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Hopalong Keeps His Word

From: Hopalong Cassidy's Rustler Round-up

The waters of the Rio Grande slid placidly toward the Gulf, the hot
sun branding the sleepy waters with streaks of molten fire. To the
north arose from the gray sandy plain the Quitman Mountains, and
beyond them lay Bass Ca on. From the latter emerged a solitary figure
astride a broncho, and as he ascended the topmost rise he glanced
below him at the placid stream and beyond it into Mexico. As he sat
quietly in his saddle he smiled and laughed gently to himself. The
trail he had just followed had been replete with trouble which had
suited the state of his mind and he now felt humorous, having cleaned
up a pressing debt with his six-shooter. Surely there ought to be a
mild sort of excitement in the land he faced, something picturesque
and out of the ordinary. This was to be the finishing touch to his
trip, and he had left his two companions at Albuquerque in order that
he might have to himself all that he could find.

Not many miles to the south of him lay the town which had been the
rendezvous of Tamale Jose, whose weakness had been a liking for other
people's cattle. Well he remembered his first man hunt: the discovery
of the theft, the trail and pursuit and- the ending. He was scarcely
eighteen years of age when that event took place, and the wisdom he
had absorbed then had stood him in good stead many times since. He had
even now a touch of pride at the recollection how, when his older companions
had failed to get Tamale Jose, he with his undeveloped
strategy had gained that end. The fight would never be forgotten, as
it was his first, and no sight of wounds would ever affect him as did
those of Red Connors as he lay huddled up in the dark corner of that
old adobe hut.

He came to himself and laughed again as he thought of
Carmencita, the first girl he had ever known-and the last. With a
boy's impetuosity he had wooed her in a manner far different from that
of the peons who sang beneath her window and talked to her mother. He
had boldly scaled the wall and did his courting in her house, trusting
to luck and to his own ability to avoid being seen. No hidden meaning
lay in his words; he spoke from his heart and with no concealment. And
he remembered the treachery that had forced him, fighting, to the camp
of his outfit; and when he had returned with his friends she had

To this day he hated that mud-walled convent and those
sisters who so easily forgot how to talk. The fragrance of the old
days wrapped themselves around him, and although he had ceased to pine
for his black-eyed Carmencita-well, it would be nice if he chanced to
see her again. Spurring his mount into an easy canter he swept down to
and across the river, fording it where he had crossed it when pursuing
Tamale Jose.

The town lay indolent under the Mexican night, and the strumming
of guitars and the tinkle of spurs and tiny bells softly echoed from
several houses. The convent of St. Maria lay indistinct in its heavy
shadows and the little church farther up the dusty street showed dim
lights in its stained windows. Off to the north became audible the
rhythmic beat of a horse and soon a cowboy swept past the convent with
a mocking bow.

He clattered across the stone-paved plaza and threw his
mount back on its haunches as he stopped before a house. Glancing
around and determining to find out a few facts as soon as possible, he
rode up to the low door and pounded upon it with the butt of his Colt.
After waiting for possibly half a minute and receiving no response he
hammered a tune upon it with two Colts and had the satisfaction of
seeing half a score of heads protrude from the windows in the nearby

"If I could scare up another gun I might get th' whole blamed town
up," he grumbled whimsically, and fell on the door with another tune.

"Who is it?" came from within. The voice was distinctly feminine and
Hopalong winked to himself in congratulation.

"Me," he replied, twirling his fingers from his nose at the curious,
forgetting that the darkness hid his actions from sight.

"Yes, I know; but who is `me'?" Came from the house.

"Ain't I a fool!" he complained to himself, and raising his voice
lie replied coaxingly, "Open th' door a bit an' see. Are yu

"O-o-o! but you must tell me who it is first."

"Mr. Cassidy," he replied, flushing at the `mister,' "an' I wants to
see Carmencita."

"Carmencita who?" teasingly came from behind the door. Hopalong
scratched his head. "Gee, yu've roped me-I suppose she has got another
handle. Oh, yu know-she used to live here about seven years back. She
had great big black eyes, pretty cheeks an' a mouth that `ud stampede
anybody. Don't yu know now? She was about so high," holding out his
hands in the darkness.

The door opened a trifle on a chain and Hopalong peered eagerly

"Ah, it is you, the brave Americano! You must go away quick or you
will meet with harm. Manuel is awfully jealous and he will kill you!
Go at once, please!"

