Cheyenne pointed out the stables, corrals, and bunk-house. “A mighty neat little outfit,” he remarked, as they started on again.
“Senator Steve’s only got about sixty thousand acres under fence.”
“Then I’d like to see a big ranch,” laughed Bartley.
“You can’t. They ain’t nothin’ to see more’n you see right now. Why, I know a outfit down in Texas that would call this here ranch their north pasture—and they got three more about the same size, besides the regular range. But standin’ in any one place you can’t see any more than you do right now. Steve just keeps up this here ranch so he can have elbow-room. Yonder comes one of his boys. Reckon he seen us.”
A rider had just reined his horse round and was loping toward them.
“He seen we was afoot,” said Cheyenne.
“Mighty decent of him—” began Bartley, but Cheyenne waved the suggestion aside. “Decent nothin’! A man afoot looks as queer to a waddie as we did to that ole bull.”
The puncher loped up, recognized Cheyenne, nodded to Bartley, and seemed to hesitate. Cheyenne made no explanation of their plight, so the puncher simply turned back and loped toward the ranch-house.
“Just steppin’ over to tell Steve we’re here,” said Cheyenne, as Bartley’s face expressed astonishment.
They plodded on, came to a gate, limped down a long lane, came to another gate, and there Senator Steve met them.
“I’d ‘a’ sent a man with a buckboard if I had known you planned to walk over from Antelope,” he asserted, and his eyes twinkled.
Cheyenne frowned prodigiously. “Steve,” he said slowly, “you can lovin’ly and trustfully go plumb to hell!”
Cheyenne turned and limped slowly toward the bunk-house.
Mrs. Brown welcomed Bartley as the Senator ushered him into the living-room. The Senator half-filled a tumbler from a cold, dark bottle and handed it to Bartley.
“‘Green River,’” he said.
“Mrs. Brown,” said Bartley as he bowed.
Then the Senator escorted Bartley to the bathroom. The tub was already filled with steaming water. A row of snow-white towels hung on the rack. The Senator waved his hand and, stepping out, closed the door.
A few minutes later he knocked at the bathroom door. “There’s a spare razor in the cabinet, and all the fixings. And when you’re ready there’s a pair of clean socks on the doorknob.”
Bartley heard the Senator’s heavy, deliberate step as he passed down the hallway.
“A little ‘Green River,’ a hot bath, and clean socks,” murmured Bartley. “Things might be worse.”
His tired muscles relaxed under the beneficent warmth of the bath. He shaved, dressed, and stepped out into the hall. He sniffed. “Chicken!” he murmured soulfully.
Mrs. Senator Brown was supervising the cooking of a dinner that Bartley never forgot. Boiled chicken, dumplings, rich gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed carrots, sliced tomatoes—to begin with. And then the pie! Bartley furnished the appetite.