Chapter LI

People had already read King's article in the Bulletin. People had seen Casey heading for the Bulletin office with blood in his eye. The news had spread. When the Irishman emerged he found waiting for him a curious crowd. His friends crowded around asking eager questions. Casey answered with vague but bloodthirsty generalities: he wasn't a man to be trifled with, and egad some people had to find that out! blackmailing was not a healthy occupation when it was aimed at a gentleman! He left the impression that King had recanted, had apologized, had even begged--there would be no more trouble. Uttering brags of this sort, Casey led the way to the Bank Exchange, a fashionable bar near at hand. Here he set up the drinks, and was treated in turn. His bragging became more boastful. He made a fine impression, but within his breast the taste of his interview with King curdled into dangerous bitterness. Casey could never stand much alcohol. The well-meant admiration and sympathy of his friends served only to increase his hidden, smouldering rage. His eyes became bloodshot, and he talked even more at random.

In the group that surrounded him was our old acquaintance, Judge Edward McGowan--Ned McGowan--jolly, hard drinking, oily, but not as noisy as usual. He was watching Casey closely. The Honourable Ned was himself a fugitive from Pennsylvania justice. By dint of a gay life, a happy combination of bullying and intrigue, he had made himself a place in the new city, and at last had "risen" to the bench. He was apparently all on the surface, but his schemes ran deep. Some historians claim that he had furnished King the documents proving Casey an ex-convict! Now, when he considered the moment opportune, he drew Casey from the noisy group at the bar.

"All this talk is very well," he said contemptuously to the Irishman, "but I see through it. What are you going to do about it?"

"I'll get even with the----, don't you worry about that!" promised Casey, still blustering.

This McGowan brushed aside as irrelevant. "Are you armed?" he asked. "No, that little weapon is too uncertain. Take this." He glanced about him, and hastily passed to Casey a big "navy" revolver. "You can hide it under your cloak--so!" He fixed Casey's eyes with his own, and brought to bear on the little man all the force of his very vital personality, "Listen: King comes by here every evening. Everybody knows that, and everybody knows what has happened."

He stared at Casey significantly for a moment, then turned abruptly away. Casey, become suddenly quiet, his blustering mood fallen from him, his face thoughtful and white, his eyes dilated, said nothing. He returned to the bar, took a solitary drink, and walked out the door, his right hand concealed beneath his long cloak. McGowan watched him intently, following to the door, and looking after the other's retreating form. Casey walked across the street, but stopped behind a wagon, where he stood, apparently waiting. McGowan, with a grunt of satisfaction, sauntered deliberately to the corner of the Bank Exchange. There he leaned against the wall, also waiting.

For nearly an hoar the two thus remained: Casey shrouded in his cloak, apparently oblivious to everything except the corner of Merchant and Montgomery streets, on which he kept his eyes fixed; McGowan lounging easily, occasionally speaking a low word to a passerby. Invariably the person so addressed came to a stop. Soon a little group had formed, idling with Judge McGowan. A small boy happening by was commandeered with a message for Pete Wrightman, the deputy sheriff, and shortly Pete arrived out of breath to join the group.

At just five o'clock the idlers stiffened to attention. King's figure was seen to turn the corner of Merchant Street into Montgomery. Head bent, he walked toward the corner of the Bankers' Exchange, the men on the corner watching him. When nearly at that point he turned to cross the street diagonally.

At the same instant Casey stepped forward from behind the wagon, throwing back his cloak.