THE CALABAZAS JUSTICE.
The frontier town yearns with a consuming yearn for a local government; it matters not that the town is peopled by a lawless class, that neither respect the law nor fear its minions. Their yearn is as intense and as abiding as if they were a peaceful and quiet community. Of the many reasons which give rise to this yearn, one is that a system of fees is provided, by means of which a constitutionally lazy and shiftless portion of the community is enabled to live a life of laborious ease at the expense of the more industrious; and not the least is, that the law officers in a measure, are of the element that elects them to office, and are not severe should a trivial difference of opinion as to who is the toughest citizen get a constituent into trouble that would prove serious to him if the laws were enforced.
Now, the fact that the average of Calabazas humanity was of unsurpassed rascality, did not at all lessen this paradoxical desire for the forms of law and legal restraint, and it followed that a universal cry
Mr. Drinkwater, or Drinky, hailed from a highly moral prohibition State; but it is not to be inferred that he partook of any of the high moral attributes of that super-virtuous State; in fact, as a consumer of distilled liquors, he was as unexcelled as his other fellow-citizens of Calabazas were unexcelled in their various amiable weaknesses. After an acquaintance with him, one ceased to wonder at the prohibition politics of his native State. There were no degrees in his drunkenness, he was either dead sober or dead drunk; neither were there any degrees in his moods; he was either on a pinnacle of hope and joy, or he was in the depths of despair. His joy was intensified by copious draughts of Mescal, or still more bountiful imbibitions of the same nectar assuaged his grief. After a few preliminary cocktails, he was evenly balanced between excessive hope or the blackest despair, accompanied by tears. Should his thoughts at this moment be crossed by visions of captured smugglers, excessive hope of magnificent rewards, sufficient for a lifetime of heavenly Mescal, took possession of him. Not that he ever saw anything of value smuggled from Mexico, or ever saw anything in Mexico worth smuggling out of that blessed country, but Mescal. In
The older saloon keepers having—on bar tags—sufficient evidences of their misplaced confidence in his solvency, and as the acclimated citizen never invited him to refresh at their expense, excepting when they were themselves in a maudlin state of intoxication, Drinky was obliged to celebrate his joys and drown his sorrow in Mescal, a liquor of flaming, penetrating qualities. Of this choice spirit he managed to keep himself well supplied from the Nogales distillery, where it was to be had for fifty cents a gallon; therefore a visit to Nogales, was going from an internal revenue purgatory to an untaxed paradise.
The Mexican stage was another unfailing source of Mescal supply; the railroad laborers returning from Sonora, being generally loaded down with reserve supplies of this liquor. Drinky's examination of the trunks was perfunctory, but his search of valises and gripsacks was rigid. With virtuous indignation and governmental sternness would the tariff tax be demanded, or the Mescal confiscated. Taxes on occasional
Returns of the confiscated Mescal were made to his ever parched throat. His cash returns were made to the distillery at Nogales. The El Paso Collector was ignored in either case, hence Drinky's continual fears of treasury agents. After a successful cash foray on stage passengers or orange freighters, he would leave Calabazas in ecstacies of hope that he might intercept a band of smugglers—which of course would be sure to enter by the most traveled route,—ride to Nogales, and return full of the glorious Mescal, and a contingent supply, well housed in two demijohns, one of which would swing from either side of his saddle bow.
Upon being elected Justice, Drinky, without loss of time, rented from himself, as Custom Officer, the right to use the Custom House as a Court room, which arrangement was favorable to him from any point of view that he looked at it. A Justice's Docket was bought by popular subscription. His law library consisted of a U. S. Revised Statutes, one half of a Pocket Dictionary, a treatise on Chicken Culture, and a three year old Medical Polyglot Almanac in the English, Spanish, Scandinavian, and Chinese languages, bound in black, upon which, on account of its color and vagueness, witnesses were sworn.
Davis, the Constable, a burly fellow, claimed for himself a fearless record. He carried a pocketful of photographs of noted criminals, and gazed long and seriously at new arrivals, much to their discomposure. He was never known to be on hand to quell a disturbance, or to arrest any one, but a woman or Chinaman.
Davis preparing to earn mileage fees was a sight to be remembered. His splendid horse, furnished with a saddle that was the choicest specimen of the Mexican saddler's handiwork, a mass of ornamented leather and bearskin, heavily silver mounted, with numberless buckskin thongs flying about it; the horse's head hidden in a network of silver rosettes and hair bridle gear, connected with a Spanish bit large enough for a stove grate, which, when the horse champed upon it, could be heard a block away. Davis mounted, sombrero on head, bearskin leggings, riata tied to the saddle-horn, Winchester rifle across the saddle-bow, bowie-knife in boot leg, two ivory handled revolvers slung to his massive silver mounted waist belt, full of pistol cartridges, and over his shoulders a belt filled with rifle cartridges, was a knight fit to capture the State of Sonora—without a requisition.
The crowning glory of his regalia were his spurs. They were of polished, plated, and engraved steel, having rowels not less than four inches in diameter. Great twisted, polished steel chains, looped over, under and around the foot and fastened with heavy steel
No business of importance came before the Justice the first month or two. A few Chinamen and Mexicans, people whom no one cared for except as a source of income, were fined on general principles. These fines supplied a grateful, though limited, Mescal and gambling fund to the officers. At length a peculiarly atrocious murder was committed at one of the hurdy-houses, the particulars of which were most foul and brutal.
