The next time Casey saw the widow he was on his way to town for more powder, his whole box of “giant” having gone off with a tremendous bang the night before in one of those abrupt hailstorms that come so unexpectedly in the mountain country. Casey had worked until dark, and was dog-tired and had left the box standing uncovered beside the dugout where he kept it. He suspected that a hailstone had played a joke on him, but his chief emotion was one of self-congratulation because he had prudently stored the dynamite around a shoulder of the canyon from where he camped.
When he told the widow about it as one relates the details of a narrow escape, and pointed out how lucky he was, she looked very grave. It was a very careless thing to do, she said. Casey admitted it was. A man who handled dynamite ought to shun liquor above all things, she went on; and Casey agreed restively. He had not felt any inclination, to imbibe until that minute, when the Irish rose up hotly within him.
“Casey dear, are you sure you have nothing in camp?”
Casey assured her solemnly that he had not and drove off down the hill, vaguely aware that he was not so content with life as he had been.
“Damn that syrup!” he exploded once, quite as abruptly as had the giant powder. After that he chewed tobacco and drove in broody silence.
Being Casey Ryan, tough as hickory and wont to drive headlong to his destination, Casey did not remain in town to loiter a half a day and sleep a night and drive back the next day, as most desert dwellers did. He hurried through with his business, filled up with gas and oil, loaded on an extra can of each, strapped his box of dynamite upon the seat beside him where he could keep an eye on it—just as if that would do any good if the tricky stuff meant to blow up!—and started back at three in the afternoon. He would be half the night getting to camp, even though he was Casey Ryan and drove a mean Ford. But he would be there, ready to start work at sunrise. A man who is going to marry a widow with two children had best hurry up and strike every streak of rich ore he has in his claim, thought Casey.
All that afternoon, though the wind blew hot in his face, Casey drilled across the desert, meeting never a living thing, overtaking none. All that afternoon a yellow dust cloud swirled rapidly along the rough desert road, vainly trying to keep up with Casey who made it. In Yucca Pass he had to stop and fill motor and radiator with oil and water, and just as he topped the summit a front tire popped like a pistol.
Casey killed the engine and got out a bit stiffly, pried off a chew of tobacco and gazed pensively at Barren Butte that held Lucky Lode, where the widow was cooking supper at that moment. Casey wished practically that he was there and could sit down to some of her culinary achievements.