Shepherds For Science can be found in Magazine Entry


March 3, 1920

Shepherds For Science

By W.C. Tuttle

Author of "Local Option in Loco Land," "Evidently Not," etc.

ME AND Dirty Shirt Jones prods our three burros across the border of Yaller Rock County, points north through the country where God dumped the leavings after He made the Bad Lands, and has visions of the old home town.

Me and Dirty has abandoned the idea of finding gold where she ain't, and right now we're herding our sore-footed jassacks towards the flesh-pots of Piperock town.

We're cutting around the side of a hill, when all to once we discerns the figure of a man setting on a rock ahead of us.

He looks a heap like he was figuring out the why and whatfor of all things. He humps there in the sun, a long, lean, pathetic-looking figure, despondency showing even in the curves of his cartridge-belt. I feels sorry for him long before our lead burro halts before him and lets us arrive.

The figure raises its head, peers at that gray burro, and when we stop he gets to his feet, turns to us and snaps:

"Hold up your hands! Both of you!"

Me and Dirty jerks our hands above our heads, and this fretful-looking hombre with the good-by forever mustache and weary eyes squints at us and says—

"You both solemnly swear to uphold the law vested in you as deputy sheriffs of Yaller Rock County, so help you Gawd?"

Me and Dirty nods and puts down our hands.

"Now," says Magpie Simpkins, sheriff of Yaller Rock County, "I feel a danged sight better."

We nods again, sets down beside him, and rolls smokes. After while Magpie scratches his nose and pinches out the light of his cigaret.

"What you doing here—hunting snakes?" asks Dirty.

Magpie shakes his head and digs into the dirt with his heels.

"Of course it ain't none of our business," says I, "but I would like to know why you inoculates us with sheriffitis without warning."

"Sheep," says he, soft-like. "Just sheep, Ike."

"Which there never was nor never will be," states Dirty. "You mean just plain sheep, don't you, Magpie?"

"That is as may be, Dirty."

Magpie fingers his mustache, and nods.

"Well," says I, "me and Dirty hankers for home, so I reckon we might as well drift along, Magpie."

"No," says he, sad-like. "You ain't going no place, Ike. You're arrived. Do you reckon I deputized you for fun?"

"Sheep," pronounces Dirty, "don't mean nothing at all to me. I sure am contemptuous of all things pertaining to wool."

"Me, I votes against anything that blats," says I.

"I don't love 'em!" snaps Magpie. "Don't see me packing no sheep-dip to alleviate their sufferings, do you?"

We don't seem to, so we all sets there, humped over in the sun. After while Magpie clears his throat.

"'Alphabetical' Alien and 'Scenery' Sims own three thousand woollies," says he. "Scenery was a silent pardner, being as he's a cow-man, which hates sheep. Alphy gets Scenery to unhook a thousand dollars to buy some fancy stock. Sabe? Well, Alphy bought 'em—red, white and blue ones, in stacks, the same of which ain't productive none to speak about.

"Scenery chides Alphy to the extent that Alphy gets disgruntled and wishes to separate the herd, fifty-fifty, without considering the thousand he lost over the green cloth. Alphy contends that him and Scenery has agreed to suffer gains and losses together, and furthermore that he lost a lot of his own money at the same sitting, the same of which makes them feller sufferers.

"Such a open declaration causes some smoke and a little noise in Piperock, but neither of them gets shot up enough for us to declare a holiday. Scenery plasters a attachment on the herd, and then Alphy limps to Judge Steele's wickiup and prays for a receiver.

"Being as I'm the sheriff I has to serve said attachment, and also being as I'm a danged fool I'm appointed as the receiver. The county didn't elect me to herd sheep, gents. Over on the other side of that hill is the sheep. Somewhere over there is the tent. All very simple."

Magpie fusses with his mustache for a moment and then gets to his feet. He slaps our lead burro with his hat, and hitches up his belt.

"Come on, mules! Hump yourselves!"

"Where to, feller?" asks Dirty. "Them is our burros, Magpie."

"You won't need 'em," says he, weary-like, "so I'll take 'em home for you. All I ask is this: Take care of the sheep."

"Sheep?" I yells.

"S-h-e-e-p," he spells, counting the letters on the fingers of his left hand with the barrel of the gun in his right. "Just sheep, Ike. Keep—your— hands—off—that—gun!"

"Yea-a-a-a-a-h!" blats Dirty, excited-like. "Explain yourself, feller."

"You—" Magpie points at Dirty—"are the receiver. Sabe? I hereby makes you deputy receiver of them sheep, and I honors Ike by making him deputy attacher. Ike always was attached to sheep. May the Lord have a little mercy on your souls, and—don't lose any sheep. Come on, canaries."

Me and Dirty sets there like a pair of mummies and watches that forlorn-looking hombre herd our long-eared rolling-stock across the hills. Dirty jerks a rock at a sand-lizard, and yanks his hat down over his ears. We glares at each other for a moment.

"Shepherd!" hisses Dirty. "You sheep attacher!"

"Ditto!" I hisses back at him. "You sheep- receptacle!"

If there ever was an age when jackrabbits spoke with tin-whistle voices Scenery Sims was a throw- back to that period. Him and Alphabetical Alien are two things, the same of which the dictionary designates as inanimate objects. If you can imagine a pair of ciphers with the rims rubbed out—you've got my opinion of them two hombres to a gnat's eyebrow.

"I'm going to kill Magpie Simpkins some day," says Dirty, mean-like.

"Uh-huh," says I. "That sounds like you, Dirty. You're always going to kill somebody the day after. You think too slow."

We sets there a while longer, and then Dirty yawns.

"Might as well find 'em, I reckon. You attach 'em and I'll do the receiving, Ike."

We pokes over the ridge, and after going about a mile we hears the voices of lamblets, and then we sees the teepee, which we deciphers to be the sheep-camp. In her callow youth she might have been a tent, but the wear and tear of sheeping existence has put her in the sere and yaller leaf, with a touch of color, where somebody's red- flannel shirt has patched up a hole in one side. "Well," says Dirty, "she ain't much, but it's home, Ike."

"It is ever so humble," I agrees, and we slid down to it. As we walks up to the front the flap opens, and out comes the head of an inhuman being. This face is so classified, 'cause no human being could have so much hair on its face and still breathe—not without gills.

"Holee henhawks!" gasps Dirty. "Who have we here?"

"Aye am de ship-hoorder," comes from a hole in the hair.

"Bale of hay from Sweden!" gasps Dirty, and the hair opens again.

"Aye am de ship-hoorder."

"What a dugout for dandruff!" says I.

"Yah! Who are you fallers?"

"Your successors," says I. "You can tie up your war-sack and pilgrim."

"Haw?" He seems to think it over, and shakes his head.

"Aye tank Aye stay. Das iss my yob. Aye am de ship-hoorder."

"You don't need to classify yourself," grins Dirty. "Nature tagged you. Us two are going to dry-nurse this bunch of animated socks and underwear, so you might as well kiss 'em a fond fare-thee-well."

The hairy one shakes his head, and peers at us out of a pair of little eyes.

"He say to me, 'O-o-o-laf, I gif you twanty dollar month.' He say dat an' Aye stay for one month. Fifteen day Aye stay today."

"This has been a long da...

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