Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (April 9, 1922)
THE BEE: OMAHA. Sl'NDAY. AXMJ, 9.
NO DRAMATIS PERSONAE By J. Frank Davis
Lure of Gambling, Lore of the
Old Texas, Love of Women,
and Luck of Cowboy.
THIS etnry wa told m by "hutter nll. who
drue Ilka a retired evangelist and uaed to
dtt faro tor Nl Kincald whn Ban An
ionic we wid open and th killing avrg4
on a riant. H ld H hd mm kind of In
teresting thing In It. but h didn't how I
could mak any um of It In my trad, beaua
ll dtln t lov no drarnalia persona.
ht't'T amplified this. L'nles ha waa tnla
taken In which ca I could correct htm, but
ha know lie wai-n'tdramml persona meant
tliar.M ter In a diumn. A diama had to hava a
htm and a heroin and a villiiln and probably!
.uii ronixdiana, Mayo you could t along
without a h-ro tr a heroin, but not without
both of them, and the fa?t that there wer two or
ihree ulliiina wouldn't mak up for It. And
Jn thia yarn about Ilia lima Juna Klnrald helped
her father go after Cola Gurney' roll tha lead
ing man was a fool cow puncher who drank too
much and the only woman In tha whola caat waa
hell cat, and, dammit, you couldn't maka that
kind of material Into hrroaa and heroinaa, could
you? He left It to me, straight.
While admitting tlta probability that Ma
point waa well taken, I ancouraaed Shutter to
proceed with lila rmlnlrn-. It ta not often
or easily that he speak of tha ancient day, and
when ha doe, although he aometlmea ramble
and liaa oner ,a of what ara tha Important
and unimportant parte of lila storl. hla apeach
frequently drlpa preclona Jewela of Information.
"Wa thla daughter of Klncald'a tha hall
cat?" I aoked. to pet him going amoothly.
.If I wnan't mistaken, It waa tha eight of a
bunch of pretty glrla who had Just arrived there
where we ant on the roof garden of the Hotel
Honham that had started him. There were four
of them, all aged somewhere around 20, all
dainty and vivacious and bubbling over with
youth. One of them in particular, a brown
haired, brown-eyed muld with a mlachevloue
mouth and a dellcioua creamy coloring of akin
that waa all her unartltlclal own, especially held
my eye. They were In tllmy aummer frocka
Ireah from aome dinner party, perhaps, and
with a quartet of clean-looking boya and a
plump chaperon hud como to dance.
I had gushed a trifle over their attractive,
new aa they arrived, and Shutter had aurveyed
them in alienee, fallen Into a reverie, and come
out of It to aay:
"I never told you. did I, about how Nelse
Kincald planted three cards cold at the bottom
of the bos and had hla girl tip Cole Ourney to
em crooked?" Following thla came hla dls
aertatlon as to the absence of value to a writing
man of a story without hero or heroine.
"Hell cat waa right," he agreed, to my query.
"She wua sure bad and she wasn't. You get
me, don't you? One of those girls that raise,
hell with a man and always stop short of paying
for it. There didn't anybody use thla here word
'vamp' in those days. If they had, that waa
June Kincald. She didn't have any mother and
the didn't have any principles to speak of, and
her father was a bad hombre with a pair of
hands that could do things to a deck of car,da
old Hermann the Card King never even dreamed
of, and the luck never to get caught at it Cold
fcteel nerve, too. Would take a chance and pull
a thing right tinder the noses of a whole house
ful of gamblers that were wise to all the tricks
and looking- for them; wait till I tell you. But
knowing when to take his medicine and call
It a day; you'll see that, too."
It became apparent, now, that Shutter Snell
was going to. speak of matters regarding which,
ordinarily, he is to say the least noncommittal.
He la not accustomed to admit that in the
period when he was connected with temples of
chance he ever was concerned with any of the
tricks of hla profession not recognized aa legiti
mate; indeed, I have many times heard him as
sert that it had been his principle never to be
employed by any gambler who was not strictly
on the level.
Shutter has been respectable for more than
20 years, having possessed the foresight to buy
.centrally located land in San Antonio at a time
" w hen it could be had for a song, and, as ho once
confidentially informed me, not such a darn
musical song at that. He has Intimate friends
among the VHt people of the older cattle set.
