George got up the next morning feeling cramped and sore after his journey, and carefully looked about. The building had solid walls of sod; such rude stalls as it had been fitted with had been removed, perhaps for the sake of the lumber. He could not reach the door without alarming his jailer, who had taken up his quarters behind the board partition; and there was only one small window, placed high up and intended mainly for ventilation. The window was very dusty, but it opened and George could see out by standing up, though the aperture was not large enough to squeeze through.
Outside stood some timbers which had once formed part of a shack, and a few strands of fence wire, trailing from tottering posts, ran into the grass. The place appeared to have been a farm, whose owner had, no doubt, abandoned it after finding the soil too light, or after losing a crop by frost; but George was more curious to discover if there were any other homesteads in the vicinity. His view was restricted, but there was no sign of life on the quarter-circle it commanded. A flat, grassy waste, broken only by a few clumps of brush, ran back to the horizon, and by the cold blue of the sky and the drift of a few light clouds floating before the prevalent westerly wind, he knew he was looking north. This was the way he must take if he could escape, but there was no house in which he could seek refuge, and scarcely any cover. It was clear that he must obtain a good start before he was missed. He had an idea that he would escape, though he admitted that it was more optimistic than rational.
Then he turned with a start, to see his jailer standing beside him, grinning. The man had a hard, determined face.
“Guess you can’t get out that way; and it wouldn’t be much use, anyhow,” he drawled. “The country’s pretty open; it would take you a mighty long while to get out of sight.”
“That’s how it struck me,” George confessed with an air of good-humored resignation. “Do you mean to keep me here any time?”
“Until the trial,” the other answered, standing a little away from him with his hand thrust suggestively into a pocket. “We’ll be glad to get rid of you when it’s finished, but you certainly can’t get away before we let you go.”
George cast a glance of keen but unobtrusive scrutiny at the man. They were, he thought, about equal in physical strength; the other’s superiority consisted in his being armed, and George had no doubt that he was proficient with his weapons. He had seen a rifle carried into the building, the man’s hand was now resting on a pistol, and there was a light ax outside. It looked as if an attempt to escape would be attended with a serious risk, and George realized that he must wait until chance or some slackening of vigilance on his custodians’ part equalized matters.