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The Fight








From: 'firebrand' Trevison

"The boss is sure a she-wolf at playin' a lone hand," growled Barkwell,
shortly after dusk, to Jud Weaver, the straw boss. "Seems he thinks his
friends is delicate ornaments which any use would bust to smithereens.
Here's his outfit layin' around, bitin' their finger nails with ongwee an'
pinin' away to slivers yearnin' to get into the big meal-lee, an' him
racin' an' tearin' around the country fightin' it out by his lonesome. I
call it rank selfishness!"

"He sure ought to have give us a chancst to claw the hair outen that
damned Corrigan feller!" complained Weaver. "In some ways, though, I'm
sorta glad the damned mine was blew up. 'Firebrand' would have sure got
a-hold of her some day, an' then we'd be clawin' at the bowels of the
earth instid of galivantin' around on our cayuses like gentlemen. I reckon
things is all for the best."

The two had come in from the river range ostensibly to confer with
Trevison regarding their work, but in reality to satisfy their curiosity
over Trevison's movements. There was a deep current of concern for him
under their accusations.

They had found the ranchhouse dark and deserted. But the office door was
open and they had entered, prepared supper, ate with a more than ordinary
mingling of conversation with their food, and not lighting the lamps had
gone out on the gallery for a smoke.

"He ain't done any sleepin' to amount to much in the last forty-eight
hours, to my knowin'," remarked Barkwell; "unless he's done his sleepin'
on the run--an' that ain't in no ways a comfortable way. He's sure to be
driftin' in here, soon."

"This here country's goin' to hell, certain!" declared Weaver, after an
hour of silence. "She's gettin' too eastern an' flighty. Railroads an'
dams an' hotels with bath tubs for every six or seven rooms, an'
resterawnts with filleedegree palms an' leather chairs an' slick eats is
eatin' the gizzard outen her. Railroads is all right in their place--which
is where folks ain't got no cayuses to fork an' therefore has to hoof
it--or--or ride the damn railroad."

"Correct!" agreed Barkwell; "she's a-goin' the way Rome went--an
Babylone--an' Cincinnati--after I left. She runs to a pussy-cafe
aristocracy--an' napkins."

"She'll be plumb ruined--follerin' them foreign styles. The Uhmerican
people ain't got no right to adopt none of them new-fangled notions."
Weaver stared glumly into the darkening plains.

They aired their discontent long. Directed at the town it relieved the
pressure of their resentment over Trevison's habit of depending upon
himself. For, secretly, both were interested admirers of Manti's growing
importance.

Time was measured by their desires. Sometime before midnight Barkwell got
up, yawned and stretched.

"Sleep suits me. If 'Firebrand' ain't reckonin' on a guardian, I ain't
surprisin' him none. He's mighty close-mouthed about his doin's, anyway."

"You're shoutin'. I ain't never seen a man any stingier about hidin' away
his doin's. He just nacherly hawgs all the trouble."

Weaver got up and sauntered to the far end of the gallery, leaning far out
to look toward Manti. His sharp exclamation brought Barkwell leaping to
his side, and they both watched in perplexity a faint glow in the sky in
the direction of the town. It died down as they watched.

"Fire--looks like," Weaver growled. "We're always too late to horn in on
any excitement."

"Uh, huh," grunted Barkwell. He was staring intently at the plains,
faintly discernable in the starlight. "There's horses out there, Jud!
Three or four, an' they're comin' like hell!"

They slipped off the gallery into the shadow of some trees, both
instinctively feeling of their holsters. Standing thus they waited.

The faint beat of hoofs came unmistakably to them. They grew louder,
drumming over the hard sand of the plains, and presently four dark figures
loomed out of the night and came plunging toward the gallery. They came to
a halt at the gallery edge, and were about to dismount when Barkwell's
voice, cold and truculent, issued from the shadow of the trees:

"What's eatin' you guys?"

There was a short, pregnant silence, and then one of the men laughed.

"Who are you?" He urged his horse forward. But he was brought to a quick
halt when Barkwell's voice came again:

"Talk from where you are!"

"That goes," laughed the man. "Trevison here?"

"What you wantin' of him?"

"Plenty. We're deputies. Trevison burned the courthouse and the bank
tonight--and killed Braman. We're after him."

