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Lonesome land


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Title:LonesomeLand
Author:B.M.Bower

ReleaseDate:July,2005[EBook#8537]
ThisfilewasfirstpostedonJuly21,2003
LastUpdated:March9,2018
Language:English

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LONESOMELAND


ByB.M.Bower
Authorof“Chip,oftheFlyingU,”etc.
WithFourIllustrations(notincluded)
ByStanleyL.Wood

CONTENTS
CHAPTERI.THEARRIVALOFVAL
CHAPTERII.WELL-MEANTADVICE
CHAPTERIII.ALADYINATEMPER
CHAPTERIV.THE“SHIVAREE”
CHAPTERV.COLDSPRINGRANCH
CHAPTERVI.MANLEY'SFIREGUARD
CHAPTERVII.VAL'SNEWDUTIES
CHAPTERVIII.THEPRAIRIEFIRE
CHAPTERIX.KENTTOTHERESCUE
CHAPTERX.DESOLATION
CHAPTERXI.VAL'SAWAKENING
CHAPTERXII.ALESSONINFORGIVENESS
CHAPTERXIII.ARLINEGIVESADANCE


CHAPTERXIV.AWEDDINGPRESENT
CHAPTERXV.ACOMPACT
CHAPTERXVI.MANLEY'SNEWTACTICS
CHAPTERXVII.VALBECOMESANAUTHOR
CHAPTERXVIII.VAL'SDISCOVERY
CHAPTERXIX.KENT'SCONFESSION
CHAPTERXX.ABLOTCHEDBRAND
CHAPTERXXI.VALDECIDES
CHAPTERXXII.AFRIENDINNEED
CHAPTERXXIII.CAUGHT!
CHAPTERXXIV.RETRIBUTION


CHAPTERI.THEARRIVALOFVAL
In northern Montana there lies a great, lonely stretch of prairie land, gashed


deep where flows the Missouri. Indeed, there are many such—big, impassive,
impressiveintheirveryloneliness,insummergivenovertothewindsandthe
meadow larks and to the shadows fleeing always over the hilltops. Wild range
cattlefeedthereandgrowsleekandfatforthefallshippingofbeef.Atnightthe
coyotes yap quaveringly and prowl abroad after the long-eared jack rabbits,
whichbounceawayattheirhunger-drivenapproach.Inwinteritisnotgoodto
bethere;eventhebeastsshrinkthenfromthebleak,levelreaches,andshunthe
stillbleakerheights.
Butmenwillliveanywhereifbysodoingthereismoneytobegained,andso
a town snuggled up against the northern rim of the bench land, where the
bleaknesswassoftenedabitbytheshelteringhills,andawillow-fringedcreek
withwildrosebushesandchokecherriesmadeavividgreenbackgroundforthe
meagerhuddleoflittle,unpaintedbuildings.
Tothepassengersonthethroughtrainswhichwateredattheredtanknearthe
creek,theplacelookedcrudelypicturesque—interesting,solongasonewasnot
compelledtolivethereandcouldretainaperfectlyimpersonalviewpoint.After
fiveortenminutesspenthiwatchingcuriouslytheonelittlestreet,withthelong
hitchingpolesplantedfirmlyandfrequentlydownbothsides—usuallywithina
very few steps of a saloon door—and the horses nodding and stamping at the
flies,andtheloiteringfiguresthatappearednowandthenindesultoryfashion,
manyofthemimaginedthattheyunderstoodtheWestandsympathizedwithit,
andappreciateditsbignessanditsfreedomfromconventions.
One slim young woman had just told the thin-faced school teacher on a
vacation, with whom she had formed one of those evanescent traveling
acquaintances,thatshealreadyknewtheWest,frominstinctandfromManley's
letters.Shelovedit,shesaid,becauseManleylovedit,andbecauseitwastobe
herhome,andbecauseitwassobigandsofree.Outhereonecouldthinkand
growandreallylive,shedeclared,withenthusiasm.Manleyhadlivedherefor
threeyears,andhisletters,shetoldthethin-facedteacher,wereaneducationin
themselves.
Theteacherhadalreadylearnedthattheslimyoungwoman,withtheyellowbrownhairandyellow-browneyestomatch,wasgoingtomarryManley—she


hadforgottenhisothername,thoughtheyoungwomanhadmentionedit—and
would live on a ranch, a cattle ranch. She smiled with somewhat wistful
sympathy,andhopedtheyoungwomanwouldbehappy;andtheyoungwoman
wavedherhand,withthegloveonlyhalfpulledon,towardtheshadow-dappled
prairieandthewillow-fringedcreek,andthehillsbeyond.
“Happy!” she echoed joyously. “Could one be anything else, in such a
country?Andthen—youdon'tknowManley,yousee.It'shorriblybadform,and
undignified and all that, to prate of one's private affairs, but I just can't help
bubblingover.I'mnotlookingforheaven,andIexpecttohaveplentyofbumpy
places in the trail—trail is anything that you travel over, out here; Manley has
coachedmefaithfully—but I'm going to be happy. My mind is quite madeup.
Well,good-by—I'msogladyouhappenedtobeonthistrain,andIwishImight
meetyouagain.Isn'titafunnylittledepot?Oh,yes—thankyou!Ialmostforgot
thatumbrella,andImightneedit.Yes,I'llwritetoyou—Ishouldhatetodrop
out of your mind completely. Address me Mrs. Manley Fleetwood, Hope,
Montana.Good-by—Iwish—”
Shetrailedoffdowntheaislewitheyesshining,inthewakeofthegrinning
porter.Shehurrieddownthesteps,glancedhastilyalongtheplatform,upatthe
car window where the faded little school teacher was smiling wearily down at
her, waved her hand, threw a dainty little kiss, nodded a gay farewell, smiled
vaguely at the conductor, who had been respectfully pleasant to her—and then
shewaslookingattherearplatformoftherecedingtrainmechanically,notyet
quiterealizingwhyitwasthatherheartwentheavysosuddenly.Sheturnedthen
andlookedabout her in asurprised,inquiring fashion.Manley,itwouldseem,
was not at hand to welcome her. She had expected his face to be the first she
lookeduponinthattown,butshetriednottobegreatlyperturbedathisabsence;
somanythingsmaydetainone.
Atthatmomentayoungfellow,whoseclothesemphaticallyproclaimedhima
cowboy,camediffidentlyuptoher,tiltedhishatbackwardaninchorso,andleft
itthatway,therebyunconsciouslygivinghimselfanairofcandorwhichshould
havebeenreassuring.
“Fleetwood was detained. You were expecting to—you're the lady he was
expecting,aren'tyou?”
Shehadbeenlookingquestioninglyatherviolinboxandtwotrunksstanding
on their ends farther down the platform, and she smiled vaguely without
glancingathim.
“Yes.Ihopeheisn'tsick,or—”


