"Say, friend," cried McGuire wildly, "are you bug-house? I'm sick-- see? I'll croak if I got to hustle. What've I done to yer?"--he began his chronic whine--"I never asked yer to--"
"Put on your clothes," called Raidler in a rising tone.
Swearing, stumbling, shivering, keeping his amazed, shining eyes upon the now menacing form of the aroused cattleman, McGuire managed to tumble into his clothes. Then Raidler took him by the collar and shoved him out and across the yard to the extra pony hitched at the gate. The cow-punchers lolled in their saddles, open-mouthed.
"Take this man," said Raidler to Ross Hargis, "and put him to work. Make him work hard, sleep hard, and eat hard. You boys know I done what I could for him, and he was welcome. Yesterday the best doctor in San Antone examined him, and says he's got the lungs of a burro and the constitution of a steer. You know what to do with him, Ross."
Ross Hargis only smiled grimly.
"Aw," said McGuire, looking intently at Raidler, with a peculiar expression upon his face, "the croaker said I was all right, did he? Said I was fakin', did he? You put him onto me. You t'ought I wasn't sick. You said I was a liar. Say, friend, I talked rough, I know, but I didn't mean most of it. If you felt like I did--aw! I forgot--I ain't sick, the croaker says. Well, friend, now I'll go work for yer. Here's where you play even."
He sprang into the saddle easily as a bird, got the quirt from the horn, and gave his pony a slash with it. "Cricket," who once brought in Good Boy by a neck at Hawthorne--and a 10 to 1 shot--had his foot in the stirrups again.
McGuire led the cavalcade as they dashed away for San Carlos, and the cow-punchers gave a yell of applause as they closed in behind his dust.