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- WOLFVILLE - 5/44 -
an' disgusted at the mere hint. Of course we-alls has to stand these things from woman, an' we might as well p'int up some other way an' no time lost.'
"'Don't you-alls reckon for to make a speshul rake on all poker goin', same as about that Yallerhouse gent, might be an ondefeasible way to get at the neck of this business?' says Dave Tutt. 'I merely asks it as a question.'
"'That wouldn't do,' says Doc Peets, 'but anyhow yere comes Wilkins how, an' if, as Enright says, the're out of chuck up his way, I reckons I'll lose a small bet to the old shorthorn ontil sech times as we devises some scheme all reg'lar.'
"'Howdy, Wilkins?' says Doc, mighty gay an' genial, 'how's things stackin' up?'
"'Mighty ornery,' says Wilkins.
"'Feel like makin' a little wager this A. M.?' says Doc.
"'What do you-all want to gamble at?' says Wilkins.
"'Oh,' says Doc, 'I'm feelin' a heap careless about what I do gamble at. S'pose I goes you ten dollars's worth of grub the Lordsburg buckboard don't show up none to-day?'
"'If I had ten dollars I'd about call you a lot on that,' says Wilkins, 'but I'm a pore cuss an' ain't got no ten dollars, an' what's the use? None of you-alls ain't got no Red Light whiskey- chips you ain't usin', be you? S'pose you-alls gropes about in your war-bags an' sees. I'm needin' of a drink mighty bad.'
"Old Wilkins looks some queer about the eyes, an' more'n usual shaky, so we gives him a big drink an' he sorter braces up.
"'I'll back Wilkins's end of that bet you offers, Doc,' says Tutt, 'so consider it made, will you?'
"'You was offerin' to bet grub,' says the old man, powerful peevish an' fretful. 'What for do you want to bet grub? Why don't you bet money, so I gets what I wants with it? It's my money when I wins. Mebby I don't want no grub. Mebby I wants clothes or whiskey. You ain't no sport, Doc, to tie up a play with a string like that. Gimme another drink some one, I'm most dyin' for some.'
"The old man 'pears like he's mighty sick that a-way, so thar's nothin' for it but to give him another hooker, which we does accordin'.
"'I'm feelin' like I was shot hard by somethin',' he says, 'an' I don't like for to go home till I'm better, an' scare Sue. I reckon I'll camp down on this yere monte table for an hour till I comes 'round.'
"So Wilkins curls up on the table, an' no one notices him for about twenty minutes, when along comes rattlin' up the Lordsburg mail.
"'You win, Wilkins,' says Peets; 'come over to the New York Store an' cut out your stuff.' "The old man acts like he don't hear, so Doc shakes him up some. No use, thar ain't no get up in him.
"'Looks like he's gone to sleep for good,' says Doc.
"Then he walks 'round him, shakes him, an' takes a look at his eye, a-openin' of it with his finger. Finally he stands back, sticks his thumb in his belt, an' whistles.
"'What's up?' says Cherokee Hall. 'He ain't tryin' to work us for another drink I hopes.'
"Well, this is a deal,' says Doc, 'an' no humbug neither. Gents, I'm blessed if this yere old prairie-dog ain't shorely up an' died.'
"We-alls comes up an' takes a look at him, an' Doc has called the turn. Shore enough the old man has cashed in.
"`This is a hoss on us, an' no doubt about it,' says Enright. 'I ain't worryin' for Wilkins, as he most likely is ahead on the deal; but what gets me is how to break the news to this yere maiden. It's goin' to be a hair-line play. I reckons, Doc, it's you an' me.'
"So they goes over to Wilkins's wickeyup an' calls the young Sue girl out, an' Enright begins tellin' her mighty soft as how her paw is took bad down to the Red Light. But the girl seems to get it as right as if she's scouted for it a month.
"'He's dead!' she says; an' then cripples down alongside of the door an' begins to sob.
"'Thar ain't no use denyin' it, Miss,' says Enright, 'your paw struck in on the big trail where the hoof-prints all p'ints one way. But don't take it hard, Miss, thar ain't a gent don't give you sympathy. What you do now is stay right yere, an' the camp'll tend to the funeral, an' put it up right an' jest as you says, you bein' mourner-in-chief. You can trust us for the proper play; since we buries Jack King, obsequies is our long suit.'
