en-es  Max_Brand_The_Laughter_of_ Slim_Malone
Max Brand: The Laughter of Slim Malone.

TIME has little to do with reputation in the far West, and accordingly the name of Slim Malone grew old in the region of Appleton, and yet the owner of the name was still young.

Appleton was somewhat of a misnomer, for the region had never known anything save imported apples or any other sort of fruit since the time of its birth into the history of whisky and revolvers.

But a misguided pioneer in the old days had raised a few scrubby trees and had named the town forever; the dreams of the early agriculturalists had died long ago, but the name remained to pique the curiosity of travelers and furnish jokes for inhabitants.

The town lay at the conjunction of three gorges in the heart of the Rockies, and the little plain where it nestled was crowded with orchards which bore everything but apples; the six original trees which had given the town its name now stood in the back yard of Sandy Orton's saloon—old trees with knotted and mossy limbs which suggested a venerable age due to the hard climate rather than to the passage of years.

They were pointed out to casual travelers with great pride, and they were the established toast of Sandy's place. But Sandy's was frequented by a loud-voiced and spendthrift crowd not usual to agricultural towns.

In the old days, when Appleton was a name rather than a fact, the hilarity had been as absent as the men; but after gold was discovered in the three gorges which led from the settlement into the heart of the mountains, the little town became a rendezvous of a thousand adventurers.

The stages to and from the railroad thirty miles away, were crowded with men eager to face the hardships of the climate and the great adventure of the gold-fields.

It was then that Slim Malone appeared; it was said that he had first come upon the scene as the owner of the Red River strike, which was finally owned by Sandy Gleason.

It was further rumored that Sandy had beaten Slim Malone out of the claim by a very shady deal at cards; but Sandy refused to discuss the matter, and Slim Malone was rarely within vocal range, so the matter had never been sifted.

Sandy was rarely more vocal than a grunt, and when Slim Malone appeared, people had generally other things to think about than questions concerning his past.

A certain percentage of lawlessness is taken for granted in a mining town; people are too busy with their own concerns to pay attention to their neighbors, but when three stages in succession, passing from Appleton to Concord, the nearest railroad station, were robbed by a rider on a white horse, the community awoke and waxed wrath; the loss was too much in common to be passed over.

The first effort was an impromptu organization of half a dozen angered miners who rode into the Weston Hills; they found fresh hoof-prints after an hour of riding, and went on greatly encouraged, with the pistols loosened in their holsters.

After some hours of hard travel they came upon a white horse in the midst of a hollow, and then spread into a circle and approached cautiously.

But not cautiously enough; while they were still far from the white horse the bandit opened fire upon them from the shelter of a circle of rocks; they rode into town the next day with three of their number badly hurt and the other three marked for life.

That started the war.

As the months passed posse after posse left Appleton and started to scour the Weston Hills for the marauder; the luckiest of the expeditions came back telling tales of a sudden fusillade from an unexpected covert, and then a swift white horse scouring into the distance. The majority came back with no tales at all save of silent mountains and the grim cactus of the desert.

In the mean time the stages from Appleton to Concord were held up with a monotonous regularity by a rider of a fleet white horse, and the mining town grew more and more irate; men cursed the name of Slim Malone.

An adventurous singer in one of Appleton's dance halls invented a song featuring the marauder, and it was taken up by the matrons of the town as a sort of scare-crow ballade to hush their children.

Then the new mayor came to Appleton; he owned three claims on Askwarthy Gulch, and he ran on the double platform of no license for the Appleton saloons and the end of Slim Malone.

The women used their influence because of the first clause in his platform, and the men voted for him because of the second.

His name was Orval Kendricks, but that didn't count; what mattered was his red hair and the statements of his platform.

Slim Malone celebrated the new reign of holding up two stages within the first five days.

But the new mayor lived up to the color of his hair, and proved worthy of his platform; he held a meeting of every able-bodied citizen in town three days after his inauguration, and in his speech the men noted with relief that he forgot to mention the saloons, and that he concentrated his attention on Slim Malone.

He stated that the good name and the prosperity of Appleton depended upon the capture of this marauder at once.

Divorced from the mayor's rather sounding rhetoric, the populace of Appleton realized the truth of his remarks and applauded him to the echo; his silences were as much appreciated as his words.

After a carefully prepared peroration he built up to his climax by the proposal that the community import "Lefty" Cornwall, at a salary of five hundred dollars a month and five thousand bonus, to act as deputy sheriff until the apprehension of Slim Malone.

