“Won’t you light off’n yore bronc and stay to supper, Miss Rutherford?” she invited.
“Thank you, Mrs. Hart. I can’t. Must get home.”
With a little nod to the woman she swung her horse around and was gone.
Hart did not show up for supper nor for breakfast. It was an easy guess that he lacked the hardihood to face them after his attempted betrayal. At all events, they saw nothing of him before they left in the morning. If they had penetrated his wife’s tight-lipped reserve, they might have shared her opinion, that he had gone off on a long drinking-bout with Dan Meldrum.
Leisurely Beaudry and his friend rode down through
the chaparral to
On the outskirts of the town they met Ned Rutherford. After they had passed him, he turned and followed in their tracks.
Dingwell grinned across at Roy. “Some thorough our friends are. A bulldog has got nothing on them. They’re hanging around to help me dig up that gunnysack when I get ready.”
The two men rode straight to the office of the sheriff and had a talk with him. From there they went to the hotel where Dave usually put up when he was in town. Over their dinner the cattleman renewed an offer he had been urging upon Roy all the way down from Hart’s place. He needed a reliable man to help him manage the different holdings he had been accumulating. His proposition was to take Beaudry in as a junior partner, the purchase price to be paid in installments to be earned out of the profits of the business.
“Course I don’t want to take you away from the law if you’re set on that profession, but if you don’t really care—” Dave lifted an eyebrow in a question.
“I think I’d like the law, but I know I would like better an active outdoor life. That’s not the point, Mr. Dingwell. I can’t take something for nothing. You can get a hundred men who know far more about cattle than I do. Why do you pick me?”
“I’ve got reasons a-plenty. Right off the bat here are some of them. I’m under obligations to Jack Beaudry and I’d like to pay my debt to his son. I’ve got no near kin of my own. I need a partner, but it isn’t one man out of a dozen I can get along with. Most old cowmen are rutted in their ways. You don’t know a thing about the business. But you can learn. You’re teachable. You are not one of these wise guys. Then, too, I like you, son. I don’t want a partner that rubs me the wrong way. Hell, my why-fors all simmer down to one. You’re the partner I want, Roy.”
“If you find I don’t suit you, will you let me know?”
“Sure. But there is no chance of that.” Dave shook hands with him joyously. “It’s a deal, boy.”
“It’s a deal,” agreed Beaudry.
Roy is Invited to Take a Drink
Dingwell gave a fishing-party next day. His invited guests were Sheriff Sweeney, Royal Beaudry, Pat Ryan, and Superintendent Elder, of the Western Express Company. Among those present, though at a respectable distance, were Ned Rutherford and Brad Charlton.