“There he goes, advertising himself for a target to every greaser in the county. Pity he can’t ride along decent, if he’s got to ride at all in these hills, where every gulch may be a trap,” grumbled the old miner.
He jerked the leather strap down with a final tug, pulled himself to the saddle, and cantered after his friend.
“Elephints a pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ’ung that ’eavy you
Was ’arf afraid to speak!”
“No danger of the silence hanging heavy here while you’re around trying to be a whole opery troupe all by your lonesome,” suggested Davis. “Seems to me if you got to trapse round this here country hunting for that permanent residence, it ain’t necessary to disturb the Sabbath calm so on-feelin’. I don’t seem to remember hearing any great demand for an encore after the rendering of the first verse.”
“You do ce’tainly remind me of a lien with one chick, Steve,” laughed Dick.
“I ain’t worrying about you none. It’s my own scalp kinder hangs loose every time you make one of your fool-plays,” explained the other.
“Go pipe that up to your granny. Think I ain’t learned my ABC’s about my dry-nurse yet?”
“I’m going back to the gold camp to-morrow.”
“You been saying that ever since you came here. Why don’t you go, old Calamity Prophet?”
“Well, I am. Going to-morrow.”
“You’ve hollered wolf too often, Steve. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“Well, why don’t you behave? What’s the use of making a holy Caruso of yourself? Nobody ain’t ever pined to hear you tune up, anyhow.”
“All right. Mum’s the word, old hoss. I’ll be as solemn as if I was going to my own funeral.”
“I ain’t persuaded yet you’re not.”
“I’m right fully persuaded. Hallo! Stranger visiting at Corbett’s. Guess I’ll unlimber the artillery.”
They dismounted, and, before turning over his horse to Yeager, Dick unstrapped from the saddle his rifle. Nowadays he never for a moment was separated from some weapon of defense. For he knew that an attack upon his life was almost a certainty in the near future. Though his manner was debonair, he saw to it that nobody got a chance to tamper with his guns.
“Make you acquainted with Mr. Ramon Ainsa, gentlemen. Mr. Gordon—Mr. Davis,” said Corbett, standing in the doorway in his shirt-sleeves.
Mr. Ainsa, a very young man with the hint of a black mustache over his boyish mouth, clicked his heels together and bowed deeply. He expressed himself as delighted, but did not offer to shake hands. He was so stiff that Dick wanted to ask him whether the poker he had swallowed was indigestible.
“I am the bearer of a message to Mr. Richard Muir Gordon,” he said with another bow.
“My name,” acknowledged its owner. “You ain’t missed a letter of it. Must have been at the christening, I expect.”