Hopalong pulled at the half-hearted down upon his lip and laughed
softly. Then he slid the guns back in their holsters and felt for his

"Manuel wants to see me first, Star Eyes."

"No! no!" she replied, stamping upon the floor vehemently. "You
must go now-at once!"

"I'd shore look nice hittin' th' trail because Manuel Somebody wants
to get hurt, wouldn't I? Don't yu remember how I used to shinny up
this here wall an' skin th' cat gettin' through that hole up there
what yu said was a window? Ah, come on an' open th' door-I'd shore
like to see yu again!" pleaded the irrepressible.

"No! no! Go away. Oh, won't you please go away!"

Hopalong sighed audibly and turned his horse. As he did so he heard
the door open and a sigh reached his ears. He wheeled like a flash and
found the door closed again on its chain. A laugh of delight came from
behind it.

"Come out, please!-just for a minute," he begged, wishing that he
was brave enough to smash the door to splinters and grab her.

"If I do, will you go away?" Asked the girl. "Oh, what will Manuel
say if he comes? And all those people, they'll tell him!"

"Hey, yu!" shouted Hopalong, brandishing his Colts at the protruding
heads. "Git scarce! I'll shore plug th' last one in!" Then he laughed
at the sudden vanishing.

The door slowly opened and Carmencita, fat and drowsy, wobbled out
to him. Hopalong's feelings were interfering with his breathing as he
surveyed her. "Oh, yu shore are mistaken, Mrs. Carmencita. I wants to
see yore daughter!"

"Ah, you have forgotten the little Carmencita who used to 1ook for
you. Like all the men, you have forgotten," she cooed reproachfully.
Then her fear predominated again and she cried, "Oh, if my husband
should see me now!"

Hopalong mastered his astonishment and bowed. He had a desire to
ride madly into the Rio Grande and collect his senses.

"Yu are right-this is too dangerous-I'll amble on some," he replied
hastily. Under his breath he prayed that the outfit would never learn
of this. He turned his horse and rode slowly up the street as the door

Rounding the corner he heard a soft footfall, and swerving in his
saddle he turned and struck with all his might in the face of a man
who leaped at him, at the same time grasping the uplifted wrist with
his other hand. A curse and the tinkle of thin steel on the pavement
accompanied the fall of his opponent. Bending down from his saddle he
picked up the weapon and the next minute the enraged assassin was
staring into the unwavering and, to him, growing muzzle of a Colt's

"Yu shore had a bum teacher. Don't yu know better'n to push it in?
An' me a cowpuncher, too! I'm most grieved at yore conduct-it shows
you don't appreciate cow-wrastlers. This is safer," he remarked,
throwing the stiletto through the air and into a door, where it rang
out angrily and quivered. "I don't know as I wants to ventilate yu; we
mostly poisons coyotes up my way," he added. Then a thought struck
him. "Yu must be that dear Manuel I've been hearin' so much about?"

A snarl was the only reply and Hopalong grinned.

"Yu shore ain't got no call to go loco that way, none whatever. I
don't want yore Carmencita. I only called to say hulloo," responded
Hopalong, his sympathies being aroused for the wounded man before him
from his vivid recollection of the woman who had opened the door.

"Yah!" snarled Manuel. "You wants to poison my little bird. You with
your fair hair and your cursed swagger!"

The six-shooter tentatively expanded and stopped six inches from the
Mexican's nose. "Yu wants to ride easy, hombre. I ain't no angel, but
I don't poison no woman; an' don't yu amble off with th' idea in yore
head that she wants to be poisoned. Why, she near stuck a knife in
me!" he lied.

The Mexican's face brightened somewhat, but it would take more than
that to wipe out the insult of the blow. The horse became restless,
and when Hopalong had effectively quieted it he spoke again.

"Did yu ever hear of Tamale Jose?"


"Well, I'm th' fellow that stopped him in th' `dobe hut by th'
arroyo. I'm tellin' yu this so yu won't do nothin' rash an' leave
Carmencita a widow. Sabe?"

The hate on the Mexican's face redoubled and he took a short step
forward, but stopped when the muzzle of the Colt kissed his nose. He
was the brother of Tamale Jose. As he backed away from the cool touch
of the weapon he thought out swiftly his revenge. Some of his
brother's old companions were at that moment drinking mescal in a
saloon down the street, and they would be glad to see this Americano
die. He glanced past his house at the saloon and Hopalong misconstrued
his thoughts.

