The Winning Of The Biscuit-Shooter
It was quite clear to me that Mr. McLean could not know the news. Meeting him
to-day had been unforeseen--unforeseen and so pleasant that the thing had
never come into my head until just now, after both of us had talked and dined our
fill, and were torpid with satisfaction.
I had found Lin here at Riverside in the morning. At my horse's approach to the
cabin, it was he and not the postmaster who had come precipitately out of the
"I'm turruble pleased to see yu'," he had said, immediately.
"What's happened?" said I, in some concern at his appearance.
And he piteously explained: "Why, I've been here all alone since yesterday!"
This was indeed all; and my hasty impressions of shooting and a corpse gave
way to mirth over the child and his innocent grievance that he had blurted out
before I could get off my horse.
Since when, I inquired of him, had his own company become such a shock to
"As to that," replied Mr. McLean, a thought ruffled, "when a man expects
lonesomeness he stands it like he stands anything else, of course. But when he
has figured on finding company--say--" he broke off (and vindictiveness sparkled
in his eye)--"when you're lucky enough to catch yourself alone, why, I suppose
yu' just take a chair and chat to yourself for hours.--You've not seen anything of
Tommy?" he pursued with interest.
I had not; and forthwith Lin poured out to me the pent-up complaints and
sociability with which he was bursting. The foreman had sent him over here with
a sackful of letters for the post, and to bring back the week's mail for the ranch. A
day was gone now, and nothing for a man to do but sit and sit. Tommy was
overdue fifteen hours. Well, you could have endured that, but the neighbors had
all locked their cabins and gone to Buffalo. It was circus week in Buffalo. Had I
ever considered the money there must be in the circus business? Tommy had
taken the outgoing letters early yesterday. Nobody had kept him waiting. By all
rules he should have been back again last night. Maybe the stage was late
reaching Powder River, and Tommy had had to lay over for it. Well, that would
justify him. Far more likely he had gone to the circus himself and taken the mail
with him. Tommy was no type of man for postmaster. Except drawing the
allowance his mother in the East gave him first of every month, he had never
shown punctuality that Lin could remember. Never had any second thoughts, and
awful few first ones. Told bigger lies than a small man ought, also.
"Has successes, though," said I, wickedly.
"Huh!" went on Mr. McLean. "Successes! One ice-cream-soda success. And
she"--Lin's still wounded male pride made him plaintive--"why, even that girl quit
him, once she got the chance to appreciate how insignificant he was as
compared with the size of his words. No, sir. Not one of 'em retains interest in