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listen to me - "

"How many went after him?"

"Nash, Butch Conklin, and five more. Butch's gang."


"I was in a hole; I needed men."

"How long have they been gone?"

"Since last night."

"Then," said Drew, "he's already dead. He doesn't know the mountains."

"I give Nash strict orders not to do nothin' but apprehend Bard."

"Don't talk, Glendin. It disgusts me - makes my flesh crawl. He's alone,
with seven cutthroats against him."

"Not alone. Sally Fortune's better'n two common men."

"The girl? God bless her! She's with him; she knows the country. There
may be a hope; Glendin, if you're wise, start praying now that I find
Bard alive. If I don't - "

The swinging doors closed behind him as he rushed through toward his
horse. Glendin stood dazed, his face mottled with a sick pallor. Then he
moved automatically toward the bar. Murphy hobbled down the length of
the room on his wooden leg and placed bottle and glass before the

"Well?" he queried.

Glendin poured his drink with a shaking hand, spilling much liquor
across the varnished wood. He drained his glass at a gulp.

"I dunno; what d'you think, Murphy?"

"You heard him talk, Glendin. You ought to know what's best."

"Let's hear you say it."

"I'd climb the best hoss I owned and start west, and when I come to the
sea I'd take a ship and keep right on goin' till I got halfway around
the world. And then I'd climb a mountain and hire a couple of dead-shots
for guards and have my first night's sleep. After that I'd begin
thinkin' of what I could do to get away from Drew."

"Murphy," said the other, "maybe that line of talk would sound sort of
exaggerated to some, but I ain't one of them. You've got a wooden leg,
but your brain's sound. But tell me, what in God's name makes him so
thick with the tenderfoot?"

He waited for no answer, but started for the door.



If Drew had done hard things in his life, few were more remorseless than
the ride on the great bay horse that day. Starting out, he reckoned
coldly the total strength of the gallant animal, the distance to his old
house, and figured that it was just within possibilities that he might
reach the place before evening. From that moment it was certain that the
horse would not survive the ride.

It was merely a question as to whether or not the master had so gaged
his strength that the bay would not collapse before even the summit of
the range had been reached. As the miles went by the horse loosened and
extended finely to his work; sweat darkened and polished his flanks;
flecks of foam whirled back and spattered his chest and the legs of his
rider; he kept on; almost to the last the rein had to be drawn taut; to
the very last his heart was even greater than his body.

Up the steep slopes Drew let the horse walk; every other inch of the
way it was either the fast trot or a swinging gallop, not the
mechanical, easy pace of the cattle-pony, but a driving, lunging speed.
The big hoofs literally smashed at the rocks, and the ringing of it
echoed hollowly along the rock face of the ravine.

At the summit, for a single moment, like a bird of prey pausing in mid
circle to note the position of the field mouse before it closes wings
and bolts down out of the blue, Drew sat his horse motionless and stared
down into the valleys below until he noted the exact location of his
house - the lake glittered back and up to him in the slant light of the
late afternoon. The bay, such was the violence of its panting, literally
rocked beneath him.

Then he started the last downward course, sweeping along the treacherous
trail with reckless speed, the rocks scattering before him. When they
straightened out on the level going beneath, the bay was staggering;
there was no longer any of the lilt and ease of the strong horse
running; it was a succession of jerks and jars, and the panting was a
sharper sound than the thunder of the hoofs. His shoulders, his flanks,
his neck - all was foam now; and little by little the proud head fell,
reached out; still he drove against the bit; still the rider had to keep
up the restraining pressure.

Until at last he knew that the horse was dying on his feet; dying with
each heavy stride it made. Then he let the reins hang limp. It was sad
to see the answer of the bay - a snort, as if of happiness; a pricking of
the ears; a sudden lengthening of stride and quickening; a nobler lift
to the head.

Past the margin of the lake they swept, crashed through the woods to the
right; and now, very distinctly, Drew heard the heavy drum of firing. He
groaned and drove home the spurs. And still, by some miracle, there was
something left in the horse which responded; not strength, certainly
that was gone long ago, but there was an indomitable spirit bred into it
with its fine blood by gentle care for generations. The going was
heavier among the trees, and yet the bay increased its pace. The crackle
of the rifles grew more and more distinct. A fallen trunk blocked the

With a snort the bay gathered speed, rose, cleared the trunk with a last
glorious effort, and fell dead on the other side.

