Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/190

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MY LIFE AND LOVES.

wanted to know who I was, where I had brought the cattle from and where I was going? I told him the owner was behind me, and the boys and I were driving them straight ahead because some greasers had been interfering with us.

"That's the shooting I heard", he said. "You have driven them across the river: haven't you?"

"I've driven them from the river," I replied; "some of them were getting a drink."

I could feel him grin though I was not looking at him.

"I guess I'll see your friends pretty soon," he said, "but this raiding is bad business. Them greasers 'll come across and give me trouble. We border-folk don't want a fuss, hatched up by you foreigners!"

I placated him as well as I could; but at first was unsuccessful. He didn't say much but he evidently intended to come with me to the end because wherever I rode, I found him right behind the herd when I returned.

Day had broken when I let the cattle halt for the first time. I reckoned I had gone twelve miles from the ford and the beasts were foot-sore and very tired; more and more of them requiring the whip in order to keep up even a walk. I bunched them together and came back to my saturnine acquaintance.

"You are young to be at this game", he said. "Who is your Boss?"

"I don't keep a boss", I answered, taking him in with hostile scrutiny. He was a man of about forty, tall and lean with an enormous quid of tobacco in his left cheek—a typical Texan.

His bronco interested me; instead of being an Indian pony of thirteen hands or so it was perhaps fifteen and a half and looked to be three-quarters bred.

"A good horse you have there", I said.