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Buck Peters, Ranchman by Clarence E. Mulford…
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Johnny Nelson reached up for the new, blue flannel shirt he had hung above his bunk, and then placed his hands on hips and soliloquized: "Me an' Red buy a new shirt apiece Saturday night an' one of 'em 's gone Sunday mornin'; purty fast work even for this outfit."
He strode to the gallery to ask the cook, erstwhile subject of the Most Heavenly One, but the words froze on his lips. Lee Hop's stoop-shouldered back was encased in a brand new, blue flannel shirt, the price mark chalked over one shoulder blade, and he sing-songed a Chinese classic while debating the advisability of adopting a pair of trousers and thus crossing another of the boundaries between the Orient and the Occident. He had no eyes in the back of his head but was rarely gifted in the "ways that are strange," and he felt danger before the boot left Johnny's hand. Before the missile landed in the dish pan Lee Hop was digging madly across the open, half way to the ranch house, and temporary safety.
Johnny fished out the boot and paused to watch the agile cook. "He 's got eyes all over hisself—an' no coyote ever lived as could beat him," was his regretful comment. He knew better than to follow—Hopalong's wife had a sympathetic heart, and a tongue to be feared. She had not yet forgotten Lee Hop's auspicious initiation as an ex-officio member of the outfit, and Johnny's part therein. And no one had been able to convince her that sympathy was wasted on a "Chink."
The shirtless puncher looked around helplessly, and then a grin slipped over his face. Glancing at the boot he dropped it back into the dish water, moved swiftly to Red's bunk, and in a moment a twin to his own shirt adorned his back. To make matters more certain he deposited on Red's blankets an old shirt of Lee Hop's, and then sauntered over to Skinny's bunk.
"Hoppy said he 'd lick me if I hurt th' Chink any more; but he did n't say nothin' to Red. May th' best man win," he muttered as he lifted Skinny's blankets and fondled a box of cigars. "One from forty-three leaves forty-two," he figured, and then, dropping to the floor and crawling under the bunk, he added a mark to Skinny's "secret" tally. Skinny always liked to know just how many of his own cigars he smoked.
"Now for a little nip, an' then th' open, where this cigar won't talk so loud," he laughed, heading towards Lanky's bunk. The most diligent search failed to produce, and a rapid repetition also failed. Lanky's clothes and boots yielded nothing and Johnny was getting sarcastic when his eyes fell upon an old boot lying under a pile of riding gear in a corner of the room. Keeping his thumb on the original level he drank, and then added enough water to bring the depleted liquor up to his thumb. "Gee—I 've saved sixty-five dollars this month, an' two days are gone already," he chuckled. He received sixty-five dollars, and what luxuries were not nailed down, every month.
Mounting his horse he rode away to enjoy the cigar, happy that the winter was nearly over. There was a feeling in the air that told of Spring, no matter what the calendar showed, and Johnny felt unrest stirring in his veins. When Johnny felt thus exuberant things promised to move swiftly about the bunk-house. ( )
  amzmchaichun | Jul 19, 2013 |
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