Alfred Henry Lewis.

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meets up with water when I don't drink a quart, an' act like I'm layin'
in ag'in another parched spell.

"Or I might relate how I stops over one night from Springer on my way to
the Canadian at a Triangle-dot camp called Kingman. This yere is a
one-room stone house, stark an' sullen an' alone on the desolate plains,
an' no scenery worth namin' but a half-grown feeble spring. This Kingman
ain't got no windows; its door is four-inch thick of oak; an' thar's
loopholes for rifles in each side which shows the sports who builds that
edifice in the stormy long-ago is lookin' for more trouble than comfort
an' prepares themse'fs. The two cow-punchers I finds in charge is scared
to a standstill; they allows this Kingman's ha'nted. They tells me how
two parties who once abides thar - father an' son they be - gets downed by
a hold-up whose aim is pillage, an' who comes cavortin' along an'
butchers said fam'ly in their sleep. The cow-punchers declar's they
hears the spooks go scatterin' about the room as late as the night before
I trails in. I ca'ms 'em - not bein' subject to nerve stampedes myse'f,
an' that same midnight when the sperits comes ha'ntin' about ag'in, I
turns outen my blankets an' lays said spectres with the butt of my mule
whip - the same when we strikes a light an' counts 'em up bein' a couple
of kangaroo rats. This yere would front up for a mighty thrillin' tale
if I throws myse'f loose with its reecital an' daubs in the colour plenty
vivid an' free.

"Then thar's the time I swings over to the K-bar-8 ranch for corn - bein'
I'm out of said cereal - an' runs up on a cow gent, spurs, gun-belt, big
hat an' the full regalia, hangin' to the limb of a cottonwood, dead as
George the Third, an' not a hundred foot from the ranch door. An' how
inside I finds a half-dozen more cow folks, lookin' grave an' sayin'
nothin'; an' the ranch manager has a bloody bandage about his for'ead,
an' another holdin' up his left arm, half bandage an' half sling, the
toot ensemble, as Colonel Sterett calls it, showin' sech recent war that
the blood's still wet on the cloths an' drops on the floor as we talks.
An' how none of us says a word about the dead gent in the cottonwood or
of the manager who's shot up; an' how that same manager outfits me with
ten sacks of mule-food an' I goes p'intin' out for the Southeast an'
forgets all I sees an' never mentions it ag'in.

"Then thar's Sim Booth of the Fryin' Pan outfit, who's one evenin' camped
with me at Antelope Springs; an' who saddles up an' ropes onto the laigs
of a dead Injun where they're stickin' forth - bein' washed free by the
rains - an' pulls an' rolls that copper-coloured departed outen his
sepulchre a lot, an' then starts his pony off at a canter an' sort o'
fritters the remains about the landscape. Sim does this on the argyment
that the obsequies, former, takes place too near the spring. This yere
Sim's pony two months later steps in a dog hole when him an' Sim's goin'
along full swing with some cattle on a stampede, an' the cayouse falls on
Sim an' breaks everything about him incloosive of his neck. The other
cow-punchers allers allow it's because Sim turns out that aborigine over
by Antelope Springs. Now sech a eepisode, properly elab'rated, might
feed your attention an' hold it spellbound some.

"Son, if I was to turn myse'f loose on, great an' little, the divers
incidents of the trail, it would consoome days in the relation. I could
tell of cactus flowers, blazin' an' brilliant as a eye of red fire ag'in
the brown dusk of the deserts; or of mile-long fields of Spanish bayonet
in bloom; or of some Mexican's doby shinin' like a rooby in the sunlight
a day's journey ahead, the same one onbroken mass from roof to ground of
the peppers they calls _chili_, all reddenin' in the hot glare of the day.

