I saw a light in Jeff Peters's room over the Red Front Drug Store. I
hastened toward it, for I had not known that Jeff was in town. He is a
man of the Hadji breed, of a hundred occupations, with a story to tell
(when he will) of each one.
I found Jeff repacking his grip for a run down to Florida to look at an
orange grove for which he had traded, a month before, his mining claim
on the Yukon. He kicked me a chair, with the same old humorous, profound
smile on his seasoned countenance. It had been eight months since we had
met, but his greeting was such as men pass from day to day. Time is
Jeff's servant, and the continent is a big lot across which he cuts to
his many roads.
For a while we skirmished along the edges of unprofitable talk which
culminated in that unquiet problem of the Philippines.
"All them tropical races," said Jeff, "could be run out better with
their own jockeys up. The tropical man knows what he wants. All he wants
is a season ticket to the cock-fights and a pair of Western Union
climbers to go up the bread-fruit tree. The Anglo-Saxon man wants him to
learn to conjugate and wear suspenders. He'll be happiest in his own
I was shocked.
"Education, man," I said, "is the watchword. In time they will rise to
our standard of civilization. Look at what education has done for the
"O-ho!" sang Jeff, lighting his pipe (which was a good sign). "Yes, the
Indian! I'm looking. I hasten to contemplate the redman as a standard
bearer of progress. He's the same as the other brown boys. You can't
make an Anglo-Saxon of him. Did I ever tell you about the time my friend
John Tom Little Bear bit off the right ear of the arts of culture and
education and spun the teetotum back round to where it was when Columbus
was a little boy? I did not?
"John Tom Little Bear was an educated Cherokee Indian and an old friend
of mine when I was in the Territories. He was a graduate of one of them
Eastern football colleges that have been so successful in teaching the
Indian to use the gridiron instead of burning his victims at the stake.
As an Anglo-Saxon, John Tom was copper-colored in spots. As an Indian,
he was one of the whitest men I ever knew. As a Cherokee, he was a
gentleman on the first ballot. As a ward of the nation, he was mighty
hard to carry at the primaries.
"John Tom and me got together and began to make medicine--how to get up
some lawful, genteel swindle which we might work in a quiet way so as
not to excite the stupidity of the police or the cupidity of the larger
corporations. We had close upon $500 between us, and we pined to make it
grow, as all respectable capitalists do.
"So we figured out a proposition which seems to be as honorable as a
gold mine prospectus and as profitable as a church raffle. And inside of
thirty days you find us swarming into Kansas with a pair of fluent
horses and a red camping wagon on the European plan. John Tom is Chief
Wish-Heap-Dough, the famous Indian medicine man and Samaritan Sachem of
the Seven Tribes. Mr. Peters is business manager and half owner. We
needed a third man, so we looked around and found J. Conyngham Binkly
leaning against the want column of a newspaper. This Binkly has a
disease for Shakespearian roles, and an hallucination about a 200
nights' run on the New York stage. But he confesses that he never could
earn the butter to spread on his William S. roles, so he is willing to
drop to the ordinary baker's kind, and be satisfied with a 200-mile run
behind the medicine ponies. Besides Richard III, he could do
twenty-seven coon songs and banjo specialties, and was willing to cook,
and curry the horses. We carried a fine line of excuses for taking
money. One was a magic soap for removing grease spots and quarters from
clothes. One was a Sum-wah-tah, the great Indian Remedy made from a
prairie herb revealed by the Great Spirit in a dream to his favorite
medicine men, the great chiefs McGarrity and Siberstein, bottlers,
Chicago. And the other was a frivolous system of pick-pocketing the
Kansasters that had the department stores reduced to a decimal fraction.
Look ye! A pair of silk garters, a dream book, one dozen clothespins, a
gold tooth, and `When Knighthood Was in Flower' all wrapped up in a
genuine Japanese silkarina handkerchief and handed to the handsome lady
by Mr. Peters for the trivial sum of fifty cents, while Professor Binkly
entertains us in a three-minute round with the banjo.
"'Twas an eminent graft we had. We ravaged peacefully through the State,
determined to remove all doubt as to why 'twas called bleeding Kansas.
John Tom Little Bear, in full Indian chief's costume, drew crowds away
from the parchesi sociables and government ownership conversaziones.
