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Sister And Brother








From: The Light Of Western Stars

Then Madeline returned to the little parlor with the brother whom she
had hardly recognized.

"Majesty!" he exclaimed. "To think of your being here!"

The warmth stole back along her veins. She remembered how that pet name
had sounded from the lips of this brother who had given it to her.

"Alfred!"

Then his words of gladness at sight of her, his chagrin at not being
at the train to welcome her, were not so memorable of him as the way he
clasped her, for he had held her that way the day he left home, and she
had not forgotten. But now he was so much taller and bigger, so dusty
and strange and different and forceful, that she could scarcely think
him the same man. She even had a humorous thought that here was another
cowboy bullying her, and this time it was her brother.

"Dear old girl," he said, more calmly, as he let her go, "you haven't
changed at all, except to grow lovelier. Only you're a woman now, and
you've fulfilled the name I gave you. God! how sight of you brings back
home! It seems a hundred years since I left. I missed you more than all
the rest."

Madeline seemed to feel with his every word that she was remembering
him. She was so amazed at the change in him that she could not believe
her eyes. She saw a bronzed, strong-jawed, eagle-eyed man, stalwart,
superb of height, and, like the cowboys, belted, booted, spurred. And
there was something hard as iron in his face that quivered with his
words. It seemed that only in those moments when the hard lines broke
and softened could she see resemblance to the face she remembered. It
was his manner, the tone of his voice, and the tricks of speech
that proved to her he was really Alfred. She had bidden good-by to a
disgraced, disinherited, dissolute boy. Well she remembered the handsome
pale face with its weakness and shadows and careless smile, with the
ever-present cigarette hanging between the lips. The years had passed,
and now she saw him a man--the West had made him a man. And Madeline
Hammond felt a strong, passionate gladness and gratefulness, and a
direct check to her suddenly inspired hatred of the West.

"Majesty, it was good of you to come. I'm all broken up. How did you
ever do it? But never mind that now. Tell me about that brother of
mine."

And Madeline told him, and then about their sister Helen. Question after
question he fired at her; and she told him of her mother; of Aunt
Grace, who had died a year ago; of his old friends, married, scattered,
vanished. But she did not tell him of his father, for he did not ask.

Quite suddenly the rapid-fire questioning ceased; he choked, was silent
a moment, and then burst into tears. It seemed to her that a long,
stored-up bitterness was flooding away. It hurt her to see him--hurt her
more to hear him. And in the succeeding few moments she grew closer to
him than she had ever been in the past. Had her father and mother done
right by him? Her pulse stirred with unwonted quickness. She did not
speak, but she kissed him, which, for her, was an indication of unusual
feeling. And when he recovered command over his emotions he made no
reference to his breakdown, nor did she. But that scene struck deep
into Madeline Hammond's heart. Through it she saw what he had lost and
gained.

"Alfred, why did you not answer my last letters?" asked Madeline. "I had
not heard from you for two years."

"So long? How time flies! Well, things went bad with me about the last
time I heard from you. I always intended to write some day, but I never
did."

"Things went wrong? Tell me."

"Majesty, you mustn't worry yourself with my troubles. I want you to
enjoy your stay and not be bothered with my difficulties."

"Please tell me. I suspected something had gone wrong. That is partly
why I decided to come out."

"All right; if you must know," he began; and it seemed to Madeline that
there was a gladness in his decision to unburden himself. "You remember
all about my little ranch, and that for a while I did well raising
stock? I wrote you all that. Majesty, a man makes enemies anywhere.
Perhaps an Eastern man in the West can make, if not so many, certainly
more bitter ones. At any rate, I made several. There was a cattleman,
Ward by name--he's gone now--and he and I had trouble over cattle. That
gave me a back-set. Pat Hawe, the sheriff here, has been instrumental in
hurting my business. He's not so much of a rancher, but he has influence
at Santa Fe and El Paso and Douglas. I made an enemy of him. I never did
anything to him. He hates Gene Stewart, and upon one occasion I spoiled
a little plot of his to get Gene in his clutches. The real reason for
his animosity toward me is that he loves Florence, and Florence is going
to marry me."

"Alfred!"

"What's the matter, Majesty? Didn't Florence impress you favorably?" he
asked, with a keen glance.

"Why--yes, indeed. I like her. But I did not think of her in relation
to you--that way. I am greatly surprised. Alfred, is she well born? What
connections?"

