He rode off in a few more minutes and after a while the Grants took their leave, but Flora walked down the trail with George while the team was being harnessed.
“You’ll be careful, won’t you?” she said. “These men are dangerous; they know yours is the most important evidence. I shall be anxious until the trial.”
There was something in her eyes and voice that sent a curious thrill through George.
“I don’t think that’s needful; I certainly won’t be reckless,” he said.
Then Flora got into the vehicle; and during the next week or two George took precautions. Indeed, he now and then felt a little uncomfortable when he had occasion to pass a shadowy bluff. He carried a pistol when he went around the outbuildings at night, and fell into a habit of stopping to listen, ready to strike or shoot, each time he opened the door of one in the dark.
For all that, nothing occurred to excite suspicion, and after a while he felt inclined to smile at his nervousness. At length, one day when the trial was close at hand, and Edgar had gone to the Butte, the mail-carrier brought him a note from Grant.
It consisted of a couple of lines asking him to come over during the evening, and as supper had been finished two hours before, George realized that there was not much time to spare. Laying down the note, he walked to the door and called his Canadian hired man.
“Put the saddle on the brown horse, Jake; I’m going to Grant’s.”
The man did as he was bidden, and when George was about to mount handed him a repeating rifle.
“Better take this along; cylinder’s full,” he said. “It will be dark before you get there.”
George hesitated. The rifle was heavy, but it was a more reliable weapon than a pistol, and he rode off with it. The sun had dipped when he started, the air was rapidly cooling, and after spending the day sinking holes for fence posts in the scorching sun, he found the swift motion and the little breeze that fanned his face pleasant. To the northwest, a flush of vivid crimson glowed along the horizon, but the sweep of grass was growing dim and a bluff he reached at length stood out, a sharp-cut, dusky mass, against the fading light. He pulled up his horse on its outskirts. A narrow trail led through the wood, its entrance marked by a dark gap among the shadowy trees, and it somehow looked forbidding. The bluff, however, stretched across his path; it was getting late, and George was a little impatient of the caution he had been forced to exercise. Laying his rifle ready across the saddle, he sent his horse forward.