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world; so everyone in the room at the voice of Sally knew that the time
had come for action. There was no vocal answer to her, but each man rose
slowly in his place, his gun naked in his hand, and every face was
turned to Bard.

"Gentlemen," he said in his soft voice, "I see that my friend Lawlor has
not wasted his lessons in manners. At least you know enough to rise when
a lady enters the room."

His gun, held at the hip, pointed straight down the table to the burly
form of Jansen, but his eyes, like those of a pugilist, seemed to be
taking in every face at the table, and each man felt in some subtle
manner that the danger would fall first on him. They did not answer, but
hands were tightening around revolver butts.

Lawlor moved back, pace by pace, his revolver shaking in his hand.

"But," went on Bard, "you are all facing me. Is it possible?"

He laughed.

"I knew that Mr. Drew was very anxious to receive me with courtesy; I
did not dream that he would be able to induce so many men to take care
of me."

And Sally Fortune, bracing herself against the wall with one hand, and
in the capable grasp of the other a six-gun balanced, stared in growing
amazement on the scene, and shuddered at the silences.

"Bard," she called, "what have I done?"

"You've started a game," he answered, "which I presume we've all been
waiting to play. What about it, boys? I hope you're well paid; I'd hate
to die a cheap death."

A voice, deep and ringing, sounded close at hand, almost within the
room, and from a direction which Bard could not locate.

"Don't harm him if you can help it. But keep him in that room!"

Bard stepped back a pace till his shoulders touched the wall.

"Sirs," he said, "if you keep me here you will most certainly have to
harm me."

A figure ran around the edge of the crowd and stood beside him.

"Stand clear of me, Sally," he muttered, much moved. "Stand away. This
is a man's work."

"The work of a pack of coyotes!" she cried shrilly. "What d'ye mean?"

She turned on them fiercely.

"Are you goin' to murder a tenderfoot among you? One that ain't done no
real harm? I don't believe my eyes. You, there, Shorty Kilrain, I've
waited on you with my own hands. You've played the man with me. Are you
goin' to play the dog now? Jansen, you was tellin' me about a blue-eyed
girl in Sweden; have you forgot about her now? And Calamity Ben! My God,
ain't there a man among you to step over here and join the two of us?"

They were shaken, but the memory of Drew quelled them.

"They's no harm intended him, on my honour, Sally," said Lawlor. "All
he's got to do is give up his gun - and - and" - he finished weakly - "let
his hands be tied."

"Is that all?" said Sally scornfully.

"Don't follow me, Sally," said Bard. "Stay out of this. Boys, you may
have been paid high, but I don't think you've been paid high enough to
risk taking a chance with me. If you put me out with the first shot that
ends it, of course, but the chances are that I'll be alive when I hit
the floor, and if I am, I'll have my gun working - and I won't miss. One
or two of you are going to drop."

He surveyed them with a quick glance which seemed to linger on each

"I don't know who'll go first. But now I'm going to walk straight for
that door, and I'm going out of it."

He moved slowly, deliberately toward the door, around the table. Still
they did not shoot.

"Bard!" commanded the voice which had spoken from nowhere before. "Stop
where you are. Are you fool enough to think that I'll let you go?"

"Are you William Drew?"

"I am, and you are - - "

"The son of John Bard. Are you in this house?"

"I am; Bard, listen to me for thirty seconds - - "

"Not for three. Sally, go out of this room and through that door."

There was a grim command in his voice. It started her moving against her
will. She paused and looked back with an imploring gesture.

"Go on," he repeated.

And she passed out of the door and stood there, a glimmering figure
against the night. Still there was not a shot fired, though all those
guns were trained on Bard.

"You've got me Drew," he called, "but I've got you, and your
hirelings - all of you, and I'm going to take you to hell with me - to

He jerked his gun up and fired, not at a man, for the bullet struck the
thin chain which held the gasoline lamp suspended, struck it with a
clang, and it rushed down to the table. It struck, but not with the loud
explosion which Bard had expected. There was a dull report, as of a shot
fired at a great distance, the scream of Sally from the door, and then
liquid fire spurted from the lamp across the table, whipped in a flare
to the ceiling, and licked against the walls. It shot to all sides but
it shot high, and every man was down on his face.

Anthony, scarcely believing that he was still alive, rushed for the
door, with a cry of agony ringing in his ears from the voice beyond the
room. One man in all that crowd was near enough or had the courage to
obey the master even to the uttermost. The gaunt form of Calamity Ben
blocked the doorway in front of Bard, blocked it with poised revolver.

"Halt!" he yelled.

But the other rushed on. Calamity whipped down the gun and fired, but
even before the trigger was pulled he was sagging toward the floor, for
Bard had shot to kill. Over the prostrate form of the cowpuncher he
leaped, and into the night, where the white face of Sally greeted him.

Outside the red inferno of that room, as if the taste of blood had
maddened him, he raised his arms and shouted, like one crying a wild
prayer: "William Drew! William Drew! Come out to me!"

Small, strong hands gripped his wrists and turned him away from the

"You fool!" cried Sally. "Ride for it! You've raised your hell at
last - I knew you would!"

Red light flared in all the windows of the dining-room; shouts and
groans and cursing poured out of them. Bard turned and followed her out
toward the stable on the run, and he heard her moaning as she ran: "I
knew! I knew!"

She mounted her horse, which was tethered near the barn. He chose at
random the first horse he reached, a grey, threw on his back the saddle
which hung from the peg behind, mounted, and they were off through the
night. No thought, no direction; but only in blind speed there seemed to
be the hope of a salvation.

A mile, two miles dropped behind them, and then in an open stretch, for
he had outridden her somewhat, Anthony reined back, caught the bridle of
her horse, and pulled it down to a sharp trot.

"Why have you come?"

Their faces were so close that even through the night he could see the
grim set of her lips.

"Ain't you raised your hell - the hell you was hungry to raise? Don't you
need help?"

"What I've done is my own doing. I'll take the burden of it."

"You'll take a halter for it, that's what you'll take. The whole
range'll rise for this. You're marked already. Everywhere you've gone
you've made an enemy. They'll be out to get you - Nash - Boardman - the
whole gang."

"Let 'em come. I'd do this all over again."

"Born gunman, eh? Bard, you ain't got a week to live."

It was fierceness; it was a reproach rather than sorrow.

"Then let me go my own way. Why do you follow, Sally?"

"D'you know these mountains?"

"No, but - - "

"Then they'd run you down in twelve hours. Where'll you head for?"

He said, as the first thought entered his mind: "I'll go for the old
house that Drew has on the other side of the range."

"That ain't bad. Know the short cut?"

"What cut?"

"You can make it in five hours over one trail. But of course you don't
know. Nobody but old Dan and me ever knowed it. Let go my bridle and
ride like hell."

She jerked the reins away from him and galloped off at full speed. He

"Sally!" he called.

But she kept straight ahead, and he followed, shouting, imploring her to
go back. Finally he settled to the chase, resolved on overtaking her. It
was no easy task, for she rode like a centaur, and she knew the way.



Through the windows and the door the cowpunchers fled from the red
spurt of the flames, each man for himself, except Shorty Kilrain, who
stooped, gathered the lanky frame of Calamity Ben into his arms, and
staggered out with his burden. The great form of William Drew loomed
through the night.

His hand on the shoulder of Shorty, he cried: "Is he badly burned?"

"Shot," said Kilrain bitterly, "by the tenderfoot; done for."

It was strange to hear the big voice go shrill with pain.

"Shot? By Anthony? Give him to me."

Kilrain lowered his burden to the ground.

"You've got him murdered. Ain't you through with him? Calamity, he was
my pal!"

But the big man thrust him aside and knelt by the stricken cowpuncher.

He commanded: "Gather the boys; form a line of buckets from the pump;
fight that fire. It hasn't a hold on the house yet."

The habit of obedience persisted in Kilrain. Under the glow of the fire,
excited by the red light, the other man stood irresolute, eager for
action, but not knowing what to do. A picture came back to him of a ship
labouring in a storm; the huddling men on the deck; the mate on the
bridge, shrieking his orders through a megaphone. He cupped his hands at
his mouth and began to bark orders.

They obeyed on the run. Some rushed for the kitchen and secured buckets;
two manned the big pump and started a great gush of water; in a moment a
steady stream was being flung by the foremost men of the line against
the smoking walls and even the ceiling of the dining-room. So far it was
the oil itself, which had made most of the flame and smoke, and now,
although the big table was on fire, the main structure of the house was
hardly touched.

They caught it in time and worked with a cheer, swinging the buckets
from hand to hand, shouting as the flames fell little by little until
the floor of the room was awash, the walls gave back clouds of steam,
and the only fire was that which smouldered along the ruined table. Even
this went out, hissing, at last, and they came back with blackened,
singed faces to Calamity and Drew.

