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"But he would. You know it. He's not stronger, maybe not so strong. But
he was born to win, Steve; he's like - he's like Drew, in a way. He can't

"If I wrung that throat of yours," he said, "I know I couldn't get out
of you where he's gone."

"Because I don't know, you see."

"Don't know?"

"He's given me the slip."


"Funny, ain't it? But he has. Thought I couldn't ride fast enough to
keep up with him, maybe. He's gone on east, of course."

"That's another lie."

"Well, you know."

"I do."

His voice changed.

"Has he really beat it away from you, Sally?"

She watched him with a strange, sneering smile. Then she stepped close.

"Lean your ear down to me, Steve."

He obeyed.

"I'll tell you what ought to make you happy. He don't care for me no
more than I care for - you, Steve."

He straightened again, wondering.

"And you?"

"I threw myself at him. I dunno why I'm tellin' you, except it's right
that you should know. But he don't want me; he's gone on without me."

"An' you like him still?"

She merely stared, with a sick smile.

"My God!" he murmured, shaken deep with wonder. "What's he made of?"

"Steel and fire - that's all."

"Listen, Sally, forget what I've done, and - "

"Would you drop his trail, Steve?"

He cursed through his set teeth.

"If that's it - no. It's him or me, and I'm sure to beat him out.
Afterwards you'll forget him."

"Try me."

"Girls have said that before. I'll wait. There ain't no one but you for
me - damn you - I know that. I'll get him first, and then I'll wait."

"Ten like you couldn't get him."

"I've six men behind me."

She was still defiant, but her colour changed.

"Six, Sally, and he's out here among the hills, not knowing his right
from his left. I ask you: has he got a chance?"

She answered: "No; not one."

He turned on his heel, beckoned to Kilrain, who had stood moveless
through the strange dialogue, and went out into the night.

As they mounted he said: "We're going straight for the place where I
told Butch Conklin I'd meet him. Then the bunch of us will come back."

"Why waste time?"

"Because he's sure to come back. Shorty, after a feller has seen Sally
smile - the way she can smile - he couldn't keep away. I _know_!"

They rode off at a slow trot, like men who have resigned themselves to a
long journey, and Sally watched them from the door. She sat down,
crosslegged, before the fire, and stirred the embers, and strove to

But she was not equipped for thinking, all her life had been merely
action, action, action, and now, as she strove to build out some logical
sequence and find her destiny in it, she failed miserably, and fell back
upon herself. She was one of those single-minded people who give
themselves up to emotion rarely, but when they do their whole body,
their whole soul burns in the flame.

Into her mind came a phrase she had heard in her childhood. On the
outskirts of Eldara there was a little shack owned by a Mexican - José,
he was called, and nothing else, "Greaser" José. One night an alarm of
fire was given in Eldara, and the whole populace turned out to enjoy the
sight; it was a festival occasion, in a way. It was the house of Greaser

The cowpunchers manned a bucket line, but the source of water was far
away, the line too long, and the flames gained faster than they could be
quenched. All through the work of fire-fighting Greaser José was
everywhere about the house, flinging buckets of water through the
windows into the red furnace within; his wife and the two children stood
stupidly, staring, dumb. But in the end, when the fire was towering
above the roof of the house, roaring and crackling, the Mexican suddenly
raised a long arm and called to the bucket line, "It is done. Señors, I
thank you."

Then he had folded his arms and repeated in a monotone, over and over
again: "_Todo es perdo; todo es perdo_!"

His wife came to him, frantic, wailing, and threw her arms around his
neck. He merely repeated with heavy monotony: "_Todo es perdo; todo es

The phrase clung in the mind of the girl; and she rose at last and went
back to her bunk, repeating: "_Todo es perdo; todo es perdo! All is
lost; all is lost_!"

No tears were in her eyes; they were wide and solemn, looking up to the
shadows of the ceiling, and so she went to sleep with the solemn Spanish
phrase echoing through her whole being: "_Todo es perdo_!"

She woke with the smell of frying bacon pungent in her nostrils.



