The shepherds were home in the oasis
that evening, and next day the tragedy of the sheep
was a thing of the past. No other circumstance
of Hare’s four months with the Naabs had so affected
him as this swift inevitable sweeping away of the
flock; nothing else had so vividly told him the nature
of this country of abrupt heights and depths.
He remembered August Naab’s magnificent gesture
of despair; and now the man was cheerful again; he
showed no sign of his great loss. His tasks were
many, and when one was done, he went on to the next.
If Hare had not had many proofs of this Mormon’s
feeling he would have thought him callous. August
Naab trusted God and men, loved animals, did what he
had to do with all his force, and accepted fate.
The tragedy of the sheep had been only an incident
in a tragical life that Hare divined with
Mescal sorrowed, and Wolf mourned
in sympathy with her, for their occupation was gone,
but both brightened when August made known his intention
to cross the river to the Navajo range, to trade with
the Indians for another flock. He began his preparations
immediately. The snow-freshets had long run out
of the river, the water was low, and he wanted to
fetch the sheep down before the summer rains.
He also wanted to find out what kept his son Snap
so long among the Navajos.
“I’ll take Billy and go
at once. Dave, you join George and Zeke out on
the Silver Cup range. Take Jack with you.
Brand all the cattle you can before the snow flies.
Get out of Dene’s way if he rides over, and avoid
Holderness’s men. I’ll have no fights.
But keep your eyes sharp for their doings.”
It was a relief to Hare that Snap
Naab had not yet returned to the oasis, for he felt
a sense of freedom which otherwise would have been
lacking. He spent the whole of a long calm summer
day in the orchard and the vineyard. The fruit
season was at its height. Grapes, plums, pears,
melons were ripe and luscious. Midsummer was vacationtime
for the children, and they flocked into the trees
like birds. The girls were picking grapes; Mother
Ruth enlisted Jack in her service at the pear-trees;
Mescal came, too, and caught the golden pears he threw
down, and smiled up at him; Wolf was there, and Noddle;
Black Bolly pushed her black nose over the fence,
and whinnied for apples; the turkeys strutted, the
peafowls preened their beautiful plumage, the guinea-hens
ran like quail. Save for those frowning red cliffs
Hare would have forgotten where he was; the warm sun,
the yellow fruit, the merry screams of children, the
joyous laughter of girls, were pleasant reminders
of autumn picnic days long gone. But, in the face
of those dominating wind-scarred walls, he could not
That night Hare endeavored to see
Mescal alone for a few moments, to see her once more
with unguarded eyes, to whisper a few words, to say
good-bye; but it was impossible.
On the morrow he rode out of the red
cliff gate with Dave and the pack-horses, a dull ache
in his heart; for amid the cheering crowd of children
and women who bade them good-bye he had caught the
wave of Mescal’s hand and a look of her eyes
that would be with him always. What might happen
before he returned, if he ever did return! For
he knew now, as well as he could feel Silvermane’s
easy stride, that out there under the white glare
of desert, the white gleam of the slopes of Coconina,
was wild life awaiting him. And he shut his teeth,
and narrowed his eyes, and faced it with an eager
joy that was in strange contrast to the pang in his
That morning the wind dipped down
off the Vermillion Cliffs and whipped west; there
was no scent of river-water, and Hare thought of the
fatality of the sheep-drive, when, for one day out
of the year, a moistened dank breeze had met the flock
on the narrow bench. Soon the bench lay far behind
them, and the strip of treacherous sand, and the maze
of sculptured cliff under the Blue Star, and the hummocky
low ridges beyond, with their dry white washes.
Silvermane kept on in front. Already Hare had
learned that the gray would have no horse before him.
His pace was swift, steady, tireless. Dave was
astride his Navajo mount, an Indian-bred horse, half
mustang, which had to be held in with a firm rein.
The pack train strung out far behind, trotting faithfully
along, with the white packs, like the humps of camels,
nodding up and down. Jack and Dave slackened
their gait at the foot of the stony divide. It
was an ascent of miles, so long that it did not appear
steep. Here the pack-train caught up, and thereafter
hung at the heels of the riders.
