“I reckon she is about twenty,” said the Virginian. And again he fell to musing over the paper that he held.
“Her handwriting ain’t like any I’ve saw,” pursued Mr. Taylor. “But Bear Creek would not object to that, provided she knows ‘rithmetic and George Washington, and them kind of things.”
“I expect she is not an awful sincere spinster,” surmised the Virginian, still looking at the letter, still holding it as if it were s nike air max 1 sale ome token.
Has any botanist set down what the seed of love is? Has it anywhere been set down in how many ways this seed may be sown? In what various vessels of gossamer it can float across wide spaces? Or upon what different soils it can fall, and live unknown, and bide its time for blooming?
The Virginian handed back to Taylor the sheet of note paper where a girl had talked as the women he had known did not talk. If his eyes had ever seen such maidens, there had b cheap nike air max 1 een no meeting of eyes; and if such maidens had ever spoken to him, the speech was from an established distance. But here was a free language, altogether new to him. It proved, however, not alien to his understanding, as it was alien to Mr. Taylor’s.
We drove onward, a mile perhaps, and then two. He had lately been full of words, but now he barely answered me, so that a silence fell upon both of us. It must have been all of ten miles that we had driven when he spoke of his own accord.
“Your real spinster don’t speak of her lot that easy,” he remarked. And presently he quoted a phrase about the complexion, “Could I sue them if mine got damaged?”‘ and he smiled over this to himself, shaking his head. “What would she be doing on Bear Creek?” he next said. And finally: “I reckon that witness will detain her in Vermont. And her mother’ll keep livin’ at the old house.”
Thus did the cow-puncher deliver himself, not knowing at all tha nike air max 1 black t the seed had floated across wide spaces, and was biding its time in his heart.
On the morrow we reached Sunk Creek. Judge Henry’s welcome and his wife’s would have obliterated any hardships that I had endured, and I had endured none at all.
For a while I saw little of the Virginian. He lapsed into his native way of addressing me occasionally as “seh”–a habit entirely repudiated by this land of equality. I was sorry. Our common peril during the runaway of Buck and Muggins had brought us to a familiarity that I hoped was destined to last. But I think that it would not have gone farther, save for a certain personage–I must call her a personage. And as I am indebted to her for gaining me a friend whose prejudice against me might never have been otherwise overcome, I shall tell you her little story, and how her misadventures and her fate came to bring the Virginian and me to an appreciation of one another. Without her, it is likely I should also not have heard so much of the story of the schoolmarm, and how that lady at last came nike air max 1 to Bear Creek.
Chapter 6 Em’ly
My personage was a hen, and she lived at the Sunk Creek Ranch.
Judge Henry’s ranch was notable for several luxuries. He had milk, for example. In those days his brother ranchmen had thousands of cattle very often, but not a drop of milk, save the condensed variety. Therefore they had no butter. The Judge had plenty. Next rarest to butter and milk in the cattle country were eggs. But http://air-maxv1.co.uk/ my host had chickens. Whether this was because he had followed cock-fighting in his early days, or whether it was due to Mrs. Henry, I cannot say. I only know that when I took a meal elsewhere, I was likely to find nothing but the eternal “sowbelly,” beans, and coffee; while at Sunk Creek the omelet and the custard were frequent. The passing traveller was glad to tie his horse to the fence here, and sit down to the Judge’s table. For its fame was as wide as Wyoming. It was an oasis in the Territory’s desolate bill-of-fare.
The long fences of Judge Henry’s home ranch began upon Sunk Creek soon after that stream emerged from its canyon through the Bow Leg. It was a place always well cared for by the owner, even in the days of his bachelorhood. The placid regiments of cattle lay in the cool of the cottonwoods by the water, or air max 1 slowly moved among the sage-brush, feeding upon the grass that in those forever departed years was plentiful and tall. The steers came fat off his unenclosed range and fattened still more in his large pasture; while his small pasture, a field some eight miles square, was for several seasons given to the Judge’s horses, and over this ample space there played and prospered the good colts which he raised from Paladin, his imported stallion. After he married, I have been assured that his wife’s influence became visible in and about the house at once. Shade trees were planted, flowers attempted, and to the chickens was added the much more troublesome turkey. I, the visitor, was pressed into service when I arrived, green from the East. I took hold of the farmyard and began building a better chicken house, while the Judge was off nike air max 1 ebay creating meadow land in his gray and yellow wilderness. When any cow-boy was unoccupied, he would lounge over to my neighborhood, and silently regard my carpentering.
