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“Lord, how is this, Joe?” he said.
“It’s a dirty business,” said Joe, without moving. “What did you do it for?” “I! I
never done it!” “Look here! That kind of talk won’t wash.” Potter trembled and
grew white.

“I thought I’d got sober. I’d no business to drink to-night. But it’s in my head
yet-worse’n when we started here. I’m all in a muddle; can’t recollect anything
of it hardly. Tell me, Joe-honest, now, old feller-did I do it? Joe, I never meant
to‘pon my soul and honor I never meant to, Joe. Tell me how it was, Joe. O, it’s
awful-and him so young and promising.”

“Why you two was scuffling, and he fetched you one with the headboard and
you fell flat; and then up you come, all reeling and staggering, like, and
snatched the knife and jammed it into him, just as he fetched you another awful
clip-and here you’ve laid, as dead as a wedge till now.” “O, I didn’t know what
I was a-doing. I wish I may die this minute if I did. It was all on account of the
whisky; and the excitement, I reckon. I never used a weepon in my life before,
Joe. I’ve fought, but never with weepons. They’ll all say that. Joe, don’t tell! Say
you won’t tell, Joe-that’s a good feller. I always liked you Joe, and stood up for
you, too. Don’t you remember? You won’t tell, will you Joe?” And the poor
creature dropped on his knees before the stolid murderer, and clasped his
appealing hands.

“No, you’ve always been fair and square with me, Muff Potter, and I won’t go
back on you.- There, now, that’s as fair as a man can say.” “O, Joe, you’re an
angel. I’ll bless you for this the longest day I live.” And Potter began to cry.
“Come, now, that’s enough of that. This ain’t any time for blubbering. You be off
yonder way and I’ll go this. Move, now, and don’t leave any tracks behind you.”
Potter started on a trot that quickly increased to a run. The halfbreed stood
looking after him. He muttered: “If he’s as much stunned with the lick and
fuddled with the rum as he had the look of being, he won’t think of the knife till
he’s gone so far he’ll be afraid to come back after it to such a place by himself-
chicken-heart!” Two or three minutes later the murdered man, the blanketed
corpse, the lidless coffin and the open grave were under no inspection but the
moon’s. The stillness was complete again, too.

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