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Title: The Long Chance Author: Peter B. Kyne Release Date: July, 2004 [EBook #61
15] [Posted: November 11, 2002]
THE LONG CHANCE
Produced by Anne Soulard, Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distr
ibuted Proofreading Team.
THE LONG CHANCE
2

[Illustration: IT WAS THE DESERT CALL FOR HELP; THREE FIRES IN A ROW BY NIGHT. T
HREE COLUMNS OF SMOKE AGAINST THE HORIZON BY DAY.]
THE LONG CHANCE BY PETER B. KYNE
ILLUSTRATED BY FRANK TENNY JOHNSON 1914
PRINTED AT GARDEN CITY, N. Y., U. S. A.
THE LONG CHANCE
CHAPTER I
It was sunrise on the Colorado desert. As the advance guard of dawn emerged from
behind the serrated peaks to the east and paused on their snow-encrusted summit
s before charging down the slopes into the open desert to rout the lingering sha
dows of the night, a coyote came out of his den in the tumbled _malpais_ at the
foot of the range, pointed his nose skyward and voiced his matutinal salute to t
he Hosts of Light. Presently, far in the distant waste, seven dark objects detac
hed themselves from the shadows and crawled toward the mountains. Like motes swi
mming in a beam of light, they came out of the Land of Nowhere, in the dim shimm
ering vistas over west, where the gray line of grease-wood met the blue of the h
orizon. Slowly they assumed definite shape; and the coyote ceased his orisons to
speculate upon the ultimate possibility of breakfast and this motley trio of "d
esert rats" with
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their burro train, who dared invade his desolate waterless kingdom. For, with th
e exception of the four burros, the three men who followed in their wake did, in
deed, offer the rare spectacle of variety in this land of superlative monotony.
One of the men wore a peaked Mexican straw hat, a dirty white cotton undershirt,
faded blue denim overalls and a pair of shoes much too large for him; this latt
er item indicating a desire to get the most for his money, after the invariable
custom of a primitive people. He carried a peeled catclaw gad in his right hand,
and with this gad he continually urged to a shuffling half-trot some one of the
four burros. This man was a Cahuilla Indian. His two companions were white men.
The younger of the pair was a man under thirty years of age, with kind bright e
yes and the drawn but ruddy face of one whose strength seems to have been acquir
ed more from athletic sports than by hard work. He was tall, broad-shouldered, s
limwaisted, big-hipped and handsome; he stepped along through the clinging sand
with the lithe careless grace of a mountain lion. An old greasy wide-brimmed gra
y felt hat, pinched to a "Montana peak," was shoved back on his curly black head
; his shirt, of light gray wool, had the sleeves rolled to the elbow, revealing
powerful forearms tanned to the complexion of those of the Indian. He seemed to
revel in the airy freedom of a pair of dirty old white canvas trousers, and desp
ite the presence of a long-barreled blue gun swinging at his hip he would have i
mpressed an observer as the embodiment of kindly good nature and careless indiff
erence to convention, provided his own personal comfort was assured. The other w
hite man was plainly an alien in the desert. He was slight, blonde, pale--a city
man--with hard blue eyes set so close together that one understood instantly so
mething of the nature of the man as well as the urgent necessity for his thick-l
ensed, gold-rimmed spectacles. He wore a new Panama hat, corded riding breeches
and leggings. He was clean-shaven and sinfully neat. He wore no side-arms and ap
peared as much out of harmony with his surroundings as might a South American pa
triot at a Peace Conference. "I say," he began presently, "how much further is i
t to this prospect hole of yours, if, indeed, you have a prospect as you represe
nted to me a week ago?" His tone was fretful, peevish, complaining. One would re
adily have diagnosed the seat of his trouble. He had come prepared to ride--and
he had been forced to walk. The young man frowned. He seemed on the point of swe
aring, but appearing to think better of it, he replied banteringly, "_Por ahi. P
or ahi._" "What in blazes does that mean?" "Oh, I was just talking the language
of the country--a language, by the way, toward which you seem most indifferently
inclined. '_Por ahi_' means 'a considerable way,' 'a right smart piece, I recko
n,' and conveys about the same relative amount of definite information as
4

" drawled the other. Boston. are your soul. but he does recogniz e a good thing when he sees it. Of course. a coyote doesn't know a whole lot. I'm sorry you have a blister on your off heel. I forbid you to c uss my mozo without my permission. the only things which you have a nd which you can call your own. I hate to appear boorish. I have tried for th e past two days to give you an approximate idea. If the water holds out we'll get there. even if you do 5 . "In the first place. and learn wisdom._ Never having measured the distance to my prospect. your prickly-heat and your blistered heel. and I won't have it profaned by any growl ing." "Well. that this _mozo_--I beg your pardon--that this Indian is mine." "Listen to that coyote. "Oh. old man. I'm fully convinced that you're quite a l ittle man back in Boston for the reason that you're one hell of a small man out here. smiling brightly. Talk sense. "I do not wish to be insulted. but I must remind you that these jacks are mine." "Sir. that the four little kegs of water that they're carrying a re mine. and last ly--forgive me if I ascend once more into the realm of romance and improbability --this country is mine. afte r this morning you will permit your whiskers to grow. "you're a trifler. damn it." the other retorted._manana. Out here water is too prec ious to waste it shaving every morning. ignoring his companion's rising anger. "Listen to him yip-yapping over there on the ridge. I suggest that yo u compose your restless New England soul in patience. There sits a shining example of bucolic jo y and indifference to local annoyances. His appreciation of a sunrise is always exuberan t. and do what you please with. This is a bu siness trip. however. and I sympathize with you because of your prickly-heat. "talk business." "Damn the sunrise. You're--you're --a--" "Say it. not a rehearsal for a comic opera. 'find X' sort of proposition--so please refrain from asking me that same question every two miles. But in this country you must kn ow that distance is a deceptive. Consider the humble coyote. and when we get there we'll find more water." replied the careless one. and enjoy with ou r uncommunicative Cahuilla friend and myself the glories of a sunrise on the Col orado desert. He would have damned his tormentor had he dared. and if he's ever missed his sun-up cheer it's beca use something he ate the night before didn't agree with him. Ever since that coyote's been big enough to rustle his own jack-rabbits he's howled at a lovely full moon. and then you may shave three times a day if you feel so inclined. and I love it." rasped his victim." soothed the s tudent of nature. dyspeptic little squirt from a land where they have pie for breakfast. but y ou ignored my polite hint. But it's all i n the day's work and you'll survive. In the meantime. I po sitively forbid you to touch that water without my permission. and I forbid you to damn this country in my h earing. Just at this particular moment. I suggested that point last night." snapped the irascible one. all right--s ince you insist. Boston.

The Desert Rat took it. While the Easterner remained with the Indian. I offered to bring you i n here as my guest. I don't care for you. Suddenly the mozo uttered a low "Whoa. the party scurried for the sh elter of a rocky draw before the sandstorm should be upon them. "Sandstorm" warned the Des ert Rat. or I'll work you over and make a man out of you. do you? With kids? I've got--" The Indian had paused and was pointing with his gad to the south. I've got more on my brain than this prospect hole. Throug hout that day and night they camped up the draw. "You were swe lling around in San Berdoo. we'll bury the hatchet" he said generously. the malingerer flushed. as a signal for the m to halt and wait for him. and I'm worried. You don't happen to be a married man. He had not noticed this exposed ledge dur ing their flight into the draw. Boston." and the burros halted. safe from the sand blast. the Desert Rat circled out into the open. and as it was a case of go now or never with you. She's a mig hty brave little woman. I don't need you. "All right. and spoke quickly to the mozo in Spanish. Now. talking big and hollering for an investment. you chirk up. the desert was the same old silent pulsele ss mystery. Off in the sage and sand the Desert Rat was standing with upraised arm. and it's got to stop. a little sorry that he had not been more temp erate in his language. and if I had known what a nasty little old woman you are I'd never have opened negotiations with you. stepping off distances and building monuments. She wanted me to go. shutting out the sunlight and advancing with incredible speed. The latter at once turned the cavalcade of burros toward the hills. " Maybe I'm a little too exacting and hard to get along with. shouting and be ating the heavily laden little beasts into a trot. For nearly half an hour he circled around. less than a mile distant. When I left the wife at San Berd oo we were expecting an arrival in camp. I had to bring you in here or perhaps lose the opportunity for a fortune. You wanted to examine my claim. and--well. I think you're a renegade four-flusher. mumbled an apology and held out his hand. They won. we were right down to bed-ro ck. and smile an d try to be a good sport. M iles and miles away a great yellow cloud was gathering on the horizon. and ever since you got off the train at Salton you've snarle d and snapped and beefed and imposed on my hospitality. and if you liked it you would engage to bring it to the attention of 'your associates' and pay me my price. Savvy ?" Thoroughly squelched. heading for a little backbone of quartz which rose out of the sand. Early next morning the wind had subsided and with the exception of some slight change s in topography due to the sandstorm. bl uffing on no pair. and it was evident that the sandstorm had expose d it. I showe d you samples of ore from my desert prospect and you got excited. you said.wear a string of letters after your name like the tail on a comet. The party resumed its journey. 6 .

" "Oh. and be quick--" "You forget. having staked his claim and gone out for grub. but he lost it and blew out his brains in sheer dis gust. Joe. apparently having completed his investigations." The Desert Rat stretched himself with feline grace. Don't be so touchy. and I suggest we stake it out at once. old man. The latter lifted it. "Yes. _Mira?_" He tossed a sample to the Indian. I think I shall pay you a liberal fee for your lost time and abandon that prospect I was taking you in to see. and cost scores of human lives. wel l. The sandstorms expose them and cover them up again. "We're i n luck. Why. It was that way with the Nigger Ben placer. and stake this claim. It's been found and lost half a dozen times. "You'd have a fine time trying to get me away fro m this ledge now.Presently. "He doesn't speak English. and if he did he wouldn't obey you. can't fin d the claim when he comes back. Let's get busy." A slight smile flickered across the face of the Desert Rat. for heaven's sake . "I' m sorry" he replied with his tantalizing good-natured smile. " interjected the Desert Rat gently." He jumped up eagerly--from force of habit dusting the sea t of his riding breeches--and turned peremptorily to the mozo. "I've told him not to. "to be forced to ob ject to your use of the plural pronoun in conjunction with that 7 . I didn't mean anything. By the way. "What's up?" demanded the Boston man the moment he and the Indian arrived. and another of about the same size to the white man. I have just stumbled across one of his monuments with his old location not ices buried in a can. There was a claim discovered out here b y a man named Jake Revenner. There's a comfort able fortune lying exposed on the surface. You see." "I should say you should abandon it" the other exulted. It's one of th ese marvelously rich ledges that have been discovered and located and lost and f ound and lost again. "By thunder!" he managed to say. Let's get busy. there's millions in it. He was quite excited. and it looks 'fat' enough for yours truly. "Get those packs off. or Jim or whatever your name is. and after a storm--as now--the contour of the desert is so changed that a man. it's rich--very rich. he beckoned the rest of his party to approach. examined it close ly and sat down. The late sandstorm uncovered the ledge. but his voi ce was as calm and grave as usual." he added naively. "I've just found Jake Revenner's lost claim. it's not worth considering. Compared with this.

You wouldn't come. "Your penetration is remarkable. All Desert Rats in good standing are. Only that mozo and I have slept under th e same blanket so often--" "You can't stop me from staking this claim. sort of partners as it were. It's opposed--" "Please do not argue with me. of course that would have been different." "But I'm in the party with you. Boston." "But such a course is outrageous. I'm particular in the matter of partners. and shook his skinny little fist under the Desert Rat's nose ." shrilled the other furiously. I have already staked it. The latter slapped him across the wrist. It seems to me that common j ustice--" "For goodness' sake. I'm entitled to a half interest and I'll see that I get it. piece and parcel of land known and described as the Baby Mine cla im. I observed th is little backbone of quartz and asked you to walk over here with me for a look at it. You see. don't throw up to me the sins of my past. and since I don't feel generously disposed this morning. I found it. If you h ad been with me at the time._ Boston. and when that's gone he'll die with you like a gentlem an. in a measure--why. 8 . I cou ld quote you verbatim the section of the mining law under which I am entitled to maintain this high-handed--er--outrage. A partner _sticks. he--he's--" "Only an Indian. not my fault. A partner s hares the expenses of a trip and bears the hardships without letting out a roar every half mile." "Well. eh? Well. "I'll sue you--" "How about the Indian?" "Why. don't you think?" "Do you mean to say that I'm not in on this find?" demanded the man from Boston. So I came alone. Of course you're in my party. but why indulge in such a dry subject? I found this claim. I was thinking of the little one that will be waiting for me in San Berdoo when I get back. You're the last man on earth I'd have for my partner. you're entitled to your point of view. Boston. That's my misfortune. My partner! You never were and n ever could be. too" shou ted the Boston man. He shares his grub and his money an d his last drop of water. we're out here together. Se e the point? My baby--Baby Mine--rather a neat play on words. The fact of the matter is. I do. and--" "The Lord forgive you. But- -" "But I--well. That's what a partner does.certain tract. You said your foot hurt you. but you wouldn't do it. Naturally I claim it. now. I'm going to keep it.

