“He’s double crossed us. I not only
seen the girl an’ her father at
Buck’s house, but I also seen a big dog hangin’ around the house.
Gus, it was Black Bart, an’ where that wolf is you c’n lay to it that
Whistlin’ Dan ain’t far away!”
The sheriff stared at him in dumb amazement, his mouth open.
“They’s a price of ten thousand on the head of Whistlin’ Dan,” suggested Purvis.
The sheriff still seemed too astonished to understand.
“I s’pose,” said Purvis, “that you wouldn’t care special for an easy lump sum of ten thousand, what?”
“In Buck Daniels’s house!” burst out the sheriff.
“Yep,” nodded Purvis, “that’s where the money is if you c’n get enough men together to gather in Whistlin’ Dan Barry.”
“D’you really think I’d get some boys together to round up Whistlin’ Dan? Why, Hal, you know there ain’t no real reason for that price on his head!”
“D’you always wait for ‘real reasons’ before you set your fat hands on a wad of money?”
The sheriff moistened his lips.
“Ten thousand dollars!”
“Ten thousand dollars!” echoed Purvis.
“By God, I’ll do it! If I got him, the boys would forget all about Silent. They’re afraid of Jim, but jest the thought of Barry paralyzes them! I’ll start roundin’ up the boys I need today. Tonight we’ll do our plannin’. Tomorrer mornin’ bright an’ early we’ll hit the trail.”
“Why not go after him tonight?”
“Because he’d have an edge on us. I got a hunch that devil c’n see in the dark.”
He grinned apologetically for this strange idea, but Purvis nodded with perfect sympathy, and then turned his horse up the canyon. The sheriff rode home whistling. On ten thousand dollars more he would be able to retire from this strenuous life.
THE SONG OF THE UNTAMED
Buck and his father were learning of a thousand crimes charged against Dan. Wherever a man riding a black horse committed an outrage it was laid to the account of this new and most terrible of long riders. Two cowpunchers were found dead on the plains. Their half-emptied revolvers lay close to their hands, and their horses were not far off. In ordinary times it would have been accepted that they had killed each other, for they were known enemies, but now men had room for one thought only. And why should not a man with the courage to take an outlaw from the centre of Elkhead be charged with every crime on the range? Jim Silent had been a grim plague, but at least he was human. This devil defied death.
These were both sad and happy days for Kate. The chief cause of her sadness, strangely enough, was the rapidly returning strength of Dan. While he was helpless he belonged to her. When he was strong he belonged to his vengeance on Jim Silent; and when she heard Dan whistling softly his own wild, weird music, she knew its meaning as she would have known the wail of a hungry wolf on a winter night. It was the song of the untamed. She never spoke of her knowledge. She took the happiness of the moment to her heart and closed her eyes against tomorrow.