into the hotel. They was mighty still 'bout it, too."
"You couldn't tell who they were?"
"They wa'n't like nuthin' but shadders; it was a purty dark night."
"So it was, Sadie. Do you imagine Timmons had anything to do with the
"Timmons? Not him. There wa'n't no figure like his in that bunch; I'd
know him in the dark."
"But the woman might not have been Miss Donovan; isn't there another
young lady here from the East?"
Sadie tossed her head, but with her eyes cautiously fixed on the office
"Humph; you mean the peroxid blonde! She ain't no _lady_. Well, it
wa'n't her, that's a cinch; she was down yere to breakfast, a laughin'
an' gigglin' with them two men 'bout an hour ago. They seemed ter feel
mighty good over something but I couldn't quite make out just what the
joke was. Say, did yer ever hear tell of a Mexican named Mendez?"
"Well, rather; he's a cattle thief, or worse. Arizona has a big reward
out for him, dead or alive."
"That's the gink, I bet yer; has he got a hang-out anywhar 'round this
"Not so far as I know; in fact, I haven't heard the fellow's name
mentioned for six months, or more. What makes you suspect this?"
Sadie leaned even closer, her voice trembling with excitement,
evidently convinced that her information was of the utmost importance.
"For God's sake, Mr. Westcott," she whispered, "don't never tell
anybody I told yer, but she was awful good ter me, an' that pasty-faced
blonde makes me sick just ter look at her. You know the feller they
call Enright, I reckon he's a lawyer."
"Well, he was doin' most of the talkin', an' I was foolin' round the
sideboard yonder, pretendin' ter clean it up. Nobody thought I was in
ear distance, but I got hold ov a word now an' then. He kept tellin'
'em, 'specially the blonde, 'bout this Mexican, who's a friend of Bill
Lacy, an' I judge has a place whar he hangs out with his gang somewhar
in the big desert."
"Was anything said about Miss Donovan?"
"Not by name; they was too smart for that; but that was the direction
Matt Moore drove off last night - there's Enright comin' down-stairs
now; won't yer hav' some more cakes, sir?"
Westcott pushed back his chair and rose to his feet. He had extracted
all the information the girl possessed, and had no wish to expose her
to suspicion. There was no longer a doubt in his mind as to the fate
of Miss Donovan. She had been forcibly abducted by this gang of
thieves, and put where her knowledge could do them no harm. But where?
The clue had been given him, but before it could be of any value he
must learn more of this Mexican, Mendez. The name itself was familiar
enough, for it was one often spoken along the border in connection with
crime, but beyond this meant nothing to him. The fellow had always
appeared a rather mythical character, but now became suddenly real.
The marshal might know; if not, then he must choke the truth out of
Lacy. Determined to make the effort, he muttered a swift word of
thanks to Sadie and left the room.
Enright was not in the office, but had evidently merely passed through
and gone out. Timmons was sound asleep in a chair by the window,
oblivious to any ordinary noise. From the open doorway Westcott took
careful survey Of the street, adjusting his belt so that the butt of
his revolver was more convenient to the hand. He had no conception
that his coming interview with Lacy was to be altogether a pleasant
one, and realised fully the danger confronting him.
Very few of the citizens of Haskell were abroad, although a small group
were ornamenting the platform in front of Healey's saloon opposite. At
that moment the little marshal, his broad-brimmed hat cocked over one
eye, emerged from the narrow alleyway between the Red Dog and the
adjacent dance-hall, and stood there doubtfully, his gaze wandering up
and down the deserted street. As Westcott descended the hotel-steps,
the marshal saw him, and came forward. His manner was prompt and
"Hello, Jim," he said rather briskly, "I was sorter lookin' 'round fer
yer; somebody said yer hoss was up at the stable. Had a little trouble
up your way last night, I hear."
"Nothing to bother you, Dan; my Mexican watchman was shot up through a
window of the shack."
"Instantly; I told the coroner all about it. Whoever the fellow was I
reckon he meant the shot for me, but poor JosÃ© got it."
"Yer didn't glimpse the critter?"
"No, it was long after dark. I've got my suspicions, but they'll keep.
Seen Bill Lacy this morning?"
The marshal's thin lips smiled grimly as his eyes lifted to Westcott's
"He's back there in his office. That's what I stopped yer for. He
said he rather expected ye'd be along after awhile. What's up between
yer, Jim? Not this Mexican shootin' scrape?"
