“By and by he came to and Ed and I fixed up a stiff hooker of liquor and some hot tea and gave him a mouthful at a time. Just before daylight he rose on one elbow and lay there following us with his eyes, for he was too weak to talk. It seemed as if he was clean beat out and that his nerve was gone. What grit he had he had used up keeping away from the law.”
Again Holcomb paused—the round table was as silent as a court room before a verdict.
“Neither Ed nor I liked the idea of being caught with Dinsmore,” he resumed, “with three counties after him harder than an old dog after a five-pronged buck, so when it came daylight we shifted camp over back of a fire-slash where I knew all hell couldn’t find him. We had to carry him most of the way. That was on a Wednesday. We never said anything to him about his killing Bailey—he knew we knew. We fed him the best we knew how. Saturday, ’long toward night, I killed a small deer, and the broth did him good.
“In a couple of days—Hold on, I’ve got ahead of my story; it was Sunday night when Bob said: ‘Boys’ said he, as near as I can repeat it in his dialect—’you’ve treated me like a humin, but I dassent stay here. It ain’t fair to you. What I done I done with a reason. You’ve heard tell, most likely, that I been seen in Lower Saranac ’bout three weeks ago, ain’t ye?’
“‘Yes,’ said Ed, ’we heard something about it. That Jew horse-trader, Bergstein, told us, but there warn’t nobody that seen ye, that was sure it was you.’
“‘They lied then,’ said Bob, ’for there was more’n a dozen in the village that day that knowed me and warn’t mistook ’bout who I was. As to that red-nosed Jew, Bergstein, he’ll quit talkin’ ’bout me and everythin’ else if I kin ever draw a bead on him.’
“Then Bob began to tell us how he walked into the big hotel at Saranac about noon and flung a hind-quarter of venison on the counter in front of the clerk and said: ’What I come for is a decent meal; I ain’t got no money, but I guess that’ll pay for it.’ The clerk got white around the gills, but he didn’t say anything; he just took the venison and showed Bob into the big dining hall. Bob says they gave him the meal, and he kept eating everything around him with his Winchester across his knees. There wasn’t a soul that spoke to him except the hired girl that waited on him, although the dining room was crowded with summer boarders.
“‘Tea or coffee?’ asked the hired girl when he had eaten his pie.
“‘No, thank ye,’ says Bob, ’but I won’t never forgit ye if ye can git me four boxes of matches.’ Bob said she was gone a minute and when she came back she had the matches for him under her apron. ’Good luck to ye, Bob,’ she says—her cheeks red, and her mouth trembling. It was Myra Hathaway—he’d known her since she was a little girl. ’Bob, for God’s sake go,’ she begged—’there’s trouble coming from the village.’