Their Tents Like the Arabs
Andy Doolin Meets Another Editor
Who wrote “The Herald Angel," “The Centre of (¡ratify," etc.
ADDIN’ ’em all up an’ strikin’ a balance, noospaper fellers is pretty good scouts. They has the double entry into sassiety, high or low, knowin’ how to get into the middle o’ what’s goin’ on by way o’ the wide front steps an’ the grand salaam or the back door or through the pantry winder if they can’t get in no other ways. Sometimes they gets in where angels feaFS to tread, all o’ which I submits has a considerable widenin’ influence an’ smelts ’em down to gen’wine.
But frequent the human mind aint reachin’ golden conclusions without diggin’ around considerable an’ drivin’ prospect tunnels into Old Mount Experience. The foundin’ o’ the Clover Bar Booster by B. Birks is the first the camp’s had to do with editors an’ nobody’s denyin’ he was sure white an’ a fine little feller. But when he sells out an’ goes back East among the purlieus o’ Art an' Fashion an’ we turns the page expectant to get acquai/ited with the new editor we uncovers the darndest specimen o' hungrvlookin’ journalistic quartz any o’ the boys has ever seen. We aint none o’ us sure whether he’s a thin film o’ bornite or a limestone band what’s foundered into the diorite magma at the time o’ intrusion.
As I sayd afore. Clover Bar aint had much chanst to study the habits o’ editors; for it's on'y a little minin’ camp back in the mountains. The Kootenay in them early boom days was attractin' considerable attention on the outside, however, so't our population on the Inside was pretty much poose-raffy—as bad mixed as a loud check' suit. Ilich man, poor man, plain loafer an' one-time-cattlerustler-maybe—all lined up to have somethin’. There was a "dead-line” in « amp an’ below it you could find anythin’ at any hour o’ the night, includin' Jake Bellamy’s all-night dance hall, the which he calls it the Upper Ten Theaytre" with a saloon an' gamblin’ department adjoinin', laborin' under the designation o' “The Bucket o’ Bloo«L" Above the dead-line in the decenter part o’ the camp is the pther an' main booze bazaar, named “The Silver Dollar,” the which yours truly runs respectable an’ owns entire.
It bein’ just after the big gold strike over on Wolf Crick an' the development o' the copper group up on Toad Mountain, Clover Bar -ure is bein' taxed for accommodations. I've already ruri a second storey on the Silver Dollar so’s a few friends can fin«! a place to bunk an' work's proceedin’ night an’ day on a permanent dresseil-boards extension with sleepin’ apartments for strangers passin’ through? or alii lin' awhile. I’m intendin’ to have a gen’wine hotel rotundary where sai«l guest« can register formal with a buzzbell connectin’ each an’ every apartment with the bar for refreshment orders an’ sudden ice-water calls. An’ I’m poin’ to move the dinin’-room inside out o’ the wet, the same bein’ at present operatin’ in a tent alonpside. I’m likewise plannin’ to build a rep’lar theaytre an’ call same “The E-Lipht.”
WELL anyways, me’n Jimmy’s on duty topether an’ keepin’ miphty busy in the irripatin’ ditch, the which we has to hire a Swede bar-keep as a relief shift. Ole’s just come on an’ I’m untvjn’ my apron-strinps when I hears somebody a-hemmin’ in their throat an’ there stands the lonpest, leanest, widest-prinnin' strinper o' skin an’ bones I’ve ever seen breathe an’ move. He’s the color o' the keys on Gran’ma’s old melodeon an’ he must 've measured six-foot-six from tip to tip.
"Howdy, Doolin.” prins this specimen, lounpin’ free an’ easy across the bar, perfect at home in them surroundin's.
“H’lo. yourself,” I says, lookin' closter to make sure 1 aint passin’ up a former acquaintance. But he's so peculiar lookin’ I knows ripht away I aint never seen him afore.
