The rain finally let up and for two days we sweltered in the hot sun on a trail with no tracks looking for any trace that would lead us to the Crossing where the rustlers supposedly were. It was getting late and the sun hovered a few degrees above the horizon as we called it a day.
"It'll be easier tomorrow when we get down onto the flats, Horse," I reckoned. "I could see from that last hilltop that the lay of the land gets a might easier. We're almost out of the hills."
"And then all we gotta do is find Bert's," said Horse, like that was going to be hard to do.
We came riding down out of the hills the next morning not long after we broke camp, trailing our two jackasses loaded with our caboodle and headed for a small black dot on the far horizon barely distinguishable from the vegetation around it.
"By damn, Horse, see that tiny spot up ahead theer to the west? That's gotta be Bert's Crossing. I only been here one other instance and it looked the same then. It gets bigger as we get closer to it," I told my deputy.
"I don't see nothin' but greenery thataway, you know, creosote bushes, palo verdes, prickly pear, cholla, a few mesquites, lots of good hiding places for those rustlers we're after, Wuss."
"Well, I sure see it. Follow me quietly in case they're still around. We'll try to catch 'em unawares and knock 'em jawdiggety before they know what hit 'em,"
We dropped down into an arroyo, just deep enough to conceal the animals. We had to dismount and walk the rest of the way to a turn in the groove where we could get a clear look at what's left standing at this desolate spot in the high desert.
"Why, it's jist a wooden pole with a sign on it, Wuss. What gives with that?"
"Don't stick your head up too high or you'll get an arrow through it, Horse. Them Comanche has concealed theerselves in all that greenery you saw back theer. Here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna walk out theer and build a little fire like I was gittin' ready to cook up a chicken. It's been my experience that them Comanche likes the chicken and they're always hungry, that's why there so scrawny and puny lookin'. When you see the first one come out of the brush, shoot 'im and make sure you kill him deader than a doornail. But, if he's carrying a white flag, don't shoot. That means they want to parley. You jist stay hidden and keep your eyes open and stay alert. Comanches are pretty sneaky and one or two or a dozen of 'em might sneak up on you and lift your scalp. Got that, Horse?"
"Yep, I got it, but I ain't plannin' to lose..... Hold on, just a minute! That ain't no Comanch' comin' out of the brush. By God, it's a girl! And a pretty little thing, too. She must be lost, out here all by herself."
They both raced to the lost soul, but Wussy won that one, grabbing the woman by the shoulders and looking deep into her blue eyes, not even noticing the color of her long hair or the color of her long dress that draped gracefully over her full chest.
"Are you hungry, Miss? I was just goin' to cook up a chicken, one of those prairie type that taste so delicious over a bonfire," said Wussy. "Better yet, why don't you cook it, and Horse and I'll keep a lookout for those cattle thieves we're after. They may sneak back and attack us."
"Hell, Wuss, no wonder you ain't never been married," said Horse. "The least you can do is ask her her name and offer to do the cookin' the first time."
[Shucks, this thing is getting out of hand. Short stories are the hardest thing to write. I'll have to straighten this out in the next part before I can make heads or tails of it.]
(By the way, we saw True Grit and everyhting that's been said about it is true, that is, it was a helluva movie, lots of good acting and actors and actresses and horses and guns and shooting and bad men and drunks and, and, and....well, you just better take your movie-mate to see it.}