"Florence is just a girl of ordinary people. She was born in Kentucky,
was brought up in Texas. My aristocratic and wealthy family would
scorn--"

"Alfred, you are still a Hammond," said Madeline, with uplifted head.

Alfred laughed. "We won't quarrel, Majesty. I remember you, and in spite
of your pride you've got a heart. If you stay here a month you'll love
Florence Kingsley. I want you to know she's had a great deal to do
with straightening me up.... Well, to go on with my story. There's Don
Carlos, a Mexican rancher, and he's my worst enemy. For that matter,
he's as bad an enemy of Bill Stillwell and other ranchers. Stillwell, by
the way, is my friend and one of the finest men on earth. I got in debt
to Don Carlos before I knew he was so mean. In the first place I lost
money at faro--I gambled some when I came West--and then I made unwise
cattle deals. Don Carlos is a wily Greaser, he knows the ranges, he
has the water, and he is dishonest. So he outfigured me. And now I am
practically ruined. He has not gotten possession of my ranch, but that's
only a matter of time, pending lawsuits at Santa Fe. At present I have a
few hundred cattle running on Stillwell's range, and I am his foreman."

"Foreman?" queried Madeline.

"I am simply boss of Stillwell's cowboys, and right glad of my job."

Madeline was conscious of an inward burning. It required an effort for
her to retain her outward tranquillity. Annoying consciousness she had
also of the returning sense of new disturbing emotions. She began to see
just how walled in from unusual thought-provoking incident and sensation
had been her exclusive life.

"Cannot your property be reclaimed?" she asked. "How much do you owe?"

"Ten thousand dollars would clear me and give me another start. But,
Majesty, in this country that's a good deal of money, and I haven't been
able to raise it. Stillwell's in worse shape than I am."

Madeline went over to Alfred and put her hands on his shoulders.

"We must not be in debt."

He stared at her as if her words had recalled something long forgotten.
Then he smiled.

"How imperious you are! I'd forgotten just who my beautiful sister
really is. Majesty, you're not going to ask me to take money from you?"

"I am."

"Well, I'll not do it. I never did, even when I was in college, and then
there wasn't much beyond me."

"Listen, Alfred," she went on, earnestly, "this is entirely different.
I had only an allowance then. You had no way to know that since I last
wrote you I had come into my inheritance from Aunt Grace. It was--well,
that doesn't matter. Only, I haven't been able to spend half the income.
It's mine. It's not father's money. You will make me very happy if
you'll consent. Alfred, I'm so--so amazed at the change in you. I'm
so happy. You must never take a backward step from now on. What is ten
thousand dollars to me? Sometimes I spend that in a month. I throw money
away. If you let me help you it will be doing me good as well as you.
Please, Alfred."

He kissed her, evidently surprised at her earnestness. And indeed
Madeline was surprised herself. Once started, her speech had flowed.

"You always were the best of fellows, Majesty. And if you really
care--if you really want to help me I'll be only too glad to accept. It
will be fine. Florence will go wild. And that Greaser won't harass me
any more. Majesty, pretty soon some titled fellow will be spending your
money; I may as well take a little before he gets it all," he finished,
jokingly.

"What do you know about me?" she asked, lightly.

"More than you think. Even if we are lost out here in the woolly West
we get news. Everybody knows about Anglesbury. And that Dago duke who
chased you all over Europe, that Lord Castleton has the running now and
seems about to win. How about it, Majesty?"

Madeline detected a hint that suggested scorn in his gay speech. And
deep in his searching glance she saw a flame. She became thoughtful. She
had forgotten Castleton, New York, society.

"Alfred," she began, seriously, "I don't believe any titled gentleman
will ever spend my money, as you elegantly express it."

"I don't care for that. It's you!" he cried, passionately, and he
grasped her with a violence that startled her. He was white; his eyes
were now like fire. "You are so splendid--so wonderful. People called
you the American Beauty, but you're more than that. You're the American
Girl! Majesty, marry no man unless you love him, and love an American.
Stay away from Europe long enough to learn to know the men--the real men
of your own country."

"Alfred, I'm afraid there are not always real men and real love for
American girls in international marriages. But Helen knows this. It'll
be her choice. She'll be miserable if she marries Anglesbury."

"It'll serve her just right," declared her brother. "Helen was always
crazy for glitter, adulation, fame. I'll gamble she never saw more of
Anglesbury than the gold and ribbons on his breast."

"I am sorry. Anglesbury is a gentleman; but it is the money he wanted, I
think. Alfred, tell me how you came to know about me, 'way out here? You
may be assured I was astonished to find that Miss Kingsley knew me as
Majesty Hammond."