While at the football college in the East he had acquired quantities of
rhetoric and the art of calisthenics and sophistry in his classes, and
when he stood up in the red wagon and explained to the farmers,
eloquent, about chilblains and hyperaesthesia of the cranium, Jeff
couldn't hand out the Indian Remedy fast enough for 'em.
"One night we was camped on the edge of a little town out west of
Salina. We always camped near a stream, and put up a little tent.
Sometimes we sold out of the Remedy unexpected, and then Chief
Wish-Heap-Dough would have a dream in which the Manitou commanded him to
fill up a few bottles of Sum-wah-tah at the most convenient place. 'Twas
about ten o'clock, and we'd just got in from a street performance. I was
in the tent with the lantern, figuring up the day's profits. John Tom
hadn't taken off his Indian make-up, and was sitting by the campfire
minding a fine sirloin steak in the pan for the Professor till he
finished his hair-raising scene with the trained horses.
"All at once out of dark bushes comes a pop like a firecracker, and John
Tom gives a grunt and digs out of his bosom a little bullet that has
dented itself against his collar-bone. John Tom makes a dive in the
direction of the fireworks, and comes back dragging by the collar a kid
about nine or ten years young, in a velveteen suit, with a little
nickel-mounted rifle in his hand about as big as a fountain-pen.
"'Here, you pappoose,' says John Tom, 'what are you gunning for with
that howitzer? You might hit somebody in the eye. Come out, Jeff, and
mind the steak. Don't let it burn, while I investigate this demon with
the pea shooter.'
"'Cowardly redskin,' says the kid like he was quoting from a favorite
author. 'Dare to burn me at the stake and the paleface will sweep you
from the prairies like--like everything. Now, you lemme go, or I'll
"John Tom plants the kid on a camp-stool, and sits down by him. 'Now,
tell the big chief,' he says, 'why you try to shoot pellets into your
Uncle John's system. Didn't you know it was loaded?'
"'Are you a Indian?' asks the kid, looking up cute as
you please at John Tom's buckskin and eagle feathers.
"'I am,' says John Tom. 'Well, then, that's why,' answers the boy,
swinging his feet. I nearly let the steak burn watching the nerve of
"'O-ho!' says John Tom, 'I see. You're the Boy Avenger. And you've
sworn to rid the continent of the savage redman. Is that about the way
of it, son?'
"The kid halfway nodded his head. And then he looked glum. 'Twas
indecent to wring his secret from his bosom before a single brave had
fallen before his parlor-rifle.
"'Now, tell us where your wigwam is, pappoose,' says John Tom--'where
you live? Your mamma will be worrying about you being out so late. Tell
me, and I'll take you home.'
"The kid grins. 'I guess not,' he says. 'I live thousands and thousands
of miles over there.' He gyrated his hand toward the horizon. 'I come on
the train,' he says, 'by myself. I got off here because the conductor
said my ticket had ex-pirated.' He looks at John Tom with sudden
suspicion 'I bet you ain't a Indian,' he says. 'You don't talk like a
Indian. You look like one, but all a Indian can say is "heap good" and
"paleface die." Say, I bet you are one of them make-believe Indians that
sell medicine on the streets. I saw one once in Quincy.'
"'You never mind,' says John Tom, 'whether I'm a cigar-sign or a Tammany
cartoon. The question before the council is what's to be done with you.
You've run away from home. You've been reading Howells. You've disgraced
the profession of boy avengers by trying to shoot a tame Indian, and
never saying: "Die, dog of a redskin! You have crossed the path of the
Boy Avenger nineteen times too often." What do you mean by it?'
"The kid thought for a minute. 'I guess I made a mistake,' he says. 'I
ought to have gone farther west. They find 'em wild out there in the
canyons.' He holds out his hand to John Tom, the little rascal. 'Please
excuse me, sir,' says he, 'for shooting at you. I hope it didn't hurt
you. But you ought to be more careful. When a scout sees a Indian in his
war-dress, his rifle must speak.' Little Bear give a big laugh with a
whoop at the end of it, and swings the kid ten feet high and sets him on
his shoulder, and the runaway fingers the fringe and the eagle feathers
and is full of the joy the white man knows when he dangles his heels
against an inferior race. It is plain that Little Bear and that kid are
chums from that on. The little renegade has already smoked the pipe of
peace with the savage; and you can see in his eye that he is figuring on
a tomahawk and a pair of moccasins, children's size.