"Or, if you has a fancy for stirrin' incident an' lively scenes, thar's a
time when the rains has raised the old Canadian ontil that quicksand ford
at Tascosa - which has done eat a hundred teams if ever it swallows
one! - is torn up complete an' the bottom of the river nothin' save
b'ilin' sand with a shallow yere an' a hole deep enough to drown a house
scooped out jest beyond. An' how since I can't pause a week or two for
the river to run down an' the ford to settle, I goes spraddlin' an'
tumblin' an' swimmin' across on Tom, my nigh wheeler, opens negotiations
with the LIT ranch, an' Bob Roberson, has his riders round-up the
pasture, an' comes chargin' down to the ford with a bunch of one thousand
ponies, all of 'em dancin' an' buckin' an' prancin' like chil'en outen
school. Roberson an' the LIT boys throws the thousand broncos across an'
across the ford for mighty likely it's fifty times. They'd flash 'em
through - the whole band together - on the run; an' then round 'em up on
the opp'site bank, turn 'em an' jam 'em through ag'in. When they ceases,
the bottom of the river is tramped an' beat out as hard an' as flat as a
floor, an' I hooks up an' brings the waggons over like the
ford - bottomless quicksand a hour prior - is one of these yere asphalt
streets.

"Or I might relate about a cowboy tournament that's held over in the flat
green bottom of Parker's arroya; an' how Jack Coombs throws a rope an'
fastens at one hundred an' four foot, while Waco Simpson rides at the
herd of cattle one hundred foot away, ropes, throws an' ties down a
partic'lar steer, frees his lariat an' is back with the jedges ag'in in
forty-eight seconds. Waco wins the prize, a Mexican
saddle - stamp-leather an' solid gold she is - worth four hundred dollars,
by them onpreecedented alacrities.

"Or, I might impart about a Mexican fooneral where the hearse is a
blanket with two poles along the aige, the same as one of these battle
litters; of the awful songs the mournful Mexicans sings about departed;
of the candles they burns an' the dozens of baby white-pine crosses they
sets up on little jim-crow stone-heaps along the trail to the tomb;
meanwhiles, howlin' dirges constant.

"Now I thinks of it I might bresh up the recollections of a mornin' when
I rolls over, blankets an' all, onto something that feels as big as a
boot-laig an' plenty squirmy; an' how I shows zeal a-gettin' to my feet,
knowin' I'm reposin' on a rattlesnake who's bunked in ag'in my back all
sociable to warm himse'f. It's worth any gent's while to see how heated
an' indignant that serpent takes it because of me turnin' out so early
and so swift.

"Then thar's a mornin' when I finds myse'f not five miles down the wind
from a prairie fire; an' it crackin' an' roarin' in flame-sheets twenty
foot high an' makin' for'ard jumps of fifty foot. What do I do? Go
for'ard down the wind, set fire to the grass myse'f, an' let her burn
ahead of me. In two minutes I'm over on a burned deestrict of my own,
an' by the time the orig'nal flames works down to my fire line, my own
speshul fire is three miles ahead an I myse'f am ramblin' along cool an'
saloobrious with a safe, shore area of burnt prairie to my r'ar.

"An' thar's a night on the Serrita la Cruz doorin' a storm, when the
lightnin' melts the tire on the wheel of my trail-waggon, an' me layin'
onder it at the time. An' it don't even wake me up. Thar's the time,
too, when I crosses up at Chico Springs with eighty Injuns who's been
buffalo huntin' over to the South Paloduro, an' has with 'em four hundred
odd ponies loaded with hides an' buffalo beef an' all headed for their
home-camps over back of Taos. The bucks is restin' up a day or two when
I rides in; later me an' a half dozen jumps a band of antelopes jest
'round a p'int of rocks. Son, you-all would have admired to see them
savages shoot their arrows. I observes one young buck a heap clost. He
holds the bow flat down with his left hand while his arrows in their
cow-skin quiver sticks over his right shoulder. The way he would flash
his right hand back, yank forth a arrow, slam it on his bow, pull it to
the head an' cut it loose, is shore a heap earnest. Them missiles would
go sailin' off for over three hundred yards, an' I sees him get seven
started before ever the first one strikes the ground. The Injuns
acquires four antelope by this archery an' shoots mebby some forty
arrows; all of which they carefully reclaims when the excitement
subsides. She's trooly a sperited exhibition an' I finds it mighty
entertainin'.

