“Well,” prompted Racey, “you’d oughta be able to tell us whether there was any other fights while you was here?”
“They wasn’t,” plunged Thompson. “Everything was salubrious till Dale started his battle.”
“And when did you get here?” pursued Racey.
“Oh, I’d been here all night.”
“And you dunno of any other brush except the one between Dale and the stranger?”
“I done said so forty times,” Thompson declared, peevishly. “How many times have I gotta repeat it?”
“As many times as yo’re asked,” put in the sheriff, sharply.
“Didja see anybody get hurt—have a accident or something while you were here, Thompson?” Racey bored on.
Thompson shook an impatient head. “Nobody got hurt or had a accident.”
“Then,” said Racey, turning suddenly on McFluke, “how did you get that black eye?”
McFluke’s eyes flickered at the question. His body appeared to sink inward. Then he straightened, and flung back his wide shoulders, and glowered at Racey Dawson.
“I ran into a door this morning,” said the saloon-keeper in a tone of the utmost confidence.
“Oh, you ran into a door, did you,” Racey observed, sweetly. “And what particular door did you run into?”
“The front door.”
“That one?” Racey indicated the door of the barroom.
“We’ll just take a look at that door.”
Accompanied by the deeply interested sheriff, who was beginning to sniff his quarry like the old bloodhound he was, Racey crossed to the barroom door. He looked at the door. He looked at the sheriff. The sheriff looked only at the door.
“Door’s opened back flat against the wall, Mac,” said the sheriff. “Was she like this when you ran into her?”
“Course not,” was the heated reply. “She was swingin’ open.”
Racey squatted down on the floor. “Lookit here, Sheriff.”
The sheriff stooped and regarded the wooden wedge under the door that jammed it fast. Racey drew a finger across the top of the wedge. He held up the finger-tip for the sheriff’s inspection. The tip was black with the dust of weeks.
“That door has been wedged back all this hot weather,” said Racey, gently. “Look at the dust under the door on both sides of the wedge, too. Bet that wedge ain’t been out of place for a month.”
Softly as he spoke McFluke heard him. “—— you! I tell you that door was opened this mornin’! I hit my head on it! Ask ’em all! Ask anybody! Jack, lookit here—”
“I didn’t see you hit yore head on the door,” interrupted Jack Harpe. “Maybe you did, I dunno.”
Racey raised a quick head as Jack Harpe spoke. Quite plainly he saw Jack Harpe accompany his words with a slight lowering of his left eyelid. Racey glanced at McFluke. He saw the defiant expression depart from the McFluke countenance, and a look of unmistakable relief take its place.