Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesDawson & Rudd, Partners
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Dawson & Rudd, Partners Post by :trymelast.com Category :Short Stories Author :Alfred Henry Lewis Date :September 2011 Read :1806

Click below to download : Dawson & Rudd, Partners (Format : PDF)

Dawson & Rudd, Partners

"Whatever's the difference between the East an' the West?" said the Old Cattleman, repeating my question rather for the purpose of consideration than from any failure to understand: "What's the difference between the East an' the West? Which, so far as I notes, to relapse into metaphor, as you-alls says, the big difference is that the East allers shoots from a rest; while the West shoots off hand.

"The West shore learns easy an' is quick to change a system or alter a play. It's plumb swift, the West is; an' what some regards as rough is mere rapidity. The West might go broke at faro-bank in the mornin', an' be rich at roulette in the afternoon; you can't tell. I knows partners in Arizona who rolls out in the gray light of breakin' day an' begins work by dissolvin' an' windin' up the firm's affairs. By dark them same gents is pards ag'in in a new enterprise complete. Folks'll fight at sun-up an' cook their chile con carne together at night, an' then sleep onder the same blankets. For which causes thar's no prophets in the West; a Western future that a-way bein' so mighty oncertain no prophet can fasten his lariat.

"Speakin' of pards an' the fog which surrounds what the same is likely to do, makes me think of the onlicensed an' onlooked-for carryin's-on of 'Doby Dawson an' Copper Queen Billy Rudd. Them two gents fosters a feud among themse'fs that splits 'em wide open an' keeps 'em pesterin' each other for years; which the doin's of them locoed people is the scandal of Wolfville while it lasts.

"It's mebby the spring after we erects the Bird Cage Op'ry House, an' Wolfville is gettin' to be considerable of a camp. We-alls is organized for a shore-'nough town, an Jack Moore is a shore-'nough marshal, with Enright for alcalde that a-way, an' thar's a heap of improvements.

"When I first tracks into Wolfville, cows is what you might call the leadin' industry, with whiskey an' faro-bank on the side. But in the days of 'Doby Dawson an' Copper Queen Billy Rudd, ore has been onearthed, the mines is opened, an' Wolfville's swelled tremendous. We-alls even wins a county-seat fight with Red Dog, wherein we puts it all over that ornery hamlet; an' we shorely deals the game for the entire region.

"As I states, it's the spring after we promotes the Bird Cage Op'ry House--which temple of amoosements is complete the fall before--that 'Doby an' Billy turns up in Wolfville. I knows she's spring, for I'm away workin' the round-up at the time, an' them gents is both thar drunk when I comes in.

"'Doby an' Billy's been pards for ten years. They's miner folks, an' 'Doby tells me himse'f one day that him an' Billy has stood in on every mine excitement from Alaska to Lower Californy. An' never once does they get their trails crossed or have a row.

"The two gents strikes at Wolfville when the mines is first opened, an' stakes out three claims; one for 'Doby, one for Billy. an' one for both of 'em. They's camped off up a draw about half a mile from town, where their claims is, an' has a little cabin an' seems to be gettin' along peaceful as a church; an' I reckons thar's' no doubt but they be.

"When 'Doby an' Billy first comes caperin' into Wolfville they's that thick an' friendly with each other, it's a shame to thieves. I recalls how their relations that a-way excites general admiration, an' Doc Peets even goes so far he calls 'em 'Jonathan an' David.' Which Peets would have kept on callin' 'em 'Jonathan an' David' plumb through, but Billy gets hostile.

"'It ain't me I cares for,' says Billy,--which he waits on Doc Peets with his gun,--'but no gent's goin' to malign 'Doby Dawson none an' alloode to him as 'Jonathan' without rebooke.'

"Seein' it pains Billy, an' as thar ain't even a white chip in mere nomenclature that a-way, of course Doc Peets don't call 'em 'Jonathan an' David' no more.

"'Doby an' Billy's been around mighty likely six months. The camp gets used to 'em an' likes 'em. They digs an' blasts away in them badger-holes they calls shafts all day, an' then comes chargin' down to the Red Light at night. After the two is drunk successful, they mutually takes each other home. An' as they lines out for their camp upholdin' an' he'pin' of each other, an' both that dead soaked in nose-paint they long before abandons tryin' to he'p themse'fs, I tells you, son, their love is a picture an' a lesson.

"'Which the way them pore, locoed sots,' says Old Man Enright one night, as 'Doby an' Billy falls outen the Red Light together, an' then turns in an' assists each other to rise,--'which the way them pore darkened drunkards rides herd on each other, an' is onse'fish an' generous that a-way, an' backs each other's play, is as good as sermons. You-all young men,' says Enright, turnin' on Jack Moore an' Boggs an' Tutt, 'you-all imatoor bucks whose character ain't really formed none yet, oughter profit plenty by their example.'

