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Two Cases Of Discipline








From: A Story Of The Outdoor West

The Fourth of July celebration at Gimlet Butte had been a thing of the
past for four days and the Lazy D had fallen back into the routine of
ranch life. The riders were discussing supper and the continued absence
of Reddy when that young man drew back the flap and joined them.

He stood near the doorway and grinned with embarrassed guilt at the
assembled company.

"I reckon I got too much Fourth of July at Gimlet Butte, boys. That's
how come I to be onpunctual getting back."

There was a long silence, during which those at the table looked at him
with an expressionless gravity that did not seem to veil an unduly warm
welcome.

"Hello, Mac! Hello, boys! I just got back," he further contributed.

Without comment the Lazy D resumed supper. Apparently it had not
missed Reddy or noticed his return. Casual conversation was picked up
cheerfully. The return of the prodigal was quite ignored.

"Then that blamed cow gits its back up and makes a bee-line for Rogers.
The old man hikes for his pony and--"

"Seems good to git my legs under the old table again," interrupted Reddy
with cheerful unease.

"--loses by about half a second," continued Missou. "If Doc hadn't roped
its hind laig--"

"Have some cigars, boys. I brought a box back with me." Reddy tossed a
handful on the table, where they continued to lie unnoticed.

"--there's no telling what would have happened. As 'twas the old man got
off with a--"

"Y'u bet, they're good cigars all right," broke in the propitiatory
Reddy.

The interrupted anecdote went on to a finish and the men trooped out and
left the prodigal alone with his hash. When that young man reached the
bunkhouse Frisco was indulging in a reminiscence. Reddy got only the
last of it, but that did not contribute to his serenity.

"Yep! When I was working on the Silver Dollar. Must a-been three years

ago, I reckon, when Jerry Miller got that chapping."

"Threw down the outfit in a row they had with the Lafferty crowd, didn't
he?" asked Denver.

Frisco nodded.

Mac got up, glanced round, and reached for his hat. "I reckon I'll have
to be going," he said, and forthright departed.

Reddy reached for HIS hat and rose. "I got to go and have a talk with
Mac," he explained.

Denver got to the door first and his big frame filled it.

"Don't hurry, Reddy. It ain't polite to rush away right after dinner.
Besides, Mac will be here all day. He ain't starting for New York."

"Y'u're gittin' blamed particular. Mac he went right out."

"But Mac didn't have a most particular engagement with the boys. There's
a difference."

"Why, I ain't got--" Reddy paused and looked around helplessly.

"Gents, I move y'u that it be the horse sense of the Lazy D that our
friend Mr. Reddy Reeves be given gratis one chapping immediately if not
sooner. The reason for which same being that he played a lowdown trick
on the outfit whose bread he was eating."

"Oh, quit your foolin', boys," besought the victim anxiously.

"And that Denver, being some able-bodied and having a good reach, be
requested to deliver same to the gent needing it," concluded Missou.

Reddy backed in alarm to the wall. "Y'u boys don't want to get gay with
me. Y'u can't monkey with--"

Motion carried unanimously.

Just as Reddy whipped out his revolver Denver's long leg shot out
and his foot caught the wrist behind the weapon. When Reddy next took
cognizance of his surroundings he was serving as a mattress for the
anatomy of three stalwart riders. He was gently deposited face down on
his bunk with a one-hundred-eighty-pound live peg at the end of each arm
and leg.

"All ready, Denver," announced Frisco from the end of the left foot.

Denver selected a pair of plain leather chaps with care and proceeded to
business. What he had to do he did with energy. It is safe to say
that at least one of those present can still vividly remember this and
testify to his thoroughness.

Mac drifted in after the disciplining. As foreman it was fitting that
he should be discreetly ignorant of what had occurred, but he could not
help saying:

"That y'u I heard singing, Reddy? Seems to me y'u had ought to take
that voice into grand opera. The way y'u straddle them high notes is
a caution for fair. What was it y'u was singing? Sounded like 'Would I
were far from here, love.'"

"Y'u go to hell," choked Reddy, rushing past him from the bunkhouse.

McWilliams looked round innocently. "I judge some of y'u boys must
a-been teasing Reddy from his manner. Seemed like he didn't want to sit
down and talk."

"I shouldn't wonder but he'll hold his conversations standing for a day
or two," returned Missou gravely.

At the end of the laugh that greeted this Mac replied:

"Well, y'u boys want to be gentle with him." "He's so plumb tender now
that I reckon he'll get along without any more treatment in that line
from us," drawled Frisco.

Mac departed laughing. He had an engagement that recurred daily in the
dusk of the evening, and he was always careful to be on time. The other
party to the engagement met him at the kitchen door and fell with him
into the trail that led to Lee Ming's laundry.

"What made you late?" she asked.

"I'm not late, honey. I seem late because you're so anxious," he
explained.

"I'm not," protested Nora indignantly. "If you think you're the only man
on the place, Jim McWilliams."

"Sho! Hold your hawsses a minute, Nora, darling. A spinster like y'u--"

"You think you're awful funny--writing in my autograph album that a
spinster's best friend is her powder box. I like Mr. Halliday's ways
better. He's a perfect gentleman."

"I ain't got a word to say against Denver, even if he did write in your
book,

"'Sugar is sweet,
The sky is blue,
Grass is green
And so are you.'

I reckon, being a perfect gentleman, he meant--"

"You know very well you wrote that in yourself and pretended it was Mr.
Halliday, signing his name and everything. It wasn't a bit nice of you."

"Now do I look like a forger?" he wanted to know with innocence on his
cherubic face.

"Anyway you know it was mean. Mr. Halliday wouldn't do such a thing. You
take your arm down and keep it where it belongs, Mr. McWilliams."

"That ain't my name, Nora, darling, and I'd like to know where my arm
belongs if it isn't round the prettiest girl in Wyoming. What's the use
of being engaged if--"

"I'm not sure I'm going to stay engaged to you," announced the young
woman coolly, walking at the opposite edge of the path from him.

"Now that ain't any way to talk."

"You needn't lecture me. I'm not your wife and I don't think I'm going
to be," cut in Nora, whose temper was ruffled on account of having had
to wait for him as well as for other reasons.

"Y'u surely wouldn't make me sue y'u for breach of promise, would y'u?"
he demanded, with a burlesque of anxiety that was the final straw.

Nora turned on her heel and headed for the house.

"Now don't y'u get mad at me, honey. I was only joking," he explained as
he pursued her.

"You think you can laugh at me all you please. I'll show you that you
can't," she informed him icily.

"Sho! I wasn't laughing at y'u. What tickled me--"

"I'm not interested in your amusement, Mr. McWilliams."

"What's the use of flying out about a little thing like that? Honest,
I don't even know what you're mad at me for," the perplexed foreman
averred.

"I'm not mad at you, as you call it. I'm simply disgusted."

And with a final "Good night" flung haughtily over her shoulder Miss
Nora Darling disappeared into the house.

Mac took off his hat and gazed at the door that had been closed in his
face. He scratched his puzzled poll in vain.

"I ce'tainly got mine good and straight just like Reddy got his. But
what in time was it all about? And me thinkin' I was a graduate in the
study of the ladies. I reckon I never did get jarred up so. It's plumb
discouraging."

If he could have caught a glimpse of Nora at that moment, lying on her
bed and crying as if her heart would break, Mac might have found the
situation less hopeless.





Next: The Signal Lights

Previous: West Point To The Rescue



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