A Buckshot Greeting

: Kid Wolf Of Texas

"Oh, the cows stampede on the Rio Grande!

The Rio!

The sands do blow, and the winds do wail,

But I want to be wheah the cactus stands!

And the rattlah shakes his ornery tail!"

Kid Wolf sang his favorite verse to his favorite tune, and was happy.

For he was on his beloved Rio.

He had left the Chisholm Trail behind him, and now "The Rollin' Stone"
was rolling homeward, and--toward trouble.

The Kid, mildly curious, had been watching a certain dust cloud for

half an hour. At first he had thought it only a whirling dervish--one

of those restless columns of sand that continually shift over the arid

lands. But it was following the course of the trail below him on the

desert--rounding each bend and twist of it.

The Texan, astride his big white horse, had been "hitting the high

places only," riding directly south at an easy clip, but scorning the

trail whenever a short cut presented itself.

Descending from the higher ground of the mesa now, by means of an

arroyo leading steeply down upon the plain, he saw what was kicking up

the dust. It was a buckboard, drawn by a two-horse team, and traveling

directly toward him at a hot clip. There was one person, as far as he

could see, in the wagon. And across this person's knees was a shotgun.

The Kid saw that unless he changed his course he would meet the

buckboard and its passenger face to face.

Kid Wolf had no intention of avoiding the meeting, but something in the

tenseness of the figure on the seat of the vehicle, even at that

distance, caused his gray-blue eyes to pucker.

The distance between him and the buckboard rapidly decreased as Kid

Wolf's white horse drummed down between the chocolate-colored walls of

the arroyo. Between him and the team on the trail now was only a

stretch of level white sand, dotted here and there with low burrow

weeds. Suddenly, the driver of the buckboard whirled the shotgun. The

double barrels swung up on a line with Kid Wolf.

Quick as the movement was, the Texan had learned to expect the

unexpected. In the West, things happened, and one sought the reason

for them afterward. His hands went lightning-fast toward the twin .45s

that hung at his hips.

But Kid Wolf did not draw. A look of amazement had crossed his

sun-burned face and he removed his hands from his gun butts. Instead

of firing on the figure in the buckboard, Kid Wolf wheeled his horse

about quickly, and turned sidewise in his saddle in order to make as

small a target as possible.

The shotgun roared. Spurts of sand were flecked up all around The Kid

and the big white horse winced and jumped as a ball smashed the

saddletree a glancing blow. Another slug went through the Texan's hat

brim. Fortunately, he was not yet within effective range.

Even now, Kid Wolf did not draw his weapons. And he did not beat a

retreat. Instead, he rode directly toward the buckboard. The click of

a gun hammer did not stop him. One barrel of the shotgun remained

unfired and its muzzle had him covered.

But the Texan approached recklessly. He had doffed his big hat and now

he made a courteous, sweeping bow. He pulled his horse to a halt not

ten yards from the menacing shotgun.

"Pahdon me, ma'am," he drawled, "but is theah anything I can do fo'

yo', aside from bein' a tahget in yo' gun practice?"

The figure in the buckboard was that of a woman! There was a moment's

breathless pause.

"There's nine buckshot in the other barrel," said a feminine voice--a

voice that for all its courage faltered a little.

"Please don't waste them on me," Kid Wolf returned, in his soft,

Southern speech. "I'm afraid yo' have made a mistake. I can see that

yo' are in trouble. May I help yo'?"

Doubtfully, the woman lowered her weapon. She was middle-aged, kindly

faced, and her eyes were swollen from weeping. She looked out of place

with the shotgun--friendless and very much alone.

"I don't know whether to trust you or not," she said wearily. "I

suppose I ought to shoot you, but I can't, somehow."

"Well I'm glad yo' can't," drawled The Kid with contagious good humor.

His face sobered. "Who do yo' think I am, ma'am?"

"I don't know," the woman sighed, "but you're an enemy. Every one in

this cruel land is my enemy. You're an outlaw--and probably one of the

murderers who killed my husband."

"Please believe that I'm not," the Texan told her earnestly. "I'm a

strangah to this district. Won't yo' tell me yo' story? I want to

help yo'."

"There isn't much to tell," the driver of the buckboard said in a

quavering voice. "I'm on the way to town to sell the ranch--the S Bar.

I have my husband's body with me on the wagon. He was murdered


Not until then did Kid Wolf see the grim cargo of the buckboard. His

face sobered and his eyes narrowed.

"Do yo' want to sell, ma'am?"

"No, but it's all I can do now," she said tearfully. "Major Stover, in

San Felipe, offered me ten thousand for it, some time ago. It's worth

more, but I guess this--this is the end. I don't know why I'm tellin'

you all this, young man."

