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The Boy Ranchers on Roaring River by Baker

Billee here is just achin' for the experience

His listeners looked at each other. In the eyes of each--with the possible exception of Old Billee Dobb--the light of adventure was shining. Whatever scruples the Kid had about "sheep nursing" had vanished with the word "trouble." And he was the first to speak:

"Sure we will! What do you say, boys? Do we go out? How about it, Dick and Nort? What do you say, Bud? Billee here is just achin' for the experience!" And the Kid laughed, for Billee Dobb's tendency to pretend displeasure at every change of conditions was well known.

"Yes I am--not! Like as not we'll all get shot full of holes. But if you fellers want to go--guess I'll have to trail along to take care of you-all!"

"Listen to him--Just try to hold him back if there's any shootin' goin' on!"

"Then I take it you'll go?" Mr. Merkel asked.

"Yes, Dad--I'm sure we'll all be glad to take charge out there for you," answered Bud. "I don't suppose you could tell us any more about this government business now?"

"I'm afraid not, son--I want to be sure of my ground before I make any statements. Well, I guess that's settled. You'll leave to-morrow."

Since this was the last night the Kid and Old Billee were to spend on the Diamond X, it seemed fitting to the rest of the boys that there should be some sort of an entertainment. An entertainment to a cowboy means principally music--so after supper the boys gathered around a roaring log fire and sang themselves hoarse. After Slim Degnan, the foreman, and Fat Milton, his chubby assistant, had rendered their duet, and Snake Purdee had given his famous imitation of a prima donna singing "Bury Me Not," Bud, with Nort and Dick, decided to take a stroll about the place to see if anything had changed. Their own particular ranch was several miles removed from Diamond X, owned by Mr. Merkel.

"See your Dad got a new building up," observed Dick, as they came to a newly-painted shack, clearly visible in the bright moonlight.

"So he has. Looks like a new bunk house. Perhaps he----"

"Listen! There's somebody inside! No one is supposed to be in there at night. It isn't open yet." This from Nort, in a low tone.

"Let's find out who it is," Bud whispered.

Silently three boys crept toward the door. Two voices could be plainly heard, and as they came closer they could distinguish words. One voice was that of a foreigner--evidently a Mexican. The other spoke with a typical cowboy accent.

"You have got the money ready--yes?" the boys heard the Mexican say.

"Sure--as soon as you deliver the Chinks you get the money. But no double-crossin'--remember that!" and the speaker emphasized his statement by clicking his revolver ominously.

"Don' you worry--you get the Chinks all right. Shuss--there's someone outside!"

The boys knew they had been discovered, and made a sudden rush for the door of the shack, to see the two men who were inside. But the Mexican and his companion were too quick for them. They ran through a back door, and all the three boys could see of them was two dark forms disappearing in the bushes.

"They beat us to it," Dick said in a disappointed voice. "But if ever I hear that Mexican accent again I'll sure remember it!"

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