The Virginian--A Horseman Of The Plainsr
You Re Going To Love Me Before We Get Through
The Swinton barbecue was over. The fiddles were silent, the steer was eaten, the barrel
emptied, or largely so, and the tapers extinguished; round the house and sunken fire all
movement of guests was quiet; the families were long departed homeward, and after their
hospitable turbulence, the Swintons slept.
Mr. and Mrs. Westfall drove through the night, and as they neared their cabin there came
from among the bundled wraps a still, small voice.
"Jim," said his wife, "I said Alfred would catch cold."
"Bosh! Lizzie, don't you fret. He's a little more than a yearlin', and of course he'll
snuffle." And young James took a kiss from his love.
"Well, how you can speak of Alfred that way, calling him a yearling, as if he was a calf,
and he just as much your child as mine, I don't see, James Westfall!"
"Why, what under the sun do you mean?"
"There he goes again! Do hurry up home, Jim. He's got a real strange cough."
So they hurried home. Soon the nine miles were finished, and good James was unhitching
by his stable lantern, while his wife in the house hastened to commit their offspring to
bed. The traces had dropped, and each horse marched forward for further unbuckling,
when James heard himself called. Indeed, there was that in his wife's voice which made
him jerk out his pistol as he ran. But it was no bear or Indian--only two strange children
on the bed. His wife was glaring at them.
He sighed with relief and laid down the pistol.
"Put that on again, James Westfall. You'll need it. Look here!"
"Well, they won't bite. Whose are they? Where have you stowed ourn?"
"Where have I--" Utterance forsook this mother for a moment. "And you ask me!" she
continued. "Ask Lin McLean. Ask him that sets bulls on folks and steals slippers, what
he's done with our innocent lambs, mixing them up with other people's coughing,
unhealthy brats. That's Charlie Taylor in Alfred's clothes, and I know Alfred didn't cough
like that, and I said to you it was strange; and the other one that's been put in
Christopher's new quilts is not even a bub--bub--boy!"
As this crime against society loomed clear to James Westfall's understanding, he sat
down on the nearest piece of furniture, and heedless of his wife's tears and his exchanged
children, broke into unregenerate laughter. Doubtless after his sharp alarm about the bear,