Ungentlemanly remarks are said to have passed between them, when the boss bull-whacker threw down the gauntlet and galloped back to his train. Forrest pushed on, with ample time to have occupied the road in crossing, thus holding up the wagon train. My herd fell to grazing, and Sponsilier rode up to inquire the cause of my halting.
I knew the usual form of ridicule of a herd foreman, but the boss bull-whacker must have anticipated my reply, for he informed me that the summer before he had lost ninety head out of two hundred yoke of oxen. The wagon-master's appeal was fortified by a sincerity which won his request, and I held up my cattle and allowed his train to pass in advance.
When, crossing some of the mountain ranges, the train halted to let the oxen blow, one bull-whacker would say to another: 'Well, I'd like to see old Tom Benton get his railroad over this mountain. When Felix told me this he said 'There's a railroad to-day crosses those same mountain passes over which we forty-niners whacked our bulls.
Our cook has been an ox-driver, or "bull-whacker," on the plains, in one of those long trains now no longer seen, and he hasn't forgotten his old ways. In the midst of the concert, his voice breaks in: "Roll out! roll out! bulls in the corral! chain up the gaps! Roll out! roll out! roll out!" And this is our breakfast bell. To-day we pass through, the park, and camp at the head of another canyon.
"I've been thinking it isn't so strange those old fellows being in this country after all," Mac suddenly began, as we slowed our horses down to take a hill. "I didn't remember at first, but two years ago, just after I joined the Force, I ran across a bull-whacker on the Whoop Up trail, and he told me that the Double R had closed out.
Now, where do you suppose he got twenty dollars in one bill? I know I had it two hours after he got there and then in fifteen minutes that blamed bull-whacker you pay thirty-two a week to took it away from me. But I got Sassoon spotted. And where do you suppose Split-lips is this minute?" "Morgan's Gap." "Quite so and been there all the time.
"I'll tell you how we'll help it," I proposed recklessly, shouting to make myself heard above the noisy wind. "We can go down and tackle that bull-train we saw pulling along the foot of the ridge. They'll know we're on the dodge, but that won't make any difference to them. I know nearly every bull-whacker that freights out of Benton, and they're a pretty white bunch.
Up on the Kansas prairies and the Missouri bluffs we have a central vetebra the family hearth-stone and we live all around it. That is the people who have them do. There isn't much home life for a freighter of the plains anywhere. Good by, Little Lees." I took her offered hand. "I'm glad you have let me be your friend, a hard-shelled bull-whacker like me."
Did the bunch walk over yuh?" he greeted. "No, only Sunfish," snapped Thurston crossly. Time was when Philip Thurston would not have answered any man abruptly, however great the provocation. He was only lately getting down to the real, elemental man of him; to the son of Bill Thurston, bull-whacker, prospector, follower of dim trails.
Voice and gesture were surprising in that they were expressions of this personality totally unexpected. Both were almost womanlike in their delicacy. They suggested the purr and soft padding of a cat, an odd contradiction to the white, bloodless face with the inky brows. The eyes of "Poker" Whaley could throw fear into the most reckless bull-whacker on the border.