Next to the peculiarity to which he owed his local appellation, Mr. Dunfer’s most obvious characteristic was a deep-seated antipathy to the Chinese. I saw him once in a towering rage because one of his herdsmen had permitted a travel-heated Asian to slake his thirst at the horse-trough in front of the saloon end of Jo.’s establishment. I ventured faintly to remonstrate with Jo. for his unchristian spirit, but he merely explained that there was nothing about Chinamen in the New Testament, and strode away to wreak his displeasure upon his dog, which also, I suppose, the inspired scribes had overlooked.
Some days afterward, finding him sitting alone in his barroom, I cautiously approached the subject, when, greatly to my relief, the habitual austerity of his expression visibly softened into something that I took for condescension.
“You young Easterners,” he said, “are a mile-and-a-half too good for this country, and you don’t catch on to our play. People who don’t know a Chileno from a Kanaka can afford to hang out liberal ideas about Chinese immigration, but a fellow that has to fight for his bone with a lot of mongrel coolies hasn’t any time for foolishness.”
This long consumer, who had probably never done an honest day’s-work in his life, sprung the lid of a Chinese tobacco-box and with thumb and forefinger forked out a wad like a small haycock. Holding this reinforcement within supporting distance he fired away with renewed confidence.
“They’re a flight of devouring locusts, and they’re going for everything green in this God blest land, if you want to know.”
Here he pushed his reserve into the breach and when his gabble-gear was again disengaged resumed his uplifting discourse.
“I had one of them on this ranch five years ago, and I’ll tell you about it, so that you can see the nub of this whole question. I didn’t pan out particularly well those days—drank more whisky than was prescribed for me and didn’t seem to care for my duty as a patriotic American citizen; so I took that pagan in, as a kind of cook. But when I got religion over at the Hill and they talked of running me for the Legislature it was given to me to see the light. But what was I to do? If I gave him the go somebody else would take him, and mightn’t treat him white. What was I to do? What would any good Christian do, especially one new to the trade and full to the neck with the brotherhood of Man and the fatherhood of God?”
Jo. paused for a reply, with an expression of unstable satisfaction, as of one who has solved a problem by a distrusted method. Presently he rose and swallowed a glass of whisky from a full bottle on the counter, then resumed his story.
“Besides, he didn’t count for much—didn’t know anything and gave himself airs. They all do that. I said him nay, but he muled it through on that line while he lasted; but after turning the other cheek seventy and seven times I doctored the dice so that he didn’t last forever. And I’m almighty glad I had the sand to do it.