by Bill Nye
Public Domain Books
While in New England trying in my poor, weak way to represent the “rowdy west,” I met a sad young man who asked me if I lived in Chi-eene. I told him that if he referred to Cheyenne, I had been there off and on a good deal.
He said he was there not long ago, but did not remain. He bought some clothes in Chicago, so that he could appear in Chi-eene as a “holy terror" when he landed there, and thus in a whole town of “holy terrors” he would not attract attention.
I am not, said he, by birth or instinct, a holy terror, but I thought I would like to try it a little while, anyhow. I got one of those Chicago sombreros with a gilt fried cake twisted around it for a band. Then I got a yellow silk handkerchief on the ten cent counter to tie around my neck. Then I got a suit of smoke-tanned buckskin clothes and a pair of moccasins. I had never seen a bad, bad man from Chi-eene, but I had seen pictures of them and they all wore moccasins. The money that I had left I put into a large revolver and a butcher knife with a red Morocco sheath to it. The revolver was too heavy for me to hold in one hand and shoot, but by resting it on a fence I could kill a cow easy enough if she wasn’t too blamed restless.
I went out to the stock yards in Chicago one afternoon and practiced with my revolver. One of my thumbs is out there at the stock yards now.
At Omaha I put on my new suit and sent my human clothes home to my father. He told me when I came away that when I got out to Wyoming, probably I wouldn’t want to attract attention by wearing clothes, and so I could send my clothes back to him and he would be glad to have them.
At Sidney I put on my revolver and went into the eating house to get my dinner. A tall man met me at the door and threw me about forty feet in an oblique manner. I asked him if he meant anything personal by that and he said not at all, not at all. I then asked him if he would not allow me to eat my dinner and he said that depended on what I wanted for my dinner. If I would lay down my arms and come back to the reservation and remain neutral to the Government and eat cooked food, it would be all right, but if I insisted on eating raw dining-room girls and scalloped young ladies, he would bar me out.
We landed at Chi-eene in the evening. They had hacks and ’busses and carriages till you couldn’t rest, all standing there at the depot, and a large colored man in a loud tone of voice remarked: “INTEROCEAN HO-TEL!!!!”
I went there myself. It had doors and windows to it, and carpets and gas. The young man who showed me to my room was very polite to me. He seemed to want to get acquainted. He said:
“You are from New Hampshire, are you not?”
I told him not to give it away, but I was from New Hampshire. Then I asked him how he knew.
He said that several New Hampshire people had been out there that summer, and they had worn the same style of revolver and generally had one thumb done up in a rag. Then he said that if I came from New Hampshire he would show me how to turn off the gas.
He also took my revolver down to the office with him and put it in the safe, because he said someone might get into my room in the night and kill me with it if he left it here. He was a perfect gentleman.
They have a big opera house there in Chi-eene, and while I was there they had the Eyetalian opera singers, Patty and Nevady there. The streets were lit up with electricity, and people seemed to kind of politely look down on me, I thought. Still, they acted as if they tried not to notice my clothes and dime museum hat.
They seemed to look at me as if I wasn’t to blame for it, and as if they felt sorry for me. If I’d had my United States clothes with me, I could have had a good deal of fun in Chi-eene, going to the opera and the lectures, and concerts, et cetera. But finally I decided to return, so I wrote to my parents how I had been knocked down and garroted, and left for dead with one thumb shot off, and they gladly sent the money to pay funeral expenses.
With this I got a cut-rate ticket home and surprised and horrified my parents by dropping in on them one morning just after prayers. I tried to get there prior to prayers, but was side-tracked by my father’s new anti-tramp bull dog.