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Oh, You Tex! By William MacLeod Raine Characters: 4611

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

The inner room was dark, and for a moment Jack stood blinking while his eyes accustomed themselves to the gloom.

A voice growled a question at him. "What do you want now, Mr. Grandstander?"

"I want you."

"What for?"

"You'll find out presently. Come along."

For a moment Dinsmore did not move. Then he slouched forward. He noticed that the Ranger was not armed. Another surprise met him when he stepped into the outer room. The jailer lay on the floor bound.

The outlaw looked quickly at Roberts, a question in his eyes. Jack unlocked his handcuffs. They had been left on him because the jail was so flimsy.

"My rifle an' six-shooters are on the shelf there, Dinsmore. A horse packed with grub is waitin' outside for you. Make for the short-grass country an' cross the line about Deaf Smith County to the Staked Plains. I reckon you'll find friends on the Pecos."

"Yes?" asked Dinsmore, halfway between insolence and incredulity.

"That's my advice. You don't need to take it if you don't want to."

"Oh, it listens good to me. I'll take it all right, Mr. Ranger. There are parties in Mexico that can use me right now at a big figure. The Lincoln County War is still goin' good." The bad-man challenged Roberts with bold eyes. "But what I'm wonderin' is how much Clint Wadley paid you to throw down Cap Ellison."

The anger burned in Jack's face. "Damn you, Dinsmore, I might 'a' known you'd think somethin' like that. I'll tell you this. I quit bein' a Ranger at six o'clock this evenin', an' I haven't seen or heard from Wadley since I quarreled with him about you."

"So you're turnin' me loose because you're so fond of me. Is that it?" sneered the outlaw.

"I'll tell you just why I'm turnin' you loose, Dinsmore. It's because for twenty-four hours in yore rotten life you were a white man. When I was sleepin' on yore trail you turned to take Miss Wadley back to the A T O. When the 'Paches were burnin' the wind after you an' her, you turned to pick her up after she had fallen. When you might have lit out up the ca?on an' left her alone, you stayed to almost certain death. You were there all the time to a fare-you-well. From that one good day that may take you to heaven yet, I dragged you in here with a rope around yore neck. I had to do it, because I was a Ra

nger. But Wadley was right when he said it wasn't human. I'm a private citizen now, an' I'm makin' that wrong right."

"You'd ought to go to Congress. You got the gift," said Dinsmore with dry irony. Five minutes earlier he had been, as Roberts said, a man with a rope around his neck. Now he was free, the wide plains before him over which to roam. He was touched, felt even a sneaking gratitude to this young fellow who was laying up trouble for himself on his account; and he was ashamed of his own emotion.

"I'll go to jail; that's where I'll go," answered Jack grimly. "But that's not the point."

"I'll say one thing, Roberts. I didn't kill Hank. One of the other boys did. It can't do him any harm to say so now," muttered Dinsmore awkwardly.

"I know. Overstreet shot him."

"That was just luck. It might have been me."

Jack looked straight and hard at him. "Will you answer me one question? Who killed Rutherford Wadley?"

"Why should I?" demanded the bad-man, his eyes as hard and steady as those of the other man.

"Because an innocent man is under a cloud. You know Tony didn't kill him. He's just been married. Come clean, Dinsmore."

"As a favor to you, because of what you're doin' for me?"

"I'm not doin' this for you, but to satisfy myself. But if you want to put it that way-"

"Steve Gurley shot Ford because he couldn't be trusted. The kid talked about betrayin' us to Ellison. If Steve hadn't shot him I would have done it."

"But not in the back," said Jack.

"No need o' that. I could 'a' gunned him any time in a fair fight. We followed him, an' before I could stop him Gurley fired."

The line-rider turned to the jailer. "You heard what he said, Yorky."

"I ain't deef," replied the little saddler with sulky dignity. His shoulder was aching and he felt very much outraged.

"Ford Wadley was a bad egg if you want to know. He deserved just what he got," Dinsmore added.

"I don't care to hear about that. Yore horse is waitin', Dinsmore. Some one might come along an' ask inconvenient whyfors. Better be movin' along."

Dinsmore buckled the belt round his waist and picked up the rifle.

"Happy days," he said, nodding toward Jack, then turned and slouched out of the door.

A moment, and there came the swift clatter of hoofs.

* * *

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