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Jim Waring of Sonora-Town by Knibbs, Henry Herbert

Part 5 out of 6

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up on forestry. He's goin' to put me over west--and a bigger job this

"You mean--to stay?"

"About as much as I stay anywhere."

Dorothy pouted. She had thought that the Blue Mesa and the timberlands
were more beautiful than ever that spring, but to think that the
neighboring cabin would be vacant all summer! No cheery whistling and no
wood smoke curling from the chimney and no blithe voice talking to the
ponies. No jolly "Good-mornin', miss, and the day is sure startin' out
proud to see you." Well, Dorothy had considered Mr. Shoop a friend. She
would have a very serious talk with Mr. Shoop when she saw him.

She had read of Waring's fight in the desert and of his slow recovery,
and that Waring was Lorry's father; matters that she could not speak of
to Lorry, but the knowledge of them lent a kind of romance to her ranger
man. At times she studied Lorry, endeavoring to find in him some trace
of his father's qualities. She had not met Waring, but she imagined much
from what she had heard and read. And could Lorry, who had such kind
gray eyes and such a pleasant face, deliberately go out and kill men as
his father had done? Why should men kill each other? The world was so
beautiful, and there was so much to live for.

Although the trail across the great forest terraces below was open clear
up to the Blue Mesa, the trails on the northern side of the range were
still impassable. The lookout man would not occupy his lonely cabin on
Mount Baldy for several weeks to come, and Lorry's work kept him within
a moderate radius of the home camp.

Several times Dorothy and her father rode with Lorry, spending the day
searching for new vistas while he mended trail or repaired the telephone
line that ran from Mount Baldy to the main office. Frequently they would
have their evening meal in Bronson's camp, after which Lorry always
asked them to his cabin, where Dorothy would play for them while they
smoked contentedly in front of the log fire. To Dorothy it seemed that
they had always lived in a cabin on the Blue Mesa and that Lorry had
always been their neighbor, whom it was a joy to tease because he never
showed impatience, and whose attitude toward her was that of a brother.

And without realizing it, Lorry grew to love the sprightly, slender
Dorothy with a wholesome, boyish affection. When she was well, he was
happy. When she became over-tired, and was obliged to stay in her room,
he was miserable, blaming himself for suggesting some expedition that
had been too much for her strength, so often buoyed above its natural
level by enthusiasm. At such times he would blame himself roundly. And
if there seemed no cause for her depression, he warred silently with the
power that stooped to harm so frail a creature. His own physical freedom
knew no such check. He could not quite understand sickness, save when it
came through some obvious physical injury.

Bronson was glad that there was a Lorry; both as a companion to himself
and as a tower of strength to Dorothy. Her depression vanished in the
young ranger's presence. It was a case of the thoroughbred endeavoring
to live up to the thoroughbred standard. And Bronson considered anything
thoroughbred that was true to type. Yet the writer had known men
physically inconsequent who possessed a fine strain of courage, loyalty,
honor. The shell might be misshapen, malformed, and yet the spirit burn
high and clear. And Bronson reasoned that there was a divinity of blood,
despite the patents of democracy.

Bronson found that he had to go to Jason for supplies. Dorothy asked to
go with him. Bronson hesitated. It was a long ride, although Dorothy had
made it upon occasion. She teased prettily. Lorry was away. She wasn't
afraid to stay alone, but she would be lonesome. If she kissed him three
times, one right on top of the other, would he let her come? Bronson
gave in to this argument. They would ride slowly, and stay a day longer
in Jason to rest.

When they arrived at Jason, Dorothy immediately went to bed. She wanted
to be at her best on the following day. She was going to talk with Mr.
Shoop. It was a very serious matter.

And next morning she excused herself while her father bought supplies.
She called at the supervisor's office. Bud Shoop beamed. She was so
alert, so vivacious, and so charming in her quick slenderness. The
genial Bud placed a chair for her with grandiloquent courtesy.

"I'm going to ask a terrible favor," she began, crossing her legs and
clasping her knee.

"I'm pow'ful scared," said Bud.

"I don't want favors that way. I want you to like me, and then I will
tell you."

"My goodness, missy! Like you! Who said I didn't?"

"No one. But you have ordered Lorry Adams to close up his camp and go
over to work right near the Apache Reservation."

"I sure did."

"Well, Mr. Shoop, I don't like Apaches."

"You got comp'ny, missy. But what's that got to do with Lorry?"

"Oh, I suppose he doesn't care. But what do you think his _mother_ would
say to you if he--well, if he got _scalped_?"

A slow grin spread across Bud's broad face. Dorothy looked solemn
disapproval. "I can't help it," he said as he shook all over. Two tears
welled in the corner of his eyes and trickled down his cheeks. "I can't
help it, missy. I ain't laughin' at you. But Lorry gettin' scalped! Why,
here you been livin' up here, not five miles from the Apache line, and I
ain't heard you tell of bein' scared of Injuns. And you ain't no bigger
than a minute at that."

"That's just it! Suppose the Apaches did come over the line? What could
we do if Lorry were gone?"

"Well, you might repo't their trespassin' to me. And I reckon your daddy
might have somethin' to say to 'em. He's been around some."

"Oh, I suppose so. But there is a lot of work to do in Lorry's district,
I noticed, coming down. The trails are in very bad condition."

"I know it. But he's worth more to the Service doin' bigger work. I got
a young college man wished onto me that can mend trails."

"Will he live at Lorry's cabin?"

"No. He'll head in from here. I ain't givin' the use of my cabin and my
piano to everybody."

Dorothy's eyes twinkled. "If Lorry were away some one might steal your

"Now, see here, missy; you're joshin' your Uncle Bud. Do you know that
you're tryin' to bribe a Gov'ment officer? That means a pow'ful big
penalty if I was to repo't to Washington."

Dorothy wrinkled her nose. "I don't care if you do! You'd get what-for,

"Well, I'll tell you, missy. Let's ask Bondsman about this here hocus.
Are you willin' to stand by what he says?"

"Oh, that's not fair! He's _your_ dog."

"But he's plumb square in his jedgments, missy. Now, I'll tell you.
We'll call him in and say nothin'. Then you ask him if he thinks I ought
to put Lorry Adams over west or leave him to my camp this summer. Now,
if Bondsman wiggles that stub tail of his, it means, 'yes.' If he don't
wiggle his tail, he says, 'no,'--huh?"

"Of course he'll wiggle his tail. He always does when I talk to him."

"Then suppose I do the talkin'?"

"Oh, you can make him do just as you wish. But all right, Mr. Shoop.
And you will really let Bondsman decide?"

"'Tain't accordin' to rules, but seein' it's you--"

Bud called to the big Airedale. Bondsman trotted in, nosed Dorothy's
hand, and looked up at his master.

"Come 'ere!" commanded Shoop brusquely. "Stand right there! Now, quit
tryin' to guess what's goin' on and listen to the boss. Accordin' to
your jedgment, which is plumb solid, do I put Lorry to work over on the
line this summer?"

Bondsman cocked his ears, blinked, and a slight quiver began at his
shoulders, which would undoubtedly accentuate to the affirmative when it
reached his tail.

"Rats!" cried Dorothy.

The Airedale grew rigid, and his spike of a tail cocked up straight and

Bud Shoop waved his hands helplessly. "I might 'a' knowed it! A lady can
always get a man steppin' on his own foot when he tries to walk around a
argument with her. You done bribed me and corrupted Bondsman. But I'm
stayin' right by what I said."

Dorothy jumped up and took Bud's big hand in her slender ones. "You're
just lovely to us!" And her brown eyes glowed softly.

Bud coughed. His shirt-collar seemed tight. He tugged at it, and coughed

"Missy," he said, leaning forward and patting her hand,--"missy, I
would send Lorry plumb to--to--Phoenix and tell the Service to go find
him, just to see them brown eyes of yours lookin' at me like that. But
don't you say nothin' about this here committee meetin' to nobody. I
reckon you played a trick on me for teasin' you. So you think Lorry is a
right smart hombre, eh?"

"Oh," indifferently, "he's rather nice at times. He's company for

"Then I reckon you set a whole lot of store by your daddy. Now, I wonder
if I was a young, bow-legged cow-puncher with kind of curly hair and
lookin' fierce and noble, and they was a gal whose daddy was plumb
lonesome for company, and I was to get notice from the boss that I was
to vamose the diggin's and go to work,--now, I wonder who'd ride twenty
miles of trail to talk up for me?"

"Why, I would!"

"You got everything off of me but my watch," laughed Bud. "I reckon
you'll let me keep that?"

"Is it a good watch?" she asked, and her eyes sparkled with a great

"Tol'able. Cost a dollar. I lost my old watch in Criswell. I reckon the
city marshal got it when I wa'n't lookin'."

"Well, you may keep it--for a while yet. When are you coming up to visit

"Just as soon as I can, missy. Here's your daddy. I want to talk to him
a minute."

Three weeks later, when the wheels of the local stage were beginning to
throw a fine dust, instead of mud, as they whirred from St. Johns to
Jason, Bud Shoop received a tiny flat package addressed in an unfamiliar
hand. He laid it aside until he had read the mail. Then he opened it. In
a nest of cotton batting gleamed a plain gold watch. A thin watch,
reflecting something aristocratic in its well-proportioned simplicity.
As he examined it his genial face expressed a sort of childish
wonderment. There was no card to show from where it had come. He opened
the back of the case, and read a brief inscription.