“I'lltakeyouovertothehotel,andgotellhimyou'rehere,”hevolunteered,
somewhatcurtly,andpickedupherbag.
“Oh, thank you.” This time her eyes grazed his face inattentively. She
followedhimdowntheroughstepsofplankingandupanextremelydustyroad
—one could scarcely call it a street—to an uninviting building with crooked
windowsandahigh,falsefrontofunpaintedboards.
Theyoungfellowopenedasaggingdoor,letherpassintoanarrowhallway,
andfromthereintoastuffy,hopelesslyconventionalfifth-rateparlor,handedher
the bag, and departed with another tilt of the hat which placed it at a different
angle.Thesentencemeantforfarewellshedidnotcatch,forshewasstaringata
wooden-faced portrait upon an easel, the portrait of a man with a drooping
mustache,andporkycheeks,anddead-lookingeyes.
“AndIexpectedbearskinrugs,andantlersonthewalls,andbigfireplaces!”
she remarked aloud, and sighed. Then she turned and pulled aside a coarse
curtain of dusty, machine-made lace, and looked after her guide. He was just
disappearing into a saloon across the street, and she dropped the curtain
precipitately, as if she were ashamed of spying. “Oh, well—I've heard all
cowboysaremoreorlessintemperate,”sheexcused,againaloud.
She sat down upon an atrocious red plush chair, and wrinkled her nose
spitefully at the porky-cheeked portrait. “I suppose you're the proprietor,” she
accused, “or else the proprietor's son. I wish you wouldn't squint like that. If I
havetostopherelongerthantenminutes,Ishallcertainlyturnyoufacetothe
wall.”Whereupon,withanothergrimace,sheturnedherbackuponitandlooked
outofthewindow.Thenshestoodupimpatiently,lookedatherwatch,andsat
downagainupontheredplushchair.
“He didn't tell me whether Manley is sick,” she said suddenly, with some
resentment.“Hewasawfullyabruptinhismanner.Oh,you—”Sherose,picked
up an old newspaper from the marble-topped table with uncertain legs, and
spreaditungentlyovertheportraitupontheeasel.Thenshewenttothewindow
and looked out again. “I feel perfectly sure that cowboy went and got drunk
immediately,”shecomplained,drummingpettishlyupontheglass.“AndIdon't
supposehetoldManleyatall.”
The cowboy was innocent of the charge, however, and he was doing his
energeticbesttotellManley.Hehadgonestraightthroughthesaloonandinto
thesmallroombehind,whereamanlaysprawleduponabedinonecorner.He
wasasleep,andhisclotheswerewrinkledasifhehadlaintherelong.Hishead
resteduponhisfoldedarms,andhewassnoringloudly.Theyoungfellowwent


upandtookhimroughlybytheshoulder.
“Here! I thought I told you to straighten up,” he cried disgustedly. “Come
alive! The train's come and gone, and your girl's waiting for you over to the
hotel.D'youhear?”
“Uh-huh!”Themanopenedoneeye,grunted,andcloseditagain.
The other yanked him half off the bed, and swore. This brought both eyes
open,glassywithwhiskyandsleep.Hesatwobblingupontheedgeofthebed,
staringstupidly.
“Can't you get anything through you?” his tormentor exclaimed. “You want
your girl to find out you're drunk? You got the license in your pocket. You're
supposedtogetsplicedthisevening—andlookatyou!”Heturnedandwentout
tothebartender.
“Why didn't you pour that coffee into him, like I told you?” he demanded.
“We'vegottogethimsteadyonhispinssomehow!”
The bartender was sprawled half over the bar, apathetically reading the
sportingnewsofatornSundayeditionofanEasternpaper.Helookedupfrom
underhiseyebrowsandgrunted.
“How you going to pour coffee down a man that lays flat on his belly and
won't open his mouth?” he inquired, in an injured tone. “Sleep's all he needs,
anyway.He'llbeallrightbymorning.”
Theothersnorteddissent.“He'llbeallrightbydark—orhe'llfeelawholelot
worse,” he promised grimly. “Dig up some ice. And a good jolt of bromo, if
you'vegotit—andatowelortwo.”
Thebartenderwearilypushedthepapertooneside,reachedlanguidlyunder
thebar,andlaidholdofaroundbluebottle.Yawninguninterestedly,hepoureda
double portion of the white crystals into a glass, half filled another under the
faucetofthewatercooler,andheldthemout.
“Dumpthatintohim,then,”headvised.“It'llhelpsome,ifyougetitdown.
What'sthesweattogethimmarriedoffto-day?Won'tthegirlwait?”
“I never asked her. You pound up some ice and bring it in, will you?” The
volunteer nurse kicked open the door into the little room and went in, hastily
pouring the bromo seltzer from one glass to the other to keep it from foaming
outofallbounds.Hispatientwasstillsittingupontheedgeofthebedwherehe
hadlefthim,slumpedforwardwithhisheadinhishands.Helookedupstupidly,
hiseyesbloodshotandswollenoflid.
“'Sthetraincomeinyet?”heaskedthickly.“'Syou,isit,Kent?”