Not every one among his acquaintances knowa
that in youth he was a, gambler, and those w-ho
e.ro told It. are given to understand that he was
Invariably a square gambler, which I have found
usually to mean one who does not cheat unlesj
: the other fellow starts it. Thus this almost ad
' miring comment of his relative to the dexterity
of Nelsj Kincald was an unexpected admission.
"So she went vamping along, and getting
away with It," he said, "and by and by along
comes this ColesGurney."
Gently I reminded him that this waa hardly
the plRce for a talo to begin. He hadn't told me
how she vamped and why.
June Kincald, he went back to say, was
something like 18 or 19 years old then, and as
pretty as they made them. And nobody had
ever had much of anything to do with bringing
: her up except old Nelse. who had his own ideas
as to how a pretty daughter should be helpful
' to the proprietor of a notorious gambling house.
Nelse would have killed the man that
wronged her in a minute, and he kept strict
track of her comings and goings and saw to it
.that she kept straight, although it was no more
j than fair to say that she never showed any In-
cllnation tb be' otherwise; but there are morals
end morals, and the kind that June Kincald
had would have fitted those young ladiea that
sat on the bench and combed their hair and
tang songs that induced sailors, according to
. that old story, to steer their boats plumb on the
rocks. Yes, that's the word. : Sirens.
; She never associated with the dance hall
girls; In fact. It was seldom that she went on
to the floor and danced never, unless there waa
a victim In tow. Her activities were in the
gambling room and at the bar, when the crowd
lined along It was not too rough, where she had
a sort of private personal place at the end near
est the gambling room at which she held court,
as you might say, greeting her friends and en-
oouraglng them to believe this waa the night
w hen luck would break their way at the tables. A
Especially favored friends she drank with, but
a certain monotony distinguished her orders.
Invariably she called for a little gin, and was
1 served out of a special bottle with a third of a
whisky glass of excellent spring water. On oc- .
caslon she showed the effect of her potations
mildly; she had a most convincing cough that
sometimes followed tossing the llery stuff Into
Young men off the range, known to have
a. desirable quantity of cash on hand and to be
careless with their savings when illuminated,
found her an affable person. Nelse selected
them. After they had drunk freely out of no
, bottle of Innocuous spring water and her In
genuous brown eyea had worked havoc with
their sense of values, tolling them over to one
of the roulette wheels or up against a faro bank
waa really no feat at alt Especially If, their
choice running to faro, June offered it aa a spe
cial favor to bring them luck by keeping cases
for a deal or two. .
They played at Shutter'a bank, usually, be
cause that waa the one behind which Nelse Kin
cald himself commonly sat high in the lookout
chair, with a sharp eye on the whole room, but
more especially on the play at that particular
table, and also because stakes ordinarily ran
higher at that table than elsewhere, and the
cize of stakes Is often a contagious thing; a boy
with a roll In hla pocket la unlikely to pike If
the other players In his game are betting freely.
Especially, unlikely If the pretties'"; girl la the
outhwest la keeping caet for tha gam and
occasionally looking aeroa at him with prs
Ive ayea. H'a tandem?, wndr ueh circum
stances, la to be at Uaet reckl and probably
Shutter mad it quit clear, without putting
tht matter Into definite words, that these games,
at which tha girl kept track of tha card aa they
alid out of th deal bo and her admirer ware
eneourared to maka their beta high, wide, and
handaome, were not customarily crooked. II
Implied that when h dealt they were never
crooked. Bo-netlm lurk would get to running
seriously against the house, June's friend would
begin to win and to bet still more heavily, and
old Nellie, up there In the lookout, would slip
Shutter the algnal to any that hla eyea were be
ginning to ache and that ho would like to skip
r. deal or two, whereupon Nelse would climb
down and relieve him.
Luck waa pretty likely to turn against the
plunging player soon after. When he was
kroke Juno would aurrender the case rack to
one of the professional casekeepers, laughingly
assure the victim that his turn would surely
i-ome next time, and flit away with him to the
end of the bar to Join him in a consoling drink
or. the house.
It was a boy who went plumb broke, so that
he couldn't come back to play any more, who
gave her the name. He and she had been
chummy for more than a fortnight, so that his
pals had all been Jealous and he had got posi
tively cocky about it, and then when his money
was gone she let him down suddenly, due to
unother man in the offing that Nelse had picked
to be his successor.
