As the crowd dispersed and some of them prepared to ride home, two horsemen appeared on the northern road, riding toward town. As they drew nearer Shoop chuckled. Lorry, standing a few paces away, glanced at him.
The supervisor was talking to Bob Brewster. “High, you’re the best I ever stacked up against, exceptin’ one, and it’s right curious that he is just a-ridin’ into this powwow. If you want to see what real shootin’ is, get him to show you.”
“I don’t know your friend,” said High, eyeing the approaching horsemen, “but he’s a beaut if he can outshoot you.”
“Outshoot me? Say, High, that hombre ridin’ the big buckskin hoss there could make us look about as fast as a couple of fence-posts when it comes to handlin’ a gun. And his pardner ain’t what you’d call slow.”
High Chin’s lean face darkened as he recognized Waring riding beside a gaunt, long-legged man whose gray eyes twinkled as he surveyed the little group.
“Pat—and Jim Waring,” muttered Shoop. “And us just finished what some would call a ole-time shootin’-bee!”
“Who’s your friend?” queried High Chin, although he knew.
“Him? That’s Jim Waring, of Sonora. And say, High, I ain’t his advertisin’ agent, but between you and me he could shoot the fuzz out of your ears and never as much as burn ’em. What I’m tellin’ you is first-class life insurance if you ain’t took out any. And before you go I just want to pass the word that young Adams is workin’ for me. Reckon you might be interested, seein’ as how he worked for you a spell.”
High Chin met Shoop’s gaze unblinkingly. He was about to speak when Pat and Waring, rode up and greeted the supervisor. High Chin wheeled his horse and loped back to town. A few minutes later he and his men rode past. To Shoop’s genial wave of farewell they returned a whoop that seemed edged with a vague challenge.
Pat, who was watching them, asked Shoop who the man was riding the pinto.
“Why, that’s High-Chin Bob Brewster, Starr fo’man. He’s kind of a wild bird. I reckon he came over here lookin’ for trouble. He’s been walkin’ around with his wings and tail spread like he was mad at somethin’.”
“I thought I knew him,” said Pat. And he shrugged his shoulders.
Shoop noticed that Waring was gazing at Pat in a peculiar manner. He attached no significance to this at the time, but later he recalled the fact that there had been trouble between Pat and the Brewster boys some years ago. The Brewsters had then openly threatened to “get Pat if he ever rode north again.”
Down the Wind
Waring, several miles out from the home shack, on the new range, sat his horse Dexter, watching his men string fence. They ran the barbed wire with a tackle, stringing it taut down the long line of bare posts that twinkled away to dots in the west. Occasionally Waring rode up and tested the wire with his hand. The men worked fast. Waring and Pat had picked their men; three husky boys of the high country who considered stringing fence rather pleasant exercise. There was no recognized foreman. Each knew his work, and Waring had added a foreman’s pay to their salaries, dividing it equally among them. Later they would look after the ranch and the cattle.