“The train's come, and your girl is waiting for you at the hotel. Here, throw
thisintoyou—andforGod'ssake,braceup!Youmakemetired.Drinkherdown
quick—thefoam'sgoodforyou.Here,youtakethestuffinthebottom,too.Got
it? Take off your coat, so I can get at you. You don't look much like getting
married,andthat'snojosh.”
Fleetwoodshookhisheadwithdrunkengravity,andgroaned.“Ioughttobe
killed. Drunk to-day!” He sagged forward again, and seemed disposed to shed
tears.“She'llneverforgiveme;she—”
Kentjerkedhimtohisfeetperemptorily.“Aw,lookhere!I'mtryingtosober
youup.You'vegottodoyourpart—see?Here'ssomeiceinatowel—yougetit
onyourhead.Openupyourshirt,soIcanbatheyourchest.Don'tdoanygood
to blubber around about it. Your girl can't hear you, and Jim and I ain't
sympathetic.Setdowninthischair,wherewecangetatyou.”Heenforcedhis
commandwithsomevigor,andFleetwoodgroanedagain.Butheshednomore
tears,andhegrewmomentarilymorelucid,asthetreatmenttookeffect.
Thetearswerebeingshedinthestuffylittlehotelparlor.Theyoungwoman
looked often at her watch, went into the hallway, and opened the outer door
several times, meditating a search of the town, and drew back always with a
timidflutteringofheartbecauseitwasallsocrudeandstrange,andthesaloons
sonumerousandterrifyingintheirverybaldsimplicity.
ShewasworriedaboutManley,andshewishedthatcowboywouldcomeout
ofthesaloonandbringherlovertoher.Shehadneverdreamedofbeingtreated
in this way. No one came near her—and she had secretly expected to cause
somethingofaflutterinthislittletowntheycalledHope.
Surely, young girls from the East, come out to get married to their
sweethearts,weren'tsonumerousthattheyshouldbeignored.Iftherewereother
people in the hotel, they did not manifest their presence, save by disquieting
noisesmuffledbyinterveningpartitions.
Shegrewthirsty,butshehesitatedtoexplorethedepthsofthisdrearyabode,
in fear of worse horrors than the parlor furniture, and all the places of
refreshment which she could see from the window or the door looked terribly
masculineandunmoral,andasiftheydidnotknowthereexistedsuchthingsas
icecream,orsoda,orsherbet.
Itwasafteranhourofthisthatthetearscame,whichissayingagooddealfor
hercourage.Itseemedto herthenthatManley mustbedead.Whatelsecould
keep him so long away from her, after three years of impassioned longing
writtentwiceaweekwithpunctiliousregularity?


He knew that she was coming. She had telegraphed from St. Paul, and had
receivedajoyfulreply,lavishlyexpressedinseventeenwordsinsteadofthetenwordlimit.Andtheyweretohavebeenmarriedimmediatelyuponherarrival.
That cowboy had known she was coming; he must also have known why
Manleydidnotmeether,andshewishedfutilelythatshehadquestionedhim,
instead of walking beside him without a word. He should have explained. He
wouldhaveexplainedifhehadnotbeensoveryanxioustogetinsidethatsaloon
andgetdrunk.
She had always heard that cowboys were chivalrous, and brave, and
fascinatingintheirpicturesquedare-deviltry,butfromthelonespecimenwhich
shehadmet shecouldnotseethattheypossessedanyofthosequalities.Ifall
cowboyswerelikethat,shehopedthatshewouldnotbecompelledtomeetany
ofthem.Andwhydidn'tManleycome?
Itwasthenthataninnerdoor—adoorwhichshehadwantedtoopen,buthad
lacked courage—squeaked upon its hinges, and an ill-kept bundle of hair was
thrust in, topping a weather-beaten face and a scrawny little body. Two faded,
inquisitive eyes looked her over, and the woman sidled in, somewhat abashed,
buttoocurioustoremainoutside.
“Oh yes!” She seemed to be answering some inner question. “I didn't know
you was here.” She went over and removed the newspaper from the portrait.
“Thatbreedgirlofmineain'tgottheleastideaofhowtostraightenuparoom,”
sheobservedcomplainingly.“Iguessshethinksthispicturewasmadetohang
thingson.I'llhavetoroundherupagainandtellherafewthings.Thisismy
first husband. He was in politics and got beat, and so he killed himself. He
couldn'tstandtohavefolksgivehimthelaugh.”Shespokewithpride.“Hewas
arealhandsomeman,don'tyouthink?Youmightatookoffthepaper;itdidn't
belongthere,andhedoesbrightenuptheroom.Agoodpictureisrealcompany,
seems to me. When my old man gets on the rampage till I can't stand it no
longer, I come in here and set, and look at Walt. 'T ain't every man that's got
nervetokillhimself—withashotgun.Itwasturrible!Hetookandtiedastring
tothetrigger—”
“Oh,please!”
The landlady stopped short and stared at her. “What? Oh, I won't go into
details—itwasawfulmessy,andthat'safact.Ididn'tgitoveritforacoupleof
months.Hecouldakilledhimselfwithasix-shooter;it'salwaysbeenamystery
whyhedugupthatoldshotgun,buthedid.Ialwaysthoughthewantedtoshow
his nerve.” She sighed, and drew her fingers across her eyes. “I don't s'pose I


everwillgitoverit,”sheaddedcomplacently.“Itwasaturribleshock.”
“Do you know,” the girl began desperately, “if Mr. Manley Fleetwood is in
town?Iexpectedhimtomeetmeatthetrain.”
“Oh!IkindathoughtyouwasManFleetwood'sgirl.Myname'sHawley.You
goingtobemarriedto-night,ain'tyou?”
“I—Ihaven'tseenMr.Fleetwoodyet,”hesitatedthegirl,andhereyesfilled
againwithtears.“I'mafraidsomethingmayhavehappenedtohim.He—”
Mrs. Hawley glimpsed the tears, and instantly became motherly in her
manner.Sheevenwentupandpattedthegirlontheshoulder.
“There,now,don'tyouworrynone.Man'sallright;Iseenhimatdinnertime.
He was—” She stopped short, looked keenly at the delicate face, and at the
yellow-browneyeswhichgazed backather,innocentofevil,trusting,wistful.
“He spoke about your coming, and said he'd want the use of the parlor this
evening,forthewedding.Ihadanideayouwascomingonthesix-twentytrain.
Maybe he thought so, too. I never heard you come in—I was busy frying
doughnutsinthekitchen—andIjusthappenedtocomeinhereaftersomething.
You'doughtarappedonthatdoor.ThenI'd'a'knownyouwashere.I'llgoand
havemyoldmanhunthimup.Hemustbearoundtownsomewheres.Likeasnot
he'llmeetthesix-twenty,expectingyoutobeonit.”
Shesmiledreassuringlyassheturnedtotheinnerdoor.
“Youtakeoffyourhatandjacket,andprettysoonI'llshowyouuptoaroom.
I'llhavetoroundupmyoldmanfirst—andthat'sliabletotaketime.”Sheturned
hereyes quizzicallytotheporky-cheekedportrait.“YoujestletWaltkeepyou
companytillIgetback.Hewasrealgoodcompanywhenhewaslivin'.”
She smiled again and went out briskly, came back, and stood with her hand
uponthecrackeddoorknob.
“Icleanforgotyourname,”shehinted.“Mantoldme,atdinnertime,butI'm
nogoodonearthatrememberingnamestillafterI'veseenthepersonitbelongs
to.”
“Valeria Peyson—Val, they call me usually, at home.” The homesickness of
the girl shone in her misty eyes, haunted her voice. Mrs. Hawley read it, and
spokemorebrisklythanshewouldotherwisehavedone.
“Well, we're plumb strangers, but we ain't going to stay that way, because
everytimeyoucometotownyou'llhavetostophere;thereain'tanyotherplace
tostop.AndI'mgoingtostartrightincallingyouVal.Wedon'tusenoceremony
withfolk'snames,outhere.Val'sarealnicename,shortandeasytosay.Mine's


