Bill Wallace had got his position as sheriff for two very good reasons. For one thing, he belonged to Oliver Swinnerton. For another, he was a brave man. But he was not a fool, and he did what Garton commanded him to do. And Tommy Garton, with the muzzle of his revolver jammed tight against the small of Wallace’s back, reached out with his left hand and drew the sheriff’s two revolvers from their holsters, dropping them to the floor behind his cot.
“And now, Bill, you can go and sit down. And you can take your hands down, too.”
“I’d like to know,” sputtered Wallace, as he sat glaring across the little room at the strange half-figure propped up against the wall and covering him unwaveringly with a revolver, “what all this means!”
“Would you? Then I’ll tell you. It means that no little man like Oliver Swinnerton, and no smooth tool belonging to Oliver Swinnerton, is going to keep us from living up to our contract with the P. C. & W. Not if they resort to all of the dirty work their maggot-infested brains can concoct!”
When Brayley came in he found two men smoking cigarettes and sitting in watchful silence. And when Brayley understood conditions fully he took a chair in the doorway, moved his revolver so that it hung from his belt across his lap, and joined them in quiet smoking.
* * * * *
“To-morrow,” Conniston was saying to Argyl, just as Tommy Garton called to Wallace to put his hands up, “we are going to open the gates at Dam Number One, and the water will run down into the main canal and find its way to Valley City. I think we have won, Argyl!”
Conniston instantly saw the need of haste, the urgent necessity of acting speedily upon the advice tendered by Tommy Garton in his note.
“Arrest you!” Argyl had cried, indignantly. “Arrest you for being a man and doing your duty!”
“No, Argyl,” he told her, a bit anxiously. “Their reasons for causing my arrest now are simply that that man Swinnerton, not knowing when he is beaten, wants me out of the way for a few days. He is ready to spring another bit of his villainy, I suppose. But I do not think that Wallace is going to serve his warrant in a hurry.”
They laid their plans swiftly, Mr. Crawford agreeing silently as Conniston outlined the thing to be done. When the horses were ready Conniston walked cautiously to Tommy Garten’s window and peered in. And he was grinning contentedly when he returned to Mr. Crawford and his daughter.
“Tommy is the serenest law-breaker you ever saw,” he told them, as he swung to his horse after having helped Argyl to a place at her father’s side in the buckboard. “It’s a cure for the blues to see him sitting there on his cot covering his tame sheriff with a young cannon. There’ll be a fine, I suppose, for interfering with an officer in the pursuit of his duty.”