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Emerson’s Wife
by [?]

Nick Ellhorn awoke and looked around the room with curiosity and interest, but without surprise. He had no recollection of having entered it the night before, and he was lying across the bed fully clothed. But he had long ago ceased to feel surprise over a matter of that sort. His next movement was to reach for his revolver, and he gave a grunt of satisfaction on finding that it hung, as usual, from his cartridge belt. He was aware of a deep, insistent thirst, and as he sat up on the edge of the bed he announced aloud, in a tone of conviction, “I sure need a cocktail!”

Glancing out of the window, he saw a little plaza, fresh in the morning sunlight with its greening grass and budding trees, and beyond it the pink walls and portalled front of a long adobe building. He nodded approvingly.

“I reckon I pulled my freight from Albuquerque all right. And I had a good load too,” he reflected with a chuckle. “And I reckon I sure bunched myself all right into Santa Fe; for if this ain’t the Plaza Hotel, I ‘m drunker ‘n a feller has any right to be who ‘s been total abstainin’ ever since last night. But I ‘ve sure got to have a cocktail now, if it busts a gallus!”

He stared wistfully at the door; but drunken lethargy was still upon him, and his disinclination to move was stronger than his thirst. His eyes, roving along the wall, fell upon the electric call button. Stretching a sinewy arm to its full length he made dumb show of pressing it, as he said, “One push, one cocktail; two pushes, two cocktails!” Then he shook his head despairingly. “Too far, can’t reach it,” he muttered. But his face brightened as his hand accidentally touched his revolver. Out it flashed, and there was no tremor in the long brown hand that held it in position. Bang! Bang! Bang! went the gun, three shots in quick succession, and then three more. “Six pushes, six cocktails!” he announced, triumphantly.

The button had been driven into the wall, and several holes hovered close upon its wreck. A clatter of hurrying feet on the stairway and the din of excited voices told him that his summons had at least attracted attention. “Push button’s a sure handy thing!” he exclaimed aloud as he fell back on the bed, laughing drunkenly.

The footsteps halted outside and the voices sunk to whispers. Presently Ellhorn, gazing expectantly at the door, saw a pair of apprehensive eyes peering through the transom. At sight of the face he waved his hand, which still grasped the gun, and called out, “Say, you, I want six cocktails!” The face quickly dodged downward and the feet and the whispering voices moved farther away. Then came the sound of a rapid stride down the hall and a deep voice bellowed, “Nick, let me in!”

Nick called out “Tommy Tuttle!” and in walked a big bulk of a man, six feet and more tall, with shoulders broad and burly and legs like tree trunks. Ellhorn turned toward him a beaming face and broke into a string of oaths. But his profanity was cordial and joyous. It bloomed with glad welcome and was fragrant with good fellowship and brotherly love.

“Nick, you ‘re drunk,” said Tuttle reprovingly.

“You ‘re away off, Tom! I was yesterday, but I ‘ve been teetotallin’ ever since I came into this room last night, and the whole Arizona desert ain’t in it with my throat this mornin’! I want six cocktails!”

“No, you don’t,” the other interrupted decisively. “You-all can have some coffee,” and he stepped back to the door and gave the order.