow brown skin and yellow hair. The
imperturbability of the mountains hung upon him like
a suit of armour. The woman was calicoed, angled,
snuff-brushed, and weary with unknown desires. Through
it all gleamed a faint protest of cheated youth unconscious
of its loss.
The Justice of the Peace slipped his feet into his shoes,
for the sake of dignity, and moved to let them enter.
"We-all," said the woman, in a voice like the wind
blowing through pine boughs, "wants a divo'ce." She
looked at Ransie to see if he noted any flaw or ambiguity
or evasion or partiality or self-partisanship in her state-
ment of their business.
"A divo'ce," repeated Ransie, with a solemn Dod.
"We-all can't git along together nohow. It's lonesome
enough fur to live in the mount'ins when a man and a
woman keers fur one another. But when she's a-spittin'
like a wildcat or a-sullenin' like a hoot-owl in the cabin,
a man ain't got no call to live with her."
"When he's a no-'count varmint," said the woman,
"without any especial warmth, a-traipsin' along of
scalawags and moonshiners and a-layin' on his back
pizen 'ith co'n whiskey, and a-pesterin' folks with a pack
o' hungry, triflin' houn's to feed!"
"When she keeps a-throwin' skillet lids," came Ransie's
antiphony, "and slings b'ilin' water on the best coon-dog
in the Cumberlands, and sets herself agin' cookin' a man's
victuals, and keeps him awake o' nights accusin' him
of a sight of doin's!"
"When he's al'ays a-fightin' the revenues, and gits a
hard name in the mount'ins fur a mean man, who's
gwine to be able fur to sleep o' nights?"
The Justice of the Peace stirred deliberately to his
duties. He placed his one chair and a wooden stool
for his petitioners. He opened his book of statutes on
the table and scanned the index. Presently he wiped his
spectacles and shifted his inkstand.
"The law and the statutes," said he, "air silent on the
subjeck of divo'ce as fur as the jurisdiction of this co't
air concerned. But, accordin' to equity and the Con-
stitution and the golden rule, it's a bad barg'in that can't
run both ways. If a justice of the peace can marry a
couple, it's plain that he is bound to be able to divo'ce
'em. This here office will issue a decree of divo'ce
and abide by the decision of the Supreme Co't to hold it
Ransie Bilbro drew a small tobacco-bag from his
trousers pocket. Out of this he shook upon the table
a five-dollar note. "Sold a b'arskin and two foxes fur
that," he remarked. "It's all the money we got."
"The regular price of a divo'ce in this co't," said the
Justice, "air five dollars." He stuffed the bill into the
pocket of his homespun vest with a deceptive air of indiffer-
ence. With much bodily toil and mental travail he wrote
the decree upon half a sheet of foolscap, and then copied
it upon the other. Ransie Bilbro and his wife listened to his
reading of the document that was to give them freedom:
"Know all men by these presents that Ransie Bilbro
and his wife, Ariela Bilbro, this day personally appeared
before me and promises that hereinafter they will neither
love, honour, nor obey each other, neither for better nor
worse, being of sound mind and body, and accept summons
for divorce according to the peace and dignity of the State.
Herein fail not, so help you God. Benaja Widdup,
justice of the peace in and for the county of Piedmont,
State of Tennessee."
The Justice was about to hand one of the documents
to Ransie. The voice of Ariela delayed the transfer.
Both men looked at her. Their dull masculinity was
confronted by something sudden and unexpected in the
"Judge, don't you give him that air paper yit. 'Tain't
all settled, nohow. I got to have my rights first. I
got to have my ali-money. 'Tain't no kind of a way to do
fur a man to divo'ce his wife 'thout her havin' a cent fur
to do with. I'm a-layin' off to be a-goin' up to brother
Ed's up on Hogback Mount'in. I'm bound fur to hev
a pa'r of shoes and some snuff and things besides. Ef
Rance kin affo'd a divo'ce, let him pay me ali-money."
Ransie Bilbro was stricken to dumb perplexity. There
had been no previous hint of alimony. Women were
always bringing up startling and unlooked-for issues.
Justice Benaja Widdup felt that the point demanded
judicial decision. The authorities were also silent on the
subject of alimony. But the woman's feet were bare.
The trail to Hogback Mountain was steep and flinty.
"Ariela Bilbro," he asked, in official tones, "how
much did you 'low would be good and sufficient ali-money
in the case befo' the co't."
"I 'lowed," she answered, "fur the shoes and all, to
say five dollars. That ain't much fur ali-money, but
I reckon that'll git me to up brother Ed's."
"The amount," said the Justice, "air not onreasonable.
Ransie Bilbro, you air ordered by the co't to pay the plain-
tiff the sum of five dollars befo' the decree of divo'ce air
"I hain't no mo' money," breathed Ransie, heavily.
"I done paid you all I had."
"Otherwise," said the Justice, looking severely over
his spectacles, "you air in contempt of co't."
"I reckon if you gimme till to-morrow," pleaded the
husband, "I mout be able to rake or scrape it up
somewhars. I never looked for to be a-payin' no ali-
"The case air adjourned," said Benaja Widdup, "till
to-morrow, when you-all will present yo'selves and obey
the order of the co't. Followin' of which the decrees
of divo'ce will be delivered." He sat down in the door
and began to loosen a shoestring.
"We mout as well go down to Uncle Ziah's," decided
Ransie, "and spend the night." He climbed into the
cart on one side, and Ariela climbed in on the other.
Obeying the flap of his rope, the little red bull slowly
came around on a tack, and the cart crawled away in the
nimbus arising from its wheels.
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup smoked his elder-
stem pipe. Late in the afternoon he got his weekly paper,
and read it until the twilight dimmed its lines. Then
he lit the tallow candle on his table, and read until the
moon rose, marking the time for supper. He lived in
the double log cabin on the slope near the girdled poplar.
Going home to supper he crossed a little branch darkened
by a laurel thicket. The dark figure of a man stepped
from the laurels and pointed a rifle at his breast. His
hat was pulled down low, and something covered most of
"I want yo' money," said the figure, "'thout any talk.
I'm gettin' nervous, and my finger's a-wabblin' on this
"I've only got f-f-five dollars," said the Justice, pro-
ducing it from his vest pocket.
"Roll it up," came the order, "and stick it in the end
of this here gun-bar'l."
