The Jimmyjohn Boss and Other Stories HTML version

Hank's Woman
Many fish were still in the pool; and though luck seemed to have left me, still I
stood at the end of the point, casting and casting my vain line, while the Virginian
lay and watched. Noonday's extreme brightness had left the river and the plain in
cooling shadow, but spread and glowed over the yet undimmed mountains.
Westward, the Tetons lifted their peaks pale and keen as steel through the high,
radiant air. Deep down between the blue gashes of their canons the sun sank
long shafts of light, and the glazed laps of their snow-fields shone separate and
white upon their lofty vastness, like handkerchiefs laid out to dry. Opposite,
above the valley, rose that other range, the Continental Divide, not sharp, but
long and ample. It was bare in some high places, and below these it stretched
everywhere, high and low, in brown and yellow parks, or in purple miles of pine a
world of serene undulations, a great sweet country of silence.
A passing band of antelope stood herded suddenly together at sight of us; then a
little breeze blew for a moment from us to them, and they drifted like phantoms
away, and were lost in the levels of the sage-brush.
"If humans could do like that," said the Virginian, watching them go.
"Run, you mean?" said I.
"Tell a foe by the smell of him," explained the cow-puncher; "at fifty yards--or a
"Yes," I said; "men would be hard to catch."
"A woman needs it most," he murmured. He lay down again in his lounging
sprawl, with his grave eyes intently fixed upon my fly-casting.
The gradual day mounted up the hills farther from the floor of earth. Warm airs
eddied in its wake slowly, stirring the scents of the plain together. I looked at the
Southerner; and there was no guessing what his thoughts might be at work upon
behind that drowsy glance. Then for a moment a trout rose, but only to look and
whip down again into the pool that wedged its calm into the riffle from below
"Second thoughts," mused the Virginian; and as the trout came no more,
"Second thoughts," he repeated; "and even a fish will have them sooner than
folks has them in this mighty hasty country." And he rolled over into a new
position of ease.
At whom or what was he aiming these shafts of truth? Or did he moralize merely
because health and the weather had steeped him in that serenity which lifts us
among the spheres? Well, sometimes he went on from these beginnings and told
me wonderful things.