Maybe Herman merely wants to lead a quiet life with the German poets, and has thought up something to make the uncle come through. On the other hand, mebbe he’s a spy. Of course he’s got a brain. He’s either kidding the uncle, or else Wagner’s Sylvan Glen now covers a concrete gun foundation.
In either case he’s due for harsh words some day—either from the uncle when he finds there ain’t any roadhouse patrons for twenty miles round, or from the German War Office when they find out there ain’t even anything to shoot at.
The lady paused; then remarked that, even at a church sociable, Uncle Henry’s idee of wine would probably make trouble to a police extent. Here it had made her talkative long after bedtime, and she hadn’t yet found out just how few dollars stood between her and the poorhouse.
I allowed her to sort papers for a moment. As she scanned them under drawn brows beside a lamp that was dimming, she again rumbled into song. She now sang: “What fierce diseases wait around to hurry mortals home!” It is, musically, the crudest sort of thing. And it clashed with my mood; for I now wished to know how Herman had revealed Prussian guile by his manner of leaving Reno. Only after another verse of the hymn could I be told. It seems worth setting down here:
Well, Herman is working on a sheep ranch out of Reno, as I’m telling you, and has trouble with a fellow outcast named Manuel Romares. Herman was vague about what started the trouble, except that they didn’t understand each other’s talk very well and one of ’em thought the other was making fun of him. Anyway, it resulted in a brutal fist affray, greatly to Herman’s surprise. He had supposed that no man, Mexican or otherwise, would dare to attack a German single-handed, because he would of heard all about Germans being invincible, that nation having licked two nations—Serbia and Belgium—at once.
So, not suspecting any such cowardly attack, Herman was took unprepared by Manuel Romares, who did a lot of things to him in the way of ruthless devastation. Furthermore, Herman was clear-minded enough to see that Manuel could do these things to him any time he wanted to. In that coarse kind of fighting with the fists he was Herman’s superior. So Herman drawed off and planned a strategic coop.
First thing he done was to make a peace offer, at which the trouble should be discussed on a fair basis to both sides. Manuel not being one to nurse a grudge after he’d licked a man in jig time, and being of a sunny nature anyway, I judge, met him halfway. Then, at this peace conference, Herman acted much unlike a German, if he was honest. He said he had been all to blame in this disturbance and his conscience hurt him; so he couldn’t rest till he had paid Manuel an indemnity.
Manuel is tickled and says what does Herman think of paying him? Herman shows up his month’s pay and says how would it suit Manuel if they go in to Reno that night and spend every cent of this money in all the lovely ways which could be thought up by a Mexican sheep herder that had just come in from a six weeks’ cross-country tour with two thousand of the horrible animals.