Montgomery told himself he would go
home; he had seen the last of the gambler and Marsh
Langham, he would look out for his own skin now and
they could look out for theirs. He laughed boisterously
as he strode along. He had fooled them both;
he, Joe Montgomery, had done this, and by a very master
stroke of cunning had tied the judge’s hands.
But as he shuffled down the street he saw the welcoming
lights of Lonigan’s saloon and suddenly remembered
there was good hard money in his ragged pockets.
He would have just one drink and then go home to his
It was well on toward midnight when
he came out on the street again, and the one drink
had become many drinks; still mindful of his original
purpose, however, he reeled across the Square on his
way home. He had just turned into Mulberry Street
when he became conscious of a brisk step on the pavement
at his side, and at the same instant a heavy hand
descended on his shoulder and he found himself looking
into Andy Gilmore’s dark face.
“Where have you been?”
demanded Gilmore. “I thought I told you
to stay about to-night!”
“I have been down to Lonigan’s
saloon,” faltered Joe, his courage going from
him at sight of the gambler.
“What took you there?”
asked Gilmore angrily. “Don’t you
get enough to drink at my place?”
“Lots to drink, boss, but it’s
mostly too rich for my blood. I ain’t used
to bein’ so pampered.”
“Come along with me!” said Gilmore briefly.
“Where to, boss?” asked Montgomery, in
“You’ll know presently.”
“I thought I’d like to go home, maybe ”
said Joe irresolutely.
“Never mind what you thought
you’d like, you come with me!” insisted
Although the handy-man’s first
impulse had been that of revolt, he now followed the
gambler meekly back across the Square. They entered
the building at the corner of Main Street and mounted
to Mr. Gilmore’s rooms. The latter silently
unlocked the door and motioned Montgomery to precede
him into the apartment, then he followed, pausing midway
of the room to turn up the gas which was burning low.
Next he divested himself of his hat and coat, and
going to a buffet which stood between the two heavily
curtained windows that overlooked the Square, found
a decanter and glasses. These he brought to the
center-table, where he leisurely poured his unwilling
guest a drink.
“Here, you old sot, soak this up!” he
“Boss, I want to go home to
my old woman!” began the handy-man, after he
had emptied his glass.
“Your old woman will keep!” retorted Gilmore
“But, boss, I got to go to her;
the judge says I must! She’s been there
to see him; damn it, she cried and hollered and took
on awful because she ain’t seein’ me;
it was pitiful!”
“What’s that?” demanded Gilmore
“It was pitiful!” repeated
Montgomery, shaking his great head dolorously.
“Oh, cut that! Who have you seen?”
“When did you see him?”
Mr. Gilmore spoke with a forced calm.
“To-night. My old woman ”
“Oh, to hell with your old woman!”
shouted the gambler furiously. “Do you
mean that you were at Judge Langham’s to-night?”
“Yes, boss; he sent for me, see? I had
to go!” explained Montgomery.
“Why did you go there without
letting me know, you drunken loafer?” stormed
He took the handy-man by the arm and
pushed him into a chair, then he stood above him,
black-browed and menacing.
“Boss, don’t you blame
me, it was my old woman; she wants me home with the
kids and her, and the judge, he says I got to go!”
“If he wants to know why I’m
keeping you here, send him round to me!” said
“All right, I will.”
And Montgomery staggered to his feet.
But Gilmore pushed him back into his chair.
“What else did you talk about
besides your old woman?” asked the gambler,
after an oppressive silence in which Montgomery heard
only the thump of his heart against his ribs.
“I told him you’d always
been like a father to me ” said the
handy-man, ready to weep.
“I’m obliged to you for
that!” replied Gilmore with a smile of grim
“He said he always knowed it,”
added Montgomery, misled by the smile.
“Well, what else?” questioned Gilmore.
“Why, I reckon that was about
all!” said Joe, who had ventured as far afield
into the realms of fancy as his drunken faculties would
“You’re sure about that?”
“I hope I may die ”
“And the judge says you’re to go home?”
“Say, Shrimp took my old woman
there, and she cried and bellered and carried on awful!
She loves me, boss the judge says I’m
to go home to her to-night or he’ll have me
pinched. He says that you and Marsh ain’t
to keep me here no longer!”