"I imagine it was a surprise," he replied, with a laugh, "I told
Florence about you--gave her a picture of you. And, of course, being a
woman, she showed the picture and talked. She's in love with you. Then,
my dear sister, we do get New York papers out here occasionally, and we
can see and read. You may not be aware that you and your society friends
are objects of intense interest in the U. S. in general, and the West in
particular. The papers are full of you, and perhaps a lot of things you
never did."

"That Mr. Stewart knew, too. He said, 'You're not Majesty Hammond?'"

"Never mind his impudence!" exclaimed Alfred; and then again he laughed.
"Gene is all right, only you've got to know him. I'll tell you what he
did. He got hold of one of those newspaper pictures of you--the one
in the Times; he took it away from here, and in spite of Florence he
wouldn't fetch it back. It was a picture of you in riding-habit with
your blue-ribbon horse, White Stockings--remember? It was taken at
Newport. Well, Stewart tacked the picture up in his bunk-house and named
his beautiful horse Majesty. All the cowboys knew it. They would see
the picture and tease him unmercifully. But he didn't care. One day I
happened to drop in on him and found him just recovering from a carouse.
I saw the picture, too, and I said to him, 'Gene, if my sister knew you
were a drunkard she'd not be proud of having her picture stuck up in
your room.' Majesty, he did not touch a drop for a month, and when he
did drink again he took the picture down, and he has never put it back."

Madeline smiled at her brother's amusement, but she did not reply. She
simply could not adjust herself to these queer free Western' ways. Her
brother had eloquently pleaded for her to keep herself above a sordid
and brilliant marriage, yet he not only allowed a cowboy to keep her
picture in his room, but actually spoke of her and used her name in a
temperance lecture. Madeline just escaped feeling disgust. She was saved
from this, however, by nothing less than her brother's naive gladness
that through subtle suggestion Stewart had been persuaded to be good for
a month. Something made up of Stewart's effrontery to her; of Florence
Kingsley meeting her, frankly as it were, as an equal; of the elder
sister's slow, quiet, easy acceptance of this visitor who had been
honored at the courts of royalty; of that faint hint of scorn in
Alfred's voice, and his amused statement in regard to her picture
and the name Majesty--something made up of all these stung Madeline
Hammond's pride, alienated her for an instant, and then stimulated her
intelligence, excited her interest, and made her resolve to learn a
little about this incomprehensible West.

"Majesty, I must run down to the siding," he said, consulting his watch.
"We're loading a shipment of cattle. I'll be back by supper-time and
bring Stillwell with me. You'll like him. Give me the check for your
trunk."

She went into the little bedroom and, taking up her bag, she got out a
number of checks.

"Six! Six trunks!" he exclaimed. "Well, I'm very glad you intend to stay
awhile. Say, Majesty, it will take me as long to realize who you really
are as it'll take to break you of being a tenderfoot. I hope you packed
a riding-suit. If not you'll have to wear trousers! You'll have to do
that, anyway, when we go up in the mountains."

"No!"

"You sure will, as Florence says."

"We shall see about that. I don't know what's in the trunks. I never
pack anything. My dear brother, what do I have maids for?"

"How did it come that you didn't travel with a maid?"

"I wanted to be alone. But don't you worry. I shall be able to look
after myself. I dare say it will be good for me."

She went to the gate with him.

"What a shaggy, dusty horse! He's wild, too. Do you let him stand that
way without being haltered? I should think he would run off."

"Tenderfoot! You'll be great fun, Majesty, especially for the cowboys."

"Oh, will I?" she asked, constrainedly.

"Yes, and in three days they will be fighting one another over you.
That's going to worry me. Cowboys fall in love with a plain woman,
an ugly woman, any woman, so long as she's young. And you! Good Lord!
They'll go out of their heads."

"You are pleased to be facetious, Alfred. I think I have had quite
enough of cowboys, and I haven't been here twenty-four hours."

"Don't think too much of first impressions. That was my mistake when I
arrived here. Good-by. I'll go now. Better rest awhile. You look tired."

The horse started as Alfred put his foot in the stirrup and was running
when the rider slipped his leg over the saddle. Madeline watched him in
admiration. He seemed to be loosely fitted to the saddle, moving with
the horse.

"I suppose that's a cowboy's style. It pleases me," she said. "How
different from the seat of Eastern riders!"

