The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (II-2)

The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky  (II-2)

by Stephen Crane

   "And will he kill anybody? What are you going to do? Does this happen often? Does he rampage around like this once a week or so? Can he break in that door?" 

   "No, he can't break down that door," replied the barkeeper. "He's tried it three times. But when he comes you'd better lay down on the floor, stranger. He's dead sure to shoot at it, and a bullet may come through." 

The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky  by staphen orane

   Thereafter the drummer kept a strict eye upon the door. The time had not yet been called for him to hug the floor, but, as a minor precaution, he sidled near to the wall. "Will he kill anybody?" he said again. 

   The men laughed low and scornfully at the question. 

   "He's out to shoot, and he's out for trouble. Don't see any good in experimentin' with him." 
   "But what do you do in a case like this? What do you do?" 

   A man responded: "Why, he and Jack Potter -- " 

   "But," in chorus, the other men interrupted, "Jack Potter's in San Anton'." 

   "Well, who is he? What's he got to do with it?" 

   "Oh, he's the town marshal. He goes out and fights Scratchy when he gets on one of these tears." 

   "Wow," said the drummer, mopping his brow. "Nice job he's got."

   The voices had toned away to mere whisperings. The drummer wished to ask further questions which were born of an increasing anxiety and bewilderment; but when he attempted them, the men merely looked at him in irritation and motioned him to remain silent. A tense waiting hush was upon them. In the deep shadows of the room their eyes shone as they listened for sounds from the street. One man made three gestures at the barkeeper, and the latter, moving like a ghost, handed him a glass and a bottle. The man poured a full glass of whisky, and set down the bottle noiselessly. He gulped the whisky in a swallow, and turned again toward the door in immovable silence. The drummer saw that the barkeeper, without a sound, had taken a Winchester from beneath the bar. Later he saw this individual beckoning to him, so he tiptoed across the room. 

   "You better come with me back of the bar." 

   "No, thanks," said the drummer, perspiring. "I'd rather be where I can make a break for the back door." 

   Whereupon the man of bottles made a kindly but peremptory gesture. The drummer obeyed it, and finding himself seated on a box with his head below the level of the bar, balm was laid upon his soul at sight of various zinc and copper fittings that bore a resemblance to armor-plate. The barkeeper took a seat comfortably upon an adjacent box.

   "You see," he whispered, "this here Scratchy Wilson is a wonder with a gun -- a perfect wonder -- and when he goes on the war trail, we hunt our holes -- naturally. He's about the last one of the old gang that used to hang out along the river here. He's a terror when he's drunk. When he's sober he's all right -- kind of simple -- wouldn't hurt a fly -- nicest fellow in town. But when he's drunk -- whoo!" 

   There were periods of stillness. "I wish Jack Potter was back from San Anton'," said the barkeeper. "He shot Wilson up once -- in the leg -- and he would sail in and pull out the kinks in this thing." 

   Presently they heard from a distance the sound of a shot, followed by three wild yowls. It instantly removed a bond from the men in the darkened saloon. There was a shuffling of feet. They looked at each other. "Here he comes," they said.

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