"Not unless he mentions it, Dan, although I reckon he might be able to
guess how it happened. Just now I've got some other things to talk
about - he's cutting into my vein."
"The hell he is!"
"Sure; I got proof of it last night. He's running a cross channel. I
was down his shaft."
"I heard he's knocked off work; discharged his men."
"Yes, but only to give him time in which to pull off some other
deviltry. That gave me opportunity to learn just what was being done.
I slipped into the workings after the gang had left, and now I've
blocked his game. Say, Dan, what do you know about that Mexican,
"Nuthin' good. I never put eyes on the fellow. Some claim he's got a
place where he hides, out thar in the Shoshone desert, but I never got
hold of anybody yet as really knew."
"There is such a man, then?"
"Sure. Why he an' his gang had a pitched battle down on Rattlesnake
'bout six months ago; killed three of the sheriff's posse, an' got
away. Seemed like the whole outfit naturally dropped inter the earth.
Never saw hide ner hair of 'em afterward."
"I've heard that he and Bill Lacy were in cahoots."
"Likely enough; ain't much Lacy ain't into. He's been sellin' a pile
of cattle over at Taylorsville lately, an' likely most of 'em was
stole. But hell! What can I do? Besides, that's the sheriff's job,
ain't it? What yer goin' in to see him about, Jim?"
"Only to ask a few questions."
"There ain't goin' ter be no fight er nuthin'?" anxiously.
"I don't see any cause for any," he answered. "But Bill might be a bit
touchy. Maybe, Dan, it might be worth while for you to hang around.
Do as you please about that."
He turned away and went up the wooden steps to the door of the Red Dog.
The marshal's eyes followed him solicitously until he disappeared
within; then he slipped back into the alleyway, skirting the side of
the building, until he reached a window near the rear.
Westcott closed the door behind him and took a swift view of the
barroom. There were not many present at that hour - only a few habitual
loafers, mostly playing cards; a porter was sweeping up sawdust and a
single bartender was industriously swabbing the bar with a towel.
Westcott recognised most of the faces with a slight feeling of relief.
Neither Enright nor Beaton were present, and it was his desire to meet
Lacy alone, away from the influence of these others. He crossed over
to the bar.
"Where's Bill?" he asked.
"Back there," and the dispenser of drinks inclined his head toward a
door at the rear. "Go on in."
The fellow's manner was civil enough, yet Westcott's teeth set with a
feeling that he was about to face an emergency. Yet there was no other
way; he must make Lacy talk. He walked straight to the door, opened
it, stepped into the room beyond, and turned the key in the lock,
dropping it into his pocket. Then he faced about. He was not alone
with Lacy; Enright sat beside the desk of the other and was staring at
him in startled surprise. Westcott also had a hazy impression that
there was or had been another person. The saloon-keeper rose to his
feet, angry, and thrown completely off his guard by Westcott's
"What the hell does that mean?" he demanded hotly. "Why did you lock
"Naturally, to keep you in here until I am through with you," returned
the miner coldly. "Sit down, Lacy; we've got a few things to talk
over. You left word for me at the hotel, and, being a polite man, I
accepted your invitation. I supposed I would find you alone."
Lacy sank back into his chair, endeavouring to smile.
"This gentleman is a friend of mine," he explained. "Whatever you care
to say can be said before him."
"I am quite well aware of that and also that he is now present so that
you may use him as a witness in case anything goes wrong. This is once
you have got in bad, Mr. Patrick Enright, of New York."
The lawyer's face whitened, and his hands gripped the arms of his chair.
"You - you know me?"
"By reputation only," and Westcott bowed, "but that is scarcely to your
credit. I know this, however, that for various reasons you possess no
desire to advertise your presence in Haskell. It would be rather a
difficult matter to explain back in the city just what you were doing
out here in such intimate association with a chorus girl and a Bowery
gunman, let alone our immaculate friend, Lacy, yonder. The courts, I
believe, have not yet distributed the Cavendish money."
Enright's mouth was open, but no sound came from his lips; he seemed to
be gasping for breath.
