Matt stepped to the food shelf behind the two-burner kerosene cooking stove. He emptied the tea from a paper bag, and from a second bag emptied some red peppers. Returning to the table with the bags, he put into them the two sizes of small diamonds. Then he counted the large gems and wrapped them in their tissue paper and chamois skin.
“Hundred an’ forty-seven good-sized ones,” was his inventory; “twenty real big ones; two big boys and one whopper; an’ a couple of fistfuls of teeny ones an’ dust.”
He looked at Jim.
“Correct,” was the response.
He wrote the count out on a slip of memorandum paper, and made a copy of it, giving one slip to his partner and retaining the other.
“Just for reference,” he said.
Again he had recourse to the food shelf, where he emptied the sugar from a large paper bag. Into this he thrust the diamonds, large and small, wrapped it up in a bandana handkerchief, and stowed it away under his pillow. Then he sat down on the edge of the bed and took off his shoes.
“An’ you think they’re worth a hundred thousan’?” Jim asked, pausing and looking up from the unlacing of his shoe.
“Sure,” was the answer. “I seen a dancer down in Arizona once, with some big sparklers on her. They wasn’t real. She said if they was she wouldn’t be dancin’. Said they’d be worth all of fifty thousan’, an’ she didn’t have a dozen of ’em all told.”
“Who’d work for a livin’?” Jim triumphantly demanded. “Pick an’ shovel work!” he sneered. “Work like a dog all my life, an’ save all my wages, an’ I wouldn’t have half as much as we got to-night.”
“Dish washin’s about your measure, an’ you couldn’t get more’n twenty a month an’ board. Your figgers is ‘way off, but your point is well taken. Let them that likes it, work. I rode range for thirty a month when I was young an’ foolish. Well, I’m older, an’ I ain’t ridin’ range.”
He got into bed on one side. Jim put out the light and followed him in on the other side.
“How’s your arm feel?” Jim queried amiably.
Such concern was unusual, and Matt noted it, and replied:–
“I guess there’s no danger of hydrophoby. What made you ask?”
Jim felt in himself a guilty stir, and under his breath he cursed the other’s way of asking disagreeable questions; but aloud he answered: “Nothin’, only you seemed scared of it at first. What are you goin’ to do with your share, Matt?”
“Buy a cattle ranch in Arizona an’ set down an’ pay other men to ride range for me. There’s some several I’d like to see askin’ a job from me, blast them! An’ now you shut your face, Jim. It’ll be some time before I buy that ranch. Just now I’m goin’ to sleep.”
But Jim lay long awake, nervous and twitching, rolling about restlessly and rolling himself wide awake every time he dozed. The diamonds still blazed under his eyelids, and the fire of them hurt. Matt, in spite of his heavy nature, slept lightly, like a wild animal alert in its sleep; and Jim noticed, every time he moved, that his partner’s body moved sufficiently to show that it had received the impression and that it was trembling on the verge of awakening. For that matter, Jim did not know whether or not, frequently, the other was awake. Once, quietly, betokening complete consciousness, Matt said to him: “Aw, go to sleep, Jim. Don’t worry about them jools. They’ll keep.” And Jim had thought that at that particular moment Matt had been surely asleep.
In the late morning Matt was awake with Jim’s first movement, and thereafter he awoke and dozed with him until midday, when they got up together and began dressing.
“I’m goin’ out to get a paper an’ some bread,” Matt said. “You boil the coffee.”
As Jim listened, unconsciously his gaze left Matt’s face and roved to the pillow, beneath which was the bundle wrapped in the bandana handkerchief. On the instant Matt’s face became like a wild beast’s.
“Look here, Jim,” he snarled. “You’ve got to play square. If you do me dirt, I’ll fix you. Understand? I’d eat you, Jim. You know that. I’d bite right into your throat an’ eat you like that much beefsteak.”
His sunburned skin was black with the surge of blood in it, and his tobacco-stained teeth were exposed by the snarling lips. Jim shivered and involuntarily cowered. There was death in the man he looked at. Only the night before that black-faced man had killed another with his hands, and it had not hurt his sleep. And in his own heart Jim was aware of a sneaking guilt, of a train of thought that merited all that was threatened.