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When You Call Me That Smile!








From: The Virginian

We cannot see ourselves as other see us, or I should know what
appearance I cut at hearing this from the tall man. I said nothing,
feeling uncertain.

"I reckon I am looking for you, seh," he repeated politely.

"I am looking for Judge Henry," I now replied.

He walked toward me, and I saw that in inches he was not a giant. He was
not more than six feet. It was Uncle Hughey that had made him seem to
tower. But in his eye, in his face, in his step, in the whole man,
there dominated a something potent to be felt, I should think, by man or
woman.

"The Judge sent me afteh you, seh," he now explained, in his civil
Southern voice; and he handed me a letter from my host. Had I not
witnessed his facetious performances with Uncle Hughey, I should have
judged him wholly ungifted with such powers. There was nothing external
about him but what seemed the signs of a nature as grave as you could
meet. But I had witnessed; and therefore supposing that I knew him in
spite of his appearance, that I was, so to speak, in his secret and
could give him a sort of wink, I adopted at once a method of easiness.
It was so pleasant to be easy with a large stranger, who instead of
shooting at your heels had very civilly handed you a letter.

"You're from old Virginia, I take it?" I began.

He answered slowly, "Then you have taken it correct, seh."

A slight chill passed over my easiness, but I went cheerily on with a
further inquiry. "Find many oddities out here like Uncle Hughey?"

"Yes, seh, there is a right smart of oddities around. They come in on
every train."

At this point I dropped my method of easiness.

"I wish that trunks came on the train," said I. And I told him my
predicament.

It was not to be expected that he would be greatly moved at my loss; but
he took it with no comment whatever. "We'll wait in town for it," said
he, always perfectly civil.

Now, what I had seen of "town" was, to my newly arrived eyes, altogether
horrible. If I could possibly sleep at the Judge's ranch, I preferred to
do so.

"Is it too far to drive there to-night?" I inquired.

He looked at me in a puzzled manner.

"For this valise," I explained, "contains all that I immediately need;
in fact, I could do without my trunk for a day or two, if it is not
convenient to send. So if we could arrive there not too late by starting
at once--" I paused.

"It's two hundred and sixty-three miles," said the Virginian.

To my loud ejaculation he made no answer, but surveyed me a moment
longer, and then said, "Supper will be about ready now." He took my
valise, and I followed his steps toward the eating-house in silence. I
was dazed.

As we went, I read my host's letter--a brief hospitable message. He was
very sorry not to meet me himself. He had been getting ready to drive
over, when the surveyor appeared and detained him. Therefore in his
stead he was sending a trustworthy man to town, who would look after
me and drive me over. They were looking forward to my visit with much
pleasure. This was all.

Yes, I was dazed. How did they count distance in this country? You spoke
in a neighborly fashion about driving over to town, and it meant--I
did not know yet how many days. And what would be meant by the term
"dropping in," I wondered. And how many miles would be considered really
far? I abstained from further questioning the "trustworthy man." My
questions had not fared excessively well. He did not propose making me
dance, to be sure: that would scarcely be trustworthy. But neither did
he propose to have me familiar with him. Why was this? What had I done
to elicit that veiled and skilful sarcasm about oddities coming in on
every train? Having been sent to look after me, he would do so,
would even carry my valise; but I could not be jocular with him. This
handsome, ungrammatical son of the soil had set between us the bar of
his cold and perfect civility. No polished person could have done it
better. What was the matter? I looked at him, and suddenly it came to
me. If he had tried familiarity with me the first two minutes of our
acquaintance, I should have resented it; by what right, then, had I
tried it with him? It smacked of patronizing: on this occasion he had
come off the better gentleman of the two. Here in flesh and blood was
a truth which I had long believed in words, but never met before. The
creature we call a GENTLEMAN lies deep in the hearts of thousands that
are born without chance to master the outward graces of the type.

Between the station and the eating-house I did a deal of straight
thinking. But my thoughts were destined presently to be drowned in
amazement at the rare personage into whose society fate had thrown me.

