“It’s not a question of being happy,” thought Dan Anderson, “but of doing your work, and taking your medicine.”
ADVENTURE AT HEART’S DESIRE
The Strange Story of the King of Gee-Whiz, and his Unusual Experience in Foreign Parts
In the absence of McKinney with the sheriff’s posse, Curly became, by virtue of seniority, acting foreman on the Carrizoso ranch. Grieving over the edict which held him home from sheriffing, and disconsolate now that Ellsworth and Constance had departed, he sought an outlet for his feelings. “I’ll show folks what a real cow foreman is like,” he asserted, and forthwith began plans which, in his opinion, had been too long deferred by the more conservative McKinney.
The wagons of the Carrizoso cow outfit came into town one morning, with a requisition for all the loose .44-caliber ammunition that could be bought, begged, or commandeered under the plea of urgent necessity. Whiteman burrowed through his stock from top to bottom, but still the new foreman growled at the insufficiency.
“There’s more’n five thousand sheep in that bunch that has just crossed the Nogales,” said he, “and we’ve got to kill ’em, every one. Do you suppose my men is goin’ to take to clubs, like Digger Injuns?”
Whiteman could only shrug. There had always been ammunition in Heart’s Desire sufficient for all benevolent and social purposes. No one had suspected sheep. The Carrizoso plateau had been sacred ground, and it was unsupposable that it could ever be desecrated by the trampling hoofs and scissor noses of these woolly abominations. Grumbling, Curly rode away with his wagons, surrounded by a group of be-Winchestered cow punchers, not unlike that which had accompanied Stillson out at the other end of the town.
It was two days before they returned. When they did so, two of the men were not in their saddles, but at the bottom of a wagon. Beside them, bucked up and bound, lay a strange and long-haired figure, at which the new foreman occasionally looked back with a gaze of mingled curiosity and respect.
It appeared that Carrizoso cow honor had been maintained. The five thousand sheep had been rounded up in a box canon, and scrupulously killed to the last item, while two herders went flying westward in fright such as might have warranted euchre upon their stiffly extended coat-tails.
Willie, the half-wit, one of the sheep outfit, had readily taken the oath of allegiance; beyond that, however, there had been a hitch in the proceedings. The man causing this hitch—the long-haired figure at the bottom of the wagon—had been presumptuous enough to make a stand against the lords of the earth! The men of Heart’s Desire, confident that the new foreman understood his business, asked few questions as they gathered about the wagon and gazed at the silent captive.