Artemis Bonner wants to set the record straight. He's just arrived in Tombstone, Arizona, to avenge the murder of his uncle Ugly Ned Bonner. And if he happens to stumble across the gold mine his uncle described on his deathbed, then would be just fine, too.
The murderous scalawag Catfish Grimes and his equally odious campaignion Lucy Featherdip are on the loose. They're desperate to find the gold mine and claim it for themselves as Artemis and his sidekick, Frolic, chase the pair from Mexico to the Alaskan Territory and back again. Artemis and Catfish are headed for a showdown in front of the Bird Cage Saloon...the exact spot where Uncle Ugly met his Untimely Demise. Here's the whole story -- and the Truth as well.
Uncle Ugly's tombstone reads: "Here lies Ugly Ned Bonner, Once Alive--Now a Goner." Set in the late 1800s, this clever spoof chronicles Artemis Bonner's quest to avenge his uncle's death and to recover the treasure that rightfully belongs to his widowed aunt. As Artemis and his loyal friend Frolic trail the villain Catfish Grimes, the youth is tied to a cactus, loses an ear and almost becomes a bear's dinner. Yet when he learns that Catfish has stolen the treasure, Artemis is more determined than ever to take revenge. "When I told Frolic, he spat on the ground, which is not Sanitary but which shows that he Means Business and will go with me to do what we must do." In his amusingly histrionic narration, Artemis emphasizes, with capitals, matters most important to him--"Quick and Agile mind"; "Dear Life." Affected dialogue, authentic period touches and a few unexpected twists are inventively blended in this offbeat yarn. To Myers's readers, the Wild West will never look the same again. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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August 04, 1994
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Excerpt from The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner by Walter Dean Myers
I, Artemis Bonner, In Order To get my side of the story on record, and to explain why I am going to kill a low-lifed and sniveling scoundrel called by the name of Catfish Grimes, am writing down my side of the story so the real truth is known. I do not want anyone to think, when the time comes, that Catfish died by accident or by the hand of a stranger. It was me, Artemis Bonner, who has done the deed. By the time this is read, I do believe that the wretched soul of Catfish Grimes will be roasting in Eternal Hell. So be it, and here is the whole story, and the truth as well.
It all started a little over two years ago in the month of May. I was doing what the dear ladies of the Salvation Army call poorly, as I was without regular work in my chosen profession, that of sign painter. At the time I was living in the city of New York, in the state of New York, and had been living there for some fifteen years, or since the day of my birth. I lived with my mother, a beautiful woman as only mothers can be, at number 125 West Fortieth Street.
Father had died two years before and had left but eighteen dollars and forty-two cents behind. Life had not been easy for Mother and me although I had done well enough in the sign-painting business, being of sure hand and a good speller.
On the day it all started, my mother received a letter from my aunt Mary in Tombstone, Arizona. Most of the letter passed the time of day in polite fashion, as is the custom, inquiring as to our health and well-being and wishing us God's Holy Grace in all our endeavors. But the next part declared the most awful news that I had heard in a long time. Mother called me into the kitchen and sat me down at the table.
"Oh, Son, I have just received the worst news that I can imagine," she said.
I saw the letter in her lap and could not help but notice that her lower lip trembled as she spoke.
I put my hand on the small brown hand of the one person I loved more than any other in the world, and patted it gently.
"Your father's brother, Ugly Ned, has been shot down in the streets of Tombstone," Mother said.
"Has he given up the ghost?" I asked.
I am afraid so," Mother said, her voice floating into the room on a sigh. "Your aunt Mary writes he was shot five times in the head and several times in various other parts in his body and looks poorly even for a dead man."
The letter went on to say that the man what done it was a no-good card cheat, rat, and Evildoer named Catfish Grimes. My uncle had just returned from a trip to California and had made his fortune. But he had not carried his fortune about with him, knowing that Tombstone was not a place to be with a big piece of, money. Instead, he had hid his treasure in a safe place and had wrote down the spot on a map. He had planned to settle his affairs in Tombstone, and then he and Aunt Mary, his wife of some twenty-three years, were going to use the treasure to live the Good Life. But now an Evildoer had forced the hand of cruel fate.
"Your aunt Mary was at church, giving due praise to the Lord," Mother said, "when Uncle Ugly was waylaid in front of a place called the Bird Cage Saloon."
When poor Uncle ugly was brought home, Aunt Mary saw that he was not truly stone dead, and she sent for the doctor. The doctor came and did the best he could. Uncle Ugly lingered for three days before passing on to his reward.
Before he died, he put the bloody finger on Catfish Grimes and said that Grimes had done shot him and took his treasure map. The sheriff went over to where Grimes used to stay, but it was no use. The sneaky dog had flown the coop. Aunt Mary said that there was a woman who stayed at the same boarding house where Catfish stayed. Her name was Lucy Featherdip, and talk had it that she was a loose woman, a stranger to decent ways, and also sweet on Catfish. When Catfish Grimes disappeared, Lucy Featherdip, disappeared too. Aunt Mary wrote that Louella Perkins, who runs the boarding house, said that Catfish Grimes was not paid up but that the Featherdip woman was.
Aunt Mary explained how grievous hurt she was, and how not a day passed since the death of her Beloved when she did not beat her breast and weep. Surely it made my heart break to read such' sadness and It reduced my poor mother to a state of the shaking sobs.
Mother made a pot of fresh sassafras tea and cut. me a slice of pan bread -- making me know that what she had to say was Serious.
"Your aunt Mary wants you to come to Tombstone and assume the role of the Man in the family and see to it that Uncle Ugly's foul murder does not go unpunished," Mother said.
Then, with eyes glistening with tears, she read straight from the letter itself.
I have saved four hundred dollars in
cash money, and half of it will be
yours, Artemis Bonner, if you will
Avenge your uncle's Cruel death.
"You are too young to go to the Wild West," Mother said. "There are men out there who do not care for human life."
The foregoing is excerpted from The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner by Walter Myers. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022