"You must have come within speaking distance, Gil," he guessed shrewdly. "Got any make-up along? You look like a mild case of the measles, right now. What did she have to say, anyhow?"
"Nothing," said Gil shortly. "I didn't talk to her at all. I didn't want to run my horse to death trying to say hello when she didn't want it that way."
"Huh!" grunted Robert Grant Burns unbelievingly, and fished a bit of grass out of the cup with his little finger. He drank and said no more.
"You know the brand, don't you?" the proprietor of the hotel which housed the Great Western Company asked, with the tolerant air which the sophisticated wear when confronted by ignorance. "Easy enough to locate the outfit, by the cattle brand. What was it?"
Whereupon Robert Grant Burns rolled his eyes helplessly toward Gil Huntley. "I noticed it at the time, but--what was that brand, Gil?"
And Gil, if you would believe me, did not remember, either. He had driven the cattle half a mile or more, had helped to "steal" two calves out of the little herd, and yet he could not recall the mark of their owner.
So the proprietor of the hotel, an old cowman who had sold out and gone into the hotel business when the barbed-wire came by carloads into the country, pulled a newspaper towards him, borrowed a pencil from Burns, and sketched all the cattle brands in that part of the country. While he drew one after the other, he did a little thinking.
"Must have been the Bar Nothing, or else the Lazy A cattle you got hold of," he concluded, pointing to the pencil marks on the margin of the paper. "They range down in there, and Jean Douglas answers your description of the girl,--as far as looks go. She ain't all that wild and dangerous, though. Swing a loop with any man in the country and ride and all that,-- been raised right out there on the Lazy A. Say! Why don't you go out and see Carl Douglas, and see if you can't get the use of the Lazy A for your pictures? Seems to me that's just the kinda place you want. Don't anybody live there now. It's been left alone ever since--the trouble out there. House and barns and corrals,--everything you want." He leaned closer with a confidential tone creeping into his voice, for Robert Grant Burns and his company were profitable guests and should be given every inducement to remain in the country.