From the broad bare summit Jack saw
the Silver Cup valley-range with eyes which seemed
to magnify the winding trail, the long red wall, the
green slopes, the dots of sage and cattle. Then
he made allowance for months of unobstructed vision;
he had learned to see; his eyes had adjusted themselves
to distance and dimensions.
Silver Cup Spring lay in a bright
green spot close under a break in the rocky slope
that soon lost its gray cliff in the shaggy cedared
side of Coconina.
The camp of the brothers was situated
upon this cliff in a split between two sections of
wall. Well sheltered from the north and west winds
was a grassy plot which afforded a good survey of
the valley and the trails. Dave and Jack received
glad greetings from Zeke and George, and Silvermane
was an object of wonder and admiration. Zeke,
who had often seen the gray and chased him too, walked
round and round him, stroking the silver mane, feeling
the great chest muscles, slapping his flanks.
“Well, well, Silvermane, to
think I’d live to see you wearing a saddle and
bridle! He’s even bigger than I thought.
There’s a horse, Hare! Never will be another
like him in this desert. If Dene ever sees that
horse he’ll chase him to the Great Salt Basin.
Dene’s crazy about fast horses. He’s
from Kentucky, somebody said, and knows a horse when
he sees one.”
“How are things?” queried Dave.
“We can’t complain much,”
replied Zeke, “though we’ve wasted some
time on old Whitefoot. He’s been chasing
our horses. It’s been pretty hot and dry.
Most of the cattle are on the slopes; fair browse yet.
There’s a bunch of steers gone up on the mountain,
and some more round toward the Saddle or the canyon.”
“Been over Seeping Springs way?”
“Yes. No change since your
trip. Holderness’s cattle are ranging in
the upper valley. George found tracks near the
spring. We believe somebody was watching there
and made off when we came up.”
“We’ll see Holderness’s
men when we get to riding out,” put in George.
“And some of Dene’s too. Zeke met
Two-Spot Chance and Culver below at the spring one
day, sort of surprised them.”
“What day was that?”
“Let’s see, this’s Friday.
It was last Monday.”
“What were they doing over here?”
“Said they were tracking a horse
that had broken his hobbles. But they seemed
uneasy, and soon rode off.”
“Did either of them ride a horse with one shoe
“Now I think of it, yes. Zeke noticed the
track at the spring.”
“Well, Chance and Culver had
been out our way,” declared Dave. “I
saw their tracks, and they filled up the Blue Star
waterhole and cost us three thousand sheep.”
Then he related the story of the drive
of the sheep, the finding of the plugged waterhole,
the scent of the Colorado, and the plunge of the sheep
into the canyon.
“We’ve saved one, Mescal’s belled
lamb,” he concluded.
Neither Zeke nor George had a word
in reply. Hare thought their silence unnatural.
Neither did the mask-like stillness of their faces
change. But Hare saw in their eyes a pointed
clear flame, vibrating like a compass-needle, a mere
“I’d like to know,”
continued Dave, calmly poking the fire, “who
hired Dene’s men to plug the waterhole.
Dene couldn’t do that. He loves a horse,
and any man who loves a horse couldn’t fill a
waterhole in this desert.”
Hare entered upon his new duties as
a range-rider with a zeal that almost made up for
his lack of experience; he bade fair to develop into
a right-hand man for Dave, under whose watchful eye
he worked. His natural qualifications were soon
shown; he could ride, though his seat was awkward
and clumsy compared to that of the desert rangers,
a fault that Dave said would correct itself as time
fitted him close to the saddle and to the swing of
his horse. His sight had become extraordinarily
keen for a new-comer on the ranges, and when experience
had taught him the land-marks, the trails, the distances,
the difference between smoke and dust and haze, when
he could distinguish a band of mustangs from cattle,
and range-riders from outlaws or Indians; in a word,
when he had learned to know what it was that he saw,
to trust his judgment, he would have acquired the
basic feature of a rider’s training. But
he showed no gift for the lasso, that other essential
requirement of his new calling.
