After taking some refreshment himself, Brandt decided to go to the thicket opposite the superintendent’s house for a little observation. He soon reached this outlook, and saw that something unusual was occurring in the cottage. At last the door opened, and Bute was assisted to his shanty by two men. They had scarcely disappeared before Brandt darted across the road and knocked for admittance.
“Great Scott! you here?” exclaimed Mr. Alford.
“Yes, and here I’m going to stay till I take my man,” replied the detective, with a laugh. “Don’t be alarmed. I shall not remain in your house, but in the neighborhood.”
“You are trifling with your life, and, I may add, with mine.”
“Not at all. Come up to your bedroom. First draw the curtains close, and we’ll compare notes. I won’t stay but a few moments.”
Mr. Alford felt that it was best to comply, for some one might come and find them talking in the hall. When Brandt entered the apartment, he threw himself into a chair and laughed in his low careless style as he said, “Well, I almost bagged my game to-night, and would have done so had not three of your men, returning from the tavern, interfered.”
“There’s a party out looking for you now.”
“I know it; but I’ve put them on the wrong trail. What I want to learn is, will Bute live?”
“Yes; your shot made a long flesh-wound just above his shoulders. A little closer, and it would have cut his vertebrae and finished him. He has lost a good deal of blood, and could not be moved for some days except at some risk.”
“You are sure of that?”
“Well, he may have to incur the risk. I only wish to be certain that he will not take it on his own act at once. You’ll soon miss him in any event.”
“The sooner the better. I wish your aim had been surer.”
“That wasn’t my good luck. Next time I’ll have to shoot closer or else take him alive.”
“But you can’t stay in this region. They will all be on the alert now.”
“Oh, no. The impression will be general to-morrow that I’ve made for the lowlands as fast as my horse could carry me. Don’t you worry. Till I move again, I’m safe enough. All I ask of you now is to keep Bute in his own shanty, and not to let him have more than one man to take care of him if possible. Good-night. You may not see me again, and then again you may.”
“Well, now that you are here,” said the superintendent, who was naturally brave enough, “spend an hour or two, or else stay till just before daylight. I confess I am becoming intensely interested in your adventure, and would take a hand in it if I could; but you know well enough that if I did, and it became known, I would have to find business elsewhere very suddenly—that is, if given the chance.”