Arline. You can call me by it if you want to. I don't let everybody—so many
wantstocutitdowntoLeen,andIwon'tstandforthat;I'mleanenough,without
havin'itthroweduptome.Wemightjestaswellstartinthewaywe'relikelyto
keepitup,andyouwon'tfeelsomuchlikeastranger.
“I'mawfulgladyou'regoingtosettlehere—thereain'tsoawfulmanywomen
inthecountry;wehavetorakeandscrapetogitenoughforthreesetswhenwe
have a dance—and more likely we can't make out more 'n two. D' you dance?
Somebodysaidtheyseenafiddleboxdowntothedepot,withacoupleofbig
trunks;d'youplaythefiddle?”
“Alittle,”Valeriasmiledfaintly.
“Well,that'llcomeinawfulhandyatdances.We'dhave'emrealofteninthe
winter if it wasn't such a job to git music. Well, I got too much to do to be
standin'heretalkin'.Ihavetokeeprightafterthatbreedgirlallthetime,orshe
won't do nothing. I'll git my old man after your fellow right away. Jest make
yourselftohome,andanythingyouwantaskforitinthekitchen.”Shesmiledin
friendly fashion and closed the door with a little slam to make sure that it
latched.
Valeria stood for a moment with her hands hanging straight at her sides,
staring absently at the door. Then she glanced at Walt, staring wooden-faced
fromhisgiltframe uponhis gilteasel,andshivered. Shepushedtheredplush
chairasfarawayfromhimaspossible,satdownwithherbacktothepicture,
andimmediatelyfelthisdull,blackeyesboringintoherback.
“What a fool I must be!” she said aloud, glancing reluctantly over her
shoulderattheportrait.Shegotupresolutely,placedthechairwhereithadstood
before, and stared deliberately at Walt, as if she would prove how little she
cared.Butinamomentmoreshewascryingdismally.


CHAPTERII.WELL-MEANTADVICE
Kent Burnett, bearing over his arm a coat newly pressed in the Delmonico
restaurant,dodgedinatthebackdoorofthesaloon,threwthecoatdownupon
thetousledbed,and pushedbackhishatwithagestureofreliefatanonerous
dutywellperformed.
“I had one hell of a time,” he announced plaintively, “and that Chink will
likely try to poison me if I eat over there, after this—but I got her ironed, all
right. Get into it, Man, and chase yourself over there to the hotel. Got a clean
collar?Thatone'sall-overcoffee.”
Fleetwood stifled a groan, reached into a trousers pocket, and brought up a
dollar.“Getmeoneatthestore,willyou,Kent?Fifteenandahalf—andatie,if
they've got any that's decent. And hurry! Such a triple-three-star fool as I am
oughttobetakenoutandshot.”
Hewentoncursinghimselfaudiblyandbitterly,evenafterKenthadhurried
out.Hewassobernow—wasManleyFleetwood—soberandself-condemnatory
and penitent. His head ached splittingly; his eyes were heavy-lidded and
bloodshot,andhishandstrembledsothathecouldscarcelybuttonhiscoat.But
hewassober.Hedidnotevencarrytheodorofwhiskyuponhisbreathorhis
person;forKenthadbeenverythoughtfulandverythorough.Hehadcompelled
hispatienttocrunchandswallowmanynauseoustabletsof“whiskykiller,”and
he had sprinkled his clothes liberally with Jockey Club; Fleetwood, therefore,
whileheemanatedodorsinplenty,carriedabouthimnoneofthearomaproperly
belongingtointoxication.
In ten minutes Kent was back, with a celluloid collar and two ties of
questionabletaste.Manleyjustglancedatthem,wavedthemawaywithgloomy
finality,andswore.
“They're just about the limit, and that's no dream,” sympathized Kent, “but
they're clean, and they don't look like they'd been slept in for a month. You've
got to put 'em on—by George, I sized up the layout in both those imitation
stores,andIdrewthehighestinthedeck.AndfortheLord'ssake,getamove
on.Here,I'llbuttonitforyou.”
BehindFleetwood'sback,whencollarandtiewereinplace,Kentgrinnedand
loweredaneyelidatJim,whoputhisheadinfromthesaloontoseehowfarthe
soberinghadprogressed.


“Youlookfine!”heencouragedheartily.“Thatgreen-and-bluetie'sjustwhat
youneedtosetyouoff.Andthecollarsureisshinyandnice—yourgirlwillbe
plumbdazzled.Shewon'tseeanythingwrong—believeme.Now,runalongand
get married. Here, you better sneak out the back way; if she happened to be
lookingout,she'dlikelywonderwhatyouweredoing,comingoutofasaloon.
DuckoutpastthecoalshedandcutintothestreetbyBrinberg's.Tellheryou're
sick—gotasickheadache.Yourlooks'llswearit'sthetruth.Hike!”Heopened
thedoorandpushedFleetwoodout,watchedhimoutofsightaroundthecorner
ofBrinberg'sstore,andturnedbackintotheclose-smellinglittleroom.
“Do you know,” he remarked to Jim, “I never thought of it before, but I've
been playing a low-down trick on that poor girl. I kinda wish now I'd put her
next,andgivenherachancetodrawoutathegameifshewantedto.It'sstacking
thedeckonher,ifyouaskme!”Hepushedhishatbackuponhishead,gavehis
shoulders a twist of dissatisfaction, and told Jim to dig up some Eastern beer;
drankitmeditatively,andsetdowntheglasswithsomeforce.
“Yes,sir,”hesaiddisgustedly,“darnmyfoolsoul,Istackedthedeckonthat
girl—andshelookedtoberealnice.Kindainnocentandtrusting,likeshehasn't
found out yet how rotten mean men critters can be.” He took the bottle and
pouredhimselfanotherglass.“She'ssureduetowiseupalot,”headdedgrimly.
“You bet your sweet life!” Jim agreed, and then he reconsidered. “Still, I
dunno;Manain'tsoworse.Heain'twhatyoucancallarealboozefighter.This
here's what I'd call an accidental jag; got it in the exuberance of the joyful
momentwhenheknewhisgirlwascoming.He'lllikelystraightenupandbeall
right.He—”Jimbrokeoffthereandlookedtoseewhohadopenedthedoor.
“Hello,Polly,”hegreetedcarelessly.
Themancameforward,grinningskinnily.PolycarpJenkswastheoutrageous
nameofhim.Hewasundertheaverageheight,andhewasleantothepointof
emaciation.Hismouthwasabsolutelycurveless—astraightgashacrosshisface;
a gash which simply stopped short without any tapering or any turn at the
corners,whenithadreachedasfaraswasdecent.Hisnosewasalsostraightand
high, and owned no perceptible slope; indeed, it seemed merely a pendant
attached to his forehead, and its upper termination was indefinite, except that
somewherebetweenhiseyebrowsonefeltimpelledtoconsideritforeheadrather
than nose. His eyes also were rather long and narrow, like buttonholes cut to
matchthemouth.Whenhegrinnedhisfaceappearedtobreakupintosplinters.
He was intensely proud of his name, and his pleasure was almost pathetic
whenonepronounceditwithoutcurtailmentinhispresence.Hisskinninesswas