"And the little lady would be sendin' this to me! And it's that slim and
smooth; nothin' fancy, but a reg'lar thoroughbred, just like her."

He laid the watch carefully on his desk, and sat for a while gazing out
of the window. It was the first time in his life that a woman had made
him a present. Turning to replace the watch in the box, he saw something
glitter in the cotton. He pulled out a layer of batting, and discovered
a plain gold chain of strong, serviceable pattern.

That afternoon, as Bud came from luncheon at the hotel, a townsman
accosted him in the street. During their chat the townsman commented
upon the watch-chain. Bud drew the watch from his pocket and exhibited
it proudly.

"Just a little present from a lady friend. And her name is inside the
cover, along with mine."

"A lady friend, eh? Now, I thought it was politics mebby?"

"Nope. Strictly pussonel."

"Well, Bud, you want to watch out."

"If you're meanin' that for a joke," retorted Bud, "it's that kind of a
joke what's foundered in its front laigs and can't do nothin' but walk
around itself. I got the same almanac over to my office."

Chapter XXVI

_Idle Noon_

The occasional raw winds of spring softened to the warm calm of summer.
The horses had shed their winter coats, and grew sleek and fat on the
lush grasses of the mesa. The mesa stream cleared from a ropy red to a
sparkling thread of silver banked with vivid green. If infrequent
thunderstorms left a haze in the canons, it soon vanished in the light

Bronson found it difficult to keep Dorothy from over-exerting herself.
They arose at daybreak and went to bed at dusk, save when Lorry came for
an after-dinner chat or when he prevailed upon Dorothy to play for them
in his cabin. On such occasions she would entertain them with old
melodies played softly as they smoked and listened, the lamp unlighted
and the door wide open to the stars.

One evening, when Dorothy had ceased to play for them, Lorry mentioned
that he was to leave on the following day for an indefinite time. There
had been some trouble about a new outfit that was grazing cattle far to
the south. Shoop had already sent word to the foreman, who had ignored
the message. Lorry had been deputized to see the man and have an
understanding with him. The complaint had been brought to Shoop by one
of the Apache police that some cowboys had been grazing stock and
killing game on the Indian reservation.

Dorothy realized that Lorry might be away for some time. She would miss
him. And that night she asked her father if she might not invite a girl
friend up for the summer. They were established. And Dorothy was much
stronger and able to attend to the housekeeping. Bronson was quite
willing. He realized that he was busy most of the time, writing. He was
not much of a companion except at the table. So Dorothy wrote to her
friend, who was in Los Angeles and had already planned to drive East
when the roads became passable.

Lorry was roping the packs next morning when Dorothy appeared in her new
silver-gray corduroy riding-habit--a surprise that she had kept for an
occasion. She was proud of the well-tailored coat and breeches, the
snug-fitting black boots, and the small, new Stetson. Her gray silk
waist was brightened by a narrow four-in-hand of rich blue, and her tiny
gauntlets of soft gray buckskin were stitched with blue silk.

She looked like some slender, young exquisite who had stepped from the
stage of an old play as she stood smoothing the fingers of her gloves
and smiling across at Lorry. He said nothing, but stared at her. She was
disappointed. She wanted him to tell her that he liked her new things,
she had spent so much time and thought on them. But there he stood, the
pack-rope slack in his hand, staring stupidly.

She nodded, and waved her hand.

"It's me," she called. "Good-morning!"

Lorry managed to stammer a greeting. He felt as though she were some
strange person that looked like Dorothy, but like a new Dorothy of such
exquisite attitude and grace and so altogether charming that he could do
nothing but wonder how the transformation had come about. He had always
thought her pretty. But now she was more than that. She was alluring;
she was the girl he loved from the brim of her gray Stetson to the toe
of her tiny boot.

"Would you catch my pony for me?"

Lorry flushed. Of course she wanted Chinook. He swung up on Gray Leg and
spurred across the mesa. His heart was pounding hard. He rode with a
dash and a swing as he rounded up the ponies. As he caught up her horse
he happened to think of his own faded shirt and overalls. He was wearing
the essentially proper clothing for his work. For the first time he
realized the potency of carefully chosen attire. As he rode back with
the pastured pony trailing behind him, he felt peculiarly ashamed of
himself for feeling ashamed of his clothing. Silently he saddled
Chinook, accepted her thanks silently, and strode to his cabin. When he
reappeared he was wearing a new shirt, his blue silk bandanna, and his
silver-studded chaps. He would cache those chaps at his first camp out,
and get them when he returned.

Bronson came to the doorway.

Dorothy put her finger to her lips. "Lorry is stunned, I think. Do I
look as spiff as all that?"

"Like a slim young cavalier; very dashing and wonderful, Peter Pan."

"Not a bit like Dorothy?"

"Well, the least bit; but more like Peter Pan."

"I was getting tired of being just Dorothy. That was all very well when
I wasn't able to ride and camp and do all sorts of adventures.

"And that isn't all," she continued. "I weigh twelve pounds more than I
did last summer. Mr. Shoop weighed me on the store scales. I wanted to
weigh him. He made an awful pun, but he wouldn't budge."

Bronson nodded. "I wouldn't ride farther than the Big Spring, Peter.
It's getting hot now."

"All right, daddy. I wish that horrid old story was finished. You never
ride with me."

"You'll have some one to ride with you when Alice comes."

"Yes; but Alice is only a girl."

Bronson laughed, and she scolded him with her eyes. Just then Lorry

Bronson stooped and kissed her. "And don't ride too far," he cautioned.

Lorry drove the pack-animals toward Bronson's cabin. He dismounted to
tighten the cinch on Chinook's saddle.

The little cavalcade moved out across the mesa. Dorothy rode behind the
pack-animals, who knew their work too well to need a lead-rope. It was
_her_ adventure. At the Big Spring, she would graciously allow Lorry to
take charge of the expedition.

Lorry, riding behind her, turned as they entered the forest, and waved
farewell to Bronson.

To ride the high trails of the Arizona hills is in itself an
unadulterated joy. To ride these wooded uplands, eight thousand feet
above the world, with a sprightly Peter Pan clad in silver-gray
corduroys and chatting happily, is an enchantment. In such
companionship, when the morning sunlight dapples the dun forest carpet
with pools of gold, when vista after vista unfolds beneath the high
arches of the rusty-brown giants of the woodlands; when somewhere above
there is the open sky and the marching sun, the twilight underworld of
the green-roofed caverns is a magic land.

The ponies plodded slowly upward, to turn and plod up the next angle of
the trail, without loitering and without haste. When Dorothy checked her
pony to gaze at some new vista, the pack-animals rested, waiting for the
word to go on again. Lorry, awakened to a new charm in Dorothy, rode in
a silence that needed no interpreter.

At a bend in the trail, Dorothy reined up. "Oh, I just noticed! You are
wearing your chaps this morning."

Lorry flushed, and turned to tie a saddle-string that was already quite

Dorothy nodded to herself and spoke to the horses. They strained on up a
steeper pitch, pausing occasionally to rest.

Lorry seemed to have regained his old manner. Her mention of the chaps
had wakened him to everyday affairs. After all, she was only a girl; not
yet eighteen, her father had said. "Just a kid," Lorry had thought; "but
mighty pretty in those city clothes." He imagined that some women he had
seen would look like heck in such a riding-coat and breeches. But
Dorothy looked like a kind of stylish boy-girl, slim and yet not quite
as slender as she had appeared in her ordinary clothes. Lorry could not
help associating her appearance with a thoroughbred he had once seen; a
dark-bay colt, satin smooth and as graceful as a flame. He had all but
worshiped that horse. Even as he knew horses, through that colt he had
seen perfection; his ideal of something beautiful beyond words.

From his pondering, Lorry arrived at a conclusion having nothing to do
with ideals. He would buy a new suit of clothes the first time he went
to Phoenix. It would be a trim suit of corduroy and a dark-green flannel
shirt, like the suit and shirt worn by Lundy, the forestry expert.

At the base of a great gray shoulder of granite, the Big Spring spread
in its natural rocky bowl which grew shallower toward the edges. Below
the spring in the black mud softened by the overflow were the tracks of
wild turkey and the occasional print of a lynx pad. The bush had been
cleared from around the spring, and the ashes of an old camp-fire marked
the spot where Lorry had often "bushed over-night" on his way to the

Lorry dismounted and tied the pack-horses. He explained that they were
still a little too close to home to be trusted untied.

Dorothy decided that she was hungry, although they had been but two
hours on the trail. Could they have a real camp-fire and make coffee?

"Yes, ma'am; right quick."

"Lorry, don't say 'yes, ma'am.' I--it's nice of you, but just say

"Yes, ma'am."

Dorothy's brown eyes twinkled.

Lorry gazed at her, wondering why she smiled.

"Yes, ma'am," she said stiffly, as though to a superior whom she feared.

Lorry grinned. She was always doing something sprightly, either making
him laugh or laughing at him, talking to the horses, planning some
little surprise for their occasional dinners in the Bronson cabin,
quoting some fragment of poetry from an outland song,--she called these
songs "outlandish," and had explained her delight in teasing her father
with "outlandish" adjectives; whistling in answer to the birds, and
amusing herself and her "men-folks" in a thousand ways as spontaneous as
they were delightful.