"This Majah Stovah--is he an army officer?" The Kid asked wonderingly.

The woman shook her head. "No. He isn't really a major. He never was

in the army, so far as any one knows. He just fancies the title and

calls himself 'Major Stover'--though he has no right to do so."

"A kind of four-flushin' hombre--a coyote in sheep's clothin', I should

judge," drawled Kid Wolf.

"Thet just about describes him," the woman agreed.

"But yo' sho'ly aren't alone on yo' ranch. Wheah's yo' men?" asked The


"They quit last week."

"Quit?" The Kid's eyebrows went up a trifle.

"All of them--five in all, includin' the foreman. And soon afterward,

all our cattle were chased off the ranch. Gone completely--six hundred

head. Then yesterday"--she paused and her eyes filled with

tears--"yesterday my husband was shot while he was standing at the edge

of the corral. I don't know who did it."

No wonder this woman felt that every hand was turned against her. Kid

Wolf's eyes blazed.

"Won't the law help yo'?" he demanded.

"There isn't any law," said the woman bitterly. "Now you understand

why I fired at you. I was desperate--nearly frantic with grief. I

hardly knew what I was doing."

"Well, just go back home to yo' ranch, ma'am. I don't think yo' need

to sell it."

"But I can't run the S Bar alone!"

"Yo' won't have to. I'll bring yo' ridahs back. Will I find them in

San Felipe?"

"I think so," said the woman, astonished. "But they won't come."

"Oh, yes, they will," said The Kid politely.

"But I can't ranch without cattle."

"I'll get them back fo' yo'."

"But they're over the line into Old Mexico by now!"

"Nevah yo' mind, ma'am. I'll soon have yo' place on a workin' basis

again. Just give me the names of yo' ridahs and I'll do the rest."

"Well, there's Ed Mullhall, Dick Anton, Fred Wise, Frank Lathum, and

the foreman--Steve Stacy. But, tell me, who are you--to do this for a

stranger, a woman you've never seen before? I'm Mrs. Thomas."

The Texan bowed courteously.

"They call me Kid Wolf, ma'am," he replied. "Mah business is rightin'

the wrongs of the weak and oppressed, when it's in mah power. Those

who do the oppressin' usually learn to call me by mah last name. Now

don't worry any mo', but just leave yo' troubles to me."

Mrs. Thomas smiled, too. She dried her eyes and looked at the Texan


"I've known you ten minutes," she said, "and somehow it seems ten

years. I do trust you. But please don't get yourself in trouble on

account of Ma Thomas. You don't know those men. This is a hard

country--terribly hard."

Kid Wolf, however, only smiled at her warning. He remained just long

enough to obtain two additional bits of information--the location of

the S Bar and the distance to the town of San Felipe. Then he turned

his horse's head about, and with a cheerful wave of his hand, struck

out for the latter place. The last he saw of Mrs. Thomas, she was

turning her team.

Kid Wolf realized that he had quite a problem on his hands. The work

ahead of him promised to be difficult, but, as usual, he had gone into

it impulsively--and yet coolly.

"We've got a big ordah to fill, Blizzahd," he murmured, as his white

horse swung into a long lope. "I hope we haven't promised too much."

He wondered if in his endeavor to cheer up the despondent woman he had

aroused hopes that might not materialize. The plight of Mrs. Thomas

had stirred him deeply. His pulses had raced with anger at her

persecutors--whoever they were. His Southern chivalry, backed up by

his own code--the code of the West--prompted him to promise what he had.

"A gentleman, Blizzahd," he mused, "couldn't do othahwise. We've got

to see this thing through!"

Ma Thomas--he had seen at a glance--was a plains-woman. Courage and

character were in her kindly face. The Texan's heart had gone out to

her in her trouble and need.

Once again he found himself in his native territory, but in a country

gone strange to him. Ranchers and ranches had come in overnight, it

seemed to him. A year or two can make a big difference in the West.

Two years ago, Indians--to-day, cattle! Twenty miles below rolled the

muddy Rio. It was Texas--stern, vast, mighty.

And, if what Mrs. Thomas had said was correct, law hadn't kept pace

with the country's growth. There was no law. Kid Wolf knew what that

meant. His face was very grim as he left the wagon trail behind.

The town of San Felipe--two dozen brown adobes, through which a

solitary street threaded its way--sprawled in the bottom of a canyon

near the Rio Grand. The cow camp had grown, in a few brief months,

with all the rapidity of an agave plant, which adds five inches to its

size in twenty-four hours. San Felipe was noisy and wide awake.

