Most of the characters in this tale are from life, and some of the main events are historical, although the actual scenes and names are not given. Many men now living will remember Fighting Bill Kenna and the Horse Preacher, as well as the Fort Ryan races. These horse races are especially well known and have been described in print many times. I did not witness any of them myself, but listened on numerous occasions when they were described to me by eye-witnesses. My first knowledge of the secret try-out in Yellowbank Canyon was given to me years ago by Homer Davenport, the cartoonist, with permission to use the same.But all of these more or less historic events are secondary to the intent of illustrating the growth of a character, whose many rare gifts were mere destructive force until curbed and harmonized into the big, strong machine that did such noble work in the West during my early days on the Plains.
But this is not a history of the public house. Downey's enters our list merely as Cause Number Three.
Those who study psychological causation say that one must find four causes, accounting for place, matter, force, and time. The three already given are well known, and I can only guess at the fourth, that referring to the time. If we suppose that a sea pirate of a thousand years ago, was permitted to return to earth, to prove that he had learned the lessons of gentleness so foreign to his rapacious modes of thought, and that, after a thousand years of cogitation in some disembodied state, he was allowed to reassume the flesh, to fight a different fight, to raise himself by battle with himself, we shall, perhaps, account for some of the strangely divergent qualities that met in the subject of this story. At least, let us name the ancient Sea-king as Cause Number Four.... And conjunction of these four was affected in the '50s at Downey's Hotel, when Jim Hartigan met Kitty Muckevay.
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