"My name’s Crabtree—Cephus Crabtree." he condescends. “Permit me—my card.” - An’ he extends a ink-daubed howd’you-do acrost to me to prove it. “I've just closed a little deal for your enterprisin' little noospaper plant, payin’ the small sum o’ one thousand dollars for the privilepe o’ purveyin’ to the citizens o' this propressive little city o’ the mountains the noos o’ the world-at-larpe an’ the hipher fliphts o’ literary fancy in prose and verse, it bein' the sacred dooty o’ the press to uphold the noble praces o’ the Arts as well as directin’ the thouphts o' our citizenship into the proper channels for the formation o' an enliphtened public opinion.”
His spipot is wide open rin’ the talk is runnin’ out so smooth an’ fast his Goblet o' Thoupht is mostly bead. ,
“Why, that’s very kind o’ you, Andy,” he breaks oil". "1 don't mind if I do. I’ll try the rye, thanks."
I looks around to see if Jimmy has pave him the sipn or anythin’ like that; but Jimmy’s at the other end o’ the bar. I’m kind o’ dazed art’ I shoves the drink acrost to him.
"I believes you’n me’s poin’ to be pood friends. Andy," he wanders on. “Wonderful thinp, friendship. It’s the on’y pearl to our oyster in this Valley o’ Shadows,” says he, wavin’ a bony hand. “Here today an’ pone tomorrer! We shifts here ’n’ there in the Wynds o’ Fate like yeller leaves, passin’ an' repassin’ other yeller leaves an' sudden we sees a hand outstretched an' catches a fleetin’ smile — an' that's Friendship. An' ere the shades o’ Nipht falls fast upon us an’ we closes our tired eyesin sleep them kind words we've heerd comes, troopin’ back upon us an’ brinps a wan smile to our lips. An’ in the dead o’ Nipht our Soul lanpuishes an’ we folds our tents like the Arabs an' as silently steals away— nice place you pot here, Doolin. You must be coinin’ money.”
HE combs his tie, sort o’ self-conscious, the which it is a bip literary flowin’ bow with the current sluppish, once black but now pray with dust. I stares at it fascinated an' wets my lips.
“Ye-ah,” I murmurs foolish.
“Do you mint! if 1 steps around into the dinin'-room?" prins Cephus. “I’m always interested in the culinary equipment o’ hostelleries. I takes a keen delipht in describin’ ’em an’ praisin’ ’em in my colyqmns," says he.
“Go’s far’s you like. Make yourself to home an’ if there’s anythin’ you don't see ask for same an’ I’ll have one o’ the servants brinp it around to you,” I says sarcastic.
“Very "kind o’ you, DoolinThanks. Very kind indeed. I’ll just do that,” nods Editor Crabtree, prateful; an’ I notes his Adam's Apple slidin’ up an’ down as he makes for the dinin’-room.
1 K?ts out a tape-line an’ measures the distance atween the marks o’ his boots an’ his stride is a yard-an’-a-half an’ his feet runs fourteen inches by six!
I linpers around just to see what’ll happen an’ present Jimmy looks me up.
"That lanky puy’s been down the menoo twice. Boss, an, Olpa says he won’t settle up. Shall I-?”
“Not at all," says I. “He’s eatin’ on the house —to-nipht.”
"He’s askin’ for cipars-”
“Ask him does he want the Flor de Fino *■ or the Panatella de Gwotomayla.”
“He prefers the El Fino,” reports Jimmy, cornin’ back.
“Here-—pive him the rest o' the box.” says I, shovin’ same into Jimmy's hand an’ wavin’ him hence.
When Cephus comes out with the cipar l>ox tucked under his arm an’ one o’ the weeds atween his teeth I knows he’s hopeless. He's proceedin' to make a farewell speech' an’ to move a vote o’ thanks, when I cuts him short an' poes out into the fresh air as quick as I can.
"Shades o’ little B. Birks!” thinks I. “What have we in our midst?”
I PROCEEDS to take a pood lonp walk.
I poes clean down the valley trail till the camp’s behind me complete an’ then I climbs up to a little ledpe an' pets out my pipe. I aint no more 'n taken a couple o’ puffs when I notes down in the crick bottom a little brown tent nestlin' back in the aspens with a thin column o’ smoke curlin’ up in front.
