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Full text of "A journey in search of Christmas"

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'"'•• ■' ■ 




BOSTON 
PUBLIC 
tlBRARY 





^, NEWTON, ^1 




Lfn McLean 











A JOURNEY IN 




SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 






BY 






OWEN WISTER 






AUTHOR OF 






" lin mclean" "red men and whitb " 
"the jimmyjohn boss" etc. 






ILLUSTRATED BY 






FREDERIC REMINGTON 




1 


^ c 


/ 




"^^ 


s>y 


NEW YORK AND LONDON 




HARPER & BROTHERS 






PUBLISHERS « MCMIV 






-■ 



Copyright, 1904, by Harper & Brothers. 

Ail rights reserved. 

Published October, 1904. 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

L Lin's Honey Talks Joy I 

II. Lin's Money is Dumb 13 

III. A Transaction in Boot-Blacking ... 37 

IV. Turkey and Responsibility 50 

V. Santa Qaus Lin .75 





ILLUSTRATIONS 



Lin McLean 



. . Frontispiece 



" Lin walked in their charge, they lead- 
ing the way " Facing p. 52 

" * This is Mister Billy Lusk ' " . . " 90 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH mmmm^^ 
OF CHRISTMAS " " 



Lin's Honey Talks Joy 

The Governor descended the steps of 
the Capitol slowly and with pauses, lift- 
ing a list frequently to his eye. He had 
intermittently pencilled it between stages 
of the forenoon's public business, and his 
gait grew absent as he recurred now to 
his jottings in their accumulation, with 
a slight pain at their number, and the 
definite fear that they would be more in 
I 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

seasons to come. They were the names 
of his friends* children to whom his ex- 
cellent heart moved him to give Christ- 
mas presents. He had pat off this re- 
generating evil until the latest day, as 
was his ctjstomt and now he was set- 
ting forth to do the whole thing at a 
blowt entirely planless among the gans 
and rocking-horses that wotild presently 
surrotjnd him. As he reached the high- 
way he heard himself familiarly addressed 
from a distance, and, tttrning, saw fotjr 
■"sons of the alkali jogging into town from 
the plain. One who had shouted to him 
galloped out from the others, rounded 
the Capitofs enclosure, and, approaching 
with radiant countenance, leaned to reach 
the hand of the Governor, and once again 
greeted him with a hilarious** Hello, Doc!** 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

Governor Barker, M.D., seeing Mr* Mc- 
Lean tinexpectedly after several years, 
hailed the horseman with frank and lively 
pleasure, and, inquiring who might be the 
other riders behind, was told that they 
were Shorty, Chalkeye, and Dollar Bill, 
come for Christmas. ** And dandies to hit 
town with,'* Mr. McLean added. ** Redhot." 

** I am acquainted with them," assented 
his Excellency. 

** WeVe been ridin* trail for twelve 
weeks,** the cow - puncher continued, 
** and the money in our pants is talkin' 
joy to us right out loud.** 

Then Mr. McLean overflowed with talk 
and pungent confidences, for the holi- 
days ah-eady rioted in his spirit, and his ^ 
tongue was loosed over their coming rites. 

** We've soured on scenery,** he finished. 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

in his drastic idiom, " We^re heeled for 
a big time." 

** Call on me/* remarked the Governor, 
cheerily, ** when you're ready for bromides 
and sulphates/' 

** I ain't box-headed no more/' protested 
Mr. McLean; ** I've got maturity, Doc, 
since I seen yu' at the rain-making, and 
I'm a heap older than them hospital days 
when I bust my leg on yu'. Three or four 
glasses and quit. That's my rule." 

** That your rule, too?" inquired the 
Governor of Shorty, Chalkeye, and Dollar 
Bill. These gentlemen of the saddle were 
sitting quite expressionless upon their 
horses. 

** We ain't talkin*, we're waitin*," ob- 
served Chalkeye; and the three cynics 
smiled amiably. 

4 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

** Well, Doc, see yti* again," said Mr. 
McLean. He ttirned to accompany his 
brother cow-p«nchers, but in that par- 
ticular moment Fate descended, or came 
op, from whatever place she dwells in, 
and entered the body of the unsuspecting 
Governor. 

** "What's your hurry?*' said Fate, speak- 
ing in the official's hearty manner. " Come 
along with me." 

** Can't do it. Where're yu' goin'?" 

** Christmasing," replied Fate. 

" Well, I've got to feed my horse. 
Christmasing, yu' say?" 

** Yes; I'm buying toys." 

** Toys! You? What for?" 

** Oh, some kids." 

** Yourn?" screeched Lin, precipitately. 

His Excellency the jovial Governor open- 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

ed his teeth in pleasure at this, for he was a 
bachelor, and there were fifteen «pon his 
list, which he held tip for the edification 
of the hasty McLean. ** Not mine, I'm 
happy to say. My friends keep marrying 
and settling, and their kids call me ttncle, 
and climb arottnd and bother, and I forget 
their names, and think it's a girl, and the 
mother gets mad. Why, if I didn't re- 
member these little folks at Christmas 
they'd be wondering — not the kids, they 
just break yoor toys and don't notice; bat 
the mother would wonder — * What's the 
matter with Dr. Barker? Has Governor 
Barker gone back on us?' — that's where 
the strain comes!" he broke off, facing 
Mr. McLean with another spacious laugh. 
But the cow-puncher had ceased to smile, 
and now, while Barker ran on exuberantly 
6 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

McLean's wide-open eyes rested upon him, 
singtflar and intent, and in their hazel 
depths the last gleam of jocularity went out* 

** That's where the strain comes, yoa 
see. Two sets of acquaintances — grate- 
ful patients and loyal voters — and IVe 
got to keep solid with both outfits, es- 
pecially the wives and mothers. They're 
the people. So it's drums, and doUs, and 
sheep on wheels, and games, and monkeys 
on a stick, and the saleslady shows you a 
mechanical bear, and it costs too much, 
and you forget whether the Judge's second 
girl is Nellie or Susie, and — well, I'm just 
in for my annual circus this afternoon! 
You're in luck. Christmas don't trouble a 
chap fixed like you." 

Lin McLean prolonged the sentence like 

a distant echo. 

7 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

^*A chap fixed like yoxsl** The cow- 
pttticher said it slowly to himself. ** No, 
sare." He seemed to be watching Shorty, 
and Chalkeye, and Dollar Bill going down 
the road. ** That's a new idea — Christ- 
mas/* he mtirmuredt for it was one of his 
oldest, and he was recalling the Christmas 
when he wore his first long trousers. 

** Comes once a year pretty regular/* 
remarked the prosperous Governor. 
** Seems often when you pay the bill.** 

** I haven't made a Christmas gift/* 
ptirstjed the cow-ptincher, dreamily, ** not 
for — for — Lord! it*s a hundred years, I 
gaess. I don*t know anybody that has 
any right to look for such a thing from 
me.** This was indeed a new idea, and it 
did not stop the chill that was spreading 
in his heart. 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

** Gee whiz!" said Barker, briskly, '*there 
goes twelve o'clock. I've got to make 
a start. Sorry you can't come and help 
me. Good-bye!" 

His Excellency left the rider sitting 
motionless, and forgot him at once in his 
own preoccupation. He hastened apon his 
journey to the shops with the list, not in 
his pocket, bat held firmly, like a plank 
in the imminence of shipwreck. The 
Nellies and Susies pervaded his mind, and 
he straggled with the presentiment that 
in a day or two he would recall some 
omitted and wretchedly important child. 
Quick hoof-beats made him look up, and 
Mr. McLean passed like a wind. The 
Governor absently watched him go, and 
saw the pony hunch and stiffen in the 
check of his speed when Lin overtook his 
9 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 




companions. Down there in the distance 
they took a side street, and Barker re- 
joicingly remembered one more name and 
wrote it as he walked. In a few minutes 
he had come to the shops, and met face 
to face with Mr. McLean. 

**The boys are seiein* after my horse/' 
Lin rapidly began, **and IVe got to meet 
*em sharp at one. We're twelve weeks 
shy on a square meal, yti* see, and this 
first has been a date from Vay back. I'd 
like to — *' Here Mr. McLean cleared his 
throat, and his speech went less smoothly. 
**Doc, I'd like just for a while to watch 
y\i* gettin' — them monkeys, y«' know." 

