“Because, Swing, old settler, I didn’t like you this afternoon. The more I saw you over there on that porch the less I liked you. So I took off my boots and hid ’em careful like behind the wagon-seat so they’d stick out some, and you’d see ’em and think I was there asleep, and naturally you’d go for to wake me up and wouldn’t think of looking behind the crate where I was laying for you all ready to hop on yore neck the second you stooped over the wagon-seat and give you the Dutch rub for glommin’ all the fun this afternoon.”
“And what didja think I’d be doin’ alla time?” grinned Swing Tunstall.
“You wouldn’t ‘a’ tried to knife me, anyway.”
“G’on. He didn’t.”
“Oh, didn’t he? You better believe he did. If I hadn’t got a holt of his wrist and whanged him over the head with my Colt for all I was worth he’d ‘a’ had me laid out cold. Yep, li’l Mr. Luke Tweezy himself. The rat that don’t care nothing about fighting with anything but a law book.”
“A rat will fight when it’s cornered,” said Swing.
Racey nodded. “I’ve seen ’em. It’s something to know Luke carries a knife and where.”
“Under his left arm. Fill up, and shove the bottle over.”
Swing filled abstractedly and slopped the table. He pushed the bottle toward Racey. The latter caught it just in time to prevent a smash on the floor.
“Say, look what yo’re doing!” cried Racey. “Y’ almost wasted a whole bottle of redeye. I ain’t got money to throw away if you have.”
“I was just wonderin’ what Fat Jakey’s plan is,” said Swing, scratching his head.
“No use wonderin’,” Racey told him. “It’s their move.”
“Tell you, gents, somethin’s come up to change my plans.” It was Jack Harpe speaking. Racey and Swing had met him on the sidewalk in front of Lainey’s hotel shortly after breakfast the following morning, and Racey had told him of their ultimate decision. As he spoke Mr. Harpe braced an arm against the side of the building, crossed his feet, and scratched the back of his head. “I’m shore sorry,” he went on, “but I’d like to call off that proposition about you riding for me. Coupla men used to ride for me one time are coming back unexpected. You know. Naturally—you know how it is yoreself—I’d like to have these fellers riding for me, so if it’s alla same to you two gents we’ll call it off. But I wanna be fair. You expected a job on my ranch. I told you you could have it. I owe you somethin’. What say to a month’s wages apiece?”
Racey shook a slow head, and hooked his thumbs in his belt. “You don’t owe us a nickel,” he told Jack Harpe. “Take back yore gold. We’re honest workin’-girls ourselves. Of course we may starve, but what’s that between friends? In words of one syllable what do we care for poverty or precious stones?”