"I throws these hints loose to show what might be allooded to by way of
stories, grave and gay, of sights pecooliar to the trail if only some
gent of experience ups an' devotes himse'f to the relations. As it is,
however, an' recurrin' to Tom an' Jerry - the same bein' as I informs you,
my two wheel mules - I reckons now I might better set forth as to how they
comes to die that time. It's his obstinacy that downs Jerry; while pore,
tender Tom perishes the victim - volunteer at that - of the love he b'ars
his contrary mate.

"Them mules, Tom an' Jerry, is obtained by me, orig'nal in Vegas.
They're the wheelers of a eight-mule team; an' I gives Frosty - who's a
gambler an' wins 'em at monte of some locoed sport from Chaparita - twelve
hundred dollars for the outfit. Which the same is cheap an' easy at
double the _dinero_.

"These mules evident has been part an' passel of the estates of some
Mexican, for I finds a cross marked on each harness an' likewise on both
waggons. Mexicans employs this formal'ty to run a bluff on any evil
sperit who may come projectin' round. Your American mule skinner never
makes them tokens. As a roole he's defiant of sperits; an' even when he
ain't he don't see no refooge in a cross. Mexicans, on the other hand,
is plenty strong on said symbol. Every mornin' you beholds a Mexican
with a dab of white on his fore'erd an' on each cheek bone, an' also on
his chin where he crosses himse'f with flour; shore, the custom is
yooniversal an' it takes a quart of flour to fully fortify a full-blown
Greaser household ag'inst the antic'pated perils of the day.

"No sooner am I cl'ar of Vegas - I'm camped near the Plaza de la
Concepcion at the time - when I rounds up the eight mules an' looks 'em
over with reference to their characters. This is jest after I acquires
'em. It's allers well for a gent to know what he's ag'inst; an' you can
put down a stack the disp'sitions of eight mules is a important problem.

"The review is plenty satisfactory. The nigh leader is a steady
practical person as a lead mule oughter be, an' I notes by his ca'm
jedgmatical eye that he's goin' to give himse'f the benefit of every
doubt, an' ain't out to go stampedin' off none without knowin' the reason
why. His mate at the other end of the jockey-stick is nervous an'
hysterical; she never trys to solve no riddles of existence herse'f, this
Jane mule don't, but relies on her mate Peter an' plays Peter's system
blind. The nigh p'inter is a deecorous form of mule with no bad habits;
while his mate over the chain is one of these yere hard, se'fish, wary
parties an' his little game is to get as much of everything except work
an' trouble as the lay of the kyards permits. My nigh swing mule is a
wit like I tells you the other day. Which this jocose anamile is the
life of the team an' allers lettin' fly some dry, quaint observation.
This mule wag is partic'lar excellent at a bad ford or a hard crossin',
an his gay remarks, full of p'int as a bowie knife, shorely cheers an'
uplifts the sperits of the rest. The off swing is a heedless creature
who regyards his facetious mate as the very parent of fun, an' he goes
about with his y'ear cocked an' his mouth ajar, ready to laugh them 'hah,
hah!' laughs of his'n at every word his pard turns loose.

"Tom an' Jerry is different from the others. Bein' bigger an' havin'
besides the respons'bilities of the hour piled onto them as wheel mules
must, they cultivates a sooperior air an is distant an' reserved in their
attitoodes towards the other six. As to each other their pose needs more
deescription. Tom, the nigh wheeler - the one I rides when drivin' - is
infatyooated with Jerry. I hears a sky-sharp aforetime preach about
Jonathan an' David. Yet I'm yere to assert, son, that them sacred people
ain't on speakin' terms compared to the way that pore old lovin' Tom mule
feels towards Jerry.

