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Another Woman Rides

From: 'firebrand' Trevison

Trevison rode in to town the next morning. On his way he went to the edge
of the butte overlooking the level, and looked down upon the wreck and
ruin he had caused. Masses of twisted steel and iron met his gaze; the
level was littered with debris, which a gang of men under Carson was
engaged in clearing away; a great section of the butte had been blasted
out, earth, rocks, sand, had slid down upon much of the wreckage, partly
burying it. The utter havoc of the scene brought a fugitive smile to his

He saw Carson waving a hand to him, and he answered the greeting, noting
as he did so that Corrigan stood at a little distance behind Carson,
watching. Trevison did not give him a second look, wheeling Nigger and
sending him toward Manti at a slow lope. As he rode away, Corrigan called
to Carson.

"Your friend didn't seem to be much surprised."

Carson turned, making a grimace while his back was yet toward Corrigan,
but grinning broadly when he faced around.

"Didn't he now? I wasn't noticin'. But, begorra, how c'ud he be surprised,
whin the whole domned country was rocked out av its bed be the blast! Wud
ye be expictin' him to fall over in a faint on beholdin' the wreck?"

"Not he," said Corrigan, coldly; "he's got too much nerve for that."

"Ain't he, now!" Carson looked guilelessly at the other. "Wud ye be havin'
anny idee who done it?"

Corrigan's eyes narrowed. "No," he said shortly, and turned away.

Trevison's appearance in Manti created a stir. He had achieved a double
result by his deed, for besides destroying the property and making it
impossible for Corrigan to resume work for a considerable time, he had
caused Manti's interest to center upon him sharply, having shocked into
the town's consciousness a conception of the desperate battle that was
being waged at its doors. For Manti had viewed the devastated butte early
that morning, and had come away, seething with curiosity to get a glimpse
of the man whom everybody secretly suspected of being the cause of it.
Many residents of the town had known Trevison before--in half an hour
after his arrival he was known to all. Public opinion was heavily in his
favor and many approving comments were heard.

"I ain't blamin' him a heap," said a man in the Belmont. "If things is
as you say they are, there ain't much more that a man could do!"

"The laws is made for the guys with the coin an' the pull," said another,

"An' dynamite ain't carin' who's usin' it," said another, slyly. Both
grinned. The universal sympathy for the "under dog" oppressed by Justice
perverted or controlled, had here found expression.

It was so all over Manti. Admiring glances followed Trevison; though he
said no word concerning the incident; nor could any man have said, judging
from the expression of his face, that he was elated. He had business in
Manti--he completed it, and when he was ready to go he got on Nigger and
loped out of town.

"That man's nerve is as cold as a naked Eskimo at the North Pole,"
commented an admirer. "If I'd done a thing like that I'd be layin' low to
see if any evidence would turn up against me."

"I reckon there ain't a heap of evidence," laughed his neighbor. "I expect
everybody knows he done it, but knowin' an' provin' is two different

A mile out of town Trevison met Corrigan. The latter halted his horse when
he saw Trevison and waited for him to come up. The big man's face wore an
ugly, significant grin.

"You did a complete job," he said, eyeing the other narrowly. "And there
doesn't seem to be any evidence. But look out! When a thing like that
happens there's always somebody around to see it, and if I can get
evidence against you I'll send you up for it!"

He noted a slight quickening of Trevison's eyes at his mention of a
witness, and a fierce exultation leaped within him.

Trevison laughed, looking the other fairly between the eyes. Rosalind
Benham hadn't informed on him. However, the day was not yet gone.

"Get your evidence before you try to do any bluffing," he challenged. He
spurred Nigger on, not looking back at his enemy.

Corrigan rode to the laborers' tents, where he talked for a time with the
cook. In the mess tent he stood with his back to a rough, pine-topped
table, his hands on its edge. The table had not yet been cleared from the
morning meal, for the cook had been interested in the explosion. He tried
to talk of it with Corrigan, but the latter adroitly directed the
conversation otherwise. The cook would have said they had a pleasant talk.
Corrigan seemed very companionable this morning. He laughed a little; he
listened attentively when the cook talked. After a while Corrigan fumbled
in his pockets. Not finding a cigar, he looked eloquently at the cook's
pipe, in the latter's mouth, belching much smoke.

"Not a single cigar," he said. "I'm dying for a taste of tobacco."

The cook took his pipe from his mouth and wiped the stem hastily on a
sleeve. "If you don't mind I've been suckin' on it," he said, extending

"I wouldn't deprive you of it for the world." Corrigan shifted his
position, looked down at the table and smiled. "Luck, eh?" he said,
picking up a black brier that lay on the table behind him. "Got plenty of

The cook dove for a box in a corner and returned with a cloth sack,
bulging. He watched while Corrigan filled the pipe, and grinned while his
guest was lighting it.

