Bear Creek Collection Volume 1 | Robert E. Howard | Single Author Collections, Westerns | Audiobook full unabridged | English | 1/4
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Breckinridge Elkins is the roughest, toughest, fastest-shootin’, hardest-fightin’ feller in the Bear Creek settlement, and probably in the entire Humbolt Mountains. As he travels further from home, he single-handedly takes on outlaws, settles (and starts) feuds and tries his hand at romancing the girls. He also discovers a lot of strange customs among other folks, such as building houses out of boards and wearing clothes that ain’t buckskins. Set in Nevada during the late 1800’s, this collection of stories is a great rollicking romp through the American frontier as seen through the eyes of one of the most enjoyable characters created in the history of tall tales. (Summary by RK Wilcox)
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Mountain Man by Robert Howard this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org Mountain Man by Robert Howard I was robbing a b-tree when I heard my old man callin Breckenridge o Breckenridge where are you I see you now you don't need to climb that tree I ain't gonna lair up you he come up and said Breckenridge ain't that a beast sittin on your ear I reached up and sure enough it was come to think about it I had felt kind of like something was stinging me somewhere my soir Breckenridge said PAP I've never seen a hide like yourn now listen to me old Buffalo Rodgers is back from tomahawk and the postmaster there said it was a letter for me from Mississippi he wouldn't give it to nobody but me or some of my folks I don't know who deride me from Mississippi last time I was there was when I was fighting the Yankees but anyway that letter has got to be God me and your Ma's decided you're to go get it you hear me Breckenridge cleaned up tomahawk I said gee whiz PAP well he said combing his beard with his fingers you're growed in size if not in years it's time you seen something of the world you ain't never been more than 30 miles away from that cabin you was born in your brother John ain't able to go on account of that bar he tangled with and bill is busy skin in the bar you've been to where the trail passes going to tomahawk all you gotta do is follow it and turn to the right where it's works the left goes on the perdition well I was all eager to see the world and the next morning I was off dressed in new buckskins and riding my mule Alexandre PAP rode with me a few miles and give me advice be careful how you spend that dollar I give you said don't gamble drink and reason half a gal I corn juice is enough for any man don't beat itchy but don't forget that your PAP was once the rough-and-tumble champion of Gonzales County Texas and whilst you're feeling for the other fellas I don't be careless and letting cha your ear off and don't resist no officer what's them PAP I inquired down in the settlements he explained they has men which their job is to keep the peace I don't take no stock in law myself but then city folks is different from us you do what they says and if they says give up your gun why you up and do it I was shocked I meditated awhile and then says how can I tell which is them they'll have a Silver Star on their shirt he says so I said I'd do like he told me he rained around and went back up the mountain and I rode on down the path well I camped that night where the path come out onto the main trail and the next morning I rode on down the trail feeling like I was a long way from home I hadn't went far till I passed a stream and decided I didn't take a bath so I tied Alexander to a tree and hung my buckskins nearby but I took my gun belt with my old captain Paul 44 and hung it on a limb reaching out over the water that was thick bushes all around the hole well I did deep and as I come up I had a feeling like somebody'd hit me over the head with a club I looked up and there was a fella holding on to a limb with one hand and leaning out over the water with a club and the other hand he yelled and swung at me again but I did and he missed and I come up right under the limb where my gun was hung I reached up grabbed it and let BAM at him just as he dived into the bushes and he let out a squall and grabbed the seat of his pants the next minute I heard a horse running and glimpsed him tearing away through the brush on a pintle Mustang setting his horse like it was a red-hot stove and Dern him he had my clothes in one hand I was so upset by this that I missed him clean and jumping out I charged through them bushes and saplings but he was already out of sight I knowed it was one of them Dern renegades which hit up in the hills and snuck down the steal and I wasn't afraid none but what a fix I was in he'd even stole my moccasins I couldn't go home in that shape without the letter and admit I'd missed a robber twice capital R up the tar out of me and if I went on what if I met some women in the valley settlements I don't reckon they was ever a youngster half his bashfulness while I was in in days cold sweat bust out all over me at last in desperation I buckled my belt on and started down the trail toward tomahawk I was desperate enough to commit murder to get me some pants I was glad the Indian didn't steal Alexander but that going was so rough I had to walk and lead him because I kept to the brush alongside the trail he had a tough time getting through the bushes and the thorn scratched him so he hollered and every now and then I had to lift him over jagged rocks it was tough on Alexander but I was too bashful to travel in the open trail with no clothes on after I'd gone maybe a mile I heard someone in the trail ahead of me and peeking through the bushes I seen a most peculiar side it was a man on foot going the same direction as me and he had on what I instinctively guest was city clothes they wasn't buckskin and was very beautiful with big checks and stripes all over them he had on a round hat with a narrow brim and shoes like I haven't never seen before being neither boots or moccasins he was dusty and he cussed as he limped along ahead of him I seem that trail made a horseshoe bin so I cut straight across and got ahead of him and as he come along I stepped out of the bush and threw down on him with my cap and ball he throwed up his hands and hollered don't shoot I don't want to mister I said but I got to have clothes he shook his head like he couldn't believe I was so and he said you ain't a color of a Injun but what kind of people live in these hills anyway most of them's Democrats I said but I got no time to talk politics you climb out of them clothes my god he wailed my horse threw me off and run away I've been walking for hours expecting to get scalped by Injuns any minute and now I'm naked lunatic on a mule demands my clothes it's too much I can't argue mister I said somebody may come up the trail any minute hustle so saying I shot his hat off to encourage him he gave a howl and chucked his duds in a hurry my under clothes too he demanded shivering though it was very hot is that what them things is I demanded shocked I never heard of a man wearing such womanish things the country's going to the dogs just like PAP says you better get going take my mule when I get to where I can get some regular clothes we'll swap back he climb up on Alexander kind of dubious and said to me despair 'full will you tell me one thing how do I get the tomahawk take the next turn to the right I said and just then Alexander turned his head and seen them under clothes on his back and he gave a loud and ring and Bray and sawed sailed down the trail at full speed with a stranger hanging on with both hands before they was out of sight they come to where the trail forked and Alexander took the left instead of the ride and vanished amongst the ridges I put on the clothes and they scratched my hide something fierce I had never worn nothing but buckskin the coat split down the back and the pants was too short but the shoes was the worst they pinched all over I throwed away the socks having never worn none but put on what was left of a hat I went on down the trail and took the right hand fork and in a mile or so I come out on a flat and heard horses running the next thing a mob of horsemen bust into view one of them yelled there he is and they all come for me Full Tilt instantly I decided that the stranger had got to tomahawk after all and set a posse onto me for stealing his clothes so I left the trail and took out a cross a sage grass and they all charged after me yelling for me to stop well then turn shoes pinched my feet so bad I couldn't hardly run so after I had run five or six hundred yards I perceived the horses were beginning to gain on me so I wheeled with my cap and ball in my hand but I was going so fast when I turned then turned shoes slipped and I went over backwards into some cactus just as I pulled the trigger so I only knocked the hat off the first Horseman he yelled and pulled up his horse right over me nearly and as I drawed another bead on him I seen he had a bright shiny star on his shirt I dropped my gun stuck up my hands they swarmed around me Cowboys from their looks the man with the star dismounted and picked up my gun and cussed what did you lead us this chase through this Heaton shoot at me for he demanded I didn't know you was an officer I said hell McVeigh said one of them you know how jumpy tinder feed is likely he thought we was sentries outlaws where's your horse I ain't got none I said got away from you have said McVeigh now climb up behind Kirby here let's get going to my astonishment the sheriff stuck my gun back in the scabbard and I come up behind Kirby in a way we went kirby kept telling me not to fall off and it made me mad but I said nothing after an hour so we come to a bunch of houses they said was tomahawk I got panicky when I saw him houses and would have jumped down and run for the mountains only I'd know they'd catch me with him during pinchy shoes on I had never seen such houses before they was made out of boards mostly and some was two stories high to the northwest and West the hills Riz up a few hundred yards from the back of the houses and on the other sides there was planes with brush and timber on them you boys ride into town and tell the folks that the shebang starts soon said McVeigh me and Kirby and Richardsville taking to the ring I could see people milling around in the streets and I never had no idea there was that many folks in the world the sheriff and the other two fellows rode round the north end of the town and stopped at an old barn and told me to get off so I did we went in and they had a kind of room fixed up in there with benches and a lot of towels and water buckets the sheriff said this ain't much of a dressing room but it'll have to do us boys don't know much about this game but we'll second good as we can one thing the other fella ain't got no manager or seconds neither how do you feel fine I said but I'm kind of hungry go get him something Richards said the sheriff I didn't think they ain't just before about said Richards oh I reckon he knows what he's doing said McVeigh go on so Richards left and the