“It’s funny,” said
Dave, patiently, “you can’t get the hang
of it. Maybe it’s born in a fellow.
Now handling a gun seems to come natural for some
fellows, and you’re one of them. If only
you could get the rope away as quick as you can throw
Jack kept faithfully at it, unmindful
of defeats, often chagrined when he missed some easy
opportunity. Not improbably he might have failed
altogether if he had been riding an ordinary horse,
or if he had to try roping from a fiery mustang.
But Silvermane was as intelligent as he was beautiful
and fleet. The horse learned rapidly the agile
turns and sudden stops necessary, and as for free
running he never got enough. Out on the range
Silvermane always had his head up and watched; his
life had been spent in watching; he saw cattle, riders,
mustangs, deer, coyotes, every moving thing.
So that Hare, in the chasing of a cow, had but to
start Silvermane, and then he could devote himself
to the handling of his rope. It took him ten
times longer to lasso the cow than it took Silvermane
to head the animal. Dave laughed at some of Jack’s
exploits, encouraged him often, praised his intent
if not his deed; and always after a run nodded at
Silvermane in mute admiration.
Branding the cows and yearlings
and tame steers which watered at Silver Cup, and never
wandered far away, was play according to Dave’s
version. “Wait till we get after the wild
steers up on the mountain and in the canyons,”
he would say when Jack dropped like a log at supper.
Work it certainly was for him. At night he was
so tired that he could scarcely crawl into bed; his
back felt as if it were broken; his legs were raw,
and his bones ached. Many mornings he thought
it impossible to arise, but always he crawled out,
grim and haggard, and hobbled round the camp-fire
to warm his sore and bruised muscles. Then when
Zeke and George rode in with the horses the day’s
work began. During these weeks of his “hardening
up,” as Dave called it, Hare bore much pain,
but he continued well and never missed a day.
At the most trying time when for a few days he had
to be helped on and off Silvermane for he
insisted that he would not stay in camp the
brothers made his work as light as possible.
They gave him the branding outfit to carry, a running-iron
and a little pot with charcoal and bellows; and with
these he followed the riders at a convenient distance
and leisurely pace.
Some days they branded one hundred
cattle. By October they had August Naab’s
crudely fashioned cross on thousands of cows and steers.
Still the stock kept coming down from the mountain,
driven to the valley by cold weather and snow-covered
grass. It was well into November before the riders
finished at Silver Cup, and then arose a question as
to whether it would be advisable to go to Seeping
Springs or to the canyons farther west along the slope
of Coconina. George favored the former, but Dave
he said. “He wants us to ride Seeping Springs
last because he’ll be with us then, and Snap
too. We’re going to have trouble over there.”
“How’s this branding stock
going to help the matter any, I’d like to know?”
inquired George. “We Mormons never needed
“Father says we’ll all
have to come to it. Holderness’s stock is
branded. Perhaps he’s marked a good many
steers of ours. We can’t tell. But
if we have our own branded we’ll know what’s
ours. If he drives our stock we’ll know
it; if Dene steals, it can be proved that he steals.”
“Well, what then? Do you
think he’ll care for that, or Holderness either?”
“No, only it makes this difference:
both things will then be barefaced robbery. We’ve
never been able to prove anything, though we boys know;
we don’t need any proof. Father gives these
men the benefit of a doubt. We’ve got to
stand by him. I know, George, your hand’s
begun to itch for your gun. So does mine.
But we’ve orders to obey.”
Many gullies and canyons headed up
on the slope of Coconina west of Silver Cup, and ran
down to open wide on the flat desert. They contained
plots of white sage and bunches of rich grass and cold
springs. The steers that ranged these ravines
were wild as wolves, and in the tangled thickets of
juniper and manzanita and jumbles of weathered cliff
they were exceedingly difficult to catch.
Well it was that Hare had received
his initiation and had become inured to rough, incessant
work, for now he came to know the real stuff of which
these Mormons were made. No obstacle barred them.