"Shore, go home. I'll just circulate around some for exercise. No
hard feelings, only yu better throw it next time," he said as he
backed away and rode off. Manuel went down the street and then ran
into the saloon, where he caused an uproar.

Hopalong rode to the end of the plaza and tried to sing, but it was
a dismal failure. Then he felt thirsty and wondered why he hadn't
thought of it before. Turning his horse and seeing the saloon he rode
up to it and in, lying flat on the animal's neck to avoid being swept
off by the door frame. His entrance scared white some half a dozen
loungers, who immediately sprang up in a decidedly hostile manner.
Hopalong's Colts peeped over the ears of his horse and he backed into
a corner near the bar.

"One, two, three-now, altogether, breathe! Yu acts like yu never saw
a real puncher afore. All th' same," he remarked, nodding at several
of the crowd, "I've seen yu afore. Yu are th' gents with th' hot-foot
get-a-way that vamoosed when we got Tamale."

Curses were flung at him and only the humorous mood he was in saved
trouble. One, bolder than the rest, spoke up: "The senor will not see
any `hot-foot get-a-way,' as he calls it, now! The senor was not wise
to go so far away from his friends!"'

Hopalong looked at the speaker and a quizzical grin slowly spread
over his face. "They'll shore feel glad when I tells them yu was
askin' for `em. But didn't yu see too much of `em once, or was yu
poundin' leather in the other direction? Yu don't want to worry none
about me-an' if yu don't get yore hands closter to yore neck they'll
be heck to pay! There, that's more like home," he remarked, nodding

Reaching over he grasped a bottle and poured out a drink, his Colt
slipping from his hand and dangling from his wrist by a thong. As the
weapon started to fall several of the audience involuntarily moved as
if to pick it up. Hopalong noticed this and paused with the glass half
way to his lips. "Don't bother yoreselves none; I can git it again,"
he said, tossing off the liquor.

"Wow! Holy smoke!" he yelled. "This ain't drink! Sufferin' coyotes,
nobody can accuse yu of sellin' liquor! Did yu make this all by
yoreself?" He asked incredulously of the proprietor, who didn't know
whether to run or to pray. Then he noticed that the crowd was
spreading out and his Colts again became the center of interest.

"Yu with th' lovely face, sit down!" he ordered as the person
addressed was gliding toward the door. "I ain't a-goin' to let yu pot
me from th' street. Th' first man who tries to get scarce will stop
somethin' hot. An' yu all better sit down," he suggested, sweeping
them with his guns. One man, more obdurate than the rest, was slow in
complying and Hopalong sent a bullet through the top of his high
sombrero, which had a most gratifying effect.

"You'll regret this!" hissed a man in the rear, and a murmur of
assent arose. Some one stirred slightly in searching for a weapon and
immediately a blazing Colt froze him into a statue.

"Yu shore looks funny; eeny, meeny, miny, mo," counted off the
daring horseman; "move a bit an' off yu go, he finished. Then his face
broke out in another grin as lie thought of more enjoyment.

That there gent on th' left," he said, pointing out with a gun the
man he meant. "Yu sing us a song. Sing a nice little song."

As the object of his remarks remained mute he let his thumb
ostentatiously slide back with the hammer of the gun under it. Sing!
Quick!" The man sang.

As Hopalong leaned forward to say something a stiletto flashed past
his neck and crashed into the bottle beside him. The echo of the crash
was merged into a report as Hopalong fired from his waist. Then he
backed out into the Street and, wheeling, galloped across the plaza
and again faced the saloon. A flash split the darkness and a bullet
hummed over his head and thudded into an adobe wall at his back.
Another shot and he replied, aiming at the flash.

From down the Street came the sound of a window opening
and he promptly caused it to close again. Several more windows
opened and hastily closed, and he rode slowly toward the far
end of the plaza. As he faced the saloon once
more he heard a command to throw up his hands and saw the glint of a
gun, held by a man who wore the insignia of sheriff. Hopalong
complied, but as his hands went up two spurts of fire shot forth and
the sheriff dropped his weapon, reeled and sat down. Hopalong rode
over to him and swinging down, picked up the gun and looked the
officer over.

"Shoo, yu'll be all right soon-yore only plugged in th' arms," he
remarked as he glanced up the street. Shadowy forms were gliding from
cover to cover and he immediately caused consternation among them by
his accuracy. "Ain't it sad?" He complained to the wounded man. "I never starts out
but what somebody makes me shoot `em. Came down here to see a girl an'
find she's married. Then when I moves on peaceable-like her husband
makes me hit him. Then I wants a drink an' he goes an' fans a knife at
me, an' me just teachin' him how! Then yu has to come along an' make
more trouble".

Now look at them fools over there," he said, pointing at
a dark shadow some fifty paces off. "They're pattin' their backs
because I don't see `em, an' if I hurts them they'll git mad. Guess
I'll make `em dust along," he added, shooting into the spot. A howl
went up and two men ran away at top speed.

The sheriff nodded his sympathy and spoke. "I reckons you had better
give up. You can't get away. Every house, every corner and shadow
holds a man. You are a brave man, but, as you say, unfortunate. Better
help me up and come with me-they'll tear you to pieces."

"Shore I'll help yu up-I ain't got no grudge against nobody. But my
friends know where I am an' they'll come down here an' raise a ruction
if I don't show up. So, if it's all th' same to you, I'll be ambling
right along," he said as he helped the sheriff to his feet.

"Have you any objections to telling me your name?" Asked the sheriff
as he looked himself over.

"None whatever," answered Hopalong heartily. "I'm Hopalong Cassidy
of th' Bar 20, Texas."

"You don't surprise me-I've heard of you," replied the sheriff
wearily. "You are the man who killed Tamale Jose, whom I hunted for
unceasingly. I found him when you had left and I got the reward. Come
again some time and I'll divide with you; two hundred and fifty
dollars," he added craftily.

"I shore will, but I don't want no money," replied Hopalong as he
turned away. "Adios, senor," he called back.

"Adios," replied the sheriff as he kicked a nearby door for

The cow-pony tied itself up in knots as it pounded down the street
toward the trail, and although he was fired on he swung into the dusty
trail with a song on his lips. Several hours later he stood dripping
wet on the American side of the Rio Grande and shouted advice to a
score of Mexican cavalrymen on the opposite bank. Then he slowly
picked his way toward El Paso for a game at Faro Dan's.

The sheriff sat in his easy chair one night some three weeks later,
gravely engaged in rolling a cigarette. His arms were practically
well, the wounds being in the fleshy parts. He was a philosopher and
was disposed to take things easy, which accounted for his being in his
official position for fifteen years. A gentleman at the core, he was
well educated and had visited a goodly portion of the world. A book of
Horace lay open on his knees and on the table at his side lay a
shining new revolver, Hopalong having carried off his former weapon.
He read aloud several lines and in reaching for a light for his
cigarette noticed the new six-shooter. His mind leaped from Horace to
Hopalong, and he smiled grimly at the latter's promise to call.

Glancing up, his eyes fell on a poster which conveyed the information
in Spanish and in English that there was offered


For Hopalong Cassidy, of the Ranch
Known as the Bar-20, Texas, U. S. A.


and which gave a good description of that gentleman.

Sighing for the five hundred, he again took up his book and was lost
in its pages when he heard a knock, rather low and timid. Wearily
laying aside his reading, he strode to the door, expecting to hear a
lengthy complaint from one of his townsmen. As he threw the door wide
open the light streamed out and lighted up a revolver and behind it
the beaming face of a cowboy, who grinned.

"Well, I'll be damned!" ejaculated the sheriff, starting back in

"Don't say that, sheriff; you've got lots of time to reform," replied
a humorous voice. "How's th' wings?"

"Almost well: you were considerate," responded the sheriff. "Let's
go in-somebody might see me out here an' get into trouble," suggested
the visitor, placing his foot on the sill.

"Certainly-pardon my discourtesy," said the sheriff. "You see, I
wasn't expecting you to-night," he explained, thinking of the
elaborate preparations that he would have gone to if he had thought
the irrepressible would call.

"Well, I was down this way, an' seeing as how I had promised to drop
in I just natchurally dropped," replied Hopalong as he took the chair
proffered by his host.

After talking awhile on everything and nothing the sheriff coughed
and looked uneasily at his guest.

"Mr. Cassidy, I am sorry you called, for I like men of your energy
and courage and I very much dislike to arrest you," remarked the
sheriff. "Of course you understand that you are under arrest," he
added with anxiety.

"Who, me?" Asked I-Hopalong with a rising inflection.

"Most assuredly," breathed the sheriff.

"Why, this is the first time I ever heard anything about it,"
replied the astonished cow-puncher. "I'm an American-don't that make
any difference?"

"Not in this case, I'm afraid. You see, it's for manslaughter."

"Well, don't that beat th' devil, now?" Said Hopalong. He felt sorry
that a citizen of the glorious United States should be prey for
troublesome sheriffs, but he was sure that his duty to Texas called
upon him never to submit to arrest at the hands of a Mexican.
Remembering the Alamo, and still behind his Colt, he reached over and
took up the shining weapon from the table and snapped it open on his
knee. After placing the cartridges in his pocket he tossed the gun
over on the bed and, reaching inside his shirt, drew out another and
threw it after the first.

"That's yore gun; I forgot to leave it," he said, apologetically.
"Anyhow yu needs two," he added.

Then he glanced around the room, noticed the poster and walked over
and read it. A full swift sweep of his gloved hand tore it from its
fastenings and crammed it under his belt. The glimmer of anger in his
eyes gave way as he realized that his head was worth a definite price,
and he smiled at what the boys would say when he showed it to them.
Planting his feet far apart and placing his arms akimbo he faced his
host in grim defiance.

"Got any more of these?" He inquired, placing his hand on the poster
under his belt.

"Several," replied the sheriff.

"Trot `em out," ordered Hopalong shortly.

The sheriff sighed, stretched and went over to a shelf, from which
he took a bundle of the articles in question. Turning slowly he looked
at the puncher and handed them to him.

"I reckons they's all over this here town," remarked Hopalong.

"They are, and you may never see Texas again."

"So? Well, yu tell yore most particular friends that the job is
worth five thousand, and that it will take so many to do it that when
th' mazuma is divided up it won't buy a meal. There's only one man in
this country tonight that can earn that money, an' that's me," said
the puncher. "An' I don't need it," he added, smiling.

"But you are my prisoner-you are under arrest," enlightened the
sheriff, rolling another cigarette. The sheriff spoke as if asking a
question. Never before had five hundred dollars been so close at hand
and yet so unobtainable. It was like having a check-book but no bank

"I'm shore sorry to treat yu mean," remarked Hopalong, "but I was
paid a month in advance an' I'll have to go back an' earn it."

"You can-if you say that you will return," replied the sheriff
tentatively. The sheriff meant what he said and for the moment had
forgotten that he was powerless and was not the one to make terms.

Hopalong was amazed and for a time his ideas of Mexicans staggered
under the blow. Then he smiled sympathetically as he realized that he
faced a white man.

"Never like to promise nothin'," he replied. "I might get plugged,
or something might happen that wouldn't let me." Then his face lighted
up as a thought came to him. "Say, I'll cut di' cards with yu to see
if I comes back or not."

The sheriff leaned back and gazed at the cool youngster before him.
A smile of satisfaction, partly at the self-reliance of his guest and
partly at the novelty of his situation, spread over his face. He
reached for a pack of Mexican cards and laughed. "Man! You're a cool
one-I'll do it. What do you call ?"

"Red," answered Hopalong.

The sheriff slowly raised his hand and revealed the ace of hearts.
Hopalong leaned back and laughed, at the same time taking from his
pocket the six extracted cartridges. Arising and going over to the bed
he slipped them in the chambers of the new gun and then placed the
loaded weapon at the sheriff's elbow.

"Well, I reckon I'll amble, sheriff," he said as he opened the door.
"If yu ever sifts up my way drop in an' see me-th' boys'lI give yu a
good time."

"Thanks; I will be glad to," replied the sheriff. "You'll take your
pitcher to the well once too often some day, my friend. This
courtesy," glancing at the restored revolver, "might have cost you

"Shoo! I did that once an' th' feller tried to use it," replied the
cowboy as he backed through the door. "Some people are awfully
careless," he added. "So long-"

"So long," replied the sheriff, wondering what sort of a man he had
been entertaining.

The door closed softly and soon after a joyous whoop floated in from
the Street. The sheriff toyed with the new gun and listened to the low
caress of a distant guitar.

"Well, don't that beat all?" He ejaculated.

Next: The Advent Of Mcallister

Previous: The Open Door

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