sheriff and Kirby walked around me like I was a prize bull and felt my muscles and the sheriff said by golly if size means anything our dough is as good as in our britches right now my dollar was in my belt I said I would pay for my keep and they haul hard and slapped me on the back and said I was a great Joker then Richards came back with a platter of grub with a lot of men wearing boots and guns and they stopped in and got at me McVeigh said look him over boys tomahawk stands her falls with him today they started walking around me like him and Kirby done and I was embarrassed and at three or four pounds of beef and a quart of mashed potaters and a big hunk of white bread and drunk about a gallon of water because I was pretty thirsty then they all gait at me like they were surprised about something one of them said how come he didn't arrive on the stagecoach yesterday well said the sheriff the driver told me he was so drunk they left him at Disney and came on with his luggage which is over there in the corner they got a horse and left it there with instructions for him to ride to tomahawk as soon as he sobered up me and the boys got nervous today when he didn't show up so we went out looking for him and met him hoofing it down the trail bet then perdition hombre starts something said Kirby ain't one of them showed up yet there setting over at the Perdition soaking up bad liquor and brooding on their wrongs they sure wanted this show staged over there they claimed that since tomahawk was furnishing one half of the attraction and gun stock the other the Razzie ought to be throwed at perdition nothing to it said McVeigh it laid between tomahawk and gun stock and we threw out a coin in one if perdition wants trouble she can get it is the boys and ago is they said Richards every bar and tomahawk is crowded with hombres full of liquor and civic pride they're betting their shirts and there's been nine fights already everybody in gun stocks here well let's get going sit in the gray getting nervous quicker it's over the less blood there's likely to be spilled the first thing I know they laid hold main was pulling the clothes off so it dawned on me that I must be under arrest for stealing the stranger's clothes Kirby dug into the baggage which was in one corner of the stall and dragged out a funny-looking pair of pants I know now they was white silk I put him on cuz I hadn't nothing else to put on and they fit me like my skin Richards tied an American flag around my waist and they put some spiked shoes on my feet I let him do like they wanted to remember in what PAP said about not resisting an officer whilst so employed I began to hear a noise outside like a lot of people whooping and cheering pretty soon in came a skinny old gink with whiskers and two guns on and he hollered listen Mac learn it the big shipment of gold is down there waiting to be took off by the evening stage and the whole blank town is deserted on account of this foolishness suppose Comanche sentry and his gang gets wind of it well said McVeigh I'll send Kirby here to help you guard it you will like hell said Kirby I'll resign as deputy first I got every cent of my dough on this scrap and I aim to see it I'll send somebody said the old codger I got enough to do running my store and the stage stand in the post office without he left mumbling in his whiskers and I said who's that aw said Kirby that's old man Braxton that runs that store down at the other end of town on the east side of the street the post office is in there too I got to see him I said there's a letter just then another man came surging in and hollered hey is your man ready everybody's getting impatient alright said Nick they throwing over me a thing he called a bathrobe him and Kirby and Richards picked up towels and buckets and we went out the opposite door from what do we come in and there was a big crowd of people there and they whooped and shot off their pistols I would have bolted back into the barn only they grabbed me and said it was alright we went through the crowd and I never seen so many boots and pistols in my life and would come to a square pen made out of four post set in the ground and ropes stretched between they call this a ring and told me to get in I done so and they had turf packed down so the ground was level as a floor and hard and solid they told me to sit down on a stool in one corner and I did and wrapped my rope around me like an engine then everybody yelled and some men from gun stock they said clumb through the ropes on the other side one of them was dressed like I was and I never seen such a human his ears look like cabbages his nose was flat and his head was shaved he sat down in an opposite corner then a fella got up and waved his arms and hollered gents you all know the occasion of this here suspicious event mr. battle tool happened to pass through gunstock consented to fight any body pet would meet him tomahawk allowed the furnish that opposition by sending all the way to Denver to procure the services of mr. bruiser McGirt II formerly of San Francisco he pointed at me everybody cheered shot off their pistols and I was embarrassed and bust out in a cold sweat this fight said the fellow will be accordant to london prize ring rules same as in a championship go bare fist round ends when one of them's knocked down or throat down fight lasts till one or two other eight to come up to the scratch at the call a time I yucca Blaine have been selected referee because being from cha dear I got no prejudices either way are you already time McVeigh hold me off my stool and pulled off my bathrobe and pushed me out into the ring I nearly died with embarrassment but I seen the fellow they called O'Toole didn't have on no more clothes than me he approached and held out his hand so I held out mine we shook hands and then without no warning he hit me an awful lick on the jaw with his left it was like being kicked by a mule the first part of me which hit the turf was the back of my head O'Toole stalked back to his corner and the gunstock boys was dancing and hugging each other and that tomahawk fellas was growling in their whiskers and fumbling for guns and bowie knives McVeigh and his men rushed into the ring before I could get up and drag me to my corner and began pouring water on me are ya hurt much yelled McVeigh how can a man's fist hurt anybody I asked I wouldn't have fell down only it was so unexpected I didn't know he was gonna hit me I never played no game like this before McVeigh dropped the towel he was beating me in the face with and turned pale ain't you bruised ermahgerd Deus San Francisco he hollered nah I said I'm Breckinridge Elkins from up in the Humboldt mountains I come here to get a letter for PAP but the stage driver described them clothes he began loudly a feller stole my clothes I explained so I took some often a stranger maybe he was mr. Magoo er T what's the matter asked her be coming up with another bucket of water times about ready to be called were some bald McVeigh this st. McGirt II this is a Dern hillbilly which murdered mcgerr T and stole his clothes were ruined exclaimed Richards aghast everybody's bet their dough without even seeing our man they was that full of trust and civic pride we can't call it off now tomahawk is ruined what'll we do he's going to get in there and fight his darndest Sid McVeigh pulling his gun and jamming it into my back we'll hang him after the fight but he can't box wailed Richards no matter said McVeigh the fair name of our town is at stake tomahawk promised to furnish a fighter to fight this fellow old to land oh I said suddenly seeing light this year's a fight ain't it McVeigh gave a low moan and kirby reached for his gun but just then the referee hollered time and I jumped up and ran it old tool if a fight was all they wanted I was satisfied all that talk about rules and the yelling of the crowd and had me so confused I didn't know what it's all about I hit an old tool and he ducked and hit me in the belly and on the nose and in the eye and on the ear my blood spurted and the crowd yelled and he looked dumbfounded and gritted between his teeth are you human why don't you fall I spit out a mouthful of blood and got my hands on him and started chewing his ear and he scrawled like a Catamount yucca run in and tried to pull me loose and I gave him a slap under the ear and he turned a somersault into the ropes your man's fightin foul he scrawled and Kirby yelled you're crazy you see this gun you holler foul once more and it'll go off meanwhile no tool it broke loose from me and caved in his knuckles on my jaw and I come for him again because I was mad by this time he gasped if you want to make an alley fight out of it alright I wasn't raised in five points for nothing he then rammed his knee into my groin and grope for my eye but I got his thumb in my teeth and began masticating it and the way he howled was a caution by this time the crowd was crazy and I throwed O'Toole and began to stomping when somebody let bang at me from the crowd and the bullet cut my silk belt and my pants started to fall down I grabbed him with both hands an old tool rizz and rushed me bloody and Beller and I didn't dare let go of my pants to defend myself so I whirled and bent over and lashed out backwards with my right heel like a mule and I caught him under the chin he'd done a cartwheel in the air his head hit the turf and he bounced on over and landed on his back with his knees hooked over the lower rope there wasn't no question about him being out the only question was who was he dead a great roar of fowl went up from the gun stock men and guns bristled all around the ring that tomahawk man was cheering and yelling that I'd won fair and square and then gun Stockman was cussing and threatening meet you and someone hollered leave it to the referee sure said Kirby he knows our man won fair and if he don't say so I'll blow his head off that's a lie Bell heard a man from gun stock he knows it was foul and if he says it wasn't I'll carve his liver with this here bowie knife at these words yucca killed over in a dead faint then a clatter of hooves sounded above the din and out of the timber that hid the trail from the east gang a horseman rode at a run everyone world and yelled oh look out here comes them perdition illegitimate instantly a hundred guns covered him and McVeigh demanded come he and peace or in war would come to unmask a fraud roared a big man with a red bandana around his neck now Gertie come forth a familiar figure now dressed in cowboy togs pushed forward on my mule there he is the figure yelled pointing at me that's the desperado which robbed me them's my tights he's got on what's this roared the crowd had turned fake Bell heard the man with a red bandanna this here's bruiser McGirt II then who's he someone bald pointing at me my name's Breckinridge Elkins and I can lick any man here I roared getting mad and brandished my fists and defiance but my britches started sliding down again so I had to shut up and grab them aha the man with the red bandana howled like a hyena he admits it I don't know what the idea is but these tomahawk polecats has double-crossed somebody I trust that you