The Governor expressed his agreeable 

surprise at this change of mind, and was 

glad of McLean's company and judgment 

during the impending selections. A pict- 

10 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

tfre of a cow-ptjncher and himself dis- 
cussing a coople of dolls rose nimbly in 
Barker's mental eye, and it was with an 
imperfect honesty that he said, ** You'll 
help me a heap." 
And Lin, quite sincere, replied, ** Thank 

So together these two went Christmas- 
ing in the throng. Wyoming's Chief Ex- 
ecutive knocked elbows with the spurred 
and jingling waif, one man as good as an- 
other in that raw, hopeful, full-blooded 
cattle era which now the sobered West 
remembers as the days of its fond youth. 
For one man has been as good as another 
in three places — Paradise before the Fall; 
the Rocky Mountains before the wire 
fence; and the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. And then this Governor, besides 
n 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

being yoting, almost as young as Lin 
McLean or the Chief- Justice (who lately 
had celebrated his thirty-second birth- 
day), had in his doctoring days at Dry- 
bone known the cow-pwncher with that 
familiarity which lasts a lifetime without 
breeding contempt; accordingly, he now 
laid a hand on Lin's tall shoulder and 
drew him among the petticoats and toys. 




II 

Lin's Money is Dumb 

Christmas filled the windows and 
Christmas stirred in mankind. Cheyenne, 
not over-zealotts in doctrine or litanies, and 
with the opinion that a world in the hand ^ 
is worth two in the bush, nevertheless 
was flocking together, neighbor to think 
of neighbor, and every one to remember 
the children; a sacred assembly, after all, 
gathered to rehearse unwittingly the ar- 
ticles of its belief, the Creed and Doctrine 
of the Child. Lin saw them hurry and 
smile among the paper fairies; they ques- 
tioned and hesitated, crowded and made 
13 



•nm-= 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

decisionst failed utterly to find the right 
things forgot and hastened back^ suffered 
all the various desperations of the eleventh 
hour, and turned homeward, dropping 
their parcels with that undimmed good- 
will that once a year makes gracious the 
universal human face. This brotherhood 
swam and beamed before the cow-puncher's 
brooding eyes, and in his ears the greeting 
of the season sang. Children escaped from 
their mothers and ran chirping behind the 
counters to touch and meddle in places 
forbidden. Friends dashed against each 
other with rabbits and magic lanterns, 
greeted in haste, and were gone, amid the 
sound of musical boxes. 

Through this tinkle and bleating of lit- 
tle machinery the murmur of the human 

heart drifted in and out of McLean's hear- 
14 



v^ 




ocf^= 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

ing; fragments of home talk, tendernesses, 
economies, intimate first names, and din- 
ner hoars; and whether it was joy or sad- 
ness, it was in common; the world seemed 
knit in a single skein of home ties. Two 
or three came by whose parses most have 
been slender, and whose purchases were 
humble and chosen after much nice ad- 
justment; and when one plain man drop- 
ped a word about both ends meeting, and 
the woman with him laid a hand on his 
arm, saying that his children must not 
feel this year was different, Lin made a 
step towards them. There were hours and 
spots where he could readily have descend- 
ed upon them at that, played the role of 
clinking affluence, waved thanks aside 
with competent blasphemy, and, tossing 
off some infamous whiskey, cantered 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

away in the fall, self-conscious strut of 
the frontier. Bat here was not the mo- 
ment; the abashed cow - puncher could 
make no such parade in this place. The 
people brushed by him back and forth, 
busy upon their errands, and aware of 
him scarcely more than if he had been 
a spirit looking on from the helpless 
dead; and so, while these weaving needs 
and kindnesses of man were within arm's 
touch of him, he was locked outside with 
his impulses. Barker had, in the natu- 
ral press of customers, long parted from 
him, to become immersed in choosing 
and rejecting; and now, with a fair part 
of his mission accomplished, he was ready 
to go on to the next place, and turned 
to beckon McLean. He found him oblit- 
erated in a corner beside a life-sized im- 
16 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

age of Santa Claos, standing as still as 
the frosty saint. 

**He looks livelier than you do,** saidv 
the hearty Governor. '"Fraid it's been 
slow waiting." 

"'No/' replied the cow-pancher, thought 
folly. "No, I guess not." 

This uncertainty was expressed with ^5 
swch gentleness that Barker roared. ^ 
"You never did lie to me," he said, 
**Iong as I've known you. Well, never 
mind. I've got some real advice to ask 
yoti now." 

At this Mr. McLean's face grew more 
alert. "Say, Doc," said he, "what do ya' 
want for Christmas that nobody's likely 
to give ytj'?" 

"A big practice — big enough to inter- 
fere with my politics." 
17 














A JOURNEY DSr SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

''What else? Things and truck, I 
mean/' 

"Oh— nothing I'll get. People don't 
give things much to fellows like me." 

''Don't they? Don't they?" 

"Why, yott and Santa Claus weren't 
ptftting tip any scheme on my stock- 
ing?" 

"Well—" 

"I believe you're in earnest!" cried his 

Excellency. "That's simply rich!" Here 

was a thing to relish! The Frontier comes 

to town "heeled for a big time," finds 

that presents are all the rage, and most 

; " immediately give somebody something. 

'^y Oh, childlike, miscellaneous Frontier! So 

• thought the good-hearted Governor; and 

it seems a venial misconception. "My 

dear fellow," he added, meaning as well 




' - '-iOfi^s^:.^-: 



A JOURNEY IlSf SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

as possible, '*I don't want yo« to spend 
your money on me/' 

''I've got plenty all right," said Lin, 
shortly. 

''Plenty's not the point. I'll take as 
many drinks as you please with yotj. Yoa 
didn't expect anything from me?" 

"That ain't— that don't—" 

"There! Of course you didn't. Then, 
what are you getting proud about ? Here's 
our shop." They stepped in from the 
street to new crowds and counters. 
"Now," pursued the Governor, "this is 
for a very particular friend of mine. 
Here they are. Now, which of those do 
you like best ?" 

They were sets of Tennyson in cases 
holding little volumes equal in number, 
but the binding various, and Mr. McLean 
19 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

reached his decision after one look, ** That,'* 
said he, and laid a large, mwscular hand 
«pon the Laureate, The yoting lady be- 
hind the counter spoke owt acidly, and 
Lin pulled the abject hand away. His 
taste, however, happened to be sound, or, 
at least, it was at one with the Governor's; 
C'^Y/f ^^^ ^°^ ^^^^ learned that there was a dis- 
tressing variance in the matter of price. 

The Governor stared at the delicate ar- 
ticle of his choice, **I know that Tenny- 
son is what she — is what's wanted," he 
muttered; and, feeling himself nudged, 
looked around and saw Lin's extended 
fist. This gesture he took for a facetious 
sympathy, and, dolorously grasping the 
hand, found himself holding a lump of 
bills. Sheer amazement relaxed him, and 
the cow-puncher's matted wealth tum- 
20 



U 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

bled on the floor in sight of all people. 
Barker picked it up and gave it back. 
"No, no, no!" he said, mirthful over his 
own inclination to be annoyed; **you can't 
do that. I'm just as much obliged, Lin," 
he added. 

"Jttst as a loan. Doc — some of it. I'm 
grass-bellied with spot-cash." 

A giggle behind the counter disturbed 
them both, but the sharp young lady was 
only dusting. The Governor at once paid 
haughtily for Tennyson's expensive works, 
and the cow-puncher pushed his discoun- 
tenanced savings back into his clothes. 
Making haste to leave the book depart- 
ment of this shop, they regained a mutual 
ease, and the Governor became waggish 
over Lin's concern at being too rich. He 
suggested to him the list of delinquent 
21 





-rr~- 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

taxpayers and the latest census from 
which to select indigent persons. He had 
patients, too, whose inveterate penniless- 
ness he could swear cheerftilly to — ** since 
yoa want to bolt from yoar own money,'* 
he remarked. 

**Yes, Fm a green horse,'* assented Mr. 
McLean, gallantly; ** ain't used to the 
looks of a twenty-dollar bill, and I shy 
at em. 

From his face — that jocular mask — one 
might have counted him the most serene 
and careless of vagrants, and in his words 
only the ordinary voice of banter spoke to 
the Governor. A good woman, it may well 
be, would have guessed before this the 
sensitive soul in the blundering body; but 
Barker saw just the familiar, whimsical, 
happy-go-lucky McLean of old days, and 
22 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

SO he went gayly and innocently on, tread- 
ing ttpon holy ground. **Vve got it!" he 
exclaimed; **give your wife something." 

The rtfddy cow-pwncher grinned. He 
had passed through the world of woman 
with btit few delays, rejoicing in informal 
and transient entanglements, and he wel- 
comed the torn which the conversation 
seemed now to be taking. **If yotj'II give 
me her name and address," said he, with 
the future entirely in his mind. 