With an armful of firewood, Lorry returned to the spring. The ponies
nodded in the heat of noon. Dorothy, spreading their modest luncheon on
a bright new Navajo blanket, seemed daintier than ever against the
background of the forest. They made coffee and ate the sandwiches she
had prepared. After luncheon Lorry smoked, leaning back against the
granite rock, his hat off, and his legs crossed in lazy content.

"If it could only be like this forever," sighed Dorothy.

Lorry promptly shook his head. "We'd get hungry after a spell."

"Men are always hungry. And you've just eaten."

"But I could listen to a poem," he said, and he winked at a tree-trunk.

"It's really too warm even to speak of 'The Little Fires,' isn't it? Oh,
I know! Do you remember the camp we made?"


"Oh, silly!"

"Well, I ain't had time to remember this one yet--and this is the first
for us."

"Lorry, you're awfully practical."

"I got to be."

"And I don't believe you know a poem when you see one."

"I reckon you're right. But I can tell one when I hear it."

"Very well, then. Shut your eyes tight and listen:--

"'Do you remember the camp we made as we nooned on the mesa
Where the grass rolled down like a running sea in the wind--
and the world our own?
You laughed as you sat in the cedar shade and said 't was the
ocean shore
Of an island lost in a wizardry of dreams, for ourselves alone.

"'Our ponies grazed in the idle noon, unsaddled, at ease, and
The ranges dim were a faeryland; blue hills in a haze of gray.
Hands clasped on knee, you hummed a tune, a melody light and
And do you remember the venture planned in jest--for your
heart was gay?'"

Dorothy paused. "You may open your eyes. That's all."

"Well, it's noon," said Lorry, "and there are the ponies, and the hills
are over there. Won't you say the rest of it?"

"Oh, the rest of it is about a venture planned that never came true. It
couldn't, even in a poem. But I'll tell you about it some day."

"I could listen right now."

Dorothy shook her head. "I am afraid it would spoil our real adventure.
But if I were a boy--wouldn't it be fun! We would ride and camp in the
hills at night and find all the little fires along the trail--"

"We'd make our own," said Lorry.

"Of course, Mr. Practical Man."

"Well, I can't help bein' like I am. But sometimes I get lazy and sit
and look at the hills and the canons and mesas down below, and wonder
what's the good of hustlin'. But somehow I got to quit loafin' after a
spell--and go right to hustlin' again. It's a sure good way to get
rested up; just to sit down and forget everything but the big world
rollin' down to the edge of nothin'. It makes a fella's kickin' and
complainin' look kind of small and ornery."

"I never heard you complain, Lorry."

"Huh! You ain't been along with me when I been right up against it and
mebby had to sweat my way out of some darned box canon or make a ride
through some down timber at night. I've said some lovely things them

"Oh, I get cross. But, then, I'm a girl. Men shouldn't get cross."

"I reckon you're right. The sun's comin' through that pine there.
Gettin' too hot?"

"No, I love it. But I must go. I'll just ride down to the cabin and
unsaddle Chinook and say 'Hello' to father--and that's the end of our

"Won't those city folks be comin' in soon?"

"Yes. And Alice Weston is lovely. I know you'll like her."

"Alice who, did you say?"

"Weston. Alice and her mother are touring overland from Los Angeles. I
know you will admire Alice."

"Mebby. If she's as pretty as you."

"Oh, fudge! You like my new suit. And Alice isn't like me at all. She is
nearly as tall as you, and big and strong and really pretty. Bud Shoop
told me I wasn't bigger than a minute."

"A minute is a whole lot sometimes," said Lorry.

"You're not so practical as you were, are you?"

"More. I meant that."

Dorothy rose and began to roll the Navajo blanket.

Lorry stepped up and took it from her. "Roll it long and let it hang
down. Then it won't bother you gettin' on or off your horse. That's the
way the Indians roll 'em."

He jerked the tie-strings tight. "Well, I reckon I'll be goin'," he
said, holding out his hand.

"Good-bye, ranger man."

"Good-bye, Dorothy."

Her slender hand was warm in his. She looked up at him, smiling. He had
never looked at her that way before. She hoped so much that he would say
nothing to spoil the happiness of their idle noon.

"Lorry, we're great friends, aren't we?"

"You bet. And I'd do most anything to make you happy."

"But you don't have to do anything to make me happy. I _am_ happy.
Aren't you?"

"I aim to be. But what makes you ask?"

"Oh, you looked so solemn a minute ago. We'll be just friends always,
won't we?"

"Just friends," he echoed, "always."

Her brown eyes grew big as he stooped and kissed her. She had not
expected that he would do that.

"Oh, I thought you liked me!" she said, clasping her hands.

Lorry bit his lips, and the hot flush died from his face.

"But I didn't know that you cared--like that! I really don't mind
because you kissed me good-bye--if it was just good-bye and nothing
else." And she smiled a little timidly.

"I--I reckon I was wrong," he said, "for I was tryin' not to kiss you.
If you say the word, I'll ride back with you and tell your father. I
ain't ashamed of it--only if you say it was wrong."

Dorothy had recovered herself. A twinkle of fun danced in her eyes. "I
can't scold you now. You're going away. But when you get back--" And she
shook her finger at him and tried to look very grave, which made him

"Then I'll keep right on ridin' south," he said.

"But you'd get lonesome and come back to your hills. I know! And it's
awfully hot in the desert."

"Would you be wantin' me to come back?"

"Of course. Father would miss you."

[Illustration: They made coffee and ate the sandwiches she had
prepared] "And that would make you unhappy--him bein' lonesome, so I
reckon I'll come back."

"I shall be very busy entertaining my guests," she told him with a
charming tilt of her chin. And she straightway swung to the saddle.

Lorry started the pack-horses up the hill and mounted Gray Leg. She sat
watching him as he rode sideways gazing back at her.

As he turned to follow the pack-horses up the next ascent she called to

"Perhaps I won't scold you when you come back."

He laughed, and flung up his arm in farewell. Dorothy reined Chinook
round, and rode slowly down through the silent woodlands.

Her father came out and took her horse. She told him of their most
wonderful camp at the Big Spring. Bronson smiled.

"And Lorry kissed me good-bye," she concluded. "Wasn't it silly of him?"

Bronson glanced at her quickly. "Do you really care for Lorry, Peter

"Heaps! He's the nicest boy I ever met. Why shouldn't I?"

"There's no reason in the world why you shouldn't. But I thought you two
were just friends."

"Why, that's what I said to Lorry. Don't look so mournful, daddy. You
didn't think for a minute that I'd _marry_ him, did you?"

"Of course not. What would I do without you?"

Chapter XXVII


The tramp Waco, drifting south through Prescott, fell in with a quartet
of his kind camped along the railroad track. He stumbled down the
embankment and "sat in" beside their night fire. He was hungry. He had
no money, and he had tramped all that day. They were eating bread and
canned peaches, and had coffee simmering in a pail. They asked no
questions until he had eaten. Then the usual talk began.

The hobos cursed the country, its people, the railroad, work and the
lack of it, the administration, and themselves. Waco did not agree with
everything they said, but he wished to tramp with them until something
better offered. So he fell in with their humor, but made the mistake of
cursing the trainmen's union. A brakeman had kicked him off a freight
car just outside of Prescott.

One of the hobos checked Waco sharply.

"We ain't here to listen to your cussin' any union," he said. "And seem'
you're so mouthy, just show your card."

"Left it over to the White House," said Waco.

"That don't go. You got your three letters?"

"Sure! W.B.Y. Catch onto that?"

"No. And this ain't no josh."

"Why, W.B.Y. is for 'What's bitin' you?' Know the answer?"

"If you can't show your I.W.W., you can beat it," said the tramp.

"Tryin' to kid me?"

"Not so as your mother would notice. Got your card?"

Waco finally realized that they meant business. "No, I ain't got no
I.W.W. card. I'm a bo, same as you fellas. What's bitin' you, anyway?"

"Let's give him the third, fellas."

Waco jumped to his feet and backed away. The leader of the group
hesitated wisely, because Waco had a gun in his hand.

"So that's your game, eh? Collectin' internal revenue. Well, we're union
men. You better sift along." And the leader sat down.

"I've a dam' good mind to sift you," said Waco, backing toward the
embankment. "Got to have a card to travel with a lousy bunch like you,

He climbed to the top of the embankment, and, turning, ran down the
track. Things were in a fine state when a guy couldn't roll in with a
bunch of willies without showing a card. Workmen often tramped the
country looking for work. But hobos forming a union and calling
themselves workmen! Even Waco could not digest that.

But he had learned a lesson, and the next group that he overtook
treading the cinders were more genial. One of them gave him some bread
and cold meat. They tramped until nightfall. That evening Waco
industriously "lifted" a chicken from a convenient hencoop. The hen was
old and tough and most probably a grandmother of many years' setting,
but she was a welcome contribution to their evening meal. While they ate
Waco asked them if they belonged to the I.W.W. They did to a man. He had
lost his card. Where could he get a renewal? From headquarters, of
course. But he had been given his card up in Portland; he had cooked in
a lumber camp. In that case he would have to see the "boss" at Phoenix.

