The fat convict tried to make a stand against them. He pleaded ignorance. “I don’ know where they hid the stuff. They didn’t tell me.”
“Sounds reasonable, and you in with them on the deal,” said Sanders. “Well, you’re in hard luck. We don’t give two hoots for you, anyhow, but we decided to take you in to town with us if you came through clean. If not—” He shrugged his shoulders and glanced up at the branch above.
Miller swallowed a lump in his throat. “You wouldn’t treat me thataway, Mr. Sanders. I’m gittin’ to be an old man now. I done wrong, but I’m sure right sorry,” he whimpered.
The eyes of the man who had spent years in prison at Canon City were hard as jade. The fat man read a day of judgment in his stern and somber face.
“I’ll tell!” The crook broke down, clammy beads of perspiration all over his pallid face. “I’ll tell you right where it’s at. In the lean-to of the shack. Southwest corner. Buried in a gunnysack.”
They rode back across the valley to the cabin. Miller pointed out the spot where the stolen treasure was cached. With an old axe as a spade Dave dug away the dirt till he came to a bit of sacking. Crawford scooped out the loose earth with his gauntlet and dragged out a gunnysack. Inside it were a number of canvas bags showing the broken wax seals of the express company. These contained gold pieces apparently fresh from the mint.
A hurried sum in arithmetic showed that approximately all the gold taken from the stage must be here. Dave packed it on the back of his saddle while Crawford penciled a note to leave in the cache in place of the money.
The note said:
This is no safe place to leave seventeen thousand dollars, Dug. I’m taking it to town to put in the bank. If you want to make inquiries about it, come in and we’ll talk it over, you and me and Applegate.
Five minutes later the three men were once more riding rapidly across the valley toward the summit of the divide. The loop of Crawford’s lariat still encircled the gross neck of the convict.
DAVE ACCEPTS AN INVITATION
Crawford and Dave, with their prisoner, lay out in the chaparral for an hour, then made their way back to Malapi by a wide circuit. They did not want to meet Shorty and Doble, for that would result in a pitched battle. They preferred rather to make a report to the sheriff and let him attempt the arrest of the bandits.
Reluctantly, under the pressure of much prodding, Miller repeated his story to Sheriff Applegate. Under the circumstances he was not sorry that he was to be returned to the penitentiary, for he recognized that his life at large would not be safe so long as Shorty and Doble were ranging the hills. Both of them were “bad men,” in the usual Western acceptance of the term, and an accomplice who betrayed them would meet short shrift at their hands.