The rancher had torn away the coat and shirt of the wounded man, and
now, with much labour, was twisting a tight bandage around his chest. At
every turn Calamity groaned feebly. Kilrain dropped beside his partner,
taking the head between his hands.

"Calamity - pal," he said, "how'd you let a tenderfoot, a damned
tenderfoot, do this?"

The other sighed: "I dunno. I had him covered. I should have sent him to
hell. But sure shootin' is better'n fast shootin'. He nailed me fair and
square while I was blockin' him at the door."

"How d'you feel?"

"Done for, Shorty, but damned glad that - - -"

His voice died away in a horrible whisper and bubbles of red foam rose
to his lips.

"God!" groaned Shorty, and then called loudly, as if the strength of his
voice might recall the other, "Calamity!"

The eyes of Calamity rolled up; the wide lips twisted over formless
words; there was no sound from his mouth. Someone was holding a lantern
whose light fell full on the silent struggle. It was Nash, his habitual
sneer grown more malevolent than ever.

"What of the feller that done it, Shorty?" he suggested.

"So help me God," said the cattleman, with surprising softness, "the
range ain't big enough to keep him away from me."

Drew, completing his bandage, said, "That's enough of such talk, Nash.
Let it drop there. Here, Kilrain, take his feet. Help me into the house
with him."

They moved in, the rest trailing behind like sheep after a bell-weather,
and it was astonishing to see the care with which big Drew handled his
burden, placing it at last on his own four-poster bed.

"The old man's all busted up," said little Duffy to Nash. "I'd never of
guessed he was so fond of Calamity."

"You're a fool," answered Nash. "It ain't Calamity he cares about."

"Then what the devil is it?"

"I dunno. We're goin' to see some queer things around here."

Drew, having disposed of the wounded man, carefully raising his head on
a pillow, turned to the others.

"Who saw Ben shot?"

"I did," said Kilrain, who was making his way to the door.

"Come back here. Are you sure you saw the shot fired?"

"I seen the tenderfoot - damn his eyes! - whip up his gun and take a snap
shot while he was runnin' for the door where Calamity stood."

Nash raised his lantern high, so that the light fell full on the face of
Drew. The rancher was more grey than ever.

He said, with almost an appeal in his voice: "Mightn't it have been one
of the other boys, shooting at random?"

The tone of Kilrain raised and grew ugly.

"Are you tryin' to cover the tenderfoot, Drew?"

The big man made a fierce gesture.

"Why should I cover him?"

"Because you been actin' damned queer," answered Nash.

"Ah, you're here again, Nash? I know you hate Bard because he was too
much for you."

"He got the start of me, but I'll do a lot of finishing."

"Kilrain," called Drew, "you're Calamity's best friend. Ride for Eldara
and bring back Dr. Young. Quick! We're going to pull Ben through."

"Jest a waste of time," said Nash coolly. "He's got one foot in hell

"You've said too much, Nash. Kilrain, are you going?"

"I'll stop for the doctor at Eldara, but then I'll keep on riding."

"What do you mean?"


"I'll go with you," said Nash, and turned with the other.

"Stop!" called Drew. "Boys, I know what you have planned; but let the
law take care of this. Remember that we were the aggressors against
young Bard. He came peaceably into this house and I tried to hold him
here. What would you have done in his place?"

"They's a dozen men know how peaceable he is," said Nash drily.
"Wherever he's gone on the range he's raised hell. He's cut out for a
killer, and Glendin in Eldara knows it."

"I'll talk to Glendin. In the meantime you fellows keep your hands off
Bard. In the first place because if you take the law into your own hands
you'll have me against you - understand?"

Kilrain and Nash glowered at him a moment, and then backed through the

As they hurried for the barn Kilrain asked: "What makes the chief act
soft to that hell-raiser?"

"If you have a feller cut out for your own meat," answered Nash, "d'you
want to have any one else step in and take your meal away?"

"But you and me, Steve, we'll get this bird."

"We'll get Glendin behind us first."

"Why him?"

"Play safe. Glendin can swear us in as deputies to - 'apprehend,' as he
calls it, this Bard. Apprehendin' a feller like Bard simply means to
shoot him down and ask him to come along afterward, see?"

"Nash, you got a great head. You ought to be one of these lawyers. There
ain't nothin' you can't find a way out of. But will Glendin do it?"

"He'll do what I ask him to do."

"Friend of yours?"

