“I know you’re all mighty unneighborly,” I said, making me a cigarette in the way that cowboys do. “I asked a young lady—your daughter, I suppose—for a drink of water. She told me to go to the creek.”
He laughed at that; evidently he approved of his daughter’s attitude. “Beryl knows how to deal with the likes uh you,” he muttered relishfully. “And she hates the Carletons bad as I do. Get off my place, young man, and do it quick!”
“Sure!” I assented cheerfully, and jabbed the spurs into Shylock—taking good care that he was beaded north instead of south. And it’s a fact that, ticklish as was the situation, my first thought was: “So her name’s Beryl, is it? Mighty pretty name, and fits her, too.”
King wasn’t thinking anything so sentimental, I’ll wager. He yelled to two or three fellows, as I shot by them near the first corral: “Round up that thus-and-how”—I hate to say the words right out—“and bring him back here!” Then he sent a bullet zipping past my ear, and from the house came a high, nasal squawk which, I gathered, came from the old party I had seen the day before.
I went clippety-clip around those sheds and corrals, till I like to have snapped my head off; I knew Shylock could take first money over any ordinary cayuse, and I let him out; but, for all that, I heard them coming, and it sounded as if they were about to ride all over me, they were so close.
Past the last shed I went streaking it, and my heart remembered what it was made for, and went to work. I don’t feel that, under the circumstances, it’s any disgrace to own that I was scared. I didn’t hear any more little singing birds fly past, so I straightened up enough to look around and see what was doing in the way of pursuit.
One glance convinced me that my pursuers weren’t going to sleep in their saddles. One of them, on a little buckskin that was running with his ears laid so flat it looked as if he hadn’t any, was widening the loop in his rope, and yelling unfriendly things as he spurred after me; the others were a length behind, and I mentally put them out of the race. The gentleman with the businesslike air was all I wanted to see, and I laid low as I could and slapped Shylock along the neck, and told him to bestir himself.
He did. We skimmed up that trail like a winner on the home—stretch, and before I had time to think of what lay ahead, I saw that fence with the high, board gate that was padlocked. Right there I swore abominably—but it didn’t loosen the gate. I looked back and decided that this was no occasion for pulling wires loose and leading my horse over them. It was no occasion for anything that required more than a second; my friend of the rope was not more than five long jumps behind, and he was swinging that loop suggestively over his head.