The pain ceased and he floated away into a sea of space.
BOB HART TAKES A HAND
Bob Hart waited till his friend had disappeared into the house before he moved.
“Thought he’d run it over me, so I’d roost here on the roof, did he? Well, I’m after the ol’ horn-toad full jump,” the puncher murmured, a gay grin on his good-looking face.
He, too, examined his gun before he followed Dave through the dormer window and passed into the frowsy bedchamber. None of the details of it escaped his cool, keen gaze, least of all the sawed-off shotgun in the corner.
“That scatter gun might come handy. Reckon I’ll move it so’s I’ll know just where it’s at when I need it,” he said to himself, and carried the gun to the bed, where he covered it with a quilt.
At the top of the stairs Bob also hesitated before passing down. Why not be sure of his line of communications with the roof before going too far? He did not want to be in such a hurry that his retreat would be cut off.
With as little noise as possible Bob explored the upper story. The first room in which he found himself was empty of all furniture except a pair of broken-backed chairs. One casual glance was enough here.
He was about to try a second door when some one spoke. He recognized the voice. It belonged to the man who wrote his pay checks, and it came from an adjoining room.
“Always knew you was crooked as a dog’s hind laigs Doble. Never liked you a lick in the road. I’ll say this. Some day I’ll certainly hang yore hide up to dry for yore treachery.”
“No use to get on the peck, Em. It don’t do you no good to make me sore. Maybe you’ll need a friend before you’re shet of Brad.”
“It relieves my mind some to tell you what a yellow coyote you are,” explained the cattleman. “You got about as much sand as a brush rabbit and I’d trust you as far as I would a rattler, you damned sidewinder.”
Bob tried the door. The knob turned in his hand and the door slowly opened inward.
The rattle of the latch brought George Doble’s sly, shifty eye round. He was expecting to see one of his friends from below. A stare of blank astonishment gave way to a leaping flicker of fear. The crook jumped to his feet, tugging at his gun. Before he could fire, the range-rider had closed with him.
The plunging attack drove Doble back against the table, a flimsy, round-topped affair which gave way beneath this assault upon it. The two men went down in the wreck. Doble squirmed away like a cat, but before he could turn to use his revolver Bob was on him again. The puncher caught his right arm, in time and in no more than time. The deflected bullet pinged through a looking-glass on a dresser near the foot of the bed.
“Go to it, son! Grab the gun and bust his haid wide open!” an excited voice encouraged Hart.