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How Hen Baker Got Himself Acquitted

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A lovely tale of the Hill Country:


"In the early days, a YO ranch hand couldn't get into town as often as he does now. When he did, the sudden release from isolation sometimes proved more a curse than a blessing.

That's the way it was with Hen Baker, a cowboy who'd been up the trail with YO rancher Gus Schreiner. On one of Hen's infrequent forays into Kerrville, he wound up getting indicted by the grand jury for killing a man with his pocketknife. At his trial, Baker took the stand in his own defense.

While attending a picnic and barbecue along the Guadalupe River, he explained, he decided to appoint himself parking lot attendant. In the course of carrying out those duties, a stranger from Bandera rode up, got off his horse, and challenged Baker:

"I'm the Bull of the Bandera Woods and I hear you're King of the Kerrville Cedarbrakes. Let's see who's the best man."

Baker noticed the man seemed drunk. He also noticed there was a gun on his hip. Baker shooed him away and went back about his business.

After the picnic, Hen strolled into the Mint Julep saloon for a drink. Sure enough, here came the Bandera Bull, still drunk and still looking for trouble. Baker bought him a drink. The Bull swallowed it in one gulp, folded his arms, and accordring to Hen's testimony, "roosters me in the ribs just like that."

Hen then told the jury, "I didn't have my six-shooter, so I had to cut his throat."

In effect, what Hen was doing was apologizing for bad manners. A frontiersman didn't use his fists or his knife --- but, as Baker explained, he didn't have his pistol. What was he to do, under the circumstances, knowing the Bandera Bull had a gun?

The case was clear enough to the jury, and they found Hen Baker 'not guilty.'"


----- Neal Barrett Jr., "Long Days and Short Nights," 1980


Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

Posted : 30th December 2019 4:44 pm