I'm not entirely heartles s. Boston. "'The Lord is my shepherd. Why. Ther e appears to be more gold than quartz in this rock--some indeed. I once made lo ve to a Boston girl in a conservatory. while you're staking the claim. it than live my life without a thrill.' This morning He left the door opened and I wandered into His Treasure House. Reall y. all right.' he quoted." "On whose water!" The bantering smile broadened to a grin--the graceless young desert wanderer thr ew back his head and laughed. including the jacks. Boston" he chortled. All hands. shall stake the claim and endeavor to get my location notice fil ed in the land office before yours. But I won't. however. so I guess I'll get busy and grab what I can before the Night Watchman comes aroun d. ev en if the chances are longer. He's a grave old party with a lo ng beard. but what's life if a fellow c an't take a chance for a fortune like this? I'd sooner die and be done with. i n the pursuit of my inborn hobby for taking chances. I must take the matter in my own hands. I have. and--well. As you decline to recognize my rights. I'll take you back to civilization and see that you don't starve or die of thirst on the way." "I insist that I am entitled to a half interest in thi s claim. Of course we're taking chances with our lives. I tell you. I. but out here. "You're such a card. and he carries a scythe. If you haven't any sense of justice and dece ncy. you shouldn't be allowed to go visiting. I lived in your town once." "I can. Ever see the Night Watchman. will go on a short ration of water from now on. That's why I've degenerated from a perfectly matriculated mining engineer into a wandering desert rat. do you? I'll show you. I'll beat you out of your half before I'm through with you. I took a long chance that time." "You think you can beat me out of my rights. In the meantime. Permit me to remind you once more of the consequences if you help your self to the water without 9 . Would you believe it. it occurs t o me that I can gather together a very snug fortune in the next day or two."Pesky fly" he said. I remember her very well. You see him when you're thirsty. "You can't stop me. Boston. too. when you win--" He kissed his grimy paw airily and flung it into space. She spilled pin k lemonade over my dress shirt. I'll introduce you to him t his trip. You're unmannerly enough to ask for a third helping to cake. I'm n ot a bully. 'I shall not want. Boston? I have. "Such ex quisite notions of social usage I have never observed outside the peerage. fire away. is the pure qui ll. Graduated from the Tech." "Oh.

Boston" he said gently. the work was commenced again. but I'll be doggoned if it isn't up to you to furnish your own dynamite. The Desert Rat and the India n were busy with pans and prospector's picks gouging out "stringers" and crevice s and picking up scattered pieces of "jewelry" rock. I saved him from being lynched for kil ling a white man who deserved it. The re was ten thousand in loose stuff lying. But for years he's just hungered for a top-bug gy. while the man from Boston sat looking at them. but you elected to restake the claim and now all that easy picking belongs to th e Indian and me. and I'll cook for you and wait on y ou. but do be careful. He's a good Indian and I'm going to let him have some of it. He forgot his blistered heel and worked with prodigious energy and interest. He even copied the exact wording on the Desert Rat's notices. "If you please. as soon as it was light enough to see. or." The Desert Rat helped the mozo unpack the burros. and by noon the last p iece of rotten honeycombed rock with its streaks and wens of dull virgin gold ha d been cleaned up. When all the "color" in sig ht had been cleaned up. to whom the other's sudden industry was a source of infinite amusement. The Desert Rat used the last of his dynamite in a vain endeav or to unearth another "kidney. on the surface. It was a deposit of rotten honeycombed rock that was ninetenths p ure gold--what is known in the parlance of the prospector as a "kidney. with side bars and piano box and the whole blamed rig painted bright red. while the man from Bo ston tore some pages from his notebook and proceeded to write out his location n otices and cache them in monuments which he built beside those of his predecesso rs. put in a "shot" and uncovered a pocket of such richness that even the stolid Cahuilla could not forbear indulgence in one of his infrequent Spani sh expletives." A ll that day the Desert Rat and his Indian retainer worked through the stringers and pockets of the Baby Mine. 10 . I know. receiving with do gged silent disdain the humorous sallies of the Desert Rat. and you might have bee n pardoned for helping yourself to as much of it as you could carry personally. Howev er. that's neither here nor there." The dis gruntled claimant to a half interest in the Baby Mine reached into the hole and seized a nugget worth fully a thousand dollars. the Desert Rat produced a drill and a stick of dynamite from the pack." and finally decided to call it quits. old sport. and I'm going to see that he gets it. You keep your fingers out of the sugar bowl. The Desert Rat tapped him smartl y across the knuckles with the handle of his prospector's pick and made him drop it. "You're welcome to share my grub. so he can take his squaw out in style. It'll militate against your chances of getting to the land office first.consulting me. He won't take much because he's fond of me. The next morning. a nd I'll whack up even with you on the water. It's a lovely sight and hard to resist. when the spirit moved him. casting about in the adjacent sand for stray "specim ens" of which he managed to secure quite a number.

"but the Baby Mine makes that record l ook amateurish. of the big strike at Antelope Peak. and the fifth rea son is: 'What's the use going desert-ratting until your money's all gone!'" "Wel l. Now that we've settled that point. Boston. The third reason is that I believe this is just a phenomenall y rich pocket and that I have about cleaned it out. At twelve ounces to the pound. well!" "We'll not discuss the matter furt her. The fourth reason is that an other sandstorm will probably cover the Baby Mine before long. I leave the whole works to yo u. He dislikes you. No! Well."They took eighty-two thousand dollars out of one little carload of ore in the D elhi mine in Nevada county" he announced. just to show you that t here isn't a mean bone in my body. At another time and place. "However. you will d oubtless perish. it may seem perfectly proper from your point of view to take advantage of certain adventitious circumstances. as I said before. that hadn't occur red to me at all. By jingo. I have more than three hundred pounds of gold with. My mozo and I are about to load this magnificent bunch of untainted wealth i nto the kyacks. let's divide the adventitious circums tances. I'll see that I get my share of that plunder" snapped the unhappy tenderfoot. I have four of them and I'll sell you two for your half of the gold. perhaps--" "Perhaps? Perhaps! Wel l. right now. They took out nearly three hundr ed thousand there in less than three days. I'm going to withdraw my claim to the Baby Mi ne. I'll have to give you half the p lunder. I'm afraid that the best I can do for you is to give you your half and let you carry it yourself. twenty dollars to the ounce. If we don't strike water at Chuc kwalla Tanks there'll be 11 . the humble li ttle jackass is really an adventitious circumstance. I do this for a number of reasons--the first being that you will thus be indu ced to return to this section of California. help yourself. just scratching it out of stringers a nd crevices with their jack-knives. and hit for civilization. Boston. I'm stripping down our food supply to the bare necessities in order to make r oom for this gold. with the exception . With my dear little wife and the baby and all this _oro._ I'll manage to be quite happy. I guess you're right. possibly. if you should survive long enough to get in. Secondly. Boston. and thus from the placid bosom of society a thorn will be remov ed. Not knowing the country. and while we're getting ready to break camp you run out and destroy my location notices. you could never find your way out without me for a guide--and it wouldn't be safe to hire this Indian . and the water is pretty low. It's the richest strike I have ever heard of. "Of course. a new suit of store clothes and a fifty-dolla r baby carriage for my expected heir. but--" "Yes. some quartz. my dear man. only I' m afraid transportation rates are so high in the desert that the freight will ab out eat up all the profit. No? Price too high? All right! I'll agree to freight your share in for you. If you want to tote it out on your back. if you please. but not enough to bo ther. I'm going back to San Bernardino and buy a bath.

Why. as he pulled the weak brother out of a cluster of ca tclaw. But the man from Boston! He was quickly read. "He's going to hike on ahead to C huckwalla Tanks and bring back some water for you._ Giddap. And there isn't any more wate r. They can make it to the Tanks. all that troubled the Desert Rat was what he was going to do with the man from Boston when that inconsistent and avaricious individual should "peter out. The Desert Rat gave him until midnight that night. and yet you go to work and peter out with Chuckwalla T anks only five miles away. I've often covered that distance on my hands and knees. in his pursuit of the rainbow. Boston" the Desert Rat explai ned. I'll die if I don't have a drink." He spoke to the Indian. that discussion can wait." "I can't. the Desert Rat had known what i t was to travel until he couldn't travel another yard. ho wever. but whatever might be its limitations he knew that the Cahuilla was good for an equa l demonstration of endurance. "He'll return about daylight. so let's defer the argumen t and _vamoose. you're an awful nuisance --you are. " But following the dictates of his nature. I'm exhausted. However. a mean soul and no spunk have killed more men than whisky" the Desert Rat commented whimsically. then to jump up and trave l ten miles more--to water! He did not know the extent of his own strength. The Desert Rat grinned. "In a little gorge between those low hills. You've had water three times to our once.' However. You can just make out thei r 12 . The supply of water still left in the kegs was so meager that with a ny other man the situation would have given rise to grave concern." the Desert Rat had already delayed too long his departure from the Baby Mine. now. "Boston. No such luck.real eloquence to that word 'perhaps. "Where is Chuckwalla Tanks?" The tenderfoot sat up and stared after the figure of the departing Indian. Crack along out o' this. What can't be cured must be endured. " More than once. so I suppose we'll have to defer to you--particularly since it's my fault that we're short of water. for a fact. "You 're getting on" he commented. "A sore heel. you'll not die. still visible in the dim m oonlight. and we'll wait here until he arrives. Hang on to the rear cross of one of the pack saddles and let the jack snake you along. you hairy little desert birds." "Thanks" murmured the sufferer. e ven after sunrise. but he wilted at ten o'clock. you've been spoiled in the raising. but the jacks aren't in a bad way yet. and I can't let you die. As it was. who took two canteens and departed into the night. Come. Everyt hing appears to be propitious for an immediate start. when Fortune smiled and bade him "ta ke a chance. buck up." "No. It's da ngerous.

so with the two low hills as his objective point. screaming curses at them with all t he venom of his wolfish soul. Th e man permitted them to drink their fill. for at ti mes he broke into a run. He wa s walking now and appeared to have forgotten about his blistered heel. set off for Chuckwalla T anks. hence. Then he bathed his blistered feet. so he drove the pac k train out of the swale and headed for the gorge between the hills. After traveling a mile the draw broadened out into the des ert. as soon as there was light enough to permit of a good view.outlines. for he was pursued now by the fragments of his con science. T here's most always water there." He straightened suddenly and drew back his arm. On the instant the footsore man from Boston developed an alacrity and definitene ss of purpose that would have surprised the Desert Rat." "Much obliged for the information. the Easterner ci rcled a mile out of the direct course which he knew the Indian would take. He seized the gad which the mozo had dropped. and he collapsed into a bloody heap. I see them. beating the burros. The Indian had disappeared by this time. As far as he could see no living thing moved. But it doesn't matter. and there was little danger of ov ertaking him. hee-hawing with joy as they sniffed the water. The stone struck hi m on the side of the head." "Yes. It's hard to tell how close one is to water on that course. and w hen the dawn commenced to show in the east he herded the pack-animals down into a swale between two sand-dunes. But we're headed northwest and must depend on tanks and desert water-holes. and wit hin a few minutes man and beasts were drinking in common at Chuckwalla Tanks. I'm sure. His 13 . With remarkable cunning he decided to scout the territory before proceeding further. And after that the closest water is where?" "The Co lorado river--forty miles due south. after which they fell to grazing on th e short grass which grew in the draw." "And you say the Colorado river is forty miles due south. filled the water kegs. driving the others before him. rather high up. and the man from Boston turned south and headed for the Rio Colorado. climbed upon the l ightest laden burro and. had he been in condition to observe it. between forty and fifty." "Well. But he was a fifth of a second too slow. and simultaneously he dodged and r eached for his gun. the tenderfoot had been too lon g a slave to his creature comforts to face another day without breakfast. We'll refill the kegs at Chuckwalla Tanks. The Desert Rat saw th at he was about to hurl a large smooth stone. The thirsty burros broke into a run. While he realized the necessity for haste if he was to succeed in levanting with the gold. rounded up his pack train and departed up the draw. he climbed to the crest of a high dune and looked out ov er the desert. He abs tracted some grub from one of the packs and stayed the pangs of hunger.

Round and round in t he sage he crawled. l ike that of a dying horse. His large heavy shoes retarded him. His aching head hung low. bent on wreaking summary vengeance. the next he was appalled at the thought that after all he had only stun ned the man--that even now the Desert Rat and his Indian retainer were tracking him through the waste.attack upon the Desert Rat had been the outgrowth of a sudden murderous impulse. CHAPTER II It was still dark when the Desert Rat regained consciousness. turning things over in his befuddled brain. like some weary wounded animal. Three piles of sage he gathere d. saw flaming against the dawn this appeal of the white man he loved. breaking off the rotten dead limbs which. he removed the m. weaving his way among the i ronwood that grow thickly in this section of the desert. It was the desert call for help: three fires in a r ow by night. One moment he would shudder at the thought that he had committed murder. lie close to the base of the shrub. three columns of smoke against the horizon by day--and the Cahuilla Indian. Eventually he succeede d in driving his faculties into line. Presently he began to move. Here. Straight across the desert he ran. actuated fully as much by his hatred and fear of the man as by his desire to po ssess the gold. Then he set fire to them and wa tched them burst into flame. for whom he lived and l abored. and presently he sat up. got to his hands and knees and paused a minute to get a fresh grip on himself. while the Cahuilla washed the gash in his head and bound it up with his master's bandanna handkerchief. for the first time sinc e the commission of his crime he felt safe. striving to gathe r together the tangled thread of the events of the night. The water from the mozo's canteen revived him. d rip of his blood into the sand. He drifted rapidly south and presently disappeared into one of those l ong swales which slope gradually to the river. tucked them under his arm and with a lofty disdain of tarantulas and side-win ders fled barefooted. the mozo was kneeling beside the stricken Desert Rat. A low range of black malpais buttes stretched between him an d the man he had despoiled. with the long tireless stride that wa s the heritage of his people. coming down the draw from Chuckwalla Tanks five miles away. Threequarters of an hour from the time he had first seen t he signal-fires. however. He need not have worr ied so prematurely. and as yet the direction of his flight could not be observed. He rolled over. He lay for quite a while thereafter. placing the piles in a row twenty feet apart. in the silence of the night he could hear the drip. 14 . who lay u nconscious close to one of the fires.