jackasses from gunstock realizes the blackness and hellishness of their hearts this man McGirt erode into perdition a few hours ago in his unmentionables astraddle of that their mule and told us how he'd been held up and robbed and put on the wrong road you skunks was too proud this stays this fight in perdition but we ain't the men to see justice scorned with impunity we brought him a Gertie here to show you you is being gypped by tomahawk that man ain't no prizefighter he's a highway robber these tomahawk coyotes has framed us squall to gun stock man going for his gun you're a liar roared Richards bending a 45 barrel over his head the next instant guns was crashing knives was gleaming and Men was yelling blue murder that gun stock Braves turned frothing on the tomahawk warriors and the men from perdition yelping with glee pulled their guns and began fan in the crowd indiscriminately which gave back their fire the Gertie gave a howl and fell down on Alexander's neck gripping around it with both arms and Alexander departed in a cloud of dust and smoke I grabbed my gun belt which McVeigh had hung over the post in my corner and I headed for cover holding on to my britches whilst the bullets hummed round me thick as bees I wanted to take to the brush but I remembered that blind letter so I headed for town behind me there Rose a roar of bangin guns and Yellin men just as I got to the backs of the rows of buildings which lined the street I run into something soft head-on it was mugger T trying to escape on Alexander he had hold of only one rein and Alec and ER evidently haven't circled one end of the town was travelling in a circle and headin back where he started from I was going so fast I couldn't stop and I run right over Alexander and all three of us went down in a heap I jumped up afraid Alexander was killed but he scrambled up snortin and trembling and then McGirt II weaved up making funny noises I poked my cap and ball into his belly off with them pants I yelled my god he screamed again this is getting to be a habit hustle I'm Ballard you can have these scandals I got on now he shucked his britches grabbed him tights and run like he was a fear tied one his underwear to I jerked on the pants forked Alexander and headed for the south into town I kept behind the buildings though the town seemed to be deserted and pretty soon I come to the store where Kirby at old me old man Braxton kept the post-office guns was Barkin there and across the street I seen men ducking in and out behind an old shack and shootin I tied Alexander to a corner of the store and went in the back door up in the front part I seen old man Braxton kneeling behind some barrels with a 4590 and he was shooting at the fellas in the shack across the street ever now and then a slug would hum through the door and Comus whiskers and he would cuss worsen PAP did that time he sat down on a bear trap I went up to him and tapped him on the shoulder and he gave a squall and flopped over and let go BAM right in my face and singe off my eyebrows and the fellows across the street hollered and started shooting both of us I'd grabbed the barrel of his Winchester and he was cussing and jerking at it with one hand and feeling in his boot for a knife with the other I said mr. Braxton if you ain't too busy I wish you'd give me that there letter which come for PAP don't never come up behind me that way again he scrawled I thought she was one of them dirt outlaws look out duck you fool I let go of his gun then he took a shot at a head which was aiming around the shack and the headline out of all and disappeared who are them fellas I asked Comanche Santry and his bunch from up in the hills snarled old man Braxton jerking the lever of his Winchester they come after that gold a hell of a sheriff McVeigh is never sent me nobody and then fools over at the ring or making so much noise they'll never hear the shooting over here – look out here they come six or seven men rushed out from behind the shack and run across the street shootin as they come I've seen I'd never get my letter as long as all this fighting was going on so I unstrung my old cap and ball and let Bam Adam three times three of the outlaws fell across each other in the street and the rest turned and run behind this Shack good work boy Yellin old man Braxton if I ever hold judas iscariot we're blowed up now something was pushed around the corner of the shack and come rolling down toward us the shack being on higher ground than the store was it was a keg with a burnin fuse which world as the keg revolved and looked like a wheel of fire what's in that keg I asked blastin powder screamed old man Braxton scrambling up runya turn bullets coming right into the door he was so scared he forgot all about the fellas across the street and one of them caught him in the thigh with a buffalo rifle he plunked down again howling blue murder I stepped over him to the door that's when I got the slug in my hip and the keg hit my legs and stopped so I picked it up and he did back across the street it hadn't no mourn hit the shack when BAM it exploded and the Shack went up in smoke when it stopped draining pieces of wood metal they wasn't any sign to show any outlaws had ever hid behind where that Shack had been I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't saw it old man Braxton moaned faintly are you hurt bad mr. Braxton I asked I'm dyin he groaned plumb dying Oh before you die mr. Braxton I said would you mind giving me that there letter for pap what's your paps name he asked roaring bill Elkins I said he wasn't hurt as bad as he thought he reached up God hold of a leather bag and fumbled in it pulled out an envelope I remember telling old Buffalo Rodgers I had a letter for bill Elkins he said fingering it over then he said hey wait this ain't for your PAP my sights getting bad I read it wrong the first time this is for bill Elston that lives between here and perdition yeah I want to spike a rumor which says I tried to murder old man Braxton and tore his door down for spite I've done told how he got his leg broke and the rest was accidental when I realized that I had went through all that embarrassment for nothing I got so mad and disgusted I turned and ran out of the back door and I forgot to open the door and that's how it got tore off the hinges I then jumped on to Alexander and forgot to untie him from the store I kicked him in the ribs and he bolted and tore loose that corner of the building and that's how come the roof to fall in old man Braxton inside was scared and started yelling bloody murder and about that time a lot of men come up to investigate the explosion which had stopped a three-cornered paddle between Perdition tomahawk and gun stock and they thought I was the cause of everything and they all started shooting at me as I rode off then was when I got that charge of buckshot in my back I went out a tomahawk and up the hill trail so fast I bet me and Alexander looked like a streak and I says to myself the next time PAP gets a letter at the post office he can come after it his self cause it's evident that civilization ain't no place for a boy which ain't reached his full growth and strength end of mountain man guns of the mountains by Robert Howard this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org guns of the mountains by Robert Howard this business begun with uncle Garfield Elkins coming up from Texas to visit us between grizzly run and chawed ear the stage got held up by some masked bandits and uncle Garfield never being able to forget that he was a gun fighting fool 30 or 40 years ago pulled his old cap and ball instead of putting up his hands like he was advised to for some reason instead of blowing out his light they merely busted him over the head with a 45 barrel and when he come – he was rattling on his way toward chawed ear with the other passengers – his money and watch it was his watch what caused the trouble that their timepiece had been his grandpap's and uncle Garfield sought more store by it than he did all his kin folks when he arrived up in the Humboldt mountains where our cabin was he immediately led into howl and his woes to the stars like a wolf with the bellyache and from then on we heared nothing but that watch eyed saw it and felt very little of it it was as big as my fist and wound up with a key which uncle Garfield was always losing and looking for but it was solid gold and he called it a heirloom whatever 10 things is and he 9 drift the family crazy a passel a big Hulk's like you all sitting around letting an old man get robbed of all his property he would say bitterly when I was a young buck if an my uncle had been abused that way I took the trail and never slept nor death till I brung back his watch and the scalp of the skunk which stole it man nowadays and so on and so on till I felt like drowning the old Jassa canned a barrel of corn liquor finally PAP says to me Coleman is beard with his fingers Breckinridge says he I've endured uncle Garfield bellyache and all I aim to I want you to go look for his gusset watch and don't come back without it how am I gonna know where to look I protested aghast the fellow which got it may be in California or Mexico by now I realizes the difficulties says path but if uncle Garfield know somebody's out looking for his turn timepiece maybe he'll give the rest of us some peace you get going and if you can't find that watch don't come back till after uncle Garfield has went home how long is he gonna stay I demanded well said PAP uncle Garfield's visits all his lasts a year at least and this I'm busting to profanity I said I got to stay away from home a year dang it pap Jim Braxton I'll steal Ellen Reynolds away from me whilst I'm gone I've been courting that girl till I'm ready to fall dead I done licked her old man three times and now just when I got her look in my way you tell me I gotta up and leave her for a year for that Durnin Jim Braxton to have no competition with you gotta choose between Ellen Reynolds in your own flesh and blood said PAP I'm darned if I'll listen to uncle Garfield squawks any longer you make your own choice but if you don't choose to do what I asked you do I'll fill your hide with buckshot every time I see you from now on well the result of that was that I was presently riding morosely away from home and Alan Reynolds and in the general direction where uncle Garfield's blasted watch might possibly be I passed by the Braxtons cabin with the intention and dropping Jim a warning about his actions whilst I was gone but he wasn't there so I issued a general defiance to the family by slinging a 45 slug through the window which knocked a cob pipe out of old man Braxton's mouth that soothes me a little but I knowed very well that Jim would make a beeline for the Reynolds cabin the second I was out of sight I could just see him gorging on Ellen's bear meat and honey and braggin on his self I hoped Ellen would notice the difference between a loudmouth bolster like him and a quiet modest young man like me which never bragged though admittedly the biggest man and the best fighter in the Humboldt I hope to meet Jim somewhere in the woods has I wrote down the trails from I