Drew disentangled his feet from the stirrup, raised the head of the
horse, stared an instant into the glazing eyes, and then turned and ran
on among the trees. Panting, dripping with sweat, his face contorted
terribly by his effort, he came at last behind that rocky shoulder
which commanded the approach to the old house.

He found seven men sheltered there, keeping up a steady, dropping fire
on the house. McNamara sat propped against a rock, a clumsy, dirty
bandage around his thigh; Isaacs lay prone, a stained rag twisted
tightly around his shoulder; Lovel sat with his legs crossed, staring
stupidly down to the steady drip of blood from his left forearm.

But Ufert, Kilrain, Conklin, and Nash maintained the fight; and Drew
wondered what casualties lay on the other side.

At his rush, at the sound of his heavy footfall over the rocks, the four
turned with a single movement; Ufert covered him with a rifle, but Nash
knocked down the boy's arm.

"We've done talkin'; it's our time to listen; understand?"

Ufert, gone sullen, obeyed. He was at that age between youth and manhood
when the blood, despite the songs of the poets, runs slow, cold; before
the heart has been called out in love, or even in friendship; before
fear or hate or anything saving a deep egoism has possessed the brain.

He looked about to the others for his cue. What he saw disturbed him.
Shorty Kilrain, like a boy caught playing truant, edged little by little
back against the rock; Butch Conklin, his eyes staring, had grown waxy
pale; Steve Nash himself was sullen and gloomy rather than defiant.

And all this because of a grey man far past the prime of life who ran
stumbling, panting, toward them. At his nearer approach a flash of
understanding touched Ufert. Perhaps it was the sheer bulk of the
newcomer; perhaps, more than this, it was something of stern dignity
that oppressed the boy with awe. He fought against the feeling, but he
was uneasy; he wanted to be far away from that place.

Straight upon them the big grey man strode and halted in front of Nash.

He said, his voice harsh and broken by his running: "I ordered you to
bring him to me unharmed. What does this mean, Nash?"

The cowpuncher answered sulkily: "Glendin sent us out."

"Don't lie. You sent yourself and took these men. I've seen Glendin."

His wrath was tempered with a sneer.

"But here you are four against one. Go down and bring him out to me

There was no answer.

"You said you wanted no odds against any one man."

"When a man and a woman stand together," answered Nash, "they're worse
than a hundred. That devil, Sally Fortune, is down there with him."

A gun cracked from the house; the bullet chipped the rock with an evil
clang, and the flake of stone whirled through the air and landed at the
feet of Drew.

"There's your answer," said Nash. "But we've got the rat cornered."

"Wrong again. Calamity Ben is going to live - "

A cry of joy came from Shorty Kilrain.

"Duffy says that he gave his horse away to Bard. Glendin has called back
your posse. Ride, Nash! Or else go down there unarmed and bring Bard up
to me."

The shadow of a smile crossed the lips of Nash.

"If the law's done with him, I'm not. I won't ride, and I won't go down
to him. I've got the upper hand and I'm going to hold it."

"If you're afraid to go down, I will."

Drew unbuckled his cartridge belt and tossed it with his gun against the
rocks. He drew out a white handkerchief, and holding it above him, at a
full arm's length, he stepped out from the shelter. The others,
gathering at their places of vantage, watched his progress toward the
house. Steve Nash described it to the wounded men, who had dragged
themselves half erect.

"He's walkin' right toward the house, wavin' the white rag. They ain't
goin' to shoot. He's goin' around the side of the house. He's stopped
there under the trees."


"At that grave of his wife under the two trees. He waits there like he
expected Bard to come out to him. And, by God, there goes Bard to meet
him - right out into the open."

"Steady, Steve! Drop that gun! If you shoot now you'll have Drew on your
head afterward."

"Don't I know it? But God, wouldn't it be easy? I got him square inside
the sights. Jest press the trigger and Anthony Bard is done for. He
walks up to Drew. He's got no gun on. He's empty-handed jest like Drew.
He's said something short and quick and starts to step across the grave.

"Drew points down to it and makes an answer. Bard steps back like he'd
been hit across the face and stands there lookin' at the mound. What did
Drew say? I'd give ten years of life to hear that talk!

