The first thing that Dave did was to strike straight for the wagon where his roll of bedding was. He untied the rope, flung open the blankets, and took from inside the forty-five he carried to shoot rattlesnakes. This he shoved down between his shirt and trousers where it would be handy for use in case of need. His roll he brought back with him as a justification for the trip to the wagon. He had no intention of starting anything. All he wanted was not to be caught at a disadvantage a second time.
Miller and the two Dobles were standing a little way apart talking together in low tones. The fat man, his foot on the spoke of a wagon wheel, was tying up one of his bleeding calves with a bandanna handkerchief. Dave gathered that his contribution to the conversation consisted mainly of fervent and almost tearful profanity.
The brothers appeared to be debating some point with heat. George insisted, and the foreman gave up with a lift of his big shoulders.
“Have it yore own way. I hate to have you leave us after I tell you there’ll be no more trouble, but if that’s how you feel about it I got nothin’ to say. What I want understood is this”—Dug Doble raised his voice for all to hear—“that I’m boss of this outfit and won’t stand for any rough stuff. If the boys, or any one of ’em, can’t lose their money without bellyachin’, they can get their time pronto.”
The two gamblers packed their race-horse, saddled, and rode away without a word to any of the range-riders. The men round the fire gave no sign that they knew the confidence men were on the map until after they had gone. Then tongues began to wag, the foreman having gone to the edge of the camp with them.
“Well, my feelin’s ain’t hurt one li’l’ bit because they won’t play with us no more,” Steve Russell said, smiling broadly.
“Can you blame that fat guy for not wantin’ to play with Dave here?” asked Hart, and he beamed at the memory of what he had seen. “Son, you ce’tainly gave him one surprise party when yore rowels dug in.”
“Wonder to me he didn’t stampede the cows, way he hollered,” grinned a third. “I don’t grudge him my ten plunks. Not none. Dave he give me my money’s worth that last round.”
“I had a little luck,” admitted Dave modestly.
“Betcha,” agreed Steve. “I was just startin’ over to haul the fat guy off Dave when he began bleatin’ for us to come help him turn loose the bear. I kinda took my time then.”
“Onct I went to a play called ‘All’s Well That Ends Well,’” said Byington reminiscently. “At the Tabor Grand the-a-ter, in Denver.”
“Did it tell how a freckled cow-punch rode a fat tinhorn on his spurs?” asked Hart.
“Bet he wears stovepipes on his laigs next time he mixes it with Dave,” suggested one coffee-brown youth. “Well, looks like the show’s over for to-night. I’m gonna roll in.” Motion carried unanimously.