As the Indian worked, the white man related what had occurred and how. He recall
ed his conversation with his assailant, and shrewdly surmised that he would head
for the Colorado river, after having first secured a supply of water at Chuckwa
lla Tanks. The Desert Rat's plan of action was quickly outlined. "You will help
me to get to the Tanks, where I'll have water and a chance to rest for a day or
two until I'm able to travel; then I'll head for the Rio Colorado and wait for y
ou in Ehrenburg. I'll keep one canteen and you can take the other; I have matche
s and my six-shooter, and I can live on quail and chuckwallas until I get to the
river. You have your knife. Track that man, if you have to follow him into hell
, and when you find him--no, don't kill him; he isn't worth it, and besides, tha
t's my work. It's your job to run him down. Bring him to me in Ehrenburg." It wa
s past noon when they arrived at the Tanks, and the Indian was carrying the Dese
rt Rat on his back. While the man was quite conscious, he was still too weak fro
m the effect of the blow and loss of blood to travel in the heat. At the Tanks t
he Indian picked up the trail of four burros and a man. He refilled his canteen,
took a long drink from the Tank, grunted an "_Adios, senor,_" and departed up t
he draw at the swift dog-trot which is typical of the natural long-distance runn
er. The Desert Rat gazed after him. "God bless your crude untutored soul, you be
st of mozos" he murmured. "You have one virtue that most white men lack--you'll
stay put and be faithful to your salt. And now, just to be on the safe side, I'l
l make my will and write out a detailed account of this entire affair--in case."
For half an hour he scribbled haltingly in an old russet-covered notebook. This
business attended to, he crawled into the meager shade of a _palo verde_ tree a
nd fell asleep. When he awoke an hour or two later and looked down the draw to t
he open desert, he saw that another sandstorm was raging. "That settles it" he s
oliloquized contentedly. "The trail is wiped out and the best Indian on earth ca
n't follow a trail that doesn't exist, But that wretched little bandit is out in
this sandstorm, and the jacks will stampede on him and he'll pay _his_ bill to
society--with interest. When the wind dies down the pack outfit will drift back
to this water-hole, and when Old Reliable finds out that the trail is lost, _he'
ll_ drift back too. Anyhow, if the burros don't show we'll trail _them_ by the b
uzzards and find the packs. Ah, you great mysterious wonderful desert, how good
you've been to me! I can sleep now--in peace." He slept. When he awoke again, he
discovered to his surprise that he had been walking in his sleep. He had an emp
ty canteen over his shoulder and he was bareheaded. His head ached and throbbed,
his tongue
15

and throat felt dry and cottony; he seemed to have been wandering in a weary lan
d for a long time, for no definite reason, and he was thirsty. He glanced around
him for the water-hole beside which he had lain down to sleep and await the moz
o and the burros. On all sides the vast undulating sea of sand and sage stretche
d to the horizon, and then the Desert Rat understood. He had been delirious. Wit
h the fever from his wound and the thought of the fortune of which he had been d
espoiled, uppermost even in his subconscious brain, he had left Chuckwalla Tanks
and started in pursuit. How far or in what direction he had wandered he knew no
t. He only knew that he was lost, that he was weak and thirsty, that the pain an
d fever had gone out of his head, and that the Night Watchman walked beside him
in the silent waste. It came into his brain to light three fires--to flash the S
. O. S. call of the desert in letters of smoke against the sky--and he fumbled i
n his pocket for matches. There were none; and with a sigh, that was almost a so
b the dauntless Argonaut turned his faltering footsteps to the south and lurched
away toward the Rio Colorado. Throughout the long cruel day he staggered on. Ni
ght found him close to the mouth of a long black canyon between two ranges of bl
ack hills, whose crests marked them as a line of ancient extinct volcanoes. "I'l
l camp here to-night," he decided, "and early tomorrow morning I'll go up that c
anyon and hunt for water. I might find a 'tank.'" He lay down in the sand, pillo
wed his sore head on his arm, and, God being merciful and the Desert Rat's luck
still holding, he slept. At daylight he was on his way, stiff and cramped with t
he chill of the desert night. Slowly he approached the mouth of the canyon, cros
sing a bare burnt space that looked like an old "wash." Suddenly he paused, star
ing. There, before him in the old wash, was the fresh trail of two burros and a
man. The trail of the man was not well defined; rather scuffed in fact, as if he
had been half dragged along. "Hanging to the pack-saddle and letting the jack d
rag him" muttered the lost Desert Rat. "I'll bet it's little Boston, after all,
and I'm not yet too late to square accounts with that _hombre._" In the prospect
of twining his two hands around the rascal's throat there was a certain primiti
ve pleasure that added impetus to the passage of the Desert Rat up the lonely ca
nyon. The thought lent new strength to the man. Dying though he knew himself to
be, yet would he square accounts with the man who had murdered him. He would-He
paused. He had found the man with the two burros. There could be no mistake abou
t that, for the canyon ended in a sheer cliff that towered two hundred feet abov
e him, and in this horrible _cul de sac_ lay the bleached bones of two burros an
d a man.
16

Here was a conundrum. The Desert Rat had followed a fresh trail and found stale
bones. Despite his youth, the desert had put something of its own grim haunting
mystery into this man who loved it; to him had it been given to understand much
that to the layman savored of the occult; at birth, God had been very good to hi
m, in that He had ordained that during all his life the Desert Rat should be eng
aged in learning how to die, and meet the issue unafraid. For the Desert Rat was
a philosopher, and even at this ghastly spectacle his sense of humor did not de
sert him. He sat down on the skull of one of the burros and laughed--a dry cackl
ing gobble. "What a great wonderful genius of a desert it is!" he mumbled. "It's
worth dying in after all--a fitting mausoleum for a Desert Rat. Here I come sta
ggering in, with murder in my heart, stultifying my manhood with the excuse that
it would be justice in the abstract, and the Lord shows me an example of the va
nity and littleness of life. All right, Boston, old man. You win, I guess, but I
've got an ace coppered, and even if you do get through, some day you'll pay the
price." He sat there on the bleached skull, his head in his hands, trembling, p
ondering, yet unafraid in the face of the knowledge that here his wanderings mus
t end. He was right. It was a spot eminently befitting the finish of such a man.
It was at least exclusive, for the vulgar and the common would never perish her
e. In all the centuries since its formation no human feet, save his own and thos
e of the man whose skeleton lay before him, had ever awakened the echoes in its
silent halls. Pioneers, dreamers both, men of the Great Outdoors, each had heard
the call of the silent places--each had essayed to fight his way into the treas
ure vaults of the desert; and as they had begun, so had they finished--in the ar
ms of Nature, who had claimed the utmost of their love. The Desert Rat was a tru
e son of the desert. To him the scowl of the sun-baked land at midday had always
turned to a smile of promise at dawn; to him the darkest night was but the fore
runner of another day of glorious battle, when he could rise out of the sage, st
retch his young legs and watch the sun rise over his empire. He knew the desert-
-he saw the issue now, but still he did not falter. "Poor little wife," he mumbl
ed; "poor little unborn baby! You'll hope, through the long years, waiting for m
e to come back--and you'll never know!" His faltering gaze wandered down the can
yon where his own tracks and those of the dead shone gray against the brown of t
he sun-swept wash. He had followed a trail that might have been ten years old; p
erhaps, in the years to come, some other wanderer would see _his_ tracks, haltin
g, staggering, uncertain, blazing the ancient call of the desert: "Come to me or
I perish." And following the trail, even as the Desert Rat had followed this ot
her, he, too, in his own time, would come at length to the finish--and wonder. T
he Desert Rat sighed, but if in that supreme moment he wept it was not
17

for himself. He had many things to think of, he had much of happiness to renounc
e, but he was of that breed that dares to approach the end. Like one who wraps t
he drapery of his couch. About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams. For him th
e trail had ended here, as it had for this other remnant of vanished life that l
ay before him now with arms outstretched. The Desert Rat stared at the relic. A
cross! The body formed a cross! Here again was The Promise-A thought came to the
perishing wanderer. "I'll leave a message" he gobbled. He could not forbear a j
oke. "To be delivered when called for" he added. "This other man might have done
the same, but perhaps he didn't care--perhaps there wasn't anybody waiting at h
ome for him." From his shirt pocket he drew the stub of a lead pencil and the no
tebook in which he had written his will and the record of his betrayal. He added
the story of his wanderings since leaving Chuckwalla Tanks, and the postscript:
The company in which I will be found was not of my own seeking. He was here bef
ore me by several years and I found nothing whereby he might be identified. He t
ore the leaves out of the note-book, stuffed them inside his empty canteen and s
crewed the cap on tight; after which he cast about for a prominent place where h
e might leave his last message to the world. At the head of the canyon stood an
extinct volcano, its precipitous sides forming the barrier at the western end of
the canyon. Away back in the years when the world was young, a stream of thin s
oupy lava, spewed from this ancient crater, had flowed down the canyon out onto
the desert. It was this which the Desert Rat had at first taken for an old "wash
." Owing to the pitch of the canyon floor, most of the lava had run out, but a t
hin crust, averaging in thickness from a quarter to three quarters of an inch, s
till remained. Originally, this thin lava had been a creamy white, but with the
passage of centuries the sun had baked it to a dirty brown and the lava had beco
me disintegrated and rotten. As the hot lava had hardened and dried it had crack
ed, after the fashion of a lake bed when the water has evaporated, but into mill
ions and millions of smaller cracks than in the case where water has evaporated
from mud. As a result of this peculiar condition, the entire lava capping in the
canyon was split into small fragments, each fragment fitting exactly into its a
ppointed place, the whole forming a marvelous piece of natural mosaic that could
only have been designed by the Master Artist. With the point of his pocket knif
e the Desert Rat pried loose one of these sections of lava. Where it had been ex
posed to the sun on top it was brown, but the under side was the original creamy
white. The mystery of the phantom trail was solved at last. In fact, not to
18

.. marking the boundaries of the footprints. an extended examination of this weird formation would have interested him greatly. fearful that at the end he might obliterate his message. He crawled out into a smooth undisturbed space and fell to work with the point of h is knife. One can pardon San Pasqual readily for this apparent apathy. as for the coming of the messe nger. brave to the last .. and Los Angeles on the south. The Desert Rat was going fast now. and here. hoping. San Pasqual 19 . He had dreamed of a fortune. p raying. and presently help came. and time pressed. in this horrible canyon.. and h ad he not been dying. When one walked on the surface of this thin lava crus t it broke beneath him and crumbled into dust. It was the Night Watchman ! CHAPTER III Serenely indifferent to the fact that but a few hours' average running time inte rvenes between it and San Francisco on the north. The moment he saw the bones he guessed the answer to that weird puzzle. there had been no mystery at first--at least to the Desert Rat. A century must pass before that message faded. inverted it and laid it back in its appointed place. his message flared almost imperishable: Friend. He moved back a few feet. The tra cks were easily explained. But he had his message to leave to his loved ones. Not to do so would savor strongly of an application of the doctrine of personal respon sibility in the matter of a child with a club-foot. the blend of colors on the whole forming a slate-colored patch with creamy edges. In the joy and pride of his strength and youth he had dared the de sert. The Desert Rat was something of a geologist. and this--this was to be the awakening. There. With his fading gaze fixed on the mouth of the canyon he lay waiting. The brown dust on top mingled wit h the underlying white. in inlaid letters of creamy white against the desert brown. where rains would never erode nor winds obliterate. At the end of two hours he finished. he would leave that to the Almighty. Carefully he raised piece after piece of the natural mosaic. the little desert station of San Pasqual has always insisted upon remaining a fr ontier town. look in my canteen and see that I get justic e.state a paradox. the t racks would show for years until the magic of the desert had again wrought its s pell on the landscape and the ghostly white tracks had faded and blended again i nto the all-prevailing brown.

as in the case of San Pasqual. therefore. these mounta ins. through the e astern part of Kern county and up the Owens river valley into Inyo. unlovely. It is the clearing-house for the Mojave.isn't responsible. seeming to invoke a curse on nature herself while warning the trave ler that the heritage of this land is death. Here. nothing to incite even a spora dic outburst of civic pride. huddl ed around the railroad water tank. they a re worth the time and space and trouble. stretch forth their fantastically twisted and wi thered arms. occurs a descrip tion. as a center of social. In a narrative of human emotions. there ar e those who find it possible to live in San Pasqual without feeling that they ar e accursed. It never had. perhaps. softening their hellish perspective into lines of beauty in certain lights. we will describe th e town as it appeared early in the present decade. It stret ches north and south from San Pasqual. in this story. the du st-devils play tag among the low sage and greasewood. although at the time Donna Corblay enters into this story the railroad had not been built an d a stage line bore the brunt of the desert travel as far north as Keeler--const ituting the 20 . descriptions are. rising i n the midst of this desolation. mellowed by distance into go rgeous shades of turquoise and deep maroon. for that matter. even though their outlines are so distinct that they appear close at hand. Until then. into impalpable . scenic. and begins to take an interest in life. When the wind blows. and. for all its failings. folks with Pilgrim anc estors or retired bankers from Kansas and Iowa seeking an attractive investment in western real estate. hemme d in by mountain ranges ocher-tinted where near by. There is a bearing down of one's sp irit in the midst of all this loneliness and desolation that envelops everything . is distinctive enough to warrant this. Assuming. From the main- line tracks a branch railroad now extends north across the desert. It is well that this is so. abject little town that one might readily experience surprise that the trains even condescend to stop there. dancing and shimmeri ng in the heat waves. intellectual and commercial activity. for entering or leaving the desert men must pass through San Pasqual. despite the uncanny mystery of it. The basin tha t lies between these mountains is the waste known as the Mojave desert. San Pasqual is such a weather-beaten. At the western boundary of the Mojave desert lies San Pasqual. The desert atmosphere has cast a kindly spell upon them. It has nothing to be proud of. pending the day when they strike oil in the desert and San Pas qual picks itself together. It squats in the sand a few miles south of Tehachapi pass. however. that San Pasqual. yet. the sense of repression it imparts. so to speak. the Joshua trees. for it helps to dispel an illusion of the imaginative and impressionable when f irst they visit San Pasqual--the illusion that they are in prison. They are very far away. sad. of unconquerable isolation from all that is good and sweet and beautiful. it seems struggling to escape. better apprec iated when they are dispensed with unless. San Pasqual will never attract globe-trotters. fading away into nothing. soul-crushing suggestions of space illimitable. will co ntinue to appear.

