“Blood, all right,” he said at last. “Where did you get this, son?”
The man, a Chiracahua hand named Curley something-or-other, indicated a sacatone bottom a hundred yards to the west.
“You got good eyes, son,” Buck complimented him. “Think you can make out the trail?”
“Do’no,” said Curley. “Used to do a considerable of tracking.”
“Horses!” commanded Buck.
We followed Curley afoot while several men went to saddle up. On the edge of the two-foot jump-off we grouped ourselves waiting while Curley, his brows knit tensely, quartered here and there like a setter dog. He was a good trailer, you could see that in a minute. He went at it right. After quite a spell he picked up a rock and came back to show it. I should never have noticed anything—merely another tiny black spot among other spots—but Buck nodded instantly he saw it.
“It’s about ten rods west of whar I found the grass,” said Curley. “Looks like he’s headed for that water in Cockeye Basin. From thar he could easy make Cochise when he got rested.”
“Looks likely,” agreed Buck. “Can’t you find no footprints?”
“Too much tramped up by cowboys and other jackasses,” said Curley. “It’ll come easier when we get outside this yere battlefield.”
He stood erect, sizing up the situation through half-squinted eyes.
“You-all wait here,” he decided. “Chances are he kept right on up the broad wash.”
He mounted one of the horses that had now arrived and rode at a lope to a point nearly half a mile west. There he dismounted and tied his horse to the ground. After rather a prolonged search he raised his hand over his head and described several small horizontal circles in the air.
“Been in the army, have you?” muttered Buck; “well, I will say you’re a handy sort of leather-leg to have around. He gave the soldier signal for ’assemble’,” he answered Jed Parker’s question.
We rode over to join Curley.
“It’s all right; he came this way,” said the latter; but he did not trouble to show us indications. I am a pretty fair game trailer myself, but I could make out nothing.
We proceeded slowly, Curley afoot leading his horse. The direction continued to be toward Cockeye. Sometimes we could all see plain footprints; again the trail was, at least as far as I was concerned, a total loss. Three times we found blood, once in quite a splash. Occasionally even Curley was at fault for a few moments; but in general he moved forward at a rapid walk.
“This Curley person is all right,” observed Windy Bill after a while, “I was brung up to find my way about, and I can puzzle out most anywhere a critter has gone and left a sign; but this yere Curley can track a humming bird acrost a granite boulder!”
After a little while Curley stopped for us to catch up.
“Seems to me no manner of doubt but what he’s headed for Cockeye,” he said. “There ain’t no other place for him to go out this way. I reckon I can pick up enough of this trail just riding along. If we don’t find no sign at Cockeye, we can just naturally back track and pick up where he turned off. We’ll save time that-away, and he’s had plenty of time to get thar and back again.”