A Chaparral Christmas Gift
by O. Henry [1862-1910]
Page 3 of 5
One who has been crossed in love should never breathe the
odour from the blossoms of the ratama tree. It stirs the memory
to a dangerous degree.
One December in the Frio country there was a ratama tree in
full bloom, for the winter had been as warm as springtime. That
way rode the Frio Kid and his satellite and co-murderer, Mexican
Frank. The kid reined in his mustang, and sat in his saddle,
thoughtful and grim, with dangerously narrowing eyes. The rich,
sweet scent touched him somewhere beneath his ice and iron.
"I don't know what I've been thinking about, Mex," he
remarked in his usual mild drawl, "to have forgot all about a
Christmas present I got to give. I'm going to ride over to-morrow
night and shoot Madison Lane in his own house. He got my
girl--Rosita would have had me if he hadn't cut into the game. I
wonder why I happened to overlook it up to now?"
"Ah, shucks, Kid," said Mexican, "don't talk foolishness. You
know you can't get within a mile of Mad Lane's house to-morrow
night. I see old man Allen day before yesterday, and he says Mad
is going to have Christmas doings at his house. You remember how
you shot up the festivities when Mad was married, and about the
threats you made? Don't you suppose Mad Lane'll kind of keep his
eye open for a certain Mr. Kid? You plumb make me tired, Kid,
with such remarks."
"I'm going," repeated the Frio Kid, without heat, "to go to
Madison Lane's Christmas doings, and kill him. I ought to have
done it a long time ago. Why, Mex, just two weeks ago I dreamed
me and Rosita was married instead of her and him; and we was
living in a house, and I could see her smiling at me, and--oh!
h--l, Mex, he got her; and I'll get him--yes, sir, on Christmas
Eve he got her, and then's when I'll get him. "
"There's other ways of committing suicide," advised Mexican.
"Why don't you go and surrender to the sheriff?"
"I'll get him," said the Kid.