He came in ono night and bought a drink
or two and piked with $5 or $10 at the wheel,
and went over to start one of his old Joyous
talka with her, and found her chilly as a January
norther. Some of his friends they were a
roughlsh bunch gave him the laugh. "A lot
I care!" he cried defiantly, being young. Shutter
was getting himself a sandwich during his half
hour layoff period at midnight, not far from
wherei they stood at the bar, and heard him.
"A lot I care! Damn little hell cat!" Which
showed how terribly much he did care, because
It wasn t customary in those days to call young
ladies names, not .even young ladies who as
sisted their fathers in the profitable conduct of
a gambling house. If Nelse Kincald had heard
him say It he might have come a'smoking.
Cole Gurney was a big chap about 23 or 24
years old. with blue eyes, a lot of thick wavy
hair, and a manner, some ways, that was even
younger than his age. He had been working
a year or two for the Circle Lazy D outfit, and
somebody up north somewhere had died and
left him $10,000 or $15,000, and he was going
to get him a bunch of cows of his own. That
lo what brought him into San Antonio. Before
he had been In Nelse's place three times Nelse
knew all about the $10,000 or $15,000, and that
he had it on deposit over In the McCluskey bank.
The ntxt evening June let Gurney buy her
It developed that the boy had a failing and
a virtue. It was easy for him to drink too
much. When he began to get under the in
fluence he developed an amazing streak of
stinginess. Nelse Kincald, no doubt, listed these
Well opganized, with seven or eight drinks
flisposed of, Gurney's idea of financial reckless
ness was to buy one $20 stack of chips at a
roulette table and put them all down at once,
win or lose, and then quit From the player's
standpoint, Shutter conceded In telling this,
there might be a lot ways less indicative of wis- r
dom in bucking a game where the percentage
In favor of the house is as devastating aa in
roulette. Cole esteemed faro to be lacking in
sufficiently brisk action, but he played it oc
casionally. Especially when June offered to
keep cases. He played $2 chips, mostly, with
perhaps $5 or $10 on the turn, when the bank
pays four for one if the player guesses the cor
rect order In which the last three cards came
out of the box, and limited his losses to $50
or so. -
Nelse, with his mind on that $10,000 or
$15,000 over in the McCluskey bank, was plumb
June never for a minute let it affect her
work. Drunk or sober, play high or play low, .
she smiled her sweetest on Gurney. Her eyes
had never beamed liking on one of his predeces-.
sors more convincingly, or more effectively. If
ever she owned a slave it was Cole. He spent
all his evenings in the place, and when he
couldn't be with her and naturally she wasn't
foolish enough to let any one customer mon
opolize her smiles he never left off looking
He got, one night, to talking big brother
"Nothing," she told Nelse, when he asked
her the next day what all the confidential con
versation had been about. "Nothing. Except
he aaid I didn't fit with the other girls in the
place." , .
"Who the hell ever dares to say you do?" Nelse
demanded. "He's got a nerve coupling you up
with them." -
"And gave me a dare," she said, laughing
a little, but a laugh without any great amount
of amusement In It. "He said he kind of didn't
l'.ke to see a nice young lady drinking."
"Damn critical, ain't he?" said Nelse, grin
ning at the thought of the, special gin bottle of
spring water. "What was the dare?"
"He said he'd swear off drinking, cold, if I
Nelse was Irritated, but encouraged, too.
"He might almost as well be a teetotaler, at
that," ha grumbled, "the way he plays 'em up
against his chest when he's lit. Stick to him,
June; we'll find a way to make him loosen, yet.
But don't give him too many chances to spout
this confidential stuff."
June patted htm. "Little June can take
care of herself, daddy," she said.
"Bet your life she can," he responded
proudly. He had a tremendous admiration for
the girl, had Nelse. And affection, too. In a
way. Some warped in his ideas as to how a
father ought to bring up a daughter, to be sure,
but what could you expect? He was what 'he
was, and she was his. If he wasn't proud of
hia business, he wasn't ashamed of it, and he
didn't know any reason w hy he should be.
It waa a week or so after this that he heard
about how badly Col Gurney wished he had
two or three times as much capital as laid over
there In the McCluskey bank to his credit wait
ing to be checked out. It was really a chance
of a lifetime, A ranch, with a fair acreage un-
dr feal and torn J.e Md of ateck thr
tni on tha rang. ejy worth lio.oeo. whtrh
rnuld N had fr HM perbapa j.00
bet-auk old Slim Tarrant, who owned It, hd
got bumpad eft In a lutla rut kua about ft water
hole, and M widow wanted to clean up and
go back to her folks In Illinois. Hut lii-h bad
to bo paid for abeolutely In cash; old Mil Tar
rant didn't want rocollecilon or reminder of
Teua one ah left: vendor a lien netea, avaq at
10 per cent, did not Internet her at all.