"Better'n a friend."

"Got something on him?"

"These here questions, they ain't polite, Shorty," grinned Nash.

"All right. You do the leadin' in this game and I'll jest follow suit.
But lay your course with nothin' but the tops'ls flyin', because I've
got an idea we're goin' to hit a hell of a storm before we get back to
port, Steve."

"For my part," answered Nash, "I'm gettin' used to rough weather."

They saddled their horses and cut across the hills straight for Eldara.
Kilrain spurred viciously, and the roan had hard work keeping up.

"Hold in," called Nash after a time. "Save your hoss, Shorty. This ain't
no short trail. D'you notice the hosses when we was in the barn?"


"Bard took Duffy's grey, and the grey can go like the devil.
Hoss-liftin'? That's another little mark on Bard's score."



As if to make up for its silence of the blast when the two reached it
late the night before, Eldara was going full that evening. Kilrain went
straight for Doc Young, to bring him later to join Nash at the house of
Deputy Glendin.

The front of the deputy's house was utterly dark, but Nash, unabashed,
knocked loudly on the door, and went immediately to the rear of the
place. He was in time to see a light wink out at an upper window of the
two-story shack. He slipped back, chuckling, among the trees, and waited
until the back door slammed and a dark figure ran noiselessly down the
steps and out into the night. Then he returned, still chuckling, to the
front of the house, and banged again on the door.

A window above him raised at length and a drawling voice, apparently
overcome with sleep, called down: "What's up in Eldara?"

Nash answered: "Everything's wrong. Deputy Glendin, he sits up in a back
room playin' poker and hittin' the redeye. No wonder Eldara's goin' to

A muffled cursing rolled down to the cowpuncher, and then a sharp
challenge: "Who's there?"

"Nash, you blockhead!"

"Nash!" cried a relieved voice, "come in; confound you. I thought - no
matter what I thought. Come in!"

Nash opened the door and went up the stairs. The deputy met him, clad in
a bathrobe and carrying a lamp. Under the bathrobe he was fully dressed.

"Thought your game was called, eh?" grinned the cattleman.

"Sure. I had a tidy little thing in black-jack running and was pulling
in the iron boys, one after another. Why didn't you tip me off? You
could have sat in with us."

"Nope; I'm here on business."

"Let's have it."

He led the way into a back room and placed the lamp on a table littered
with cards and a black bottle looming in the centre.


"Nope. I said I came on business."

"What kind?"


"I thought so."

"I want a posse."

"What's he done?"

"Killed Calamity Ben at Drew's place, started a fire that near burned
the house, and lifted Duffy's hoss."

Glendin whistled softly.

"Nice little start."

"Sure, and it's just a beginnin' for this Bard."

"I'll go out to Drew's place and see what he's done."

"And then start after him with a gang?"


"By that time he'll be a thousand miles away."


"I'm running this little party. Let me get a gang together. You can
swear 'em in and put me in charge. I'll guarantee to get him before

Glendin shook his head.

"It ain't legal, Steve. You know that."

"The hell with legality."

"That's what you say; but I got to hold my job."

"You'll do your part by goin' to Drew's place with Doc Young. He'll be
here with Shorty Kilrain in a minute."

"And let you go after Bard?"


"Far's I know, you may jest shoot him down and then come back and say
you done it because he resisted arrest."


"You admit that's what you want, Steve?"


"Well, partner, it can't be done. That ain't apprehendin' a man. It's
jest plain murder."

"D'you think you could ever catch that bird alive?"

"Dunno, I'd try."

"Never in a thousand years."

"He don't know the country. He'll travel in a circle and I'll ride him

"He's got somebody with him that knows the country better'n you or me."


The face of Nash twisted into an ugly grimace.

"Sally Fortune."

"The hell!"

"It is; but it's true."

"It ain't possible. Sally ain't the kind to make a fool of herself
about any man, let alone a gun-fighter."

"That's what I thought, but I seen her back up this Bard ag'in' a
roomful of men. And she'll keep on backin' him till he's got his toes
turned up."

"That's another reason for you to get Bard, eh? Well, I can't send you
after him, Nash. That's final."

"Not a bit. I know too much about you, Glendin."

The glance of the other raised slowly, fixed on Nash, and then lowered
to the floor. He produced papers and Durham, rolled and lighted his
cigarette, and inhaled a long puff.

"So that's the game, Steve?"

"I hate to do it."

"Let that go. You'll run the limit on this?"