"We have supper in the tent. The youngster looks upon me and the
Professor as ordinary braves, only intended as a background to the camp
scene. When he is seated on a box of Sum-wah-tah, with the edge of the
table sawing his neck, and his mouth full of beefsteak, Little Bear
calls for his name. 'Roy,' says the kid, with a sirloiny sound to it.
But when the rest of it and his post-office address is referred to, he
shakes his head. 'I guess not,' he says. 'You'll send me back. I want to
stay with you. I like this camping out. At home, we fellows had a camp
in our back yard. They called me Roy, the Red Wolf! I guess that'll do
for a name. Gimme another piece of beefsteak, please.'
"We had to keep that kid. We knew there was a hullabaloo about him
somewheres, and that Mamma, and Uncle Harry, and Aunt Jane, and the
Chief of Police were hot after finding his trail, but not another word
would he tell us. In two days he was the mascot of the Big Medicine
outfit, and all of us had a sneaking hope that his owners wouldn't turn
up. When the red wagon was doing business he was in it, and passed up
the bottles to Mr. Peters as proud and satisfied as a prince that's
abjured a two-hundred-dollar crown for a million-dollar parvenuess. Once
John Tom asked him something about his papa. 'I ain't got any papa,' he
says. 'He runned away and left us. He made my mamma cry. Aunt Lucy says
he's a shape.' 'A what?' somebody asks him. 'A shape,' says the kid;
`some kind of a shape--lemme see--oh, yes, a feendenuman shape. I
don't know what it means.' John Tom was for putting our brand on him,
and dressing him up like a little chief, with wampum and beads, but I
vetoes it. 'Somebody's lost that kid, is my view of it, and they may
want him. You let me try him with a few stratagems, and see if I can't
get a look at his visiting-card.'
"So that night I goes up to Mr. Roy Blank by the camp-fire, and looks at
him contemptuous and scornful. 'Snickenwitzel!' says I, like the word
made me sick; 'Snickenwitzel! Bah! Before I'd be named Snickenwitzel!'
"'What's the matter with you, Jeff?" says the kid, opening his eyes
"'Snickenwitzel!' I repeats, and I spat, the word out. 'I saw a man
to-day from your town, and he told me your name. I'm not surprised you
was ashamed to tell it. Snickenwitzel! Whew!'
"'Ah, here, now,' says the boy, indignant and wriggling all over,
'what's the matter with you? That ain't my name. It's Conyers. What's
the matter with you?'
"'And that's not the worst of it,' I went on quick, keeping him hot and
not giving him time to think. 'We thought you was from a nice,
well-to-do family. Here's Mr. Little Bear, a chief of the Cherokees,
entitled to wear nine otter tails on his Sunday blanket, and Professor
Binkly, who plays Shakespeare and the banjo, and me, that's got hundreds
of dollars in that black tin box in the wagon, and we've got to be
careful about the company we keep. That man tells me your folks live
'way down in little old Hencoop Alley, where there are no sidewalks, and
the goats eat off the table with you.'
"That kid was almost crying now. ''Taint so,' he splutters. 'He--he
don't know what he's talking about. We live on Poplar Av'noo. I don't
'sociate with goats. What's the matter with you?'
"'Poplar Avenue,' says I, sarcastic. 'Poplar Avenue! That's a street to
live on! It only runs two blocks and then falls off a bluff. You can
throw a keg of nails the whole length of it. Don't talk to me about
"'It's--it's miles long,' says the kid. 'Our number's 862 and there's
lots of houses after that. What's the matter with--aw, you make me
"'Well, well, now,' says I. 'I guess that man made a mistake. Maybe it
was some other boy he was talking about. If I catch him I'll teach him
to go around slandering people.' And after supper I goes up town and
telegraphs to Mrs. Conyers, 862 Poplar Avenue, Quincy, Ill., that the
kid is safe and sassy with us, and will be held for further orders. In
two hours an answer comes to hold him tight, and she'll start for him by
"The next train was due at 6 p.m. the next day, and me and John Tom was
at the depot with the kid. You might scour the plains in vain for the
big Chief Wish-Heap-Dough. In his place is Mr. Little Bear in the human
habiliments of the Anglo-Saxon sect; and the leather of his shoes is
patented and the loop of his necktie is copyrighted. For these things
John Tom had grafted on him at college along with metaphysics and the
knockout guard for the low tackle. But for his complexion, which is some
yellowish, and the black mop of his straight hair, you might have
thought here was an ordinary man out of the city directory that
subscribes for magazines and pushes the lawn-mower in his shirt-sleeves
"Then the train rolled in, and a little woman in a gray dress, with sort
of illuminating hair, slides off and looks around quick. And the Boy
Avenger sees her, and yells 'Mamma,' and she cries 'O!' and they meet in
a clinch, and now the pesky redskins can come forth from their caves on
the plains without fear any more of the rifle of Roy, the Red Wolf. Mrs.