The bill was crisp and new. Even fingers that were
clumsy and trembling found little difficulty in making
a spill of it and inserting it (this with less ease) into the
muzzle of the rifle.
"Now I reckon you kin be goin' along," said the robber.
The Justice lingered not on his way.
The next day came the little red bull, drawing the cart
to the office door. Justice Benaja Widdup had his shoes
on, for he was expecting the visit. In his presence Ransie
Bilbro handed to his wife a five-dollar bill. The official's
eye sharply viewed it. It seemed to curl up as though it
had been rolled and inserted into the end of a gun-barrel.
But the Justice refrained from comment. It is true that
other bills might be inclined to curl. He handed each
one a decree of divorce. Each stood awkwardly silent,
slowly folding the guarantee of freedom. The woman
cast a shy glance full of constraint at Ransie.
"I reckon you'll be goin' back up to the cabin," she said,
along 'ith the bull-cart. There's bread in the tin box
settin' on the shelf. I put the bacon in the b'ilin'-pot
to keep the hounds from gittin' it. Don't forget to wind
the clock to-night."
"You air a-goin' to your brother Ed's?" asked Ransie,
with fine unconcern.
"I was 'lowin' to get along up thar afore night. I
ain't sayin' as they'll pester theyselves any to make me
welcome, but I hain't nowhar else fur to go. It's a right
smart ways, and I reckon I better be goin'. I'll be a-sayin'
good-bye, Ranse - that is, if you keer fur to say so."
"I don't know as anybody's a hound dog," said Ransie,
in a martyr's voice, "fur to not want to say good-bye --
'less you air so anxious to git away that you don't want
me to say it."
Ariela was silent. She folded the five-dollar bill and
her decree carefully, and placed them in the bosom of
her dress. Benaja Widdup watched the money disappear
with mournful eyes behind his spectacles.
And then with his next words he achieved rank (as
his thoughts ran) with either the great crowd of the world's
sympathizers or the little crowd of its great financiers.
"Be kind o' lonesome in the old cabin to-night, Ranse,"
Ransie Bilbro stared out at the Cumberlands, clear
blue now in the sunlight. He did not look at Ariela.
"I 'low it might be lonesome," he said; "but when
folks gits mad and wants a divo'ce, you can't make folks
"There's others wanted a divo'ce," said Ariela, speaking
to the wooden stool. "Besides, nobody don't want no-
body to stay."
"Nobody never said they didn't."
"Nobody never said they did. I reckon I better
start on now to brother Ed's."
"Nobody can't wind that old clock."
"Want me to go back along 'ith you in the cart and
wind it fur you, Ranse?"
The mountaineer's countenance was proof against
emotion. But he reached out a big hand and enclosed
Ariela's thin brown one. Her soul peeped out once
through her impassive face, hallowing it.
"Them hounds shan't pester you no more," said
Ransie. "I reckon I been mean and low down. You
wind that clock, Ariela."
"My heart hit's in that cabin, Ranse," she whispered,
"along 'ith you. I ai'nt a-goin' to git mad no more. Le's
be startin', Ranse, so's we kin git home by sundown."
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup interposed as they
started for the door, forgetting his presence.
"In the name of the State of Tennessee," he said, "I
forbid you-all to be a-defyin' of its laws and statutes.
This co't is mo' than willin' and full of joy to see the
clouds of discord and misunderstandin' rollin' away
from two lovin' hearts, but it air the duty of the co't to
p'eserve the morals and integrity of the State. The co't
reminds you that you air no longer man and wife, but air
divo'ced by regular decree, and as such air not entitled
to the benefits and 'purtenances of the mattermonal
Ariela caught Ransie's arm. Did those words mean
that she must lose him now when they had just learned
the lesson of life?
"But the co't air prepared," went on the Justice, "fur
to remove the disabilities set up by the decree of divo'ce.
The co't air on hand to perform the solemn ceremony
of marri'ge, thus fixin' things up and enablin' the parties
in the case to resume the honour'ble and elevatin' state
of mattermony which they desires. The fee fur per-
formin' said ceremony will be, in this case, to wit, five
Aricla caught the gleam of promise in his words.
Swiftly her hand went to her bosom. Freely as an
alighting dove the bill fluttered to the Justice's table.
Her sallow cheek coloured as she stood hand in hand
with Ransie and listened to the reuniting words.
Ransie helped her into the cart, and climbed in beside
her. The little red bull turned once more, and they
set out, hand-clasped, for the mountains.
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup sat in his door
and took off his shoes. Once again he fingered the bill
tucked down in his vest pocket. Once again he smoked
his elder-stem pipe. Once again the speck-led hen swag-
gered down the main street of the "settlement," cackling
A SACRIFICE HIT
The editor of the Hearthstone Magazine his own
ideas about the selection of manuscript for his publication.
His theory is no secret; in fact, he will expound it to you
willingly sitting at his mahogany desk, smiling benignantly
and tapping his knee gently with his gold-rimmed eye-
"The Hearthstone," he will say, "does not employ a
staff of readers. We obtain opinions of the manuscripts
submitted to us directly from types of the various classes
of our readers."
That is the editor's theory; and this is the way he carries
When a batch of MSS. is received the editor stuffs
every one of his pockets full of them and distributes
them as he goes about during the day. The office
employees, the hall porter, the janitor, the elevator man,
messenger boys, the waiters at the café where the editor
has luncheon, the man at the news-stand where he buys
his evening paper, the grocer and milkman, the guard
on the 5.30 uptown elevated train, the ticket-chopper at
Sixty --th street, the cook and maid at his home --
these are the readers who pass upon MSS. sent in to the
Hearthstone Magazine. If his pockets are not entirely
emptied by the time he reaches the bosom of his family
the remaining ones are handed over to his wife to read
after the baby goes to sleep. A few days later the editor
gathers in the MSS. during his regular rounds and con-
siders the verdict of his assorted readers.
This system of making up a magazine has been very
successful; and the circulation, paced by the advertising
rates, is making a wonderful record of speed.
The Hearthstone Company also publishes books, and
its imprint is to be found on several successful works
-- all recommended, says the editor, by the Hearthstone'8
army of volunteer readers. Now and then (according to
talkative members of the editorial staff) the Hearthstone
has allowed manuscripts to slip through its fingers on the
advice of its heterogeneous readers, that afterward proved
to be famous sellers when brought out by other houses.
