“‘Life of the James and Younger Brothers.’ That ought to sell well with the Rutherfords,” suggested Roy satirically, trying to rise to the occasion.
“Jess Tighe and Dan Meldrum don’t need any pointers from the James Boys.”
“Tighe and Meldrum— Who are they?”
“Meldrum is a coyote your father trapped and sent to the pen. He’s a bad actor for fair. And Tighe—well, if you put a hole in his head you’d blow out the brains of the Rutherford gang. For hiven’s sake don’t let Jess know who you are. All of sivinteen years he’s been a cripple on crutches, and ’t was your father that laid him up the day of his death. He’s a rivingeful divil is Jess.”
Beaudry made no comment. It seemed to him that his heart was of chilled lead.
The Hill Girl
The Irish cowpuncher guided young Royal Beaudry through Wagon Wheel Gap himself. They traveled in the night, since it would not do for the two to be seen together. In the early morning Ryan left the young man and turned back toward Battle Butte. The way to Huerfano Park, even from here, was difficult to find, but Roy had a map drawn from memory by Pat.
“I’ll not guarantee it,” the little rider had cautioned. “It’s been many a year since I was in to the park and maybe my memory is playing tricks. But it’s the best I can do for you.”
Beaudry spent the first half of the day in a pine grove far up in the hills. It would stir suspicion if he were seen on the road at dawn, for that would mean that he must have come through the Gap in the night. So he unsaddled and stretched himself on the sun-dappled ground for an hour or two’s rest. He did not expect to sleep, even though he had been up all night. He was too uneasy in mind and his nerves were too taut.
But it was a perfect day of warm spring sunshine. He looked up into a blue unflecked sky. The tireless hum of insects made murmurous music all about him. The air was vocal with the notes of nesting birds. His eyes closed drowsily.
When he opened them again, the sun was high in the heavens. He saddled and took the trail. Within the hour he knew that he was lost. Either he had mistaken some of the landmarks of Ryan’s sketchy map or else the cowpuncher had forgotten the lay of the country.
Still, Roy knew roughly the general direction of Huerfano Park. If he kept going he was bound to get nearer. Perhaps he might run into a road or meet some sheepherder who would put him on the right way.
He was in the heart of the watershed where Big Creek heads. Occasionally from a hilltop he could see the peaks rising gaunt in front of him. Between him and them were many miles of tangled mesquite, wooded canons, and hills innumerable. Somewhere among the recesses of these land waves Huerfano Park was hidden.