"Carson'll be ravin' today for forgettin' his pipe. He must have left it
layin' on the table this mornin'--him bein' in such a rush to get down, to
the explosion."

"It's Carson's, eh?" Corrigan surveyed it with casual interest. "Well,"
after taking a few puffs "--I'll say for Carson that he knows how to take
care of it."

He left shortly afterward, laying the pipe on the table where he had found
it. Five minutes later he was in Judge Lindman's presence, leaning over
the desk toward the other.

"I want you to issue a warrant for Patrick Carson. I want him brought in
here for examination. Charge him with being an accessory before the fact,
or anything that seems to fit the case. But throw him into the cooler--and
keep him there until he talks. He knows who broke into the dynamite shed,
and therefore he knows who did the dynamiting. He's friendly with
Trevison, and if we can make him admit he saw Trevison at the shed, we've
got the goods. He warned Trevison the other day, when I had the deputies
lined up at the butte, and I found his pipe this morning near the door of
the dynamite shed. We'll make him talk, damn him!"

* * * * *

Banker Braman had closed the door between the front and rear rooms, pulled
down the shades of the windows, lighted the kerosene lamp, and by its
wavering flicker was surveying his reflection in the small mirror affixed
to one of the walls of the building. He was pleased, as the fatuous
self-complacence of his look indicated, and carefully, almost fastidiously
dressed, and he could not deny himself this last look into the mirror,
even though he was now five minutes late with his appointment. The five
minutes threatened to become ten, for, in adjusting his tie-pin it slipped
from his fingers, struck the floor and vanished, as though an evil fate
had gobbled it.

He searched for it frenziedly, cursing lowly, but none the less viciously.
It was quite by accident that when his patience was strained almost to the
breaking point, he struck his hand against a board that formed part of the
partition between his building and the courthouse next door, and tore a
huge chunk of skin from the knuckles. He paid little attention to the
injury, however, for the agitating of the board disclosed the glittering
recreant, and he pounced upon it with the precision of a hawk upon its
prey, snarling triumphantly.

"I'll nail that damned board up, some day!" he threatened. But he knew he
wouldn't, for by lying on the floor and pulling the board out a trifle, he
could get a clear view of the interior of the courthouse, and could hear
quite plainly, in spite of the presence of a wooden box resting against
the wall on the other side. And some of the things that Braman had already
heard through the medium of the loose board were really interesting, not
to say instructive, to him.

He was ten minutes late in keeping his appointment. He might have been
even later without being in danger of receiving the censure he deserved.
For the lady received him in a loose wrapper and gracefully disordered
hair, a glance at which made Braman gasp in unfeigned admiration.

"What's this?" he demanded with a pretense of fatherly severity, which he
imagined became him very well in the presence of women. "Not ready yet,
Mrs. Harvey?"

The woman waved him to a chair with unsmiling unconcern; dropped into
another, crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair, her hands folded
across the back of her head, her sleeves, wide and flaring, sliding down
below her elbows. She caught Braman's burning stare of interest in this
revelation of negligence, and smiled at him in faint derision.

"I'm tired, Croft. I've changed my mind about going to the First
Merchants' Ball. I'd much rather sit here and chin you--if you don't

"Not a bit!" hastily acquiesced the banker. "In fact, I like the idea of
staying here much better. It is more private, you know." He grinned
significantly, but the woman's smile of faint derision changed merely to
irony, which held steadily, making Braman's cheeks glow crimson.

"Well, then," she laughed, exulting in her power over him; "let's get
busy. What do you want to chin about?"

"I'll tell you after I've wet my whistle," said the banker, gayly. "I'm
dry as a bone in the middle of the Sahara desert!"

"I'll take mine 'straight,'" she laughed.

Braman rang a bell. A waiter with glasses and a bottle appeared, entered,
was paid, and departed, grinning without giving the banker any change from
a ten dollar bill.

The woman laughed immoderately at Braman's wolfish snarl.

"Be a sport, Croft. Don't begrudge a poor waiter a few honestly earned

"And now, what has the loose-board telephone told you?" she asked, two
hours later when flushed of face from frequent attacks on the
bottle--Braman rather more flushed than she--they relaxed in their chairs
after a tilt at poker in which the woman had been the victor.

"You're sure you don't care for Trevison any more--that you're only taking
his end of this because of what he's been to you in the past?" demanded
the banker, looking suspiciously at her.

"He told me he didn't love me any more. I couldn't want him after that,
could I?"

