The outfit, with the exception of myself, had come from the same neighborhood, and an item in Honeyman’s letter causing considerable comment was a wedding which had occurred since the outfit had left. It seemed that a number of the boys had sparked the bride in times past, and now that she was married, their minds naturally became reminiscent over old sweethearts.
“The way I make it out,” said Honeyman, in commenting on the news, “is that the girl had met this fellow over in the next county while visiting her cousins the year before. My sister gives it as a horseback opinion that she’d been engaged to this fellow nearly eight months; girls, you know, sabe each other that way. Well, it won’t affect my appetite any if all the girls I know get married while I’m gone.”
“You certainly have never experienced the tender passion,” said Fox Quarternight to our horse wrangler, as he lighted his pipe with a brand from the fire. “Now I have. That’s the reason why I sympathize with these old beaus of the bride. Of course I was too old to stand any show on her string, and I reckon the fellow who got her ain’t so powerful much, except his veneering and being a stranger, which was a big advantage. To be sure, if she took a smile to this stranger, no other fellow could check her with a three-quarter rope and a snubbing post. I’ve seen girls walk right by a dozen good fellows and fawn over some scrub. My experience teaches me that when there’s a woman in it, it’s haphazard pot luck with no telling which way the cat will hop. You can’t play any system, and merit cuts little figure in general results.”
“Fox,” said Durham, while Officer was shuffling the cards, “your auger seems well oiled and working keen to-night. Suppose you give us that little experience of yours in love affairs. It will be a treat to those of us who have never been in love, and won’t interrupt the game a particle. Cut loose, won’t you?”
“It’s a long time back,” said Quarternight, meditatively, “and the scars have all healed, so I don’t mind telling it. I was born and raised on the border of the Blue Grass Region in Kentucky. I had the misfortune to be born of poor but honest parents, as they do in stories; no hero ever had the advantage of me in that respect. In love affairs, however, it’s a high card in your hand to be born rich. The country around my old home had good schools, so we had the advantage of a good education. When I was about nineteen, I went away from home one winter to teach school—a little country school about fifteen miles from home. But in the old States fifteen miles from home makes you a dead rank stranger. The trustee of the township was shucking corn when I went to apply for the school. I simply whipped out my peg and helped him shuck out a shock or two while we talked over school matters. The dinner bell rang, and he insisted on my staying for dinner with him. Well, he gave me a better school than I had asked for—better neighborhood,