“I can’t see why he should especially pick us out as his victims,” said Bartley.
“I don’t say he did. But it would make no difference to him. He’d steal any man’s stock. Only, I figure some of his friends must ‘a’ told him about you—that seen you ridin’ down this way. He would know our camp would be somewhere near this water-hole. What kind of matches you got with you?”
“Why—this kind.” And Bartley produced a few blue-top matches.
“This here is a old-timer sulphur match, cut square. It was right here, by the rock. Somebody lit a match and laid them dice there—sixes up. No reg’lar hoss-thief would take that much trouble to advertise himself. Panhandle done it—and he wanted me to know he done it.”
“You’ve had trouble with him before, haven’t you?”
“Yes—and no man can say I ever trailed him. But I never stepped out of his way.”
“Then that crap game in Antelope meant more than an ordinary crap game?” said Bartley.
“He had his chance,” stated Cheyenne.
“Well, we’re in a fix,” asserted Bartley.
“Yes; we’re afoot. But we’ll make it. And right here I’m tellin’ you that I aim to shoot a game of craps with Panhandle, usin’ these here dice, that’ll be fast and won’t last long.”
“How about the law?”
“The law is all right, in spots. But they’s a whole lot of country between them spots.”
Cheyenne cached the bed-roll, saddles, and cooking-outfit back in the brush, taking only a canteen and a little food. He proffered a pair of moccasins, parfleche-soled and comfortable, to Bartley.
“You wear these. Them new ridin’-boots’ll sure kill you dead, walkin’. You can pack ’em along with you.”
“How about your feet?”
“Say, you wouldn’t call me a tenderfoot, would you?”
“Then slip on them moccasins. But first I aim to make a circle and see just where they caught up our stock.”
Bartley drew on the moccasins and, tying his boots together, rolled them in his blanket. Meanwhile, Cheyenne circled the camp far out, examining the scattered tracks of horses. When he returned the morning sun was beginning to make itself felt.
“I’ll toss up to see who wears the moccasins,” said Bartley. “I’m more used to hiking than you are.”
As Bartley tossed the coin, Cheyenne called. The half-dollar dropped and stuck edge-up in the sand.
“You wear ’em the first fifteen miles and then we’ll swap,” said Cheyenne.
Bartley filled the canteen and scraped dirt over the fire. Cheyenne took a last look around, and turned toward the south.
“You didn’t say nothin’ about headin’ back to Antelope,” said Cheyenne.
“Why, no. I started out to visit Senator Brown’s ranch.”
Cheyenne laughed. “Well, you’re out to see the country, anyhow. We’ll see lots, to-day.”