was intending to do something to kind of impede his courting while I was gone like breaking his leg or something but luck wasn't with me I handed in the general direction of chawed ear and the next day seen me riding and gloomy grandeur through a country quite distant from Ellen Reynolds PAP always said my curiosity I'd be at the ruination of me someday but I never could listen to guns popping up in the mountains without wanting to find out who was killing who so that morning when I heard the rifles talking off amongst the trees I turned Captain Kidd aside and left the trail and rode in the direction of the noise a dim path wound up through the big boulders and bushes and the shooting kept getting louder pretty soon I come out into a Glade and just as I did BAM somebody let go with me from the bushes and a 4570 slug cut both my bridle reins nearly in half I instantly returned the shot with my 45 getting just a glimpse of something in the brush and a man let out a squall and jumped out into the open wringing his hands my bullet had hit the lock of his Winchester and my teen I'd jarred his hands off him cease that ungodly noise I said sternly fighting my 45 at his bay winter and tell me how come you way lays innocent travelers he quit working his fingers moaning and said I thought you was Joel Karn the outlaw you're about his size well I ain't I said I'm Breckinridge Elkins from the Humboldt I was just riding over to learn what all the shooting was about the guns was firing in the trees behind the fella and someone yelled what was the matter ain't nothing the matter he hollered back just a misunderstanding and he said to me I'm glad to see you Elkins we need a man like you I'm Sheriff dick Hopkins from grizzly run we're at your star I inquired I lost it in the brush he said me and my deputies have been chasing tarantula Bixby and his gang for a day and a night and we got him cornered over there in the old deserted cabin in the holler the boys is shooting at him now I heard you coming up the trail and snuck over to see who it is just as I said I thought she was carne come on with me you can help us I ain't no deputy I said I got nothing against ranch low Bixby well you want to uphold the law don't you he said yeah I said well gee whiz he wailed if you ate a hell of a citizen the country's going to the dogs what chance has an honest man got all shut up I said I'll go over and see the fun anyhow so I picked up his gun I tied Captain Kidd and followed the sheriff through the trees till we come to some rocks and there was four men laying behind them rocks and shooting down into a holler the hill sloped away mighty steep into a small Basin that was just like a bowl with a rail of slopes all around in the middle of this bowl was a cabin and puffs of smoke was coming from the cracks between the logs the men behind the rocks looked at me in surprise and one of them said what the hell but the sheriff scowled at him and said boys this here's breckel khun's I done told him already about us being a posse from grizzly run and about how we got tarantula Bixby and two of his cutthroats trapped in that there cabin one of the deputies bust into a guff on and Hopkins glared at him and said what you laughing about you spotted hyena waleed by tobacker and that always gives me that hysterical x' mumbled the deputy lookin the other way hold up your right hand Elkins requested Hopkins so I done so wondering what for and he said does you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth he pluribus unum an old Dominic er to wit in status quo what the hell are you talkin about I demanded then which God has joined the sunder let no man put together said Hopkins whatever you say will be used against you in the lord have mercy on your soul that means you're a deputy I just swore you in go sit on a tack I said disgustedly go get your own thieves and don't look at me like that I might been the gun over your skull but Elkins pleaded Hopkins with your help we can catch them rats easy all you got to do is lay up here behind this big rock and shoot at the cabin and keep them occupied till we can sneak around and some from the rear see the brush comes down pretty close at the foot of the slope on the other side and gives us cover we can do it easy with someone keeping their attention over here I'll give you part of the reward I don't want no Dern blood money I said backing away and besides how I'd absent mindedly backed out from behind the big rock where I'd been standing and a 30-30 slug burned its way across the seat of my britches turn them murderers Ballard see and read give me a rifle I'll learn him to shoot a man behind his back go on take him in the rear I'll keep him busy good boy said Hopkins you'll get plenty for this it sounded like somebody was snickering to themselves as they snuck away but I give no heed I squinted cautiously around the big boulder and began sniping at the cabin all I could see to shoot at was the puffs of smoke which marked the cracks they was shooting through but from the cussin and Yellin which begun to float up from the shack I must have throwed some lead mighty close to him they kept shooting back and the bullets splashed and buzzed on the rocks and I kept looking at the further slope for some sign of Sheriff Hopkins and the posse but all I heard was a sound the horses galloping away toward the west I wondered who it could be and I kept expecting the posse to rush down the opposite slope and take them desperadoes in the rear and whilst I was craning my neck around the corner of the boulder Wain a bullet smashed into the rock a few inches from a face and a sliver of stone took a notch out of my ear I don't know a nothing that makes me mattered and to get shot in the ear I seen red and didn't even shoot Mac a mere rifle was too paltry to satisfy me suddenly I realized that the big boulder in front of me was just poised on the slope its underside partly embedded in the earth I throwed down my rifle and bent my knees and spread my arms and grit I shook the sweat and blood out of my eyes and Ballard sew them in the holler could hear me I'm giving you all a chance to surrender come out your hands up they gave loud and sarcastic jeers and I yelled back all right you ring-tailed jackasses if you get squished like a pancake it's your own fault here she comes and I heaved with all I had the veins stood out on my temples my feet sunk into the ground but the earth bulged and cracked all around the big rock where have litsa dirt begun to trickle down and that big boulder groaned gave way and lurched over a dumbfounded yell rizz from the cabin I left behind the bush but the outlaws was too surprised to shoot at me that enormous Boulder was tumbling down the hill crush and bushes flap and gathering speed as it rolled and that cabin was right in its path wild yells bust the air the door was thrown violently open and a man Hove into view just as he started out of the door I left BAM at him and he howled and ducked back just like anybody will when a 4590 slug knocks their hat off the next instant that thundering Boulder hit the cabin smash it knocked it sidewise like a tin pin and caved in the wall the whole structure collapsed had a cloud of dust and bark and splinters I run down the slope and from the yells which issued from under the ruins I know they hadn't all been killed does you all surrender I roared yeah darn it they squalled get us out from under this landslide throw out your guns I ordered how in hell can we throw anything they hollered wrathfully we're pinned down by a ton of rocks and boards and we're being SQUOZE today help murder ah shut up I said you don't hear me carrying on and no such hysterical way does you hell they moaned and complained and I thought the work dragon the ruins off them which wasn't no great task pretty soon I seen a booted leg and I laid hold of it and dragged out the critter it was fastened too and he looked more done up and what my brother Bill did that time he wrestled a mountain lion for a bet I took his pistol out of his belt laid him down on the ground and got the others out there was three altogether and I'm disarmed him and laid him out in a row their clothes was nearly tore off and they was bruised and scratched and had splinters in their hair but they wasn't hurt permanent they sawed up and felt of ourselves and one of them said this here is the first earthquake I ever seen in this country weren't no earthquakes at another it was an avalanche listen here joke partland said the first and grinding his teeth i says it was an earthquake and i ain't the man to be called a liar oh you ain't said the other bristling up well let me tell you something Frank Jackson this ain't no time for such arguments I admonished them sternly as for that there Rock I rolled that at you myself they gaped at me who are you said one of them mopping the blood off of his ear never mind I said you see this here Winchester well you all set still and rest yourselves soon as a sheriff gets here I'm gonna hand you over to him his mouth fell open sheriff he said dumb like what Sheriff dick Hopkins from grizzly run I said why you turn fool he screamed scrambling up sit down I roared and shove my rifle barrel at him he sank back all white and shaking he could hardly talk listen to me he gasped I'm dick Hopkins I'm sheriff a grizzly run these men are my deputies yeah I said sarcastically and who was the fellas shooting at you from the brush tarantula Bixby and his gang he said we was following him when they jumped us and being outnumbered and surprised we took cover in that old hut they robbed the Grizzly run bank day before yesterday and now they'll be getting further away every minute Oh Judas J Iscariot have all the dumb boneheaded jackasses hehehe I said cynically you must think I ain't got no sense if you're the sheriff we're at your star it was on my suspenders he said despairingly when you hold me out by the leg my suspenders caught on something and tore off if you'll let me look amongst them ruins you sit still I commanded you can't fool me your trench lair bixby yourself sheriff Hopkins told me so him and the posse will be here in a little while set still and shut up we stayed there and the feller which claimed to be the sheriff moaned and pulled his hair and shed a few tears and the other fellers tried to convince me Bay was deputies until I got tired of their gab and told him to shut up or I'd bend my Winchester over their heads I wondered why Hopkins and them didn't come and I've begun to get nervous and all at once the fellow which said he was a sheriff gave a yell that startled me so I jumped and nearly shot him he had something in his hand and was waving it around see here his voice cracked he hollered so loud I found it it must have fell down in my shirt when my suspenders busted look at that you Dern Mountain grizzly I looked and my flesh crawled it was a shiny silver star Hopkins said he lost his indeed weakly maybe you found that in the brush you know better he bell 'red your 1a Bixby's man you was sent to hold us here while tarantula and the rest made their getaway you'll get 90 years for this I turned cold all over as I remembered them horses I heard