“No, not when I saw him. He rode in with his usual outfit.”
“Wonder where he lost young Bartley? Well, I’m glad the boy isn’t here. He might get hurt.”
“No. Quiet. Writes stories. He’s out here to look at the West. Stayed at the ranch a spell. Mrs. Brown likes him.”
Colonel Stevenson nodded and offered the Senator a cigar. “Let’s step over to the hotel, Steve. It’s a long time since—”
* * * * *
That evening Bartley arrived in Phoenix, put up his horse, and, upon inquiry, learned that the Grand Central was the best hotel in town. He was registering when he noticed Senator Brown’s name. He made inquiry of the clerk. Yes, the Senator had arrived that morning. And would Mr. Bartley prefer a front room? The front rooms on the north side were cooler. No, the clerk knew nothing about a Mr. Cheyenne. There was no one by that name registered at the hotel. It was past the regular dinner hour, but the dining-room was not yet closed. There was a men’s furnishings store just across the street. They carried a complete stock. And did Mr. Bartley wish to be called at any special hour in the morning? Breakfast was served from six-thirty to nine-thirty.
Bartley had dinner, and later strolled around to the Top-Notch livery to see that Dobe was being well cared for. While talking with the stableman, Bartley noticed a gray pony and in the next stall a buckskin—Cheyenne’s horses.
“Those are Cheyenne’s horses, aren’t they?” he queried.
“I dunno. Mebby that’s his name. He left ’em here a few days ago. I only seen him once, since then.”
“I’ll be around in the morning. If a man called Cheyenne should happen to come in, just tell him that Bartley is stopping at the Grand Central.”
“I’ll tell him, all right,” said the stableman.
And as soon as Bartley was out of sight, that worthy called up the city marshal and told him that a stranger had ridden in and stabled a horse bearing the Box-S brand. A big reward had been offered for the stolen horses.
At the hotel Bartley learned that Senator Brown had gone out for the evening. Tired from his long ride, Bartley went to his room. Senator Steve and Cheyenne were in town. Bartley recalled the blacksmith’s talk about the stolen horses. No doubt that accounted for Senator Steve’s presence in Phoenix. As for Cheyenne—Bartley decided to hunt him up in the morning.
Panhandle Sears, in a back room in the Hole-in-the-Wall, was ugly drunk. The Hole-in-the-Wall had the reputation of running a straight game. Whether or not the game was straight, Panhandle had managed to drop his share of the money from the sale of the Box-S horses. He had had nothing to do with the actual stealing of them, but he had, with the assistance of his Mexican companion Posmo, engineered the sale to a rancher living out of Tucson. It was understood that the horses would find their way across the border.