Hopalong cassidy, p.40
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       Hopalong Cassidy, p.40

           Honoré Morrow



  With the passing of the weeks the two ranches had settled down toroutine duty. On the H2 conditions were changed greatly for the betterand Meeker gloated over his gushing wells and the dam which gave him areservoir on his north range, the early completion of which he owedlargely to the experience and willing assistance of Buck and theBar-20 outfit.

  It was getting along towards Fall when a letter came to the Bar-20addressed to John McAllister. Buck looked at it long and curiously."Wonder who's writing to Frenchy?" he mused. "Well, I've got to findout," and he opened the envelope and looked at the signature; it madehim stare still more and he read the letter carefully. GeorgeMcAllister, through the aid of the courts, had gained possession ofthe old Double Y in the name of its owners and was going to put anoutfit on the ground to evict and hold off those who had jumped it. Heknew nothing about ranching and wanted Frenchy McAllister, who ownedhalf of it, to take charge of it and to give him the address of BuckPeters, the other half-owner. He advised that Peters' share be boughtbecause the range was near a railroad and was growing more valuableevery day.

  Buck's decision was taken instantly. Much as he disliked to leave theold outfit here was the chance he had been waiting for without knowingit. He would never have set foot on the Double Y during Frenchy'slifetime because of loyalty to his old friend. Had he at any timedesired possession of the property he and his friends could have takenit and left court actions to the other side. But Frenchy was gone, andhe still owned half of a valuable piece of property and one that hecould make pay well. He was getting on in years and it would bepleasant to have his cherished dream come true, to be the over-lordand half-owner of a good cattle ranch and to know that when he becametoo old to work with any degree of pleasure he need not worry abouthis remaining years. If he left the Bar-20 one of his friends wouldtake his place and he was sure it would be Hopalong. The advancementin pay and authority would please the man whom he had looked upon ashis son. And perhaps it would bring to Hopalong that which now kepthis eyes turned towards the H2. Yes, it was time to go to his own andlet another man come into _his_ own; to move along and give a youngerman a chance.

  He replied to George McAllister at length, covering everything, andtook the letter to the bunk house to have it mailed.

  "Billy," he said, "here's a letter to go to Cowan's th' first thingto-morrow. Don't forget."

  Buck started the fall work early and pushed it harder than usual forhe wished to have everything done before the new foreman took charge.The beef roundup and drives were over with quickly, considering thetime and labor involved, and when the chill blasts of early Winterswept across the range and whined around the ranch buildings Bucksmiled with the satisfaction which comes with work well done. GeorgeMcAllister, failing to buy Buck's interest, now implored him to go tothe Double Y at once and take charge, which he had promised to do intime to become familiar with conditions on the winter-bound northernrange before the new herds were driven to it.

  As yet he had told his men nothing of his plans for fear they wouldpersuade him to stay where he was, but he could tell Meeker, and onecrisp morning he called at the H2 and led its foreman aside. When hehad finished Meeker grasped his hand, told him how sorry he was tolose so good a friend and neighbor, and how glad he was at thatfriend's good fortune.

  "I hope Cassidy _is_ th' man to take yore place, Peters," he remarked,thoughtfully. "He's a good man, th' best in th' country, white,square, and nervy. I've had my eyes on him for some time an' I'll backhim to bust anything he throws his rope on. He can handle that rancheasy an' well."

  "Yo're right," replied Buck, slowly. "He ain't never failed to makegood yet. Whoever th' boys pick out to be foreman will be foreman,for th' owners have left that question with me. But Meeker, it's likepulling teeth for me to go up to Montana without him. I can't take him'less I take 'em all, an' I've got reasons why I can't do that. An' Iain't quite shore he'd go with me now--yore ranch holds something thatties him tight to this range. He'll be lonely up in our ranch house,an' it's plenty big enough for two," he finished, smilinginterrogatively at his companion.

  "Well, I reckon it'll not be lonely if he wants to change it," laughedMeeker. "Leastawise, them's th' symptoms plentiful enough down here. Iwas dead set agin it at first, but now I don't want nothing else butto see my girl fixed for life. An' when I pass out, all I have ishers."

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