Part Five
Chapter XXXV
 

"Good heavens!" cried Amy. "What an awful thing!"

"Yes, ma'am," said Ware; "this is certainly tough. But I can't see but it was a plumb accident. Who'd have thought he'd be coming along the road just at that minute."

"Of course, you're not to blame," Amy reassured him quickly. "We must get help. Of course, he's quite dead."

Ware nodded, gazing down at his victim reflectively.

"I was shootin' a little high," he remarked at last.

Up to this moment Bob had said nothing.

"If it will relieve your mind, any," he told Ware, "it isn't such a case of innocent bystander as you may think. This man is the one who hired Saleratus Bill to abduct me in the first place; and probably to kill me in the second. I have a suspicion he got what he deserved."

"Oh!" cried Amy, looking at him reproachfully.

"It's a fact," Bob insisted. "I know his connection with all this better than you do, and his being on this road was no accident. It was to see his orders carried out."

Ware was looking at him shrewdly.

"That fits," he declared. "I couldn't figure why my old friend Bill didn't cut loose. But he's got a head on him."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, when he see Oldham dropped, what use was there of going to shooting? It would just make trouble for him and he couldn't hope for no pay. He just faded."

"He's a quick thinker, then," said Bob.

"You bet you!"

The two men laid Oldham's body under the shade. As they disposed it decently, Bob experienced again that haunting sense of having known him elsewhere that had on several occasions assailed his memory. The man's face was familiar to him with a familiarity that Bob somehow felt antedated his California acquaintance.

"We must get to the mill and send a wagon for him," Ware was saying.

But Amy suddenly turned faint, and was unable to proceed.

"It's perfectly silly of me!" she cried indignantly. "The idea of my feeling faint! It makes me so angry!"

"It's perfectly natural," Bob told her. "I think you've shown a heap of nerve. Most girls would have flopped over."

The men helped her to a streamlet some hundreds of yards away. Here it was agreed that Ware should proceed in search of a conveyance; and that Bob and Amy should there await his return.