credence. Consequently they rose, and Dr. Young muttered at the ear of
Glendin: "Is it possible, Deputy Glendin, that you're going to use these
"A thief to catch a thief," whispered Glendin in reply.
He said aloud: "Butch, I've been looking for you for a long time, but I
really never expected to see you quite as close as this."
"You've said it," grinned Butch, "I ain't been watchin' for you real
close, but now that I see you, you look more or less like a man should
look. H'ware ye, Glendin?"
He held out his hand, but the deputy, shifting his position, seemed to
overlook the grimy proffered palm.
"You fellows know that you're wanted by the law," he said, frowning on
A grim meaning rose in the vacuous eye of Lovel; Isaacs caressed his
diamond pin, smiling in a sickly fashion; McNamara's wandering stare
fixed and grew unhumanly bright; Ufert openly dropped his hand on his
gun-butt and stood sullenly defiant.
"You know that you're wanted, and you know why," went on Glendin, "but
I've decided to give you a chance to prove that you're white men and
useful citizens. Nash has already told you what we want. It's work for
seven men against one, but that one man is apt to give you all plenty
to do. If you are - successful" - he stammered a little over the right
word - "what you have done in the past will be forgotten. Hold up your
right hands and repeat after me."
And they repeated the oath after him in a broken, drawling chorus,
stumbling over the formal, legal phraseology.
He ended, and then: "Nash, you're in charge of the gang. Do what you
want to with them, and remember that you're to get Bard back in town
unharmed - if possible."
Butch Conklin smiled, and the same smile spread grimly from face to face
among the gang. Evidently this point had already been elucidated to them
by Nash, who now mustered them out of the house and assembled them on
their horses in the street below.
"Which way do we travel?" asked Shorty Kilrain, reining close beside the
leader, as though he were anxious to disestablish any relationship with
the rest of the party.
"Two ways," answered Nash. "Of course I don't know what way Bard headed,
because he's got the girl with him, but I figure it this way: if a
tenderfoot knows any part of the range at all, he'll go in that
direction after he's in trouble. I've seen it work out before. So I
think that Bard may have ridden straight for the old Drew place on the
other side of the range. I know a short cut over the hills; we can reach
there by morning. Kilrain, you'll go there with me.
"It may be that Bard will go near the old place, but not right to it.
Chances may be good that he'll put up at some place near the old
ranchhouse, but not right on the spot. Jerry Wood, he's got a house
about four or five miles to the north of Drew's old ranch. Butch, you
take your men and ride for Wood's place. Then switch south and ride for
Partridge's store; if we miss him at Drew's old house we'll go on and
join you at Partridge's store and then double back. He'll be somewhere
inside that circle and Eldara, you can lay to that. Now, boys, are your
"Then ride, and don't spare the spurs. Hoss flesh is cheaper'n your own
The cavalcade separated and galloped in two directions through the town
Glendin and Dr. Young struck out for the ranch of William Drew, but they
held a moderate pace, and it was already grey dawn before they arrived;
yet even at that hour several windows of the house were lighted. They
were led directly to Drew's room.
The big man welcomed them at the door with a hand raised for silence. He
seemed to have aged greatly during the night, but between the black
shadows beneath and the shaggy brows above, his eyes gleamed more
brightly than ever. About his mouth the lines of resolution were worn
deep by his vigil.
"He seems to be sleeping rather well - though you hear his breathing?"
It was a soft, but ominously rattling sound.
"Through the lungs," said the doctor instantly.
The cowpuncher was completely covered, except for his head and feet. On
the latter, oddly enough, were still his grimy boots, blackening the
white sheets on which they rested.
"I tried to work them off - you see the laces are untied," explained
Drew, "but the poor fellow recovered consciousness at once, and
struggled to get his feet free. He said that he wants to die with his
"You tried his pulse and his temperature?" whispered the doctor.
"Yes. The temperature is not much above normal, the pulse is extremely
rapid and very faint. Is that a bad sign?"
Drew winced and caught his breath so sharply that the others stared at
him. It might have been thought that he had just heard his own death
He explained: "Ben has been with me a number of years. It breaks me up
to think of losing him like this."