His voice rose into a wail, for blind
terror was laying hold of him. There was something,
a look on Gilmore’s handsome cruel face, he did
not understand but which filled him with miserable
“What’s that, about Marsh
and me keeping you here?” inquired Gilmore.
“You got to leave me loose ”
“So you told him that?”
“I had to tell him somethin’.
My old woman made an awful fuss! They had to
throw water on her; Shrimp took her home in an express-wagon.
Hell, boss, I’m a married man I got
a family! I know what I ought to do, and I’m
goin’ home, the judge says I got to! Him
and me talked it all over, and he’s goin’
to speak to Marsh about keepin’ me here!”
“So you’ve told him we
keep you here?” And the gambler glowered at him.
He poured himself a drink of whisky and swallowed it
at a gulp. “Well, what else did you tell
him?” he asked over the rim of his glass.
“That’s about all; only
me and the judge understand each other,” said
the handy-man vaguely.
“Well, it was enough!”
rejoined Gilmore. “You are sure you didn’t
say anything about North?”
Montgomery shook his head in vigorous denial.
“Sure?” repeated Gilmore, his glance intent
and piercing. “Sure?”
A sickly pallor was overspreading
the handy-man’s flame-colored visage. It
began at his heavy puffy jaws, and diffused itself
about his cheeks. He could feel it spread.
“Sure?” said the gambler. “Sure?”
There was an awful pause. Gilmore
carefully replaced his glass on the table, then he
roared in a voice of thunder:
“Stand up, you hound!”
Montgomery realized that the consequences
of his treachery were to be swift and terrible.
He came slowly to his feet, but no sooner had he gained
them than Gilmore drove his fist into his face, and
he collapsed on his chair.
“Stand up!” roared Gilmore again.
And again Montgomery came erect only
to be knocked back into a sitting posture, with a
long gash across his jaw where the gambler’s
diamond ring had left its mark.
“I tell you, stand up!” cried Gilmore.
Reaching forward he seized Montgomery
by the throat with his left hand and jerked him to
his feet, then holding him so, he coolly battered his
face with his free hand.
“For God’s sake, quit,
boss you’re killin’ me!”
cried Joe, as he vainly sought to protect his face
with his arms.
But Mr. Gilmore had a primitive prejudice
in favor of brute force, and the cruel blows continued
until Montgomery seemed to lose power even to attempt
to shield himself; his great hands hung helpless at
his side and his head fell over on his shoulder.
Seeing which the gambler released his victim, who,
limp and quivering, dropped to the floor.
Still crazed with rage, Gilmore kicked
the handy-man into a corner, and turning poured himself
still another drink of whisky. If he had spoken
then of what was uppermost in his mind, it would have
been to complain of the rotten luck which in so ticklish
a business had furnished him with fools and sots for
associates. He should have known better than to
have trusted drunken Joe Montgomery; he should have
kept out of the whole business
With the suddenness of revelation
he realized his own predicament, but with the realization
came the knowledge that he was now hopelessly involved;
that he could not go back; that he must go on, or here
he threw back his shoulders as though to cast off
his evil forebodings or between the dusk
of one day and the dawn of another, he might disappear
from Mount Hope.
With this cheering possibility in
mind, he picked up the glass of whisky beside him
and emptied it at a single draught, then he put on
his overcoat and hat and went from the room, locking
the door behind him.
Presently the wretched heap on the
floor stirred and moaned feebly, and then lay still.
A little later it moaned again. Lifting his head
he stared vacantly about him.
“Boss ” he
began in a tone of entreaty, but realizing that he
was alone he fell weakly to cursing Gilmore.
It was a good five minutes from the
time he recovered consciousness until he was able
to assume a sitting posture, when he rested his battered
face in his hands and nursed his bruises.
“And me his cousin!” he muttered, and
He feebly wiped his bloody hands on
the legs of his trousers and by an effort staggered
to his feet. His only idea was escape; and steadying
himself he managed to reach the door; but the door
was locked, and he flung himself down in a convenient
chair and once more fell to nursing his wounds.
Fifteen or twenty minutes had passed
when he heard steps in the hallway. He knew it
was Gilmore returning, but the gambler was not alone;
Montgomery heard him speak to his companion as a key
was fitted to the lock. The door swung open and
Gilmore, followed by Marshall Langham, entered the
“Here’s the drunken hound, Marsh!”
said the gambler.
