by John Waddington-Feather '49' Joe once told us a tale which kept him in whisky a week; concerning a barman he took for a ride by selling a dog that could speak. Dawson was where he sold him the pass in a bar that's no more, glad to say; for the bar-owner cheated the gold-miners bad when they checked in their gold-dust for pay. 'Shaky Hand" Pete was that crooked guy's name, ‘cos he shook like a leaf when he told out the sourdough's dust that they paid him for booze after months in the bush panning gold. He'd cheated old Joe pretty mean once or twice when he'd gone there to cash in his dust; and for months Joe'd been thinking how he'd make it quits and win back the dollars he'd lost. It came to him sudden one night in a show where he'd gone to a music-hall turn; a ventriloquist throwing his voice from a doll, a trick Joey vowed he would learn. He paid the guy handsome to teach him his trade, and Joe learned his lessons so well he could throw out his voice from any darned place, could ha'e thrown it from heaven to hell! When he'd gotten smart at the voice-throwing trick, he went out and bought him a dog; a cross-eyed blue mongrel, as loonie as Len, which grinned ear to ear like a hog. He took him along to 'Shaky Hand" Pete's and asked for a plate full of stew; then he ordered a drink - and as Pete passed them by the dog hollered: 'Please make that two!" Pete's ears near dropped clean off of his head; he stopped in his tracks like a log, and stared all around before saying to Joe: 'Was it you who spoke then - or your dog?" ''Twas me," croaked the dog. 'I asked for a drink, most civil, like all dogs well bred." Pete near dropped the glasses he held in his hand as his eyes popped out from his head. But Joe went on eating like nothing was wrong as his mongrel kept jawing away: 'Please don't stand there staring. It's rude, my good man. Just bring me my drink and I'll pay." 'Say, Joe," said the barman, who spoke kinda slow, 'This crittur is yours, I believe?" Joe threw him a glance and said: 'Sure, that dog's mine." Then wiped his mouth clean on his sleeve. The barman laid out two full glasses of beer, one by the dog, one by Joe, before he shot off to tell to his wife the way to make plenty of dough. For she was the boss of that sleazy saloon; she was greedy and mean, she was near. She figured how they'd make their fortunes at once with a dog that could talk and drink beer. As soon as he'd gone, Joey drank the dog's beer, it went down in one, cool and neat; he swallowed that pint without spilling one drop, then put the glass back at his feet. Pete and his missus came in on the trot, they'd been jawing some fast talk outside, and were firmly agreed if Joe'd sell them his dog, they could take the whole world in their stride. 'With that hound in our bar, we'd pull in more folks than Tombstone and Prescott combined. You'd have to spill gold-dust for over a year what he'd earn in one night," she opined. They walked in together and stared at the dog with its empty beer glass standing near. 'Your dog is sure thirsty," the barman observed. Said the mongrel: 'It's mighty fine beer!" Pete and his missus stared in surprise, but she asked it a question or two; to which that old hound-dog made such slick replies she gave it a free plate of stew. 'You're kind," said the crittur, 'but not too much salt for it tends to give old dogs a thirst. It's a helluva way to '‘49's" stake and I'd have to keep stoppin' - or burst!" That did it! She offered Joe five hundred bucks, but he said no way could he part with a hound he could talk to out in the wild and had grown very close to his heart. Yet he said he owed dollars for grub down at Mac's, where he'd whiskies chalked up by the score; 'If only you'd double your offer..." Joe said. She snapped: 'Done - but not half a cent more!" At this the poor mongrel howled out aloud and wailed: 'Joe, what kinda friend's that, who'll sell out his pardner for one thousand bucks at less than the drop of a hat?" 'Sorry," said Joe, 'but you see I'm flat broke; I owe money all over the town - and a good friend is one who'll help a guy out when his luck's running low and way down." 'OK," whined the hound, 'if you've made up your mind on what you've decided to do..." 'I'm sorry," said Joe, 'but you see how it is; I've no choice but to let them buy you." 'If that is the case then," the mongrel replied, as it watched Joey pocket the bid, 'I swear that I'll never again speak a word." - and you know... that old dog never did!
The end