"This affection of Tom's is partic'lar amazin' when you-all recalls the
fashion in which the sullen Jerry receives it. Doorin' the several years
I spends in their s'ciety I never once detects Jerry in any look or word
of kindness to Tom. Jerry bites him an' kicks him an' cusses him out
constant; he never tol'rates Tom closter than twenty foot onless at times
when he orders Tom to curry him. Shore, the imbecile Tom submits. On
sech o'casions when Jerry issues a summons to go over him, usin' his
upper teeth for a comb an' bresh, Tom is never so happy. Which he digs
an' delves at Jerry's ribs that a-way like it's a honour; after a half
hour, mebby, when Jerry feels refreshed s'fficient, he w'irls on Tom an'
dismisses him with both heels.

"'I track up on folks who's jest the same,' says Dan Boggs, one time when
I mentions this onaccountable infatyooation of Tom. 'This Jerry loves
that Tom mule mate of his, only he ain't lettin' on. I knows a lady
whose treatment of her husband is a dooplicate of Jerry's. She metes out
the worst of it to that long-sufferin' shorthorn at every bend in the
trail; it looks like he never wins a good word or a soft look from her
once. An' yet when that party cashes in, whatever does the lady do?
Takes a hooker of whiskey, puts in p'isen enough to down a dozen wolves,
an' drinks off every drop. 'Far'well, vain world, I'm goin' home,' says
the lady; 'which I prefers death to sep'ration, an' I'm out to jine my
beloved husband in the promised land.' I knows, for I attends the
fooneral of that family - said fooneral is a double-header as the lady,
bein' prompt, trails out after her husband before ever he's pitched his
first camp - an' later assists old Chandler in deevisin' a epitaph, the
same occurrin' in these yere familiar words:

"She sort o got the drop on him,
In the dooel of earthly love;
Let's hope he gets an even break
When they meets in heaven above."

"'Thar,' concloods Dan, 'is what I regyards as a parallel experience to
this Tom an' Jerry. The lady plays Jerry's system from soda to hock, an'
yet you-all can see in the lights of that thar sooicide how deep she
loves him.'

"'That's all humbug, Dan,' says Enright; 'the lady you relates of isn't
lovin'. She's only locoed that a-way.'

"'Whyever if she's locoed, then,' argues Dan, 'don't they up an' hive her
in one of their madhouse camps? She goes chargin' about as free an'
fearless as a cyclone.'

"'All the same,' says Texas Thompson, 'her cashin' in don't prove no
lovin' heart. Mebby she does it so's to chase him up an' continyoo
onbroken them hectorin's of her's. I could onfold a fact or two about
that wife of mine who cuts out the divorce from me in Laredo that would
lead you to concloosions sim'lar. But she wasn't your wife; an' I don't
aim to impose my domestic afflictions on this innocent camp, which bein'
troo I mootely stands my hand.'

"This Jerry's got one weakness however, I don't never take advantage of
it. He's scared to frenzy if you pulls a gun. I reckons, with all them
crimes of his'n preyin' on his mind, that he allows you're out, to shoot
him up. Jerry is ca'm so long as your gun's in the belt, deemin' it as
so much onmeanin' ornament. But the instant you pulls it like you're
goin' to put it in play, he onbuckles into piercin' screams. I reaches
for my six-shooter one evenin' by virchoo of antelopes, an' that's the
time I discovers this foible of Jerry's. I never gets a shot. At the
sight of the gun Jerry evolves a howl an' the antelopes tharupon hits two
or three high places an' is miles away. Shore, they thinks Jerry is some
new breed of demon.

"When I turns to note the cause of Jerry's clamours he's loppin' his
fore-laigs over Tom's back an' sobbin' an' sheddin' tears into his mane.
Tom sympathises with Jerry an' says all he can to teach him that the
avenger ain't on his trail. Nothin' can peacify Jerry, however, except
jammin' that awful six-shooter back into its holster. I goes over Jerry
that evenin' patiently explorin' for bullet marks, but thar ain't none.
No one's ever creased him; an' I figgers final by way of a s'lootion of
his fits that mighty likely Jerry's attended some killin' between
hoomans, inadvertent, an' has the teeth of his apprehensions set on aige.