** Why, Laramie !" and the Governor 
feigned surprise. 

"Say, Doc," said Lin, uneasily, **none 
of *em 'ain't married me since I saw you 
last." 

"Then she hasn't written from Lara- 
mie?" said the hilarious Governor; and 
Mr. McLean understood and winced in 
23 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

his spirit deep down. *'Gee whiz!" went 
on Barker, ^^I'll never forget you and 
Ltisk that day!" 

But the mask fell now. '*Yow*re talk- 
ing of his wife, not mine," said the cow- 
ptincher, very quietly, and smiling no more; 
**and. Doc, I'm going to say a word to yu\ 
for I know yuve always been my good 
friend. I'll never forget that day myself 
— bat I don't want to be reminded of it." 

**I'm a fool, Lin," said the Governor, 
generous instantly. ** I never supposed — " 

**1 know yti' didn't, Doc. It ain't yoa 
that's the fool. And in a way — in a 
way — " Lin's speech ended among his 
crowding memories, and Barker, seeing 
how wistftil his face had turned, waited. 
**But I ain't quite the same fool I was 
before that happened to me," the cow- 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

puncher restimed, "though maybe my 
actions don't show to be wiser. I know 
that there was better lock than a man 
like me had any call to look for." 

The sobered Barker said, simply, "Yes, 
Lin." He was set to thinking by these 
words from the wnstispected inner man. 

Otrt in the Bow-Leg country Lin McLean 
had met a woman with thick, red cheeks, 
calling herself by a maiden name; and this 
was his whole knowledge of her when he 
put her one morning astride a Mexican 
saddle and took her fifty miles to a mag- 
istrate and made her his lawftil wife to 
the best of his ability and belief. His 
sage-brush intimates were confident he 
would never have done it but for a rival. 
Racing the rival and beating him had 
swept Mr. McLean past his own intentions, 
25 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

and the marriage was an inadvertence. 
*'He jest bumped into it before he cotild 
pull up" they explained; and this casual- 
ty, resulting from Mr. McLean's sporting 
blood, had entertained several hundred 
square miles of alkali. For the new-made 
husband the joke soon died. In the im- 
mediate weeks that came upon him he 
tasted a bitterness worse than in all his 
life before, and learned also how deep the 
woman, when once she begins, can sink be- 
neath the man in baseness. That was a 
knowledge of which he had lived innocent 
until this time. But he carried his out- 
ward self serenely, so that citizens in Chey- 
enne who saw the cow-puncher with his 
bride argued shrewdly that men of that 
sort liked women of that sort; and before 
the strain had broken his endurance an 
26 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

unexpected first husband, named Lusk, 
had appeared one Sunday in the street, 
prosperous, forgiving, and exceedingly 
drunk. To the arms of Lusk she went 
back in the pubhc street, deserting McLean 
in the presence of Cheyenne; and when 
Cheyenne saw this, and learned how she 
had been Mrs. Lusk for eight long, if in- 
termittent, years, Cheyenne laughed loud- 
ly. Lin McLean laughed, too, and went 
about his business, ready to swagger at 
the necessary moment, and with the nec- 
essary kind of joke always ready to shield 
his hurt spirit. And soon, of course, the 
matter grew stale, seldom raked up in the .,^4 
Bow-Leg country where Lin had been at 
work; so lately he had begun to remember v^ 
other things besides the smouldering hu- 
miliation. 

27 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

"Is she with him?** he asked Barker, 
and mtisingly listened while Barker told 
him. The Governor had thought to make 
it a racy story, with the moral that the 
joke was now on Lask; hut that inner man 
had spoken and revealed the cow-poncher 
to him in a new and complicated light; 
hence he qtiieted the proposed lively ca- 
dence and vocabulary of his anecdote 
about the house of Lusk, and instead of 
narrating how Mrs. beat Mr. on Mondays, 
Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Mr. took 
his turn the odd days, thus getting one 
ahead of his lady, while the kid Lusk had 
outlined his opinion of the family by re- 
cently skipping to parts unknown. Barker 
detailed these incidents more gravely, add- 
ing that Laramie believed Mrs. Lusk ad- 
dicted to opium. 

28 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

"I don't guess I'll leave my card on 
'em/' said McLean, grimly, **ii I strike 
Laramie." 

"Yoti don't mind my saying I think 
yoo're well out of that scrape?" Barker 
ventured. 

** Shucks, no! That's all right. Doc. 
Only — ytj' see now. A man gets tired 
pretending — onced in a while." 

Time had gone while they were in talk, 
and it was now half after one and Mr. 
McLean late for that long -plotted first 
square meal. So the friends shook hands, 
wishing each other Merry Christmas, and 
the cow-puncher hastened towards his 
chosen companions through the stirring 
cheerfulness of the season. His play-hour 
had made a dull beginning among the toys. 
He had come upon people engaged in a 










A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

pleasant game, and waited, shy and well- 
disposed, for some bidding to join, bat they 
had gone on playing with one another 
and left him out. And now he went along 
in a sort of hurry to escape from that lone- 
liness where his human promptings had 
been lodged with him useless. Here was 
Cheyenne, full of holiday for sale, and he 
with his pockets full of money to buy; 
and when he thought of Shorty and Chalk- 
eye and Dollar Bill, those dandies to hit 
town with, he stepped out with a brisk, 
false hope. It was with a mental hurrah 
and a foretaste of a good time coming that 
he put on his town clothes, after shaving 
and admiring himself, and sat down to the 
square meal. He ate away and drank 
with a robust imitation of enjoyment that 
took in even himself at first. But the sor- 
30 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

fowftil process of his spirit went on, for 
all he could do. As he groped for the con- 
tentment which he saw around him he be- 
gan to receive the jokes with counterfeit 
mirth. Memories took the place of antic- 
ipation, and through their moody shift- 
ings he began to feel a distaste for the com- 
pany of his friends and a shrinking from 
their lively voices. He blamed them for 
this at once. He was surprised to think 
he had never recognized before how light 
a weight was Shorty, and here was Chalk- 
eye, who knew better, talking religion after 
two glasses. Presently this attack of no- 
ticing his friends* shortcomings mastered 
him, and his mind, according to its wont, 
changed at a stroke. **Ym celebrating 
no Christmas with this crowd,'* said the 
inner man; and when they had next re- 
31 






Vjf^Ar- ' 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

membered Lin McLean in their hilarity 
he was gone. 

Governor Barker, finishing his pur- 
chases at half-past three, went to meet a 
friend come from Evanston. Mr. McLean 
was at the railway station bttying a ticket 
for Denver. 

"Denver!'* exclaimed the amazed Gov- 
ernor. 

" That's what I said/' stated Mr. McLean, 
doggedly. 

"Suffering Moses!" said his Excellency. 
"What are yoti going to do there?'' 

"Get good and drank." 

"Can't you find enough whiskey in Chey- 
enne?" 

"I'm drinking champagne this trip." 

The cow-pancher went out on the plat- 
form and got aboard, and the train moved 
32 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

off. Barker had walked out, too, in his 
surprise, and as he stared after the last- 
car Mr. McLean waved his wide hat de-v 
fiantly and went inside the door. 

"And he says he's got maturity," Bar- 
ker muttered. **Tve known him since 
seventy-nine, and he's kept about eight 
years old right along." The Governor 
was cross and sorry, and presently cross- 
er. His jokes about Lin's marriage came 
back to him and put him in a rage with 
the departed fool. "Yes, about eight. 
Or six," said his Excellency, justifying 
himself by the past. For he had first 
known Lin, the boy of nineteen, supreme 
in length of limb and recklessness, break- 
ing horses and feeling for an early mus- 
tache. Next, when the mustache was 
nearly accomplished, he had mended the 
33 










A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

boy's badly broken thigh at Drybone. 
His skill (and Lin's spotless health) had 
wrotight so swift a healing that the sur- 
geon overflowed with the pride of science, 
and over the bandages would explain the 
human body technically to his wild-eyed 
and flattered patient. Thus young Lin 
heard all about tibia, and comminuted, 
and other glorious new words, and when 
sleepless would rehearse them. Then, 

' with the bone so nearly knit that the pa- 
tient might leave the ward on crutches 

■' to sit each morning in Barker's room as a 
privilege, the disobedient child of twenty- 
one had slipped out of the hospital and 
hobbled hastily to the hog ranch, where 
whiskey and variety waited for a languish- 
ing convalescent. Here he grew gay, and 
was soon carried back with the leg refract- 
34 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

xsred. Yet Barker's stirgical rage was dis- 
armed, the patient was so forlorn over his 
doctor's professional chagrin. 

