She gave me a queer, side glance, but she did not insist. Naturally I didn’t stop, either.
We shot out into the open, with the windings of the pass behind, and then I turned the old car loose, and maybe we didn’t go! She wasn’t a bad sort—but I would have given a good deal, just then, if she had been the Yellow Peril stripped for a race. I could hear the others coming up, and we were doing all we could; I saw to that.
“I think they’ll catch us,” Beryl observed maliciously. “Their car is a sixty h.p. Mercedes, and this—”
“Is about a forty,” I cut in tartly, not liking the tone of her; “and just plain American make. But don’t you fret, my money’s on Uncle Sam.”
She said no more; indeed, it wasn’t easy to talk, with the wind drawing the breath right out of your lungs. She hung onto her hat, and to the seat, and she had her hands full, let me tell you.
The purr of their motor grew louder, and I didn’t like the sound of it a bit. I turned my head enough to see them slithering along close—abominably close. I glimpsed old King in the tonneau, and Weaver humped over the wheel in an unpleasantly businesslike fashion.
I humped over my own wheel and tried to coax her up a bit, as if she had been the Yellow Peril at the wind-up of a close race. For a minute I felt hopeful. Then I could tell by the sound that Weaver was crowding up.
“They’re gaining, Mr. Carleton!” Beryl’s voice had a new ring in it, and I caught my breath.
“Can you get here and take the wheel and hold her straight without slowing her?” I asked, looking straight ahead. The trail was level and not a bend in it for half a mile or so, and I thought there was a chance for us. “I’ve a notion that friend Weaver has nerves. I’m going to rattle him, if I can; but whatever happens, don’t loose your grip and spill us out. I won’t hurt them.”
Her hands came over and touched mine on the wheel. “I’ve raced a bit myself,” she said simply. “I can drive her straight.”
I wriggled out of the way and stood up, glancing down to make sure she was all right. She certainly didn’t look much like the girl who was afraid because something “made a funny noise.” I suspected that she knew a lot about motors.
A bullet clipped close. Beryl set her teeth into her lips, but grittily refrained from turning to look. I breathed freer.
“Now, don’t get scared,” I warned, balanced myself as well as I could in the swaying car, and sent a shot back at them.
Weaver came up to my expectations. He ducked, and the car swerved out of the trail and went wavering spitefully across the prairie. Old King sent another rifle-bullet my way—I must have made a fine mark, standing up there—and he was a good shot. I was mighty glad he was getting jolted enough to spoil his aim.
Weaver came to himself a bit and grabbed frantically for brake and throttle and steering-wheel all at once, it looked like. He was rattled, all right; he must have given the wheel a twist the wrong way, for their car hit a jutting rock and went up in the air like a pitching bronco, and old King sailed in a beautiful curve out of the tonneau.