alsoamatterofpride.Andwhenyourealizethathewasanindefatigablegossip,
andseemedalwaystoberidingatlarge,gatheringorimpartingtrivialnews,you
shouldknowfairlywellPolycarpJenks.
“I see Man Fleetwood's might' near sober enough to git married,” Polycarp
began, coming up to the two and leaning a sharp elbow upon the bar beside
Kent.“Bygranny,gittingmarried'dsoberanybody!Dinnertimehewassodrunk
hecouldn'tfindhismouth.Imethimupherealittlewaysjustnow,andhewas
sosoberherememberedtopaymethattenIlenthimt'otherday—he-he!Open
upabottleofpop,James.
“Hisgirl'sbeenmight'nearcryinghereyesout,'causehedidn'tshowup.Mis'
Hawleysaysshelookedlikeshewasdueatafuneral'stidofaweddin'.'Clined
to be stuck up, accordin' to Mis' Hawley—shied at hearin' about Walt—he-he!
I'll bet there ain't been a transient to that hotel in the last five year, man or
woman,thatain'thadtohearaboutWaltandtheshotgun—Pop'sallrightona
hotday,youbet!
“She's got two trunks and a fiddle over to the depot—don't see how 'n the
worldMan'sgoingtogit'emouttotheranch;they'remight'nearasbigasclaim
shacks,bothof'em.Timeshegits'emintoMan'sshackshe'llhavetogooutside
every time she wants to turn around—he-he! By granny—two trunks, to one
woman!Havesomepop,Kenneth,onme.
“Theboysaretalkin'aboutashivareet'-night.Onthequiet,y'know.Someof
'em'sworkin'onahorsefiddlenow,overinthelumberyard.Wantedmetoplay
acoal-oilcan,butIdunno.I'mgittin'aleetleoldforsechdoings.Keepsyouup
nights too much. Man had any sense, he'd marry and pull outa town. 'Bout
fifteen or twenty in the bunch, and a string of cans and irons to reach clean
acrossthestreet.Bygranny,I'mgoingtoplugm'earsgoodwithcottonwhenit
comesoff—he-he!'Notherbottleofpop,James.”
“Who'srunningtheshow,Polycarp?”Kentasked,acceptingtheglassofsoda
becausehedislikedtooffend.“FunnyIdidn'thearaboutit.”
Polycarptwistedhisslitofamouthknowingly,andclosedoneslitofaneyeto
assistthefacialelucidation.
“Ain'tfunny—not whenItellyouFred DeGarmo'shandingout the invites,
andhesureaimstohaveplentyofexcitement—he-he!BetcherManleywon'tbe
abletosetonthewagonseatan'holdthelinest'-morrow—notifhecomesout
whenhe'scalledanddoesthethingproper—he-he!An'ifhedon'tshowup,they
aimtojestaboutpulltheoldshebangdownoverhisears.Hope'llthinkit'sthe
day of judgment, sure—he-he! Reckon I might's well git in on the fun—they


won'tbenosleepin'withintenmileoftheplace,nohow,andafelleralwayssees
the joke better when he's lendin' a hand. Too bad you an' Fred's on the outs,
Kenneth.”
“Oh, I don't know—it suits me fine,” Kent declared easily, setting down his
glasswithasighofrelief;hehated“pop.”
“What's it all about, anyway?” quizzed Polycarp, hungering for the details
which had thus far been denied him. “De Garmo sees red whenever anybody
mentionsyourname,Kenneth—butIneverdidhearnoparticulars.”
“No?”Kentwasturningtowardthedoor.“Well,yousee,Fredclaimshecan
holler louder than I can, and I say he can't.” He opened the door and calmly
departed,leavingPolycarplookingexceedinglyfoolishandabitangry.
Straight to the hotel, without any pretense at disguising his destination,
marched Kent. He went into the office—which was really a saloon—invited
Hawleytodrinkwithhim,andthenwonderedaudiblyifhecouldbegsomepie
fromMrs.Hawley.
“Supper'llbereadyinafewminutes,”Hawleyinformedhim,glancingupat
theround,dust-coveredclockscrewedtothewall.
“Idon'twantsupper—Iwantpie,”Kentretorted,andopenedadoorwhichled
into the hallway. He went down the narrow passage to another door, opened it
withoutceremony,andwasassailedbytheodorofmanythings—theodorwhich
spokeplainlyofsupper,orsomeotherassortmentoffood.Noonewasinsight,
so he entered the dining room boldly, stepped to another door, tapped very
lightly upon it, and went in. By this somewhat roundabout method he invaded
theparlor.
ManleyFleetwoodwaslyinguponanextremelyuncomfortablecouch,ofthe
kindwhichiscalledasofa.Hehadalace-edgedhandkerchieffoldeduponhis
brow, and upon his face was an expression of conscious unworthiness which
struck Kent as being extremely humorous. He grinned understandingly and
Manley flushed—also understandingly. Valeria hastily released Manley's hand
andlookedveryprimandabithaughty,assheregardedtheintruderfromthered
plushchair,pulledclosetothecouch.
“Mr.Fleetwood'sheadisverybadyet,”sheinformedKentcoldly.“Ireallydo
notthinkheoughttosee—anybody.”
Kent tapped his hat gently against his leg and faced her unflinchingly, quite
unconscious of the fact that she regarded him as a dissolute, drunken cowboy
withwhomManleyoughtnottoassociate.


