“Which means that you kind of think I ought to let the hosses go, for fear of gettin’ you in bad.”
Uncle Frank shook his head, but said nothing. Bartley smoked a cigar and listened to the conversation that followed. Called upon by Uncle Frank for his opinion, Bartley hesitated, and then said that, if the horses were his, he would be tempted to go and get them, regardless of consequences. Bartley’s stock went up, with Little Jim, right there.
Cheyenne turned to Uncle Frank. “I’m ridin’ over to Clubfoot’s wikiup to-morrow mornin’. I’ll git my hosses, or git him. And I’m ridin’ alone.”
Little Jim, meanwhile, had been raking his mind for an idea as to how he might attract attention. He disappeared. Presently he appeared in front of the veranda with the end of a long rope in his fist. He blinked and grinned.
“What’s on the other end of that rope?” queried Uncle Frank, immediately suspicious.
“Nothin’ but High-Tail.”
“I thought I told you not to rope that calf,” said Uncle Frank, rising.
“I didn’t. I jest held my loop in front of some carrots and High-Tail shoves his head into it. Then I says, ‘Whoosh!’ and he jumps back—and I hung on.”
“How in Sam Hill did you get him here?” queried Uncle Frank.
“Jest held a carrot to his nose—and he walked along tryin’ to get it.”
“Well you shake off that loop and haze him back into the corral.”
High-Tail, having eaten the carrot, decided to go elsewhere. He backed away and blatted. Little Jim took a quick dally round a veranda post. High-Tail plunged and fought the rope.
“Turn him loose!” cried Uncle Frank.
“What’s the matter?” said Aunt Jane, appearing in the doorway.
Little Jim eased off the dally, but clung to the rope. High-Tail whirled and started for the corral. Little Jim set back on his heels, but Little Jim was a mere item in High-Tail’s wild career toward freedom. A patter of hoofs in the dark, and Little Jim and the calf disappeared around the corner of the barn.
Cheyenne laughed and rose, following Uncle Frank to the corral. When they arrived, High-Tail had made his third round of the corral, with Jimmy still attached to the rope. Cheyenne managed to stop the calf and throw off the noose.
Little Jim rose and gazed wildly around. He was one color, from head to foot—and it was a decidedly local color. His jeans were torn and his cotton shirt was in rags, but his grit was unsifted.
“D-didn’t I hang to him, dad?” he inquired enthusiastically.
“You sure did!” said Cheyenne.
With a pail of hot water, soap, and fresh raiment, Aunt Jane undertook to make Little Jim’s return to the heart of the family as agreeable as possible to all concerned.
“Isn’t he hurt?” queried Bartley.
“Not if he doesn’t know it,” stated Cheyenne.