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One Touch Of Nature
by [?]

“Pretty good cigar this,” remarked the Cowboy.

The Eastern man nodded.

“Nowadays we can buy good ones out where I live, but ‘twa’n’t very long ago when good cigars were as rare out there as buffaloes are now round Kansas City.”

“The enormous increase in population in some of your Western cities is astonishing,” remarked the Eastern man.

The Cowboy glanced at him with an amused smile. The Eastern man smiled back good-naturedly.

“What’s the joke?” he asked.

“Oh, nothin’,” answered the Cowboy, “only I was thinkin’ maybe you didn’t live out West.”

“No, I am a New Yorker,” answered the Eastern man.

“Well, I guess they raise pretty good men in both places,” remarked the Cowboy.

“Our late war proved that, I think.”

The train had stopped, but there were no signs of a station, although two or three rather dilapidated houses and a typical Western saloon could be seen a short distance ahead.

“Wonder what we are stopping here for,” remarked the Cowboy; “it strikes me we’ve been here a pretty long time.”

Just then the porter passed the door of the smoking compartment, and the Cowboy called to him:

“Say, porter, what’s the matter? Seems to me we have been stoppin’ here a whole lot. What’s the name of this metropolis?”

“It’s mighty lucky you’ve got whole necks,” answered the porter. “The eccentric, or something about the engine, is broke, and we came mighty near having a bad accident. They’ve sent on for another engine.”

“That’s pleasant,” remarked the Eastern man. “How long do you think we shall have to stay here before the other engine arrives?”

“Give it up,” said the porter. “Maybe an hour, maybe two; can’t tell exactly. The train conductor will be along pretty soon and he will know all about it.”

“Guess I’ll have to appoint myself a committee of one to investigate,” remarked the Cowboy.

He arose and went out on the platform of the car, followed by the Eastern man. They climbed down and walked forward to where they saw a crowd gathered about the engine. The eccentric rod had broken short off, and had the engine not been slowing up at the time, the result might have been serious.

The two men strolled down the track for a short distance, and the Cowboy discovered a small colony of prairie dogs. Several of the comical little creatures were sitting on their hind legs on the mounds beside their holes ready to disappear at the least sign of danger. Occasionally one would run from one hole to another a short distance away, usually diving out of sight, to reappear again in a few moments when satisfied that there was no immediate cause for alarm.

The Cowboy amused himself by listlessly throwing small stones at the little animals. After a few moments of this he turned to the Eastern man and said:

“Say, I am goin’ to take a little stroll over yonder towards that luxurious mansion and get a drink from the well. Want to go along?”

“With pleasure,” answered the Eastern man.

The two strolled slowly towards the house, which was decidedly in need of repair. The fence surrounding it was broken down in many places, weeds and grass filled the little yard in which there were still evidences of some past attempts at ornamentation in the way of flower-beds, and the whole place gave evidence of poverty and lack of care. On the porch was seated a girl apparently between twelve and fourteen years of age. She was hugging an immense shaggy dog and crying as if her heart would break.

“What’s the matter, sis?” sympathetically inquired the Cowboy.

“Oh, sir (sob), Jake’s goin’ to kill my Rover.”

“What for?”

The sobs subsided a little and the girl looked up, wiping her eyes on her torn apron.

“Why, he bited Jake because he tried to kiss me and I didn’t–want him to–and they are goin’ to come and kill him.”

“Who is goin’ to come and kill him?”