His face lengthened almost ludicrously.
“But why—Dan came for me—he said you sent him—he—” he broke down, stammering, utterly confused.
“This is why I sent him!” she answered, and throwing open the door gestured to him to enter.
He followed her and saw the lean figure of old Joe Cumberland lying on a blanket close to the wall.
“That’s why!” she whispered.
“How does he come here?”
“Ask the devil in his human form! Ask your friend, Jim Silent!”
He walked into the outer room with his head low. He found the others already returned. Their carefully controlled grins spoke volumes.
“Where’s Silent?” he asked heavily.
“He’s gone,” said Jordan.
Hal Purvis took Haines to one side.
“Take a brace,” he urged.
“She hates me, Hal,” said the big fellow sadly. “For God’s sake, was there no other way of getting me out?”
“Not one! Pull yourself together, Lee. There ain’t no one for you to hold a spite agin. Would you rather be back in Elkhead dangling from the end of a rope?”
“It seems to have been a sort of—joke,” said Haines.
“Exactly. But at that sort of a joke nobody laughs!”
“And Whistling Dan Barry?”
“He’s done for. We’re all agin him, an’ now even the rangers will help us hunt him down. Think it over careful, Haines. You’re agin him because you want the girl. I want that damned wolf of his, Black Bart. Kilduff would rather get into the saddle of Satan than ride to heaven. An’ Jim Silent won’t never rest till he sees Dan lyin’ on the ground with a bullet through his heart. Here’s four of us. Each of us want something that belongs to him, from his life to his dog. Haines, I’m askin’ you man to man, was there any one ever born who could get away from four men like us?”
WHISTLING DAN, DESPERADO
It was an urgent business which sent Silent galloping over the hills before dawn. When the first light came he was close to the place of Gus Morris. He slowed his horse to a trot, but after a careful reconnoitring, seeing no one stirring around the sheriff’s house, he drew closer and commenced to whistle a range song, broken here and there with a significant phrase which sounded like a signal. Finally a cloth was waved from a window, and Silent, content, turned his back on the house, and rode away at a walk.
Within half an hour the pounding of a horse approached from behind. The plump sheriff came to a halt beside him, jouncing in the saddle with the suddenness of the stop.
“What’s up?” he called eagerly.
“What’s new about him? I know they’re talkin’ about that play he made agin Haines. They’s some says he’s a faster man than you, Jim!”