The clock struck four and five. Before it struck again daylight would have come; and before night came again, what? To lie still in the torment of this new experience of wakefulness with its peculiar, half-recognized forebodings, had become unbearable. She rose and dressed and went down stairs softly, candle in hand, aware only that every agitated fibre of her being was whipping her to action which should give some muscular relief from the strain of her overwrought faculties. She would go into the garden and walk there, waiting for sunrise. But at the edge of the path she was arrested by a shadow coming from the servants’ sleeping-quarters. It was Ignacio, the little Indian who cared for her horse, ran errands, and fought garden bugs for her—Ignacio, the note-bearer.
“Senorita! senorita!” he exclaimed, and his voice, vibrant with something stronger than surprise, had a certain knowing quality, as if he understood more than he dared to utter. “Senorita, you rise early!”
“Sometimes one likes to look at the morning stars,” she remarked.
But there were no stars; only a pale moon, as Ignacio could see for himself.
“Senorita, that young man who was here and Pete Leddy—do you know, senorita?”
“The young man who came down from the pass with me, you mean?” she asked, inwardly shamed at her simulation of casual curiosity.
“Yes, he and Leddy—bad blood between them’” said Ignacio. “You no know, senorita? They fight at daybreak.”
The pantomime in the store, Jack’s form disappearing with its easy step into the night, analyzed in the light of this news became the natural climax of a series of events all under the spell of fatality.
“Come, Ignacio!” she said. “We must hurry!” And she started around the house toward the street.
WHAT HAPPENED AT LANG’S
While Jack had been playing the pioneer of rural free delivery in Little Rivers, Pete Leddy, in the rear of Bill Lang’s store, was refusing all stimulants, but indulging in an unusually large cud of tobacco.
“Liquor ain’t no help in drawing a bead,” he explained to the loungers who followed him through the door after Jack had gone.
If Pete did not want to drink it was not discreet to press him, considering the mood he was in. The others took liberal doses, which seemed only to heighten the detail of the drama which they had witnessed. To Mary it had been all pantomime; to them it was dynamic with language. It was something beyond any previous contemplation of possibility in their cosmos.
The store had been enjoying an average evening. All present were expressing their undaunted faith in the invincibility of James J. Jeffries, when a smiling stranger appeared in the doorway. He was dressed like a regular cowboy dude. His like might have appeared on the stage, but had never been known to get off a Pullman in Arizona. And the instant he appeared, up flashed Pete Leddy’s revolver.