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The Theory And The Hound
by [?]

When the meal was concluded the Carib woman came and removed the dishes and cloth. Reeves strewed the table with excellent cigars, and Plunkett, with the others, lighted one of these with evident gratification.

“I may be dull,” said Morgan, with a grin and a wink at Bridger; “but I want to know if I am. Now, I say this is all a joke of Mr. Plunkett’s, concocted to frighten two babes-in-the-woods. Is this Williamson to be taken seriously or not?”

“‘Williams,'” corrected Plunkett gravely. “I never got off any jokes in my life. I know I wouldn’t travel 2,000 miles to get off a poor one as this would be if I didn’t take Wade Williams back with me. Gentlemen!” continued the sheriff, now letting his mild eyes travel impartially from one of the company to another, “see if you can find any joke in this case. Wade Williams is listening to the words I utter now; but out of politeness, I will speak of him as a third person. For five years he made his wife lead the life of a dog–No; I’ll take that back. No dog in Kentucky was ever treated as she was. He spent the money that she brought him–spent it at races, at the card table and on horses and hunting. He was a good fellow to his friends, but a cold, sullen demon at home. He wound up the five years of neglect by striking her with his closed hand–a hand as hard as a stone–when she was ill and weak from suffering. She died the next day; and he skipped. That’s all there is to it. It’s enough. I never saw Williams; but I knew his wife. I’m not a man to tell half. She and I were keeping company when she met him. She went to Louisville on a visit and saw him there. I’ll admit that he spoilt my chances in no time. I lived then on the edge of the Cumberland mountains. I was elected sheriff of Chatham County a year after Wade Williams killed his wife. My official duty sends me out here after him; but I’ll admit that there’s personal feeling, too. And he’s going back with me. Mr.–er–Reeves, will you pass me a match?

“Awfully imprudent of Williams,” said Morgan, putting his feet up against the wall, “to strike a Kentucky lady. Seems to me I’ve heard they were scrappers.”

“Bad, bad Williams,” said Reeves, pouring out more Scotch.

The two men spoke lightly, but the consul saw and felt the tension and the carefulness in their actions and words. “Good old fellows,” he said to himself; “they’re both all right. Each of ’em is standing by the other like a little brick church.”

And then a dog walked into the room where they sat–a black-and-tan hound, long-eared, lazy, confident of welcome.

Plunkett turned his head and looked at the animal, which halted, confidently, within a few feet of his chair.

Suddenly the sheriff, with a deep-mouthed oath, left his seat and, bestowed upon the dog a vicious and heavy kick, with his ponderous shoe.

The hound, heartbroken, astonished, with flapping ears and incurved tail, uttered a piercing yelp of pain and surprise.

Reeves and the consul remained in their chairs, saying nothing, but astonished at the unexpected show of intolerance from the easy-going man from Chatham county.

But Morgan, with a suddenly purpling face, leaped, to his feet and raised a threatening arm above the guest.

“You–brute!” he shouted, passionately; “why did you do that?”

Quickly the amenities returned, Plunkett muttered some indistinct apology and regained his seat. Morgan with a decided effort controlled his indignation and also returned to his chair.

And then Plunkett with the spring of a tiger, leaped around the corner of the table and snapped handcuffs on the paralyzed Morgan’s wrists.

“Hound-lover and woman-killer!” he cried; “get ready to meet your God.”

When Bridger had finished I asked him:

“Did he get the right man?”

“He did,” said the Consul.

“And how did he know?” I inquired, being in a kind of bewilderment.

“When he put Morgan in the dory,” answered Bridger, “the next day to take him aboard the Pajaro, this man Plunkett stopped to shake hands with me and I asked him the same question.”

“‘Mr. Bridger,’ said he, ‘I’m a Kentuckian, and I’ve seen a great deal of both men and animals. And I never yet saw a man that was overfond of horses and dogs but what was cruel to women.'”