“Carramba!” exclaimed Pedro Valencia, Mexican line-rider for the Quarter Circle KT, “perhaps she will stick him with the dagger, or shoot him with the gun when she arrive! The ladies with love kill quick when the love is—what you call him?—the jilt?”
“And I’d almost forgot I ever had one!” Old Heck continued talking as if to himself.
“What’d I tell you?” Chuck exulted.
“Shut up! He’s confessin’—let him alone an’ he’ll get it out of his conscience sooner or later!”
“Had a what?” Parker urged sympathetically. “Maybe you didn’t have one—maybe you only imagined you did!”
“Had a brother—anyhow a half a one—our mothers was the same but different fathers on account of mine dyin’ when I was little and his marrying our mother again; we was playmates together in our innocent childhood and infancy until I run away and went to sea and finally anchored on the Kiowa and got to raisin’ cattle—”
“Where does he come in at?” Parker questioned.
“He said it was a female, to start with,” Skinny added.
“—and his name is Simeon Dixon on account of his father’s being the same thing, and he went in the street railroad business in a place named Hartville in Connecticut, and he got married and had a wife—she was Zithia Forbes, and she’s dead, and I knowed that, and he’s rich I reckon and—”
“An’ Amrak begat Meshak an’ Meshak begat Zimri an’ Zimri was th’ founder of th’ House of Old Heck,” the Ramblin’ Kid chanted. “What in thunder does details amount to, anyhow?”
“But you was mournin’ about a she!” Parker insisted.
“Well, I reckon it ain’t a wife—at least not the one I was thinking about,” Chuck murmured disappointedly, “but I bet he’s had one somewhere in his vari’gated career and is hiding out from her in fear an’ tremblin’—”
“And there will not be the grand, the beautiful murder?” Pedro sighed, questioningly.
“Wait a minute,” Skinny pleaded, “—give him air!”
“—and he’s got a female daughter—and I didn’t know that—and he’s—oh, Gawd!—he’s sending her out to the Quarter Circle KT!”
“How big is she?” Parker whispered.
“Inches around or what?” Charley gasped.
“—and Ophelia is coming with her—Ophelia Cobb—C-o-double-b it is—is coming with her for a chaperon—”
“Great guns!” Skinny breathed,”—two females!”
“Hold still and I’ll read it—no, you do it, Parker—I’m too full of emotion—my voice’d quiver—”
“Josiah Heck, Eagle Butte, Texas: