A War Of Wits





"Kidnaped? Gordon Wade?"



At Dorothy's announcement, Mrs. Purnell sank, with a gasp, into her

rocking-chair, astonished beyond expression. She listened, with anxiety

scarce less than her daughter's, to the girl's account of the event as

she had it from Trowbridge. Her mouth opened and shut aimlessly as she

picked at her gingham apron. If Wade had been her own son, she could

hardly have loved him more. He had been as tender to her as a son, and

the news of his disappearance and probable injury was a frightful shock.



Weakly she attempted to relieve her own anxiety by disputing the fact of

his danger.



"Oh, I guess nothing's happened to him--nothing like that, anyway. He

may have had a fall from his horse. Or maybe it broke away from him and

ran off."



"Bill Santry found their trail," Dorothy said, with a gesture so tragic

that it wrung her mother's heart strings. "He followed it as far as he

could, then lost it." In any other case she would have tried to keep the

bad news from her mother, because of her nerves, but just now the girl

was too distraught to think of any one but the man she loved. "Oh, if I

could only do something myself," she burst out. "It's staying here,

helpless, that is killing me. I wish I'd gone with Lem up into the

mountains. I would have if he hadn't said I might better stay in town.

But how can I help? There's nothing to do here."



"The idea!" Mrs. Purnell exclaimed. "They'll be out all night. How could

you have gone with them? I don't believe Gordon has been kidnaped at

all. It's a false alarm, I tell you. Who could have done such a thing?"



"Who?" The question broke Dorothy's patience. "Who's done everything

that's abominable and contemptible lately here in Crawling Water? That

Moran did it, of course, with Senator Rexhill behind him. Oh!"



"Nonsense!" said her mother, indignantly.



"Lem Trowbridge thinks so. Nearly everybody does."



"Then he hasn't as good sense as I thought he had." Mrs. Purnell arose

and moved toward the kitchen. "You come on and help me make some waffles

for supper. Perhaps that will take such foolishness out of your head.

The idea of a Senator of the United States going about kidnaping

people."



Dorothy obeyed her mother's wish, but not very ably. Her face was

flushed and her eyes hot; ordinarily she was a splendid housekeeper and

a dutiful daughter, but there are limits to human endurance. She mixed

the batter so clumsily and with such prodigal waste that her mother had

to stop her, and she was about to put salt into the sugar bowl when

Mrs. Purnell snatched it out of her hands. "Go into the dining-room and

sit down, Dorothy," she exclaimed. "You're beside yourself." It is

frequently the way with people, who are getting on in years and are

sick, to charge their own shortcomings on any one who may be near. Mrs.

Purnell was greatly worried.



"What's the matter now?" she demanded, when Dorothy left her supper

untasted on her plate.



"I was thinking."



"Well, can't you tell a body what you're thinking about? What are you

sitting there that way for?"



"I was wondering," said Dorothy in despair, "if Helen Rexhill knows

where Gordon is."



Mrs. Purnell snorted in disdain.



"Land's sakes, child, what put that into your head? Drink your tea.

It'll do you good."



"Why shouldn't she know, if her father does?" The girl pushed her

tea-cup farther away from her. "She wouldn't have come all the way out

here with him--he wouldn't have brought her with him--if they weren't

working together. She must know. But I don't see why...."



"Dorothy Purnell, I declare to goodness, I believe you're going crazy."

Mrs. Purnell dropped her fork. "All this about Gordon is bad enough

without my being worried so...."



"I'd even give him up to her, if she'd tell me that." Dorothy's voice

was unsteady, and she seemed to be talking to herself rather than to her

mother. "I know she thinks I've come between her and Gordon, but I

haven't meant to. He's just seemed to like me better; that's all. But

I'd do anything to save him from Moran."



"I should say that you might better wait until he asks you, before you

talk of giving him up to somebody." Mrs. Purnell spoke with the primness

that was to be expected, but her daughter made no reply. She had never

mentioned the night in Moran's office, and her mother knew nothing of

Wade's kiss. But to the girl it had meant more than any declaration in

words. She had kept her lips inviolate until that moment, and when his

kiss had fallen upon them it had fallen upon virgin soil, from out of

which had bloomed a white flower of passion. Before then she had looked

upon Wade as a warm friend, but since that night he had appeared to her

in another guise; that of a lover, who has come into his own. She had

met him then, a girl, and had left him a woman, and she felt that what

he had established as a fact in the one rare moment of his kiss,

belonged to him and her. It seemed so wholly theirs that she had not

been able to bring herself to discuss it with her mother. She had won it

fairly, and she treasured it. The thought of giving him up to Helen

Rexhill, of promising her never to see Wade again, was overwhelming, and

was to be considered only as a last resource, but there was no suffering

that she would not undertake for his sake.



