I’d just pulled my hat down over my eyes, ready for a night’s sleep on a bed of Wyoming rock when I heard a slow hoof-beat approaching in the dark. In the three weeks I’d been checking fences along the Lazy-V’s north side, I hadn’t seen another man, and I didn’t like the idea of meeting one now, especially at night.
Between rustlers, sheep men, and dumb farmers, I’d had enough of people to last me until spring, so who was this interloper disturbing the quiet of the range? Whoever it was, he knew I was there. In this open country my little campfire could be seen for miles. I slipped my revolver from its holster and waited.
After a few minutes I saw the faintly lit shape of the horse, but as it walked closer I couldn’t see a rider. It looked like a lost pack animal, maybe. Until it stopped short a few feet away. A man was slumped over the animal’s neck. He fell off and knocked the pot over, dumping my coffee onto the fire and throwing the world into darkness.