"Jerry is that high an' haughty he won't come up for corn in the mornin'
onless I petitions him partic'lar an' calls him by name. To jest whoop
'Mules!' he holds don't incloode him. Usual I humours Jerry an' shouts
his title speshul, the others bein' called in a bunch. When Jerry hears
his name he walks into camp, delib'rate an' dignified, an' kicks every
mule to pieces who tries to shove in ahead.

"Once, feelin' some malignant myse'f, I tries Jerry's patience out. I
don't call 'Jerry,' merely shouts 'Mules' once or twice an' lets it go at
that. Jerry, when he notices I don't refer to him partic'lar lays his
y'ears back; an' although his r'ar elevation is towards me I can see he's
hotter than a hornet. The faithful Tom abides with Jerry; though he
tells him it's feed time an' that the others with a nosebag on each of
'em is already at their repasts. Jerry only gets madder an' lays for Tom
an' tries to bite him. After ten minutes, sullen an' sulky, hunger beats
Jerry an' he comes bumpin' into camp like a bar'l down hill an' eases his
mind by wallopin' both hind hoofs into them other blameless mules,
peacefully munchin' their rations. Also, after Jerry's let me put the
nosebag onto him he reeverses his p'sition an' swiftly lets fly at me.
But I ain't in no trance an' Jerry misses. I don't frale him; I saveys
it's because he feels hoomiliated with me not callin' him by name.

"As a roole me an' Jerry gets through our dooties harmonious. He can
pull like a lion an' never flinches or flickers at a pinch. It's shore a
vict'ry to witness the heroic way Jerry goes into the collar at a hard
steep hill or some swirlin', rushin' ford. Sech bein' Jerry's work
habits I'm prepared to overlook a heap of moral deeficiencies an' never
lays it up ag'in Jerry that he's morose an' repellant when I flings him
any kindnesses.

"But while I don't resent 'em none by voylence, still Jerry has habits
ag'inst which I has to gyard. You-all recalls how long ago I tells you
of Jerry's, bein' a thief. Shore, he can't he'p it; he's a born
kleptomaniac. Leastwise 'kleptomaniac' is what Colonel Sterett calls it
when he's tellin' me of a party who's afflicted sim'lar.

"'Otherwise this gent's a heap respectable,' says the Colonel. 'Morally
speakin' thar's plenty who's worse. Of course, seein' he's crowdin'
forty years, he ain't so shamefully innocent neither. He ain't no
debyootanty; still, he ain't no crime-wrung debauchee. I should say he
grades midway in between. But deep down in his system this person's a
kleptomaniac, an' at last his weakness gets its hobbles off an' he turns
himse'f loose, an' begins to jest nacherally take things right an' left.
No, he don't get put away in Huntsville; they sees he's locoed an' he's
corraled instead in one of the asylums where thar's nothin' loose an'
little kickin' 'round, an' tharfore no temptations.'

"Takin' the word then from Colonel Sterett, Jerry is a kleptomaniac. I
used former to hobble Jerry but one mornin' I'm astounded to see what
looks like snow all about my camp. Bein' she's in Joone that snow theery
don't go. An' it ain't snow, it's flour; this kleptomaniac Jerry creeps
to the waggons while I sleeps an' gets away, one after the other, with
fifteen fifty-pound sacks of flour. Then he entertains himse'f an' Tom
by p'radin' about with the sacks in his teeth, shakin' an' tossin' his
head an' powderin' my 'Pride of Denver' all over the plains. Which Jerry
shore frosts that scenery plumb lib'ral.

"It's the next night an' I don't hobble Jerry; I pegs him out on a
lariat. What do you-all reckon now that miscreant does? Corrupts pore
Tom who you may be certain is sympathisin' 'round, an' makes Tom go to
the waggons, steal the flour an' pack it out to him where he's pegged.
The soopine Tom, who otherwise is the soul of integrity, abstracts six
sacks for his mate an' at daybreak the wretched Jerry's standin' thar,
white as milk himse'f, an' flour a foot deep in a cirkle whereof the
radius is his rope Tom's gazin' on Jerry in a besotted way like he allows
he's certainly the greatest sport on earth.

