The man on the couch got a sip of whiskey in warm milk. He swallowed the dose as if it had been inhaling for him. Then he collapsed again and whispered:
– Thank you, dear friends, this did good anyway. Now a few more minutes of rest, and I certainly welcome again. You may hear, but not now… I can not stand.
His will was followed. But Big Bob took the master to a proclamation attached to the tavern and on the wall, around which a miscellaneous crowd had already gathered.
– At least I haven’t seen him in town.
– How do you know that?
– You know? After all, it has hallmarks, clothes and everything.
– Many are dressed in boots and leather vests.
– Of course… but no one with a cracked upper lip .
“Peijakas, he doesn’t have that either,” said Big Bob.
– Who has him? Bert asked curiously.
– On the couch.
– Well, what then… But wait… everything else seems appropriate… This is indeed remarkable.
– Yeah, think if it was him! That would be money, for that,
Big Bob said, quickly estimating how many whiskeys you could get for a thousand dollars.
Arizona Bert really didn’t know what to believe. Everything fit the man inside… except no cracked upper lip. For the saved, it was as intact as it could be.
“It’s wonderful anyway,” he said. – We’ll hear what he says when he wakes up. At least we hear the name.
– And the thing about rattlesnakes, said Big Bob. – Damn creatures! – Once in Points Rock… The evening was warm and I was just…
– Don’t talk in vain, interrupted the story this time by Handsome Harry, who had heard it at least a dozen times.
“It’s weird,” Bert said. Maybe it’s related to the mob that should be here. We have a little bit of each to keep our eyes open.
– Peijakas call, heard from the doctor, who finally seemed to have had enough at the serving table and had come with other curious people to read the declaration.
And he went on listing.
– Large felt hat, shiny leather vest with sleeves, long-sleeved boots and yellow corduroy trousers, red scarf and…
– Split upper lip, interrupted Big Bob with a laugh.
– What do you say? asked the doctor angrily.
– I just said: and a cracked upper lip.
– What moves you?
– Do you mean split upper lip? It doesn’t fit at all. That person inside doesn’t have a cracked upper lip.
– What is not, he can get it, replied the “doctor” roughly.
“Or you yourself,” said Big Bob, standing in front of the man when he seemed to go to the saved one again.
– Out of the way, otherwise…
– What so? asked Big Bob indifferently and stared at the intruder with a gaze.
– I forgot something inside.
– You mean a cracked upper lip. I advise you to leave it, even if it is ten thousand dollars.
Everyone started to wonder a little bit how this would end. The “Doctor” immediately wanted to come in. Big Bob didn’t want to allow it at all.
– Repair your bones out of the way…
– Haven’t you got what you needed? asked Arizona Bert.
– This is another matter. Read the proclamation and acknowledge that there is a similarity between the occupant and the signs.
– Yes, I admit it. But the lip?
– I just want to take a closer look.
“If you don’t get in your way, you might be given the unpleasant task of examining your own lips,” Big Bob said. – You have nothing to do here anymore.
– No, not in the least, Bert said. – For your travels!
In spite of everything, the so – called doctor, driven by his greed, necessarily wanted to get to the sick – hoping to make a good abduction. But he had barely locked his hands as Big Bob’s veined hands flew him like a feather across the barn floor to the front door – and he continued to roll down the stairs to the bones. It was hard for him to get up, but he still disappeared into the darkness of the night.
Inches from the contents of the declaration had Bert once again come to the sick. This was still asleep. However, he breathed calmly and the natural color of his face began to return. The next day, he would probably be healthy again.
Looking at him, Bert could only state that the hallmarks mentioned in the proclamation were all too well suited for this man, with the exception of the upper lip, which at least this time was completely intact. It just made things even more messy.
Suddenly Big Bob, who had also come to the lying man, was heard screaming.
– Who could shoot him when we rushed out?
– That’s what you said, Bob. Maybe you’re doing a round and trying to get a report on it.
– There must have been a fight.
– Maybe he’s going to rob him. Maybe someone from the band of robbers we’re looking for.
