OLD BILL – 2 of 6

He entered the Ute camp warily, one hand on the mules’ lead rope, his rifle in the other. A man rose and came forward. Old Bill snorted a laugh. “Three Hands!” he said. “I done found you!”

The man studied him. “You searched for me?”

“Well, not ’xactly. But I sure am glad t’ find you.”

Three Hands nodded. “You are cold.”

“Warmer now than I was,” Old Bill said. “This is quite a little valley you have here.”

“Not so little.” Three Hands gestured to the south. “More below.”

“Sure am glad I stumbled in,” Old Bill said. “I was nigh to freezin’ comin’ over Bobcat Pass.”

The other man looked at the mules. “You trap?”

“I was, but the beavers are iced in nasty hard this winter. Can’t get at ’em.”

“The signs say the cold will continue.”

“That how come you’re here?”

Three Hands smiled noncommitally.

from Moreno Valley Sketches

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