Casey grinned and got his plug of tobacco and inspected the corners absently before he bit into it. “But I got even with ’im,” he added. “I laid off till he got his tires on—an’ I wouldn’t lend him no tools to put ‘em on with, neither. And then I looked up an’ down the road an’ seen there was no dust comin’ an’ we wouldn’t be interrupted, an’ I went up to the old skunk an’ I says, ‘I got a bill to colleck off you. Thankin’ you in advance!’ an’ then I shore collected. You ask anybody in Patmos. Say, I bet he drove by-guess-an’-by-gosh to the orange belt, anyway, the way his eyes was swellin’ up when he left!”
I mentioned his promise to Bill, that he would not fight a customer. Casey spat disgustedly. “Hell! He wasn’t no customer! Didn’t he ship his rubber in by express, ruther’n to buy off me?” He grinned retrospectively and looked at his knuckles, one of which showed a patch of new skin, pink and yet tender.
“‘Thankin’ you in advance!’ that’s just what I told ‘im. An’ I shore got all I thanked ’im for! You ask anybody in Patmos. They seen ’im afterwards.”
“Look there!” Casey rose from the ground where he had been sitting with his hands clasped round his drawn-up knees. He pointed with his pipe to a mountain side twelve miles away but looking five, even in the gloom of early dusk. “Look at that, will yuh! Whadda yuh say that is, just makin’ a guess? A fire, mebby?”
“Camp fire. Some prospector boiling coffee in a dirty lard bucket, maybe.”
Casey snorted. “It’s a darn big fire to boil a pot uh coffee! Recollect, it’s twelve miles over to that mountain. A bonfire a mile off wouldn’t look any bigger than that. Would it now?” His tone was a challenge to my truthfulness.
“Wel-l, I guess it wouldn’t, come to think of it.”
“Guess? You know darn well it wouldn’t. You watch that there fire. I ain’t over there—but if that ain’t the devil’s lantern, I’ll walk on my hands from here over there an’ find out for yuh.”
“I’d have to go over there myself to discover whether you’re right or wrong. But if a fellow can trust his eyes, Casey—”
“Well, you can’t,” Casey said grimly, still standing, his eyes fixed upon the distant light. “Not here in this country, you can’t. You ask anybody. You don’t trust your eyes when yuh come to a dry lake an’ you see water, an’ the bushes around the shore reflected in the water, an’ mebby a boat out in the middle. Do yuh? You don’t trust your eyes when you look at them hills. They look close enough to walk over to ’em in half or three quarters of an hour. Don’t they? An’ didn’t I take yuh in my Ford auto-mo-bile, an’ wasn’t it twelve? An’ d’yuh trust your eyes when yuh look up, an’ it looks like you could knock stars down with a tent pole, like yuh knock apples off’n trees? Sure, you can’t trust your eyes! When yuh hit