"Bard looks sort of stunned; he stands there with a hand shadin' his
eyes, but the sun ain't that bright. Well, I knew nobody could ever
stand up to Drew.

"The chief is talkin' fast and hard. The young feller shakes his head.
Drew begins talkin' again. You'd think he was pleadin' for his life in
front of a jury that meant him wrong. His hands go out like he was
makin' an election speech. He holds one hand down like he was measurin'
the height of a kid. He throws up his arms again like he'd lost
everything in the world.

"And now Bard has dropped the hand from his face. He looks sort of
interested. He steps closer to the grave again. Drew holds out both his
arms. By God, boys, he's pleadin' with Bard.

"And the head of Bard is dropped. How's it goin' to turn out? Drew wins,
of course. There goes Bard's hand out as if it was pulled ag'in' his
will. Drew catches it in both his own. Boys, here's where we grab our
hosses and beat it."

He turned from the rocks in haste.

"What d'you mean?" cried Conklin. "Steve, are you goin' to leave us here
to finish the job you started?"

"Finish it? You fools! Don't you see that Drew and Bard is pals now? If
we couldn't finish Bard alone, how'd we make out ag'in' the two of them?
The game's up, boys; the thing that's left is for us to save our
hides - if we can - before them two start after us. If they do start, then
God help us all!"

He was already in the saddle.

"Wait!" called Conklin. "One of 'em's a tenderfoot. The other has left
his gun here. What we got to fear from 'em?"

And Nash snarled in return: "If there was a chance, don't you think I'd
take it? Don't you see I'm givin' up everythin' that amounts to a damn
with me? Tenderfoot? He may act Eastern and he may talk Eastern, but
he's got Western blood. There ain't no other way of explainin' it. And
Drew? He didn't have no gun when he busted the back of old Piotto. I
say, there's two men, armed or not, and between 'em they can do more'n
all of us could dream of. Boys, are you comin'?"

They went. The wounded were dragged to their feet and hoisted to their
horses, groaning. At a slow walk they started down through the trees.
Evening fell; the shadows slanted about them. They moved faster - at a
trot - at a gallop. They were like men flying from a certain ruin. Beyond
the margin of the bright lake they fled and lost themselves in the vast,
secret heart of the mountain-desert.



All that day, in a silence broken only by murmurs and side glances,
Anthony and Sally Fortune moved about the old house from window to
window, and from crack to crack, keeping a steady eye on the commanding
rocks above. In one of those murmurs they made their resolution. When
night came they would rush the rocks, storm them from the front, and
take their chance with what might follow. But the night promised to give
but little shelter to their stalking.

For in the late afternoon a broad moon was already climbing up from the
east; the sky was cloudless; there was a threat of keen, revealing
moonshine for the night. Only desperation could make them attempt to
storm the rock, but by the next morning, at the latest, reinforcements
were sure to come, and then their fight would be utterly hopeless.

So when the light of the sun mellowed, grew yellow and slant, and the
shadows sloped from tree to tree, the two became more silent still,
drawn and pale of face, waiting. Anthony at a window, Sally at a crack
which made an excellent loophole, they remained moveless.

It was she who noted a niche which might serve as a loophole for one of
the posse, and she fired at it, aiming low. The clang of the bullet
against rock echoes clearly back to her, like the soft chime of a sheep
bell from the peaceful distance. Then, as if in answer to her shot,
around the edge of the rocks appeared a moving rag of white which grew
into William Drew, bearing above his head the white sign of the truce.

In her astonishment she looked to Bard. He was quivering all over like a
hound held on a tight leash, with the game in sight, hungry to be
slipped upon it. The edge of his tongue passed across his colourless
lips. He was like a man who long has ridden the white-hot desert and is
now about to drink. There was the same wild gleam in his eyes; his hand
shook with nervous eagerness as he shifted and balanced his revolver.
Listening, in her awe, she heard the sound of his increasing panting; a
sound like the breath of a running man approaching her swiftly.

She slipped to his side.


He did not answer; his gun steadied; the barrel began to incline down;
his left eye was squinting. She dropped to her knees and seized his

"Anthony, what are you going to do?"

"It's Drew!" he whispered, and she did not recognize his voice. "It's
the grey man I've waited for. It's he!"

