Womble stopped a moment to steady his voice and control himself. Then he spoke slowly, in a low, tense voice.
"Look here, Messner, if you refuse to get out, I'll thrash you. This isn't California. I'll beat you to a jelly with my two fists."
Messner shrugged his shoulders. "If you do, I'll call a miners' meeting and see you strung up to the nearest tree. As you said, this is not California. They're a simple folk, these miners, and all I'll have to do will be to show them the marks of the beating, tell them the truth about you, and present my claim for my wife."
The woman attempted to speak, but Womble turned upon her fiercely.
"You keep out of this," he cried.
In marked contrast was Messner's "Please don't intrude, Theresa."
What of her anger and pent feelings, her lungs were irritated into the dry, hacking cough, and with blood-suffused face and one hand clenched against her chest, she waited for the paroxysm to pass.
Womble looked gloomily at her, noting her cough.