"Well, he ain't here." Barkwell laughed. "Burned the courthouse, did he?
An' the bank? An' killed Braman? Well, you got to admit that's a pretty
good night's work. An' you're wantin' him!" Barkwell's voice leaped; he
spoke in short, snappy, metallic sentences that betrayed passion long
restrained, breaking his self-control. "You're deputies, eh? Corrigan's
whelps! Sneaks! Coyotes! Well, you slope--you hear? When I count three, I
down you! One! Two! Three!"

His six-shooter stabbed the darkness at the last word. And at his side
Weaver's pistol barked viciously. But the deputies had started at the word
"One," and though Barkwell, noting the scurrying of their horses, cut the
final words sharply, the four figures were vague and shadowy when the
first pistol shot smote the air. Not a report floated back to the ears of
the two men. They watched, with grim pouts on their lips, until the men
vanished in the star haze of the plains. Then Barkwell spoke, raucously:

"Well, we've broke in the game, Jud. We're Simon-pure outlaws--like our
boss. I got one of them scum--I seen him grab leather. We'll all get in,
now. They're after our boss, eh? Well, damn 'em, we'll show 'em! They's
eight of the boys on the south fork. You get 'em, bring 'em here an' get
rifles. I'll hit the breeze to the basin an' rustle the others!" He was
running at the last word, and presently two horses raced out of the corral
gates, clattered past the bunk-house and were swallowed in the vast, black
space.

Half an hour later the entire outfit--twenty men besides Barkwell and
Weaver--left the ranchhouse and spread, fan-wise, over the plains west of
Manti.

* * * * *

They lost all sense of time. Several of them had ridden to Manti, making a
round of the places that were still open, but had returned, with no word
of Trevison. Corrigan had claimed to have seen him. But then, a man told
his questioner, Corrigan claimed Trevison had choked the banker to death.
He could believe both claims, or neither. So far as the man himself was
concerned, he was not going to commit himself. But if Trevison had done
the job, he'd done it well. The seekers after information rode out of
Manti on the run. At some time after midnight the entire outfit was
grouped near Clay Levins' house.

They held a short conference, and then Barkwell rode forward and hammered
on the door of the cabin.

"We're wantin' Clay, ma'am," said Barkwell in answer to the scared inquiry
that filtered through the closed door. "It's the Diamond K outfit."

"What do you want him for?"

"We was thinkin' that mebbe he'd know where 'Firebrand' is. 'Firebrand' is
sort of lost, I reckon."

The door flew open and Mrs. Levins, like a pale ghost, appeared in the
opening. "Trevison and Clay left here tonight. I didn't look to see what
time. Oh, I hope nothing has happened to them!"

They quieted her fears and fled out into the plains again, charging
themselves with stupidity for not being more diplomatic in dealing with
Mrs. Levins. During the early hours of the morning they rode again to the
Diamond K ranchhouse, thinking that perhaps Trevison had slipped by them
and returned. But Trevison had not returned, and the outfit gathered in
the timber near the house in the faint light of the breaking dawn,
disgusted, their horses jaded.

"It's mighty hard work tryin' to be an outlaw in this damned dude-ridden
country," wailed the disappointed Weaver. "Outlaws usual have a den or a
cave or a mountain fastness, or somethin', anyhow--accordin' to all the
literchoor I've read on the subject. If 'Firebrand's' got one, he's mighty
bashful about mentionin' it."

"Oh, Lord!" exclaimed Barkwell, weakly. "My brains is sure ready for the
mourners! Where's 'Firebrand'? Why, where would you expect a man to be
that'd burned up a courthouse an' a bank an' salivated a banker? He'd be
hidin' out, wouldn't he, you mis'able box-head! Would he come driftin'
back to the home ranch, an' come out when them damn deputies come along,
bowin' an' scrapin' an' sayin': 'I'm here, gentlemen--I've been waitin'
for you to come an' try rope on me, so's you'd be sure to get a good fit!'
Would he? You're mighty right he--wouldn't! He'd be populatin' that old
pueblo that he's been tellin' me for years would make a good fort!" His
horse leaped as he drove the spurs in, cruelly, but at the distance of a
hundred yards he was not more than a few feet in advance of the
others--and they, disregarding the rules of the game--were trying to pass
him.

* * * * *

"There ain't a bit of sense of takin' any risk," objected Levins from the
security of the communal chamber, as Trevison peered cautiously around a
corner of the adobe house. "It'd be just the luck of one of them critters
if they'd pot you."