In all frontier towns there are a few good natured harmless beings, almost imbecile from the alcoholic disease, who hang around saloons and hurdy-houses doing menial chores, their sole pay being an occasional dime, or a drink of the precious and energizing whisky; their meals, fugitive crackers and consumptive
One of these poor fellows was employed at the Big Casino hurdy-house, to do the chores and to call the dance figures. He was pursuing his nightly vocation, and the dance was in full progress, when the Big Casino was entered by Rocky Dick, a "bad man" of Calabazas, accompanied by a couple of friends. The trio had been drinking heavily, and Rocky Dick had come to interview Harry, the proprietor, for the purpose of settling some ancient score or imagined insult; his friends accompanied him to see that he received fair play—and got the drop. Harry not being in, the whisky laden voice of the ruffian was raised in giving utterance to dire threats, and the most fearful, complicated, and abundant oaths, confirmatory of his intention to "do up" his enemy of the Big Casino at the first opportunity.
His friends, armed to the teeth, stood around the entrance, so that none could leave the house to warn the expected victim. The music ceased, and the dancers stood in their places; nothing was to be heard but the drunken voice of Rocky Dick, catechising Billy as to the whereabouts or expected return of the proprietor. Poor Billy, docile and mild mannered, deprecated the wrath of Rocky Dick, and vainly attempted to make peace for his absent employer. He tried to mollify Dick by proper humility, and earnestly insisted that he was laboring under
The result of Billy's friendly efforts was fatal to himself, for instead of being mollified, Rocky Dick, intent on murdering some one, wasted no more time in inconsequent talk, but placidly rested the muzzle of his revolver against William's head, and with the touch of a finger on the trigger, released that friendly person from all earthly cares and friendships. Billy had called his last dance; the unfortunate fellow fell dead where he had stood. The murderer ordered the dancing to proceed; and this almost inconceivable ruffian, as he stood by the dead body of his victim with the smoking pistol in his hand, called out the remaining figures of the interrupted quadrille. When the dance ended, Rocky Dick stepped into the darkness, and was not again seen in Calabazas. Though there were twenty armed men present, no attempt was made to arrest the murderer. This was the town's first "natural death" since the election. With the disappearance of the murderer, the music and dancing ceased for a night, but the bar reaped a harvest from the witnesses to the affair, and from those brought there by curiosity.
In a few minutes all Calabazas knew of the murder. Drinky and Davis were hunted up, and much indignation was expressed that they had not been on hand to save Billy's life. As soon as it was ascertained that the slayer had resigned the freedom of Calabazas, there was a consuming desire for his arrest; every man in town offered to lend some other man a rifle,
The anger of the Calabazans now knew no bounds. Every man in the town was in favor of every other man invading Mexico to arrest this ruffian, and an emissary was despatched to demand the presence of the Justice. When that store house of legal lore was made aware that the murderer was supposedly on Mexican soil, he became so enraged that he arose, dressed himself, braced up with Mescal, and visited the Big Casino, where, before accepting treats, he took a cursory view of Billy's dead body that still lay where it had fallen. After viewing the dead body, indulging at the bar, and again making sure that the murderer had left the Territory, Drinky, with great alacrity, ordered Davis to pursue and arrest him. That valiant officer was neither a hasty nor inconsiderate man, and reasoned with himself that Rocky Dick possibly had not yet crossed the Line, therefore any hasty pursuit might bring them together more closely than desirable, and informed Drinky that he must issue a warrant. This the Justice refused to do until he had first consulted his law library. Finding nothing in the U. S. Revised Statutes, the Fragmental Dictionary, the Treatise on Chicken Culture, or the Polyglot Almanac, bearing upon a Justice's duties, he declined to issue a warrant until after the inquest. Drinky feared that Rocky Dick was not surely out of the way, and that he might take a flying visit to Calabazas, and interview him concerning such a serious breach of etiquette.
Billy's body was brought to the corral, and laid out in a stall, for the Big Casino girls objected to stumbling over it when waltzing. Drinky, as coroner, immediately summoned a jury, and an inquest was held. The jury viewed the body, to re-assure themselves that Billy was still dead, and, returning to the courtroom, took in all the evidence, whisky and cigars brought forward. Drinky consulted the Revised Statutes. Whilst reading, the news came in that the murderer had been seen coming toward Calabazas. Drinky immediately charged the jury to bring in a verdict of "death from natural causes," for, said he, ‘‘When Rocky wanted Casino Harry, Billy should not have argued with him; and it was only natural that he should suffer for unnecessarily drawing Rocky's anger upon himself.’’ One-half of the jury brought in a verdict of "murder," which was contrary to instructions; the other half brought in a verdict as directed, "death from natural causes," which was entered, and Billy was then planted upon the mesa with about as much ceremony as a fence post.
Davis, when he left Calabazas, felt fully assured that Rocky Dick, after stealing the mule, had ridden safely into Mexico. If his deductions were correct, his duty would end when he reached Nogales, and was assured there that the murderer had passed on his way south, for on no account would he invade a friendly State after him. Feeling secure in his belief, Davis rode leisurely along the dusty road. The jingle of his war-like accoutrements kept time to the half trot, half waking gait of his horse. The broad brim of his hat was pulled down to shade his eyes from the glaring sun, and he was thinking intently of the lucky windfall in fees that the murder would bring him. Abstruse calculations concerning the number of miles he could ride at fifteen cents a mile, while hunting Rocky, caused thoughtful wrinkles to cover his forehead. Extradition papers might be issued that would enable him to profitably extend his trip over the Mexican States, after the roads and trails had
At the sound of the shot, Davis instinctively hugged his horse's neck. The frightened animal reared and, before he could be checked, was within a few feet of Rocky, who, pistol in hand, stood under the bushes in a little stream that washed the foot of the hill, around which the road suddenly turned, and Davis would have seen him first if that astute officer had not been so intently thinking of mileage, rewards, and the lies to be told his constituents.
The constable's hands went up in a flash. Rocky then stepped out into the road, picked up the rifle and pistols, took the knife from Davis' boot leg, and made him throw his shoulder and waist cartridge belts to the roadside. Rocky tossed the newly acquired war material into the bushes across the stream, and took up his first position with his feet in the water, never letting Davis get from before the pistol. He now asked him, ‘‘Looking for me? I ought to give you one for luck.’’
‘‘Why, I don't want you, Dick. I haven't anything against you, nor you against me. Looking for you! Blazes, Dick, there ain't no reward out for you yet! I ain't working for my health. I wouldn't arrest you now!’’
‘‘It was an accident, Davis. I was full, and I shot him before I thought. Harry was the man I wanted. I was Billy's friend, and if you fellows will square things, I'll pay all the burying expenses and put up a nice stone.’’
Davis gave Dick all of the Calabazas news, and Dick explained that he was foot sore from running to the graders camp, and had camped so near the Line, because he had no money to pay the Mexican's duty on his mule; he was now waiting for his friends to bring him some money. The two exchanged opinions on the merits of the various kinds of pistols, and Davis condoled with Rocky on the hard times he would have among the "Greasers." Having conversationally smoothed the way, Davis now made urgent and pitiful appeals to Dick to return him the weapons, after unloading them, and taking the cartridges from the belts. He protested his friendship, and tried to impress Dick with the ridiculousness of thinking any law officer would look for him until a reward was offered. With almost tears in his eyes, and a whining voice, he spoke of the scorn that he would meet with from the Calabazans if he should return in such a plight; but Rocky was unmoved, and only said "Rats." He was as adamant, no appeal, no fervid tender of friendship, no strenuous denial of intention to arrest could move him, he simply said, ‘‘Now you git.’’
While Dick was putting an old saddle and bridle on the mule, Davis actually began to whistle softly as he thought of leading the animal into town and the plausible story he would tell of how, after a desperate chase he had lost Dick, but had captured the mule, and that the Mexican officers had confiscated his weapons, because he had come armed into Mexico. At this moment Dick led the mule to Davis, and said, ‘‘Now, you take the mule back to the boys, and tell them I'll do as much for them some day.’’
Now, although Davis had ridden but nine miles after leaving Calabazas, he journeyed one hundred and thirty miles before again reaching that haven; for as soon as he was out of Rocky's sight, he cut across the mesas, and, avoiding Calabazas or other settlements, rode straight for Tucson, where he arrived the next night. There he purchased new weapons, and returned to Calabazas a week after leaving in pursuit of Dick. He told a lurid story of his chase after Dick, of trailing him with blood-hound sagacity; of having chased him into a cañon, and just as he had done so, the Mexicans had arrested him for coming armed and without a requisition into Mexico after a criminal, and of having to bribe the Mexican officer with his horse and saddle to release him, and much more to the same effect. In conclusion, he said that Rocky had talked with him after the Mexicans interfered, saying, that the killing of Billy was an accident, and as soon as he could get bonds, he was going to return and surrender himself, and would make it hot for his enemies.
His fertility of resource again came into play; he erased the verdict of "murder" from his docket, and inserted therein that Billy had "died from the accidental discharge of a pistol wound in the hand of Rocky Dick."
During one of Drinky's periodical visits to the Line, in pursuit of his special happiness, a fight took place between two hurdy girls. The combatants were arrested by the vigilant Davis, and incarcerated in the corral. A deputy was sworn in to keep strict watch and ward that they might not escape, and cause the loss of numerous Mescals or poker-chips for which their fines would pay. Davis hunted up Drinky, who, without loss of time, returned and convened court. Drinky was a prudent Justice. In his court "Plaintiff" and "Defendant," as distinguishing legal terms, were replaced by "Cash" and "No Cash." If the defendant was "broke," and the plaintiff "flush," the plaintiff was fined all the traffic would bear; if vice versa, then vice versa. If both had money, a fine was imposed on each. He could see neither sense nor profit in locking up penniless persons just to feed and watch, and two penniless offenders would not be arrested. As his decisions of this character had affected none but miners, laborers—who were friendless till pay day—or women, no great umbrage was taken; to the contrary, the Calabazans rather justified his methods, as the money was but a few hours passing from the court's hands into theirs.
The Court was called to such order as might be possible, where Judge, Constable, prisoners, witnesses, and spectators were standing, lounging or sitting around, chewing, smoking, and talking in a small room. During the trial, the witnesses and prisoners had no false delicacy about giving the lie direct to
Now it was that Drinky was to find that "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." Scarcely had he retired in the morning to snatch a much needed rest, after a night's vigils at the faro table, than he was confronted by the hurdy-man who had so chivalrously paid the girl's fine. The gentleman was fully "heeled," and, without unnecessary ceremony, in tones forcible and profane, demanded of Drinky that he "fork over that forty-five dollars, and fork it over pretty —— quick."
When Drinky had sufficiently recovered from the shock brought on him by this sudden and unparalleled demand, he vainly reasoned with the reclamatory hurdy-man. He spoke of the dignity attached to the office of Justice; the man said there was just as much dignity in forty-five dollars. Then Drinky laid down the law, as set forth in the U. S. Revised Statudes, the Chicken Compendium, the lacerated Dictionary, and the Polyglot Almanac. The hurdy-man defied the law and condemned the law-makers. Drinky then said that he should not be expected to make restitution of more than one-half the money, as Davis had the other half. The hurdy-man said that he had given no money to Davis; if Drinky had he had better take it out of Davis; hide—something Drinky was incapable of doing. Drinky was in desperate straits; he had not anticipated this. He was without a dollar, and the man facing him had two pistols, and an extremely wicked glare in his eyes. The girl could not be rearrested, for the fine had been paid and she had been discharged. Bewildered by the magnitude of his trouble, Drinky begged for time; the hurdy-man complacently granted him two hours—in his company.