“That'stoobad.”Hiseyesfailedtodropguiltilybeforehers,butcontinuedto
regardhercalmly.“I'monlygoingtostayaminute.Icametotellyouthatthere's
a scheme to raise—to 'shivaree' you two, tonight. I thought you might want to
pullout,alongaboutdark.”
Manleylookedupathiminquiringlywiththeeyewhichwasnotcoveredby
thelace-edgedhandkerchief.Valeriaseemedstartled,justatfirst.Thenshegave
Kentalittleshockofsurprise.
“Ihavereadaboutsuchthings.Acharivari,evenouthereinthisuncivilized
sectionofthecountry,canhardlybedangerous.Ireallydonotthinkwecareto
runaway,thankyou.”Herlipcurledunmistakably.“Mr.Fleetwoodissuffering
fromasickheadache.Heneedsrest—notacowardlynightride.”
NaturallyKentadmiredthespiritsheshowed,inspiteofthateloquentlip,the
scornofwhichseemedaimeddirectlyathim.Buthestillfacedhersteadily.
“Sure.ButifIhadaheadache—likethat—I'dcertainlyburntheearthgetting
outatownto-night.Shivarees”—hestuckstubbornlytohisownwayofsayingit
—“arebadforthehead.Theyaren'twhatyoucouldcallsilent—notoutherein
thisuncivilizedsectionofthecountry.They'replumb—”Hehesitatedforjusta
fractionofasecond,andhisresentmentofhertonemeltedintoatwinkleofthe
eyes.“They'vegotfiftycoal-oilcansstrungwithironsonarope,andthere'llbe
aboutninety-fivesix-shooterspopping,andeightortenhorse-fiddles,andthey'll
all be yelling to beat four of a kind. They're going,” he said quite gravely, “to
play the full orchestra. And I don't believe,” he added ironically, “it's going to
helpMr.Fleetwood'sheadany.”
Valerialookedathimdoubtinglywithsteady,amber-coloredeyesbeforeshe
turned solicitously to readjust the lace-edged handkerchief. Kent seized the
opportunitytostarefixedlyatFleetwoodandjerkhisheadmeaninglybackward,
but when, warned by Manley's changing expression, she glanced suspiciously
overhershoulder,Kentwasstandingquietlybythedoorwithhishatinhishand,
gazingabsentlyatWaltinhisgilt-edgedframeuponthegilteasel,andwaiting,
evidently,fortheirdecision.
“IshalltellthemthatMr.Fleetwoodissick—thathehasahorribleheadache,
andmustn'tbedisturbed.”
Kentforgothimselfsofarastocoughslightlybehindhishand.Valeria'seyes
sparkled.
“Even out here,” she went on cuttingly, “there must be some men who are
gentlemen!”
Kentrefrainedfromlookingather,butthebloodcreptdarklyintohistanned


cheeks. Evidently she “had it in for him,” but he could not see why. He
wonderedswiftlyifsheblamedhimforManley'scondition.
Fleetwood suddenly sat up, spilling the handkerchief to the floor. When
Valeriaessayedtopushhimbackheputherhandgentlyaway.Heroseandcame
overtoKent.
“Isthisstraightgoods?”hedemanded.“Whydon'tyoustopit?”
“FredDeGarmo'srunningthisshow.Myinfluencewouldn'tgoasfar—”
Fleetwood turned to the girl, and his manner was masterful. “I'm going out
with Kent—oh, Val, this is Mr. Burnett. Kent, Miss Peyson. I forgot you two
aren'tacquainted.”
From Valeria's manner, they were in no danger of becoming friends. Her
acknowledgmentwasbarelyperceptible.Kentbowedstiffly.
“I'mgoingtoseeaboutthis,Val,”continuedFleetwood.“Oh,myhead'sbetter
—alotbetter,really.Maybewe'dbetterleavetown—”
“Ifyourheadisbetter,Idon'tseewhyweneedrunawayfromalotofsilly
noise,” Valeria interposed, with merciless logic. “They'll think we're awful
cowards.”
“Well,I'lltryandfindout—Iwon'tbegoneaminute,dear.”Afterthatword,
spokenbeforeanother,heappearedtobeingreathaste,andpushedKentrather
unceremoniously through the door. In the dining room, Kent diplomatically
includedthelandladyintheconference,byagestureofmuchmysterybringing
herinfromthekitchen,whereshehadbeencuriouslypeepingoutatthem.
“Gottoletherin,”hewhisperedtoManley,“tokeepherfaceclosed.”
They murmured together for five minutes. Kent seemed to meet with some
oppositionfromFleetwood—anaftermathofValeria'sobjectionstoflight—and
becamebrutallydirect.
“Go ahead—do as you please,” he said roughly. “But you know that bunch.
You'll have to show up, and you'll have to set 'em up, and—aw, thunder! By
morning you'll be plumb laid out. You'll be headed into one of your four-day
jags,andyouknowit.Iwasthinkingofthegirl—butifyoudon'tcare,Iguess
it'snoneofmyfuneral.Gotoit—butdarnedifI'dwanttostartmyhoneymoon
outlikethat!”
Fleetwoodweakened,butstillhehesitated.“IfIdidn'tshowup—”hebegan
hopefully.ButKentwitteredhimwithalook.
“Thatbunchwillbetwo-thirdsfullbeforetheystartout.Ifyoudon'tshowup,
they'll go up and haul you outa bed—hell, Man! You'd likely start in to kill


