He told it, yet not the whole of it either; for there was one detail he omitted completely. It had to do with the cause for existence of the little black-and-blue bruise under his right eye and the purple ridge that seamed his wrist. Nor with all his acuteness could Stephen Fraser guess that the one swelling had been made by a gold ring on the clenched fist of an angry girl held tight in Larry Neill’s arms, the other by the lash of a horsewhip wielded by the same young woman.
The roan, having been much refreshed by a few hours on grass, proved to be a good traveller. The two men took a road-gait and held it steadily till they reached a telephone-line which stretched across the desert and joined two outposts of civilization. Steve strapped on his climbing spurs and went up a post lightly with his test outfit. In a few minutes he had Moreno on the wire and was in touch with one of his rangers.
“Hello! This you, Ferguson? This is Fraser. No, Fraser— Lieutenant Fraser. Yes. How many of the boys can you get in touch with right away? Two? Good. I want you to cover the Arivaca cut-off. Kinney is headed that way in a rig. His sister is with him. She is not to be injured under any circumstances. Understand? Wire me at the Mal Pais mines to-morrow your news. By the way, Tom Long and some of the boys are headed down that way with notions of lynching Kinney. Dodge them if you can and rush your man up to the Mal Pais. Good-bye.”
“Suppose they can’t dodge them?” ventured Neill after Steve had rejoined him.
“I reckon they can. If not— well, my rangers are good boys; I expect they won’t give up a prisoner.”
“I’m right glad to find you are going to the Mal Pais mines with me, lieutenant. I wasn’t expecting company on the way.”
“I’ll bet a dollar Mex against two plunks gold that you’re wondering whyfor I’m going.”
Larry laughed. “You’re right. I was wondering.”
“Well, then, it’s this way. What with all these boys on Kinney’s trail he’s as good as rounded up. Fact is, Kinney’s only a weak sister anyhow. He turned State’s witness at the trial, and it was his testimony that convicted Struve. I know something about this because I happened to be the man that caught Struve. I had just joined the rangers. It was my first assignment. The other three got away. Two of them escaped and the third was not tried for lack of sufficient evidence. Now, then: Kinney rides the rods from Yuma to Marfa and is now or had ought to be somewhere in this valley between Posa Buena and Taylor’s ranch. But where is Struve, the hardier ruffian of the two? He ain’t been seen since they broke out. He sure never reached Ft. Lincoln. My notion is that he dropped off the train in the darkness about Casa Grande, then rolled his tail for the Mal Pais country. Your eyes are asking whys mighty loud, my friend;