In company with Boston Charlie and sudden death, Drinky started on a forlorn hunt after the necessary forty-five dollars and salvation. The sympathetically offered whiskies, gins, and Mescals, had no enticement for him in his great tribulation. He could find no one who cared to make a total loss of forty-five dollars, by loaning it to a gentleman of his known financial shakiness, and each refusal plunged him into deeper despair. Unsuccessfully he tried to borrow the whole amount from one person, or portions of it from several. He was about to give up in despair and let the hurdy-man work his will, when he thought of his friend the storekeeper. It was his last chance, and he would try him. He appealed to the storekeeper, and poured forth his tale of woe, the hurdy-man meanwhile standing grimly by. When Drinky had finished his story, the storekeeper shook his head negatively, could not accommodate him—Tucson remittances, etc.
Standing near Drinky as he made his appeal was an Englishman—a rosy cheeked, quiet, good-natured looking fellow, one of those who wear cork hats and Havelocks indiscriminately at the Pyramids or on an Arctic glacier, and devote their lives to globe trotting. One whom the customs of Calabazas had kept in a perpetual fog of astonishment, and afloat with brandy and soda.
He had listened intently to the blood-curdling tale, of the consequences that would ensue if the forty-five dollars were not forthcoming, and, as Drinky turned despairingly away, he quickly, and without comment, slipped two twenties and a ten dollar gold piece into his hand. Drinky almost burst a blood vessel in the
Answered Drinky: ‘‘I say, Charlie, let us call heads or tails to see who shall take the whole ten.’’ Charlie agreed, and they flipped the gold piece right before that surprised Briton's face. Drinky winning the money, they left the store arm in arm, the Judge first telling his benefactor, with great dignity, that he was obliged for the temporary accommodation, and as he expected his salary warrant in a day or two, would repay him. There were no strings on his expectations, though there were many on his salary, which was invariably discounted six months ahead. Neither Drinky nor Charlie invited the Englishman to refresh himself at his own expense, nor was the money repaid him. The following morning he left for Mexico, whence he had come.
After Drinky had parted from Boston Charlie, he met Crandall, who advised that a full entry be made on the Docket that the forty-five dollars had been returned under threats and duress, for by doing this he could keep his Docket straight, and not be forced to account for the fine to the county. He had already erased the conviction and fine entry, and had entered up an acquittal of the girl; but as he thought Crandall's
Now Charlie being a shrewd fellow, upon whom were no flies—but the Calabazas ones—suspected that Drinky would, as usual, tamper with the Docket, to the future peril of his (Charlie's) peace and person, therefore the next day he honored "Old Man" Drinky with another visit, and demanded to see the Docket. When the ponderous tome was opened and read, he levelled his cocked pistol at "Old Boy" Drinky's head, and prevailed upon him to erase all that reflected upon him (Charlie) in any way, and to let the conviction stand with the fine entered as paid.
Drinky began to tire of judicial honors. His judge's couch had been one of thorns instead of roses. There were too many dangers to be apprehended from bad men, who might object to his decisions if not in consonance with their wishes. Though the fees and fines, when collected, supplied abundant Mescal money, they were too transitory; too many of the fined recalled their money after it had been spent, and they were therefore more in the nature of temporary loans. Again, the county officers might call for his docket, and demand an account; in fact, the office was so surrounded with disagreeable contingencies that he decided to resign and retire to private life. It was a solace that his bondsmen were worthless, and could not be injured in any event.
Having, in his capacity as coroner and police magistrate, made his mark, or several of them, and rubbed them out, and replaced them with other marks, Drinky, it was natural to think, would now wear his enforced ermine with some pride and pleasure; but for him neither pride nor pleasure existed when the income was insecure, and his Docket showed a large indebtedness to the County. This last did not keep him awake at all, for it was only a short distance to the Line and the cancellation of all Arizona debts; but Mescal money was a desideratum, and he ever prayed for fees to come, upon which there could be no reclamation. He looked with jaundiced eyes on Davis, who never divided or refunded, and whose monthly mileage fees were enough to have carried him all over Arizona.
Early one morning, Drinky, cold sober, was in a mournful, bemoaning reverie over the bitter fate that had left him barren of a Mescal stake, and taxing his ingenuity to conceive some way of raising such stake, when he was interrupted by Casino Harry, who dropped in to say that he wanted a wedding ceremony performed
Drinky immediately perched on the loftiest pinnacle of hope; he could hardly be restrained from instantly setting forth for the Line, where he felt assured that vast hordes of smugglers were in the distillery, preparing to cross with the wealth of the Indies. He was prevailed upon to subside himself by the hurdy-girls, that had dropped in to assist in decorating the room, and who, without awaiting Drinky's pleasure, cleaned up and arranged the room to suit their own taste. The cracker boxes were unceremoniously chucked out of the window. The table was moved to one end of the room, and over it was festooned the American flag, belonging to the Custom House. Cottonwood boughs were tied to the ceiling joists to give the room a bowery appearance, and chairs were brought in and arranged around the sides. At the opposite end from the table, a corner was partitioned off by means of several sheets pinned together; this was to be a vestal
Finding himself ignored and treated with contumely by the ladies, Drinky adjourned to the saloon underneath. Now when Drinky, ten dollars and a bar were in conjunction, there was a powerful pull all around, powerful enough to increase the eccentricity of his orbit and pull him to the floor—in most instances.
