“We’re bound for the mines,” answered Bradley. “Your good lady, if so be as you live there—indicating the cabin-has just provided us with a capital supper.”
The newcomer glanced toward the door of the cabin, at which the woman now made her appearance.
“Givin’ you some supper, eh? I hope she’s saved some for me.”
“Yes, Jack,” said his wife, in a conciliatory tone; “there’s plenty for you. These strangers offered to pay well for supper and lodging, and I thought you wouldn’t object. I gave them the supper, but I wouldn’t say anything about the lodging until you came.”
“Well, stir round, old gal, and get me something to eat, for I’m dead hungry.”
“Supper is ready now, Jack.”
The man entered his cabin, and the next twenty minutes were consumed in repairing the ravages of hunger.
“How do you like his looks, Jake?” asked Ben, in a low voice.
“He’s just the sort of man I’d expect to find in a State prison,” answered Bradley. “That man’s a rascal, if looks mean anything.”
“I’ll tell you what he reminds me of, Jake. Did you ever read ’ Oliver Twist’?”
“All of a Twist? That’s a queer name. What is it?”
“It’s a story by Dickens. He describes a brutal villain, named Bill Sykes, who murders his wife.”
“This chap looks as if he wouldn’t mind doing it. His wife’s afraid of him, though half an hour ago I would have said she wasn’t afraid of anything.”
“That’s so. They seem pretty well matched.”
Presently the master of the cabin came out. It was not easy for his harsh features to look amiable, but his manner was no longer offensive. He even seemed inclined to be social.
“Traveled fur to-day?” he inquired.
“About thirty miles, as near as I can guess,” said Bradley.
“Is that your boy?”
“No, he’s no kin to me. We’re travelin’ together-that’s all.”
“Goin’ to the mines?”
“We are goin’ to Murphy’s.”
“Come from ’Frisco?”
The proprietor of the cabin at this reply fixed his eyes reflectively upon Ben and his companion.
“I’d like to know what he’s thinkin’ about,” said Bradley to himself. “Somehow I mistrust him. A man with that face can’t help bein’ a scoundrel.”
“Don’t you find it lonely livin’ out here?” he asked.
Jack Carter shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t care for company,” he said. “As long as me and the old woman get enough to eat, our own company’s good enough for us.”
“Are there any mines near-by?” asked Bradley.
“What inducement can he have to live out here in the wilderness?” thought Bradley. “If he were workin’ a mine now, I could understand. How does he make a livin’, I wonder?”
“Have you lived here long?” he asked.
“Quite a while.”