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Deveny Secedes

From: 'drag' Harlan

Since the day he had heard that Harlan had appeared at the Star and had
been taken into the outlaw band by Haydon, Deveny had exhibited fits of a
sullen moroseness that had kept his closest friends from seeking his
companionship. Those friends were few, for Deveny's attitude toward his
men had always been that of the ruthless tyrant; he had treated them with
an aloofness that had in it a contempt which they could not ignore.
More--he was merciless, and had a furious temper which found its outlet
in physical violence.

Deveny was a fast man with the big Colt that swung at his hip, a deadly
marksman, and he needed but little provocation to exhibit his skill. For
that reason his men kept the distance Deveny had established between
them--never attempting familiarity with him.

Deveny had heard from a Star man the story of Harlan's coming to the Star
and when a day or so later Haydon rode into the Cache, Deveny was in a
state of furious resentment.

There had been harsh words between Haydon and Deveny; the men of the
Cache had no difficulty in comprehending that Deveny's rage was bitter.

Not even when Haydon told him that his acceptance of Harlan had been
forced by circumstances, and that he was tricking Harlan into a state of
fancied security in which he could the more easily bring confusion upon
him did Deveny agree.

"You're a damned fool, Haydon!" he told the other, his face black with
passion. "That guy is slick as greased lightning--and faster. And he
don't mean any good to the camp. He's out for himself."

Deveny did not intimate that his dislike of Harlan had been caused by the
latter's interference with his plans the day he had held Barbara Morgan a
prisoner in the room above the Eating-House in Lamo; but Haydon, who had
heard the details of the affair from one of his men, smiled knowingly.

It was not Haydon's plan to let Deveny know he knew of the affair, or
that he cared about it if he had heard. And so he did not mention it.

But in his heart was a rage that made his thoughts venomous; though he
concealed his emotions behind the bland, smooth smile of good-natured

"I'll handle him, Deveny," he said as he took leave of the other. "He'll
get his when he isn't expecting it."

Deveny, however, had no faith in Haydon's ability to "handle" Harlan. He
had seen in the man's eyes that day in Lamo something that had troubled
him--an indomitability that seemed to indicate that the man would do
whatever he set out to do.

But Deveny did not ride to the Star to see Harlan; he was reluctant to
stir outside the Cache, and for many days, while Harlan was attaining
supremacy at the Star, and while Haydon was absent on a mysterious
mission, Deveny kept close to the Cache, nursing his resentment against
Haydon, and deepening--with fancied situations--his hatred for Harlan.

It did not surprise Deveny when a Star man rode into the Cache one day
and told him that Harlan had killed Latimer in a gunfight, and that
Harlan was slowly but surely gaining a following among the men. The
information did not surprise Deveny; but it sent his mind into a chaos of
conjecture and speculation, out of which at last a conviction came--that
Harlan was seeking control of the outlaw band; that Haydon's days as a
leader were almost over, so far as he was concerned. For if Haydon
insisted on taking Harlan into the secret councils of the camp
he--Deveny--was going to operate independently.

The more his thoughts dwelt upon that feature the more attractive it
seemed to him. Independence of Haydon meant that he could do as he
pleased without the necessity of consulting anybody. He could rustle
whatever cattle he wanted--getting them where he could without following
Haydon's plans--which had always seemed rather nonsensical, embracing as
they did the scheme of railroad building and town sites; and he could do
as he pleased with Barbara Morgan, not having to consider Haydon at all.

It was that last consideration that finally decided Deveny. He was an
outlaw--not a politician; he robbed for gain, and not for the doubtful
benefits that might be got out of the building of a town. And when he
looked with desire upon a woman he didn't care to share her with another
man--not even Haydon.

For two or three days after the conviction seized Deveny, he pondered
over his chances, and when he reached a decision he acted with the
volcanic energy that had characterized his depredations in the basin.

On the morning of the day upon which Haydon returned to the Star to find
the cattle gone and Harlan in control, Deveny appeared to a dozen Cache
men who were variously engaged near the corral, ordering them to saddle
their horses.

Later, Deveny and his men rode southward across a low plateau that
connected the buttes near the entrance to the Cache with the low hills
that rimmed the basin. They traveled fast, and when they reached the
rimming hills they veered eastward upon a broad sand plain.

There was a grin on Deveny's face now--a grin which expressed craft,
duplicity, and bestial desire. And as he rode at the head of his men he
drew mental pictures that broadened his grin and brought into his eyes an
abysmal gleam.

Next: Kidnapped

Previous: A Dead Man Walks

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