For instance (the gossips say), "The Rise and Fall
of Silas Latham" was unfavourably passed upon by the
elevator-man; the office-boy unanimously rejected "The
Boss"; "In the Bishop's Carriage" was contemptuously
looked upon by the street-car conductor; "The Deliver-
ance" was turned down by a clerk in the subscription
department whose wife's mother had just begun a two-
months' visit at his home; "The Queen's Quair" came
back from the janitor with the comment: "So is the book."
But nevertheless the Hearthstone adheres to its theory
and system, and it will never lack volunteer readers;
for each one of the widely scattered staff, from the young
lady stenographer in the editorial office to the man who
shovels in coal (whose adverse decision lost to the Hearth-
stone Company the manuscript of "The Under World"),
has expectations of becoming editor of the magazine some
This method of the Hearthstone was well known to
Allen Slayton when he wrote his novelette entitled "Love
Is All." Slayton had hung about the editorial offices
of all the magazines so persistently that he was acquainted
with the inner workings of every one in Gotham.
He knew not only that the editor of the Hearthstone
handed his MSS. around among different types of people
for reading, but that the stories of sentimental love-
interest went to Miss Puffkin, the editor's stenographer.
Another of the editor's peculiar customs was to conceal
invariably the name of the writer from his readers of
MSS. so that a glittering name might not influence the
sincerity of their reports.
Slayton made "Love Is All" the effort of his life. He
gave it six months of the best work of his heart and
brain. It was a pure love-story, fine, elevated, romantic,
passionate -- a prose poem that set the divine blessing
of love (I am transposing from the manuscript) high
above all earthly gifts and honours, and listed it in the
catalogue of heaven's choicest rewards. Slayton's literary
ambition was intense. He would have sacrificed all
other worldly possessions to have gained fame in his
chosen art. He would almost have cut off his right
hand, or have offered himself to the knife of the appendi-
citis fancier to have realized his dream of seeing one of
his efforts published in the Hearthstone.
Slayton finished "Love Is All," and took it to thy
Hearthstone in person. The office of the magazine was
in a large, conglomerate building, presided under by a
As the writer stepped inside the door on his way to
the elevator a potato masher flew through the hall, wreck-
ing, Slayton's hat, and smashing the glass of the door.
Closely following in the wake of the utensil flew the
janitor, a bulky, unwholesome man, suspenderless and
sordid, panic-stricken and breathless. A frowsy, tall
woman with flying hair followed the missile. The
janitor's foot slipped on the tiled floor, he fell in a heap
with an exclamation of despair. The woman pounced upon
him and seized his hair. The man bellowed lustily.
Her vengeance wreaked, the virago rose and stalked
triumphant as Minerva, back to some cryptic domestic
retreat at the rear. The janitor got to his feet, blown
"This is married life," he said to Slayton, with a certain
bruised humour. "That's the girl I used to lay awake
of nights thinking about. Sorry about your hat, mister.
Say, don't snitch to the tenants about this, will yer?
I don't want to lose me job."
Slayton took the elevator at the end of the hall and
went up to the offices of the Hearthstone. He left the
MS. of "Love Is All" with the editor, who agreed to give,
him an answer as to its availability at the end of a week.
Slayton formulated his great winning scheme on his
way down. It struck him with one brilliant flash, and
he could not refrain from admiring his own genius in
conceiving the idea. That very night he set about carry-
ing it into execution.
Miss Puffkin, the Hearthstone stenographer, boarded
in the same house with the author. She was an oldish,
thin, exclusive, languishing, sentimental maid; and
Slayton had been introduced to her some time before.
The writer's daring and self-sacrificing project was
this: He knew that the editor of the Hearthstone relied
strongly upon Miss Puffkin's judgment in the manuscript
of romantic and sentimental fiction. Her taste represented
the immense average of mediocre women who devour
novels and stories of that type. The central idea and
keynote of "Love Is All" was love at first sight -- the
enrapturing, irresistible, soul-thrilling, feeling that com-
pels a man or a woman to recognize his or her spirit-mate
as soon as heart speaks to heart. Suppose he should
impress this divine truth upon Miss Puffkin personally!
-- would she not surely indorse her new and rapturous
sensations by recommending highly to the editor of the
Hearthstone the novelette "Love Is All" ?
Slayton thought so. And that night he took Miss
Puffkin to the theatre. The next night he made vehement
love to her in the dim parlour of the boarding-house. He
quoted freely from "Love Is All"; and he wound up with
Miss Puffkin's head on his shoulder, and visions of literary
fame dancing in his head.
But Slayton did not stop at love-making. This, he
said to himself, was the turning point of his life; and, like
a true sportsman, he "went the limit." On Thursday
night he and Miss Puffkin walked over to the Big Church
in the Middle of the Block and were married.
Brave Slayton! Chateaubriand died in a garret,
Byron courted a widow, Keats starved to death, Poe
mixed his drinks, De Quincey hit the pipe, Ade lived in
Chica-o, James kept on doing it, Dic Kens wore white
socks, De Maupassant wore a strait-jacket, Tom Watson
became a Populist, Jeremiah wept, all these authors did
these things for the sake of literature, but thou didst
cap them all; thou marriedst a wife for to carve for thyself
a niche in the temple of fame!
On Friday morning Mrs. Slayton said she would go
over to the Hearthstone office, hand in one or two manu-
ripts that the editor had given to her to read, and resign
her position as stenographer.
"Was there anything -- er -- that -- er -- you particu-
larly fancied in the stories you are going to turn in?"
asked Slayton with a thumping heart.
"There was one a novelette, that I liked so much,"
said his wife. "I haven't read anything in years that
I thought was half as nice and true to life."
That afternoon Slayton hurried down to the Hearth-
stone office. He felt that his reward was close at hand.
With a novelette in the Hearthstone, literary reputation
would soon be his.
The office boy met him at the railing in the outer
office. It was not for unsuccessful authors to hold
personal colloquy with the editor except at rare intervals.
Slayton, hugging himself internally, was nursing in
his heart the exquisite hope of being able to crush the
office boy with his forthcoming success.
