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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, November 03, 1912, Image 12

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The BOUNDS of BADINAGE
CUTAWAY WICKES had been
taunting Bill Parmlee. from the
Skinning Knife, with a* im
uuted Inability to throw a barrel
stoop over a tent peg at the distance of
two feet, and Parmlee had retorted
with a reference to Cutaway's sup
posed need of coopering to prevent his
self-conceit swelling him to the "bust
ing" point. This, apropos of the rop
ing contest at Hermosa. The stock
tender listened to the interchange of
personalities with a lively Interest that
did not subside until Cutaway had
passed the "makin's" to the Skinning
Knife boy and the two were sitting,
gTlnning through wreaths of smoke In
retrospective enjoyment of the late
pleasantness. Then he said: "You
two fellers remind me of Paul Gustaf
aen and Jim Dickerman over in Mac
alaster county an* some time you'll
get to Joshin' one another a little too
free an' plenteous an' split up the way
they did."
"Neither o' them gents has got the
privilege an' pleasure o' my acquaint
ance," said Parmlee.
"They was both o' them unforchnit
enough to leave this favored region
afore either o' you was drove to it,"
explained the stock tender. "They'd
sure be unhappy if they knowed what
they missed by not waitin'. This was
in the palmy days afore they got a
town marshal in Scoop, an' when a
stage driver who couldn't decorate his
harness with nothing better than
poker chip material would have been
run plum' out o' society. It ain't like
that now. I've got two sets o' genu-ine
Ivory rings in my warsack an' I
couldn't sell one* o' them to save my
neck."
"Do you reckon the feller you stole
'em from would reckernise 'em now?"
asked Cutaway.
"There you go," said the stock
tender. "That was the way Jim an'
Paul uster talk. I remember the first
time I ever seen 'em. I was in Dad's
pagoda in Scoop one evenin' an* there
was several games a-runnin'. Gustaf
sen was a-settin' in one, playin' poker.
He was a middlin' sized wiry person
with a little hay tinted mustache about
the size of a eyebrow an' a face that
had the color an' expression of a sad
dle flap. There was two strangers
settln' in with him, an' Al Powell—
him they uster call the Bar T dude.
After a while in santers a lad in a
check suit with sad, angel count'nance
an' he stands regardin* the game for
a minute in a disapprovin' way. Then
he turns to the two strangers
" 'Gentlemen,' he says, 'you will ex
cuse me, I hope, if I have any appear
ance o' pushln' my fork into your
chuck, but I presume that you are un
acquainted with the reputation of the
tin horn disgrace to humanity who
seems to be taking your good money
away from you. He's been kicked out
of every cow town and mining camp
in the southwest for practices to which
a dog's hind leg is rectilinear. This
1* his Jumping off place, an' he's about
due to Jump. Play with him, if you
must, but watch him keerful*. Sayin*
which h e looks stern an' threat'nin'
at Gustafsen an* walks off.
"Gustafsen looks after him an' lays
down the deck he was shufflin, an' calls
Dad. -Didn't I tell you that the next
time you let that rum-soaked, hop
permeated degenerate in here I was
goln* to slop gore on your oilcloth?*
he says.
" *Why, yes, Paul,' says Dad, soothln"
an' apologetic, *you did. But I wasn't
watchin' the door when he came in,
an' you must excuse me. He don't
get in again, but there's no need of
startin* trouble now. Overlook it, to
oblige me, won't you?"
"Gustafsen mumbles suthln' an* be
gins to deal, but I seen that the stran
gers was uneasy an* suspicious. I was
sure took aback, myself. I didn't stay
though. When I see Old Man Trouble
comin', I most generally yoke up an'
wet my whip popper. In about three
minutes it come. A chair scraped an'
tumbled over an' there was Gustafsen
wigglin' his peace-pipe back an' forth
from one to the other of them two un
known sports whose hands was held
as if they was on the point o' doin'
a trapeze act.
" Take their guns, Al,' says Gustaf
sen, an' Al took 'em an' laid 'em in
the pot.
" 'Now you may lower your hands,'
says Gustafsen, rakin' in the pile o*
chips an' hardware an' jammin' his own
gun back. 'You two bought chips for
25 apiece when you come in. Well,
here's your money back. Now I'm go
ing to learn you to act like gentlemen
when you play with gentlemen.' An'
with that he got up, knocked their two
heads together an' kicked them out o'
the saloon. After a while I seen the
mournful duck with the check suit
settin' opposit' him in a new gam e an'
the both o' them cussin' one another
in the flghtln'est kind o' language an'
Al Powell told me that the other fellow
was Jim Dickerman, an" that they was
always talkin' like that to each other
Jest for devilment.
