Shorty, the tawny giant, was a terrible figure. He seemed to be outwardly cool, and there was not a sign of passion in his manner. His hands swung limply at his sides, not a muscle in his body seeming to move. Unlike the other men, he was calm, seemingly unperturbed. So striking was the contrast between him and the other men that Lawler looked twice at him.
It was late when he awoke in the morning, and after he had eaten his frugal breakfast, he went over to the roadhouse for a supply of tobacco. Shorty was the only one present, for most of the miners were busy up the creek. Curly and his companions were still asleep after their night's vigil, and evidently would not show themselves for several hours.
A company coming at the doublequick was almost upon them. The "banker" made a final desperate claw for the money, but was met by the heavy fist of Shorty and knocked on his back. Shorty grabbed what money there was on the board, and he and Si made a burst of speed which took them out of reach of the "provos" in a few seconds.
Shorty carried the sack and the paper across the room and handed them to the weigher, who sat behind a large pair of gold-scales. Out of Shorty's sack he weighed 350 dollars, which he poured into the coffer of the house. "That hunch of yours was another one of those statistics," Smoke jeered. "I had to play it, didn't I, in order to find out?" Shorty retorted.
"Mebbe they've got mixed up with the Kankakee boys on our left, and'll come in all right after awhile. Mebbe they're out with Shorty somewhere. I'll wait till he comes in. Harry, I expect me and you'd better dig poor Jim's grave. There's no tellin' how long we'll stay here. Jim 'd rather we put him under than strangers what don't know and care for him.
"Ah, come!" says I, handin' him a paper knife. "But there's no need for haste," says J. Bayard. "Just consider, Shorty: In this envelop is the name of some individual who was the victim of injustice, large or small, at the hands of Pyramid Gordon, someone who got in his way, perhaps years ago. Now I am to do something that will offset that old injury.
"That'll not do," said Shorty with stern imperiousness. You're to go right back with me." Shorty enjoyed the manifest consternation in Billings's face as he heard this summons. The men of the office pricked up their ears, and looked meaningly at one another. Shorty saw it all, and stood as straight and stern as if about to lead Billings to execution.
But it was far into the night when they finally skirted the frowning palisades of Lookout Mountain, and went into bivouac on the banks of Chattanooga Creek. All of the squad wanted guns, and Si and Shorty had been desperately anxious to get them for them. At the stopping places were squads of guards, men more or less sick, and men on detached duty.
I'm hungrier'n a wolf. So must you be, Shorty. Le's hunt up Maria, and she'll take us where we kin git a square meal. Then we kin talk. I've got a hundred questions I want to ask you, but ain't goin' to do it on an empty gizzard. Come on."
Kit nodded, swayed his strength and weight tentatively on the steering-gear, and headed the boat for the plunge. Several minutes later, half-swamped and lying against the bank in the eddy below the White Horse, Shorty spat out a mouthful of tobacco juice and shook Kit's hand. "Meat! Meat!" Shorty chanted. "We eat it raw! We eat it alive!" At the top of the bank they met Breck.