"I merely mention this," went on Westcott slowly, "to help you grasp
the situation. We have a rough, rude way of handling such matters out
here. Now Lacy and I have got a little affair to settle between us
and, being a fair-minded man, he sent for me to talk it over. However,
he realises that an argument of that nature might easily become
personal and that if anything unpleasant occurred he would require a
witness. So he arranges to have you present. Do you see the point,
The lawyer's eyes sought Lacy, and then returned to the stern face
confronting him. His lips sputtered:
"As - as a witness?"
"Sure; there may be honour among thieves, but not Lacy's kind." He
strode forward and with one hand crunched Enright back into his chair.
"Now, listen to me," he said fiercely. "I've got only one word of
advice for you: don't take any hand in this affair, except as a
peacemaker, for if you do, you are going to get hurt. Now, Bill Lacy,
I'm ready to talk with you. I was down in your shaft last night."
The saloonman lit a cigar and leaned back in his chair.
"I ought to have thought of that, Westcott," he admitted. "Still, I
don't know that I give a damn."
"The work hadn't been left in very good shape, and I found the cross
tunnel and measured it. You are within a few feet of my vein. The
county surveyor ought to have been out there two hours ago."
Lacy straightened up, all semblance of indifference gone, an oath on
"You cur! You filed complaint? When?"
"At seven o'clock this morning. We'll fight that out in the courts.
However, that isn't what I came here for at all. I came to ask you a
question and one of you two are going to answer before I leave - keep
your hand up, and in sight, Lacy; make another move like that and it's
liable to be your last. I am not here in any playful mood, and I know
your style. Lay that gun on the desk where I can see it - that's right.
Now move your chair back."
Lacy did this with no good grace, his face purple with passion.
Westcott had been too quick, too thoroughly prepared for him, but he
would watch his opportunity. He could afford to wait, knowing the
cards he had up his sleeve.
"Some considerable gun-play just to ask a question," he said
tauntingly, "must be mighty important. All right, what is it?"
"Where did your man Moore take Miss Donovan last night?"
CHAPTER XXI: THE MARSHAL PLAYS A HAND
Neither man had anticipated this; neither had the slightest conception
that any suspicion of this kind pointed at them. The direct question
was like the sudden explosion of a bomb. What did Westcott know? How
had he discovered their participation in the affair? The fact that
Westcott unhesitatingly connected Matt Moore with the abduction was in
itself alone sufficient evidence that he based his inquiry on actual
knowledge. Enright had totally lost power of speech, positive terror
plainly depicted in his eyes, but Lacy belonged to another class of the
_genus homo_. He was a Western type, prepared to bluff to the end.
His first start of surprise ended in a sarcastic smile.
"You have rather got the better of me, Westcott," he said, shrugging
his shoulders, as though dismissing the subject. "You refer to the New
York newspaper woman?"
"I do - Miss Stella Donovan."
"I have not the pleasure of that lady's acquaintance, but Timmons
informed me this morning that she had taken the late train last night
for the East - isn't that true, Enright?"
The lawyer managed to nod, but without venturing to remove his gaze
from Westcott's face. The latter never moved, but his eyes seemed to
"I have had quite enough of that, Lacy," he said sternly, and the
watchful saloon-keeper noted his fingers close more tightly on the butt
of his revolver. "This is no case for an alibi. I know exactly what I
am talking about, and - I am going to have a direct answer, either from
you or Enright.
"This is the situation: I was the man listening at the window of your
shack last night. Moore may, or may not have recognised me, but,
nevertheless, I was the man. I was there long enough to overhear a
large part of your conversation. I know why you consented to close
down La Rosita for the present; I know your connection with this gang
of crooks from New York; I know that Fred Cavendish was not murdered,
but is being held a prisoner somewhere, until Enright, here, can steal
his money under some legal form. I know you have claimed, and been
promised, your share of the swag - isn't that true?"
"It's very damn interesting anyway - but not so easy to prove. What
"This: Enright told you who Stella Donovan was, and what he suspected
her object might be. Force is the only method you know anything about,
and no other means occurred to you whereby the girl could be quickly
put out of the way. This was resorted to last night after you returned
to Haskell. I do not pretend to know how it was accomplished, nor do I
greatly care. Through some lie, no doubt. But, anyway, she was
inveigled into leaving the hotel, seized by you and some of your gang,
forced into a wagon, and driven off by Matt Moore."
"You are a good dreamer. Why not ask Timmons to show you the letter
"I have already seen it. You thought you had the trail well covered.