Conyers comes up and thanks me an' John Tom without the usual
extremities you always look for in a woman. She says just enough, in a
way to convince, and there is no incidental music by the orchestra. I
made a few illiterate requisitions upon the art of conversation, at
which the lady smiles friendly, as if she had known me a week. And then
Mr. Little Bear adorns the atmosphere with the various idioms into which
education can fracture the wind of speech. I could see the kid's mother
didn't quite place John Tom; but it seemed she was apprised in his
dialects, and she played up to his lead in the science of making three
words do the work of one.
"That kid introduced us, with some footnotes and explanations that made
things plainer than a week of rhetoric. He danced around, and punched us
in the back, and tried to climb John Tom's leg. 'This is John Tom,
mamma,' says he. 'He's a Indian. He sells medicine in a red wagon. I
shot him, but he wasn't wild. The other one's Jeff. He's a fakir, too.
Come on and see the camp where we live, won't you, mamma?'
"It is plain to see that the life of the woman is in that boy. She has
got him again where her arms can gather him, and that's enough. She's
ready to do anything to please him. She hesitates the eighth of a second
and takes another look at these men. I imagine she says to herself about
John Tom, 'Seems to be a gentleman, if his hair don't curl.' And Mr.
Peters she disposes of as follows: 'No ladies' man, but a man who knows
"So we all rambled down to the camp as neighborly as coming from a wake.
And there she inspects the wagon and pats the place with her hand where
the kid used to sleep, and dabs around her eyewinkers with her
handkerchief. And Professor Binkly gives us 'Trovatore' on one strong of
the banjo, and is about to slide off into Hamlet's monologue when one of
the horses gets tangled in his rope and he must go look after him, and
says something about 'foiled again.'
"When it got dark me and John Tom walked back up to the Corn Exchange
Hotel, and the four of us had supper there. I think the trouble started
at that supper, for then was when Mr. Little Bear made an intellectual
balloon ascension. I held on to the tablecloth, and listened to him
soar. That redman, if I could judge, had the gift of information. He
took language, and did with it all a Roman can do with macaroni. His
vocal remarks was all embroidered over with the most scholarly verbs and
prefixes. And his syllables was smooth, and fitted nicely to the joints
of his idea. I thought I'd heard him talk before, but I hadn't. And it
wasn't the size of his words, but the way they come; and 'twasn't his
subjects, for he spoke of common things like cathedrals and football and
poems and catarrh and souls and freight rates and sculpture. Mrs.
Conyers understood his accents, and the elegant sounds went back and
forth between 'em. And now and then Jefferson D. Peters would intervene
a few shop-worn, senseless words to have the butter passed or another
leg of the chicken.
"Yes, John Tom Little Bear appeared to be inveigled some in his bosom
about that Mrs. Conyers. She was of the kind that pleases. She had the
good looks and more, I'll tell you. You take one of these cloak models
in a big store. They strike you as being on the impersonal system. They
are adapted for the eye. What they run to is inches around and
complexion, and the art of fanning the delusion that the sealskin would
look just as well on the lady with the warts and the pocket-book. Now,
if one of them models was off duty, and you took it, and it would say
'Charlie' when you pressed it, and sit up at the table, why, then you
would have something similar to Mrs. Conyers. I could see how John Tom
could resist any inclination to hate that white squaw.
"The lady and the kid stayed at the hotel. In the morning, they say,
they will start for home. Me and Little Bear left at eight o'clock, and
sold Indian Remedy on the courthouse square till nine. He leaves me and
the Professor to drive down to camp, while he stays up town. I am not
enamored with that plan, for it shows John Tom is uneasy in his
composures, and that leads to firewater, and sometimes to the green corn
dance and costs. Not often does Chief Wish-Heap-Dough get busy with the
firewater, but whenever he does there is heap much doing in the lodges
of the palefaces who wear blue and carry the club.