**I suppose it ain't no better this morn- 
ing. Doc?" he had said, humbly, after a 
new week of bed and weights. 

'^Yotir right leg's going to be shorter. 
That's all." 

^*0h, gosh! I've been and spoiled yowr 
comminuted fee-m«r! Ain't I a son-of-a- 
gun? 

You could not chide such a boy as this; 
and in time's due course he had walked 
jauntily out into the world with legs of 
equal length, after all, and in his stride the 
slightest halt possible. And Doctor Bar- 
ker had missed the child's conversation. 
To-day Iiis mustache was a perfected thing, 
and he in the late end of his twenties. 
35 





^ y" 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

"He'll wake tip about noon to-morrow 
in a divet without a cent/' said Barker. 
**Then he'll come back on a freight and 
begin over again." 




Ill 

A Transaction in Boot-Blacking 

At the Denver station Lin McLean pass- 
ed through the shootings and omnibuses, 
and came to the beginning of Seventeenth 
Street, where is the first saloon* A cus- 
tomer was ordering Hot Scotch; and be- 
cause he liked the smell and had not thought 
of the mixture for a number of years, Lin 
took Hot Scotch. Coming out upon the 
pavement, he looked across and saw a 
saloon opposite with brighter globes and 
windows more prosperous* That should 
have been his choice; lemon-peel would un- 
doubtedly be fresher over there; and over 
37 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

he went at once, to begin the whole thing 
properly. In sach frozen weather no 
drink coold be more timely, and he sat, to 
enjoy without haste its mellow fitness. 
Once again on the pavement, he looked 
along the street towards tjp-town beneath 
the crisp, cold electric lights, and three 
little bootblacks gathered where he stood, 
and cried, ** Shine? Shine?" at him. Re- 
membering that yoa took the third tarn 
to the right to get the best dinner in Den- 
ver, Lin hit on the skilftfl plan of stopping 
at all Hot Scotches between; hut the next 
occurred within a few yards, and it was 
across the street. This one being attained 
and appreciated, he foond that he mast 
cross back again or skip namber four. At 
this rate he would not be dining in time 
to see much of the theatre, and he stopped 
38 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

to consider. It was a German place he 
had jwst qwittedt and a h«ge light pottred 
otit on him from its window^ which the 
proprietor's fatherland sentiment had 
made into a show. Lights shone among 
a well-set pine forest, where beery, jovial 
gnomes sat on roots and reached upward 
to Santa Clatts; he, grinning, fat, and Tea- 
tonic, held in his right hand forever a foam- 
ing glass, and forever in his left a string 
of sausages that dangled down among 
the gnomes. With his American back to 
this, the cow-puncher, wearing the same 
serious, absent face he had not changed 
since he ran away from himself at 
Cheyenne, considered carefully the Hot 
Scotch question and which side of the 
road to take and stick to, while the little / 
bootblacks found him once more, and 'St^ 
39 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

cried, ** Shine? Shine?'' monotonous as 
snowbirds. He settled to stay over 
here with the soathside Scotches, and, 
the little, one-note song reaching his at- 
tention, he suddenly shoved his foot at 
the nearest boy, who lightly sprang 
away. 

'*Dare you to touch him!" piped a snow- 
bird, dangerously. They were in short 
trousers, and the eldest enemy, it may be, 
was ten. 

''Don't hit me," said Mr. McLean. ''I'm 
innocent." 

"Well, you leave him be," said one. 

"What's he layin' to kick you for, Billy? 
'Tain't yer pop, is it?" 

"Naw!" said Billy, in scorn. "Father 

never kicked me. Don't know who he 

is." 

40 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

**He's a special!" shrilled the leading 
bird, sensationally. **He's got a badge, 
and he's going to arrest yer/' 

Two of them hopped instantly to the 
safe middle of the street, and scattered 
with practised strategy; hut Billy stood 
his ground. **Dare yoa to arrest me!" 
said he. 

**"What 'II yoa give me not to?" inquired 
Lin, and he p«t his hands in his pockets, 
arms akimbo. 

"Nothing; I've done nothing," announc- 
ed Billy, firmly. Btrt even in the last syl- 
lable his voice suddenly failed, a terror 
filled his eyes, and he, too, sped into the 
middle of the street. 

** What's he claim you lifted?" inquired jf^ 
the leader, with eagerness. "Tell him you >^7( 

haven't been inside a store to-day. We 

41 






^ NEWTON. ^^ 









Mi'i- 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

can prove it!** they screamed to the special 
officer. 

**Say/* said the slow-spoken Lin from 
the pavement, **yo«*re poor judges of a 
badge, yott fellows." 

His tone pleased them where they stood, 
wide apart from each other. 

Mr. McLean also remained stationary 
in the blaish illttmination of the window. 
**Why, if any policeman was catight wear- 
in* this here/* said he, following his spright- 
ly invention, **he*d get arrested himself.** 

This struck them extremely. They be- 
gan to draw together, Billy lingering the 
last. 

**If it*s yottr idea,** ptirstted Mr. McLean, 

alluringly, as the three took cautious steps 

nearer the curb, ^Hhat blue, clasped hands 

in a circle of red stars gives the bearer the 

42 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

right to ptit folks in the jug — why, I'll 
get somebody else to black my boots for 
a dollar/' 

The three made a swift rash, fell on si- 1ai 
mwltaneotts knees, and, clattering their „ 
boxes down, began to spit in an indtjstri- 
oos circle. 

^'Easy!" wheedled Mr. McLean, and 
they looked up at him, staring and fasci- 
nated. **Not having three feet," said the 
cow-puncher, always grave and slow, **I 
can only give two this here job." 

^'He's got a big pistol and a belt!" ex- 
ulted the leader, who had precociously 
felt beneath Lin's coat. 

** You're a smart boy," said Lin, con- 
sidering him, *^and yu' find a man out 
right away. Now you stand off and tell 
me all about myself while they fix the 
43 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

boots — and a dollar goes to the quickest 
through/* 

Yottng Billy and his tow-headed com- 
petitor flattened down, each to a boot, 
with all their might, while the leader rae- 
fally contemplated Mr. McLean. 

'That's a Colt forty-five yotiVe got/* 
ventured he. 

** Right again. Some day, maybe, you'll 
be wearing one of your own, if the angels 
don't pull yu' before you're ripe." 

**I'm through!" sang out Towhead, 
rising in haste. 

Small Billy was struggling still, but leap- 
ed at that, the two heads bobbing to a 
level together; and Mr. McLean, looking 
down, saw that the arrangement had not 
been a good one for the boots. 

*'WiII you kindly referee," said he, for- 
44 





I 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

givingly, to the leader, **a.nd decide which 
of them smears is the awfttlest?" 

Btft the leader looked the other way 
and played upon a mottth-organ. 

**WeII, that saves me money," said Mr. 
McLean, jingling his pocket. *'I gwess 
yoaVe both won." He handed each of 
them a dollar. "'Now," he contintted, **I 
jtjst dassent show these boots up-town; so 
this time it's a dollar for the best shine." 

The two went palpitating at their brash- 
es again, and the leader played his mouth- 
organ with brilliant unconcern. Lin, tall 
and brooding, leaned against the jutting 
sill of the window, a figure somehow plain- 
ly strange in town, while through the 
bright plate-glass Santa Qaus, holding 
out his beer and sausages, perpetually 
beamed. 

45 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

Billy was laboring gallantly, bat it was 
labor, the cow-pttncher perceived, and 
Billy no seasoned expert* *'See here,*' 
said Lin, stooping, ^'I'll show yu" how it's 
done. He's playin' that toon cross-eyed 
enoagh to steer anybody crooked. There. 
Keep yottr blacking soft and work with a 
dry brash." 

"Lemme," said Billy. "I've got to 
learn." So he finished the boot his own 
way with wiry determination, breathing 
and repolishing; and this event was also 
adjadged a dead heat, with resalts gratify- 
ing to both parties. So here was their 
work done, and more money in their pock- 
ets than from all the other boots and 
shoes of this day; and Towhead and Billy 
did not wish for farther trade, bat to 
spend this handsome fortane as soon as 
46 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

might be. Yet they delayed in the bright- 
ness of the window, drawn by curiosity 
near this new kind of man whose voice 
held them and whose remarks dropped 
them into constant uncertainty. Even 
the omitted leader had been tmable to go 
away and ntirse his pride alone. 

