“Lorry and the sheriff had a little argument. Lorry didn’t wait to finish it. It was something about that hobo that bothered you yesterday.”
Alice crushed her handkerchief to her mouth. “I—shall we get ready for dinner?” she stammered.
Mrs. Weston rose. “It’s nothing serious, I hope. Do you think your—Mr. Adams will be back to-night?”
“Not this evening,” replied Waring.
“You mean that he won’t be back at all?”
“Not unless he changes his mind. He’s riding my horse.”
“He took your horse?”
“Yes. I think he made a mistake in leaving so suddenly, but he didn’t make any mistake about the best horse.”
“Aren’t you worried about him?” queried Mrs. Weston.
“Why, no. The boy will take care of himself. Did you happen to notice what he had in his hand when he ran across the veranda?”
“No. It happened so suddenly. Was it a pistol?”
Waring grinned. “No. It was a shoulder of lamb. The next town is thirty miles south, and no restaurants on the way.”
“But his mother—” began Alice Weston.
“Yes,” said Waring. “I think that leg of lamb was for dinner to-night.”
Alice Weston said nothing further, but as she got ready for dinner she confessed to herself that the event of Lorry’s escape would have been much more thrilling, in retrospect at least, had he chosen to wave his hasty farewell with a silken bandanna, or even a pistol. To ride off like that, waving a leg of lamb!
Bud Shoop and Bondsman
As a young man, Bud Shoop had punched cattle on the southern ranges, cooked for a surveying outfit, prospected in the Mogollons, and essayed homesteading on the Blue Mesa, served as cattle inspector, and held for many years the position of foreman on the great Gila Ranch, where, with diligence and honor, he had built up a reputation envied by many a lively cow-puncher and seldom tampered with even by Bud’s most vindictive enemies. And he had enemies and many friends.
Meanwhile he had taken on weight until, as one of his friends remarked, “Most any hoss but a Percheron draft would shy the minute Bud tried to put his foot in the stirrup.”
And when Bud came to that point in his career when he summed up his past and found that his chief asset was experience, garnished with a somewhat worn outfit of pack-saddles, tarps, bridles, chaps, and guns, he sighed heavily.
The old trails were changing to roads. The local freight intermittently disgorged tons of harvesting machinery. The sound of the Klaxton was heard in the land. Despite the times and the manners, Bud’s girth increased insidiously. His hard-riding days were past. Progress marched steadily onward, leaving an after-guard of homesteaders intrenched behind miles of barbed-wire fence and mazes of irrigating-ditches. The once open range was now a chessboard of agricultural endeavor, with the pawns steadying ploughshares as they crept from square to square until the opposing cattle king suffered ignominious checkmate, his prerogative of free movement gone, his army scattered, his castles taken, and his glory surviving only in the annals of the game.