“Bronc, I’ve been thinking: am I or am I not a jackass?”
RED BRINGS TROUBLE
After a night spent on the plain and a cigarette for his breakfast, Hopalong, grouchy and hungry, rode slowly to the place appointed for his meeting with Red, but Mr. Connors was over two hours late. It was now mid-forenoon and Hopalong occupied his time for a while by riding out fancy designs on the sand; but he soon tired of this makeshift diversion and grew petulant. Red’s tardiness was all the worse because the erring party to the agreement had turned in his saddle at Hoyt’s Corners and loosed a flippant and entirely uncalled-for remark about his friend’s ideas regarding appointments.
“Well, that red-headed Romeo is shore late this time,” Hopalong muttered. “Why don’t he find a girl closer to home, anyhow? Thank the Lord I ain’t got no use for shell games of any kind. Here I am, without anything to eat an’ no prospects of anything, sitting up on this locoed layout like a sore thumb, an’ can’t move without hitting myself! An’ it’ll be late to-day before I can get any grub, too. Oh, well,” he sighed, “I ain’t in love, so things might be a whole lot worse with me. An’ he ain’t in love, neither, only he won’t listen to reason. He gets mad an’ calls me a sage hen an’ says I’m stuck on myself because some fool told me I had brains.”
He laughed as he pictured the object of his friend’s affections. “Huh; anybody that got one good, square look at her wouldn’t ever accuse him of having brains. But he’ll forget her in a month. That was the life of his last hobbling fit an’ it was the worst he ever had.”
Grinning at his friend’s peculiarly human characteristics he leaned back in the saddle and felt for tobacco and papers. As he finished pouring the chopped alfalfa into the paper he glanced up and saw a mounted man top the sky-line of the distant hills and shoot down the slope at full speed.
“I knowed it: started three hours late an’ now he’s trying to make it up in the last mile,” Hopalong muttered, dexterously spreading the tobacco along the groove and quickly rolling the cigarette. Lighting it he looked up again and saw that the horseman was wildly waving a sombrero.
“Huh! Wigwagging for forgiveness,” laughed the man who waited. “Old son-of-a-gun, I’d wait a week if I had some grub, an’ he knows it. Couldn’t get mad at him if I tried.”
Mr. Connors’ antics now became frantic and he shouted something at the top of his voice. His friend spurred his mount. “Come on, bronc; wake up. His girl said ‘yes’ an’ now he wants me to get him out of his trouble.” Whereupon he jogged forward. “What’s that?” he shouted, sitting up very straight. “What’s that?”
Red energetically swept the sombrero behind him and pointed to the rear. “War-whoops! W-a-r w-h-o-o-p-s! Injuns, you chump!” Mr. Connors appeared to be mildly exasperated.