The Tribulations of Trinity Tim
George Rothwell Brown
"SKEETS,” I said, after the customary formalities attending the renewal of a friendship had been observed—“Skeets, how’s Trinity Tim? I’m ’most afraid to ask. He hasn’t gone the red-eye route and cashed in?”
I was back in the Panhandle cow country for the first time in ten years. Naturally, the first thing I did when I fell off the stage was to round the boys up and do the expected thing at the bar; and the second thing was to make some inquiries about those who weren’t there. Some of the old crowd were hanging around the store porch, just as in the old days: the same old sheep-hide and leather chaps; the same old straw-paper cigarettes, the same old set-back game, and the same old grimy deck. They complained bitterly of the encroachments of civilization.
“Dern me!” said Skeets Shorter, twisting a fresh cigarette, “it’s getting so plumb crowded a honest hombre can’t breathe. I’d bet a two-year-old steer against a horse blanket that you couldn’t ride fifty mile from here nowheres without gettin’ bumped off by a wire fence. Over in Deaf Smith, now, I’m a Greaser if they ain’t holdin’ meetin’s and celebratin’ like -jest because the derned county’s increased two hundred and forty-six per cent! Braggin’ about the population, by
-! Why, I reckon half this outfit-
sleeps in beds now o’ nights, and don’t lose no standin’ by it, nuther.
“As for Trinity Tim, no, he ain’t drunk hisself into no early grave. On the contrary, so to speak, he’s married.”
Skeets had expected me to be surprised, and I was. He waited, for the astonishment to sink in; then he said:
“I should ejaculate not! Yep, Tim’s spliced, and wears his boots inside o’ his pants every day in the week, incloodin’ Sunday. When was this here disaster pulled off? It must have been a couple of years ago. There’s a kid out to Tim’s ranch now. It was right after the spring round-up, coinin' three year. Tim was down to Langtry, gettin’ over a lickerin’, when what should come but by one of them theatrical trains, full o’ these here actor-men, and females, too. They’d been givin’ of a performance up to Paso, and was travellin’ in style fur San Ant-one, when along comes a freight and bumps her off the rails. Engine and all, clean off. I tell you there was some excitement —some !
“Tim was right there and seen it. He rode up easy-like and watched, when all of a sudden one of the winders riz up right where Tim’s cayuse was smellin’ the car over to see what it was like, and Tim looked di-rect into the eyes of a bang-up, reg’lar angel-face. Tim said alongside o’ her he’d never seed nobody who was as good as a busted flush, but I reckon that was goin’ some strong, ’cause there was Greaser Kate and Madge—you knowed Madge, down at the Three Jacks? She’s passed ’em in, now—fell off the dancehall gallery a-waltzing one night. Well, them two was some good, I might allow, and plumb lovin’ to Tim, too. But alongside o’ this’n, he said, they warn’t as good as a lame yearlin’ in a stampede.
“It was about first mornin’ drink time, snd her hair was all mussed up jest beautiful to see, and there she was in her bunk all fluffy and white, and her pink arms showin’ through her what-you-may-call-it,
and so, naturally, Tim swallered his tobacker. He was roped, throwed, and tied, plumb, and he knowed it. There’s one thing about Tim, if I do have to say it myself: he ain’t never laid down to no two-legged gringo yet, but when he seed this here squaw lookin’ up at him with them baby-blue beads o’ her’n he jest throwed up both hands.
“Dem me, she was as nervous as a Mexican ant on a hot rock, and when Tim told her about the wrack she come right on through the window, and lit into his arms, and him lookin’ as silly as a yellow pup that’d cornered a bobcat. He rode her over to the store porch, and wrapped her in a blanket, and give her a dram out o’ his bottle, and rolled her a cigarette, like she asked him to, and then he camped right there by her, and wouldn’t budge. In my opinion—you kin take it fur what it’s wurth—if anybody’d been dying on
them cars, they might ’a’ died and be-
to ’em, fur all Tim’d cared. He wouldn’t ’a’ left the squaw, not for an earthquake. He fetched her outfit from the bunk, and after she’d gone into a little corner behind a bar’l, with Tim standing guard with a gun in each hand to hold off the crowd, and had dressed herself, and eemerged all fixed up fit to start a fight, he hung around like a Indian at a camp kitchen, and he was that tongue-tied he couldn’t tell his name.
