“Go over an’ put your hoss up in the shed behind the jail,” said Rogers, fighting for time, “an’ when you come back I’ll have the order written out an’ give it to you with the key.”
“Why not come over with me now?”
“I got some other business.”
“In five minutes I’ll be back,” said Dan, and left the house.
Outside he whistled to Satan, and the stallion trotted up to him. He swung into the saddle and rode to the jail. There was not a guard in sight. He rode around to the other side of the building to reach the stable. Still he could not sight one of those shadowy horsemen who had surrounded the place a few minutes before. Perhaps the crowd had called in the guards to join the attack.
He put Satan away in the stable and as he led him into a stall he heard a roar of many voices far away. Then came the crack of half a dozen revolvers. Dan set his teeth and glanced quickly over the half-dozen horses in the little shed. He recognized the tall bay of Lee Haines at once and threw on its back the saddle which hung on a peg directly behind it. As he drew up the cinch another shout came from the street, but this time very close.
When he raced around the jail he saw the crowd pouring into the house of the deputy sheriff. He ran on till he came to the outskirts of the mob. Every man was masked, but in the excitement no one noticed that Dan’s face was bare. Squirming his way through the press, Dan reached the deputy’s office. It was almost filled. Rogers stood on a chair trying to argue with the cattlemen.
“No more talk, sheriff,” thundered one among the cowpunchers, “we’ve had enough of your line of talk. Now we want some action of our own brand. For the last time: Are you goin’ to order Lewis an’ Patterson to give up Haines, or are you goin’ to let two good men die fightin’ for a damn lone rider?”
“What about the feller who’s goin’ to take Lee Haines out of Elkhead?” cried another.
The crowd yelled with delight.
“Yes, where is he? What about him?”
Rogers, glancing down from his position on the chair, stared into the brown eyes of Whistling Dan. He stretched out an arm that shook with excitement.
“That feller there!” he cried, “that one without a mask! Whistlin’ Dan Barry is the man!”
The throng gave back from Dan, as if from the vicinity of a panther. Dan faced the circle of scowling faces, smiling gently upon them.
“Look here, Barry,” called a voice from the rear of the crowd, “why do you want to take Haines away? Throw in your cards with us. We need you.”
“If it’s fightin’ you want,” cried a joker, “maybe Lewis an’ Patterson will give us all enough of it at the jail.”
“I ain’t never huntin’ for trouble,” said Dan.
“Make your play quick,” said another. “We got no time to waste even on Dan Barry. Speak out, Dan. Here’s a lot of good fellers aimin’ to take out Haines an’ give him what’s due him—no more. Are you with us?”