Press enter after choosing selection

Retiring From Business

Retiring From Business image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

What the Ookmel's business was nobody knew, nor did anybody care particularly. He purohased f of cash only, and he never grumbled at the price of anything ñe wanted; who could ask more than that ? Curious people oceasionally wondered how, when it had been fully two years since the Colonel, with every on else, abandoned Dutch creek to the Chinese, he managed to spend money freely and to lose considerable at cards and horse races. In fact. the keeper of that one of the two Challenge Hill saloons which the Colonel did not patronize was once heard to absent-mindedly wonder whether the Colonel hadn't a money mili somewhere, wiiere he turned out doublé eagles and "slugs" (the coast name for $50 gold pieces). When so important a personage as a barkeeper indulged publicly in an idea, the inhabitants of Challenge Hill, like good Californians everywhere, considered tnemselves in duty bound to give it grave consideration, so for a few days certain industrious professional gentlemen, who won money of the Colonel, carefully weighed some of the brightest pieces and tested them with acids, and tasted them, and sawed them in two, and retired them, and melted them up and hai the lumps assayed. The result was a complete vindication of the Colonel, and a loss of considerable custom to the indiscreet bar-keeper. The Colonel was as good natured a man as had ever been Jsnown at Challenge Hill, but, being mortal, the Colonel had his occasional times of despondency, and one of them occurred alter a series of races in which he had staked his all on his own bay mare Tipsie, and had lost. Looking reproachfully at his beloved animal, he failed to feel the aching void of his pockets, and drinking deeply, Bwearing plofjuently and glaring defiantly at all mankind were equaÜy unproductive of coin. The boys at the saloon sympathized most feelingly with the Colonel; they were imceasing in their invitations to drink, and they even exhibited considerable Christian forbearance, when the Colonel savageiy dissented with erery one who advanced any proposition, no matter how incontrovertible. But unappreciated sympathy grows decidedly tiresome to the giver, and it was with a feeling of relief that the boys saw the Colonel stride out of the saloon, mouat Tipsie, and gallop furiousiy airay. Kiding on horseback has always been considere i an excellent sort of exercise, and fast riding is universally admitted to be one of the most healthful and delightful means of exhilaration in the world. But when a man is so absorbed in his exercise that he will not stop to speak to a friend, and when his eajiüaration is so complete that be turns his eyes from well-meaning thumbs pointing signiflcantly into doorways through which a man has often passed while seeking bracing influences, it is but natural that people should express some wonder. The Colonel was well known at Toddy Flat, Come Hand, Blazers, Murderer's Bar and several other villages through which he passed. As no one had been seen to precede him, betting men were soon offering odds that the Colonel was running away from somebody. Strictly speaking, they were wrong ; but they won all the money that had been staked against them ; for, within half an hour'ti time, there passsd over the same road an anx'ous-looking individual, who reined up in front of the principal saloon of each place, and asked if the Colonel had passed. Had the gallant Colonel known that he was followed, and by whom, there would have been an extra election held at the place very shortiy after, for the pursuer was the constable of Challenge Hill, and for constables and all officers of the law the Colonel possessed hatred of unspeakable intensity. On galloped the Colonel, f ollowing the stage road, which threaded the old mining camps in Duck Creek ; but suddenly he turned abruptly out of the road, and urged his horse through the young pines and bushes, which grew thickly by the road, while the constable galloped rapidly on to the next camp. There seemed to be no path through the thicket into which the Colonel had turned, bat Tipsie walked between the trees and shrubs as if they were the familiar objects of her own stable yard. Snddeniy a voice from the bushes shouted : "What'sup?" " Business - that's what," replied the Colonel. " It's time," replied the voice, and its owner - a bearded six-footer - emerged from the bushes, and stroked Tipsie's noso with freedom of an old acquaintance. " We ain't had a nip since last night, and thar ain't a cracker or a handful of flour in the shanty. The old gal go back on yer ?" ' ITes," replied the Oolonel, ruefully, " lost every blasted race. 