Those cow-punchers bore names of various denominations. There was Honey Wiggin; there was Nebrasky, and Dollar Bill, and Chalkeye. And they came from farms and cities, from Maine and from California. But the romance of American adventure had drawn them all alike to this great playground of young men, and in their courage, their generosity, and their amusement at me they bore a close resemblance to each other. Each one would silently observe my achievements with the hammer and the chisel. Then he would retire to the bunk-house, and presently I would over hear laughter. But this was only in the morning. In the afternoon on many days of the summer which I spent cheap air max 1 at the Sunk Creek Ranch I would go shooting, or ride up toward the entrance of the canyon and watch the men working on the irrigation ditches. Pleasant systems of water running in channels were being led through the soil, and there was a sound of rippling here and there among the yellow grain; the green thick alfalfa grass waved almost, it seemed, of its own accord, for the wind never blew; and when at evening the sun lay against the plain, the rift of the canyon was filled with a violet light, and the Bow Leg Mountains became transfigured with hues of floating and unimaginable color. The sun shone in a sky where never a cloud came, and noon was not too warm nor the dark too cool. And so for two months I went through these pleasant uneventful days, improving the chickens, an object of mirth, living in the open air, and bask nike air max 1 red ing in the perfection of content.
I was justly styled a tenderfoot. Mrs. Henry had in the beginning endeavored to shield me from this humiliation; but when she found that I was inveterate in laying my inexperience of Western matters bare to all the world, begging to be enlightened upon rattlesnakes, prairie-dogs, owls, blue and willow grouse, sage-hens, how to rope a horse or tighten the front cinch of my saddle, and that my spirit soared into enthusiasm at the mere sight of so ordinary an animal as a white-tailed deer, she let me rush about with my firearms and made no further effort to stave off the ridicule that my blunders perpetually earned from the ranch hands, her own humorous husband, and any chance visitor who stopped for a meal or stayed the night.
I was not called by my name after the first feeble etiquette due t air max 1 sale o a stranger in his first few hours had died away. I was known simply as “the tenderfoot.” I was introduced to the neighborhood (a circle of eighty miles) as “the tenderfoot.” It was thus that Balaam, the maltreater of horses, learned to address me when he came a two days’ journey to pay a visit. And it was this name and my notorious helplessness that bid fair to end what relations I had with the Virginian. For when Judge Henry ascertained that nothing could prevent me from losing myself, that it was not uncommon for me to saunter out after breakfast with a gun and in thirty minutes cease to know north from south, he arranged for my protection. He detailed an escort for me; and the escort was once more the trustworthy man! The poor Virginian was taken from his work and his comrades and set to playing nurse for me. And for a nike air max 1 premium while this humiliation ate into his untamed soul. It was his lugubrious lot to accompany me in my rambles, preside over my blunders, and save me from calamitously passing into the next world. He bore it in courteous silence, except when speaking was necessary. He would show me the lower ford, which I could never find for myself, generally mistaking a quicksand for it. He would tie my horse properly. He would recommend me not to shoot my rifle at a white-tailed deer in the particular moment that the outfit wagon was passing behind the animal on the further side of the brush. There was seldom a day that he was not obliged to hasten and save me from sudden death or from ridicule, which is worse. Yet never once did he lose his patience and his gentle, slow voice, and apparently lazy manner remained the same, whether we were si nike air max 1 grey tting at lunch together, or up in the mountain during a hunt, or whether he was bringing me back my horse, which had run away because I had again forgotten to throw the reins over his head and let them trail.
“He’ll always stand if yu’ do that,” the Virginian would say. “See how my hawss stays right quiet yondeh.”
After such admonition he would say no more to me. But this tame nursery business was assuredly gall to him. For though utterly a man in countenance and in his self-possession and incapacity to be put at a loss, he was still boyishly proud of his wild calling, and wore his leather straps and jingled his spurs with obvious pleasure. His tiger limberness and his beauty were rich with unabated youth; and that force which lurked beneath his surface must often have curbed his intolerance of me. In spite of what I knew nike air max 1 leopard must be his opinion of me, the tenderfoot, my liking for him grew, and I found his silent company more and more agreeable. That he had spells of talking, I had already learned at Medicine Bow. But his present taciturnity might almost have effaced this impression, had I not happened to pass by the bunk-house one evening after dark, when Honey Wiggin and the rest of the cow-boys were gathered inside it.
That afternoon the Virginian and I had gone duck shooting. We had found several in a beaver dam, and I had killed two as they sat close together; but they floated against the breastwork of sticks out in the water some four feet deep, where the escaping current might carry them down the stream. The Judge’s red setter had not accompanied us, because she was expecting a family.
“We don’t want her along anyways,” the cowpuncher ha cheap air max 1 d explained to me. “She runs around mighty irresponsible, and she’ll stand a prairie-dog ’bout as often as she’ll stand a bird. She’s a triflin’ animal.”
My anxiety to own the ducks caused me to pitch into the water with all my clothes on, and subsequently crawl out a slippery, triumphant, weltering heap. The Virginian’s serious eyes had rested upon this spectacle of mud; but he expressed nothing, as usual.
