“It was a small party, but we took along a commissary wagon, an ambulance, saddle horses, and plenty of Mexicans to do the clerking and coarse handwriting. It was quite a distance to the hunting grounds, and the first night out, we made a dry camp. A water keg and every jug on the ranch had been filled for the occasion, and were carried in the wagon.
“Before reaching the road camp, the big sheriff promised us a quail pot-pie for breakfast, and with that intent, during the afternoon, he killed two dozen partridges. The bird was very plentiful, and instead of picking them for a pot-pie, skinning such a number was much quicker. In the hurry and bustle of making the camp snug for the night, every one was busy, the sheriff in particular, in dressing his bag of quail. On finishing the task, he asked a Mexican to pour some water, and the horse wrangler reached into the wagon, at random, and emptied a small jug into the vessel containing the dressed birds.
“The big fellow adjourned to the rear and proceeded to wash and drain his quail. After some little time, he called to the cook: ’Ignacio, I smell kerosene. Look in the wagon, please, and see if the lantern isn’t leaking.’
“‘In a minute,’ answered the cook, busy elsewhere.
“The sheriff went on washing the quail, and when about halfway through the task, he halted. ’Ignacio, I smell that kerosene again. See if the lantern isn’t upset, or the oil jug leaking.’
“‘Just in a minute,’ came the answer as before. ’My hands are in the flour.’
“The big man went on, sniffing the air from time to time, nearly finishing his task, when he stopped again and pleadingly said: ’Ignacio, I surely smell kerosene. We’re out for a week, and a lantern without oil puts us in a class with the foolish virgins. Drop your work and see what the trouble is. There’s a leak somewhere.’
“The cook dusted the flour from his hands, clambered up on the wagon wheel, lifted the kerosene jug, pulled the stopper, smelt it, shook it, and lifted it above his head in search of a possible crack. The empty jug, the absence of any sign of leakage, gradually sifted through his mind, and he cast an inquiring glance at the big sheriff, just then finishing his task. Invoking heaven and all the saints to witness, he gasped, ‘Mr. Charlie, you’ve washed the quail in the kerosene!’
“The witless, silly expression that came into that big man’s face is only seen once in a lifetime,” said Sargent in conclusion. “I’ve been fortunate, I’ve seen it twice; once on the face of a Texas sheriff, and again, when you shot a hole in the ground with your eye on an antelope. Whenever I feel blue and want to laugh, I conjure up the scene of a Mexican, standing on a wagon wheel, holding a jug, and a six-footer in the background, smelling the fingers of one hand and then the other.”