galloping I've been fooled this was the sheriff that pot-bellied thug which shot at me had been fixed be his self and whilst I held up the real sheriff and his posse them outlaws was riding out of the country now wasn't that a caution you better give me that gun and surrender opined Hopkins maybe if you do they won't hang you sit still I snarled I'm the biggest SAP that ever straddled a Mustang but even saps has their feelings you ain't gonna put me behind no bars I'm going up this slope but I'll be watching you I've throwed your guns over in the brush if any of you makes a move toward him I'll put a harp in his hand nobody craved a heart they set up a chant of hate as I backed away but they sought still I went up the slope backwards till I hit the rim then I turned and ducked into the brush and run I heard him cussing something awful down in the holler but I didn't pause I've come to where I'd left Captain Kidd and Fork Diamond Road thankful them outlaws had been in too big a hurry to steal him I throwed away the rifle they give me and headed west I aimed across wild river at ghost Canyon and head into the uninhabited mountain region beyond there I figured I could dodge a posse indefinite once I got there I pushed Captain Kidd hard cussing my reins which had been notched by big speed bullet I didn't have time to fix him and Captain Kidd was an iron jawed outlaw he was sweating plenty when I finally hold inside of the place I was heading for as I topped the canyons crest before I dipped down to the crossing I glanced back they was a high notch in the Hills a mile or so behind me as I looked three Horseman was etched in that notch against the guy behind him I cussed fervently why hadn't I had sense enough to know Hopkins and his men was bound to have horses tied somewheres near they got their mounts and followed me figure and I to aim for the country beyond the wild river it was about the only place I could go not one no run and fight with no Sheriff's Posse I raced recklessly down the sloping canyon wall busted out of the bushes and stopped short wild river was on the rampage Bank full in the narrow channel and Boyland and foeman been a big rain somewhere away up on the head and the horse wasn't never fold which could suam it it wasn't but one thing to do and I done it i wheeled captain kid and headed up the canyon five miles up the river there was another crossing with a bridge if it hadn't been washed away captain kid had his second wind and we was going lickety-split twin suddenly I heard a noise ahead of us above the roar of the river and the thunder of his hooves on the rocky canyon floor we was approaching a bend in the gorge when a low ridge run out from the canyon wall and beyond that Ridge I heard guns bangin I heave back on the reins and both of them snapped into Captain Kidd instantly clamped his teeth on the bit and bolted like he always done when anything out of the ordinary happened he headed straight for the bushes at the end of the ridge and I leaned forward and tried to get hold of the bit rings with my fingers but all I done was swerving from his course instead of following the canyon bed on around the end of the ridge he went right over the rise which sloped on that side it didn't slope on the other side it fell away abruptly I had a fleeting glimpse of five men crouching among the bushes on the canyon floor with guns in their hands they looked up and Captain Kidd braces legs and slid to a halt at the lip the low bluff and simultaneously bogged his head and throat me head over heels down amongst him my boot heel landed on somebody's head and the spur knocked in cold and blame their scalping that partially busted my fall and it was further cushioned by another fella which I landed on in a sitting position and which took no further interest in the proceedings the other three fell on me with loud brutal yells and I reached for my 45 and found my humiliation that it had fell out of my scabbard when I was throwed so I raised with a rock in my hand and bounced and off of the head of a fella who was fixing to shoot me and he dropped his pistol and fell on top of it at this juncture one of the survivors put a buffalo gun to his shoulder and sided then evidently fear and he'd hit his companion which was carving at me on the other side with a bowie knife he reversed it and run in swinging it like a club the man with a knife got in a slash across my ribs and I then hit him on the chin which was how his jawbone got broken four places meanwhile the other and swung at me with his rifle but missed my head and broke the stalk off across my shoulder irritated at his persistency and trying to brain me with the barrel I laid hands on him and throwed him head on against the bluff which is when he got his fractured skull and concussion of the brain I reckon I then shook the sweat from my eyes and glaring down recognized the remains as Bixby and his gang I might a knew they'd head for the wild country across the river same as me only place they could go just then however a clump of bushes parted near a river bank and a big black bearded man Riz up from behind the dead horse he had a six-shooter in his hand and he approached me cautiously who are you he demanded where'd you come from I'm Breckinridge Elkins I answered mopping the blood off of my shirt what is this here business anyway I was set in here peaceable waiting for the river to go down so I could cross he said went up rode these yeggs and started shooting I'm an honest citizen you're a liar I said with my usual diplomacy your Joel car in the worst outlaw in the Hills I seen your picture in the post office at cha deer with that he pilot his 45 at me and his beard bristled like the whiskers of an old timber wolf so you know me eh he said Oh what are you gonna do about it hey want to collect the reward money hey yeah I don't I said I'm an outlaw myself now I just run foul of the law count on me skunks they's a posse right behind me there is he snarled why didn't you say so here let's catch these fellows horses and light out cheapskates they claimed I double-crossed him in the matter of a stagecoach holdup we pulled together recently I've been avoiding them cuz I'm a peaceful man by nature but they rode on to me unexpected today they shot my horse first crack we've been trading lead for more than an hour without doing much damage I theta got me eventually I reckon come on we'll pull out together no we won't I said I'm an outlaw by force of circumstances but I ain't no murdering bandit pretty particular your company ancient he sneered well anyways help me catch a horse yours are still up there on that bluff the days still young he pulled out a big gold watch and looked at it it was one which wound with a key I'm just like I was shot where did you get that watch I hollered he jerked up his head kind of startled and said my grandpap give me it why here a liar i Ballard you took that off in my uncle Garfield give me that watch are you crazy he yelled going white under his whiskers I plunged for him seeing red and he let go bang I got it in the left thigh before he could shoot again I was on top of him and knocked the gun up it banged but the bullet went singing up over the bluff and Captain Kidd squealed and started changing ins the pistol flew outta Carnes hand and he hit me violently on the nose which made me see stars so I hit him in the belly and he grunted and doubled up and come up with a knife out of his boot which he cut me across the bosom with and also in the shoulder and arm and kicked me in the groin so I swung him clear of the ground and throwed him headfirst and jumped on him with both feet and that settled him I picked up the watchword it fell and staggered over to the cliff spurting blood and every step like a stuck hog at last my search is at an end I panted I can go back to Ellen Reynolds who patiently awaits the return of her hero it was at this instant that Captain Kidd which had been stunned by Carnes wild shot and was trying to buck off his saddle bucked his self off the bluff he fell on me the first thing I heard was bells ringing then they turned to horses galloping I set up and wiped off the blood which was running into my eyes from where Captain Kidd's left hind hoof and split my scalp then I seen sheriff Hopkins Jackson and partland come tearing around the ridge I tried to get up and run but my right leg wouldn't work I reached from a gun and it still wasn't there I was trapped look there yelled Hopkins wild-eyed that's Bixby on the ground and all this gang and ye gods there's Joel keren what is this anyhow it looks like a battlefield what's that sitting there he's so bloody I can't recognize him it's the hillbilly Yelp Jackson don't move or I'll shoot you I already been shot I snarled go on do your worst fate is against me they dismounted and stared in awe count the dead boys said Hopkins and a still small voice aw said partland ain't none of them dead but they'll never be the same men again look Bixby's coming to who done this Bixby makes me cast a wobbly eye about till he spied me then he moaned and shriveled up he done it he wailed he trailed us down like a bloodhound and jumped on us from behind he tried to scalp me he ain't human and he bust into tears they looked at me and all took off their hats Elkins said Hopkins and a tone of reverence I see it all now they fooled you into thinking they was the posse and us the outlaws didn't they and when you realized the truth you hunted them down didn't you and cleaned them out single-handed and Joel carne too didn't you well I said groggily the truth is we understand half consumed you mountain men are all modest hey boys tie up them outlaws whilst I look at Elkins wounds if you'll catch my horse I said I gotta be riding back gee whiz man he said you ain't in no shape to ride a horse do you know you got four busted ribs a broken one leg broke and a bullet in the oven to say nothing of being slashed to ribbons we'll rig up a litter for you what's that you got in your good hand I suddenly remembered uncle Garfield's watch which I'd kept clutched in a death grip I stared it while I held in my hand and I fell back with a low moan all I had in my hand was a bunch of busted metal broken wheels and springs bent and smashed plumb beyond recognition grabbing yelled Hopkins he's fainted plant me under a pine tree boys I'm murmured weakly just carve on my tune stone he fit a good fight but fate dealt him the Joker a few days later a melancholy procession wound its way up the trail into the hum bolts I was packed on a litter I told him I wanted to see Alan Reynolds before I died and to show uncle Garfield the ruins of the watch so he'd known I'd done my duty as I seen it as we approached the locality where my home cabin stood who should meet us but Jim Braxton which tried to conceal his pleasure when I told him in a weak voice that I was a dying man he was all dressed up in new buck skins and his exuberance was plumb disgustful to a man in my conditions too bad he said too bad Breckenridge I hope to meet you but not like this of course your PAP told me to tell you if I seen you about your uncle Garfield's watch he thought I might run into you on my way to cha