"At half-past nine Professor Binkly is rolled in his quilt snoring in
blank verse, and I am sitting by the fire listening to the frogs. Mr.
Little Bear slides into camp and sits down against a tree. There is no
symptoms of firewater.
"'Jeff,' says he, after a long time, 'a little boy came West to hunt
"'Well, then?' says I, for I wasn't thinking as he was.
"'And he bagged one,' says John Tom, 'and 'twas not with a gun, and he
never had on a velveteen suit of clothes in his life.' And then I began
to catch his smoke.
"'I know it,' says I. 'And I'll bet you his pictures are on valentines,
and fool men are his game, red and white.
"'You win on the red,' says John Tom, calm. 'Jeff, for how many ponies
do you think I could buy Mrs. Conyers?'
"'Scandalous talk!' I replies. ''Tis not a paleface custom.' John Tom
laughs loud and bites into a cigar. 'No,' he answers; ''tis the savage
equivalent for the dollars of the white man's marriage settlement. Oh, I
know. There's an eternal wall between the races. If I could do it, Jeff,
I'd put a torch to every white college that a redman has ever set foot
inside. Why don't you leave us alone,' he says, 'to our own ghost-dances
and dog-feasts, and our dingy squaws to cook our grasshopper soup and
darn our moccasins?'
"'Now, you sure don't mean disrespect to the perennial blossom entitled
education?' says I, scandalized, 'because I wear it in the bosom of my
own intellectual shirt-waist. I've had education,' says I, 'and never
took any harm from it.'
"'You lasso us,' goes on Little Bear, not noticing my prose insertions,
'and teach us what is beautiful in literature and in life, and how to
appreciate what is fine in men and women. What have you done to me?'
says he. 'You've made me a Cherokee Moses. You've taught me to hate the
wigwams and love the white man's ways. I can look over into the promised
land and see Mrs. Conyers, but my place is--on the reservation.'
"Little Bear stands up in his chief's dress, and laughs again. 'But,
white man Jeff,' he goes on, 'the paleface provides a recourse. 'Tis a
temporary one, but it gives a respite and the name of it is whiskey.'
And straight off he walks up the path to town again. 'Now,' says I in my
mind, 'may the Manitou move him to do only bailable things this night!'
For I perceive that John Tom is about to avail himself of the white
"Maybe it was 10:30, as I sat smoking, when I hear pit-a-pats on the
path, and here comes Mrs. Conyers running, her hair twisted up any way,
and a look on her face that says burglars and mice and the
flour's-all-out rolled in one. 'Oh, Mr. Peters,' she calls out, as they
will, 'oh, oh!' I made a quick think, and I spoke the gist of it out
loud. 'Now,' says I, 'we've been brothers, me and that Indian, but I'll
make a good one of him in two minutes if--'
"'No, no, she says, wild and cracking her knuckles, 'I haven't seen Mr.
Little Bear. 'Tis my--husband. He's stolen my boy. Oh,' she says,
'just when I had him back in my arms again! That heartless villain!
Every bitterness life knows,' she says, 'he's made me drink. My poor
little lamb, that ought to be warm in his bed, carried of by that
"'How did all this happen?' I ask. 'Let's have the facts.'
"'I was fixing his bed,' she explains, 'and Roy was playing on the hotel
porch and he drives up to the steps. I heard Roy scream, and ran out. My
husband had him in the buggy then. I begged him for my child. This is
what he gave me.' She turns her face to the light. There is a crimson
streak running across her cheek and mouth. 'He did that with his whip,'
"'Come back to the hotel,' says I, 'and we'll see what can be done.'
"On the way she tells me some of the wherefores. When he slashed her
with the whip he told her he found out she was coming for the kid, and
he was on the same train. Mrs. Conyers had been living with her brother,
and they'd watched the boy always, as her husband had tried to steal him
before. I judge that man was worse than a street railway promoter. It
seems he had spent her money and slugged her and killed her canary bird,
and told it around that she had cold feet.
