As the two officers rode knee to knee through the night, the pay escort pounding the trail behind them, Crosby leaned from his saddle. “He has only ten minutes’ start of us,” he whispered. “We are certain to overtake him. We can’t help but do it. We must do it. We must! If we don’t, and he tries to stop Colonel Patten and the pay-roll, he’ll die. Two women and a deaf driver, that—that’s a joke. But an Indian fighter like old Patten, and Uncle Sam’s money, that means a finish fight-and his death and disgrace.” He turned savagely in his saddle. “Close up there!” he commanded. “Stop that talking. You keep your breath till I want it—and ride hard.”
After the officers had galloped away from the messroom, and Sergeant Clancey had hurried after them to the stables, the post-trader entered it from the exchange and barred the door, which they in their haste had left open. As he did this, the close observer, had one been present, might have noted that though his movements were now alert and eager, they no longer were betrayed by any sound, and that his spurs had ceased to jangle. Yet that he purposed to ride abroad was evident from the fact that from a far corner he dragged out a heavy saddle. He flung this upon the counter, and swiftly stripped it of its stirrups. These, with more than necessary care, he hid away upon the highest shelf of the shop, while from the lower shelves he snatched a rubber poncho and a red kerchief. For a moment, as he unbarred the door, the post-trader paused and cast a quick glance before and behind him, and then the door closed and there was silence. A minute later it was broken by the hoofs of a horse galloping swiftly along the trail to Kiowa City.
That winter Miss Post had been going out a great deal more than was good for her, and when the spring came she broke down. The family doctor recommended Aiken, but an aunt of Miss Post’s, Mrs. Truesdall, had been at Farmington with Mrs. “Colonel” Bolland, and urged visiting her instead. The doctor agreed that the climatic conditions existing at Fort Crockett were quite as health-giving as those at Aiken, and of the two the invalid decided that the regimental post would be more of a novelty.
So she and her aunt and the maid changed cars twice after leaving St. Louis and then staged it to Kiowa City, where, while waiting for “Pop” Henderson’s coach to Fort Crockett, they dined with him on bacon, fried bread, and alkali water tinged with coffee.
It was at Kiowa City, a city of four hundred houses on blue-print paper and six on earth, that Miss Post first felt certain that she was going to enjoy her visit. It was there she first saw, at large and on his native heath, a blanket Indian. He was a tall, beautiful youth, with yellow ochre on his thin, brown arms and blue ochre on his cheekbones, who sat on “Pop’s” steps, gazing impassively at the stars. Miss Post came out