Neita worked out ft charanertftle nhm of
l is:- ' Vs l
It cm th tight ( m brvf pretty girU that rlaritJ him.
Onm mf thtm in particular hmlM my aya.
At this point In hla story, Shutter Snell, re
counting the tale across th table while th
orchestra Jazzed and th ahuffl and swing" of
rllding feet beat rhythmically about th dance
l.oor beside us, became somewhat vagu in sev
eral respects. It was not clear, for example,
how, he. who never participated in waya
that wer dark, cam to ,b taken into his
employer's confidence, nor waa h able
apparently, to go into any details regarding th
technique planned by Nelse Kincald whereby
June should get Cole Gurney to risk his bank
roll on her unsupported promise that she would
see he didn't lose. I take it Nelse saw how
serious the affair was getting with Cole, and
sensed that the boy might even be thinking of
aaklng June to marry him, and that he staged,
borne mock quarrel with the girl, so that she
could go to Cole for sympathy and seem to be
at odds with her father, which would mak
plausible her confession.
This confession Shutter did not know how
it waa worded, or what led up to It, of course
involved th old man'a probity, and June'a
At times, when there waa a big game, a faro
deck might be partially atacked, to affect th
three carda In the last turn, and June might
tip a victim as to how th cards were to com
out. and tip him falsely. She was to Imply that
her father wanted her to do this, but that sh
would not. If Col wanted to gamble $5,000
or $10,000 on one turn, sh would undertak
with Nelse to double-cross him and would dou
. ble-cross Nels himself.
There waa some sort of revenge motif a
nn excuse, Shutter aald, and also there wa th
Ingenious use of an old rumor quit nonsensi
cal which Col doubtless would hav heard In
the gossip of the place, that Jun wasn't Nls'
daughter. All in all, It was a plot that older
and wiser infatuated men than Col Gurney
might have succumbed to.
Then, Just on the evo of It, June balked.
Che said and again, if Shutter had no actlv
part in these things, I do not understand how
it came about that the conversation waa In his
hearing that Cole waa a nice kid and that It
waa a shame. Nelse Kineaid thereupon flared.
"I suppose," he sneered, "the young Idiot
has been telling you if you waa away from th
bad influence of your daddy, he'd b half In
clined to marry you."
"He didn't say 'half,' " she rtortd.
"I thought so. Well, there's two reasons
that I know of why he wouldn't."
He amplified, at her look of Inquiry:
"One is that he ain't th marrying kind.
But if he was, I'd see he didn't When you get
married, which wofft be- for iany a day yet,
we'll pick more of, a man than h Is."
"I'm sort of curious to know Just how you'd
stop it, daddy," she said, and something In the
way she drawled it som inherited quality of
his own cold, sneering speech when he was an
gered made him reply, nastily:
"Suppose he was tipped that somebody had
a prior lien that if you married anybody, It
ought by all rights to b somebody else."
She went whit at the underlying signifi
cance and brutality of the threat. "Such a lie,"
she choked. , . ' i
"He wouldn't know it was, would he? It
would fit In quite plausible with the bar, and the
dance hall, and the associates that he wished
you wouldn't keep, wouldn't it? At that, would
It be so much of a He? It's Bible truth that
any tlm you get married, it will b to some
body else than him th curly-headed fool!"
Juno bit her lip and got control of herself,
for she had an intimate acquaintance with the
old man'a temper and vlndlctiveness.
"I didn't know," she said slowly, "that you
had anything against him personal."
"O, -you didn't!" he growled. "You think
I admired to have the smirking Idiot tell you,
in your own father's place, that your own father
wasn't man enough to look' out for you."
"Whon did he?"
"Didn't he? Didn't he say you oughtn't to
be around her where these other girls are?
Didn't he kick at your taking a drink as if I
don't know whether you ought to drink or not?
As if I ain't competent to 'tend to you?"
She opened her mouth as if to contradict or
protest, and closed it. Her lips set in a straight
line, Then she began over again, saying: "He
"Hell's paved with 'em!" Nelse snapped.