"As I remarks, 'Doby an' Billy's been inhabitin' Wolfville for mighty hard on six months when the trouble between 'em first shows its teeth. As Billy walks out one mornin' to sniff the climate some, he remarks a Mexican--which his name is Jose Salazar, but don't cut no figger nohow--sorter 'propriatin' of a mule.

"'The same,' as Billy says, in relatin' the casooalty later, 'bein' our star mule.'

"Nacherally, on notin' the misdeeds of this yere Greaser, Billy reaches inside the cabin, an' sorts out a Winchester an' plugs said culprit in among his thoughts, an tharby brings his mule-rustlin' an' his reflections to a pause some.

"It's two hours later, mebby, when the defunct's daughter--the outfit abides over in Chihuahua, which is the Mexican part of Wolfville--goes to a show-down with 'Doby an' Billy an wants to know does she get the corpse?

"'Shore,' says 'Doby, 'which we-alls has no further use for your paw, an' his remainder is free an' welcome to you. You can bet me an' Billy ain't holdin' out no paternal corpses none on their weepin' offsprings.'

"Followin' of his bluff, 'Doby goes over an' consoles with the Mexican's daughter, which her name's Manuela, an' she don't look so bad neither. Doc Peets, whose jedgement of females is a cinch, allows she's as pretty as a diamond flush, an' you can gamble Doc Peets ain't makin no blind leads when it's a question of squaws.

"So 'Doby consoles this yere Manuela a whole lot, while Billy, who's makin' coffee an' bakin'. powder biscuit inside, don't really notice he's doin' it. Fact is, Billy's plumb busy. The New York Store havin' changed bakin'-powder onto us the week before--the same redoocin' biscuits to a conundrum for a month after--an' that bakin'-powder change sorter engagin' Billy's faculties wholly, he forgets about deceased an' his daughter complete; that is, complete temporary. Later, when the biscuits is done an' offen his mind, Billy recalls all about it ag'in.

"'But 'Doby, who's a good talker an' a mighty tender gent that a- way, jumps in an' comforts Manuela, an' shows her how this mule her paw is stealin' is by way an' far the best mule in camp, an' at last she dries her tears an' allows in her language that she's growin' resigned. 'Doby winds up by he'pin' Manuela home with what's left of her paw.

"'Which it's jest like that 'Doby,' says Billy, when he hears of his partner packin' home his prey that a-way, an' his tones shows he admires 'Doby no limit, 'which it's shorely like him. Take folks in distress, an' you-alls can bet your last chip 'Doby can't do too much for 'em.' "Billy's disgust sets in like the rainy season, however, when about two months later 'Doby ups an' weds this Mexican girl Manuela. When Billy learns of said ceremony, he declines a seat in the game, an' won't go near them nuptials nohow.

"'An' I declar's myse'f right yere,' says Billy. 'From now for'ard it's a case of lone hand with me. I don't want no more partners. When a gent with whom for ten years I've camped, trailed, an' prospected with, all the way from the Dalls to the Gila, quits me cold an' clammy for a squaw he don't know ten weeks, you can gamble that lets me plumb out. I've done got my med'cine. an' I'm ready to quit.'

"But 'Doby an' Billy don't actooally make no assignment, nor go into what you-all Eastern sharps calls liquidation. The two goes on an' works their claims together, an' the firm name still waves as 'Doby Dawson an' Copper Queen Billy Rudd,' only Billy won't go into 'Doby's new wickeyup where he's got Manuela,--not a foot.

"'Which I might have conquered my native reluctance,' says Billy, 'so to do, an' I even makes up my mind one night--it's after I've got my grub, an' you-alls knows how plumb soft an' forgivin' that a- way a gent is when his stomach's full of grub--to go up an' visit 'em a lot. But as I gets to the door I hears a noise I don't savey; an' when I Injuns up to a crack an' surveys the scene, I'm a coyote if thar ain't 'Doby, with his wife in his lap, singin' to her. That's squar'; actooally singin'; which sech efforts reminds me of ballards by cinnamon b'ars.

"'I ain't none shore,' goes on Billy, as he relates about it to me, 'but I'd stood sech egreegious plays, chargin' it general to 'Doby's gettin' locoed an' mushy; but when this yere ingrate ends his war- song, what do you-all reckon now he does? Turns in an' begins 'pologizin' for me downin' her dad. Which the old hold-up is on the mule an' goin' hell-bent when I curls him up. Well, that ends things with me. I turns on my heels an' goes down to the Red Light an' gets drunk plumb through. You recalls it; the time I'm drunk a month, an' Cherokee Hall bars me at faro-bank, allowin' I'm onconscious of my surroundin's.'

