The Case of the Midnight Rustler

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

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
into the pasture.
    I mean, that’s why we were camping out in the pasture, right? And it was my job to sound the alarm when I heard strange noises out there in the pasture, right? Okay, that was my job and I had every intention of . . .
    He had just clubbed me with a pillow. Can you believe it? There I was, trying to fulfill the mission that had been assigned to me and . . .
    â€œDry up, Hank!”
    Okay, fine. I could dry up. I could let him sleep his life away, if that’s what he wanted, and I could let the rustlers carry off all of Uncle Johnny’s calf crop too.
    What did I care? I hadn’t asked for a combat assignment. I would have been perfectly happy to stay back at headquarters. Did he think that camping out on the hard ground and listening to him snore and eating poisoned weenies was my idea of fun?
    Hey, he wanted me to dry up? Fine. He wanted to sleep? Terrific. I could sleep too. I didn’t have to take all his screeching and kicking. I got paid the same whether I caught cattle rustlers or not, so phooey on him and his lousy . . .
    But you know what? I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. I tried not to care but I did. I guess that’s one of the marks of a true top-of-the-line blue-ribbon cowdog: we care about things, even when nobody else does, even when there seems to be no reason to care.
    Your ordinary dog would have turned over and gone back to sleep, but my ma didn’t raise me to be ordinary. It appeared that I would have to tackle this thing alone, solve the entire case without the help of anyone else, and before I could ponder the consequences of such a bold decision, I left camp in a run and headed out into the deep darkness of the canyon.
    If I had stopped to ponder this deal, one of the things I might have pondered about was that I would be traveling alone through a canyon that was known to be infested with cannibals.
    That would have been dangerous enough in the light of day, when most cannibals are asleep in their holes, but traveling at night . . .
    Gulp. My bold decision was looking worse all the time. I mean, there’s a fine line between bravery and really stupid behavior.
    Well, there was nothing to do but mush on and hope for the best.
    We had made our camp near the north end of the pasture and the rustlers, if that’s who they were, would be coming through the south gate, about a mile away. How did I know that? Simple, That pasture was so rough, there was only one road in and and one road out.
    I must have run a good half-mile when I stopped on a high bluff to catch my breath and reconnoiter the country ahead. Looking south down the canyon, I could see . . . holy cats, the flash of headlights!
    Sure enough, somebody was driving around in the pasture. Not only did that give me a creepy feeling, but it proved that I was wearing a very sensitive and high-quality set of ears. I had suspected all along that they were pretty good ears, and this was sure ’nuff proof of it.
    Picked up the sound of a stock trailer rattling a whole mile away. Pretty good ears.
    And that led naturally into the next question, which I posed aloud to myself. “Okay, Hankie Boy, we’ve got this investigation going in the right direction. What do we do now?”
    I was surprised—nay, shocked, astounded, and stupified—when a voice other than my own responded to that question. The voice said, “You know, I’ve been sitting here, axing myself that very same question.”
    My mouth suddenly went dry. Was I dreaming this mystery voice in the night? No, I was wide awake. Did that voice belong to Slim? No way. Was there any other voice that I might want to hear in the middle of a pasture in the middle of the night? Absolutely not.
    Hence, I reached for the afterburners and . . . WHAM . . . ran into something big, hairy, and immovable—something so big that even the force of my afterburners didn’t make an impression on it. And fellers, that was

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