He inquired concerning his novelette. The office boy
went into the sacred precincts and brought forth a large
envelope, thick with more than the bulk of a thousand
"The boss told me to tell you he's sorry," said the boy,
"but your manuscript ain't available for the magazine."
Slayton stood, dazed. "Can you tell me," he stammered,
"whether or no Miss Puff -- that is my -- I mean Miss
ruffkin -- handed in a novelette this morning that she
had been asked to read?"
"Sure she did," answered the office boy wisely. "I
heard the old man say that Miss Puffkin said it was a
daisy. The name of it was, 'Married for the Mazuma,
or a Working Girl's Triumph.'"
"Say, you!" said the office boy confidentially, "your
name's Slayton, ain't it? I guess I mixed cases on vou
without meanin' to do it. The boss give me some manu-
script to hand around the other day and I got the ones for
Miss Puffkin and the janitor mixed. I guess it's all right,
And then Slayton looked closer and saw on the cover
of his manuscript, under the title "Love Is All," the
janitor's comment scribbled with a piece of charcoal:
"The -- you say!"
THE ROADS WE TAKE
TWIENTY miles West of Tucson, the "Sunset Express"
stopped at a tank to take on water. Besides the aqueous,
addition the engine of that famous flyer acquired some
other things that were not good for it.
While the fireman was lowering the feeding hose,
Bob Tidball, "Shark" Dodson and a quarter-bred Creek
Indian called John Big Dog climbed on the engine and
showed the engineer three round orifices in pieces of
ordnance that the carried. These orifices so impressed
the engineer with their possibilities that he raised both
hands in a gesture such as accompanies the ejaculation
At the crisp command of Shark Dodson, who was
leader of the attacking force the engineer descended
to the ground and uncoupled the engine and tender.
Then John Big Dog, perched upon the coal, sportively
held two guns upon the engine driver and the fireman,
and suggested that they run the engine fifty yards away
and there await further orders.
Shark Dodson and Bob Tidball, scorning to put
such low-grade ore as the passengers through the mill,
struck out for the rich pocket of the express car. They
found the messenger serene in the belief that the "Sunset
Express" was taking on nothing more stimulating and
dangerous than aqua pura. While Bob was knocking
this idea out of his head with the butt-end of his six-shooter
Shark Dodson was already dosing the express-car
safe with dynamite.
The safe exploded to the tune of $30,000, all gold and
currency. The passengers thrust their heads casually
out of the windows to look for the thunder-cloud. The
conductor jerked at the bell-rope, which sagged down
loose and unresisting, at his tug. Shark Dodson
and Bob Tidball, with their booty in a stout canvas bag,
tumbled out of the express car and ran awkwardly in their
high-heeled boots to the engine.
The engineer, sullenly angry but wise, ran the engine,
according to orders, rapidly away from the inert train.
But before this was accomplished the express messenger,
recovered from Bob Tidball's persuader to neutrality,
jumped out of his car with a Winchester rifle and took
a trick in the game. Mr. John Big Dog, sitting on the
coal tender, unwittingly made a wrong lead by giving an
imitation of a target, and the messenger trumped him.
With a ball exactly between his shoulder blades the
Creek chevalier of industry rolled off to the ground,
thus increasing the share of his comrades in the loot by
Two miles from the tank the engineer was ordered
The robbers waved a defiant adieu and plunged down
the steep slope into the thick woods that lined the track.
Five minutes of crashing through a thicket of chapparal
brought them to open woods, where three horses were
tied to low-hanging branches. One was waiting for John
Big Dog, who would never ride by night or day again.
This animal the robbers divested of saddle and bridle
and set free. They mounted the other two with the
bag across one pommel, and rode fast and with discre-
tion through the forest and up a primeval, lonely gorge.
Here the animal that bore Bob Tidball slipped on a mossy
boulder and broke a foreleg. They shot him through
the head at once and sat down to hold a council of flight.
Made secure for the present by the tortuous trail they-
had travelled, the question of time was no longer so big.
Many miles and hours lay between them and the spryest
posse that could follow. Shark Dodson's horse, with
trailing rope and dropped bridle, panted and cropped
thankfully of the grass along the stream in the gorge.
Bob Tidball opened the sack, drew out double handfuls
of the neat packages of currency and the one sack of
gold and chuckled with the glee of a child.
"Say, you old double-decked pirate," he called joyfully
to Dodson, "you said we could do it -- you got a head for
financing that knocks the horns off of anything in Arizona."
"What are we going to do about a hoss for you, Bob?
We ain't got long to wait here. They'll be on our trail
before daylight in the mornin'."
"Oh, I guess that cayuse of yourn'll carry double for
a while," answered the sanguine Bob. "We'll annex
the first animal we come across. By jingoes, we made a
haul, didn't we? Accordin' to the marks on this money
there's $30,000 -- $15,000 apiece!"
"It's short of what I expected," said Shark Dodson,
kicking softly at the packages with the toe of his boot
and then he looked pensively at the wet sides of his tired
"Old Bolivar's mighty nigh played out," he said,
slowly. "I wish that sorrel of yours hadn't got hurt."
"So do I," said Bob, heartily, "but it can't be helped.
Bolivar's got plenty of bottom -- he'll get us both far
enough to get fresh mounts. Dang it, Shark, I can't
belp thinkin' how funny it is that an Easterner like you
can come out here and give us Western fellows cards
and spades in the desperado business. What part of the
East was you from, anyway?"
"New York State," said Shark Dodson, sitting
down on a boulder and chewing a twig. "I was born
on a farm in Ulster County. I ran away from home
when I was seventeen. It was an accident my coming
West. I was walkin' along the road with my clothes in
a bundle, makin' for New York City. I had an idea of
goin' there and makin' lots of money. I always felt like
I could do it. I came to a place one evenin' where the
road forked and I didn't know which fork to take. I
studied about it for half an hour, and then I took the left-
hand. That night I run into the camp of a Wild West
show that was travellin' among the little towns, and
I went West with it. I've often wondered if I
wouldn't have turned out different if I'd took the other
"Oh, I reckon you'd have ended up about the same,"
said Bob Tidball, cheerfully philosophical. "It ain't
the roads we take; it's what's inside of us that makes us
turn out the way we do."
Shark Dodson got up and leaned against a tree.
"I'd a good deal rather that sorrel of yourn hadn't
hurt himself, Bob," he said again, almost pathetically.