'Is that a secret society?" inquired Tow- 
head, lifting a finger at the badge. 

Mr. McLean nodded. ** Turruble/' said he, 

'' You're a Wells Farga detective/* as- 
serted the leader. 

*'PIay your harp/' said Lin. 

**Are yoti a — a desperaydo?" wliispered 
Towhead. 

*'0h, my!" observed Mr. McLean, sad- 
ly; *'what has our Jack been readin'?" 

*'He's a cattle-man!" cried Billy. **1 
seen his heels." 

47 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

** That's yoo!" said the discovered punch- 
er, with approval. ** You'll do. But I bet 
you can't tell me what we wearers of this 
badge have sworn to do this night." 

At this they craned their necks and 
glared at him. 

**We — are — sworn (don't yu' jump, 
now, and give me away) — sworn — to — 
blow off three bootblacks to a dinner." 

*^ Ah, pshaw !" They backed away, bris- 
tling with distrust. 

** That's the oath, fellows. Yu' may as 
well make your minds up — for I haFoe it 
to dor' 

'^Dareyouto! Ah!" 

**And after dinner it's the Opera-house, 
to see *The Children of Captain Grant '!" 

They screamed shrilly at him, keeping 

off beyond the curb. 
48 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

**I can't waste my time on sttch smart 
boys/' said Mr. McLean, rising to his fall 
height from the window-sill. *'I am goings'^ 
somewhere to find boys that ain't so tttr- 
r«ble quick stampeded by a roast turkey." 

He began to loange slowly away, serious " ^ 
as he had been throughout, and they, stop- 
ping their noise short, swiftly picked up 
their boxes and followed him. Some 
change in the current of electricity that 
fed the window disturbed its sparkling 
light, so that Santa Claus, with his arms 
stretched out behind the departing cow- 
puncher, seemed to be smiling more broad- 
ly from the midst of his flickering brill- 
iance. 





li NEWTON 



Aav 





rv 

Turkey and Responsibility 

On their way to ttirkey^ the host and his 
guests exchanged btit few remarks* He 
was fall of good-will, and threw off a com- 
ment or two that would have led to con- 
versation wnder almost any circumstances 
^ ■ m J",. ^ save these; bat the minds of the gaests 
- were too distracted by this whole state of 
things for them to be capable of more 
athan keeping after Mr. McLean in silence, 
M at a wary interval, and with their moaths, 
daring most of the joarney, open. The 
badge, the pistol, their patron's talk, and 
the anasaal dollars wakened wide their 
50 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

bent for the unexpected, their street af- 
finity for the spur of the moment; they 
believed slimly in the turkey part of it, 
bat what this man might do next, to be 
there when he did it, and not to be trap- 
ped, kept their wits jumping delicioasly; 
so when they saw him stop they stopped 
instantly, too, ten feet out of reach. This 
was Denver's most civilized restaurant — 
that one which Mr. McLean had remem- 
bered, with foreign dishes and private 
rooms, where he had promised himself, 
among other things, champagne. Mr. 
McLean had never been inside it, but 
heard a tale from a friend; and now he 
caught a sudden sight of people among 
geraniums, with plumes and white shirt- 
fronts, very elegant. It must have been 
several minutes that he stood contemplat- 
51 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

ing the entrance and the laxurious couples 
who went in. 

**PIwmb French!*' he observed, at length; 
and then, *^ Shacks!" in a key less confi- 
dent, while his gtiests ten feet away watch- 
ed him narrowly. ** They're eatin' patty 
de parley-voo in there/' he muttered, and 
the three bootblacks came beside him. 
"Say, fellows," said Lin, confidingly, *'I 
wasn't raised good enough for them dude 
dishes. What do yu' say! I'm after a 
place where yu' can mention oyster stoo 
without givin' anybody a fit. What do 
yu' say, boys?" 

That lighted the divine spark of broth- 
erhood! 

*'Ah, you come along with us — we'll 
take yer! You don't want to go in there* 
We'll show yer the boss place in Market 
52 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

Street. We won't lose yer/' So, shoot- 
ing together in their shrill little city trebles, 
they clustered about him, and one pulled 
at his coat to start him. He started obe- 
diently, and walked in their charge, they 
leading the way. 

** Christmas is comin' now, sure," said 
Lin, grinning to himself. **It ain't exact- 
ly what I figured on." It was the first 
time he had laughed since Cheyenne, and 
he brushed a hand over his eyes, that 
were dim with the new warmth in his 
heart. 

Believing at length in him and his tur- 
key, the alert street faces, so suspicious 
of the unknown, looked at him with ready 
intimacy as they went along; and soon, in 
the friendly desire to make him acquainted 
with Denver, the three were patronizing 
53 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

him. Only Billy, perhaps, now and then 
stole at him a dotibtftjl look. 

The large Cotintry Moose listened sol- 
emnly to his three Town Mice, who pres- 
ently introduced him to the place in Mar- 
ket Street. It was not boss, precisely, 
and Denver knows better neighborhoods; 
hut the turkey and the oyster-stew were 
there, with catsup and vegetables in sea- 
son, and several choices of pie. Here the 
Country Mouse became again efficient; 
and to witness his liberal mastery of or- 
dering and imagine his pocket and its 
wealth, which they had heard and partly 
seen, renewed in the guests a transient 
awe. As they dined, however, and found 
the host as frankly ravenous as themselves, 
this reticence evaporated, and they all 

grew fluent with oaths and opinions. At 
54 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

one or two words, indeed, Mr. McLean 
stared and had a slight sense of blushing. 

"Have a cigarette?" said the leader, 
over his pie. 

** Thank yu** said Lin. " I won't smoke, 
if you'll excuse me." He had devised a 
wholesome meal with water to drink. 

"Chewin's no good at meals," continued 
the boy. ** Don't yo« «se tobacker?" 

**Onced in a while." 

The leader spat brightly. "He 'ain't 
learned yet," said he, slanting his elbows 
at Billy and sliding a match over his rump. 
**Btft beer, now — I never seen anything 
in it." He and Towhead soon left Billy 
and his callow profanities behind, and en- 
gaged in a town conversation that silenced 
him, and set him listening with all his 
admiring yo«ng might. Nor did Mr. i^i{ 
55 






UJ ' 



V ^^• 



y 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 





McLean join in the talk^ but sat embar- 
rassed by this knowledge, which seemed 
abotJt as much as he knew himself. 

**m be goshed/' he thoaght, **ii Fd 
caaght on to half that when I was streak- 
in* arotind in short pants! Maybe they 
grow «p quicker now/* Bat now the Coun- 
try Mouse perceived Billy's eager and at- 
tentive apprenticeship. "Hello, boys!'* he 
said/* that theatre's got a big start on us." 

They had all forgotten he had said any- 
thing about theatre; and other topics left 
their impatient minds while the Country 
Mouse paid the bill and asked to be guided 
to the Opera-house. "This man here will 
look out for your blackin' and truck, and 
let yu' have it in the morning." 

They were very late. The spectacle had 
advanced far into passages of the highest 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

thrill, and Denver's eyes were riveted apon 
a ship and some icebergs. The party 
foand its seats during several beatttiful 
lime-Iight ef fects, and that remarkable fly- 
bttzzing of violins which is pronounced so 
helpful in times of peril and sentiment. 
The children of Captain Grant had been 
tracking their father all over the equator 
and other scenic spots, and now the north 
pole was about to impale them. The 
Captain's youngest child, perceiving a 
hummock rushing at them with a sudden 
motion, loudly shouted, '* Sister, the ice 
is closing in!" and Sister replied, chastely, 
''Then let us pray." It was a superb 
tableau: the ice split, and the sun rose and 
joggled at once to the zenith. The act- 
drop fell, and male Denver, wrung to its 
religious deeps, went out to the rum-shop. 
57 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

Of coarse Mr. McLean and his party did 
not do this. The party had applauded 
exceedingly the defeat of the elements, 
and the leader, with Towhead, discussed 
the probable chances of the ship's getting 
farther south in the next act. Until lately 
Billy's doubt of the cow-puncher had lin- 
gered; but during this intermission what- 
ever had been holding out in him seemed 
won, and in his eyes, that he turned 
stealthily upon his unconscious, quiet 
neighbor, shone the beginnings of hero- 
worship. 

** Don't you think this is splendid?" 
said he. 

''Splendid," Lin replied, a trifle re- 
motely. 

''Don't you like it when they all get 
balled up and get out that way?" 
58 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

*'Htfmming/' said Lin. 