Then the crowd applauded to the echo; in their midst were men who had lost more than five thousand at a blow owing to the strenuous activity of this Slim Malone; they were equal to any measures for his suppression even if it meant the importation of Lefty Cornwall.

The fame of Lefty had begun in Texas when he mortally wounded one greaser and crippled two others in a saloon fight; since then it had increased and spread until he was a household word even farther north than Appleton.

He came from that sun-burned southland where a man's prowess was gaged by his speed and dexterity with his "irons," and even on that northern plateau of Appleton men knew that to cross Lefty Cornwall was death or murderous mutilation.

At first there were some dissenters; men stated freely that Lefty would never dream of coming as far north as Appleton for a paltry five thousand dollars.

There were even a few dissenters who claimed that even should he come he would never be able to cope with Slim Malone, but these were laughed and hooted down by a radical minority who came from the south-land and knew the fame of Lefty Cornwall in detail.

The sheriff accounted for the others by stating that he had already communicated with Lefty, and had received his assent by letter; this announcement dissolved the meeting in cheers.

Appleton decreed the day of the arrival of the new sheriff a festival occasion; the farmers from the adjoining table-land drove into town, the miners from the three valleys rode down.

And when the stage arrived from Concord the incipient sheriff dismounted in the midst of a huge crowd, and cheers which shook the sign-board of Sandy Orton's saloon.

Now the mayor of Appleton had declared deathless war against the saloons in his platform, but since his election he had been strangely silent upon the liquor question.

He was as canny as his red hair suggested, and he had a truly Scotch insight into the crucial moments of life.

He perceived the arrival of Lefty Cornwall to be such a moment, and he perceived at the same moment the correct way of meeting that crisis.

It was with surprise no less than pleasure that the throng heard the lusty voice of their chief official inviting them to Sandy Orton's saloon, and where they were in doubt, his beckoning arm put them right.

They filled the saloon from bar to door, and those who could not enter thronged at the entrances with gaping mouths.

The sheriff was equal to the occasion; he mounted the bar much as a plainsman mounts a horse, and standing in full view of his fellow citizens, he invited Lefty Cornwall to join him in his prominent position.

Nowise loath, Lefty swung onto the bar in the most approved fashion, and stood, locked arm in arm with the dignified official of Appleton.

In the mean time the bartenders, thrilled equally with surprise and pleasure, passed out the drinks to the crowded room.

It was apparently a moment big in portent to Appleton, and not a heart there but pulsed big with pride in their mayor.

"Fellow citizens,'" began the mayor, raising a large freckled hand for silence; a hush fell upon the assemblage; "Boys," continued the mayor, after a proper silence reigned, "I haven't got much to say."
"Here's to you!" yelled a voice. "I hate a guy that's noisy."

The mayor frowned and waved a commanding hand for silence; "I spotted you, Pete Bartlett," he called, "if you don't like silence you must hate yourself."

The crowd roared with approving laughter.

"Boys," began Orval Kendricks again, when the laughter had subsided, "this here is a solemn occasion; I feel called upon to summon the manhood of this here town to listen to my words, and I reckon that most of the manhood of the town is within hearin'."

A chorus of assent followed.

"I don't need any Daniel Webster to tell you men that this here town is hard hit," continued Mayor Kendricks; "It don't need no Henry Clay to tell you that these diggin's are about to bust up unless we have the right sort of a strong arm man in town.

We've been sufferin' patiently from the aggressions of a red-handed desperado who I don't need to mention, because his name just naturally burns my tongue."

"Slim Malone!" cried a dozen voices. "We're followin' you, chief!"

The mayor thrust his hand into his breast and extended the other arm in imitation of a popular wood-cut of Patrick Henry; the crowd acknowledged the eloquence of the attitude with a common gaping.

"There may be some of you guys," cried the mayor, rising to the emotion of the moment, "there may be some of you guys who don't know the man I mean, but I reckon that a tolerable pile of Appleton's best citizens spend a large part of their time cursing Slim Malone."

"We ain't through damning him yet," yelled a voice, and the crowd voiced their assent, half in growls and half in laughter.

"He has tricked our posse as an honest man would be ashamed to do," went on the mayor, warming to his oration; "he has shot our citizens, and he has swiped our gold! I'm askin' you as man to man, can a self-respectin' community stand for this?