"Another time there was a conven
tion called an' held for the purpose of
electin' a sheriff an' other officers for
the newly organized county of Mac
alaster. Jim Dickerman was In the
hands of his friends for the office an'
bo was Blue Nose Westerman. Jim
seemed to have the most hands though,
an' when Uncle Jimmie Orr reared up
on his hind legs an' give In his name
the storm of applause like to have
ripped the clapboards off the shack.
Right there was Gustafsen's chance.
" 'Mr. Chairman an" gentlemen all,'
he says. 'It is with feelin's of deep
regret not unmixed with disappoint
ment, contemp', horror an' loathin' that
I have Just heard a respected citizen
with white hairs in his chin decora
tions propose for an office demandin'
In the highest degree horse sense, sand
*nd common honesty, the name of a
low-flung, dog-robbing, rabbit-hearted,
chicken-brained coyote like Jim Dick
erman. .. | —... ■. r .
" 'Gentlemen,' he says, "haven't we
greasers in this man's town? Haven't
we Chinymen, haven't we nigger*? If
you want poor material, ain't some of
the trash that there is a-loafin' round
the red light dancehali poor enough
without sinkln' to this? Gentlemen,
afore you make any sech breaks as
that, remember that there's sech a
thing as the finger o' shame an' that it
will be p'inted at Scooptown from now
till the third and fourth generation of
them that envies her If you c'mlt your
selves to an outrage like this. You may
not think that Jim Dickerman is what
I described him to be, but I know him;
I blush to say, I know him.'
"Then he set down. Everybody
whooped an' yelled, especially the West
erman crowd. Then somebody nomi
nated Blue Nose,, an' the chairman,
which was a strong Dickerman man,
put the first nomination to a vote, aye
or no. Gustafsen hollered 'no' louder
than anybody, and there was some good
lungs in that Westerman crowd. It
seemed about an even break to me.
" 'Well,' says the chairman, 'I reckon
we'll have to take a standin' vote on
this. Jim has had his whirl, so now
we'll give Mr. Westerman action for
his money. Them as favor the nomina
tion of Mr. Henery, otherwise Blue
Nose Westerman, will rise, an' them as
prefers Mr. Jim Dickerman can keep
their seats.'
"There was a line of the Westerman
men settin' right in front of Gustafsen,
an' in Gustafsen's row wa* a bunch o*
the Flying Dutch Oven outfit that he
uster train with when he rode the
range. No sooner was them words out
of the chairman's mouth than each one
o' them Dutch Oven boys puts his hands
on the shoulders o* the Westerman man
in front o' him an' held him down in his
seat. 'Twa'n't no use squirmin*. They
was held down like they'd been hog
tied an' snubbed to a post. Blue Nose
himself was held In the lovin* embrace
of a pair of arms, an' the man who
owned the arms was Paul Gustafsen.
6
It was a cinch. Quick as a flash the
chairman took In the situation. 'Gen
tlemen,' he yells above the tumult of
the storm, 'I hereby declare that ac
cordin' to the rules of the game Jim
Dickerman is the choice of this conven
tion for sheriff!'
"That's the way Jim Dickerman got
his nomination for sheriff, an' he stayed
in for two terms and made a good one.
"While that was a-goin' on, Gustaf
sen got to buyin' feeders an* shlppin'
'em an' lncldent'ly acquirln' real estate
an' a reputation. He quit gamblln' an*
he quit drinkin' an' come within one o*
gettin' religion. I don't say that there's
harm in any one o' them things, mind
you, on'y there's no doubt but what
they tend to unfit a man for any kind
o' social life In Scoop. By an' by
Gustafsen an' some more chipped in an'
built the Brennan op'ry house out o'
stone from Calico canyon, an' the next
thing the Drovers* State bank was
started up with Paul Gustafsen for
president, an' Paul got to wearin' white
shirts an' orderln' his clothes from
Omaha and Sioux City.
" 'If it wasn't an insult to the„
womanhood of the Hills, I'd say you'd
be gettin' married the next thing,'
Dickerman says to him. 'But outside
of an asylum for deaf and blind females
there ain't much show for you, which
Is a partickjer forchnit thing for pos
terity.'
" 'It would have been a partickler
forchnit thing for posterity an' society
an* the protection of citizens an* safety
o' property if them horse thieves you
made a bluff at chasm' had waited for
you and pumped a belt full o* cart
ridges into your hide,' says Gustafsen.