There were three men in the party besides Waco. One of them claimed to
be a carpenter, another an ex-railroad man, and the third an iron
moulder. Waco, to keep up appearances, said that he was a cook; that he
had lost his job in the Northern camps on account of trouble between the
independent lumbermen and the I.W.W. It happened that there had been
some trouble of that kind recently, so his word was taken at its face

In Phoenix, he was directed to the "headquarters," a disreputable
lounging-room in an abandoned store on the outskirts of the town. There
were papers and magazines scattered about; socialistic journals and many
newspapers printed in German, Russian, and Italian. The place smelled of
stale tobacco smoke and unwashed clothing. But the organization
evidently had money. No one seemed to want for food, tobacco, or

The "boss," a sharp-featured young man, aggressive and apparently
educated, asked Waco some questions which the tramp answered lamely. The
boss, eager for recruits of Waco's stamp, nevertheless demurred until
Waco reiterated the statement that he could cook, was a good cook and
had earned good money.

"I'll give you a renewal of your card. What was the number?" queried the

"Thirteen," said Waco, grinning.

"Well, we may be able to use you. We want cooks at Sterling."

"All right. Nothin' doin' here, anyway."

The boss smiled to himself. He knew that Waco had never belonged to the
I.W.W., but if the impending strike at the Sterling smelter became a
reality a good cook would do much to hold the I.W.W. camp together. Any
tool that could be used was not overlooked by the boss. He was paid to
hire men for a purpose.

In groups of from ten to thirty the scattered aggregation made its way
to Sterling and mingled with the workmen after hours. A sinister
restlessness grew and spread insidiously among the smelter hands. Men
laid off before pay-day and were seen drunk in the streets. Others
appeared at the smelter in a like condition. They seemed to have money
with which to pay for drinks and cigars. The heads of the different
departments of the smelter became worried. Local papers began to make
mention of an impending strike when no such word had as yet come to the
smelter operators. Outside papers took it up. Surmises were many and
various. Few of the papers dared charge the origin of the disturbances
to the I.W.W. The law had not been infringed upon, yet lawlessness was
everywhere, conniving in dark corners, boasting openly on the street,
setting men's brains afire with whiskey, playing upon the ignorance of
the foreign element, and defying the intelligence of Americans who
strove to forfend the threatened calamity.

The straight union workmen were divided in sentiment. Some of them voted
to work; others voted loudly to throw in with the I.W.W., and among
these were many foreigners--Swedes, Hungarians, Germans, Poles,
Italians; the usual and undesirable agglomeration to be found in a
smelter town.

Left to themselves, they would have continued to work. They were in
reality the cheaper tools of the trouble-makers. There were fewer and
keener tools to be used, and these were selected and turned against
their employers by that irresistible potency, gold; gold that came from
no one knew where, and came in abundance. Finally open threats of a
strike were made. Circulars were distributed throughout town
over-night, cleverly misstating conditions. A grain of truth was
dissolved in the slaver of anarchy into a hundred lies.

Waco, installed in the main I.W.W. camp just outside the town, cooked
early and late, and received a good wage for his services. More men
appeared, coming casually from nowhere and taking up their abode with
the disturbers.

A week before the strike began, a committee from the union met with a
committee of townsmen and representatives of the smelter interests. The
argument was long and inconclusive. Aside from this, a special committee
of townsmen, headed by the mayor, interviewed the I.W.W. leaders.

Arriving at no definite understanding, the citizens finally threatened
to deport the trouble-makers in a body. The I.W.W. members laughed at
them. Socialism, in which many of the better class of workmen believed
sincerely, began to take on the red tinge of anarchy. A notable advocate
of arbitration, a foreman in the smelter, was found one morning beaten
into unconsciousness. And no union man had done this thing, for the
foreman was popular with the union, to a man. The mayor received an
anonymous letter threatening his life. A similar letter was received by
the chief of police. And some few politicians who had won to prominence
through questionable methods were threatened with exposure if they did
not side with the strikers.

Conditions became deplorable. The papers dared not print everything
they knew for fear of political enmity. And they were not able to print
many things transpiring in that festering underworld for lack of
definite knowledge, even had they dared.

Noon of an August day the strikers walked out. Mob rule threatened
Sterling. Women dared no longer send their children to school or to the
grocery stores for food. They hardly dared go themselves. A striker was
shot by a companion in a saloon brawl. The killing was immediately
charged to a corporation detective, and our noble press made much of the
incident before it found out the truth.

Shortly after this a number of citizens representing the business
backbone of the town met quietly and drafted a letter to a score of
citizens whom they thought might be trusted. That was Saturday evening.
On Sunday night there were nearly a hundred men in town who had been
reached by the citizens' committee. They elected a sub-committee of
twelve, with the sheriff as chairman. Driven to desperation by
intolerable conditions, they decided to administer swift and conclusive
justice themselves. To send for troops would be an admission that the
town of Sterling could not handle her own community.

It became whispered among the I.W.W. that "The Hundred" had organized.
Leaders of the strikers laughed at these rumors, telling the men that
the day of the vigilante was past.

On the following Wednesday a rabid leader of the disturbers, not a
union man, but a man who had never done a day's work in his life,
mounted a table on a street corner and addressed the crowd which quickly
swelled to a mob. Members of "The Hundred," sprinkled thinly throughout
the mob, listened until the speaker had finished. Among other things, he
had made a statement about the National Government which should have
turned the mob to a tribunal of prompt justice and hanged him. But many
of the men were drunk, and all were inflamed with the poison of the
hour. When the man on the table continued to slander the Government, and
finally named a name, there was silence. A few of the better class of
workmen edged out of the crowd. The scattered members of "The Hundred"
stayed on to the last word.

Next morning this speaker was found dead, hanging from a bridge a little
way out of town. Not a few of the strikers were startled to a sense of
broad justice in his death, and yet such a hanging was an outrage to any
community. One sin did not blot out another. And the loyal "Hundred"
realized too late that they had put a potent weapon in the hands of
their enemies.

A secret meeting was called by "The Hundred." Wires were commandeered
and messages sent to several towns in the northern part of the State to
men known personally by members of "The Hundred" as fearless and loyal
to American institutions. Already the mob had begun rioting, but,
meeting with no resistance, it contented itself with insulting those
whom they knew were not sympathizers. Stores were closed, and were
straightway broken into and looted. Drunkenness and street fights were
so common as to evoke no comment.

Two days later a small band of cowboys rode into town. They were
followed throughout the day by other riders, singly and in small groups.
It became noised about the I.W.W. camp that professional gunmen were
being hired by the authorities; were coming in on horseback and on the
trains. That night the roadbed of the railroad was dynamited on both
sides of town. "The Hundred" immediately dispatched automobiles with
armed guards to meet the trains.

Later, strangers were seen in town; quiet men who carried themselves
coolly, said nothing, and paid no attention to catcalls and insults. It
was rumored that troops had been sent for. Meanwhile, the town seethed
with anarchy and drunkenness. But, as must ever be the case, anarchy was
slowly weaving a rope with which to hang itself.

Up in the second story of the court-house a broad-shouldered,
heavy-jawed man sat at a flat-topped desk with a clerk beside him. The
clerk wrote names in a book. In front of the clerk was a cigar-box
filled with numbered brass checks. The rows of chairs from the desk to
the front windows were pretty well filled with men, lean, hard-muscled
men of the ranges in the majority. The room was quiet save for an
occasional word from the big man at the desk. The clerk drew a check
from the cigar-box. A man stepped up to the desk, gave his name, age,
occupation, and address, received the numbered check, and went to his
seat. The clerk drew another check.

A fat, broad-shouldered man waddled up, smiling.

"Why, hello, Bud!" said the heavy-jawed man, rising and shaking hands.
"I didn't expect to see you. Wired you thinking you might send one or
two men from your county."

"I got 'em with me," said Bud.

"Number thirty-seven," said the clerk.

Bud stuffed the check in his vest pocket. He would receive ten dollars a
day while in the employ of "The Hundred." He would be known and
addressed while on duty as number thirty-seven. "The Hundred" were not
advertising the names of their supporters for future use by the I.W.W.

Bud's name and address were entered in a notebook. He waddled back to
his seat.

"Cow-punch," said someone behind him.

Bud turned and grinned. "You seen my laigs," he retorted.

"Number thirty-eight."

Lorry came forward and received his check.

"You're pretty young," said the man at the desk. Lorry flushed, but made
no answer.

"Number thirty-nine."

The giant sheepman of the high country strode up, nodded, and took his

"Stacey County is well represented," said the man at the desk.

When the clerk had finished entering the names, there were forty-eight
numbers in his book. The man at the desk rose.

"Men," he said grimly, "you know what you are here for. If you haven't
got guns, you will be outfitted downstairs. Some folks think that this
trouble is only local. It isn't. It is national. Providence seems to
have passed the buck to us to stop it. We are here to prove that we can.
Last night our flag--our country's flag--was torn from the halyards
above this building and trampled in the dust of the street. Sit still
and don't make a noise. We're not doing business that way. If there are
any married men here, they had better take their horses and ride home.
This community does not assume responsibility for any man's life. You
are volunteers. There are four ex-Rangers among you. They will tell you
what to do. But I'm going to tell you one thing first; don't shoot high
or low when you have to shoot. Draw plumb center, and don't quit as long
as you can feel to pull a trigger. For any man that isn't outfitted
there's a rifle and fifty rounds of soft-nosed ammunition downstairs."

The heavy-shouldered man sat down and pulled the notebook toward him.
The men rose and filed quietly downstairs.

As they gathered in the street and gazed up at the naked halyards, a
shot dropped one of them in his tracks. An eagle-faced cowman whipped
out his gun. With the report came the tinkle of breaking glass from a
window diagonally opposite. Feet clattered down the stairs of the
building, and a woman ran into the street, screaming and calling out
that a man had been murdered.

