Ol’ Melvin and Obadiah

“Sorry, Emmy, but I don’t know any other stories about Perkins MacGhee,” Grandpa said. He rubbed his jaw for a moment and then grinned. “I do know a story about a gold prospector and two cowboys.”

“I don’t care about cowboys,” Emmy whined as she hopped over a crack in the sidewalk. “You don’t have to go for a walk if you’re too tired. It is rather hot.”

“It’s typical for August and I need the exercise. Your mother is gossiping with Grandma about her sister and everyone she knows in SoHam and I don’t want to listen to it.” Grandpa waved at one of his neighbors. “The cowboys were outlaws and tried to rob an old man. Does that make a difference?”

“Sure.” Emmy looked up at Grandpa to see if his eyes gave away anything about this story, but his expression didn’t change. “I like to hear your stories.”

“Well, the story takes place in Wyoming around 1890. There were these two outlaws that had a hideout up in the mountains outside of this mining town named…” He paused for a moment while staring at one of the neighbor’s houses. “The town was called Polanka Flats.” He hoped Emmy didn’t know the name of the people who lived in the house they were passing. “Polanka Flats was a boomtown because of the gold found by a prospector named Melvin Boyd.” Grandpa waved to another neighbor. “Boyd was a typical prospector of the day except for one thing.”

“What thing?” Emmy asked after Grandpa paused again.

“Boyd had a glass eye and a stubborn ol’ donkey he called Obadiah. Boyd and Obadiah had been prospecting all over the West for close to fifty years.”

“Grandpa, can donkeys live that long?”

He shook his head. “Not normally, but Obadiah was an exception to the rule. Anyway, Ol’ Melvin and Obadiah made their way into the Wyoming mountains late in the fall of 1889. There wasn’t a town there yet, but they made camp and started digging in the side of Doolen Mountain.”

“How did he know where to dig? Was there a sign that said ‘Dig here for gold’?”

Grandpa shook his head. “No, he just had a feeling. Anyway, a couple of weeks later they struck it rich. Ol’ Melvin started whoopin’ and hollerin’ for all he was worth. He fired his rusty old Robnett rifle at a big boulder but missed it. Even Obadiah knew somethin’ was up and started hopping up and down and braying like donkeys do. Melvin dug out enough ore to fill up the saddlebags and he disguised the opening to the mine. Then he and Obadiah headed down Doolen Mountain to the nearest town which was called Soldnerville. They went to the place where they could get the ore tested and the ore turned out to be full of gold and even had some silver in it. Ol’ Melvin tried to keep calm, but he kinda got a bit carried away. He took Obadiah to one one of the saloons and tied him to the hitchin’ post. The saloon was run by a man with a handlebar mustache and slicked-back, oily black hair named Streak Garrett. Ol’ Melvin bought a bottle of cheap whiskey and stood at the bar. After consuming a few glasses of the cheap rotgut liquor, he started tellin’ Ivan Hanna, the bartender, about how he was gonna become the richest man in all of Wyoming.”

“That wasn’t very smart of him, huh?” Emmy asked while they waited at the corner.

Grandpa shook his head. “The bartender nodded to two men who worked in the saloon as cardsharps, but who in reality were outlaws. Their names were Lonesome Bill Broom and One-Eyed Jack Mahan and they were the most lowdown outlaws in the whole territory.”

“Did he really only have one eye? You said that the old prospector only had one eye.”

Grandpa rubbed his jaw. “Yeah, I did because back in the old west a lot of men lost their eyes because of the dust in the mines and the desert,” Grandpa explained hoping it would pass Emmy’s muster. “So these two outlaws plotted with Streak Garrett to follow Ol’ Melvin and Obadiah when they left town. They followed them up the mountain and found out where the gold was. Then they headed back to Soldner to tell their boss.

Emmy stared up at Grandpa, but didn’t interrupt his story.

“Now Ol’ Melvin and Obadiah knew they better get all the gold they could out of their claim before someone tried to rob it from them. He kept diggin’ out the ore where he could see there was gold. Then in the middle of the night, he loaded up Obadiah and they headed out of Polanka City. When they were a mile or so down the mountain, Lonesome Bill Broom and One-Eyed Jack Mahan ambushed them and stole all the gold. They conked Ol’ Melvin over the head and left him for dead. Then they hightailed it back to town and put all the gold in the local bank and swore to Bert Geiler, who ran the bank and the general store, that they mined the gold themselves. Now Geiler was a smart man and had heard about Ol’ Melvin’s strike. He knew the outlaws were lyin’ through their teeth, but he locked the gold in the vault and after they left he telegraphed Sheriff Glen Johnson. He told the sheriff everything.”

“Can we stop for ice cream, please?”

“We can stop.”

Emmy grinned and let Grandpa continue.

“So Sheriff Johnson headed up the mountains to search for the outlaws. He caught up to them in a gulch known as Lowe Creek and waited until the outlaws fell asleep. He snuck up and was just about to capture the bad guys when Lonesome Bill Broom stepped out from behind a tree and pointed his guns at him. One-Eyed Jack Mahan jumped out from behind a boulder and pointed his gun, too. They tricked Sheriff Johnson by putting rocks and bushes under their blankets.”

Emmy stopped walking, put her hands on her hips and asked, “So how did the sheriff capture the bad guys?”

“I’m getting to that part,” Grandpa said as they turned the corner and got close to the ice cream stand. “Lonesome Bill Broom and One-Eyed Jack Mahan were ready to plug the sheriff full of lead when two shots rang out and they both fell down dead. Sheriff Johnson looked behind him and watched as Ol’ Melvin and Obadiah walked out of the trees.”

“Wait! I thought he was already dead. Are you saying he was a ghost and shot Lonesome Bill Broom and One-Eyed Jack Mahan?”

Grandpa shook his head while holding open the door to Robbins Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. “Nope! Ol’ Melvin was a tough ol’ prospector and the conk on his head just knocked him out for a while. He tied a red bandana over the wound and followed the outlaws.”

“And he shot both outlaws dead in the middle of the night with one eye and an old rusty rifle, huh?”

“It might have been a lucky shot,” Grandpa admitted with a chuckle. “After that word spread about the gold strike and within a month over a hundred, I mean a thousand miners knew about it. Soon the town of Soldnerville was full of miners and they even started the mining camp they named Polanka Gorge. Ol’ Melvin and Obadiah didn’t like living in a town full of people so they moved on to another mountain and built a fancy log cabin with three rooms. They lived there for another thirty years and spent all their time diggin’ for more gold. Now what would you like to order?”

“I’d like a small hot fudge sundae.”

“I’m going to order a large Coke because my throat is parched after telling you about the mountains of Wyoming.”

“I like your stories, Grandpa, but maybe you better stick to your day job.”

“And what might that be?”

“Being the best grandpa in the whole world,” Emmy said with a smile.

Grandpa laughed. “Fine! You can order the biggest sundae they have.”

“Can I have whipped cream and nuts?”

“Only because I love you so much,” he answered.

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