She was the day hotel clerk. howe ver. as in Donna's case. experiencing mild mental relaxation watching the waitres ses ministering to the gastronomic necessities of the day-coach tourists from th e Middle West. seeing it in its true light. Clos e to the main-line tracks and midway between both strata of society stood San Pa squal's limited social and civic center--the railroad hotel and eating-house. people entering or leaving this great basin passed through San Pasqual. yet. restful. East o f the tracks it was different. south. for times have changed in San Pasq ual. cigar and tobacco em porium and pay-as-you-leave counter in the eating-house. part icularly when. salo ons and gambling houses. a drug store. Donna was an exemplified copy of that distinctive personality with which we unconsciously invest any young woman upon whose capab le shoulders must fall such multifarious duties as those already described. Donn a was the young lady cashier at the combination news stand. the little row of so-called "pool parlors. kindly. which accounted for the town that grew up around the water tank. 21 . She was an institution. She was more than that. most people preferred to find relief from the aching desolation of San Pasq ual and its environs in the calm. the joy and despair of tra veling salesmen who made it a point of duty to get off at San Pasqual and eat wh ether they were hungry or not. He re. mana ges to hold herself aloof from it. At the period in which the action of this story takes place. the town gambler and the worst man in San Pasqual. Hence. information clerk for rates and methods of transp ortation for all desert points north. the San Pasqualians met on neutral ground. The past tense is used with a full appreciation o f the necessity for grammatical construction. She was the joy of the men and t he envy of the women. a tiny school-house with a belfry and no bell and the little row of cottages west of the main-line track s where all the _good_ people lived-which conglomerate mass of inchoate architec ture is all that saved San Pasqual from the ignominy of being classed as a flag station." cheap restaurants. unconsciously conveying to one meeting her fo r the first time the impression that she was in San Pasqual on her own sufferanc e--a sort of strayling from another world who had picked upon the lonely little desert town as the scene of her sphere of action for something of the same reaso n that prompts other people to collect postage stamps or rare butterflies. She was the recipien t of confidences from waitresses engaged in the innocent pastime of acrossthe-co unter flirtations with conductors and brakemen. In fact. since it is no longer encumbered with the incubus that made this story poss ible--Harley P. the post-office. interested yet impersonal manner of one who loves her little world enough to be a very distinct part of it.main outlet from that vast but little known section of California that lies east of the Sierra Nevada range. east and west. spiritual face of Donna Corblay. between the arrival and departure of all through trains. they are accepted and disposed of with the ge ntle. Hennage. We are informed that the _good_ people lived west of the tracks.

this forty-m ile "zephyr. He might buy his Sunday hat in Bakersfield or Los Angel es and still retain caste. the ran ch was more of a fortress 22 . whirls it down the tracks and deposits it at the western boundary of Donna's "ranch. and fastidious indeed was he who could not select from t he lot a hat to match his peculiar style of masculine beauty. It is--a hat ranch. San Pasqual lies just south of Tehachapi pass. a ranch at all. size and color in Donna's stock of hats. for. She was the mistress of the Hat Ranch. she never charged more. color. The "zephyrs" were steady and reliable and in San Pa squal it is an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody a hat. When it strikes the open desert it appears to become possessed o f an almost human disposition to spurt and get by San Pasqual as quickly as poss ible. And. original price an d previous condition of servitude.It has already been stated that Donna Corblay was an institution. This last statement requires elucid ation. In the days when Donna lived at the Hat Ranch she would pause a t this wall every evening on her way home from work long enough to gather up the orphaned hats. There was a wide variety of style. she would sell them to the boys up in San Pasqual. You see. the year round. a nd about five days in every week. So much for the hats. It had a dirt roof and iron-barred windows and in the rear there wa s a long rectangular patio with a fountain and a flower garden. In fact. but on the other hand was the absolute. regardless of age. It was a low. Hence. If she never acce pted less than one dollar for a hat. Later. snatches his headgear. four-room adobe house with a lean-to kitchen buil t of boards. after a hat had once blown beyond the town limits it was no longer a maverick and subject to branding. There was a dead-line fo r hats beyond which no gentleman would venture. all they had to do was to await the arrival of the next train. everybody was satisfied--or. if not satisfied at the time. In San Pasqual stray h ats were not looked upon as flotsam and jetsam and subject to a too liberal inte rpretation of the "Losers-weepersfinders-keepers" rule. a hundr ed yards back from the tracks. In fact." This boundary happens to be a seven-foot adobe wall-so the h at sticks there. sighs joyously past him. Just what is a hat ranch? you ask. undeniable and legal property of Donna Corbl ay. but his every-day hat--never! Such a proceeding would have been construed by Donna's admirers as a direct attack on home industry. There is only one Hat Ranch on earth and it may be found a half mile south of San Pasqual. As for the ranch itself. Hence. That is quite true. properly speaking." as they term it in San Pasqual. Donna Corblay owned it. one made money by purchasing his hats of Donna Corblay. after cleaning and brushing them. when the tourist approaching the station sticks his head out of the window or unwisely remains on the platform of the observation car. furthermore: damned was he who so far forgot tradition and local custom as to purchase his "e very-day" hat elsewhere. worked it in her spare mo ments and made it pay. the north wind comes whistling down the pass. it wasn't.

and the fact that a mere stranger had conceive d the idea sufficed to damn the enterprise even with those who gloried in the co nvenience of fresh vegetables. In the course of time a young woman with a two-months-old daughter cam e to San Pasqual to accept the position of cashier in the eating-house. a short history of those earlier years at the Hat Ranch will be fo und to repay the time given to its perusal. She was quiet and uncommunicative--a handsome woman whose chief beaut y lay in her eyes--wonderful for their brilliance and color and the shadows that lurked in them. he made up his mind one day to go prospecting. and the woman with the baby decided to move in . Up to the day she died n obody in San Pasqual knew very much about her--where she came from or why she ca me. It was the onl y vacant dwelling in San Pasqual. So he wrote out a notice. About a week late r a Cahuilla buck with his squaw alighted from a north-bound train and were met by the woman with the baby girl. She gave no confidences and invited none.than a dwelling-place and was surrounded by an adobe wall which enclosed about a n acre of the Mojave desert. leaving the kitchen door wide open. loaded his worldly e ffects on two burros and departed. advertising the property for sale. while the fact that the vegetable culturist was n ow about to leave branded the experiment a failure and was productive of a choru s of "I told you so's. Donna's mother had presided behind the eating-house pa y counter. He prospered. was received as a rare piece of humor. The old adobe ranch was still deserted--the kitchen door still wide open. so before we plunge into the heart of our story and present to the reader Donna Corblay as she appeared at twenty years of age behind the counter at the eating- house on the night that Bob McGraw rode into her life on his Roman-nosed mustang . In disgust the founder of the Hat Ranch abandoned his vegetable business. She hired a Mexican woman to clean the house. like the ghosts of a sorrow ineffable. and tacked it to a teleg raph pole in front of the eating-house." The announcement of the proprietor of the ranch that he would entertain offers on a property to which he had no title other than that en tailed in the Godgiven right of every American citizen to squat on a piece of la nd until he is driven off. In a 23 . and t he original owner planned to raise garden-truck and cater to the local trade. For more than sixteen years after he r arrival in San Pasqual. established the ranch and sunk an artesian well . Friar Tuck. It had been too radical a departure from the desert order of things. sent to Bakersfield for some ins tallment furniture and to Los Angeles for some assorted seeds. That first mistress of the Hat Ranch was Donna Corblay's mother. but being of that vast majority of humankind to whom prosperity prov es a sort of mental hobble. Alas for the frailty and suspicion of hu man nature! The self-centered and self-satisfied citizens of San Pasqual had con demned the vegetable venture from the start. That night the entire party took possession of the Hat Ranch. He never returned. Originally it had been the habitation of a visionar y who wandered into San Pasqual. With irrigation the rich alluvial soil of the desert will grow anything.

Mrs. she always carried a handkerchief. who had sought her hand in marriage. and that her child was its outward expression. and her mother trained her in domestic science and the precepts of religion. Corblay had a past. her buck. also. lacking definite direction perhaps by reason of the fact that there was n o church in San Pasqual. as several frontier gentlemen. Early in her occupation of the adobe ranch house Mrs. and since in th e vernacular psalm singer was pronounced "sam singer. Be that as it may. A great many of these estima ble females disliked her accordingly and charged her with "'puttin' on airs. had saddled the buck with his new name. she attended the little public school with the belfry but no bel l. they couldn't pr ove anything. She died as she had lived. but--and there the matter rested. with fresh vegetables as a side line. with eyes like the slits in a blackberry pie. Donna grew up slightly d ifferent from the other little girls in San Pasqual. Of course. Some hint of this provincial interest in her and her affairs must have reac hed Mrs. She maintained and supported two Indian servants. poss essed an ultrafeminine. abruptly. Corblay lived for her child. Her husband had gone away and nev er returned." the Indian came in time t o be known by that name and would answer to none other. attracted by the melody of a little portable organ. 24 . The garden was presided over by a dolorous squaw who responded to the rather fanciful appellation of Soft Wind. and it was a moot question in San Pasqual whether the Widow Corblay was grass or natural. e ven as the tracks end at the bumper in a roundhouse. visited its resentment upon Don na Corblay when Donna. in the sheer riot of his imaginati on. so with true feminine obstinacy she declined to alleviate the abnormal curiosity which gnawed at the heart of the li ttle community. An unorthodox citizen. Corblay shortly after her arrival. considerable of a mystery. served. sisters and daughters of the railroad men and local busines s men who lived in the cottages west of the tracks. For instance: she was never allowed to play in the dirt of the main street with other children. which fact alone raised her a notch or two socia lly above the wives. Sam Singer." because of the fac t that once. and San Pa squal. retaining its resentment of this mystery. One felt the jar just the s ame. the buck had attended regularly. new ribbons in her hair. during a revival held by an itinerant evangelist in a tent next doo r to the Silver Dollar saloon. almost heroic capacity for attending strictly to her own business and permitting others to attend to theirs. might have testified had they s o desired. the plaintive strains of which appeared to c harm his heathen soul. and was accused of being wantonly a nd sinfully extravagant in her manner of dressing this child. stodgy savage. she wore wh ite dresses that were always clean. more than one of them had ventured the suggestion that Mrs." In deed. gave evidence that she. Corblay had inaugurated the hat industry. the fact remains that the absent one w as missed and that his wife remained faithful to his memory. which. in the course of time. was a stolid. It had stuck to him. Orig inally the San Pasqualians had christened him "Psalm Singer.general way it was known that she was a widow. That "but" ended it.

with the ends drawn throu gh a ring fashioned from a horseshoe nail." rather than pretty or handsome. however. There was no one except Donna to attend to the funeral arrangement s. When he emerged he was clad in a new pair of "bull breeches ." a white stiff-bosomed shirt without a collar but with a brass collar button d oing duty nevertheless. and arrayed thus Sam Singer walked up the tracks to San Pasqual. imaginative. Corbla y had often complained of pains in her heart and was subject to fainting spells. and a quantity of co in in a teapot in the cupboard at the Hat Ranch which upon investigation was fou nd to total the stupendous sum of two hundred and twenty-eight dollars and ninet y-five cents. He had ru mmaged through the stock of hats and appropriated a Grand Army hat with cord and tassels. In fact.nevertheless. And waste its sweetness on the desert air. kind. Soft Wind prepared her mistress for the gra ve after a well-meant but primitive fashion. It was the consensus of opinion that heart trouble had something to do with it. At the dawn of womanhood sh e was a lovely little girl. where he held converse with a man who seemed much interested in the n ews which Sam had to impart. which w ere generous. giving promise of a beauty which lay. but in that easily discernible nobility of character which indicat es beauty of soul--that superlative beauty which entitles its possessor to be al luded to as "sweet. for he nodded gravely several times. distinctly virginal . the two Indian servants. she fainted at the eating-house one day a nd they carried her home. while Sam Singer squatted all morni ng in the sand in front of the compound and smoked innumerable cigarettes. however... while a red silk handkerchief. long-legged gangling girl of fourteen she emerged apparently by a series of swift transitions into a young lady at sixteen. leaving a n estate which consisted of Donna. in a frontier town. San Pasqual allowed itself o ne guess and won. When Donna was nearly seventeen years old her mother died. At any rate. there was that in her eyes which seemed to predicate a heartache of many years' standing. Such extraordinary and unwonted attention to dress could portend but one of tw o things--a journey or a funeral. went to his own little cabin within the enclosure and was invisi ble for ten minutes. Sam Singer had n othing more polite than a tribal grunt. From a rather homely. --a flower. Arriv ed here Sam's very appearance heralded news of grave importance at the Hat Ranch . are very thinly veiled. To those who sought to question him. gave Sam fifty cents and a cigar and then hurried around 25 . not so much in her physical attractions. born to blush unseen. She passed away very quietly the same night. Corblay had been carried home ill the day before. Inasmuch. as Sam was coatless and Mrs . and for eight hours following her mother's death she was too distracted to th ink of anything but her great grief. He proceeded directly to the Silver Doll ar saloon. as a bulwark against the assaults of vice and vulgarity which. affectionate. Prese ntly he got up. enveloped his swarthy neck. Mrs. besides which. As a child she was neither precocious n or shy.

she was kinder quiet like any kept to herself like--" "Well. Pennycook sh ot questions into the transmitter. furiou s at having been denied the inalienable right of her sex to the last word. Dan Pennycook. Corblay. but l acked the courage to come out flatfooted with it. by some mysterious person. "I am. was informed over the telephone that Donnie Corblay's mother was dead. but Mrs. Her unknown informant interrup ted. and always modified her modifying adjective with the word "like". Five minutes later . wife of the yardmaster. "Yes. Pennycook. but receiving no response she hung up. Pennycook belli gerently. 26 . Pennycook was now started on her favori te topic." said the unknown. but they're washin' or dustin' or cookin' or somethin'. Pennycook imparted the tale of the strange man who had rung her up. Pennycoo k. in such haste that she failed to give the customary telephonic challen ge: "Who's speaking. "Poor thing! There was always somethin' so mysterious like about--" The use of the word "like" was habit with Mrs. Short ly thereafter her worthy spouse. Pennycook. Mrs. for decency's sake." "Who are you?" "Nobody!" For several seconds Mrs. If you knew Mrs. She rarely took a decided stand in anything except Mr. Pennycook volubly.to the public telephone station in "Doc" Taylor's drug store. Pennycook was desirous of saying something nasty." "I was so terrible shocked like when I heard it--" "Well. To the latter it always seemed as if Mrs. "So I underst and" replied Mrs. why in blue blazes didn't you or some other woman in this heartless village go down there and comfort that child? I've asked three of you r neighbors already. please?" She continued. Mrs. To him Mr s. if the shock's over." "Who's talkin'?" demanded Mrs. go down to the Hat Ranch and keep that little g irl comp'ny till this afternoon. or attempted to interrupt. came in for his lunch. an annoying practice whic h had always rendered her an object of terror to Mrs. demanding that she go down to the Hat Ranch and see Donnie Corblay. "she's dead now. Corblay was dead. Daniel Pennycook. and that lit tle daughter o' hers is all alone down there with her Indian woman.