"Reckon I got him," said the cowman. "Boys, I guess she's started."

The men ran for their horses. As they mounted and assembled, the
heavy-shouldered man appeared astride a big bay horse.

"We're going to clean house," he stated. "And we start right here."

Chapter XXVIII

_A Squared Account_

The housecleaning began at the building diagonally opposite the
assembled posse. In a squalid room upstairs they found the man who had
fired upon them. He was dead. Papers found upon him disclosed his
identity as an I.W.W. leader. He had evidently rented the room across
from the court-house that he might watch the movements of "The Hundred."
A cheap, inaccurate revolver was found beside him. Possibly he had
fired, thinking to momentarily disorganize the posse; that they would
not know from where the shot had come until he had had time to make his
escape and warn his fellows.

The posse moved from building to building. Each tenement, private
rooming-house, and shack was entered and searched. Union men who chanced
to be at home were warned that any man seen on the street that day was
in danger of being killed. Several members of the I.W.W. were routed out
in different parts of the town and taken to the jail.

Saloons were ordered to close. Saloon-keepers who argued their right to
keep open were promptly arrested. An I.W.W. agitator, defying the posse,
was handcuffed, loaded into a machine, and taken out of town. Groups of
strikers gathered at the street corners and jeered the armed posse. One
group, cornered in a side street, showed fight.

"We'll burn your dam' town!" cried a voice.

The sheriff swung from his horse and shouldered through the crowd. As he
did so, a light-haired, weasel-faced youth, with a cigarette dangling
from the corner of his loose mouth, backed away. The sheriff followed
and pressed him against a building.

"I know you!" said the sheriff. "You never made or spent an honest
dollar in this town. Boys," he continued, turning to the strikers, "are
you proud of this skunk who wants to burn your town?"

A workman laughed.

"You said it!" asserted the sheriff. "When somebody tells you what he
is, you laugh. Why don't you laugh at him when he's telling you of the
buildings he has dynamited and how many deaths he is responsible for?
Did he ever sweat alongside of any of you doing a day's work? Do you
know him? Does he know anything about your work or conditions? Not a
damned thing! Just think it over. And, boys, remember he is paid easy
money to get you into trouble. Who pays him? Is there any decent
American paying him to do that sort of thing? Stop and think about it."

The weasel-faced youth raised his arm and pointed at the sheriff. "Who
pays you to shoot down women and kids?" he snarled.

"I'm taking orders from the Governor of this State."

"To hell with the Governor! And there's where he'll wake up one of these
fine days."

"Because he's enforcing the law and trying to keep the flag from being
insulted by whelps like you, eh?"

"We'll show you what's law! And we'll show you the right kind of a

"Boys, are you going to stand for this kind of talk?" And the sheriff's
heavy face quivered with anger. "I'd admire to kill you!" he said,
turning on the youth. "But that wouldn't do any good."

The agitator was taken to the jail. Later it was rumored that a machine
had left the jail that night with three men in it. Two of them were
armed guards. The third was a weasel-faced youth. He was never heard of

As the cavalcade moved on down the street, workmen gathered on street
corners and in upper rooms and discussed the situation. The strike had
got beyond their control. Many of them were for sending a delegation to
the I.W.W. camp demanding that they disband and leave. Others were
silent, and still others voted loudly to "fight to a finish."

Out beyond the edge of town lay the I.W.W. camp, a conglomeration of
board shacks hastily erected, brush-covered hovels, and tents. Not
counting the scattered members in town, there were at least two hundred
of the malcontents loafing in camp. When the sheriff's posse appeared it
was met by a deputation. But there was no parley.

"We'll give you till sundown to clear out," said the sheriff and,
turning, he and his men rode back to the court-house.

That evening sentinels were posted at the street corners within hail of
each other. In a vacant lot back of the court-house the horses of the
posse were corralled under guard. The town was quiet. Occasionally a
figure crossed the street; some shawl-hooded striker's wife or some
workman heedless of the sheriff's warning.

Lorry happened to be posted on a corner of the court-house square.
Across the street another sentinel paced back and forth, occasionally
pausing to talk with Lorry.

This sentinel was halfway up the block when a figure appeared from the
shadow between two buildings. The sentinel challenged.

"A friend," said the figure. "I was lookin' for young Adams."

"What do you want with him?"

"It's private. Know where I can find him?"

"He's across the street there. Who are you, anyway?"

"That's my business. He knows me."

"This guy wants to talk to you," called the sentinel.

Lorry stepped across the street. He stopped suddenly as he discovered
the man to be Waco, the tramp.

"Is it all right?" asked the sentinel, addressing Lorry.

"I guess so. What do you want?"

"It's about Jim Waring," said Waco. "I seen you when the sheriff rode up
to our camp. I seen by the papers that Jim Waring was your father. I
wanted to tell you that it was High-Chin Bob what killed Pat. I was in
the buckboard with Pat when he done it. The horses went crazy at the
shootin' and ditched me. When I come to I was in Grant."

"Why didn't you stay and tell what you knew? Nobody would 'a' hurt you."

"I was takin' no chance of the third, and twenty years."

"What you doin' in this town?"

"Cookin' for the camp. But I can't hold that job long. My whole left
side is goin' flooey. The boss give me hallelujah to-day for bein' slow.
I'm sick of the job."

"Well, you ought to be. Suppose you come over to the sheriff and tell
him what you know about the killin' of Pat."

"Nope; I was scared you would say that. I'm tellin' _you_ because you
done me a good turn onct. I guess that lets me out."

"Not if I make you sit in."

"You can make me sit in all right. But you can't make me talk. Show me
a cop and I freeze. I ain't takin' no chances."

"You're takin' bigger chances right now."

"Bigger'n you know, kid. Listen! You and Jim Waring and Pat used me
white. I'm sore at that I.W.W. bunch, but I dassent make a break. They'd
get me. But listen! If the boys knowed I was tellin' you this they'd cut
me in two. Two trucks just came into camp from up north. Them trucks was
loaded to the guards. Every man in camp's got a automatic and fifty
rounds. And they was settin' up a machine gun when I slipped through and
beat it, lookin' for you. You better fan it out of this while you got
the chanct."

"Did they send you over to push that bluff--or are you talkin'

"S' help me! It's the bleedin' truth!"

"Well, I'm thankin' you. But get goin' afore I change my mind."

"Would you shake with a bum?" queried Waco.

"Why--all right. You're tryin' to play square, I reckon. Wait a minute!
Are you willin' to put in writin' that you seen High-Chin Bob kill Pat?
I got a pencil and a envelope on me. Will you put it down right here,
and me to call my friend and witness your name?"

"You tryin' to pinch me?"

"That ain't my style."

"All right. I'll put it down."

And in the flickering rays of the arc light Waco scribbled on the back
of the envelope and signed his name. Lorry's companion read the scrawl
and handed it back to Lorry. Waco humped his shoulders and shuffled

"Why didn't you nail him?" queried the other.

"I don't know. Mebby because he was trustin' me."

Shortly afterward Lorry and his companion were relieved from duty. Lorry
immediately reported to the sheriff, who heard him without interrupting,
dismissed him, and turned to the committee, who held night session
discussing the situation.

"They've called our bluff," he said, twisting his cigar round in his

A ballot was taken. The vote was eleven to one for immediate action. The
ballot was secret, but the member who had voted against action rose and
tendered his resignation.

"It would be plain murder if we were to shoot up their camp. It would
place us on their level."

Just before daybreak a guard stationed two blocks west of the
court-house noticed a flare of light in the windows of a building
opposite. He glanced toward the east. The dim, ruddy glow in the windows
was not that of dawn. He ran to the building and tried to open the door
to the stairway. As he wrenched at the door a subdued soft roar swelled
and grew louder. Turning, he ran to the next corner, calling to the
guard. The alarm of fire was relayed to the court-house.

Meanwhile the two cowboys ran back to the building and hammered on the
door. Some one in an upstairs room screamed. Suddenly the door gave
inward. A woman carrying a cheap gilt clock pushed past them and sank in
a heap on the sidewalk. The guards heard some one running down the
street. One of them tied a handkerchief over his face and groped his way
up the narrow stairs. The hall above was thick with smoke. A door sprang
open, and a man carrying a baby and dragging a woman by the hand bumped
into the guard, cursed, and stumbled toward the stairway.

The cowboy ran from door to door down the long, narrow hall, calling to
the inmates. In one room he found a lamp burning on a dresser and two
children asleep. He dragged them from bed and carried them to the
stairway. From below came the surge and snap of flames. He held his
breath and descended the stairs. A crowd of half-clothed workmen had
gathered. Among them he saw several of the guards.

"Who belongs to these kids?" he cried.

A woman ran up. "She's here," she said, pointing to the woman with the
gilt clock, who still lay on the sidewalk. A man was trying to revive
her. The cowboy noticed that the unconscious woman still gripped the
gilt clock.

He called to a guard. Together they dashed up the stairs and ran from
room to room. Toward the back of the building they found a woman
insanely gathering together a few cheap trinkets and stuffing them into
a pillow-case. She was trying to work a gilt-framed lithograph into the
pillow-case when they seized her and led her toward the stairway. She
fought and cursed and begged them to let her go back and get her things.
A burst of flame swept up the stairway. The cowboys turned and ran back
along the hall. One of them kicked a window out. The other tied a sheet
under the woman's arms and together they lowered her to the ground.

