“’Bout two miles, we cal’late it by the new road,” returned the proprietor as he re-corked the bottle. “You’ll see the new road ’bout a hundred rod ’bove here to the left; you can’t miss it.”
“I’ve got a letter from Thayor himself,” explained the stranger, as he squinted over his hooked nose and searched cautiously the contents of an inside pocket. “It’s for a man named Holcomb—he’s Thayor’s superintendent, ain’t he?”
“Yes,” said Morrison, “and a durn good one, too. I’ll warrant Sam Thayor got the feller he was lookin’ for when he got Billy.”
“Ain’t the job gettin’ too big for him?” ventured the man with an attempt at a grin under the thick beard that grew to the corners of his crafty eyes.
“He kin handle any job he’s a mind to,” said Morrison with rough emphasis.
“Um!” grunted the man. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Bill Morrison—and yourn?”
Morrison leaned forward over the bar and his brow tightened:
“Guess I’ve hearn of you before—horse-trader, bean’t ye?”
“Yes; if you ever want a good horse”—and his small, black eyes glittered—“let me know.”
“Got ’bout all I kin afford,” replied Morrison; “twenty to work on my job now.” Again Morrison looked at him; this time from his scrubby black beard to his dust-covered shoes. “Seems to me I heard your name before. There was a man by that name that was mixed up in that Jim Bailey murder. You ain’t he, be ye?”
“No—I come from Montreal,” replied Bergstein in a more positive tone. “The name’s common enough.” Here he opened the black valise stuffed with business papers and handed Morrison a card.
Morrison looked at it carefully, tucked it in a fly-specked screen behind the bar, and with a satisfied air said:
“Let’s see—you hain’t had no supper, hev ye? Supper’s most ready—I’ll go and tell the old woman you’re here.”
“No—I ain’t stoppin’ for supper,” replied Bergstein, paying for his glass. “I’m going up to Thayor’s place now; this feller Holcomb’s expectin’ me.”
“Suit yourself, friend,” returned Morrison, and he pulled down the heavy shutter screening the array of bottles.
Bergstein left with a brusque good-night and walked slowly up the road.
He had not told Morrison all he knew. Trading horses was not the Jew’s only business; he was equally adept in buying and selling timber-lands and the hiring of men. When he was successful—and he was generally successful—his gains were never less than fifty per cent; less than that would have spelled failure in his eyes. For in Bergstein’s veins ran the avaricious tenacity of the Pole and the insincerity of the Irishman. The former he inherited from his father, a peddler, the latter from his mother, the keeper for many years of a rough dive for sailors along the quay in Montreal. Both had died when he was a child and from an early age