If the older man noticed that the paper shook, he ignored it.
“What’s this I hear, son, about you falling off the water-wagon and filling the hospital?” His gay grin challenged affectionately the boy on the bed. “Don’t you know you’re liable to give the new firm, Dingwell & Beaudry, a bad name if you pull off insurrections like that? The city dads are talking some of building a new wing to the accident ward to accommodate your victims. Taxes will go up and—”
Roy smiled wanly. “You’ve heard about it, then?”
“Heard about it! Say, son, I’ve heard nothing else for the last twenty minutes. You’re the talk of the town. I didn’t know you was such a bad actor.” Dave stopped to break into a chuckle. “Wow! You certainly hit the high spots. Friend Meldrum and Charlton and our kind host Hart—all laid out at one clatter. I never was lucky. Here I wouldn’t ‘a’ missed seeing you pull off this Samson encore for three cows on the hoof, and I get in too late for the show.”
“They’re not hurt badly, are they?” asked Beaudry, a little timidly.
Dave looked at him with a curious little smile. “You don’t want to go back and do the job more thorough, do you? No need, son. Meldrum and Charlton are being patched up in the hospital and Hart is at Doc White’s having the glass picked out of his geography. I’ve talked with some of the also rans, and they tell me unanimous that it was the most thorough clean-up they have participated in recently.”
“What will they do—after they get over it?”
Dingwell grinned. “Search me! But I’ll tell you what they won’t do. They’ll not invite you to take another drink right away. I’ll bet a hat on that. . . . Come on, son. We got to hit the trail for home.”
Roy Improves the Shining Hours
The tender spring burnt into crisp summer. Lean hill cattle that had roughed through the winter storms lost their shaggy look and began to fill out. For there had been early rains and the bunch grass was succulent this year.
Roy went about learning his new business with an energy that delighted his partner. He was eager to learn and was not too proud to ask questions. The range conditions, the breeding of cattle, and transportation problems were all studied by him. Within a month or two he had become a fair horseman and could rope a steer inexpertly.
Dingwell threw out a suggestion one day in his characteristic casual manner. The two men were riding a line fence and Roy had just missed a shot at a rabbit.
“Better learn to shoot, son. Take an hour off every day and practice. You hadn’t ought to have missed that cottontail. What you want is to fire accurately, just as soon as yore gun jumps to the shoulder. I can teach you a wrinkle or two with a six-gun. Then every time you see a rattler, take a crack at it. Keep in form. You might need to bend a gun one of these days.”