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The Passing Of John Ringo
by [?]

There were all kinds of bad men in the days of the old West. John Ringo was one sort and Buckskin Frank was another. While this tale deals most with the former, still it concerns the two of them.

In its wild youth the town of Tombstone knew both men. To this day the old-timers who witnessed the swift march of events during the years 1879, 1880, and 1881 will tell you of their deeds. But things were happening fast when those deeds took place. There was, if one may be allowed to use a poetic figure, a good deal of powder-smoke floating in the air to obscure the vision. And so although no men were ever more just in passing judgment than these same old-timers, the story has its sardonic ending.

John Ringo was the big “He Wolf” among the outlaws, a man of quick intelligence who did not seem to care much whether he or the other fellow died. To him who wants the ornate trappings of the motion-picture bad man or the dialect which makes some desperadoes popular in fiction, Ringo would prove a disappointing figure as he showed up in southeastern Arizona.

For he wore no hair chaps, nor do those who saw him tell of a knotted colored handkerchief about his throat. Like most of those riders who drifted into the territory when other portions of the West had grown too hot for them, his costume was unobtrusive: light-colored jean breeches tucked into his boot-tops, a flannel shirt and the gray Stetson peculiar to the country west of the Pecos, a limp-brimmed hat with a high crown, which may be creased after the old “Southern Gentleman” fashion but was most often left with such dents as come by accident. Of hardware he carried his full share; sometimes two forty-five revolvers and a Winchester; but if he were in town the arms were as likely as not concealed.

It would take a second look to separate him from the herd. That second look would show you a fine, lean form whose every movement was catlike in its grace, a dark face whose expression was usually sullen, whose eyes were nearly always somber; slender hands and small feet. And his speech, whenever you heard it, was sure to be comparatively free from the idioms of the region; the English was often more correct than otherwise. A man of parts, and he looked it; they all say that.

This was John Ringo. He had fought in one of those numerous cattle wars which raged throughout western Texas during the seventies. Before that period a certain California city had known him as the reckless son of a decent family.

And in passing note the fact that he still got letters from his people after he came to Tombstone with a price on his head. Which helps to explain that somber demeanor, the whisky which he drank–and the ending of his life’s story.

Buckskin Frank fulfils the requirements of some traditions much better when it comes to externals. He wore leathern fringes on his shirt and breeches, and his sombrero was bedecked with much silver. His weapons were always in evidence; a pair of silver-mounted revolvers were the most noticeable among them.

Because he called himself a scout some men used the term in speaking of him. He did not ride with the outlaws, although he often vanished from Tombstone for considerable periods; in town he was always to be found in some gambling-house or dance-hall.

Of women there were many who fancied him. And he could shoot to kill–from in front if the occasion demanded it; from behind if the opportunity was given him. A handsome fellow, and he had a persuasive way with him.

Whisky got the best of him in his later years, but that was after the period with which this narrative has to deal; and when he drank, it was not because of any brooding. The past held no regrets for him; thus far he had managed to handle every situation to his own satisfaction.