The savour of roasting chicken, that first delicious burst of aroma when
the oven door is opened, would tempt an angel from heaven down to the
lowly earth. A Southerner declares that his nostrils can detect at a
prodigious distance the cooking of "possum and taters." A Kanaka has a
cosmopolitan appetite, but the fragrance which moves him most nearly is
the scent of fish baking in Ti leaves. A Frenchman waits unmoved until
the perfume of some rich lamb ragout, an air laden with spices, is
wafted toward him.

Every man and every nation has a special dish, in general; there is only
one whose appeal is universal. It is not for any class or nation; it is
primarily for "the hungry man," no matter what has given him an
appetite. It may be that he has pushed a pen all day, or reckoned up
vast columns, or wielded a sledge-hammer, or ridden a wild horse from
morning to night; but the savour of peculiar excellence to the nostrils
of this universal hungry man is the smell of frying bacon.

A keen appetite is even stronger than sorrow, and when Sally Fortune
awoke with that strong perfume in her nostrils, she sat straight up
among the blankets, startled as the cavalry horse by the sound of the
trumpet. What she saw was Anthony Bard kneeling by the coals of the fire
over which steamed a coffee-pot on one side and a pan of crisping bacon
on the other.

The vision shook her so that she rubbed her eyes and stared again to
make sure. It did not seem possible that she had actually wakened during
the night and found him gone, and with this reality before her she was
strongly tempted to believe that the coming of Nash was only a vivid

"Morning, Anthony."

He turned his head quickly and smiled to her.

"Hello, Sally."

He was back at once, turning the bacon, which was done on the first
side. Seeing that his back was turned, she dressed quickly.

"How'd you sleep?"



He turned more slowly this time.

"You woke up in the middle of the night?"


"What wakened you?"

"Nash and Kilrain."

He sighed: "I wish I'd been here."

She answered: "I'll wash up; we'll eat; and then off on the trail. I've
an idea that the two will be back, and they'll have more men behind

After a little her voice called from the outside: "Anthony, have you had
a look at the morning?"

He came obediently to the doorway. The sun had not yet risen, but the
fresh, rose-coloured light already swept around the horizon throwing
the hills in sharp relief and flushing, faraway, the pure snows of the
Little Brothers. And so blinding was the sheen of the lake that it
seemed at first as though the sun were about to break from the waters,
for there all the radiance of the sunrise was reflected, concentrated.

Looking in this manner from the doorway, with the water on either side
and straight ahead, and the dark, narrow point of land cutting that
colour like a prow, it seemed to Anthony almost as if he stood on the
bridge of a ship which in another moment would gather head and sail out
toward the sea of fresh beauty beyond the peaks, for the old house of
William Drew stood on a small peninsula, thrusting out into the lake, a
low, shelving shore, scattered with trees.

Where the little tongue of land joined the main shore the ground rose
abruptly into a shoulder of rocks inaccessible to a horse; the entrance
and exit to the house must be on either side of this shoulder hugging
closely the edge of the water.

Feeling that halo of the morning about them, for a moment Anthony forgot
all things in the lift and exhilaration of the keen air; and he accepted
the girl as a full and equal partner in his happiness, looking to her
for sympathy.

She knelt by the edge of the water, face and throat shining and wet, her
head bending back, her lips parted and smiling. It thrilled him as if
she were singing a silent song which made the brightness of the morning
and the colour beyond the peaks. He almost waited to see her throat
quiver - hear the high, sweet tone.

But a scent of telltale sharpness drew him a thousand leagues down and
made him whirl with a cry of dismay: "The bacon, Sally!"

It was hopelessly burned; some of it was even charred on the bottom of
the pan. Sally, returning on the run, took charge of the cookery and
went about it with a speed and ability that kept him silent; which being
the ideal mood for a spectator, he watched and found himself learning

Whatever that scene of the night before meant in the small and definite,
in the large and vague it meant that he had a claim of some sort on
Sally Fortune and it is only when a man feels that he has this claim,
this proprietorship, as it were, that he begins to see a woman clearly.

Before this his observance has been half blind through prejudice either
for or against; he either sees her magnified with adulation, or else the
large end of the glass is placed against his eye and she is merely a
speck in the distance. But let a woman step past that mysterious wall
which separates the formal from the intimate - only one step - at once she
is surrounded by the eyes of a man as if by a thousand spies. So it was
with Anthony.

