If a man gives his whole mind to it, he learns practical things fast. Even a dumb-head Wop gets his English rapidly when he’s where he has to talk that or nothing. Inside of three years I had that ranch paying, and paying big. It was due to my friends whom I had been afraid of, and I’m not ashamed to say so. There’s Herefords on our range now instead of that lot of heady long-horns Old Man Hooper used to run; and we’re growing alfalfa and hay in quantity for fattening when they come in off the ranges. Got considerable hogs, too, and hogs are high—nothing but pure blood Poland. I figure I’ve added fully fifty per cent., if not more, to the value of the ranch as it came to me. No, I’m not bragging; I’m explaining how came it I married my wife and figured to keep my self-respect. I’d have married her anyhow. We’ve been together now fifteen years, and I’m here to say that she’s a humdinger of a girl, game as a badger, better looking every day, knows cattle and alfalfa and sunsets and sonatas and Poland hogs—but I said this was no love story, and it isn’t!
The day following the taking of the ranch and the death of Old Man Hooper we put our prisoners on horses and started along with them toward the Mexican border. Just outside of Soda Springs whom should we meet up with but big Tom Thorne, the sheriff.
“Evenin’, Buck,” said he.
“Evenin’,” replied the senor.
“What you got here?”
“This is a little band of religious devotees fleein’ persecution,” said Buck.
“And what are you up to with them?” asked Thorne.
“We’re protecting them out of Christian charity from the dangers of the road until they reach the Promised Land.”
“I see,” said Thorne, reflectively. “Whereabouts lays this Promised Land?”
“About sixty mile due south.”
“You sure to get them all there safe and sound—I suppose you’d be willing to guarantee that nothing’s going to happen to them, Buck?”
“I give my word on that, Tom.”
“All right,” said Thorne, evidently relieved. He threw his leg over the horn of his saddle. “How about that little dispossession matter, deputy? You ain’t reported on that.”