Then Madeline sat upon the porch and fell to interested observation of
her surrounding. Near at hand it was decidedly not prepossessing. The
street was deep in dust, and the cool wind whipped up little puffs. The
houses along this street were all low, square, flat-roofed structures
made of some kind of red cement. It occurred to her suddenly that this
building-material must be the adobe she had read about. There was no
person in sight. The long street appeared to have no end, though the
line of houses did not extend far. Once she heard a horse trotting at
some distance, and several times the ringing of a locomotive bell. Where
were the mountains, wondered Madeline. Soon low over the house-roofs she
saw a dim, dark-blue, rugged outline. It seemed to charm her eyes and
fix her gaze. She knew the Adirondacks, she had seen the Alps from the
summit of Mont Blanc, and had stood under the great black, white-tipped
shadow of the Himalayas. But they had not drawn her as these remote
Rockies. This dim horizon line boldly cutting the blue sky fascinated
her. Florence Kingsley's expression "beckoning mountains" returned to
Madeline. She could not see or feel so much as that. Her impression was
rather that these mountains were aloof, unattainable, that if approached
they would recede or vanish like the desert mirage.

Madeline went to her room, intending to rest awhile, and she fell
asleep. She was aroused by Florence's knock and call.

"Miss Hammond, your brother has come back with Stillwell."

"Why, how I have slept!" exclaimed Madeline. "It's nearly six o'clock."

"I'm sure glad. You were tired. And the air here makes strangers sleepy.
Come, we want you to meet old Bill. He calls himself the last of the
cattlemen. He has lived in Texas and here all his life."

Madeline accompanied Florence to the porch. Her brother, who was sitting
near the door, jumped up and said:

"Hello, Majesty!" And as he put his arm around her he turned toward a
massive man whose broad, craggy face began to ripple and wrinkle. "I
want to introduce my friend Stillwell to you. Bill, this is my sister,
the sister I've so often told you about--Majesty."

"Wal, wal, Al, this's the proudest meetin' of my life," replied
Stillwell, in a booming voice. He extended a huge hand. "Miss--Miss
Majesty, sight of you is as welcome as the rain an' the flowers to an
old desert cattleman."

Madeline greeted him, and it was all she could do to repress a cry
at the way he crunched her hand in a grasp of iron. He was old,
white-haired, weather-beaten, with long furrows down his checks and with
gray eyes almost hidden in wrinkles. If he was smiling she fancied it a
most extraordinary smile. The next instant she realized that it had been
a smile, for his face appeared to stop rippling, the light died, and
suddenly it was like rudely chiseled stone. The quality of hardness she
had seen in Stewart was immeasurably intensified in this old man's face.

"Miss Majesty, it's plumb humiliatin' to all of us thet we wasn't on
hand to meet you," Stillwell said. "Me an' Al stepped into the P. O.
an' said a few mild an' cheerful things. Them messages ought to hev been
sent out to the ranch. I'm sure afraid it was a bit unpleasant fer you
last night at the station."

"I was rather anxious at first and perhaps frightened," replied
Madeline.

"Wal, I'm some glad to tell you thet there's no man in these parts
except your brother thet I'd as lief hev met you as Gene Stewart."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, an' thet's takin' into consideration Gene's weakness, too. I'm
allus fond of sayin' of myself thet I'm the last of the old cattlemen.
Wal, Stewart's not a native Westerner, but he's my pick of the last of
the cowboys. Sure, he's young, but he's the last of the old style--the
picturesque--an' chivalrous, too, I make bold to say, Miss Majesty, as
well as the old hard-ridin' kind. Folks are down on Stewart. An' I'm
only sayin' a good word for him because he is down, an' mebbe last night
he might hev scared you, you bein' fresh from the East."

Madeline liked the old fellow for his loyalty to the cowboy he evidently
cared for; but as there did not seem anything for her to say, she
remained silent.

"Miss Majesty, the day of the cattleman is about over. An' the day of
the cowboy, such as Gene Stewart, is over. There's no place for Gene. If
these weren't modern days he'd come near bein' a gun-man, same as we
had in Texas, when I ranched there in the 'seventies. But he can't fit
nowhere now; he can't hold a job, an' he's goin' down."

"I am sorry to hear it," murmured Madeline. "But, Mr. Stillwell, aren't
these modern days out here just a little wild--yet? The conductor on
my train told me of rebels, bandits, raiders. Then I have had other
impressions of--well, that were wild enough for me."

