“I don’t choose to be searched,” he protested. “You have shown no warrant, nor—”
I wasn’t in a mood toward him to listen to his talk. I swung my Winchester into line and announced, “I was sworn in last night as a deputy-sheriff, and am privileged to shoot a train-robber on sight. Either dead or alive, I’m going to search your clothing inside of ten minutes; and if you have no preference as to whether the examination is an ante or post-mortem affair, I certainly haven’t.”
That brought him down off his high horse—that is, mule—and I sent the deputy in with him with directions to toss his clothes out to me, for I wanted to keep my eye on Miss Cullen and her brothers, so as to prevent any legerdemain on their part.
One by one the garments came flying through the door to me. As fast as I finished examining them I pitched them back, except—Well, as I have thought it over since then, I have decided that I did a mean thing, and have regretted it. But just put yourself in my place, and think of how Lord Ralles had talked to me as if I was his servant, had refused my apology and thanks, and been as generally “nasty” as he could, and perhaps, you won’t blame me that, after looking through his trousers, I gave them a toss which, instead of sending them back into the hut, sent them over the edge of the trail. They went down six hundred feet before they lodged in a poplar, and if his lordship followed the trail he could get round to them, but there would then be a hundred feet of sheer rock between the trail and the trousers. “I hope it will teach him to study his Lord Chesterfield to better purpose, for if politeness doesn’t cost anything, rudeness can cost considerable,” I chuckled to myself.
My amusement did not last long, for my next thought was, “If those letters are concealed on any one, they are on Miss Cullen.” The thought made me lean up against my mule, and turn hot and cold by turns.
A nice situation for a lover!
THE HAPPENINGS DOWN HANCE’S TRAIL
Miss Cullen was sitting on a rock apart from her brother and Hance, as I had asked her to do when I helped her dismount. I went over to where she sat, and said, boldly—
“Miss Cullen, I want those letters.”
“What letters?” she asked, looking me in the eyes with the most innocent of expressions. She made a mistake to do that, for I knew her innocence must be feigned, and so didn’t put much faith in her face for the rest of the interview.
“And what is more,” I continued, with a firmness of manner about as genuine as her innocence, “unless you will produce them at once, I shall have to search you.”
“Mr. Gordon!” she exclaimed, but she put such surprise and grief and disbelief into the four syllables that I wanted the earth to swallow me then and there.
“Why, Miss Cullen,” I cried, “look at my position. I’m being paid to do certain things, and—”