Page:Triangles of life, and other stories.djvu/232

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220
THE HAIRY MAN

and found that about half the charge had gone through.

"The powder must have got damp," said Andy. "I'll put in a double charge to make sure," and he re-loaded the gun with trembling hands. The other three bumped their heads over the whisky. They can't say for certain how they got through that night or what they said or did. The first idea was to get out of there and run to Mudgee-Budgee, but they were reluctant to leave their fort. "Who'd go out and reconnoitre?" "Besides," said Jack Jones, "we're safer here, and the thing's gone, whatever it was. What would they think of us if we went into town with a yarn about a Hairy Man?" He had heard his horse breaking away, and didn't care to take the chance of being chased on foot.

About an hour later they heard a horse galloping past, and, looking through the cracks, saw a boy riding towards Mudgee-Budgee.

"It's young Foley," said Jack, "the son of that old timber-getter that's just taken up a selection along the road near Home Rule."

"I wonder what's up?" said Andy. "Perhaps the Hairy Man's been there. We ought to go along and help."

"They can take care of themselves," said Jack hurriedly. "They're close to Home Rule, and can get plenty of help. The boy wouldn't ride to Mudgee-Budgee if there was anything wrong."

The moon had risen full. Some two or three hours later they saw Mahoney, the mounted constable, and the young doctor from Buckaroo, ride past towards Home Rule.