"Billy goes on livin' at their old camp, an' 'Doby an' Manuela at the new one 'Doby built. This last is mebby four hundred yards more up the draw. Durin' the day 'Doby an' Billy turns in an' works an' digs an' drills an' blasts together as of yore. The main change is that at evenin' Billy gets drunk alone; an' as 'Doby ain't along to he'p Billy home an' need Billy's he'p to get home, lots of times Billy falls by the trail an' puts in the night among the mesquite- bushes an' the coyotes impartial.

"This yere goes on for plumb a year, an' while things is cooler an' more distant between 'em, same as it's bound to be when two gents sleeps in different camps, still 'Doby an' Billy is trackin' along all right. One mornin', however, Billy goes down to the holes they's projectin' over, but no 'Doby shows up. It goes on ontil mighty likely fifth-drink time that forenoon, an' as Billy don't see no trace, sign, nor signal-smoke of his pard, he gets oneasy.

"'It's a fact,' says Billy afterward, 'thar's hours when I more'n half allows this yere squaw of 'Doby's has done took a knife, or some sech weepon, an' gets even with 'Doby, while he sleeps, for me pluggin' her paw about the mule. It's this yere idee which takes me outen the shaft I'm sinkin', an' sends me cavortin' up to 'Doby's camp. I passes a resolution on my way that if she's cashed 'Doby's chips for him that a-way, I'll shorely sa'nter over an' lay waste all Chihuahua to play even for the blow.'

"But as all turns out, them surmises of Billy's is idle. He gets mebby easy six-shooter distance from the door, when he discerns a small cry like a fox-cub's whine. Billy listens, an' the yelp comes as cl'ar on his years as the whistle of a curlew. Billy tumbles.

"'I'm a Chinaman,' says Billy, 'if it ain't a kid!'

"So he backs off quiet an' noiseless ontil he's dead safe, an' then he lifts the long yell for 'Doby. When 'Doby emerges he confirms them beliefs of Billy's; it's a kid shore-'nough.

"'Boy or girl?' says Billy.

"'Boy,' says 'Doby.'

"'Which I shorely quits you cold if it's a girl; says Billy. 'As it is, I stands by you in your troubles. I ain't none s'prised at your luck, 'Doby,' goes on Billy. ' I half foresees some sech racket as this the minute you gets married. However, if it's a boy she goes. I ain't the gent to lay down on an old-time runnin'-mate while luck's ag'in him; an' I'll still be your partner an' play out my hand.'

"Of course, 'Doby has to go back to lookout his game. An' as Billy's that rent an' shaken by them news he can't work none, he takes two or three drinks of nose-paint, an' then promulgates as how it's a holiday. Billy feels, too, that while this yere's a blow, still it's a great occasion; an' as he takes to feelin' his whiskey an' roominatin' on the tangled state of affairs, it suddenly strikes him he'll jest nacherally close up the trail by the house.

"'Women is frail people an' can't abide noises that a-way,' says Billy, 'an' 'Doby's shore lookin' some faded himse'f. I reckons, tharfore, I'll sorter stop commerce along this yere thoroughfar' ontil further orders. What 'Doby an' his squaw needs now is quietood an' peace, an' you can wager all you-alls is worth they ain't goin' to suffer no disturbances.'

"It ain't half an hour after this before Billy's got two signs, both down an' up the trail, warnin' of people to hunt another wagon- track. The signs is made outen pine boards, an' Billy has marked this yere motto onto 'em with a burnt stick


"'DOBY'S GOT A PAPOOSE,
SO
PULL YOUR FREIGHT."


"It ain't no time after Billy posts his warnin's, an' he's still musin' over 'em mighty reflective, when along projects a Mexican with a pair of burros he's packin' freight on. The Mexican's goin' by the notices witbout payin' the least heed tharto. But this don't do Billy, an' he stands him up.

"'Can you read?' says Billy to the Mexican, at the same time p'intin' to the signs.

"The Mexican allows in Spanish--which the same Billy saveys an' palavers liberal--that he can't read. Then he p'ints out to go by ag'in.

"'No you don't none, onless in the smoke; says Billy, an' throws a gun on him. 'Pause where you be, my proud Castilian, an' I'll flood your darkened ignorance with light by nacherally readin' this yere inscription to you a whole lot.'

"Tharupon Billy reads off the notice a heap impressive, an' winds up by commandin' of the Mexican to line out on the trail back.

"'Vamos!' says Billy. 'Which if you insists on pushin' along through yere I'll turn in an' crawl your hump some.'