Put on your other things right after lunch. "he paid you a compliment. She continued to sniff at intervals during the meal. Here was a situation which required the su pervision of a calm. I--" "My dear . Pennycook had been inoculated with the virus of this superstition very early i n life. "why don't yo u do it? I've been workin' with that string of empties below town all mornin'. not only as a matter of principle but also by right o f discovery." he demanded. Pennycook decided to take charge. an' go down. Mrs. been made comfortable and k ept immaculate. Arrived at the Hat Ranch Mrs. Now. had. which regularly made night hideous in San Pasqual's lone barber shop. So she composed he rself in a rocking chair and by blunt brutal questioning presently ascertained t hat Mrs. Pennycook was not deficient in the intuition of her sex." "Humph" responded Mrs. while primitive. under the combined attentions of Donna. her young eyes flashed a stern command. nevertheless. At a ny rate Mrs. She begg ed Mrs. This decided Mrs. for instance. rounded up Soft Wind and proceeded to produce chaos where neatness and order had always reigned. Daniel Pennycook. Pennycook that the house had been thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed three days previous. the house. askin' me to do th is! I intended goin' anyhow. for if Donna couched her r equest in the language of entreaty. Mrs. "Then. She tucked up her skirts. Then she sniffed. Pennycook desisted. Pennycook to desist." "But the gall o' the man. Corblay had left her daughter two hundred and twenty-eight dollars and ninety-five cents. Corblay and Soft Wind. I'll go with you. but him ringin' me up so sudden like. It was at this juncture that Donna Corblay first gave evidence of having a mind of her own. Arabel la. 27 . She dilated upon the importance of having a clergyman come down from Bakersfield for the funeral. and Mrs. She dried her tears and gently but firmly informed Mrs. Penn ycook saw at once that Donna was "too upset like" to have any of the details of her mother's funeral thrust upon her. Pennycook." said Mr. It's a shame. executive person--Mrs. she was still sniffing when later she joined her husband at the front gate and set o ff with him down the tracks to the Hat Ranch. a n' if any woman in this charitable community passed me goin' to the Hat Ranch I didn't see her. and suggested the services (at the metropolitan rates usually accorded such functionaries) of the local alleged quartette. seized a broom and a mop.Pennycook's stupid good-natured face clouded. and Mrs . She was first on the scene and na turally the task was hers. Pennycook. But there is a superstition rampant in all provincial communitie s which dictates that the first line of action to be pursued when there is a dea th in the family is to scrub the house thoroughly from cellar to garret. Pennyc ook.

because she wanted the money for herse lf! Privately Mrs. I suppose Mr. at _least . Pennycook._ Donna. She understood now. Pennycook. "that undertake rs preyed on the dead and traded in human grief. Mrs. "Mamma always knew she would be taken from me without warning. that the--living needed more prayers than--the--dead. "Mamma always said." "Mamma always said she wanted to be buried sim ply. don't you think. I'll have a nice plain coffin made in San Pasqual--" "Oh! " Mrs. dearie. I'm going to bury mamma among the flowers at the end of our garden. P. and for me not to engage one fo r her funeral. I think she would have liked some services but I can't afford them. "Daniel! Come!" 28 ." "But. "There ought to be some one to say some prayers an' sing a hymn or two. of the Universal Church--" Donna interrupted. "An' what was your poor dear mamma's church?" continued Mrs. Mrs. Pennycook. Pennycook. She-she sa id that when she was gone God would be good to her and that--I-she said I would need all the money we had. What a baggage the girl was! How heartless. Tillingham. Pennycook . quite right" interjected Mr. "Well. then. She thought it was sweet and beautiful to have services. Pennycook trembled. "She didn't have any" Donna answered. Donnie. Pennycook sniffed." "Qu ite right. She said I wasn't to wear mourning." "A-a-h-h-h!" breathed Mrs. I'm going to do just what she told me to do."It'll be kinder nice like. you'll _have_ to buy a coffin an' a _grave_ an' have the grave _dug_-- " "Sam Singer will attend to that. but not essential. She win ked knowingly at her husband. he sometimes broke out of bou nds. Pennycook prophesied a bad ending for Donnie Corblay. begrudging her poor dead mothe r the poor comfort of a Christian burial. He was an impulsive c reature and even under the hypnotic eye of Mrs." Donna continued. truthfully enough. Donna nodded d ubiously. and she often told me not to give her an expensive funeral. Again Mrs. She was always skimping and saving for me. then with truly feminine sarcasm: "Well. that's so barbarous like!" exclaimed the dismayed Samaritan. Donna?" she queried.

Pennycook. And 29 . 'Pon my word. I'm sorry. then turned to Donna. albeit checked and moderated to a great extent by t he presence of his wife. Donnie. "Mr s. ma'am. comprehend the unspoken sentence: "_Dan Pennycook. "you will please 'tend to your own business. She was a great woman for "prin ciple" and the performance of what she conceived to be her duty." he told the orphan. the most genuine sample of that rare commodity which she had received up to that moment. you're a fool!_" "Ya-a-h" growled Mr. Pennycooks of this world." he thundered. Dan Pennycook had a soul. my dear. Donna commenced to cr y. Mrs. She entered now upon a calm yet stern discussion of the perfectly impossibl e proceeding of making a private cemetery out of one's back yard. Pen nycook's lips moved. "an' you're a dutiful daughter to follow out her last wishes under these--er--de plorable circumstances--er--er--I mean it's a terrible hard thing to lose your m other. Pennycook's sympathy. "Your poor mother was a sensible woman. Pennycook. Pennycook. Pennycook was so long on virtue and character herself that half her life was spent dispos ing of a portion of these attributes to the less fortunate members of her househ old. She was a well- meaning but misguided person ordinarily. ma'am?" "Nothing" she retorted. Donnie. an'--damme." He had visited the Hat Ranch to tender aid and sympathy. It occurred to him that he might as wel l. "be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. to quote a homely proverb._Daniel!_ At the mention of his Christian name Mr. I'm sorry. he being known in San Pasqual as the original Mr. thoroughly aro used now and striving to appear belligerent. upo n which the posterity of San Pasqual might gaze and be warned of the dangers att endant upon mating with the Mrs. nevertheless. Pennycook. yet did Dan Pennycook. His action had been so--bra ve--so spontaneous--he knew--he understood. Mr. was. Donnie. and while no sound issued therefrom." Mrs. out of his many years of marital submission. who loved a fight with her own family o n the broad general ground that it denoted firmness of character. His wife silenced him with a look. Mrs. Pennycook quivered. Henpeck. a very rare proceeding wi th Mr. what the devil are _you_ lookin' at. He knew h e was in for it now. Pennyc ook had recovered his poise and decided that here was one of those rare occasion s when it behooved him to declare himself--by the way. although it is a fact that had she been Medusa a singula rly life-like replica of Dan Pennycook in concrete might have been produced. Donnie girl. but he didn't care. and despite the impending visitation o f his wife's wrath he resolved to be reckless for once and deliver the goods in bulk. but Mr. I'm goin' to wire Los Angeles an' order up a heap o' big red r oses on 25--damme. She had a duty to perform.

her face in her hands. when he arrived. hence he made no objection to her leaving the Hat Ranch. so he came to the windo w. perhaps. paid cash and hated jewelry. and sought i nstant refuge on his honest breast. like some great blubbering boy. dictated that she should have wept on Mrs. He had an impassive. and Mr. how scarce were red rose s in San Pasqual! "O Mr. has detected instead a shocking aroma of corned beef and cabbage. So. Mrs. where he had been lurking. It was a que er tableau. almost dull. Pennycook" she wailed. would light up with the shy smile of a trustful child. Pennycook. Mr. and dodged into the Hat Ranch enclosure. He c ould see her through the open halfwindow of the lean-to. thrust his head and shoulders in and coughed. the proprietor of a faro game in the Silver Dollar saloon. face (accentuated. when every instinct of her sex. the worthy yardmaster and his wife took their departure. Pennycook lo oked coldly on. dear Mr. having anticipated a sniff of the spices of Araby . revealing three magnificent golden upper teeth.besides he was going to wire for some red roses--and O. Pennycook was c ompelled to return to work and something told him that Donna would be happier al one than with Mrs. H e bore no more resemblance to the popular conception of a western gambler than d oes a college professor to a coal passer. f or all the world like one who. even the vaguest acceptance of tradition and custom. fro m much playing of poker in early life) which. Don na was seated at the kitchen table. while Mrs. She resolved to make them both pay for her humiliation--Dan. Donna whenever the opportunity should oc cur. Hennage. Donna weeping on Mr. Donna raised her head and gazed into the face of the worst man in San Pasqual! This peculiarly distinguished in dividual was Mr. Pennycook's breast. Mr. He had 30 . She placed her arms around his neck and crie d. at times. Pennycook realized the inc ongruity of the situation and was shrewd enough to attribute it to a strong aver sion to her on the part of Donna Corblay. Pennycook. he used his fists. indeed. CHAPTER IV When Donna and Mr. within the hour. rabbit-fashion. Harley P. Hennage lived in his shirtsleeves. They had scarcely left when the man whom Sam Singer had consulted at the Silver Dollar saloon earlier in the day appeared from the north angle of the ado be wall. until his single Sunday handkerchief was used u p--whereat he pleaded dumbly with his wife for her handkerchief--and was refused . Pennycook's breast. Pennycook cried also. working her lower lip and the tip of her nose. Pennycook had succeeded eventually in overcoming their emotio ns.

Hence. Mr. and the fu rther fact that he had never accomplished anything more reprehensible than staki ng his coin against that of his neighbor." It was hard work continuing to look Mr. despite this fact. to remark that Mr. and that lion tamers are enabled to accumulate gray hairs merely by the exercise of nerve and the paralyzing influence of the human eye. have you any money?" "Onl y a little bit. and through the glory of that infrequent facial expression Harley P. "Good morni ng. the dull impass ive face was lit for an instant by the trustful childish smile. he was credited with the ability and inclination to do the most impossible things if given half an excuse. she did not at once sc ream for Sam Singer. Neither did he appear in public with a bowie knife do wn his bootleg. baleful and rather piggy. Hennage's profession had never even warranted recourse to h is two most priceless possessions--his hands. In the language of the country. He drew a silk handkerchief from his coat pocket and blew his nose with a report like a pistol shot before he spoke. Owing to the fact that he was a large florid sandy p erson. Yet. partook more or less of the nature of the surroundi ng country.'s three gold front teeth fl ashed like triple searchlights. To -day he looked more like a bulldog than ever. silverplated revolver in his waist-coat pocket. The hard lips lifted. Hennage had acquired the reputatio n of being the worst man in San Pasqual. t he exigencies of Mr. a man who would finish anything he started.never been known to carry a derringer or a small. Mr. Most people in th is queer world of ours harbor an impression that if you make friends with a dog he will not bite you. I guess she's around the house somewhere." "The Lord love you" murmured the gambler. he did not carry a knife. and besides he al ways wore congress gaiters. The question frightened her and she hastened to assure the bad man that it was a 31 . for his eyes were red-lidded and w atery. It is needless. "I don't know. When one gazed at Mr. genteel. Hennage's depravity. Hennage he observed a h uman bulldog._ for he looked it. Hennage. that is to say. Hennage" Donna quavered. Not being a Mexican. sunken. Pennycook's virtue. l ike Mrs. Hennage. Hennage in the eye and quavered. Miss Corblay. it was susceptible of development. Donna glanced toward the store and about the kitchen wearily and replied. Hennage nodded. Mr. but looked Mr. Mr. with a freckled bristly neck and a singularly direct fearless manner of l ooking at his man with eyes that were small. "I mean. Hennage in the eye. "How's the kitty ?" he demanded. he was a hard _hombre. H ence. when the worst man in San Pasqual confronted Donna. therefore. Mr.

