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The Jimmyjohn Boss and Other Stories

The Jimmyjohn Boss
One day at Nampa, which is in Idaho, a ruddy old massive jovial man stood by
the Silver City stage, patting his beard with his left hand, and with his right the
shoulder of a boy who stood beside him. He had come with the boy on the
branch train from Boise, because he was a careful German and liked to say
everything twice--twice at least when it was a matter of business. This was a
matter of very particular business, and the German had repeated himself for
nineteen miles. Presently the east-bound on the main line would arrive from
Portland; then the Silver City stage would take the boy south on his new mission,
and the man would journey by the branch train back to Boise. From Boise no one
could say where he might not go, west or east. He was a great and pervasive
cattle man in Oregon, California, and other places. Vogel and Lex--even to-day
you may hear the two ranch partners spoken of. So the veteran Vogel was now
once more going over his notions and commands to his youthful deputy during
the last precious minutes until the east-bound should arrive.
"Und if only you haf someding like dis," said the old man, as he tapped his beard
and patted the boy, "it would be five hoondert more dollars salary in your liddle
pants."
The boy winked up at his employer. He had a gray, humorous eye; he was slim
and alert, like a sparrow-hawk--the sort of boy his father openly rejoices in and
his mother is secretly in prayer over. Only, this boy had neither father nor mother.
Since the age of twelve he had looked out for himself, never quite without bread,
sometimes attaining champagne, getting along in his American way variously, on
horse or afoot, across regions of wide plains and mountains, through towns
where not a soul knew his name. He closed one of his gray eyes at his employer,
and beyond this made no remark.
"Vat you mean by dat vink, anyhow?" demanded the elder.
"Say," said the boy, confidentially--"honest now. How about you and me? Five
hundred dollars if I had your beard. You've got a record and I've got a future. And
my bloom's on me rich, without a scratch. How many dollars you gif me for dat
bloom?" The sparrow-hawk sailed into a freakish imitation of his master.
"You are a liddle rascal!" cried the master, shaking with entertainment. "Und if
der peoples vas to hear you sass old Max Vogel in dis style they would say, 'Poor
old Max, he lose his gr-rip.' But I don't lose it." His great hand closed suddenly on
 
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