A BOLD BAD MAN
Bull had halted a moment outside the
door of the shack to roll a cigarette. Before
he pulled out his tobacco bag he leaned the rifle
against the doorjamb.
His eyes, unaccustomed to the darkness,
did not see the crouching Racey Dawson within arm’s-length.
Both of Bull’s hands were cupped
round the lighted match. He lifted it to the
end of the cigarette. He sucked in his breath
and a voice whispered: “Drop
that match an’ grab yore ears.”
Bull did not hesitate to obey, for
the broad, cold blade of a bowie rested lightly against
the back of his neck. Bull swayed a little where
“I got yore rifle,” resumed
the whisperer. “Walk away now. Yo’re
headin’ about right. Don’t make too
Bull did not make too much noise.
In fact, he made hardly any. It is safe to say
that he never progressed more quietly in his life.
The man with the bowie steered him to a safe haven
behind a fat white boulder half buried in sumac.
the captor in a conversational tone. “We
can be right comfortable here.”
“Dawson!” breathed the captive.
“Took you a long time to find
it out,” said Racey Dawson. “Si’down,
I said,” he added, sharply.
Bull obeyed, his back against the
rock, and was careful not to lower his hands.
Racey hunkered down and sat on a spurless heel.
The rifle was under his knee. He had exchanged
the bowie for a sixshooter. The firearm was trained
in the general direction of Bull’s stomach.
Racey smiled widely. He felt
very chipper and pleased with himself. He was
managing the affair well, he thought.
“You show up right plain against
that white rock,” he remarked. “If
yo’re figuring to gamble with me, think of that.”
“Whatcha want?” demanded Bull, sullenly.
“Lots of things,” replied
Racey, shifting a foot an inch to the left. “I’m
the most wantin’ feller you ever saw. Just
now this minute I want you to tell me where it was
you met up with Bill Smith and what it was he did
so bad that you and Marie think you’ve got a
hold on him.”
“You was listenin’ quite a while,”
“Quite a while,” admitted Racey Dawson.
“Quite a while.”
“But you didn’t listen quite hard enough,”
“No,” assented Racey,
“I didn’t. I’m expecting you
to sort of fill in the gaps.”
Bull shook a decided head. “No,”
he denied. “No, you got another guess comin’.
I won’t do nothin’ like that a-tall.”
“And why not?”
“Because I won’t.”
“‘Won’t’ got his neck broke
one day just because he wouldn’t.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” sneered Bull.
“You must forget I heard all
about how you tried to bushwhack me from the second
floor of the Starlight,” Racey put in, gently.
“Aw, that’s a damn lie,”
bluffed Bull. “A damn lie. All a mistake.
You heard wrong.”
Racey shook a disapproving head.
“When it’s after the draw,” he said,
“and you ain’t got a thing in yore hand,
and the other gents have everything and know they
have everything to yore nothing, she’s poor
poker to make a bluff. Whatsa use, sport, whatsa
“I dunno what yo’re talkin’ about,”
“Aw right, let it go at that. Who put you
up to bushwhack me?”
“Nun-nobody,” hesitated Bull.
“Yore own idea, huh?”
Bull spat disgustedly on the grass.
He had seen the trap after it had been sprung.
“You shore can’t play
poker,” smiled Racey, his eyes shining with
pleasure under the wide brim of his hat. “I The
starlight’s pretty bright remember.”
Bull’s sudden movement came
to naught. He settled back, his eyes furtively
“Still, alla same,” pursued
Racey, “I wonder was it all yore own idea.”
“Whatell didja kick me for?” snarled Bull.
“‘Kick you for?’” Racey repeated,
“Yeah, kick me,” said
Bull. “No damn man can kick me and me not
“Dunno as I blame you.
Dunno as I do. If any damn man kicks you, Bull,
you got a right to drill him every time. And you
think I kicked you?”
“I know you did.”
“You know I did, huh? Did you see me do
“You kicked me after you’d
knocked me silly with that bottle. Kicked me
when I was down and couldn’t help myself.”
“So I did all that to you after you were down,
huh? Who told you?”
“Nemmine who told me. You done it, that’s
“No, it ain’t enough.
It ain’t enough by a long mile. I want to
know who told you?”
“I ain’t sayin’.” Sullenly.
“Come to think, she’s
hardly necessary. Doc Coffin and Honey Hoke were
the only two gents in the Starlight at the time.
It was either one or both of ’em told you.
