“Oh, he doesn’t matter.” Saunders spoke carelessly. “He’ll get out of it. It’s all been arranged, of course. They really sent me here to watch her; evidently they had him trailed from the beginning.”
Crossing over, Saunders again snapped on his light, and examined the face and clothing of the murderer.
“It’s easy to see, Griffin, what the game was. This chap is one of the foreigners at the railroad camp. He can say he was out hunting—shooting squirrels—anything.”
“He can’t say that,” put in Mark quickly, “for I saw him do it. I tried to stop him.”
Saunders turned quickly to Mark.
“Forget it, Griffin,” he said earnestly. “You saw nothing. Keep out of it. If it were only a common murder, I’d tell you to speak. But this is no common murder. There are international troubles mixed up in it. No one will thank you, and you will only get into difficulties. Why, the biggest men in the country would have a special messenger down here inside of twenty-four hours to keep you silent if they knew who were behind this thing. For God’s sake, leave it alone. Let this fellow tell his story.” He pointed to the man who was now coming to his senses. “He has it all prepared.”
“I’ll leave it alone only if the man is dead; but, good God! you can’t expect me to leave him here to the mercy of that brood if he’s only wounded.”
The detective smiled grimly.
“Wounded! Why, Griffin, do you think they would send a man who would miss? Come, look at him.”
Mark placed his hand over the young officer’s heart. He felt for the pulse, and looked into the face.
“Come, Saunders,” he said, “we can do nothing for him.”
“I don’t think you quite realize, Griffin,” Saunders’ voice had quite an uneasy tremor in it, as he spoke, “that you are in some danger.”
The detective was sitting in Mark’s bedroom, and the clock was striking midnight in the hotel office below. They had returned together from the bluff road and had been discussing the tragedy ever since.
“I think I do,” Mark answered, “but I don’t very much care.”
“Then,” said Saunders, “you English have some nerves!”
“You forget, Saunders, that I am not quite English. I am half Irish, and the Irish have ‘some nerves.’ But I am really hit very hard. I suppose it’s the English in me that won’t let me show it.”
Saunders did not answer for a moment. Then he took his cigar out of his mouth.
“Nerves?” he repeated half laughingly. “Yes, nerves they have, but in the singular number.”
“Oh, I forgot that your education in United States has been sadly neglected. I mean to say that they have nerve, not nerves.”
“By which you mean—?”