A Journey In Search Of Christmas
The Governor descended the steps of the Capitol slowly and with pauses, lifting
a list frequently to his eye. He had intermittently pencilled it between stages of
the forenoon's public business, and his gait grew absent as he recurred now to
his jottings in their accumulation, with a slight pain at their number, and the
definite fear that they would be more in seasons to come. They were the names
of his friends' children to whom his excellent heart moved him to give Christmas
presents. He had put off this regenerating evil until the latest day, as was his
custom, and now he was setting forth to do the whole thing at a blow, entirely
planless among the guns and rocking-horses that would presently surround him.
As he reached the highway he heard himself familiarly addressed from a
distance, and, turning, saw four sons of the alkali jogging into town from the
plain. One who had shouted to him galloped out from the others, rounded the
Capitol's enclosure, and, approaching with radiant countenance leaned to reach
the hand of the Governor, and once again greeted him with a hilarious "Hello,
Governor Barker, M.D., seeing Mr. McLean unexpectedly after several years,
hailed the horseman with frank and lively pleasure, and, inquiring who might be
the other riders behind, was told that they were Shorty, Chalkeye, and Dollar Bill,
come for Christmas. "And dandies to hit town with," Mr. McLean added. "Red-
"I am acquainted with them," assented his Excellency.
"We've been ridin' trail for twelve weeks," the cow-puncher continued, "makin' our
beds down anywheres, and eatin' the same old chuck every day. So we've shook
fried beef and heifer's delight, and we're goin' to feed high."
Then Mr. McLean overflowed with talk and pungent confidences, for the holidays
already rioted in his spirit, and his tongue was loosed over their coming rites.
"We've soured on scenery," he finished, in his drastic idiom. "We're sick of
moonlight and cow-dung, and we're heeled for a big time."
"Call on me," remarked the Governor, cheerily, "when you're ready for bromides
"I ain't box-headed no more," protested Mr. McLean; "I've got maturity, Doc,
since I seen yu' at the rain-making, and I'm a heap older than them hospital days
when I bust my leg on yu'. Three or four glasses and quit. That's my rule."
"That your rule, too?" inquired the Governor of Shorty, Chalkeye, and Dollar Bill.
These gentlemen of the saddle were sitting quite expressionless upon their
"We ain't talkin', we're waitin'," observed Chalkeye; and the three cynics smiled
"Well, Doc, see yu' again," said Mr. McLean. He turned to accompany his brother
cow-punchers, but in that particular moment Fate descended or came up from
whatever place she dwells in and entered the body of the unsuspecting