Where Fancy was Bred

Two camps in the open, and the Virginian’s Monte horse, untired, brought him to the Swintons’ in good time for the barbecue. The horse received good food at length, while his rider was welcomed with good whiskey. good whiskey--for had not steers jumped to seventy-five?

Inside the Goose Egg kitchen many small delicacies were preparing, and a steer was roasting whole outside. The bed of flame under it showed steadily brighter against the dusk that was beginning to veil the lowlands. The busy hosts went and came, while men stood and men lay near the fire-glow. Chalkeye was there, and Nebrasky, and Trampas, and Honey Wiggin, with others, enjoying the occasion; but Honey Wiggin was enjoying himself: he had an audience; he was sitting up discoursing to it.

“Hello!” he said, perceiving the Virginian. “So you’ve dropped in for your turn! Number--six, ain’t he, boys?” “Depends who’s a-runnin’ the countin’,” said the Virginian, and stretched himself down among the audience.

“I’ve saw him number one when nobody else was around,” said Trampas.

“How far away was you standin’ when you beheld that?” inquired the lounging Southerner.

“Well, boys,” said Wiggin, “I expect it will be Miss Schoolmarm says who’s number one tonight.” “So she’s arrived in this hyeh country?” observed the Virginian, very casually.

“Arrived!” said Trampas again. “Where have you been grazing lately?” “A right smart way from the mules.” “Nebrasky and the boys was tellin’ me they’d missed yu’ off- the range,” again interposed Wiggin. “Say, Nebrasky, who have yu’ offered your canary to the schoolmarm said you mustn’t give her?” Nebrasky grinned wretchedly.

“Well, she’s a lady, and she’s square, not takin’ a man’s gift when she don’t take the man. But you’d ought to get back all them letters yu’ wrote her. Yu’ sure ought to ask her for them tell-tales.” “Ah, pshaw, Honey!” protested the youth. It was well known that he could not write his name.

“Why, if here ain’t Bokay Baldy!” cried the agile Wiggin, stooping to fresh prey. “Found them slippers yet, Baldy? Tell yu’ boys, that was turruble sad luck Baldy had. Did yu’ hear about that? Baldy, yu’ know, he can stay on a tame horse most as well as the schoolmarm. But just you give him a pair of young knittin’-needles and see him make ’em sweat! He worked an elegant pair of slippers with pink cabbages on ’em for Miss Wood.” “I bought ’em at Medicine Bow,” blundered Baldy.

“So yu’ did!” assented the skilful comedian. “Baldy he bought ’em. And on the road to her cabin there at the Taylors’ he got thinkin’ they might be too big, and he got studyin’ what to do. And he fixed up to tell her about his not bein’ sure of the size, and how she was to let him know if they dropped off her, and he’d exchange’ ’em, and when he got right near her door, why, he couldn’t find his courage. And so he slips the parcel under the fence and starts serenadin’ her. But she ain’t inside her cabin at all. She’s at supper next door with the Taylors, and Baldy singin’ ‘Love has conqwered pride and angwer’ to a lone house. Lin McLean was comin’ up by Taylor’s corral, where Taylor’s Texas bull was. Well, it was turruble sad. Baldy’s pants got tore, but he fell inside the fence, and Lin druv the bull back and somebody stole them Medicine Bow galoshes. Are you goin’ to knit her some more, Bokay?” “About half that ain’t straight,” Baldy commented, with mildness.

“The half that was tore off yer pants? Well, never mind, Baldy; Lin will get left too, same as all of yu’.” “Is there many?” inquired the Virginian. He was still stretched on his back, looking up at the sky.

“I don’t know how many she’s been used to where she was raised,” Wiggin answered. “A kid stage- driver come from Point of Rocks one day and went back the next. Then the foreman of the 76 outfit, and the horse-wrangler from the Bar-Circle-L, and two deputy marshals, with punchers, stringin’ right along,--all got their tumble. Old Judge Burrage from Cheyenne come up in August for a hunt and stayed round here and never hunted at all. There was that horse thief--awful good-lookin’. Taylor wanted to

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