“Thanks. But I’d rather buy a new outfit.”
“When do you aim to start?”
“Right away. I suppose I’ll need a blanket and some provisions.”
“Yes. But you’ll catch up with Cheyenne, if you keep movin’. He won’t travel fast with a pack-hoss along. He’ll most like camp at the first water, about twenty-five miles south. But you can pack some grub in your saddle-bags, and play safe. And take a canteen along.”
Wishful superintended the purchasing of the new outfit, and seemed unusually keen about seeing Bartley well provided for at the minimum cost. Wishful’s respect for the Easterner had been greatly enhanced by the recent horse-deal. When it came to the question of clothing, Wishful wisely suggested overalls and a rowdy, as being weather and brush proof. Incidentally Wishful asked Bartley why he had paid his bill before he had actually prepared to start on the journey. Bartley told Wishful that he would not have prepared to start had he not paid the bill on impulse.
“Well, some folks git started on impulse, afore they pay their bills, and keep right on fannin’ it,” asserted Wishful.
An hour later Bartley was ready for the trail. With some food in the saddle-pockets, a blanket tied behind the cantle, and a small canteen hung on the horn, he felt equipped to make the journey. Wishful suggested that he stay until after the noon hour, but Bartley declined. He would eat a sandwich or two on the way.
“And ole Dobe knows the trail to Steve’s ranch,” said Wishful, as he walked around horse and rider, giving them a final inspection. “And you don’t have to cinch ole Dobe extra tight,” he advised. “He carries a saddle good. ’Course that new leather will stretch some.”
“How old is Dobe?” queried Bartley. “You keep calling him ‘old.’”
“I seen you mouthin’ him, after you had saddled him. How old would you say?”
“Seven, going on eight.”
“Git along! And if anybody gits the best of you in a hoss-trade, wire me collect. It’ll sure be news!”
Bartley settled himself in the saddle and touched Dobe with the spurs.
“Give my regards to Senator Steve—and Cheyenne,” called Wishful.
Wishful stood gazing after his recent guest until he had disappeared around a corner.
Then Wishful strode into the hotel office and marked a blue cross on the big wall calendar. A humorous smile played about his mouth. It was a mark to indicate the day and date that an Eastern tenderfoot had got the best of him in a horse-deal.
AT THE WATER-HOLE
Before Bartley had been riding an hour he knew that he had a good horse under him. Dobe “followed his head” and did not flirt with his shadow, although he was grain-fed and ready to go. When Dobe trotted—an easy, swinging trot that ate into the miles—Bartley tried to post, English style. But Dobe did not understand that style of riding a trot. Each time Bartley raised in the stirrups, Dobe took it for a signal to lope. Finally Bartley caught the knack of leaning forward and riding a trot with a straight leg, and to his surprise he found it was a mighty satisfactory method and much easier than posting.