The doctor took the pulse of Calamity with lightly touching fingers that
did not waken the sleeper; then he felt with equal caution the forehead
"Well?" asked Drew eagerly.
"The chances are about one out of ten."
It drew a groan from the rancher.
"But there is still some hope."
The doctor shook his head and carefully unwound the bandages. He
examined the wound with care, and then made a dressing, and recovered
the little purple spot, so small that a five-cent piece would have
"Tell me!" demanded Drew, as Young turned at length.
"The bullet passed right through the body, eh?"
"He ought to have been dead hours ago. I can't understand it. But since
he's still alive we'll go on hoping."
"Hope?" whispered Drew.
It was as if he had received the promise of heaven, such brightness fell
across his haggard face.
"There's no use attempting to explain," answered Young. "An ordinary man
would have died almost instantly, but the lungs of some of these rangers
seem to be lined with leather. I suppose they are fairly embalmed with
excessive cigarette smoking. The constant work in the open air toughens
them wonderfully. As I said, the chances are about one out of ten, but
I'm only astonished that there is any chance at all."
"Doctor, I'll make you rich for this!"
"My dear sir, I've done nothing; it has been your instant care that
saved him - as far as he is saved. I'll tell you what to continue doing
for him; in half an hour I must leave."
Drew smiled faintly.
"Not till he's well or dead, doctor."
"I didn't quite catch that."
"You won't leave the room, Young, till this man is dead or on the way to
"Come, come, Mr. Drew, I have patients who -
"I tell you, there is no one else. Until a decision comes in this case
your world is bounded by the four walls of this room. That's final."
"Is it possible that you would attempt - "
"Anything is possible with me. Make up your mind. You shall not leave
this man till you've done all that's humanly possible for him."
"Mr. Drew, I appreciate your anxiety, but this is stepping too far. I
have an officer of the law with me - "
"Better do what he wants, Doc," said Glendin uneasily.
"Don't mouth words," ordered Drew sternly.
"There lies your sick man. Get to work. In this I'm as unalterable as
"The bill will be large," said Young sullenly, for he began to see that
it was as futile to resist the grey giant as it would have been to
attempt to stop the progress of a landslide.
"I'll pay you double what you wish to charge."
"Does this man's life mean so much to you?"
"A priceless thing. If you save him, you take the burden of murder off
the soul of another."
"I'll do what I can."
"I know you will."
He laid the broad hand on Young's shoulder. "Doctor, you must do more
than you can; you must accomplish the impossible; I tell you, it is
impossible for this man to die; he must live!"
He turned to Glendin.
"I suppose you want the details of what happened here?"
"Follow me. Doctor, I'll be gone only a moment."
He led the way into an adjoining room, and lighted a lamp. The sudden
flare cast deep shadows on the face leaning above, and Glendin started.
For the moment it seemed to him that he was seeing a face which had
looked on hell and lived to speak of it.
"Mr. Drew," he said, "you'd better hit the hay yourself; you look pretty
badly done up."
The other looked up with a singular smile, clenching and unclenching
his fingers as if he strove to relax muscles which had been tense for
"Glendin, the surface of my strength has not been scratched; I could
keep going every hour for ten days if it would save the life of the poor
fellow who lies in there."
He took a long breath.
"Now, then, let's get after this business. I'll tell you the naked
facts. Anthony Bard was approaching my house yesterday and word of his
coming was brought to me. For reasons of my own it was necessary that I
should detain him here for an uncertain length of time. For other
reasons it was necessary that I go to any length to accomplish my ends.
"I had another man - Lawlor, who looks something like me - take my place
in the eyes of Bard. But Bard grew suspicious of the deception. Finally
a girl entered and called Lawlor by name, as they were sitting at the
table with all the men around them. Bard rose at once with a gun in his
"Put yourself in his place. He found that he had been deceived, he knew
that he was surrounded by armed men, he must have felt like a cornered
rat. He drew his gun and started for the door, warning the others that
he meant to go the limit in order to get free. Mind you, it was no
"Then I ordered the men to keep him at all costs within the room. He saw
that they were prepared to obey me, and then he took a desperate chance
and shot down the gasoline lamp which hung over the table. In the
explosion and fire which resulted he made for the door. One man blocked
the way, levelled a revolver at him, and then Bard shot in self-defence
and downed Calamity Ben. I ask you, Glendin, is that self defence?"
