“Suffering giraffes!” gasped Windy Bill after the whirlwind had passed. “Was that the scared little rabbit that wept all them salt tears over at the depot? What brand of licker did you feed him, Sandy?”
I silently handed him the bottle.
“Soothing syrup—my God!” said Windy in hushed tones.
At that epoch I prided myself on being a man of resource; and I proceeded to prove it in a fashion that even now fills me with satisfaction. I annexed the remainder of that bottle of soothing syrup; I went to Sol Levi and easily procured delivery of the other five. Then I strolled peacefully to supper over at McCloud’s hotel. Pathological knowledge of dope fiends was outside my ken—I could not guess how soon my man would need another dose of his “hop,” but I was positively sure that another would be needed. Inquiry of McCloud elicited the fact that the ex-jockey had swallowed a hasty meal and had immediately retired to Room 4. I found Room 4 unlocked, and Brower lying fully clothed sound asleep across the bed. I did not disturb him, except that I robbed him of his pistol. All looked safe for awhile; but just to be certain I took Room 6, across the narrow hall, and left both doors open. McCloud’s hotel never did much of a room business. By midnight the cowboys would be on their way for the ranches. Brower and myself were the only occupants of the second floor.
For two hours I smoked and read. The ex-jockey did not move a muscle. Then I went to bed and to a sound sleep; but I set my mind like an alarm clock, so that the slightest move from the other room would have fetched me broad awake. City-bred people may not know that this can be done by most outdoor men. I have listened subconsciously to horsebells for so many nights, for example, that even on stormy nights the cessation of that faint twinkle will awaken me, while the crash of the elements or even the fall of a tree would not in the slightest disturb my tired slumbers. So now, although the songs and stamping and racket of the revellers below stairs in McCloud’s bar did not for one second prevent my falling into deep and dreamless sleep, Brower’s softest tread would have reached my consciousness.
However, he slept right through the night, and was still dead to the world when I slipped out at six o’clock to meet the east-bound train. The bag—a small black Gladstone—was aboard in charge of the baggageman. I had no great difficulty in getting it from my friend, the station agent. Had he not seen me herding the locoed stranger? I secreted the black bag with the five full bottles of soothing syrup, slipped the half-emptied bottle in my pocket, and returned to the hotel. There I ate breakfast, and sat down for a comfortable chat with McCloud while awaiting results.
Got them very promptly. About eight o’clock Brower came downstairs. He passed through the office, nodding curtly to McCloud and me, and into the dining room where he drank several cups of coffee. Thence he passed down the street toward Sol Levi’s. He emerged rather hurriedly and slanted across to the station.