Johnny lost his grouch so suddenly and beamed upon his friends with such a superior air that they began to worry about what was in the wind. The suspense wore on them, for with Hopalong’s assistance, Johnny might spring some game on them all that would more than pay up for the fun they had enjoyed at his expense; and the longer the suspense lasted the worse it became. They never lost sight of him while he was around and Hopalong had to endure the same surveillance; and it was no uncommon thing to see small groups of the anxious men engaged in deep discussion. When they found that Buck must have been told and noticed his smile was as fixed as Hopalong’s or Johnny’s, they were certain that trouble of some nature was in store for them.
Several weeks later Buck Peters drew rein and waited for a stranger to join him.
“Howdy. Is yore name Peters?” asked the newcomer, sizing him up in one trained glance.
“Well, who are you, an’ what do you want?”
“I want to see Peters, Buck Peters. That yore name?”
“Yes; what of it?”
“My name’s Fox. Old Jim Lane gave me a message for you,” and the stranger spoke earnestly to some length. “There; that’s the situation. We’ve got to have shrewd men that they don’t know an’ won’t suspect. Lane wants to pay a couple of yore men their wages for a month or two. He said he was shore he could count on you to help him out.”
“He’s right; he can. I don’t forget favors. I’ve got a couple of men that—there’s one of ’em now. Hey, Hoppy! Whoop-e, Hoppy!”
Mr. Cassidy arrived quickly, listened eagerly, named Red and Johnny to accompany him, overruled his companions by insisting that if Johnny didn’t go the whole thing was off, carried his point, and galloped off to find the lucky two, his eyes gleaming with anticipation and joy. Fox laughed, thanked the foreman, and rode on his way north; and that night three cow-punchers rode south, all strangely elated. And the friends who watched them go heaved signs of relief, for the reprisals evidently were to be postponed for a while.
THE GHOST OF THE SAN MIGUEL
Juan Alvarez had not been in San Felippe since Dick Martin left, which meant for over a month. Martin was down the river looking for a man who did not wish to be found; and some said that Martin cared nothing about international boundaries when he wanted any one real bad. And there was that geologist who wore blue glasses and was always puttering around in the canyon and hammering chips of rock off the steep walls; he must have slipped one noon, because his body was found on a flat boulder at the edge of the stream. Manuel had found it and wanted to be paid for his trouble in bringing it to town—but Manuel was a fool. Who, indeed, would pay good money for a dead Gringo, especially after he was dead? And there were three cow-punchers holding a herd of