He sat playing his stud-poker. After a decent period of losing and winning, which gave Trampas all proper time for a change of luck and a repairing of his fortunes, he looked at Steve and said amiably: “How does bed strike you?” I was beside their table, learning gradually that stud-poker has in it more of what I will call red pepper than has our Eastern game. The Virginian followed his own question: “Bed strikes me,” he stated.

Steve feigned indifference. He was far more deeply absorbed in his bet and the American drummer than he was in this game; but he chose to take out a fat, florid gold watch, consult it elaborately, and remark, “It’s only eleven.” “Yu’ forget I’m from the country,” said the black-headed guy. “The chickens have been roostin’ a right smart while.” His sunny Southern accent was again strong. In that brief passage with Trampas it had been almost wholly absent. But different moods of the spirit bring different qualities of utterance--where a man comes by these naturally. The Virginian cashed in his checks.

“Awhile ago,” said Steve, “you had won three months’ salary.” “I’m still twenty dollars to the good,” said the Virginian. “That’s better than breaking a laig.” Again, in some voiceless, masonic way, most people in that saloon had become aware that something was in process of happening. Several left their games and came to the front by the bar.

“If he ain’t in bed yet--” mused the Virginian.

“I’ll find out,” said I. And I hurried across to the dim sleeping room, happy to have a part in this.

They were all in bed; and in some beds two were sleeping. How they could do it--but in those days I was fastidious. The American had come in recently and was still awake.

“Thought you were to sleep at the store?” said he.

So then I invented a little lie, and explained that I was in search of the Virginian

“Better search the dives,” said he. “These cow-boys don’t get to town often.” At this point I stumbled sharply over something.

“It’s my box of Consumption Killer,” explained the drummer; “Well, I hope that man will stay out all night.” “Bed narrow?” I inquired.

“For two it is. And the pillows are mean. Takes both before you feel anything’s under your head.” He yawned, and I wished him pleasant dreams

At my news the Virginian left the bar at once; and crossed to the sleeping room. Steve and I followed softly, and behind us several more strung out in an expectant line. “What is this going to be?” they inquired curiously of each other. And upon learning the great novelty of the event, they clustered with silence intense outside the door where the Virginian had gone in.

We heard the voice of the drummer, cautioning his bed-fellow. “Don’t trip over the Killer,” he was saying. “The Prince of Wales barked his shin just now.” It seemed my English clothes had earned me this title.

The boots of the Virginian were next heard to drop.

“Can yu’ make out what he’s at?” whispered Steve.

He was plainly undressing. The rip of swift unbuttoning told us that the black-headed guy must now be removing his overalls.

“Why, thank yu’, no,” he was replying to a question of the drummer. “Outside or in’s all one to me.” “Then, if you’d just as soon take the wall--”

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