Mrs. Purnell was as keenly alive as ever to the hope that the young

ranch owner might some day incline toward her little girl, but she was

sensitive also to the impression which the Rexhills had made upon her.

Her life with Mr. Purnell had not brought her many luxuries, and perhaps

she over-valued their importance. She thought Miss Rexhill a most

imposing young woman and she believed in the impeccability of the

well-to-do. Her heart was still warmed by the memory of the courtesy

with which she had been treated by the Senator's daughter, and was not

without the gratification of feeling that it had been a tribute to her

own worth. She had scolded Dorothy afterward for her frank speech to

Miss Rexhill at the hotel, and she felt that further slurs on her were

uncalled for.



"I'm sure that Miss Rexhill treated us as a lady should," she said

tartly. "She acted more like one than you did, if I do have to say it.

She was as kind and sweet as could be. She's got a tender heart. I could

see that when she up and gave me that blotter, just because I remarked

that it reminded me of your childhood."



"Oh, that old blotter!" Dorothy exclaimed petulantly. "What did it

amount to? You talk as though it were something worth having." She was

so seldom in a pet that her mother now strove to make allowance for her.



"I'm not saying that it's of any value, Dorothy, except to me; but it

was kind of her to seem to understand why I wanted it."



"It wasn't kind of her. She just did it to get rid of us, because we

bored her. Oh, mother, you're daffy about the Rexhills, why not admit it

and be done with it? You think they're perfect, but I tell you they're

not--they're not! They've been behind all our troubles here.

They've...." Her voice broke under the stress of her emotion and she

rose to her feet.



"Dorothy, if you have no self-respect, at least have some...."



"I won't have that blotter in the house." The strain was proving more

than the girl's nerves could stand. "I won't hear about it any longer.

I'm going to--to tear it up!"



"Dorothy!"



For all the good that Mrs. Purnell's tone of authority did, it might as

well have fallen upon the wind. She hastily followed her daughter, who

had rushed from the room, and overtook her just in time to prevent her

from destroying the little picture. Her own strength could not have

sufficed to deter the girl in her purpose, if the latter had not

realized in her heart the shameful way in which she was treating her

mother.



"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, child? Look in that glass at your face!

No wonder you don't think you look like the sweet child in the picture.

You don't look like her now, nor act like her. That was why I wanted the

blotter, to remind me of the way you used to look."



"I'm sorry, mother."



Blushing deeply as she recovered her self-control, Dorothy stole a

glance at her reflection in the looking-glass of the bureau, before

which she stood, and shyly contrasted her angry expression of

countenance with the sweet one of the child on the blotter. Suddenly

she started, and leaned toward the mirror, staring at something she saw

there. The blood seemed driven from the surface of her skin; her lips

were parted; her eyes dilated. She drew a swift breath of amazed

exultation, and turned to her mother, who had viewed the sudden

transformation with surprise.



"I'll be back soon, mother. I can't tell you what it is." Dorothy's

voice rang with the suggestion of victory. "But I've discovered

something, wonderful!"



Before Mrs. Purnell could adjust herself to this new mood, the girl was

down the stairs and running toward the little barn. Slipping the bridle

on her pony, she swung to its back without thought of a saddle, and

turned the willing creature into the street. As she passed the house,

she waved her hand to her mother, at the window, and vanished like a

specter into the night.



"Oh, hurry, Gypsy, hurry!" she breathed into the pony's twitching ear.



Her way was not far, for she was going first to the hotel, but that

other way, into the mountains after Gordon, would be a long journey, and

no time could be wasted now. She was going to see Helen Rexhill, not as

a suppliant bearing the olive branch, but as a champion to wage battle

in behalf of the missing ranchman. She no longer thought of giving him

up, and the knowledge that she might now keep the love which she had won

for her very own made her reel on the pony's back from pure joy. She was

his as he was hers, but the Rexhills were his enemies: she knew that

positively now, and she meant to defeat them at their own game. If they

would tell her where Gordon was, they might go free for all she cared;

if they would not, she would give them over to the vengeance of Crawling

Water, and she would not worry about what might happen to them.