"But the Mexican gets ugly as a t'ran'tler at this, an' with one motion he lugs out a six-shooter an' onbosoms the same.

"Billy is a trifle previous with a gun himse'f, an' while the Mexican is mighty abrupt, he gets none the best of Billy. Which the outcome is the Mexican's shot plumb dead in his moccasins, while Billy takes a small crease on his cheek, the same not bein' deadly. Billy then confiscates the burros.

"'Which I plays 'em in for funeral expenses,' says Billy, an' is turnin' of 'em into the corral by his camp jest as 'Doby comes prancin' out with a six-shooter to take part in whatever game is bein' rolled.

"When 'Doby sees Billy's signs that a-way, he's 'fected so he weeps tears. He puts his hands on Billy's shoulder, an' lookin' at him, while his eyes is swimmin', he says:

"'Billy, you-all is the thoughtfullest pard that ever lived.'

"'Doby throws so much soul into it, an' him givin' 'way to emotions, it comes mighty near onhingin' Billy.

"'I knows I be,' he says, shakin' 'Doby by the hand for a minute, 'but, Old Man, you deserves it. It's comin' to you, an' you bet your life you're goin' to get it. With some folks this yere would be castin' pearls before swine, but not with you, 'Doby. You can 'preciate a play, an' I'm proud to be your partner.'

"The next few months goes on, an' 'Doby an' Billy keeps peggin' away at their claims, an' gettin' drunk an' rich about equal. Billy is still that reedic'lous he won't go up to 'Doby's camp; but 'Doby comes over an' sees him frequent. The first throw out of the box Billy takes a notion ag'in the kid an' allows he don't want no traffic with him,--none whatever.

"But 'Doby won't have it that a-way, an' when it's about six months old he packs said infant over one mornin' while Billy's at breakfast.

"'Ain't he hell!' says 'Doby, a heap gleeful, at the same time sawin' the infant onto Billy direct.

"Of course Billy has to hold him then. Which he acts like he's a hot tamale, an' shifts him about in his arms. But it's plain he ain't so displeased neither. At last the kid reaches out swift an' cinches onto Billy's beard that a-way. This delights Billy, while 'Doby keeps trackin' 'round the room too tickled to set down. All he can remark--an' he does it frequent, like it tells the entire story--is:

"'Billy, ain't he hell?'

"An' Billy ain't none back'ard admittin' he is, an' allows on hesitatin' it's the hunkiest baby in Arizona.

"'An' I've got dust into the thousands,' remarks Billy, 'which says he's the prize papoose of the reservation, an' says it ten to one. This yere offspring is a credit to you, 'Doby, an' I marvels you-all is that modest over it.'

"'You can bet it ain't no Siwash,' says 'Doby. 'It's clean strain, that infant is, if I does say it.'

"'That's whatever.' says Billy. looking the infant over an' beginnin' to feel as proud of it as 'Doby himse'f, 'that's whatever. An' I'm yere to remark, any gent who can up an' without no talk or boastin' have such a papoose as that, is licensed to plume himse'f tharon, an' put on dog over it, the same without restraint. If ever you calls the turn for the limit, pard, it's when you has this yere child.'

"At this 'Doby an' Billy shakes hands like it's a ceremony, an' both is grave an' dignified about it. 'Doby puts it up that usual he's beyond flattery, but when a gent of jedgement like Billy looks over a play that a-way, an' indorses it, you can bet he's not insensible. Then they shakes hands ag'in, an' 'Doby says:

"'Moreover, not meanin' no compliments, nor tossin' of no boquets, old pard, me an' Manuela names this young person "Willyum"; same as you-all.'

"Billy comes mighty near droppin' the infant on the floor at this, an' the small victim of his onthoughtfulness that a-way yells like a coyote.

"'That settles it,' says Billy. 'A gent who could come down to blastin' an' drillin'--mere menial tasks, as they shorely be--on the heels of honor like this, is a mighty sight more sordid than Copper Queen Billy Rudd. 'Doby, this yere is a remarkable occasion, an' we cel'brates.'

"By this time the infant is grown plumb hostile, an' is howlin' to beat the band; so 'Doby puts it up he'll take him to his mother an' afterwards he's ready to join Billy in an orgy.

"'I jest nacherally stampedes back to the agency with this yere Willyum child,' says 'Doby, an' then we-alls repairs to the Red Light an' relaxes.'

"They shorely does-I don't recall no sech debauch--that is, none so extreme an' broadcast--since Wolfville and Red Dog engages in them Thanksgiviin' exercises.

