The Heart of the Range eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 258 pages of information about The Heart of the Range.

CHAPTER VII

THE RIDDLE

“We’d oughta closed with Jack Harpe last night,” said Swing Tunstall, easing his muscular body down on a broken packing-case that sat drunkenly beside the posts of the hotel corral.  “What’s the sense of putting things off thataway, Racey?  Now we’ll lose two days’ wages for nothing.”

“I had a reason,” declared Racey Dawson, threading a new rawhide string through one of the silver conchas on his split-ear bridle.  “I wanted to talk it over good with you first.”

“Why for?  What’s there to talk over, I’d like to know?  Why—­”

“Because,” interrupted Racey, “there’s something up, if you ask me.”

“What for a reason is that?” demanded the irritated Swing.  “That ain’t a reason, no good reason, anyway.  I’m telling you flat, y’ understand, that so long as we gotta take root here instead of going to Arizona like we’d planned it out—­so long’s yo’re gonna renig on the play like I say, the best thing we can do is string our chips with Jack Harpe’s.”

“That yore idea of a bright thing to do, huh?” questioned Racey, his nimble fingers busy with the rawhide.

“I done told you,” said Swing with dignity.

“Poor, poor Swing,” murmured Racey as though to the bridle’s address.  “The Gawd-forsaken young feller.  It must be the devil and all to go through life in such shape as he’s in.  All right in lots of ways, too.  He eats like a hawg, drinks like a fish, and snores like a ripsaw, so you can see there’s something almost human about him.  But he hasn’t any brains, not a brain.  He never has anything on his mind but his hair and a hat.  Yep, she’s a sad, sad case.  Lordy, Swing, old-timer, I feel sorry for you.  You got my sympathy.  I’ll always stick up for you though.  I won’t let—­”

“This here,” cut in Swing, “has gone far enough.  If you got anything to say, say it.”

“I been saying it.  Ain’t it sunk in yet?  Hand me that axe, and I’ll make another try.”

“Stop yore fool lallygaggin’,” Swing exclaimed, impatiently.  “Let’s have the whole sermon.  Gawd, yo’re worse’n a woman.  Gab, gab, gab!  Nothing but.  C’mon, tie the string to the latch, and slam the door.  This tooth has been aching a long, long while.”

“It’s thisaway, Swing,” Racey said, soberly.  “There ain’t any manner of use going into something we ain’t got the whole straight of.”

“What you talking about—­the straight of?”

“Yep, the straight of.  Don’t you see anything funny about this jigger’s offer?”

“Looks like a fair proposition to me.  Fifty per shore listens well.”

“As if that’s all of it.”

“Well, what’s a li’l fussin’ round with Baldy Barbee and the Anvil folks?”

“Nothin a-tall, that ain’t.  But the li’l green pea ain’t under that shell.  Listen here, Swing, old-timer, I got a long and gashly tale of wickedness to pour into those lily-white mule ears of yores.  Yep, if it wasn’t me a-telling it I’ll bet you’d think it was a fairy tale.”

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Project Gutenberg
The Heart of the Range from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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