Town, as they called it, pleased me the less, the longer I saw it. But
until our language stretches itself and takes in a new word of closer
fit, town will have to do for the name of such a place as was Medicine
Bow. I have seen and slept in many like it since. Scattered wide, they
littered the frontier from the Columbia to the Rio Grande, from the
Missouri to the Sierras. They lay stark, dotted over a planet of
treeless dust, like soiled packs of cards. Each was similar to the next,
as one old five-spot of clubs resembles another. Houses, empty bottles,
and garbage, they were forever of the same shapeless pattern. More
forlorn they were than stale bones. They seemed to have been strewn
there by the wind and to be waiting till the wind should come again and
blow them away. Yet serene above their foulness swam a pure and quiet
light, such as the East never sees; they might be bathing in the air of
creation's first morning. Beneath sun and stars their days and nights
were immaculate and wonderful.

Medicine Bow was my first, and I took its dimensions, twenty-nine
buildings in all,--one coal shute, one water tank, the station, one
store, two eating-houses, one billiard hall, two tool-houses, one feed
stable, and twelve others that for one reason and another I shall not
name. Yet this wretched husk of squalor spent thought upon appearances;
many houses in it wore a false front to seem as if they were two stories
high. There they stood, rearing their pitiful masquerade amid a fringe
of old tin cans, while at their very doors began a world of crystal
light, a land without end, a space across which Noah and Adam might come
straight from Genesis. Into that space went wandering a road, over a
hill and down out of sight, and up again smaller in the distance, and
down once more, and up once more, straining the eyes, and so away.

Then I heard a fellow greet my Virginian. He came rollicking out of
a door, and made a pass with his hand at the Virginian's hat. The
Southerner dodged it, and I saw once more the tiger undulation of body,
and knew my escort was he of the rope and the corral.

"How are yu' Steve?" he said to the rollicking man. And in his tone I
heard instantly old friendship speaking. With Steve he would take and
give familiarity.

Steve looked at me, and looked away--and that was all. But it was
enough. In no company had I ever felt so much an outsider. Yet I liked
the company, and wished that it would like me.

"Just come to town?" inquired Steve of the Virginian.

"Been here since noon. Been waiting for the train."

"Going out to-night?"

"I reckon I'll pull out to-morro'."

"Beds are all took," said Steve. This was for my benefit.

"Dear me," said I.

"But I guess one of them drummers will let yu' double up with him."
Steve was enjoying himself, I think. He had his saddle and blankets, and
beds were nothing to him.

"Drummers, are they?" asked the Virginian.

"Two Jews handling cigars, one American with consumption killer, and a
Dutchman with jew'lry."

The Virginian set down my valise, and seemed to meditate. "I did want a
bed to-night," he murmured gently.

"Well," Steve suggested, "the American looks like he washed the
oftenest."

"That's of no consequence to me," observed the Southerner.

"Guess it'll be when yu' see 'em."

"Oh, I'm meaning something different. I wanted a bed to myself."

"Then you'll have to build one."

"Bet yu' I have the Dutchman's."

"Take a man that won't scare. Bet yu' drinks yu' can't have the
American's."

"Go yu'" said the Virginian. "I'll have his bed without any fuss. Drinks
for the crowd."

"I suppose you have me beat," said Steve, grinning at him
affectionately. "You're such a son-of-a---- when you get down to work.
Well, so long! I got to fix my horse's hoofs."

I had expected that the man would be struck down. He had used to the
Virginian a term of heaviest insult, I thought. I had marvelled to hear
it come so unheralded from Steve's friendly lips. And now I marvelled
still more. Evidently he had meant no harm by it, and evidently
no offence had been taken. Used thus, this language was plainly
complimentary. I had stepped into a world new to me indeed, and
novelties were occurring with scarce any time to get breath between
them. As to where I should sleep, I had forgotten that problem
altogether in my curiosity. What was the Virginian going to do now? I
began to know that the quiet of this man was volcanic.

"Will you wash first, sir?"

We were at the door of the eating-house, and he set my valise inside.
In my tenderfoot innocence I was looking indoors for the washing
arrangements.

"It's out hyeh, seh," he informed me gravely, but with strong Southern
accent. Internal mirth seemed often to heighten the local flavor of his
speech. There were other times when it had scarce any special accent or
fault in grammar.

A trough was to my right, slippery with soapy water; and hanging from
a roller above one end of it was a rag of discouraging appearance. The
Virginian caught it, and it performed one whirling revolution on its
roller. Not a dry or clean inch could be found on it. He took off his
hat, and put his head in the door.

"Your towel, ma'am," said he, "has been too popular."

She came out, a pretty woman. Her eyes rested upon him for a moment,
then upon me with disfavor; then they returned to his black hair.