** Don't you guess it's just girls, though, 
that do that?" 

**What, young fellow?*' u 

**Why, all that prayer-saying an' stuff." , 

**1 guess it must be." 

**She said to do it when the ice scared 
her, an' of course a man had to do what 
she wanted him." 

*'Sure." 

**WelI, do you believe they'd 'a' done 
it if she hadn't been on that boat, an' 
clung around an' cried an' everything, an' 
made her friends feel bad?" 

"I hardly expect they would," replied 
the honest Lin, and then, suddenly mind- 
ful of Billy, ''except there wasn't nothin'f 
else they could think of," he added, wish 
ing to speak favorably of the custom. 
59 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

**Why, that chonk of ice weren't so aw- 
ftjl big, anyhow. Td 'a' shoved her off 
with a pole. Wouldn't you?" 

*' Batted her like a ram/' exclaimed Mr. 
McLean. 

** Wellt I don't say my prayers any more. 
I told Mr. Perkins I wasn't a-going to, an' 
he — I think he's a flabdab, anyway." 

**Y{i bet he is!" said Lin, sympathetical- 
ly. He was scarcely a pradent guardian. 

**1 told him straight, an' he looked at 
met an' down he flops on his knees. An' 
he made 'em all flop, hut I told him I didn't 
care for them patting ap any camp-meet- 
ing over me; an' he says, ^I'll lick yoa,' an' 
I says, *Dare yoa to!' I told him mother 
kep' a-Iicking me for nothing, an' I'd not 
pray for her, not in Sanday-school or any- 
wheres else. Do yoa pray mach?" 
60 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

**No/' replied Lin, uneasily. 

"There! I told him a man didnH, an' 
he said then a man went to hell. *Yoa 
lie; father ain't going to hell/ I says, and 
you'd ought to heard the first class lattgh 
right ottt loud, girls an' boys. An' he was 
that mad! But I didn't care. I came 
here with fifty cents." 

**Y\i mttst have felt like a millionaire." 

**Ah, I felt all right! I bought papers 
an' sold 'em, an' got more an' saved, an' 
got my box an' blacking outfit. I weren't 
going to be licked by her just because she 
felt like it, an' she feeling like it most any 
time. Lemme see your pistol." 

**You wait," said Lin. "After this 
show is through I'll put it on you." 

"Will you, honest? Belt an' every- 
thing? Did you ever shoot a bear?" 
61 





1 oP.-;^3 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

''Lord! lots/' 

''Honest? Silver-tips?'' 

"Silver-tipst cinnamon, black; and I 
roped a cub onced/' 

"0-h! I never shot a bear." 

"You'd ought to try it." 

"I'm a-going to. I'm a-going to camp 
out in the mountains. I'd like to see you 
when you camp. I'd like to camp with 
you. Mightn't I some time?" Billy had 
drawn nearer to Lin, and was looking up 
at him adoringly. 

"You bet!" said Lin; and though he 

did not, perhaps, entirely mean this, it 

was with a curiously softened face that he 

began to look at Billy. As with dogs and 

his horse, so always he played with what 

children he met — the few in his sage-brush 

world; but this was ceasing to be quite 
62 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

play for him, and his hand went to the 
boy's shoulder. 

''Father took me camping with him 
once, the time mother was off. Father 
gets awftil drunk, too. I've quit Laramie 
for good." 

Lin sat up, and his hand gripped the 
boy. ''Laramie!" said he, almost shout- 
ing it. "Yu' — yu' — is your name Lusk?" 

But the boy had shrunk from him in- 
stantly. "You're not going to take me 
home?" he piteously wailed. 

"Heavens and heavens !" murmured Lin 
McLean. "So yu're her kid!" 

He relaxed again, down in his chair, his 
legs stretched their straight length below 
the chair in front. He was waked from 
his bewilderment by a brushing under 
him, and there was young Billy diving 
63 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

for escape to the aisle, like the cornered 
City Moase that he was. Lin nipped that 
poor little attempt and had the limp Billy 
seated inside again before the two in dis- 
cussion beyond had seen anything. He 
had said not a word to the boy, and now 
watched his unhappy eyes seizing upon 
the various exits and dispositions of the 
theatre; nor could he imagine anything 
to tell him that should restore the perished 
confidence. "Why did yu* head him off?** 
he asked himself, unexpectedly, and found 
that he did not seem to know; but as he 
watched the restless and estranged run- 
away he grew more and more sorrowful. 
**1 just hate him to think that of me,*' 
he reflected. The curtain rose, and he 
saw Billy make up his mind to wait until 
they should all be going out in the crowd. 






> ; 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

While the children of Captain Grant grew 
hotter and hotter tjpon their father's geo- 
graphic trailt Lin sat saying to himself a-,^ 
number of contradictions. **He's noth- 
in' to me. What's any of them to me?" 
Driven to bay by his bewilderment, he 
restated the facts of the past. **Why, 
she'd deserted him and Lask before she'd 
ever laid eyes on me. I needn't to bother 
myself. He wasn't never even my step- 
kid." The past, however, broaght no guid- 
ance. *Xord, what's the tfiing to do about 
this? If I had any home — This is a stinkin' 
world in some respects," said Mr. McLean, 
aloud, unknowingly. The lady in the chair 
beneath which the cow-puncher had his 
legs nudged her husband. They took it for 
emotion over the sad fortunes of Captain 
Grant, and their backs shook. Presently 
65 





r 



r -e-tt? f^^ {==1* 



Y>\ 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

each ttirned» and saw the singular man 
with untamed, wide-open eyes glowing at 
the stage, and both backs shook again. 

Once more his hand was laid on Billy. 
**Sayr 

The boy glanced at him, and quickly 
away. 

**Look at me, and listen." 

Billy swervingly obeyed. 

**I ain*t after ytt', and never was. This 
here's yotir business, not mine. Are ya* 
listenin' good?" 

The boy made a nod, and Lin proceeded, 
whispering: **YoaVe got no call to believe 
what I say to yu* — yaVe been lied to, I 
guess, pretty often. So 1*11 not stop yti* 
rannin' and hidin*, and I'll never give it 
away I saw yti', btit yu' keep doin* what 
y\i please. I'll jtist go now. IVe saw 
66 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 



all I want, bat you and yoar friends stay 
with it till it quits. If yu' fiappen to wisli 
to speak to me about that pistol or bears, 
yu' come around to Smith's Palace — that's 
the boss hotel here, ain't it? — and if yu* 
don't come too late I'll not be gone to 
bed. By this time of night I'm liable to 
get sleepy. Tell your friends good-bye 
for me, and be good to yourself. I've 
appreciated your company." 

Mr. McLean entered Smith's Palace, 
and, engaging a room with two beds in it, 
did a little delicate lying by means of the 
truth. ^*It's a lost boy — a runaway," he 
told the clerk. "He'll not be extra clean, 
I expect, if he does come. Maybe he'U 
give me the slip, and I'll have a job cut 
out to-morrow. I'll thank yu' to put my 
money in your safe." 
67 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

The clerk placed himself at the disposal 
of the secret service, and Lin walked tip 
and down, looking at the railroad photo- 
graphs for some ten mintrtes, when Master 
Billy peered in from the street. 

"Hello!" said Mr. McLean, casually, 
and returned to a fine picture of Pike's 
Peak. 

Billy observed him for a space, and, re- 
ceiving no further attention, came step- 
ping along. "I'm not a-going back to 
Laramie,** he stated, warningly. 

"I wouldn't,** said Lin. "It ain*t half 
the town Denver is. Well, good-night. 
Sorry yu* couldn't call sooner — Fm dead 
sleepy." 

"O-h!** Billy stood blank. "I wish 

I'd shook the darned old show. Say, 

lemme black your boots in the morning?" 
68 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

"Not sare my train don't go too 
early/' 

**Ym up! I'm up! I get around to all 
of 'em." 

"Where do yu' sleep?" 

"Sleeping with the engine-man now. 
Why can't you put that on me to-night?" 

"Goin' up - stairs. This gentleman 
wouldn't let yu' go up-stairs." 

But the earnestly petitioned clerk con- 
sented, and Billy was the first to hasten 
into the room. He stood rapturous while 
Lin buckled the belt round his scanty 
stomach, and ingeniously buttoned the 
suspenders outside the accoutrement to { 
retard its immediate descent to earth. 

