extended toward him. Was it a shudder that
passed through the lithe, young figure or was it merely a subconscious
recognition of the final passing of the bodily cold before the glowing
warmth of the blaze? "And Soup Face," continued The Sky Pilot. A battered
wreck half rose and extended a pudgy hand. Red whiskers, matted in
little tangled wisps which suggested the dried ingredients of an
infinite procession of semi-liquid refreshments, rioted promiscuously
over a scarlet countenance.
"Pleased to meetcha," sprayed Soup Face. It was a strained smile
which twisted the rather too perfect mouth of The Oskaloosa Kid, an
appellation which we must, perforce, accept since the youth did not deny
Columbus Blackie, The General, and Dirty Eddie were formally presented.
As Dirty Eddie was, physically, the cleanest member of the band the
youth wondered how he had come by his sobriquet--that is, he wondered
until he heard Dirty Eddie speak, after which he was no longer in doubt.
The Oskaloosa Kid, self-confessed 'tramp' and burglar, flushed at the
lurid obscenity of Dirty Eddie's remarks.
"Sit down, bo," invited Soup Face. "I guess you're a regular all right.
Here, have a snifter?" and he pulled a flask from his side pocket,
holding it toward The Oskaloosa Kid.
"Thank you, but;--er--I'm on the wagon, you know," declined the youth.
"Have a smoke?" suggested Columbus Blackie. "Here's the makin's."
The change in the attitude of the men toward him pleased The Oskaloosa
Kid immensely. They were treating him as one of them, and after the
lonely walk through the dark and desolate farm lands human companionship
of any kind was to him as the proverbial straw to the man who rocked the
boat once too often.
Dopey Charlie and The General, alone of all the company, waxed not
enthusiastic over the advent of The Oskaloosa Kid and his priceless
loot. These two sat scowling and whispering in the back-ground. "Dat's
a wrong guy," muttered the former to the latter. "He's a stool pigeon or
one of dese amatoor mugs."
"It's the pullin' of that punk graft that got my goat," replied The
General. "I never seen a punk yet that didn't try to make you think he
was a wise guy an' dis stiff don't belong enough even to pull a spiel
that would fool a old ladies' sewin' circle. I don't see wot The Sky
Pilot's cozyin' up to him fer."
"You don't?" scoffed Dopey Charlie. "Didn't you lamp de oyster harness?
To say nothin' of de mitful of rocks and kale."
"That 'ud be all right, too," replied the other, "if we could put the
guy to sleep;
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