Another silence; only the low breathing of the spectators could be heard.
Redburn raised his pistol and fired—blindly and carelessly, not knowing or caring whither went the compulsory death-dealing bullet.
There was a heavy fall, a groan of pain, as the gambler dropped over on the floor; then for the space of a few seconds all was the wildest confusion throughout the mammoth saloon.
Revolvers were in every hand, knives flashed in the glare of the lamplight, curses and threats were in scores of mouths, while some of the vast surging crowd cheered lustily.
At the table Harry Redburn still sat, as motionless as a statue, the revolver still held in his hand, his face white, his eyes staring.
There he remained, the center of general attraction, with a hundred pair of blazing eyes leveled at him from every side.
“Come!” said Ned Harris, in a low tone, tapping him on the shoulder—“come, pardner; let’s git out of this, for times will be brisk soon. You’ve wounded one of the biggest card-devils in the Hills, and he’ll be rearin’ pretty quick. Look! d’ye see that feller comin’ yonder, who was preachin’ from on top of the barrel, a bit ago? Well, that is Catamount Cass, an’ he’s a pard of Chet Diamond, the feller you salted, an’ them fellers behind him are his gang. Come! follow me, Henry, and I’ll nose our way out of here.”
Redburn signified his readiness, and with a cocked six-shooter in either hand Ned Harris led the way.
SAD ANITA—THE MINE LOCATER—TROUBLE
Straight toward the door of the saloon he marched, the muzzles of the grim sixes clearing a path to him; for Ned Harris had become notorious in Deadwood for his coolness, courage and audacity. It had been said of him that he would “just es lief shute a man as ter look at ’im,” and perhaps the speaker was not far from right.
Anyway, he led off through the savage-faced audience with a composure that was remarkable, and, strange to say, not a hand was raised to stop him until he came face to face with Catamount Cass and his gang; here was where the youth had expected molestation and hindrance, if anywhere.
Catamount Cass was a rough, illiterate “tough” of the mountain species, and possessed more brute courage than the general run of his type of men, and a bull-dog determination that made him all the more dangerous as an enemy.
Harry Redburn kept close at Ned Harris’ heels, a cocked “six” in either hand ready for any emergency.
It took but a few moments before the two parties met, the “Cattymount” throwing out his foot to block the path.
“Hello!” roared the “tough,” folding his huge knotty arms across his partially bared breast; “ho! ho! whoa up thar, pilgrims! Don’ ye go ter bein’ so fast. Fo’kes harn’t so much in a hurry now-’days as they uster war. Ter be sure ther Lord manyfactered this futstool in seven days; sum times I think he did, an’ then, ag’in, my geological ijees convince me he didn’t.”