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Mark Twain > A Horse's Tale > Chapter VII

A Horse's Tale

Chapter VII


SOLDIER BOY AND SHEKELS



"Did you do as I told you? Did you look up the Mexican Plug?"

"Yes, I made his acquaintance before night and got his friendship."

"I liked him. Did you?"

"Not at first. He took me for a reptile, and it troubled me,
because I didn't know whether it was a compliment or not. I
couldn't ask him, because it would look ignorant. So I didn't say
anything, and soon liked him very well indeed. Was it a
compliment, do you think?"

"Yes, that is what it was. They are very rare, the reptiles; very
few left, now-a-days."

"Is that so? What is a reptile?"

"It is a plantigrade circumflex vertebrate bacterium that hasn't
any wings and is uncertain."

"Well, it - it sounds fine, it surely does."

"And it IS fine. You may be thankful you are one."

"I am. It seems wonderfully grand and elegant for a person that is
so humble as I am; but I am thankful, I am indeed, and will try to
live up to it. It is hard to remember. Will you say it again,
please, and say it slow?"

"Plantigrade circumflex vertebrate bacterium that hasn't any wings
and is uncertain."

"It is beautiful, anybody must grant it; beautiful, and of a noble
sound. I hope it will not make me proud and stuck-up - I should
not like to be that. It is much more distinguished and honorable
to be a reptile than a dog, don't you think, Soldier?"

"Why, there's no comparison. It is awfully aristocratic. Often a
duke is called a reptile; it is set down so, in history."

"Isn't that grand! Potter wouldn't ever associate with me, but I
reckon he'll be glad to when he finds out what I am."

"You can depend upon it."

"I will thank Mongrel for this. He is a very good sort, for a
Mexican Plug. Don't you think he is?"

"It is my opinion of him; and as for his birth, he cannot help
that. We cannot all be reptiles, we cannot all be fossils; we have
to take what comes and be thankful it is no worse. It is the true
philosophy."

"For those others?"

"Stick to the subject, please. Did it turn out that my suspicions
were right?"

"Yes, perfectly right. Mongrel has heard them planning. They are
after BB's life, for running them out of Medicine Bow and taking
their stolen horses away from them."

"Well, they'll get him yet, for sure."

"Not if he keeps a sharp look-out."

"HE keep a sharp lookout! He never does; he despises them, and all
their kind. His life is always being threatened, and so it has
come to be monotonous."

"Does he know they are here?"

"Oh yes, he knows it. He is always the earliest to know who comes
and who goes. But he cares nothing for them and their threats; he
only laughs when people warn him. They'll shoot him from behind a
tree the first he knows. Did Mongrel tell you their plans?"

"Yes. They have found out that he starts for Fort Clayton day
after to-morrow, with one of his scouts; so they will leave to-
morrow, letting on to go south, but they will fetch around north
all in good time."

"Shekels, I don't like the look of it."

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