The ice is breakin' up; an' if our candidate sets in his saddle steady an' with wisdom at this back-thumpin', name-callin' epock, an' don't take to millin' 'round for trouble, in two minutes him an' that gregar'ous gent who's accosted him is drinkin' an' fraternizin' together like two stage hold-ups in a strange camp. The West ain't ornery; she's simply reserved a whole lot.
He had not so much as slanted a look toward the door. Hiram's chance had come. After a silent minute he essayed: "But I didn't come to the city to leave it right away and go to drivin' mules. I came here to get a start." The other politely lowered his paper. "What're you doin' breakin' loose from home to make yer fortune?" he asked. Hiram nodded and smiled.
"Had he been with some other gentlemen during the evening?" "No, sir. 'E 'ad been callin' on a lady, but stopped at 'is club on the way around " "What lady?" "You may speak freely, Christopher. Miss Van Wyck?" "I I think so, sir. They 'ad an appointment." "I see. And did he drink again that night?" "A few brandies yes, sir. Ye see, sir, it got to him quick-like breakin' training so suddent."
Sobriety came in on this attempted witticism, and the old cook saw a film grow into the Judge's smiling eyes. "Old marster!" she exclaimed, raising her hands, "you's jess a-sottin' dar, an' breakin' your poor heart. Don't I know when you is a-makin' believe?
Then we up and rushed what was left of 'em Piotto and his daughter. Bard makes a pass to knock the gun out of the hand of Joan and wallops her on the head instead. Down she goes. I finished Piotto with my bare hands." "Broke his back, eh?" "Me? Whoever heard of breakin' a man's back? Ha, ha, ha! You been hearin' fairy tales, son. Nope, I choked the old rat." "Were you badly hurt?"
"Naw, he ain't," growled the chief; "that'll come later. Black McTee is breakin' him an' he'll be broke before he goes off his nut. Now get to hell out of here. I ain't slept a wink for ten days." The fireman went back to his work muttering, and Harrigan sang the rest of the night. In the morning there was the usual task of scrubbing down the bridge.
Robert, though young, took a keen interest in the fight. While other lads of his age looked upon it as a fine holiday, the heavy responsibilities he had to face gave him a different outlook, and so the men seemed to recognize that he was different from the other boys, and more sober in his view-point. "This story is set aboot for the purpose o' breakin' oup the men," he continued.
"'Tis likely they've been cuttin' wood or breakin' twigs or makin' a fire." "The brook ain't froze, and I'm thinkin' now they been walkin' there and leavin' tracks, if they were going' for water, and 'tis likely they were gettin' water to boil the kettle," reasoned Seth.
"No." replied the Living Skeleton. "I'm allowanced off an' I've got t' eat on'y what he gives me that's in our contrac'. If I eat more an put on flesh out I go. There's a clause in ther contrac' what sez I'm li'ble t' be fired if goes above seven stone seven. The previous livin' skelington got the run at Barnip fer breakin' out. He was the only original. I'm just a sort iv understudy."
What y' been doin' t'-day? Breakin' somethin'?" But later he ate four of the little confections with loud smacks. Big Tom had not repaid a good turn with gratitude. But then at least he had been no uglier than usual; had not stormed about wasting biscuit dough and sugar, as he might easily have done. He had been just his ordinary self, which was something to be thankful for.