In a State of Sin

Thunder sat imminent upon the missionary’s brow. Many were to be at his mercy soon. But for us he had sunshine still. “I am truly sorry to be turning you upside down,” he said importantly. “But it seems the best place for my service.” He spoke of the tables pushed back and the chairs gathered in the hall, where the storm would presently break upon the congregation. “Eight-thirty? he inquired.

This was the hour appointed, and it was only twenty minutes off. We threw the unsmoked fractions of our cigars away, and returned to offer our services to the ladies. This amused the ladies. They had done without us. All was ready in the hall.

“We got the cook to help us,” Mrs. Ogden told me, “so as not to disturb your cigars. In spite of the cow- boys, I still recognize my own country.” “In the cook?” I rather densely asked.

“Oh, no! I don’t have a Chinaman. It’s in the length of after-dinner cigars.” “Had you been smoking,” I returned, “you would have found them short this evening.” “You make it worse,” said the lady; “we have had nothing but Dr. Mac Bride.” We’ll share him with you now,” I exclaimed. “Has he announced his text? I’ve got one for hint,” said Molly Wood, joining us. She stood on tiptoe and spoke it comically in our ears. “’I said in my haste, All men are liars.’” This made us merry as we stood among the chairs in the congested hall.

I left the ladies, and sought the bunk house. I had heard the cheers, but I was curious also to see the men, and how they were taking it. There was but little for the eye. There was much noise in the room. They were getting ready to come to church,--brushing their hair, shaving, and making themselves clean, amid talk occasionally profane and continuously diverting.

“Well, I’m a Christian, anyway,” one declared.

“I’m a Mormon, I guess,” said another.

“I belong to the Knights of Pythias,” said a third.

“I’m a Mohammedist,” said a fourth; “I hope I ain’t goin’ to hear nothin’ to shock me.” And they went on with their joking. But Trampas was out of the joking. He lay on his bed reading a newspaper, and took no pains to look pleasant. My eyes were considering him when the blithe Scipio came in.

“Don’t look so bashful,” said he. “There’s only us girls here.” He had been helping the Virginian move his belongings from the bunk house over to the foreman’s cabin. He himself was to occupy the Virginian’s old bed here. “And I hope sleepin’ in it will bring me some of his luck,” said Scipio. “Yu’d ought to’ve seen us when he told us in his quiet way. Well,” Scipio sighed a little, “it must feel good to have your friends glad about you.” “Especially Trampas,” said I. “The Judge knows about that,” I added.

“Knows, does he? What’s he say?” Scipio drew me quickly out of the bunk house. “Says it’s no business of his.” “Said nothing but that?” Scipio’s curiosity seemed strangely intense. “Made no suggestion? Not a thing?” “Not a thing. Said he didn’t want to know and didn’t care.” “How did he happen to hear about it?” snapped Scipio. “You told him!” he immediately guessed. “He never would.” And Scipio jerked his thumb at the Virginian, who appeared for a moment in the lighted window of the new quarters he was arranging. “He never would tell,” Scipio repeated. “And so the Judge never made a suggestion to him,” he muttered, nodding in the darkness. “So it’s just his own notion. Just like him, too, come to think of it. Only I didn’t expect--well, I guess he could surprise me any day he tried.” “You’re surprising me now,” I said. “What’s it all about?” “Oh, him and Trampas.” “What? Nothing surely happened yet?” I was as curious as Scipio had been.

“No, not yet. But there will.” “Great Heavens, man! when?” “Just as soon as Trampas makes the first move,” Scipio replied easily.

I became dignified. Scipio had evidently been told things by the Virginian.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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