Jack of the Pony Express
JACK IN THE SADDLE
"Your father is a little late to-night, isn't he Jack?"
"Yes, Mrs. Watson, he should have been here a half-hour ago, and he would, too, if he had ridden Sunger instead of his own horse."
"You think a lot of that pony of yours, don't you, Jack?" and a motherly-looking woman came to the doorway of a small cottage and peered up the mountain trail, which ran in front of the building. Out on the trail itself stood a tall, bronzed lad, who was, in fact, about seventeen years of age, but whose robust frame and athletic build made him appear several years older.
"Yes, Mrs. Watson," the boy answered with a smile, "I do think a lot of
Sunger, and he's worth it, too."
"Yes, I guess he is. And he can travel swiftly, too. My goodness! The way you sometimes clatter past my house makes me think you'll sure have an accident. Sometimes I'm so nervous I can't look at you."
"Sunger is pretty sure-footed, even on worse mountain trails than the one from Rainbow Ridge to Golden Crossing," answered Jack with a laugh, that showed his white, even teeth, which formed a strange contrast to his tanned face.
"Sunger," repeated Mrs. Watson, musingly. "What an odd name. I often wonder how you came to call him that."
"It isn't his real name," explained Jack, as he gave another look up the trail over which the rays of the declining sun were shining, and then walked up to the porch, where he sat down. "The pony was once owned by a Mexican miner, and he named him something in Spanish which meant that the little horse could go so fast that he dodged the sun. Sundodger was what the name would be in English, I suppose, and after I bought him that's what I called him.
"But Sundodger is too much of a mouthful when one's in a hurry," and Jack laughed at his idea, "so," he went on, "I shortened it to Sunger, which does just as well."
"Yes, as long as he knows it," agreed Mrs. Watson. "But I guess, Jack, I had better be going, I did think I'd wait until your father came, and put the supper on for you both, but he's so late now—"
"Yes, Mrs. Watson, don't wait," interrupted Jack. "I don't know what to make of dad's being so late. But we're used to getting our own meals, so you needn't worry. We'll get along all right."
"Oh, I know you will. For two men—for you are getting so big I shall have to call you a man," and she smiled at him. "For two men you really get along very well indeed."
"Yes, I'm getting to be something of a cook myself," admitted the lad. "But I can't quite equal your biscuits yet, and there's no use saying I can. However, you baked a pretty good batch this afternoon, and dad sure will be pleased when he sees 'em. I wish he'd come while they're hot though," and once more Jack Bailey arose and went out to peer up the trail. He listened intently, but his sharp senses caught no sound of clattering hoofs, nor sight of a horseman coming down the slope, a good view of which could be had from in front of the house that stood on a bend in the road.
"Well, then, I'll be getting along," Mrs....