It moved him, for instance, to see the supple strength of her fingers
when she was scraping the charred bacon from the bottom of the pan, and
he was particularly fascinated by the undulations of the small, round
wrist. He glanced down to his own hand, broad and bony in comparison.

It was his absorption in this criticism that served to keep him aloof
from her while they ate, and the girl felt it like an arm pushing her
away. She had been very close to him not many hours before; now she was
far away. She could understand nothing but the pain of it.

As he finished his coffee he said, staring into a corner: "I don't know
why I came back to you, Sally."

"You didn't mean to come back when you started?"

"Of course not."

She flushed, and her heart beat loudly to hear his weakness. He was
keeping nothing from her; he was thinking aloud; she felt that the bars
between them were down again.

"In the first place I went because I had to be seen and known by name in
some place far away from you. That was for your sake. In the second
place I had to be alone for the work that lay ahead."


"Yes. It all worked like a charm. I went to the house of Jerry Wood,
told him my name, stayed there until Conklin and several others arrived,
hunting for me, and then gave them the slip."

She did not look up from her occupation, which was the skilful cleaning
of her gun.

"It was perfect; the way clear before me; I had dodged through their
lines, so to speak, when I gave Conklin the slip, and I could ride
straight for Drew and catch him unprepared. Isn't that clear?"

"But you didn't?"

She was so calm about it that he grew a little angry; she would not look
up from the cleaning of the gun.

"That's the devil of it; I couldn't stay away. I had to come back to

She restored the gun to her holster and looked steadily at him; he felt
a certain shock in countering her glance.

"Because I thought you might be lonely, Sally."

"I was."

It was strange to see how little fencing there was between them. They
were like men, long tried in friendship and working together on a great
problem full of significance to both.

"Do you know what I kept sayin' to myself when I found you was gone?"


"Todo es perdo; todo es perdo!"

She had said it so often to herself that now some of the original
emotion crept into her voice. His arm went out; they shook hands across
their breakfast pans.

She went on: "The next thing is Drew?"


"There's no changing you." She did not wait for his answer. "I know
that. I won't ask questions. If it has to be done we'll do it quickly;
and afterward I can find a way out for us both."

Something like a foreknowledge came to him, telling him that the thing
would never be done - that he had surrendered his last chance of Drew
when he turned back to go to Sally. It was as if he took a choice
between the killing of the man and the love of the woman. But he said
nothing of his forebodings and helped her quietly to rearrange the small
pack. They saddled and took the trail which pointed up over the
mountains - the same trail which they had ridden in an opposite direction
the night before.

He rode with his head turned, taking his last look at the old house of
Drew, with its blackened, crumbling sides, when the girl cried softly:
"What's that? Look!"

He stared in the direction of her pointing arm. They were almost
directly under the shoulder of rocks which loomed above the trail along
the edge of the lake. Anthony saw nothing.

"What was it?"

He checked his horse beside hers.

"I thought I saw something move. I'm not sure. And there - back,

And she whirled her horse. He caught it this time clearly, the
unmistakable glint of the morning light on steel, and he turned the grey
sharply. At the same time a rattling blast of revolver shots crackled
above them; the grey reared and pitched back.

By inches he escaped the fall of the horse, slipping from the saddle in
the nick of time. A bullet whipped his hat from his head. Then the hand
of the girl clutched his shoulder.

"Stirrup and saddle, Anthony!"

He seized the pommel of the saddle, hooked his foot into the stirrup
which she abandoned to him, and she spurred back toward the old house.

A shout followed them, a roar that ended in a harsh rattle of curses;
they heard the spat of bullets several times on the trees past which
they whirled. But it was only a second before they were once more in the
shelter of the house. He stood in the centre of the room, stunned,
staring stupidly around him. It was not fear of death that benumbed him,
but a rising horror that he should be so trapped - like a wild beast
cornered and about to be worried to death by dogs.

As for escape, there was simply no chance - it was impossible. On three
sides the lake, still beautiful, though the colour was fading from it,
effectively blocked their way. On the fourth and narrowest side there
was the shoulder of rocks, not only blocking them, but affording a
perfect shelter for Nash and his men, for they did not doubt that it was

"They think they've got us," said a fiercely exultant voice beside him,
"but we ain't started to make all the trouble we're goin' to make."

