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A Mountain Woman and Other Stories

That was how it began. How it would have ended is not known -- probably there would
have been only one John -- if it had not been for the almost miraculous appearance at this
moment of the third John. For just then the two belligerents found themselves prostrate,
their pistols only half-cocked, and between them stood a man all gnarled and squat, like
one of those wind-torn oaks which grow on the arid heights. He was no older than the
others, but the lines in his face were deep, and his large mouth twitched as he said: -
"Hold on here, yeh fools! There's too much blood in you to spill. You'll spile th' floor,
and waste good stuff. We need blood out here!"
Gillispie bounced to his feet. Henderson arose suspiciously, keeping his eyes on his
assailants.
"Oh, get up!" cried the intercessor. "We don't shoot men hereabouts till they git on their
feet in fightin' trim."
"What do you know about what we do here?" interrupted Gillispie. "This is the first time
I ever saw you around."
"That's so," the other admitted. "I'm just down from Montana. Came to take up a quarter
section. Where I come from we give men a show, an' I thought perhaps yeh did th' same
here."
"Why, yes," admitted Gillispie, "we do. But I don't want folks to laugh too much -- not
when I'm around -- unless they tell me what the joke is. I was just mentioning it to the
gentleman," he added, dryly.
"So I saw," said the other; "you're kind a emphatic in yer remarks. Yeh ought to give the
gentleman a chance to git used to the ways of th' country. He'll be as tough as th' rest of
us if you'll give him a chance. I kin see it in him."
"Thank you," said Henderson. "I'm glad you do me justice. I wish you wouldn't let
daylight through me till I've had a chance to get my quarter section. I'm going to be one
of you, either as a live man or a corpse. But I prefer a hundred and sixty acres of land to
six feet of it."
"There, now!" triumphantly cried the squat man. "Didn't I tell yeh? Give him a show!
'Tain't no fault of his that he's a tenderfoot. He'll get over that."
Gillispie shook hands with first one and then the other of the men. "It's a square deal from
this on," he said. "Come and have a drink."
That's how they met -- John Henderson, John Gillispie, and John Waite. And a week later
they were putting up a shanty together for common use, which overlapped each of their
reservations, and satisfied the law with its sociable subterfuge.
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