'Twasn't her fault - bless her - she done her level best. Ev'rybody to home ?" " You bet," said the man. "All been a-prayin' for y er to turn up with the rocks, an' somethin' with more eolor than spring water. Come on." The man led the way and Tipsie and the Oolonel followed, and the trio suddenly found themselves before a sniall log hut, but in front of which sat three solemn, disconsolate individuals, who looked appealingly to the Oolonel. "Mac '11 teil yer how t'was, fellers," said the Colonel, meekly, "while I picket the mare. " The Colonel was absent but a very few moments, but when he returned each of the four was-attired in pistols and kuif e, while Mac was distributing some dominóes, made from a rather dirty flour bag. " Tain't so late ez all that, is it?" inquired the Colonel. "Better be an hour ahead than miss in this 'ere night," said one of the four. "I ain't been so thirsty since I come round the Horn in '50, an' we rnn short of water. Somebody'Jl get hurt if ther' ain't any bitters on the old concern - they will, or my name ain't Perkiüs." "Don't count on your chickens 'f ore they're hatched, Perky," eaid one of the party, as he adjusted the domino under the rim f his at. "S'posin' ther' shud be too many for us ?" I "Stiddy, stiddy, Cranks 1" remonstrated the Colonel. "Nobody ever gets along ef they 'low 'emselves to be skeered." "Fact," chimed in the smallest and thinnest man in the party. " TheBible says somethin' mighty hot 'bout that. I disremember dzckly how it goes; but I've heerd Parson Buzzy, down in Maino, preach a rippin' old sermón many a time. The old man never thort what a comfort them sermons wus agoin' to be to a road agent, though. That time we stopped Slim Mike's stage, and he didn't hev no more manners than to draw on me, them sermons wuz a perfect blessing to me - the thought of 'em cleared my head as quick as a cocktail. An' - " "I don't want to dispute Logroller's pious strain," interrupted the Colonel; " but ez it's Old Black that's adrivin' to-day instead of Slim Mike, an' ez Old Black allers makes his time, hedn't we better vamose?" The door of the shanty was hastily closed, and the men filed through the thicket until near the road, when they marched rapidly on in parallel lines with it. Af ter about half an hour, Perkins, who was leading, halted and wiped his perspiring brow with his shirtsleeve. "Furenough from home now," said he. " 'Tain't no use bein' a gentleman ef yer have ter work too hard." " Safe enough, I reckon," replied the Colonel. "We'll do the usual; I'll halt 'em, Logroller 'tend to the driver, Cranks takes Ihe boot, an' Mac an' Perk takes right an' left. An' - I know it's tough - but considerin' how everlastin' eternally hard up we are I reckon we'll hevto ask contributions f rom the ladies, too, ef thar's any aboard - eh, boys ?" " Reckon so," replied Logroller, with a chuckle that seemed to inspire even his black domino with a merry wrinkle or two. ' ' What's the use ov women's rights ef they don't ever have a chanca ov exercisin' 'em 1 Hevin' their purses borrowed 'ud show 'em the huil doctrine in a bran-new light." "Come, come, boys," interposed the Oolonel, "thar's the crack of Old Black's whip ! Piek yer bushes - quick 1 All jump when I whistle I" Each man secreted himself near the roadside. The stage came swinging along handsomely ; those inside were laughing heartily about something, and Old Black was just giving a delicate touch to the flank of the off leader, when the Colonel gave a shrill, quick whistle. and flve men sprung into the road. The herses etopped as suddenly as if it were a matter of ermmon occurrence. Old Black dropped the reins, crossed his legs and stared into the sky, and the passengers all put out their heads with a rapidity equaled onlyby that with which they withdrew them, as they saw the dominóes and revolvers of the road agents. "Seemstobe something the matter, gentlemen," said the Colonel, blandly, as he opened the