I aint pretendin’ to know all the prospectors an’ miners an’ Indians as happens to pitch camp In an’ around Clover Bar an’ I’m about to dismiss said brown tent from further attention in favor o’ lettin’ Cephus Crabtree occupy my thouphts exclusive when I notes said party hisself stridin’ stVjaipht for the tent, havin’ just turned in from the valley trail.
An’ while I’m lookin’ a woman comes sudden out o’ the tent an’ stands waitin’ for Cephus with her arms on her hips. There’s somethin’ so forbiddin’ in her attitude that I can’t hélp lookin' on an’ present they starts quarrellin’ to beat four of a kind. An’ the first thinp I knowed she’d run back into the tent an’ comes'out with a fryin’-pan in her hand an’ wallops that two-column editorial over the head. He lets out a holler an’ leps it for open pround with her after him.
When they has disappeared in the bushes I sits back weak an’ prinnin’ an’ not beprudpin’ Cephus his little foray after a pail o’ the milk o’ human kindness. In fact, I bepins to understand better how a human bein’ could pet all wore down to skin an’ bones like he was. For when a woman poes kickin’ around inside thecorral that way it takes a cool an’ nervy wranpler to bust her proper an’ no yeller leaf passin’ an’ repassin' other yeller. leaves is poin’ to accomplish same. No wonder Cephus is talkin’ ’bout his tired eyes closin’ in sleep an’ kind words brinpin’ a wan smile to his lips an’ his lanpuishin’ soul foldin’ its tent an’ h ttin’ trail in the dead o’ nipht!
I GOES back to the Silver Dollar, ponderin’ considerable on the sanded decks o’ the Game o' Livin’, an’ 1 aint much more’n pot there when I hears my name bein’ paped all over the plaoe. I comes out from behind a Winnipeg noospaper that’s just hit camp to find mK-self pazin’ intent at a little squat woman In a stained corduroy skirt an’ a blue flamnel waist. She has on a pair o' cow’-pirl Iboots an’ a preasv old Stetson; but I aink mistakin* her for Little Miss Canada.| immediate who she is; for she box under her arm an’ she surfc assertive.
“Your name Doolin?” she direct. “Is there any place he] can see you private?” An’ around at the boys the w'hich is pausin’ an’ starin’ somewhat.
“Step this way, ma’am,” say^
An’ I leads the way into one freshment alcoves an’ orders mix a plain lemonade; for she] dusty, the which there’s streal face where she’s b^en prespirin’iree. An’ darned if she aint pot a moustache on her lip. the which I pazes at in a^’e, same bein’ lonp enouph to stroke.
She slams down the box o’ cipa table, slams down her hand on to] an’ pives it a shove over to m]
“He smoked six an' four pot so I owes you for ten," says Mrs] Cephus Crabtree. “How much?” An’ sne starts fishin’ out a little black purse, thejwhich I waves aside indipnant.
J‘Mr. Crabtree was my puest ttys evenin’. ma’hm-”
“A Crabtree is never the pues licker interests!” she retorts, er “Oh. I knows your underminin’
Doolin, an’ we may’s well um each other ripht now. This here poin’ to be run independent," she sizes. “We refuses to be subsidized by povernments or railroads or commercial pirates. The Crabtrees is neither Grit nor Tory. We swinps our influence accordin’ to the hiphest thoupht in the best interests o’ the people. We’re ppin’ to chanpe the name o’ the paper to “Ex-cel-
si-or” an’ start a campaipn-”
"Why not po an the ways an’ kail it ‘Sawdust’,” I injects; but she passes me without takin’ notice.