It can't. What's the answer that Appleton makes to this desperado?"

He paused and frowned the audience into a state of suspense; "there is only one answer to this gunfighter, and that answer stands at my right hand," bellowed the mayor, when he judged that the silence had sunk into his hearers sufficiently.

"The name of the answer is Lefty Cornwall!"

The following burst of applause brought a momentary blush into even Lefty's cheek; at the reiterated demands for a speech he hitched at his revolver in its skeleton holster, removed his sombrero, and mopped his forehead with a ponderous hand.

When it became evident that the hero was about to break into utterance the crowd became silent; "Fellows," began the gun-fighter, "makin' speeches ain't much in my line."

"Makin' dead men is more your game," broke in the wit of the assemblage.

A universal hiss attested that the crowd was anxious to hear the Texan gun-man out.

"But if you are goin' to do me the honor of makin' me sheriff of this here county and this here city of Appleton," he continued, letting his eye rove down Appleton's one street, "I'm here to state that law and order is goin' to be maintained here at all costs.

Right here I got to state that the only costs I'm referrin' to is the price of the powder and lead for this here cannon of mine."

The crowd broke in upon the speech with noisy appreciation, and many cries of "That's the stuff, old boy!"

"I been hearin' a tolerable pile about one Slim Malone," went on the new sheriff.

"So have we," broke in the irrepressible wit of the assemblage, only to be choked into silence by more serious-minded neighbors.

"Sure," agreed the sheriff; "I reckon you've heard a lot too much about him; but I'm here to state that all this talk about Slim Malone has got to stop, and has got to stop sudden; I'm here to stop it."

He hitched his holster a little forward again as he spoke and a deep silence fell upon the crowd.

"Fellow citizens," he continued, spitting liberally over the side of the bar, "whatever gun-play is carried on around here in the future is to be done strictly by me, and all you men can consider yourselves under warning to leave your shootin'-irons at home, unless you want to use them to dig premature graves."
unit 1
Max Brand: The Laughter of Slim Malone.
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unit 17
That started the war.
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unit 48
"Here's to you!"
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unit 49
yelled a voice.
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unit 50
"I hate a guy that's noisy."
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The crowd roared with approving laughter.
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unit 54
A chorus of assent followed.
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"Slim Malone!"
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cried a dozen voices.
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unit 59
"We're followin' you, chief!"
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unit 65
It can't.
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unit 66
What's the answer that Appleton makes to this desperado?"
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"The name of the answer is Lefty Cornwall!"
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unit 71
"Makin' dead men is more your game," broke in the wit of the assemblage.
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Max Brand: The Laughter of Slim Malone.

TIME has little to do with reputation in the far West, and accordingly the name of Slim Malone grew old in the region of Appleton, and yet the owner of the name was still young.

Appleton was somewhat of a misnomer, for the region had never known anything save imported apples or any other sort of fruit since the time of its birth into the history of whisky and revolvers.

But a misguided pioneer in the old days had raised a few scrubby trees and had named the town forever; the dreams of the early agriculturalists had died long ago, but the name remained to pique the curiosity of travelers and furnish jokes for inhabitants.

The town lay at the conjunction of three gorges in the heart of the Rockies, and the little plain where it nestled was crowded with orchards which bore everything but apples; the six original trees which had given the town its name now stood in the back yard of Sandy Orton's saloon—old trees with knotted and mossy limbs which suggested a venerable age due to the hard climate rather than to the passage of years.

They were pointed out to casual travelers with great pride, and they were the established toast of Sandy's place. But Sandy's was frequented by a loud-voiced and spendthrift crowd not usual to agricultural towns.

In the old days, when Appleton was a name rather than a fact, the hilarity had been as absent as the men; but after gold was discovered in the three gorges which led from the settlement into the heart of the mountains, the little town became a rendezvous of a thousand adventurers.

The stages to and from the railroad thirty miles away, were crowded with men eager to face the hardships of the climate and the great adventure of the gold-fields.

It was then that Slim Malone appeared; it was said that he had first come upon the scene as the owner of the Red River strike, which was finally owned by Sandy Gleason.

It was further rumored that Sandy had beaten Slim Malone out of the claim by a very shady deal at cards; but Sandy refused to discuss the matter, and Slim Malone was rarely within vocal range, so the matter had never been sifted.

Sandy was rarely more vocal than a grunt, and when Slim Malone appeared, people had generally other things to think about than questions concerning his past.

