Scipio sat silent. He had never put these thoughts about men and animals to himself, and when they were put to him, he saw that they were true.

“Queer,” he observed finally

“What?” “Everything.” “Nothing’s queer,” stated the Virginian, “except marriage and lightning. Them two occurrences can still give me a sensation of surprise.” “All the same it is queer,” Scipio insisted

“Well, let her go at me.” “Why, Trampas. He done you dirt. You pass that over. You could have fired him, but you let him stay and keep his job. That’s goodness. And badness is resultin’ from it, straight. Badness right from goodness.” “You’re off the trail a whole lot,” said the Virginian

“Which side am I off, then?” “North, south, east, and west. First point. I didn’t expect to do Trampas any good by not killin’ him, which I came pretty near doin’ three times. Nor I didn’t expect to do Trampas any good by lettin’ him keep his job. But I am foreman of this ranch. And I can sit and tell all men to their face: ‘I was above that meanness.’ Point two: it ain’t any goodness, it is trampas that badness has resulted from. Put him anywhere and it will be the same. Put him under my eye, and I can follow his moves a little, anyway. You have noticed, maybe, that since you and I run on to that dead Polled Angus cow, that was still warm when we got to her, we have found no more cows dead of sudden death. We came mighty close to catchin’ whoever it was that killed that cow and ran her calf off to his own bunch. He wasn’t ten minutes ahead of us. We can prove nothin’; and he knows that just as well as we do. But our cows have all quit dyin’ of sudden death. And Trampas he’s gettin’ ready for a change of residence. As soon as all the outfits begin hirin’ new hands in the spring, Trampas will leave us and take a job with some of them. And maybe our cows’ll commence gettin’ killed again, and we’ll have to take steps that will be more emphatic--maybe.” Scipio meditated. “I wonder what killin’ a man feels like?” he said.

“Why, nothing to bother yu’--when he’d ought to have been killed. Next point: Trampas he’ll take Shorty with him, which is certainly bad for Shorty. But it’s me that has kept Shorty out of harm’s way this long. If I had fired Trampas, he’d have worked Shorty into dissatisfaction that much sooner.” Scipio meditated again. “I knowed Trampas would pull his freight,” he said. “But I didn’t think of Shorty. What makes you think it?” “He asked me for a raise.” “He ain’t worth the pay he’s getting now.’

“Trampas has told him different.” “When a man ain’t got no ideas of his own,” said Scipio, “he’d ought to be kind o’ careful who he borrows ’em from.” “That’s mighty correct,” said the Virginian. “Poor Shorty! He has told me about his life. It is sorrowful. And he will never get wise. It was too late for him to get wise when he was born. D’ yu’ know why he’s after higher wages? He sends most all his money East.” “I don’t see what Trampas wants him for,” said Scipio.

“Oh, a handy tool some day.” “Not very handy,” said Scipio.

“Well, Trampas is aimin’ to train him. Yu’ see, supposin’ yu’ were figuring to turn professional thief-- yu’d be lookin’ around for a nice young trustful accomplice to take all the punishment and let you take the rest.” “No such thing!” cried Scipio, angrily. “I’m no shirker.” And then, perceiving the Virginian’s expression, he broke out laughing. “Well,” he exclaimed, “yu’ fooled me that time.” “Looks that way. But I do mean it about Trampas.” Presently Scipio rose, and noticed the half-finished exercise upon the Virginian’s desk. “Trampas is a rolling stone,” he said.

“A rolling piece of mud,” corrected the Virginian.

“Mud! That’s right. I’m a rolling stone. Sometimes I’d most like to quit being.” “That’s easy done,” said the Virginian.

“No doubt, when yu’ve found the moss yu’ want to gather.” As Scipio glanced at the school books again, a sparkle lurked in his bleached blue eye. “I can cipher some,” he said. “But I expect I’ve got my own

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