He was in the bar-room but a few minutes, before the bottle and ten dollar piece were convivially tapped. Drinky was very thoughtful, and each drink increased his solemnity. Presently, between drinks, he leaned over and confidentially asked the barkeeper if he had a prayer book. That worthy, without loss of time, placed his revolver where it could be reached readily, should Drinky give further evidence of being dangerously insane, and shortly answered, ‘‘Naw, and you don't git no more liquor here nuther.’’ Drinky hereupon, being stricken with a great whisky grief, seated himself on a cracker box, sobbed for a few moments, and then, wiping his eyes, asked, ‘‘Did you ever marry anybody?’’
This was too much, it was infringing on the sacred feelings of friendship. No man could stand having such unheard of questions propounded in dead earnest, and not cut loose from all ties of amity and friendship. Drinky was up to something, and would maybe hoodoo the house. Great Caesar! he might kneel down and begin praying right where he was! The very thought of such a disaster almost stopped the barkeeper's heart beat; he grabbed the pistol in one hand, rushed to
After standing for a minute or two in the street, Drinky staggered upstairs to his office. The room had been prepared for the wedding, and the girls had left. He sat by the table, and, resting his head on his arm, slept a short time. Awakening, he went to the library shelf, took down his favorite books of reference, and from behind them a bottle half full of Mescal, hidden away in more prosperous times to tide over famine periods. He brought them to the table, opened the books, and, laying them to his hand, took a swig from the bottle.
The storekeeper hastened into the store, grasped the arm of his clerk, whispered mysteriously to him and went out the back door to the corral, where he saddled a horse and rode off in the direction of the Line. Drinky sat on the box whittling for about half an hour, and wondering what kept the storekeeper. The clerk presently lounged out to where he was, and said to him
Drinky was puzzled. He tried to think of what he could possibly have said to either offend or frighten the man, and the more he thought the more he was confused. As he slowly walked along, trying to unravel the matter, he was hailed by the Doctor, who was standing at his tent door.
Drinky, startled by the change in the Doctor's manner and tone, looked up into his face with a fixed stare of surprise. The Doctor seemed to shrivel and wilt before the stare, for he grasped and effusively shook Drinky's hand, saying,
They bade each other a chilly "so long." Drinky went out into the street, and the doctor to his stable tent, where he saddled his horse, and, in a short while, was riding rapidly toward Pete's-the-rancher.
Drinky wandered aimlessly up the street, in a more confused condition than before. How he did wish the widow or Lucky Smith were still in town. They could inform him. Why did'nt Harry go to Tucson? If he hadn't spent the ten dollars he'd give it back and let him go elsewhere. He would go and take a drink. In pursuance of his last resolve, he went into the Pantheon, shook Bob's barkeeper—Johnnie—for the drinks, won, and ordered a cocktail. While the cocktail was being mixed, he was impressed that Johnnie had the appearance of a married man; he would ask him. So he broached the subject with—
The question was hardly from Drinky's mouth, before the glass of cocktails went smashing to the floor from Johnnie's nerveless hand, and that handsome, mashing, nervy and hasty gentleman stood as dumb as an oyster, open mouthed and staring at Drinky with protruding eyes. Suddenly a broad grin covered his face, he kicked the broken glass under the counter, and, reaching over, grasped Drinky's hand, saying:
‘‘That's one on me, Drinky. Ha-ha-ha! why, you just took my wind away. I thought you asked me if I had ever been murdered. Ha-ha-ha! Well, I'm ——. What'll you have? I was thinking of something else. You will have one on me from this out when you want
Drinky listened with a sad, sanguinary, death-bed smile on his face. He did not try to think any more, he would be as crazy as all he had been talking to if he did; so he swallowed his cocktail, then took one with Johnnie, and then anticipated two days on Johnnie and took a couple more. He now began feeling better, and almost entirely forgot about the wedding. Having no further business in the Pantheon, he bade Johnnie ‘‘See you again,’’ and started to go, when Johnnie asked:
While Drinky had another with him, Johnnie confidentially told him that he was going to start for Tombstone as soon as Bob came in; had just heard his brother had been in a shooting scrape, and he wanted
Drinky, wondering at Johnnie's unusual generosity, returned to the Custom House. He was no sooner away than Johnnie despatched a messenger for Bob, from whom he borrowed a horse to go and see his "brother who was sick at the railroad camp," and rode toward the Line. He had not been gone longer than a half hour when Pete-the-rancher rode furiously into town, halted at the Golden Fleece, and excitedly asked the bystanders.
‘‘Well, the storekeeper went by my place like he was running a quarter race, and I hollered to know "What's up," and he yelled back something and waved his hand. He was hardly out of sight, when here comes Doc. like h—l beating tan bark, and I hollered to him to know "What's up," and he yelled something back and waved his hand. He was hardly out of sight before here comes Bob's Johnnie on Bob's gray just skinning the ground like greased lightning, and I hollered to him to know "What's up," and he yelled something back and waved his hand, and I made up my mind to come and see, and the first —- scrub that rid along and yelled back and waved his —- hand at me, that I would take a shot at him for luck —-.’’ None could explain the riddle, and exhausted themselves in straights and cocktails, taken at the saloons
On returning to the Custom House, Drinky found everything prepared for the wedding. He sat on his official throne, and pondered on the extraordinary fact that no Calabazan had ever been married; and wondered if he had really strayed into a colony of monks. He was disturbed by the entrance of Boston Charlie, who wanted an attachment issued. The business settled, Boston Charlie—who was a truculent fellow—looked around at the decorations and remarked:
‘‘Yes,’’ said Drinky, (and remembering Harry's injunction.) ‘‘Some of the girls going to have a birthday party to-night;’’ and with the same old thirst for marital information deluging his mind, he continued:
Drinky said it again, and slow; he had hardly finished when ‘‘Biff! Slap! Bang!’’ and he had one on the eye, another on the nose, and another on the jaw, from Charlie's ponderous fist; and was then taken by the collar and shaken like a terrier shakes a rat, before being thrown back into his chair limp and helpless, to listen to Charlie answer his question with abundant profanity.