“to clean up the cess-poolsj o’ in-
iquity in this place. We shall drive the cohorts o’ B. Elsie Bub into the Sieas o’ Utter Defeat. We shall smash leverv
bottle o’ devil’s brew an’ every mai
“But, lady, excuse me-”
“every man in Clover Bari shall
wear the white badpe o’ temp’rance upon his breast-”
*an’ instead o’
drunken bnwlin’ there shall be a new idear o’ the responsibilities o’ citizenship-”
“But askin’ your pardon, ma'am)
“an’ the hornv handed Son o
shall step into a larper share in this ous hcritape o’ ours-—— ”
“Sure,” I nods. “An' 1 fully a with all you says. Mrs. -Crabtree, closes up the Silver Dollar an' poe» in with you hearty for the developmei t o’^ silver linin’s. An’ when we has rolled all them dark clouds away we’ll sink a 12-foot shaft into the pay-ore, the which I hands over my entire poke an’ lives on ozone henceforth. An’ we’ll start a fact’ry for extractin’ an’ refinin’ the oil from the knees an’ elbows o’ young an’ old hornets-”
I pauses, laughin’; for I’m talkin’ to an empty pew, the congregation havin’ rose without a word an’ filed out o’ church. An’ it’s on’y after she’s been gone some time that I sudden realizes she has ignored the collection-plate entire an’ has been bluffin’ pure ’bout payin’ for them cigars an’ the dinner with which the licker interests was tryin’ to undermine the freedom o’ the press!
’ I MME passed, as they say in books.
1 Six weeks of it went streamin’ past the winder. Six tongue-tyin’ tangles o’ this here Excelsior was printed an’ circulated in an’ around camp till most o’ the citizens was sore from laughin’ an’ the rest was likewise sore, but from bein’ laughed at. For this here “Cassandra Crabtree, Editor,”* sure has took the bit in her teeth an’ gone lopin’ down the trail after B. Elsie Bub with a gun in each hand. She starts in to clean up them cesspools o' iniquity she’s talkin’ about an’ there’s times when she seems to know so much what actual happens that she has some worthy citizens guessin’ an’ she has Jake Bellamy goin’ around at the rate o’ a couple o’ hundred revolutions a minute an’ threatenin’ at each revolute to fly off the handle, boil over an’ scald somebody—the which aint worryin’ the respectable element none.
Final Jake comes up to my place o’ his own accord an’ uninvited an’ I aint no more’n gettin’ my wind back from the surprise o’ the visit when I loses it again, notin’ the change in Jake. His cigar is back at its usual cock-sure tilt on one side o’ his scafred mouth an’ he’s wearin’ his thumbs in the arm-holes o’ his leather vest. An’ he proceeds to hit me a slap on the back like him an’ me was old friends, the which I never liked the feller. He winks knowin’ an’ looks around for a corner where we can talk to ourselves.
“Why the undiluted spirits?” grunts I, signifyn’ a table an’ orderin’ the highball he’s wantin’. “ ’Cordin’ to last week’s Shavin’s you was all run down an’ ’bout ready to crate up an’ depart from our midst”
“You seen that damned eddytoral las’ week. Well, lamp the noo spiel.” An’ Bellamy hauls a fresh-printed copy o’ the current Excelsior from his pocket an’ leers at me with his good eye so triumphant I starts readin’ eager where he points.
An’ darned if it aint a long apology for “misunderstandin’ ” Bellamy an’ his cussed establishment, the which Cassandra proceeds to describe as an “amusement palace,” so careful conducted that frequent disorderly-inclined “patrons” was threw out into the street for not behavin’ theirselves like gentlemen. An’ she’s speakin’ o’ “Mr. Bellamy, our worthy citizen” an’ “Mr. Bellamy, our popular theaytre magnet” an’ “Mr. Bellamy who is performin’ such yeomanry service to the citizens o’ Clover Bar in enlivenin’ the -dull monotony o’ mountain-town life.” *
“How’sat? Some class, eh?”
“There’s on’y one thing she’s left out,” I remarks slow. “She aint said nothin’ bout your church connections.” DELLAMY haw-haw$, sarcasticness ^ rollin’ off him like water on grease. He turns a page an’ points to another piece the which I reads thoughtful. For it’s labelled “Judge Not,” an’ it’s the doggonedest line o’ arg’ment in favor o’ booze I ever heerd an’ quotin’ Scripture to prove a little wine for the stomach’s sake is right an’ proper. An’ it tells what a feller named Martin Luther sayd ’bout the man bein’ a fool who didn’t love wine, women an’ song. An’ it gives a list o’ some o’ the world’s great men who has been drinkin’ wine ever sinst they was babies.
