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From Each According To His Ability
by [?]

“Will he ask if we have heard the latest from Denver?” said a member, squirming in his chair.

“Will he mention the new twenty-three-story Masonic Temple, in Quincy, Ill.?” inquired another, dropping his nose-glasses.

“Will he spring one of those Western Mississippi River catfish stories, in which they use yearling calves for bait?” demanded Kirk, fiercely.

“Be comforted,” said Vuyning. “He has none of the little vices. He is a burglar and safe-blower, and a pal of mine.”

“Oh, Mary Ann!” said they. “Must you always adorn every statement with your alleged humor?”

It came to pass that at eight in the evening a calm, smooth, brilliant, affable man sat at Vuyning’s right hand during dinner. And when the ones who pass their lives in city streets spoke of skyscrapers or of the little Czar on his far, frozen throne, or of insignificant fish from inconsequential streams, this big, deep-chested man, faultlessly clothed, and eyed like an Emperor, disposed of their Lilliputian chatter with a wink of his eyelash.

And then he painted for them with hard, broad strokes a marvellous lingual panorama of the West. He stacked snow-topped mountains on the table, freezing the hot dishes of the waiting diners. With a wave of his hand he swept the clubhouse into a pine-crowned gorge, turning the waiters into a grim posse, and each listener into a blood-stained fugitive, climbing with torn fingers upon the ensanguined rocks. He touched the table and spake, and the five panted as they gazed on barren lava beds, and each man took his tongue between his teeth and felt his mouth bake at the tale of a land empty of water and food. As simply as Homer sang, while he dug a tine of his fork leisurely into the tablecloth, he opened a new world to their view, as does one who tells a child of the Looking-Glass Country.

As one of his listeners might have spoken of tea too strong at a Madison Square “afternoon,” so he depicted the ravages of “redeye” in a border town when the caballeros of the lariat and “forty-five” reduced ennui to a minimum.

And then, with a sweep of his white, unringed hands, he dismissed Melpomene, and forthwith Diana and Amaryllis footed it before the mind’s eyes of the clubmen.

The savannas of the continent spread before them. The wind, humming through a hundred leagues of sage brush and mesquite, closed their ears to the city’s staccato noises. He told them of camps, of ranches marooned in a sea of fragrant prairie blossoms, of gallops in the stilly night that Apollo would have forsaken his daytime steeds to enjoy; he read them the great, rough epic of the cattle and the hills that have not been spoiled by the hand of man, the mason. His words were a telescope to the city men, whose eyes had looked upon Youngstown, O., and whose tongues had called it “West.”

In fact, Emerson had them “going.”

The next morning at ten he met Vuyning, by appointment, at a Forty-second Street cafe.

Emerson was to leave for the West that day. He wore a suit of dark cheviot that looked to have been draped upon him by an ancient Grecian tailor who was a few thousand years ahead of the styles.

“Mr. Vuyning,” said he, with the clear, ingenuous smile of the successful “crook,” “it’s up to me to go the limit for you any time I can do so. You’re the real thing; and if I can ever return the favor, you bet your life I’ll do it.”

“What was that cow-puncher’s name?” asked Vuyning, “who used to catch a mustang by the nose and mane, and throw him till he put the bridle on?”

“Bates,” said Emerson.

“Thanks,” said Vuyning. “I thought it was Yates. Oh, about that toggery business–I’d forgotten that.”

“I’ve been looking for some guy to put me on the right track for years,” said Emerson. “You’re the goods, duty free, and half-way to the warehouse in a red wagon.”

“Bacon, toasted on a green willow switch over red coals, ought to put broiled lobsters out of business,” said Vuyning. “And you say a horse at the end of a thirty-foot rope can’t pull a ten-inch stake out of wet prairie? Well, good-bye, old man, if you must be off.”

At one o’clock Vuyning had luncheon with Miss Allison by previous arrangement.

For thirty minutes he babbled to her, unaccountably, of ranches, horses, canons, cyclones, round-ups, Rocky Mountains and beans and bacon. She looked at him with wondering and half-terrified eyes.

“I was going to propose again to-day,” said Vuyning, cheerily, “but I won’t. I’ve worried you often enough. You know dad has a ranch in Colorado. What’s the good of staying here? Jumping jonquils! but it’s great out there. I’m going to start next Tuesday.”

“No, you won’t,” said Miss Allison.

“What?” said Vuyning.

“Not alone,” said Miss Allison, dropping a tear upon her salad. “What do you think?”

“Betty!” exclaimed Vuyning, “what do you mean?

“I’ll go too,” said Miss Allison, forcibly. Vuyning filled her glass with Apollinaris.

“Here’s to Rowdy the Dude!” he gave–a toast mysterious.

“Don’t know him,” said Miss Allison; “but if he’s your friend, Jimmy–here goes!”