Strange to say, the ex-tramp, instead of taking umbrage at such language, bent over almost double, and laughed so hard Hugh almost feared he was about to have one of his violent fits of coughing; but he did not.
THE WONDERFUL NEWS
“I reckon sure my cake is dough now, since you’ve tumbled to my game, Hugh,” the late tramp was saying, presently; “and there’s nothing left for me to do but take you into camp, and give you the whole story from beginning to end.”
“I’d be glad to have you do that, Mr. Corbley,” Hugh hastened to tell him.
“Then let’s walk back a bit. I believe we can find a nice convenient log close to the road, where we’ll take things easy while I spin my little yarn. To tell you the truth, Hugh Morgan, I’ve taken a great liking to you and that chum, Thad. I’ve been sizing the pair of you up ever since I first ran across you; and say, it’s given me a heap of joy to see how solicitous you both were about my hanging out at Sister Matilda’s ranch, and eating her hard-earned bread. You boys have got the right kind of stuff in you, that’s certain. Why, there were times when I was almost afraid that impulsive chum of yours would be wanting to jump on me, and try by main force to chase me off the ground.”
“We did make one try that way, as of course you know, sir,” ventured Hugh.
“Meaning that article in the Weekly Courier about the terrible marshal from Texas, Hastings by name,” laughed the other. “I’ve had lots of fun over that racket, son, I give you my word I have. Of course there’s a sheriff down there capable of doing all those stunts your friend on the paper wrote up; but his name chances to be Rawlings and not Hastings. I must have got things a bit mixed when I told you about how he took bad men into camp, and all that. But here’s the log, and we can take things easy while I confess how I’m the most tremendous impostor going.”
Hugh seemed eager to hear about it, nor was he apparently at all afraid. In fact he was looking at the reformed tramp as though he felt a positive affection for him now, in the light of the new revelation.
“First of all, Chum Hugh,” said the man, after they had settled themselves comfortably, “I want you to know that the stories I told you about my travels in foreign lands were every one of them Gospel truth. I have been all around the whole globe, and seen some queer things in my day. But let that pass, for as we are apt to see considerable of each other after this, there’ll be a plenty of time for me to continue that narrative of adventure.
“In the course of my travels I’ve really picked up several fortunes, and then lost them again almost as quickly. It didn’t much matter, because I was one of those happy-go-lucky chaps who believe the world owes them a living, and which they can get any time they more than half try.