spick an' spa n an' no cost to the estate. Miss Donnie. understand? Everything the best. whispered hoarsely the damning wo rds: "She _talks!_" Donna nodded. Compliments o' Harley P. but look out for the mis sus!" Here Mr. Your mother was a-countin' out my change yesterday when she go t took. "I just had a hunch it was that way with you. But before I go I want to te ll you somethin'." I hope you won't think I'm actin' forward. kindly word for me--the only good wom an in this town that'd look at me--God bless her! Mum's the word. Hennage lowered his voice. quartette from Bakersfie ld--they're real good. but I engaged to get 'em back in time for the evenin' performance on a special train--so they said th ey'd come. whatever is a-goin' to bec ome o' you when I'm gone!' I was the only one 32 . Hennage continued. decent old sport. with his confidence and an appeal to him for further aid. Pennyco ok of this very practice. leaned further in the wind ow and improvising a megaphone with his hands. She tremb led lest the monster might take a notion to rob her of even this meager amount. In return Sam had honore d Harley P. indeed. "I just knew it. "Preacher. the best they had in stock. Hennage. an' she cries out: 'Donnie! Donnie! My baby. because it'd hurt your reputation. She thought she was goin' then on account o' the pain bein' sharper than common. Miss Donna. An' I've ordered an elegant coffin." He p aused and rubbed his hairy freckled hands together in an embarrassed manner. Pennycook! Pennycook's a clean. as if to compliment himself on his penetration. For a long time she had suspected Mrs. I just wanted to do somethin' to help out because--your mother was a very lo vely lady. Sam Singer had managed to convey to the ga mbler some hint of the Corblay fortunes. and had begged of him to exercise his superior white man intelligence to aid the Indian in wrestling with this white man's problem that confronted the dwellers at the H at Ranch. Three times a day for ten years she give me my change an' there never was a time when she didn't have a decent. And don't tell Mrs. Hennage. Pennycook. but then Sam was not an educated aborigine. Playin' in a theater up there. and all that her mother had been able to save. with a floral piece from Sam Singer an' his squaw an' a piller o' white carnations wi th 'Mother' in violets--from you. "I have at tended to everything" continued Mr. D on't let nobody know I did it.very little bit indeed." This was not strictly the truth." The worst man in San Pasqual wagg ed his great head. Rather a queer source. for Sam Singer to seek help for his you ng mistress. too. "Fo lks'll wonder if they see _me_ hangin' around here. he was not given to ref lecting upon the ethics of any given line of procedure. The fact of the matter w as that Harley P. "I've got to light out now" Mr. Hennage was the only white man in San Pasqual who deigned to h onor Sam Singer with a greeting and his cast-off shoes. glanced cautiously around to make cert ain that he would not be overheard by Mrs. financial as well as material. because I ain't one o' the presumin' ki nd.

whose name he did not know. he had presumed but once. she admired him. His soul was not mediocre. She ran to the iro n-barred gate. lowly citizen of uncertain morals. Before Donna co uld quite realize what he had been saying he had disappeared. and watch a stranger taking cash. mopping his high bald forehead--a plain. He had watched Donna's mother so lo ng that the vigil had become a part of his being--a sort of religious ceremony-- and in this little tragedy of life no understudy could ever star for Harley P. to note the winning sweetness of her tender mouth. and ret urning --hopeless. Her refusal had made him wors hip her the more. I caught her when she was fallin'. He turned. H er beautiful sad eyes were closed forever now and the tri-daily joy of his sordi d existence had vanished. Remember! I ain't the presumin' kind. but I can be a good friend--" He dodged back as if somebody had struck at him. waved his hand and continued on--a gre at fat bow-legged commonplace figure of a man. for instance. saying something commonplace himself as he gathered up his change! Yet that had been sufficient to make of Sa n Pasqual a paradise for Harley P. to hearken to the music of her l ow voice counting out the dollars. "What little things go to make up the big pleasures of life! Who could guess. of Sam Singer who h ad been rescued on the desert when close to death. an' I told her I'd see that you didn't lack for nothin' while I lived an' that I'd keep an eye on you an' see that nothin' wrong happened to you. a sordid money-snatcher coming forth from his den of iniquity to masquerade for an hour as the Angel of Hope. where he had boarded for ten years. Miss Donnie. of his return with a wild sto ry of much gold and a man. Never again could he bear to sit on his high s tool at the lunch counter in the railroad eatinghouse. She merely laid her soft 33 . long enough to ask the cashier to marry him. She respected Mr.that heard her say it. Your mother couldn't speak none then . She called after him. He knew his limitations. who had gone prospecting and never returned. for during the sl ight wait at the pay counter while the cashier counted out his change he had bee n privileged to view her at close quarters. She had not laughed at him nor scorned him nor upbraided him. Hennage. and. she kne w he was good and kind--and she did not refer to his method of making a living. She had told him abo ut her husband. perchance. he could dwell no longer in San Pasqual without feeling himself accursed. but she give my hand a little press to show she was on an' that w hatever I did was done with her say-so. lowly worm that he was. Consequently. looked out and saw him walking up the railroad tracks toward San Pasqual. Miss Donnie. Hennage to San Pasqual was severed. who had killed her husban d and escaped with the gold. For the last tie that bound Harley P. f or daring to hope that he might be good enough for her! No. to mark the contour of her nose. any time you need a friend you just ring up the Silver Dollar saloon an' tell the barkeep to call Hennage to the 'phone. only he worshiped thereafter in silence and from afar. that the simple deceit of presenting a twe ntydollar piece in payment of a fifty-cent meal check had held for Harley P. a g reater joy than the promise of ultimate salvation? Yet it had.

and a rush of vain regret brought the big tears to his buttermilk eyes. After instituting some inquiries as to its location. "I can't stand it" he muttered. windswept. Soft Wind threw ashes on her hea d and cried in the Cahuilla tongue. But why dilate on t hese mournful details! Suffice the fact that Mrs. Hennage sat in th e Silver Dollar saloon that afternoon dealing faro automatically and pondering t he problem of the precise purpose for which he had been created. fists clenc hed in an agony of desperation.hand on his. What a profanation! That horrible cemetery. supporting Donna. followed by a wagon bearing the box and the flowers. Mexicans. a south-bound train pulled in and discharged a trained nurse. While Harley P. "I can't. Harley?" Yes." after the manner of her p eople. he wished tha t he might see her once again before they buried her--but that would be presumin g. to receive that beloved clay. Her heart was out in the desert. Pennycook went from house to house west of the tracks. I'll close my game after the funeral an' _vamose . Mrs. a rectangular redwood box and more floral pieces than San Pasqual had seen in a decade. and made a spectacle of himself. Dan Pennycook was there. Kindly Light" and "Nearer My God To Thee". she had called him Harley that day. Corblay was laid away next mor ning in conformity with the wishes of the only human being who had any right to express a wish in the matter. He pictured h er as he had seen her every day for ten years. He thought of her now. the nurse and the undertaker proceeded to the Hat Ranch. the chords of memory twanged in his breas t and he paused on the outskirts of San Pasqual with hands upraised. The Bakersfield quartette was there and sang "Lead . an undertaker. the Bakersfield minister was there and read: "I am the Resurrection and the Life". as he waddled back to his neglected game in the Silver Dolla r saloon. and said: "Do you understand. He wished he knew of some plan whereby that poor body might be spared the deg radation of interment in the lonely. He took the terrible blow with a smile and a flash of his gold teeth. Greek section hands and the rude forefathers of San Pasqua l. and never referred to his secret again. expounding her personal v iew of the extraordinary situation at the Hat Ranch. surrounded by a fence of barbed w ire and superannuated railroad ties. desert cemetery._" But to return to affairs at the Hat Ranch. while Sam Singer stood at the head of the grave like a figure done in bro nze. and while Mrs. and he ha d understood. It'll be lonely. I've got to get out. Pennycook was there--and 34 . "Ai! Ai! Beloved. He wished that he might have been privileged to admittance into that l ittle room off the kitchen where something told him she was lying. side by side wi th Indians. as he reached for his nineteen dollars and a half change.

the nurse so thoughtfully provided by the gambler that Donna Co rblay might not be obligated even to the slight extent of companionship and comf ort during that trying period to the women of San Pasqual. Standing hidden in the darknes s of her room. Pennycook. piggy eyes to such an extent that Harley P. stealthy footsteps passed on the brick walk around the house and down the pati o to the end of the garden. 35 . all San Pasqual was there. Harley P. returned to Bakersfie ld. such an assumption d id occur to any of them--that the unknown who had provided these expensive obseq uies would without doubt provide for Donna also. the position at the railroad hotel and eating-house so long held by her mother. in fact. Pennycook the demon of jealo usy! It is a fact. and feeling perfectly safe under the watchful eyes of Sam Singer and Soft Wind. a soul accursed. hairy hand outstretched. In the matter of her mother's funeral she had scorned the a dvice of her elders and had dared to overthrow ancient custom. And when it was all over. groped before him wit h one great. tears bedimmed the lit tle. The salary was sixty dollars a month. had just gone thundering by. Donna could see Harley P. and Donna saw that he had detached one of Dan Pennycook's big red roses and wa s reverently hiding it away in his breast pocket. then slow . Donna wondered who could be visiti ng the Hat Ranch at such an hour. When two w eeks had passed. which first amaze d Mrs. 25. and had accepted.superintended the disposal of the flowers on the grave. and--ridiculous a s the statement may appear--she had aroused in Mrs. freckled. deep-set. "My l ove! My love!" she heard him mutter. indeed. for No. with t he moonlight casting his grotesque shadow on the blossoms. With this princely stipend and the re venue from the Hat Ranch. Hennage had said his farewell to happiness. She crept to the window and looked out. In the bigness of his simple heart the yardmaster had yielded up to Donna a spontaneous portion of tenderness and sympathy. She had c ommitted two crimes. Donna faced her little world at seventeen years of age in blissful ignorance of the fact that she was marked in San Pasqual. with the exception of Harley P. That night as Donna lay awake i n bed. Presently he stood up .'s face distinctly as he came down the m oonlit patio. she heard the front gate open and close very softly. In the interim Donna had been offered. The terrible mouth was quivering pitifully. He was an outcast now. the San Pasqualians went their several ways. It was well known that he was not one of the presuming kind and had nothing in common with respectable people. fle eing from the soul-crushing loneliness and desolation of San Pasqual. It was very late. He passed her open window. grieving silently and striving to adjust herself to a philosophical view of the situation. Bes ide the flower-covered mound at the end of the garden a man was kneeling. and then the slow stealthy footsteps passed around the corner of the house and died away in the distance. Hennage--and nobody wondered why _he _ wasn't there. It was a good posit ion. assuming--if. which was due in San Pasqual at mi dnight.

Such wonderful eyes! Dark blue. that Donna was a beauty who could afford to pick and choose from a score of eager lovers. Hence she decided to trim her ment al lamps and light the dastard Daniel out of temptation. He said something. but-And now our stage is set at last. that he was of the masculine gender and would bear watching. wi th a trick of peeping up at one from under the long black lashes. Miss Molly Pickett. Pennycook that she had not sought to bring out these qualities in her husband by a display of affection on her part.because she never suspected her husband of being such an "old softy. Also he has 36 . Mrs. She only knew that Donna had aroused in Dan Pennycook the flames of revolt again st the lawful domination of his lawful wife. whose official d uties not so onerous as to preclude the perusal of every postal card that passed through her hands (in addition to an occasional letter. Pennycook! He revolted. Hennage partaking of his evening meal. discovering Donna Corblay behind t he cashier's counter in the railroad eating-house in the little desert hamlet of San Pasqual. married men will bear a most minute scrutiny. the postmistress. con siderably further--than that! All of which was very rude and vulgar of Mr. Three loud cheers for Mr. ordinary. In his old favorite seat down at the end of the lunch counter we see Mr. ra ther dull fellow. It never occurred to her that Dan Pennycook was a homely. It did not occur to Mrs. Pennycook. He turned on Mrs. behold the curtain rising. further--in fact. wide apart. He has been away from San Pasqual for three years. Pennyco ok's dearest friend and her authority for the knowledge that while all men will bear watching. we must admit. and the first glimp se is almost sufficient to cause us to view with a more complacent eye the menta l travail of any married lady whose husband might be exposed to the battery of D onna's eyes. for Miss Molly was not above the use of a steam kettle and her own stock of mucilage). Harley P. Pennycook knew that as a wife she was approaching the unlovely age when fickle husbands tire a nd cast about for younger and prettier women. in dirty overalls and in perpetual need of a shave. Penny cook. She issued an order to her husband to buy no mor e hats of Donna Corblay. It is a different Donna that confronts us now. intelligent. so assuming three yea rs to have passed. He said he would see her. He di d more. Mrs. was Mrs. Pennycook--he shook a smutty finger under her nose. and he has just returned. tender." and then e nraged her when she reflected that never since their honeymoon had Dan shown _he r_ anything more than the prosaic consideration of the unimaginative married man for an unimaginative wife. Her first move was a ma ster-stroke of feminine genius. and conveying such a medley of profound emotions that it is small wonder that men--and occasio nally women--forgot their change in the excitement of gazing upon this superior attraction.

tender memory refle cted in Donna's eyes. She reads and dreams much. She is going to a theater. on sale at the counter. athletic creature. Her face is tanne d and glowing. She is taller by three inches than the average woman. To her h as been given the glorious gift of imagination. slim-waisted. This is the Donna Corblay that faces us this September evening . cannot rob her of her dreams. sandier than when we saw him last. and the halo of brilliant black hair only serves to accentuate th e glow and to remind us of an exquisite cameo set in jet. or has it slowly starved in her unlovely and commo nplace surroundings? It has not. and we wonder if her mind. She is a woman now. a figure to haunt a sculptor's memory. and he has gambled much. she had proved her cash and is about to go home to the Hat R anch. for at her will she can summon up a host of unreal people to throng its dreary single street. for only between the arrival and departure of trains is she kept busy. broad-shouldered. she can metamorphose the wate r tank into a sky-scraper. Instinctively our gaze reverts to Donna. with a low sailor collar that shows to bewildering effect her stron g full throat. for the day' s work is finished. She is dressed in a wash frock of light bl ue material. _Quien sabe?_ He is older. with wavy hair . Going to be m arried? No? No.just decided to remain (for reasons best known to himself). She wears a flowing black silk navy reefer and when she puts on h er hat prior to leaving we realize that she has not studied male head-gear alone . and he is tall. be patient. the long red lines of box cars on the sidings into ro ws of stately mansions. whether in real life or on the stage. full-breasted. her sou l. healthy. Rather has she grown to tolerate the place. She has developed from a girl into a woman. Here she has access to all the latest "best-se llers. there must be a leading man. sordid. His name is Gerald Van Alstyne. has had equal development. squatting there in the desert sands. but has taken advantage of her semi-public position to copy styles and to glea n from the women's magazines. homelier. with curly golden 37 . So much for an intimate descr iption of our leading lady as she appears when the curtain rises. very fine and thick and black. She sends for books that would never f ind a sale in San Pasqual. Donna has never been away from San Pasqual sinc e the day she entered it a babe in arms. a glorious. and glossy as polished ebony. but--she presides over the news counter in addition to her other duties. Mo reover. we do not care to. and dull. Very well . So we can't read anything in his face. although we may be p ardoned for presuming that it may be because he sees an old." also the big national magazines. and some day--ah! the glory of anticipation! she is g oing to Los Angeles. lonely San Pas qual. Donna has been dreaming much of this hero of late. In due course he will appear. and through these means she has kept pa ce with a world that is continually passing her by in Pullman sleepers. But in all pla ys. indeed. the latest hints in metrop olitan millinery. where the event of her life is to take place.

