“Well, Miss Dorry—” And Cheyenne told her how Jimmy had followed him, how he had sent Jimmy back, and the unexpected appearance of that young hopeful in the timber near Sneed’s cabin. “I was in there, figurin’ hard how to get my hosses and get away, when, somehow, Jimmy got to the corral and turned Sneed’s stock loose and hazed ’em down the trail. But where he run ’em to is the joke. I figured he would show up at our camp. It would be just like him to run the whole bunch into the ranch corral. And I reckon he done it.”
“But, Mr. Sneed!” exclaimed Dorothy. “If he finds out we had anything to do with running off his horses—”
“He never saw Jimmy clost enough to tell who he was. ’Course, Sneed knows Aunt Jane is my sister, and most he’ll suspicion is that I got help from some of my folks. But so far he don’t know who helped me turn the trick.”
“You don’t seem to be very serious about it,” declared Dorothy.
“Serious? Me? Why, ain’t most folks serious enough without everybody bein’ took that way?”
“Perhaps. But I knew something had happened the minute you rode into camp.”
“So did I,” asserted Cheyenne, and he spoke sharply to his horse.
Dorothy flushed. “Cheyenne, I rode over to find Jimmy. You needn’t—Oh, there’s Aunt Jane now! And there’s Jimmy, and the corral is full of horses!”
“Reckon we better step along,” and Cheyenne put Steel Dust to a lope.
MORE PONY TRACKS
Summoned from the west end of the ranch, where he had been irrigating the alfalfa, Uncle Frank arrived at the house just as Cheyenne and Dorothy rode up. Little Jim was excitedly endeavoring to explain to Aunt Jane how the corral came to be filled with strange horses.
Uncle Frank nodded to Cheyenne and turned to Jimmy. “Where you been?”
“I was over on the mountain.”
“How did these horses get here?”
Uncle Frank’s eye was stern. Jimmy hesitated. He had been forbidden to go near Sneed’s place; and he knew that all that stood between a harness strap and his small jeans was the presence of Dorothy and Cheyenne. It was pretty tough to have recovered the stolen horses single-handed, and then to take a licking for it.
Little Jim gazed hopefully at his father.
“Why, I was chousin’ around up there,” he explained, “and I seen dad’s hosses, and—and I started ’em down the trail and the whole blame bunch followed ’em. They was travelin’ so fast I couldn’t cut ’em out, so I just let ’em drift. Filaree and Josh just nacherally headed for the corral and the rest followed ’em in.”
Uncle Frank gazed sternly at Jimmy. “Who told you to help your father get his horses?”
“Did your Aunt Jane tell you you could go over to the mountain?”
“I never asked her.”