“She told him her’n though, and by and by she got out a passel of scraps from noospapers and things, and read him all about herself. And say, she was one of them sure ’nuff actresses. She showed Tim a picture o’ herself all dressed up something scand’lous, not kivered up much, you know, jest plain legs, and carrying a lance with a rag on the end of it. She said her name was Millie Miller, and that she made four hundred dollars a week when she was on Broadway, and only come out southwest fur her health.
“Tim allowed how he made forty dollars a month, and not Mex, nuther, ridin’ fences fur old man Peppergill, but that they could live mightly well on that, his own board bein’ included, and she not eatin’ much, and he wanted her to marry him right off, but she was that contrary she wouldn’t do it. I’ve knowed a heap o’ women, in my time, and there ain’t no difference in ’em. Let ’em know you
want ’em to do a thing, and that’s the very thing they’ll be derned if they’ll do. There ain't but one way to do with ’em, in my judgment—you kin take.it fur what it’s wurth—rope ’em, and take ’em along! This here one bluffed Tim the whole day, and said she’d think about it, and got him ’most loco. Then Tim burnt up the trail to Yellow Post, and brought a parson back, and killed two horses doing it, but when he blowed in he found they’d fixed up the wrack and the whole bunch was gone. The whole bloody outfit had vamoosed, incloodin’ her.
“She left him her picture, and a letter invitin’ him to come to Noo York, and Tim carried it around with him till it ’most wore out.
“Tim didn’t show up at the X-X fur two months. We were gettin’ up a collection to buy a monument down to Albuquerque and have somethin’ appropriate scatched on it, when one day he come limpin’ back. The boss put him to work again, but we all seed Tim warn’t hisself no more. He was that thin he cut a saddle every time he throwed a leg over a bronc’s back, and his eyes had dropped down inside his head. From bein’ one of the pertest boys in the whole outfit, always dressin’ hisself up and keepin’ his hair greased as slick as a wet gut, he got so he warn’t no more than a shadder, and didn’t have no more style to him than a grizzly b’ar. He polished up a sardinecan with sand till it got shiny, and kep’ her picture in that, to keep the edges from gittin’ frayed out, and wore it inside his shirt, and the blamed thing kep’ him that scratched and cut up till you’d think he’d been fightin’ a mountain lion.
“He warn’t much good, after that, but about every two months would draw his wages and hit the trail for El Paso, and git drunk, and try to bust the faro bank in the Silver King with them eighty dollars.
“You kin make me jump with a .22 if one night he didn’t do it! He run them two months’ pay up to three thousand, got hisself a little leather pouch fur his clothes, shoved the coin in, and bought hisself a ticket to Fort Worth.
“O’ course he didn’t care none about Fort Worth. Tim hadn’t been on no train o’ cars up to that time. He come out
to Texas in a prairie schooner with his pap when he was an infant, before the S.P. went through, and when he started out for Noo York he allowed to be cautious and circumspect. He only bought hisself tickets from one town to another, because he figured out that the railroad would work off a marked card on him somehow, and it required him two weeks to git to Kansas City. Tim said he looked into one o’ them sleepin’ cars with bunks in ’em, but he said he couldn’t stand ’em. He said it was all right at night, but he wanted a place to sit down in the daytime.
“He fooled around Kansas City fur a week, kinder gettin’ used to a big town, so as Noo York wouldn’t shock him too much all in a heap. One day he was walkin’ down the street when he seed a sign out in front o’ a store which said: ‘Special to-day—$2.65 to Pittsburg.’