They penetrated the gullies to the last step; they
rode weathered slopes that were difficult for deer
to stick upon; they thrashed the bayonet-guarded manzanita
copses; they climbed into labyrinthine fastnesses,
penetrating to every nook where a steer could hide.
Miles of sliding slope and marble-bottomed streambeds
were ascended on foot, for cattle could climb where
a horse could not. Climbing was arduous enough,
yet the hardest and most perilous toil began when
a wild steer was cornered. They roped the animals
on moving slopes of weathered stone, and branded them
on the edges of precipices.
The days and weeks passed, how many
no one counted or cared. The circle of the sun
daily lowered over the south end of Coconina; and the
black snow-clouds crept down the slopes. Frost
whitened the ground at dawn, and held half the day
in the shade. Winter was close at the heels of
the long autumn.
As for Hare, true to August Naab’s
assertion, he had lost flesh and suffered, and though
the process was heartbreaking in its severity, he
hung on till he hardened into a leather lunged, wire-muscled
man, capable of keeping pace with his companions.
He began his day with the dawn when
he threw off the frost-coated tarpaulin; the icy water
brought him a glow of exhilaration; he drank in the
spiced cold air, and there was the spring of the deer-hunter
in his step as he went down the slope for his horse.
He no longer feared that Silvermane would run away.
The gray’s bell could always be heard near camp
in the mornings, and when Hare whistled there came
always the answering thump of hobbled feet. When
Silvermane saw him striding through the cedars or
across the grassy belt of the valley he would neigh
his gladness. Hare had come to love Silvermane
and talked to him and treated him as if he were human.
When the mustangs were brought into
camp the day’s work began, the same work as
that of yesterday, and yet with endless variety, with
ever-changing situations that called for quick wits,
steel arms, stout hearts, and unflagging energies.
The darkening blue sky and the sun-tipped crags of
Vermillion Cliffs were signals to start for camp.
They ate like wolves, sat for a while around the camp-fire,
a ragged, weary, silent group; and soon lay down,
their dark faces in the shadow of the cedars.
In the beginning of this toil-filled
time Hare had resolutely set himself to forget Mescal,
and he had succeeded at least for a time, when he
was so sore and weary that he scarcely thought at all.
But she came back to him, and then there was seldom
an hour that was not hers. The long months which
seemed years since he had seen her, the change in him
wrought by labor and peril, the deepening friendship
between him and Dave, even the love he bore Silvermane these,
instead of making dim the memory of the dark-eyed
girl, only made him tenderer in his thought of
Snow drove the riders from the canyon-camp
down to Silver Cup, where they found August Naab and
Snap, who had ridden in the day before.
“Now you couldn’t guess
how many cattle are back there in the canyons,”
said Dave to his father.
“I haven’t any idea,” answered August,
“Five thousand head.”
“Dave!” His father’s tone was incredulous.
“Yes. You know we haven’t
been back in there for years. The stock has multiplied
rapidly in spite of the lions and wolves. Not
only that, but they’re safe from the winter,
and are not likely to be found by Dene or anybody
“How do you make that out?”
“The first cattle we drove in
used to come back here to Silver Cup to winter.
Then they stopped coming, and we almost forgot them.
Well, they’ve got a trail round under the Saddle,
and they go down and winter in the canyon. In
summer they head up those rocky gullies, but they
can’t get up on the mountain. So it isn’t
likely any one will ever discover them. They
are wild as deer and fatter than any stock on the
“Good! That’s the
best news I’ve had in many a day. Now, boys,
we’ll ride the mountain slope toward Seeping
Springs, drive the cattle down, and finish up this
branding. Somebody ought to go to White Sage.
I’d like to know what’s going on, what
Holderness is up to, what Dene is doing, if there’s
any stock being driven to Lund.”
“I told you I’d go,” said Snap Naab.
“I don’t want you to,”
replied his father. “I guess it can wait
till spring, then we’ll all go in. I might
have thought to bring you boys out some clothes and
boots. You’re pretty ragged. Jack there,
especially, looks like a scarecrow. Has he worked
as hard as he looks?”