Suddenly the floor midway down the hall sank softly in a fountain of
flame and sparks.

"Reckon we jump," said one of the cowboys.

Lowering himself from the rear window, he dropped. His companion
followed. They limped to the front of the building. A crowd massed in
the street, heedless of the danger that threatened as a section of roof
curled like a piece of paper, writhed, and dropped to the sidewalk.

A group of guards appeared with a hose-reel. They coupled to a hydrant.
A thin stream gurgled from the hose and subsided. The sheriff ran to the
steps of a building and called to the crowd.

"Your friends," he cried, "have cut the water-main. There is no water."

The mass groaned and swayed back and forth.

From up the street came a cry--the call of a range rider. A score of
cowboys tried to force the crowd back from the burning building.

"Look out for the front!" cried the guards. "She's coming!"

The crowd surged back. The front of that flaming shell quivered, curved,
and crashed to the street.

The sheriff called to his men. An old Texas Ranger touched his arm.
"There's somethin' doin' up yonder, Cap."

"Keep the boys together," ordered the sheriff; "This fire was started to
draw us out. Tell the boys to get their horses."

Dawn was breaking when the cowboys gathered in the vacant lot and
mounted their horses. In the clear light they could see a mob in the
distance; a mob that moved from the east toward the court-house. The
sheriff dispatched a man to wire for troops, divided his force in
halves, and, leading one contingent, he rode toward the oncoming mob.
The other half of the posse, led by an old Ranger, swung round to a back
street and halted.

The shadows of the buildings grew shorter. A cowboy on a restive pony
asked what they were waiting for. Some one laughed.

The old Ranger turned in his saddle. "It's a right lovely mornin'," he
remarked impersonally, tugging at his silver-gray mustache.

Suddenly the waiting riders stiffened in their saddles. A ripple of
shots sounded, followed by the shrill cowboy yell. Still the old Ranger
sat his horse, coolly surveying his men.

"Don't we get a look-in?" queried a cowboy.

"Poco tiempo," said the Ranger softly.

The sheriff bunched his men as he approached the invaders. Within fifty
yards of their front he halted and held up his hand. Massed in a solid
wall from curb to curb, the I.W.W. jeered and shouted as he tried to
speak. A parley was impossible. The vagrants were most of them drunk.

The sheriff turned to the man nearest him.

"Tell the boys that we'll go through, turn, and ride back. Tell them not
to fire a shot until we turn."

As he gathered his horse under him, the sheriff's arm dropped. The
shrill "Yip! Yip!" of the range rose above the thunder of hoofs as
twenty ponies jumped to a run. The living thunder-bolt tore through the
mass. The staccato crack of guns sounded sharply above the deeper roar
of the mob. The ragged pathway closed again as the riders swung round,
bunched, and launched at the mass from the rear. Those who had turned to
face the second charge were crowded back as the cowboys, with guns
going, ate into the yelling crowd. The mob turned, and like a great,
black wave swept down the street and into the court-house square.

The cowboys raced past, and reined in a block below the court-house. As
they paused to reload, a riderless horse, badly wounded, plunged among
them. A cowboy caught the horse and shot it. Another rider, gripping his
shirt above his abdomen, writhed and groaned, begging piteously for some
one to kill him. Before they could get him off his horse he spurred out,
and, pulling his carbine from the scabbard, charged into the mob, in the
square. With the lever going like lightning, he bored into the mob,
fired his last shot in the face of a man that had caught his horse's
bridle, and sank to the ground. Shattered and torn he lay, a red pulp
that the mob trampled into the dust.

The upper windows of the court-house filled with figures. An irregular
fire drove the cowboys to the shelter of a side street. In the wide
doorway of the court-house several men crouched behind a blue-steel
tripod. Those still in the square crowded past and into the building.
Behind the stone pillars of the entrance, guarded by a machine gun, the
crazy mob cheered drunkenly and defied the guards to dislodge them.

From a building opposite came a single shot, and the group round the
machine gun lifted one of their fellows and carried him back into the
building. Again came the peremptory snarl of a carbine, and another
figure sank in the doorway. The machine gun was dragged back. Its muzzle
still commanded the square, but its operators were now shielded by an
angle of the entrance.

Back on the side street, the old ex-Ranger had difficulty in
restraining his men. They knew by the number of shots fired that some of
their companions had gone down.

The sheriff was about to call for volunteers to capture the machine gun
when a white handkerchief fluttered from an upper window of the
court-house. Almost immediately a man appeared on the court-house steps,
alone and indicating by his gestures that he wished to parley with the
guard. The sheriff dismounted and stepped forward.

One of his men checked him. "That's a trap, John. They want to get you,
special. Don't you try it."

"It's up to me," said the sheriff, and shaking off the other's hand he
strode across the square.

At the foot of the steps he met the man. The guard saw them converse for
a brief minute; saw the sheriff shake his fist in the other's face and
turn to walk back. As he turned, a shot from an upper window dropped him
in his stride.

The cowboys yelled and charged across the square. The machine gun
stuttered and sprayed a fury of slugs that cut down horses and riders. A
cowboy, his horse shot from under him, sprang up the steps and dragged
the machine gun into the open. A rain of slugs from the upper windows
struck him down. His companions carried him back to cover. The machine
gun stood in the square, no longer a menace, yet no one dared approach
it from either side.

When the old Ranger, who had orders to hold his men in reserve, heard
that the sheriff had been shot down under a flag of truce, he shook his

"Three men could 'a' stopped that gun as easy as twenty, and saved more
hosses. Who wants to take a little pasear after that gun?"

Several of his men volunteered.

"I only need two," he said, smiling. "I call by guess. Number
twenty-six, number thirty-eight, and number three."

The last was his own number.

In the wide hallway and massed on the court-house stairs the mob was
calling out to recover the gun. Beyond control of their leaders, crazed
with drink and killing, they surged forward, quarreling, and shoved from
behind by those above.

"We're ridin'," said the old Ranger.

With a man on each side of him he charged across the square.

Waco, peering from behind a stone column in the entrance, saw that Lorry
was one of the riders. Lorry's lips were drawn tight. His face was pale,
but his gun arm swung up and down with the regularity of a machine as he
threw shot after shot into the black tide that welled from the
court-house doorway. A man near Waco pulled an automatic and leveled it.
Waco swung his arm and brained the man with an empty whiskey bottle. He
threw the bottle at another of his fellows, and, stumbling down the
steps, called to Lorry. The three riders paused for an instant as Waco
ran forward. The riders had won almost to the gun when Waco stooped and
jerked it round and poured a withering volley into the close-packed

Back in the side street the leader of the cowboys addressed his men.

"We'll leave the horses here," he said. "Tex went after that gun, and I
reckon he's got it. We'll clean up afoot."

But the I.W.W. had had enough. Their leaders had told them that with the
machine gun they could clean up the town, capture the court-house, and
make their own terms. They had captured the court-house, but they were
themselves trapped. One of their own number had planned that treachery.
And they knew that those lean, bronzed men out there would shoot them
down from room to room as mercilessly as they would kill coyotes.

They surrendered, shuffling out and down the slippery stone steps. Each
man dropped his gun in the little pile that grew and grew until the old
Ranger shook his head, pondering. That men of this kind should have
access to arms and ammunition of the latest military type--and a machine
gun. What was behind it all? He tried to reason it out in his
old-fashioned way even as the trembling horde filed past, cordoned by
grim, silent cowboys.

The vagrants were escorted out of town in a body. Fearful of the hate
of the guard, of treachery among themselves and of the townsfolk in
other places, they tramped across the hills, followed closely by the
stern-visaged riders. Several miles north of Sterling they disbanded.

When a company of infantrymen arrived in Sterling they found several
cowboys sluicing down the court-house steps with water hauled
laboriously from the river.

The captain stated that he would take charge of things, and suggested
that the cowboys take a rest.

"That's all right, Cap," said a puncher, pointing toward the naked
flagstaff. "But we-all would admire to see the Stars and Stripes
floatin' up there afore we drift."

"I'll have the flag run up," said the captain.

"That's all right, Cap. But you don't sabe the idee. These here steps
got to be _clean_ afore that flag goes up."

* * * * *

"And they's some good in bein' fat," said Bud Shoop as he met Lorry next
morning. "The army doc just put a plaster on my arm where one of them
automatic pills nicked me. Now, if I'd been lean like you--"

"Did you see Waco?" queried Lorry.

"Waco? What's ailin' you, son?"

"Nothin'. It was Waco went down, workin' that machine gun against his
own crowd. I didn't sabe that at first."

"Him? Didn't know he was in town."

"I didn't, either, till last night. He sneaked in to tell me about the
killin' of Pat. Next I seen him was when he brained a fella that was
shootin' at me. Then somehow he got to the gun--and you know the rest."

"Looks like he was crazy," suggested Shoop.

"I don' know about that. I got to him before he cashed in. He pawed
around like he couldn't see. I asked what I could do. He kind of braced
up then. 'That you, kid?' he says. 'They didn't get you?' I told him no.
'Then I reckon we're square,' he says. I thought he was gone, but he
reached out his hand. Seems he couldn't see. 'Would you mind shakin'
hands with a bum?' he says. I did. And then he let go my hand. He was

"H'm! And him! But you can't always tell. Sometimes it takes a bullet
placed just right, and sometimes religion, and sometimes a woman to make
a man show what's in him. I reckon Waco done you a good turn that
journey. But ain't it hard luck when a fella waits till he's got to
cross over afore he shows white?"

