“Well, boys,” exclaimed Harlan, “things are our way. Quinn, here, met Joe Barr, of the C-80, who said Converse an’ four other fellers, all friends of Edwards, stopped at the ranch an’ won’t be back home till the storm stops. Harper saw Fred Neil going back to his ranch, so all we’ve got to figger on is the marshal, Barr, an’ Jackson, an’ they’re all in Jackson’s store. Lacey might cut in, since he’d sell more liquor if I went under, but he can’t do very much if he does take a hand. Now we’ll get right at it.” The whole thing was gone over thoroughly and in detail, positions assigned and a signal agreed upon. Seeing that weapons were in good condition after their long storage in the cellar, and that cartridge belts were full, the ten men left the room one at a time or in pairs, Harlan and Laramie Joe being the last. And both Harlan and Laramie delayed long enough to take the precaution of placing horses where they would be handy in case of need.
Joe Barr laughingly replied to Johnny Nelson’s growled remarks about the condition of things in general and tried to soothe him, but Johnny was unsoothable.
“An’ I’ve been telling him right along that he’s got the best of it,” complained Jackson in a weary voice. “Got a measly hole through his shoulder—good Lord! if it had gone a little lower!” he finished with a show of exasperation.
“An’ ain’t I been telling you all along that it ain’t the measly hole in my shoulder that’s got me on the prod?” retorted Johnny, with more earnestness than politeness. “But why couldn’t I go with my friends after Jerry an’ get shot later if I had to get it at all? Look what I’m missing, roped an’ throwed in this cussed ten-by-ten shack while they’re having a little excitement.”
“Yo’re missing some blamed nasty weather, Kid,” replied the marshal. “You ain’t got no kick coming at all. Why, I got soaked clean through just going down to the Oasis.”
“Well, I’m kicking, just the same,” snapped Johnny. “An’ furthermore, I don’t see nobody big enough to stop me, neither—did you all get that?”
The rear door opened and Fred Neal looked in. “Hey, Barr; come out an’ gimme a hand in the corral. Busted my cinch all to pieces half a mile out—an’ how the devil it ever busted like that is—” the door slammed shut and softened his monologue.
“Would you listen to that!” snorted Barr in an injured tone. “Didn’t I go an’ tell him near a month ago that his cussed cinch wouldn’t hold no better’n a piece of wet paper?” His complaint added materially to the atmosphere of sullen discontent pervading the room. “An’ now I gotter go out in this rain an’—” the slam of the door surpassed anything yet attempted in that line of endeavor. Jackson grabbed a can of corn as it jarred off the shelf behind him and directed a pleasing phrase after the peevish Barr.