“You better wait till you get help—there’s too many down there for one man to watch an’ handle,” Jackson hastily remarked. “Here, I’ll go with you,” he offered, looking for his hat.
Edwards laughed shortly. “You stay here. I do my own work by myself when I can—that’s what I’m here for, an’ I can do this, all right. If I took any help they’d reckon I was scared,” and the door slammed shut behind him.
“He’s got sand a plenty,” Jackson remarked. “He’d try to push back a stampede by main strength if he reckoned it was his duty. It’s his good luck that he wasn’t killed long ago—I’d ‘a’ been.”
“They’re a bunch of cowards,” replied Johnny. “As long as you ain’t afraid of ’em, none of ’em wants to start anything. Bunch of sheep!” he snorted. “Didn’t Jerry shoot me through his pocket?”
“Yes; an’ yo’re another lucky dog,” Jackson responded, having in mind that at first Johnny had been thought to be desperately wounded. “Why, yore friends have got the worst of this game; they’re worse off than you are—out all day an’ night in this cussed storm.”
While they talked Edwards made his way through the cold downpour to Harlan’s saloon, alone and unafraid, and greatly pleased by the order he would give. At last he had proof enough to work on, to satisfy his conscience, for the inevitable had come as the culmination of continued and clever defiance of law and order.
He deliberately approached the front door of the Oasis and, opening it, stepped inside, his hands resting on his guns—he had packed two Colts for the last twenty-four hours. His appearance caused a ripple of excitement to run around the room. After what had taken place, a visit from him could mean only one thing—trouble. And it was entirely possible that he had others within call to help him out if necessary.
Harlan knew that he would be the one held responsible and he ceased wiping a glass and held the cloth suspended in one hand and the glass in the other. “Well?” he snapped, angrily, his eyes smouldering with fixed hatred.
“Mebby you think it’s well, but it’s going to be a blamed sight better before sundown to-morrow night,” evenly replied the marshal. “I just dropped in sort of free-like to tell you to pack up an’ get out of town before dark—load yore wagon an’ vamoose; an’ take yore friends with you, too. If you don’t—” he did not finish in words, for his tightening lips made them unnecessary.
“What!” yelled Harlan, red with anger. He placed his hands on the bar and leaned over it as if to give emphasis to his words. “Me pack up an’ git! Me leave this shack! Who’s going to pay me for it, hey? Me leave town! You drop out again an’ go back to Kansas where you come from—they’re easier back there!”
“Well, so far I ain’t found nothing very craggy ’round here,” retorted Edwards, closely watching the muttering crowd by the bar. “Takes more than a loud voice an’ a pack of sneaking coyotes to send me looking for something easier. An’ let me tell you this: You stay away from Kansas—they hangs people like you back there. That’s whatever. You pack up an’ git out of this town or I’ll start a burying plot with you on yore own land.”