A Deal in Wheat And Other Stories
"Y'see, this Peg-leg lay it out as how he couldn't abide no cussin' an' swearin'. He said if
there was any tall talkin' done he wanted to do it. And he sure could. I've seed him hold
on for six minutes by the watch an' never repeat hisself once. An' shoot! Say, lemme tell
you he did for two Greasers once in a barroom at La Paz, one in front o' him, t'other
straight behind, him standing between with a gun in each hand, and shootin' both guns at
the same time. Well, he was just a terror," declared Bunt, solemnly, "and when he was in
real good form there wa'n't a man south o' Leadville dared to call his hand.
"Now, the way I met up with this skunkin' little dewdrop was this-like It was at Yuma, at
a time when I was a kid of about nineteen. It was a Sunday mornin'; Peg-leg was in town.
He was asleep on a lounge in the back room o' Bud Overick's Grand Transcontinental
Hotel. (I used to guess Bud called it that by reason that it wa'n't grand, nor
transcontinental, nor yet a hotel--it was a bar.) This was twenty year ago, and in those
days I knowed a one-lunger in Yuma named Clarence. (He couldn't help that--he was a
good kid--but his name was Clarence.) We got along first-rate. Yuma was a great
consumptive place at that time. They used to come in on every train; yes, and go out, too-
"Well, findin' that they couldn't do much else than jes' sit around an' bark and keep their
shawls tight, these 'ere chaps kinda drew together, and lay it out to meet every Sunday
morning at Bud's to sorta talk it over and have a quiet game. One game they had that they
played steady, an' when I drifted into Bud's that morning they was about a dozen of 'em at
it--Clarence, too. When I came in, there they be, all sittin' in a circle round a table with a
cigar box on it. They'd each put four bits into the box. That was the pot.
"A stranger wouldn't 'a' made nothin' very excitin' out of that game, nor yet would 'a'
caught on to what it were. For them pore yaps jes' sat there, each with his little glass
thermometer in his mouth, a-waitin' and a-waitin' and never sayin' a word. Then bime-by
Bud, who's a-holdin' of the watch on 'em, sings out 'Time!' an' they all takes their
thermometers out an' looks at 'em careful-like to see where they stand.
"'Mine's ninety-nine,' says one.
"An' another says:
"'Mine's a hundred.'
"An' Clarence pipes up--coughin' all the time:
"'Mine's a hundred 'n one 'n 'alf.'
"An', no one havin' a higher tempriture than that, Clarence captures the pot. It was a
queer kind o' game.
"Well, on that particular Sunday morning they's some unpleasantness along o' one o' the
other one-lungers layin' it out as how Clarence had done some monkey-business to make