Imágenes de páginas


some, clear-eyed, boyish-faced Walters Company turned out, with its engine and boasted himself of being an ex-trooper of

hosecart decked with evergreens, and Quantrell's. But he led a peaceful life perched on the former, a youthful Godin Boise, and so far as a somewhat inter dess of Liberty, with flaxen curls, like ested public could observe, one without fresh-planed shavings, in a row about reproach. He affected the garb of a high- her head, and her little heart swelled toned sport, which at that time and place nigh to bursting with pride, as she gazed was a Prince Albert coat, light trousers, on her red-shirted, black-trousered, hela big slouch hat, and quiet tie. The meted knights tugging in a double row at only peculiarity of his dress was the the long ropes of her chariot. The clerical choker-collar that he invariably martial part of the parade was represented wore - a paper one, at that. But though by a cavalry company and field battery he wore this garb, he never gambled. from the Post, which was regarded with Though he frequented saloons he never covert, and sometimes, open, hostility drank to excess. Though he toiled not, by the greater part of the spectators in a land where all who did not live along the line of march. openly by their wits made at least some There was the Orator of the Day, and show of toiling, yet he had always suffi the Poet, and the Reader in a barouche. cient for his needs, without lavishness. There was a wonderful beer wagon surAt irregular intervals he donned his old mounted by the great god Silenus and clothes, mounted his pony, and disap- attendant nymphs and satyrs, and bearpeared from the ken of men for a week ing aloft the sign of Hochelheimer's or two. But no one succeeded in con Brewery. necting these absences with the some But dazzling and resplendent above what frequent highway robberies which and beyond all others were the Grand varied the monotony of travel over the Marshal and his aids, in silken sashes dusty roads. Whatever his sources of and plumed hats, mounted on prancing supply, wherever his private mint or steeds with proudly-arching necks, and hidden bonanza, they remained undis beautiful wavy manes and tails that had covered.

all been carefully done up in crimps over The slight mystery of his life, which night. Saddled steeds pawed and reared, made him an object of some suspicion to bit at one another and lashed flies, at the mankind of his little world, rendered every hitching post in town. The élite him irresistible to the womankind, and drove about in rockaways, the female rare indeed was the maid who could re portion carrying fringed parasols and main quite insensible to the laughing chal wearing bonnets gay with artificial flowlenge of his frank blue eyes. This mystery ers, and wide strings tied under their was only in its incipiency, when the chins. Fourth-of-July ball, the great social

When the “Grand March " struck up event of the year, came off. This time at the ball at nine o'clock, they were all it was Boise's turn to have the “ Cele there, the wives and daughters of the bration," and Idaho City and Silver mining superintendents and professional City sent down their contingents to

men rather keeping in a little group to swell the procession, crowd the restaur themselves at one end of the floor, and ants, fill up the livery stables, overwork the miscellaneous mob, welcome at three the perspiring bar-tenders, and crowd dollars a ticket as long as they behaved the narrow wooden sidewalks. The Fire themselves, having a great deal better

time in the other nine tenths of the Walters saw her home that night. space.

Her little history he already knew. Her The hoopskirt was seeing its last days life had not been a cloudless one, and of glory, and the leaders of fashion were accounted for a suggestion of gravity in out in “gored” dresses, followed by a her demeanor that lent her an appearfew home-made ones amongst their imi ance of refinement unusual amongst her tators, which had a decided tendency to compeers. Six or seven years previous to sag at the seams. But the majority of the date of this true narrative she had the dancers of the gentler sex, young and come into the country with her mother old (and the old danced as often and joy- and father on top of the load in a prairie ously as the young), were quite content schooner. The father had preempted a with themselves in white or sprigged mus a ranch fifty miles from Boise at the foot lin with pink or blue sashes, or perhaps of the War Eagle Mountain, where he a tri-color one in honor of the occasion. had the first use of a little stream which

As for the men, they wore all sorts of issued out of a cañon, a precious possesclothes except a dress suit. That might sion in that thirsty land. have created an unpleasantness even in Susie was as happy as the day was that broad-minded and tolerant assem Jong, romping with the ill-favored ranch blage. The ball took place in a great dogs, chasing the calves, counting the tent borrowed from the Post, and erected little chickens to be sure none had got over a floor laid by the committee for the away since they were counted last time, occasion. Charlie Walters, in an irre- and watching the freight wagons or livery proachable costume, was floor manager, teams toiling or trotting across the sandy and set his quadrilles and blew his ivory desert and climbing past up into the whistle with such grace, and waltzed so cañon on the way to and fro between very, very well, that a rustle passed Boise and Silver City. They always over even that exclusive knot at the

stopped to water at the trough in front of upper end of the room when he turned

her father's door, and sometimes one that way on partner bent. However,

However, offered him a two-bit cigar, or handed Walters was not at all dazzled by these him the flask that came out of some marks of condescension, and more than handy pocket at such times. Always one noticed that he saved most of his they had a little joke with blonde-headed waltzes for one of the white muslin brig- Susie, standing open-eyed in the door ade, to whom he had been introduced for

way, and not infrequently a big red the first time that evening.

