I reined Shylock sharply out of the trail, saw a place where the fence looked a bit lower than the average, and put him straight at it with quirt and spurs. He would have swung off, but I’ve ridden to hounds, and I had seen hunters go over worse places; I held him to it without mercy. He laid back his ears, then, and went over—and his hind feet caught the top wire and snapped it like thread. I heard it hum through the air, and I heard those behind me shout as though something unlooked-for had happened. I turned, saw them gathered on the other side looking after me blankly, and I waved my hat airily in farewell and went on about my business.
[Illustration: “His hind feet caught the top wire and snapped it like thread.”]
I felt that they would scarcely chase me the whole twelve or fifteen miles of the pass, and I was right; after I turned the first bend I saw them no more.
At camp I was received with much astonishment, particularly when Ballard saw that I had brought an answer to his note.
“Yuh must ‘a’ rode King’s Highway,” he said, looking at me much as Perry Potter had done the night before.
I told him I did, and the boys gathered round and wanted to know how I did it. I told them about jumping the fence, and my conceit got a hard blow there; with one accord they made it plain that I had done a very foolish thing. Range horses, they assured me, are not much at jumping, as a rule; and wire-fences are their special abhorrence. Frosty Miller told me, in confidence, that he didn’t know which was the bigger fool, Shylock or me, and he hoped I’d never be guilty of another trick like that.
That rather took the bloom off my adventure, and I decided, after much thought, that I agreed with Frosty: King’s Highway was bad medicine. I amended that a bit, and excepted Beryl King; I did not think she was “bad medicine,” however acid might be her flavor.
I ask Beryl King to Dance.
If I were just yarning for the fun there is in it, I should say that I was back in King’s Highway, helping Beryl King gather posies and brush up her repartee, the very next morning—or the second, at the very latest. As a matter of fact, though, I steered clear of that pass, and behaved myself and stuck to work for six long weeks; that isn’t saying I never thought about her, though.
On the very last day of June, as nearly as I could estimate, Frosty rode into Kenmore for something, and came back with that in his eyes that boded mischief; his words, however, were innocent enough for the most straight-laced.