"He must 'a' had a hunch he was goin' to get his," said Lorry. "Or he
wouldn't chanced sneakin' into town last night. When do we go north?"

"To-morrow. The doc says the sheriff will pull through. He sure ought to
get the benefit of the big doubt. There's a man that God A'mighty took
some trouble in makin'."

"Well, I'm mighty glad it's over. I don't want any more like this. I
come through all right, but this ain't fightin'; it's plumb killin' and

"And both sides thinks so," said Bud. "And lemme tell you; you can read
your eyes out about peace and equality and fraternity, but they's goin'
to be killin' in this here world just as long as they's fools willin' to
listen to other fools talk. And they's always goin' to be some fools."

"You ain't strong on socialism, eh, Bud?"

"Socialism? You mean when all men is born fools and equal? Not this
mawnin', son. I got all I can do figurin' out my own trail."

Chapter XXIX

_Bud's Conscience_

Those riders who had come from the northern part of the State to
Sterling were given transportation for themselves and their horses to
The Junction. From there they rode to their respective homes. Among them
were Bud Shoop, the giant sheepman, and Lorry, who seemed more anxious
than did Shoop to stop at Stacey on their way to the reserve.

"Your maw don't know you been to Sterling," Shoop said as they rode
toward Stacey.

"But she won't care, now we're back again. She'll find out some time."

"I'm willin' to wait," said Bud. "I got you into that hocus. But I had
no more idee than a cat that we'd bump into what we did. They was a time
when a outfit like ours could 'a' kep' peace in a town by just bein'
there. Things are changin'--fast. If the Gov'ment don't do somethin'
about allowin' the scum of this country to get hold of guns and
ca'tridges wholesale, they's goin' to be a whole lot of extra
book-keepin' for the recordin' angel. I tell you what, son, allowin'
that I seen enough killin' in my time so as just seein' it don't set too
hard on my chest, that mess down to Sterling made me plumb sick to my
stummick. I'm wonderin' what would 'a' happened if Sterling hadn't made
that fight and the I.W.W. had run loose. It ain't what we did. That had
to be did. But it's the idee that decent folks, livin' under the
American flag, has got to shoot their way back to the law, like we

"Mebby the law ain't right," suggested Lorry.

"Don't you get that idee, son. The law is all right. Mebby it ain't
handled right sometimes."

"But what can anybody do about it?"

"Trouble is that folks who want to do the right thing ain't always got
the say. Or mebby if they have got the say they leave it to the other

"What did the folks in Arizona do long back in eighty, when the sheep
disease got bad. First off they doctored up the sick sheep, tryin' to
save 'em. That didn't work, so they took to killin' 'em to save the good
sheep. But the disease had got into the blood of some of the good sheep.
Then some of the big sheepmen got busy. Arizona made a law that no stock
was to be shipped into any of her territory without bein' inspected.
That helped some. But inspectors is human, and some sick sheep got by.

"Then one day a fella that had some brains got up in the State House and
spoke for the shuttin' out of all stock until the disease was stomped
out. You see, that disease didn't start in this here country. But who
downed that fella? Why, the sheepmen themselves. It would hurt their
business. And the funny part of it is them sheepmen was willin' enough
to ship sick sheep anywhere they could sell 'em. But some States was
wise. California, she put a inspection tax of twenty-five dollars on
every carload of stock enterin' her State--or on one animal; didn't make
no difference. That inspection tax had to be paid by the shipper of the
stock, as I said, whether he shipped one head or a hundred. And the
stock had to be inspected before loadin'."

"You mean immigrants?" queried Lorry.

"The same. The gate is open too wide. If I had the handlin' of them
gates I would shut 'em for ten years and kind of let what we got settle
down and get acquainted. But the man hirin' cheap labor wouldn't. He'll
take anything that will work cheap, and the country pays the difference,
like we done down to Sterling."

"You mean there can't be cheap labor?"

"The same. Somebody's got to pay."

"Well, Sterling paid," said Lorry, "if a man's life is worth anything."

"Yes, she paid. And the worst part of the whole business is that the men
what paid didn't owe anything to the smelter or to them others. They
just made a present of their lives to this here country. And the country
ain't goin' to even say 'thanks.'"

"You're pretty sore about it, aren't you, Bud?"

"I be. And if you had my years you'd be likewise. But what's worryin' me
right now is I'm wonderin' what your maw'll say to me when she finds

"You can say we been south on business."

"Yes," grunted Bud, "and I got the receipt right here on my left wing."

"Hurtin' you much?"

"Just enough to let me know I'm livin' and ain't ridin' through hell
shootin' down a lot of pore, drunk fools that's tryin' to run the oven.
And them kind would kick if they was ridin' in hell on a free pass and
their hotel bills paid. But over there is the hills, and we can thank
God A'mighty for the high trails and the open country. I ain't got the
smell of that town out of my nose yet."

* * * * *

When they arrived at Stacey, Lorry learned that his father had recently
gone to the ranch. After supper that evening, Mrs. Adams mentioned the
strike. The papers printed columns of the awful details; outrages and
killings beyond the thought of possibility. And Mrs. Adams spoke of the
curious circumstance that the men who put down the lawlessness were
unnamed; that all that could be learned of them was that there were
ranchers and cowmen who were known by number alone.

"And I'm glad that you didn't go riding off down there," she said to
Lorry. "The paper says men from all over the State volunteered."

"So am I," said Shoop promptly. "I was readin' about that strike when
we was over to The Junction. Lorry and me been over that way on
business. I seen that that young fella, number thirty-eight, was one of
the men who went after that machine gun."

"How do you know that he was a young man?" queried Mrs. Adams.

"Why--er--only a young fella would act that foolish, I reckon. You say
Jim is feelin' spry ag'in?"

"Oh, much better! He's lame yet. But he can ride."

"That's good."

"And did you see that the paper says men are volunteering to go to
France? I wonder what will happen next?"

"I dunno," said Shoop gravely. "I been thinkin' about that."

"Well, I hope Lorry won't think that he has to go. Some of the boys in
town are talking about it."

"It's in the air," said Shoop.

"And his father will need him now. Could you spare him, if Jim finds he
can't get along alone?"

"I don't know," laughed Bud. "I reckon I need somebody to look after
them campers up to my old place."

"Oh, I forgot to tell you; the folks that were here last summer stopped
by on their way to Jason. Mrs. Weston and her girl. They said they were
going to visit Mr. Bronson."

"H'm! Then I reckon I got to keep Lorry. Don't know what three females
would do with just Bronson for comp'ny. He's a-tickin' at that writin'
machine of his most all day, and sometimes nights. It must be like
livin' in a cave."

"But Dorothy hasn't," said Lorry.

"That's right! My, but that little gal has built up wonderful since
she's been up there! Did you see my watch?"

"Why, no!"

"Some style to that!" And Shoop displayed the new watch with pride. "And
here's the name of the lady what give it to me."

Lorry's mother examined the watch, and handed it to Lorry, to whom the
news of the gift was a surprise.

"But she didn't give him a watch," said Shoop, chuckling.

* * * * *

Up in their room that night, Lorry helped Bud out of his coat. Shoop's
arm was stiff and sore.

"And your mother would think it was a mighty queer business, if she
knowed this," said Bud, "or who that number thirty-eight was down

"You sure made a good bluff, Bud."

"Mebby. But I was scared to death. When I was talkin' about Sterling so
free and easy, and your maw mighty near ketched me that time, my arm was
itchin' like hell-fire, and I dassen scratch it. I never knowed a
fella's conscience could get to workin' around his system like that.
Now, if it was my laig, I could 'a' scratched it with my other foot
under the table. Say, but you sure showed red in your face when your maw
said them Weston folks was up to the camp."

"Oh, I don't know."

"Well, I do. Here, hook onto your Uncle Bud's boot. I'm set: go ahead
and pull. You can't do nothin' but shake the buildin'. Say, what does
Bronson call his gal 'Peter Pan' for?"

"Why, it's a kind of foreign name," flashed Lorry. "And it sounds all
right when you say it right. You said it like the 'pan' was settin' a
mile off."

"Well, you needn't to get mad."

Chapter XXX

_In the Hills_

Lorry's return to the mountains was somewhat of a disappointment to his
expectations. Dorothy had greeted him quite casually and naturally
enough, in that she knew nothing of his recent venture. He was again
introduced to Mrs. Weston and her daughter. For the first time Dorothy
heard of the automobile accident and Lorry's share in the subsequent
proceedings. She asked Lorry why he had not told her that he knew the
Westons. He had no reply save "Oh, I don't know," which rather piqued
Dorothy. He was usually definite and frank.

The Westons occupied Bronson's cabin with Dorothy. Bronson pitched a
tent, moved his belongings into it, and declared himself, jokingly, free
from Dorothy's immediate tyranny.

Dorothy, busy in the kitchen, asked her father to invite Lorry to dinner
that evening. Through a sort of youthful perverseness not unmixed with
bucolic pride, Lorry declined the invitation. He would be busy making
ready for another trip in the hills. He had already planned his own
evening meal. He appreciated the invitation, but they could get along
without him. These excuses satisfied Bronson. Lorry's real reason for
declining was that Dorothy had not invited him in person. He knew it,
and felt ashamed of himself. What reason had he to expect her to invite
him personally, except that she had almost invariably done so
heretofore? And back of this was the subtle jealousy of caste. The
Westons were "her kind of folks." He was not really one of them.
Boyishly he fancied that he would do as a companion when there was no
one else available. He was very much in love with Dorothy and did not
realize it.

