“How did it happen?” asked Stella.
“I heard that the old man and the jockey had made a sneak from the grounds when Ted was having his fun with the big fellow, and I got my bronc and followed them. I came up with them a ways back, and made the old duffer halt, but the jock potted me and got away. That’s all.”
Kit’s troublesome prisoner.
“Kit, you’re the most reckless boy I ever knew,” said Stella, as he climbed into his saddle with some effort, for his arm was stiff and swollen, and it was all he could do to keep from groaning with every jump of his pony.
“What in the world made you start after them alone?” asked Ted.
“Well, you were busy with the big bully, and, although I felt certain that you would get the best of him in the end, I thought it wouldn’t be good policy to take any of the boys with me, in case there should be a general fight. I know you would need all the fellows.”
“Well, but, dog-gone you, you ought to have taken some one,” said Ted. “How did you know but the old man and the jockey were not dangerous fellows? Men in their business are generally bad actors when it comes to a scrimmage.”
“Oh, I thought I could handle them,” laughed Kit. “And I could, too, only I got careless, and let that jockey get the drop on me. The old man knuckled under gracefully when I presented my card.”
“Did you get the old man after you were shot?”
“Yes. You see, this was how it was: I got sight of them a short ways ahead of me. They were evidently saving their horses, for they were traveling slowly.”
“Didn’t they get next that they were being followed?”
“I don’t think so. They saw only one rider, and I suppose they thought that if they were pursued at all it would be by several men, and they were confident that with their horses they could run away from anything we had except Hatrack.”
“It’s a wonder they didn’t light out quick.”
“I think they figured to save their horses until they were sure they were being followed.”
“Then what happened?”
“I saw them look back at me several times, but they did not hit up their speed any.”
“Were you fogging along pretty fast?”
“Not so very. You see, I didn’t want them to think that I was on their trail. I went just fast enough to overtake them gradually. If they had got on to me they would have been out of sight before I could gather up my reins.”
“Foxy Kit,” said Stella.
“And they let you come right up with them?” asked Ted.
“Yep. I was right up on them before they got on to me.”
“They recognized you, eh?”
“They did when I was about twenty feet away. Then I heard the old man holler, ‘It’s one o’ them dern broncho boys.’”
“And then what?”