Racey Dawson spread his legs wide and laughed a reckless laugh. He felt reckless. He likewise felt for these men ranged before him the most venomous hate of which he was capable. These men had killed the father of Molly Dale. It did not matter whether any one or all of them had or had not committed the actual murder, they were wholly responsible for it. They had brought it about. He knew it. He knew it just as sure as he was a foot high. And as he looked upon them sitting there in flinty silence he purposed to make them pay, and pay to the uttermost. That the old man had been a gambler and a drunkard, and the world was undoubtedly a better world for his leaving it, were facts of no moment in Racey’s mind. He, Racey, was not one to condone either murder or injustice. And this murder and the injustice of it would cruelly hurt three women.
He laughed again, without mirth. His blue eyes, glittering through the slits of the drawn-down eyelids, were pin-points of wrath. His hard-bitten stare challenged his enemies. Damn them! let them shoot if they wanted to. He was ready. He, Racey Dawson, would show them a fight that would stack up as well as any of which a hard-fighting territory could boast. So, feeling as he did, Racey stared upon his enemies with a frosty, slit-eyed stare and mentally dared them to come to the scratch.
But in moments like these there is always one to say “Let’s go,” or give its equivalent, a sign. And that one is invariably the leader of one side or the other. Racey Dawson saw Luke Tweezy turn a slow head and look toward Jack Harpe. He saw Doc Coffin, Honey, and Austin, one after the other, do the same. But Jack Harpe sat immobile. He neither spoke nor gave a sign. Perhaps he did not consider the present a sufficiently propitious moment. No one knew what he thought. Had he known what the future held in store he might have gone after his gun.
Tense, nerves wire-drawn, Racey and Mr. Saltoun awaited the decision.
It came, and like many decisions, its form was totally unexpected. Jack Harpe looked at Racey and said smilelessly:
“Wanna view the remains?”
DRAWING THE COVER
“You don’t understand it, do you, Peaches?” Racey inquired genially of Peaches Austin when he found himself neighbours with that slippery gentleman at the inquest.
Peaches shied away from Racey on general principles. He feared a catch. There were so many things about Racey that he did not understand.
“Whatcha talking about?” Peaches grunted, surlily.
“You—me—Chuck—everybody, more or less. You don’t, do you?”
“Don’t what?” A trifle more surlily.
“You don’t see how and why Chuck Morgan is so all-fired friendly with me, and how I’m a-riding for a good outfit like the Bar S, when the last you seen of me, Chuck was a-hazing me up the trail with my hands over my head. You don’t understand it none. I can see it in your light green eyes, Peaches.”