The porter pointed out the number and retreated to the steps that he might signal the conductor. The four pushed up through the vestibule and laid hold upon the berth curtains.
“Mamma!” ejaculated Weary in a stunned tone. “Look what’s in here, boys!”
They thrust forward their heads and peered in at the recumbent form.
“Honest to grandma—it’s old Patsy!” The voice of Big Medicine brought heads out all along down the car.
“Come out uh that!” Four voices made up the chorus, and Patsy opened his eyes reluctantly.
“Py cosh, I not cook chuck for you fellers ven I’m sick,” he mumbled dazedly.
“Come out uh that, you damned Dutch belly-robber!” bawled Big Medicine joyously, and somewhere behind a curtain a feminine shriek was heard at the shocking sentence.
Four pairs of welcoming hands laid hold upon Patsy; four pairs of strong arms dragged him out of the berth and through the narrow aisle to the platform. The conductor, the head brakeman and the porter were chafing there, and they pulled while the others pushed. So Patsy was deposited upon the platform, grumbling and only half sober.
“Anyway, we’ve got him back,” Weary remarked with much satisfaction the next day when they were once more started toward the range land. “When Irish blows in again, we’ll be all right.”
“By cripes, yuh just give me a sight uh that Irish once, and he’ll come, if I have to rope and drag ’im!” Big Medicine took his own way of intimating that he held no grudge. “Did yuh hear what Patsy said, by cripes, when he was loading up the chuck-wagon at the store? He turned in all that oil and them olives and anchovies, yuh know, and he told Tom t’ throw in about six cases uh blueberries. I was standin’ right handy by, and he turns around and scowls at me and says: ’Py cosh, der vay dese fellers eats pie mit derselves, I have to fill oop der wagon mit pie fruit alreatty!’ And then the old devil turns around with his back to me, but yuh can skin me for a coyote if I didn’t ketch a grin on ’is face!”
They turned and looked back to where Patsy, seated high upon the mess-wagon, was cracking his long whip like pistol shots and swearing in Dutch at his four horses as he came bouncing along behind them.
“Well, there’s worse fellers than old Patsy,” Slim admitted ponderously. “I don’t want no more Jakie in mine, by golly.”
“I betche Jakie cashes in, with all that lemon in him,” prophesied Happy Jack with relish. “Dirty little Dago—it’d serve him right. Patsy wouldn’t uh acted like that in a thousand years.”
They glanced once more behind them, as if they would make sure that the presence of Patsy was a reality. Then, with content in their hearts, they galloped blithely out of the lane and into the grassy hills.
* * * * *