“She’s a quick trail to town in summer,” explained Shoop. “Snow hangs too heavy in the canon to ride it in winter.”
At Jason they tied their horses, and entered the ranger’s office. Lorry waited while Shoop talked with Torrance in the private office. Presently Shoop came to the door and gestured to Lorry.
“Mr. Shoop says he thinks you could qualify for the Service,” Torrance said. “We will waive the matter of recommendations from the Starr people. But there is one thing I can’t do. I can’t hire a man who is wanted by the authorities. There’s a deputy sheriff in town with a warrant for you. That is strictly your affair. If you can square yourself with the deputy, I’ll put you to work.”
“I’ll go see what he wants,” said Lorry.
“He wants you. Understand, you’ll only jeopardize your chances by starting a row.”
“They won’t be a row,” said Lorry.
When he returned he was accompanied by the deputy. Lorry took his stand without parley.
“I want to ask you folks a question, and then I’m through,” he asserted. “Will you listen to what he says and what I say, and then say who is right?”
“That might not settle it,” said Torrance. “But go ahead.”
“Then all I got to say is, was I right or wrong when I turned that hobo loose and saved him from gettin’ beat up by High Chin and the boys, and mebby strung up, afore they got through?”
“Morally you were right,” said Torrance. “But you should have appealed to Sheriff Hardy to guard his prisoner.”
“That’s all right, Mr. Torrance. But suppose they wasn’t time. And suppose,—now Buck’s deputy is here to listen to it,—suppose I was to say that Buck is scared to death of High-Chin Bob. Everybody knows it.”
The deputy flushed. He knew that Lorry spoke the truth.
Torrance turned to Shoop. “What do you think, Bud?”
Bud coughed and shrugged his heavy shoulders. “Bein’ as I’m drug into this, I say the boy did a good job and he’s right about Hardy, which you can tell him,” he added, turning to the deputy.
“Then that’s all I got to say,” and Lorry pushed back his hat and rumpled his hair.
The deputy was not there to argue. He had been sent to get Lorry.
“I don’t say he ain’t right. But how about my job if I ride back to Stacey with nothin’ to show for the trip but my expense card?”
“Buck Hardy isn’t a fool,” said Torrance.
“Oh, hell!” said Lorry, turning to the deputy. “I’ll go back with you. I’m sick of jawin’ about the right and the wrong and who’s to blame. But I want to say in company that I’ll go just as far as the county line of this county. You’re south of your county. If you can get me across the line, I’ll go on to Stacey.”
Bud Shoop mopped his face with a bandanna. He was not overhot, but he wanted to hide the grin that spread over his broad countenance. He imagined he could see the deputy just about the time they arrived at the county line, and the mental picture seemed to amuse him.