"The allowance is one a day," said she, very quietly. "But when folks
are particular--" She completed her sentence by removing the old towel
and giving a clean one to us.

"Thank you, ma'am," said the cow-puncher.

She looked once more at his black hair, and without any word returned to
her guests at supper.

A pail stood in the trough, almost empty; and this he filled for me from
a well. There was some soap sliding at large in the trough, but I got my
own. And then in a tin basin I removed as many of the stains of travel
as I was able. It was not much of a toilet that I made in this first
wash-trough of my experience, but it had to suffice, and I took my seat
at supper.

Canned stuff it was,--corned beef. And one of my table companions said
the truth about it. "When I slung my teeth over that," he remarked, "I
thought I was chewing a hammock." We had strange coffee, and condensed
milk; and I have never seen more flies. I made no attempt to talk,
for no one in this country seemed favorable to me. By reason of
something,--my clothes, my hat, my pronunciation, whatever it might be,
I possessed the secret of estranging people at sight. Yet I was doing
better than I knew; my strict silence and attention to the corned beef
made me in the eyes of the cow-boys at table compare well with the
over-talkative commercial travellers.

The Virginian's entrance produced a slight silence. He had done wonders
with the wash-trough, and he had somehow brushed his clothes. With all
the roughness of his dress, he was now the neatest of us. He nodded to
some of the other cow-boys, and began his meal in quiet.

But silence is not the native element of the drummer. An average fish
can go a longer time out of water than this breed can live without
talking. One of them now looked across the table at the grave,
flannel-shirted Virginian; he inspected, and came to the imprudent
conclusion that he understood his man.

"Good evening," he said briskly.

"Good evening," said the Virginian.

"Just come to town?" pursued the drummer.

"Just come to town," the Virginian suavely assented.

"Cattle business jumping along?" inquired the drummer.

"Oh, fair." And the Virginian took some more corned beef.

"Gets a move on your appetite, anyway," suggested the drummer.

The Virginian drank some coffee. Presently the pretty woman refilled his
cup without his asking her.

"Guess I've met you before," the drummer stated next.

The Virginian glanced at him for a brief moment.

"Haven't I, now? Ain't I seen you somewhere? Look at me. You been in
Chicago, ain't you? You look at me well. Remember Ikey's, don't you?"

"I don't reckon I do."

"See, now! I knowed you'd been in Chicago. Four or five years ago. Or
maybe it's two years. Time's nothing to me. But I never forget a face.
Yes, sir. Him and me's met at Ikey's, all right." This important point
the drummer stated to all of us. We were called to witness how well he
had proved old acquaintanceship. "Ain't the world small, though!" he
exclaimed complacently. "Meet a man once and you're sure to run on to
him again. That's straight. That's no bar-room josh." And the drummer's
eye included us all in his confidence. I wondered if he had attained
that high perfection when a man believes his own lies.

The Virginian did not seem interested. He placidly attended to his
food, while our landlady moved between dining room and kitchen, and the
drummer expanded.

"Yes, sir! Ikey's over by the stock-yards, patronized by all cattle-men
that know what's what. That's where. Maybe it's three years. Time never
was nothing to me. But faces! Why, I can't quit 'em. Adults or children,
male and female; onced I seen 'em I couldn't lose one off my memory, not
if you were to pay me bounty, five dollars a face. White men, that is.
Can't do nothing with niggers or Chinese. But you're white, all
right." The drummer suddenly returned to the Virginian with this high
compliment. The cow-puncher had taken out a pipe, and was slowly rubbing
it. The compliment seemed to escape his attention, and the drummer went
on.

"I can tell a man when he's white, put him at Ikey's or out loose here
in the sage-brush." And he rolled a cigar across to the Virginian's
plate.

"Selling them?" inquired the Virginian.

"Solid goods, my friend. Havana wrappers, the biggest tobacco
proposition for five cents got out yet. Take it, try it, light it, watch
it burn. Here." And he held out a bunch of matches.

The Virginian tossed a five-cent piece over to him.

"Oh, no, my friend! Not from you! Not after Ikey's. I don't forget you.
See? I knowed your face right away. See? That's straight. I seen you at
Chicago all right."

"Maybe you did," said the Virginian. "Sometimes I'm mighty careless what
I look at."

"Well, py damn!" now exclaimed the Dutch drummer, hilariously. "I am
ploom disappointed. I vas hoping to sell him somedings myself."