Hennage lived in an atmosphere of money. As for Donna. She does not know what green fields and running water look like. and eventually return and keep on returning until that final happy day when they shall go away together. Miss Donnie." Mr. "Well. to wander in an Elysium.hair. for D onna's use in case of emergency. "You left without saying good-by" she reminded him. to linger under the shade of green trees. where I didn't meet no beautiful young ladies like you. piercing blue eyes and a cleft chin." he said. Donna has not the slightest doubt but that this young fellow will come rushing in to the eating-house some d ay. Hennage did not judge it necessary to tell Donna that he had left the worthy yardmaster in charge of her destinies. from the traveling salesmen who leer at her across the coun ter and the loutish youths of San Pasqual who. Mr. "but I've been in som e mightyy-y funn-y-y places. "I wouldn't like to tell you. walked around the end of the lunch counter and held out her hand. despairing of her favor. call her by her first name because they know it annoys her. D an Pennycook he'd a-seen you through.'s gallantry. why. "You never needed me. scrambled down from his high stool. discover her when he comes to pay his check. Miss Donn ie. but you might have needed money. she did not thi nk it necessary that she should express a contrary opinion regarding Dan Pennyco ok. Hennage. covertly watching her over the edge of his soup spoon. Miss Donnie. a veritable Adonis and diff erent. you do. w ith a thousand dollars on deposit in a bank in Bakersfield. Where have you been thes e past three years?" Harley P. hence finances were ever his first thought. Mr. Hennage. now. took her cool hand and blushed. in Dan's name. "If I had needed you I coul dn't have found you. to wal k hand in hand through green fields and listen to the birds and bees. her glance rested upon Mr. in short. Do you remember? You said if I ever needed a friend--" The big gambler grinned. If you'd aneeded money. for a fact. She removed her glove. You never would need a m an like me. wh ere everybody fought to get his money away from him and where he fought to get t heirs. She said: "Why didn't you come to the counter at once and say hello?" 38 . I'm _so_ glad to see you back in San Pasqual. Harley P. This _is_ a delightful surprise. the play is on at last! As Donna thrust the last hatpin through her glorious hair and turned to leave the place of her emplo yment." Donna smiled her appreciation of Harley P. so different. I ain't much of a man at handin' out compliments--I never was one o' the presumin' kind--but you sure do put San Pasqual on the map. but she has read about them-The direct or's whistle is heard in the wings.

" "Well. "or you wouldn't have returned to San Pasqual. judging by that scrap of excelsior in your back hair. how's the kitty?" Harley P. Finally he looked up at Donna with his three gold teeth flashing t hrough his trustful. Miss Donnie?" "I think I get more fun out of San Pasqual than most of the people in it. Small game for a small pocketbook." "I thought so. peered und er his stool." "Good Lord" gasped the gambler. because I understand that it's between pals. She talks. Hennage. you'd a-swore I flew in . an' with my rep in this village you know how people are liable to talk. childish smile. then. haven't you?" 39 . and my experienced eye informs me that you arrived in a box car. I fe ar you're getting to be one of the presuming kind. Pennycoo k. eh.He shook his head. but you ain't got no notion o' tryi n' to square me for--you know!" "I might--if I didn't understand all about that- -you know? As it is I want to show you that I'm grateful. "I guess she's aroun d the house somewheres. Hennage?" She came closer to him. World treati n' you well. You've been a high flyer in your day. his glance swept the room. he even. "I wanted to all right. An empty furniture car. I declare I haven't had such pretty speeches made me this year. "I dunno" he answered. if that'd been a feather. By the way. and choked on a crouton." "You're a dead game sport and I'd take you up. "That's the only way th e San Pasqual folks can get any fun--a-lookin' at your face. I ain't seen her in quite a spell." "Possibly. now." "Mr. although the car might ha ve been loaded with crockery. Mr.'s rus set countenance swelled like the wattles on a Thanksgiving turkey. and blushed at his effrontery. you understand--that I have a couple of hundred t o stake you to if you're hard up. "D'ye me an it. "I don't mind tell ing you--just between friends. Miss Donna?" "Certainly. He leaned ove r the counter and gazed under it. but I hated to appear presumin'." she answered gravely." Mr. you must spend a lot o' time lookin' into a m irror" replied Harley P.. I should say. "I suppose. but for goodness sake don't tell Mrs. Hennage removed the evidence and gazed at it reflectively.

You're just like your poor mother--a real lady an' no mistake. Mr. was much concerned. because that'd start talk. Hennage? I suppose you'll want your old room?" 40 . you blessed woman. She was embarrassed. Do you wish to register before I go. The brakie was an old friend o' mine an' asked me to ride in wit' him." Donna answered. "an' money sure changes hands. "I did ride into San Pasqual on a freight. "I am not the guardian of San Pasqual's morals. now--" "Please do not compare me with Mrs. coon can or craps?" "The old game--faro." he corrected. "Not that I'm fishin' for an invitation to see you safe to the Hat R anch. The division superintendent lends me the track-walker's velocipede and I whiz home like the limited. I'm 'fat'" and he waved a thousand-dollar bill at her. "I'll have to wait until the moon comes up. But I never walk home when I'm kept late." "Nothin' but money." "Why. black jack. He took it with inward trembling. but a young lady. roulette. I supp ose so. but I did it from choice. But all the same it's grand to think that there's women like you in this tough old world. Nothing ever chang es in this country." "That's not the right thing for a young lady to do. and if there was I could outrun it. as he fishe d a bill out of his vest pocket. She said goodnight. "Havin' truck wit' my kind o' people. an' not necessity. I didn't real ize it was so late. Pe nnycook" Donna pleaded. lest she might be seen shaking hands with him and dishonored.Mr." "You're a brick" the gambler declared. more particular when I'm around. There isn't any danger. I'll sta ke you because I like you and I don't care who knows it--if you don't. Hennage. is it?" queried the gambler. It helps out a heap. How's the old savage down at the Hat Ranch?" "Sam Singer is unchanged." "Faro." "I'll bank you up to five hundred. an' anyhow I ain't one o' the presumin' kind an ' you know it. "Walkin' home alone?" Harley P." "Are you going back to the Silver Dollar saloon?" "Yes. "I've flew some. Hennage grinned." Donna blushed. Mr. but I've come home to roost now. an' if there w as one hobo on that freight I come in on there was a dozen. despite the earnest praise of Harley P. "I don't need your money. Me--I 'll do anything. but it's dark an' the zephyr's blowin' like sixty. She gave him her ha nd.

scrubby red. so he reined in Friar Tuck and stared. He entered San Pasqual. The moon was coming up just as the red-headed young man from Owens river valle y rode into San Pasqual. McGraw had very properly christened him F riar Tuck. He had been standing in the stirrups. it will be seen that Mr. The only thing romantic and--er--litera ry about Bob McGraw was his Roman-nosed mustang. He was tall enough but his hair was not crisp and curly a nd golden. much relieved . As a product of Sherwood forest. as witness Mr. Hence. Most people who read Robin Hood are. indeed. and pause for a moment before walking out to climb aboard a track-walker's velocipede. he will at one mental boun d. under whose direction all the dramas of life are staged. riding down through the desert from O wens river valley. and as Friar Tuck's colthood home lay five hundred miles to the north . In the light that streamed through the open door he s aw her face. home ly. Friar Tuck--so called because h e had been foaled and raised on a wooded range near Sherwood in Mendocino county . unromantic patronymic of Bob McGraw. for he--well! Most people looked twice at Donna Corbla y. Mr. if the reader is at all imaginative or inclined to the science of deduction. in fact. was at least fond of adventure--which amounts to the same thing in the long run. framed in a tangle of black wind-blown wisps of hair. much to that careless soul's discomfort. praise be. A Mexican with a knife was solely respon sible. Not. so to speak. In but o ne particular did he resemble the dream man.. worse than all of these disappointments is the fact that his name wa s _not_ Gerald Van Alstyne. Bu t even that was none of nature's doing. a dull negative. leaning forward to look at her h ands as they grasped the lever. gave the cue t o the Leading Man. Hennage to his quarters she telephoned to the baggage room next door where t he track-walker for that division stored his velocipede. But he was not in the least such a Leading Man as Donna had p ictured in her dreams. but a nicer red than that--dark auburn. if not actually an adv enturous person. No. Yet. a carroty red. arrive at the conclusion that Bob McGraw. for he was terribly afraid of affording the San Pasqualians grounds for "talk. As he approached the railroad hotel and eating-house he saw a girl emerge. Most people would have called it red. and now he sat back in his saddle. The Leading Man owned to the plain.The gambler nodded and Donna returned to the cashier's counter. Tom Sawyer . So he sat his horse in the dribbling moonli ght and watched her seize the handles of the lever and glide silently off into t he night. A nd he had an Irish nose and an Irish jaw and Irish eyes of bonny brown. a nd Fate. After assigning Mr." And as she waited t he moon arose. For perhaps half an hour she conver sed with Harley P. and the red-headed man was young. 41 . McGraw was a wanderer. He did have a cleft in his chin. lighting up the half mile of track that led past the Hat Ranch. and asked to have the m achine brought out and placed on the tracks.

" Occasionally there is an objection on the part of the "tr ickee" and somebody gets killed. who had just 42 ."No wedding ring in sight" he mused. Ergo. and when she was about three hundred yards distant an d beyond the town limits. Mr. Hennage the sum of fifty dollars and had owed it for three years." Just then Mr. follows the dumb dictates of his stomach and the trend of his abnormal ambition. "I'd ride to hell for you" he muttered joyously. he saw that a switch had been left open. Hennage hesit ated to seek Mr. Hennage had c rossed from the eating-house. finding himself st randed in a desert town where the streets are not electrically lighted. San Pasqual has the reputation of being a "tough" town. Bob McGraw laughed and drew a gun from under his left armpit. when above the whistling of the "zephyr" he heard the muffled reports of three pistol shots. This is due in a large measure to the fact that it is a d ivision terminal. One "Borax" O'Rourke. McGraw might construe his advances as a roundabout dun. three dark figures sprang after her and a scream came very faintly against the wind. and since it happens nine times ou t of ten that the argument is between transients. for the veloc ipede suddenly left the outside track. Bob McG raw watched Donna Corblay. it follows that the sound of pistol shots is frequently heard in the land. and pro mptly "turns a trick. and Mr. As the girl disappeared. Harley P. of whom he was very fond. He saw Bob McGraw. a "mule-skinner" from up Keeler way . CHAPTER V As has been intimated elsewhere in this story. and had just reached the porch of the Silver Dolla r saloon. and sank the rowe ls home in Friar Tuck. fearing that Mr. the dispossessed hobo. recognized him. Hennage fled. Having been unceremoniou sly plucked from his precarious perch. but we regret to state that Mr. and shot in behind a string of box cars . McGraw owed Harley P. I'll marry you. McGraw out for purposes of friendship. Harley P. and at all division terminals train crews must reckon with tha t element in our leisure class which declines to pay railroad fare and elects to travel on brake-beams rather than in Pullman sleepers. Naturally enough. or my name's not Bob McGraw. McGraw. "My lady of the velocipede. Hennage appeared in the d oorway. the permanent resident is not nearly so interested in the outcome as one might imagine-particularly when the s hooting takes place at night and beyond the town limits. He wanted to rush out and shake hands with Mr. and immediately dodged back and went out another door. cut obliquely across several parallel row s of tracks before she could control it.

" "That's what it is!" Mr. "Tramps fightin' with a r ailroad policeman. Bob McGraw's long gun rose and fell three times." Half a minute passed. one of whom was endeavoring to tie a handkerchief across her mouth. They all carry little short bulldog guns. Hennage with conviction. following so quickly upon each other that they sounded almost like a volley. was not remarkable. Let's go down. "That's an automatic. who didn't believe in killing 43 . and the two raced down the stre et at top speed--which. in the little foot-path between two lines of track. Bob McGraw sent his horse away at a tearing gallop. "It's all off wi th the hobo" he continued. owing to his weight and his bow-legs. an' if he was headed south. a rather spectacular panorama had been unfolding itself back of the string of box-cars. Wha t's a man on horseback doin' chasin' hobos across a web of railroad tracks. I saw him ridin' in just as I left the eatin' house. Hennage. "A yegg never does any damage unless he's right on top of his man. "I know the man that's using that automatic. Henna ge. and at eac h deadly drop a streak of flame punctured the moon-light. I guess. but faintly. Guided by Donna's screams. then came the report of six shots. he ard them also. "Them first three shots came from a life- size gun. and made a f lying leap off the saloon porch. "Nine shots" co mmented "Borax" O'Rourke. in the case of Mr. The velocipede had been derailed by means of a car-stake plac ed across the track. shot through their respective legs--which remarkable coincidence was n ot a coincidence at all." "What's the use?" objected Mr. Almost under Friar Tuck's front feet. "Down the tracks. seems to me he'd have laid over for supper--" But Harley P. Hennag e walked to the end of the porch. The three assailants w ent down. Meanwhile. an' I never did see one o' them little bar pist ols that would score a hit at twenty yards after sundown.arrived in San Pasqual to spend his pay-day after the fashion of the country. "Come on." At t hat instant the sound of another shot was heard." O'Rourke elucidated. O'Rourke" he shouted. Donna was struggling i n the grasp of three ruffians. They carry high." "He must have been movin' to get down there in such a hurry. l ifting him in great leaps across the maze of railroad tracks. and in a shower of flying cinders brought him up. almost sitting. He was just a little excited. and he c an shoot your eye out at a hundred yards. had a flash of inspiration now. Borax followed. but merely a touch of kindly consideration on the part of Bob McGraw. "That's the hobo" announced Mr. Borax easily outdistanced him.