A certain percentage of lawlessness is taken for granted in a mining town; people are too busy with their own concerns to pay attention to their neighbors, but when three stages in succession, passing from Appleton to Concord, the nearest railroad station, were robbed by a rider on a white horse, the community awoke and waxed wrath; the loss was too much in common to be passed over.

The first effort was an impromptu organization of half a dozen angered miners who rode into the Weston Hills; they found fresh hoof-prints after an hour of riding, and went on greatly encouraged, with the pistols loosened in their holsters.

After some hours of hard travel they came upon a white horse in the midst of a hollow, and then spread into a circle and approached cautiously.

But not cautiously enough; while they were still far from the white horse the bandit opened fire upon them from the shelter of a circle of rocks; they rode into town the next day with three of their number badly hurt and the other three marked for life.

That started the war.

As the months passed posse after posse left Appleton and started to scour the Weston Hills for the marauder; the luckiest of the expeditions came back telling tales of a sudden fusillade from an unexpected covert, and then a swift white horse scouring into the distance. The majority came back with no tales at all save of silent mountains and the grim cactus of the desert.

In the mean time the stages from Appleton to Concord were held up with a monotonous regularity by a rider of a fleet white horse, and the mining town grew more and more irate; men cursed the name of Slim Malone.

An adventurous singer in one of Appleton's dance halls invented a song featuring the marauder, and it was taken up by the matrons of the town as a sort of scare-crow ballade to hush their children.

Then the new mayor came to Appleton; he owned three claims on Askwarthy Gulch, and he ran on the double platform of no license for the Appleton saloons and the end of Slim Malone.

The women used their influence because of the first clause in his platform, and the men voted for him because of the second.

His name was Orval Kendricks, but that didn't count; what mattered was his red hair and the statements of his platform.

Slim Malone celebrated the new reign of holding up two stages within the first five days.

But the new mayor lived up to the color of his hair, and proved worthy of his platform; he held a meeting of every able-bodied citizen in town three days after his inauguration, and in his speech the men noted with relief that he forgot to mention the saloons, and that he concentrated his attention on Slim Malone.

He stated that the good name and the prosperity of Appleton depended upon the capture of this marauder at once.

Divorced from the mayor's rather sounding rhetoric, the populace of Appleton realized the truth of his remarks and applauded him to the echo; his silences were as much appreciated as his words.

After a carefully prepared peroration he built up to his climax by the proposal that the community import "Lefty" Cornwall, at a salary of five hundred dollars a month and five thousand bonus, to act as deputy sheriff until the apprehension of Slim Malone.

Then the crowd applauded to the echo; in their midst were men who had lost more than five thousand at a blow owing to the strenuous activity of this Slim Malone; they were equal to any measures for his suppression even if it meant the importation of Lefty Cornwall.

The fame of Lefty had begun in Texas when he mortally wounded one greaser and crippled two others in a saloon fight; since then it had increased and spread until he was a household word even farther north than Appleton.

He came from that sun-burned southland where a man's prowess was gaged by his speed and dexterity with his "irons," and even on that northern plateau of Appleton men knew that to cross Lefty Cornwall was death or murderous mutilation.

At first there were some dissenters; men stated freely that Lefty would never dream of coming as far north as Appleton for a paltry five thousand dollars.

There were even a few dissenters who claimed that even should he come he would never be able to cope with Slim Malone, but these were laughed and hooted down by a radical minority who came from the south-land and knew the fame of Lefty Cornwall in detail.

The sheriff accounted for the others by stating that he had already communicated with Lefty, and had received his assent by letter; this announcement dissolved the meeting in cheers.

Appleton decreed the day of the arrival of the new sheriff a festival occasion; the farmers from the adjoining table-land drove into town, the miners from the three valleys rode down.

And when the stage arrived from Concord the incipient sheriff dismounted in the midst of a huge crowd, and cheers which shook the sign-board of Sandy Orton's saloon.

Now the mayor of Appleton had declared deathless war against the saloons in his platform, but since his election he had been strangely silent upon the liquor question.

He was as canny as his red hair suggested, and he had a truly Scotch insight into the crucial moments of life.

He perceived the arrival of Lefty Cornwall to be such a moment, and he perceived at the same moment the correct way of meeting that crisis.

It was with surprise no less than pleasure that the throng heard the lusty voice of their chief official inviting them to Sandy Orton's saloon, and where they were in doubt, his beckoning arm put them right.