"Not the same here," stated the American. "He's too healthy for me. I
gave him up on sight."

Now it was the American drummer whose bed the Virginian had in his eye.
This was a sensible man, and had talked less than his brothers in the
trade. I had little doubt who would end by sleeping in his bed; but how
the thing would be done interested me more deeply than ever.

The Virginian looked amiably at his intended victim, and made one or two
remarks regarding patent medicines. There must be a good deal of money
in them, he supposed, with a live man to manage them. The victim was
flattered. No other person at the table had been favored with so much
of the tall cow-puncher's notice. He responded, and they had a pleasant
talk. I did not divine that the Virginian's genius was even then at
work, and that all this was part of his satanic strategy. But Steve must
have divined it. For while a few of us still sat finishing our supper,
that facetious horseman returned from doctoring his horse's hoofs, put
his head into the dining room, took in the way in which the Virginian
was engaging his victim in conversation, remarked aloud, "I've lost!"
and closed the door again.

"What's he lost?" inquired the American drummer.

"Oh, you mustn't mind him," drawled the Virginian. "He's one of those
box-head jokers goes around openin' and shuttin' doors that-a-way. We
call him harmless. Well," he broke off, "I reckon I'll go smoke. Not
allowed in hyeh?" This last he addressed to the landlady, with especial
gentleness. She shook her head, and her eyes followed him as he went
out.

Left to myself I meditated for some time upon my lodging for the night,
and smoked a cigar for consolation as I walked about. It was not a hotel
that we had supped in. Hotel at Medicine Bow there appeared to be none.
But connected with the eating-house was that place where, according
to Steve, the beds were all taken, and there I went to see for myself.
Steve had spoken the truth. It was a single apartment containing four or
five beds, and nothing else whatever. And when I looked at these beds,
my sorrow that I could sleep in none of them grew less. To be alone in
one offered no temptation, and as for this courtesy of the country, this
doubling up--!

"Well, they have got ahead of us." This was the Virginian standing at my
elbow.

I assented.

"They have staked out their claims," he added.

In this public sleeping room they had done what one does to secure a
seat in a railroad train. Upon each bed, as notice of occupancy, lay
some article of travel or of dress. As we stood there, the two Jews came
in and opened and arranged their valises, and folded and refolded their
linen dusters. Then a railroad employee entered and began to go to bed
at this hour, before dusk had wholly darkened into night. For him, going
to bed meant removing his boots and placing his overalls and waistcoat
beneath his pillow. He had no coat. His work began at three in the
morning; and even as we still talked he began to snore.

"The man that keeps the store is a friend of mine," said the Virginian;
"and you can be pretty near comfortable on his counter. Got any
Blankets?"

I had no blankets.

"Looking for a bed?" inquired the American drummer, now arriving.

"Yes, he's looking for a bed," answered the voice of Steve behind him.

"Seems a waste of time," observed the Virginian. He looked thoughtfully
from one bed to another. "I didn't know I'd have to lay over here. Well,
I have sat up before."

"This one's mine," said the drummer, sitting down on it. "Half's plenty
enough room for me."

"You're cert'nly mighty kind," said the cowpuncher. "But I'd not think
o' disconveniencing yu'."

"That's nothing. The other half is yours. Turn in right now if you feel
like it."

"No. I don't reckon I'll turn in right now. Better keep your bed to
yourself."

"See here," urged the drummer, "if I take you I'm safe from drawing some
party I might not care so much about. This here sleeping proposition is
a lottery."

"Well," said the Virginian (and his hesitation was truly masterly), "if
you put it that way--"

"I do put it that way. Why, you're clean! You've had a shave right now.
You turn in when you feel inclined, old man! I ain't retiring just yet."

The drummer had struck a slightly false note in these last remarks. He
should not have said "old man." Until this I had thought him merely an
amiable person who wished to do a favor. But "old man" came in wrong.
It had a hateful taint of his profession; the being too soon with
everybody, the celluloid good-fellowship that passes for ivory with nine
in ten of the city crowd. But not so with the sons of the sagebrush.
They live nearer nature, and they know better.

But the Virginian blandly accepted "old man" from his victim: he had a
game to play. "Well, I cert'nly thank yu'," he said. "After a while I'll
take advantage of your kind offer."

