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Page 44

CHAPTER 3 - STRANGERS AT BLACK CREEK

"Don't reckon so, thanks," he replied now. `` We're aimin' for Black Creek. We've been down south negotiatin' for new stock."
Jake went on talking, spinning a tale that sounded plausible enough, a yarn that he and Ned were partners in a ranch up north and had been buying cattle in the south. The other man seemed to accept it. Jake watched him closely, though he didn't appear to do so. Sure, this was the same guy he'd seen on the other side of Phoenix eight years beforehandcuffed to a sheriff. Schy Hunt he'd called himself then, but not now according to his own tale. He introduced himself as Schultz, Jeb Schultz.
A little later Schultz moved away, saying that he had to make a call before he himself was due at Black Creek, but the strangers would have no difficulty in reaching the township.
" Keep straight down the trail," he added, " an' you can't miss it."
He raised his hand in a salute and rode away. Jake and Ned saw him turn off the main trail after some two hundred yards. Jake spat into the dust. Schy Hunt had gone to gaol for rustling. Now he was out again and here in the Black Creek area, foreman of the Bar-20, he'd said. Maybe he was on the level now, a reformed character ; but maybe he wasn't. Jake wasn't the guy to hound a man who had paid the penalty for a crime, but he was careful.
One thing he was sure about. Jeb Schultz as he called himself now hadn't recognised him, didn't know that he was a ranger.
" Maybe not," replied Ned cautiously, when Jake had told him the facts. He didn't query Jake's identification of this Schultz. Jake was utterly reliable when it came to remembering faces.

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