"Doby an' Billy, as time goes by, allers alloods to the infant as 'Willyum,' so's not to get him an' Billy mixed; an' durin' the next two years, while Billy still goes shy so far as trackin' over to 'Doby's ranch is concerned, as soon as he walks, Willyum comes down the canyon to see Billy every day.

"Oh, no, Billy ain't none onforgivin' to Manuela for ropin' up 'Doby an' weddin' him that a-way; but you see downin' her paw for stealin' the mule that time gets so it makes him bashful an' reluctant.

"'It ain't that I'm timorous neither, nor yet assoomin' airs,' this yere Billy says to me when he brings it up himse'f how he don't go over to 'Doby's, 'but I'm never no hand to set 'round an' visit free an' easy that a-way with the posterity of a gent which I has had cause to plant. This yere ain't roodness; it's scrooples,' says Billy, 'an' so it's plumb useless for me to go gettin' sociable with 'Doby's wife.'

"It's crowdin' close on two years after the infant's born when 'Doby an' Billy gets up their feud which I speaks of at the beginnin'. Yere's how it gets fulminated. Billy's loafin' over by the post- office door one evenin', talkin' to Tutt an' Boggs an' a passel of us, when who comes projectin' along, p'intin' for the New York Store, but 'Doby's wife an' Willyum. As they trails by, Willyum sees Billy--Willyum can make a small bluff at talkin' by now--an', p'intin' his finger at Billy, he sags back on his mother's dress like he aims to halt her, an' says:

"'Pop-pa! Pop-pa!' meanin' Billy that a-way; although the same is erroneous entire, as every gent in Wolfville knows.

"'Which if Willyum's forefinger he p'ints with

is a Colt's forty-four, an' instead of sayin' 'Poppa!' he onhooks the same at Billy direct, now I don't reckon Billy could have been more put out. 'Doby's wife drags Willyum along at the time like he's a calf goin' to be branded, an' she never halts or pauses. But Billy turns all kinds of hues, an' is that prostrated he surges across to the Red Light an' gets two drinks alone, never invitin' nobody, before he realizes. When he does invite us he admits frank he's plumb locoed for a moment by the shock.

"'You bet!' says Billy, as he gets his third drink, the same bein' took in common with the pop'lace present, 'you bet! thar ain't a gent in camp I'd insult by no neglect; but when Willyum makes them charges an' does it publicly, it onhinges my reason, an' them two times I don't invite you-alls, I'm not responsible.'

"We-alls sees Billy's wounded, an' tharfore it's a ha'r-line deal to say anythin'; but as well as we can we tells him that what Willyum says, that a-way, bein' less'n two year old, is the mere prattle of a child, an' he's not to be depressed by it.

"'Sech breaks,' says Dan Boggs, 'is took jocose back in the States.'

"'Shore!' says Texas Thompson, backin' Boggs's play; 'them little bluffs of infancy, gettin' tangled that a-way about their progenitors, is regarded joyous in Laredo. Which thar's not the slightest need of Billy bein' cast down tharat.'

"'I ain't sayin' a word, gents,' remarks Billy, an' his tones is sad. You-alls means proper an friendly. But I warns the world at this time that I now embarks on the spree of my life. I'm goin to get drunk an' never hedge a bet; an my last requests, the same bein' addressed to the barkeep, personal, is to set every bottle of bug- juice in the shebang on the bar, thar to repose within the reach of all ontil further orders.'

"It's about an hour later, an' Billy, who's filed away a quart of fire-water in his interior by now, is vibratin' between the Red Light an' the dance-hall, growin' drunk an' dejected even up. It's then he sees 'Doby headin' up the street. 'Doby hears of his son Willyum's wild play from his wife, an' it makes him hot that a-way. But he ain't no notion of blamin' Billy; none whatever.

"However, 'Doby don't have entire charge of the round-up, an' he has to figger with Billy right along.

"'Doby,' shouts Billy, as he notes his pard approachin', while he balances himse'f in his moccasins a heap difficult, ''Doby, your infant Willyum is a eediot. Which if I was the parent of a fool papoose like Willyum, I'd shorely drop him down a shaft a whole lot an' fill up the shaft. He won't assay two ounces of sense to the ton, Willyum won't; an' he ain't worth powder an' fuse to work him. Actooally, that pore imbecile baby Willyum, don't know his own father.'

"Which the rage of 'Doby is beyond bounds complete. For about half a minute him an' Billy froths an' cusses each other out scand'lous, an' then comes the guns. The artillery is a case of s'prise, the most experienced gent in Wolfville not loekin' for no gun-play between folks who's been pards an' blanket-mates for years.

"However, it don't last long; it looks like both gets sorter conscience-stricken that a-way, an' lets up. Still, while it's short, it's long enough for Billy to get his laig ousted with one of 'Doby's bullets, an' it all lays Billy up for Doc Peets to fuss with for over three months.

