And then, somewhere along the southern highway Cheyenne was jogging with Filaree and Joshua:
Seems like I don’t git
Git along, cayuse, git along.
Bartley rose and stepped to the window. San Andreas drowsed in the noon sun. Far to the north he could see a dot of fresh green—the cottonwoods of the Lawrence rancho. Again he found himself in the grip of indecision. After all, a fellow didn’t have to journey up and down the land to find material for a story. There was plenty of material right where he was. All he had to do was to stop, look, and listen. “Hang the story!” he exclaimed peevishly. “I’ll just go out and live—and then write the story.”
It did not take him long to pack his saddle-bags, nor to get together the few articles of clothing he had had washed by a Mexican woman in town. He wrote a brief note to Dorothy, stating that he was on his way. He paid his hotel bill, stepped round to the livery and paid for Dobe’s entertainment, saddled up, and, literally shaking the dust of San Andreas from his feet, rode down the long trail south, headed for Joe Scott’s placer, as his first stop.
He would spend the night there and then head south again. The only living thing that seemed interested in Bartley’s exodus was a stray dog that seemed determined to follow him. Turning from the road, Bartley took the short cut to Scott’s placer. Glancing back he saw that the dog was still following. Bartley told him to go home. The dog, a very ordinary yellow dog, didn’t happen to have a home—and he was hungry. So he ignored Bartley’s command.
Whether or not he imagined that Bartley was different from the run of townsfolk is a question. Possibly he imagined Bartley might give him something to eat. In any event, the dog stuck to the trail clear up to Scott’s placer.
Scott was not at the cabin. Bartley hallooed, glanced round, and dismounted. On the cabin door was a note: “Gone to Phoenix. J. Scott.”
Bartley turned from the cabin to find the dog gazing up at him mournfully; his expression seemed to convey the idea that they were both in hard luck. Nobody home and nothing to eat.
“What, you here!” exclaimed Bartley.
The yellow dog wagged his tail. He was young and as yet had some faith in mankind.
Bartley tied his horse and strode up the trail to the workings. Everything had been put in order. The dog helped investigate, sniffing at the wheelbarrow, the buckets, the empty sacks weighted down with rock to keep them from blowing away, the row of tools, picks and shovels and bars. Evidently the owner of the place was not concealed beneath any of these things.
Meanwhile the afternoon shadows warned Bartley that a camp with water and feed was the next thing in order. He strode back to the cabin. There was no problem to solve, although he thought there was. The yellow dog, an old campaigner in the open, though young in years, solved his problem by a suggestion. He was tired. There seemed to be no food in sight. He philosophically trotted to the open shed opposite the cabin and made a bed for himself in a pile of gunny-sacks. Bartley grinned. Why not?