Kirby could not repress a little smile. In spite of himself he felt a sneaking admiration for this insouciant youth who could take a beating like a sportsman.
“You’re some little mixer yourself,” he said.
“Thought I was, before I bumped into you. Say, gimme a hand up. I’m a bit groggy yet.”
Kirby helped him to his feet. The immaculate shirt and trousers were spattered with blood, mostly Kirby’s. The young dandy looked at himself, and a humorous quirk twitched at the corner of his mouth.
“Some scrap. Let’s go into the lavatory and do some reconstruction work,” he said.
Side by side at adjoining washbowls, perfectly amicably, they repaired as far as possible the damages of war. Not till they had put on again their coats did Kirby hark back to the purpose of the meeting.
“You haven’t told me yet what I want to know.”
Out of a damaged eye Jack looked at him evenly. “And that’s only part of it. I’m not going to, either.”
He had said the last word. Kirby could not begin all over again to thrash him. It was not reasonable. And if he did, he knew quite well he would get nothing out of the man. If he would not talk, he would not.
The bronco buster walked back to his hotel. A special-delivery letter was in his box. It was postmarked Golden. As he handed it to him the clerk looked him over curiously. It had been some time since he had seen a face so badly cut up and swollen.
“You ought to see the other fellow,” Kirby told him with a lopsided grin as he ripped open the envelope.
Before his eyes had traveled halfway down the sheet the cowman gave a modulated whoop of joy.
“Good news?” asked the clerk.
Kirby did not answer. His eyes were staring in blank astonishment at one sentence in the letter. The note was from Cole Sanborn. This is what Kirby read in it:
Well, old-timer, there aint no trail so blamed long but what its got a turn in it somewheres. I done found Esther up Platte Canon and everythings OK as you might say. I reckon you are wondering howcome this to be postmarked Golden. Well, old pardner, Im sure enough married at last but I had a great time getting Esther to see this my way. Shes one swell little girl and theres only one thing I hate. Before she would marry me I had to swear up and down I wouldnt touch the yellow wolf who got her into trouble. But she didnt say nothing about you so I will just slip you his name. It wasnt your uncle at all but that crooked oil broker nephew of his James Cunningham. If you can muss him up proper for me youll sure be doing a favor to
P.S. Esther sends bushels of love to Rose and will write to-morrow. I’ll say Im going to make her one happy kid.