“Father, he never lost a day,”
replied Dave, warmly, “and you know what riding
is in these canyons.”
August Naab looked at Hare and laughed.
“It’d be funny, wouldn’t it, if
Holderness tried to slap you now? I always knew
you’d do, Jack, and now you’re one of
us, and you’ll have a share with my sons in the
But the generous promise failed to
offset the feeling aroused by the presence of Snap
Naab. With the first sight of Snap’s sharp
face and strange eyes Hare became conscious of an
inward heat, which he had felt before, but never as
now, when there seemed to be an actual flame within
his breast. Yet Snap seemed greatly changed; the
red flush, the swollen lines no longer showed in his
face; evidently in his absence on the Navajo desert
he had had no liquor; he was good-natured, lively,
much inclined to joking, and he seemed to have entirely
forgotten his animosity toward Hare. It was easy
for Hare to see that the man’s evil nature was
in the ascendancy only when he was under the dominance
of drink. But he could not forgive; he could
not forget. Mescal’s dark, beautiful eyes
haunted him. Even now she might be married to
this man. Perhaps that was why Snap appeared
to be in such cheerful spirits. Suspense added
its burdensome insistent question, but he could not
bring himself to ask August if the marriage had taken
place. For a day he fought to resign himself
to the inevitability of the Mormon custom, to forget
Mescal, and then he gave up trying. This surrender
he felt to be something crucial in his life, though
he could not wholly understand it. It was the
darkening of his spirit; the death of boyish gentleness;
the concluding step from youth into a forced manhood.
The desert regeneration had not stopped at turning
weak lungs, vitiated blood, and flaccid muscles into
a powerful man; it was at work on his mind, his heart,
his soul. They answered more and more to the call
of some outside, ever-present, fiercely subtle thing.
Thenceforth he no longer vexed himself
by trying to forget Mescal; if she came to mind he
told himself the truth, that the weeks and months
had only added to his love. And though it was
bitter-sweet there was relief in speaking the truth
to himself. He no longer blinded himself by hoping,
striving to have generous feelings toward Snap Naab;
he called the inward fire by its real name jealousy and
knew that in the end it would become hatred.
On the third morning after leaving
Silver Cup the riders were working slowly along the
slope of Coconina; and Hare having driven down a bunch
of cattle, found himself on an open ridge near the
temporary camp. Happening to glance up the valley
he saw what appeared to be smoke hanging over Seeping
“That can’t be dust,”
he soliloquized. “Looks blue to me.”
He studied the hazy bluish cloud for
some time, but it was so many miles away that he could
not be certain whether it was smoke or not, so he
decided to ride over and make sure. None of the
Naabs was in camp, and there was no telling when they
would return, so he set off alone. He expected
to get back before dark, but it was of little consequence
whether he did or not, for he had his blanket under
the saddle, and grain for Silvermane and food for
himself in the saddle-bags.
Long before Silvermane’s easy
trot had covered half the distance Hare recognized
the cloud that had made him curious. It was smoke.
He thought that range-riders were camping at the springs,
and he meant to see what they were about. After
three hours of brisk travel he reached the top of
a low rolling knoll that hid Seeping Springs.
He remembered the springs were up under the red wall,
and that the pool where the cattle drank was lower
down in a clump of cedars. He saw smoke rising
in a column from the cedars, and he heard the lowing
“Something wrong here,”
he muttered. Following the trail, he rode through
the cedars to come upon the dry hole where the pool
had once been. There was no water in the flume.
The bellowing cattle came from beyond the cedars,
down the other side of the ridge. He was not long
in reaching the open, and then one glance made all
A new pool, large as a little lake,
shone in the sunlight, and round it a jostling horned
mass of cattle were pressing against a high corral.
The flume that fed water to the pool was fenced all
the way up to the springs.
Jack slowly rode down the ridge with
eyes roving under the cedars and up to the wall.
Not a man was in sight.
When he got to the fire he saw that
it was not many hours old and was surrounded by fresh
boot and horse tracks in the dust. Piles of slender
pine logs, trimmed flat on one side, were proof of
somebody’s intention to erect a cabin.
