A Chance Shot
Reddy and I were alone at the Lake beds. He sat outside the cabin, braiding a leather hat-band—eight strands, and the “repeat” figure—an art that I never could master.
I sat inside, with a one-pound package of smoking tobacco beside me, and newspapers within reach, rolling the day’s supply of cigarettes.
Reddy stopped his story long enough to say: “Don’t use the ‘Princess’ Slipper,’ Kid—that paper burns my tongue—take the ‘Granger’; there’s plenty of it.”
Well, as I was saying, I’d met a lot of the boys up in town this day, and they threw as many as two drinks into me; I know that for certain, because when we took the parting dose, I had a glass of whisky in both my right hands, and had just twice as many friends as when I started.
When I pulled out for home, I felt mighty good for myself—not exactly looking for trouble, but not a-going to dodge it any, either. I was warbling “Idaho” for all I was worth—you know how pretty I can sing? Cock-eyed Peterson used to say it made him forget all his troubles. “Because,” says he, “you don’t notice trifles when a man bats you over the head with a two-by-four.”
Well, I was enjoying everything in sight, even a little drizzle of rain that was driving by in rags of wetness, when a flat-faced swatty at Fort Johnson halted me.
Now it’s a dreadful thing to be butted to death by a nanny-goat, but for a full-sized cowpuncher to be held up by a soldier is worse yet.
To say that I was hot under the collar don’t give you the right idea of the way I felt.
“Why, you cross between the Last Rose of Summer and a bobtailed flush!” says I, “what d’yer mean? What’s got into you? Get out of my daylight, you dog-robber, or I’ll walk the little horse around your neck like a three-ringed circus. Come, pull your freight!”
It seems that this swatty had been chucked out of the third story of Frenchy’s dance emporium by Bronc. Thompson, which threw a great respect for our profesh into him. Consequently he wasn’t fresh like most soldiers, but answers me as polite as a tin-horn gambler on pay-day.
Says he: “I just wanted to tell you that old Frosthead and forty braves are some’ers between here and your outfit, with their war paint on and blood in their eyes, cayoodling and whoopin’ fit to beat hell with the blower on, and if you get tangled up with them, I reckon they’ll give you a hair-cut and shampoo, to say nothing of other trimmings. They say they’re after the Crows, but it’s a ten-dollar bill against a last year’s bird’s-nest that they’ll take on any kind of trouble that comes along. Their hearts is mighty bad, they state, and when an Injun’s heart gets spoiled, the disease is d—d catching. You’d better stop awhile.”
“Now, cuss old Frosthead, and you too!” says I. “If he comes crow-hopping on my reservation; I’ll kick his pantalettes on top of his scalp-lock.”