If you should speak of the Kiowa Reservation to the average New Yorker he
probably wouldn't know whether you were referring to a new political dodge
at Albany or a leitmotif from "Parsifal." But out in the Kiowa Reservation
advices have been received concerning the existence of New York.
A party of us were on a hunting trip in the Reservation. Bud Kingsbury,
our guide, philosopher, and friend, was broiling antelope steaks in camp
one night. One of the party, a pinkish-haired young man in a correct
hunting costume, sauntered over to the fire to light a cigarette, and
remarked carelessly to Bud:
"Why, yes," said Bud, "as nice as any night could be that ain't received
the Broadway stamp of approval."
Now, the young man was from New York, but the rest of us wondered how Bud
guessed it. So, when the steaks were done, we besought him to lay bare
his system of ratiocination. And as Bud was something of a Territorial
talking machine he made oration as follows:
"How did I know he was from New York? Well, I figured it out as soon as
he sprung them two words on me. I was in New York myself a couple of
years ago, and I noticed some of the earmarks and hoof tracks of the
"Found New York rather different from the Panhandle, didn't you, Bud?"
asked one of the hunters.
"Can't say that I did," answered Bud; "anyways, not more than some. The
main trail in that town which they call Broadway is plenty travelled, but
they're about the same brand of bipeds that tramp around in Cheyenne and
Amarillo, At first I was sort of rattled by the crowds, but I soon says to
myself, 'Here, now, Bud; they're just plain folks like you and Geronimo
and Grover Cleveland and the Watson boys, so don't get all flustered up
with consternation under your saddle blanket,' and then I feels calm and
peaceful, like I was back in the Nation again at a ghost dance or a green
"I'd been saving up for a year to give this New York a whirl. I knew a
man named Summers that lived there, but I couldn't find him; so I played a
lone hand at enjoying the intoxicating pleasures of the corn-fed
"For a while I was so frivolous and locoed by the electric lights and the
noises of the phonographs and the second-story railroads that I forgot one
of the crying needs of my Western system of natural requirements. I never
was no hand to deny myself the pleasures of sociable vocal intercourse
with friends and strangers. Out in the Territories when I meet a man I
never saw before, inside of nine minutes I know his income, religion, size
of collar, and his wife's temper, and how much he pays for clothes, al
imony, and chewing tobacco. It's a gift with me not to be penurious with
"But this here New York was inaugurated on the idea of abstemiousness in
regard to the parts of speech. At the end of three weeks nobody in the
city had fired even a blank syllable in my direction except the waiter in
the grub emporium where I fed. And as his outpourings of syntax wasn't
nothing but plagiarisms from the bill of fare, he never satisfied my
yearnings, which was to have somebody hit. If I stood next to a man at a
bar he'd edge off and give a Baldwin-Ziegler look as if he suspected me of
having the North Pole concealed on my person. I began to wish that I'd
gone to Abilene or Waco for my _paseado_; for the mayor of them places
will drink with you, and the first citizen you meet will tell you his
middle name and ask' you to take a chance in a raffle for a music box.
"Well, one day when I was particular hankering for to be gregarious with
something more loquacious than a lamp post, a fellow in a caffy says to
me, says he:
"He was a kind of a manager of the place, and I reckon he'd seen me in
there a good many times. He had a face like a fish and an eye like Judas,
but I got up and put one arm around his neck.
"'Pardner,' I says, 'sure it's a nice day. You're the first gentleman in
all New York to observe that the intricacies of human speech might not be
altogether wasted on William Kingsbury. But don't you think,' says I,
'that 'twas a little cool early in the morning; and ain't there a feeling
of rain in the air to-night? But along about noon it sure was gallupsious
weather. How's all up to the house? You doing right well with the caffy,
"Well, sir, that galoot just turns his back and walks off stiff, without a
word, after all my trying to be agreeable! I didn't know what to make of
it. That night I finds a note from Summers, who'd been away from town,
giving the address of his camp. I goes up to his house and has a good,
old-time talk with his folks. And I tells Summers about the actions of
this coyote in the caffy, and desires interpretation.
"'Oh,' says Summers, 'he wasn't intending to strike up a conversation with
you. That's just the New York style. He'd seen you was a regular
customer and he spoke a word or two just to show you he appreciated your
custom. You oughtn't to have followed it up. That's about as far as we
care to go with a stranger. A word or so about the weather may be
ventured, but we don't generally make it the basis of an acquaintance. '
"'Billy,' says I, 'the weather and its ramifications is a solemn subject
with me. Meteorology is one of my sore points. No man can open up the
question of temperature or humidity or the glad sunshine with me, and then
turn tail on it without its leading to a falling barometer. I'm going
down to see that man again and give him a lesson in the art of continuous
conversation. You say New York etiquette allows him two words and no
answer. Well, he's going to turn himself into a weather bureau and finish
what he begun with me, besides indulging in neighbourly remarks on other
"Summers talked agin it, but I was irritated some and I went on the street
car back to that caffy.
"The same fellow was there yet, walking round in a sort of back corral
where there was tables and chairs. A few people was sitting around having
drinks and sneering at one another.
"I called that man to one side and herded him into a corner. I unbuttoned
enough to show him a thirty-eight I carried stuck under my vest.
"'Pardner,' I says, 'a brief space ago I was in here and you seized the
opportunity to say it was a nice day. When I attempted to corroborate
your weather signal, you turned your back and walked off. Now,' says I,
'you frog-hearted, language-shy, stiff-necked cross between a Spitzbergen
sea cook and a muzzled oyster, you resume where you left off in your
discourse on the weather.'
"The fellow looks at me and tries to grin, but he sees I don't and he
comes around serious.
"'Well,' says he, eyeing the handle of my gun, 'it was rather a nice day;
some warmish, though.'
"'Particulars, you mealy-mouthed snoozer,' I says -- 'let's have the
specifications -- expatiate -- fill in the outlines. When you start
anything with me in short-hand it's bound to turn out a storm signal.'
"'Looked like rain yesterday,' says the man, 'but it cleared off fine in
the forenoon. I hear the farmers are needing rain right badly up-State.'
"'That's the kind of a canter,' says I. 'Shake the New York dust off your
hoofs and be a real agreeable kind of a centaur. You broke the ice, you
know, and we're getting better acquainted every minute. Seems to me I
asked you about your family?'
"'They're all well, thanks,' says he. 'We -- we have a new piano.'
"'Now you're coming it,' I says. 'This cold reserve is breaking up at
last. That little touch about the piano almost makes us brothers. What's
the youngest kid's name?' I asks him.
"'Thomas,' says he. 'He's just getting well from the measles.'
"'I feel like I'd known you always,' says I. 'Now there was just one more
-- are you doing right well with the caffy, now?'
"'Pretty well,' he says. 'I'm putting away a little money.'
"'Glad to hear it,' says I. 'Now go back to your work and get civilized.
Keep your hands off the weather unless you're ready to follow it up in a
personal manner, It's a subject that naturally belongs to sociability and
the forming of new ties, and I hate to see it handed out in small change
in a town like this.'
"So the next day I rolls up my blankets and hits the trail away from New
For many minutes after Bud ceased talking we lingered around the fire, and
then all hands began to disperse for bed.
As I was unrolling my bedding I heard the pinkish-haired young man saying
to Bud, with something like anxiety in his voice:
"As I say, Mr. Kingsbury, there is something really beautiful about this
night. The delightful breeze and the bright stars and the clear air unite
in making it wonderfully attractive."
"Yes," said Bud, "it's a nice night."