Jessie knew the fellow was dangerous as a wounded buffalo bull in a corral. He would have his way if he had to smash and trample down any one that opposed him. Her eyes moved to Whaley’s black-browed, bloodless face. How far would the gambler go in opposition to the other?
As her glance shifted back to West, it was arrested at the window. The girl’s heart lost a beat, then sang a paean of joy. For the copper-colored face of Onistah was framed in the pane.
A FORETASTE OF HELL
Jessie’s eyes flew to West and to Whaley. As yet neither of them had seen the Blackfoot. She raised a hand and pretended to brush back a lock of hair.
The Indian recognized it as a signal that she had seen him. His head disappeared.
Thoughts in the girl’s mind raced. If Winthrop Beresford or Tom Morse had been outside instead of Onistah, she would not have attempted to give directions. Either of them would have been more competent than she to work out the problem. But the Blackfoot lacked initiative. He would do faithfully whatever he was told to do, but any independent action attempted by him was likely to be indecisive. She could not conceive of Onistah holding his own against two such men as these except by slaughtering them from the window before they knew he was there. He had not in him sufficient dominating ego.
Whaley was an unknown quantity. It was impossible to foresee how he would accept the intrusion of Onistah. Since he was playing his own game, the chances are that he would resent it. In West’s case there could be no doubt. If it was necessary to his plans, he would not hesitate an instant to kill the Indian.
Reluctantly, she made up her mind to send him back to Faraway for help. He would travel fast. Within five hours at the outside he ought to be back with her father or Beresford. Surely, with Whaley on her side, she ought to be safe till then.
She caught sight of Onistah again, his eyes level with the window-sill. He was waiting for instructions.
Jessie gave them to him straight and plain. She spoke to Whaley, but for the Blackfoot’s ear.
“Bring my father here. At once. I want him. Won’t you, please?”
Whaley’s blank poker stare focused on her. “The last word I had from Angus McRae was to keep out of your affairs. I can take a hint without waiting for a church to fall on me. Get some one else to take your messages.”
“If you’re going back to town I thought—perhaps—you’d tell him how much I need him,” she pleaded. “Then he’d come—right away.”
Onistah’s head vanished. He knew what he had to do and no doubt was already on the trail. Outside it was dark. She could hear the swirling of the wind and the beat of sleet against the window-pane. A storm was rising. She prayed it might not be a blizzard. Weather permitting, her father should be here by eight or nine o’clock.