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    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 75

    Hearts and Crosses - O Henry! Help me!

    Baldy Woods reached for the bottle, and got it. Whenever Baldy went
    for anything he usually--but this is not Baldy`s story. He poured out
    a third drink that was larger by a finger than the first and second.
    Baldy was in consultation; and the consultee is worthy of his hire.

    "I`d be king if I was you," said Baldy, so positively that his holster
    creaked and his spurs rattled.

    Webb Yeager pushed back his flat-brimmed Stetson, and made further
    disorder in his straw-coloured hair. The tonsorial recourse being
    without avail
    , he followed the liquid example of the more resourceful

    "If a man marries a queen, it oughtn`t to make him a two-spot,"
    declared Webb, epitomising his grievances.

    "Sure not," said Baldy, sympathetic, still thirsty, and genuinely
    solicitous concerning the relative value of the cards. "By rights
    you`re a king. If I was you, I`d call for a new deal. The cards have
    been stacked on you--I`ll tell you what you are, Webb Yeager."

    "What?" asked Webb, with a hopeful look in his pale-blue eyes.

    "You`re a prince-consort."

    "Go easy," said Webb. "I never blackguarded you none."

    "It`s a title," explained Baldy, "up among the picture-cards; but it
    don`t take no tricks.
    I`ll tell you, Webb. It`s a brand they`re got
    for certain animals in Europe. Say that you or me or one of them Dutch
    dukes marries in a royal family. Well, by and by our wife gets to be
    queen. Are we king? Not in a million years. At the coronation
    ceremonies we march between little casino and the Ninth Grand
    Custodian of the Royal Hall Bedchamber. The only use we are is to
    appear in photographs, and accept the responsibility for the heir-
    apparent. That ain`t any square deal. Yes, sir, Webb, you`re a prince-
    consort; and if I was you, I`d start a interregnum or a habeus corpus
    or somethin`; and I`d be king if I had to turn from the bottom of the

    Baldy emptied his glass to the ratification of his Warwick pose.

    "Baldy," said Webb, solemnly, "me and you punched cows in the same
    outfit for years. We been runnin` on the same range, and ridin` the
    same trails since we was boys. I wouldn`t talk about my family affairs
    to nobody but you. You was line-rider on the Nopalito Ranch when I
    married Santa McAllister. I was foreman then; but what am I now? I
    don`t amount to a knot in a stake rope."

    "When old McAllister was the cattle king of West Texas," continued
    Baldy with Satanic sweetness, "you was some tallow. You had as much to
    say on the ranch as he did."

    "I did," admitted Webb, "up to the time he found out I was tryin` to
    get my rope over Santa`s head. Then he kept me out on the range as far
    from the ranch-house as he could. When the old man died they commenced
    to call Santa the `cattle queen.` I`m boss of the cattle--that`s all.
    She `tends to all the business; she handles all the money; I can`t
    sell even a beef-steer to a party of campers, myself. Santa`s the
    `queen`; and I`m Mr. Nobody."

    "I`d be king if I was you," repeated Baldy Woods, the royalist. "When
    a man marries a queen he ought to grade up with her--on the hoof--
    --any old way from the chaparral to the packing-
    house. Lots of folks thinks it`s funny, Webb, that you don`t have the
    say-so on the Nopalito. I ain`t reflectin` none on Miz Yeager--she`s
    the finest little lady between the Rio Grande and next Christmas--but
    a man ought to be boss of his own camp."

    The smooth, brown face of Yeager lengthened to a mask of wounded
    melancholy. With that expression, and his rumpled yellow hair and
    guileless blue eyes, he might have been likened to a schoolboy whose
    leadership had been usurped by a youngster of superior strength. But
    his active and sinewy seventy-two inches, and his girded revolvers
    forbade the comparison.

    "What was that you called me, Baldy?" he asked. "What kind of a
    concert was it?"

    "A `consort,`" corrected Baldy--"a `prince-consort.` It`s a kind of
    short-card pseudonym. You come in sort of between Jack-high and a
    four-card flush."

    Webb Yeager sighed, and gathered the strap of his Winchester scabbard
    from the floor.

    "I`m ridin` back to the ranch to-day," he said half-heartedly. "I`ve
    got to start a bunch of beeves for San Antone in the morning."

    "I`m your company as far as Dry Lake," announced Baldy. "I`ve got a
    round-up camp on the San Marcos cuttin` out two-year-olds."

    The two /companeros/ mounted their ponies and trotted away from the
    little railroad settlement, where they had foregathered in the thirsty

    (Hearts and Crosses - O Henry)
    I have a lot of questions about this short story. Could you please help me with this?
    1) What does "The tonsorial recourse being without avail" mean?
    2) What does ""It`s a title," explained Baldy, "up among the picture-cards; but it don`t take no tricks." mean? Why do the author use double negative?
    3) Why can he use passive sentence with the verb 'get'?
    4) What about "turn from the bottom of the deck." I know this means cheating, but I don't understand why? Can you explain this?
    5) What does "you was some tallow. " mean? The meaning of "tallow" seems not to fit the context?
    6) Why does the author list all steps of killing cows for food "]on the hoof--dressed--dried--corned"?
    7) I don't understand anything about "It`s a kind of short-card pseudonym. You come in sort of between Jack-high and a four-card flush." What does it mean?
    8) What does "companeros" mean? Is it foreign word?

    I tried using the Dictionary and Internet very hard but I can't understand them. This part of the short story has taken me several days, and it seems that I will need more time to completely understand it.

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 75

    Re: Hearts and Crosses - O Henry! Help me!

    And what does "don`t amount to a knot in a stake rope" mean?


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