Meanwhile she thanked her lucky stars that Trowbridge had promised to

keep a man at the big pine.



She tied her pony at the hitching-rack in front of the hotel and entered

the office. Like most of the men in the town, the proprietor was her

ardent admirer, but he had never seen her before in such radiant mood.

He took his cigar from between his lips, and doffed his Stetson hat,

which he wore indoors and out, with elaborate grace.



"Yes, Miss, Miss Rexhill's in, up in the parlor, I think. Would you like

me to step up and let her know you're here?"



"No, thank you, I'll go right up myself," said Dorothy; her smile doubly

charming because of its suggestion of triumph.



Miss Rexhill, entirely unaware of what was brewing for her, was

embroidering by the flickering light of one of the big oil lamps, with

her back to the doorway, and so did not immediately note Dorothy's

presence in the room. Her face flushed with annoyance and she arose,

when she recognized her visitor.



"You will please pardon me, but I do not care to receive you," she said

primly.



This beginning, natural enough from Helen's standpoint, after what her

father had told her in Moran's office, convinced Dorothy that she had

read the writing on the blotter correctly. She held her ground,

aggressively, between Miss Rexhill and the door.



"You must hear what I have to say to you," she declared quietly. "I have

not come here to make a social call."



"Isn't it enough for me to tell you that I do not wish to talk to you?"

Helen lifted her brows and shrugged her shoulders. "Surely, it should be

enough. Will you please stand aside so that I may go to my room?"



"No, I won't! You can't go until you've heard what I've got to say."

Stung by the other woman's contemptuous tone, and realizing that the

situation put her at a social disadvantage, Dorothy forced an aggressive

tone into her voice, ugly to the ear.



"Very well!" Miss Rexhill shrugged her shoulders disdainfully, and

resumed her seat. "We must not engage in a vulgar row. Since I must

listen to you, I must, but at least I need not talk to you, and I

won't."



"You know that Gordon Wade has disappeared?" Helen made no response to

this, and Dorothy bit her lip in anger. "I know that you know it," she

continued. "I know that you know where he is. Perhaps, however, you

don't know that his life is in danger. If you will tell me where he is,

I can save him. Will you tell me?" The low throaty note of suffering in

her voice brought a stiletto-like flash into the eyes of the other

woman, but no response.



"Miss Rexhill," Dorothy went on, after a short pause. "You and Mr. Wade

were friends once, if you are not now. Perhaps you don't realize just

how serious the situation is here in this town, where nearly everybody

likes him, and what would happen to you and your father, if I told what

I know about you. I don't believe he would want it to happen, even after

the way you've treated him. If you will only tell me...."



Helen turned abruptly in her chair, her face white with anger.



"I said that I would not talk to you," she burst out, "but your

impertinence is so--so insufferable--so absolutely insufferable, that I

must speak. You say you will tell people what you know about me. What do

you know about me?" She arose to face Dorothy, with blazing eyes.



"I am sure that you know where Gordon is."



"You are sure of nothing of the kind. I do not know where Mr. Wade is,

and why should I tell you if I did? Suppose I were to tell what I know

about you? I don't believe the whole of it is known in Crawling Water

yet. You--you must be insane."



"About me?" Dorothy's surprise was genuine. "There is nothing you could

tell any one about me."



Miss Rexhill laughed scornfully, a low, withering laugh that brought a

flush to the girl's cheeks, even though her conscience told her that she

had nothing to be ashamed of. Dorothy stared at the other woman with

wide-open, puzzled eyes, diverted for the moment from her own purpose.



"At least, you need not expect me to help you," Helen said acidulously.

"I have my own feelings. I respected Mr. Wade at one time and valued his

friendship. You have taken from me my respect for him, and you have

taken from him his self-respect. Quite likely you had no respect for

yourself, and so you had nothing to lose. But if you'll stop to

consider, you may see how impertinent you are to appeal to me so

brazenly."



"What are you talking about?" Dorothy's eyes, too, were blazing now, but

more in championship of Wade than of herself. She still did not fully

understand the drift of what Miss Rexhill had said.



"Really, you are almost amusing." Helen looked at her through

half-closed lids. "You are quite freakish. I suppose you must be a moral

degenerate, or something of the sort." She waited for the insult to sink

in, but Dorothy was fairly dazed and bewildered. "Do you want me to call

things by their true names?"



"Yes," answered Dorothy, "I do. Tell me what you are talking about."



"I don't mind, I'm sure. Plain speaking has never bothered me. It's the

deed that's horrible, not the name. You were found in Mr. Moran's office

with Mr. Wade, late at night, misbehaving yourself. Do you dare to come

now to me and...."



"That is not true!" The denial came from Dorothy with an intensity that

would have carried conviction to any person less infuriated than the

woman who faced her. "Oh!" Dorothy raised her hands to her throat as

though struggling for breath. "I never dreamed you meant that. It's a

deliberate lie!"



In the grip of their emotions, neither of the girls had noticed the

entrance of Senator Rexhill. Helen saw him first and dramatically

pointed to him.



"There is my father. Ask him!"



"I do not need to ask him what I've done." Dorothy felt as though she

would suffocate. "No one would believe that story of Gordon, whatever

they might think of me."



"Ask me? Ask me what?" the Senator nervously demanded. He had in his

pocket a telegram just received from Washington, stating that the

cavalry would be sent from Fort Mackenzie only at the request of the

Governor of Wyoming. The Governor was not at all likely to make such a

request, and Rexhill was more worried than he had been before, in years.

He could only hope that Tug Bailey would escape capture. "Who is this?"

He put on his glasses, and deliberately looked Dorothy over. "Oh, it's

the young woman whom Race found in his office."



"She has come here to plead for Gordon Wade--to demand that I tell her

where he is now. I don't know, of course; none of us know; but I

wouldn't tell her if I did." Helen spoke triumphantly.



"You had better leave us," Rexhill said brusquely to Dorothy. "You are

not wanted here. Go home!"



While they were talking, Dorothy had looked from one to the other with

the contempt which a good woman naturally feels when she is impugned.

Now she crossed the room and confronted the Senator.



"Did you tell your daughter that I was caught in your office with Gordon

Wade?" she demanded; and before her steady gaze Rexhill winced.



"You don't deny it, do you?" he blustered.



"I don't deny being there with him, and I won't deny anything else to

such a man as you. I'm too proud to. For your own sake, however, you

would have done better not to have tried to blacken me." She turned

swiftly to his daughter. "Perhaps you don't know all that I supposed you

did. We were in Moran's office--Mr. Wade and myself--because we felt

sure that your father had some criminal purpose here in Crawling Water.

We were right. We found papers showing the location of gold on Mr.

Wade's ranch, which showed your father's reasons for trying to seize the

land."



Helen laughed scornfully.



"Do you expect me to believe that?"



"No, of course not," her father growled. "Come on up to our rooms. Let

her preach here until she is put out." He was on his way to the door

when the vibrant command in Dorothy's voice halted him.



"Wait. You'd better listen to me, for it's the last chance you'll have.

I have you absolutely at my mercy. I've caught you! You are trapped!"

There was no doubting that the girl believed what she said, and the

Senator's affairs were in a sufficiently precarious state to bid him

pause.



"Nonsense!" He made his own tone as unconcerned as he could, but there

was a look of haunting dread in his eyes.



"Senator Rexhill,"--Dorothy's voice was low, but there was a quality in

it which thrilled her hearers,--"when my mother and I visited your

daughter a few days ago, she gave my mother a blotter. There was a

picture on it that reminded my mother of me as a child; that was why she

wanted it. It has been on my mother's bureau ever since. I never noticed

anything curious about it until this evening." She looked, with a quiet

smile at Helen. "Probably you forgot that you had just blotted a letter

with it."



Helen started and went pale, but not so pale as her father, who went so

chalk-white that the wrinkles in his skin looked like make-up, against

its pallor.



"I was holding that blotter before the looking-glass this evening,"

Dorothy continued, in the same low tone, "and I saw that the ink had

transferred to the blotter a part of what you had written. I read it. It

was this: 'Father knew Santry had not killed Jensen....'"



The Senator moistened his lips with his tongue and strove to chuckle,

but the effort was a failure. Helen, however, appeared much relieved.



"I remember now," she said, "and I am well repaid for my moment of

sentiment. I was writing to my mother and was telling her of a scene

that had just taken place between Mr. Wade and my father. I did not

write what you read; rather, it was not all that I wrote. I

said--'Gordon thought that father knew Santry had not killed Jensen.'"



