“But,” interrupted Charley, “I don’t see as you was any worse off than before?”
“Me?” replied Mr. Scraggs in surprise. “Me? No, I wasn’t any worse off. But, as I said before, inquire of the snake.
“Mrs. Mehitabel Thirteenth Scraggs opened up on me a few mornings after that, and my latest acquisition instantly laid hold of her by the hair of her head and beat her with a fryin’-pan till Number Thirteen had to take to her feet and stay that way for a week.
“‘You will talk to my ol’ man like that, will you?’ says Bridget. ‘Well, mind you this, now! If he nades batin’ I’ll bate him, but fur anny skimpy, yaller critter like yerself to so much as give him a sassy look I’ll construe as a mortial offense. Run along, now, run along, and git him his breakfas’, or I’ll strangle ye with me foot!’
[Illustration: “You will talk to my ol’ man like that, will you?”]
“No,” said Mr. Scraggs, sadly. “I wasn’t no worse off. If so it hadn’t ‘a’ been Bridget took a drop too much at the drug-store one night, and another drop too much over the edge of the canon on the way home, I reckon I’d had some good out of life. But it wasn’t to be, it wasn’t to be. Drowned in the bud by the inflooence of that cussed unlucky number, thirteen.”
MR. SCRAGGS INTERVENES
“There was a man,” said Mr. Scraggs, “who said, ’Deliver me from my friends.’ Now, I ain’t goin’ so far as to say I indorse that statement, nor I ain’t standin’ still so strong as to say I don’t. But I know this: An enemy will do something for you every time, whilest most friends won’t, and, moreover, I ain’t ever had any enemy who furnished me with as much light entertainment as my friend Pete.
“I am speakin’ from this here point of view. The real joyousness of life consists of being busy. We won’t take no vote on the subjeck; we’ll just admit it. Hence an enemy, that is an enemy, when you be in good health and able for to look after the enemy part from your side, is a great source of innercent amusement. A man gets so durn practical, he don’t take no interest in all the pleasant rocks and bushes strewed over the country by the beneficent hand of Providence. He shacks along on his little old cayuse, with his mind occupied on how many things he can’t do next, and he gits plumb disgusted. But suppose there’s a chance of an able-bodied enemy, aided and abetted with a gun, a-hidin’ behind each and every one of them rocks and bushes? Don’t life take on an interest? I bet you money! The imaginations of that man’s mind gets started up. Life becomes full of chances. The man, he’s interested in his life because the other feller wants to take it away from him. A good enemy in a lonesome country means more to that man than her best friend’s widower means to a maiden aunt. You bet.