Nobody answered. The girl laughed; then she said slowly—
“I shot Jake Farge—with this.”
She threw a small revolver at the ‘Piker,’ who picked it up. “I killed him at five this afternoon. I knew that if I didn’t do it Pap would, and that you’d hang him. Jake came after me agen an’ agen, an’ each time I warned him. To-day he came fer the last time. He was half-crazy, and I had to kill the beast to save myself. I did it, and”— she looked steadfastly at Smoky Jack—“I ain’t ashamed of it, neither. There’s only one man in all the world can make love to me. I never knowed that I keered for him till to-night.”
She pointed at Smoky, who remarked deprecatingly—
“I allus allowed you was a daughter o’ the Golden West.”
“If you ain’t goin’ to hang me,” said Mintie, “don’t you think you’d better skip?”
She laughed scornfully, and the men, without a word, skipped. Smoky, his hands loosed, seized Mintie in his arms, as the moon slipped discreetly behind a cloud.
ONE WHO DIED
He was a remittance man, who received each month from his father, a Dorset parson, a letter and a cheque. The letter was not a source of pleasure to the son, and does not concern us; the cheque made five pounds payable to the order of Richard Beaumont Carteret, known to many men in San Lorenzo county, and some women, as Dick. Time was when Mr. Carteret cut what is called a wide swath, when indeed he was kowtowed to as Lord Carteret, who drove tandem, shot pigeons, and played all the games, including poker and faro. But the ten thousand pounds he inherited from his mother lasted only five years, and when the last penny was spent Dick wrote to his father and demanded an allowance. He knew that the parson was living in straitened circumstances, with two daughters to provide for, and he knew also that his mother’s fortune should in equity have been divided among the family; but, as he pointed out to his dear old governor, a Carteret mustn’t be allowed to starve; so the parson, who loved the handsome lad, put down his hack and sent the prodigal a remittance. He had better have sent him a hempen rope, for necessity might have made a man out of Master Dick; the remittance turned him into a moral idiot.
A Carteret, as you know, cannot do himself justice upon five pounds a month, so Dick was constrained to play the part of Mentor to sundry youthful compatriots, teaching them a short cut to ruin, and sharing the while their purses and affections. But, very unhappily for Dick, the supply of fools suddenly failed, and, lo! Dick’s occupation was gone. Finally, in despair, he allied himself to another remittance man, an ex-deacon of the Church of England, and the two drifted slowly out of decent society upon a full tide of Bourbon whisky.
Tidings must have come to the parson of his son’s unhappy condition, or possibly he decided that the Misses Carteret were entitled to the remittance. It is certain that one dreadful day Dick’s letter contained nothing but a sheet of note-paper.