“Home soon,” Dave suggested cheerfully to his captors. “I sure am hungry enough to eat a government mailsack. A flank steak would make a big hit with me.”
Jeff looked at him in the dour, black Rutherford way. “This is no picnic, you’ll find.”
“Not to you, but it’s a great vacation for me. I feel a hundred per cent better since I got up into all this ozone and scenery.” Dingwell assured him hardily. “A man ought to take a trip like this every once in a while. It’s great for what ails him.”
Young Rutherford grunted sulkily. Their prisoner was the coolest customer he had ever met. The man was no fool. He must know he was in peril, but his debonair, smiling insouciance never left him for a moment. He was grit clear through.
Tighe Weaves his Web Tighter
The hooded eyes of Jess Tighe slanted across the table at his visitor. Not humor but mordant irony had given birth to the sardonic smile on his thin, bloodless lips.
“I reckon you’ll be glad to know that you’ve been entertaining an angel unawares, Hal,” he jeered. “I’ve been looking up your handsome young friend, and I can tell you what the ‘R.B.’ in his hat stands for in case you would be interested to know.”
The owner of the horse ranch gave a little nod. “Unload your information, Jess.”
Tighe leaned forward for emphasis and bared his teeth. If ever malevolent hate was written on a face it found expression on his now.
“‘R.B.’ stands for Royal Beaudry.”
Rutherford flashed a question at him from startled eyes. He waited for the other man to continue.
“You remember the day we put John Beaudry out of business?” asked Tighe.
“Yes. Go on.” Hal Rutherford was not proud of that episode. In the main he had fought fair, even though he had been outside the law. But on the day he had avenged the death of his brother Anson, the feud between him and the sheriff had degenerated to murder. A hundred times since he had wished that he had gone to meet the officer alone.
“He had his kid with him. Afterward they shipped him out of the country to an aunt in Denver. He went to school there. Well, I’ve had a little sleuthing done.”
“And you’ve found out—?”
“What I’ve told you.”
“He said his name was Cherokee Street, but Jeff told me he didn’t act like he believed himself. When yore girl remembered there was a street of that name in Denver, Mr. Cherokee Street was plumb rattled. He seen he’d made a break. Well, you saw that snapshot Beulah took of him and me on the porch. I sent it to a detective agency in Denver with orders to find out the name of the man that photo fitted. My idea was for the manager to send a man to the teachers of the high schools, beginning with the school nearest Cherokee Street. He done it. The third schoolmarm took one look at the picture and said the young fellow was Royal Beaudry. She had taught him German two years. That’s howcome I to know what that ‘R.B.’ in the hat stands for.”