The loop of Crawford's lariat still encircled the gross neck of the convict. Crawford and Dave, with their prisoner, lay out in the chaparral for an hour, then made their way back to Malapi by a wide circuit. They did not want to meet Shorty and Doble, for that would result in a pitched battle. They preferred rather to make a report to the sheriff and let him attempt the arrest of the bandits.
Th' executors was kind o' fool people, both on 'em I d'no' what possessed Jason Doble to choose them for 'xecutors, when he might ha' hed the pick o' the State lunatic asylum an' got some fools as knew something; but so 'twas, an' I s'pose so 'twas meant to be.
Deeds, mortgages, oil stocks, old receipts: he wanted none of these, and tossed them to the floor as soon as he discovered there were no banknotes among them. Compartment after compartment he rifled. Behind a package of abstracts he found a bunch of greenbacks tied together by a rubber band at each end. The first bill showed that the denomination was fifty dollars. Doble investigated no farther.
The foreman nodded. He was a large leather-faced man in the late thirties. His reputation in the cattle country was that of a man ill to cross. Dug Doble was a good cowman none better. Outside of that his known virtues were negligible, except for the primal one of gameness. "Might as well lose a few bucks myself, seeing as Whiskey Bill belongs to me," said Miller with his wheezy laugh.
"We'll travel if you don't feel called on to go back an' stomp out the mist, Shorty," he added with sarcasm. The cowpuncher took the trail again. Like many men, he was not proof against a sneer. Dug was probably right, Shorty decided, and he did not want to make a fool of himself. Doble would ride him with heavy jeers all day. An hour later they rested their horses on the divide.
I don't want to harm him, but I must know. He took Joyce Crawford into the hills last night to Dug Doble pretended her father had been hurt and he had been sent to lead her to him. I must save her from Doble, not from Otero. Help me. I will give you money a hundred dollars, two hundred." She stared at him. "Did Juan do that?" she murmured. "Yes. You know Doble. He's a devil.
His bronco was fast, willing, and very intelligent, but the little range pony had not been designed to show its heels to a near-thoroughbred. "Are you ready?" Doble asked of the two men in the saddles. His brother said, "Let 'er go!" Sanders nodded. The revolver barked. Chiquito was off like a flash of light, found its stride instantly.
He was egging him on to a rage that would throw away all caution and all scruples. "He'll never live to run for office!" the cattleman cried hoarsely. "They talk him for sheriff. Say Applegate's no good too easy-going. Say Sanders'll round up you an' Shorty pronto when he's given authority." Doble ripped out a wild and explosive oath.
Some time I'm liable to have to " Doble left his sentence suspended in air, but Steelman, looking into his bleak eyes, knew what the man meant. "What's wrong with him now, Dug?" "Well, he's been wrong ever since I had to bump off Tim Harrigan. Talks about a fair break. As if I had a chance to let the old man get to a gun. No, I'm not so awful sure of Shorty." "Better watch him.
"I'll show 'em!" cried the enraged bully with a furious oath. "I'll bet you do. No man livin' can make a fool outa Dug Doble, rustle the evidence to send him to the pen, snap his fingers at him, and on top o' that steal his girl. That's what I told " Doble leaned across the table and caught in his great fist the wrist of Steelman. His bloodshot eyes glared into those of the man opposite.