A collection of Western short stories by Owen Wister.
THE JIMMYJOHN BOSS (excerpt)
One day at Nampa, which is in Idaho, a ruddy old massive jovial man stood by the Silver City stage, patting his beard with his left hand, and with his right the shoulder of a boy who stood beside him. He had come with the boy on the branch train from Boise, because he was a careful German and liked to say everything twice—twice at least when it was a matter of business. This was a matter of very particular business, and the German had repeated himself for nineteen miles. Presently the east-bound on the main line would arrive from Portland; then the Silver City stage would take the boy south on his new mission, and the man would journey by the branch train back to Boise. From Boise no one could say where he might not go, west or east. He was a great and pervasive cattle man in Oregon, California, and other places. Vogel and Lex—even to-day you may hear the two ranch partners spoken of. So the veteran Vogel was now once more going over his notions and commands to his youthful deputy during the last precious minutes until the east-bound should arrive.
“Und if only you haf someding like dis,” said the old man, as he tapped his beard and patted the boy, “it would be five hoondert more dollars salary in your liddle pants.”
The boy winked up at his employer. He had a gray, humorous eye; he was slim and alert, like a sparrow-hawk—the sort of boy his father openly rejoices in and his mother is secretly in prayer over. Only, this boy had neither father nor mother. Since the age of twelve he had looked out for himself, never quite without bread, sometimes attaining champagne, getting along in his American way variously, on horse or afoot, across regions of wide plains and mountains, through towns where not a soul knew his name. He closed one of his gray eyes at his employer, and beyond this made no remark.
“Vat you mean by dat vink, anyhow?” demanded the elder.
“Say,” said the boy, confidentially—“honest now. How about you and me? Five hundred dollars if I had your beard. You’ve got a record and I’ve got a future. And my bloom’s on me rich, without a scratch. How many dollars you gif me for dat bloom?” The sparrow-hawk sailed into a freakish imitation of his master...
Owen Wister (July 14, 1860 – July 21, 1938) was an American writer, historian and "father" of western fiction. He is best remembered for writing The Virginian and a biography of Ulysses S. Grant.
He began his literary work in 1891. Wister had spent several summers out in the American West, making his first trip to Wyoming in 1885. Like his friend Teddy Roosevelt, Wister was fascinated with the culture, lore and terrain of the region. On an 1893 visit to Yellowstone, Wister met the western artist Frederic Remington; who remained a lifelong friend. When he started writing, he naturally inclined towards fiction set on the western frontier. Wister's most famous work remains the 1902 novel The Virginian, the loosely constructed story of a cowboy who is a natural aristocrat, set against a highly mythologized version of the Johnson County War and taking the side of the large land owners. This is widely regarded as being the first cowboy novel and was reprinted fourteen times in eight months. The book was written in the library of The Philadelphia Club, where Wister was a member, and is dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1904 Wister collaborated with Kirke La Shelle on a successful stage adaptation of The Virginian that featured Dustin Farnum in the title role.Farnum reprised the role ten years later in Cecil B. DeMille's film adaptation of the play.
He was a member of several literary societies and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University.