In such a tone a dying man might speak of his hope of heaven - seeing it
unroll before him in his delirium.

"But he's carrying the flag of truce, Anthony. You see that?"

"I see nothing except his face. It blots out the rest of the world. I'll
plant my shot there - there in the middle of those lips."

"Anthony, that's William Drew, the squarest man on the range."

"Sally Fortune, that's William Drew, who murdered my father!"

"Ah!" she said, with sharply indrawn breath. "It isn't possible!"

"I saw the shot fired."

"But not this way, Anthony; not from behind a wall!"

His emotion changed him, made him almost a stranger to her. He was
shaking and palsied with eagerness.

"I could do nothing as bad as the crime he has done. For twenty years
the dread of his coming haunted my father, broke him, aged him
prematurely. Every day he went to a secret room and cared for his
revolver - this gun here in my hand, you see? He and I - we were more than
father and son - we were pals, Sally. And then this devil called my
father out into the night and shot him. Damn him!"

"You've got to listen to me, Anthony - "

"I'll listen to nothing, for there he is and - "

She said with a sharp, rising ring in her voice: "If you shoot at him
while he carries that white flag I'll - I'll send a bullet through your
head - that's straight! We got only one law in the mountains, and that's
the law of honour. If you bust that, I'm done with you, Anthony."

"Take my gun - take it quickly, Sally, I can't trust myself; looking at
him, I can see the place where the bullet should strike home."

He forced the butt of his revolver into her hands, rose, and stepped to
the door, his hands clasped behind his back.

"Tell me what he does."

"He's comin' straight toward us as if he didn't fear nothin' - grey
William Drew! He's not packin' a gun; he trusts us."

"The better way," answered Bard. "Bare hands - the better way!"

"He has killed men with those bare hands of his. I can see 'em
clear - great, blunt-fingered hands, Anthony. He's coming around the side
of the house. I'll go into the front room."

She ran past Anthony and paused in the habitable room, spying through a
crack in the wall. And Anthony stood with his eyes tightly closed, his
head bowed. The image of the leashed hound came more vividly to her when
she glanced back at him.

"He's walkin' right up the path. There he stops."


"Right beside the old grave."

"Anthony!" called a deep voice. "Anthony, come out to me!"

He started, and then groaned and stopped himself.

"Is the sign of the truce still over his head, Sally?"


"I daren't go out to him - I'd jump at his throat."

She came beside him.

"It means something besides war. I can see it in his face. Pain - sorrow,
Anthony, but not a wish for fightin'."

From the left side of his cartridge belt a stout-handled, long-bladed
hunting-knife was suspended. He disengaged the belt and tossed it to the
floor. Still he paused.

"If I go, I'll break the truce, Sally."

"You won't; you're a man, Anthony; and remember that you're on the
range, and the law of the range holds you."

"Anthony!" called the deep voice without.

He shuddered violently.

"What is it?"

"It sounds - like the voice of my father calling me! I must go!"

She clung to him.

"Not till you're calmer."

"My father died in my arms," he answered; "let me go."

He thrust her aside and strode out through the door.

On the farther side of the grave stood Drew, his grey head bare, and
looking past him Anthony saw the snow-clad tops of the Little Brother,
grey also in the light of the evening. And the trees whose branches
interwove above the grave - grey also with moss. The trees, the mountain,
the old headstone, the man - they blended into a whole.

"Anthony!" said the man, "I have waited half my life for this!"

"And I," said Bard, "have waited a few weeks that seem longer than all
my life, for this!"

His own eager panting stopped him, but he stumbled on: "I have you here
in reach at last, Drew, and I'm going to tear your heart out, as you
tore the heart out of John Bard."

"Ah, Anthony," said the other, "my heart was torn out when you were
born; it was torn out and buried here."

And to the wild eyes of Anthony it seemed as if the great body of Drew,
so feared through the mountain-desert, was now enveloped with weakness,
humbled by some incredible burden.

After that a mist obscured his eyes; he could not see more than an
outline of the great shape before him; his throat contracted as if a
hand gripped him there, and an odd tingling came at the tips of his
fingers. He moved forward.

"It is more than I dreamed," he said hoarsely, as his foot planted
firmly on the top of the grave, and he poised himself an instant before
flinging himself on the grey giant. "It is more than I dreamed for - to
face you - alone!"