"I'm not thinking of offering myself as a target for them," the other
laughed. "They're still there," he added a minute later as he stepped into
the chamber. "Them shooting you as they did, without warning, seems to
indicate that they've orders to wipe us out, if possible. They're
deputies. I bumped into Corrigan right after I left the bank building, and
I suppose he has set them on us."

"I reckon so. Seems it ain't possible, though," Levins added, doubtfully.
"They was here before you come. Your Nigger horse ain't takin' no dust. I
reckon you didn't stop anywheres?"

"At the Bar B." Trevison made this admission with some embarrassment.

But Levins did not reproach him--he merely groaned, eloquently.

Trevison leaned against the opening of the chamber. His muscles ached; he
was in the grip of a mighty weariness. Nature was protesting against the
great strain that he had placed upon her. But his jaws set as he felt the
flesh of his legs quivering; he grinned the derisive grin of the fighter
whose will and courage outlast his physical strength. He felt a pulse of
contempt for himself, and mingling with it was a strange elation--the
thought that Rosalind Benham had strengthened his failing body, had
provided it with the fuel necessary to keep it going for hours yet--as it
must. He did not trust himself to yield to his passions as he stood
there--that might have caused him to grow reckless. He permitted the
weariness of his body to soothe his brain; over him stole a great calm. He
assured himself that he could throw it off any time.

But he had deceived himself. Nature had almost reached the limit of
effort, and the inevitable slow reaction was taking place. The tired body
could be forced on for a while yet, obeying the lethargic impulses of an
equally tired brain, but the break would come. At this moment he was
oppressed with a sense of the unreality of it all. The pueblo seemed like
an ancient city of his dreams; the adobe houses details of a weird
phantasmagoria; his adventures of the past forty-eight hours a succession
of wild imaginings which he now reviewed with a sort of detached interest,
as though he had watched them from afar.

The moonlight shone on him; he heard Levins exclaim sharply: "Your arm's
busted, ain't it?"

He started, swayed, and caught himself, laughing lowly, guiltily, for he
realized that he had almost fallen asleep, standing. He held the arm up to
the moonlight, examining it, dropping it with a deprecatory word. He
settled against the wall near the opening again.

"Hell!" declared Levins, anxiously, "you're all in!"

Trevison did not answer. He stole along the outside wall of the adobe
house and peered out into the plains. The men were still where they had
been when the shot had been fired, and the sight of them brought a cold
grin to his face. He backed away from the corner, dropped to his stomach
and wriggled his way back to the corner, shoving his rifle in front of
him. He aimed the weapon deliberately, and pulled the trigger. At the
flash a smothered cry floated up to him, and he drew back, the thud of
bullets against the adobe walls accompanying him.

"That leaves seven, Levins," he said grimly. "Looks like my trip to Santa
Fe is off, eh?" he laughed. "Well, I've always had a yearning to be
besieged, and I'll make it mighty interesting for those fellows. Do you
think you can cover that slope, so they can't get up there while I'm
reconnoitering? It would be certain death for me to stick my head around
that corner again."

At Levins' emphatic affirmative he was helped to the shelter of a recess,
from where he had a view of the slope, though himself protected by a
corner of one of the houses; placed a rifle in the wounded man's hands,
and carrying his own, vanished into one of the dark passages that weaved
through the pueblo.

He went only a short distance. Emerging from an opening in one of the
adobe houses he saw a parapet wall, sadly crumpled in spots, facing the
plains, and he dropped to his hands and knees and crept toward it,
secreting himself behind it and prodding the wall cautiously with the
barrel of his rifle until he found a joint in the stone work where the
adobe mud was rotted. He poked the muzzle of the rifle through the
crevice, took careful aim, and had the satisfaction of hearing a savage
curse in the instant following the flash. He threw himself flat
immediately, listening to the spatter and whine of the bullets of the
volley that greeted his shot. They kept it up long--but when there was a
momentary cessation he crept back to the entrance of the adobe house,
entered, followed another passage and came out on the ledge farther along
the side of the pueblo. He halted in a dense shadow and looked toward the
spot where the men had been. They had vanished.

There was nothing to do but to wait, and he sank behind a huge block of
stone in an angle of the ledge, noting with satisfaction that he could see
the slope that he had set Levins to guard.

"I'm the boss of this fort if I don't go to sleep," he told himself grimly
as he stretched out. He lay there, watching, while the moonlight faded,
while a gray streak in the east slowly widened, presaging the dawn.
Stretched flat, his aching muscles welcoming the support of the cool stone
of the ledge, he had to fight off the drowsiness that assailed him.

