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Three Vagabonds Of Trinidad
by [?]

He was still gazing abstractedly into the depths of the wood when he was conscious of a slight movement–but no sound–in a clump of hazel near him, and a stealthy figure glided from it. He at once recognized it as “Jim,” a well-known drunken Indian vagrant of the settlement–tied to its civilization by the single link of “fire water,” for which he forsook equally the Reservation where it was forbidden and his own camps where it was unknown. Unconscious of his silent observer, he dropped upon all fours, with his ear and nose alternately to the ground like some tracking animal. Then having satisfied himself, he rose, and bending forward in a dogged trot, made a straight line for the woods. He was followed a few seconds later by his dog–a slinking, rough, wolf-like brute, whose superior instinct, however, made him detect the silent presence of some alien humanity in the person of the Editor, and to recognize it with a yelp of habit, anticipatory of the stone that he knew was always thrown at him.

“That’s cute,” said a voice, “but it’s just what I expected all along.”

The Editor turned quickly. His foreman was standing behind him, and had evidently noticed the whole incident.

“It’s what I allus said,” continued the man. “That boy and that Injin are thick as thieves. Ye can’t see one without the other–and they’ve got their little tricks and signals by which they follow each other. T’other day when you was kalkilatin’ Li Tee was doin’ your errands I tracked him out on the marsh, just by followin’ that ornery, pizenous dog o’ Jim’s. There was the whole caboodle of ’em–including Jim–campin’ out, and eatin’ raw fish that Jim had ketched, and green stuff they had both sneaked outer Johnson’s garden. Mrs. Martin may TAKE him, but she won’t keep him long while Jim’s round. What makes Li foller that blamed old Injin soaker, and what makes Jim, who, at least, is a ‘Merican, take up with a furrin’ heathen, just gets me.”

The Editor did not reply. He had heard something of this before. Yet, after all, why should not these equal outcasts of civilization cling together!


Li Tee’s stay with Mrs. Martin was brief. His departure was hastened by an untoward event–apparently ushered in, as in the case of other great calamities, by a mysterious portent in the sky. One morning an extraordinary bird of enormous dimensions was seen approaching from the horizon, and eventually began to hover over the devoted town. Careful scrutiny of this ominous fowl, however, revealed the fact that it was a monstrous Chinese kite, in the shape of a flying dragon. The spectacle imparted considerable liveliness to the community, which, however, presently changed to some concern and indignation. It appeared that the kite was secretly constructed by Li Tee in a secluded part of Mrs. Martin’s clearing, but when it was first tried by him he found that through some error of design it required a tail of unusual proportions. This he hurriedly supplied by the first means he found–Mrs. Martin’s clothes-line, with part of the weekly wash depending from it. This fact was not at first noticed by the ordinary sightseer, although the tail seemed peculiar–yet, perhaps, not more peculiar than a dragon’s tail ought to be. But when the actual theft was discovered and reported through the town, a vivacious interest was created, and spy-glasses were used to identify the various articles of apparel still hanging on that ravished clothes-line. These garments, in the course of their slow disengagement from the clothes-pins through the gyrations of the kite, impartially distributed themselves over the town–one of Mrs. Martin’s stockings falling upon the veranda of the Polka Saloon, and the other being afterwards discovered on the belfry of the First Methodist Church–to the scandal of the congregation. It would have been well if the result of Li Tee’s invention had ended here. Alas! the kite-flyer and his accomplice, “Injin Jim,” were tracked by means of the kite’s tell-tale cord to a lonely part of the marsh and rudely dispossessed of their charge by Deacon Hornblower and a constable. Unfortunately, the captors overlooked the fact that the kite-flyers had taken the precaution of making a “half-turn” of the stout cord around a log to ease the tremendous pull of the kite–whose power the captors had not reckoned upon–and the Deacon incautiously substituted his own body for the log. A singular spectacle is said to have then presented itself to the on-lookers. The Deacon was seen to be running wildly by leaps and bounds over the marsh after the kite, closely followed by the constable in equally wild efforts to restrain him by tugging at the end of the line. The extraordinary race continued to the town until the constable fell, losing his hold of the line. This seemed to impart a singular specific levity to the Deacon, who, to the astonishment of everybody, incontinently sailed up into a tree! When he was succored and cut down from the demoniac kite, he was found to have sustained a dislocation of the shoulder, and the constable was severely shaken. By that one infelicitous stroke the two outcasts made an enemy of the Law and the Gospel as represented in Trinidad County. It is to be feared also that the ordinary emotional instinct of a frontier community, to which they were now simply abandoned, was as little to be trusted. In this dilemma they disappeared from the town the next day–no one knew where. A pale blue smoke rising from a lonely island in the bay for some days afterwards suggested their possible refuge. But nobody greatly cared. The sympathetic mediation of the Editor was characteristically opposed by Mr. Parkin Skinner, a prominent citizen:–