I doubt whether you will enjoy it even though the sheets are clean linen which were spun and woven by my noble Indians. Moose Ear, here, will conduct you to your rooms and I will take a turn about the place before retiring to see that all is well, and also to see that my black wolf pack is securely confined within the wolf corral.
The alarm, then, had gone beyond the guard-house, and the creators thereof beyond the ken of the guard, for not a sentry had seen or heard anything suspicious until after the shots; then Number 8, Flint's latest addition, declared that from his post at Hay's corral he had distinctly heard the swift hoofbeats of a brace of ponies darting up the level bench to the westward.
They would serve as a disguise for him and hide that heroic figure, which she thought everybody must now know as she did. Then she rejoined him breathlessly. But he put the food and whiskey aside. "Listen," he said; "I've turned the hoss into your corral. You'll find him there in the morning, and no one will know but that he got lost and joined the other hosses." Then she burst out.
Before long he was back, chuckling to himself as he bore down upon Ford in the corral, where he was industriously rubbing Rambler's sprained shoulder with liniment. "The wife says you've got to come up to the house," he announced gleefully. "You've gone and done the heroic again, and she wants to do something to show her gratitude."
Belle pulled her hand away from Lance and went over to the piano. "It's all done but the shingling," she said cheerfully. "Come on, Lance, see if you can sing 'Asleep in the Deep. And then show me what you mean by saying you can yodel now better than when I licked you the time you and Duke chased the colt through the corral fence!"
"But we never does hear what happens to Boggs that time over across the Mogallon Plateau; for when he's that far along, one of the niggers from the corral comes scurryin' up an' asks Texas Thompson does he lend his pinto pony an hour back to the party who's deef an' dumb. "'Which I shorely don't, says Texas. 'You don't aim to tell me none he's done got away with my pinto hoss?
The vaqueros handled their dangerous charges with admirable skill, keeping those to be branded in groups of a hundred or more at some distance from the corral, riding round them constantly with peremptory shouts. Other vaqueros, belonging to the same herd, segregated the animals immediately required and drove them in a straight line for the corral. There was not a moment of pause.
In a few minutes, the settlers re-entered the house, where their influence soon restored to Ayrton his moral and physical energy. Neb and Pencroft carried the corpses of the convicts into the forest, some distance from the corral, and buried them deep in the ground. Ayrton was then made acquainted with the facts which had occurred during his seclusion.
"Well, if they were strange punchers, maybe they frightened our steers," suggested Baldy. "They might have," admitted Mr. Norton. "But I was thinking that perhaps they were rustlers, trying to ride off a bunch, and they became frightened when they saw us all on hand." "It might be," admitted Pete Batso. "I'll have a look around after we get the critters in the corral."
The next day the 21st of December the colonists descended to the beach, and having climbed the plateau they found nothing of Ayrton. He had reached his house in the corral during the night and the settlers judged it best not to agitate him by their presence. Time would doubtless perform what sympathy had been unable to accomplish. Herbert, Pencroft, and Neb resumed their ordinary occupations.