“And this is your headquarters, as long as you want to stay,” continued the Senator.
“Thank you. It’s a big temptation to stay, Senator.”
“Well, it was rather understood, without anything being said, that I would help Cheyenne find his horses and mine. Dobe came back; but that hardly excuses me from going with Cheyenne.”
“But your horse is here; and you seem to be in pretty fair health, right now.”
“I appreciate the hint, Senator.”
“But you don’t agree with me a whole lot.”
“Well, not quite. Chance rather chucked us together, Cheyenne and me, and I think I’ll travel with him for a while. I like to hear him sing.”
“He likes to hear him sing!” scoffed the Senator, frowning. He sat back in his chair, blew smoke-rings, puffed out his cheeks, and presently rose. “Bartley, I see that you’re set on chousin’ around the country with that warbling waddie—just to hear him sing, as you say. I say you’re a dam’ fool.
“But you’re the kind of a dam’ fool I want to shake hands with. You aren’t excited and you don’t play to the gallery; so if there’s anything you want on this ranch, from a posse to a pack-outfit, it’s yours. And if either of you get Sears, I’ll sure chip in my share to buy his headstone.”
“I wouldn’t have it inscribed until we get back,” laughed Bartley.
“No; I don’t think I will. Trailin’ horse-thieves on their own stamping ground ain’t what an insurance company would call a good risk.”
TO TRY HIM OUT
Two days later Cheyenne was able to get his feet into his boots, but even then he walked as though he did not care to let his left foot know what his right foot was doing. Lon Pelly, just in from a ride out to the line shack, remarked to the boys in the bunk-house that Cheyenne walked as though his brains were in his feet and he didn’t want to get stone bruises stepping on them.
Cheyenne made no immediate retort, but later he delivered himself of a new stanza of his trail song, wherein the first line ended with “Pelly” followed by the rhymed assertion that the gentleman who bore that peculiar name had slivers in his anatomy due to a fondness for leaning against the bar of the Blue Front Saloon.
The boys were mightily pleased with the stanza, and they also improvised until, according to their versions, Long Lon bore a marked resemblance to a porcupine. Lon, being a real person, felt that Cheyenne’s retaliation was just. Moreover, Lon, who never did anything hastily, let it be known casually that he had seen three riders west of the line shack some two days past, and that the riders were leading two horses, a buckskin and a gray. They were too far away to be distinguished absolutely, but he could tell the color of the horses.
“Panhandle?” queried a puncher.