An hour dragged by. He knew the deputies were watching, no doubt having
separated to conceal themselves behind convenient boulders that dotted the
plains at the foot of the slope. Or perhaps while he had been in the
passages of the pueblo, changing his position, some of them might have
stolen to the numerous crags and outcroppings of rock at the base of the
pueblo. They might now be massing for a rush up the slope. But he doubted
they would risk the latter move, for they knew that he must be on the
alert, and they had cause to fear his rifle.

Once he rested his head on his extended right arm, and the contact was so
agreeable that he allowed it to remain there--long. He caught himself in
time; in another second he would have been too late. He saw the figure of
a man on the slope a foot or two below the crest. He was flat on his
stomach, no doubt having crept there during the minutes that Trevison had
been enjoying his rest, and at the instant Trevison saw him he was raising
his rifle, directing it at the recess where Levins had been left, on
guard.

Trevison was wide awake now, and his marksmanship as deadly as ever. He
waited until the man's rifle came to a level. Then his own weapon spat
viciously. The man rose to his knees, reeling. Another rifle cracked--from
the recess where Levins was concealed, this time--and the man sank to the
dust of the slope, rolling over and over until he reached the bottom,
where he stretched out and lay prone. There was a shout of rage from a
section of rock-strewn level near the foot of the slope, and Trevison's
lips curled with satisfaction. The second shot had told him that a fear he
had entertained momentarily was unfounded--Levins was apparently quite
alive.

He raised himself cautiously, backed away from the rock behind which he
had been concealed, and wheeled, intending to join Levins. A faint sound
reached his ears from the plains, and he faced around again, to see a
group of horsemen riding toward the pueblo. They were coming fast, racing
ahead of a dust cloud, and were perhaps a quarter of a mile distant. But
Trevison knew them, and stepped boldly out to the edge of the stone ledge
waving his hat to them, laughing full-throatedly, his voice vibrating a
little as he spoke:

"Good old Barkwell!"

* * * * *

"That's him!"

Barkwell pulled his horse to a sliding halt as he saw the figure on the
pueblo, outlined distinctly in the clear white light of the dawn.

"He's all right!" he declared to the others as they followed his example
and drew their beasts down. "Them's some of the scum that's been after
him," he added as several horsemen swept around the far side of the
pueblo. "It was them we heard shootin'." The outfit sat silent on their
horses and watched the men ride over the plains toward another group of
horsemen that the Diamond K men had observed some time before riding
toward the pueblo,

"Yep!" Barkwell said, now; "that other bunch is deputies, too. It's mighty
plain. This bunch rounded up 'Firebrand' an' sent some one back for
reinforcements." He swept the Diamond K outfit with a snarling smile.
"They're goin' to need 'em, too! I reckon we'd better wait for them to
play their hand. It's about a stand off in numbers. We don't stand no
slack, boys. We're outlawed already, from the ruckus of last night, an' if
they start anything we've got to wipe 'em out! You heard 'em shootin' at
the boss, an' they ain't no pussy-kitten bunch! I'll do the gassin'--if
there's any to be done--an' when I draw, you guys do your damnedest!"

The outfit set itself to wait. Over on the edge of the pueblo they could
see Trevison. He was bending over something, and when they saw him stoop
and lift the object, heaving it to his shoulder and walking away with it,
a sullen murmur ran over the outfit, and lips grew stiff and white with
rage.

"It's Clay Levins, boys!" said Barkwell. "They've plugged him! Do you
reckon we've got to go back to Levins' shack an' tell his wife that we let
them skunks get away after makin' orphants of her kids?"

"I'm jumpin'!" shrieked Jud Weaver, his voice coming chokingly with
passion. "I ain't waitin' one damned minute for any palaver! Either them
deputies is wiped out, or I am!" He dug the spurs into his horse, drawing
his six-shooter as the animal leaped.

Weaver's horse led the outfit by only three or four jumps, and they swept
over the level like a devastating cyclone, the spiral dust cloud that rose
behind them following them lazily, sucked along by the wind of their
passing.

The group of deputies had halted; they were sitting tense and silent in
their saddles when the Diamond K outfit came up, slowing down as they drew
nearer, and halting within ten feet of the others, spreading out in a
crude semi-circle, so that each man had an unobstructed view of the
deputies.