– It is possible that the kapak host has heard something about the bandit.
“It happened again, Bob,” Bert said with such an obviousness that on behalf of this head, the weak giant became as happy as he had gotten the whole bottle of whiskey for his part. – I try to spy on the host while it’s sick.
– You can take Harry with you. See you here again.
– All right!… If we notice something special, we’re at a glance here… Goodbye!
Big Bob was outside like an arrow, at a pace he could not have expected from his huge body. And without delay, he set out with Handsome Harry to search the locality to find out who had shot the stranger just when he had time to help him in the countdown.
Arizona Bert sat down at a long sideboard. He heard how the groups were still discussing the declaration and the chances of winning the prize. But he also heard that there was a general opinion that no one like that and in such clothes had been seen in the city, nor had it been heard before that one had disappeared here to the cadres.
Not a word was snatched from any set of robbers.
– What do you think of this? said Bert suddenly to the taker who mixed him a drink, “Gentle John,” as this simple mixture you despised was called.
“Unless it’s inside,” said the packer, nodding toward the closed “poker room” door, so I don’t really know what to believe. – I am in any case informed the matter.
– Announced? said Bert unpleasantly amazed.
– Of course! After all, it’s a big prize. And everyone is closest to themselves.
– Wants to say you’re going to…
– Get the money, yes. After all, the apartment is mine.
“Well, gladly for me,” said Bert, smiling mockingly at this greed he met everywhere he turned. – But I think a little bit everyone hits their ax on that stone. – Tell me one thing…
– Well! Sing it out!
– Who do you think shot him?
– How would I know that?
– Maybe there are more than just ordinary residents here in the city at the moment. I mean guests who would love to get rid of.
– Very possible.
– You don’t know anything for sure?
– I have enough in my own affairs, there was an obviously evasive answer. – Others are allowed to take care of themselves.
– A very sensible rule of life, although it doesn’t always itch. – Suppose you have dangerous criminals as your guests. What do you do then? Do you serve and show a smiling face?
– It’s up to the police to catch the criminals and not mine.
– But you are prompt to report cases.
– Well, sir!… If it’s worth it. – A thousand dollars is money.
Arizona Bert said nothing to this answer, as her attention caught on with the couple’s new guest and gave her something to think about other than spying on information from the packer in the “heart of the Prairie,” as the place was poetically called. The men apparently were not at home in this “heart.” They looked around and stopped in front of the proclamation.
This was, in fact, the most natural thing in the world. After all, the announcement had been placed on it for all to see. But Bert noticed the sense of meaning exchanged between the guests and found them quickly exchanging a few words before they almost sat under the proclamation and shouted at the serving Negro.
One of the men was giant in size. – Her hair was grayish and the beard was cut à la Buffalo Bill. The suit was relatively fine to be in this half-wild corner of the world, but the waistbands had a leather belt adorned with copper studs and a pair of revolvers – large like carbines. – By the way, the man looked like he was happy to avoid in a deserted place. Speaking to the Negro serving a few words, he wandered around the hall as if looking for something and finally stopped all the time at Arizona Bert, who was staring at him sharply, who could have bet that the man was shaking just then, but – noticing himself looking up – adopted a carefree arrogant look.
He then turned almost imperceptibly to his companion, a skinny but veined Malay-looking man with hard, mean eyes. This, too, glanced at Bert. But after that, it seemed as if all of them had all the air in the hall. They lit their giant cigars and began smoking and drinking while Bert asked the smoker:
– Are those two also regular guests of the “Heart of the Prairie”?
– I’ve never seen them before.
Both the voice and the expression indicated that the captain was sharply different from the truth. But as gladly as Bert wanted to know the reason, there was nothing he could do about it this time.
Suddenly he got a whim.
He got up and approached the “poker room” door.
With his back to the door, he managed to take the key and slip it into anyone’s pocket without anyone noticing, so the sick, or rather the sleeper, was left behind the locked door. After paying, Bert said to the packer.
– If my party comes here, say we’ll meet at the station.
– So you’re going to travel, sir? said the packer blinking.
– For important reasons, you have to.
