“They don’t say it out loud if they do—not where I can hear them,” he answered grimly.
“Did we?” she flung at him.
His smile was forced. The question disturbed him. That had always been her way, even when she was a small child, to fling herself headlong at difficulties. She had never been the kind to be put off with anything less than the truth.
“I didn’t. Did you?” he retorted.
“How about the boys—and Uncle Buck—and Brad Charlton?” she demanded.
“Better ask them if you want to know.” With a flare of temper he contradicted himself. “No, you’d better mind your own business, girl. Forget your foolishness and ’tend to your knitting.”
“I suppose it isn’t my business if my kin go to the penitentiary for train robbery.”
“They’re not going any such place. If you want to know, I give you my word that none of us Rutherfords have got the gold stolen from the Western Express Company.”
“And don’t know where it is?”
“Haven’t the least idea—not one of us.”
She drew a deep breath of relief. More than once her father had kept from her secrets of the family activities, but he had never lied to her.
“Then it doesn’t matter about this detective. He can find out nothing against us,” she reflected aloud.
“I’m not so sure about that. We’ve had our troubles and we don’t want them aired. There was that shooting scrape Hal got into down at Battle Butte, for instance. Get a little more evidence and the wrong kind of a jury would send him up for it. No, we’ll keep an eye on Mr. Cherokee Street, or whatever his name is. Reckon I’ll ride over and have a talk with Jess about it.”
“Why not tell this man Street that he is not wanted and so be done with it?”
“Because we wouldn’t be done with it. Another man would come in his place. We’ll keep him here where we can do a little detective work on him, too.”
“I don’t like it. The thing is underhanded. I hate the fellow. It’s not decent to sit at table with a man who is betraying our hospitality,” she cried hotly.
“It won’t be for long, honey. Just leave him to us. We’ll hang up his pelt to dry before we’re through with him.”
“You don’t mean—?”
“No, nothing like that. But he’ll crawl out of the park like a whipped cur with its tail between its legs.”
The cook stood in the doorway. “Miss Beulah, do you want that meat done in a pot roast?” he asked.
“Yes. I’ll show you.” She turned at the door. “By the way, dad, I took a snapshot of Mr. Tighe on his porch. I’ll develop it to-night and you can take it to him in the morning.”
“All right. Don’t mention to anybody that matter we were discussing. Act like you’ve forgotten all about what you found out, Boots.”
The girl nodded. “Yes.”