“If you’ll just hand me those revolvers, Mr. Crow,” said he, indicating the two big automatics he had taken from Davy and Bill, “I’ll stand guard over the house as best I can while you’re away.”
“Stand guard? What fer? Nobody’s goin’ to steal the house.”
“We should not forget that these same rascals may take it into their heads to double on their tracks and try to carry Miss Gray away again. With her in their possession they’ll receive their pay; without her their work will have been for nothing. It is a desperate crowd, and they may think the plan at least worth trying.”
Rosalie’s grateful, beaming glance sent a quiver that was not of pain through Bonner’s frame.
“Don’t worry about that,” said the marshal. “We’ll have ’em shot to pieces inside of an hour an’ a half.”
“Anderson, I want you to be very careful with that horse pistol,” said his wife nervously. “It ain’t been shot off sence the war, an’ like as not it’ll kill you from behind.”
“Gosh blast it, Eva!” roared Anderson, “don’t you suppose I know which end to shoot with?” And away he rushed in great dudgeon.
Edna Crow sat at the front window, keeping watch for hours. She reported to the other members of the household as each scurrying band of searchers passed the place. Bonner commanded Rosalie to keep away from the windows, fearing a shot from the outside. From time to time Roscoe replenished the big blaze in the fireplace. It was cosey in the old-fashioned sitting-room, even though the strain upon its occupants was trying in the extreme.
Great excitement came to them when the figure of a man was seen to drop to the walk near the front gate. At first it was feared that one of the bandits, injured by pursuers, had fallen to die, but the mournful calls for help that soon came from the sidewalk were more or less reassuring. The prostrate figure had a queer habit from time to time of raising itself high enough to peer between the pickets of the fence, and each succeeding shout seemed more vigorous than the others. Finally they became impatient, and then full of wrath. It was evident that the stranger resented the inhospitality of the house.
“Who are you?” called Edna, opening the window ever so slightly. Whereupon the man at the gate sank to the ground and groaned with splendid misery.
“It’s me,” he replied.
“’Rast—’Rast Little. I think I’m dyin’.”
There was a hurried consultation indoors, and then Roscoe bravely ventured out to the sidewalk.
“Are you shot, ’Rast?” he asked in trembling tones.
“No; I’m just wounded. Is Rosalie in there?”
“I guess I’ll go in, then. Dern it! It’s a long walk from our house over here. I guess I’ll stay all night. If I don’t get better to-morrow I’ll have to stay longer. I ought to be nursed, too.”
“Rosalie’s playin’ nurse fer Mr. Bonner,” volunteered Roscoe, still blocking the gate through which ’Rast was trying to wedge himself.