I was surprised. Possession being nine points of the law, it seemed
his very chance to intrench himself in the bed. But the cow-puncher
had planned a campaign needing no intrenchments. Moreover, going to bed
before nine o'clock upon the first evening in many weeks that a town's
resources were open to you, would be a dull proceeding. Our entire
company, drummer and all, now walked over to the store, and here my
sleeping arrangements were made easily. This store was the cleanest
place and the best in Medicine Bow, and would have been a good store
anywhere, offering a multitude of things for sale, and kept by a very
civil proprietor. He bade me make myself at home, and placed both of his
counters at my disposal. Upon the grocery side there stood a cheese too
large and strong to sleep near comfortably, and I therefore chose the
dry-goods side. Here thick quilts were unrolled for me, to make it soft;
and no condition was placed upon me, further than that I should remove
my boots, because the quilts were new, and clean, and for sale. So
now my rest was assured. Not an anxiety remained in my thoughts. These
therefore turned themselves wholly to the other man's bed, and how he
was going to lose it.

I think that Steve was more curious even than myself. Time was on the
wing. His bet must be decided, and the drinks enjoyed. He stood against
the grocery counter, contemplating the Virginian. But it was to me that
he spoke. The Virginian, however, listened to every word.

"Your first visit to this country?"

I told him yes.

"How do you like it?"

I expected to like it very much.

"How does the climate strike you?"

I thought the climate was fine.

"Makes a man thirsty though."

This was the sub-current which the Virginian plainly looked for. But he,
like Steve, addressed himself to me.

"Yes," he put in, "thirsty while a man's soft yet. You'll harden."

"I guess you'll find it a drier country than you were given to expect,"
said Steve.

"If your habits have been frequent that way," said the Virginian.

"There's parts of Wyoming," pursued Steve, "where you'll go hours and
hours before you'll see a drop of wetness."

"And if yu' keep a-thinkin' about it," said the Virginian, "it'll seem
like days and days."

Steve, at this stroke, gave up, and clapped him on the shoulder with a
joyous chuckle. "You old son-of-a!" he cried affectionately.

"Drinks are due now," said the Virginian. "My treat, Steve. But I reckon
your suspense will have to linger a while yet."

Thus they dropped into direct talk from that speech of the fourth
dimension where they had been using me for their telephone.

"Any cyards going to-night?" inquired the Virginian.

"Stud and draw," Steve told him. "Strangers playing."

"I think I'd like to get into a game for a while," said the Southerner.
"Strangers, yu' say?"

And then, before quitting the store, he made his toilet for this little
hand at poker. It was a simple preparation. He took his pistol from its
holster, examined it, then shoved it between his overalls and his shirt
in front, and pulled his waistcoat over it. He might have been combing
his hair for all the attention any one paid to this, except myself. Then
the two friends went out, and I bethought me of that epithet which
Steve again had used to the Virginian as he clapped him on the shoulder.
Clearly this wild country spoke a language other than mine--the word
here was a term of endearment. Such was my conclusion.

The drummers had finished their dealings with the proprietor, and they
were gossiping together in a knot by the door as the Virginian passed
out.

"See you later, old man!" This was the American drummer accosting his
prospective bed-fellow.

"Oh, yes," returned the bed-fellow, and was gone.

The American drummer winked triumphantly at his brethren. "He's all
right," he observed, jerking a thumb after the Virginian. "He's easy.
You got to know him to work him. That's all."

"Und vat is your point?" inquired the German drummer.

"Point is--he'll not take any goods off you or me; but he's going to
talk up the killer to any consumptive he runs across. I ain't done with
him yet. Say," (he now addressed the proprietor), "what's her name?"

"Whose name?"

"Woman runs the eating-house."

"Glen. Mrs. Glen."

"Ain't she new?"

"Been settled here about a month. Husband's a freight conductor."

"Thought I'd not seen her before. She's a good-looker."

"Hm! Yes. The kind of good looks I'd sooner see in another man's wife
than mine."

"So that's the gait, is it?"

"Hm! well, it don't seem to be. She come here with that reputation. But
there's been general disappointment."

"Then she ain't lacked suitors any?"

"Lacked! Are you acquainted with cow-boys?"

"And she disappointed 'em? Maybe she likes her husband?"

"Hm! well, how are you to tell about them silent kind?"

"Talking of conductors," began the drummer. And we listened to his
anecdote. It was successful with his audience; but when he launched
fluently upon a second I strolled out. There was not enough wit in
this narrator to relieve his indecency, and I felt shame at having been
surprised into laughing with him.

