Jasper were at the extremities of the town, and the crowd did not
move those ways. It waited in the centre, and whetted impatience
by sly trips in twos and three to stables or side alleys for "mountain
dew." Now and then the sheriff, a little man with a mighty voice,
would appear on the courthouse steps, and summon a witness to
court, where a frightened judge gave instructions to a frightened
jury. But few went, unless called; for the interest was outside;
every man in the streets knew that a storm was nigh, and was
waiting to see it burst.
Noon passed. A hoarse bell and a whining hound had announced
dinner in the hotel. The guests were coming again into the streets.
Eyes were brighter, faces a little more flushed, and the
"moonshine" was passed more openly. Both ways the crowd
watched closely. The quiet at each end of the street was ominous,
and the delay could last but little longer. The lookers-on
themselves were getting quarrelsome. The vent must come soon,
or among them there would be trouble.
Thar comes Jas Lewallen! " At last. A dozen voices spoke at
once. A horseman had appeared far down the street from the
Lewallen end. The clouds broke from about the sun, and a dozen
men knew the horse that bore him; for the gray was prancing the
street sidewise, and throwing the sunlight from his flanks. Nobody
followed, and the crowd was puzzled. Young Jasper carried a
Winchester across his saddle-bow, and, swaying with the action of
his horse, came on.
"What air he about?"
"He's a plumb idgit."
He mus' be crazy."
The wonder ceased. Young Jasper was reeling. Two or three
Stetsons slipped from the crowd, and there was a galloping of
hoofs the other way. Another horseman appeared from the
Lewallen end, riding hastily. The new-comer's errand was to call
Jasper back. But the young dare-devil was close to the crowd, and
was swinging a bottle over his head.
Come back hyeh, Jas! Come hyeh!" The new-comer was shouting
afar off while he galloped. Horses were being untethered from the
side alleys. Several more Lewallen riders came in sight. They
could see the gray shining in the sunlight amid the crowd, and the
man sent after him halted at a safe distance, gesticulating; and
they, too, spurred forward.
Hello, boys! " young Jasper was calling out, as he swayed from
side to side, the people everywhere giving him way.
"Fun to-day, by- ! fun to-day! Who'll hev a drink? Hyeh's hell to
the Stetsons, whar some of 'em '11 be afore night!
With a swagger he lifted the bottle to his lips, and, stopping short,
let it fall untouched to the ground. He had straightened in his
saddle, and was looking up the street. With a deep curse he threw
the Winchester to his shoulder, fired, and before his yell had died
on his lips horse and rider were away like a shaft of light. The
crowd melted like magic from the street. The Stetsons, chiefly onDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>