door. " Won't you please get out ? Don't trouble yourself to draw, 'cos my friend here's got his weapon cocked, an' his flngers is rather nervous. Ain't got a handkerchief, hev yer ? " asked he of the first passenger who descended from the stage. "Hev? Well, now, that's lucky. Just put your hands behind you, please - so - that's it. " And the unfortunate man was seeurely bound in an instant. The remaining passengers were treated with like courtesy, and the Colonel and his friends examined the pockets of the captives. Old Black remained unmolested, for who ever heard of a stage driver having money ? "Boys," said the Colonel, calling his brother agents aside and comparing receipts, " 'tain't much of a haul ; but there's only one woman, an' she's old enough to be a feller's grandmother. Better let her alone, eh ? " " Lüe enough she'll pan out more'n all the rest of the stage put together," growled Cranks, carefully testing the thickness of the case of a gold watch. " Jest like the low-lived deceitfulness of some folks to hire an old woman to carry their money, so it'd go saf er. Mebbe what she's got ain't nothin' tosome folks thet's got hosses 1het kin win 'em money at races, but - " The Colonel abruptly ended the conversation and approached the stage. He was very chivalrous, but Cranks' sarcastic reference to Tipsie needed avenging, and, as he could not censistently with business arrangements put an end to Cranks, the old lady would have to suffer. " I beg yourpardin, ma'am," said the Colonel, raismg his hatpolitely with one hand while he opened the coach door with the other, " but we're taking up a collection for some deserving object. We wuz agoin' to make the gentlemen fork over the huil amount, but ez they hain't got enough we will hev to bother you." The old lady trembled, feit for her book, raised her veil. TheOoionel looked into her faoe, slammed the stage door, and, sitting on the hnb of one of the wheels, stared vacantly into space. ' ' Nothin' ?" queried Perkins in a wliisper, and with a face f uil of genuine sympathy. "No - yes," said the Colonel, dreamily. " That is, untie 'em and let the stage go ahead," he continued, springing to his i'eet. " 111 hurry back to the cabin." And the Colonel dashed into the bushes and lelt his followers so paralyzed with astonishment that Old Black afterward remarked that "ef ther'd been anybody to hold the hoeses he oouid hoy cleaned the huil orowd with hia whip." The passengers, now relieved of their weapons, were unbound, allowod to enter the stage, and the door was slammcd; upon which Old Black pioked up his reina as coolly as if he had lain them down at a station white the horses were being charged ; then he cracked his whip and the Rtage rolled olí, while the Colonel's party hastened back to their hut, fondly inspecting as they went certain flasks they had obtained while transacting their business with the oecupants of the stage. Great was the surprise of the rond agents as tiiey entered their hut, for there stood the Coloncl in a clean white shirt, and in a suifcof clothingmade f rom the limited spare wardrobes of tlie other members of the gang. But tbe suspiciotis Cranks speedily subordinated his wonder to hisprndence as, laying 011 the table a watch, two pistols, a pocketbookanda heavy purse, he exclaimed : "Come, Colonel, business bef ore pleasure ; let's divide an' scatter. Ef anybody should hear about it, an' flnd our trail, an' ketch the traps iu our possession, they might - ■" "Divide yerselves !" said the Colonel, with abruptness and a great oath. "I don't want none of it." "Colonel," said Perking, removing his own domino, and loóliing anxiously into the leader's face, "be you sick? Here's some bully brandy which I found in one of the passenger's pockets." "Ihain't nothin'," replied the Colonel with avertedeyes. "I'm goin', and I'm a retirin' from tbis business forever." " Ain't a-goin' to turn evidence?" cried Cranks, grasping the pistol on the table. " I'm a-goin' to make a lead mine of you ef you don't take that back !" roared the Colonel, with a bound which caused Cranks to drop the pistol and retire precipitately, apologizing as he went. "I'm goin' to 'tend to my own business, an' that's enough to keep sny man bizzy. Somebody lend me fifty dollars till I see them agin." Perkins pressed the money into the Colonel's hand, and within two minutes