Getting up the shoulder of the mesa was no easy job, but judging from the actions and appearance of wiry pony and rider it was a job that would be accomplished. For part of the distance, it is true, the man thought it best to dismount, drive the pony ahead of him, and follow on foot. At length, however, they reached the top of the mesa, and after a breathing spell the man mounted and rode across the table-land.
A short lope brought pony and rider to a point where the mesa sloped down again to meet a plain that stretched for miles, to merge into some foothills. A faint trail came from somewhere through the foothills, wound over the plain, and followed a slope that descended to a river below the rider, crossed the stream, led over a level, up another slope, to another plain, and so away into the distance.
Up and down the river the water ran deeply in a canyon, the painted buttes that flanked it lending an appearance of constriction to its course, but at the crossing it broadened formidably and swirled splashingly around numerous rocks that littered its course.
The man's gaze rested briefly on the river and the crossing.
"She's travelin' some, this mornin'," he said aloud, mentally referring to the water. "I reckon that mud over there must be hub deep on a buckboard," he added, looking at the level on the opposite side of the crossing. "I'd say, if anybody was to ask me, that last night's rain has made Calamity some risky this mornin'for a buckboard." He drew out a silver timepiece and consulted it with grave deliberation. "It's eleven. They'd be due about nowif the Eight O'clock was on timewhich she's never been knowed to be." He returned the timepiece to the pocket and rode along the edge of the mesa away from the river, his gaze concentrated at the point where the trail on the plains below him vanished into the distant foothills. A little later he again halted the pony, swung crossways in the saddle and rolled a cigarette, and while smoking and watching drew out two pistols, took out the cylinders, replaced them, and wiped and polished the metal until the guns glittered brightly in the swimming sunlight. He considered them long before restoring them to their places, doubt in his gaze. "I reckon she's been raised a lot different," was his mental conclusion.