‘‘You're spying on me, are you? Yes, I'm married, and it's none of your —— business, is it? That's why you have been playing friendly is it, —— you! That's what took you to Tucson so often, is it? Yes, I'm married, and the —— —— old crow is living in Tucson,
Drinky was now thoroughly demoralized. He wished for death. He sauntered to the saloon below, and after so explaining his questions of the morning to the barkeeper as to remove all suspicions concerning his sanity, took a couple of drinks on their re-cemented friendship, and fell asleep on a cracker box.
At nine o'clock P.M., Bonnie, dressed for the wedding, entered the Custom House in company with her hurdy-girl friends. Harry and his friends put in their appearance a little later. Drinky, who had sobered up by some marvellous process, known to himself only, looked quite Episcopal in the city suit, white necktie and paper collar that he had borrowed from the clerk at the store. After a few jokes, and compliments to the bride and groom had passed, the groom invited all hands to take a drink, and they adjourned to the bar underneath, the ladies going with Bonnie into the vestal chamber to gossip with her as a hurdy-girl for the last time. The men sent up beer to cheer the ladies until their return. After drinking to the groom's health, Handsome George insisted that they should go to the Golden Fleece, "and smile." The company accepted the invitation, and visited the Golden Fleece, whence—beers were again sent to the ladies. Curly Pete would feel slighted if his place was not visited, so the Coliseum was called at—and more beer was sent to the ladies. Bottle Bob was a quiet man, but he could be aroused if insulted in cold blood, so the Pantheon had the call—beer was sent to the ladies. At each place the sports, not to be behind hand, also added health treats—with beer for the ladies. By the time that all of the more prominent and friendly places had been visited, some of the crowd were drunk, some half drunk, and some just jolly. Among the last was the bridegroom, Drinky being listed with the first division.
The hour being now nearly half past eleven, P. M., Harry said he thought it was about time to visit the ladies. Timely thought, it was. They left the noisy bar-room, and stepped into the street, to have their ears assailed with piercing cries, shrieks, ejaculations, and recriminations, coming from the ladies in the Custom House. Harry and the more sober, lost no time in getting to the room, and what a sight met their gaze. Poor Bonnie was standing on the table crying, some of the women had torn dresses, scratched faces, and bitten cheeks; all but Bonnie had inflamed faces and swollen eyes. Some were sitting with their backs to the wall, lolling, crying, and mumbling oaths. The curtains had been torn from the vestal chamber, the chairs were thrown about the room—some of them broken—and the green Cottonwood boughs had been pulled down and littered over the floor.
The fifth beer had brought up the subject of dancing, with remarks concerning each lady's grace or skill on the floor, and whispered asides to dearest friends, that ‘‘Liz is clumsy,’’ or ‘‘Flora vain,’’ or ‘‘Sallie is a heavy weight in a waltz,’’ and ‘‘Jennie is overbalanced by her feet.’’
The sixth beer brought on an exchange of the former asides to those most interested in not hearing them, from those that they had been whispered to, in strictest confidence, and the ladies began forming themselves into cliques.
The eighth beer incited rude remarks concerning the personal deficiencies of each other, to each other, accompanied by profanity, sniffs, shruggings of shoulders, and supercilious glances from one to another.
Harry and his sober friends had separated the women by the time Drinky and the remainder of the guests staggered into the room. Harry angrily sent the most noisy women away in company with the most drunken men, and the room was put in order. The quarrel among the girls had thrown a cloud over the company, and, as the wedding couple stood before the Justice awaiting the ceremony, the tear-stained face of Bonnie, and solemn one of Harry, were more befitting a funeral than a marriage feast.
Whilst the room was being cleared up, Drinky had sat upon the edge of the table suffering from the most intense alcoholic grief. The row between the ladies had brought afresh to his mind the misfortunes of the day, of the abuse by the barkeeper, of the extraordinary conduct of those from whom he had sought marital information, and of his unmerited thrashing by Boston Charlie. The more his mind dwelt upon these troubles, the greater became his sympathy for himself, until he was at length melted into bitter tears of indignation at his fateful fortunes. He looked up and saw the wedding party standing before him, and the inebriated gentleman was immediately possessed with the idea that they were angry, and watching him for no good purpose. Looking at them, and winking his eyes slowly and sleepily, he asked with much acrimony:
Bonnie seated herself, silently crying, and murmuring, ‘‘Did any poor girl ever have such a time getting married? Something will surely happen, and I just know it. For two pins I would give the whole thing up.’’
‘‘I say this,’’ said Drinky, alcoholic grief having giving way to alcoholic dignity, emphasized with "hics" (which the reader can put in,) "I asked Frank if he was married, and he chucked me out. I asked Tom, and he said for me to wait a minute, and then skipped. I asked Doc., and he skipped. I asked Johnnie, and he skipped. I asked Charlie, and he gave me a belting. He would have skipped too, only he knew just where his old crow was.
