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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJoe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 27. Two Tragic Stories
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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 27. Two Tragic Stories Post by :waytogo-store Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2148

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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 27. Two Tragic Stories

CHAPTER XXVII. TWO TRAGIC STORIES

They rode on for about an hour and a half. Joshua's steed, placated by his good supper, behaved very well. Their ride was still through the canon. Presently it became too dark for them to proceed.

"Ain't we gone about fur enough for to-night?" asked Joshua.

"Perhaps we have," answered Joe.

"Here's a good place to camp," suggested the man from Pike County, pointing to a small grove of trees to the right.

"Very well; let us dismount," said Joe. "I think we can pass the night comfortably."

They dismounted, and tied their beasts together under one of the trees. They then threw themselves down on a patch of greensward near-by.

"I'm gettin' hungry," said Joshua. "Ain't you, Joe?"

"Yes, Mr. Bickford. We may as well take supper."

Mr. Bickford produced a supper of cold, meat and bread, and placed it between Joe and himself.

"Won't you share our supper?" said Joe to their companion.

"Thank ye, stranger, I don't mind if I do," answered the Pike man, with considerable alacrity. "My fodder give out this mornin', and I hain't found any place to stock up."

He displayed such an appetite that Mr. Bickford regarded him with anxiety. They had no more than sufficient for themselves, and the prospect of such a boarder was truly alarming.

"You have a healthy appetite, my friend," he said.

"I generally have," said the Pike man. "You'd orter have some whisky, strangers, to wash it down with."

"I'd rather have a good cup of coffee sweetened with 'lasses, sech as marm makes to hum," remarked Mr. Bickford.

"Coffee is for children, whisky for strong men," said the Roarer.

"I prefer the coffee," said Joe.

"Are you temperance fellers?" inquired the Pike man contemptuously.

"I am," said Joe.

"And I, too," said Joshua.

"Bah!" said the other disdainfully; "I'd as soon drink skim-milk. Good whisky or brandy for me."

"I wish we was to your restaurant, Joe," said Joshua. "I kinder hanker after some good baked beans. Baked beans and brown bread are scrumptious. Ever eat 'em, stranger?"

"No," said the Pike man; "none of your Yankee truck for me."

"I guess you don't know what's good," said Mr. Bickford. "What's your favorite vittles?"

"Bacon and hominy, hoe-cakes and whisky."

"Well," said Joshua, "it depends on the way a feller is brung up. I go for baked beans and brown bread, and punkin pie--that's goloptious. Ever eat punkin pie, stranger?"

"Yes."

"Like it?"

"I don't lay much on it."

Supper was over and other subjects succeeded. The Pike County man became social.

"Strangers," said he, "did you ever hear of the affair I had with Jack Scott?"

"No," said Joshua. "Spin it off, will you?"

"Jack and me used to be a heap together. We went huntin' together, camped out for weeks together, and was like two brothers. One day we was ridin' out, when a deer started up fifty rods ahead. We both raised our guns and shot at him. There was only one bullet into him, and I knowed that was mine."

"How did you know it?" inquired Joshua.

"Don't you get curious, stranger. I knowed it, and that was enough. But Jack said it was his. 'It's my deer,' he said, 'for you missed your shot.' 'Look here, Jack,' said I, 'you're mistaken. You missed it. Don't you think I know my own bullet?' 'No, I don't,' said he. 'Jack,' said I calmly, 'don't talk that way. It's dangerous.' 'Do you think I'm afraid of you?' he said, turning on me. 'Jack,' said I, 'don't provoke me. I can whip my weight in wildcats.' 'You can't whip me,' said he. That was too much for me to stand. I'm the Rip-tail Roarer from Pike County, Missouri, and no man can insult me and live. 'Jack,' said I, 'we've been friends, but you've insulted me, and it must be washed out in blood.' Then I up with my we'pon and shot him through the head."

"Sho!" said Joshua.

"I was sorry to do it, for he was my friend," said the Pike County man, "but he disputed my word, and the man that does that may as well make his will if he's got any property to leave."

Here the speaker looked to see what effect was produced upon his listeners. Joe seemed indifferent. He saw through the fellow, and did not credit a word he said. Joshua had been more credulous at first, but he, too, began to understand the man from Pike County. The idea occurred to him to pay him back in his own coin.

"Didn't the relatives make any fuss about it?" he inquired. "Didn't they arrest you for murder?"

"They didn't dare to," said the Pike man proudly. "They knew me. They knew I could whip my weight in wildcats and wouldn't let no man insult me."

"Did you leave the corpse lyin' out under the trees?" asked Joshua.

"I rode over to Jack's brother and told him what I had done, and where he'd find the body. He went and buried it."

"What about the deer?"

"What deer?"

"The deer you killed and your friend claimed?"

"Oh," said the Pike man, with sudden recollection, "I told Jack's brother he might have it."

"Now, that was kinder handsome, considerin' you'd killed your friend on account of it."

"There ain't nothin' mean about me," said the man from Pike County.

"I see there ain't," said Mr. Bickford dryly. "It reminds me of a little incident in my own life. I'll tell you about it, if you hain't any objection."

"Go ahead. It's your deal."

"You see, the summer I was eighteen, my cousin worked for dad hayin' time. He was a little older'n me, and he had a powerful appetite, Bill had. If it wasn't for that, he'd 'a' been a nice feller enough, but at the table he always wanted more than his share of wittles. Now, that ain't fair, no ways--think it is, stranger?"

"No! Go ahead with your story."

"One day we sat down to dinner. Marm had made some apple-dumplin' that day, and 'twas good, you bet. Well, I see Bill a-eyin' the dumplin' as he shoveled in the meat and pertaters, and I knowed he meant to get more'n his share. Now, I'm fond of dumplin' as well as Bill, and I didn't like it. Well, we was both helped and went to eatin'. When I was half through I got up to pour out some water. When I cum back to the table Bill had put away his plate, which he had cleaned off, and was eatin' my dumplin'."

"What did you say?" inquired the gentleman from Pike, interested.

"I said: 'Bill, you're my cousin, but you've gone too fur.' He laffed, and we went into the field together to mow. He was just startin' on his swath when I cum behind him and cut his head clean off with my scythe."

Joe had difficulty in suppressing his laughter, but Mr. Bickford looked perfectly serious.

"Why, that was butchery!" exclaimed the Pike man, startled. "Cut off his head with a scythe?"

"I hated to, bein' as he was my cousin," said Joshua, "but I couldn't have him cum any of them tricks on me. I don't see as it's any wuss than shootin' a man."

"What did you do with his body?" asked Joe, commanding his voice.

"Bein' as 'twas warm weather, I thought I'd better bury him at once."

"Were you arrested?"

"Yes, and tried for murder, but my lawyer proved that I was crazy when I did it, and so I got off."

"Do such things often happen at the North?" asked the Pike County man.

"Not so often as out here and down South, I guess," said Joshua. "It's harder to get off. Sometimes a man gets hanged up North for handlin' his gun too careless."

"Did you ever kill anybody else?" asked the Pike man, eying Joshua rather uneasily.

"No," said Mr. Bickford. "I shot one man in the leg and another in the arm, but that warn't anything serious."

It was hard to disbelieve Joshua, he spoke with such apparent frankness and sincerity. The man from Pike County was evidently puzzled, and told no more stories of his own prowess. Conversation, died away, and presently all three were asleep.

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