“He figured it couldn’t be got no cheaper than that, so he got a ticket quick, before they was all sold, and that night he started out again. When the brakeman yelled, ‘Pittsburg!’ Tim git out.
“Tim said he had read considerable geography, and always supposed Pittsburg was full of smoke and red glare and cinders from the smelters, but this town was as black as the inside of a cow. He seed a man with a lantern on the platform and asked him how soon he could get a car to Philadelphia—not wishing to make the whole blamed jump at once—and the man told him he was a derned fool. Then Tim kinder inquired around-like, and when he diskivered he was in Pittsburg, Kansas, he was the maddest man in the world. He said if he could have got the man what named them two towns the same, he’d have filled him so full o’ lead you could have filed on him for a mineral claim.
“But after he landed in Noo York he said it was grand. Nothin’ but saloons, and the gaudiest places, and everybody free and affable, and willin’ to accommodate a man and take a drink and be sociable and friendly. Tim took a thousand with him and cached the balance in his pouch at^ the depot, and all they charged him fur it was four bits, and it was worth it, too. Then he started out scoutin’ fur the gal.
“He had her picture in the sardine can, and every place he went he lined the boys up at the bar and then he confidentially requested them if they knowed her. Tim told me it was surprisin’ how many of them there actresses there was in Noo York. The place was fairly infested with ’em, and every opery house in town had bunches o’ pictures out in front, showin’ all kinds of female women, and Tim said he couldn’t tell ’em from his gal to save his life, they was all so dressed up alike— no real clothes, you know; just plain legs.
“Tim ain’t no quitter. He kep’ on the trail, scoutin’ around, and before long he had as much as a dozen of the boys he’pin’ to look, too. Mostly they’d sit around saloons, wonderin’ where she could be. But it seemed there warn’t no Millie Miller in Noo York, and nobody knowed her.
“Then one night he allowed how he would find her hisself, or bust. He’d go to every operv house in town. The first one he struck he bought the ticket, and hung around till the doors opened, and went in. It was kinder dark in there at first, but in about an hour somebody— Tim didn’t see who it was—turned up the lights, and by and by two or three men crawled from under the platform and begun tuning up. They was the fiddlers. Then some more o’ ’em come in, and then the people herded in, in a bunch. They was grand-lookin,’ and the ladies was simply beautiful, but not dressed up much around the neck, so Tim allowed they was dance-hall girls most likely.
“After awhile somebody pulled the curtain up, and the play started. Tim said it was the grandest piay he had ever seen, and the most excitin’est, and he seed ‘Ten Nights in a Barroom’ down to Albuquerque once. There was a man in it that ought to have been tarred and feathered, and then shot full of holes, only nobody done it, so there he was, jest raisin’ the deuce at every clip. Tim said he’d just about jedged he was the yellowest coyote he’d ever struck, when all of a sudden the back door opened and she come into the room.
“Tim knowed her right off. There wasn’t no mistake, there she was. She wore a dress with diamonds all over it, and the tail of it so long she had to carry it around in her hand. She was just
lovely. Tim was agoin’ to let her know he was there, when all of a sudden the yellow coyote come lopin’ up to her, and, judgin’ there might be trouble, Tim decided to lay low.
“Trouble come, all right—plenty of it. This hombre had robbed a bank, or stuck up a stage, or done somethin’ or other that was low-down, and he had to take to the mountains, and wanted the girl to light out with him. She didn’t want to go, and then this skunk said if she didn’t he’d tell everybody about somethin’ or other she’d done once that she was tryin’ to keep dark. She bust into tears, and the coyote, he made a grab fur her. Tim jumped up, and as he riz he throwed both guns.
“ ‘That’s my gal,” he says, quiet-like, between his teeth, and then he gave the cub the fightin’ word.
