My name is Leroy Jenkins but some folks call me “Bottles” because I’ve been collecting bottles for years. Sometimes, someone has a clear medicine bottle that they save for me. I’ve been collecting them since I was a little and now I’m 17 and I’ve got quite a collection of sun-colored bottles. I take these bottles to a mud bank near our house and set them up so the sun shines on them every day and after a few years they mostly turn purple but some of the little medicine bottles turn other colors. I don’t know why, but they do and I like them. Pa says it’s a harmless hobby. He says I’m one of those people that have a need to collect something and I reckon that’s so. He says my ma was like that and that’s probably where I get it. Ma died when I was little and Pa has pretty much raised me by himself. We have a little horse ranch just outside of Papago Springs. Pa does all right I guess, I know we aren’t rich but pa somehow affords for me to go to school and not many folks can afford to send their older boys to school. He says an education is important and I reckon he is right about that. Most boys my age are working as cowboys and if they become real good at it, can make $40. a month. That seems like a lot of money to me but pa says you can’t afford to marry or raise a family, or make something of yourself on that. It’s rough, brutal work too and most cowboys are either dead or pretty busted up by 40 and have to find something else to do. I want more than that and education seems to lead to a better life. So I’m still going to school and I work a bit in town. I go in early every morning before school and clean up the saloon and that’s what they call a swamper, I swamp it out. There is no school now because it’s summer so I also work every Tuesday for six hours or so unloading freight at the mercantile. Today is Tuesday and I’m working at the mercantile unloading a wagon when a commotion started up down the street at the bank. All of a sudden there were several shots fired and a lot of shouting and one lady screaming and three horses went a fogging out of town to the south. About all I saw was the horses as they went by. I recognized two of them because they were pa’s horses! I’d know those two anywhere! About twenty minutes later, the Sheriff and a posse rode out after them. I still had about an hour’s work to do so I got back at it but I was busy thinking too. Pa had taught me a lot about tracking and we both figured I was pretty good at it by now. Pa always said that the best trackers followed tracks with their mind. What he meant was, you have to put yourself in the mind of the animal or man you are following and try to figure what they will do next. It’s not as hard as it sounds because neither man nor beast has that many choices in most situations. I was thinking about those outlaws, they knew a posse would follow them and their first job was to lose the posse. Now if I had that job to do, I’d run those horses pretty hard for a way to gain distance and then swap them for fresh horses somewhere, so they would likely have someone waiting with fresh horses down the line. The next thing to do would be to conceal their trail and get clean away. I figured the spot for that had to be the malapai beds about eight miles south of town, then they could easily slip east for a ways in that rough and broken country down along the southern border of our place. There were a couple of good, hidden campsites down that way that I knew of and at least one that had been used by outlaws before. After work, I got right on home and told Pa about the excitement in town. He was pretty sore about two of our horses had been stolen. I had something to eat and while I was at it, I slipped an extra sandwich in my shirt and told Pa I was going down south to check our fence line and the spring down that way. I always carried a rifle and a six-gun when working around the ranch, because more than once I’d brought home fresh meat that way. Sometimes I’d see a deer but more often than not, it was rabbit. This year was a good year for cottontail rabbits and they are pretty fine eating. Pa had taught me to shoot well and mostly I shot rabbits with a six-gun. I always tried for a head shot but sometimes I spoiled some meat and once in a while I missed completely, but not too often. Anyway, I rode right straight for that hideout I’d spotted and when I got close, I tied the horse and eased up on foot. I wanted to see if they were there and if they still had our horses and if so, maybe I could get them back without a fight. Sure enough, there were four men there! They were lazing about in the shade resting up a bit, they had a hatfull of fire and a coffee pot on, I figured they would probably move on after dark. I eased on around to where I figured the horses ought to be and found four of ours, they weren’t the same horses I had seen in town either! These fellows had a real fondness for our horses! The horses were all unsaddled and picketed on some grass and were out of direct sight of the outlaws. That was a piece of luck and I knew these horses and they knew me, they were just big pets, so they weren’t going to fuss if I walked right up to them so I did. I pulled their picket pins, leaped bareback on Red, kicked him in the ribs and yelled. We lit out of there like a scalded cat! I guided Red toward my horse and managed to get him to stop so I could get on my saddle horse and then we all lit out for the ranch. While we were getting away, a couple of shots were fired in our direction but no one got hit and we had left those rascals afoot!