In a rage he flung himself from the saddle. It
was not many moments’ work for him to push part
of the fire under the fence, and part of it against
the pile of logs. The pitch-pines went off like
rockets, driving the thirsty cattle back.
“I’m going to trail those horse-tracks,”
He tore down a portion of the fence
enclosing the flume, and gave Silvermane a drink,
then put him to a fast trot on the white trail.
The tracks he had resolved to follow were clean-cut.
A few inches of snow had fallen in the valley, and
melting, had softened the hard ground. Silvermane
kept to his gait with the tirelessness of a desert
horse. August Naab had once said fifty miles
a day would be play for the stallion. All the
afternoon Hare watched the trail speed toward him and
the end of Coconina rise above him. Long before
sunset he had reached the slope of the mountain and
had begun the ascent. Half way up he came to
the snow and counted the tracks of three horses.
At twilight he rode into the glade where August Naab
had waited for his Navajo friends. There, in
a sheltered nook among the rocks, he unsaddled Silvermane,
covered and fed him, built a fire, ate sparingly of
his meat and bread, and rolling up in his blanket,
was soon asleep.
He was up and off before sunrise,
and he came out on the western slope of Coconina just
as the shadowy valley awakened from its misty sleep
into daylight. Soon the Pink Cliffs leaned out,
glimmering and vast, to change from gloomy gray to
rosy glow, and then to brighten and to redden in the
The snow thinned and failed, but the
iron-cut horsetracks showed plainly in the trail.
At the foot of the mountain the tracks left the White
Sage trail and led off to the north toward the cliffs.
Hare searched the red sage-spotted waste for Holderness’s
ranch. He located it, a black patch on the rising
edge of the valley under the wall, and turned Silvermane
into the tracks that pointed straight toward it.
The sun cleared Coconina and shone
warm on his back; the Pink Cliffs lifted higher and
higher before him. From the ridge-tops he saw
the black patch grow into cabins and corrals.
As he neared the ranch he came into rolling pasture-land
where the bleached grass shone white and the cattle
were ranging in the thousands. This range had
once belonged to Martin Cole, and Hare thought of
the bitter Mormon as he noted the snug cabins for
the riders, the rambling, picturesque ranch-house,
the large corrals, and the long flume that ran down
from the cliff. There was a corral full of shaggy
horses, and another full of steers, and two lines
of cattle, one going into a pond-corral, and one coming
out. The air was gray with dust. A bunch
of yearlings were licking at huge lumps of brown
rock-salt. A wagonful of cowhides stood before
Hare reined in at the door and helloed.
A red-faced ranger with sandy hair and twinkling eyes
“Hello, stranger, get down an’ come in,”
“Is Holderness here?” asked Hare.
“No. He’s been to
Lund with a bunch of steers. I reckon he’ll
be in White Sage by now. I’m Snood, the
foreman. Is it a job ridin’ you want?”
“Say! thet hoss ”
he exclaimed. His gaze of friendly curiosity had
moved from Hare to Silvermane. “You can
corral me if it ain’t thet Sevier range stallion!”
“Yes,” said Hare.
Snood’s whoop brought three
riders to the door, and when he pointed to the horse,
they stepped out with good-natured grins and admiring
“I never seen him but onc’t,” said
“Lordy, what a hoss!”
Snood walked round Silvermane. “If I owned
this ranch I’d trade it for that stallion.
I know Silvermane. He an’ I hed some chases
over in Nevada. An’, stranger, who might
“I’m one of August Naab’s riders.”
“Dene’s spy!” Snood
looked Hare over carefully, with much interest, and
without any show of ill-will. “I’ve
heerd of you. An’ what might one of Naab’s
riders want of Holderness?”
“I rode in to Seeping Springs
yesterday,” said Hare, eying the foreman.
“There was a new pond, fenced in. Our cattle
couldn’t drink. There were a lot of trimmed
logs. Somebody was going to build a cabin.
I burned the corrals and logs and I trailed
fresh tracks from Seeping Springs to this ranch.”
