“But how in the name of God c’n you make her go out an’ talk to him?” said Rhinehart.
“Son,” answered Silent, “they’s jest one main trouble with you—you talk a hell of a pile too much. When I’ve done this I’ll tell you how it was figgered out!”
THE WOMAN’S WAY
It was a day later, in the morning, that a hand knocked at Kate’s door and she opened it to Jim Silent. He entered, brushing off the dust of a long journey.
“Good-mornin’, Miss Cumberland.”
He extended a hand which she overlooked.
“You still busy hatin’ me?”
“I’m simply—surprised that you have come in here to talk to me.”
“You look as if you seen somethin’ in my face?” he said suspiciously. “What is it? Dirt?”
He brushed a hand across his forehead.
“Whatever it is,” she answered, “you can’t rub it away.”
“I’m thinkin’ of givin’ you a leave of absence—if you’ll promise to come back.”
“Would you trust my honour?”
“In a pinch like this,” he said amiably, “I would. But here’s my business. Lee Haines is jailed in Elkhead. The man that put him behind the bars an’ the only one that can take him out agin is Whistlin’ Dan. An’ the one person who can make Dan set Lee loose is you. Savvy? Will you go an’ talk with Dan? This wolf of his would find him for you.”
She shook her head.
“Why not?” cried Silent in a rising voice.
“The last time he saw me,” she said, “he had reason to think that I tried to betray him because of Lee Haines. If I went to him now to plead for Haines he’d be sure that I was what he called me—Delilah!”
“Is that final?”
“Now get me straight. They’s a crowd of cowpunchers gatherin’ in Elkhead, an’ today or tomorrow they’ll be strong enough to take the law into their own hands and organize a little lynchin’ bee, savvy?”
“It ain’t pleasant, is it, the picture of big, good-lookin’ Lee danglin’ from the end of a rope with the crowd aroun’ takin’ pot-shots at him? No, it ain’t, an’ you’re goin’ to stop it. You’re goin’ to start from here in fifteen minutes with your hoss an’ this wolf, after givin’ me your promise to come back when you’ve seen Whistlin’ Dan. You’re goin’ to make Dan go an’ set Lee loose.”
She smiled in derision.
“If Dan did that he’d be outlawed.”
“You won’t stir?”
“Not a step!”
“Well, kid, for everything that happens to Lee somethin’ worse will happen to someone in the next room. Maybe you’d like to see him?”
He opened the door and she stepped into the entrance. Almost opposite her sat old Joe Cumberland with his hands tied securely behind his back. At sight of her he rose with a low cry. She turned on big Silent and whipped the six-gun from his hip. He barely managed to grasp her wrist and swing the heavy revolver out of line with his body.