"Well, life's too short to us It all up talking.
Do wo pull tha play as set up, or don't we
tonight? Because, one way or the other, this
pup Gurney is going to be sent about his busi
ness. He can be chased bapk onto the range
by the need of replenishing a busted roll and
disappointment in love, or he can be chased
back by disappoint In love all by Itself you're
the one to say which. But one thing I'll tell
you straight, young lady. . We ain't running
the house for our health. You've made un
profitable eyes at him a long as you're going
June looked straight into her father's face
and saw he meant it, and she squared her
shoulders and threw her chin up. "All right,"
she said shortly. "We'll pull the play tonight.
What are the three cards?"
"That's sense!" cried Nelse. "It will be the
first deal after Shutter goes to eat, at 12. The
turn will be ace, king, and som little card.
Th little on la Immaterial; It will be at th
bottom. They will com out king, ace."
"And I tell him they are fixed to com out
"Right. You tell him to play 'm ace, king.-
"He won't hav It all in cash, of course."
"I'll take hia check, If he guarantee it.
You know how I stand with M-Cluskey."
"Afterwards, If h makes a disturbance and
tells how he thought It waa planted"
"He won't make any great disturbance
here," Noise promised. "A to tolling, he'll bo
drunk, won't he? Laugh at him. I don't think
there'll bo any scene, though. I ain't figuring
ho'll blab that he's been made a monkey of.
You'll keep out of hla way afterwards, natchul
ly, but If you and him ever should meet up and
he should corner yu alone, you tell him I threw
em out different from what I said I was going
to, or that you misunderstood th lay, or. If he
la drunk enough tonight so you think maybe
you can get away with It. that you told him to
play king, ace, and you never was more shocked
in your life than when you saw him lay the bet
down different from what you had said."
Kincald rolled himself a cigaret. ' "But I
don't guess you'll ever see him In our place
again," he concluded.
"I believe you are right, father." June
agreed. Which ought to have set Nelse to
thinking. Not a dosen times in her life had
she called him anything but daddy.
So at about midnight, Just befor it was
tlm for Shutter to take his half-hour off for
lunch, June, who had talked long and earnestly
with him in a booth at the side of the dance
hall, tolled Gurney to the taro table, laughingly
told the case keeper to go and smoke a cigarette
or two, and took charge of the case rack.
A gcod many drinks had been served to the
curtained booth during their conversation, and
It was plain to be seen that Gurney wa mora
than ordinarily Jingled. He got a seat at the
high card end of the table, and bought hla cus
tomary $50 worth of chips. Thus he was di
rectly to the left of June, who sat between him.
and the dealer. He looked at her more than h
did the layout, and put his little bets down hap
hazard and without Judgment, ignoring th rec
ord of case cards and taking reckless chance
It calls for concentrated attention to th
business In hand for a case keeper to mak
accurate record of all the cards as they leave
.the deal box, and June looked up at him only
occasionally, but when she did he got the bene
fit of on of her dazzling smiles .and laughed
fatuously In return. He lost his $50 before the
deal was finished and bought another $50 stack.
During the following deal he bought again. Sel
dom, theretofore, had he ever been willing to
lose more than $100 at one sitting.
Now, as to Just when the deck was fixed for
th slaughter I am not clear, because Shutter
wasn't. He implied that, of course, it waa don
after Kincald took charge, and I am Inclined
to think it was. At any rate, the sleight of hand
which placed a king, an ace, and a trey at the
bottom of the box, notwithstndlng the ostenta
tious shuffling and cutting, came at some time
during the comparative confusion attendant up
on the change of dealers. .
When a deal came to its end soon after 12
o'clock Shutter pushed back his green eye-
shade, half turned In hi chair toward where
Nelse! sat in the high lookout seat, and re
marked "Time to feed, cap'n." Klncaid glanced
in the direction of the clock, nodded, and
climbed down to slide into the place Shutter
vacated, being careful, as they always were, not
to disturb with hla knee the pistol that hung
suspended under the table edge, Its butt handy
for a sudden clutch.
"It's sure a slow night," he commented good
naturedly as he settled himself and looked about
the table, while the players prepared to put
down their initial bets. "Her it is tomorrow
and nobody loses much. Com get the old' man!
Why don't somebody sting the house good?"
"Gimme 60 more," said Gurney, stiff lipped.