"While Billy's stretched out, an' Doe Peets is ridin' herd on his laig, 'Doby keeps as savage as an Apache an' don't come near Billy. The same, however, ain't full proof of coldness, neither; for Billy's done give it out he'll down 'Doby if he pokes his head in the door, an' arranges his guns where he can work 'em in on the enterprise easy.

"But Willyum don't take no stand-off. The last thing Willyum's afraid of is Billy; so he comes waltzin' over each day, clumsy as a cub cinnamon on his short laigs, an' makes himse'f plumb abundant. He plays with Billy, an' he sleeps with Billy, Willyum does; an' he eats every time the nigger, who's come over from the corral to lookout Billy's domestic game while he's down, rustles some grub.

"'Doby's disgusted with Willyum's herdin' 'round with Billy that a- way, bein' sociable an' visitin' of him, an' he lays for Willyum an' wallops him. When Billy learns of it--which he does from Willyum himse'f when that infant p'ints in for a visit the day after--he's as wild as a mountain lion. Billy can't get out none, for his laig is a heap fragmentary as yet,--'Doby's bullet gettin' all the results which is comin' that time,--but he sends 'Doby word by Peets, if he hears of any more punishments bein' meted to Willyum, he regards it as a speshul affront to him, an' holds 'Doby responsible personal as soon as he can hobble.

"'Tell him,' says Billy, 'that if he commits any further atrocities ag'in this innocent Willyum child, I'll shore leave him too dead to skin.'

"'This yere Billy's gettin' locoed entire,' says Enright, when he's told of Billy's bluff. 'The right to maul your immediate descendants that a-way is guaranteed by the constitootion, an' is one of them things we-alls fights for at Bunker Hill. However, I reckons Billy's merely blowin' his horn; bein' sick an' cantankerous with his game knee.'

"Billy gets well after a while, an' him an' 'Doby sorter plans to avoid each other. Whatever work they puts in on the claim they holds in partnership, they hires other gents to do. Personal, each works the claim he holds himse'f, which keeps 'em asunder a whole lot, an' is frootful of peace.' "Deep inside their shirts I allers allows these yere persons deems high an' 'fectionate of one another right at the time they's hangin' up their hardest bluffs an' carryin' on most hostile. Which trivial incidents discloses this.

"Once in the Red Light, when a party who's new from Tucson, turns in to tell some light story of Billy,--him not bein' present none,-- 'Doby goes all over this yere racontoor like a landslide, an' retires him from s'ciety for a week. An' 'Doby don't explain his game neither; jest reprimands this offensive Tucson gent, an' lets it go as it lays. Of course, we-alls onderstands it's 'cause 'Doby ain't puttin' up with no carpin' criticism of his old pard; which the same is nacheral enough.

"Don't you-all ever notice, son, how once you takes to fightin' for a party an' indorsin' of his plays, it gets to be a habit,--same, mebby, as fire-water? Which you lays for his detractors an' pulls on war for him that a-way long after you ceases to have the slightest use for him yourse'f. It's that a-way with 'Doby about Billy.

"An' this yere Billy's feelin's about 'Doby is heated an' sedulous all sim'lar. 'Doby gets laid out for a week by rheumatics, which he acquires years before--he shore don't rope onto them rheumatics none 'round Wolfville, you can gamble! said camp bein' salooberous that a-way--over on the Nevada plateaus, an' while he's treed an' can't come down to his claim, a passel of sharps ups an' mavericks it; what miners calls 'jumps it.' Whatever does Billy do? Paints for war prompt an' enthoosiastic, takes his gun, an' the way he stampedes an' scatters them marauders don't bother him a bit.

"But while, as I states, this yere trick of makin' war-med'cine which 'Doby an' Billy has, an' schedoolin' trouble for folks who comes projectin' 'round invadin' of the other's rights, mebby is a heap habit, I gleans from it the idee likewise that onder the surface they holds each other in esteem to a p'int which is romantic.

"Doby an' Billy lives on for a year after 'Doby plugs Billy in the laig, keepin' wide apart an' not speakin'. Willyum is got so he puts in most of his nights an' all of his days with Billy; which the spectacle of Billy packin' Willyum about camp nights is frequent. 'Doby never 'pears to file no protest; I reckons he looks on it as a fore-ordained an' hopeless play. However, Billy's a heap careful of Willyum's morals, an' is shorely linin' him up right.

"Once a new barkeep in the dance-hall allows he'll promote Willyum's feelin's some with a spoonful of nose-paint.