Deer to get a license hey I said pricking up my ears yeah me and Alan Reynolds is gonna get married well as I started to say seems like one of them bandits which robbed the stage was a fella whose dad was a friend of your uncle Garfield's back in Texas he recognized the name on the watch and sent it back and it got here the day after you left they say it was jealousy which made me rise up on my litter and fracture Jim Braxton's jawbone I denies that I stoops to know such petty practices what impelled me was family conventions I couldn't hit uncle Garfield I had to hit somebody and Jim Braxton just happened to be the nearest one to me end of guns of the mountains the scalp hunter by Robert Howard this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org the scalp hunter by Robert Howard the reason I'm given the full facts of this here affair is to refute a lot of rumors which is circulating about me I am sick and tired of these lies about me terrorize in the town of grizzly claw and ruin in their wagon yard just for spite and trying to murder all their leading citizens they is more than one side to anything these folks which is going around telling about me knocking the mayor a grizzly claw down a flight of steps with a kitchen stove ain't yet added that the mayor was trying to blast me with a sawed-off shotgun as for saying that all I done was with malice aforethought and why if I was a hot-headed man like some I know I could easily lose my temper over this here slander but me and Cheyenne retiring by nature I keeps my dignity and merely remarks that these gossipers is blamed liars and I will kick the ears off of him if I catch him I weren't even going to grizzly claw in the first place I'm kind of particular where I go to I'd been in the settlements along wild river for several weeks tending to my own business and I was headed for pistol mountain when I seen chunk Willoughby sitting on a log at the forks where the trail to grizzly cloth splits off of a pistol Mountain Road chunk ain't got no more sense than the law allows anyway and now he looked plumb discouraged he had a mangled ear a couple of black eyes and a lump on his head so big his hat wouldn't fit from time to time he spit out a tooth I pulled up Captain Kidd and said what kind of brawl have you been into I've been to grizzly claw he said just like Maddox playing it but I didn't get the drift because I had never been to grizzly claw that's the meanest town in these mountains he said they ain't got no real law there but they got a feller which claims to be an officer and if you so much as spit he says you bust a law and has got to pay a fine if he puts up a holler the citizens come to his assistance you see what happened to me I never found out just what law I was supposed to bro Tok said but it must have been one they was particular fond of I give them a good fight as long as they can find themselves to rocks and gun butts but when they introduced fence rails and wagon tongues into the fray I give up the ghost well what you go there for anyhow I demanded well he said mopping off some dried blood I was looking for you three or four days ago I was in the vicinity of Bear Creek and your cousin Jack Gordon told me something to tell you I'm showing no sign of going on I said well what was it I can't remember he said that lamina give me in grizzly claw his plum addled my brains jack told me to tell you to keep a sharp lookout for somebody but I can't remember who or why but somebody had did something awful to somebody on Bear Creek seems like it was your uncle Jeff 'red Grimes but why did you go to grizzly claw I demanded I weren't there I don't know he said seems like the feller which Jack wanted you to get was from grizzly claw or supposed to go there or something a great help you'd be I said and discussed here somebody has went and wronged one of my kin maybe and you forgets the details try to remember the name of the feller anyway if I knew who he was I could lay him out and then find out what he did later on think can't you did you ever have a wagon tongue bust it over your head he said I tell you it's just right recent that I remembered my own name it was all I could do to recognize you just now if you'll come back in a couple of days maybe by then I'll remember what all jack told me I give us nor to disgust and turned off the road and headed up the trail for grizzly claw I thought maybe I could learn something there if somebody done dirt to Uncle jeopardy I wanted to know it must Bear Creek folks may fight amongst ourselves but we stands for no stranger to impose on any one of us uncle jeopardy was about as old as the humbled mountains and he'd fit Indians for a livin in his younger days he was still a tough old not anybody that could do him a wrong and get away with it sure wasn't no ordinary man so it wasn't no wonder that word had been sent out for me to get on his trail and now I had no idea who to look for or why just because at UNK Willoughby's weak skull I despised these here egg headed weaklings well I arose and grizzly claw late in the afternoon and went first to the wagon yard and seen that Captain Kidd was put in a good stall and fed proper and warned the fella there to keep away from him if he didn't want his brains kicked out Captain Kidd has a disposition like a shark and he don't like strangers it weren't much of a wagon yard and there was only five other horses there besides me and Captain Kidd a Pinto Bay and piebald and a couple of pack horses I then went back into the business part of the village which was one dusty Street with stores and saloons on each side and I didn't pay much attention to the town because I was trying to figure out how I could go about trying to find out what I wanted to know and couldn't think of no questions to ask nobody about nothing well I was approached in a saloon called the Apache Queen and was looking at the ground in meditation when I seen a silver dollar lying in the dust close to a Hitchin rack I immediately stooped down and picked it up not noticing how close it was to the hind legs of a mean-looking mule when I stooped over he hauled off and kicked me in the head then he let out an awful Bray and commenced jumping around holding up his hind hoof and some men come running out of a saloon and one of them hollered he's trying to kill my mule call the law quite a crowd gathered and a fellow which owned the mule hollered like a Catamount he was a mean-looking cuss with mournful whiskers and a eye he yelled like somebody was stabbing and I couldn't get in a word edgewise then a feller with a long skinny neck and two guns come up and said I'm the sheriff what's going on here who's this big feller what's he done the whiskered cuss hollered he kicked his self in the head with my mule and crippled the plur critter for life odd demands my rights he's got to pay me 350 dollars for my mule oh I said that mule ain't hurt none his legs just kind of numbed anyway I ain't got but five bucks and whoever gets them will take him off of my dead body I've been hitched my six guns for words and the crowd kind of fell away I demand that you rest him howl druvan whiskers he tried to assassinate my mule you ain't got no star I told the fella which said he was a law you ain't gonna arrest me does you DAST resist arrest he said fidgeting with his belt who said anything about resisting arrest I retorted all I am to do is see how far your neckl stretch before it breaks don't you test lay hands on an officer of the law he squawked backing away in a hurry I was tired of talking and thirsty so I nearly give us Norton turned away through the crowd towards his saloon pushing him right and left out him away I saw him gang up in the street talking low and mean but I give no heed they wasn't nobody in the saloon except the bar man and a England cowpuncher which had draped his self over the bar I ordered whiskey and when I drunk a few fingers of the rottenness luck I believe I ever tasted I give it up and disgust and throw the dollar on the bar which I had found and was starting out when the barkeeper hollered hey I turned around and said courteously don't you yell at me like that you bat eared Buzzard what do you want this here dollar ain't no good he said banging it on the bar well neither is your whiskey i snarled because I was getting mad so that makes us even I'm a long-suffering man but it looked like everybody and grizzly claw was out to gyp the stranger in their midst you can't run no blazer over me he hollered you give me a real dollar or else he ducked down behind the bar and come up with a shotgun so I taken it away from him and bent the barrel double across money and throwed it after him as he run out the back door hollering help murder the cowpuncher picked up the dollar and bit on it and then he looked at me very sharp and said where did you get this I found it if it's any a year Dern business I snapped because I was mad saying no more I strode out the door and the minute I hit the street somebody let damn at me from behind a rain barrel across the street and shot my hat off so I slammed a bullet back through the barrel and the feller hollered and fell out in the open Yellin blue murder it does the feller who called his selfish Sheriff and he was drilled through the hind leg I noticed a lot of head sticking up over window sills and around doors so I roared let that be a warning to you grizzly claw coyotes I'm Breckenridge Elkins from Bear Creek up in the Humboldt and I shoot better in my sleep and most men does wide awake I've inland emphasis to my remarks by punctuating a few signboards and knocking out a few winter pains and everybody hollered and ducked so I shoved my guns back in their scabbards and went into a restaurant the citizens come out of their hiding places and carried off my victim and he made more noise over a broke leg than I thought was possible for a grown man there was some folks in the restaurant but they stampeded out the back doors I come in at the front all except the cook which tried to take refuge somewhere else come out of there and fry me some bacon I commanded kicking a few slats out of the counter they had point to my request it disgusts me to see a grown man trying to hide under a stove I'm a very patient and good-natured human but grizzly claw was getting under my hide so the cook come out and fried me a mess of bacon and ham and eggs and potatoes and sourdough bread and beans and coffee and I had three cans of cling peaches nobody come into the restaurant whilst I was eatin but I thought I heard somebody sneaking around outside when I got through I asked the feller how much and he told me so I planked down the cash and he commenced to bite it this lack of faith in his fellow humans enraged me so I drawed my bowie knife and said they is a limit to any man's patience I've been insulted once tonight and that's enough you just best say that coins phony and I'll slice off your whiskers plummet the roots brandish my Bowie under his nose and he hollered and stampeded back into the stove and up sawed it and fell over it and the coals went down the back of his shirt so here is up and run for the creek Yellin bloody murder and that's how the story