They filled the saloon from bar to door, and those who could not enter thronged at the entrances with gaping mouths.

The sheriff was equal to the occasion; he mounted the bar much as a plainsman mounts a horse, and standing in full view of his fellow citizens, he invited Lefty Cornwall to join him in his prominent position.

Nowise loath, Lefty swung onto the bar in the most approved fashion, and stood, locked arm in arm with the dignified official of Appleton.

In the mean time the bartenders, thrilled equally with surprise and pleasure, passed out the drinks to the crowded room.

It was apparently a moment big in portent to Appleton, and not a heart there but pulsed big with pride in their mayor.

"Fellow citizens,'" began the mayor, raising a large freckled hand for silence; a hush fell upon the assemblage; "Boys," continued the mayor, after a proper silence reigned, "I haven't got much to say."
"Here's to you!" yelled a voice. "I hate a guy that's noisy."

The mayor frowned and waved a commanding hand for silence; "I spotted you, Pete Bartlett," he called, "if you don't like silence you must hate yourself."

The crowd roared with approving laughter.

"Boys," began Orval Kendricks again, when the laughter had subsided, "this here is a solemn occasion; I feel called upon to summon the manhood of this here town to listen to my words, and I reckon that most of the manhood of the town is within hearin'."

A chorus of assent followed.

"I don't need any Daniel Webster to tell you men that this here town is hard hit," continued Mayor Kendricks; "It don't need no Henry Clay to tell you that these diggin's are about to bust up unless we have the right sort of a strong arm man in town.

We've been sufferin' patiently from the aggressions of a red-handed desperado who I don't need to mention, because his name just naturally burns my tongue."

"Slim Malone!" cried a dozen voices. "We're followin' you, chief!"

The mayor thrust his hand into his breast and extended the other arm in imitation of a popular wood-cut of Patrick Henry; the crowd acknowledged the eloquence of the attitude with a common gaping.

"There may be some of you guys," cried the mayor, rising to the emotion of the moment, "there may be some of you guys who don't know the man I mean, but I reckon that a tolerable pile of Appleton's best citizens spend a large part of their time cursing Slim Malone."

"We ain't through damning him yet," yelled a voice, and the crowd voiced their assent, half in growls and half in laughter.

"He has tricked our posse as an honest man would be ashamed to do," went on the mayor, warming to his oration; "he has shot our citizens, and he has swiped our gold! I'm askin' you as man to man, can a self-respectin' community stand for this?

It can't. What's the answer that Appleton makes to this desperado?"

He paused and frowned the audience into a state of suspense; "there is only one answer to this gunfighter, and that answer stands at my right hand," bellowed the mayor, when he judged that the silence had sunk into his hearers sufficiently.

"The name of the answer is Lefty Cornwall!"

The following burst of applause brought a momentary blush into even Lefty's cheek; at the reiterated demands for a speech he hitched at his revolver in its skeleton holster, removed his sombrero, and mopped his forehead with a ponderous hand.

When it became evident that the hero was about to break into utterance the crowd became silent;
"Fellows," began the gun-fighter, "makin' speeches ain't much in my line."

"Makin' dead men is more your game," broke in the wit of the assemblage.

A universal hiss attested that the crowd was anxious to hear the Texan gun-man out.

"But if you are goin' to do me the honor of makin' me sheriff of this here county and this here city of Appleton," he continued, letting his eye rove down Appleton's one street, "I'm here to state that law and order is goin' to be maintained here at all costs.

Right here I got to state that the only costs I'm referrin' to is the price of the powder and lead for this here cannon of mine."

The crowd broke in upon the speech with noisy appreciation, and many cries of "That's the stuff, old boy!"

"I been hearin' a tolerable pile about one Slim Malone," went on the new sheriff.

"So have we," broke in the irrepressible wit of the assemblage, only to be choked into silence by more serious-minded neighbors.

"Sure," agreed the sheriff; "I reckon you've heard a lot too much about him; but I'm here to state that all this talk about Slim Malone has got to stop, and has got to stop sudden; I'm here to stop it."

He hitched his holster a little forward again as he spoke and a deep silence fell upon the crowd.

"Fellow citizens," he continued, spitting liberally over the side of the bar, "whatever gun-play is carried on around here in the future is to be done strictly by me, and all you men can consider yourselves under warning to leave your shootin'-irons at home, unless you want to use them to dig premature graves."