And a solemn, even voice answered him, "We are not alone."

"Not alone, but the others are too far off to stop me."

"Not alone, Anthony, for your mother is here between us."

Like a fog under a wind, the mist swept from the eyes of Anthony; he
looked out and saw that the face of the grey man was infinitely sad, and
there was a hungry tenderness that reached out, enveloped, weakened him.
He glanced down, saw that his heel was on the mount of the grave; saw
again the headstone and the time-blurred inscription: "Here sleeps Joan,
the wife of William Drew. She chose this place for rest."

A mortal weakness and trembling seized him. The wind puffed against his
face, and he went staggering back, his hand caught up to his eyes.

He closed his mind against the words which he had heard.

But the deep organ voice spoke again: "Oh, boy, your mother!"

In the stupor which came over him he saw two faces: the stern eyes of
John Bard, and the dark, mocking beauty of the face which had looked
down to him in John Bard's secret room. He lowered his hand from his
eyes; he stared at William Drew, and it seemed to him that it was John
Bard he looked upon. Their names differed, but long pain had touched
them with a common greyness. And it seemed to Anthony that it was only a
moment ago that the key turned in the lock of John Bard's secret room,
the hidden chamber which he kept like Bluebeard for himself, where he
went like Bluebeard to see his past; only an instant before he had
turned the key in that lock, the door opened, and this was the scene
which met his eyes - the grave, the blurred tombstone, and the stern
figure beyond.

"Joan," he repeated; "your wife - my mother?"

He heard a sob, not of pain, but of happiness, and knew that the blue
eyes of Sally Fortune looked out to him from the doorway of the house.

The low voice, hurried now, broke in on him.

"When I married Joan, John Bard fled from the range; he could not bear
to look on our happiness. You see, I had won her by chance, and he hated
me for it. If you had ever seen her, Anthony, you would understand. I
crossed the mountains and came here and built this house, for your
mother was like a wild bird, Anthony, and I did not dare to let men near
her; then a son was born, and she died giving him birth. Afterward I
lived on here, close to the place which she had chosen herself for rest.
And I was happy because the boy grew every day into a more perfect
picture of his dead mother.

"One day when he was almost three I rode off through the hills, and when
I came back the boy was gone. I rode with a posse everywhere, hunting
him; aye, Anthony, the trail which I started then I have kept at ever
since, year after year, and here it ends where it began - at the grave of

"Finally I came on news that a man much like John Bard in appearance had
been seen near my house that day. Then I knew it was Bard in fact. He
had seen the image of the woman we both loved in the boy. He was all
that was left of her on earth. After these years I can read his heart
clearly; I know why he took the boy.

"Then I left this place. I could not bear the sight of the grave; for
she slept in peace, and I lived in hell waiting for the return of my

"At last I went east; I was at Madison Square Garden and saw you ride.
It was the face of Joan that looked back at me; and I knew that I was
close to the end of the trail.

"The next night I called out John Bard. He had been in hell all those
years, like me, for he had waited for my coming. He begged me to let
him have you; said you loved him as a father; I only laughed. So we
fought, and he fell; and then I saw you running over the lawn toward us.

"I remembered Joan, her pride and her fierceness, and I knew that if I
waited a son would kill his father that night. So I turned and fled
through the trees. Anthony, do you believe me; do you forgive me?"

The memory of the clumsy, hungered tenderness of John Bard swept about

He cried: "How can I believe? My father has killed my father; what is

The solemn voice replied: "Anthony, my son!"

He saw the great, blunt-fingered hands which had killed men, which were
feared through the length and breadth of the mountain-desert, stretched
out to him.

"Anthony Drew!" said the voice.

His hand went out, feebly, by slow degrees, and was caught in a mighty
double clasp. Warmth flowed through him from that grasp, and a great
emotion troubled him, and a voice from deep to deep echoed within
him - the call of blood to blood. He knew the truth, for the hate burned
out in him and left only an infinite sadness.

He said: "What of the man who loved me? Whom I love?"

"I have done penance for that death," answered William Drew, "and I
shall do more penance before I die. For I am only your father in name,
but he is the father in your thoughts and in your love. Is it true?"

"It is true," said Anthony.

And the other, bitterly: "In his life he was as strong as I; in his
death he is still stronger. It is his victory; his shadow falls between

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