started that I tried to burn a cook alive Indian style because he fried my bacon to crisp matter of fact I kept his Shack from catching fire and burnin down cuz I stopped out the coals before they did Morton burn a big hole through the floor and I throwed the stove out the back door it ain't my fault if the mayor a grizzly claw was sneaking up the back steps with a shotgun just at that moment anyway I hear he was able to walk with a couple of crutches after a few months I emerged suddenly from the front door here in a suspicious noise and I seen a feller crouching close to a side window peeking through a hole in the wall it was the cowboy I seen in the Apache Queen saloon he whirled when I come out but I had him covered are you spying on me I demanded cause if you are no no he said in a hurry I was just leaning up against that wall resting you grizzly claw folks is all crazy I said disgustedly and looked around to see if anybody else tried to shoot me but there weren't nobody inside which was suspicious but I give no heed it was dark by that time so I went to the wagon yard and there wasn't nobody there I guess the man which run it was off somewheres drunk because that seemed to be the main occupation of most of them grizzly claw Devils the only place for folks to sleep was a kind of double log cabin that is it had two rooms but there weren't no door between them and in each room there wasn't nothing but a fireplace and a bunk and just one outer door I seen captain kidd was fixed for the night then I went into the cabin and brought in my saddle and bridle and saddle blanket because I didn't trust the folks thereabouts I took off my boots and hat and hung him on the wall and and hung my guns and Bowie on the end of the bunk and then spread my saddle blanket on the bunk and laid down glumly I don't know why they don't build them Dern things for ordinary sized humans a man six and a half foot tall like me can't never find one comfortable for him I laid there and was disgusted at the bunk and at myself too because I hadn't accomplished nothing I hadn't learned who it was done some Dunkel jeopardy or what he done it looked like I'd have to go clean the Bear Creek to find out and that was a good four days ride well as I contemplated I heard a man come into the wagon yard and pretty soon I heard him approach the cabin but I thought nothing of it then the door began to open and I Riz up with a gun in each hand and said who's there make yourself note before I blast you down whoever it was mumbled some excuse about being on the wrong side and the door closed but the voice sounded kind of familiar and the fella didn't go into the other room I heard his footsteps sneaking off and I raised and went to the door and looked over toward the row of stalls so pretty soon a man led the Pinto out of his stall and swung a boar demon rode off it was pretty dark but if us folks on Bear Creek didn't have eyes like a hawk we'd never live to get grown I've seen it was the cowboy I had seen in the Apache Queen and outside the restaurant once he got clear of the wagon yard he slept in the spurgeon and went racing through the village like they was a red war party on his trail I could hear the beat of his horses hooves fading south and down the rocky trail after he was out of sight I knowed he must have followed me to the wagon yard but I couldn't make no sense out of it so I went and laid down on the bunk again I was just about to go to sleep when I was woke by the sounds of somebody coming into the other room of the cabin and I heard somebody strike a match the bunk was built against the partition wall so there was only a few feet from me though with a log wall between us they was two of them from the sounds of their talking I tell you one of them was saying I don't like his looks I don't believe he's what he pretends to be we better take no chances and clear out after all we can't stay here forever these people are beginning to get suspicious and if they find out for sure don't be demanding a cut in the profits to protect us the stuffs all packed and ready to jump at a second notice let's run forth tonight it's a wonder nobody ain't never stumbled onto that hideout before now Oh said the other and these grizzly claw yaps don't do nothing but swell liquor and gamble and think up swindles to work on such strangers as is unlucky enough to wander in here they never go into the hills southwest of the village where our cave is most of them don't even know there's a path past that big rock to the west well bill said tethered we've done pretty well countin that job up in the Bear Creek country at that I was wide awake and listening with both ears bill laughed that was kind of funny warden Jim he said you ain't never told me the particulars said Jim didn't you have any trouble well said bill tweren't to say easy that old jeopardise was a hard old nut if all Injun fighters was like him I feel plumb sorry for the engines if any of them Bear Creek Devils ever catch you Jim Bell laughed again them hillbillies never strays more than ten miles from Bear Creek he said I had the sculpt and was gone before they knowed what was up I have collected bounties for wolves and bars but that's the first time I ever got money for a human sculpt and icy chill run down my spine now I knowed what had happened to poor old uncle Jeopardy scalped after all the Indian scalps he lifted and then cold-blooded murderers could sit there and talk about it like it was the ears of a coyote or a rabbit I had told him he'd had the use of that sculpt long enough bill was saying an old cuss like him I waited for no more everything was read around me I didn't stop for my boots gun there nothing I was too crazy mad even to know such things existed I raised up from that bunk and put my head down and ran that partition wall like a bull going through a rail fence the dried mud poured out of the chinks and some of the logs give way and a howl went up from the other side what's that hollered one daughter yelled look out it's a bar I'd draw back and rammed a wall again it caved in words and I come headlong through it and a shower of dry mud and splinters and somebody shot at me and missed they was a lighted Lantern setting on a hand hewn table and two men about six foot tall each that hollered and let him bang him at me with their six shooters but they was too dumbfounded to shoot straight I gathered unto my bosom and we went backwards over the table taking it and the lantern with us and you ought to have heard them critters howl when the burnin Isle splashed down there neck's it was a dirt floor so nothing caught on fire and we was fighting in the dark and they was hollering a help murder we are being Sasson ated release go of my ear then one of them got his boot heel wedged in my mouth and whilst I was twisting it out with one hand the other door out of his shirt which I was gripping with t'other hand and run out of the door I had hold of the other fellers foot and commence trying to twist it off when he wrenched his leg out of the boot and took it on the run when I started to follow him I fell over the table in the dark and got all tangled up in it I broke off a leg for a club and rushed to the door and just as I got to it a whole mob of folks come surging into the wagon yard with torches and guns and dogs and a rope and they hollered there he is the murderer the outlaw the counterfeiter the house burner the mule killer I seen the man that owned the mule and the restaurant feller and the barkeeper and a lot of others they come roaring and Balor and up to the door hollering hang him hang him string the murderer up and they begun shooting at me so I fell amongst him with my table leg and laid right and left till it busted it was packed so close together I laid out three and four to lick and they hollered something awful but torches was all knocked down and trampled out except for them which was held by fellers which danced around on the edge of the mill hollering lay hold on him don't be scared of a big hillbilly shooting knock him in the head the dogs having more sense than the men they all run off except one big mongrel that looked like a wolf and he bit the mob off and Ernie did me there was a lot of wild shootin and men hollering oh I'm shot I'm killed I'm dying and some of them bullets burned my hide they come so close and the flash has singed my eyelashes and somebody broke a knife against my belt and then I seen the torches was all gone except one and my club was broke so I bust right through the mob swinging right and laughed with my fists and stomping on them that tried to drag me down I got clear of everybody except the man with the torch who was so excited he was jumping up and down trying to shoot me without cocking his gun that blame dog was snapping at my heels so I swung him by the tail and hit the man over the head living and they went down in a heap and the torch went out and the dog clamped on the fellows ear and he let out a squall like a steam whistle they was milling in the dark behind me and I run straight to Captain Kidd's stall and jumped on him bare back with nothing but a hackamore on him just as the mob located where I went we come storming out of the stall like a hurricane and knock some of them galley-west and run over some more and headed for the gate somebody shut the gate but Captain Kidd took it in his stride and we was gone into the darkness before they knowed what hit him Captain Kidd decided then was a good time to run away like he usually does so he took to the hills and run through bushes and clumps of trees trying to scrape me off on the branches when I finally pulled him up he was maybe a mile south of the village with Captain Kidd no bridle nor saddle nor blanket and me with no guns knife boots her hat and what was worse than Devils which galloped uncle Jeff 'red had got away from me and I didn't know where to look for him I said meditating whether to go back and fight the whole town a grizzly claw for my boots and guns or what to do when all at once I remembered what Bill and Jim had said about a cave and a path running to it I thought I'm bet them fellas I'll go back and get their horses and pull out just like they was planning and they had stuff in the cave so that's the place to look for him I hope they hadn't already got the stuff whatever it was gone I knows where that rock was because I'd seen it when I come into town that afternoon a big rock but jut it up above the trees about a mile to the west a grizzly claw so I started out through the brush and before long I seen it looming up against the Stars I made straight for it sure enough there was a narrow trail winding around the base and leading off to the southwest I followed it and when I'd went nearly a mile I come to a steep mountainside all clustered with brush when I seen that I slipped off and led Captain Kidd up the trail and tied him back amongst the trees then I rope up to the cave which was pretty well masked with bushes I listened but everything was dark and still but all at once a way down the trail I heard a burst of shots and what sounded like a lot of horses running that everything was still again and I quick ducked into the cave and struck