"Haw! haw!" laughed the big Missourian. "Yes, that's it. I was going to say, 'like a bad reputation,' but that wouldn't rhyme. No matter how well I get started, I'm always floored by the second line."
The pack train was now put in motion, Phil directing his companions to ride in the rear and keep the animals from lagging. Their way lay through a wild, mountainous region. There were ascents and descents so steep that the riders were forced to dismount and lead their horses with the utmost caution, but wherever the nature of the trail permitted, the animals were urged to a gallop.
Roly and his father found it no easy matter to do rear-guard duty. There was a speckled horse called "Pinto" who made it his especial care to keep them busy. He had started in the van of the train, but, being a confirmed shirk, had gradually fallen back until there remained only a meek little white horse between him and the hindmost riders. Having gained this position, he dropped into a walk at every opportunity and was soon far behind the other horses, all efforts on the part of the amateur drivers to reach him with a switch or strap being futile. No sooner did he see them spurring up than he would jump ahead just out of reach, while the punishment intended for him—the clever rogue—fell upon the poor little white horse, whom he would not allow to pass him on the narrow trail. At the first wide clearing, however, Pinto got what he deserved, and, being thoroughly convinced that his new masters would have no trifling, he was as well behaved for the rest of the day as could be desired they laughed heartily at the recollection. .
Now let us follow the fortunes of Uncle Will and David.While the horses were being rounded up and loaded, the two pedestrians had obtained a good lead, walking as rapidly as the nature of the ground permitted, and pausing only to drink at a sparkling brook or to admire for a moment some scene of unusual beauty. They had covered several miles, and were ascending a wooded slope on the other side of which lay a deep and narrow ravine, when David broke a shoe-string and stopped to tie the ends, his uncle continuing over the crest and into .
A moment later, hurrying to catch up, David also mounted the slope, and had almost reached the top when a gleam of light caught his eye, coming from the opposite edge of the ravine and a little to the right. Looking there to discover the cause, he halted abruptly. The sun had glinted on the barrel of a rifle in the hands of a man who, at that moment crouched beside a large rock, was facing away from him and motioning to some one in the woods beyond. The stranger wore fringed buckskin breeches and a red flannel shirt, and his broad-brimmed felt hat lay on the ground beside him.