"Wal, it's some more pleasant an' excitin' these days than for many
years," replied Stillwell. "The boys hev took to packin' guns again. But
thet's owin' to the revolution in Mexico. There's goin' to be trouble
along the border. I reckon people in the East don't know there is a
revolution. Wal, Madero will oust Diaz, an' then some other rebel will
oust Madero. It means trouble on the border an' across the border, too.
I wouldn't wonder if Uncle Sam hed to get a hand in the game. There's
already been holdups on the railroads an' raids along the Rio Grande
Valley. An' these little towns are full of Greasers, all disturbed by
the fightin' down in Mexico. We've been hevin' shootin'-scrapes an'
knifin'-scrapes, an' some cattle-raidin'. I hev been losin' a few cattle
right along. Reminds me of old times; an' pretty soon if it doesn't
stop, I'll take the old-time way to stop it."

"Yes, indeed, Majesty," put in Alfred, "you have hit upon an interesting
time to visit us."

"Wal, thet sure 'pears to be so," rejoined Stillwell. "Stewart got in
trouble down heah to-day, an' I'm more than sorry to hev to tell you
thet your name figgered in it. But I couldn't blame him, fer I sure
would hev done the same myself."

"That so?" queried Alfred, laughing. "Well, tell us about it."

Madeline simply gazed at her brother, and, though he seemed amused at
her consternation, there was mortification in his face.

It required no great perspicuity, Madeline thought, to see that
Stillwell loved to talk, and the way he squared himself and spread his
huge hands over his knees suggested that he meant to do this opportunity
justice.

"Miss Majesty, I reckon, bein' as you're in the West now, thet you must
take things as they come, an' mind each thing a little less than the one
before. If we old fellers hedn't been thet way we'd never hev lasted.

"Last night wasn't particular bad, ratin' with some other nights lately.
There wasn't much doin'. But, I had a hard knock. Yesterday when we
started in with a bunch of cattle I sent one of my cowboys, Danny Mains,
along ahead, carryin' money I hed to pay off hands an' my bills, an' I
wanted thet money to get in town before dark. Wal, Danny was held up.
I don't distrust the lad. There's been strange Greasers in town lately,
an' mebbe they knew about the money comin'.

"Wal, when I arrived with the cattle I was some put to it to make ends
meet. An' to-day I wasn't in no angelic humor. When I hed my business
all done I went around pokin' my nose beak an' there, tryin' to get
scent of thet money. An' I happened in at a hall we hev thet does duty
fer' jail an' hospital an' election-post an' what not. Wal, just then
it was doin' duty as a hospital. Last night was fiesta night--these
Greasers hev a fiesta every week or so--an' one Greaser who hed been bad
hurt was layin' in the hall, where he hed been fetched from the station.
Somebody hed sent off to Douglas fer a doctor, but be hedn't come yet.
I've hed some experience with gunshot wounds, an' I looked this
feller over. He wasn't shot up much, but I thought there was danger of
blood-poison-in'. Anyway, I did all I could.

"The hall was full of cowboys, ranchers, Greasers, miners, an' town
folks, along with some strangers. I was about to get started up this way
when Pat Hawe come in.

"Pat he's the sheriff. I reckon, Miss Majesty, thet sheriffs are new to
you, an' fer sake of the West I'll explain to you thet we don't hev many
of the real thing any more. Garrett, who killed Billy the Kid an' was
killed himself near a year or so ago--he was the kind of sheriff thet
helps to make a self-respectin' country. But this Pat Hawe--wal, I
reckon there's no good in me sayin' what I think of him. He come into
the hall, an' he was roarin' about things. He was goin' to arrest Danny
Mains on sight. Wal, I jest polite-like told Pat thet the money was mine
an' he needn't get riled about it. An' if I wanted to trail the thief
I reckon I could do it as well as anybody. Pat howled thet law was law,
an' he was goin' to lay down the law. Sure it 'peared to me thet Pat was
daid set to arrest the first man he could find excuse to.

"Then he cooled down a bit an' was askin' questions about the wounded
Greaser when Gene Stewart come in. Whenever Pat an' Gene come together
it reminds me of the early days back in the 'seventies. Jest naturally
everybody shut up. Fer Pat hates Gene, an' I reckon Gene ain't very
sweet on Pat. They're jest natural foes in the first place, an' then the
course of events here in El Cajon has been aggravatin'.

"'Hello, Stewart! You're the feller I'm lookin' fer,' said Pat.

"Stewart eyed him an' said, mighty cool an' sarcastic, 'Hawe, you look a
good deal fer me when I'm hittin' up the dust the other way.'