"Same here," agreed Bob; "he was sure a first-rate
kind of a crowbait. But Bolivar, he'll pull us through
all right. Reckon we'd better be movin' on, hadn't
we, Shark? I'll bag this boodle ag'in and we'll hit the
trail for higher timber."
Bob Tidball replaced the spoil in the bag and tied the
mouth of it tightly with a cord. When he looked up the
most prominent object that he saw was the muzzle of
Shark Dodson's .45 held upon him without a waver.
"Stop your funnin'," said Bob, with a grin. "We got
to be hittin' the breeze."
"Set still," said Shark. "You ain't goin' to hit
no breeze, Bob. I hate to tell you, but there ain't any
chance for but one of us. Bolivar, he's plenty tired,
and he can't carry double."
"We been pards, me and you, Shark Dodson, for three
year," Bob said quietly. "We've risked our lives together
time and again. I've always give you a square deal,
and I thought you was a man. I've heard some queer
stories about you shootin' one or two men in a peculiar
way, but I never believed 'em. Now if you're just havin'
a little fun with me, Shark, put your gun up, and we'll
get on Bolivar and vamose. If you mean to shoot --
shoot, you blackhearted son of a tarantula!"
Shark Dodson's face bore a deeply sorrowful look.
"You don't know how bad I feel," he sighed, "about
that sorrel of yourn breakin' his leg, Bob."
The expression on Dodson's face changed in an instant
to one of cold ferocity mingled with inexorable cupidity.
The soul of the man showed itself for a moment like an
evil face in the window of a reputable house.
Truly Bob Tidball was never to "hit the breeze" again.
The deadly .45 of the false friend cracked and filled the
gorge with a roar that the walls hurled back with indignant
echoes. And Bolivar, unconscious accomplice, swiftly
bore away the last of the holders-up of the "Sunset
Express," not put to the stress of "carrying double."
But as "Shark" Dodson galloped away the woods
seemed to fade from his view; the revolver in his right hand
turned to the curved arm of a mahogany chair; his saddle
was strangely upholstered, and he opened his eyes and
saw his feet, not in stirrups, but resting quietly on the edge
of a quartered-oak desk.
I am telling you that Dodson, of the firm of Dodson
& Decker, Wall Street brokers, opened his eyes. Peabody,
the confidential clerk, was standing by his chair, hesitating
to speak. There was a confused hum of wheels below, and
the sedative buzz of an electric fan.
"Ahem! Peabody," said Dodson, blinking. "I must
have fallen asleep. I had a most remarkable dream.
What is it, Peabody?"
"Mr. Williams, sir, of Tracy & Williams, is outside.
He has come to settle his deal in X. Y. Z. The market
caught him short, sir, if you remember."
"Yes, I remember. What is X. Y. Z. quoted at to-day,
"One eighty-five, sir."
"Then that's his price."
"Excuse me," said Peabody, rather nervously "for
speaking of it, but I've been talking to Williams. He's
an old friend of yours, Mr. Dodson, and you practically
have a corner in X. Y. Z. I thought you might -- that is,
I thought you might not remember that he sold you
the stock at 98. If he settles at the market price it will
take every cent he has in the world and his home too to
deliver the shares."
The expression on Dodson's face changed in an instant
to one of cold ferocity mingled with inexorable cupidity.
The soul of the man showed itself for a moment like an
evil face in the window of a reputable house.
"He will settle at one eighty-five," said Dodson.
"Bolivar cannot carry double."
A BLACKJACK BARGAINER
The most disreputable thing in Yancey Goree's law
office was Goree himself, sprawled in his creakv old arm-
chair. The rickety little office, built of red brick, was
set flush with the street -- the main street of the town of
Bethel rested upon the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge.
Above it the mountains were piled to the sky. Far
below it the turbid Catawba gleamed yellow along its
The June day was at its sultriest hour. Bethel dozed
in the tepid shade. Trade was not. It was so still that
Goree, reclining in his chair, distinctly heard the clicking
of the chips in the grand-jury room, where the "court-
house gang" was playing poker. From the open back
door of the office a well-worn path meandered across the
grassy lot to the court-house. The treading out of that
path had cost Goree all he ever had -- first inheritance
of a few thousand dollars, next the old family home, and,
latterly the last shreds of his self-respect and manhood.
The "gang" had cleaned him out. The broken gambler
had turned drunkard and parasite; he had lived to see
this day come when the men who had stripped him
denied him a seat at the game. His word was no longer
to be taken. The daily bouts at cards had arranged itself
accordingly, and to him was assigned the ignoble part of
the onlooker. The sheriff, the county clerk, a sportive
deputy, a gay attorney, and a chalk-faced man hailing
"from the valley," sat at table, and the sheared one
was thus tacitly advised to go and grow more wool.
Soon wearying of his ostracism, Goree had departed
for his office, muttering to himself as he unsteadily tra-
versed the unlucky pathway. After a drink of corn
whiskey from a demijohn under the table, he had flung
himself into the chair, staring, in a sort of maudlin apathy,
out at the mountains immersed in the summer haze.
The little white patch he saw away up on the side of
Blackjack was Laurel, the village near which he had been
born and bred. There, also, was the birthplace of the
feud between the Gorees and the Coltranes. Now no
direct heir of the Gorees survived except this plucked
and singed bird of misfortune. To the Coltranes, also,
but one male supporter was left -- Colonel Abner Col-
trane, a man of substance and standing, a member of the
State Legislature, and a contemporary with Goree's
father. The feud had been a typical one of the region;
it had left a red record of hate, wrong and slaughter.
But Yancey Goree was not thinking of feuds. His
befuddled brain was hopelessly attacking the problem
of the future maintenance of himself and his favourite
follies. Of late, old friends of the family had seen to it
that he had whereof to eat and a place to sleep -- but whiskey
they would not buy for him, and he must have whiskey.
His law business was extinct; no case had been intrusted
to him in two years. He had been a borrower and a
sponge, and it seemed that if he fell no lower it would be
from lack of opportunity. One more chance -- he was
saying to himself -- if he had one more stake at the game,
he thought he could win; but he had nothing left to sell,
and his credit was more than exhausted.
