“Son,” he said hoarsely. “I c’n see you’re game. But don’t make a fall play. If Mac Strann gets you, he’ll California you like a yearling. You won’t have no chance. You’ve done for Jerry, there ain’t a doubt of that, but Jerry to Mac is like a tame cat to a mountain-lion. Lad, I c’n see you’re a stranger to these parts, but ask me your questions and I’ll tell you the best way to go.”
Barry slipped from the saddle.
He said: “I’d like to know the best place to put up my hoss.”
The deputy marshal was speechless.
“But I s’pose,” went on Barry, “I can stable him over there behind the hotel.”
Matthews pushed off his sombrero and rubbed his short fingers through his hair. Anger and amazement still choked him, but he controlled himself by a praiseworthy effort.
“Barry,” he said, “I don’t make you out. Maybe you figure to wait till Mac Strann gets to town before you leave; maybe you think your hoss can outrun anything on four feet. And maybe it can. But listen to me: Mac Strann ain’t fast on a trail, but the point about him is that he never leaves it! You can go through rain and over rocks, but you can’t never shake Mac Strann—not once he gets the wind of you.”
“Thanks,” returned the gentle-voiced stranger. “I guess maybe he’ll be worth meeting.”
And so saying he turned on his heel and walked calmly towards the big stables behind the hotel and at his heels followed the black dog and the black horse. As for deputy marshal Matthews, he moistened his lips to whistle, but when he pursed them, not a sound came. He turned at length into the barroom and as he walked his eye was vacant. He was humming brokenly:
"Sweet Adeline, my Adeline,
At night, dear heart, for you I pine."
Inside, he took firm hold upon the bar with both pudgy hands.
“O’Brien,” he said, “red-eye.”
He pushed away the small glass which the bartender spun towards him and seized in its place a mighty water-tumbler.
“O’Brien,” he explained, “I need strength, not encouragement.” And filling the glass nearly to the brim he downed the huge potion at a single draught.
Most animals have their human counterparts, and in that room where Jerry Strann had fallen a whimsical observer might have termed Jerry, with his tawny head, the lion, and O’Brien behind the bar, a shaggy bear, and the deputy marshal a wolverine, fat but dangerous, and here stood a man as ugly and hardened as a desert cayuse, and there was Dan Barry, sleek and supple as a panther; but among the rest this whimsical observer must have noticed a fellow of prodigious height and negligible breadth, a structure of sinews and bones that promised to rattle in the wind, a long, narrow head, a nose like a beak, tiny eyes set close together and shining like polished buttons, and a