The other drummed his finger-tips nervously against his chin; he was
thinking hard, and every thought was of Steve Nash.
"So far, all right. I ain't askin' your reasons for doin' some pretty
queer things, Mr. Drew."
"I'll stand every penalty of the law, sir. I only ask that you see that
punishment falls where it is deserved only. The case is clear. Bard
acted in self-defence."
Glendin was desperate.
He said at length: "When a man's tried in court they bring up his past
career. This feller Bard has gone along the range raisin' a different
brand of hell everywhere he went. He had a run-in with two gunmen,
Ferguson and Conklin. He had Eldara within an ace of a riot the first
night he hit the town. Mr. Drew, that chap looks the part of a killer;
he acts the part of a killer; and by God, he is a killer."
"You seem to have come with your mind already made up, Glendin," said
the rancher coldly.
"Not a bit. But go through the whole town or Eldara and ask the boys
what they think of this tenderfoot. They feel so strong that if he was
jailed they'd lynch him."
Drew raised a clenched fist and then let his arm fall suddenly limp at
"Then surely he must not be jailed."
"Want me to let him wander around loose and kill another man - in
"I want you to use reason - and mercy, Glendin!
"From what I've heard, you ain't the man to talk of mercy, Mr. Drew."
The other, as if he had received a stunning blow, slipped into a chair
and buried his face in his hands. It was a long moment before he could
speak, and when his hands were lowered, Glendin winced at what he saw in
the other's face.
"God knows I'm not," said Drew.
"Suppose we let the shootin' of Calamity go. What of hoss-liftin',
"Horse stealing? Impossible! Anthony - he could not be guilty of it!"
"Ask your man Duffy. Bard's ridin' Duffy's grey right now."
"But Duffy will press no claim," said the rancher eagerly. "I'll see to
that. I'll pay him ten times the value of his horse. Glendin, you can't
punish a man for a theft of which Duffy will not complain."
"Drew, you know what the boys on the range think of a hoss thief. It
ain't the price of what they steal; it's the low-down soul of the dog
that would steal it. It ain't the money. But what's a man without a hoss
on the range? Suppose his hoss is stole while he's hundred miles from
nowhere? What does it mean? You know; it means dyin' of thirst and goin'
through a hundred hells before the finish. I say shootin' a man is
nothin' compared with stealin' a hoss. A man that'll steal a hoss will
shoot his own brother; that's what he'll do. But I don't need to tell
you. You know it better'n me. What was it you done with your own hands
to Louis Borgen, the hoss-rustler, back ten years ago?"
A dead voice answered Glendin: "What has set you on the trail of Bard?"
"His own wrong doin'."
The rancher waved a hand of careless dismissal.
"I know you, Glendin," he said.
The deputy stirred in his chair, and then cleared his throat.
He said in a rising tone: "What d'you know?"
"I don't think you really care to hear it. To put it lightly, Glendin,
you've done many things for money. I don't accuse you of them. But if
you want to do one thing more, you can make more money at a stroke than
you've made in all the rest."
With all his soul the deputy was cursing Nash, but now the thing was
done, and he must see it through.
He rose glowering on Drew.
"I've stood a pile already from you; this is one beyond the limit.
Bribery ain't my way, Drew, no matter what I've done before."
"Is it war, then?"
And Glendin answered, forcing his tone into fierceness: "Anything you
want - any way you want it!"
"Glendin," said the other with a sudden lowering of his voice, "has some
other man been talking to you?"
"Who? Me? Certainly not."
"Drew, rein up. They's one thing no man can say to me and get away with
"I tell you, man, I'm holding myself in harder than I've ever done
before. Answer me!"
He did not even rise, but Glendin, his hand twitching close to the butt
of his gun, moved step by step away from those keen eyes.
"Nash; he's been to Eldara."
"I might have known. He told you about this?"
"And you're going the full limit of your power against Bard?"
