Boy's Cinema (1930-31)

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12 Ben to keep quiet. "We were told that if we spoke to Mr. Sutter he'd take us on the payroll." "The boss does not want any hands," was the answer. Winslow spoke in a quiet though hoarse voice. "Bctti-r beat it before I get the boys to move you." "Scared to try it yourself?" taunted Jim. "Well, we ain't going till we've seen Mr. Sutter." " It's getting mighty unhealthy for you every second !" snarled Winslow. "For the last time, are you going quietly, or " "Here, what is all this noise?" cried a voice. "What's wrong now?" A wheeled chair appi'arcd, and in it Mr. Frank Sutter. Jim guessed that Winslow had spoken quietly because he did not wisli his words to be overheard. Sutter looked up, opened his mouth to say something, and then shut it as Jim slowly rubbed his lips with his fingers. " You two men want work—is that it?" Frank Sutter peered at Jim and his partner. "I've got sharp ears, Winslow, and I can use them. If these two can work, which is more than some of the hands you've hired, then they can stay. You're here on a month's trial." Winslow's eyes were narrowed and furtive. "Just as you please, boss." He shrugged his shoulders. " If you take on hands you know nothing about, don't blame me if you get stung." With that he turned his back and left them. "Jim, Jim, it's glad I am to see you !" The invalid held out both his hands. "What was the idea of the warning? That was Winslow, my manager." "I've come here to trace those rustlers." Jim was very serious. "I want nobody to know who I am—every- body except yourself and Ben must be a suspect until I know they're innocent." The sound of cluttering hoofs made Jim turn. His eyes opened wide—the girl of the car. "Mr. Sutter, who is that girl?" "One of your suspects," chuckled the old man. " That's my daughter Helen ; she's just back from college." Helen jumped lightly from the saddle, ran across the strip of grass, and stopped dead when she saw the two men. " Helen, I've just taken on two new hands—Jim here and his pal Ben." Sutter smiled proudly at the pretty girl. "Had a nice ride, dear?" "Sure I have." Helen could not take her eyes off Jim, who was grinning defiantly. "Have you hired these two men, dad?" "Yes, my dear. But why do you ask?" "One meets some funny kinda hoboes these days!" Helen snapped out the words. "One can't be too careful." "We're only on trial. Miss Helen," mocked JLni. "You ride a horse mighty well, though maybe you find a motor-car moro to your liking." " Dad, I'm glad these men mentioned cars, because mine wants a clean." Now it was Helen's turn to smile. "Perhaps they might give the car a wash and polish." "That's one to her ladyship." whis- pered Jim to Ben as they watched her .stride into the house through the windows. "High-spirited, Jim," her father smiled proudly. "A little quiet for her here. I'll get you to take her riding in the mornings." "Thanks, boss! I'd like that if your daughter feels like a morning canter." Jim changed the subject. "It seems sorta queer to me to see you in that chair. Pop used to say that you were the fittest man in Arizona, and yet you're crocked with rheumatics." "Rheumatics be dangcd !" raged the old man, shaking his fists. "1 don't want Helen to know I've been shot. Movember 28th, 1831. BOY'S CINEMA Those rustlers got me six months ago in the hip, and I'll bo mighty lucky if I ever walk again. Moreover, I've got to act this way, or else these guests would get scared and beat it." "So they plugged you," Jim whistled. "Any suspicions?" " None. Burke, the foreman, has raised several posses, but he can never pick up the trail. By tens and twenties I'm losing my horses, and unless it stops soon, Jim, I look like being sold up." Meanwhile, on the other side of the corral away from the ranch-house .two men listened eagerly to Harry Winslow. Slinking, dirty and unpleasant fellows were these two men. " Pete "—Winslow addressed the taller of the two—"I'm going to watch this stranger, and that goes with you two men. You are out mostly with the horses, and I want you to watch out for any sight of the youngster and his comic partner. You, Red "■—this was to the burly, unshaven man—"you watch round the hacienda. You're detailed to help the guests, so you've got plenty of chance. The least suspicious thing you report to me." " Can't we settle 'em and take no chances?" growled Red. "I think we might have them re- moved," Winslow grinned evilly. "But I must think of a plan that won't fail. I will talk the matter over in the morn- ing. We might get rid of thcni before the next run." "Okay, chief!" Pete caught hold of the fat one's arm. "We'll get acquainted with these two guys right away. Same place, chief?" "Sure! Now beat it!" hissed Winslow. " Hero