The Virginian: a horseman of the plains The Virginian is published. May 28, 1902:. By Owen Wister, Illustrations by Arthur Ignatius Keller (1866 - 1924).
It was now the Virginian's turn to bet, or leave the game, and he did not speak at once.
Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you sonof-a ."
The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: —
"When you call me that, smile." And he looked at Trampas across the table.
Yes, the voice was gentle. But in my ears it seemed as if somewhere the bell of death was ringing; and silence, like a stroke, fell on the large room. All men present, as if by some magnetic current, had become aware of this crisis. In my ignorance, and the total stoppage of my thoughts, I stood stock-still, and noticed various people crouching, or shifting their positions.
|Title: The Virginian: a horseman of the plains. Author: Owen Wister. Publisher: Macmillan, 1902. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: May 16, 2008. Length: 504 pages. Subjects: Fiction › Westerns, Cattle stealing, Cowboys, Fiction / Westerns, Vigilantes.|
This IMAGE (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 (in this case 1902) are now in the public domain.
This file is also in the public domain in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris) in this case Arthur Ignatius Keller (1866 - 1924), and that most commonly runs for a period of 50 to 70 years from December 31st of that year.
"Sit quiet," said the dealer, scornfully to the man near me. "Can't you see he don't want to push trouble? He has handed Trampas the choice to back down or draw his steel."
Then, with equal suddenness and ease, the room came out of its strangeness. Voices and cards, the click of chips, the puff of tobacco, glasses lifted to drink, — this level of smooth relaxation hinted no more plainly of what lay beneath than does the surface tell the depth of the sea.
For Trampas had made his choice. And that choice was not to "draw his steel." If it was knowledge that he sought, he had found it, and no mistake! We heard no further reference to what he had been pleased to style "amatures." In no company would the black-headed man who had visited Arizona be rated a novice at the cool art of self-preservation.
One doubt remained: what kind of a man was Trampas? A public back-down is an unfinished thing, — for some natures at least. I looked at his face, and thought it sullen, but tricky rather than courageous.
Something had been added to my knowledge also. Once again I had heard applied to the Virginian that epithet which Steve so freely used. The same words, identical to the letter. But this time they had produced a pistol. "When you call me that, smile!" So I perceived a new example of the old truth, that the letter means nothing until the spirit gives it life.
TEXT CREDIT: The Virginian: a horseman of the plains