somebodyoff.FredDeGarmodon'tloveyoumuchbetterthanhelovesme.You
knowwhathimandhisfriendswoulddothen,Ishouldthink.”Hestopped,and
seemedtoconsiderbrieflyaplan,butshookhisheadoverit.“Icouldroundupa
bunchandstand'emoff,maybe—butwe'dbeshootingeachotherup,firstrattle
ofthebox.It'sawholeloteasierforyoutogetoutatown.”
“I'lltellsomebodyyougotthebridalchamber,”hissedArline,inaveryloud
whisper.“That'snumbertwo,infront.Icankeepalightgoingandpassback'n'
forthonceinawhile,tolooklikeyou'rethere.That'llfool'emgood.They'llwait
tillthelight'sbeenoutquiteawhilebeforetheystartin.Yougoaheadandgit
marriedatseven,jestasyouwasgoingto—andifKent'llhavetheteamready
somewheres,Icaneasysneakyououtthebackway.”
“I couldn't get the team out of town without giving the whole deal away,”
Kentobjected.“You'llhavetogohorseback.”.
“Valcan'tride,”Fleetwoodstated,asifthatsettledthematter.
“Damnit,she'sgottoride!”snappedKent,losingpatience.“Unlessyouwant
tostayandgoonatootthat'lllastaweek,mostlikely.”
“ValbelongstotheW.C.T.U.,”shruggedFleetwood.“She'dnever—”
“Well,it'sthatorhaveafightonyourhandsyoumaybecan'thandle.Idon't
see any sense in haggling about going, now you know what to expect. But, of
course,” he added, with some acrimony, “it's your own business. I don't know
whatthedickensI'mgettingallworkedupoveritfor.Suityourself.”Heturned
towardthedoor.
“She could ride my Mollie—and I got a sidesaddle hanging up in the coal
shed. She could use that, or a stock saddle, either one,” planned Mrs. Hawley
anxiously.“Youbetterpullout,Man.”
“Holdon,Kent!Don'trushoff—we'llgo,”Fleetwoodsurrendered.“Valwon't
like it, but I'll explain as well as I can, without—Say! you stay and see us
married,won'tyou?It'satseven,and—”
Kent's fingers curled around the doorknob. “No, thanks. Weddings and
funerals are two bunches of trouble I always ride 'way around. Time enough
when you've got to be it. Along about nine o'clock you try and get out to the
stockyards without letting the whole town see you go, and I'll have the horses
there; just beyond the wings, by that pile of ties. You know the place. I'll wait
there till ten, and not a minute longer. That'll give you an hour, and you won't
needanymoretimethanthatifyougetdowntobusiness.Youfindoutfromher
what saddle she wants, and you can tell me while I'm eating supper, Mrs.
Hawley.I'll'tendtotherest.”Hedidnotwaittohearwhethertheyagreedtothe


plan, but went moodily down the narrow passage, and entered frowningly the
“office.”Severalmenweregatheredthere,waitingthesuppersummons.Hawley
glancedupfromwipingaglass,andgrinned.
“Well,didyougitthepie?”
“Naw.ShesaidI'dgottowaitformealtime.Sheplumbchasedmeout.”
FredDeGarmo,sprawledinanarmchairandsmokingacigar,lazilyfanned
thesmokecloudfrombeforehisfaceandlookedatKentattentively.


CHAPTERIII.ALADYINATEMPER
To saddle two horses when the night has grown black and to lead them,
unobserved,soshortadistanceastwohundredyardsorsoseemsasimplething;
and for two healthy young people with full use of their wits and their legs to
stealquietlyawaytowherethosehorsesarewaitingwouldseemquiteassimple.
Atthesametime,topreventthesuccessfulaccomplishmentofthesethingsisnot
difficult,ifonebutfullyunderstandsthedesignsofthefugitives.
HawleyHoteldidaflourishingbusinessthatnight.Thetwolongtablesinthe
diningroom,usuallynotmorethanhalffilledbythosewhohungeredandwere
not over-nice concerning the food they ate, were twice filled to overflowing.
Mrs.Hawleyandthe“breed”girlheldhastyconsultationsinthekitchenoverthe
supply,andneverwastheresucharattlingofdisheshurriedlycleansedforthe
nextcomer.
Kent managed to find a chair at the first table, and eyed the landlady
unobtrusively.ButFredDeGarmosatdownopposite,andhiseyeswerebright
and watchful, so that there seemed no possible way of delivering a message
undetected—until,indeed,Mrs.Hawleyindesperationresortedtostrategy,and
urgedKentunnecessarilytotakeanothersliceofbacon.
“Havesomemore—it'sside!”shehissedinhisear,andwatchedanxiouslyhis
face.
“Allright,”saidKent,andspearedaslicewithhisfork,althoughhisplatewas
already well supplied with bacon. Then, glancing up, he detected Fred in a
thoughtfulstarewhichseemedevenlydividedbetweenthelandladyandhimself.
Kent was conscious of a passing, mental discomfort, which he put aside as
foolish,becauseDeGarmocouldnotpossiblyknowwhatMrs.Hawleymeant.
ToeasehismindstillfurtherheglaredinsolentlyatFred,andthenatPolycarp
Jenkste-heeingafewchairsaway.Afterthathefinishedasquicklyaspossible
withoutexcitingremark,andwenthisway.
He had not, however, been two minutes in the office before De Garmo
entered.FromthattimeonthroughthewholeeveningFredwasneverfardistant;
whereverhewent,KentcouldnotshakehimoffthoughDeGarmoneverseemed
topayanyattentiontohim,andhispresencewasalwaysapparentlyaccidental.
“IreckonI'llhavetolickthatsonofagunyet,”sighedKent,whenaglanceat
theroundclockinthehotelofficetoldhimthatinjusttwentyminutesitwould


strikenine;andnotamovemadetowardgettingthosehorsessaddledandoutto
thestockyards.
There was much talk of the wedding, which had taken place quietly in the
parlor at theappointedhour,but notaman mentioned a charivari. Therewere
manywhowishedopenlythatFleetwoodwouldcomeoutandbesociableabout
it,butnotahintthattheyintendedtotakemeasurestobringhimamongthem.
Hehadcausedaboxofcigarstobeplaceduponthebarofeverysaloonintown,
wheremenmighthelp themselvesathisexpense.Evidentlyhehad considered
that with the cigars his social obligations were canceled. They smoked the
cigars,and,withthesamebreath,gossipedofhimandhisaffairs.
At just fourteen minutes to nine Kent went out, and, without any attempt at
concealment,hurriedtotheHawleystables.HalfaminutebehindhimtrailedDe
Garmo,alsowithoutsubterfuge.
Halfanhourlaterthebridalcouplestoleawayfromtherearofthehotel,and,
keeping to the shadows, went stumbling over the uneven ground to the
stockyards.
“Here's the tie pile,” Fleetwood announced, in an undertone, when they
reached the place. “You stay here, Val, and I'll look farther along the fence;
maybethehorsesaredownthere.”
Valeria did not reply, but stood very straight and dignified in the shadow of
the huge pile of rotting railroad ties. He was gone but a moment, and came
anxiouslybacktoher.
“They'renothere,”hesaid,inalowvoice.“Don'tworry,dear.He'llcome—I
knowKentBurnett.”
“Are you sure?” queried Val sweetly. “From what I have seen of the
gentleman, your high estimate of him seems quite unauthorized. Aside from
escorting me to the hotel, he has been anything but reliable. Instead of telling
you that I was here, or telling me that you were sick, he went straight into a
saloonandforgotallaboutusboth.Youknowthat.Ifhewereyourfriend,why
shouldheimmediatelybegincarousing,insteadof—”
“Hedidn't,”Fleetwooddefendedweakly.
“No?Thenperhapsyoucanexplainhisbehavior.Whydidn'thetellmeyou
were sick? Why didn't he tell you I came on that train? Can you tell me that,
Manley?”
Manley,foraverygoodreason,couldnot;soheputhisarmsaroundherand
triedtocoaxherintogoodhumor.


