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A Deal in Wheat And Other Stories
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A Bargain With Peg-Leg
"Hey, youse!" shouted the car-boy. He brought his trundling, jolting, loose-jointed car to
a halt by the face of the drift. "Hey, youse!" he shouted again.
Bunt shut off the Burly air-drill and nodded.
"Chaw," he remarked to me.
We clambered into the car, and, as the boy released the brake, rolled out into the main
tunnel of the Big Dipple, and banged and bumped down the long incline that led to the
"Chaw" was dinner. It was one o'clock in the morning, and the men on the night shift
were taking their midnight spell off. Bunt was back at his old occupation of miner, and I--
the one loafer of all that little world of workers--had brought him a bottle of beer to go
with the "chaw"; for Bunt and I were ancient friends.
As we emerged from the cool, cave-like dampness of the mine and ran out into the
wonderful night air of the Sierra foothills, warm, dry, redolent of witch-hazel, the carboy
began to cough, and, after we had climbed out of the car and had sat down on the
embankment to eat and drink, Bunt observed:
"D'ye hear that bark? That kid's a one-lunger for fair. Which ain't no salubrious graft for
him--this hiking cars about in the bowels of the earth, Some day he'll sure up an' quit.
Ought to go down to Yuma a spell."
The engineer in the mill was starting the stamps. They got under way with broken,
hiccoughing dislocations, bumping and stumbling like the hoofs of a group of horses on
the cattle-deck in a gale. Then they jumped to a trot, then to a canter, and at last settled
down to the prolonged roaring gallop that reverberated far off over the entire cañon.
"I knew a one-lunger once," Bunt continued, as he uncorked the bottle, "and the
acquaintance was some distressful by reason of its bringing me into strained relations
with a cow-rustlin', hair-liftin', only-one-born-in-captivity, man-eatin' brute of a one-
legged Greaser which he was named Peg-leg Smith. He was shy a leg because of a
shotgun that the other man thought wasn't loaded. And this here happens, lemme tell you,
'way down in the Panamint country, where they wasn't no doctor within twenty miles,
and Peg-leg outs with his bowie and amputates that leg hisself, then later makes a wood
stump outa a ole halter and a table-leg. I guess the whole jing-bang of it turned his head,
for he goes bad and loco thereafter, and begins shootin' and r'arin' up an' down the hull
Southwest, a-roarin' and a-bellerin' and a-takin' on amazin'. We dasn't say boo to a yaller
pup while he's round. I never see such mean blood. Jus' let the boys know that Peg-leg
was anyways adjacent an' you can gamble they walked chalk.