Suddenly Jim started, as if shocked by an electric battery. Hiding all the hair and beard of the portrait, he stared at it a moment, and exclaimed:
“Both gone!” exclaimed Colonel Two, hurrying into the saloon, at noon.
“Both gone?” echoed two or three men.
“Yes,” said the colonel; “and the queerest thing is, they left ev’rything behind—every darned thing! I never did see such a stampede afore—I didn’t! Nobody’s got any idee of whar they be, nor what it’s ’bout neither.”
“Don’t be too sartain, colonel!” piped Weasel, a self-contained mite of a fellow, who was still at work upon his glass, filled at the last general treat, although every one else had finished so long ago that they were growing thirsty again—“don’t be too sartain. Them detectives bunked at my shanty last night.”
“The deuce they did!” cried the colonel. “Good the rest of us didn’t know it.”
“Well,” said Weasel, moving his glass in graceful circles, to be sure that all the sugar dissolved, “I dunno. It’s a respectable business, an’ I wanted to have a good look at ’em.”
“What’s that got to do with Jim and Tarpaulin?” demanded the colonel, fiercely.
“Wait, and I’ll tell you,” replied Weasel, provokingly, taking a leisurely sip at his glass. “Jim come down to see ’em—”
“What?” cried the colonel.
“An’ told ’em he knew their man, an’ would help find him,” continued Weasel. “They offered him the thousand dollars—”
“Oh, Lord! oh, Lord!” groaned the colonel; “who’s a feller to trust in this world! The idee of Jim goin’ back on a pardner fur a thousand! I wouldn’t hev b’lieved he’d a-done it fur a million!”
“An’ he told ’em he’d cram it down their throats if they mentioned it again.”
“Bully! Hooray fur Jim!” shouted the colonel. “What’ll yer take, fellers? Fill high! Here’s to Jim! the feller that b’lieves his friend’s innercent!”
The colonel looked thoughtfully into his glass, and remarked, as if to his own reflection therein, “Ain’t many such men here nur nowhars else!” after which he drank the toast himself.
“But that don’t explain what Tarpaulin went fur,” said the colonel, suddenly.
“Yes, it does,” said the exasperating Weasel, shutting his thin lips so tightly that it was hard to see where his mouth was.
“What?” cried the colonel. “’Twould take a four-horse corkscrew to get anything out o’ you, you dried-up little scoundrel!”
“Why!” replied Weasel, greatly pleased by the colonel’s compliment, “after what you said about hair and beard hidin’ a man, one of them fellers cut a card an’ held it over the picture, so as to hide hair an’ chin. The forehead an’ face an’ nose an’ ears wuz Tarpaulin’s, an’ nobody else’s.”
“Lightning’s blazes!” roared the colonel, “Ha, ha, ha! why, Tarpaulin hisself came into my shanty, an’ looked at the pictur’, an’ talked to them ’bout it! Trot out yer glassware, barkeeper—got to drink to a feller that’s ez cool ez all that!”