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Bat Wing Bowles
by Dane Coolidge
"Well, what are you tagging along for then?" demanded Dixie Lee wrathfully. "When I said good-by to you up at Albuquerque you had a through ticket to California. Now here you are down at Chula Vista. What are you up to—that's what I want to know!"
"To be sure!" agreed Mr. Bowles. "Under the circumstances, you have a perfect right to an explanation. I may as well confess then, Miss Lee, that your stories told on the train have fired me with a desire to see the real West, not the pseudo or imitation article, but the real thing with the hair on, as you so aptly phrased it. But here was my difficulty—I had no one to direct me. The hotel-keepers, the ticket-agents, even my Eastern friends in the West, might send me astray and I be none the wiser. I admit it was hardly a gentlemanly thing to do, but rather than lose my last chance to see the great West of which you spoke I followed after you; but without the slightest intention, I assure you, of making myself obnoxious. Is this the hotel ahead?"
"Yes," said Dixie Lee, "it is. And while I wish to congratulate you upon your explanation I want to inform you, Mr. Bowles, that right here is where we part. You're looking for the Wild West, and here she is with her hair down. If you are hunting experiences these Chula Vista boys will certainly accommodate you; but from this time on, Mr. Bowles, we are strangers. We don't know each other, do you understand?
Hmmm, well now I have to know if he rode the horse and got the girl!So, Mr. Bowles, of course, tries to get a job at her ranch . . .The old man glanced at his fancy new outfit, and thought he saw another way out."Can you ride?" he inquired, asking that first fatal question before which so many punchers go down."Yes, sir," answered Bowles politely."You mean you can ride a gentle horse," corrected Lee. "I've got some pretty wild ones in my bunch, and of course a new hand couldn't expect to get the best. Can you rope?""No, I mean any horse," retorted Bowles, avoiding the subject of roping. "Any horse you have.""Hmm!" observed Mr. Lee, laying down his pipe and regarding his man with interest. "Did you ever ride any bad horses?""Yes, sir," lied Bowles; "several of them.""And you think you can ride any horse I've got, eh?" mused Lee. "Well, I'll tell you, Mr. Bowles," he continued, speaking very deliberately; "I've got a horse in my remuda that killed a man last fall—if you'll ride him I'll take you on for a puncher." "Very well, sir," responded Bowles. "And thank you very much. It's very kind of you, I'm sure."