The sun was sliding past the zenith when Jack yawned himself awake. He lay frowning at the ceiling as if he were trying to remember something, sat up when recollection came, and discovered that Dade was already up and getting into his jacket.
“Dade, let’s go back to the mine,” he suggested abruptly, reaching for his boots. “You aren’t crazy about this job here, are you? I know you didn’t want to take it, at first.”
“And I know you bullied me into it,” Dade retorted, with some acrimony. He had danced until his feet burned with fatigue, and there was the reaction from a month of worry to roughen his mood. Also, he had yet to digest the amazing fact that the sight of Teresita had not hurt him so very much—not one quarter as much as he had expected it would do. Now, here was Jack proposing to leave, just when staying would be rather agreeable!
“Well—but times have changed, since then. I’m ready to go.” Jack pulled on a boot and stamped his foot snugly into it. “What’s more, I’m going!”
“You’ll eat, first, won’t you?”
Jack passed over the sarcasm. “No, sir, I won’t. I’m not going to swallow another mouthful on this ranch. I held myself down till that damned fiesta was over, because I didn’t want folks to say I was scared off. But now—I’m going, just as quick as the Lord’ll let me get a saddle on that yellow mustang.”
“Why, I nothing! I’m going. If you want to go along, you can; but I won’t drag you off by the heels. You can suit yourself.” He stamped himself into the other boot, went over and splashed cold water into his eyes and upon his head, shook off the drops that clung to his hair, made a few violent passes with towel and brush, and reached for his sombrero.
“It’s a long ways to ride on an empty stomach,” Dade reminded him dryly.
“We can stop at Jerry Simpson’s and eat. That won’t be more than a mile or so out of the way.” Jack’s hand was on the latch.
“And that yellow horse ain’t what you can call trail-broke.”
“He will be, by the time I get to the mine!”
Dade threw out both hands in surrender. “Oh, well—you darned donkey, give me time to tell Don Andres good-by, anyway.”
Jack’s eyes lighted with the smile Dade knew and loved to see. “Dade, they don’t make ’em any better than you,” he cried, and left the door to try and break a shoulder-blade with the flat of his hand, just to show his appreciation of such friendship. “Bill Wilson has got enough gold that he pulled out of the crowd for us yesterday to grub-stake us for a good long while, and—I can’t get out of this valley a minute too soon to suit me,” he confessed. “You go on and hunt up Don Andres, while I tackle Solano. I’ll wait for you—but don’t ask me to stay till after dinner, because I won’t do it.