“I lived in Kentucky until I was twenty-five.”
“Was your folks hoss-traders?”
“Not exactly,” laughed Bartley. “My father always kept a few good saddle-horses, however.”
“Uh-huh? I reckon he did. And you ain’t forgot what a real hoss looks like, either.” Wishful’s pensive countenance lighted suddenly. “You’ll be wantin’ a rig—saddle and bridle and slicker and saddle-bags. Now I got just what you want.”
Bartley stepped to the stable and inspected the outfit. It was old and worn, and worth, Bartley estimated, about thirty dollars, all told.
“I’ll let you have the whole outfit—hoss and rig and all, for two hundred,” stated Wishful unblushingly.
“I priced a saddle, over in the shop across from the station, this morning,” said Bartley.
“With bridle and blanket and saddle-pockets it would only stand me ninety dollars. If the bay is the poorest horse you own, then at your figure this outfit would come rather high.”
“I might ‘a’ knowed it!” stated Wishful. “Say, Mr. Bartley, give me a hundred and fifty for the hoss and I’ll throw in the rig.”
“No. I know friendship ceases when a horse-trade begins; but I am only taking you at your word.”
“I sure done overlooked a bet, this trip,” said Wishful. “Say, I reckon you must ‘a’ cut your first tooth on a cinch-ring. I done learnt somethin’ this mornin’. Private eddication comes high, but I’m game. Write your check for a hundred—and take the bay. By rights I ought to give him to you, seein as how you done roped and branded me for a blattin’ yearlin’ the first throw; and you been out West just three days! You’ll git along in this country.”
“I hope so,” laughed Bartley. “Speaking of getting along, I plan to visit Senator Brown. How long will it take me to get there, riding the bay?”
“He’s got a runnin’ walk that is good for six miles an hour. He’s a walkin’ fool. And anything you git your rope on, he’ll hold it till you’re gray-headed and got whiskers. That ole hoss is the best cow-hoss in Antelope County—and I’m referrin’ you to Steve Brown to back me up. I bought that hoss from Steve. Any time you see the Box-S brand on a hoss, you can figure he’s a good one.”
“I suppose I’d have to camp on the mesa two or three nights,” said Bartley.
“Nope! Ole Dobe’ll make it in two days. He don’t look fast, but the trail sure fades behind him when he’s travelin’. I’m kind of glad you didn’t try to buy the Antelope House. You’d started in pricin’ the stable, and kind of milled around and ast me what I’d sell the kitchen for, and afore I knowed it, you’d ‘a’ had me selling the hotel for less than the stable. I figure you’d made a amazin’ hand at shootin’ craps.”
“Let’s step over and buy that saddle, and the rest of it. Will you engineer the deal? I don’t know much about Western saddlery.”
“Shucks! You can take that ole rig I was showin’ you. She ain’t much on looks, but she’s all there.”