'I wonder what in blazes they lit out
for! They might have knowed you'd
never have the sand to tackle 'em,
sheriff. Oh, sacred Moses! Jim, the
only place you're good for is the legis
lature.'
" 'You're a liar on gen'ral principles
an* an idiot by nature an' lack of edu
cation,' says Dickerman. 'All the same,
that was one time you called the turn.
The legislature is more beflttin' a man
o* my caliber. I'm in the hands of my
friends, Gusty.'
" 'I didn't know that you had any,'
said Gustafsen. 'It's news to me. I've
put up with you more or less because
I feel sorry for you, but I had an idee
that you beln' a crawlin' moral ieeper
an* a two spot an' blemish on the com
munity, your friends was all in Boston,
where they never heard of you—or in
Blazes, where they're watchin' your
career with intrust an' approbation.'
"But next convention Dick had the
granger delegates solid, an' most o' the
liquid there was in Scoop, an' the result
waa the nec'ry papers for the c'mittee
on credentials at Bismarck in the
breast pocket of a long tailed Prince
Albert for him. I reckon he done
tol'able well the first season. 'Anyway,
they had the band boys out to meet the
■tage when he come back, an' there
was a whole of a hurrah. Gustafsen
was picked out to make the address o'
welcome. It was a Jim dandy. I wisht
I could call to mind the half of it.
"He'says: 'It ain't no holler, mean
ln'less phrase o' mere empty politeness
to say that we've missed you. We sure
have. But, on the other hand, we hain't
missed one-half o' the things we uster
when you was around. There's been a
skurceness o' style an' a gen'ral decay
of Sam Fluey's laundry business sence
you took your shirt away with you, an'
gloom has enveloped Hank's honka
tonk; but the supply o' whisky ain't
never once run short. Never once have
we lined up, expectant, before Dad, to
have him hang up the dry sign, in con
sequence of you having Just left.
" 'We appreshate your labors in our
behalf,' he says, 'the long hours you've
*pent wras'lin' with Roberts' Rule* of
Order to find out the difference between
a subsidy and a subsidiary motion, an'
whether the previous, question had pre
cedence of a resolution of condolence;
we reellze that you puttln' in ten out of
a possible hundred days was a sacrifice,
considerin' the heavy demands made on
your time by stud an' faf*>, an' we was
pleasantly surprised to find how little
damage you reely done in them ten
days. It's too bad that you couldn't
have stayed longer, but beln* as you're
here, I reckon we'll have to bear it the
best we kin."
"O* course Dickerman come back. I
forget what he said, too, but it was
somethin' about the emotions o' Joy he
experienced at beln' with his friends
again was some dimmed by the fact
that they hadn't.extirpated that Swede
sheep tick—meanin' Gustafsen—which
was still parasitln' around on the com
munity an' producln* seasickness with
hi* fathead foolishness. Z can't keep
11
.✓
what all he did say In mind, but I
recollect wanderin' out o' the Pagoda
at about 2 g. m., an' while I was em
bracin' a telegraft pole an' tryln' to
get the bearln's for the boardin' house,
Dlckerman an' Gustafsen went wabblin'
by me with four of their eight arms
around each other's duplicate necks.
"But the windup> of it come at last.
You remember the bill" the cattlemen
got up in the winter of '80, makin* It
Imprisonment for life, hangin* an' b'illn'
in oil, for any person or persons to
fence, pen, confine, surround or other
wise Inclose with wire, rail, cactus,
hedge, picket, pole, slab or any other
material whatsoever any spring, crick,
water gulch, puddle, pool, brooklet,
lake or other body of water within the
bounds an' confines o' said territory?
No, you don't, o' course. But they done
it, an' somebody got wind of it, an' the
grangers was stirred up a considerable.
They'd been fencin' in the range wher
ever there was water to beat brimstun,
an' naturally they had the range stock
splttin' cotton an' the cow men pawin'
the air. There was some few Justifiable
homicides on that account, an' some
that wasn't Justifiable, accordin' to
which side owned the coroner that
picked the Jury.
"Well, this come up Just a little while
afore Dick was due back In Bismarck.
The grangers in Macalister wasn't in
no ways uneasy about Dick. They
didn't even trouble to ask him how he
stood. They knowed. It wasn't only
that they'd elected him, but Scoop, not
beln' a cow town, was as strong ag*in*
the bill as they was.