By this time Cassandra’s warmin’ to her subject an’ the idear o’ man drinkin’ water like an ox when he can get wine seems to be the most ridic’lous thing she ever heerd of. An’ she proceeds to offer up a prayer for them poor ignorant ladies what isn’t sufficient grateful for the blessin’s bestowed on mankind, objectin’ to the cheerin’ gifts o’ wine while they goes off on a toot of extravagance in dress till their husbands is driven to suicide. An’ she winds up with'a complete exposure o’ spiral springs an’ cotton battin’, false hair, false teeth, false colorin’ an’ false ideas an’ ideals.
Rememberin' all the things this.Cassandra woman has been hammerin' at durip’ the past five weeks o’ her campaign against B-. Elsie Bub, I'm absolute speechless. I hands back the paper to Bellamy an’ looks at him hard, the which he grins wider.
“Mebbe I aint got them Crabapple people where I wants ’em. eh? Mebbe this old nanny editor o’ ours aint eatin’ out o’ my hand, eh?”
“How’d you fix it?” I enquiries quiet, already suspectin’ a thing or two.
“Coin,” laughs Jake. “The little old mazuma. I pays her two hundred bones down, balance next week—a thousand altogether an’ I’m to own thö paper complete. An’ do you know what ownin’ a noospaper means. Doolin? Politics! An’ you knows what that means 'thout me tell in’ you. j
“Now, let’s get right down to cases on this here thing, Andy. I come up to offer you a chanst to get in an’ get in right, y'understand. I's talkin' to McPhee not long ago an’ it’ll be a cinch to organize this here district to the King’s taste. I offers you the chanst to come in with me on this proposition. We’re both in this business together, y’understand. an’ if we pulls together we owns the whole works. You can be the Member for the Provincial House or go to Ottawa, whichever you likes. I’ll be the Member for the one you aint wantin’ an’ how’s that for playin’ the game square? There’s my cards, face up, old scout, anT it’s your lead.”
I looks acrost at Mr. Bellamy, our worthy citizen an’ popular theaytre magnet, an’ my risin’ anger begins to ooze.
“I aint never mixed in politics, Bellamv.” I frowns, cold, “an’ if I ever does ’it won’t be the kind you play. Now get this straight so’s you won’t ever be makin’ the mistake^again. You’n me aint got nothin’ in common. This here booze game is bad enough when it’s played on the level, the which I tries to run my place decent. The time’s cornin’ when booze is goin’ into the discard-”
“Aw, come off!”
“I’m statin’ a fact, Bellamy. An’ I’m goin’ to tell you somethin’ else. The time’s cornin’ when there’ll be à shootin’ or somethin’ like that as’ll wake up this camp to the kind o’ joint you’re conductin' down there an' you’ll be ran out o’ this
here camp so fast you'll lose your breath----”
“An’ I don't mind addin’ that if tin* chanst comes I'll do what I can to wipe you out an’ obliterate you complete from the environs o’ this here camp, the which ' you are pollutin’--”
“You will, eh?”
“Why. you poor little cigar-butt! You miserable puddle o* stale beer an’ doctored boozerino! D’you think I aint knowin’ what’s goin’ on? D’you think I’m goin’ to mix up with the likes o’ you in a dirtv game o’ flim-flam an’ grafts?”
I rises an’ brings down my fist on the table so hard his glass is knocked off an' smashes on the floor.
“I reproaches myself for bein’ seen talkin’ fo you this long an’ I strongly advises you to get back where you belongs as fast as you know." I finishes.
“You can't bluff me, Doolin.” brazens Bellamy, so mad he's red in the face “You just start somethin’ with me an’ you’ll get yours.”
“You has half a minute to get out afore you’re thrown out. Vamoose!” I snaps.
I sits down an’ lights a cigar an’ pulls out my watch. When I looks up final
Bellamy has gone.
IMMEDIATELY I calls Jimmy over an’ 1 tells him to have a basket o’ grub packed, consistin’ o’ sandwiches, pies an’ cakes an' to throw in a bottle o’ claret an’ a bottle o’ ryei same to be delivered down Ui the Excelsior office as soon as ready. Then I puts on a hat an’ goes up street to Jeff Hazlitt’s office, the which he is an attorney in an’ out o’ law.