“Señor Coyote took one sight o’ them there six-shooters o’ Tim’s, and then jumped behind the gal, so, o’ course, Tim couldn’t do nothin’. By that time Tim said the place reminded him of the herd in a thunder storm. Before he could git up where the angel-face was, the curtain come down with a bang. Tim felt tolerable foolish. Then a couple o’ men come easy-like down the path in the middle of the theatre, and said the manager wanted to see him, so Tim shoved his guns back, and went on out to a little office-like place. He told all about it—how he’d come up with her in the wrack, and had come all the way to Noo York to git her—everythin’. The boss turned to a sort of a scout in a little cage where there was one of these here talking telephones and told him to tell the sergeant never mind, that it warn’t no case for the police.
“Then the manager shook hands with Tim and told him he’d give him fifty dollars a week, reg-lar, if he’d come around and do it every night. Said it would make the piece go, and be the best advertisement in the world. But Tim said he must be goin’ back home right soon. By and by the boss brought her around.
“She told Tim she’d been made a star, and was named Mildred Millington now, which was the reason he hadn’t diskivered her before. He wanted her to marry him right off and wouldn’t listen to no arguments, but she balked. He couldn’t hobble
her nohow. Then the boss whispered somethin’ in her ear, and she said she’d think it over and let him know in about a week.
“This made Tim feel mighty good. When he told her he’d come all the way to git her and fetch her back to X-X, and showed her her picture in the sardine can, she laughed so Tim said it did a man’s heart good to see her, she was so beautiful and innocent and baby-like.
“The next day, dern my eyes, if every noospaper in Noo York didn’t know all about it! They told about everything, and didn’t miss nothin’, and some of ’em had pictures o’ Tim, and some of the pictures had him on a horse. It does beat the Greasers how gossip travels, don’t it?
“Fur the next week Tim said he didn’t git a chanst to sleep, he was traveling around so. Everybody was glad to know him, and followed him wherever he went, and heaps of ’em borrowed money from him or bought him drinks. Every night the manager sent a autymobile around to the theatre, where Tim had a seat in a box, and after the play took ’em to the gayest hotels. Tim said he fairly swum in booze—none of your rotgut, but the genuine article, that couldn’t cost less than six bits a throw, and tasted prickly, like a cactus.
“Every night Tim’d ask her to splice up, and every time he done it she said she’d let him know in a week, and every mornin’ the noospapers would be laying bets whether he’d git her or not.
“Tim allowed she was the grandest actress that ever was, and it got so it was all a man could do to git a seat at her threatre. He said the play was all makebelieve, and that the coyote that wanted to run off with her had a bald head and two children, and was quiet and respectable, and didn’t mean a word of it, only it was wrote that way in the play, so he had to do it. Tim said o’ course he could n’t kill him, but I don’t know; I think I would. A man ain’t got no right to be goin’ around insultin’ women like that, under no circumstances.
“Finally, Tim told the squaw he had to go back, and jest raged around, so she said all right, she’d marry him. All the arrangements was made, and there was goin’ to be a weddin’ to make your hair
curl. Tim said he wanted it to lay over anythin’ in the splicin’ line that was ever done. He went down to the train-shed and got the pouch, and took them two thousand yellow boys and bought a diamond ring that would choke a steer, and the noospapers jest fannin’ it along.” “By Jove!” I interrupted, “so Trinity Tim married a Broadway show girl and brought her out here to Texas! Now, if that’s not romance—”
“He did not,” said Skeets, twisting a fresh cigarette. “He did not. The day the weddin’ was to be pulled off, she lit out to Europe with one o’ them rich Wall
Street sharks that had bin payin’ to make her a star. The play went up with a bang, büsted flat and owin’ everybody, and the manager left town between two days. There warn’t nobody left fur Tim to fight, so he come home. And he was so mad. he up and married Sam McCarthy’s widder. She’s the homeliest woman that ever came to these parts, I reckon, but Tim’s got a ranch o’ his own now, and four hundred head, and wears his boots inside his pants every day in the week, incloodin’ Sunday. But I shorely advise you, if you see him, not to make no mention o’ no actresses or nothin’ like that.”