Trent's Trust and Other Stories HTML version
Dick Boyle's Business Card
The Sage Wood and Dead Flat stage coach was waiting before the station. The Pine
Barrens mail wagon that connected with it was long overdue, with its transfer passengers,
and the station had relapsed into listless expectation. Even the humors of Dick Boyle, the
Chicago "drummer,"—and, so far, the solitary passenger—which had diverted the
waiting loungers, began to fail in effect, though the cheerfulness of the humorist was
unabated. The ostlers had slunk back into the stables, the station keeper and stage driver
had reduced their conversation to impatient monosyllables, as if each thought the other
responsible for the delay. A solitary Indian, wrapped in a commissary blanket and
covered by a cast-off tall hat, crouched against the wall of the station looking stolidly at
nothing. The station itself, a long, rambling building containing its entire accommodation
for man and beast under one monotonous, shed-like roof, offered nothing to attract the
eye. Still less the prospect, on the one side two miles of arid waste to the stunted, far-
spaced pines in the distance, known as the "Barrens;" on the other an apparently limitless
level with darker patches of sage brush, like the scars of burnt-out fires.
Dick Boyle approached the motionless Indian as a possible relief. "YOU don't seem to
care much if school keeps or not, do you, Lo?"
The Indian, who had been half crouching on his upturned soles, here straightened himself
with a lithe, animal-like movement, and stood up. Boyle took hold of a corner of his
blanket and examined it critically.
"Gov'ment ain't pampering you with A1 goods, Lo! I reckon the agent charged 'em four
dollars for that. Our firm could have delivered them to you for 2 dols. 37 cents, and
thrown in a box of beads in the bargain. Suthin like this!" He took from his pocket a
small box containing a gaudy bead necklace and held it up before the Indian.
The savage, who had regarded him—or rather looked beyond him—with the tolerating
indifference of one interrupted by a frisking inferior animal, here suddenly changed his
expression. A look of childish eagerness came into his gloomy face; he reached out his
hand for the trinket.
"Hol' on!" said Boyle, hesitating for a moment; then he suddenly ejaculated, "Well! take
it, and one o' these," and drew a business card from his pocket, which he stuck in the
band of the battered tall hat of the aborigine. "There! show that to your friends, and when
you're wantin' anything in our line"—
The interrupting roar of laughter, coming from the box seat of the coach, was probably
what Boyle was expecting, for he turned away demurely and walked towards the coach.
"All right, boys! I've squared the noble red man, and the star of empire is taking its
westward way. And I reckon our firm will do the 'Great Father' business for him at about
half the price that it is done in Washington."