comes Miss Helen. She mustn't see us together." The two men slunk away into one of the barns. The Rodeo. NOTHING of any importance hap- pened during the next few days. Jim and Ben were detailed to look after the guests, taking them riding, see they didn't fall off, and generally act like guides. The antics of some of the Easterners caused Ben much mirth. "Fat Mrs. Gillow riding a boss is a scream !" laughed Ben. "Listen here, you !ong herring!" growled Jim. "If she sees you laughing it'll be reported to Winslow, and that means being fired. So you gotta cut out the mirth and get down to business. So far I haven't located any rustling, but I sure don't like some of the lads that work on this yere ranch " "You've said it, son," Ben nodded. "Biggest bunch of cut-throats ever, though some of the bunch are good enough. What's this rodeo going to be like to-morrow?" "Something to amuse the guests," scoffed Jim. "Stunt riding,' two races, a broncho-busting competition and some comic stuff." Once or twice Jim had seen Helen, but she passed him by as if he did not exist. Jim grinned, but he was annoyed because' Helen was a fine-looking girl, and she was a grand rider. Jim's nostrils twitched when ho saw Winslow. The skunk seemed to be always with the girl. Winslow had not included either of the new hands for the rodeo, and so our two friends enjoyed the role of spectators. They sat on the wooden fence that encircled tho corral, chewing straws and watching the fun. "Pretty punk show," commented Ben. "Tho best boss in that first race was that piebalil, and it didn't win." " Did you note Winslow was running a book, and laid that horse at fours. You Every Tuesday wanted to back it, but I wouldn't let you." "Why did you do that?" Ben scratched his head. "I was kinda riled at the time, because I could have sworn that piebald " "Yeah, mutton-head, I know it was tho best hoss," snorted Jim, "but when I saw Winslow laying those odds I got wise. In my opinion the race was a ramp, and it kinda makes me think.'' "So Winslow framed that race." Ben said this slowly, then his old face lit up. "Do you think, Jim, that " " Shurrup ! Your voice carries!" cautioned Jim. "I don't know any- thing, but I don't like Mister Harry Winslow. He's too slick for my liking. Look at him now, making bets against anyone sticking on the back of the Killer for two minutes, and know-ing darned well none of his bunch intend to stay on." "Why don't you upset his game?" "Don't want to get Winslow too riled or he may get wise." Jim removed the straw and pushed his sombrero on to the side of his head. "I did think about it, Bcu, but that hoss may be one of those trick horses. Any rate, it's best loft alone, and the prize for sticking on for two minutes is only ten bucks. You try, Ben." "Not me!" Ben was decided. "I had a look at that Killer, and it's a good name." They watched man after man climb into the wooden box that housed the Killer get on to the creature's back, and ttion give the signal for the trap- door in front to be' opened. Most of them shot out like rabbits, and within twenty seconds had bitten the dust. A couple of " Sun-fish " bucks, and the cowboy sailed into space. The guests roared with delight, whilst Winslow grinned and took their money. " Suppose he gives 'em a share of the profits," mumbled Ben. '' They earn it. Hallo! Look who's here !" Jim, who had been watching the antics of the cowboys, turned to liis part- ner. Ben's head gave him the clue to the direction of the latest interest^ Helen Sutter, in iioat ridiug costume, flicking a crop against buckskin breeches, was sauntering towards them. "All set for trouble." Ben spoke out of the corner of his mouth. "I bet she's got some work for us, and it's going to be unpleasant." Helen paused opposite the two men, looked up, and saw them sitting on top of the corral fence. "Not riding?" Helen's eyes were speculative. "Nope!" Ben answered. "Neither of you ?" "No, lady," Jim smiled. "We're just watching the fun." "I'm surprised you're not trying to ride the Killer," said the girl. "Don't prizes mean everything?" "Meaning?" Jim did not like her tone. " Father was telling me that you had quite a reput.ation in Montana—or so you'd told him!" Helen saw the last hit had gone home. " I should have thought riding a bronc like tJie Killer would have been too easy." "Are you suggesting that I haven't got the courage to ride this Killer?" Jim's voice was sharp. "Is that what you mean, Miss Helen?" "I'm really not in the least in- terested," was the lofty answer, and Helen made to move off. "Miss Helen"—Jim climbed down from the fence and stayed the girl by a firm grip oi. her arm—" I'm going to make this my intei-est oven if you aren't inforested. t'l! wager I'll stay on longer than some of these other hombres."