"The mornln' afore Dick started out
to take up the cares of office again, he
blowed into the bank. There was quite
a few in there—Cruae, the hardware
man, an' Dock Flick an' Jimmy Woods
an' a mess o' grangers. Dick spoke up
loud an' cheerful as usual.
" 'Don't he look sort o' natural an'
flttln' behind the bars?' he says, indl
catin' Gustafsen, who was thumbln'
greenbacks back o' the brasswork.
'Boys,' he says, turnin' to the crowd,
'It beats me how any o' you trust him
with your money. You mark my words:
some o' these fine days you'll wake up
an' wonder where he is, an' after a
while you'll hear that somebody seen
him in Montreal an' he said he wasn't
expectln' to come. back. Gusty'd be
all right in charge of the raw material
in a stove foundry, but it's like betting
on a brace game in a strange town to
hand him your cash to take care of.
Y r ou want to picket him with a log
chain to somethin' heavy an' Inexpen
sive If you want him to stay when the
bank roll's thick enough!*
"He looked at Gustafsen. Gustaf
sen's little mustache was bristlin' like
a bobcat's, an' his light blue eyes was
about ten shades darker, with a frosty
sort o' sparkle in 'em. He sure didn't
look amiable.
" 'You ain't mad, are you, Gusty?'
says Dick.
"Gustafsen twisted up his face In a
poor imitation of a smile that showed
too much, of his teeth.
" 'If I was a venal vampire an' a
bribed an* corrupted tool of the cattle
interests an' a traitor to the honest men
that elected me, I'd keep my mouth
shut,' he said. 'Get back tC Bismarck
~where you're wanted. They're waitin'
for you to vote aye on the fence bill
for good an' sufficient reasons.'
"Dick took a step back as if he'd
been slapped an' then a step forward
an' stopped. He'd turned pale in
gatches, like alkali stlckin' out o' the
mud, an' his jaws was clamped together
even while he spoke.
" 'That's the kind o' talk I don't
take from nobody, Paul Gustafsen,' he
says. T can take a joke as well as
anybody. You know that, but when a
man talks about me goin' back on
my friends an' sellin' out, that's where
I draw the line. See?'
"'I serve notice on you right now
that I don't approve funny talk about
the bank,' says Gustafsen, kind of
gurglin' it out from his throat. That's
a subjec' on which a josh don't go an*
nobody but a—'
"He stopped an' glared at Dicker
man through the grating as if he was
calculatin' what part he'd bite out of
him first. Dick glared back an' %hey
Kennett Harris
eopnvtGHT 2>y pc
WQ;,SOOriA co W°*ATION
stood that way the best part of a
minute! Then:
" 'Say it,' says Dick.
"Cruse made a Jump for him, grot
him by the arms an' gently steered him
outside an' over to the store, where he
proceeded to reason with him. Cruse
weighs two hundred an' thirty-five
stripped, an' he's as hard as his own
nails an' as sudden as a bear trap. If
he can't make anybody listen to reason,
it's a hopeless case.
"So there wasn't no immediate trou
ble. But there was a heap o' sur
misin* an' bets, an' one-half of Scoop
was hangin' 'round Dick's law office an'
the other 'round the bank all day in
pleasin' anticipation of witness fees
next district court. Next mornin'
though, Dick took the stage without
anything happenin' an' Scoop settled
down with a sigh of resignation.
"About two weeks later I was dream
in* the happy midday hours away in
my bunk, beln' on night slsift at the
time, when Ben Garling comes in an'
scares me out of seven years' growth
with a series of whoops an' shook my
shoulders till I began to reach under
the piller for one o' my boots.
" "Heard about Paul Gustafsen an'
Jimmy Dickerman?' he says.
"I dropped the boot on the floor an'
sat up blinkin' my eyes while that
filtered through.
"'Which of 'em got killed?' I asked.
" 'Neither one o' them yet,' he says,
'but Dickerman will be if he ever comes
back to Scoop, which he won't, seem'
he's got shet o' most of what he owned
here. He voted for the fence bill an'
worked for it like the devil beatin'
tan bark. Ten thousand he got. but
It was cheap at the price. They'd
never have passed it if it hadn't been
for him.'
"I gulped an' got that down.
'"What did Gusty have to do with
it?' I asked.
"'I guess Gusty could prove an'
alibi,' says Ben. *He was In Canada
at the time an' he's there yet with
all of the Drovers' assets that wasn't
nailed down. He left the vault be
hind when he started Monday on that
business trip to Omaha.'
"I fell back in the bunk an' closed
my eyes to think it over before I done
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