apple or a bag of candy was brought Little Susie Robins was a pretty, rather with forethought from town for "Robins's delicate-looking blonde just on the verge little girl.” Then, could she not follow of seventeen. She was rather of the

her daddy about, chatting to him ceasesandy type, with a row of little brown

lessly as he made irrigating ditches or freckles across the bridge of her nose dug post-holes; and later on, helping under ner gray eyes. But notwithstand him guide the rivulets about the roots ing the freckles and the somewhat ill of the newly planted fruit trees ? But made muslin, girded with a red and white that was an exciting occupation; to chase sash which proclaimed to all and sundry refractory rills and dam them up; to turn her Southern sympathies, she was de them right about face, and set them cidedly pretty, and her waltzing could dribbling where they were wanted, and not have been improved upon.

to keep them out of gopher holes ! But

[ocr errors]

her mother did not care for all these around with this one and that, her own delights, and every day grew more mistress pretty much, even when she silent and weary-eyed, looking out over went out to the ranch at times and kept the brownish-yellow desert, with the house for her father for two or three heat glimmer dancing above it, broken months. Knowing it all, Walters must only by a green line where the cotton have wondered how she could have woods grew along the Snake, twenty grown up so modest and maidenly. I miles away on the road to Boise.

think the scamp had a tender spot for Then one day when her daddy was her in what answered for his heart; for away a black-mustachioed man came he became her loyal-seeming knight along in a buggy with a high-stepping from the hour they met, and it was not pair of bays, and Susie and her mother, many months before it was understood dressed in their best, got in with him at they were engaged. the watering trough and were driven As for Susie, she adored her lover, away. Then there was a time of with his fine raiment and bantering ways, strangeness and confusion, her mother for Charley jested always. Sentiment sometimes very gay and loud-laughing, he certainly had none, and nothing was and sometimes crying, but always either too grim or too sacred for his dressed up and doing no work. Then lightly cynical mirth to blister it in passthere was a crowded room, hot and badlying. But then, many people thought ventilated, with men talking loudly at that just “his way," the way of a boy one another and to another man who sat

that liked to vaunt his experience of all up above them behind a big desk. Her

Her things, as boys do. While many people father was there, stern looking and yet fancied his methods of gaining a livelistrangely bowed and broken-looking too.

hood might not bear too close scrutiny, I Lots of people said things to the man at do not believe any of us gave him the desk about both her father and her credit for being a thorough-paced villain. mother, and she knew not one of them Some of those who knew him best, howwas true ; and yet when they asked her ever, as the sequel showed, had more some questions she only seemed to make belief in the serviceable quality of his everything worse by her answers. The moral callosity. end of it was, that her mother rushed to A year or more had passed away since her with wild words that she could not his debut among us, when one morning understand, and was taken away out of I chanced to be sitting in the justice's the room by five or six people, crying office, “swapping yarns" with Judge and screaming hysterically. Then her Bill and two or three other choice spirits, daddy took her by the hand so sternly as Susie Robins passed by. she did not dare resist or ask questions, “A pretty girl,” said Bryant, who was and led her out and gave her some sup

Uncle Sam's internal revenue collector per, and then put her in his farm wagon

there in those days. and drove her down the cañon, home. "Too pretty and too good to throw She never had seen her mother again, herself away on that scamp of a Walters,” and once or twice when she had asked responded Judge Bill with some warmth. her daddy about her, he had answered "They are to be married in a few weeks, in a way that silenced her at once. I hear." Since that time she had stayed mostly

" What does he do for a living, anyin Boise, going to school and boarding way?” queried Bryant.

" What does he do ?” answered Judge while he was dancing with her, the coldBill. “ He brands mavericks, gathers in blooded scoundrel. I know it as well as any and everything that's left lying if I saw it." around loose; and for sure, though no " Sit down! sit down !” said Judge body can prove it, is in with Simpson at Bill, “ and let us find out what you are the Ferry, and old Robins himself, and at. I'll issue no warrant for a man for two or three others, at every express murder without some evidence better robbery and underground transaction than suspicion." that 's going on through the whole coun Thus adjured, Simpson sat down, took try from here to Winnemucca. He says off his hat and mopped his brow, and he is going to buy out Robins and go to began his tale ; which, stripped of proranching with Susie. A nice gang they fanity and the digressions caused by are! And I am sorry for Susie, for she question and interruption, amounted to is too good to be mixed up with such an this. But before beginning to relate it, outfit."

it is imperative that the reader should “Hello!” said someone at this point, understand somewhat, the topography of "speaking of angels," and Simpson him the country. After crossing the Boise self walked in, accompanied by the River, about half a mile out of Boise,

, sheriff. They both had an air of re one climbed up a bench and stood on an pressed excitement, and Simpson looked alkali-seared tableland, a horned-toad tired ; and no wonder, for as it turned paradise, which stretched away fifty out, he had ridden thirty miles since miles to the foot of War Eagle Mountain. day break.

