“Go ahead,” laughed Bartley.
“I’m goin’—to-morrow mornin’. And you say you figure to stay here a spell?”
“Oh, just a few days. I imagine I shall grow tired of it. But to-night, I feel pretty well satisfied to stay right where I am.”
Cheyenne rose and strode to the bar. After a short argument with the proprietor, he returned with a bottle and glasses. Bartley raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“Once in a while—” And Cheyenne gestured toward the bottle.
“It’s powerful stuff,” said Bartley.
“We ain’t far from the hotel,” declared Cheyenne. And he filled their glasses.
“This ought to be the last, for me,” said Bartley, drinking. “But don’t let that make any difference to you.”
Cheyenne drank and shrugged his shoulders. He leaned back and gazed at the opposite wall. Bartley vaguely realized that the Mexicans were chattering, that two or three persons had come in, and that the atmosphere was heavy with tobacco smoke. He unbuttoned his shirt-collar.
Presently Cheyenne twisted round in his chair. “Remember Little Jim, back at the Hastings ranch?”
“I should say so! It would be difficult to forget him.”
“Miss Dorry thinks a heap of that kid.”
“She seems to.”
“Now, I ain’t drunk,” Cheyenne declared solemnly. “I sure wish I was. You know Little Jim is my boy. Well, his ma is livin’ over to Laramie. She writ to me to come back to her, onct. I reckon Sears got tired of her. She lived with him a spell after she quit me. Folks say Sears treated her like a dog. I guess I wasn’t man enough, when I heard that—”
“You mean Panhandle Sears—at Antelope?”
“Oh, I see!” said Bartley slowly. “And that crap game, at Antelope—I see!”
“If Panhandle had a-jumped me, instead of you, that night, I’d ‘a’ killed him. Do you know why Wishful stepped in and put Sears down? Wishful did that so that there wouldn’t be a killin’. That’s the second time Sears has had his chance to git me, but he won’t take that chance. That’s the second time we met up since—since my wife left me. The third time it’ll be lights out for somebody. I ain’t drunk.”
“Then Sears has got a yellow streak?”
“Any man that uses a woman rough has. When Jimmy’s ma left us, I reckon I went loco. It wa’n’t just her leavin’ us. But when I heard she had took up with Sears, and knowin’ what he was—I just quit. I was workin’ down here at the ranch, then. I went up North, figurin’ to kill him. Folks thought I was yellow, for not killin’ him. They think so right now. Mebby I am.
“I worked up North a spell, but I couldn’t stay. So I lit out and come down South again. First time I met up with Sears was over on the Tonto. He stepped up and slapped my face, in front of a crowd, in the Lone Star. And I took it. But I told him I’d sure see him again, and give him another chance to slap my face.