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Trials Of The Convalescent








From: Hopalong Cassidy's Rustler Round-up

The days at the ranch passed in irritating idleness for those who had
obstructed the flight of hostile lead, and worse than any of the
patients was Hopalong, who fretted and fumed at his helplessness,
which retarded his recovery. But at last the day came when he was fit
for the saddle again, and he gave notice of his joy in whoops and
forthwith announced that he was entitled to a holiday; and Buck had
not the heart to refuse him

So he started forth in his quest of peace and pleasure, but instead
had found only trouble and had been forced to leave his card at almost
every place he had visited.

There was that affair in Red Hot Gulch, Colorado, where, under
pressure, he had invested sundry pieces of lead in the persons of
several obstreperous citizens and then had paced the zealous and
excitable sheriff to the state line.

He next was noticed in Cheyenne, where his deformity was vividly
dwelt upon, to the extent of six words, by one Tarantula Charley, the
aforesaid Charley not being able to proceed to greater length on
account of heart failure. As Charley had been a ubiquitous nuisance,
those present availed themselves of the opportunity offered by
Hopalong to indulge in a free drink.

Laramie was his next stopping place, and shortly after his
arrival he was requested to sing and dance by a local terror, who
informed all present that he was the only seventeen-buttoned
rattlesnake in the cow country. Hopalong, hurt and indignant at being
treated like a common tenderfoot, promptly knocked the terror down.
After he had irrigated several square feet of parched throats
belonging to the audience he again took up his journey and spent a day
at Denver, where he managed to avoid any further trouble.

Santa Fe loomed up before him several days later and he entered it
shortly before noon. At this time the old Spanish city was a bundle of
high-strung nerves, and certain parts of it were calculated to furnish
any and all kinds of excitement except revival meetings and church
fairs. Hopalong straddled a lively nerve before he had been in the
city an hour. Two local bad men, Slim Travennes and Tex Ewalt,
desiring to establish the fact that they were roaring prairie fires,
attempted to consume the placid and innocent stranger as he limped
across the plaza in search of a game of draw poker at the Black Hills
Emporium, with the result that they needed repairs, to the chagrin and
disgust of their immediate acquaintances, who endeavored to drown
their mortification and sorrow in rapid but somewhat wild gun play,
and soon remembered that they had pressing engagements elsewhere.

Hopalong reloaded his guns and proceeded to the Emporium, where he
found a game all prepared for him in every sense of the word. On the
third deal he objected to the way in which the dealer manipulated the
cards, and when the smoke cleared away he was the only occupant of the
room, except a dog belonging to the bartender that had intercepted a
stray bullet.

Hunting up the owner of the hound, he apologized for being the
indirect cause of the animal's death, deposited a sum of Mexican
dollars in that gentleman's palm and went on his way to Alameda, which
he entered shortly after dark, and where an insult, simmering in its
uncalled-for venom, met him as he limped across the floor of the local
dispensary on his way to the bar. There was no time for verbal
argument and precedent had established the manner of his reply, and
his repartee was as quick as light and most effective. Having resented
the epithets he gave his attention to the occupants of the room.

Smoke drifted over the table in an agitated cloud and dribbled
lazily upward from the muzzle of his six-shooter, while he looked
searchingly at those around him. Strained and eager faces peered at
his opponent, who was sliding slowly forward in his chair, and for the
length of a minute no sound but the guarded breathing of the onlookers
could be heard. This was broken by a nervous cough from the rear of
the room, and the faces assumed their ordinary nonchalant expressions,
their rugged lines heavily shadowed in the light of the flickering oil
lamps, while the shuffling of cards and the clink of silver became
audible. Hopalong Cassidy had objected to insulting remarks about his
affliction.

Hopalong was very sensitive about his crippled leg and was always
prompt to resent any scorn or curiosity directed at it, especially
when emanating from strangers. A young man of twenty-three years, when
surrounded by nearly perfect specimens of physical manhood, is apt to
be painfully self-conscious of any such defect, and it reacted on his
nature at times, even though he was well-known for his happy-go-lucky
disposition and playfulness. He consoled himself with the knowledge
that what he lost in symmetry was more than balanced by the celerity
and certainty of his gun hand, which was right or left, or both, as
the occasion demanded.

Several hours later, as his luck was vacillating, he felt a heavy
hand on his shoulder, and was overjoyed at seeing Buck and Red, the
latter grinning as only Red could grin, and he withdrew from the game
to enjoy his good fortune.

While Hopalong had been wandering over the country the two friends
had been hunting for him and had traced him successfully, that being
due to the trail he had blazed with his six-shooters. This they had
accomplished without harm to themselves, as those of whom they
inquired thought that they must want Hopalong "bad," and cheerfully
gave the information required.

They had started out more for the purpose of accompanying him for
pleasure, but that had changed to an urgent necessity in the following
manner:

While on the way from Denver to Santa Fe they had met Pete Willis of
the Three Triangle, a ranch that adjoined their own, and they paused
to pass the compliments of the season.

"Purty far from th' grub wagon, Pie," remarked Buck.

"Oh, I'm only goin' to Denver," responded Pie.

"Purty hot," suggested Red.

"She shore is. Seen anybody yu knows?" Pie asked.

"One or two-Billy of th' Star Crescent an' Panhandle Lukins,"
answered Buck.

"That so? Panhandle's goin' to punch for us next year. I'll hunt him
up. I heard down south of Albuquerque that Thirsty Jones an' his
brothers are lookin' for trouble," offered Pie.

"Yah! They ain't lookin' for no trouble-they just goes around
blowin' off. Trouble? Why, they don't know what she is," remarked Red
contemptuously.

"Well, they's been dodgin' th' sheriff purty lively lately, an' if
that ain't trouble I don't know what is," said Pie.

"It shore is, an' hard to dodge," acquiesced Buck.

"Well, I has to amble. Is Panhandle in Denver? Yes? I calculates as
how me an' him'll buck th' tiger for a whirl-he's shore lucky. Well,
so long," said Pie as he moved on.

"So long," responded the two.

"Hey, wait a minute," yelled Pie after he had ridden a hundred
yards. "If yu sees Hopalong yu might tell him that th' Joneses are
goin' to hunt him up when they gits to Albuquerque. They's shore sore
on him. `Tain't none of my funeral, only they ain't always a-carin'
how they goes after a feller. So long," and soon he was a cloud of
dust on the horizon.

"Trouble!" snorted Red; "well, between dodgin' Harris an' huntin'
Hopalong I reckons they'll shore find her. "Then to himself he
murmured, "Funny how everythin' comes his way."

"That's gospel shore enough, but, as Pie said, they ain't a whole
lot particular as how they deal th' cards. We better get a move on an'
find that ornery little cuss," replied Buck.

"O. K., only I ain't losin' no sleep about Hoppy. His gun's too
lively for me to do any worryin'," asserted Red.

"They'll get lynched some time, shore," declared Buck.

"Not if they find Hoppy," grimly replied Red.

They tore through Santa Fe, only stopping long enough to wet their
throats, and after several hours of hard riding entered Alameda, where
they found Hopalong in the manner narrated.

After some time the three left the room and headed for Albuquerque,
twelve miles to the south. At ten o'clock they dismounted before the
Nugget and Rope, an unpainted wooden building supposed to be a clever
combination of barroom, dance and gambling hall and hotel. The
cleverness lay in the man who could find the hotel part.





Next: The Open Door

Previous: The Vagrant Sioux



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