“To hell with this damn talk of Scalds. Did I tell you about that time I had a run-in with old Emmy? She lost the plot a long time back, and she’s staked out a patch of dirt that she’s been litterin’ with bones. Anyway, I’m out there huntin,’ and not watchin’ what I should, and next thing I’m on Emmy’s land. I don’t even know it till I look up from me pot and see her starin’ back at me – damn smoke must have tipped her off, doubt it was the smell of me cookin.’ The 303’s in easy reach, but she’s got the jump on me – there’s a chance she’s out of slugs, but I ain’t stakin’ nothin’ on it. So I just sit and stare at her, tellin’ meself if I valued me life I’d not be out here in the first place, and thinkin’ if it’s meant to end here ain’t nothin’ I can do about it. She just stares back, sayin’ nothin,’ patient as she’s always been, while me water boils away and me dinner’s way past savin.’ Fire dies too, just before sundown; so I sit there in the dark, and she watches me till dawn. I’ve just about hit breakin’ point when she figures I’m no fun and trundles off to look for some. By now I’m stiff and sore as hell, but I get up and walk away – leavin’ me gun behind, mind you. Cookin’ pot’s a write-off too.
Some days I get this hankerin’ to go and knock the old bint off, but plenty other fools have tried and it’s never ended well. Bullets only make her madder; there’s better things to spend ‘em on. Just give her the same respect you’d give any livin’ thing you meet out in the Bone Desert. That’s what saved me, after all…”