Life came back to him as he looked at her. She was trembling with
excitement, but it was the tremor of eagerness, not the unmistakable
sick palsy of fear. He drew out a large handkerchief of fine, white
linen and tied it to a long splinter of wood which he tore away from one
of the rotten boards.

"Go out with this," he said. "They aren't after you, Sally. This is west
of the Rockies, thank God, and a woman is safe with the worst man that
ever committed murder."

She said: "D'you mean this, Anthony?"

"I'm trying to mean it."

She snatched the stick and snapped it into small pieces.

"Does that look final, Anthony?"

He could not answer for a moment. At last he said: "What a woman you
would have made for a wife, Sally Fortune; what a fine pal!"

But she laughed, a mirth not forced and harsh, but clear and ringing.

"Anthony, ain't this better'n marriage?"

"By God," he answered, "I almost think you're right."

For answer a bullet ripped through the right-hand wall and buried itself
in a beam on the opposite side of the room.

"Listen!" she said.

There was a fresh crackle of guns, the reports louder and longer drawn.

"Rifles," said Sally Fortune. "I knew no bullet from a six-gun could
carry like that one."

The little, sharp sounds of splintering and crunching began everywhere.
A cloud of soot spilled down the chimney and across the hearth. A furrow
ploughed across the floor, lifting a splinter as long and even as if it
had been grooved out by a machine.

"Look!" said Sally, "they're firin' breast high to catch us standing,
and on the level of the floor to get us if we lie down. That's Nash. I
know his trademark."

"From the back of the house we can answer them," said Bard. "Let's try

"Pepper for their salt, eh?" answered Sally, and they ran back through
the old shack to the last room.



As Drew entered his bedroom he found the doctor in the act of restoring
the thermometer to its case. His coat was off and his sleeves rolled up
to the elbow; he looked more like a man preparing to chop wood than a
physician engaging in a struggle with death; but Dr. Young had the
fighting strain. Otherwise he would never have persisted in Eldara.

Already the subtle atmosphere of sickness had come upon the room. The
shades of the windows were drawn evenly, and low down, so that the
increasing brightness of the morning could only temper, not wholly
dismiss the shadows. Night is the only reality of the sick-bed; the day
is only a long evening, a waiting for the utter dark. The doctor's
little square satchel of instruments, vials, and bandages lay open on
the table; he had changed the apartment as utterly as he had changed his
face by putting on great, horn-rimmed spectacles. They gave an owl-like
look to him, an air of omniscience. It seemed as if no mortal ailment
could persist in the face of such wisdom.

"Well?" whispered Drew.

"You can speak out, but not loudly," said the doctor calmly. "He's
delirious; the fever is getting its hold."

"What do you think?"

"Nothing. The time hasn't come for thinking."

He bent his emotionless eye closer on the big rancher.

"You," he said, "ought to be in bed this moment."

Drew waved the suggestion aside.

"Let me give you a sedative," added Young.

"Nonsense. I'm going to stay here."

The doctor gave up the effort; dismissed Drew from his mind, and focused
his glance on the patient once more. Calamity Ben was moving his head
restlessly from side to side, keeping up a gibbering mutter. It rose now
to words.

"Joe, a mule is to a hoss what a woman is to a man. Ever notice? The
difference ain't so much in what they do as what they don't do. Me
speakin' personal, I'll take a lot from any hoss and lay it to jest
plain spirit; but a mule can make me mad by standin' still and doin'
nothing but wablin' them long ears as if it understood things it wasn't
goin' to speak about. Y' always feel around a mule as if it knew
somethin' about you - had somethin' on you - and was laughin' soft and
deep inside. Damn a mule! I remember - "

But here he sank into the steady, voiceless whisper again, the shadow of
a sound rather than the reality. It was ghostly to hear, even by

"Will it keep up long?" asked Drew.

"Maybe until he dies."

"I've told you before; it's impossible for him to die."

The doctor made a gesture of resignation.

He explained: "As long as this fever grows our man will steadily weaken;
it shows that he's on the downward path. If it breaks - why, that means
that he will have a chance - more than a chance - to get well. It will
mean that he has enough reserve strength to fight off the shock of the
wound and survive the loss of the blood."

"It will mean," said Drew, apparently thinking aloud, "that the guilt of
murder does not fall on Anthony."