He has the papers all ready, as I has instructed him near a week ago; so we meanders down to the shack where the Crabtrees has been slingin’ ink so promisc’ous an' proceeds to serve attachment on the entire plant, foreclosin’ same complete.
“You has been here six weeks too long." I sayd to Cassandra straight out. “You has used up a lot o’ paper an’ ink as was on these here premises afore you came an' you has not used it judicious. You takes possession without payin’,a cent an' you gives a worthies« note for this here layout, amount o’ same bein’ $000 on’y. The thirtv days on that there note to B. Birks was up afore you arrives an' you has been equal ignorin’ o' the graceful days which follered Why aint you paid up them obligations?”
“Please, gentlemen, we ain’t got the money." says Cephus, wjpin’ ink off his hands an’ lookin’ at us kind o’ seated. He ••turns to Cassandra implorin’ly an’ I sure am surprised to see how meek that he-she woman is behavin’, her just shakin’ her head sad.
“If things had been different I might o’ let you stay on here gettin’ out this paper, the which I owns entire, me havin’ paid full cash on that there purchase note ( rabtree gives to B. Birks—to help him on his weddin' trip. But'when you starts in blasphemin' in cold print, tryin’ to defend booze by quotin’ ScriptureDo
you hear me, Mrs. Crabtree?” I thunders
She just nods an’ shrinks an’ Cephus slides over to her an’ they both shrinks back against the wall, starin’ at Hazlitt an’ me, apparent scared bad.
“When you starts in sellin’ out your birthright for a mess o’ Jake Bellamy's dirty money--Where’s that $200 he
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Their Tents Like the Arabs
Continued from page 20
paid you?” I demands. “You’d better hand it over to Mr. Hazlitt to avoid trouble,” I suggests. An’ darned if Cassandra don’t make a dive for her jacket an’ fish out a roll o’ bills, the which she hands over meek as a lamb. I’m so surprised I just stands starin’ at that there “independent” female editor what refuses to let her long shavin’ o’ husband be the guest o’ the licker interests—stands starin’ while Jeff counts the roll an’ finds it all there but five dollars, the which has been spent.
“If you has any personal belongin’s on these here premises,” I goes on. “you gets ’em immediate; for you now proceeds to pass out into the crool world an’ we takes the key o’ this outfit here an’ now.”
They starts pickin’ up a few odds an’ ends as fast as they can. An’ I notes Cassandra pull Cephus down till she can whisper loud in his ear.
“I hears voices callin’,” says she. “Let us depart in peace.”
Just then Jimmy arrives with the basket o’ grub, the which I hands over with my compliments. Cephus takes charge o’ same an’ hand in hand the Crabtrees goes slinkin’ past us to the door without a word. An’ they aint no sooner got outside than they starts to run an’ we watches ’em through the winder, makin’ for the valley trail where their tent is nestlin’ back in the aspens.
“What’n catnip d’you make o’ that?” I puzzles.
“Search me!” grins Jeff.
I.indites a short note to Bellamy, enclosin’ his money, an’ sends Jimmy down with it.
IT’S a couple o’ days later when a stranger walks into the Silver Dollar an’ in the course o’ conversation asts me if I’ve seen anythin’ o’ a lanky literary freak in a flowin’ bow tie an’ his w'ife dressed in cow-girl costume.
“They was here; but two days ago they folds their tents like the Arabs,” I admits. “Their souls started languishin’ án’ they must be some miles up the valley, passin’ an’ repassin’ yeller leaves an’ so forth.” “That’s them,” nods the feller. “Them two nuts escaped from the asylum back in Alberta some time sinst — went looney, both o' ’em, tryin’ to run a noospaper. I been trailin’ ’em for months.” “Well, you go down an’ see Jake Bellamy,” I grins. “He’ll be glad to take you out an’ show you where they was campin’ an’ tell you about ’em. Him an’ them got pretty thick while they was here.”