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Newspaper Page Text
By Ella Marcia Brackett
1 (Copyright by W. G. Chapman.)
! "Dance, you tenderfoot."
Bang bang. - -
Big Bill Bluff worked at the trigger
of his great seven-shooter. The bul
lets lined a circle around the nimble
figure, perforce keeping step to the
whanging snarl of the broken fiddle
played by the tipsy, worthless broth
er of the proprietor of the Raven
Bill Bluff dominated the occasion.
He was down from the diggings with
all kinds of "mint dust" and distrib
uting it liberally whenever the drunk
en fancy took him. He had noticed
the thin, seedy young man who im
bibed thirstily at every round of
drinks. Then he had suddenly sin
gled him out as a stranger.
Therefore, a victim. It made no
difference to Bill that the object of
his interest resembled a poet, an art
ist, rather than the simple denizen of
the settlement He was "a tender
foot" "Pay your toll that's the border
rule," yowled out Bill. "Dance!"
And Leslie Burr danced. It was
not with chagrin or any sense of of
fended dignity. Time was when this
would have been, but in the past, the
dim past, alas! far, far away!
He had been going down hill for a
year, lower and lower. He had drift
ed farther and farther away from
mother, home and respectability. He
had worked only to secure drink. He
craved it now. He was filling up on
it free. Hence he danced. There was
a fleeting memory of rhythmic steps
where saneness and grace and elevat
ing companionship had ruled. All
this, however, was blurred and indis
tinct, for he was anxious to forget all
save the present, the sad, wretched
moment at hand.
"Good as a vaudeville!" roared Bill
Bluff when the dance was concluded.
"All hands!" and there was another
round. Then Bill brought to view his
second shooting iron.
' "Now sing, stranger!"
Leslie Burr hesitated. There were
some things sacred to him remem
brance of the sacntity of his great
gift He had led a choir. He had
been the idolized tenor of the college
glee club. At home, his father and
mother had made his superb voice
power their pride. A mistiness came
over his eyes and soul.
"I I'd rather not" he said huskily.
Pop! Pop! Again the merciless
mandatory fusillade. Once more the
"Pay Your Toll; That's the Border
peremptory menace, the leaden re
minders coming nearer and nearer to
his shifting, uneasy feet
"All right," he said finally, waving
a hand in acquiescence. ;
There came a sudden silence. Then
a thrill. It was a home song that
seemed forced by some gentle spirit
to Burr's lips. His glance was fixed
on vacancy, his frame trembled with