Roads of Destiny
The Lonesome Road
Brown as a coffee-berry, rugged, pistoled, spurred, wary, indefeasible, I saw my old
friend, Deputy-Marshal Buck Caperton, stumble, with jingling rowels, into a chair in the
marshal's outer office.
And because the court-house was almost deserted at that hour, and because Buck would
sometimes relate to me things that were out of print, I followed him in and tricked him
into talk through knowledge of a weakness he had. For, cigarettes rolled with sweet corn
husk were as honey to Buck's palate; and though he could finger the trigger of a forty-
five with skill and suddenness, he never could learn to roll a cigarette.
It was through no fault of mine (for I rolled the cigarettes tight and smooth), but the
upshot of some whim of his own, that instead of to an Odyssey of the chaparral, I listened
to—a dissertation upon matrimony! This from Buck Caperton! But I maintain that the
cigarettes were impeccable, and crave absolution for myself.
"We just brought in Jim and Bud Granberry," said Buck. "Train robbing, you know. Held
up the Aransas Pass last month. We caught 'em in the Twenty-Mile pear flat, south of the
"Have much trouble corralling them?" I asked, for here was the meat that my hunger for
"Some," said Buck; and then, during a little pause, his thoughts stampeded off the trail.
"It's kind of queer about women," he went on, "and the place they're supposed to occupy
in botany. If I was asked to classify them I'd say they was a human loco weed. Ever see a
bronc that had been chewing loco? Ride him up to a puddle of water two feet wide, and
he'll give a snort and fall back on you. It looks as big as the Mississippi River to him.
Next trip he'd walk into a cañon a thousand feet deep thinking it was a prairie-dog hole.
Same way with a married man.
"I was thinking of Perry Rountree, that used to be my sidekicker before he committed
matrimony. In them days me and Perry hated indisturbances of any kind. We roamed
around considerable, stirring up the echoes and making 'em attend to business. Why,
when me and Perry wanted to have some fun in a town it was a picnic for the census
takers. They just counted the marshal's posse that it took to subdue us, and there was your
population. But then there came along this Mariana Goodnight girl and looked at Perry
sideways, and he was all bridle-wise and saddle-broke before you could skin a yearling.
"I wasn't even asked to the wedding. I reckon the bride had my pedigree and the front
elevation of my habits all mapped out, and she decided that Perry would trot better in
double harness without any unconverted mustang like Buck Caperton whickering around
on the matrimonial range. So it was six months before I saw Perry again.