“Well, by golly, maybe it’s funny—but I took notice yuh done some yowling, both uh yuh, the other day when yuh didn’t get no pie,” he snorted, lighting his cigarette with unsteady fingers.
“We wasn’t laughing at that,” lied Pink pacifically.
“And then, by golly, the old devil lied to me and said there wasn’t no pie left,” went on Slim complainingly, his memory stirred by the taunt he had himself given. “But I wouldn’t take his word for a thing if I knew it was so; I went on a still-hunt around that tent on my own hook, and I found a pie—a whole pie, by golly!—cached away under an empty flour-sack behind the stove! That,” he added, staring, round-eyed, at the group, “that there was right where me and Patsy mixed. The lying old devil said he never knew a thing about it being there at all.”
Pink turned his head cautiously so that his eyes met the eyes of Andy Green. The two had been at some pains to place that pie in a safe place so that they might be sure of something appetizing when they came in from standing guard that night, but neither seemed to think it necessary to proclaim the fact and clear Patsy.
“I’ll bet yuh didn’t do a thing to the pie when yuh did find it?” Pink half questioned, more anxious than he would have owned.
“By golly, I eat the whole thing and I cussed Patsy between every mouthful!” boasted Slim, almost in a good-humor again. “I sure got the old boy stirred up; I left him swearin’ Dutch cuss-words that sounded like he was peevish. But I’ll betche he won’t throw out the coffee till I’ve had what I want after this, by golly!”
“Happy Jack is out yet,” Weary observed after a sympathetic silence. “You oughtn’t to have put Patsy on the fight till everybody was filled up, Slim. Happy’s liable to go to bed with an empty tummy, if yuh don’t ride out and warn him to approach easy. Listen over there!”
From where they lay, so still was the air and so incensed was Patsy, they could hear plainly the rumbling of his wrath while he talked to himself over the dishwashing. When he appeared at the corner of the tent or plodded out toward the front of the wagon, his heavy tread and stiff neck proclaimed eloquently the mood he was in. They watched and listened and were secretly rather glad they were fed and so need not face the storm which Slim had raised; for Patsy thoroughly roused was very much like an angry bull: till his rage cooled he would charge whoever approached him, absolutely blind to consequences.
“Well, I ain’t going to put nobody next,” Slim asserted. “Happy’s got to take chances, same as I did. And while we’re on the subject, Patsy was on the prod before I struck camp, or he wouldn’t uh acted the way he done. Somebody else riled him up, by golly—I never.”
“Well, you sure did put the finishing touches to him,” contended Irish, guiltily aware that he himself was originally responsible; for Patsy never had liked Irish very well because of certain incidents connected with his introduction to Weary’s double. Patsy never could quite forget, though he might forgive, and resentment lay always close to the surface of his mood when Irish was near.