Andy, being a cowpuncher of the brand known as a “real,” objected strongly both to the term and the tone. He stood up and stared down at the other disapprovingly. “I don’t as a general thing find myself guilty of talking in my sleep,” he retorted, “and I’m prepared to let anything I say stand till the next throw. We may be some vociferous, out here twixt the Mississippi and the Rockies, but we ain’t no infant-in-the-cradle, Mister. We had civilization here when the Pilgrim Fathers’ rock wasn’t nothing but a pebble to let fly at the birds!”
“Indeed!” fleered Sherwood Branciforte, in a voice which gave much intangible insult to one’s intelligence.
Andy clicked his teeth together, which was a symptom it were well for the other to recognize but did not. Then Andy smiled, which was another symptom. He fingered the spur absently, laid it down and reached, with the gesture that betrays the act as having become second nature, for his papers and tobacco sack.
“Uh course, you mean all right, and you ain’t none to blame for what you don’t know, but you’re talking wild and scattering. When you stand up and tell me I can’t point to nothing man-made that’s fifty years old, or a hundred, you make me feel sorry for yuh. I can take you to something—or I’ve seen something—that’s older than swearing; and I reckon that art goes back to when men wore their hair long and a sheep-pelt was called ample for dress occasions.”
“Are you crazy, man?” Sherwood Branciforte exclaimed incredulously.
“Not what you can notice. You wait whilst I explain. Once last fall I was riding by my high lonesome away down next the river, when my horse went lame on me from slipping on a shale bank, and I was set afoot. Uh course, you being plumb ignorant of our picturesque life, you don’t half know all that might signify to imply.” This last in open imitation of Branciforte. “It implies that I was in one hell of a fix, to put it elegant. I was sixty miles from anywhere, and them sixty half the time standing on end and lapping over on themselves. That there is down where old mama Nature gave full swing to a morbid hankering after doing things unconventional. Result is, that it’s about as ungodly a mixture of nightmare scenery as this old world can show up; and I’ve ambled around considerable and am in a position to pass judgment.
“So there I was, and I wasn’t in no mood to view the beauties uh nature to speak of; for instance, I didn’t admire the clouds sailing around promiscous in the sky, nor anything like that. I was high and dry and the walking was about as poor as I ever seen; and my boots was high-heel and rubbed blisters before I’d covered a mile of that acrobatic territory. I wanted water, and I wanted it bad. Before I got it I wanted it a heap worse.” He stopped, cupped his slim fingers around a match-blaze, and Branciforte sat closer. He did not know what was coming, but the manner of the indifferent narrator was compelling. He almost forgot the point at issue in the adventure.