"At the hotel we found a mass meeting of five infuriated citizens
chewing tobacco and denouncing the outrage. Most of the town was asleep
by ten o'clock. I talks the lady some quiet, and tells her I will take
the one o'clock train for the next town, forty miles east, for it is
likely that the esteemed Mr. Conyers will drive there to take the cars.
'I don't know,' I tells her, 'but what he has legal rights; but if I
find him I can give him an illegal left in the eye, and tie him up for a
day or two, anyhow, on a disturbal of the peace proposition.'
"Mrs. Conyers goes inside and cries with the landlord's wife, who is
fixing some catnip tea that will make everything all right for the poor
dear. The landlord comes out on the porch, thumbing his one suspender,
and says to me:
"'Ain't had so much excitements in town since Bedford Steegall's wife
swallered a spring lizard. I seen him through the winder hit her with
the buggy whip, and everything. What's that suit of clothes cost you you
got on? 'Pears like we'd have some rain, don't it? Say, doc, that Indian
of yorn's on a kind of a whizz to-night, ain't he? He comes along just
before you did, and I told him about this here occurrence. He gives a
cur'us kind of a hoot, and trotted off. I guess our constable 'll have
him in the lock-up 'fore morning.'
"I thought I'd sit on the porch and wait for the one o'clock train. I
wasn't feeling saturated with mirth. Here was John Tom on one of his
sprees, and this kidnapping business losing sleep for me. But then, I'm
always having trouble with other people's troubles. Every few minutes
Mrs. Conyers would come out on the porch and look down the road the way
the buggy went, like she expected to see that kid coming back on a white
pony with a red apple in his hand. Now, wasn't that like a woman? And
that brings up cats. 'I saw a mouse go in this hole,' says Mrs. Cat;
'you can go prize up a plank over there if you like; I'll watch this
"About a quarter to one o'clock the lady comes out again, restless,
crying easy, as females do for their own amusement, and she looks down
that road again and listens. 'Now, ma'am,' says I, 'there's no use
watching cold wheel-tracks. By this time they're halfway to--' 'Hush,'
she says, holding up her hand. And I do hear something coming
`flip-flap' in the dark; and then there is the awfulest war-whoop ever
heard outside of Madison Square Garden at a Buffalo Bill matinee. And up
the steps and on to the porch jumps the disrespectable Indian. The lamp
in the hall shines on him, and I fail to recognize Mr. J. T. Little
Bear, alumnus of the class of '91. What I see is a Cherokee brave, and
the warpath is what he has been travelling. Firewater and other things
have got him going. His buckskin is hanging in strings, and his feathers
are mixed up like a frizzly hen's. The dust of miles is on his
moccasins, and the light in his eye is the kind the aborigines wear. But
in his arms he brings that kid, his eyes half closed, with his little
shoes dangling and one hand fast around the Indian's collar.
"'Pappoose!' says John Tom, and I notice that the flowers of the white
man's syntax have left his tongue. He is the original proposition in
bear's claws and copper color. 'Me bring,' says he, and he lays the kid
in his mother's arms. 'Run fifteen mile,' says John Tom--'Ugh! Catch
white man. Bring pappoose.'
"The little woman is in extremities of gladness. She must wake up that
stir-up trouble youngster and hug him and make proclamation that he is
his mamma's own precious treasure. I was about to ask questions, but I
looked at Mr. Little Bear, and my eye caught the sight of something in
his belt. 'Now go to bed, ma'am,' says I, 'and this gadabout youngster
likewise, for there's no more danger, and the kidnapping business is not
what it was earlier in the night.'
"I inveigled John Tom down to camp quick, and when he tumbled over
asleep I got that thing out of his belt and disposed of it where the eye
of education can't see it. For even the football colleges disapprove of
the art of scalp-taking in their curriculums.
"It is ten o'clock next day when John Tom wakes up and looks around. I
am glad to see the nineteenth century in his eyes again.
"'What was it, Jeff?" he asks.
"'Heap firewater,' says I.
"John Tom frowns, and thinks a little. 'Combined,' says he directly,
'with the interesting little physiological shake-up known as reversion
to type. I remember now. Have they gone yet?'
"'On the 7:30 train,' I answers.
"'Ugh!' says John Tom; 'better so. Paleface, bring big Chief
Wish-Heap-Dough a little bromo-seltzer, and then he'll take up the
redman's burden again.'"