The buckskin knew its master for a very good friend. If he gave it something to eat—well, there was no harm in trying it once. The buckskin chewed placidly for a few seconds, decided that this was a practical joke, and ejected from its mouth a slimy green pulp that had recently been a treasury note.
The father stammered his thanks to the rescuer of the girl. “I don’t know what I can ever do to let you know . . . I don’t know how I can ever pay you for saving . . .”
“Forget it!” snapped the brown man curtly. He was an even-tempered youth, as genial and friendly as a half-grown pup, but just now the word “pay” irritated him as a red rag does a sulky bull.
“If there’s anything at all I can do for you—”
“Not a thing.”
The New Yorker felt that he was not expressing himself at all happily. What he wanted was to show this young fellow that he had put him under a lifelong obligation he could never hope to wipe out.
“If you ever come to New York—”
“I’m not liable to go there. I don’t belong there any more than you do here. Better drift back to Tucson, stranger. The parada is no place for a tenderfoot. You’re in luck you’re not shy one li’l’ girl tromped to death. Take a fool’s advice and hit the trail for town pronto before you bump into more trouble.”
The rider swung round his pony and cantered back to the beef herd.
He left behind him a much-annoyed clubman, a perplexed and distressed father, and a girl both hurt and indignant at his brusque rejection of her father’s friendly advances. The episode of the fifty-dollar bill had taken place entirely under cover. The man who had given the note and the one who had refused to accept it were the only ones who knew of it. The girl saw only that this splendid horseman who had snatched her from under the very feet of the ladino had shown a boorish discourtesy. The savor had gone out of her adventure. Her heart was sick with disappointment and indignation.
CONCERNING A STREET TWELVE MILES LONG
“I like yore outfit,” Red Hollister grumbled. “You’re nice boys, and good to yore mothers—what few of you ain’t wore their gray hairs to the grave with yore frolicsome ways. You know yore business and you got a good cook. But I’m darned if I like this thing of two meals a day, one at a quarter to twelve at night and the other a quarter past twelve, also and likewise at night.”
A tenderfoot might have thought that Hollister had some grounds for complaint. For weeks he had been crawling out of his blankets in the pre-dawn darkness of 3 A.M. He had sat shivering down beside a camp-fire to swallow a hurried breakfast and had swung into the saddle while night was still heavy over the land. He had ridden after cattle wild as deer and had wrestled with ladino steers till long after the stars were up. In the chill night he had eaten another meal, rolled up in his blankets, and fallen into instant heavy sleep. And five minutes later—or so at least it seemed to him—the cook had pounded on the triangle for him to get up.