“‘Gentlemen,’ says he, ’I’m glad to know you—I think I’ll stay in your town a while, but now’—and he kind of twinkled around the eyes—’I hope you will excuse me.’ With that he vanished, leaving us to take a little antidote for that there ginger ale.
“And Pete and Maggy? Well, dear friends and brothers, you never saw nothin’ like it—they think as much of each other as two men would! And the way Pete can iron a b’iled shirt is a wonder. . . . Yaas; he found his job at last; plain and decorative ironin’. Often I’ve seen Maggy, holdin’ up a batch of clo’s, with pride just oozin’ out of her, and heard her say, ’There ain’t a person in these here United States that kin slip a flatiron over dry-goods the way my Pete kin.’”
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
“Once upon a time,” said Mr. Scraggs, “there come a profound peace on my household. It was ’Zeke, what kin I give you for dinner to-day?’ and ‘Zeke’ this and that, until I says to myself, ’We’re going to have cyclones followed by a heavy frost if I tarry here,’ so I pulled my freight to Arizona, till this unnatural condition of things passed away. I understand Mrs. Scraggs in her war-paint, but Mrs. Scraggs with her eyes uprolled to Heaven and a white dove perched on each and every ear is a thing I’m not goin’ to witness the spoilin’ of, if I kin help it.
“I loafed around a little town, wearin’ the counters shiny, entertainin’ myself every minute by wonderin’ what in thunder I’d do with the next one, till Fate, that’s always seemed ready and eager to butt into my affairs, sent me down to the railroad station one morning.
“There got off’n the train a little stout man, with a clean baby skin and clean baby eyes. He looked as if he’d got born into this wicked world with a bald spot, gray side-whiskers and a pair of gold-rimmed specks. He made me feel sad—not that he weren’t cheerful enough, but his rig was that of a parson, and a parson naturally reminded me of matrimony, and there was only one thing worse than loafing around Jim Creek, and that was matrimony. ‘Yes,’ I says to myself, lookin’ at that nice, clean old gentleman, ‘he little knows the trouble he’s made in this world. And yet,’ thinks I, willing to be square, ’I don’t know as you could have kept ’em apart, even if there weren’t no ministers. Man is born to trouble as a powder-mill is to fly upward. Male and female He made ’em, after their kind; and it’s only reasonable that they’ve been after their kind ever since. And more’n that, that gentleman would have checked my wild career—he’d have held me down to one. So why should I wish to walk on his collar?’
“Whilest I was Hamlettin’ to myself like that the old boy talked to the station agent. Billy leaned on the truck and pointed to me. ‘There’s your man right now,’ says he; ’Mr. E. G. Washington Scraggs, the most famous guide and hunter in Arizona. I ain’t got a doubt you can secure his services,’ and off goes Billy.