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The other fellow was about thirty, and dressed about as ornery. After breakfast we all laid off and talked, and the first thing that come out was that these chaps didn’t know one another. The other guy was about thirty years old and he dressed just as shabbily as the other guy. After we ate breakfast we lazed about and talked. The first thing we learned was that these guys didn’t know each other.
“What got you into trouble?” says the baldhead to t’other chap. “What got you into trouble?” the bald-headed guy asked the other guy.
“Well, I’d been selling an article to take the tartar off the teeth—and it does take it off, too, and generly the enamel along with it—but I stayed about one night longer than I ought to, and was just in the act of sliding out when I ran across you on the trail this side of town, and you told me they were coming, and begged me to help you to get off. So I told you I was expecting trouble myself, and would scatter out WITH you. That’s the whole yarn—what’s yourn? “Well, I’d been selling a little device to take the tartar off your teeth. It often takes it off too, along with the enamel—but I stayed about a night longer than I should have. I was just slipping out of town, when I ran across you on the trail on this side of town. You told me they were coming and begged me to help you get away. So I told you I was expecting some trouble myself and would run away WITH you. That’s my whole story. What about you?”
“Well, I’d ben a-running’ a little temperance revival thar ’bout a week, and was the pet of the women folks, big and little, for I was makin’ it mighty warm for the rummies, I TELL you, and takin’ as much as five or six dollars a night—ten cents a head, children and niggers free—and business a-growin’ all the time, when somehow or another a little report got around last night that I had a way of puttin’ in my time with a private jug on the sly. A nigger rousted me out this mornin’, and told me the people was getherin’ on the quiet with their dogs and horses, and they’d be along pretty soon and give me ’bout half an hour’s start, and then run me down if they could; and if they got me they’d tar and feather me and ride me on a rail, sure. I didn’t wait for no breakfast—I warn’t hungry.” “Well, I’d been running a little

temperance revival

meeting of people, mostly women, to protest the sale and consumption of alcohol

temperance revival
there for about a week. I was the darling of the women, old and young, because I was making it mighty difficult for the drunkards in town, I tell you. I was taking in as much as five or six dollars a night—ten cents per person, children and free n------—and business was getting better every day. But somehow or another, a little rumor started going around last night that I was secretly drinking in secret. A n----- woke me up this morning and told me that people were quietly gathering together with their dogs and horses and that they’d be coming to get me in about half an hour. Then they were going to run me down, and tar and feather me if they caught me. They would ride me on a rail for sure. I didn’t wait for breakfast—I wasn’t hungry.”
“Old man,” said the young one, “I reckon we might double-team it together; what do you think?” “Old man,” said the younger one. “I reckon we should join forces and work together as a team. What do you think?”
“I ain’t undisposed. What’s your line—mainly?” “I wouldn’t be against it. What line of work are you in?”
“Jour printer by trade; do a little in patent medicines; theater-actor—tragedy, you know; take a turn to mesmerism and phrenology when there’s a chance; teach singing-geography school for a change; sling a lecture sometimes—oh, I do lots of things—most anything that comes handy, so it ain’t work. What’s your lay?” “Journeyman printer, by trade. But I also work a little in

patent medicine

tonics and elixirs; typically sold by con artists

patent medicine
and theater acting—mostly tragedies—you know. I’ve done a bit of hypontizing and


the study of the shapes of human skulls to determine personality and other characteristics

, when I’ve had the opportunity. I’ve taught singing and geography in school sometimes, lecturing… oh, I do lots of different things—anything handy, so I don’t consider it work. How about you?”
“I’ve done considerble in the doctoring way in my time. Layin’ on o’ hands is my best holt—for cancer and paralysis, and sich things; and I k’n tell a fortune pretty good when I’ve got somebody along to find out the facts for me. Preachin’s my line, too, and workin’ camp-meetin’s, and missionaryin’ around.” “I’ve worked a lot in the medical profession in my time. The

laying on of hands

religious practice in which the minister or healer places his or her hands on the subject to drive away disease or evil spirits

laying on of hands
to cure cancer, paralysis, and those kinds of things—that’s what I’m best at. And I’m a pretty good fortuneteller, when I’ve got a partner to help me find out all the facts first. Preaching is my main line of work, and I often work

camp meetings

religious services offered by traveling preachers

camp meetings
and do missionary stuff.”
Nobody never said anything for a while; then the young man hove a sigh and says: No one said anything for a while. Then the younger man sighed and said:
“Alas!” “Too bad!”
“What ’re you alassin’ about?” says the bald-head. “What’s too bad?” asked the bald guy.
“To think I should have lived to be leading such a life, and be degraded down into such company.” And he begun to wipe the corner of his eye with a rag. “It’s too bad that I’ve been leading a life like this and to have degrade myself by keeping this kind of company.” He began to wipe the corner of his eye with a rag.
“Dern your skin, ain’t the company good enough for you?” says the baldhead, pretty pert and uppish. “Darn you. Aren’t we good enough company?” asked the bald guy curtly and kind of upset.
“Yes, it IS good enough for me; it’s as good as I deserve; for who fetched me so low when I was so high? I did myself. I don’t blame YOU, gentlemen—far from it; I don’t blame anybody. I deserve it all. Let the cold world do its worst; one thing I know—there’s a grave somewhere for me. The world may go on just as it’s always done, and take everything from me—loved ones, property, everything; but it can’t take that. Some day I’ll lie down in it and forget it all, and my poor broken heart will be at rest.” He went on a-wiping. “Yes, it IS good enough for me. It’s as good as I deserve. For who brought me down so low when I was so high? I did. I don’t blame YOU, gentlemen. Far from it. I don’t blame anyone. I deserve it all. Let the cold, cruel world do its worst to me. I only know one thing—there’s a grave waiting for me somewhere. The world can go on as it’s always done, taking everything from me—my loved ones, property, everything. But it can’t take my grave from me. One day I’ll lie down in it and forget everything. My poor broken heart will be at rest.” He kept wiping his eyes.
“Drot your pore broken heart,” says the baldhead; “what are you heaving your pore broken heart at US f’r? WE hain’t done nothing.” “Damn your poor broken heart,” the bald guy said. “Why are you crying to US about your poor broken heart? WE haven’t done anything to you.”
“No, I know you haven’t. I ain’t blaming you, gentlemen. I brought myself down—yes, I did it myself. It’s right I should suffer—perfectly right—I don’t make any moan.” “No—I know you haven’t. I’m not blaming you, gentlemen. I brought myself down. Yes, I did it myself. It’s only right that I should suffer. It’s perfectly right. I’m not going to complain.”
“Brought you down from whar? Whar was you brought down from?” “Brought you down from what? Where were you brought down from?”
“Ah, you would not believe me; the world never believes—let it pass—’tis no matter. The secret of my birth—” “Ah, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. The world never believes. Just let it go. It doesn’t matter. The secret of my birth….”
“The secret of your birth! Do you mean to say—” “The secret of your birth?! Are you telling me….”