“I won’t. It’s my own.”
“The errand on which you come is my warrant for demanding it.”
“I won’t give you the knife, but I’ll go back,” said O’Reilly.
“That won’t do.”
“Don’t you go too far, Dick Dewey. I’m your aiqual.”
“No man is my equal who creeps to my tent at the dead of night. Do you know what the camp will think, O’Eeilly?”
“And what will they think?”
“That you came to rob me.”
“Then they’ll think a lie!” said O’Reilly, startled, for he knew that on such a charge he would be liable to be suspended to the nearest tree.
“If they chose to think so, it would be bad for you.”
“You know it isn’t so Dick Dewey,” said O’Reilly.
“I consider your intention quite as bad. You wanted to prevent this poor Chinaman from ever returning to his native land, though he had never injured you in any way. You can’t deny it.”
“I don’t belave a word of all that rigmarole, Dick Dewey.”
“It makes little difference whether you believe it or not. You have shown a disposition to injure and annoy Ki Sing, but I have foiled you. And now,” here Dewey’s tone became deep and stern, “give me that knife directly, and go back to your tent, or I’ll rouse the camp, and they may form their own conclusions as to what brought you here.”
O’Reilly felt that Dewey was in earnest, and that he must yield. He did so with a bad grace enough and slunk back to his tent, which he did not leave till morning.
Early in the morning, Richard Dewey awakened Ki Sing.
“You had better not stay here, Ki Sing,” he said. “There are those who would do you mischief. Go into the mountains, and you may find gold. There you will be safe.”
“Melican man velly good-me go,” said the Chinaman submissively.
“Good luck to you, Ki Sing!”
“Good luckee, Melican man!”
So the two parted, and when morning came to the camp, nothing was to be seen of the Chinaman.
Dewey returned O’Reilly’s knife, the latter receiving it in sullen silence.
It was not long afterward that Richard Dewey himself left Murphy’s in search of a richer claim.
On the mountain path.
My readers will not have forgotten Bill Mosely and his companion Tom Hadley, who played the mean trick upon Bradley and our hero of stealing their horses. I should be glad to state that they were overtaken and punished within twenty-four hours, but it would not be correct. They had a great advantage over their pursuers, who had only their own feet to help them on, and, at the end of the first day, were at least ten miles farther on than Ben and Bradley.
As the two last, wearied and well-nigh exhausted, sat down to rest, Bradley glanced about him long and carefully in all directions.