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Tahan
Chapter XXXVI Death of Jerry


JERRY and I tramped together for nearly two years. We led a precarious existence, but I never knew a time when his fertile wit wasn’t equal to every emergency.

We had tramped over a large part of the South and Middle West before the day came for the parting of our trails.

It was in a small town in Illinois. We were attempting to jump a freight one rainy night, and he fell under the wheels. Both of his legs were crushed.

Men carried him to the house of a physician.

They would not let me in. So I crawled under the verandah to keep dry.

When I knocked at the door the next morning a kind-faced woman bade me enter. She said my friend had been calling for me all through the night.

As I approached the bedside, a smile of recognition flitted over his homely, weather-beaten old face. He tried to raise his hand in greeting.

I took the clammy hand in mine and slumped down on my knees at his side.

“Injun,” he whispered, “it’s all up. I’m goin’ aout. I don’t know what’ll become of yeh, chum-boy, but git aout o’ this-”

My old partner was breathing hard. My throat swelled so I could not speak.

“Come closter, Injun, pard,” he whispered faintly. “I want t’ tell—yeh—somethin’-”

His voice trailed away into silence.

Jerry was gone. And he went as he had lived with me, trying to help me.

Just before they nailed down the lid of the rough pine-box they put him in, I laid a crust of bread at his head, and at his side I left the only thing I had to leave—my knife.

The men smiled at what I did, but it was the Indian way and the best, the last, that I could do. It was all I had. And all I had was for Jerry.

There probably have been better men in the world than the old tramp. There never was a better one to me.

Rest the ashes of my princely old vagabond pal!


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