Ramon, burdened with dread and weariness, rode with his hands clasped round the saddle-horn. The Senor Jim, his Senor Jim, had found those whom he sought. He had not come back. Ramon was glad that he had filled the canteen. If the man who had killed his Senor Jim had escaped, he would follow him even as he had followed Waring. And he would find him. “And then I shall kill him,” said Ramon simply. “He does not know my face. As I speak to him the Senor Jim’s name I shall kill him, and the Senor Jim will know then that I have been faithful.”
The big buckskin plodded on across the sand, the empty stirrups swinging. Ramon’s gaze lifted to the stars. He smiled wanly.
“I follow him. Wherever he has gone, I follow him, and he will not lose the way.”
His bowed head, nodding to the pace of the pony, seemed to reiterate in grotesque assertion his spoken word. Ramon’s tired body tingled as Dex strode faster. The horse nickered, and an answering nicker came from the night. His own tired pony struck into a trot. Dex stopped. Ramon slid down, and, stumbling forward, he touched a black bulk that lay on the sand.
Waring, despite his trim build, was a heavy man. Ramon was just able to lift him and lay him across the saddle. A coyote yipped from the brush of the arroyo. As Ramon started back toward town his horse shied at something near the arroyo’s entrance. Ramon did not know that the bodies of Tony and Bob Brewster formed that low mound half-hidden by the darkness.
A yellow star, close to the eastern horizon, twinkled faintly and then disappeared. The saloon at Criswell had been closed for the night.
Next morning the marshal of Criswell sent a messenger to the telegraph office at the junction. There was no railroad entering the Criswell Valley. The messenger bore three telegraph messages; one to Sheriff Hardy, one to Bud Shoop, and one to Mrs. Adams.
Ramon, outside Waring’s room in the marshal’s house, listened as the local doctor moved about. Presently he heard the doctor ask a question. Waring’s voice answered faintly. Ramon stepped from the door and found his way to the stable. Dex, placidly munching alfalfa, turned his head as Ramon came in.
“The Senor Jim is not dead,” he told the horse.
And, leaning against Dex, he wept softly, as women weep, with a happiness too great to bear. The big horse nuzzled his shoulder with his velvet-smooth nose, as though he would sympathize. Then he turned to munching alfalfa again in huge content. He had had a weary journey. And though his master had not come to feed him, here was the gentle, low-voiced Ramon, whom he knew as a friend.
Bud Shoop’s new duties kept him exceedingly busy. As the days went by he found himself more and more tied to office detail. Fortunately Torrance had left a well-organized corps of rangers, each with his own special work mapped out, work that Shoop understood, with the exception of seeding and planting experiments, which Lundy, the expert, attended to as though the reserve were his own and his life depended upon successful results along his special line.