THUS was the trade effected with much speed and few preliminaries, because Bill knew Casey Ryan very intimately and had seen him in action when his temper was up. Bill adjusted an extra horn which he happened to have in stock. One of those terrific things that go far toward making the life of a pedestrian a nerve-racking succession of startles. Casey tried it out on himself before he would accept it. He walked several doors down the street with the understanding that Bill would honk at him when he was some little distance away. Bill waited until Casey's attention was drawn to a lady with thick ankles who was crossing the street in a hurry and a stiff breeze. Bill came down on the metal plunger of the horn with all his might, and Casey jumped perceptibly and came back grinning.
"She'll do. What'll put a crimp in Casey Ryan's spine is good enough for anybody. Bring her out here and show me how yuh work the damn thing. Guess she'll hold six Bohunks, won't she-with sideboards on? I'll run 'er around a coupla times b'fore I start out-and that's all I will do."
Naturally the garage man was somewhat perturbed at this nonchalant manner of getting acquainted with a Ford. He knew the road from Lund to Pinnacle. He had driven it himself, with a conscious sigh of relief when he had safely negotiated the last hair-pin curve; and Bill was counted a good driver. He suggested an insurance policy to Casey, not half so jokingly as he tried to sound.
Casey turned and gave him a pale blue, unwinking stare. "Say! Never you mind gettin' out insurance on this auty- mo -bile. What you wanta do is insure the cars that's liable to meet up with me in the trail."
Bill saw the sense of that, too, and said no more about insuring Casey. He drove down the canyon where the road is walled in on both sides by cliffs, and proceeded to give Casey a lesson in driving. Casey did not think that he needed to be taught how to drive. All he wanted to know, he said, was how to stop 'er and how to start 'er. Bill needn't worry about the rest of it.
"She's darn tender-bitted," he commented, after two round trips over the straight half-mile stretch,-and fourteen narrow escapes. "And the man that made 'er sure oughta known better than to make 'er neck rein in harness. And I don't like this windin''er up every time you wanta start. But she can sure go -and that's what Casey Ryan's after every day in the week.
"All right, Bill. I'll go gather up the Bohunks and start. You better 'phone up to Pinnacle that Casey's on the road-and tell 'em he says it's his road's long's he's on it. They'll know what I mean."
Pinnacle did know, and waited on the sidewalk that afforded a view of the long hill where the road curled down around the head of the gulch and into town. Much sooner than his most optimistic backers had a right to expect- for there were bets laid on the outcome there in Pinnacle-on the brow of the hill a swirl of red dust grew rapidly to a cloud. Like a desert whirlwind it swept down the road, crossed the narrow bridge over the deep cut at the head of the gulch where the famous Youbet mine belched black smoke, and rolled on down the steep, narrow little street.
Out of the whirlwind poked the pugnacious little brass-rimmed nose of a new Ford, and behind the windshield Casey Ryan grinned widely as he swung up to the postoffice and stopped as he had always stopped his four-horse stage,-with a flourish. Stopping with a flourish is fine and spectacular when you are driving horses accustomed to that method and on the lookout for it. Horses have a way of stiffening their forelegs and sliding their hind feet and giving a lot of dramatic finish to the performance. But there is no dramatic sense at all in the tin brain of a Ford. It just stopped. And the insecure fourth Bohunk in the tonneau went hurtling forward into the front seat straight on his way through the windshield.