A Calaveras Hold-Up can be found in






The Black Cat

No. 2.

NOVEMBER, 1895.

A Calaveras Hold-Up.

BY ROBERTA LITTLEHALE.

ONE sunny summer noon of the year 1880, a man lay under a clump of chaparral at the base of a scrub-oak, near a roadside in the Calaveras foothills. He lay on his stomach, with his head on his arms; and the flies crawled over the dirt on his clothes and the pistol at his belt, only suffering disturbance because of the industry of the black ant colony which had discovered meat among the bread crumbs that had fallen from his pocket. He looked asleep, but, to one who might have seen, there were slits in the sombrero that covered his head, and the eyes behind them were not closed. Rather, they scarcely winked in the sober scrutiny of their purpose.

The road here near the crest of the hill took a sharp right angle to the north, and picked its way brokenly to the summit over rocks and through stumps and standing trees. To the southwest below, it could be seen for miles on its upward course, appearing and disappearing among the open stretches and the woodland. The scrub-oak would have to lengthen its fat shadow very perceptibly before the man would find it necessary to get on his feet; so he allowed a portion of his attention to revert to the cause of his being here.

Billy Owen was not analytical. He did not go back any farther than his love for a woman as the representative cause of the present effect. The spirit of his ancestors, trained to conquest and struggle, had suffered a taint in the far gone years, and he had become the son of an uncertain race. There were men of them rude in virtue as well as strength, and men of them branded with a shifting eye and hunted step. Billy had always had his pleasure with a gun in his hand until these wondrous twelve months of his knowledge of Rudy. That that slight person had no acquaintance with the manner of his former life was due to the respect in which Billy held her. For himself, he couldn't get rid of a troublesome pride when he called up the men—the brakemen, and engineers, and inflated conductors—who had backed away from the steel-ringed mouth of his Colt, his Betty. And the brakemen, and engineers, and inflated conductors who hadn't backed away, and whom Betty had spat at, gave him almost more pride than the treasures he had borne off from und...

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