Rutherford carried home with him a heavy heart. He could see no way out of the difficulty. He knew that neither Meldrum nor Tighe would consent to let Dingwell go unless an agreement was first reached. There was, too, the other tangle involving young Beaudry. Perhaps he also would be obstinate and refuse to follow the reasonable course.
Beulah met him on the road. Before they had ridden a hundred yards, her instinct told her that he was troubled.
“What is it, dad?” she asked.
He compromised with himself and told her part of what was worrying him. “It’s about your friend Street. Jess had him looked up in Denver. The fellow turns out to be a Royal Beaudry. You’ve heard of a sheriff of that name who used to live in this country? . . . Well, this is his son.”
“What’s he doing here?”
“Trying to get us into trouble, I reckon. But that ain’t the point. I’m not worrying about what he can find out. Fact is that Tighe is revengeful. This boy’s father crippled him. He wants to get even on the young fellow. Unless Beaudry leaves the park at once, he’ll never go. I left word at Rothgerber’s for him to come down and see me soon as he gets home.”
“Will he come?” she asked anxiously.
“I don’t know. If not I’ll go up and fetch him. I don’t trust Jess a bit. He’ll strike soon and hard.”
“Don’t let him, dad,” the girl implored.
The distressed eyes of the father rested on her. “You like this young fellow, honey?” he asked.
She flamed. “I hate him. He abused our hospitality. He lied to us and spied on us. I wouldn’t breathe the same air he does if I could help it. But we can’t let him be killed in cold blood.”
“That’s right, Boots. Well, he’ll come down to-day and I’ll pack him back to Battle Butte. Then we’ll be shet of him.”
Beulah passed the hours in a fever of impatience. She could not keep her mind on the children she was teaching. She knew Tighe. The decision of her father to send Beaudry away would spur the cripple to swift activity. Up at Rothgerber’s Jess could corner the man and work his vengeance unhampered. Why did not the spy come down to the horse ranch? Was it possible that his pride would make him neglect the warning her father had left? Perhaps he would think it only a trap to catch him.
Supper followed dinner, and still Beaudry had not arrived. From the porch Beulah peered up the road into the gathering darkness. Her father had been called away. Her brothers were not at home. The girl could stand it no longer. She went to the stable and saddled Blacky.
Five minutes later she was flying up the road that led to the Rothgerber place.
When Beaudry climbed the canon wall to the Rothgerber pasture he breathed a deep sigh of relief. For many hours he had been under a heavy strain, nerves taut as fiddle-strings. Fifty times his heart had jumped with terror. But he had done the thing he had set out to do.