Once more the straggling town, its pulse gradually beating back to normal, lay half-asleep at the foot of the sun-baked butte that stood silent and drowsy beyond the Sante Fe tracks.
Tom Poole, the lank marshal, loafed as usual about the Elite Amusement Parlor, over which hung a sullen quiet reflecting the morbid emotions of Mike Sabota, its brutish-built proprietor, resulting from his heavy losses on Thunderbolt in the two-mile sweepstakes when the Gold Dust maverick, ridden by the drug-crazed Ramblin’ Kid, darted under the wire lengths ahead of the black Vermejo stallion.
Friday evening Old Heck had met Dorsey in the pool-room.
Judge Ivory handed over to the owner of the Quarter Circle KT the Y-Bar cattleman’s check for ten thousand dollars and the bill of sale he had recklessly given and which transferred to Old Heck all the cattle the Vermejo rancher owned.
Dorsey was game.
“You put it on me,” he said to Old Heck “but the Ramblin’ Kid won square and I’m not squealing!”
Old Heck turned the check slowly over in his hand and looked at it with a quizzical frown on his face:
“I reckon this is good?”
“It’s my exact balance,” Dorsey replied; “I saw to that this morning.”
For a long minute Old Heck studied the bill of sale that made him owner of every cow-brute burnt with the Y-Bar brand.
“My men will gather the cattle within fifteen days,” Dorsey said dully, noting the half-questioning look on Old Heck’s face, “or you can send your own crew, just as you please. I suppose you’ll meet me half-way and receive the stock in Eagle Butte?”
“Can Thunderbolt run?” Old Heck asked irrelevantly.
“Not as fast as that imp of hell of the Ramblin’ Kid’s!” Dorsey answered instantly and with a short laugh.
Old Heck chuckled.
“You say you’ll turn the Y-Bar cattle over to me within fifteen days?” he asked again, reverting to a study of the paper he held in his hand.
“Yes,” Dorsey replied; “is that satisfactory?”
“You’re a pretty good sport, after all, Dorsey,” Old Heck said quietly. “I’ll cash this check”—glancing at the yellow slip of paper—“and this thing, here—we’ll just tear it up!” as he reduced the bill of sale to fragments. “Keep your cattle, Dorsey,” he added, “ten thousand dollars is enough for you to pay for your lesson!”
Dorsey flushed a dull red.
“I ain’t asking—”
“I know you’re not,” Old Heck interrupted, “and that’s the reason I tore up that bill of sale!”
“Old Heck,” Dorsey said, his voice trembling, “you’re white! I’d like to shake—”
The rival cattlemen gripped hands and the racing feud between the Quarter Circle KT and the Y-Bar was ended.
A week later Dorsey sent Flip Williams to the Quarter Circle KT. The Vermejo cowboy led the beautiful black stallion that had mastered Quicksilver and had in turn been whipped by the Gold Dust maverick.