"Hokay, keed," the Mexican responded cheerfully.
He backed off a few steps, took a short run, tackled Jim, threw him to the ground, sat on his chest and pinned his arms to the ground by kneeling on them. Then he smiled around at the rest of us, not in triumph but as if to say good-naturedly that he hoped that would be that. It was. We furnished him with a stick, of which there were always plenty of extras, and invited him to join the shinny game.
He quickly got the idea that the object was to push the can along and to keep it away from other players. That seemed to be the only idea he got, but he proved remarkably adept at carrying it out. Almost immediately he took charge of the can and started weaving in and out with it. He didn't head for a goal and didn't seem to realize that some of the players were on his side and that he could pass the can to them. He happened to be on my side, and I tried to convey to him by pointing and shrieking that he was supposed to head up the street toward the goal. He started off as if he were going to comply but, when he came abreast of the goal, instead of trying to bang the can through it past the goalkeeper, he swerved around it and continued up the street into the business section. This so startled the rest of us that for a moment or two we stopped and stared open-mouthed. By the time we recovered and set off hooting and hollering after him he had a big lead.
A BEDLAM OF BUGGIES
Caldwell's business center was then only about three blocks long and two wide. Our noisy eruption into it brought traffic, which consisted of a couple dozen cars and a few buggies, to a standstill, and emptied most of the stores of customers and clerks who lined the sidewalks as if to watch a parade. At first there were angry shouts of inquiry concerning what we thought we were doing and of injunction to stop our racket. These came mostly from the buggy owners, whose horses were frightened by the uproar. Then the elderly town constable, an oldtime Indian fighter who had been given the job because no one else would have it, tottered out into the street in front of the Mexican boy and waved his arms. The Mexican deftly whacked the can between his legs and dodged around him. That started the laughter. Soon the whole street was whooping and cheering.
"Attaboy, Shinny," someone yelled at the Mexican, and the name stuck for the rest of his stay among us.
We in pursuit were mortified by the laughter and by the difficulty we were having in catching him. He kept going at a dead run, sometimes dribbling the can and sometimes driving it far ahead, down the three blocks of Main Street, right a block, then back toward the creamery along Arthur Street, which paralleled Main. Three of us were lagging behind the pack of pursuers and, when we saw him turn the corner at the end of Main, we guessed that he was planning to head back on Arthur, so we cut over a block early to intercept him. A crowd of onlookers followed us.
Shinny was already halfway down the block toward us by the time we reached the intersection. The three of us spread out across the street, convinced that somehow we had to block him and get the can away from him in order to save our honor. He came full speed down the middle of the street, dribbling the can before him. From ten or fifteen feet away, without a break in his stride, he drove it over our heads, then dodged around us and was in the clear. The sidewalk crowd cheered wildly.
"The cham-peen!" shrieked someone.
When he got back to the creamery, Shinny flopped down on the grass panting and grinning widely. His whole performance had been so outrageous that we felt entitled to be boundlessly indignant with him. As we straggled back, we gabbled at him breathlessly but also rather pointlessly. Even if he had understood English well, we would have been unable to express our feelings about the enormity of the faux pas he had committed.