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The Wag-Lady
by [?]

Her real name was June–well, the rest doesn’t matter; for no one ever got beyond that point. It was the Scrap Iron Kid who first bore news of her coming to the Wag-boys. Knowing him for a poet, they put down his perfervid description as the logical outpouring of a romantic spirit.

Reddy summed it up neatly by saying, “The Kid has fell for another quilt, that’s all.”

“I ‘ain’t fell for no frill,” the Kid stoutly declared. “I’ve saw too many to lose me out. This gal’s a thoroughbred.”

“Another recruit for Simons, I suppose,” Llewellyn yawned. “I’ll drop in at the theater and look her over.”

“An’ she ain’t no actor, neither,” Scrap Iron declared. “She’s goin’ to start a hotel.”

“Bah! If she’s as good-looking as you claim, some Swede will marry her before she can buy her dishes.”

“Sure! They must all pull something like that to start with,” said the Dummy, who was a woman-hater; “then when you’ve played ’em straight they h’ist the pirate’s flag and go to palmin’ percentage checks in some dance-hall.”

But again the idealistic Scrap Iron Kid came stubbornly to the defense of the new-comer; and the argument was growing warm when Thomasville and the Swede entered with two caddies of tobacco which they had managed to acquire during the confusion at the water-front, thus ending the discussion.

There were six of the Wag-boys, six as bold and unscrupulous gentlemen as the ebb and swirl of the Northern gold rush had left stranded beneath the rim of the Arctic, and they had joined forces, drawn as much, perhaps, by their common calling as by the facilities thus afforded for perfecting any alibis that a long and lonesome winter might render necessary. Nor is it quite correct to state that they were stranded; for it takes more than the buffets of a stormy fate to strand such men as the Dummy and George Llewellyn and the Scrap Iron Kid and their three companions.

Llewellyn was the gentleman of the outfit, owing to the fact that the polish of an early training had not been utterly dulled by a four years’ trick at Deer Lodge Penitentiary. The Dummy had gained his name from an admirable self-restraint which no “third-degree” methods had ever served to break; Thomasville was so called because of a boyish pride in his Georgia birthplace; while Reddy and the Swede–But this is the story of the Wag-lady, and we digress.

To begin with, June was young, with a springtime flush in her cheeks, and eyes as clear as glacier pools. Yet with all her youth and beauty, she possessed a poise that held men at a distance. She also had a certain fearlessness that came, perhaps, from worldly innocence and was far more effective than the customary brazenness of frontier women. She went ahead with her business, asking neither advice nor assistance, and, almost before the Wag-boys knew what she was up to, she had leased the P. C. Warehouse near their cabin and had carpenters changing it into a bunk-house.

In a week it was open for business; on the second night after it was full. Then she built a tiny cabin near her “hotel,” and proceeded to keep house for herself, sleeping daytimes and working nights.

“Say, she’s coinin’ money!” the Scrap Iron Kid advised his companions some time later. “She’s got fifty bunks at a dollar apiece, and each one is full of Swede. You’d ought ‘o drift by in business hours–it sounds like a sawmill.”

“If she’s getting the money so fast, why don’t you grab her, Kid?” inquired Llewellyn.

“You cut that out!” snapped the former speaker. “There ain’t nobody going to grab that dame. I’d croak any guy that made a crack at her, and that goes!”

Seeing a familiar light smoldering in the Kid’s eyes, Llewellyn desisted from further comment, but he made up his mind to become acquainted with June at once.