“From the symptoms,” spoke Weary mildly, rising to an elbow, “Andy’s about to erupt one of those wide, hot, rushing streams of melted imagination that bursts forth from his think-works ever so often. Don’t get us all worked up over it, Andy; what’s it going to be this time? A murder in the Bad-lands?”
Andy clicked his teeth together, thought better of his ill-humor and made reply, though he had intended to remain dignifiedly silent.
“Yuh rung the bell, m’son—but it ain’t any josh. By gracious, I mean it!” He glared at those who gurgled incredulously, and went on: “No, sir, you bet it ain’t any josh with me this time. That old gazabo had something heavy on his conscience—and knowing the fellow he had reference to, I sure believe he lied a whole lot when he said Dan pulled out with all the stuff they’d got together, and went down river. Maybe he went down river, all right—but if he did, it was most likely to be face-down. Dan was as honest a boy as there is in the country, and he had money on him that he got mining down in the little Rockies last summer. I know, because he showed me the stuff last fall when I met him in Benton, and he was fixing to winter with this fellow that just left.
“Dan was kinda queer about some things, and one of ’em was about money. It never made any difference how much or how little he had, he always packed it in his clothes; said a bank had busted on him once and left him broke in the middle uh winter, and he wasn’t going to let it happen again. He never gambled none, nor blowed his money any farther than a couple uh glasses uh beer once in a while. He was one uh these saving cusses—but he was honest; I know that for a fact.
“So he had all this money on him, and went down there with this jasper, that he’d got in with somehow and didn’t know much about, and they wolfed all winter, according to all accounts, and must uh made quite a stake, the way the bounty runs up, these days. And here comes this darned Siwash, hiking out uh there fast as he can—and if he hadn’t run slap onto us at this crossing, I’ll gamble he’d never uh showed up at camp at all, but kept right on going. We didn’t ask him no questions, did we? But he goes to all the pains uh telling us his tale uh woe, about how Dan had robbed him and pulled out down river.
“If that was the case, wouldn’t he be apt to hike out after him and try and get back his stuff? And wouldn’t—”
“How much money did this friend uh yours have?” queried Jack Bates innocently.
“Well, when I seen him in Benton, he had somewhere between six and seven hundred dollars. He got it all changed into fifty-dollar bills—”
“Oh, golly!” Jack Bates rolled over in disgust. “Andy’s losing his grip. Why, darn yuh, if you was in a normal, lying condition, you’d make it ten thousand, at the lowest—and I’ve seen the time when you’d uh said fifty thousand; and you’d uh made us swallow the load, too! Buck up and do a good stunt, Andy, or else keep still. Why, Happy Jack could tell that big a lie!”