The Case of the Midnight Rustler

The Case of the Midnight Rustler by John R. Erickson Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Case of the Midnight Rustler by John R. Erickson Read Free Book Online
Authors: John R. Erickson
Tags: adventure, Mystery, Texas, dog, cowdog, Hank the Cowdog, John R. Erickson, John Erickson, ranching, Hank, Drover, Pete, Sally May
like us.
    There’s something about all those glittering costumes
    That makes a poor cowboy go out of his mind.
    Beware of the women with big hairy husbands,
    Especially the ones with a bone in their nose.
    In courting a lass, a lack of good judgment
    Can shorten your lifespan, alas and alack!

Chapter Eight: The Mysterious Visitor in the Night

    I n many ways Slim is a fine guy, but a great singer he will never be.
    By the time he’d finished the song, darkness had fallen across the canyon and we found ourselves looking up at the black velvet sky, sprayed with thousands of glittering stars.
    Slim pointed to the sky and said, “Well, Hank, there’s the Big Dipper.”
    Oh really? I studied the sky for a long time and saw nothing but stars.
    â€œAnd there’s O’Brien the Hunter.”
    Okay, some big guy named O’Brien was up there hunting and dipping snuff, and just in case he decided to spit, I moved my business into the tent. It was past my bedtime anyway.
    I spent a minute or two digging around on the bedroll, until I had created a spot that was soft enough to hold my freight for the night, and then I collapsed.
    It felt wonderful and I fell right off to sleep, and would have stayed asleep through the entire night if Slim hadn’t come blundering into the tent and started accusing me of “hogging” his bedroll.
    Hey, who’d gotten there first? Who’d taken the time to dig it up and fluff it up and warm it up? ME. But never mind property law, never mind what was good and right. He bullied his way onto the bedroll and managed to push me off onto the cold hard ground.
    I didn’t sleep well on the cold hard ground, and before long I began hearing strange noises coming from Slim’s side of the tent. I sat up and listened. Slim had mentioned something about “hogging.” Now I was hearing sounds that almost surely were coming from hogs. Was there a pattern here?
    My goodness, did we have HOGS in the tent with us? Yes, by George, someone or something had turned a bunch of hogs loose inside our tent!
    Well, you know me. I’m not the kind of dog who’ll turn over and go to sleep while a herd of wild boars is running loose in the tent, so I did what any Head of Ranch Security would have done: I barked. Boy howdy, did I bark!
    Suddenly the oinking stopped. Slim sat up in bed. “Hank, shut up. It’s just me snoring.”
    â€œAnd if you can’t handle that, go sleep outside.”
    No, that was fine, no problem. I’d just thought . . . hey, I’d never heard sounds like that coming from a human, I mean, we’re talking about real heavy-duty pig noises.
    â€œNow go to sleep.”
    Okay, fine. You never know until you check these things out. I’d done my job and checked it out and . . . boy, that guy made an incredible amount of noise in his sleep. Beat anything I’d ever heard before.
    I waited until he started snoring again and then I slipped back and reclaimed my spot on the bedroll. That was much better than the cold hard ground, although I had a little trouble drifting off because his nose kept poking me in the ribs.
    I don’t know how long I’d been asleep, but sometime in the middle of the night my ears shot up. I lifted my head and waited for my eyes to stop rolling around.
    Unless I was badly mistaken, I’d heard a sound in the distance, and this time it wasn’t Slim’s snoring. No, it sounded more like . . . holy smokes, it sounded like the hum of a pickup motor and the rattling of a stock trailer!
    A growl began to form in my throat, then I leaped to my feet and began to bark. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a foot appeared out of nowhere and booted me out of the tent!
    â€œDadgum barking dog, get out of here!”

    Oh, that must have been Slim’s foot and he had . . . but obviously he hadn’t heard what I had heard, and what I had heard just might be a gang of cattle rustlers coming

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