"Did it ever kill a man?" asked Billy, 
touching the six-shooter. \ 

"No. It 'ain't never had to do that, 

69 \ 






I 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

bat I expect maybe it*s stopped some 
killin* me.'* 

**0h, leave me wear it jtfst a minute! 
Do yoti collect arrow-heads? I think 
they're bully. There's the finest one you 
ever seen." He brought out the relic, 
tightly wrapped in paper, several pieces. 
**1 foun' it myself t camping with father. 
It was sticking in a crack right on top of 
a rock, but nobody'd seen it till I came 
along. Ain't it fine?" 

Mr. McLean pronounced it a gem. 

** Father an' me found a lot, an' they 
made mother mad lying around, an' she 
throwed 'em out. She takes stuff from 
Kelley's." 

"Who's Kelley?" 

"He keeps the drug-store at Laramie. 

Mother gets awful funny. That's how 
70 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

she was when I came home. For I told 
Mr. Perkins he lied, an' I ran then. An' 
I knowed well enough she'd lick me when 
she got through her spell — an' father can't 
stop her, an' I — ah, I was sick of it! She's 
lamed me up twice beating me — an' Per- 
kins wanting me to say *God bless my 
mother!' a-getting up and a-going to bed 
— he's a flubdub ! An' so I cleared out. 
But I'd just as leaves said for God to 
bless father — an' you. I'll do it now if 
you say it's any sense." 

Mr. McLean sat down in a chair. ** Don't 
yu' do it now," said he. 

"You wouldn't like mother," Billy con- 
tinued. *'You can keep that." He came 
to Lin and placed the arrow-head in fiis 
hands, standing beside him. **Do you 

like birds' eggs? I collect them. I got il^^t 
71 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

twenty-five kinds — sage-hen» an' blue 
gfowse^ an* willow-grotjse, an' lots more 
kinds harder — hut I couldn't bring all 
them from Laramie. I brought the mag- 
pie's, though. D' you care to see a mag- 
pie egg? Well, you stay to-morrow an* 
I'll show yoti that an' some other things I 
got the engine-man lets me keep there, for 
there's boys that would steal an egg. An' 
I could take you where we could fire that 
pistol. Bet you don't know what that is!" 

He brought out a small tin box shaped 
like a thimble, in which were things that 
rattled. 

Mr. McLean gave it up. 

** That's kinni-kinnic seed. You can 
have that, for I got some more with the 
engine-man." 

Lin received this second token also, and 
72 





A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

thanked the giver for it. His first feeling 
had been to prevent the boy's parting with 
his treastirest btit something that came not 
from the polish of manners and experience 
made him know that he should take them. 
Billy talked away, laying bare his little 
sool ; the street boy that was not quite 
come made place for the child that was not 
quite gone, and unimportant words and 
confidences dropped from him disjointed 
as he climbed to the knee of Mr. McLean, 
and inadvertently took that cow-puncher 
for some sort of parent he had not hitherto 
met. It lasted but a short while, how- 
ever, for he went to sleep in the middle of 
a sentence, with his head upon Lin's breast. 
The man held him perfectly still, because 
he had not the faintest notion that Billy 

would be impossible to disturb. At length 
73 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

he spoke to him, suggesting that bed might 
prove more comfortable; and, finding how 
it was, rose and undressed the boy and 
laid him between the sheets. The arms 
and legs seemed aware of the moves re- 
quired of them, and stirred conveniently; 
and directly the head was upon the pillow 
the whole small frame burrowed down, 
without the opening of an eye or a change 
in the breathing. Lin stood some time 
by the bedside, with his eyes on the long, 
curling lashes and the curly hair. Then 
he glanced craftily at the door of the room, 
and at himself in the looking-glass. He 
stooped and kissed Billy on the forehead, 
and, rising from that, gave himself a hang- 
dog stare in the mirror, and soon in his 
own bed was sleeping the sound sleep of 

health. 

74 



Santa Qaus Lin 

He was faintly roased by the church- 
bells, and lay stillt lingering with his sleep, 
his eyes closed and his thoughts anshaped. 
As he became slowly aware of the morn- 
ing, the ringing and the light reached him, 
and he waked wholly, and, still lying qttiet, 
considered the strange room filled with the 
bells and the son of the winter's day. 
** Where have I struck now?" he inquired; 
and as last night returned abruptly upon 
his mind, he raised himself on his arm. 

There sat Responsibility in a chair, ^^ 
washed clean and dressed, watching him. 
75 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

** You're awftti late/' said Responsibil- 
ity. **B«t I weren't a-going without tell- 
ing you good-bye." 

**Go?" exclaimed Lin. **Go where? 
Yu' surely ain't leavin' me to eat break- 
fast alone?" The cow-puncher made his 
voice very plaintive. Set Responsibility 
free after all his trouble to catch him? 
This was more than he could do ! 

**I've got to go. If I'd thought you'd 
want for me to stay — why, you said you 
was a-going by the early train." 

*'But the durned thing's got away on 
me/' said Lin, smiling sweetly from the 
bed. 

**If I hadn't a-promised them — " 

"Who?" 

** Sidney Ellis and Pete Goode. "Why, 
you know them; you grubbed with them." 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

^^ Shucks!" 

''We're a-going to have fwn to-day/' 

''Oh!" 

"For it's Christmas, an' we've botight 
some good cigars, an' Pete says he'll learn 
me sure* 0' coarse I've smoked some, 
yoti know. B«t I'd jast as leaves stayed 
with yoo if I'd only knowed sooner. I 
wish yoa lived here. Did you smoke whole 
big cigars when you was beginning?" 

"Do yu' like flapjacks and maple 
syrup ?" inquired the artful McLean. 
"That's what I'm figuring on inside 
twenty minutes." 

"Twenty minutes! If they'd wait — " 

*'See here. Bill. They've quit expect- 
in' yu', don't yu' think? I'd ought to 
waked, yu' see, but I slep' and slep', and 
kep' yu' from meetin' your engagements, 
77 







A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

yti* see — for yoo co«Idn*t go, of cotifse. 
A man coaldn't treat a man that way 
now, could lie?" 

** Coarse he couldfit/* said Billy, bright- 
ening. 

**And they wouldn't wait, yu* see 
They wouldn't fool away Christmas, that 
only comes onced a year, kickin' their 
heels, and sayin* * Where's Billy?' They'd 
say, *BiII has sure made other arrange- 
ments, which he'll explain to us at his lees- 
yure/ And they'd skip with the cigars." 

The advocate paused, effectively, and 
from his bolster regarded Billy with a con- 
vincing eye. 

** That's so," said Billy. 

**And where would yu' be then. Bill? 
In the street, out of friends, out of Christ- 
mas, and left both ways, no tobacker and 
78 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

no flapjacks. Now, Bill, what do yu say 
to us puttin' up a Christmas deal together? 
Jost yoa and me?" 

'^'d like that," said BiUy. "Is it all 
day?" 

**I was thinkin' of all day," said Lin* 
**V{\ not make yu do anything yti'd rather 
not." 

*'Ah, they can smoke without me," said 
Billy, with sudden acrimony. "I'll sec 
'em to-morro'." 

** That's yu' !" cried Mr. McLean. "Now, 
Bill, you hustle down and tell them to 
keep a table for us. I'll get my clothes 
on and follow yu'." 

The boy went, and Mr. McLean procured 

hot water and dressed himself, tying his 

scarf with great care. " Wished I'd a clean 

shirt," said he. "But I don't look very 
79 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

bad. Shavin* yesterday afternoon was a 
good move/* He picked «p the arrow- 
head and the kinni-kinnict and was partic- 
ular to store them in his safest pocket. 
**1 ain^t sare whether yoa're crazy or not/* 
said he to the man in the looking-glass. 
**I 'ain't never been sure." And he slam- 
med the door and went down-stairs. 

He foand yoting Bill on gward over a 
table for four, with all the chairs tilted 
against it as a warning to strangers. No 
one sat at any other table or came into the 
room, for it was late, and the place quite 
emptied of breakfasters, and the several 
entertained waiters had gathered behind 
Billy's important-looking back. Lin pro- 
A vided a thorough meal, and Billy pro- 
nounced the flannel cakes superior to flap- 
jacks, which were not upon the bill of fare. 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

"I'd like to see yoo often/* said he. 
"I'll come and see yott if you don't live 
too far/* V 

'That's the troable/' said the cow- 
ptjncher. ** I do. Awfol far." He stared 
otit of the window. 

"Wellt I might come some time. I 
wish yotj'd write me a letter. Can you 
write ?" 

"What's that? Can I write? Oh yes." 

"I can write, an' I can read, too. I've 
been to school in Sidney, Nebraska, an' 
Magaw, Kansas, an' Salt Lake — that's the 
finest town except Denver." 