He could not help smiling, even in his misery, as he
thought of the man to whom, six months before, he had
sold the old Goree homestead. There had come from
"back yan'" in the mountains two of the strangest
creatures, a man named Pike Garvey and his wife. "Back
yan'," with a wave of the hand toward the hills, was
understood among the mountaineers to designate the
remotest fastnesses, the unplumbed gorges, the haunts of
lawbreakers, the wolf's den, and the boudoir of the bear.
In the cabin far up on Blackjack's shoulder, in the wildest
part of these retreats, this odd couple had lived for twenty
years. They had neither dog nor children to mitigate
the heavy silence of the hills. Pike Garvey was little
known in the settlements, but all who had dealt with him
pronounced him "crazy as a loon." He acknowledged
no occupation save that of a squirrel hunter, but he
"moonshined" occasionally by way of diversion. Once
the "revenues" had dragged him from his lair, fighting
silently and desperately like a terrier, and he had been
sent to state's prison for two years. Released, he popped
back into his hole like an angry weasel.
Fortune, passing over many anxious wooers, made a
freakish flight into Blackjack's bosky pockets to smile
upon Pike and his faithful partner.
One day a party of spectacled, knickerbockered, and
altogether absurd prospectors invaded the vicinity of
the Garvey's cabin. Pike lifted his squirrel rifle off the
hooks and took a shot at them at long range on the chance
of their being revenues. Happily he missed, and the
unconscious agents of good luck drew nearer, disclosing
their innocence of anything resembling law or justice.
Later on, they offered the Garveys an enormous quantity
of ready, green, crisp money for their thirty-acre patch
of cleared land, mentioning, as an excuse for such a mad
action, some irrelevant and inadequate nonsense about
a bed of mica underlying the said property.
When the Garveys became possessed of so many dol-
lars that they faltered in computing them, the deficiencies
of life on Blackjack began to grow prominent. Pike
began to talk of new shoes, a hogshead of tobacco to
set in the corner, a new lock to his rifle; and, leading
Martella to a certain spot on the mountain-side, he
pointed out to her how a small cannon -- doubtless a
thing not beyond the scope of their fortune in price --
might be planted so as to command and defend the sole
accessible trail to the cabin, to the confusion of revenues
and meddling strangers forever.
But Adam reckoned without his Eve. These things
represented to him the applied power of wealth, but
there slumbered in his dingy cabin an ambition that
soared far above his primitive wants. Somewhere in
Mrs. Garvey's bosom still survived a spot of femininity
unstarved by twenty years of Blackjack. For so long
a time the sounds in her ears had been the scaly-barks
dropping in the woods at noon, and the wolves singing
among the rocks at night, and it was enough to have
purged her of vanities. She had grown fat and sad and
yellow and dull. But when the means came, she felt a
rekindled desire to assume the perquisites of her sex --
to sit at tea tables; to buy futile things; to whitewash
the hideous veracity of life with a little form and ceremony.
So she coldly vetoed Pike's proposed system of fortifica-
tions, and announced that thev would descend upon the
world, and gyrate socially.
And thus, at length, it was decided, and the thing
done. The village of Laurel was their compromise
between Mrs. Garvey's preference for one of the large
valley towns and Pike's hankering for primeval solitudes.
Laurel yielded a halting round of feeble social distractions
omportable with Martella's ambitions, and was not
entirely without recommendation to Pike, its contiguity
to the mountains presenting advantages for sudden retreat
in case fashionable society should make it advisable.
Their descent upon Laurel had been coincident with
Yancey Goree's feverish desire to convert property into
cash, and they bought the old Goree homestead, paying
four thousand dollars ready money into the spendthrift's
Thus it happened that while the disreputable last of
the Gorees sprawled in his disreputable office, at the end
of his row, spurned by the cronies whom he had gorged,
strangers dwelt in the halls of his fathers.
A cloud of dust was rolling, slowly up the parched
street, with something travelling in the midst of it. A
little breeze wafted the cloud to one side, and a new,
brightly painted carryall, drawn by a slothful gray horse,
became visible. The vehicle deflected from the middle
of the street as it neared Goree's office, and stopped in the
gutter directly in front of his door.
On the front seat sat a gaunt, tall man, dressed in
black broadcloth, his rigid hands incarcerated in yellow
kid gloves. On the back seat was a lady who triumphed
over the June heat. Her stout form was armoured in a
skintight silk dress of the description known as "change-
able," being a gorgeous combination of shifting hues.
She sat erect, waving a much-omamented fan, with her
eyes fixed stonily far down the street. However Martella
Garvey's heart might be rejoicing at the pleasures of her
new life, Blackjack had done his work with her exterior.
He had carved her countenance to the image of emptiness
and inanity; had imbued her with the stolidity of his
crags, and the reserve of his hushed interiors. She always
seemed to hear, whatever her surroundings were, the
scaly-barks falling and pattering down the mountain-
side. She could always hear the awful silence of Black-
jack sounding through the stillest of nights.
Goree watched this solemn equipage, as it drove to
his door, with only faint interest; but when the lank
driver wrapped the reins about his whip, awkwardly
descended, and stepped into the office, he rose unsteadily
to receive him, recognizing Pike Garvey, the new, the
transformed, the recently civilized.
The mountaineer took the chair Goree offered him.
They who cast doubts upon Garvey's soundness of mind
had a strong witness in the man's countenance. His face
was too long, a dull saffron in hue, and immobile as a
statue's. Pale-blue, unwinking round eyes without
lashes added to the singularity of his gruesome visage.
Goree was at a loss to account for the visit.
"Everything all right at Laurel, Mr. Garvey?" he
"Everything all right, sir, and mighty pleased is Missis
Garvey and me with the property. Missis Garvey likes
yo' old place, and she likes the neighbourhood. Society
is what she 'lows she wants, and she is gettin' of it. The
Rogerses, the Hapgoods, the Pratts and the Troys hev
been to see Missis Garvey, and she hev et meals to most
of thar houses. The best folks hev axed her to differ'nt
kinds of doin's. I cyan't say, Mr. Goree, that sech
things suits me -- fur me, give me them thar." Garvey's
huge, yellow-gloved hand flourished in the direction of
the mountains. "That's whar I b'long, 'mongst the
wild honey bees and the b'ars. But that ain't what I
come fur to say, Mr. Goree. Thar's somethin' you got
what me and Missis Garvey wants to buy."
