The dusty overland train pulled into Wagontongue about noon of a sultry June day.
Trueman Rock slowly stepped down from the coach, grip in hand, with an eager and curious expression upon his lean dark face. He wore a plain check suit, rather wrinkled, and a big grey sombrero that had seen service. His step, his lithe shape, proclaimed him to be a rider. A sharp eye might have detected the bulge of a gun worn under his coat, high over his left hip and far back.
He had the look of a man who expected to see someone he knew. There was an easy, careless, yet guarded air about him. He walked down the platform without meeting anyone who took more than a casual glance at him.
At the end of the flagstone walk Rock hesitated and halted, as if surprised, even startled. Across the wide street stood a block of frame and brick buildings, with high weatherbeaten signs. It was a lazy scene. A group of cowboys occupied the corner; saddled horses were hitched to a rail; buckboards and wagons showed farther down the street; Mexicans in colourful garb sat in front of a saloon.
Memory stirred to the sight of the familiar corner. He had been in several bad gun fights in this town. The scene of one of them lay before him and a subtle change began to affect his pleasure in returning to Wagontongue. He left the station.
But he had not walked half a block before he came to another saloon, the familiar look of which and the barely decipherable name--Happy Days--acted like a blow in his face. He quickened his step, then, reacting to his characteristic spirit, he deliberately turned back to enter the saloon. The same place, the same bar, and the faded paintings; the same pool tables. Except for a barkeeper, the room was deserted. Rock asked for a drink.
"Stranger hereabouts, eh?" inquired the bartender.