“What of that?”
“Mac, you’re blind! Jerry knowed you’d be throwing yourself away if you went up agin Barry.”
At this Mac Strann whirled with a suddenness surprising for one of his bulk. Haw-Haw Langley flattened his gaunt frame against the wall.
“Mac!” he pleaded, “I didn’t say you’d be throwin’ yourself away. It was Jerry’s idea.”
“Did Jerry tell you that?” he asked.
“So help me God!”
“Did Jerry want me to get Barry?”
“Why wouldn’t he?” persisted the vulture, twisting his bony hands together in an agony of alarm and suspense. “Ain’t it nacheral, Mac?”
Mac Strann wavered where he stood.
“Somehow,” he argued to himself, “it don’t seem like killin’ is right, here.”
The long hand of Langley touched his shoulder.
He whispered rapidly: “You remember last night when you was out of the room for a minute? Jerry turned his head to me—jest the way he’s lyin’ now—and I says: ‘Jerry, is there anything I can do for you?’”
Mac Strann reached up and his big fingers closed over those of Haw-Haw.
“Haw-Haw,” he muttered, “you was his frien’. I know that.”
Haw-Haw gathered assurance.
He said: “Jerry answers to me: ‘Haw-Haw, old pal, there ain’t nothin’ you can do for me. I’m goin’ West. But after I’m gone, keep Mac away from Barry.’
“I says: ’Why, Jerry?”
“‘Because Barry’ll kill him, sure,’ says Jerry.
“‘I’ll do what I can to keep him away from Barry,’ says I, ’but don’t you want nothin’ done to the man what killed you?’
“‘Oh, Haw-Haw,’ says Jerry, ‘I ain’t goin’ to rest easy, I ain’t goin’ to sleep in heaven—until I know Barry’s been sent to hell. But for God’s sake don’t let Mac know what I want, or he’d be sure to go after Barry and get what I got.’”
Mac Strann crushed the hand of Haw-Haw in a terrible grip.
“Partner,” he said, “d’you swear this is straight?”
“So help me God!” repeated the perjurer.
“Then,” said Mac Strann, “I got to leave the buryin’ to other men what I’ll hire. Me—I’ve got business on hand. Where did Barry run to?”
“He ain’t run,” cried Haw-Haw, choking with a strange emotion. “The fool—the damned fool!—is waiting right down here in O’Brien’s bar for you to come. He’s darin’ you to come!”
Mac Strann made no answer. He cast a single glance at the peaceful face of Jerry, and then started for the door. Haw-Haw waited until the door closed; then he wound his arms about his body, writhed in an ecstasy of silent laughter, and followed with long, shambling strides.
BUCK MAKES HIS GET-AWAY