“That I’ll beat both their heads off,” cut in Meldrum, purple with rage.
“Not necessary, Dan,” vetoed Dingwell. “We’ll shear the wolves. Each of you help yourself to chips equal to the amount you have lost. . . . Now, Mr. Smith, you and your partner will dig up one hundred and ninety-three dollars for these gentlemen.”
“Why?” sputtered Smith. “It’s all a frame-up. We’ve been playing a straight game. But say we haven’t. They have got their chips back. Let them cash in to the house. What more do you want?”
“One hundred and ninety-three dollars. I thought I mentioned that already. You tried to rob these men of that amount, but you didn’t get away with it. Now you’ll rob yourself of just the same sum. Frisk yourself, Mr. Smith.”
“Not on your life I won’t. It. . . it’s an outrage. It’s robbery. I’ll not stand for it.” His words were brave, but the voice of the man quavered. The bulbous, fishy eyes of the cheat wavered before the implacable ones of the cattleman.
The gambler’s gaze passed around the table and found no help from the men he had been robbing. A crowd was beginning to gather. Swiftly he decided to pay forfeit and get out while there was still time. He drew a roll of bills from his pocket and with trembling fingers counted out the sum named. He shoved it across the table and rose.
“Now, take your friend and both of you hit the trail out of town,” ordered the cattleman.
Blair had by this time got to his feet and was leaning stupidly on a chair. His companion helped him from the room. At the door he turned and glared at Dingwell.
“You’re going to pay for this—and pay big,” he spat out, his voice shaking with rage.
“Oh, that’s all right,” answered Dingwell easily.
The game broke up. Rutherford nodded a good-night to the cattleman and left with Meldrum. Presently Dave noticed that Buck and the rest of the clan had also gone. Only Slim Sanders was left, and he was playing the wheel.
“Time to hit the hay,” Dave yawned.
The bartender called “Good-night” as Dingwell went out of the swinging doors. He said afterward that he thought he heard the sound of scuffling and smothered voices outside. But his interest in the matter did not take him as far as the door to find out if anything was wrong.
Royal Beaudry Hears a Call
A bow-legged little man with the spurs still jingling on his heels sauntered down one side of the old plaza. He passed a train of fagot-laden burros in charge of two Mexican boys from Tesuque, the sides and back of each diminished mule so packed with firewood that it was a comical caricature of a beruffed Elizabethan dame. Into the plaza narrow, twisted streets of adobe rambled carelessly. One of these led to the San Miguel Mission, said to be the oldest church in the United States.