I left that company growing confidential over their leering stories,
and I sought the saloon. It was very quiet and orderly. Beer in quart
bottles at a dollar I had never met before; but saving its price, I
found no complaint to make of it. Through folding doors I passed from
the bar proper with its bottles and elk head back to the hall with its
various tables. I saw a man sliding cards from a case, and across the
table from him another man laying counters down. Near by was a second
dealer pulling cards from the bottom of a pack, and opposite him a
solemn old rustic piling and changing coins upon the cards which lay
already exposed.

But now I heard a voice that drew my eyes to the far corner of the room.

"Why didn't you stay in Arizona?"

Harmless looking words as I write them down here. Yet at the sound of
them I noticed the eyes of the others directed to that corner. What
answer was given to them I did not hear, nor did I see who spoke. Then
came another remark.

"Well, Arizona's no place for amatures."

This time the two card dealers that I stood near began to give a part of
their attention to the group that sat in the corner. There was in me a
desire to leave this room. So far my hours at Medicine Bow had seemed
to glide beneath a sunshine of merriment, of easy-going jocularity. This
was suddenly gone, like the wind changing to north in the middle of a
warm day. But I stayed, being ashamed to go.

Five or six players sat over in the corner at a round table where
counters were piled. Their eyes were close upon their cards, and one
seemed to be dealing a card at a time to each, with pauses and betting
between. Steve was there and the Virginian; the others were new faces.

"No place for amatures," repeated the voice; and now I saw that it was
the dealer's. There was in his countenance the same ugliness that his
words conveyed.

"Who's that talkin'?" said one of the men near me, in a low voice.

"Trampas."

"What's he?"

"Cow-puncher, bronco-buster, tin-horn, most anything."

"Who's he talkin' at?"

"Think it's the black-headed guy he's talking at."

"That ain't supposed to be safe, is it?"

"Guess we're all goin' to find out in a few minutes."

"Been trouble between 'em?"

"They've not met before. Trampas don't enjoy losin' to a stranger."

"Fello's from Arizona, yu' say?"

"No. Virginia. He's recently back from havin' a look at Arizona. Went
down there last year for a change. Works for the Sunk Creek outfit." And
then the dealer lowered his voice still further and said something
in the other man's ear, causing him to grin. After which both of them
looked at me.

There had been silence over in the corner; but now the man Trampas spoke
again.

"AND ten," said he, sliding out some chips from before him. Very strange
it was to hear him, how he contrived to make those words a personal
taunt. The Virginian was looking at his cards. He might have been deaf.

"AND twenty," said the next player, easily.

The next threw his cards down.

It was now the Virginian's turn to bet, or leave the game, and he did
not speak at once.

Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you son-of-a--."

The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding
it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded
almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so
that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders
to the man Trampas: "When you call me that, SMILE." And he looked at
Trampas across the table.

Yes, the voice was gentle. But in my ears it seemed as if somewhere the
bell of death was ringing; and silence, like a stroke, fell on the large
room. All men present, as if by some magnetic current, had become aware
of this crisis. In my ignorance, and the total stoppage of my thoughts,
I stood stock-still, and noticed various people crouching, or shifting
their positions.

"Sit quiet," said the dealer, scornfully to the man near me. "Can't you
see he don't want to push trouble? He has handed Trampas the choice to
back down or draw his steel."

Then, with equal suddenness and ease, the room came out of its
strangeness. Voices and cards, the click of chips, the puff of tobacco,
glasses lifted to drink,--this level of smooth relaxation hinted no more
plainly of what lay beneath than does the surface tell the depth of the
sea.

For Trampas had made his choice. And that choice was not to "draw his
steel." If it was knowledge that he sought, he had found it, and no
mistake! We heard no further reference to what he had been pleased
to style "amatures." In no company would the black-headed man who had
visited Arizona be rated a novice at the cool art of self-preservation.

One doubt remained: what kind of a man was Trampas? A public back-down
is an unfinished thing,--for some natures at least. I looked at his
face, and thought it sullen, but tricky rather than courageous.

Something had been added to my knowledge also. Once again I had heard
applied to the Virginian that epithet which Steve so freely used. The
same words, identical to the letter. But this time they had produced a
pistol. "When you call me that, SMILE!" So I perceived a new example of
the old truth, that the letter means nothing until the spirit gives it
life.





Next: Steve Treats

Previous: Enter The Man



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