Newspaper Page Text
ARMS AND ffiE WOMAN. BY REX E. BEACH
(Copyrighted, 1914, by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.)
"Here's the point," said Hoffmeis
ter. "If we send a messenger they'll
know there's treasure aboard. The
stage has been stuck- up so often it's
getting habitual. We've got to use
ingenuity. I've wired to Horn for two
Wells-Fargo men. They'll meet you
at the second relay, so you pull out
alone, as usual, and pick 'em up
Shorty nodded acquiescence.
"All the same, I ain't weighed down
with suppressed glee at bein' duenna
for thirty thousand dollars, even for
twenty mile that is, not in the im
moral vicinities of this neighbor
hood." "Oh, there's no danger this side of
Number Two. It'll be on the Big
Grade if it's anywhere."
"Let me impress on you oncet and
forever that there ain't no danger, to
me in neither place I'm the driver.
Black Bart, knows .that the olive
wreaths of peace and concord is
grafted on to me, and sproutin' like
asparrowgrass. It's the messenger
that fills the exactin' duties of im
itatin' the back end of a shootin.' gal
lery." Hoffmeister and his companion
drank; the large man wetting the
bottom of his glass with the vitriol,
and tossing it off wryly; the other
filling his to the brim, and rolling it in
his mouth like a toothwash.
"I suppose," said the superintend
ent, having coughed the paralysis
from his vocal cords, "you saw the
girl that came up yesterday with
Newcomb?" . - .
"What! Girl here? In this camp?"
Shorty showed, extreme trepidation.
"Why, I come off. up here on purpose
to get shed of 'em."
"Yes, I only caught a .glimpse of
her myself, but what I saw looked
The driver groaned. "It'll be just
my infernal luck to run slap into her,
an' if I do I'll stampede like a buffalo
calf, see if I don't."
"What's the matter with you?"
"Well, it's this way. The minute I
see skirts I go plumb dippy my eyes
hang out like loose ulster buttons; an'
them little hot springs in my mouth
goes dry till my throat reels like I was
beatin carpets in a closet. My speech
splinters up and sticks in my neck
like I was eatin' sun perch in the
A man inserted his head through
the door and yelled: "All aboard!"
The two men carried the messen
ger box from the rear room, lifting
it on to the boot. The postmaster
tossed a dyspeptic mailbag into the
stage body, and the driver scrambled .
to his throne with dignity. Then, as
he gathered his reins, the voice of
"Peg-Leg," the landlord, came to
"Hey! Wait a minute passenger
f er you, Shorty."
There was a rustle and scurry, and
the jehu's widening gaze beheld a
flashing, white-clad, feminine figure,
petite and picturesque. It launched
Itself upon him, more dreadful than
a plague, and he froze in his seat.
"Oh, I want to ride up there," she
cried brightly, and Shorty's heart
turned to water. He slid dumbly
along till he crowded the edge, while
she was lifted by willing hands, set
tling beside him like a bit of thistle
down. "All right, Shorty!" said "Peg
Leg." "Good-by, miss. Come again,"
and the populace of Forest Hill doffed
felt and fur to sweep the ground in a
Chesterfieldian salute. The men at
the rearing horses' heads watched
the driver vainly waiting the signal
to let go, but his eyes were roving
helplessly. He licked his lips and
opened his mouth. There issued
silence, broken only by the tramp of
the dancing animals.
Theatrically, it was a stage-wait,
silent, agonizing, sweat-producing,