As Jane waited her turn at the counter, she took note of an argument that had broken out in a game of euchre. Insults were being tossed at the dealer regarding his honesty, his intelligence, and the marital status of his mother at the time of his birth. This fellow was a reasonable sort, and did not particularly take offence at the picture thus painted of his honesty or his mental capacity, but he did draw the line at being called a bastard. Jane’s ear was attuned to such exchanges by her experience at the Faro tables, and she felt that this would likely settle down. She ordered her items from Mr. Kustar, and noted that Greaseball was slinking in a corner, looking haggard and hungry, and casting furtive looks at the baked goods so close at hand. Greaseball had fallen on hard times, it seemed, and become one of the “bummers” who hung around waiting for a handout.
Suddenly, the dealer of the euchre game took the verbal offensive against one of his detractors, and rose to his feet to make his point more explicit. Jane surmised that it was now in her best interest to put some distance between herself and this scene, but unfortunately, the game table was between her and the door. Euchre is a game of partners against partners, so naturally the argument divided two against two across the table. The players soon fell on each other with fists. The dealer came to the conclusion, however, that fisticuffs would not sufficiently redress the insults he had endured. He drew a Bowie knife, as did his partner, but in an escalation that they had not anticipated, pistols were drawn by their opponents. Jane ducked under the counter, and watched with dreadful fascination, conscious that Greaseball crouched just behind her. She figured that this coward just intended to use her as a shield, but she misapprehended his intention. Mr. Kustar and his bartender raced behind the gun-wielding combatants in order to restrain them, but in doing so, they only managed to shift the advantage to the men with knives, who attacked with vigor. The restrained men still managed to get off several thunderous gunshots that lit the room with flashes of light, and filled it with the acrid smell of spent gunpowder.
The gunshots hit the log walls harmlessly, though one knocked a big dough paddle off its hook. Jane would have paid this no mind and kept her eyes on the action, but the paddle struck her and came to rest awkwardly on her legs. She turned to push it away so it would not trip her in case the opportunity arose to make her exit. As she did, she saw Greaseball place a berry pie on the floor. This puzzled her, but more shots called her attention forward again. The dealer lunged at the gunman who had earlier shown such disrespect for his mother, and dealt a Bowie knife to his thigh. The injured man dropped his gun and fell to his knees, cursing loudly, his thigh bleeding onto the dirt floor. Kustar and his bartender had by this time managed to disarm the other gunman, so now they were able to tackle the dealer and put an end to the melee. The exhausted gladiators yielded to Mr. Kustar’s loud epithets, and put their weapons away. The wounded man’s friends offered to help him to Dr. Glick’s, which he refused. He did allow them instead to each take him by a shoulder and help him hobble away from the scene, leaving a trail of blood behind.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish