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
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
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
Rest the ashes of my
princely old vagabond pal!