“Can’t expect to get ’em all,” comfortingly observed Mr. Strange as he executed a combination that netted him two balls and broke the bunch. After that he proved the insincerity of his statement by clearing the cloth for a second time. The succeeding frames went much the same, and finally Blaze put up his cue, mumbling:
“I reckon I must have another chill coming on. My feet are plumb dead.”
“Cold feet are sure bad.” Strange favored the crowd with a wink.
“I’m sort of sick.”
“That’s tough!” the victor exclaimed, regretfully. “But I’ll tell you what we’ll do—we’ll take a little look into the future.”
“What d’you mean?”
“Simply this: Nature has favored me with second sight and the ability to read fortunes. I foretell good an’ evil, questions of love and mattermony by means of numbers, cards, dice, dominoes, apple-parings, egg-shells, tea-leaves, an’ coffee-grounds.” The speaker’s voice had taken on the brazen tones of a circus barker. “I pro’nosticate by charms, ceremonies, omens, and moles; by the features of the face, lines of the hand, spots an’ blemishes of the skin. I speak the language of flowers. I know one hundred and eighty-seven weather signs, and I interpet dreams. Now, ladies and gents, this is no idle boast. Triflin’ incidents, little marks on the cuticle, although they appear to be the effect of chance, are nevertheless of the utmost consequence, an’ to the skilled interpeter they foretell the temper of, an’ the events that will happen to, the person bearin’ ’em. Now let us take this little deck of common playing-cards—–”
The monologist, suiting the action to the word, conjured a deck of cards from somewhere, and extended them to Blaze. “Select one; any one—–”
“Hell!” snorted Jones, slipping into his coat.
“You are a skeptic! Very well. I convince nobody against his will. But wait! You have a strong face. Stand where you are.” Extracting from another pocket a tiny pair of scissors and a sheet of carbon paper, Mr. Strange, with the undivided attention of the audience upon him, began to cut Blaze’s silhouette. He was extraordinarily adept, and despite his subject’s restlessness he completed the likeness in a few moments; then, fixing it upon a plain white cardboard, he presented it with a flourish.
Blaze accepted the thing and plunged for the open air.
A SCOUTING TRIP
“What ails you?” Law inquired as he and Blaze rolled away in the buckboard.
“Serves me right for leaving my six-shooter at home,” panted the rancher. “Well, I might have known they’d find me some day.”
“That hombre and his wife—the woman with the mustache. They swore they’d get me, and it looks like they will, for I daresn’t raise my hand to protect myself.”
This was very mystifying to Dave, and he said so.