“How are you, Mr. Easton?” said Ted, shaking hands with the marshal. “I must apologize for not coming sooner, but my hands were full.”
“So I see,” said the marshal cordially. “I was watching you work out there. Say, I believe I’d like to be a cow-puncher if I wasn’t so old.”
“It’s a young man’s job,” said Ted, laughing; “and even at that it is about all a young fellow can stand at times. But this to-day is a mere picnic to what we are up against sometimes.”
“Well, you seem to be right in it.”
“Yes, I love my business. I wouldn’t be anything in the world except a cow-puncher.”
“But, remember, you are also a government officer.”
“I never forget that. But, if it came to being compelled to quit one or the other of the occupations, I’d still be a cow-puncher, and let the marshalship go.”
“That’s the very thing I came to see about.”
“You want my resignation?” asked Ted, his spirits falling to zero.
“By no means,” laughed the marshal. “Not that, but to ask you to undertake a somewhat difficult job. It transpires that when the Soldier Butte bank was robbed the other night, a large amount of money belonging to the government was taken. I didn’t know this until early this afternoon, when I received a telegram from Washington to go after the robbers and land them.”
“That’ll be somewhat of a job,” said Ted, drawing his chair closer to the marshal, so that he couldn’t be overheard by passing people.
“I’m well aware of that, and that’s the reason I come to you. You and your boys must undertake the duty of clearing up the mystery of the robbery, and, if possible, recovering the money.”
“I have a very probable theory as to who the robbers are, but it will be entirely another matter to fasten it on them.”
“I leave it all to you. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. All I want are results.”
“But I shall not have time to tackle it for a day or two. Unfortunately our fall round-up is in progress, and, as this is the time we sell the product of our business, we can’t leave it until everything is cleared up.”
“That’s all right, Mr. Strong. But when you do get busy, don’t come back home until you land the thieves.”
A visitor in the night.
A great deal of money changed hands that day. The stock buyers had their wallets loaded with cash when they came a-buying, for, when they had cut out the cattle they wanted, and the price was struck, they were prepared to drive them off at once.
The sales at the round-up had been large, and Ted and the boys sat up late that night, after those guests who had elected to remain over for the festivities of the next day were safely in bed, counting the money and going over the books.
“It has been a mighty good year for us, boys,” said Ted, as he contemplated the total of their sales.