Big gusher harnessed;
after wild rampage
Jackpot No. 3 at Malapi Tamed
Long Battle Ended
It was a surprise to Dave to discover that the horse Steve had got for him was his own old favorite Chiquito. The pinto knew him. He tested this by putting him through some of his old tricks. The horse refused to dance or play dead, but at the word of command his right foreleg came up to shake hands. He nuzzled his silky nose against the coat of his master just as in the days of old.
Crawford rode a bay, larger than a bronco. The oil prospector was astride a rangy roan. He was no horseman, but as a perpetual-motion conversationalist the old wildcatter broke records. He was a short barrel of a man, with small eyes set close together, and he made a figure of fun perched high up in the saddle. But he permitted no difficulties of travel to interfere with his monologue.
“The boss hold-up wasn’t no glad-hand artist,” he explained. “He was a sure-enough sulky devil, though o’course we couldn’t see his face behind the mask. Blue mask it was, made outa a bandanna handkerchief. Well, rightaway I knew somethin’ was liable to pop, for old Harrigan, scared to death, kep’ a-goin’ just the same. Maybe he hadn’t sense enough to stop, as the fellow says. Maybe he didn’t want to. Bang-bang! I reckon Tim was dead before he hit the ground. They lined us up, but they didn’t take a thing except the gold and one Chicago fellow’s watch. Then they cut the harness and p’int for the hills.”
“How do you know they made for the hills?” asked Dave.
“Well, they naturally would. Anyhow, they lit out round the Bend. I hadn’t lost ’em none, and I wasn’t lookin’ to see where they went. Not in this year of our Lord. I’m right careless at times, but not enough so to make inquiries of road agents when they’re red from killin’. I been told I got no terminal facilities of speech, but it’s a fact I didn’t chirp from start to finish of the hold-up. I was plumb reticent.”
Light sifted into the sky. The riders saw the colors change in a desert dawn. The hilltops below them were veiled in a silver-blue mist. Far away Malapi rose out of the caldron, its cheapness for once touched to a moment of beauty and significance. In that glorified sunrise it might have been a jeweled city of dreams.
The prospector’s words flowed on. Crystal dawns might come and go, succeeding mist scarfs of rose and lilac, but a great poet has said that speech is silver.
“No, sir. When a man has got the drop on me I don’t aim to argue with him. Not none. Tim Harrigan had notions. Different here. I’ve done some rough-housin’. When a guy puts up his dukes I’m there. Onct down in Sonora I slammed a fellow so hard he woke up among strangers. Fact. I don’t make claims, but up at Carbondale they say I’m some rip-snorter when I get goin’ good. I’m quiet. I don’t go around with a chip on my shoulder. It’s the quiet boys you want to look out for. Am I right?”