Billy fell into that cheerful strain of 

comment which, tinreplied to, yet goes 

on content and self-sustaining, while Mr. 

McLean gave amiable signs of assent, but 

cfiiefly looked out of the window; and when 
81 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

the now interested waiter said, respectfully, 
that he desired to close the room, they 
went out to the office, where the money 
was got otit of the safe and the bill paid. 

The streets were full of the bright sun, 
and seemingly at Denver's gates stood the 
mountains; an air crisp and pleasant wafted 
from their peaks; no smoke hung among 
the roofs, and the sky spread wide over 
the city without a stain; it was holiday 
up among the chimneys and tall buildings, 
and down among the quiet ground-stories 
below as well; and presently from their 
scattered pinnacles through the town the 
bells broke out against the jocund silence 
of the morning. 

** Don't you like music?" inquired Billy. 

**Yes," said Lin. 

Ladies with their husbands and children 

82 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

were passing and meeting, orderly yet 
gayer than if it were only Sunday, and the 
salutations of Christmas came now and 
again to the cow-p«ncher's ears; but to- 
day, possessor of his own share in this, Lin 
looked at every one with a sort of friendly 
challenge, and young Billy talked along j 
beside him. 

''Don't you think we could go in here?** 
Billy asked. A church door was open, 
and the rich organ sounded through to 
the pavement. ** They Ve good music here, 
an* they keep it up without much talking 
between. I've been in lots of times." 

They went in and sat to hear the music. 
Better than the organ, it seemed to them, 
were the harmonious voices raised from 
somewhere outside, like unexpected visit- 
ants; and the pair sat in their back seat. 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

too deep in listening to the processional 
hymn to think of rising in decent imitation 
of those around them. The crystal mel- 
ody of the refrain especially reached their 
understandings, and when for the fourth 
time **Showt the glad tidings, extiltingly 
sing," pealed forth and ceased, both the 
delighted faces fell. 

** Don't yoti wish there was more?" Billy 
whispered. 

"Wish there was a hundred verses," an- 
swered Lin. 

But canticles and responses followed, 
with so little talking between them they 
were held spellbound, seldom tfiinking to 
rise or kneel. Lin's eyes roved over the 
church, dwelling upon the pillars in their 
evergreen, the flowers and leafy wreaths, 

the texts of white and gold. ** * Peace, 
M 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

good-will towards men,' ** he read. "That's 
so. Peace and good-will. Yes, that's so. 
I expect they got that somewheres in the 
Bible. It's awful good, and yotj'd never 
think of it yourself." 

There was a touch on his arm, and a 
woman handed a book to him. ''This is 
the hymn we have now," she whispered, 
gently; and Lin, blushing scarlet, took it 
passively without a word. He and Billy 
stood up and held the book together, 
dutifully reading the words: 

" It came upon the midnight clear, 
That glorious song of old. 
From angels bending near the earth 

To touch their harps of gold ; 
Peace on the earth — " 



This tune was more beautiful than all, 
and Lin lost himself in it, until he found 

85 \ 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 





Billy recalling him with a finger upon the 
words, the concluding ones : 

" And the whole world sent back the song 
Which now the angels sing." 

The music rose and descended to its lovely 
and simple end; and, for a second time in 
Denver, Lin brushed a hand across his eyes. 
He turned his face from his neighbor, 
frowning crossly; and since the heart has 
reasons which Reason does not know, he 
seemed to himself a fool; but when the 
service was over and he came out, he 
repeated again, *** Peace and good -will/ 
When I run on to the Bishop of Wyoming 
rn tell him if he'll preach on them words 
ril be there/' 
') ** Couldn't we shoot your pistol now?" 
asked Billy. 

86 














'^■f 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

" Sore, boy. Ain't yu' hungry, though ?" 

"No. I wish we were away off op there. 
Don't yoo?" 

''The moontains? They look pretty — 
so white! A heap better 'n hooses. Why, 
we'll go there! There's trains to Golden. 
We'll shoot aroond among the foot-hills." 

To Golden they immediately went, and, 
after a meal there, wandered in the open 
coontry ontil the cartridges were gone, the 
son was low, and Billy was walked off his 
yoong heels — a troth he learned complete 
in one horrid moment and battled to con- 
ceal. 

■"Lame!" he echoed, angrily. "I ain't. 

"Shocks!" said Lin, after the next ten 
steps. "Yoo are, and both feet." 

"Tell yoo, there's stones here, an' I'm 
jost a-skipping them." 
87 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

Lin, briefly, took the boy in his arms and 
carried him to Golden. **Tm played out 
myself," he said, sitting in the hotel and 
looking Itigabriotjsly at Billy on a bed* 
*'And I ain't fit to have charge of a hog.** 
He came and pot his hand on the boy's 
head. 

**Ttn not sick," said the cripple. **I 
tell you I'm bolly. Yoa wait an' see me 
eat dinner." 

But Lin had hot water and cold water 
and salt, and was an hoar upon Iiis knees 
bathing the hot feet. And then Billy coald 
not eat dinner. 

There was a doctor in Golden; bat in 
spite of his light prescription and most 
reasonable observations, Mr. McLean pass- 
ed a foolish night of vigil, while Billy slept, 

quite well at first, and, as the hoars passed, 
88 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 



better and better. In the morning he was 
entirely brisk, though stiff. 

**1 cottldn't work qwick to-day," he said. 
**Bat I guess one day won't lose me my 
trade." 

**How d* yu mean?" asked Lin. 

**Why, I've got regulars, you know. 
Sidney Ellis an' Pete Goode has theirs^ 
an' we don't cut each other. I've got Mr. 
Daniels an' Mr. Fisher an' lots, an' if you 
lived in Denver I'd shine your boots every 
day for nothing. I wished you lived in 
Denver." 

^* Shine my boots? Yu'II never! And 
yu' don't black Daniels or Fisher, or any of 
the outfit." 

**"Why, I'm doing first-rate," said Billy, 

surprised at the swearing into wliich Mr. 

McLean now burst. 
S9 








A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

enough to get to make money at any other 
job." 

**I want to see that engine-man/' mat- 
tered Lin. **I don't like yotir smokin' 
friend/' 

**Pete Goode? Why, he's awfal smart. 
Don't yoa think he's smart ?" 

*' Smart's nothin'," observed Mr. Mc- 
Lean. 

*^Pete has learned me and Sidney a lot/* 
pursued Billy, engagingly. 

I'll bet he has!" growled the cow-punch- 
er; and again Billy was taken aback at his 
language. 

It was not so simple, this case. To the 
perturbed mind of Mr. McLean it grew 
less simple during that day at Golden, 
while Billy recovered, and talked, and ate 
his innocent meals. The cow-puncher 
90 




A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 

was far too wise to think for a single mo- 
ment of restoring the runaway to his de- 
bauched and shiftless parents. Possessed 
of some imagination, he went through a U 
scene in which he appeared at the Losk 
threshold with Billy and forgiveness, and 
intruded upon a conjugal assault and bat- 
tery. *' Shucks!" said he. *'The kid 
would be off again inside a week. And I 
don't want him there, anyway." 

Denver, upon the following day, saw 
the little bootblack again at his corner, 
with his trade not lost; but near him stood 
a tall, singular man, with hazel eyes and 
a sulky expression. And citizens during^ 
that week noticed, as a new sight in the 
streets, the tall man and the little boy walk-G 
ing together. Sometimes they would be iriK^ 
shops. The boy seemed as happy as pos 






A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 



'^-4/£ 





sible, talking constantly, while the man sel- 
dom said a word, and his face was serious. 

Upon New Year's Eve Governor Bar- 
ker was overtaken by Mr. McLean riding 
a horse ap Hill Street, Cheyenne. 

''Hello!'" said Barker, staring hamor- 
otjsly through his glasses. "Have a good 
drank ?" 

** Changed my mind," said Lin, grinning. 
"Proves I've got one. Struck Christmas 
all right, though." 

''Who's your friend?" inquired his Ex- 
cellency. 

"This is Mister Billy Lusk. Him and 

me have agreed that towns ain't nice to 

live in. If Judge Henry's foreman and 

his wife won't board him at Sunk Creek — 

why, I'll fix it somehow." 
92 



A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS 



The cow-pwncher and his Responsibility 
rode on together towards the open plain. 

''Suffering Moses!" remarked his Ex- 
cellency. 



THE END 







V ^^\. 



''hr^ 







i«v.i^g^feQ£i!it{!(:^ihl^it^l^