"'No, you don't,' says Billy, plenty savage; 'an' since the matter comes up I announces cold that, now or yereafter, the first gent who saws off nose-paint on Willyum, or lays for the morals of this innocent infant to corrupt 'em, I'll kill an' skelp him so shore as I packs gun or knife.'

"'Which shows,' said Dan Boggs later, when he hears of Billy's blazer, 'that this yere Billy Rudd is a mighty high-minded gent, an' you-alls can play it to win he has my regards. He can count me in on this deal to keep Willyum from strong drinks.'

"'I thinks myse'f he's right,' says Cherokee Hall. 'Willyum is now but three years old, which is shore not aged. My idee would be to raise Willyum, an' not let him drink a drop of nose-paint ever, merely to show the camp what comes of sech experiments.'

"But Billy's that pos'tive an' self-reliant he don't need no encouragement about how he conducts Willyum's habits; an', followin' his remarks, Willyum allers gets ignored complete on invitations to licker. Packin' the kid 'round that a-way shortens up Billy's booze a lot, too. He don't feel so free to get tanked expansive with Willyum on his mind an' hands that a-way.

"It's shorely a picture, the tenderness Billy lavishes on Willyum. Many a night when Billy's stayin' late, tryin' to win himse'f outen the hole, I beholds him playin' poker, or mebby it's farebank, with Willyum curled up on his lap an' shirt-front, snorin' away all sound an' genial, an' Billy makin' his raises an' callin' his draw to the dealer in whispers, for fear he wakes Willyum.

"But thar comes a time when the feud is over, an' 'Doby an' Billy turns in better friends than before. For a month mebby thar's a Mexican girl--which she's a cousin that a-way or some kin to 'Doby's wife--who's been stayin' at 'Doby's house, sorter backin' their play.

"It falls out frequent this Mexican girl, Marie, trails over to Billy's, roundin' up an' collectin' of Willyum to put another shirt onto him, or some sech benefit. Billy never acts like he's impressed by this yere girl, an', while he relinquishes Willyum every time, he growls an' puts it up he's malev'lent over it.

"But the seniorita is game, an' don't put no store by Billy's growls. She ropes up Willyum an' drags him away mighty decisive. Willyum howls an' calls on Billy for aid, which most likely is pain to Billy's heart; but he don't get it none. The senorita harnesses Willyum into a clean shirt, an' then she throws Willyum loose on the range ag'in, an' he drifts back to Billy.

"It's the general view that Billy never once thinks of wedlock with the senorita if he's let alone. But one day Doc Peets waxes facetious.

"'In a month,' says Peets to Billy, while we-alls is renooin' our spcrits in the Red Light, 'this yere Marie'll quit comin' over for Willyum.'

"'Why?' says Billy, glarin' at Peets s'picious.

"'Cause,' replies Peets, all careless, ''cause you ups an' weds her by then. I sees it in your eye. Then, when she's thar for good, I reckons she nacherally quits comin' over.'

"'Oh, I don't know,' says Texas Thompson, who's takin' in Doc Peets' remark; ' I don't allow Billy's got the nerve to marry this yere Marie. Not but what she's as pretty as an antelope. But think of 'Doby. He jest never would quit chewin' Billy's mane if he goes pullin' off any nuptial ceremonies with his wife's relative that a- way.'

"Billy looks hard as granite at this. He ain't sayin' nothin', but he gets outside of another drink in a way which shows his mind's made up, an' then he goes p'intin' off towards his camp, same as a gent who entertains designs.

"'I offers three to one,' says Cherokee Hall, lookin' after Billy sorter thoughtful that a-way, 'that Billy weds this yere Mexican girl in a week; an' I'll go five hundred dollars even money he gets her before night.'

"'An' no takers,' says Doc Peets, 'for I about thinks you calls the turn.'

"An' that's what happens. In two hours after this impulsive Billy prances out of the Red Light on the heels of Texas Thompson's remarks about how hostile 'Doby would be if he ever gets Marie, he's done lured her before the padre over in Chihuahua, an' the padre marries 'em as quick as you could take a runnin'-iron an' burn a brand on a calf.

"'Which this is not all. Like they was out to add to the excitement a whole lot, I'm a Mohave if 'Doby an' his wife don't turn loose an' have another infant that same day.

"'I never sees a gent get so excited over another gent's game as Billy does over 'Doby's number two. He sends his new wife up to 'Doby's on the run, while he takes Willyum an' comes pirootin' back to the Red Light to brace up. Billy's shore nervous an' needs it.

