“Give you six hops in the neck!” yelled Red, missing and almost sitting down because of the enthusiasm he had put into his effort. Johnny side-stepped and ducked, and as he straightened up to ask for whys and wherefores, Red’s eyes opened wide and he paused in his further intentions to stare at the apparition.
“Sick?” queried Hopalong, who was frightened.
“Gimme that drink!” demanded Johnny feverishly, and when he had it he leaned against the bar and mopped his face with a trembling hand.
“What’s the matter with you, anyhow?” asked Red, with deep anxiety.
“Yes; for God’s sake, what’s happened to you?” demanded Hopalong.
Johnny breathed deeply and threw back his shoulders as if to shake off a weight. “Fellers, I had a cougar soft-footing after me in that dark canyon, my cayuse ran away on a two-foot ledge up the wall,_—an’—I—saw—a—ghost_!”
There was a respectful silence. Johnny, waiting a reasonable length of time for replies and exclamations, flushed a bit and repeated his frank and candid statement, adding a few adjectives to it. “A real, screeching, flying ghost! An’ I’m going home, an’ I’m going to stay there. I ain’t never coming back no more, not for anything. Damn this border country, anyhow!”
The silence continued, whereupon Johnny grew properly indignant. “You act like I told you it was going to rain! Why don’t you say something? Didn’t you hear what I said, you fools!” he asked pugnaciously. “Are you in the habit of having a thing like that told you? Why don’t you show some interest, you dod-blasted, thick-skulled wooden-heads?”
Red looked at Hopalong, Hopalong looked at Red, and then they both looked at Dent, whose eyes were fixed in a stare on Johnny.
“Huh!” snorted Hopalong, warily arising. “Was that all?” he asked, nodding at Red, who also arose and began to move cautiously toward their erring friend. “Didn’t you see no more’n one ghost? Anybody that can see one ghost, an’ no more, is wrong somewhere. Now, stop, an’ think; didn’t you see two?” He was advancing carefully while he talked, and Red was now behind the man who saw one ghost.
“Why, you—” there was a sudden flurry and Johnny’s words were cut short in the melee.
“Good, Red! Ouch!” shouted Hopalong. “Look out! Got any rope, Dent? Well, hurry up: there ain’t no telling what he’ll do if he’s loose. The mescal they sells down in this country ain’t liquor—it’s poison,” he panted. “An’ he can’t even stand whiskey!”
Finding the rope was easier than finding a place to put it, and the unequal battle raged across the room and into the next, where it sounded as if the house were falling down. Johnny’s voice was shrill and full of vexation and his words were extremely impolite and lacked censoring. His feet appeared to be numerous and growing rapidly, judging from the amount of territory they covered and defended, and