“Cheyenne wants to git out of shootin’,” suggested a puncher.
That settled it with Bartley. “He won’t disappoint you,” he stated quietly. “Give me the card.”
One of the boys got up and fetched an old deck of cards. Bartley chose the ace of spades. Back of the corrals, with nothing but mesa in sight, he took up his position, while Cheyenne stepped off fifteen paces. Bartley’s hand trembled a little. Cheyenne noticed it and turned to the group, saying something that made them laugh. Bartley’s fingers tensed. He forgot his nervousness. Cheyenne whirled and shot, apparently without aim. Bartley drew a deep breath, and glanced at the card. The black pip was cut clean from the center.
“That’s easy,” asserted Cheyenne. Then he took a silver dollar from his pocket, laid it in the palm of his right hand, hung the gun, by its trigger guard on his right forefinger, lowered his hand and tossed the coin up. As the coin went up the gun whirled over. Then came the whiz of the coin as it cut through space.
“About seventy-five shots like that and I’m broke,” laughed Cheyenne. “Anybody’s hat need ventilatin’?”
“Not this child’s,” asserted Lon Pelly. “I sailed my hat for him onct. It was a twenty-dollar J.B., when I sailed it. When it hit it sure wouldn’t hold water. Six holes in her—and three shots.”
“Six?” exclaimed Bartley.
“The three shots went clean through both sides,” said Lon.
Cheyenne reloaded his gun and dropped it into the holster.
Later, Bartley had a talk with Cheyenne about the proposed trailing of the stolen horses. Panhandle’s name was mentioned. And the name of another man—Sneed. Cheyenne seemed to know just where he would look, and whom he might expect to meet.
Bartley and Cheyenne were in the living-room that evening talking with the Senator and his wife. Out in the bunk-house those of the boys who had not left for the line shack were discussing horse-thieves in general and Panhandle and Sneed in particular. Bill Smalley, a saturnine member of the outfit, who seldom said anything, and who was a good hand but a surly one, made a remark.
“That there Cheyenne is the fastest gun artist—and the biggest coward that ever come out of Wyoming. Ain’t that right, Lon?”
“I never worked in Wyoming,” said Long Lon.
Mrs. Senator Brown did not at all approve of Bartley’s determination to accompany Cheyenne in search of the stolen horses. Late that night, long after Cheyenne had ceased to sing for the boys in the bunk-house, and while Bartley was peacefully slumbering in a comfortable bed, Mrs. Brown took the Senator to task for not having discouraged the young Easterner from attempting such a wild-goose chase. The Senator, whose diameter made the task of removing his boots rather difficult, puffed, and tugged at a tight riding-boot, but said nothing.