"Going to take you up on that. No chance to
sting the house with only 15." ,
This won a thin, impersonal smil from
some of the players, $65 not being an amount
with which a bank of the caliber and capacity
of Kincaid's would be likely to suffer. The tabl
fell into a tense quietness characteristic of faro,
and the deal proceeded.
Shutter did not get any lunch, but swallowed
a hasty drink and came back into the room,
where he remained over by the door. The quiet
group at the faro game was picked up sharply
by the wide-shaded hanging lamp overhead.
In that illumination, striking down across his
wavy hair, Cole Gurney looked more lik Buck
I had to interrupt Shutter at this point, with
all the chance it necessitated of throwing him
off his stride with the real dramatics pt the yarn
presumably impending, but he had not previ
ously mentioned any person of the nam of
Hadn't he? He sure thought he had. He
had noticed th resemblance first time Cole
Gurney ever came into Kincaid's. Just about
the same size. Same kind of hair and eyea
Same Jolly sort of reckless laugh. About the
sam age, he was, as Buck the last time Shutter,
caw him, when he left home up there in Ken
tucky to come to Texas. A powerful lot Shut
ter had always thought of Buck. Kind of wild,
too, the boy was. Mother used to worry a
right smart about him. Younger brother? Of
.course. Sure. Thought he said so.
June looked up from her case keeping prea
ntly and announced:
She ran her eye down the undisturbed but
tons on their little wires. Ilk a Chines abacus,
end called the remaining cards:
"Ace, trey, king."
"Last turn," monotonously chanted Kincald,
following the customary dealer' routine, "and
four to one if you 'call th order."
He sat back to await th final readjustment
"I treat mind," said Gurney, with drunken
eolemntty, "I groat mind f mak you a real
"Go as far as you like," Nelse told him
"What you mean? How big a limit?"
Kincaid's reply was," a little contemptuoua
There would seem to the encircling players and
spectators small chance that an habitually
modest player like Gurney would want to stake
"To you," he said, "th roof la off. Th
blue, blue sky."
"D'you mean that?" Gurney ogled. "D'you
"ThH higher you stack 'cm th better we
lik it," Kincald told him, still smiling.
Gurney got out a little wad of bills and sur
veyed them. There couldn't have been more
than $200. "I'd have to write a check," he said.
"I don't s pose you'd take a check."
"I would if you guarantee, on your word,
there'll be enough In the bank in the mawnln'
to cover it If you lose." Nelse was still half smil
ing provocatively. Gurney dug a checkbook out
of his pocket and muttered something about a
"Go get a pen and bottle of ink,' Nelse com
manded Rlcard Doyle, a half-Mexican attache
of the place, who stood not far behind Gurney.
When the man had brought It Cole spread his
checkbeok before him, dipped the pen, and
looked up into Kincaid's face.
'"F I made this as much as $5,000 would
you take it?"
Nelse stopped smiling and his face set to
the emotionless Inscrutability behind which a
gambler hides his thought when high plays are
"I'll take whatever you guarantee in the
presence of these witnesses will be good In th
mawnln'," ha replied coldly.
"But if I made it $10,000?" leered the youth
with alcoholic persistence. "'F I made it $10,000
and she come out, four for one, I reckon I'd
bust the ol' bank."
"It would be bent, but lt'd take more than
a $40,000 losing to plumb bust It," Nelse as
"Damn 'f I don't!" cried Ourney, and
scrawled th check. "Gimme big chips."
Nelse picked up the paper and read its fig
ures aloud. "Ten thousand. You guarantee
there will be enough in th mawnin' to
"Word of honor," mumbled Gurney. .
Kineaid opened th drawer and dropped
the check in. From a corner of hi chip-rack
he selected counters of a color and design
used only on special occasions.. He smoothly
slid them in front of Gurney 10 of them.
"One thousand apiece," he declared.
Word rustled about the room that big play
was In progress at Klncald'a bank, and men
who were mere spectator of the game
moved in that direction. Shutter edged In
fairly close, so that h wa against th wall
off at Kincaid's right, directly facing Gurney.
The boy, he said, sat fingering the little stock
of checks half-stupidly, as though now that
he had them he didn't know what to do with
"And things got to moving kind o' fast."
Shutter' said. "One thing come after another
so it was darned hard afterwards, to reoollect
Just how it all happened. I don't sup
pose It was more'n four or five minutes from
then until' the excitement was all over, but
the time was sure crowded."
