'WELL,' said one of the deputies, as he backed the horse into the shafts of the buggy in which the pursuers had driven over from the Hill, 'we've about as good as got him. It isn't hard to follow a man who carries a bird cage with him wherever he goes.'
McTeague crossed the mountains on foot the Friday and Saturday of that week, going over through Emigrant Gap, following the line of the Overland railroad. He reached Reno Monday night. By degrees a vague plan of action outlined itself in the dentist's mind.
' Mexico,' he muttered to himself. ' Mexico, that's the place. They'll watch the coast and they'll watch the Eastern trains, but they won't think of Mexico.'
The sense of pursuit which had harassed him during the last week of his stay at the Big Dipper mine had worn off, and he believed himself to be very cunning.
'I'm pretty far ahead now, I guess,' he said. At Reno he boarded a south-bound freight on the line of the Carson and Colorado railroad, paying for a passage in the caboose. 'Freights don' run on schedule time,' he muttered, 'and a conductor on a passenger train makes it his business to study faces. I'll stay with this train as far as it goes.'
The freight worked slowly southward, through western Nevada, the country becoming hourly more and more desolate and abandoned. After leaving Walker Lake the sage-brush country began, and the freight rolled heavily over tracks that threw off visible layers of heat. At times it stopped whole half days on sidings or by water tanks, and the engineer and fireman came back to the caboose and played poker with the conductor and train crew. The dentist sat apart, behind the stove, smoking pipe after pipe of cheap tobacco. Sometimes he joined in the poker games. He had learned poker when a boy at the mine, and after a few deals his knowledge returned to him; but for the most part he was taciturn and unsociable, and rarely spoke to