(from July 2, 2012) At the Mink Ranch – Campfire Tales of Mink Rancher – How Empress Marie ‘scaped through the cat’s door

Summer has spread her hazy vale over the idyllic Mink Ranch, and all the tenderfoots is stopping by to visit:

As you can see, we give the lads imitation black Stetsons. Wouldn ya know just today one of those sidewinders pulled out one ‘em cap guns, pointed it at me and said: “I’m the G-Man! I’m gonna fill ya full a lead, Rancher!”

Well right there, I opened up my shirt and showed him the big ol’ scar I got on my chest right above my heart.

“Is that where the G-Man shot ye?” inquired the lad.

“That is where I was runned right through with a sharp coat hanger by a bank guard the G-Man thought he had tied up.”

You see me and the G-Man did a run o bank holdups in the Iowa Territory. We did not do bad, at least until I got runned through. G-Man tied up the bank guard in one of our holdups, took his gun, and shut him in a closet. We took to fillin the bags with loot. The critter in the closet undid the knots that must no ha been tied too good. He had took a coat hanger and straightened it out. Then he busted outta the closet and charged while our backs was turned. He managed to run me strait through with the hanger afore G-Man knocked him senseless.

“Pull it out!” I yelled at G-Man, while I fired some shots in the air lest anyone else get any smart ideas.

“You can’t! says G-Man. “It could kill ya. We’ll figure it out on the trail. C mon!”

So we go ridin out a town like preachers to a tent meetin at Bryn Mawr, me with this coat hanger runned through me, coughin up blood so bad I didn’t dare light up a Marlboro….

Well wouldnya know – right when I’m gettin to the good part of this yarn – one of the cowgirls there in a white hat trupted me and said: “Rancher, how did the Empress Marie escape through that barred up window when G-Man locked her up in that hospital over yonder in France?”

Even though it cut one tail short, this gave me an opportunity to correct an untrue yarn that has been makin the rounds for some time like bedbugs.

“Miss Kitty,” I said to the young un. “You seem to know about Empress Marie’s pickles right well, if you know about how G-Man locked her up in that shadey san-it-tor-ium over in Alsace for The Cure.”

“Now Dark wall found out where she was locked up. He went over there to Alsace to spring her. Dark wall and the Empress exchanged written notes through that barred window in her room for many a day. But there was no way she was gonna escape through that window, and that’s not how she got sprung.”

“Dark wall prowled the grounds a that sany-tor-ium for days tryin to figure how to bust her out. It was like a fortress. Then one day Dw spied a little door in the big oaken door all nailed shut at the back on the dinin hall. It was one of em little doors with a flap fer cats to come and go at all hours. An I spose a cat name of Jeoffrey lived there.

“Anyways the Empress is might small. Dw figurs maybe she can wriggle through that cat door. They commence to make a plan, sending notes back and forth at night, Dw hidin in the bushes.

“So on the first try, the Empress sneaks down to the dinin hall late at night. It was mighty tricky not to get seen. She commences to start wrigglin through the cat door. She gets as far as halfway, with Dw tuggin and pullin her arms. It werent no good. Her butt was stuck, and it took a lot a moanin and groanin just to get her back in.

“Now the Empress is the determined sort. Over two weeks, she takes to not eatin and gettin skinnier so she can fit through the cat door.

“But truth be told, it was Mink Oil saved her.”

“On the night o the big escape, the Empress got down to – let’s just say she didn’t have winter clothing on when she snuck down to the dinin hall. And she smeared hersef with mink oil like she was a greased pig.

“So Dw commenced again to pullin and tuggin. Empress Marie took to wrigglin and aquirmin and she got through that cat door, which was a might feat.

“Dw had her clothes waiting and they scaped off into the wilderness and on to other adventures.

“But she didn scape through that barred window like everyone says. She scaped through the cat’s door.

“And twas Mink Oil that saved her.”


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