"Pat went red at thet, but he held in. 'Say, Stewart, you-all think a
lot of thet roan horse of yourn, with the aristocratic name?'

"'I reckon I do,' replied Gene, shortly.

"'Wal, where is he?'

"'Thet's none of your business, Hawe.'

"'Oho! it ain't, hey? Wal, I guess I can make it my business. Stewart,
there was some queer goings-on last night thet you know somethin' about.
Danny Mains robbed--Stillwell's money gone--your roan horse gone--thet
little hussy Bonita gone--an' this Greaser near gone, too. Now, seein'
thet you was up late an' prowlin' round the station where this Greaser
was found, it ain't onreasonable to think you might know how he got
plugged--is it?'

"Stewart laughed kind of cold, an' he rolled a cigarette, all the time
eyin' Pat, an' then he said if he'd plugged the Greaser it 'd never hev
been sich a bunglin' job.

"'I can arrest you on suspicion, Stewart, but before I go thet far
I want some evidence. I want to round up Danny Mains an' thet little
Greaser girl. I want to find out what's become of your hoss. You've
never lent him since you hed him, an' there ain't enough raiders across
the border to steal him from you. It's got a queer look--thet hoss bein'
gone.'

"'You sure are a swell detective, Hawe, an' I wish you a heap of luck,'
replied Stewart.

"Thet 'peared to nettle Pat beyond bounds, an' he stamped around an'
swore. Then he had an idea. It jest stuck out all over him, an' he shook
his finger in Stewart's face.

"'You was drunk last night?'

"Stewart never batted an eye.

"'You met some woman on Number Eight, didn't you?' shouted Hawe.

"'I met a lady,' replied Stewart, quiet an' menacin' like.

"'You met Al Hammond's sister, an' you took her up to Kingsley's. An'
cinch this, my cowboy cavalier, I'm goin' up there an' ask this grand
dame some questions, an' if she's as close-mouthed as you are I'll
arrest her!'

"Gene Stewart turned white. I fer one expected to see him jump like
lightnin', as he does when he's riled sudden. But he was calm an' he was
thinkin' hard. Presently he said:

"'Pat, thet's a fool idee, an' if you do the trick it'll hurt you all
the rest of your life. There's absolutely no reason to frighten Miss
Hammond. An' tryin' to arrest her would be such a damned outrage as
won't be stood fer in El Cajon. If you're sore on me send me to jail.
I'll go. If you want to hurt Al Hammond, go an' do it some man kind of
way. Don't take your spite out on us by insultin' a lady who has come
hyar to hev a little visit. We're bad enough without bein' low-down as
Greasers.'

"It was a long talk for Gene, an' I was as surprised as the rest of the
fellers. Think of Gene Stewart talkin' soft an' sweet to thet red-eyed
coyote of a sheriff! An' Pat, he looked so devilishly gleeful thet
if somethin' about Gene hedn't held me tight I'd hev got in the game
my-self. It was plain to me an' others who spoke of it afterwards thet
Pat Hawe hed forgotten the law an' the officer in the man an' his hate.

"'I'm a-goin', an' I'm a-goin' right now!' he shouted. "An' after thet
any one could hev heerd a clock tick a mile off. Stewart seemed kind
of chokin', an' he seemed to hev been bewildered by the idee of Hawe's
confrontin' you.

"An' finally he burst out: 'But, man, think who it is! It's Miss
Hammond! If you seen her, even if you was locoed or drunk, you--you
couldn't do it.'

"'Couldn't I? Wal, I'll show you damn quick. What do I care who she is?
Them swell Eastern women--I've heerd of them. They're not so much. This
Hammond woman--'

"Suddenly Hawe shut up, an' with his red mug turnin' green he went for
his gun."

Stillwell paused in his narrative to get breath, and he wiped his moist
brow. And now his face began to lose its cragginess. It changed, it
softened, it rippled and wrinkled, and all that strange mobility focused
and shone in a wonderful smile.

"An' then, Miss Majesty, then there was somethin' happened. Stewart took
Pat's gun away from him and throwed it on the floor. An' what followed
was beautiful. Sure it was the beautifulest sight I ever seen. Only it
was over so soon! A little while after, when the doctor came, he hed
another patient besides the wounded Greaser, an' he said thet this new
one would require about four months to be up an' around cheerful-like
again. An' Gene Stewart hed hit the trail for the border."





Next: A Ride From Sunrise To Sunset

Previous: A Secret Kept



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