Shutter Snell turned hi head and looked
out across the gay dance floor with Its swirl
ing crowd, Its bright summer dresses, its
laughter, and its swift-beating rhythm and
rattle of syncopated harmony. - There was a
slight reminiscent smil on his lips, from my
side, as he turned, it seemed drowsy and ab
sent. He was looking far beyond the -modern
dance floor, across 25 years and more
of flying time, to a day when some men
were honest and soma wer knaves In this
old city that was the country' last frontier,
but most men had courage. He was standing
there against the gambling house wall again,
his gaze Intent on the cold-eyed Klncaid, the
drunken boy, and the provoking, alluring, in
I had to call him back.
"And Gurney didn't seem to know how he
wanted to bet," I prodded.
"He didn't seem to know what he wanted
to do with them, or whether he wanted to
do anything with them," Shutter resumed,
lurning to face me again. "Everybody wait
ed and let him take his time; a player that
was going to lay a bet that size was entitled
to think It over as much as he wanted to
without anybody .getting Impatient. There
was noise enough in th background the
click of the marbles at th wheels, loud talk
ing and laughing out at the bar, and the
musio from the dance hall but over In our
corner everything was still and sort of breath
less. Then Gurney looked up; he waa pale and
his face had lines in it. Ilk he was Just sen
sing that this was most of his fortune he was
planning to gamble on the turn of two cards.
"What ar they, again?'
'"Ace. trey, king,' Kincald told him.
"He stared a minute at the painted ace and
king on lh layout, almt tinder In hns
th av en hi right and th king e h" Ifu
Then h pushed hi stack onto the d ff
lh ar. tipping It In th direction of th king.
"flaying at, king.' al4 Nl. flrly. fr
lh benefit of all wit new.
"Hat go they lay, don't theyr
mandad th Vld. all on d and nervous.
"Right." ired Nele, 'Pot alwav go
they lay. HI nnr moved tuward tU
dal boa. 'Ar w all t?'
"A littl bet Hut a plsver h4 rM
on th nine to win th iiin had Jun
rem out In th losing pile al Nl. Hh
th big play In M tulml, lu t. f illed to the
Inneann chip till lay whr It li! bn
placed, and June's fell uimi it,
"'Vou overlooked a lprr, did," a11!
and reached aero th loymit t sillier H In.
Her body cam between Nelta's ryt and liur
py' k of chips and In tha lo iwcond
while ah waa leaning over, gaihtrlnc In tb
llttl chip, and settling ! k Into Ifr tlMir,
th boy iaci4 f'lrward Imlitniiig Jt, and
moved hi atack -r to the kin tipping tt
toward tb ac. II thiew Itlimulf fir bick
In hi chair, hi binds off th tablet.
"llr we go.' antiouiKfJ Net, and hnve4
off th top card. The on bneil It waa th
king. Ills ' darted to th Ml. a hand
already moving In that direction to gather
In Gurney' bet, and narrowed Into ahta a be
rllt4 th chang and what It meant.
"That bl wua ac, king,' h aald. hrhly.
"'It was.' th boy aald, Jut a hard and
cold. 'Pet go a they lay.'"
II wa sitting up straight now, hi fr
white, but hi eyes looking tquar into Kln
cald'a. I'd seen men sober up quirk under
a strain, but never a quick or. as complete a
"Lt'f th next card," h demanded. -.
Nele mad a movement a though h would
reach forward and turn th box fc down,
signifying that th house refused to go on with
lh deal then hesitated. Peal ain't broken
In th tnlddl of th hint turn. And it would
bo th sain as confessing that he knew what
th next card wa going to be. Th chance
In a o.uaro deal were still even that th next
card would be th trey.
"'You shifted th bet after I began th turn,
"'I did not,' said Gurney. Throw out th
"'Meaning to call m a liar," Nela mur
mured, soft voiced and deadly, and hla right
hand began to move toward th edge of th
tabl where th holster hung. At which Col
cam to hi feet Ilk a cat, kicking hla chair
back and reaching for a gun.