"Who is Anthony?"

The wounded man broke in; his voice rose high and sharp: "Halt!"

He went on, in a sighing mumble: "Shorty - help - I'm done for!"

"The shooting," said the doctor, who had kept his fingers on the wrist
of his patient; "I could feel his pulse leap and stop when he said

"He said 'halt!' first; a very clear sign that he tried to stop Bard
before Bard shot. Doctor, you're witness to that?"

He had grown deeply excited.

"I'm witness to nothing. I never dreamed that you could be so interested
in any human being."

He nodded to himself.

"Do you know how I explained your greyness to myself? As that of a man
ennuied with life - tired of living because he had nothing in the world
to occupy his affections. And here I find you so far from being ennuied
that you are using your whole strength to keep the guilt of murder away
from another man. It's amazing. The boys will never believe it."

He continued: "A man who raised a riot in your own house, almost burned
down your place, shot your man, stole a horse - gad, Drew, you are

But if he expected an explanatory answer from the rancher he was
disappointed. The latter pulled up a chair beside the bed and bent his
stern eyes on the patient as if he were concentrating all of a great
will on bringing Calamity Ben back to health.

He worked with the doctor. Every half hour a temperature was taken, and
it was going up steadily. Drew heard the report each time with a
tightening of the muscles about his jaws. He helped pack the wounded man
with wet cloths. He ran out and stopped a wrangling noise of the
cowpunchers several times. But mostly he sat without motion beside the
bed, trying to will the sufferer back to life.

And in the middle of the morning, after taking a temperature, the doctor
looked to the rancher with a sort of dull wonder.

"It's dropping?" whispered Drew.

"It's lower. I don't think it's dropping. It can't be going down so
soon. Wait till the next time I register it. If it's still lower then,
he'll get well."

The grey man sagged forward from his chair to his knees and took the
hands of Calamity, long-fingered, bony, cold hands they were. There he
remained, moveless, his keen eyes close to the wandering stare of the
delirious man. Out of the exhaustless reservoir of his will he seemed to
be injecting an electric strength into the other, a steadying and even
flow of power that passed from his hands and into the body of Calamity.

When the time came, and Young stood looking down at the thermometer,
Drew lifted haggard eyes, waiting.

"It's lower!"

The great arms of the rancher were thrown above his head; he rose,
changed, triumphant, as if he had torn his happiness from the heart of
the heavens, and went hastily from the room, silent.

At the stable he took his great bay, saddled him, and swung out on the
trail for Eldara, a short, rough trail which led across the
Saverack - the same course which Nash and Bard had taken the day before.

But the river had greatly fallen - the water hardly washed above the
knees of the horse except in the centre of the stream; by noon he
reached the town and went straight for the office of Glendin. The deputy
was not there, and the rancher was referred to Murphy's saloon.

There he found Glendin, seated at a corner table with a glass of beer in
front of him, and considering the sun-whitened landscape lazily through
the window. At the sound of the heavy footfall of Drew he turned, rose,
his shoulders flattened against the wall behind him like a cornered man
prepared for a desperate stand.

"It's all right," cried Drew. "It's all over, Glendin. Duffy won't press
any charges against Bard; he says that he's given the horse away. And
Calamity Ben is going to live."

"Who says he will?"

"I've just ridden in from his bedside. Dr. Young says the crisis is
past. And so - thank God - there's no danger to Bard; he's free from the

"Too late," said the deputy.

It did not seem that Drew heard him. He stepped closer and turned his

"What's that?"

"Too late. I've sent out men to - to apprehend Bard."

"Apprehend him?" repeated Drew. "Is it possible? To murder him, you

He had not made a threatening move, but the deputy had his grip on the
butt of his gun.

"It was that devil Nash. He persuaded me to send out a posse with him in

"And you sent him?"

"What could I do? Ain't it legal?"

"Murder is legal - sometimes. It has been in the past. I've an idea that
it's going to be again."

"What d'you mean by that?"

"You'll learn later. Where did they go for Bard?"

He did not seem disappointed. He was rather like a man who had already
heard bad news and now only finds it confirmed. He knew before. Now the
fact was simply clinched.

"They went out to your old place on the other side of the range. Drew,

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