Page:While the Billy Boils, 1913.djvu/354

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322
MACQUARIE'S MATE

none of you seemed to think of it―not even Sally Thompson nor―nor Box-o'-Tricks there.'

Stiffner turned his back, and Barcoo spat viciously and impatiently.

'Yes,' drivelled the drunkard, 'I've got another point for―for the defence―of my mate, Macquarie———'

'Oh, out with it! Spit it out, for God's sake, or you'll bust!' roared Stiffner. 'What the blazes is it?'

'His Mate's alive!' yelled the old man. 'Macquarie's mate's alive! That's what it is!'

He reeled back from the bar, dashed his glass and hat to the boards, gave his pants a hitch by the waistband that almost lifted him off his feet, and tore at his shirt-sleeves.

'Make a ring, boys,' he shouted. 'His mate's alive! Put up your hands, Barcoo! By God, his mate's alive!'

Someone had turned his horse loose at the rear and had been standing by the back door for the last five minutes. Now he slipped quietly in.

'Keep the old fool off, or he'll get hurt,'' snarled Barcoo.

Stiffner jumped the counter. There were loud, hurried words of remonstrance, then some stump-splitting oaths and a scuffle, consequent upon an attempt to chuck the old man out. Then a crash. Stiffner and Box-o'-Tricks were down, two others were holding Barcoo back, and someone had pinned Awful Example by the shoulders from behind.

'Let me go!' he yelled, too blind with passion to notice the movements of surprise among the men