“Hell!” repeated Bill in brief, eloquent sympathy.
Casey set his teeth together and extracted comfort from the tobacco. He expectorated ruminatively.
“Well, anyway, I got me some bran’ new socks, an’ they’re paid for, thank God!” He tilted his old Stetson down over his right eye at his favorite, Caseyish angle, stuck his hands in his pockets and strolled out into the sunshine.
“At that,” said Bill, grinning a little, “you’ll know as much as the average garage-man. What ain’t reformed livery-stable men are second-hand blacksmiths, and a feller like you, that has drove stage for fifteen year—”
“Twenty,” Casey Ryan corrected jealously. “Six years at Cripple Creek, and then four in Yellowstone, and I was up in Montana for over five years, driving stage from Dry Lake to Claggett and from there I come to Nevada—”
“Twenty,” Bill conceded without waiting to hear more, “knows as much as a man that has kept livery stable. Then again you’ve had two Fords—”
“Oh, I ain’t sayin’ I can’t run a garage,” Casey interrupted. “I don’t back down from runnin’ anything. But if you’d grubstake me for a year, instead of settin’ up this here garage at Patmos, I’d feel like I had a better chance of makin’ us both a piece uh money. There’s a lost gold mine I been wantin’ fer years to get out and look for. I believe I know now about where to hit for. It ain’t lost, exactly. There’s an old Injun been in the habit of packin’ in high grade in a lard bucket, and nobody’s been able to trail him and git back to tell about it. He’s an old she-bear to do anything with, but I got a scheme, Bill—”
“Ferget it,” Bill advised. “Now you listen to me, Casey, and lay off that prospectin’ bug for awhile. Here’s this long strip of desert from Needles to Ludlow, and tourists trailin’ through like ants on movin’ day. And here’s this garage that I can get at Patmos for about half what the buildin’s worth. You ain’t got any competition, none whatever. You’ve got a cinch. There’ll be cars comin’ in from both ways with their tongues hangin’ out, outa gas, outa oil, needin’ this and needin’ that and looking on that garage as a godsend—”
“Say, Bill, if I gotta be a godsend I’ll go out somewheres and holler myself to death. Casey’s off that godsend stuff for life; you hear me, Bill—”
“Glad to hear it, Casey. If you go down there to Patmos to clean up some money for you ‘n’ me, you wanta cut out this soft-hearted stuff. Get the money, see? Never mind being kind; you can be kind when you’ve got a stake to be it with. Charge ’em for everything they git, and see to it that the money’s good. Don’t you take no checks. Don’t trust nobody for anything whatever. That’s your weakness, Casey, and you know it. You’re too dog-gone trusting. You promise me you’ll put a bell on your tire tester and a log chain and drag on your pump and jack—say, you wouldn’t believe the number of honest men that go off for a vacation and steal everything, by golly, they can haul away! Pliers, wrenches, oil cans, tire testers— say, you sure wanta watch ’em when they ask yuh for a tester! You can lose more tire testers in the garage business—”