“So Andy goes out of the Blue Snake, and I see him stopping men on the street and talking to ’em. By and by he has half a dozen in a bunch listening to him; and pretty soon I see him waving his arms and elocuting at a good-sized crowd on a corner. When he walks away they string out after him, talking all the time; and he leads ’em down the main street of Bird City with more men joining the procession as they go. It reminded me of the old legerdemain that I’d read in books about the Pied Piper of Heidsieck charming the children away from the town.
[Illustration: “And he leads ’em down the main street of Bird City.”]
“One o’clock came; and then two; and three got under the wire for place; and not a Bird citizen came in for a drink. The streets were deserted except for some ducks and ladies going to the stores. There was only a light drizzle falling then.
“A lonesome man came along and stopped in front of the Blue Snake to scrape the mud off his boots.
“‘Pardner,’ says I, ’what has happened? This morning there was hectic gaiety afoot; and now it seems more like one of them ruined cities of Tyre and Siphon where the lone lizard crawls on the walls of the main port-cullis.’
“‘The whole town,’ says the muddy man, ’is up in Sperry’s wool warehouse listening to your side-kicker make a speech. He is some gravy on delivering himself of audible sounds relating to matters and conclusions,’ says the man.
“‘Well, I hope he’ll adjourn, sine qua non, pretty soon,’ says I, ’for trade languishes.’
“Not a customer did we have that afternoon. At six o’clock two Mexicans brought Andy to the saloon lying across the back of a burro. We put him in bed while he still muttered and gesticulated with his hands and feet.
“Then I locked up the cash and went out to see what had happened. I met a man who told me all about it. Andy had made the finest two hour speech that had ever been heard in Texas, he said, or anywhere else in the world.
“‘What was it about?’ I asked.
“‘Temperance,’ says he. ’And when he got through, every man in Bird City signed the pledge for a year.’”
Jeff Peters has been engaged in as many schemes for making money as there are recipes for cooking rice in Charleston, S.C.
Best of all I like to hear him tell of his earlier days when he sold liniments and cough cures on street corners, living hand to mouth, heart to heart with the people, throwing heads or tails with fortune for his last coin.
“I struck Fisher Hill, Arkansaw,” said he, “in a buckskin suit, moccasins, long hair and a thirty-carat diamond ring that I got from an actor in Texarkana. I don’t know what he ever did with the pocket knife I swapped him for it.
“I was Dr. Waugh-hoo, the celebrated Indian medicine man. I carried only one best bet just then, and that was Resurrection Bitters. It was made of life-giving plants and herbs accidentally discovered by Ta-qua-la, the beautiful wife of the chief of the Choctaw Nation, while gathering truck to garnish a platter of boiled dog for the annual corn dance.