the Coloneï was on Tipsie's back, and galloped on in the direction the stage had taken. He overtook it, he passed it, and still he galloped on. The people at Mud Guloh knew the Colonel well, and made a rule never to be astonished at auything he did; but they made an exception to tne rule when the Colonel canvassed the principal barrooms for men who ■wished to pnrehase a horse, and when a gambler who was flush obtained Tipsie f r twenty slugs - only a thousand dollars, when the Oolonelhad always said there wasn't gold enough on top of ground to buy her Mud Gulch experienced a decided sensation. One or two enteiprising persons speedily discovered that the Colonel was not in a communicative mood; so every one retired to his favorite saloon to bet according to his own opinión of the Colonel's motives and actions. ■ But when the Colonel, after remaining in the barber shop for half an hour, emerged with his face clean shaved and hair neatly trimmed and parted, betting was so wild that a cool-headed sporting man speedily made a fortune by betting against every theory that was advanced. Then the Colonel made a tour of the stores, and fitted himself with a new suit of clothes, carefully eschewing all of the generous patterns and pronounced colors so dear to the average miner. He botight a new hat and put on a pair of boots, and pruned his flnger-nails, and, stranger than all, he mildly declined all invitations to drink. As the Colonel stood in the door o f the principal saloon, where the stago always stopped, the Challenge Hill constable was seen to approach the Colonel, and tap him on the shoulder, upon which all men who bet that the Colonel was dodging somebody claimed the stakes. But those who stood near the Colonel heard the constable say : "Colonel, I táke it all back. When I seen you get out of Challenge Hill it oome to me that you might be in the road-agent business, so I followed you - duty you know. But when I seedyou sell Tipsie I knew I was on the wrong trail. I wouldn't suspect you now if all the stages in the State wue robbed ; and I'll give you satisfaction any way you want it. " "It's all right," eaid theColonel, with a smile. The constable afterwards said that nobody had any idea of how curiously the Colonel smiled when his beard iras off. Snddenly the stage palled up at the door with a crash, and the male passengers hurried into the saloon in a state of utter indignation and impecuniosity. The story of the robbery attracted everybody, and, during the exoitement, the Colonel slipped out quieÜy, and opened the door of the stage. The old lady started, and cried : " George !" And the Colonel jumped into the stage, and put his arms tenderly about the trembling form of the old lady, exclaiming : " Mother "-Bret Harte. A. Scientiflc Apparatus. If it was not for science stepping in once in a while and rolieving an overburdened community we should all bust. The latest thing that science has got in its work on is a patent undershirt, made of netting. It is just like a flsh net, and makes a man look like a halibut entangled in a fisherman's seine. In fact, it makes him an in seine man. It isclaimed by the inventor that, worn next to the skin, the shirt allows the perspiration to evapórate, instead of being mopped up by the shirt, keeping the skin dry and cool. It looks reaBonable. The 'holes also furnish excellent places for mosquitoes to settle down and go into business, each mosquito having a quarter section of cutióle all to himself, fenced in. Besides these advantages in regard to perspiration, the shirts can be used for many purposes. The arms can be tied, and the neck tied, and the shirt can be used as a net to catch fsh when you gooutto the lake. Again, the shirt can be strung between two trees for a hammock, or you can strain milk through it, or muzzle a dog, or squeezc currante for jelly, or use it for a horse net, or you can ínflate it by stopping up the holes and make a balloon ascensión. This garmeut took a medal at the Centennial Exhibition, and those who hL,ve worn them say they beat anything in the world for cooluess. It does seem qneer to tbink of wearing a hammock noxt to the skin. - Per.k's jS'iin. tii . - CoAii-oiL lamps are coming into general use in Cincinnati. Twenty thousand have been sold within the past tbree months, and 40,000 gas meters taken out,


Old News
Michigan Argus