a match there was an error entrance that broadened out after a few feet and the cave runs straight like a tunnel for maybe 30 steps about 15 foot wide and then it made a bend after that it widened out and got to be pretty big 50 feet wide at least and I couldn't tell how far back into the mountain and run to the left the wall was very broken and notched with ledges might and I like stair steps and when the match went out a way up above me I seen some stars which meant there was a cleft in the wall or roof a way up on the mountain somewheres before the match went out I seen a lot of junk over in a corner covered up in a tarpaulin and when I was fixing this strike another match I heard men coming up the trail outside so I quick climb up the broken wall and laid on a Ledge about ten feet up and listened from the sounds as they Riv at the cave mouth I knowed it was two men on foot running hard and panting loud they rushed into the cave and made the turn and I heard him fumbling around then a light flared up and I seen a lantern being lit and hung up on a spur of rock in the light I seen them two murderers bill and Jim and they look plumb dilapidated bill didn't have no shirt on and the other one was wearing just one booth and limped bill didn't have no gun in his belt neither and both was mauled and bruised and scratched too like they'd been running through briars look here said Jim holding his head which had a welt on it which was likely made by my fist I ain't certain in my mind as to just what all has happened somebody must have hit me with a club sometime tonight and things is happening too fast for my addled wits seems like we've been fighting and running all night listen was we sitting in the wagon yard Shack talking peaceable and did a grizzly bar bust through the wall and nice slaughterous that's plumb correct said bill only it warn't no bar it was some kind of human critter maybe a escaped maniac we oughta stop for our horses I weren't thinking about no horses broken Jim when I found myself outside that Shack my only thought was to cover ground and I'd done my best considering that I'd lost the boot and that critter had not unhinged my hind leg I've lost you in the dark so I made for the cave no one you'd come there eventually and it seemed like I was forever getting through the woods crippled like I was I've no more than hit the path when you come up and on the run well said bill as I went over the wagon yard wall a lot of people come whooping through the gate and I thought they was after us but they must have been after the feller we fought cause as I run I seen him laying into him right and left after I'd got over my panic I went back after our horses that I run right into a gang of men on horseback and one of them was that turned fella which passed his self off as a cowboy I didn't need no more I took out through the woods as hard as I could Pelt and they hollered there he goes and come hotfoot after me and was then the fellers I shot at back down the trail asked Jim yeah said Bill I thought I'd shook him off but just as I seen you on the path I heard horses coming behind us so I hollered to let him have it and you did well I didn't know who it was said Jim I tell you my head's buzzing like a circle saw well said bill we stopped them and scattered them I don't know if you hit anybody in the dark but they'll be mighty cautious about coming up the trail let's clear out on the foot said Jim and me with just one boot how else said bill we'll have to hoof it till we can steal us some Bronx we'll have to leave all this stuff here we Darrent go back to grizzly claw after our horses I told you that Dern cowboy would do to watch he ain't no cowpoke at all he's a plain detective well what's that broken Jim horses whose exclaimed bill turning pale here although out that Lantern will climb the ledges and get up the cleft and take out over the mountain where they can't father with horses and then it was at that instant that I launched myself off of a Ledge on top of them I landed with all my 290 pounds square on Jim's shoulders and when he hit the ground under me he kind of spread out like a toad when you step on him bill give a scream of astonishment and when I risen come for he tore off a hunk of rock about the size of a man's head and land me over the ear with it this irritated me so I've taken him by the neck and also taken away a knife which he was trying to hamstring me with and begun sweeping the floor with his carcass presently I paused and kneeling on him I strangled him until his tongue walled out betwixt times hammering his head against the rocky floor he you murder and devil I gritted between my teeth before I'm varnished this here rock with your brains tell me why you takin my uncle Jeffords scalp let up and he gurgled being purple in the face where he weren't bloody they was a dude traveling through the country and collecting souvenirs then he heard about that sculpt and wanted it he hurt me to go get it for him I was so shocked at that cold-bloodedness that I forgot what I was doing and choked him nigh to death before I remembered to ease up on him who was he I demanded who is the skunk which hires old men murdered so he can collect their scalps my god these Eastern dudes is worse than Apaches hurry up and tell me so I can finish killing you but he was unconscious I disclosed him too hard I raised up and looked around for some water or whiskey or something to bring him to so he could tell who hired him to scalp uncle jeopardy before I twisted his head off which was my earnest intention of doing when someone said hands up i whirled and they're at the crook of a cave stood that cowboy which had spied on me in grizzly claw with ten other men they all had their Winchester's pointed at me and the cowboy had a star on his bosom don't move he said I'm a federal detective and I arrest you for manufacture and counterfeit money what do you mean I snarled backing up to the wall you know he said kicking the tarpaulin off junk in the corner look here man all the stamps and dies he used to make phony coins and bills all packed up ready to light out I've been hanging around grizzly clawford days knowing that whoever was passing this stuff made his or their headquarters here somewheres today I spotted that dollar you give the barkeep and I went pronto from a min which was camped back in the hills a few miles I thought you was settled in the wagon yard for the night but it seems you give us the slip put the cuffs on him n-no you don't I snarled bounding back not till I finished these Devils on the floor I don't know what you're talking about but here's a couple of corpses hollered one of the man he killed a couple of fellers one of them stooped over bill but he had recovered his senses and now here is up on his elbows and give a howl save me he Ballard I confesses I'm of a counterfeit ER and so is Jim there on the floor who he surrenders and you gotta protect us you're the counterfeiters said the detective taken aback as it were well I was following this giant eye seeming past fake money myself we got to the wagon yard awhile after he'd run off but we seen him duck in the woods not far from there and we've been chasing him he opened fire on us down the trail while ago that was us said bill it was me you is chasin he must have found that money if he had fake stuff I tell you we're the men you're after and you gotta protect us how demands to be put in the strongest Jail in this state which even this year devil can't bust into and he ain't no counterfeit er said the detective he ain't nothing but a maneater said bill arrest us and take us out of his reach no I roared clean beside myself they belongs to me they scalped my uncle give him knives or gun or something and let us fight this out can't do that SEPA detective they're federal prisoners if you got any charge against them that'll have to be indicted in the proper form his men hauled him up and handcuffed him and started to lead him out blaster soles I raved do you mean to protect a couple of dirty scalpers out I started for him and they all planted their Winchester's at me keep back said the detective I'm grateful for you leading us to this den and laying out these criminals for us but I don't hanker after no battle in a cave with a human grizzly like you well what could a feller do if I'd had my guns or even my knife I'd have taken a chance with a whole 11 officers or not I was that crazy mad but even I can't fight 11:45 90s with my bare hands I stood speechless with rage whilst they filed out and then I went for Captain Kidd in a kind of daze I felt wasn't a horse thief them fellows would be put in the pin safe out of my reach and uncle Jeffords scalp was unavenged it was awful I felt like ballin time I got my horse back onto the trail the posse with their prisoners was out of sight and hearing I seemed the only thing to do is go back to grizzly claw and get my outfit and then follow the posse and try to take their prisoners away from him some way well the wagon yard was dark and still the wounded had been carried away to have their injuries bandaged and from the groaning that was still coming from the shacks and cabins along the streets the casualties had been plenteous the citizens of grizzly claw must have been shook up something terrible because they hadn't even stole my guns and saddle and things yet everything was in the cabin just like I'd left them I have put on my boots hat and belt saddled and bridled Captain Kidd and sought out on the road I know the posse had taken but they had a long start on me and when daylight come I hadn't overtook him but I did meet somebody else it was tonch Willoughby riding up the trail and when he seen me he grinned all over his battered features hey brick he said after you left I sought on that log and thunk and thunk and I finally remembered what Jack Gordon told me and I started out to find you again and tell you it was this he said to keep a close look out for a feller from grizzly claw named bill Jackson which had gypped your uncle jeopardy and a deal what I said yeah said chunk he bought something from jeopardy and paid him in counterfeit money shepard didn't know it was phony till after the fella and plumb got away said chunk and bein as he was too busy drawing some barmy to go after him he sent word for you to get him but the scalp I said loudly Oh said Tom that was what Jeffords sold the fella it was the scalp Shepard took off a old yeller Eagle the Comanche war chief forty years ago and been keeping for a souvenir seems like an Eastern dude heard about it and wanted to buy it but this Jackson must have kept the money he give him to get it whip and give jeopardy cash so you see everything's all right even if I did forget a little and no harm did and that's why Chuck Willoughby is going around saying I am a homicidal maniac and running five miles down a mountain and tried to kill him which is an exaggeration of course I wouldn't have killed him if I could have caught him I would have merely raised a few knots on his head and tied his hind legs in a bow knot around his fool neck and done a few other little things that might have improved his memory end of the scalp hunter