Lithe, quick and silent as one of the mountain wild-cats he had so often trailed through his domain, he slipped down from his stump, caught up a stick of the explosive, tucked it carefully into his game-bag, took his place again upon the stump, impassive, calm, apparently quite unexcited.
When the men came trooping back, opening letters, tearing wrappers from their newspapers, gossipping, he still sat on the stump as they had left him. Not one of them suspected that he once had left it.
“Bright and lively as a cigar-store Indian,” he heard one care-free youth exclaim as he went by him.
He did not know what the man meant; he had never seen a cigar-store Indian; but he knew a jibe was meant. It did not anger him, as it would have done, a few moments earlier. Now he had exacted his small tribute. They could stare at him and jibe, if they were so inclined. Hidden carefully there in his game-bag was one of their own weapons for their fight against the wilderness, which, in course of time, might be a weapon of the wilderness in fighting against some of them.
Presently he climbed down from the stump and strolled back along the raw embankment toward the little group still standing near the train which had arrived.
The young moonshiner stiffened instantly as he neared the group of newly arrived travellers, for the first word he heard from them was the name of him whom, among all foreigners, he hated with most bitterness. An old darky, plainly the servant of the party, and such a darky as the mountain country had never seen before, was inquiring of a bystander where he could find “Marse” Frank Layson.
The man of whom he asked the question had not the least idea, nor had anyone about the railroad working. Most of the men had never heard of Layson, and the few who had become acquainted with him through chance meetings since he had been stopping in his cabin in the mountains, knew most indefinitely where the place was located. Lorey could have quickly given the information, but had no thought of doing so. He stood, instead, staring at the party with wondering but not good-natured eyes, and said no word. He certainly was not the one to do a favor to his rival or his rival’s friends.
The group of strangers were thrown into confusion by the difficulty of getting news of him they sought, and, while they discussed the matter, Lorey had a chance to study them. He stood upon the rough plank platform, leaning on his rifle, with the game-bag and its burden of purloined explosive hanging slouchily beneath one arm, his coon-skin cap down well upon his eyes, those eyes, half closed, gazing at the newcomers with all the curiosity which they would have shown at sight of savages from some far foreign shore.