"Have you posted that letter?" her father asked, repressing as well as

he could his show of eagerness.



"No. I thought better about sending it. I have it upstairs."



"If you hadn't it, of course you could write it again, in any shape you

chose," Dorothy observed crisply, though she recognized, plainly enough,

that the explanation was at least plausible.



"There is nothing in that," Rexhill declared, when he had taken a deep

breath of relief. "Your championship of Wade is running away with you.

What other--er!--grave charges have you to bring against me?"



"I have one that is much more grave," she retorted, so promptly that he

could not conceal a fresh start of uneasiness. "This morning, Mr.

Trowbridge and I were out for a ride. We rode over to the place where

Jensen was shot, and Mr. Trowbridge found there a cartridge shell which

fits only one gun in Crawling Water. That gun belongs to a man named Tug

Bailey."



By now Rexhill was thoroughly aroused, for although he was too good a

jurist not to see the flaws in so incomplete a fabric of evidence

against him, he was impressed with the influence such a story would

exert on public opinion. If possible, this girl's tongue must be

stopped.



"Pooh!" He made a fine show of indifference. "Why bring such tales to

me? You'd make a very poor lawyer, young woman, if you think that such

rumors will serve to impeach a man of my standing."



"There is a warrant out for Bailey," Dorothy went on quietly. "If he is

caught, and I choose to make public what I know and can guess, I am

sure that you will never reach a court. You underestimate the people

here. I would not have to prove what I have told you. I need only to

proclaim it, and--I don't know what they'd do to you. It makes me a bit

sick to think about it."



The thought made the Senator sick, too, for of late he had seen that

things were going very badly for him. He was prepared to temporize, but

there was no need for him to contemplate surrender, or flight, so long

as Bailey remained at large. If the man were captured, and there was

likelihood of a confession being wrung from him, then most decidedly

discretion would be the better part of valor.



"Oh, of course," he confessed, "I am willing to admit that in such a

community as this you might make trouble, unjustly, for me and my

daughter. I am anxious to avoid that, because my interests are valuable

here and I have my daughter's safety to consider."



"Don't think of me," Helen interposed quickly. Above all fear for

herself would be the shame of being beaten by Dorothy and of having her

triumph go to the making of Wade's happiness. The thought of that

appeared far worse to her mind than any physical suffering. "Do what you

think is right. We are not cowards."



"But I must think of you, my dear. I am responsible to your mother." He

turned to Dorothy again. "How much do you want?"



"How much? Oh!" She flushed hotly beneath the insult, but she chose to

ignore it. "There is only one price that will purchase my silence. Tell

me where Mr. Wade is?"



"Bless my soul, I don't know." The Senator affected a display of injured

innocence, which sat oddly upon his harried countenance. "I am willing

to do what I can to save trouble, but I can't do the impossible."



For a moment, in a wretched slough of helplessness, Dorothy found her

conviction wavering. Could it really be possible that he was speaking

the truth; that he did not know? But with the dreadful thought came also

the realization that she must not let him fathom her mind. She told

herself that she must keep her countenance, and she did so.



"There is not a man in Crawling Water who does not believe that Race

Moran is responsible for Mr. Wade's disappearance," she declared. "That

is another thing that you should consider, for it is one more link in

the chain of evidence--impressions, you may call them, but they will be

accepted as evidence by Wade's friends."



Rexhill was considering it, and swiftly, in the light of the visit he

had had from Trowbridge. The cattleman had left him with a distinct

feeling that every word spoken had been meant. "If we can prove it

against you, we'll ride you to hell on a rail." The language was

melodramatic, but it seemed very suggestive as the Senator called it to

mind. He regretted that he had supported Moran in his lust for revenge.

The lawless spirit of the West seemed to have poisoned his own blood,

but somehow the feeling of indifference as to suffering personal

violence had been left out, and he realized that the West was no place

for him.



"Even so," he said pompously, "even if what you say of Moran should

prove true, it does not follow that I know it, or am a party to it. Race

Moran is his own master."



"He is your employee--your agent--and you are responsible for what he

does in your behalf," Dorothy retorted desperately. "Why do you bandy

words with me like this? You may be able to do it with me, but don't

think that you can do it with Mr. Trowbridge, and the others, if I tell

them what I know. I tell you, you can't. You feel safe before me alone,

but you are in much greater danger than you think. You don't seem to

realize that I am holding your lives in my hand."



