“Well, I didn’t say it. You said it. Did I ever tell you about the Navajo squaw that some of the women up here, stopping over at Albuquerque, fitted out for her wedding?”
“No,” replied the boys together. “What did they do?”
“Why they gave her six dresses and a lot of other things they thought she would need as soon as she was in her own house. Some of them stopped there a year or two afterward and looked her up. The squaw was wearing one of the dresses that the white women had given her, but they found out that when one dress had become so old and torn that the squaw couldn’t wear it much longer she would just put another dress right on over it and wear that until it was worn out, and then she put on number three and then number four. She was wearing six altogether when this white woman found her.”
“That’s a fine story, Zeke,” laughed Fred.
“It’s almost good enough to be true.”
“No, sir, it’s too good to be true,” spoke up George.
“That doesn’t make any difference,” said Zeke sturdily. “I’m telling you what was told me. That’s all I know about it.”
“Zeke,” said Grant, who up to this time had taken little part in the conversation, “if you really think those Indians are after those two white men and that something may happen if they happen to meet, don’t you think we ought to get word to them somehow?”
A grin appeared on the face of the guide as he replied, “That’s a good ’un! That’s a good ’un! The chances are ten to one that if you interfered with them in their little game you would have all four o’ ’em turn against you. But that hasn’t anything to do with what’s facin’ us. We’ve got to make up our minds pretty quick what we’ll do.”
“What do you mean?” inquired Fred.
“Why, I mean that if we’re goin’ to be fools enough to try to find old Sime Moultrie’s stake then we’ll have to take whatever comes to us.”
“And you think we’re likely to have trouble with the Indians or the two white men if we begin to look up the place?”
“We may not see either of ’em,” replied Zeke evasively.
“Yes, but if we do see them,” said Fred persistently. “Do you think we’re going to have any trouble?”
“That remains to be seen.”
“But do you think we will?” persisted Fred.
“A good deal will depend on which party strikes what he thinks is the claim first. If we get it I don’t believe they will bother us and if they get it I’m mighty sure we shan’t bother them. But there,” he added, “I think I’m takin’ a good deal more trouble than I need to. The chances are one hundred to one that there isn’t any such thing as Moultrie’s stake, and if there isn’t, why then of course we’re all safe anyway.” Zeke threw back his head and laughed noisily, a recreation which he seldom permitted himself to enjoy. The joke, however, which he had just perpetrated was such a rarity that even the boys were compelled to join in his mirth.