“They ain’t overly good eatin’,” he observed, tying the birds to his saddle. “They’re divers.”
“Divers!” I exclaimed. “Why didn’t they dive?”
“I reckon they was young ones and hadn’t experience.”
“Well,” I said, crestfallen, but attempting to be humorous, “I did the diving myself.”
But the Virginian made no comment. He handed me my double-barrelled English gun, which I was about to leave deserted on the ground behind me, and we rode home in our usual silence, the mean little white-breasted, sharp-billed divers dangling from his saddle.
It was in the bunk-house that he took his revenge. As I passed I heard his gentle voice silently achieving some narrative to an attentive audience, and just as I came by the open window where he sat on his bed in shirt and drawers, his back to me, I heard his concluding words, “And the hat on his haid was the one mark showed yu’ he weren’t a snappin’-turtle.”
The anecdote met with instantaneous success, and I hurried away into the dark. The next morning I was occupied with the chickens. Two hens were fighting to sit on some eggs that a third was daily laying, and which I did not want hatched, and for the third time I had kicked Em’ly off seven potatoes she had rolled together and was determined to raise I know not what sort of family from. She was shrieking about the hen-house as the Virginian came in to observe (I suspect) what I might be doing now that could be useful for him to mention in the bunk-house.
He stood awhile, and at length said, “We lost our best rooster when Mrs. Henry came to live hyeh.”
I paid no attention.
“He was a right elegant Dominicker,” he continued.
I felt a little riled about the snapping-turtle, and showed no interest in what he was saying, but continued my functions among the hens. This unusual silence of mine seemed to elicit unusual speech from him.
“Yu’ see, that rooster he’d always lived round hyeh when the Judge was a bachelor, and he never seen no ladies or any persons wearing female gyarments. You ain’t got rheumatism, seh?”
“I reckoned maybe them little odd divers yu’ got damp goin’ afteh–” He paused.
“Oh, no, not in the least, thank you.”
“Yu’ seemed sort o’ grave this mawnin’, and I’m cert’nly glad it ain’t them divers.”
“Well, the rooster?” I inquired finally.
“Oh, him! He weren’t raised where he could see petticoats. Mrs. Henry she come hyeh from the railroad with the Judge afteh dark. Next mawnin’ early she walked out to view her new home, and the rooster was a-feedin’ by the door, and he seen her. Well, seh, he screeched that awful I run out of the bunk-house; and he jus’ went over the fence and took down Sunk Creek shoutin’ fire, right along. He has never come back.”
“There’s a hen over there now that has no judgment,” I said, indicating Em’ly. She had got herself outside the house, and was on the bars of a corral, her vociferations reduced to an occasional squawk. I told him about the potatoes.
“I never knowed her name before,” said he. “That runaway rooster, he hated her. And she hated him same as she hates ’em all.”
“I named her myself,” said I, “after I came to notice her particularly. There’s an old maid at home who’s charitable, and belongs to the Cruelty to Animals, and she never knows whether she had better cross in front of a street car or wait. I named the hen after her. Does she ever lay eggs?”
The Virginian had not “troubled his haid” over the poultry.
“Well, I don’t believe she knows how. I think she came near being a rooster.”
“She’s sure manly-lookin’,” said the Virginian. We had walked toward the corral, and he was now scrutinizing Em’ly with interest.
She was an egregious fowl. She was huge and gaunt, with great yellow beak, and she stood straight and alert in the manner of responsible people. There was something wrong with her tail. It slanted far to one side, one feather in it twice as long as the rest. Feathers on her breast there were none. These had been worn entirely off by her habit of sitting upon potatoes and other rough abnormal objects. And this lent to her appearance an air of being decollete, singularly at variance with her otherwise prudish ensemble. Her eye was remarkably bright, but somehow it had an outraged expression. It was as if she went about the world perpetually scandalized over the doings that fell beneath her notice. Her legs were blue, long, and remarkably stout.
“She’d ought to wear knickerbockers,” murmured the Virginian. “She’d look a heap better ‘n some o’ them college students. And she’ll set on potatoes, yu’ say?”
“She thinks she can hatch out anything. I’ve found her with onions, and last Tuesday I caught her on two balls of soap.”
In the afternoon the tall cow-puncher and I rode out to get an antelope.
After an hour, during which he was completely taciturn, he said: “I reckon maybe this hyeh lonesome country ain’t been healthy for Em’ly to live in. It ain’t for some humans. Them old trappers in the mountains gets skewed in the haid mighty often, an’ talks out loud when nobody’s nigher ‘n a hundred miles.”
“Em’ly has not been solitary,” I replied. “There are forty chickens here.”
“That’s so,” said he. “It don’t explain her.” ③
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“I reckon she is about twenty,” said the Virginian. And again he fell to musing over the paper that he held.