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The Hiding Of Black Bill
A lank, strong, red-faced man with a Wellington beak and small, fiery eyes tempered by
flaxen lashes, sat on the station platform at Los Pinos swinging his legs to and fro. At his
side sat another man, fat, melancholy, and seedy, who seemed to be his friend. They had
the appearance of men to whom life had appeared as a reversible coat-- seamy on both
sides.
"Ain't seen you in about four years, Ham," said the seedy man. "Which way you been
travelling?"
"Texas," said the red-faced man. "It was too cold in Alaska for me. And I found it warm
in Texas. I'll tell you about one hot spell I went through there.
"One morning I steps off the International at a water-tank and lets it go on without me.
'Twas a ranch country, and fuller of spite-houses than New York City. Only out there
they build 'em twenty miles away so you can't smell what they've got for dinner, instead
of running 'em up two inches from their neighbors' windows.
"There wasn't any roads in sight, so I footed it 'cross country. The grass was shoe-top
deep, and the mesquite timber looked just like a peach orchard. It was so much like a
gentleman's private estate that every minute you expected a kennelful of bulldogs to run
out and bite you. But I must have walked twenty miles before I came in sight of a ranch-
house. It was a little one, about as big as an elevated- railroad station.
"There was a little man in a white shirt and brown overalls and a pink handkerchief
around his neck rolling cigarettes under a tree in front of the door.
"'Greetings,' says I. 'Any refreshment, welcome, emoluments, or even work for a
comparative stranger?'
"'Oh, come in,' says he, in a refined tone. 'Sit down on that stool, please. I didn't hear your
horse coming.'
"'He isn't near enough yet,' says I. 'I walked. I don't want to be a burden, but I wonder if
you have three or four gallons of water handy.'
"'You do look pretty dusty,' says he; 'but our bathing arrangements--'
"'It's a drink I want,' says I. 'Never mind the dust that's on the outside.'
"He gets me a dipper of water out of a red jar hanging up, and then goes on:
"'Do you want work?'
 
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