Maybe I’ll get a chance to ask ’em about
it later. Now I dunno whether you’ll believe
it or not but to tell the truth and be plain with
you, Bull, I didn’t kick you.”
“I don’t believe you.” But
Bull’s tone was not confident.
“I wouldn’t expect you
to under the circumstances. What I’m
tellin’ you is true alla same. Lookit,
you fool, is it likely after takin’ the trouble
to knock you down, I’d kick you besides?
Do I look like a sport who’d do a thing like
that? Think it over.”
Bull was silent. But Racey believed
that he had planted the seed of doubt in his mind.
“And another thing,” resumed
Racey, “do I look like a sport who’d let
another jigger lay for him promiscuous? You go
slow, Bull. I’m good-natured, a heap good-natured.
But don’t lemme catch you bushwhacking
“I won’t,” said Bull with a flash
“Be dead shore of it,”
cautioned Racey. “If I ever get to even
thinking that yo’re laying for me, Bull, I’m
liable to come a-askin’ questions you can’t
answer. Yo’re a bright young man, Bull,
but you want to be careful how you strain yore intellect.
You might need it some day. And if you want to
keep on being mother’s li’l helper, be
good, thassall, be good.”
“Yo’re worse’n a helldodger,”
“You got me sized up right.
I’m worse than a helldodger, a whole lot worse.”
The words were playful, but the tone was sardonic.
“You tell me, will you, just
where it was you met this Bill Smith-Jack Harpe feller,
and what it was he did? There’s a company
in it, too. What company is it the
“Ah-h, you got a gall, you have,”
sneered Bull, savagely. “Think you’ll
make something out of Harpe yore own self, huh?”
“That is my idea,” admitted Racey.
“Well, you got a gall, thassall I gotta say.”
“You forget you’ve got
a gall, too, when you try to bushwhack me,”
Racey reminded him. “I’m trying to
play even for that.”
“You seem to make it hard for me kind of,”
“Of course I’d enjoy makin’
it easy for you all I could,” observed
Bull with sarcasm.
“I dunno as I’d go so
far as to say that,” was the Dawson comment.
“But maybe it’s possible to persuade you
to tell me what you know.”
“Suppose I decided to leave you here.”
“You won’t.” Confidently.
“Because you ain’t shootin’ a unarmed
“Yet you think I’m the boy to kick one
“Sometimes I change my mind,” said Bull
with a harsh laugh.
“You laugh as loud as that again,”
said Racey, irritably, “and you’ll change
somethin’ besides yore mind. Don’t
be too trusting a jake, Bull, not too trusting.
I might surprise you yet. About that information
now I want it.”
“If anybody’s gonna make
money out of Harpe I am.” Thus Bull, stubbornly.
“I ain’t aimin’
to make money out of Harpe. What I’m
figuring to make out of him is somethin’ else
“Whatsa use of lying thataway? Don’t ”
“That’ll be about all,”
interrupted Racey. “You’ve called
me a liar enough for one night. I ain’t
got all kinds of patience. You going to
tell me what I want to know?”
“No, I ain’t.”
“Yo’re mistaken. You’ll tell
me, or you’ll leave town.”
“Yep, leave town, go away from
here, far, far away. So far away that you won’t
be able to blackmail Jack Harpe. See? Yore
knowledge won’t be worth a whoop to you then.
An’ I’ll find out what I want to know
“She’ll never tell.”
“Oh, I guess she will,”
said Racey, but he knew in his heart that worming
information out of Marie would not be easy. Saving
his life was one thing, but giving up information
with a money value would be quite another. The
amiable Marie was certainly not working for her health.
“Yo’re welcome to what you can get out
of her,” said Bull.
“Then you’ll be starting
to-night. From here we’ll go get yore hoss
and see you safely on yore way.”
“What’ll you gimme to tell you?”
inquired the desperate Bull.
“Nothin’ not a thin dime, feller.
C’mon, let’s go.”
“Nun-no, not yet. I say,
suppose you lemme talk to Jack Harpe first myself.
Just you lemme get my share out of him, and I’ll
tell you all you wanna know.”
“When you going to him?” Racey demanded,
“To-night if I can find him. It ain’t
so late. But to-morrow, anyway.”
“I’ll give you till sundown
to-morrow night. If you ain’t ready to
tell me then you’ll have to drift.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” sneered Bull.
“I’ve said it,” Racey said, shortly,
rising to his feet.
“There’s no ropes on you.
Skip.... Nemmine yore Winchester. She’s
all right where she is. So long, Bull, so long.”