“And no harm will come to her while she’s with us?”
“Here’s my hand on it, Lee.”
“How can she ride with us?”
“She won’t go as a woman. I’ve thought of that. I brought out a new outfit for Purvis from Elkhead—trousers, chaps, shirts, an’ all. He’s small. They’ll near fit the girl.”
“There isn’t any other way, Jim?”
“I leave it to you. God knows I don’t want to drag any damn calico aroun’ with us.”
As they went back towards their clearing they arranged the details. Silent would take the men aside and explain his purpose to them. Haines could inform the girl of what she must do. Just before they reached the camp Silent stopped short and took Haines by the shoulder.
“They’s one thing I can’t make out, Lee, an’ that’s how Whistlin’ Dan made his getaway. I’d of bet a thousand bones that he would be dropped before he could touch his shootin’ irons. An’ then what happened? Hal Purvis jest flashed a gun—and that feller shot it out’n his hand. I never seen a draw like that. His hand jest seemed to twitch—I couldn’t follow the move he made—an’ the next second his gun went off.”
He stared at Lee with a sort of fascinated horror.
“Silent,” said Haines, “can you explain how the lightning comes down out of the sky?”
“Of course not.”
“Then don’t ask me to explain how Whistling Dan made his getaway. One minute I heard him talkin’ with the girl. The next second there was two shots and when I whirled he was gone. But he’ll come back, Jim. We’re not through with him. He slipped away from you and your men like water out of a sieve, but we won’t slip away from him the same way.”
Silent stared on again with bowed head.
“He liked the girl, Lee?”
“Any one could see that.”
“Then while she’s with us he’ll go pretty slow. Lee, that’s another reason why she’s got to stay with us. My frien’, it’s time we was moving out from the willows. The next time he comes up with us he won’t be numb in the head. He’ll be thinkin’ fast an’ he’ll be shootin’ a damn sight faster. We got two jobs ahead of us—first to get that Wells Fargo shipment, and then to get Whistling Dan. There ain’t room enough in the whole world for him and me.”
THE THREE OF US
In the clearing of Whistling Dan and Tex Calder the marshal had turned into his blankets once more. There was no thought of sleep in Dan’s mind. When the heavy breathing of the sleeper began he rose and commenced to pace up and down on the farther side of the open space. Two pairs of glowing eyes followed him in every move. Black Bart, who trailed him up and down during the first few turns he made, now sat down and watched his master with a wistful gaze. The black stallion, who lay more like a dog than a horse on the ground, kept his ears pricked