Barkwell had no chance to talk. Before he could get his breath after
pulling his horse down, Weaver, his six-shooter in hand, its muzzle
directed fairly at Gieger, who was slightly in advance of his men, fumed
forth:

"What in hell do you-all mean by tryin' to herd-ride our boss? Talk fast,
you eagle-beaked turkey buzzard, or I salivates you rapid!"

The situation was one of intense delicacy. Gieger might have averted the
threatening clash with a judicious use of soft, placating speech. But it
pleased him to bluster.

"We are deputies, acting under orders from the court. We are after a
murderer, and we mean to get him!" he said, coldly.

"Deputies! Hell!" Barkwell's voice rose, sharply scornful and mocking.
"Deputies! Crooks! Gun-fighters! Pluguglies!" His eyes, bright, alert,
gleaming like a bird's, were roving over the faces in the group of
deputies. "A damn fine bunch of guys to represent the law! There's Dakota
Dick, there! Tinhorn, rustler! There's Red Classen! Stage robber! An'
Pepper Ridgely, a plain, ornery thief! An' Kid Dorgan, a sneakin' killer!
An' Buff Keller, an' Andy Watts, an' Pig Mugley, an'--oh, hell! Deputies!
Law!----Ah--hah!"

One of the men had reached for his holster. Weaver's gun barked twice and
the man pitched limply forward to his horse's neck. Other weapons flashed;
the calm of the early morning was rent by the hoarse, guttural cries of
men in the grip of the blood-lust, the sustained and venomous popping of
pistols, the queer, sodden impact of lead against flesh, the terror-snorts
of horses, and the grunts of men, falling heavily.

* * * * *

A big man in khaki, loping his horse up the slope of an arroyo half a mile
distant, started at the sound of the first shot and raced over the crest.
He pulled the horse to an abrupt halt as his gaze swept the plains in
front of him. He saw riderless horses running frantically away from a
smoking blot, he saw the blot streaked with level, white smoke-spurts that
ballooned upward quickly; he heard the dull, flat reports that followed
the smoke-spurts.

It seemed to be over in an instant. The blot split up, galloping horses
and yelling men burst out of it. The big man had reached the crest of the
arroyo at the critical second in which the balance of victory wavers
uncertainly. With thrusting chin, lips in a hideous pout, and with sullen,
blazing eyes, he watched the battle go against him. Fifteen cowboys--he
counted them, deliberately, coldly, despite the rage-mania that had seized
him--were spurring after eight other men whom he knew for his own. As he
watched he saw two of these tumble from their horses. And at a distance he
saw the loops of ropes swing out to enmesh four more--who were thrown and
dragged; he watched darkly as the remaining two raised their hands above
their heads. Then his lips came out of their pout and were wreathed in a
bitter snarl.

"Licked!" he muttered. "Twelve put out of business. But there's thirty
more--if the damn fools have come in to town! That's two to one!" He
laughed, wheeled his horse toward Manti, rode a few feet down the slope of
the arroyo, halted and sat motionless in the saddle, looking back. He
smiled with cold satisfaction. "Lucky for me that cinch strap broke," he
said.

* * * * *

Trevison was placing Levins' limp form across the saddle on Nigger's back
when the faint morning breeze bore to his ears the report of Weaver's
pistol. A rattling volley followed the first report, and Trevison led
Nigger close to the edge of the ledge in time to observe the battle as
Corrigan had seen it. He hurried Nigger down the slope, but he had to be
careful with his burden. Reaching the level he lifted Levins off, laid him
gently on the top of a huge flat rock, and then leaped into the saddle and
sent Nigger tearing over the plains toward the scene of the battle.

It was over when he arrived. A dozen men were lying in the tall grass.
Some were groaning, writhing; others were quiet and motionless. Four or
five of them were arrayed in chaps. His lips grimmed as his gaze swept
them. He dismounted and went to them, one after another. He stooped long
over one.

"They've got Weaver," he heard a voice say. And he started and looked
around, and seeing no one near, knew it was his own voice that he heard.
It was dry and light--as a man's voice might be who has run far and fast.
He stood for a while, looking down at Weaver. His brain was reeling, as it
had reeled over on the ledge of the pueblo a few minutes before, when he
had discovered a certain thing. It was not a weakness; it was a surge of
reviving rage, an accession of passion that made his head swim with its
potency, made his muscles swell with a strength that he had not known for
many hours. Never in his life had he felt more like crying. His emotions
seared his soul as a white-hot iron sears the flesh; they burned into him,
scorching his pity and his impulses of mercy, withering them, blighting
them. He heard himself whining sibilantly, as he had heard boys whine when
fighting, with eagerness and lust for blows. It was the insensate, raging
fury of the fight-madness that had gripped him, and he suddenly yielded to
it and raised his head, laughing harshly, with panting, labored breath.

