The Inn

Back Next

Back on the trail with Tad and Buster, two drovers of the old school, we find the boys heading back toward town after several weeks with the herd. They stop for the night at what is clearly among the most remote, deserted inns to be found anywhere. There are no other guests and even the innkeeper is away, leaving his wife in charge.

"I'm dying of hunger," Tad proclaims. "Please give us something to eat."

The innkeeper's wife took a good look at her guests, and she didn't like what she saw. Cattlemen frequently are said to inspire in lesser humans that strange mixture of awe and dread. They were clearly unkempt and looked altogether unsavory.

"These boys will never be able to pay the bill," she thought. "I'm sorry, men," says she, "but we're all out of food tonight."

Tad shakes his head and says nothing. Then, looking toward Buster he begins slowly,

"In that case, I'm going to have to do what my Pa done."

Immediately the woman grew frightened. "What did your father do?" she asked.

"Pa," Tad replies, "he just done what he had to do."

Hearing this, the woman grew even more frightened. Who knew what kind of father this madman had? And she alone in the house! Perhaps his father was a thief, murderer, or worse.

"Just a minute, sir," she said, and soon returned with a full plate of chicken, bread, and vegetables.

The boys devour it all, as the woman looked on in amazement. When they've finished, Buster says,

"Lady, that was a wonderful meal, the best I've tasted for six months." Whereupon they retire for the night. As they are leaving Buster turns to Tad and says,

"Just what was it that your Pa done anyway? "I always thought he was a preacher."

"Pa?" said Tad. "Oh, well he was a preacher at that. "Whenever my Pa couldn't get anything to eat ... he went to bed hungry."