It was a caustic verdict, intended for the benefit of the cattle-and horse-thieves of the Southwest. It conveyed the hint that the city of Phoenix was prompt to resent the presence of such gentry within its boundaries. One of the daily papers commented upon the fact that “the parties unknown” must have been fast and efficient gunmen. Cheyenne’s name was not mentioned, and that was due to the influence of the marshal, Senator Brown, and the mayor, which left readers of the papers to infer that the police of Phoenix had handled the matter themselves.
Through the evidence of the outlaw who had survived long enough to make a statement, the Box-S horses were traced to a ranch in the neighborhood of Tucson, identified, and finally returned to their owner.
The day following the inquest, Bartley and Cheyenne left Phoenix, with Fort Apache as their first tentative destination, and with the promise of much rugged and wonderful country in between as an incentive to journey again with his companion, although Bartley needed no special incentive. At close range Bartley had beheld the killing of several men. And he could not free himself from the vision of Panhandle crawling toward him in the patch of white light, the flitting of horsemen back and forth, and the red flash of six-guns. Bartley was only too anxious to leave the place.
It was not until they were two days out of Phoenix that Cheyenne mentioned the fight—and then he did so casually, as though seeking an opinion from his comrade.
Bartley merely said he was glad Cheyenne had not killed Panhandle. Cheyenne pondered a while, riding loosely, and gazing down at the trail.
“I reckon I would ‘a’ killed him—if I’d ‘a’ got the chance,” he said. “I meant to. No, it wasn’t me or Panhandle that settled that argument: it was somethin’ bigger than us. Folks that reads about the fight, knowin’ I was in Phoenix, will most like say that I got him. Let ’em say so. I know I didn’t; and you know I didn’t—and that’s good enough for me.”
“And Dorothy and Aunt Jane and Little Jim,” said Bartley.
“Meanin’ Little Jim won’t have to grow up knowin’ that his father was a killer.”
“I was thinking of that.”
“Well, right here is where I quit thinkin’ about it and talkin’ about it. If that dog of yours there was to kill a coyote, in a fair fight, I reckon he wouldn’t think about it long.”
A few minutes later Cheyenne spoke of the country they were in.
“She’s rough and unfriendly, right here,” he said. “But north a ways she sure makes up for it. There’s big spruce and high mesas and grass to your pony’s knees and water ’most anywhere you look for it. I ain’t much on huntin’. But there’s plenty deer and wild turkey up that way, and some bear. And with a bent pin and a piece of string a fella can catch all the trout he wants. Arizona is a mighty surprisin’ State, in spots. Most folks from the East think she’s sagebrush and sand, except the Grand Canon; but that’s kind of rented out to tourists, most of the time. I like the Painted Desert better.”