Barkwell rode up to him, speaking hoarsely: "We come pretty near wipin'
'em out, 'Firebrand!'"

He looked up at his foreman, and the latter's face blanched. "God!" he
said. He whispered to a cowboy who had joined him: "The boss is pretty
near loco--looks like!"

"They've killed Weaver," muttered Trevison. "He's here. They killed Clay,
too--he's down on a rock near the slope." He laughed, and tightened his
belt. The record book which he had carried in his waistband all along
interfered with this work, and he drew it out, throwing it from him. "Clay
was worth a thousand of them!"

Barkwell got down and seized the book, watching Trevison closely.

"Look here, Boss," he said, as Trevison ran to his horse and threw himself
into the saddle; "you're bushed, mighty near--"

If Trevison heard his first words he had paid no attention to them. He
could not have heard the last words, for Nigger had lunged forward,
running with great, long, catlike leaps in the direction of Manti.

"Good God!" yelled Barkwell to some of the men who had ridden up; "the
damn fool is goin' to town! They'll salivate him, sure as hell! Some of
you stay here--two's enough! The rest of you come along with me!"

They were after Trevison within a few seconds, but the black horse was far
ahead, running without hitch or stumble, as straight toward Manti as his
willing muscles and his loyal heart could take him.

* * * * *

Corrigan had seen the black bolt that had rushed toward him out of the
spot where the blot had been. He cursed hoarsely and drove the spurs deep
into the flanks of his horse, and the animal, squealing with pain and
fury, leaped down the side of the arroyo, crossed the bottom in two or
three bounds and stretched away toward Manti.

A cold fear had seized the big man's heart. It made a sweat break out on
his forehead, it caused his hand to tremble as he flung it around to his
hip in search of his pistol. He tried to shake the feeling off, but it
clung insistently to him, making him catch his breath. His horse was big,
rangy, and strong, but he forced it to such a pace during the first mile
of the ride that he could feel its muscles quivering under the saddle
skirts. And he looked back at the end of the mile, to see the black horse
at about the same distance from him; possibly the distance had been
shortened. It seemed to Corrigan that he had never seen a horse that
traveled as smoothly and evenly as the big black, or that ran with as
little effort. He began to loathe the black with an intensity equaled only
by that which he felt for his rider.

He held his lead for another mile. Glancing back a little later he noted
with a quickening pulse that the distance had been shortened by several
hundred feet, and that the black seemed to be traveling with as little
effort as ever. Also, for the first time, Corrigan noticed the presence of
other riders, behind Trevison. They were topping a slight rise at the
instant he glanced back, and were at least a mile behind his pursuer.

At first, mingled with his fear, Corrigan had felt a slight disgust for
himself in yielding to his sudden panic. He had never been in the habit of
running. He had been as proud of his courage as he had been of his
cleverness and his keenness in planning and plotting. It had been his
mental boast that in every crisis his nerve was coldest. But now he nursed
a vagrant, furtive hope that waiting for him at Manti would be some of
those men whom he had hired at his own expense to impersonate deputies.
The presence of the hope was as inexplicable as the fear that had set him
to running from Trevison. Two or three weeks ago he would have faced both
Trevison and his men and brazened it out. But of late a growing dread of
the man had seized him. Never before had he met a man who refused to be
beaten, or who had fought him as recklessly and relentlessly.

He jeered at himself as he rode, telling himself that when Trevison got
near enough he would stand and have it out with him--for he knew that the
fight had narrowed down between them until it was as Trevison had said,
man to man--but as he rode his breath came faster, his backward glances
grew more frequent and fearful, and the cold sweat on his forehead grew
clammy. Fear, naked and shameful, had seized him.

* * * * *

Behind him, lean, gaunt, haggard; seeing nothing but the big man ahead of
him, feeling nothing but an insane desire to maim or slay him, rode a man
who in forty-eight hours had been transformed from a frank, guileless,
plain-speaking human, to a rage-drunken savage--a monomaniac who, as he
leaned over Nigger's mane, whispered and whined and mewed, as his
forebears, in some tropical jungle, voiced their passions when they set
forth to slay those who had sought to despoil them.





Next: The Dregs

Previous: The Ashes



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