"Buy!" echoed Goree. "From me?" Then he
laughed harshly. "I reckon you are mistaken about
that. I reckon you are mistaken about that. I sold out
to you, as you yourself expressed it, 'lock, stock and
barrel.' There isn't even a ramrod left to sell."
"You've got it; and we 'uns want it. 'Take the
money,' says Missis Garvey, 'and buy it fa'r and
Goree shook his head. "The cupboard's bare," he
"We've riz," pursued the mountaineer, undetected
from his object, "a heap. We was pore as possums,
and now we could hev folks to dinner every day. We
been recognized, Missis Garvey says, by the best society.
But there's somethin' we need we ain't got. She says
it ought to been put in the 'ventory ov the sale, but it
tain't thar. 'Take the money, then,' says she, 'and buy
it fa'r and squar'."'
"Out with it," said Goree, his racked nerves growing
Garvey threw his slouch bat upon the table, and leaned
forward, fixing his unblinking eves upon Goree's.
"There's a old feud," he said distinctly and slowly,
"'tween you 'uns and the Coltranes."
Goree frowned ominously. To speak of his feud to
a feudist is a serious breach of the mountain etiquette.
The man from "back yan'" knew it as well as the lawyer
"Na offense," he went on "but purely in the way of
business. Missis Garvey hev studied all about feuds.
Most of the quality folks in the mountains hev 'em. The
Settles and the Goforths, the Rankins and the Boyds, the
Silers and the Galloways, hev all been cyarin' on feuds
f'om twenty to a hundred year. The last man to drap
was when yo' uncle, Jedge Paisley Goree, 'journed co't
and shot Len Coltrane f'om the bench. Missis Garvey
and me, we come f'om the po' white trash. Nobody
wouldn't pick a feud with we 'uns, no mo'n with a fam'ly
of tree-toads. Quality people everywhar, says Missis
Garvey, has feuds. We 'uns ain't quality, but we're
uyin' into it as fur as we can. 'Take the money, then,'
says Missis Garvey, 'and buy Mr. Goree's feud, fa'r
The squirrel hunter straightened a leg half across the
room, drew a roll of bills from his pocket, and threw them
on the table.
"Thar's two hundred dollars, Mr. Goree; what you
would call a fa'r price for a feud that's been 'lowed to
run down like yourn hev. Thar's only you left to cyar'
on yo' side of it, and you'd make mighty po' killin'. I'll
take it off yo' hands, and it'll set me and Missis Garvey
up among the quality. Thar's the money."
The little roll of currency on the table slowly untwisted
itself, writhing and jumping as its folds relaxed. In the
silence that followed Garvey's last speech the rattling of
the poker chips in the court-house could be plainly heard.
Goree knew that the sheriff had just won a pot, for the
subdued whoop with which he always greeted a victory
floated across the sqquare upon the crinkly heat waves.
Beads of moisture stood on Goree's brow. Stooping, he
drew the wicker-covered demijohn from under the table,
and filled a tumbler from it.
"A little corn liquor, Mr. Garvey? Of course you
are joking about what you spoke of? Opens quite a
new market, doesn't it? Feuds. Prime, two-fifty to
three. Feuds, slightly damaged -- two hundred, I
believe you said, Mr. Garvey?"
Goree laughed self-consciously.
The mountaineer took the glass Goree handed him,
and drank the whisky without a tremor of the lids of
his staring eyes. The lawyer applauded the feat by a
look of envious admiration. He poured his own drink,
and took it like a drunkard, by gulps, and with shudders
at the smell and taste.
"Two hundred," repeated Garvey. "Thar's the money."
A sudden passion flared up in Goree's brain. He
struck the table with his fist. One of the bills flipped
over and touched his hand. He flinched as if something
had stung him.
"Do you come to me," he shouted, "seriously with such
a ridiculous, insulting, darned-fool proposition?"
"It's fa'r and squar'," said the squirrel hunter, but he
reached out his hand as if to take back the money; and
then Goree knew that his own flurry of rage had not been
from pride or resentment, but from anger at himself,
knowing that he would set foot in the deeper depths that
were being opened to him. He turned in an instant from
an outraged gentleman to an anxious chafferer recom-
mending his goods.
"Don't be in a hurry, Garvey," he said, his face crimson
and his speech thick. "I accept your p-p-proposition,
though it's dirt cheap at two hundred. A t-trade's all
right when both p-purchaser and b-buyer are s-satisfied.
Shall I w-wrap it up for you, Mr. Garvey?"
Garvey rose, and shook out his broadcloth. "Missis
Garvev will be pleased. You air out of it, and it stands
Coltrane and Garvey. Just a scrap ov writin', Mr.
Goree, you bein' a lawyer, to show we traded."
Goree seized a sheet of paper and a pen. The money
was clutched in his moist hand. Everything else sud-
denly seemed to grow trivial and light.
"Bill of sale, by all means. 'Right, title, and interest
in and to' . . . 'forever warrant and -- ' No,
Garvey, we'll have to leave out that 'defend,'" said
Goree with a loud laugh. "You'll have to defend this
The mountaineer received the amazing screed that the
lawyer handed him, folded it with immense labour, and
laced it carefully in his pocket.
Goree was standing near the window. "Step here,
said, raising his finger, "and I'll show you your recently
purchased enemy. There he goes, down the other side
of the street."
The mountaineer crooked his long frame to look
through the window in the direction indicated by the other.
Colonel Abner Coltrane, an erect, portly gentleman of
about fifty, wearing the inevitable long, double-breasted
frock coat of the Southern lawmaker, and an old high
silk hat, was passing on the opposite sidewalk. As
Garvey looked, Goree glanced at his face. If there be
such a thing as a yellow wolf, here was its counterpart.
Garvey snarled as his unhuman eyes followed the moving
figure, disclosing long, amber-coloured fangs.
"Is that him? Why, that's the man who sent me to
the penitentiary once!"
"He used to be district attorney," said Goree care-
lessly. "And, by the way, he's a first-class shot."
"I kin hit a squirrel's eye at a hundred yard," said
Garvey. "So that thar's Coltrane! I made a better
trade than I was thinkin'. I'll take keer ov this feud,
Mr. Goree, better'n you ever did!"
He moved toward the door, but lingered there, betray-
ing a slight perplexity.