"I'll do nothin' that ain't been done by others before me."
"Glendin, there have been cowardly legal murders before. Tell me at
least that you will not send a posse to 'apprehend' Bard until it's
learned whether or not Ben will die - and whether or not Duffy will press
the charge of horse stealing."
Glendin was at the door. He fumbled behind him, found the knob, and
swung it open.
"If you double-cross me," said Drew, "all that I've ever done to any man
before will be nothing to what I'll do to you, Glendin."
And the deputy cried, his voice gone shrill and high, "I ain't done
nothin' that ain't been done before!"
And he vanished through the doorway. Drew followed and looked after the
deputy, who galloped like a fugitive over the hills.
"Shall I follow him?" he muttered to himself, but a faint groan reached
him from the bedroom.
He turned on his heel and went back to Calamity Ben and the doctor.
After the first burst of speed, Bard resigned himself to following
Sally, knowing that he could never catch her, first because her horse
carried a burden so much lighter than his own, but above all because the
girl seemed to know every rock and twist in the trail, and rode as
courageously through the night as if it had been broad day.
She was following a course as straight as a crow's flight between the
ranch of Drew and his old place, a desperate trail that veered and
twisted up the side of the mountain and then lurched headlong down on
the farther side of the crest. Half a dozen times Anthony checked his
horse and shook his head at the trail, but always the figure of the
girl, glimmering through the dusk ahead, challenged and drove him on.
Out of the sharp descent of the downward trail they broke suddenly onto
the comparatively smooth floor of the valley, and he followed her at a
gallop which ended in front of the old house of Drew. They had been far
less than five hours on the way, yet his long detour to the south had
given him three days of hard riding to cover the same points. His desire
to meet Logan again became almost a passion. He swung to the ground, and
advanced to Sally with his hands outstretched.
"You've shown me the short cut, all right," he said, "and I thank you a
thousand times, Sally. So-long, and good luck to you."
She disregarded his extended hand.
"Want me to leave you here, Bard?"
"You certainly can't stay."
She slipped from her horse and jerked the reins over its head. In
another moment she had untied the cinch and drawn off the saddle. She
held its weight easily on one forearm. Actions, after all, are more
eloquent than words.
"I suppose," he said gloomily, "that if I'd asked you to stay you'd have
ridden off at once?"
She did not answer for a moment, and he strained his eyes to read her
expression through the dark. At length she laughed with a new note in
her voice that drew her strangely close to him. During the long ride he
had come to feel toward her as toward another man, as strong as himself,
almost, as fine a horseman, and much surer of herself on that wild
trail; but now the laughter in an instant rubbed all this away. It was
rather low, and with a throaty quality of richness. The pulse of the
sound was like a light finger tapping some marvellously sensitive chord
"D'you think that?" she said, and went directly through the door of the
He heard the crazy floor creak beneath her weight; the saddle dropped
with a thump; a match scratched and a flight of shadows shook across the
doorway. The light did not serve to make the room visible; it fell
wholly upon his own mind and troubled him like the waves which spread
from the dropping of the smallest pebble and lap against the last shores
of a pool. Dumfounded by her casual surety, he remained another moment
with the rein in the hollow of his arm.
Finally he decided to mount as silently as possible and ride off through
the night away from her. The consequences to her reputation if they
spent the night so closely together was one reason; a more selfish and
more moving one was the trouble which she gave him. The finding and
disposing of Drew should be the one thing to occupy his thoughts, but
the laughter of the girl the moment before had suddenly obsessed him,
wiped out the rest of the world, enmeshed them hopelessly together in
the solemn net of the night, the silence. He resented it; in a vague way
he was angry with Sally Fortune.
His foot was in the stirrup when it occurred to him that no matter how
softly he withdrew she would know and follow him. It seemed to Anthony
that for the first time in his life he was not alone. In other days
social bonds had fallen very lightly on him; the men he knew were
acquaintances, not friends; the women had been merely border
decorations, variations of light and shadow which never shone really
deep into the stream of his existence; even his father had not been near
him; but by the irresistible force of circumstances which he could not
control, this girl was forced bodily upon his consciousness.
