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An Arizona Episode
by [?]


Wendell Harrison was a club man with no ambition in life beyond making his small income pay his club fees, and leave enough for him to live in the manner peculiar to young men of his class. His one hope in life, as he often told his particular crony, was to find a rich wife, and it seemed to Harrison that chance had played into his hands when he received an invitation from old John Stiversant to join his party on a trip to the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona.

Harrison had met old Stiversant on the yacht of a mutual friend a few weeks before, and knowing how to make himself agreeable he had done so to the best of his ability, with the result that he had been asked to make one of a party on this western trip in Mr. Stiversant’s private car.

“Good luck to you, old man,” said his chum as he was leaving the club on his way to the station. “Go in and win.”

“Trust me for that,” answered Harrison.

The trip out proved a delightful one. Miss Nellie Stiversant, the young lady who, Harrison had decided, was the most likely catch, did not prove as easy as he imagined. While charming and agreeable, she had evidently seen more or less of the world, and was not to be gathered in by the first man who made up his mind he would like to have her ornament his home. Likewise, she was a girl with common sense, and knowing her position and advantages did not lose her head when a man showed an inclination for her society. In fact, just before the party arrived in Flagstaff she had made it very evident that she did not care for serious attentions from any one. She was, however, of a decidedly romantic nature, and Harrison pondered deep and long as to the best method of gaining her affections. Late that evening he was reading a sensational novel, when suddenly he laid it down and a far-away look came into his eyes.

“By Jove,” he muttered, “the very thing–on this very road too. Whether the story is true or not, it is reasonable enough, although a trifle dramatic, but that is what is wanted to attract a girl like Nell. She don’t care for me and never will, and all she wants is excitement and novelty, but if she thinks I saved her life or risked my own in protecting her, there might be a chance. In this story the chap had led rather a tough life, but had reformed, and the road-agents recognized him and knew he meant business. He got pretty well shot up, but the whole thing cast a halo around him, which would undoubtedly attract any romantic girl. Damn it, why couldn’t I do it? It is that or nothing, the trip will be over in two weeks, and it is pretty evident that I am not in it unless something extraordinary happens.”


The saloon was pretty well filled with a sprinkling of miners, Mexicans, and ranchers. Men in blue overalls, flannel shirts, and wide-brimmed hats were playing the different games of chance or standing in groups in front of the bar. A harsh brass-sounding piano on a raised platform at the end of the room was being played by a short-haired individual in a dress suit, and a young lady who evidently did not object to the calsomining process to aid nature was singing a topical song. In the corner stood Wendell Harrison surrounded by four rough-looking men, who seemed very much interested in what he was saying.

“Now I think you understand thoroughly what is required,” said Harrison. “I am to pay you five dollars each now, and twenty dollars each when the job is done, likewise if it comes off successfully and the bluff works I am to give you twenty dollars more upon our return to Flagstaff. Don’t forget to carry out the plan exactly as we have agreed. When I spring from the coach waving my pistol and firing blank cartridges, one of you is to shout, ‘Fighting Harrison, by God!’ and shoot two or three times as you run. The thing is easy, but requires a little judgment. I do not care where you stop the stage. Stop it any old place, but not too near Flagstaff. I shall be alone in the coach with an old man and two young girls, so there is not the slightest danger, and I will see that the old man is unarmed.”