"Anything else to-day?" inquired Goree with frothy
sarcasm. "Any family traditions, ancestral ghosts, or
skeletons in the closet? Prices as low as the lowest."
"Thar was another thing," replied the unmoved squirrel
hunter, "that Missis Garvey was thinkin' of. 'Tain't
so much in my line as t'other, but she wanted partic'lar
that I should inquire, and ef you was willin', 'pay fur it,'
she says, 'fa'r and squar'.' Thar's a buryin' groun',
as you know, Mr. Goree, in the yard of yo' old place,
under the cedars. Them that lies thar is yo' folks what
was killed by the Coltranes. The monyments has the
names on 'em. Missis Garvev says a fam'ly buryin'
groun'- is a sho' sign of quality. She says ef we git the
feud thar's somethin' else ought to go with it. The
names on them moiivments is 'Goree,' but they can be
changed to ourn by -- "
"Go. Go!" screamed Goree, his face turning purple.
He stretched out both hands toward the mountaineer,
his fingers hooked and shaking. "Go, you ghoul! Even a
Ch-Chinaman protects the g-graves of his ancestors -- go!"
The squirrel hunter slouched out of the door to his
carryall. While he was climbing over the wheel Goree
was collecting, with feverish celerity, the money that had
fallen from his hand to the floor. As the vehicle slowly
turned about, the sheep, with a coat of newly grown
wool, was hurrying, in indecent haste, along the path to
At three o'clock in the morning they brought him back
to his office, shorn and unconscious. The sheriff, the
sportive deputy, the county clerk, and the gay attorney
carried him, the chalk-faced man "from the valley"
acting as escort.
"On the table," said one of them, and they deposited
him there among the litter of his unprofitable books and
"Yance thinks a lot of a pair of deuces when he's
liquored up," sighed the sheriff reflectively.
"Too much," said the gay attorney. "A man has no
business to play poker who drinks as much as he does. I
wonder how much he dropped to-night."
"Close to two hundred. What I wonder is whar he
got it. Yance ain't had a cent fur over a month, I
"Struck a client, maybe. Well, let's get home before
daylight. He'll be all right when he wakes up, except
for a sort of beehive about the cranium."
The gang slipped away through the early morning
twilight. The next eye to gaze upon the miserable Goree
was the orb of day. He peered through the uncurtained
window, first deluging the sleeper in a flood of faint gold,
but soon pouring upon the mottled red of his flesh a
searching, white, summer heat. Goree stirred, half
unconsciously, among the table's débris, and turned his
face from the window. His movement dislodged a heavy
law book, which crashed upon the floor. Opening his
eyes, he saw, bending over him, a man in a black frock
coat. Looking higher, he discovered a well-worn silk
hat, and beneath it the kindly, smooth face of Colonel
A little uncertain of the outcome, the colonel waited for
the other to make some sign of recognition. Not in
twenty years had male members of these two families
faced each other in peace. Goree's eyelids puckered as
he strained his blurred sight toward this visitor, and then
he smiled serenely.
"Have you brought Stella and Lucy over to play?"
he said calmly.
"Do you know me, Yancey?" asked Coltrane.
"Of course I do. You brought me a whip with a
whistle in the end."
So he had -- twenty-four years ago; when Yancey's
father was his best friend.
Goree's eyes wandered about the room. The colonel
understood. "Lie still, and I'll bring you some," said he.
There was a pump in the yard at the rear, and Goree
closed his eyes, listening with rapture to the click of its
handle, and the bubbling of the falling stream. Col-
trane brought a pitcher of the cool water, and held it for
him to drink. Presently Goree sat up -- a most forlorn
object, his summer suit of flax soiled and crumpled, his
discreditable head tousled and unsteady. He tried to
wave one of his hands toward the colonel.
"Ex-excuse-everything, will you?" he said. "I
must have drunk too much whiskey last night, and gone
to bed on the table." His brows knitted into a puzzled
"Out with the boys awhile?" asked Coltrane kindly.
"No, I went nowhere. I haven't had a dollar to spend
in the last two months. Struck the demijohn too often.
I reckon, as usual."
Colonel Coltrane touched him on the shoulder.
"A little while ago, Yancey," he began, "you asked
me if I had brought Stella and Lucy over to play. You
weren't quite awake then, and must have been dreaming
you were a boy again. You are awake now, and I want
you to listen to me. I have come from Stella and Lucy
to their old playmate, and to my old friend's son. They
know that I am going to bring you home with me, and you
will find them as ready with a welcome as they were in
the old days. I want you to come to my house and stay
until you are yourself aain, and as much longer as you
will. We heard of your being down in the world, and in
the midst of temptation, and we agreed that you should
come over and play at our house once more. Will you
come, my boy? Will you drop our old family trouble
and come with me?"
"Trouble!" said Goree, opening his eyes wide. "There
was never any trouble between us that I know of. I'm
sure we've always been the best friends. But, good Lord,
Colonel, how could I go to your home as I am -- a
drunken wretch, a miserable, degraded spendthrift and
gambler -- "
He lurched from the table into his armchair, and
began to weep maudlin tears, mingled with genuine drops
of remorse and shame. Coltrane talked to him persist-
ently and reasonably, reminding him of the simple moun-
tain pleasures of which he had once been so fond, and
insisting upon the genuineness of the invitation.
Finally he landed Goree by telling him he was counting
upon his help in the engineering and transportation of a
large amount of felled timber from a high mountain-side
to a waterway. He knew that Goree had once invented
a device for this purpose -- a series of slides and chutes-
upon which he had justly prided himself. In an instant
the poor fellow, delighted at the idea of his being of use
to any one, had paper spread upon the table, and was
drawing rapid but pitifully shaky lines in demonstration
of what he could and would do.
The man was sickened of the husks; his prodigal heart
was turning again toward the mountains. His mind was
yet strangely clogged, and his thoughts and memories
were returning to his brain one by one, like carrier pigeons
over a stormy sea. But Coltrane was satisfied with the
progress he had made.
Bethel received the surprise of its existence that after-
noon when a Coltrane and a Goree rode amicably together
through the town. Side by side they rode, out from the
dusty streets and gaping townspeople, down across the
creek bridge, and up toward the mountain. The prodigal
had brushed and washed and combed himself to a more
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