"Bring on your herds," said Joel, addressing a quartette of trail foremen resting under the
sunshade. "Our water is holding out better than we expected. The Lovell cattle only
lowered the ponds a trifle. From the present outlook, we can water the drive."
"That's a big contract," reluctantly admitted a "Running W" trail boss. "I had word on the
railroad yesterday that the Arkansaw River at Dodge was only running at night."
"Water is reported plentiful around Ogalalla and beyond," doggedly said a pock-marked
"That'll tempt the herds to cross over," urged the Running W man. "The faraway hills are
The conversation took a new tack. "Who knows the estimate on the total drive this year?"
inquired a swarthy, sun-burned little man, addressing the pock-marked foreman.
"A rough estimate places the drive at six hundred and fifty thousand head," came the
"There you are," smilingly said the Running W boss, turning to Joel. "Better revise your
"Not now," answered Joel, meeting smile with smile. "Later on I may have to hedge, but
for the present, bring on your cattle."
"That's to the point," languidly said a tall, blond Texan, arising. "My cattle must have
water this evening."
The other trail foremen arose. "We all understand," remarked the pock-marked man to the
others, "that this is the place where we drop our strays, fagged and crippled stuff. These
are the boys that Mr. Lovell mentioned as worthy of any cattle that must be abandoned."
"At Wells Brothers' ranch, on the Beaver," assentingly said the little man.
"Our lead herds will not have many cripples," said the Running W foreman, turning to
the boys. "A few days' rest is everything to a tender-footed steer, and what cattle the lead
ones drop, the rear ones have orders to bring through to you."
"Thank you, sir," said Joel frankly. "We want to stock our range, and crippled cattle are
as good as gold to us."