Lucy was struggling between fear and mirth. She did not look sorry. “Oh! Oh! Oh, Dad!”
“Wasn’t it great, Lucy?”
“But what—will he—do?” choked Lucy.
“Lord only knows. Thet worries me some. Because he never said a word about how he come to lose his clothes or why he had the ‘dobe on him. An’ sure I never told. Nobody knows but us.”
“Dad, he’ll do something terrible to me!” cried Lucy, aghast at her premonition
The days did not pass swiftly at Bostil’s Ford. And except in winter, and during the spring sand-storms, the lagging time passed pleasantly. Lucy rode every day, sometimes with Van, and sometimes alone. She was not over-keen about riding with Van—first, because he was in love with her; and secondly, in spite of that, she could not beat him when he rode the King. They were training Bostil’s horses for the much-anticipated races.
At last word arrived from the Utes and Navajos that they accepted Bostil’s invitation and would come in force, which meant, according to Holley and other old riders, that the Indians would attend about eight hundred strong.
“Thet old chief, Hawk, is comin’,” Holley informed Bostil. “He hasn’t been here fer several years. Recollect thet bunch of colts he had? They’re bosses, not mustangs. . . . So you look out, Bostil!”
No rider or rancher or sheepman, in fact, no one, ever lost a chance to warn Bostil. Some of it was in fun, but most of it was earnest. The nature of events was that sooner or later a horse would beat the King. Bostil knew that as well as anybody, though he would not admit it. Holley’s hint made Bostil look worried. Most of Bostil’s gray hairs might have been traced to his years of worry about horses.
The day he received word from the Indians he sent for Brackton, Williams, Muncie, and Creech to come to his house that night. These men, with Bostil, had for years formed in a way a club, which gave the Ford distinction. Creech was no longer a friend of Bostil’s, but Bostil had always been fair-minded, and now he did not allow his animosities to influence him. Holley, the veteran rider, made the sixth member of the club.
Bostil had a cedar log blazing cheerily in the wide fireplace, for these early spring nights in the desert were cold.
Brackton was the last guest to arrive. He shuffled in without answering the laconic greetings accorded him, and his usually mild eyes seemed keen and hard.
“John, I reckon you won’t love me fer this here I’ve got to tell you, to-night specially,” he said, seriously.
“You old robber, I couldn’t love you anyhow,” retorted Bostil. But his humor did not harmonize with the sudden gravity of his look. “What’s up?”
“Who do you suppose I jest sold whisky to?”
“I’ve no idea,” replied Bostil. Yet he looked as if he was perfectly sure.