“Sweetheart,let'snotquarrelsosoon—why,we'reonlytwohoursmarried!I
wantyoutobehappy,andifyou'llonlybebraveand—”
“Brave!”Mrs.Fleetwoodlaughedrathercontemptuously,forabride.“Please
tounderstand,Manley,thatI'mnotfrightenedintheleast.It'syouandthathorrid
cowboy—I don't see why we need run away, like criminals. Those men don't
intendtomurderus,dothey?”Hermoodsoftenedalittle,andshesqueezedhis
armbetweenherhands.“Youdearoldsilly,I'mnotblamingyou.Withyourhead
in such a state, you can't think things out properly, and you let that cowboy
influenceyouagainstyourbetterjudgment.You'reafraidImightbeannoyed—
but,really,Manley,thissillyideaofrunningawayannoysmemuchmorethan
all the noise those fellows could possibly make. Indeed, I don't think I would
mind—itwouldgivemeaglimpseoftherealWest;and,perhaps,iftheygrew
tooboisterous,andIspoketothemandaskedthemnottobequitesorough—
and,really,theyonlymeanitasasortofwelcome,intheircrudeway.Wecould
invite some of the nicest in to have cake and coffee—or maybe we might get
someicecreamsomewhere—anditmightturnoutaverypleasantlittleaffair.I
don'tmindmeetingthem,Manley.Theworstofthemcan'tbeasbadasthat—
but, of course, if he's your friend, I suppose I oughtn't to speak too freely my
opinionofhim!”
Fleetwood held her closely, patted her cheek absently, and tried to think of
someeffectiveargument.
“They'llbedrunk,sweetheart,”hetoldher,afterasilence.
“Idon'tthinkso,”shereturnedfirmly.“Ihavebeenwatchingthestreetallthe
evening.Isawanynumberofmenpassingbackandforth,andIdidn'tseeone
who staggered. And they were all very quiet, considering their rough ways,
which one must expect. Why, Manley, you always wrote about these Western
menbeingsuchfinefellows,andsogenerousandbig-hearted,undertheirrough
exterior.Yourletterswerefullofit—andhowchivalroustheyallaretowardnice
women.”
She laid her head coaxingly against his shoulder. “Let's go back, Manley. I
—wanttoseeacharivari,dear.Itwillbefun.Iwanttowriteallaboutittothe
girls.They'llbeperfectlywildwithenvy.”Shestruggledwithherconventional
upbringing. “And even if some of them are slightly under the influence—of
liquor, we needn't meet them. You needn't introduce those at all, and I'm sure
theywillunderstand.”
“Don'tbesilly,Val!”Fleetwooddidnotmeantoberude,butafaintglimmer
ofherromanticviewpoint—aviewpointgainedchieflyfromcurrentfictionand


thestage—cametohimandcontrastedratherbrutallywiththereality.Hedidnot
know how to make her understand, without incriminating himself. His letters
had been rather idealistic, he admitted to himself. They had been written
unthinkingly, because he wanted her to like this big land; naturally he had not
been too baldly truthful in picturing the place and the people. He had passed
lightlyovertheirfaultsandthrownthelimelightontheirvirtues;andsohehad
aided unwittingly the stage and the fiction she had read, in giving her a false
impression.
Offended at his words and his tone, she drew away from him and glanced
wistfullybacktowardthetown,asifshemeditatedahaughtyreturntothehotel.
Sheendedbyseatingherselfuponaprojectingtie.
“Oh,verywell,mylord,”sheretorted,“Ishalltryandnotbesilly,butmerely
idiotic,asyouwouldhaveme.Youandyourfriend!”Shewasveryangry,but
shewasperfectlywell-bred,shehoped.“IfImightventureaword,”shebegan
again ironically, “it seems to me that your friend has been playing a practical
jokeuponyou.Heevidentlyhasnointentionofbringinganyfleetsteedstous.
Nodoubtheisatthismomentlaughingwithhisdissolutecompanions,because
wearesittingouthereinthedarkliketwosillychickens!”
“Ithinkhe'scomingnow,”Manleysaidratherstiffly.“Ofcourse,Idon'task
youtolikehim;buthe'sputtinghimselftoagooddealoftroubleforus,and—”
“Wastedeffort,sofarasIamconcerned,”Valeriaputin,withachirpyaccent
whichwasexasperating,eventoabridegroomverymuchinlovewithhisbride.
Inthedarknessthatmuffledtheland,savewheretheyellowflareoflampsin
thelittletownmadeamistybrightness,cametheclickofshodhoofs.Another
momentandaman,mounteduponawhitehorse,loomedindistinctbeforethem,
seemingtotakesubstancefromthenight.Behindhimtrailedanotherhorse,and
for the first time in her life Valeria heard the soft, whispering creak of saddle
leather, the faint clank of spur chains, and the whir of a horse mouthing the
“cricket”inhisbit.Eveninheranger,shewasconsciousofanansweringtingle
ofblood,becausethiswaslifeintheraw—lifesuchasshehaddreamedofinthe
tightswaddlingsofasmugcivilization,andhadlongedforintensely.
Kentswungdownclosebesidethem,hisformindistinctbutpurposeful.“I'm
late,Iguess,”heremarked,turningtoFleetwood.“Fredgotnext,somehow,and
—Iwasdetained.”
“Whereishe?”askedManley,goingupandlayingaquestioninghandupon
thehorse,bythatmeansfullyrecognizingitasKent'sown.
“Intheoatsbox,”saidKentlaconically.Heturnedtothegirl.“Icouldn'tget


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