But that was not until after the Senator had returned from the bunk-house. He had seen to it that Cheyenne had had a bucket of hot water, soap, and towels and grease for his sore feet. In direct and effectual kindliness, without obviously expressed sympathy, the Westerner is peculiarly supreme.
Back in the living-room Bartley made himself comfortable, admiring the generous proportions of the house, the choice Indian blankets, the wide fireplace, and the general solidity of everything, which reflected the personality of his hosts.
Presently the Senator came in. “Cheyenne tells me that somebody set you afoot, down at the water-hole.”
“Did he also tell you about your bull?”
“No! Is that how he came to tear his jeans?”
Bartley nodded. And he told the Senator of their recent experience in the gulch.
The Senator chuckled. “Don’t say a word to Mrs. Brown about it. I’ll have Cheyenne in, after dinner, and sweat it out of him. You see, Cheyenne won’t eat with us. He always eats with the boys. No use asking him to eat in here. And, say, Bartley, we’ve got a little surprise for you. One of my boys caught up your horse, old Dobe. Dobe was dragging a rope. Looks like he broke away from some one. I had him turned into the corral. Dobe was raised on this range.”
“Broke loose and came back!” exclaimed Bartley. “That’s good news, Senator. I like that horse.”
“But Cheyenne is out of luck,” said the Senator. “He thought more of those horses, Filaree and Joshua, than he did of anything on earth. I’ll send one of the boys back to the water-hole to-morrow, for your saddles and outfit. But now you’re here, how do you like the country?”
“Almost as much as I like some of the people living in it,” stated Bartley.
“Not including Panhandle Sears, eh?”
“I’m pretty well fed up on walking,” and Bartley smiled.
“Sears is a worthless hombre,” stated the Senator. “He’s one of a gang that steal stock, and generally live by their wits and never seem to get caught. But he made a big mistake when he lifted Cheyenne’s horses. Cheyenne already has a grievance against Sears. Some day Cheyenne will open up—and that will be the last of Mr. Sears.”
“I had an idea there was something like that in the wind,” said Bartley. “Cheyenne hasn’t said much about Sears, but I was present at that crap game.”
The Senator chuckled. “I heard about it. Heard you offered to take on Sears if he would put his gun on the table.”
Bartley flushed. “I must have been excited.”
The Senator leaned forward in his big, easy-chair. “Cheyenne wants me to let him take a couple of horses to trail Panhandle. And, judging from what Cheyenne said, he thinks you are going along with him. There’s lots of country right round here to see, without taking any unnecessary risks.”
“I understand,” said Bartley.