And Dorothy was disappointed in him. She had wanted the Westons to know
what a really fine fellow he was.

Alice Weston at once recalled Lorry's attitude toward her on a former
occasion when he had been tacitly invited to go with them to the
Horseshoe Hills and he had stayed at the hotel. She told Dorothy that
Mr. Adams was not to be taken too seriously. After all, he was nothing
more than a boy, and perhaps he would feel better, having declined to
risk possible embarrassment at their table.

Dorothy was inwardly furious on the instant, but she checked herself.
What did Alice Weston know about Lorry? Well, Alice knew that he was a
good-looking young savage who seemed quite satisfied with himself. She
thought that possibly she could tame him if she cared to try. Dorothy,
with feminine graciousness, dared Alice to invite Lorry to the dinner.
Alice was to know nothing of his having declined an earlier invitation.
Greatly to Dorothy's surprise, Alice Weston accepted the challenge.

She waited until just before the dinner hour. Lorry was mending a
pack-saddle when she came to his cabin. He dropped his work and stood

"I have been thinking about that tramp you arrested," she began. "And I
think you were right in what you did."

"Yes, ma'am," stammered Lorry.

Her manner had been especially gracious.

"And I didn't have a chance to say good-bye--that time"--and she
smiled--"when you rode off waving your scarf--"

"It was a leg of lamb," corrected Lorry.

"Well, you waved it very gracefully. What big, strong arms! They don't
look so big when your sleeves are down."

Lorry promptly rolled down his sleeves. He felt that he had to do

"And there is so much to talk about I hardly know where to begin. Oh,
yes! Thank you so much for repairing our car."

"That was nothin'."

"It meant a great deal to us. Is that your horse--the one standing alone
over there?"

"Yes, ma'am. That's Gray Leg."

"I remember him. I couldn't ever forget that morning--but I don't want
to hinder your work. I see you are mending something."

"Just fittin' a new pad to this pack-saddle. I was figurin' to light
out to-morrow."

"So soon? That's too bad. But, then, we can visit at dinner this
evening. Dorothy said she expected you. I believe it is almost ready."

"I don't know, Miss Weston. It's like this--"

"And I know Mr. Bronson meant to ask you. He has been quite busy.
Perhaps he forgot."


"So I am here as ambassador. Will I do?"

"Why, sure! But--"

"And mother would be so disappointed if you didn't come. So should I,
especially as you are leaving to-morrow. What is it they say in Mexico,
'Adios'? I must run back."

She proffered her hand gracefully. Lorry shook hands with her. She gave
his fingers a little, lingering squeeze that set his pulses racing. She
was a mighty pretty girl.

"We shall expect you," she called, halfway to the cabin.

And she sure could change a fellow's mind for him without half trying.
She hadn't given him a chance to refuse her invitation. She just knew
that he was coming to supper. And so did he.

Alice Weston held Lorry's attention from the beginning, as she had
intended. She was gowned in some pale-green material touched here and
there with a film of lace. Lorry was fascinated by her full, rounded
arms, her beautifully strong wrists, and by the way in which she had
arranged her heavy, dark hair. In the daylight that afternoon he had
noticed that her eyes were blue. He had thought them brown. But they
were the color of wood violets untouched by the sun. While she lacked
the positive outdoor coloring of Dorothy, her complexion was radiant
with youth and health. Lorry felt subdued, disinclined to talk despite
Dorothy's obvious attempts to be entertaining. He realized that Dorothy
was being exceedingly nice to him, although he knew that she was a
little high-strung and nervous that evening.

After dinner Bronson and Lorry smoked out on the veranda. When the
others came out, Bronson suggested that they have some music. Lorry
promptly invited them to his cabin.

"Alice plays wonderfully," said Dorothy.

Bronson, talking with Mrs. Weston, enjoyed himself. He had been isolated
so long that news from the "outside" interested him.

Lorry, gravely attentive to the playing, happened to glance up. Dorothy
was gazing at him with a most peculiar expression. He flushed. He had
not realized that he had been staring at Alice Weston; at her round,
white throat and graceful arms. But just then she ceased playing.

"Have you any music that you would like?" she asked Lorry.

"There's some here. I don't know what it's like. Some songs and dances
the boys fetched up for Bud."

"What fun!" said Alice. "And what an assortment! Shall we try this?"

And she began to play a flimsy tune printed on a flimsy sheet that
doubled and slid to the keys. Lorry jumped up, spread it out, and stood
holding a corner of it while she played. Close to her, he was sensible
of a desire to caress her hair, to kiss her vivid lips as she glanced up
at him and smiled. He had no idea then that she was deliberately
enthralling him with every grace she possessed.

The fact that she rather liked him made her subtleties all the more
potent. It flattered her to see the frank admiration in his gray eyes.
She knew he was anything but "soft," which made the game all the more
alluring. He was to leave soon--to-morrow. Meanwhile, she determined
that he should remember her.

Late that evening Bronson and the others said good-night. Alice, not
Dorothy, asked Lorry when he was to leave. His "some time to-morrow"
sounded unnaturally indefinite.

He was standing in the doorway of his camp as the others entered
Bronson's cabin. Alice Weston was the last to enter. For an instant she
stood in the lamplight that floated through the doorway, looking back
toward him. Impulsively he waved good-night. Her attitude had seemed to
call for it. He saw her fingers flash to her lips. She tilted her chin
and threw him a kiss.

"Dog-gone the luck!" he growled as he entered his cabin. And with the
brief expletive he condemned his disloyalty to the sprightly, slender
Dorothy; the Peter Pan of the Blue Mesa; the dream girl of that idle
noon at the Big Spring. The other girl--well, she was just playing with

* * * * *

In view of Lorry's training and natural carefulness it was especially
significant that he decided next day that he had forgotten to lay in
enough supplies for his journey south. He would ride to Jason and pack
in what he needed. He had a fair excuse. Bronson had recently borrowed
some of his canned provisions. He was well on his way to Jason that
morning before the others had arisen.

He was back at the camp shortly after nine that night. As he passed
Bronson's cabin he saw a light in the window. Mrs. Weston was talking
with Dorothy. Lorry had hoped to catch a glimpse of Alice Weston. He had
been hoping all that day that he would see her again before he left.
Perhaps she was asleep.

As he passed the corral a greeting came from the darkness:--

"Good-evening! I thought you had gone."

"I--I didn't see you," he stammered.

Alice Weston laughed softly. "Oh, I was just out here looking at the
stars. It's cooler out here. Then you changed your mind about going?"

"Nope. I had to go to Jason for grub. I'm going to-morrow."

"Oh, I see! We thought you had gone."

"Got a headache?" queried Lorry.

Her voice had been so unnaturally low, almost sad.

"No. I just wanted to be alone."

Lorry fumbled in his pockets. "I got the mail," he stated.

"I'll give it to Mr. Bronson."

Lorry leaned down and gave her the packet of letters and papers.

"Good-bye. I won't see you in the mornin'"

"We'll miss you."


"Of course!" And she gave him her hand.

He drew his foot from the stirrup. "Put your foot in there," he said,
still holding her hand.

"But why?"

"'Cause I'm goin' to ride off with you, like in books." He laughed, but
his laughter was tense and unnatural.

It was dark. The stars shone faintly. The air was soft with a subtle
fragrance; the fragrance of sun-warmed pine that the night had stolen
from the slumbering woodlands. She slipped her foot in the wide stirrup.
Half laughing, she allowed him to draw her up. She felt the hard
strength of his arm, and was thrilled. She had not meant to do anything
like this.

"You been playin' with me," he told her, whispering, "and I take my

She turned her face away, but he found her lips and crushed her to him.

"Oh!" she whispered as he kissed her again and again.

Slowly his arm relaxed. White-faced and trembling, she slid to the
ground and stood looking up at him.

"I hate you!" she said.

"No, you don't," said Lorry quite cheerfully.

And he reached out his hand as though to take her hand again.

She stood still, making no effort to avoid him. Then--"No, please!" she

Lorry sat for a moment looking down at her. There had been no
make-believe on her part when he held her in his arms. He knew that. And
now? She had said that she hated him. Perhaps she did for having made
her do that which she had never dreamed of doing. But he told himself
that he could stand a whole lot of that kind of hate. And did he really
care for her? Could a girl give what she had given and forget on the
morrow? He would never forget.

She had told herself that he should have reason to remember her.

After he had gone she stood gazing across the starlit mesa. She heard
Lorry whistling cheerily as he unsaddled his pony. A falling star flamed
and faded across the night.


_In the Pines_

Alice Weston pleaded headache next morning. She did not get up until
noon. Meanwhile Dorothy came, bringing hot coffee and toast.

"Does it really hurt?" queried Dorothy. "Or is it one of those headaches
that is always going to hurt, but never does?"

Alice smiled and sipped her coffee. "Oh, it's not bad. I want to rest.
Perhaps it's the altitude."

"Perhaps," said Dorothy. "I'm sorry, Alice."

They chatted awhile. Suddenly Alice thought of the letters Lorry had
given her. She had carried them to her room, and had forgotten them.

"Mr. Adams left some mail with me last night. I happened to be outside
when he rode past."

"Why, I thought he had gone!"

"He said he had to go to Jason for something or other. He left early
this morning, I think."

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