"The little Sue girl struggles through somehow, an' has her nerve with her. The funeral, you bet, is right. This time we ropes in a preacher belongin' to some deep-water outfit over in Tucson. He somehow is strayed, an' happens along our way, an' we gets him squar' in the door. He jumps in an' gives them ceremonies a scientific whirl as ain't possible nohow to amatures. All 'round we wouldn't have put on more dog if we'd been plantin' Enright; all of course on the little Sue girl's account. Next day the outfit goes over to find out whatever she allows to do.
"'You sees, Miss; says Enright, 'anythin' you says, goes. Not waitin' to learn its name, even, I'm directed to state as how the camp backs your play an' makes good.'
"'I'm allowin' to go to the States,' says the girl, 'an' I'm obleeged to you.'
"'We was hopin',' says Enright, 'as you'd stay yere. We-alls sorter figgers you'd teach us a school. Of course thar ain't no papooses yet, but as a forced play we arranges to borrow a small herd from Tombstone, an' can do it too easy. Then, ag'in, a night-school would hit our needs right; say one night a week. Thar's a heap of ignorance in this yere camp, an' we needs a night-school bad. It would win for fifty dollars a week, Miss; an' you thinks of it.'
"No, the pore girl couldn't think of it nohow.
"'Of course, Miss, says Enright, 'we alls ain't expectin' you to open this yere academy the first kyards off the deck. You needs time to line up your affairs, an' am likewise wrung with grief. You takes your leesure as to that; meanwhile of course your stipend goes on from now.'
"But the little Sue girl couldn't listen. Her paw is dead, an' now she's due in the States. She says things is all right thar. She has friends as her paw never likes; but who's friends of hers, an' she'll go to them.
"'Well, Miss,' says Enright, mighty regretful, 'if that's how it lays, I reckons you'll go, so thar's nothin' for us to do but settle up an' fork over some dust we owes your paw. He bein' now deceased, of course you represents.'
"The girl couldn't see how any one owes her paw, ''cause he's been too sick to work,' she says.
"'We owes him all the same,' says Enright, mighty ferocious. 'We onderstands well enough how we comes to owe him, don't we, Doc?'
"'You can stack in your life we do,' says Doc, plenty prompt an' cheerful. 'We-alls owes for his nailin' them hoss-thiefs when they tries to clean out the corral.'
"'That's it,' says Enright, 'for ketchin' of some rustlers who lays for our stock. It's all right, Miss; you needn't look so doubtful. You wouldn't if you knowed this camp. It's the last outfit on earth as would go an' give money to people. It's a good straight camp, Wolfville is; but business is business, an' we ain't pirootin' 'round none, givin' nothin' away, be we, Doc?'
"'Not much,' says Doc. 'It's enough for a gent to pay debts, without stampedin' 'round makin' presents of things.'
"'That's whatever,' says Enright; 'so Miss, me an Doc'll vamos over to the Red Light an' get the dust, an' I reckons we'll be back in an hour. I s'pose we owes Mister Wilkins about 'five hundred dollars, don't we, Doc?'
"'Tain't so much,' says Doc, who's guileful that a-way. As he sees the little Sue girl archin' for another buck, he pulls out a paper an' makes a bluff. 'Yere it is,--four hundred an' ninety-three dollars an' seventy-four cents. I puts it down all accurate, 'cause I don't allow no sharp to come 'round an' beat me none.'
"We-alls throws 'round an' makes up the pot to come to Doc's figger- -which I wants to say right yere, Doc Peets is the ablest gent I ever sees--an' the little Sue girl has to take it.
"Which this money lets her out right, an' she cries an' thanks us, an' the next day she takes the stage for Tucson. We're thar to say 'good-by' an' wish the little Sue girl luck.
"'Adios,' says Peets, takin' off his hat to her; 'it ain't down on the bills none, but if you-all could manage to kiss this yere outfit once apiece, Miss, it would be regarded. You needn't be afraid. Some of 'em looks a little off, but they're all right, an' b'ar huggin' is barred.'
"So the little Sue girl begins with Enright an' kisses us all, a- sobbin' meantime some free. As the affection proceeds, Cherokee sorter shoves back an' allows he'll pass.
"'Not any pass!' says Enright. 'Any gent who throws off on that thar little Sue girl, she willin', needn't look for any luck but lynchin'.'
"'That settles it,' says Cherokee, 'I saloots this yere lady.'
"So he ups an' kisses the little Sue girl like she's a hot flat- iron, an' backs into the crowd.
"'Cherokee makes me tired,' says Peets, who's ridin' herd on the
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