“I only wish your passive co-operation. I should be glad, however, if you would let me take a horse, if I must.”
“Certainly, as long as you leave my black mare.”
Brandt related what had occurred, giving a comical aspect to everything, and then, after reconnoitring the road from a darkened window, regained his cover in safety. He declined to speak of his future plans or to give any clew to his hiding-place, to which he now returned.
During the few remaining hours of darkness and most of the next day, he slept and lounged about his fire. The next night was too bright and clear for anything beyond a reconnoissance, and he saw evidences of an alertness which made him very cautious. He did not seek another interview with Mr. Alford, for now nothing was to be gained by it.
The next day proved cloudy, and with night began a violent storm of wind and rain. Brandt cowered over his fire till nine o’clock, and then taking a slight draught from his flask, chuckled, “This is glorious weather for my work. Here’s to Clara’s luck this time!”
In little over an hour he started for the mine, near which he concealed his horse. Stealing about in the deep shadows, he soon satisfied himself that no one was on the watch, and then approaching the rear of Bute’s shanty, found to his joy that the pony was in the shed. A chink in the board siding enabled him to look into the room which contained his prey; he started as he saw Apache Jack, instantly recognizing in him another criminal for whom a large reward was offered.
“Better luck than I dreamed of,” he thought. “I shall take them both; but I now shall have to borrow a horse of Alford;” and he glided away, secured an animal from the stable, and tied it near his own. In a short time he was back at his post of observation. It had now become evident that no one even imagined that there was danger while such a storm was raging. The howling wind would drown all ordinary noises; and Brandt determined that the two men in the shanty should be on their way to jail that night. When he again put his eye to the chink in the wall, Bute was saying:
“Well, no one will start fer the mountings while this storm lasts, but, wound or no wound, I must get out of this as soon as it’s over. There’s no safety fer me here now.”
“Ef they comes fer you, like enough they’ll take me,” replied Apache Jack, who, now that he was alone with his confederate, could speak his style of English fast enough. His character of half-breed was a disguise which his dark complexion had suggested. “Ter-morrer night, ef it’s clar, we’ll put out fer the easterd. I know of a shanty in the woods not so very fur from here in which we kin put up till yer’s able ter travel furder. Come, now, take a swig of whiskey with me and then we’ll sleep; there’s no need of our watchin’ any longer on a night like this. I’ll jest step out an’ see ef the pony’s safe; sich a storm’s ’nuff ter scare him off ter the woods.”