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A Texas Matchmaker

X. Aftermath
My memory of what happened immediately after Mrs. Martin's contemptuous
treatment of me is as vague and indefinite as the vaporings of a fevered dream. I
have a faint recollection of several friendly people offering their sympathy. The
old stableman, who looked after the horses, cautioned me not to start out alone;
but I have since learned that I cursed him and all the rest, and rode away as one
in a trance. But I must have had some little caution left, for I remember giving
Shepherd's a wide berth, passing several miles to the south.
The horses, taking their own way, were wandering home. Any exercise of control
or guidance over them on my part was inspired by an instinct to avoid being
seen. Of conscious direction there was none. Somewhere between the ferry and
the ranch I remember being awakened from my torpor by the horse which I was
leading showing an inclination to graze. Then I noticed their gaunted condition,
and in sympathy for the poor brutes unsaddled and picketed them in a secluded
spot. What happened at this halt has slipped from my memory. But I must have
slept a long time; for I awoke to find the moon high overhead, and my watch,
through neglect, run down and stopped. I now realized the better my
predicament, and reasoned with myself whether I should return to Las Palomas
or not. But there was no place else to go, and the horses did not belong to me. If
I could only reach the ranch and secure my own horse, I felt that no power on
earth could chain me to the scenes of my humiliation.
The horses decided me to return. Resaddling at an unknown hour, I rode for the
ranch. The animals were refreshed and made good time. As I rode along I tried
to convince myself that I could slip into the ranch, secure my own saddle horse,
and meet no one except the Mexicans. There was a possibility that Deweese
might still be in camp at the new reservoir, and I was hopeful that my employer
might not yet be returned from the hunt on the Frio. After a number of hours'
riding, the horse under saddle nickered. Halting him, I listened and heard the
roosters crowing in a chorus at the ranch. Clouds had obscured the moon, and
so by making a detour around the home buildings I was able to reach the
Mexican quarters unobserved. I rode up to the house of Enrique, and quietly
aroused him; told him my misfortune and asked him to hide me until he could get
up my horse. We turned the animals loose, and, taking my saddle inside the
_jacal_, held a whispered conversation. Deweese was yet at the tank. If the
hunting party had returned, they had done so during the night. The distant range
of my horse made it impossible to get him before the middle of the forenoon, but
Enrique and Doña Anita assured me that my slightest wish was law to them.
Furnishing me with a blanket and pillow, they made me a couch on a dry cowskin
on the dirt floor at the foot of their bed, and before day broke I had fallen asleep.
On awakening, I found the sun had already risen. Enrique and his wife were
missing from the room, but a peep through a crevice in the palisade wall revealed