" 'O, don't shoot!" cried Jun to Gurney, and
threw herself across her father. Thl knocked
his hand to on side before It got to th pistol
under th table, and at the Impact hi chair
topped backward and his knee came up sharp
against the swinging holster, and I heard th
gun slip out of It and go thumping to th
"All during th play, ever' since he brought
th pen and Ink, this RIcardo Doyle had been
standing right back of Gurney. Now, when
the boy waa reaching back to hla hip, the half
breed grabbed hla arm. Cole swung a short
left hand punch to his Jaw, which landed
glancing and didn't damage RIcardo none, but
it made him lot go, and Gurney got to hia
pistol, swinging, around to face Kincald again.
Whereupon RIcardo, behind him now, whipped
out a knife.
"So there was where, of course, I had to get
into it, my boss being unarmed and a player
starting trouble, and I got out my gun as fast
as I knsw how and took a shot at Gurney."
Shutter paused, wagging his head regret
fully. "You shot Gurney!" I exclaimed.
"I shot at Gurney," Shutter corrected me.
"I never was more ashamed in my life. It
wasn't more'n seven or eight yards, and I missed
Again Shutter shook his head, and the note
in his voice was rueful and apologetic:
"Missed him by a plumb foot. And the bul
let happens to get RIcardo square in the wrist
of the hand that's holding the knife. So
he's out of it. And, being flustered at missing
thataway, I suppose, I fumble my gun getting
ready to shoot again, and before I can do it
somebody has my shooting arm, and I'm out of
it, too. And there is Gurney, with his back up
against the wall to th left of the bank, swing
ing a gun so It covers Nelse, and Nelse's assist
ants that are coming a-runnlng from one place
and another, and whomever ' else it may con
cern, and Nelse, who has pushed 'June to one
side, puts his hands up over his head Just as
he might if robbers had got the drop on his
" 'So it's a holdup, is it?' he says. 'All right,
Come get what's In the drawer.'
" 'It' no holdup, Mr. Klncaid,' Cole told him.
'These gentlemen are witnesses that I didn't
make a move until after you had begun to reach
under th table. I don't want what's in the
drawer unless It belongs to me, and I won't
know whether It belongs to me or not until you
throw out another card. All I want is to see
whether the ace or the trey is under that king,'
"So Nelse sees, of course, that the game is
played, out. He's got to turn that card or go
out of business in San 'Ntonlo. He takes his
eyes off Gurney and looks around at the players
and spectators, all rigid, waiting developments.
" 'Gentlemen,' he said. 'You know the rules.
If this man moved his bet after I began to
turn the cards his money's mine. If he didn't
he's got a right to have it lay where it Is until
we see what the next card is. I believed he
shifted his chips after I touched the box. I
stilt believe so but men have been wrong. Mr,
Apgate.' He spoke to a man that had been
looking on, not far from Gurney, Did you see
the play?" .
"'Yes, but this Isn't my business,' Apgate
"Klncaid nodded agreement with this. I
sure admired the man's nerve. He had lost,
and he knew he'd lost, and here he waa get
ting himself into a position to stand right with
the crowd when th thing was over, as cool aa
though the money Involved waa a Mexican
" 'Not unless both sides ask you to settle It,"
he said. ' 'That's right, of course.' He looked
about at the crowd again. 'I'm willing,' he told
everybody, 'to leave this to Mr. Apgate. He's
a square man; everybody knows it. Whatever's
right is right. , If he decides against me the bet
lays and we go on with the turn.' He shifted
his eyes to Gurney, his thumb on the hammer
cf his six-shooter, alert, standing there against
"Gurney knew Apgate. Everybody did.
There wasn't an old cattleman In town had a
better reputation for being absolutely on the
" 'I'll leave it to Mr. Apgate,' the boy agreed
shortly. 'He'll be doing me a favor if he will
" 'Wo both ask you,' said Kincald.
"ApEate spoke to the players. 'Does any
other man with a bet down object?' he asked.
'I won't horn in on this unless everybody inter
ested wants me to.
"Two or three spoke up and told him to go
ahead and be the umpire, and nobody had any- .
thing to say to the contrary.
"'Gurney had finished moving his bet and
got his hands clear before you touched the box,'
Apgate told Nelse.
"Nelse shrugged his Shoulders. The expres
ion of his face didn't change. 'You can put
that pistol up,' he said to Cole. 'The bet goes
ns she lays, and we'll look at the next card.'
With finger that never trembled he slid the
king out of the box, and It sounded as though
everybody in that end of the room let out a
sigh he'd been holding back for five minute
as they aw the ac lying underneath it,
(Tors to rag Vlat.) "
Powered by Open ONI