Helen's cheeks blanched at this.



"I do realize it." There was a slight quaver in the Senator's voice,

although he tried to speak with easy grace. "I assure you, I do and I

shall be very grateful to you"--his anxiety was crowding out his

discretion--"if you will help me to save my daughter...."



"I say just what I said before," Helen interposed, courageous to the

last. There is, many times, in the woman a finer fiber of courage than

runs in the man.



Dorothy regarded the Senator scornfully, her feminine intuition assuring

her that he was weakening. She no longer doubted that he knew; she was

certain of it and happy to feel that she had only to press him harder to

wring the truth from him.



"Grateful? For helping you? I am not trying to help you. You deserve any

punishment that could be inflicted upon you, I would say that, even if

you had not insulted me and lied about me. You are an evil man. I am

offering you your safety, so far as I can grant, only for the sake of

Mr. Wade. If it were not for him, I should not have come here at all."



Her sense of approaching triumph had carried her a little too far. It

aroused Helen to bitter resentment, and when she began to speak Dorothy

was sorry that she had not kept silent.



"Father, don't do it!" Miss Rexhill burst out. "It is insufferable that

this woman should threaten us so. I would rather run any risk, I don't

care what, than give in to her. I won't tolerate such a thing."



"You may be urging him to his death," Dorothy warned her. "I will not

stop at anything now. If I tell the cattlemen what I know they will go

wild. I mean what I say, believe me!"



"I know you will not stop at anything. I have seen that," Helen

admitted. "A woman who can do what you've already done...."



"Helen!" The Senator was carrying with him a sense of gratitude toward

Dorothy, and in the light of her spirit he was a little ashamed of the

part he had played against her. "Let's try to forget what has past. At

least, this young woman is offering us a chance."



"Listen!" Dorothy cried out suddenly.



Outside, in the street, a galloping horseman was shouting to some one as

he rode. The girl ran to the window and raised the shade to look out.

The lusty voice of the horseman bore well into the room. "They've caught

Bailey at Sheridan. He'll be here to-morrow."



"Senator Rexhill," said Dorothy, turning away from the window, "you'd

better take the chance I've offered you, while you can. Do it for the

sake of the old friendship between you and Gordon Wade, if for no other

reason. No matter how bitter he may feel toward you, he would not want

you in Crawling Water when Tug Bailey confesses. It would be too awful."

She shuddered at the thought. "Tell me where he is and get out of town

at once."



"Bailey hasn't confessed yet," Helen cut in gamely.



"No; but he will," Dorothy declared positively. "They'll put a rope

around his neck, and he'll confess. Such men always do. Try to remember

the position you are in. You'd be sorry if your father were lynched. Go

with him, while you can. I know these people better than you do."



The Senator swallowed hard and mopped his damp forehead with his

handkerchief. There was nothing to do but follow the girl's advice, and

that quickly, he knew. After all, in the face of death, financial ruin

seemed a mere bagatelle.



"So far as I have been informed, Wade is confined at Coyote Springs,

somewhere in the mountains," he said bluntly. "That's all I know of the

matter. I hope you will find him all right there. He ought to be very

proud of you."



Dorothy caught her hands to her breast in a little gesture of

exultation, and the expression on her face was a wonderful thing to see.



"You'll go?"



"In the morning," Senator Rexhill answered.



Eager as Dorothy was to reach the big pine with her message, she could

not leave without giving Helen such a glance of triumph as made her

wince.



Then, hurrying to her pony, she rode rapidly out of town into the black

night which cloaked the trail leading to the pine. She knew that her

mother would miss her and be anxious, but the minutes were too precious

now to be wasted even on her mother. She did not know what peril Gordon

might be in, and her first duty was to him. She was almost wild with

anxiety lest the courier should not be at his post, but he was there

when she dashed up to the pine.



"Take me to Mr. Trowbridge. Quick!" she panted.



"He's somewhere between Bald Knob and Hatchet Hill," the man explained,

knocking the ashes from his pipe. "It's some dark, too, miss, for ridin'

in this country. Can't you wait until morning?"



"I can't wait one second. I have found out where Mr. Wade is, and I

mean to be with you all when you find him."



"You have, eh?" The man, who was one of Trowbridge's punchers, swung

into his saddle. "That bein' so, we'd get there if this here night was

liquid coal."





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