A little more than midway of the dis“What's up?" said Judge Bill. tance the sluggish, umber-brown current Lots is up," returned the sheriff. of the Snake cut a diagonal line across Simpson here will tell you the yarn.” the waste, and where the road from

"I want a warrant for Charlie Wal Boise to Silver City crossed it, there was ters," blurted out Simpson, "for the a swing-ferry. Here, in a little patch murder of Dick Robins last night."

reclaimed from the desert by water “What?"-"How? " When?" drawn up from the river by a wheel, "Where?"What for ?" came in Simpson held sway.

Twenty miles an astounded chorus from his hearers. farther on, Jay Robins's ranch at the

“I don't know for sure how or when," mountain's foot. Here the stage road said Simpson, “but he done it sure, and entered the cañon and climbed up ten I can show you where."

miles farther to Silver City, then a busy “Nonsense!” said Bryant. “I saw mining town. Waters at the Overland Hotel dance my Into the Ferry old Dick Robins had self last night with Susie.

ridden the night but one before, saying " The hell you did !" retorted Simp he was off tomorrow for Kansas. He

“ He never left my place till nigh had sold the ranch to Walters for three sundown last evening. Did you see old thousand dollars, and was going with Dick Robins too ?'

him to Boise the next day to conclude Bryant admitted that he had not, and the trade, get his money, say goodby to added that Walters had come in Jate, Susie, and take the stage for Salt Lake after eleven perhaps.

City ; and thence on to Kansas to buy a “ You bet," said Simpson, “and he band of cattle to drive back. had her father's blood on his hands, “I said to old Robins then," quoth

[ocr errors]

Simpson, “You know as well as I do more or less don't make no such all-fired Dick, that Charlie Walters hain't got no diffrunce to you.' three thousand dollars to pay fer no “But he on'y got mad. "Anybudy'd ranch. He's goin to bunco yer some think you wuz in the plot, 'sez he, way.' But old Robins thought he was laffin', 'an wuz a goin back on yer pal. too durned smart to be buncoed by I never saw no harm in Charlie Walters nobody. So the next morning I hitched that yer shud accuse him of wantin' to up, and me and my wife, we druv up to murder a man. An'any way, what for? Silver City to do some tradin', leavin' I ain't got no money on me, nor won't Dick to take care of the Ferry. Long have, till I get it from Charlie in Boise.' 'bout two o'clock when we wuz 'bout half So off they went.

When they down the grade comin' back, who shud started, Walters made Robins get in on overtake us but Charlie Walters, in a the right hand side of the buggy; said he C-spring buggy, drivin' them blacks of had strained his wrist with the fool Hank Summers's, the very best livery hosses, when they cut up in the afterteam in the Territory. He pulled up, noon, and that he was goin' to drive and insisted on my wife a gettin' out of

lef' handed. When they were gone, my the wagon, and ridin' in the buggy with wife looked at me, and says she, There's him. My wife don't like Walters, and some deviltry goin' on! There ain't she'd a good deal ruther not dun it, but nothin' the matter with his wrists, and we did n't neither of us want to offend he's got on Dick's blind side, with his him, so she climbed in with him, and pistol arm next him.' they druv on. When they'd got down “You all know, in course, that Robins out of the cañon and passed Robins 's had a glass eye in the lef' side of his ranch a ways, Walters see a chicken- head. Wall, the more me an my wife hawk a-sittin' on a grease wood, and he talked over it in the night, the less we out with his six-shooter, an' says, 'I liked it, and this mornin' I started off wonder if the horses 'll stand shootin'?' fust streak of dawn and came to Boise.

My wife was awful scart of the An if there's anybody in Boise that's horses and the gun both, and she begged seen Dick Robins I can't find him, and him not to shoot; but he only laffed at he did n't go off on the stage last night. her, and said there wa' n't no team that And what's more to the purpose, I folhe could n't handle, and up and takes a

lowed them buggy tracks all the way in, shot at the hawk. Wall, them horses and about half way between here and nigh upset the buggy fust jump, but Wal- the Ferry I kin show yer the place where ters kep’ as cool as a cowcumher, a them hosses cut up like the devil, and smilin' all the time, and got 'em down took a turn out into the sage brush like pretty quick, and says, 'I told yer they all possessed. An that's the spot where could n't get away with me.'

Charlie Walters shot my old pard, you “ Wall, he and Dick stayed to supper,

bet!” an long 'bout sun-down, they hitched up We all put our heads together after to drive into Boise. I took 'casion durin' this narration, you may be sure. Judge the afternoon to take Dick off to one Bill was very loath to brand a man with side an' tell him he was a damn fool fer murder on no better evidence than such ridin' in with Walters. Sez I, “Wait til as was adduced so far, and it was finally mornin' an ride yer own hoss in an take agreed that the warrant should be issued, the day to finish up yer trade. One day placed in the hands of the sheriff, and

VOL. xxvi.-13.

« AnteriorContinuar »