It was December. The sun, however, was warm overhead. The sky was

cloudless and the distant range of low mountains stood out sharp and

clear against the sky. As Kid Wolf rode into the town, a hard wind was

blowing across the sands and it was high noon.

San Felipe's single street presented an interesting appearance. Most

of the long, flat adobes were saloons--The Kid did not need to read the

signs above them to see that. The loungers and hangers-on about their

doors told the story. Sandwiched between two of the biggest bars,

however, was a small shack--the only frame building in the place.

"Well, this Majah Stover hombre must be in the business," muttered The

Kid to himself.

His eyes had fallen on the sign over the door:



Kid Wolf was curious. Strange to say, he had been thinking of the

major before he had observed the sign, and wondering about the man's

offer to buy the S Bar Ranch. The Texan whistled softly as he

dismounted. He left Blizzard waiting at the hitch rack, and sauntered

to the office door.

He opened the door, let himself in, and found himself in a dusty,

paper-littered room. A few maps hung on the walls. Kid Wolf's first

impression was the disagreeable smell of cigar stumps.

His eyes fell upon the man at the desk by the dirty window, and he

experienced a sudden start--an uncomfortable feeling. The Texan did

not often dislike a man at first sight, but he was a keen reader of


"Do yuh have business with me?" demanded the man at the desk.

Major Stover, if this were he, was a paunchy, disgustingly fat man.

His face was moonlike, sensually thick of lip. His eyes, as they fell

upon his visitor, were hoglike, nearly buried in sallow folds of skin.

The thick brows above them had grown close together.

"Well," The Kid drawled, "I don't exactly know. Yo' deal in lands, I


"I have some holdings," said the fat man complacently. "Are yo'

interested in the San Felipe district?"

"Very much," said The Kid, nodding. "I am quite attracted by

Rattlesnake County, and----"

"This isn't Rattlesnake County, young man," corrected the land agent.

"This is San Felipe County."

"Oh, excuse me," murmured the Texan, "maybe I got that idea because of

the lahge numbah of snakes----"

"There's no more snakes here than----" the other began.

"I meant the human kind," explained Kid Wolf mildly.

Major Stover's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What do yuh want with me?"

he demanded.

"Did yo' offah ten thousand dollahs fo' the S Bar Ranch?"

"That is none of yore business!"

"No?" drawled Kid Wolf patiently. "Yo' might say that I am heah as

Mrs. Thomas' agent."

The major looked startled. "Where's yore credentials?" he snapped,

after a brief pause.

Kid Wolf merely smiled and tapped the butts of his six-guns. "Heah,

sah," he murmured. "I'm askin' yo'."

Major Stover looked angry. "Yes," he said sharply, "I did at one time

make such an offer. However, I have reconsidered. My price is now

three thousand dollars."

"May I ask," spoke The Kid softly, "why yo' have reduced yo' offah?"

"Because," said the land dealer, "she has to sell now! I've got her

where I want her, and if yo're her agent, yuh can tell her that!"

One stride, and Kid Wolf had fat Major Stover by the neck. For all his

weight, and in spite of his bulk, The Kid handled him as if he had been

a child. An upward jerk dragged him from his chair. The Texan held

him by one muscular hand.

"So yo' have her where yo' want her, have yo'?" he cried, giving the

major a powerful shake.

He passed his other hand over the land agent's flabby body, poking the

folds of fat here and there over Major Stover's ribs. At each thump

the major flinched.

"Why, yo're as soft as an ovahripe pumpkin," Kid Wolf drawled,

deliberately insulting. "And yo' dare to tell me that! No, don't try


Major Stover had attempted to draw an ugly-looking derringer. The Kid

calmly took it away from him and threw it across the room. He shook

the land agent until his teeth rattled like dice in a box.

"Mrs. Thomas' ranch, sah," he said crisply, "is not in the mahket!"

With that he hurled the major back into his chair. There was a

crashing, rending sound as Stover's huge body struck it. The wood

collapsed and the dazed land agent found himself sitting on the floor.

"I'll get yuh for this, blast yuh!" gasped the major, his bloated face

red with rage. "Yo're goin' to get yores, d'ye hear! I've got power

here, and yore life ain't worth a cent!"

"It's not in the mahket, eithah," the Texan drawled, as he strolled

toward the door. At the threshold he paused.

"Yo've had yo' say, majah," he snapped, "and now I'll have mine. If I

find that yo' are in any way responsible fo' the tragedies that have

ovahtaken Mrs. Thomas, yo'd bettah see to yo' guns. Until then--adios!"