In an instant the unfortunate Drinky was involved in a cyclonic mass of whirling arms and drapery, while, at intervals, a thunderbolt struck him on his face, cheeks, ears, or head, accompanied by a feeling as if he was held by his hair over a bottomless abyss. It was only Bonnie, who howled in his ear:
The flushed cheeks and blazing eyes of the enraged beauty had a greater effect on Drinky than anything that had happened. The more so, as Bonnie was noted for her sweet disposition and unfailing good humor. Accordingly Drinky humbly said:
‘‘Oh,’’ goodnaturedly said George, ‘‘all you've got to do, Drinky, is to ask them if they want to marry, and then tell them they were married, and enter it on your Docket. I was married by a justice, but,’’ hastily adding, ‘‘my wife is dead.’’
‘‘Say, Drinky, forgive me like a good fellow?’’ said Bonnie sweetly. ‘‘I know you didn't mean anything, but everything has gone wrong, and I was so mad. Please forgive me, Drinky; my wedding night, too.’’
Before retiring on the floor to rest, Drinky swore on his whole library, never to be implicated in another wedding, and, with great care and deliberation, made an entry in his Docket. Crandall, who returned the next day, convinced Harry and Bonnie that the wedding was all right. He then went to the Custom House and examined the Docket to make sure. Fortunately for Drinky, Harry did not come, for the entry that met Crandall's eyes was, that "Harry had been convicted of an assault and fined ten dollars." Drinky was hunted up, his handy knife soon erased this entry, and under the friendly instructions of Crandall a correct one was made, a certificate made out for Bonnie, and the license endorsed.
The morning after the wedding, Bob sent a courier to Johnnie, telling of the wedding and the object of Drinky's questions. The three men returned, but for some days bore a hunted, fugitive look, and started nervously at hearing a female voice. The Doctor never explained why he went to Nogales, to attend a sick child in Tubac. Johnnie was reticent as to how he expected, by going to Nogales, to help his brother in Tombstone out of a scrape, and the storekeeper
Nearly a month after the wedding, Charlie's "Old Crow" unexpectedly put in an appearance, and that bulldozing individual became the meekest of men, and the most attentive of husbands. He made ample apologies to Drinky, and in return for unlimited silence concerning the remarks made about the "Old Crow," tendered him unlimited refreshments.
Drinky's final caper of heading a mob against the Chinese of the town, made it prudent for him to absent himself from American jurisdiction, and take up his residence in Mexico, that land of frijoles, tortillas, and the abundant, much-loved, and untaxed Mescal.
The establishing of the new railroad town at Nogales, had seriously affected Calabazas. Business was not so brisk. Not so many strangers came in. The rattle of the faro chips was not so universally heard, and the call of "Keno!" startled the ear and caused undignified expressions to drop from the hearer. It was appalling to the Calabazans to think that if this thing kept on, the town might attain a degree of decency and quietness, and with their usual fertility of resource, they began looking around to devise some plan by which to dissipate their ennui.
In the town, one or two wash houses had been opened, and one Foo Chong and wife, had established the "Delmonico" restaurant. The couple were tactful, polite, exquisitely neat—for Calabazas—and spoke English quite well. Mrs. Foo Chong was petite, and had a mild, gentle face, that was really so pretty, that her oblique eyes and the barbaric arrangement of her hair, could not entirely hide its pleasantness.
At this period, 1877–1882, it had become common in the Western States to attribute any business depression, failure of crops, petering out of mines, destructive earthquakes, floods, disastrous shipwrecks, idiocy, or malformed births, to Chinese competition; therefore it was perfectly natural for the Calabazans to ascribe the town's unwonted quietness to the same cause. The exasperating sobriety and pertinacious industry of these undesirable people were a standing menace to the Calabazas social fabric. Then, what could be more natural than for the citizens to think that it would be amusing and profitable to attack them, destroy their property, and incidentally confiscate their money and valuables? Of course, the avowed grievance
A few days before the riot, the storekeeper sold out his business, for cash, at much less than its value. It was said that he intended to skip over the Line and avoid his creditors; but this was not considered as being anything amiss; to the contrary, the Calabazans looked upon it as rather a commendable course to pursue, and it being but a short distance to the Line, no one thought it strange that he hung around town instead of going away at once.
The fourth evening after the sale of the store, clusters of men were seen gathered here and there on the bottom, talking earnestly and loudly against the Chinese. These clusters gradually drifted together, the ex-storekeeper, Drinky, and a "tough" from the railroad camp, being extremely busy amongst them. As the evening wore on, the crowd became more venemous from the numerous drinks indulged in, loudly cursing the Chinese and the government; but the discussions of half drunken men were not much noticed in Calabazas.
About nine o'clock, a body of fifty men were seen marching solidly toward the Custom House, and before any one had an idea of what they intended doing, the Palace Hotel was attacked, torn down, and its furniture and crockery smashed. Up to this time
Hi Sing and Lo Sing fled on the wings of the wind into the darkness. How funnily they shrieked for mercy when chased, and were jocularly fired at, in hopes of tickling their lungs or livers with a bullet. It was great fun for the Calabazans.