“For God’s sake, boss,
let me out of this!” cried Montgomery, addressing
himself to Langham.
“Yes, we will like
hell!” said Gilmore. “By rights we
ought to take you down to the creek, knock you in
the head and heave you in eh, Marsh?
That’s about the size of what we ought
Langham’s face was white and
drawn with apprehension, yet he surveyed the ruin
the gambler had wrought with something like pity.
“Why, what’s happened to him, Andy?”
His companion laughed brutally.
“Oh, I punched him up some,
I couldn’t keep my hands off him, I only wonder
I didn’t kill him ”
“Let me out of this, boss ”
whined the handy-man.
“Shut up, you!” said the gambler roughly.
He drew back his hand, but Langham caught his arm.
“Don’t do that, Andy!”
he said. “He isn’t in any shape to
stand much more of that; and what’s the use,
the harm’s done!”
The gambler scowled on his cousin Joe with moody resentment.
“All the same I’ve got a good notion to
finish the job!” he said.
“Let me go home, boss!”
entreated Montgomery, still addressing himself to
Langham. “God’s sake, he pretty near
He stood up on shaking legs.
Wretched, abject, his uneasy glance
shifted first from one to the other of his patrons,
who were now his judges, and for aught he knew would
be his executioners as well. The gambler glared
back at him with an expression of set ferocity which
told him he need expect no mercy from that source;
but with Langham it was different; he at least was
not wantonly brutal. The sight of physical suffering
always distressed him and Joe’s bruised and
bloody face was more than he could bear to look at.
“For two cents I’d knock him on the head!”
jerked out Gilmore.
“Oh, quit, Andy; let him alone!
I want to ask him a question or two,” said Langham.
“You’ll never know from
him what he said or didn’t say you’ll
learn that from the judge himself,” and Gilmore
A minute or two passed before Langham
could trust himself to speak. When he did, he
turned to Montgomery to ask:
“I wish you’d tell me
as nearly as you can what you said to my father?”
“I didn’t go there to
tell him anything, boss; he just got it out of me.
What chance has a slob like me with him?”
“Got what out of you?” questioned Langham
in a low voice.
“Well, he didn’t get much, boss,”
replied Montgomery, shaking his head.
“But what did you tell him?” insisted
“I don’t remember, boss,
I was full, see and maybe I said too much
and then agin maybe I didn’t!”
“I hope you like this, Marsh;
it’s the sort of thing I been up against,”
By way of answer Langham made a weary
gesture. The horror of the situation was now
a thing beyond fear.
“I’m for sending the drunken
loafer to the other side of the continent,”
“What’s the use of that?” asked
“Every use,” rejoined
Gilmore with fresh confidence. “It’s
enough, ain’t it, that he’s talked to
your father; we can’t take chances on his talking
to any one else. There’s the west-bound
express; I’m for putting him on that there’s
time enough. We can give him a couple of hundred
dollars and that will be the end of him, for if he
ever shows his face here in Mount Hope, I’ll
break every bone in his body. What do you say?”
“Perhaps you are right!”
And Langham glanced uncertainly at the handy-man.
“Well, it’s either that,
or else I can knock him over the head. Perhaps
you had rather do that, it’s more in your line.”
“Boss, you give me the money
and let me go now, and I won’t ever come
back!” cried Montgomery eagerly. “I
been lookin’ for the chance to get clear of
this bum town! I’ll stay away, don’t
you lose no sleep about that; I ain’t got nothin’
to ever bring me back.”
And on the moment Mr. Montgomery banished
from his mind and heart all idea of the pure joys
of domestic life. It was as if his old woman had
never been. He was sure travel was what he required,
and a great deal of it, and all in one direction away
from Mount Hope.
No unnecessary time was wasted on
Montgomery’s appearance. A wet towel in
the not too gentle hands of Mr. Gilmore removed the
blood stains from his face, and then he was led forth
into the night, the night which so completely
swallowed up all trace of him that his old woman and
her brood sought his accustomed haunts in vain.
Nor was Mr. Moxlow any more successful in his efforts
to discover the handy-man’s whereabouts.
As for Mount Hope she saw in the mysterious disappearance
of the star witness only the devious activities of
John North’s friends.