Rale busied himself for some minutes before putting on his hat, counting over some money, and filling his bottles from a reserve stock underneath the shelf. The two men completed their meal and resumed their card game, while Sal hastily washed up the few dishes and tucked them away in a rude cupboard beside the fireplace. Tim slept peacefully on, but had slightly changed his posture, so that his face was now upturned to the light. The sight of his familiar features gave me an inspiration. He was, undoubtedly, an honest fellow, and had quarreled with Kirby over this very matter, refusing to have any hand in it. He had supposed up to that time that he was doing no more than his duty under the law. If I could arouse him from drunken stupor, he might even be willing to work with me in the attempt to rescue Eloise. Rale disappeared through the rear door, after exchanging a few words with the woman, and did not return. I waited motionless for some time, fearful lest he might come back. Suddenly the front door opened noiselessly, and Kirby entered, advancing straight toward the bar. Sal served him, answering his questions, which were spoken so low I could not catch the words. His eyes swept the room, but the hat concealed my face, and he only recognized Tim. He paused long enough to bend above the upturned features of the unconscious deputy, not unpleased, evidently, to discover him in that condition.
“The damned old fool,” he muttered, perhaps not aware that he spoke aloud. “Rale has got him fixed, all right.”
KIRBY AND I MEET
Sal remained seated behind the bar, nodding, and, so soon as I felt reasonably assured that she was without interest in my movements, I leaned forward and endeavored to arouse Kennedy. This was by no means easy of accomplishment, and I was compelled to pinch the fellow rather severely before he sat up angrily, blurting out the first words which came to his lips:
“What the devil—”
His half-opened eyes caught my gesture for silence, and he stopped instantly, his lips widely parted.
“Meet me outside,” I whispered, warningly. “But be careful about it.”
The slight noise had failed to disturb the woman, and I succeeded in slipping through the unlatched door without noting any change in her posture. Tim, now thoroughly awake, and aware of something serious in the air, was not long in joining me without, and I drew him aside into a spot of deeper blackness under the trees. He was still indignant over the pinching, and remained drunk enough to be quarrelsome. I cut his muffled profanity short.
“That’s quite enough of that, Tim,” I said sharply, and was aware that he stared back at me, plainly perplexed by the change in my tone and manner. “You are an officer of the law; so am I, and it is about time we were working together.”