Farnham never forgot the flame of those gray eyes, or the sharp sting of the indignant voice.
“What do you know regarding her? Speak out, damn you!”
The gambler laughed uneasily; he had seen that look in men’s faces before, and knew its full, deadly meaning. He had already gone to the very limit of safety.
“Oh, nothing, I assure you. I never even saw the lady,” he explained coldly. “But I have been told that she was the attraction for you in this camp; and I rather guess I hit the bull’s-eye that time, even if it was a chance shot.”
Winston moistened his dry lips, his eyes never wavering from off the sneering face of the other.
“Farnham,” the voice sounding low and distinct, “I have got something to say to you, and you are going to listen to the end. You see that?” He thrust sharply forward the skirt of his short coat. “Well, that’s a thirty-eight, cocked and loaded, and I ’ve got you covered. I know your style, and if you make a single move toward your hip I ’ll uncork the whole six shots into your anatomy. Understand? Now, see here—I ’m not on the bargain counter for money or anything else. I had not the slightest personal interest in this affair an hour ago, but I have now, and, what is more, I am going directly after the facts. Neither you, nor all of your crowd put together, can stop me with either money, bullets, or women. I don’t bully worth a cent, and I don’t scare. You took the wrong track, and you ’ve got me ready now to fight this out to a finish. And the first pointer I desire to give you is this—if your lips ever again besmirch the name of Beth Norvell to my knowledge, I ’ll hunt you down as I would a mad dog. I believe you are a dirty liar and thief, and now I ’m going after the facts to prove it. Good-night.”
He backed slowly toward the curtained doorway, his gaze never wavering from off the surprised countenance of the other, his hidden hand grasping the masked revolver. Then he stepped through the opening and disappeared. Farnham remained motionless, his face like iron, his teeth gripping savagely. Then he dropped his hand heavily on the table, still staring, as if fascinated, at the quivering curtains.
“By God, the fellow actually means fight,” he muttered slowly. “He means fight.”
THE FORCE OF CIRCUMSTANCES
She had expected the probability of such a happening, yet her face perceptibly paled while perusing the brief note handed her by the stage manager upon coming forth from her dressing-room. Her first impulse was to refuse compliance, to trust fortune in an endeavor to keep beyond reach, to turn and run from this new, threatening danger like a frightened deer. But she recalled the financial necessity which held her yet a prisoner at the Gayety. This writer was partner in the gambling rooms, possibly in the theatre also; her chance for escaping him would be very slender. Besides, it might be far better to face the man boldly and have it over. Undoubtedly a meeting must occur some time; as well now as later so that the haunting shadow would not remain ever before her. The color stole slowly back into her cheeks as she stood twisting the paper between her fingers, her eyes darkening with returning courage.