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Two Hearts That Beat As One
by [?]

“Which I puts it up as how you ain’t never heard about that time that Hardenberg and Strokher—the Englisher—had a friendly go with bare knuckles—ten rounds it was—all along o’ a feemale woman?”

It is a small world and I had just found out that my friend, Bunt McBride—horse-wrangler, miner, faro-dealer and bone-gatherer—whose world was the plains and ranges of the Great Southwest, was known of the Three Black Crows, Hardenberg, Strokher and Ally Bazan, and had even foregathered with them on more than one of their ventures for Cyrus Ryder’s Exploitation Agency—ventures that had nothing of the desert in them, but that involved the sea, and the schooner, and the taste of the great-lunged canorous trades.

“Ye ain’t never crossed the trail o’ that mournful history?”

I professed my ignorance and said:

“They fought?”

“Mister Man,” returned Bunt soberly, as one broaching a subject not to be trifled with, “They sure did. Friendly-like, y’know—like as how two high-steppin’, sassy gents figures out to settle any little strained relations—friendly-like but considerable keen. ”

He took a pinch of tobacco from his pouch and a bit of paper and rolled a cigarette in the twinkling of an eye, using only one hand, in true Mexican style.

“Now,” he said, as he drew the first long puff to the very bottom of the leathern valves he calls his lungs. “Now, I’m a-goin’ for to relate that same painful proceedin’ to you, just so as you kin get a line on the consumin’ and devourin’ foolishness o’ male humans when they’s a woman in the wind. Woman,” said Bunt, wagging his head thoughtfully at the water, “woman is a weather-breeder. Mister Dixon, they is three things I’m skeered of. The last two I don’t just rightly call to mind at this moment, but the first is woman. When I meets up with a feemale woman on my trail, I sheers off some prompt, Mr. Dixon; I sheers off. An’ Hardenberg,” he added irrelevantly, “would a-took an’ married this woman, so he would. Yes, an’ Strokher would, too. ”

“Was there another man?” I asked.

“No,” said Bunt. Then he began to chuckle behind his mustaches. “Yes, they was. ” He smote a thigh. “They sure was another man for fair. Well, now, Mr. Man, lemmee tell you the whole ‘how.’

“It began with me bein’ took into a wild-eyed scheme that that maverick, Cy Ryder, had cooked up for the Three Crows. They was a row down Gortamalar way. Same gesabe named Palachi—Barreto Palachi—findin’ times dull an’ the boys some off their feed, ups an’ says to hisself, ‘Exercise is wot I needs. I will now take an’ overthrow the blame Gover’ment.’ Well, this same Palachi rounds up a bunch o’insurrectosan’ begins pesterin’ an’ badgerin’ an’ hectorin’ the Gover’ment; an’ r’arin’ round an’ bellerin’ an’ makin’ a procession of hisself, till he sure pervades the landscape; an’ before you knows what, lo’n beholt, here’s a reel live Revolution-Thing cayoodlin’ in the scenery, an’ the Gover’ment is plum bothered.

“They rounds up the gesabe at last at a place on the coast, but he escapes as easy as how-do-you-do. He can’t, howsomever, git back to his insurrectos; the blame Gover’ment being in possession of all the trails leadin’ into the hinterland; so says he, ‘What for a game would it be for me to hyke up to ‘Frisco an’ git in touch with my financial backers an’ conspirate to smuggle down a load o’ arms?’ Which the same he does, and there’s where the Three Black Crows an’ me begin to take a hand.