"I should think not." Braman's eyes glowed with satisfaction. But he
hesitated, yielding when she smiled at him. "Damn it, I'd knife Corrigan
for you!" he vowed, recklessly.

"Save Trevison--that's all I ask. Tell me what you heard."

"Corrigan suspects Trevison of blowing up the stuff at the butte--as
everybody does, of course. He's determined to get evidence against him. He
found Carson's pipe at the door of the dynamite shed this morning. Carson
is a friend of Trevison's. Corrigan is going to have Judge Lindman issue a
warrant for the arrest of Carson--on some charge--and they're going to
jail Carson until he talks."

The woman cursed profanely, sharply. "That's Corrigan's idea of a square
deal. He promised me that no harm should come to Trevison." She got up and
walked back and forth in the room, Braman watching her with passion lying
naked in his eyes, his lips loose and moist.

She stopped in front of him, finally. "Go home, Croft--there's a good boy.
I want to think."

"That's cruelty to animals," he laughed in a strained voice. "But I'll
go," he added at signs of displeasure on her face. "Can I see you tomorrow

"I'll let you know." She held the door open for him, and permitted him to
take her hand for an instant. He squeezed it hotly, the woman making a
grimace of repugnance as she closed the door.

Swiftly she changed from her loose gown to a simple, short-skirted affair,
slipped on boots, a felt hat, gloves. Leaving the light burning, she
slipped out into the hall and called to the waiter who had served her and
Braman. By rewarding him generously she procured a horse, and a few
minutes later she emerged from the building by a rear door, mounting the
animal and sending it clattering out into the night.

Twice she lost her way and rode miles before she recovered her sense of
direction, and when she finally pulled the beast to a halt at the edge of
the Diamond K ranchhouse gallery, midnight was not far away. The
ranchhouse was dark. She smothered a gasp of disappointment as she crossed
the gallery floor. She was about to hammer on the door when it swung open
and Trevison stepped out, peered closely at her and laughed shortly.

"It's you, eh?" he said. "I thought I told you--"

She winced at his tone, but it did not lessen her concern for him.

"It isn't that, Trev! And I don't care how you treat me--I deserve it! But
I can't see them punish you--for what you did last night!" She felt him
start, his muscles stiffen.

"Something has turned up, then. You came to warn me? What is it?"

"You were seen last night! They're going to arrest--"

"So she squealed, did she?" he interrupted. He laughed lowly, bitterly,
with a vibrant disappointment that wrung the woman's heart with sympathy.
But her brain quickly grasped the significance of his words, and longing
dulled her sense of honor. It was too good an opportunity to miss. "Bah! I
expected it. She told me she would. I was a fool to dream otherwise!" He
turned on Hester and grasped her by the shoulders, and her flesh deadened
under his fingers.

"Did she tell Corrigan?"

"Yes." The woman told the lie courageously, looking straight into his
eyes, though she shrank at the fire that came into them as he released her
and laughed.

"Where did you get your information?" His voice was suddenly sullen and

"From Braman."

He started, and laughed in humorous derision.

"Braman and Corrigan are blood brothers in this deal. You must have
captivated the little sneak completely to make him lose his head like

"I did it for you, Trev--for you. Don't you see? Oh, I despise the little
beast! But he dropped a hint one day when I was in the bank, and I
deliberately snared him, hoping I might be able to gain information that
would benefit you. And I have, Trev!" she added, trembling with a hope
that his hasty judgment might result to her advantage. And how near she
had come to mentioning Carson's name! If Trevison had waited for just
another second before interrupting her! Fortune had played favorably into
her hands tonight!

"For you, boy," she said, slipping close to him, sinuously, whispering,
knowing the "she" he had mentioned must be Rosalind Benham. "Old friends
are best, boy. At least they can be depended upon not to betray one. Trev;
let me help you! I can, and I will! Why, I love you, Trev! And you need
me, to help you fight these people who are trying to ruin you!"

"You don't understand." Trevison's voice was cold and passionless. "It
seems I can't make you understand. I'm grateful for what you have done
for me tonight--very grateful. But I can't live a lie, woman. I don't love

"But you love a woman who has delivered you into the hands of your
enemies," she moaned.

"I can't help it," he declared hoarsely. "I don't deny it. I would love
her if she sent me to the gallows, and stood there, watching me die!"

The woman bowed her head, and dropped her hands listlessly to her sides.
In this instant she was thinking almost the same words that Rosalind
Benham had murmured on her ride to Blakeley's, when she had discovered
Trevison's identity: "I wonder if Hester Keyes knows what she has

Next: A Man Errs And Pays

Previous: And Rides Again In Vain

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