"'My pore child,' says Billy to Willyum about the third drink-- Willyum is settin' on a monte-table an' payin' heed to Billy a heap decorous an' respectful for a three-year-old--'my pore child,' says Billy that a-way, 'you-all is ag'in a hard game up at your paw's. This yere is playin' it plumb low on you, Willyum. It looks like they fills a hand ag'in you, son, an' you ain't in it no more at 'Doby's; who, whatever is your fool claims on that p'int a year ago, is still your dad ondoubted. But you-all knows me, Willyum. You knows that talk in Holy Writ. If your father an' mother shakes you, your Uncle Billy takes you up. I'm powerful 'fraid, Willyum, you'll have to have action on them promises."

"Willyum listens to Billy plenty grave an' owly, but he don't make no observations on his luck or communicate no views to Billy except that he's hungry. This yere ain't relevant none, but Billy at once pastures him out on a can of sardines an' some crackers, while he keeps on bein' liberal to himse'f about whiskey.

"'I don't feel like denyin' myse'f nothin',' he says. 'Yere I gets married, an' in less'n an hour my wife is ravaged away at the whoop of dooty to ride herd on another gent's fam'ly,; leavin' me, her husband, with that other gent's abandoned progeny on my hands. This yere's gettin' to be a boggy ford for Billy Rudd, you bet.'

"But while Billy takes on a heap, he don't impress me like he's hurt none after all. When Doc Peets trails in from 'Doby's, where he's been in the interests of science that a-way, Billy at once drug him aside for a pow-wow. They talks over in one corner of the Red Light awhile, then Billy looks up like one load's offen his mind, an' yells:

" 'Barkeep, it's another boy. Use my name freely in urgin' drinks on the camp.'

"Then Billy goes on whisperin' to Doc Peets an' layin' down somethin', like his heart's sot on it. At last Doc says:

"'The best way, Billy, is for me to bring 'Doby over.' With this Doc Peets gets onto his pony at the door an' goes curvin' back to 'Doby's.

"'It's a boy,' says Billy to the rest of us after Doc Peets lines out, 'an' child an' mother both on velvet an' winnin' right along.'

"These yere events crowdin' each other that a-way--first a weddin' an' then an infant boy--has a brightenin' effect on public sperit. It makes us feel like the camp's shorely gettin' a start. While we- alls is givin' way to Billy's desire to buy whiskey, Peets comes back, bringin' 'Doby.

"Thar's nothin' what you-alls calls dramatic about 'Doby an' Billy comin' together. They meets an' shakes, that's all. They takes a drink together, which shows they's out to be friends for good, an' then Billy says:

"'But what I wants partic'lar, 'Doby, is that you makes over to me your son Willyum. He's shore the finest young-one in Arizona, an' Marie an' me needs him to sorter organize on.'

"'Billy,' says 'Doby, 'you-all an' me is partners for years, an' we're partners yet. We has our storm cloud, an' we has also our eras of peace. Standin' as we do on the brink of one of said eras, an' as showin' sincerity, I yereby commits to you my son Willyum. Yereafter, when he calls you "Pop," it goes, an' the same will not be took invidious.'

"''Doby,' replies Billy, takin' him by the hand, 'this yere day 'lustrates the prophet when he says: "In the midst of life we're in luck." If you-all notes tears in my eyes I'm responsible for 'em. Willyum's mine. As I r'ars him it will be with you as a model. Now you go back where dooty calls you. When you ceases to need my wife, Marie, send her back to camp, an' notify me tharof. Pendin' of which said notice, however,' concloods Billy, turnin' to us after 'Doby starts back, 'Willyum an' me entertains.'"


(The end)
Alfred Henry Lewis's short story: Dawson & Rudd, Partners

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Mace Bowman, Sheriff Mace Bowman, Sheriff

Mace Bowman, Sheriff
"And so you think the trouble lies with the man and not with the whiskey?" I said. The Old Cattleman and I were discussing "temperance." "Right you be. This yere whiskey-drinkin'," continued the old gentleman as he toyed with his empty glass, "is a mighty cur'ous play. I knows gents as can tamper with their little old forty drops frequent an' reg'lar. As far as hurtin' of 'em is concerned, it don't come to throwin' water on a drowned rat. Then, ag'in, I've cut gents's trails as drinkin' whiskey is like playin' a harp with a hammer. Which we-alls ain't all
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Boggs's Experience Boggs's Experience

Boggs's Experience
"No; thar's nothin' prolix about Boggs. Which on the contrary, his nacher is shorely arduous that a-way. If it's a meetin' of the committee, for instance, with intent then an' thar to dwell a whole lot on the doin's of some malefactor, Boggs allers gets to a mental show-down ahead of the other gents involved. Either he's out to throw this party loose, or stretch his neck, or run him outen camp, or whatever's deemed exact jestice, long before sech slow-an'-shore people as Old Man Enright even looks at their hands. The trooth is, Boggs ain't so strong on jedgement; his
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT