The Judge Ignores Particulars
From: The Virginian
"Do you often have these visitations?" Ogden inquired of Judge Henry.
Our host was giving us whiskey in his office, and Dr. MacBride, while
we smoked apart from the ladies, had repaired to his quarters in the
foreman's house previous to the service which he was shortly to hold.
The Judge laughed. "They come now and then through the year. I like the
bishop to come. And the men always like it. But I fear our friend will
scarcely please them so well."
"You don't mean they'll--"
"Oh, no. They'll keep quiet. The fact is, they have a good deal better
manners than he has, if he only knew it. They'll be able to bear him.
But as for any good he'll do--"
"I doubt if he knows a word of science," said I, musing about the
"Science! He doesn't know what Christianity is yet. I've entertained
many guests, but none--The whole secret," broke off Judge Henry, "lies
in the way you treat people. As soon as you treat men as your brothers,
they are ready to acknowledge you--if you deserve it--as their superior.
That's the whole bottom of Christianity, and that's what our missionary
will never know."
There was a somewhat heavy knock at the office door, and I think we all
feared it was Dr. MacBride. But when the Judge opened, the Virginian was
standing there in the darkness.
"So!" The Judge opened the door wide. He was very hearty to the man he
had trusted. "You're back at last."
"I came to repawt."
While they shook hands, Ogden nudged me. "That the fellow?" I nodded.
"Fellow who kicked the cook off the train?" I again nodded, and he
looked at the Virginian, his eye and his stature.
Judge Henry, properly democratic, now introduced him to Ogden.
The New Yorker also meant to be properly democratic. "You're the man
I've been hearing such a lot about."
But familiarity is not equality. "Then I expect yu' have the advantage
of me, seh," said the Virginian, very politely. "Shall I repawt
to-morro'?" His grave eyes were on the Judge again. Of me he had taken
no notice; he had come as an employee to see his employer.
"Yes, yes; I'll want to hear about the cattle to-morrow. But step inside
a moment now. There's a matter--" The Virginian stepped inside, and took
off his hat. "Sit down. You had trouble--I've heard something about it,"
the Judge went on.
The Virginian sat down, grave and graceful. But he held the brim of
his hat all the while. He looked at Ogden and me, and then back at his
employer. There was reluctance in his eye. I wondered if his employer
could be going to make him tell his own exploits in the presence of
us outsiders; and there came into my memory the Bengal tiger at a
trained-animal show I had once seen.
"You had some trouble," repeated the Judge.
"Well, there was a time when they maybe wanted to have notions. They're
good boys." And he smiled a very little.
Contentment increased in the Judge's face. "Trampas a good boy too?"
But this time the Bengal tiger did not smile. He sat with his eye
fastened on his employer.
The Judge passed rather quickly on to his next point. "You've brought
them all back, though, I understand, safe and sound, without a scratch?"
The Virginian looked down at his hat, then up again at the Judge,
mildly. "I had to part with my cook."
There was no use; Ogden and myself exploded. Even upon the embarrassed
Virginian a large grin slowly forced itself. "I guess yu' know about
it," he murmured. And he looked at me with a sort of reproach. He knew
it was I who had told tales out of school.
"I only want to say," said Ogden, conciliatingly, "that I know I
couldn't have handled those men."
The Virginian relented. "Yu' never tried, seh."
The Judge had remained serious; but he showed himself plainly more and
more contented. "Quite right," he said. "You had to part with your
cook. When I put a man in charge, I put him in charge. I don't make
particulars my business. They're to be always his. Do you understand?"
"Thank yu'." The Virginian understood that his employer was praising his
management of the expedition. But I don't think he at all discerned--as
I did presently--that his employer had just been putting him to a
further test, had laid before him the temptation of complaining of a
fellow-workman and blowing his own trumpet, and was delighted with his
reticence. He made a movement to rise.
"I haven't finished," said the Judge. "I was coming to the matter.
There's one particular--since I do happen to have been told. I fancy
Trampas has learned something he didn't expect."
This time the Virginian evidently did not understand, any more than I
did. One hand played with his hat, mechanically turning it round.
The Judge explained. "I mean about Roberts."
A pulse of triumph shot over the Southerner's face, turning it savage
for that fleeting instant. He understood now, and was unable to suppress
this much answer. But he was silent.
"You see," the Judge explained to me, "I was obliged to let Roberts, my
old foreman, go last week. His wife could not have stood another winter
here, and a good position was offered to him near Los Angeles."
I did see. I saw a number of things. I saw why the foreman's house had
been empty to receive Dr. MacBride and me. And I saw that the Judge
had been very clever indeed. For I had abstained from telling any tales
about the present feeling between Trampas and the Virginian; but he had
divined it. Well enough for him to say that "particulars" were something
he let alone; he evidently kept a deep eye on the undercurrents at his
ranch. He knew that in Roberts, Trampas had lost a powerful friend. And
this was what I most saw, this final fact, that Trampas had no longer
any intervening shield. He and the Virginian stood indeed man to man.
"And so," the Judge continued speaking to me, "here I am at a very
inconvenient time without a foreman. Unless," I caught the twinkle in
his eyes before he turned to the Virginian, "unless you're willing to
take the position yourself. Will you?"
I saw the Southerner's hand grip his hat as he was turning it round. He
held it still now, and his other hand found it and gradually crumpled
the soft crown in. It meant everything to him: recognition, higher
station, better fortune, a separate house of his own, and--perhaps--one
step nearer to the woman he wanted. I don't know what words he might
have said to the Judge had they been alone, but the Judge had chosen
to do it in our presence, the whole thing from beginning to end. The
Virginian sat with the damp coming out on his forehead, and his eyes
dropped from his employer's.
"Thank yu'," was what he managed at last to say.
"Well, now, I'm greatly relieved!" exclaimed the Judge, rising at once.
He spoke with haste, and lightly. "That's excellent. I was in some thing
of a hole," he said to Ogden and me; "and this gives me one thing less
to think of. Saves me a lot of particulars," he jocosely added to the
Virginian, who was now also standing up. "Begin right off. Leave the
bunk house. The gentlemen won't mind your sleeping in your own house."
Thus he dismissed his new foreman gayly. But the new foreman, when he
got outside, turned back for one gruff word,--"I'll try to please yu'."
That was all. He was gone in the darkness. But there was light enough
for me, looking after him, to see him lay his hand on a shoulder-high
gate and vault it as if he had been the wind. Sounds of cheering came
to us a few moments later from the bunk house. Evidently he had "begun
right away," as the Judge had directed. He had told his fortune to his
brother cow-punchers, and this was their answer.
"I wonder if Trampas is shouting too?" inquired Ogden.
"Hm!" said the Judge. "That is one of the particulars I wash my hands
I knew that he entirely meant it. I knew, once his decision taken of
appointing the Virginian his lieutenant for good and all, that, like a
wise commander-in-chief, he would trust his lieutenant to take care of
his own business.
"Well," Ogden pursued with interest, "haven't you landed Trampas plump
at his mercy?"
The phrase tickled the Judge. "That is where I've landed him!" he
declared. "And here is Dr. MacBride."
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