– But inside, don’t you care?
– I think you can take care of him as well as I do, maybe better.
– He can’t stay there long, because the room is needed for something else.
– Yes, I understand. But if he is allowed to rest in the night, he will be able to take care of himself in the morning. – Thanks for the help!
Bert left the tavern without even glancing at the door of the poker room and was on the street the next moment. He stopped in a dark corner to see if he was being followed. But nothing was visible and in the blink of an eye he was under a poker room window that had been left open to get some fresh air.
There was a glimpse of Bert in the room. He sneaked silently to the sleeper. Without this waking up, Bert lifted him out the window and disappeared with him into the sunken dark street where he heard Big Bob shouting:
– Nothing came this time. – Now we go back to Master
Bert, because it’s not worth malaysia here.
Help came as if invited. Moments later, Bert, Bob, Harry and the stranger settled in the courtyard of a poor shoemaker.
And the sick one still slept, as a tired child, sleeping while
Bert gave a small speech to the shoemaker and his wife:
– As you can see on my mark, I’m a police officer. These two Lords are my helpers. The sleeper is a man we have saved from the clutches of robbers, We will pay for this room whatever you want. But I advise both of you not to spoil our stay here for the living and the dead. Then you may feel sick. Do you understand?
Even if the pair of shoemakers did not understand otherwise, it did understand that here one could earn and solemnly promised to “keep one’s mouth shut.” After that, everyone settled down for a few hours. – Bert wondered what to think when the “Heart of the Prairie” poker room was found empty, and no trace was found of the man through whom little everyone was going to become a thousand dollars richer.
Barely had Bert left the “Heart of the Prairie” salon when the gray-haired giant got up and asked to rent a poker room for the game.
– It won’t work, replied the depot. It’s sick there.
– Yes, the serpent bite man. I guess he’s dying.
– Peijakas! What snake has bitten him?
– Rattlesnake, said the doctor. A meaningful look at the companion and then the packer:
– Probably no one has had as much to do with rattlesnakes as I do. But then I know how to treat them. Let’s go see him.
– Hi. But on one condition.
– Then what?
– I ‘m his righteousness, and I must also receive the prize. As far as I have seen, is inside the man and after the synagogue in the declaration exactly the same.
Both comrades were reading a revelation they already knew by heart, then the skinny said with a dry laugh:
– So let’s go. Open it and we’ll see. Maybe he’s already dead.
That’s when it was noticed that there wasn’t a slut on the door of the poker room.
The depot was enraged and said resolutely:
– I guessed so. I’m going to be deceived! The police have been notified in any case.
– To the police? said the gray-haired seemingly hesitant.
– Exactly! For right is right.
The gray-haired man pulled out a bell adorned with diamonds and said suddenly, turning to his skinny friend:
– Damn it, Jocky! If we are going to meet Bartel, we will not have a minute to lose. – Pay!
Paid and lost. The sick man died as he pleased.
The deporter did not cry for the disappearance of both helpful men. In more detail inches he was quite pleased that the catch was behind the lock. Alive or dead, he would take the prize anyway. And when the real saviors had disappeared, he could take it easy.
The police soon appeared. Of course, it wanted the door to open. When it was too late to pick up the blacksmith, the door was broken without further ado.
It is a pity that it is not possible to publish a picture of a greedy depotter when he notices the catch is lost.
The room was empty! – Sick cadres disappeared! And the thousand, of which the depotter had been sure, though the signs did not fit perfectly, were gone like smoke.
– Gentlemen! moans the packer. This is a diabolical frolic what ever I have seen.
– And to us a great effort, for which we may thank you for your announcement. A bottle of whiskey is the least you can do.
– Let the devil take all the snake bites, complained the deporter. If more are imported here, then…
The end drowned in sigh, after which he went to grab the proclamation, threw it on the floor, and said:
– Try to put something like this on my wall again, and I’ll show you what it costs.
– Yes, you, Mr Blank, can make the payment, because we are suing you for tearing up a public, official announcement . Here’s another bottle of whiskey, and we’ll have a closer look.