“The h l you did!”
shouted Snood, and his face flamed. “See
here, stranger, you’re the second man to accuse
some of my riders of such dirty tricks. That’s
enough for me. I was foreman of this ranch till
this minute. I was foreman, but there were things
gain’ on thet I didn’t know of. I
kicked on thet deal with Martin Cole. I quit.
I steal no man’s water. Is thet good with
Snood’s query was as much a
challenge as a question. He bit savagely at his
pipe. Hare offered his hand.
“Your word goes. Dave Naab
said you might be Holderness’s foreman, but
you weren’t a liar or a thief. I’d
believe it even if Dave hadn’t told me.”
“Them fellers you tracked rode
in here yesterday. They’re gone now.
I’ve no more to say, except I never hired them.”
“I’m glad to hear it.
Good-day, Snood, I’m in something of a hurry.”
With that Hare faced about in the
direction of White Sage. Once clear of the corrals
he saw the village closer than he had expected to find
it. He walked Silvermane most of the way, and
jogged along the rest, so that he reached the village
in the twilight. Memory served him well.
He rode in as August Naab had ridden out, and arrived
at the Bishop’s barn-yard, where he put up his
horse. Then he went to the house. It was
necessary to introduce himself for none of the Bishop’s
family recognized in him the young man they had once
befriended. The old Bishop prayed and reminded
him of the laying on of hands. The women served
him with food, the young men brought him new boots
and garments to replace those that had been worn to
tatters. Then they plied him with questions about
the Naabs, whom they had not seen for nearly a year.
They rejoiced at his recovered health; they welcomed
him with warm words.
Later Hare sought an interview alone
with the Bishop’s sons, and he told them of
the loss of the sheep, of the burning of the new corrals,
of the tracks leading to Holderness’s ranch.
In turn they warned him of his danger, and gave him
information desired by August Naab. Holderness’s
grasp on the outlying ranges and water-rights had slowly
and surely tightened; every month he acquired new
territory; he drove cattle regularly to Lund, and
it was no secret that much of the stock came from
the eastern slope of Coconina. He could not hire
enough riders to do his work. A suspicion that
he was not a cattle-man but a rustler had slowly gained
ground; it was scarcely hinted, but it was believed.
His friendship with Dene had become offensive to the
Mormons, who had formerly been on good footing with
him. Dene’s killing of Martin Cole was
believed to have been at Holderness’s instigation.
Cole had threatened Holderness. Then Dene and
Cole had met in the main street of White Sage.
Cole’s death ushered in the bloody time that
he had prophesied. Dene’s band had grown;
no man could say how many men he had or who they were.
Chance and Culver were openly his lieutenants, and
whenever they came into the village there was shooting.
There were ugly rumors afloat in regard to their treatment
of Mormon women. The wives and daughters of once
peaceful White Sage dared no longer venture out-of-doors
after nightfall. There was more money in coin
and more whiskey than ever before in the village.
Lund and the few villages northward were terrorized
as well as White Sage. It was a bitter story.
The Bishop and his sons tried to persuade
Hare next morning to leave the village without seeing
Holderness, urging the futility of such a meeting.
“I will see him,” said
Hare. He spent the morning at the cottage, and
when it came time to take his leave he smiled into
the anxious faces. “If I weren’t
able to take care of myself August Naab would never
have said so.”
Had Hare asked himself what he intended
to do when he faced Holderness he could not have told.
His feelings were pent-in, bound, but at the bottom
something rankled. His mind seemed steeped in
still thunderous atmosphere.
How well he remembered the quaint
wide street, the gray church! As he rode many
persons stopped to gaze at Silvermane. He turned
the corner into the main thoroughfare. A new
building had been added to the several stores.
Mustangs stood, bridles down, before the doors; men
lounged along the railings.
As he dismounted he heard the loungers
speak of his horse, and he saw their leisurely manner
quicken. He stepped into the store to meet more
men, among them August Naab’s friend Abe.
