Quarternight picked up the broken thread of his narrative, and the first warning we had of the lateness of the hour was Bull Durham calling to us from the game, “One of you fellows can have my place, just as soon as we play this jack pot. I’ve got to saddle my horse and get ready for our guard. Oh, I’m on velvet, anyhow, and before this game ends, I’ll make old Quince curl his tail; I’ve got him going south now.”
It took me only a few minutes to lose my chance at the turkey egg, and I sought my blankets. At one A.M., when our guard was called, the beans were almost equally divided among Priest, Stallings, and Durham; and in view of the fact that Forrest, whom we all wanted to see beaten, had met defeat, they agreed to cut the cards for the egg, Stallings winning. We mounted our horses and rode out into the night, and the second guard rode back to our camp-fire, singing:—
“Two little niggers
upstairs in bed,
One turned ober to de oder an’ said,
’How ‘bout dat short’nin’ bread,
How ‘bout dat short’nin’ bread?’”
At Camp Supply, Flood received a letter from Lovell, requesting him to come on into Dodge ahead of the cattle. So after the first night’s camp above the Cimarron, Flood caught up a favorite horse, informed the outfit that he was going to quit us for a few days, and designated Quince Forrest as the segundo during his absence.
“You have a wide, open country from here into Dodge,” said he, when ready to start, “and I’ll make inquiry for you daily from men coming in, or from the buckboard which carries the mail to Supply. I’ll try to meet you at Mulberry Creek, which is about ten miles south of Dodge. I’ll make that town to-night, and you ought to make the Mulberry in two days. You will see the smoke of passing trains to the north of the Arkansaw, from the first divide south of Mulberry. When you reach that creek, in case I don’t meet you, hold the herd there and three or four of you can come on into town. But I’m almost certain to meet you,” he called back as he rode away.
“Priest,” said Quince, when our foreman had gone, “I reckon you didn’t handle your herd to suit the old man when he left us that time at Buffalo Gap. But I think he used rare judgment this time in selecting a segundo. The only thing that frets me is, I’m afraid he’ll meet us before we reach the Mulberry, and that won’t give me any chance to go in ahead like a sure enough foreman. Fact is I have business there; I deposited a few months’ wages at the Long Branch gambling house last year when I was in Dodge, and failed to take a receipt. I just want to drop in and make inquiry if they gave me credit, and if the account is drawing interest. I think it’s all right, for the man I deposited it with was a clever fellow and asked me to have a drink with him just as I was leaving. Still, I’d like to step in and see him again.”