In about an hour the car stopped at the town of Grant. Waco was carried from the machine to a room in the hotel, and a doctor was summoned. Waco lay unconscious throughout the night.
In the morning he was questioned briefly. He gave a fictitious name, and mentioned a town he had heard of, but had never been in. His horses had run away with him.
The man who had picked him up drove away next morning. Later the doctor told Waco that through a miracle there were no bones broken, but that he would have to keep to his bed for at least a week. Otherwise he would never recover from the severe shock to his nervous system.
And Waco, recalling the horror of the preceding day, twisted his head round at every footstep in the hall, fearing that Waring had come to question him. He knew that he had done no wrong; in fact, he had told Pat that they had better drive back home. But a sense of shame at his cowardice, and the realization that his word was as water in evidence, that he was but a wastrel, a tramp, burdened him with an aching desire to get away—to hide himself from Waring’s eyes, from the eyes of all men.
He kept telling himself that he had done nothing wrong, yet fear shook him until his teeth chattered. What could he have done even had he been courageous? Pat had had no chance.
He suffered with the misery of indecision. Habit inclined him to flee from the scene of the murder. Fear of the law urged him. Three nights after he had been brought to Grant, he dressed and crept down the back stairs, and made his way to the railroad station. Twice he had heard the midnight freight stop and cut out cars on the siding. He hid in the shadows until the freight arrived. He climbed to an empty box-car and waited. Trainmen crunched past on the cinders. A jolt and he was swept away toward the west. He sank into a half sleep as the iron wheels roared and droned beneath him.
A Piece of Paper
In the little desert hotel at Stacey, Mrs. Adams was singing softly to herself as she moved about the dining-room helping Anita clear away the breakfast dishes. Mrs. Adams had heard from Lorry. He had secured a place in the Ranger Service. She was happy. His letter had been filled with enthusiasm for the work and for his chief, Bud Shoop. This in itself was enough to make her happy. She had known Bud in Las Cruces. He was a good man. And then—Jim had settled down. Only last week he had ridden over and told her how they were getting on with the work at the ranch. He had hinted then that he had laid his guns away. Perhaps he had wanted her to know that more than anything else. She had kissed him good-bye. His gray eyes had been kind. “Some day, Annie,” he had said. Her face flushed as she recalled the moment.
A boot-heel gritted on the walk. She turned. Waring was standing in the doorway. His face was set and hard. Involuntarily she ran to him.