Hare might never have been in White Sage for all the
recognition he found, but he excited something keener
than curiosity. He asked for spurs, a clasp-knife
and some other necessaries, and he contrived, when
momentarily out of sight behind a pile of boxes, to
whisper his identity to Abe. The Mormon was dumbfounded.
When he came out of his trance he showed his gladness,
and at a question of Hare’s he silently pointed
toward the saloon.
Hare faced the open door. The
room had been enlarged; it was now on a level with
the store floor, and was blue with smoke, foul with
the fumes of rum, and noisy with the voices of dark,
A man in the middle of the room was dancing a jig.
“Hello, who’s this?” he said, straightening
It might have been the stopping of
the dance or the quick spark in Hare’s eyes
that suddenly quieted the room. Hare had once
vowed to himself that he would never forget the scarred
face; it belonged to the outlaw Chance.
The sight of it flashed into the gulf
of Hare’s mind like a meteor into black night.
A sudden madness raced through his veins.
“Hello, Don’t you know
me?” he said, with a long step that brought him
close to Chance.
The outlaw stood irresolute.
Was this an old friend or an enemy? His beady
eyes scintillated and twitched as if they sought to
look him over, yet dared not because it was only in
the face that intention could be read.
The stillness of the room broke to
a hoarse whisper from some one.
“Look how he packs his gun.”
Another man answering whispered:
“There’s not six men in Utah who pack a
gun thet way.”
Chance heard these whispers, for his
eye shifted downward the merest fraction of a second.
The brick color of his face turned a dirty white.
“Do you know me?” demanded Hare.
Chance’s answer was a spasmodic
jerking of his hand toward his hip. Hare’s
arm moved quicker, and Chance’s Colt went spinning
to the floor.
“Too slow,” said Hare.
Then he flung Chance backward and struck him blows
that sent his head with sodden thuds against the log
wall. Chance sank to the floor in a heap.
Hare kicked the outlaw’s
gun out of the way, and wheeled to the crowd.
Holderness stood foremost, his tall form leaning against
the bar, his clear eyes shining like light on ice.
“Do you know me?” asked Hare, curtly.
Holderness started slightly. “I certainly
don’t,” he replied.
“You slapped my face once.”
Hare leaned close to the rancher. “Slap
it now you rustler!”
In the slow, guarded instant when
Hare’s gaze held Holderness and the other men,
a low murmuring ran through the room.
“Dene’s spy!” suddenly burst out
Hare slapped his face. Then he
backed a few paces with his right arm held before
him almost as high as his shoulder, the wrist rigid,
the fingers quivering.
“Don’t try to draw, Holderness.
Thet’s August Naab’s trick with a gun,”
whispered a man, hurriedly.
“Holderness, I made a bonfire
over at Seeping Springs,” said Hare. “I
burned the new corrals your men built, and I tracked
them to your ranch. Snood threw up his job when
he heard it. He’s an honest man, and no
honest man will work for a water-thief, a cattle-rustler,
a sheep-killer. You’re shown up, Holderness.
Leave the country before some one kills you understand,
before some one kills you!”
Holderness stood motionless against
the bar, his eyes fierce with passionate hate.
Hare backed step by step to the outside
door, his right hand still high, his look holding
the crowd bound to the last instant. Then he slipped
out, scattered the group round Silvermane, and struck
hard with the spurs.
The gray, never before spurred, broke
down the road into his old wild speed.
Men were crossing from the corner
of the green square. One, a compact little fellow,
swarthy, his dark hair long and flowing, with jaunty
and alert air, was Dene, the outlaw leader. He
stopped, with his companions, to let the horse cross.
Hare guided the thundering stallion
slightly to the left. Silvermane swerved and
in two mighty leaps bore down on the outlaw. Dene
saved himself by quickly leaping aside, but even as
he moved Silvermane struck him with his left fore-leg,
sending him into the dust.
At the street corner Hare glanced
back. Yelling men were rushing from the saloon
and some of them fired after him. The bullets
whistled harmlessly behind Hare. Then the corner
house shut off his view.
Silvermane lengthened out and stretched
lower with his white mane flying and his nose pointed
level for the desert.