“‘If it come in and didn’t go out, it’s here.’
“And he began to go over the inside of the shed. He searched it like a man searching a box for a jewel. He moved the pieces of old castings and he literally fingered the shed from end to end. He would have found a bird’s egg.
“Finally he stopped and stood with hand spread out over his mouth. And I selected this critical moment to touch the powder off under his game.
“‘Suppose,’ I said, ’that this man with the heavy load wished to mislead us; suppose that instead of bringing something here he took one of these old castings away?’
“The hobo looked at me without changing his position.
“‘How could he, Governor; he was pointin’ this way with the load?’
“‘By walking backward,’ I said. For it had occurred to me that perhaps the creature had manufactured this evidence for the occasion, and I wished to test the theory.”
Walker went on in his slow, even voice:
“The test produced more action than I expected. The hobo dived out through the door. I followed to see him disappear. But he was not in flight; he was squatting down over the foot prints. And a moment later he rocked back on his haunches with a little exultant yelp.
“‘Dope’s wrong, Governor,’ he said; ‘he was sure comin’ this way.’ Then he explained: ‘If a man’s walkin’ forward in sand or mud or snow the toe of his shoe flirts out a little of it, an’ if he’s walkin’ backward his heel flirts it out.’
“At this point I began to have some respect for the creature’s ability. He got up and came back into the shed. And there he stood, in his old position, with his fingers over his mouth, looking round at the empty shed, in which, as I have said, one could not have concealed a bird’s egg.
“I watched him without offering any suggestion, for my interest in the thing had awakened and was curious to see what he would do. He stood perfectly motionless for about a minute; and then suddenly he snapped his fingers and the light came into his face.
“‘I got it, Governor!’ Then he came over to where I stood. ’Gimme a quarter to get a bucket’
“I gave him the coin, for I was now profoundly puzzled, and he went out. He was gone perhaps twenty minutes, and when he came in he had a bucket of water. But he had evidently been thinking on the way, for he set the bucket down carefully, wiped his hands on his canvas breeches, and began to speak, with a little apologetic whimper in his voice.
“‘Now look here, Governor,’ he said, ‘I’m a-goin’ to talk turkey; do I get the five thousand if I find this stuff?’
“‘Surely,’ I answered him.
“‘An’ there’ll be no monkey’n’, Governor; you’ll take me down to a bank yourself an’ put the money in my hand?’
“‘I promise you that,’ I assured him.
“But he was not entirely quiet in his mind about it. He shifted uneasily from one foot to the other, and his soft rubber nose worked.