That note was written not by Miss Donovan, but by the blonde in your
outfit. The whole trouble is that your abduction of Stella Donovan was
witnessed from a back window of the hotel."
Lacy leaped to his feet, but Westcott's gun rose steadily, and the man
stood with clenched hands, helpless in his tracks.
"Who says that?" he demanded.
"I am mentioning no names at present, but the very fact that I know
these things ought to be sufficient. You better sit down, Lacy, before
you forget yourself and get hurt. If you imagine this gun isn't
loaded, a single step forward will test it. Sit down! I am not
There was a quiet, earnest threat in the voice which Lacy understood,
the sort of threat which meant strict attention to business, and he
relaxed into his chair.
"I'll get you for this, Westcott," he muttered savagely, hate burning
in his eyes. "I haven't played my last cards - yet."
The miner smiled grimly, but with no relaxation of vigilance. He was
into it now, and proposed seeing it through.
"I have a few left myself," he returned soberly. "Your man Moore drove
south, taking the road leading into the Shoshone desert, and he had
another one of your gang with him. Then you, and two others, went back
into the hotel, using the outside stairs. I take it the two others
were Enright, here, and Ned Beaton."
He leaned forward, his face set like flint.
"Now see here, Lacy. I know these things. I can prove them by a
perfectly competent witness. It is up to you to answer my questions,
and answer them straight. I've got you two fellows dead to rights
anyway you look at it. If you dare lay hands on me I'll kill you; if
you refuse to tell me what I want to know, I'll swear out warrants
inside of thirty minutes. Now what do you choose?"
For the first time Lacy's eyes wavered, their defiance gone, as he
glanced aside at Enright, who had collapsed in his chair, a mere
heavily breathing, shapeless thing. The sight of the coward seemed to
stiffen him to a species of resistance.
"If I answer - what then?" he growled desperately.
"What is offered me?"
Westcott moistened his lips. He had not before faced the situation
from this standpoint, yet, with only one thought in his mind, he
"I am not the law," he said, "and all I am interested in now is the
release of Fred Cavendish and Stella Donovan. I'll accomplish that if
it has to be over your dead bodies. Beyond this, I wash my hands of
the whole affair. What I want to know is - where are these two?"
"Would you believe me if I said I did not know?"
"No, Lacy. It has come down to the truth, or your life. Where is
He heard no warning, no sound of movement, yet some change in the
expression of the man's eyes confronting him caused him to slightly
turn his head so as to vaguely perceive a shadow behind. It was all
so quickly, silently done, he barely had time to throw up one hand in
defence, when his arms were gripped as though in a vise, and he was
thrown backward to the floor, the chair crushed beneath his weight.
Lacy fairly leaped on his prostrate body, forgetting his gun lying on
the desk in the violence of hate, his hands clutching at the exposed
throat. For an instant Westcott was so dazed and stunned by this
sudden attack from behind as to lie there prone and helpless, fairly
crushed beneath the bodies of his two antagonists.
It was this that gave him his chance, for, convinced that he was
unconscious, both men slightly relaxed their grip, thus giving him
opportunity to regain breath, and stiffen his muscles for a supreme
effort. With one lashing out of a foot that sent Enright hurtling
against the farther wall, he cracked Lacy's head against a corner of
the desk, and closed in deadly struggle with the third man, whom he now
recognised as Beaton.
Before the latter could comprehend what had happened the miner was on
top, and a clenched fist was driven into his face with all the force of
a sledge-hammer. But barroom fighting was no novelty to the gunman,
nor had he any scruples as to the methods employed. With teeth sunk in
his opponent's arm, and fingers gouging at his eyes, the fellow
struggled like a mad dog; yet, in spite of every effort to restrain
him, Westcott, now filled with the fierce rage of battle, broke free,
fairly tearing himself from Beaton's desperate clutch, and pinning him
helplessly against the wall.
At the same instant Lacy, who had regained his feet, leaped upon him
from behind, striking with all his force, the violence of the blow,
even though a grazing one, driving the miner's head into the face of
Both went down together, but Westcott was on his feet again before Lacy
could act, closing with the latter. It was hand-to-hand, the silent
struggle for mastery between two men not unevenly matched, men asking
and receiving no mercy. The revolver of one lay on the floor, the
other still reposed on the open desk, and neither could be reached. It
was a battle to be fought out with bare hands. Twice Westcott struck,
his clenched fist bringing blood, but Lacy clung to him, one hand
twisted in his neck-band, the other viciously forcing back his head.
