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The Marquis And Miss Sally
[Originally published in Everybody's Magazine, June 1903.]
Without knowing it, Old Bill Bascom had the honor of being overtaken by fate the same
day with the Marquis of Borodale.
The Marquis lived in Regent Square, London. Old Bill lived on Limping Doe Creek,
Hardeman County, Texas. The cataclysm that engulfed the Marquis took the form of a
bursting bubble known as the Central and South American Mahogany and Caoutchouc
Monopoly. Old Bill's Nemesis was in the no less perilous shape of a band of civilized
Indian cattle thieves from the Territory who ran off his entire herd of four hundred head,
and shot old Bill dead as he trailed after them. To even up the consequences of the two
catastrophes, the Marquis, as soon as he found that all he possessed would pay only
fifteen shillings on the pound of his indebtedness, shot himself.
Old Bill left a family of six motherless sons and daughters, who found themselves
without even a red steer left to eat, or a red cent to buy one with.
The Marquis left one son, a young man, who had come to the States and established a
large and well-stocked ranch in the Panhandle of Texas. When this young man learned
the news he mounted his pony and rode to town. There he placed everything he owned
except his horse, saddle, Winchester, and fifteen dollars in his pockets, in the hands of his
lawyers, with instructions to sell and forward the proceeds to London to be applied upon
the payment of his father's debts. Then he mounted his pony and rode southward.
One day, arriving about the same time, but by different trails, two young chaps rode up to
the Diamond-Cross ranch, on the Little Piedra, and asked for work. Both were dressed
neatly and sprucely in cowboy costume. One was a straight-set fellow, with delicate,
handsome features, short, brown hair, and smooth face, sunburned to a golden brown.
The other applicant was stouter and broad-shouldered, with fresh, red complexion,
somewhat freckled, reddish, curling hair, and a rather plain face, made attractive by
laughing eyes and a pleasant mouth.
The superintendent of the Diamond-Cross was of the opinion that he could give them
work. In fact, word had reached him that morning that the camp cook—a most important
member of the outfit—had straddled his broncho and departed, being unable to withstand
the fire of fun and practical jokes of which he was, ex officio, the legitimate target.
"Can either of you cook?" asked the superintendent.
"I can," said the reddish-haired fellow, promptly. "I've cooked in camp quite a lot. I'm
willing to take the job until you've got something else to offer."