Page:The ransom of Red Chief and other O. Henry stories for boys.djvu/328

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304 A Blackjack Bargainer

He could not help smiling, even in his misery, as he thought of the man to whom, six months before, he had sold the old Goree homestead. There had come from "back yan'" in the mountains two of the strangest creatures, a man named Pike Garvey and his wife. "Back yan'," with a wave of the hand toward the hills, was understood among the mountaineers to designate the remotest fast- nesses, the unplumbed gorges, the haunts of lawbreakers, the wolfs den, and the boudoir of the bear. In the cabin far up on Black- jack's shoulder, in the wildest part of these re- treats, this odd couple had lived for twenty years. They had neither dog nor children to mitigate the heavy silence of the hills. Pike Garvey was little known in the settle- ments, but all who had dealt with him pro- nounced him "crazy as a loon." He acknow- ledged no occupation save that of a squirrel hunter, but he "moonshined" occasionally by way of diversion. Once the "revenues'* had dragged him from his lair, fighting silently and desperately like a terrier, and he had been sent to state's prison for two years. Re- leased, he popped back into his hole like an angry weasel.

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