"Which this last is too much an' I ropes up Jerry for punishment. I
throws an' hawgties Jerry, an' he's layin' thar on his side. His eye is
obdoorate an' thar's neither shame nor repentance in his heart. Tom is
sort o' sobbin' onder his breath; Tom would have swapped places with
Jerry too quick an' I sees he has it in his mind to make the offer, only
he knows I'll turn it down."

"The other six mules comes up an' loafs about observant an' respectful.
They jestifies my arrangements; besides Jerry is mighty onpop'lar with
'em by reason of his heels. I can hear Peter the little lead mule sayin'
to Jane, his mate: 'The boss is goin' to lam Jerry a lot with a
trace-chain. Which it's shore comin' to him!'

"I w'irls the chain on high an' lays it along Jerry's evil ribs,
_kerwhillup_! Every other link bites through the hide an' the chain
plows a most excellent an' wholesome furrow. As the chain descends, the
sympathetic Tom jumps an' gives a groan. Tom feels a mighty sight worse
than his _companero_. At the sixth wallop Tom can't b'ar no more, but
with tears an' protests comes an' stands over Jerry an' puts it up he'll
take the rest himse'f. This evidence of brotherly love stands me off,
an' for Tom's sake I desists an' throws Jerry loose. That old
scoundrel - while I sees he's onforgivin' an' a-harbourin' of hatreds
ag'in me - don't forget the trace-chain an' comports himse'f like a
law-abidin' mule for months. He even quits bitin' an' kickin' Tom, an'
that lovin' beast seems like he's goin' to break his heart over it,
'cause he looks on it as a sign that Jerry's gettin' cold.

"But thar comes a day when I loses both Tom an' Jerry. It's about second
drink time one August mornin' an' me an' my eight mules goes scamperin'
through a little Mexican plaza called Tramperos on our way to the
Canadian. Over by a 'doby stands a old fleabitten gray mare; she's shore
hideous.

"Now if mules has one overmasterin' deloosion it's a gray mare; she's the
religion an' the goddess of the mules. This knowledge is common; if
you-all is ever out to create a upheaval in the bosom of a mule the
handiest, quickest lever is a old gray mare. The gov'ment takes
advantage of this aberration of the mules. Thar's trains of pack mules
freightin' to the gov'ment posts in the Rockies. They figgers on three
hundred pounds to the mule an' the freight is packed in panniers. The
gov'ment freighters not bein' equal to the manifold mysteries of a
diamond-hitch, don't use no reg'lar shore-enough pack saddle but takes
refooge with their ignorance in panniers.

"Speakin' gen'ral, thar's mebby two hundred mules in one of these
gov'ment pack trains. An' in the lead, followed, waited on an'
worshipped by the mules, is a aged gray mare. She don't pack nothin' but
her virchoo an' a little bell, which last is hung 'round her neck. This
old mare, with nothin' but her character an' that bell to encumber her,
goes fa'rly flyin' light. But go as fast an' as far as she pleases, them
long-y'eared locoed worshippers of her's won't let her outen their
raptured sight. The last one of 'em, panniers, freight an' all, would go
surgin' to the topmost pinnacle of the Rockies if she leads the way.

"An' at that this gray mare don't like mules none; she abhors their
company an' kicks an' abooses 'em to a standstill whenever they draws
near. But the fool mules don't care; it's ecstacy to simply know she's
livin' an' that mule's cup of joy is runnin' over who finds himse'f
permitted to crop grass within forty foot of his old, gray bell-bedecked
idol.

"We travels all day, followin' glimpsin' that flea-bitten cayouse at
Tramperos. But the mules can't think or talk of nothin' else. It
arouses their religious enthoosiasm to highest pitch; even the cynic
Jerry gets half-way keyed up over it. I looks for trouble that night;
an' partic'lar I pegs out Jerry plenty deep and strong. The rest is
hobbled, all except Tom. Gray mare or not, I'll gamble the outfit Tom


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