"Listen, Glendin. I've got to get this Bard. He's out-ridden me,
out-shot me, out-gamed me, out-lucked me, out-guessed me - and taken
Sally. He's mine. He b'longs all to me. D'you see that?"

"I'm only seein' one thing just now."

"I know. You think I'm double-crossin' you. Maybe I am, but I'm
desperate, Glendin."

"After all," mused the deputy, "you'd be simply doin' work I'd have to
do later. You're right about this Bard. He'll never be taken alive."

"Good ol' Glendin. I knew you'd see light. I'll go out and get the boys
I want in ten minutes. Wait here. Shorty and Doc Young will come in a
minute. One thing more: when you get to Drew's place you'll find him
actin' queer."

"What about?"

"I dunno why. It's a bad mess. You see, he's after this Bard himself,
the way I figure it, and he wants him left alone. He'd raise hell if he
knew a posse was after the tenderfoot."

"Drew's a bad one to get against me."

"I know. You think I'm double-crossin'?"

"I'll do it. But this squares all scores between us, Steve?"

"Right. It leaves the debt on my side, and you know I've never dodged an
I.O.U. Drew may talk queer. He'll tell you that Bard done all that work
in self-defence."

"Did he?"

"The point is he killed a man and stole a hoss. No matter what comes of
it, he's got to be arrested, don't he?"

"And shot down while 'resistin' arrest'? Steve, I'd hate to have you out
for me like this."

"But you won't listen to Drew?"

"Not this one time. But, Lord, man, I hate to face him if he's on the
warpath. Who'll you take with you?"

"Shorty, of course. He was Calamity Ben's pal. The rest will be - don't
laugh - Butch Conklin and his gang."


"Hold yourself together. That's what I mean - Butch Conklin."

"After you dropped him the other night?"

"Self-defence, and he knows it. I can find Butch, and I can make him go
with me. Besides, he's out for Bard himself."

The deputy said with much meaning: "You can do a lot of queer things,

"Forget it, Glendin."

"I will for a while. D'you really think I can let you take out Butch and
his gunmen ag'in' Bard? Why, they're ten times worse'n the tenderfoot."

"Maybe, but there's nothin' proved ag'in' 'em - nothin' but a bit of
cattle-liftin', maybe, and things like that. The point is, they're all
hard men, and with 'em along I can't help but get Bard."

"Murder ain't proved on Butch and his men, but it will be before long."

"Wait till it's proved. In the meantime use em all."

"You've a long head, Nash."

"Glendin, I'm makin' the biggest play of my life. I'm off to find Butch.
You'll stand firm with Drew?"

"I won't hear a word he says."

"S'long! Be back in ten minutes. Wait for me."

He was as good as his word. Even before the ten minutes had elapsed he
was back, and behind followed a crew of heavy thumping boots up the
stairs of Glendin's house and into the room where he sat with Dr. Young
and Shorty Kilrain. They rose, but not from respect, when Nash entered
with Conklin and his four ill-famed followers behind.

The soiled bandage on the head of Butch was far too thick to allow his
hat to sit in its normal position. It was perched high on top, and
secured in place by a bit of string which passed from side to side under
the chin. Behind him came Lovel, an almost albino type with
straw-coloured hair and eyes bleached and passionless; the vacuous smile
was never gone from his lips.

More feared and more hated than Conklin himself was Isaacs. The latter,
always fastidious, wore a blue-striped vest, without a coat to obscure
it, and about his throat was knotted a flaming vermilion necktie,
fastened in place with a diamond stickpin - obviously the spoil of some
recent robbery. Glendin, watching, ground his teeth.

McNamara followed. He had been a squatter, but his family had died of a
fever, and McNamara's mind had been unsettled ever since; whisky had
finished the work of sending him on the downward path with Conklin's
little crew of desperadoes. Men shrank from facing those too-bright,
wandering eyes, yet it was from pity almost as much as horror.

Finally came Ufert. He was merely a round-faced boy of nineteen, proud
of the distinguished bad company he kept. He was that weak-minded type
which is only strong when it becomes wholly evil. With a different
leadership he would have become simply a tobacco-chewing hanger-on at
cross-roads saloons and general merchandise stores. As it was, feeling
dignified by the brotherhood of crime into which he had been admitted as
a full member, and eager to prove his qualifications, he was as
dangerous as any member of the crew.

The three men who were already in the room had been prepared by Glendin
for this new arrival, but the fact was almost too much for their

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