“But they’re gone! You can’t do them no good by staying.”
“Yes; I know. An’ how about Lacey chipping in on our fight?” demanded Johnny. “I ain’t a-going to leave him to take it all. You go, Barr; it wasn’t yore fight, nohow. You didn’t even know what you was fighting for!”
“Huh! When anybody shoots at me it’s my fight, all right,” replied Barr, seating himself on the floor behind the breastwork. “I forgot all about Lacey,” he apologized. At that instant a tomato can went spang! and fell off the shelf. “An’ it’s too late, anyhow; they ain’t a-going to let nobody else get away on that side.”
“An’ they’re tuning up again, too,” Johnny replied, preparing for trouble. “Look out for a rush, Barr.”
THE BAR-20 RETURNS.
Hopalong Cassidy stopped swearing at the weather and looked up and along the trail in front of him, seeing a hard-riding man approach. He turned his head and spoke to Buck Peters, who rode close behind him. “Somebody’s shore in a hurry—why, it’s Fred Neal.”
It was. Mr. Neal was making his arms move and was also shouting something at the top of his voice. The noise of the rain and of the horses’ hoofs splashing in the mud and water at first made his words unintelligible, but it was not long before Hopalong heard something which made him sit up even straighter. In a moment Neal was near enough to be heard distinctly and the outfit shook itself out of its weariness and physical misery and followed its leader at reckless speed. As they rode, bunched close together, Neal briefly and graphically outlined the relative positions of the combatants, and while Buck’s more cautious mind was debating the best way to proceed against the enemy, Hopalong cried out the plan to be followed. There would be no strategy—Johnny, wounded and desperate, was fighting for his life. The simplest way was the best—a dash regardless of consequences to those making it, for time was a big factor to the two men in Jackson’s store.
“Ride right at ’em!” Hopalong cried. “I know that bunch. They’ll be too scared to shoot straight. Paralyze ’em! Three or four are gone now—an’ the whole crowd wasn’t worth one of the men they went out to get. The quicker it’s over the better.”
“Right you are,” came from the rear.
“Ride up the arroyo as close as we can get, an’ then over the edge an’ straight at ’em,” Buck ordered. “Their shooting an’ the rain will cover what noise we make on the soft ground. An’ boys, no quarter!”
“Reckon not!” gritted Red, savagely. “Not with Edwards an’ Jackson dead, an’ the Kid fighting for his life!”
“They’re still at it!” cried Lanky Smith, as the faint and intermittent sound of firing was heard; the driving wind was blowing from the town, and this, also, would deaden the noise of their approach.