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Crawfish Jim
by [?]

“Don’t I never tell you the story of the death of Crawfish Jim?”

The Old Cattleman bent upon me an eye of benevolent inquiry. I assured him that the details of the taking off of Crawfish Jim were as a sealed book to me. But I would blithely listen.

“What was the fate of Crawfish Jim?”I asked. The name seemed a promise in itself.

“Nothin’ much for a fate, Crawfish’s ain’t,” rejoined the Old Cattleman. “Nothin’ whatever compared to some fates I keeps tabs onto. It was this a-way: Crawfish Jim was a sheep-man, an’ has a camp out in the foothills of the Tres Hermanas, mebby it’s thirty miles back from Wolfville. This yere Crawfish Jim was a pecooliar person; plumb locoed, like all sheep-men. They has to be crazy or they wouldn’t pester ’round in no sech disrepootable pursoots as sheep.

You-all has seen these yere gents as makes pets of snakes. Mebby it’s once in a thousand times you cuts the trail of sech a party. Snakes is kittens to him, an’ he’s likely to be packin’ specimens ’round in his clothes any time.

“That’s the way with this Crawfish Jim. I minds talkin’ to him at his camp one day when I’m huntin’ a bunch of cattle. The first I notes, snake sticks his head outen Crawfish’s shirt, an’ looks at me malev’lent and distrustful. Another protroods its nose out up by Crawfish’s collar.

“‘Which you shore seems ha’nted of snakes?’ I says, steppin’ back an’ p’intin’ at the reptiles.

“‘Them’s my dumb companions,’ says Crawfish Jim. ‘They shares my solitood.’

“‘You-all do seem some pop’lar with ’em,’ I observes, for I saveys at once he’s plumb off his mental reservation; an’ when a party’s locoed that a-way it makes him hostile if you derides his little game or bucks his notions.

“I takes grub with Crawfish that same day; good chuck, too; mainly sheep-meat, salt-hoss, an’ bakin’-powder biscuit. I watches him some narrow about them snakes he’s infested with; I loathin’ of ’em, an’ not wantin’ ’em to transfer no love to me, nor take to enlivenin’ my secloosion none.

“Well, son, this yere Crwafish Jim is as a den of serpents. I reckons now he has a plumb dozen mowed away in his raiment. Thar’s no harm in ’em; bein’ all bull-snakes, which is innocuous an’ without p’ison, fangs, or convictions.

“When Crawfish goes to cook, he dumps these folks oaten his clothes, an’ lets ’em hustle an’play’round while grub’s gettin’.

“‘These yere little animals,’ he says, ‘likes their reecreations same as humans, so I allers gives ’em a play-spell while I’m busy round camp.’

‘”Don’t they ever stampede off none?’ I asks.

“‘Shorely not,’ says Crawfish. ‘Bull-snakes is the most domestical snake thar is. If I’d leave one of these yere tender creatures ere over night he’d die of homesickness.’

“When Crawfish gets ready to bile the coffee, he tumbles the biggest bullsnake I’d seen yet outen the coffee-pot onto the grass. Then he fills the kettle with water, dumps in the coffee, an’ sets her on the coals to stew.

“‘This yere partic’lar snake,’ says Crawfish, ‘which I calls him Julius Caesar, is too big to tote ’round in my shirt, an’ so he lives in the coffee-pot while I’m away, an’ keeps camp for me.’

“‘Don’t you yearn for no rattlesnakes to fondle?’ I inquires, jest to see what kyard he’d play.

“‘No,’ he says, ‘rattlesnakes is all right–good, sociable, moral snakes enough; but in a sperit of humor they may bite you or some play like that, an’ thar you’d be. No; bull-snakes is as ‘fectionate as rattles, an’ don’t run to p’ison. You don’t have no inadvertencies with ’em.’

“‘Can’t you bust the fangs outen rattlesnakes?’ I asks.

“‘They grows right in ag’in,’ says Crawfish, same as your finger- nails. I ain’t got no time to go scoutin’ a rattlesnake’s mouth every day, lookin’ up teeth, so I don’t worry with ’em, but plays bull-snakes straight. This bein’ dentist for rattlesnakes has resks, which the same would be foolish to assoom.’