“Enough! Fifty cents! You don’t reckon—”
Before the man with the stake could say another word he was confronted with the muzzle of the pistol turned from the Bishop’s head towards his own.
“Leave that watch be! And put back the money too. This is the Bishop we’ve held up—the Bishop—do you hear?”
“And what of it! The President of the United States wouldn’t be too good to hold up, if—”
“I say, you put the money back, or in five seconds I’ll blow a hole through your head that’ll let in more sense than you have to spare now!” said the other.
For a second the man with the stake seemed to hesitate at this strange turn in events, as if measuring his companion’s intention. Then he hastily dropped the money back into the rifled pocket.
“You can take your hands down, sir.” The man lowered his weapon slowly, still keeping an eye on the other man, and speaking with rough respect. The Bishop slowly brought his arms to his side, and looked earnestly at the two men. In the dim light it was difficult to distinguish features. He was evidently free to go his way now, but he stood there making no movement.
“You can go on. You needn’t stay any longer on our account.” The man who had acted as spokesman turned and sat down on a stone. The other man stood viciously digging his stake into the ground.
“That’s just what I am staying for,” replied the Bishop. He sat down on a board that projected from the broken fence.
“You must like our company. It is hard sometimes for people to tear themselves away from us,” and the man standing up laughed coarsely.
“Shut up!” exclaimed the other. “We’re on the road to hell, though, that’s sure enough. We need better company than ourselves and the devil.”
“If you would only allow me to be of any help,” the Bishop spoke gently, even lovingly. The man on the stone stared at the Bishop through the darkness. After a moment of silence he spoke slowly like one who had finally decided upon a course he had at first rejected.
“Do you remember ever seeing me before?”
“No,” said the Bishop. “The light is not very good and I have really not had a good look at you.”
“Do you know me now?” The man suddenly took off his hat and getting up from the stone walked over to the Bishop until they were near enough to touch each other.
The man’s hair was coal black except one spot on the top of his head about as large as the palm of the hand, which was white.
The minute the Bishop saw that, he started. The memory of fifteen years ago began to stir in him. The man helped him.
“Don’t you remember one day back in ’81 or ’82 a man came to your house and told a story about his wife and child having been burned to death in a tenement fire in New York?”
“Yes, I begin to remember now.” The other man seemed to be interested. He ceased digging his stake in the ground and stood still listening.