Slavin pulled up. “Luks as if he’d shtruck back tu Cow Run again,” he said with conviction. “Must have come from there, tu—thracks was goin’ and comin’ an’ ye noticed, fwhin we climbed out av th’ coulee back there. We must luk for a harse wid th’ nigh-hind badly ‘calked.’ Yorkey! yu’ get back an’ tell that Lanky Jones feller tu come on. Hitch yez own harses behint our cutter an’ take th’ lines.” He squinted at the sun and pulled out his watch. “’Tis four o’clock, begob! Twill turn bitther cowld whin th’ sun goes down.”
The coroner smiled knowingly. “Talking about ’calks’!” he remarked; and diving into the deep recesses of his fur coat he produced a comfortable-looking leather-encased flask. “A little ‘calk’ all round won’t hurt us after that tramp, Sergeant!” he observed kindly.
Their transport presently arriving, they proceeded on their way to Cow Run, Yorke and Redmond watching carefully for any tracks debouching from the main trail. Occasionally they dismounted to verify the incriminating hoof-prints which still continued eastward. In this fashion they finally drew to the level of the river, where the trail forked; one arm of it following more or less the winding course of the Bow River back westward. At this junction they searched narrowly until they found unmistakable indication of the blood-tinged tracks still heading in the direction of Cow Run.
“What was that case of yours, Yorkey?” enquired Redmond. “You know—what Slavin was talking about?”
“Mix-up over that horse,” replied Yorke laconically, “disputed ownership. A chap named Moran tried to run a bluff over Larry that he’d lost the horse as a colt. They got to scrapping and I ran ’em both up before Gully, the J. P. here. Moran got fined twenty dollars and costs for assaulting Blake. Say! look at that sky! Isn’t it great?”
They turned in their saddles and looked westward. Clean-cut against a pale yellow-ochre background and enveloped in a deep purple bloom, the mighty peaks of the distant “Rockies” upreared their eternal snow-capped glory in a salute to departing day. Above, where the opaline-tinted horizon shaded imperceptibly into the deep ultramarine of evening, lay glowing streamers of vivid crimson cloud-bank edged with the gleaming gold of the sunset’s after-glow.
It was a soul-filling sight. Against it the sordid contrast of the sinister business in hand smote them like a blow from an unseen hand, as they resumed their monotonous scanning of the trail on its either side.
Yorke presently voiced the impression in both their hearts. “My God’” he murmured “the bitter irony of it! ’Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men’ . . . and this!—what?”
Oh! Bad Bill Brough, a way-back
Raised hell when he struck town;
With gun-in-fist met Sergeant Twist—
It sure was some show-down.
BALLAD OF SERGEANT TWIST