Roads of Destiny HTML version
The Passing Of Black Eagle
For some months of a certain year a grim bandit infested the Texas border along the Rio
Grande. Peculiarly striking to the optic nerve was this notorious marauder. His
personality secured him the title of "Black Eagle, the Terror of the Border." Many
fearsome tales are on record concerning the doings of him and his followers. Suddenly, in
the space of a single minute, Black Eagle vanished from earth. He was never heard of
again. His own band never even guessed the mystery of his disappearance. The border
ranches and settlements feared he would come again to ride and ravage the mesquite
flats. He never will. It is to disclose the fate of Black Eagle that this narrative is written.
The initial movement of the story is furnished by the foot of a bartender in St. Louis. His
discerning eye fell upon the form of Chicken Ruggles as he pecked with avidity at the
free lunch. Chicken was a "hobo." He had a long nose like the bill of a fowl, an
inordinate appetite for poultry, and a habit of gratifying it without expense, which
accounts for the name given him by his fellow vagrants.
Physicians agree that the partaking of liquids at meal times is not a healthy practice. The
hygiene of the saloon promulgates the opposite. Chicken had neglected to purchase a
drink to accompany his meal. The bartender rounded the counter, caught the injudicious
diner by the ear with a lemon squeezer, led him to the door and kicked him into the street.
Thus the mind of Chicken was brought to realize the signs of coming winter. The night
was cold; the stars shone with unkindly brilliancy; people were hurrying along the streets
in two egotistic, jostling streams. Men had donned their overcoats, and Chicken knew to
an exact percentage the increased difficulty of coaxing dimes from those buttoned-in vest
pockets. The time had come for his annual exodus to the south.
A little boy, five or six years old, stood looking with covetous eyes in a confectioner's
window. In one small hand he held an empty two-ounce vial; in the other he grasped
tightly something flat and round, with a shining milled edge. The scene presented a field
of operations commensurate to Chicken's talents and daring. After sweeping the horizon
to make sure that no official tug was cruising near, he insidiously accosted his prey. The
boy, having been early taught by his household to regard altruistic advances with extreme
suspicion, received the overtures coldly.
Then Chicken knew that he must make one of those desperate, nerve-shattering plunges
into speculation that fortune sometimes requires of those who would win her favour. Five
cents was his capital, and this he must risk against the chance of winning what lay within
the close grasp of the youngster's chubby hand. It was a fearful lottery, Chicken knew.
But he must accomplish his end by strategy, since he had a wholesome terror of
plundering infants by force. Once, in a park, driven by hunger, he had committed an
onslaught upon a bottle of peptonized infant's food in the possession of an occupant of a
baby carriage. The outraged infant had so promptly opened its mouth and pressed the