“You know each other?” Garton asked. “Wallace says he’s just over here to look around at the beauties of nature, Billy. I’ve an idea,” with a wink at Wallace, “that he’s looking for somebody. You haven’t been passing any bad money, have you, Billy? Much obliged for the papers.” He glanced at them and pushed them under the pillows of his cot. “That’s all now, Billy. Except that on your way home I want you to drop in and see Mr. Crawford. Tell him that if he sees Conniston I want him to tell him to be sure and come right around. There’s a ball-up in the work out at the spring. Wait a second.” He scribbled a note upon the leaf of the note-book which lay upon the window-sill. “Give that to Mr. Crawford. It’s an order to Mundy to cut the main ditch out there down to four feet, and to stop work on the well that is causing trouble, until further orders. Mundy will be going out again to-night, and will stop at Crawford’s first. Good night, Billy. And come in early in the morning.”
Mundy’s name did not appear in the note. Mundy was at the time twenty miles from Valley City. But Mr. Crawford’s name was there, and after it was “Urgent,” underlined. The note itself ran:
“Wallace is here to arrest Conniston for murder of Chinaman shot in whisky rebellion! A put-up game with Swinnerton to stop his work. Tell Conniston to go back to Deep Creek to-night. Send Brayley to me immediately. Let no one else come. I’ll entertain the sheriff to-night.
Billy loitered a minute, yawned two or three times, and finally said good night and strolled leisurely away.
“I think,” said Wallace, rising as the door closed behind Billy Jordan, “I’ll go out an’ unsaddle my cayuse. Got a handful of hay in the shed, Tommy?”
“Sure thing, Bill. Help yourself.”
Wallace picked up his hat and turned to the door. Garton rolled over suddenly, thrust his hand again under his pillow, and sat up.
“Say, Bill!” he called, softly.
Wallace turned, and as he did so he looked square into the muzzle of a heavy-caliber Colt revolver upon which the lamplight shone dully.
“Stop that!” cried Garton, sternly, as the sheriff’s hand started automatically to his hip. “I’ve got the drop on you, Bill. And, sheriff or no sheriff, I’ll drop you if you make a move. Put ’em up, Bill.”
Snarling, his face going a sudden angry red, the sheriff lifted his two big hands high above his head.
“What do you mean by this?” he snapped.
“I mean business! Now you do what I tell you. Walk this way, and walk slowly.”
“D——n you, you little sawed-off—” roared the big man, only to be cut short with an incisive:
“Never mind about calling names. And remember that no matter if only half a man is behind this gun it ’ll shoot just the same. Keep those hands up, Bill! Now turn around. Back up to me. And let me tell you something: you can whirl about and bring your hands down on my head, but that won’t stop a bullet in your belly. The same place,” he said, coolly, “that Conniston shot the Chinaman!”