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|In The Carquinez Woods||Bret Harte|
|Page 4 of 11||
"I reckoned all along it was YOU who shot the bear," she said; "at least some one hiding yer," and she indicated the hollow tree with her hand. "It wasn't no chance shot." Observing that the young man, either from misconception or indifference, did not seem to comprehend her, she added, "We came by here, last night, a minute after you fired."
"Oh, that was YOU kicked up such a row, was it?" said the young man, with a shade of interest.
"I reckon," said the woman, nodding her head, "and them that was with me."
"And who are they?"
"Sheriff Dunn, of Yolo, and his deputy."
"And where are they now?"
"The deputy--in h-ll, I reckon; I don't know about the sheriff."
"I see," said the young man quietly; "and you?"
"I--got away," she said savagely. But she was taken with a sudden nervous shiver, which she at once repressed by tightly dragging her shawl over her shoulders and elbows, and folding her arms defiantly.
"And you're going?"
"To follow the deputy, may be," she said gloomily. "But come, I say, ain't you going to treat? It's cursed cold here."
"Wait a moment." The young man was looking at her, with his arched brows slightly knit and a half smile of curiosity. "Ain't you Teresa?"
She was prepared for the question, but evidently was not certain whether she would reply defiantly or confidently. After an exhaustive scrutiny of his face she chose the latter, and said, "You can bet your life on it, Johnny."
"I don't bet, and my name isn't Johnny. Then you're the woman who stabbed Dick Curson over at Lagrange's?"
She became defiant again.
"That's me, all the time. What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing. And you used to dance at the Alhambra?" She whisked the shawl from her shoulders, held it up like a scarf, and made one or two steps of the sembicuacua. There was not the least gayety, recklessness, or spontaneity in the action; it was simply mechanical bravado. It was so ineffective, even upon her own feelings, that her arms presently dropped to her side, and she coughed embarrassedly. "Where's that whiskey, pardner?" she asked.
The young man turned toward the tree he had just quitted, and without further words assisted her to mount to the cavity. It was an irregular-shaped vaulted chamber, pierced fifty feet above by a shaft or cylindrical opening in the decayed trunk, which was blackened by smoke, as if it had served the purpose of a chimney. In one corner lay a bearskin and blanket; at the side were two alcoves or indentations, one of which was evidently used as a table, and the other as a cupboard. In another hollow, near the entrance, lay a few small sacks of flour, coffee, and sugar, the sticky contents of the latter still strewing the floor. From this storehouse the young man drew a wicker flask of whiskey, and handed it, with a tin cup of water, to the woman. She waved the cup aside, placed the flask to her lips, and drank the undiluted spirit. Yet even this was evidently bravado, for the water started to her eyes, and she could not restrain the paroxysm of coughing that followed.
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|In The Carquinez Woods
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