“Picked. After Kansas went for you I found these here on the floor.” Here he produced from a pocket a bent and twisted piece of baling-wire, and a steel half-moon horse-collar needle.
“That’s a Number Six needle,” observed the sheriff, who invariably scented clues in the most unpromising objects. “And the point’s broke off.”
“Number Six is a common size,” said Racey. “Most stores carry ’em. And if the point didn’t get broke off wigglin’ round inside the lock it would be a wonder.”
“Still it would take a mighty good man to open them locks with only bale-wire and a harness-needle,” said the sheriff, hurriedly. “A expert, you bet.”
“It don’t matter whether he was a expert or not,” said Dolan. “He opened them, and the prisoner has skedaddled. That’s the main thing. Jake, how about trailin’ him?”
“How? They’s tracks, a few of ’em, leadin’ from the pile of dirt straight to the hard ground in front of the stage corrals. Beyond there they ain’t any tracks. Trail ’em! How you gonna trail ’em?”
“I dunno,” replied Dolan, promptly passing the buck. “Yo’re the sheriff. She’s yore job. You gotta do something. C’mon out.”
The five men, Dolan and the sheriff arguing steadily, went out into the street. Racey walked thoughtfully in the rear. He was revolving in his mind what the sheriff had said about an expert. Of course it had been an expert. And experts in lock-picking in the cattle country are few and far between.
Racey decided that it would be a good idea for him to have a little talk on lock-picking with Peaches Austin. Not that he suspected the excellent Peaches of having picked those locks. But Peaches knew who had. Oh, most certainly Peaches knew who had.
Peaches Austin, standing at the Starlight bar, was raising a glass to his lips. But at the greeting he set down the liquor untasted, turned his head, and looked into the face of Racey Dawson.
“Whatsa matter, Peaches?” inquired Racey. “You don’t look glad to see me.”
“I ain’t,” Peaches said, frankly. “I don’t give a damn about seein’ you.”
“I’m sorry,” grieved Racey, edging closer to the gambler. “Peaches, yo’re breaking my heart with them cruel words.”
At this the bartender removed hastily to the other end of the bar. He sensed he knew not what, and he felt instead of curiosity a lively fear. Racey Dawson was the most unexpected sport.
Peaches looked nervously at Racey. A desperate resolve began to formulate itself in the brain of Peaches Austin. His right arm tensed. Slowly his hand slid toward the edge of the bar.
“Why, no,” said Racey, who had never been more wide-awake than at that moment, “I wouldn’t do anything we’d all be sorry for, Peaches. That is, all of us but you yoreself. You might not be sorry—or anythin’ else.”