Having squeezed, kneaded, and hammered the last particle of amusement from Cum Sing and his belongings, and at the same time incidentally squared all board due him from them, they proceeded to attack Foo Chong's restaurant. They cut his new tent into
There are some people totally devoid of all sense of humor, and of maudlin sympathies, whose stony hearts would have been moved if they could have seen this heathen couple, after recovering their senses, sitting amid the ruins of their all, bleeding (real blood like anyone else's) from their numerous wounds. The head of the innocent, maltreated wife rested on her poor husband's shoulder, while he fondled one of her small, bruised hands (just as if a person could love in Chinese!) Her once ornately decorated and plastered hair was matted with blood (genuine). In gentle, subdued words and half-suppressed sobs, she bemoaned their ruin and abuse and tried to console her husband. And then to see Foo so softly smooth and caress her hands, while he, oblivious to his own hurts, said in his "dirty lingo," ‘‘Me no ca-a fo' my money, me no ca-a fo' house, but he bleak my wife's feelins. Me bollow all him money to buy tent an buy g'lub and now me no can pay. My flen tink me logue.’’ It was as mirth inspiring as a circus joke.
Having eliminated the few Chinese tents from the town, and chased their inmates into the darkness, or beaten them into insensibility, the mob followed their leaders to the brick yards. Here the Chinese, not knowing how to take a joke, had barricaded themselves in their sleeping house with an intent to defend their property, but when they heard the yelling and swearing of the rioters, the firing of pistols, and the drunken threats, all of them ran away but the boss and a couple of the braver Chinese, who remained to make an effort to save something. So many of the mob were under obligations to him that he thought assuredly he had some friends amongst them.
The rioters, in a minute after reaching the yard, had hammered the boss and his two companions enough to show that friendship ceased when amusement was in hand. Every nook and corner of the buildings were searched for money; for what right had a Chinaman to money when a Calabazan wanted whisky? Clothing was cut to pieces, and every article these devilish Chinese had in the world, was wantonly destroyed. Rifles and pistols were fired at random, in hopes of hitting some of the fleeing heathens, for to kill a Chinaman is a meritorious act, and insures a nomination to office; besides, they were supposed to
The work of the mob was so quickly done, that the few law abiding cranks of the town had no time to raise voice or hand to prevent it, should they have been able to do so. But by the time the rioters started for the brick yard, several "cranks" had gathered in Mitchell's tent to devise some plan for checking them; some of whom had already advocated going to the railroad camp, a short distance up the cañon, looting its store, and killing the proprietor, who was not inclined their way.
Now Mitchell was an old army man, and, having no spirit of mob adventure at all, thought it best to make a counter attack on the mob. It would increase the fun, and at the same time engage what few of the population as were not enjoying themselves with the Chinese. He soon had sixteen well armed men, who, after electing him Captain, and handsome George lieutenant, determined to face the mob. Foo Chong and a negro were volunteers; no one had suspected them of being brave! but then we are often mistaken in men. After giving Foo's wife refuge, Mitchell put out his lights, and marched his men to the store. What ammunition and fire arms he found there were taken away. The storekeeper refused to join, as he wished to remain neutral. Mitchell now marched his men at double quick to the brick yard, and made an ambush behind the remnant of a brick kiln.
No sooner had the rioters scattered, than the Chinese, as if by magic, emerged from their hiding places, and the just started flames of the bunk house were extinguished. The poor devils did not wait for daylight, but bundled up the few scraps of clothing lying around, and took the Tucson road, carrying their wounded boss and his beaten men. Though tears poured down their yellow cheeks, there was no sound of crying. Their silent grief would have affected silly people.
Calabazas courtesies not being assimilative to Chinese ideas, they abandoned the town. The Palace Hotel was rebuilt at Nogales, but it had not its former grandeur, nor flies, nor was Cum Sing such a chipper, good natured landlord. Foo Chong and his wife returned to Tucson, instead of going over the Line, and both are working in their foolish Chinese manner to earn money to repay that loaned him for his disastrous Calabazas venture.
Drinkwater, the ex-storekeeper, the "tough," and the other prominent comedians in the riot, skipped over the Line, and it is possible that in Mexico, these rioters will get at some time a taste of their own medicine. The fact that the leaders of this mob, and its most active members, were in debt to the Chinese for board, washing, and borrowed money, may account for their virtuous indignation against Chinese cheap labor; there was much method in Calabazas madness—or fun.
It is but fair to Drinky to say that, when first approached to join the mob, being sober, he utterly refused; but, after accepting the hospitalities of the delegation, in the shape of insinuating and irresistable Mescals, together with threats of personal violence, he not only joined, but, as is characteristic of converts, he was the most zealous of all. With him disappeared his Docket. If that wonderful record is still in existence, it is about as interesting and decipherable as an Egyptian hieroglyphic.
The riot put the finishing touch to the future of Calabazas. The following morning a number of apprehensive Calabazans took up their feet and journeyed to Nogales, where the boundary line runs through the center of the main street. It was saddening to see the aristocracy of the town brought so low as to gamble with each other, or play the doleful and unprofitable game of solitaire. The third day after the riot, the prominent citizens could no longer stand the peacefulness of the town. The Pantheon, Coliseum, Golden Fleece, and Big Casino were rolled up and piled on wagons, with their chairs, tables, gambling paraphernalia, and bars, and the procession solemnly wended its way to Nogales, that dragon on the Line, that had swallowed up their friends and patrons, who now, in moments of safety, can step over the Line, and, free from care or anxiety, shuffle the nimble poker chip, or add a notch to their pistol hilt, and more blood to their record.
If living, they are no doubt in just such another town, undergoing such other experiences and dangers, for their life could not be lived in a less reckless or a quieter place. Their changing moods and generous acts, their impulsive sympathy, their cold-blooded nerve, bloodthirsty quickness, profanity, dissipation, and horse-play, remain as a memory only, to those that natural depravity, or a desire for profit, caused to be a part of their community. It may be that an old-timer, visiting the deserted site of the once lively town, can hear the ghostly yells of the mob, the sounds of ghostly music, swearing and dancing from the hurdy-houses, or the whistling of ghostly bullets through the blistering air.