Hi, I’m Muiteer.

Dahlgren was most successful in his mission, accumulating a fund of information staggering in its total and barren of reason. His first accretion of wisdom came when he left East Canyon and descried numerous punchers zealously bent upon an operation well known to him, and he rode up for what information he might be able to obtain. Hoping for a full loaf, expecting a half, he left with a few crumbs which only increased his appetite for more. In Gunsight his appearance caused unnecessary hilarity, and his questions as to Smitty’s location were received with impolite guffaws, followed by an explicit description of Smitty’s riding, looks, words, and actions, coupled to various prophesies, variously stated.

When he mentioned Wolf, a veritable gale of laughter deafened and confused him, and the roundabout, cryptic, and fragmentary references to Wolf taxed his brain. He gathered the information that Wolf was wrapped in hides as his preference in perfumes; that Wolf was in the skin business, without competitors; that he had descended in the social scale to the point where he traveled as freight; that he took an arduous, unnecessary, and uncomfortable journey and was to be known, henceforth and hereafter, as Polecat, a name being better suited to his habits and preferences. It was explained that he was not expected back, which accounted for the half-masted flags and the black bands on the hats. He learned that Smitty was on the trail of Squint and would catch him if he went far enough in the right direction, and that Polecat was on the trail of Smitty, but would have to ride hard; and a further suggestion postulated the belief that Squint was on the trail of Wolf. Gunsight was as generous in its liquor as it was in its explanations; it was open-handed and lavish, and insisted that the distinguished Bar H ambassador imbibe freely, which he did; and when he was helped into his saddle and started for home, he tried to repeat what he had heard so that he would not forget it; and by the time he reached the bunkhouse he had not forgotten anything but the relations between the various parts of each thing to be remembered, and his account was verbal hash.

Big Tom learned, among other things equally lucid and valuable, that Polecat Forbes went after Squint hunting Smitty’s holy hat rounding up SV cows on the Double X part of the Triangle journey and would not be back until forty miles of hides went up toward Juniper with Two-Spot keeping tally on Cimarron’s wagon.

In the presence of such loquacity, Big Tom lost the power of speech, choked with feelings of a murderous kind, and used the flat of his foot as a propulsive agent, which Dahlgren found helped him in getting to his bunk, where he sprawled out on his back and snored through a cloud of flies foregathered for their share of what had dribbled.


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