Now he heard a cheery, faint crackling from the house and a rosy glow
pervaded the gloom beyond the doorway. It brought home to Anthony the
fact that he was tired; weariness went through all his limbs like the
sound of music. Music in fact, for the girl was singing softly - to
He took his foot from the stirrup, unsaddled, and carried the saddle
into the room. He found Sally crouched at the fire and piling bits of
wood on the rising flame. Her face was squinted to avoid the smoke, and
she sheltered her eyes with one hand. At his coming she smiled briefly
up at him and turned immediately back to the fire. The silence of that
smile brought their comradeship sharply home to him. It was as if she
understood his weariness and knew that the fire was infinitely
comforting. Anthony frowned; he did not wish to be understood. It was
irritating - indelicate.
He sat on one of the bunks, and when she took her place on the other he
studied her covertly, with side glances, for he was beginning to feel
strangely self-conscious. It was the situation rather than the girl that
gained upon him, but he felt shamed that he should be so uncertain of
himself and so liable to expose some weakness before the girl.
That in turn raised a blindly selfish desire to make her feel and
acknowledge his mastery. He did not define the emotion exactly, nor see
clearly what he wished to do, but in a general way he wanted to be
necessary to her, and to let her know at the same time that she was
nothing to him. He was quite sure that the opposite was the truth just
At this point he shrugged his shoulders, angry that he should have
slipped so easily into the character of a sullen boy, hating a
benefactor for no reason other than his benefactions; but the same
vicious impulse made him study the face of Sally Fortune with an
impersonal, coldly critical eye. It was not easy to do, for she sat with
her head tilted back a little, as though to take the warmth of the fire
more fully. The faint smile on her lips showed her comfort, mingled with
Here he lost the trend of his thoughts by beginning to wonder of what
she could be thinking, but he called himself back sharply to the
analysis of her features. It was a game with which he had often amused
himself among the girls of his eastern acquaintance. Their beauty, after
all, was their only weapon, and when he discovered that that weapon was
not of pure steel, they became nothing; it was like pushing them away
with an arm of infinite length.
There was food for criticism in Sally's features. The nose, of course,
was tipped up a bit, and the mouth too large, but Anthony discovered
that it was almost impossible to centre his criticism on either feature.
The tip-tilt of the nose suggested a quaint and infinitely buoyant
spirit; the mouth, if generously wide, was exquisitely made. She was
certainly not pretty, but he began to feel with equal certainty that she
A waiting mood came on him while he watched, as one waits through a
great symphony and endures the monotonous passages for the sake of the
singing bursts of harmony to which the commoner parts are a necessary
background. He began to wish that she would turn her head so that he
could see her eyes. They were like the inspired part of that same
symphony, a beauty which could not be remembered and was always new,
satisfying. He could make her turn by speaking, and knowing that this
was so, he postponed the pleasure like a miser who will only count his
gold once a day.
From the side view he dwelt on the short, delicately carved upper lip
and the astonishingly pleasant curve of the cheek.
"Look at me," he said abruptly.
She turned, observed him calmly, and then glanced back to the fire. She
asked no question.
Her chin rested on her hands, now, so that when she spoke her head
nodded a little and gave a significance to what she said.
"The grey doesn't belong to you?"
So she was thinking of horses!
"Well," she repeated.
"Hoss-lifting," she mused.
"Why shouldn't I take a horse when they had shot down mine?"
She turned to him again, and this time her gaze went over him slowly,
curiously, but without speaking she looked back to the fire, as though
explanation of what "hoss-lifting" meant were something far beyond the
grasp of his mentality. His anger rose again, childishly, sullenly, and
he had to arm himself with indifference.
"Who'd you drop, Bard?"
"The one they call Calamity Ben."
"Is he done for?"
The turmoil of the scene of his escape came back to him so vividly that
he wondered why it had ever been blurred to obscurity.
She said: "In a couple of hours we'd better ride on."
That was all; no comment, no exclamation - she continued to gaze with
that faint, retrospective smile toward the fire. He knew now why she
angered him; it was because she had held the upper hand from the minute
that ride over the short pass began - he had never once been able to
assert himself impressively. He decided to try now.