Old Judge Ivory, who happened to be present, was agreed upon as stake-holder.
“That Thunderbolt horse, he is the devil,” Sabota laughed evilly as the money was handed over to the gray-haired judge. “And Satan, he takes care of his own!”
“Well!” Parker drawled, “if you feel inclined to send any more money to hell I might help you—” pulling a wad of bills from his pocket and throwing the certificates on the soft-drink bar at which they were standing.
Sabota’s eyes gleamed greedily.
“I think there’s two thousand in this roll,” Parker continued, “and I’m willing to bet it all that the Ramblin’ Kid’s filly not only goes under the wire first in the two-mile run, but that she’ll be kicking dirt in old Thunderbolt’s face—if he ain’t too damned far behind—when she does it!”
The Greek covered the wager eagerly.
As Judge Ivory pocketed the money Dorsey and Flip Williams stepped into the pool-room. Sabota glanced up.
“These Quarter Circle KT hombres are getting bad,” he laughed sneeringly to Dorsey; “they think th’ Ramblin’ Kid’s got a colt that can beat Thunderbolt!”
“The Ramblin’ Kid must have a hell of a fast horse!” Dorsey snarled contemptuously, “a hell of a fast horse!” he repeated, “when the Ramblin’ Kid himself declines to risk a dollar of his own money on the running qualities of the critter!” referring to the conversation a few hours before in the entry judges’ office.
As he finished speaking he turned and looked squarely into the cold gray eyes of Old Heck who, with Skinny, had entered the Amusement Parlor while Dorsey was talking and heard the Vermejo cattleman’s sneering insinuation.
MOCHA AND JAVA
Old Heck and Skinny had left Ophelia and Carolyn June at the Occidental Hotel, where a room was reserved by Old Heck for the use of the two women during the Rodeo. They had then gone direct to Mike Sabota’s place for the express purpose of running into Dorsey and his crowd. Old Heck knew that if any large bets were to be laid on the two-mile sweepstakes the only chance would be to place them before the Ramblin’ Kid brought the Gold Dust maverick to Eagle Butte and the Vermejo bunch discovered the identity of the horse Thunderbolt was up against.
The Quarter Circle KT cow-men stepped into the pool-room at exactly the instant most favorable for their purpose.
Dorsey had made his boast in the presence of a crowd.
He would hardly dare back up without covering, at least to some worth-while extent, his words with his money.
For a full minute Old Heck drilled Dorsey with a look such, as a hound dog might have in his eyes after he has cornered a coyote and pauses before he springs.
Instinctively the crowd stepped back from the two cattlemen while a death-like hush fell over the place.