Unable to release the grip, Westcott gave back, bending until his
adversary was beyond balance; then, suddenly straightening, hurled the
fellow sidewise. But by now Beaton, dazed and confused, was upon his
feet. With the bellow of a wild bull he flung himself on the
struggling men, forcing Lacy aside, and smashing into Westcott with all
the strength of his body. The impetus sent all three crashing to the
Excited voices sounded without; then blows resounded against the wood
of the locked door, but the three men were oblivious to all but their
own struggle. Like so many wild beasts they clutched and struck,
unable to disentangle themselves. Enright, his face like chalk, got to
his knees and crept across the floor until his hand closed on
Westcott's revolver. Lifting himself by a grip on the desk, he swung
the weapon forward at the very instant the miner rose staggering,
dragging Beaton with him. There was a flash of flame, a sharp report,
and Westcott sprang aside, gripping the back of a chair. The gunman
sank into shapelessness on the floor as the chair hurtled through the
air straight at Enright's head.
With a crash the door fell, and a black mass of men surged in through
the opening, the big bartender leading them, an axe in his hand.
Beaton lay motionless just as he had dropped; Enright was in one
corner, dazed, unnerved, a red gash across his forehead, from which
blood dripped, the revolver, struck from his fingers, yet smoking on
the floor; Westcott, his clothes torn, his face bruised by blows,
breathing heavily, went slowly backward, step by step, to the farther
wall, conscious of nothing now but the savagely hostile faces of these
new enemies. Lacy, staggering as though drunk, managed to attain his
feet, hate, the desire for revenge, yielding him strength. This was
his crowd, and his mind was quick to grasp the opportunity.
"There's the man who did it," he shouted, his arm flung out toward
Westcott. "I saw him shoot. See, that's his gun lying on the floor.
Don't let the murderer get away!"
He started forward, an oath on his lips, and the excited crowd surged
after, growling anger. Then the mass of them seemed suddenly rent
asunder, and the marshal ploughed his way through heedlessly, his hat
gone, and a blue-barrelled gun in either hand. He swept the muzzle of
one of these into the bartender's face menacingly, his eyes searching
the maddened crowd.
"Wait a minute, you," he commanded sharply. "I reckon I've got
something to say 'bout this. Put down that axe, Mike, or ye'll never
draw another glass o' beer in this camp. You know me, lads, an' I
never draw except fer business. Shut your mouth, Lacy; don't touch
that gun, you fool! I am in charge here - this is my job; and if there
is going to be any lynching done, it will be after you get me. Stand
back now; all of you - yes, get out into that barroom. I mean you,
Mike! This man is my prisoner, and, by God, I'll defend him. Ay! I'll
do more, I'll let him defend himself. Here, Westcott, pick up your gun
on the floor. Now stand here with me! We're going out through that
bunch, and if one of those coyotes puts a paw on you, let him have it."
The crowd made way, reluctantly enough, growling curses, but with no
man among them sufficiently reckless to attempt resistance. They
lacked leadership, for the little marshal never once took his eye off
Lacy. At the door he turned, walking backward, trusting in Westcott to
keep their path clear, both levelled revolvers ready for any movement.
He knew Haskell, and he knew the character of these hangers-on at the
"Red Dog." He realised fully the influence of Bill Lacy, and
comprehended that the affair was far from being ended; but just now he
had but one object before him - to get his prisoner safely outside into
the open. Beyond that he would trust to luck, and a fair chance. His
grey eyes were almost black as they gleamed over the levelled revolver
barrels, and his clipped moustache fairly bristled.
"Not a step, you!" he muttered. "What's the matter, Lacy? Do you want
to die in your tracks? Mike, all I desire is an excuse to make you the
deadest bung-starter in Colorado. Put down that gun, Carter! If just
one of you lads come through that door, I'll plug these twelve shots,
and you know how I shoot - Lacy will get the first one, and Mike the
second. Stand there now! Go on out, Jim; I'm right along with you."
They were far from free even outside the swinging doors and in the
sunshine. Already a rumour of what had occurred had spread like
wildfire, and men were on the street, eager enough to take some hand in