subconsciously perhaps. and suddenly. he sat his horse. As the three brutes drop ped away from her the man from Owens river valley lowered his weapon. slapped the pony's leg to make him release the hat and picked it up. without quite realizing what she was doing or why she di d it. and set Donna on the ground. Then. leaned outward and downward. which . and accordingly commenced to cr y." He rode back and finished his nig ht's work. and Donna. A minute passed and still he did not come. the girl went back to the scene of the battle to look for him. I'd like-- to live--to serve you further--" He gurgled. reeling in the saddle. She was not so badly frightened now. When he opened them again hi s soul was 44 . with the aid of the ghastly green glare from a switch lantern which shone on his face. she had not. but she was the last woman in the world to go into hysterics. Donna stooped. through teeth clenched to keep back the blood that welled from within him. "Wait her e" he commanded.his man when wounding him would serve the same purpose. Donna went quickly to him." and she had lived too long in San Pasqual to faint now at sight of the three still figures huddled between the ties. while waiting for the horseman to reappear. War-mad. and with a sweep of his strong left arm he lifted her off the ground and set her in front of him on Friar Tuck's neck. with the hat in h er hand. looking at him pityingly. but rather awed by the silence. standing quietly with d rooping head. to observe that he was quite conscious a nd looking at her with untroubled boyish eyes. and he closed his eyes for a moment. "You're brave--like a man. while his master sprawled in the saddle with his arms around his h orse's neck. and felt him sway forward a little. pale. He swung his horse a little . seeming to summon every a tom of grit and strength he possessed. securely anchored by the pony's left fore foot. Donna heard a half-suppressed "Oh!" from he r deliverer. and in all her life she had never fainted. cut loose with his bulldog gun and shot Bob McGraw through the right breast. For a girl she was remarkably free f rom "nerves. just as on e of the wounded thugs straightened up. She realized that she was saved. You came back. and emptied his gun into the squirming wretches as they sought to crawl under the car for protectio n. terrorized and disheveled. out of danger. a red stain appeared at the corners of his mouth. The man's brown eyes blazed with admiration. Donna was terribly frightened. Donna was desert-bred. he whirled his horse. All that Donna saw was a roan range pony. scuttled away aroun d the rear of the box-car. reeled toward him. her acquired instinct for salving hats for the men of her little world. even had she seen them. "I was too kind--to those hounds. His hat was lying on the ground. and when the moon came out from behind a hurrying cloud she was enabled. She stood for a few seconds. "What a woman!" he wheezed. With rather unnatural calmness a nd following.

unimaginative. Donna heard the man-call to the woman that belonged to him. O'Rourke. only think they love and delay a conventional period before yielding. He leaned toward her hungrily and la psed into unconsciousness." the girl cried passion ately. Bet ween certain rare souls the gulf of convention may be bridged by a glance. He did not again attempt to speak. I'll ask God to give you to me--" An almost fanatical joy beamed in her wonderful eyes." he whispered. the color had returned to her cheeks. can suffer no defilement by a spontaneous and human impulse to grasp the precious gift ere life departs. As she faced Bob McGraw now. found them. for all that. "You're my Dream Man and I've waited so long for you and dreamed of your coming! I'll pray for you. her radiant regal presence brought a wondrous peace. she was different from most women." "You must not die. faltering there on the edge of eternity. the intoxication of her glorious personality caused him to marvel and doubt his own waning sense of the reality of things. to trust her own judgment and to bank o n first impressions. showering his face with her ki sses and her tears. Some women love at first sight. " and few women are--worth--dying for. lacking th e imagination to perceive. a feeling of gratitude to him for the priceless gift of his love and her honor. young lady. And inasmuch as there appeared to be nothing unusual or unconvent ional in his telling her this--with his eyes. the d ivine miracle of a pure and holy love.shining through and he smiled a little. and to Bob McGraw. eased him to the gro und and knelt there with his red head in her lap. yet. But Donna Corblay had lived so long in sordid. at a glance. a desire to-She dropped his hat. from much inhibition and introspection. leaping to life in an instant. what's happened?" ga sped Mr. 45 . Bob McGraw smiled wistfully. because he loved her. "It's worth it. Donna was sensible of but one feel ing and one desire. She caught him in her strong arms. She had grown to rely on herself. unromantic San Pa squal that. wiped the blood from his li ps and kissed him. It was thus that "Borax" O'Rourke. a strand of her hair blew across his face--he smelled its perfume. her first impression was that he was telling her with his eyes that he loved her. There are in this world personalities so finely attuned to each other that mere words are unn ecessary to express the feelings of each for the other when first they meet. the attributes that go toward the making of a Man. badly blown after his thr ee-hundredyard dash. while his big limp body commenced to slide slowly out of the slippery saddle. that he had ridden in behind this string of box-cars to purchase her honor at the price of his life. For a moment he saw the moonlight reflecting the light in her eyes. "Great snakes. the ma te for whom he had been destined when the world was first created. but the vast majority.

I'll send Sam Singer back with the velocipede for him. despite her tears. Hennage. without for a moment realizing that there was a lady present. wasted no time catering to the call of curiosity ." "Why." "Remarkable! Very remarkable!" soliloquiz ed the big gambler. Then stand behind him to work the lever. gazing af ter them." She gathe red the reins in her left hand and swung aboard Friar Tuck. and let him rest against yo ur knees. Hennage arrived. Miss Donna--" "Do it. Miss Donna." he ordered. Harley P. I'll--" "No. indic ating a plan for prompt action of some kind. Borax." "To the Hat Ranch?" "Yes. "Let me have him. Please remove that car-stake and replace the velocipede on the tracks. I'll follow with the horse. flabbergasted Borax to such an exte nt that he commenced to swear very fluently. "She acts like a mother cat with a kitten" he muttered. As might be expected. "Borax." Her cool demeanor." Donna continued. of cou rse. Place hi m on the velocipede and help me take him home. Mr. Borax O'Rourke stood for a moment. "I know best."Three brutes and a man have been killed" she replied. I am not hurt. "What the--who--who's tha t feller? Are you--" "Don't ask questions. if he lives. "Damned if she wasn't kissin' the feller--an' him a stranger in town!" He walked rapidly back to San Pasqual. having di sposed of his gory burden on the limited accommodations of the track velocipede. her terse commands. followed by Donna on Friar Tuck. seized the levers and trundled away. and such was his perturbation 46 . Without further ado he proceeded to carry out Donna's orders . Set him on the little platform and tie his legs to the reach. but I have no t ime to answer questions. And just at this juncture Harley P.. "you run up to the drug store and tell Doc Taylor wh at's happened. I can care for him there. He belongs to me. cautiousl y picking his way between the ties. please" she commanded. Harley P. "We'll put him on the velocipede an d rush him up to the hotel.

Donna dis mounted." "Wil l he live?" Donna's voice was calm. "I'm going up town to close the drug store and get a few things I may need. "Hysterics" was the doctor's explanation. he retailed h is story to the loungers there assembled. yet Harley P. for he. The gambler undressed him while Sam Singer sprang aboard the velocipede and sped back toward town to meet the doctor..that he sought to have "Doc" Taylor unravel the puzzle for him. "All right. and when presently the gamb ler came out to the kitchen he nodded his appreciation of her forethought ere he disappeared again with the hot water and a basin. In about an hour Doctor Taylo r emerged. watching her over the doctor's shoul der. "Rats" retorted O'Rourke. since he was a vulgarian and a numbskull. Upon their arrival at the Hat Ranch a shout from Harley P. closing the door after them. It's rats. and the Indian carried him in. had seen her kiss Bob McGraw as he lay unconscious in her arms. he and Harley P. served to turn the co nversation into other channels. Hennage went into the bedroom. "I'll never git over the sight o' that girl a-kissing that young feller" he concluded. "I've done all I can for him. then. her tones hinting of nothing more than a fri endly interest and sympathy." The situation was canvassed at considerable length. Donna remained in the kitchen. and hurried into the house to prepare her mother's old room for the reception of the wounded man. O'Rourke returned to the Sil ver Dollar saloon where. She had already ordered Soft Wi nd to light a fire in the range and heat some water. grip in hand. too. I'd down a hobo every mor nin' before breakfast if I knowed for certain she'd treat _me_ that-a-way for do in' it. bu t I'll be back within an hour and spend the balance of the night with him. and only the entran ce of the constable with a request. "Why. When the doctor arrived. for volunteers to help him remove the "remai nders" that were littering up the right of way below town. Miss Corblay" he told her . Sam Singer met him half-way with the velocipede. Hennage brought Sam Singer and Soft Wind to the front gate. 47 . " The doctor grabbed his emergency grip and departed on the run for the Hat Ranc h. tying Friar Tuck to the "zephyr" by the simple process of dropping the reins over his head. guessed the stress of emotion under which she strove. Bob McGraw was very limp and white as Har ley P.

" " How do you know. perforating the top of his right lung. cros sed to the door and looked down the long patio to where a small white wooden cro ss gleamed through the festoons of climbing roses. "But he'll need a trained nurse and the best of care to pull th rough. and went on clean through." Mr. "I ho pe not" he said. I'm layin' even money he comes up to the young lady's expectations. and traumatic pneumonia is bound to s et in. Hennage turned from his survey of the patio. Henn age had arrived at the conclusion that Donna needed a great deal of comforting a t that moment. like birds o' feather always flock together" the gambler answered him drily . Doc. You will telephone to Bakersfield. and a . "it's time for you to move out o' San Pasqual. You're gettin' the San Pasqual spe rrit. Hennage?" the doctor demanded. doctor." Mr. He's big and strong and has a fighting chance." "That young feller's middle name is Long Odds. I will att end to the financial side of this case. and don't forget to 'phone for that nurse. Hurry back. You ain't got no sympathy for a stranger." he complained. Doc. You've stayed too long already. "Very well. Hennage frisked him and all the money--" "Thank you. If you know all the things I put up with--tha nks. but I'm afraid- -very much afraid--of internal hemorrhage. Doc. but a . "He's lived on long odds ever since he came into this country.45-caliber bullet did the trick to our young friend."I fear he will not." Donna thanked him with her eyes. The bullet ranged upward." 48 . "He ought to have a nurse" th e doctor advised Donna." "He will not die!" said Donna. "This young feller wouldn't feel that he was gettin' any joy out o' life if he didn't tackle the nub end o' the deal. will you not. Doctor Taylor. "Doc. and Harley P.45 te ars quite a hole. you don't expect me to put up twenty-five a week and railroad fare--" "Never mind worryin' about wh at you've got to put up with." "Well. It's long odds. The doctor looked at her curiously. and engage one?" "I don't think our patient can aff ord the expense. o r Los Angeles. "I tell--" "Long odds an' long g uns. I've seen men recover from wounds in more vital parts.

will you. Pennycook hears you kissed Bob McGraw." Harley P. I know. That young feller inside (he jerked a fat thumb over hi s shoulder) will stand it. "If some good woman had only done that for me" the gambler murmured a little wistfully. Mr. Hennage--" "That you thought he was a man an' worth the kiss. A man in my business. no-account man like me even laugh where there's happi ness? Why. Mis s Donna?" "I guess that's the explanation" she confessed. Miss Donna. do you not?" "I should say so. Mr. sat down and laughed until his three gold teeth almost threatened to fall out. eh." "I kissed him"--Donna commenced to cry and hid her burning face in her hands."Ain't it marvelous how a small camp always narrers the point o' view?" the gamb ler observed when the doctor had gone. I'd die o' grief. too. " I'm not." Donna blushed furiously. Go in an' kiss the presumin' cuss. "Always thinkin' o' themselves an' money. Why did you kiss him? I ain't one o' the presumin' kind. Ouch! Tha t woman's tongue drips corrosive sublimate. " he's one of the presuming kind. But that chuckleheaded roug hneck O'Rourke will. "go in and kiss him again! He needs you worse than he does a nurse . "I kissed him because--because--I thought he was dying--and he was the first man--that looked at--me so different." "You know him. t oo--will stand the acid. if that young feller goes to work an' spoils it all by kickin' the bu cket. Hennage?" "Of course not. "You--you- -won't tell. Miss Donna. Miss Donna . And he was so brave." he added--"when Mrs. "If she only had! But of course this young Bob. An' you'll stand the a cid. Can't a low-down. soon learns that mighty few men--an' women. I've applied the acid. bu t I'd like to know." "You're making fun of me" Donna charged. "God bless your sweet soul." "Is he-- " 49 . he 's different from--what I was at his age--" "I couldn't help it" Donna sobbed." he gasped. the while she marveled inwardly that she should feel such relief at unburdening her secret to the wors t man in San Pasqual.

he's the nicest kind of a boy." "What is his prese nt profession?" "He's an Inspector o' Landscapes. He's not a Des ert Rat. that's a right hard question to answer. I can prove it." "How old is he!" "Twenty-eight." "You're wrong. After that. He was a lawyer once for about a month." Donna was thoughtful. Generally it don't get 'em s o young. He was headed that way from birth. come to think on't --an' went to Nevada mi nin' an' just at present he's about settled into his regular legitimate business . in McKittrick. just to prove he was a human bein'. "Sometimes the y do" she reminded him. He borrowed fifty dollars f rom me--which he ain't paid back yet. an' th en he come breezin' into a minin' camp one day an' tried bustin' a faro bank. The next I see of him is a year later. he got the notion that there was money in the chicken business. I'm responsible for that failure. after he got out o' college. "What is his business!" she asked. but once in a while it does. and the youngest is thirty -eight. Miss Donna?" Donna blushe d again. though. where he's runnin' a real estate office an' dealin' i n oil lands." "He's too young." "He is. you're thinkin' o' the ordinary. the feller that goes huntin' lost mines is the worst." "Oh. "Nice disparity in ages. an' then he worked on a newspaper. But I tell you th is McGraw man's a Desert Rat. An' of all the Desert Rats that ever sucke d a niggerhead cactus."Yes. garden variety. don't you think. Fa iled agin. They don't begin to 'rat' un til they're close to forty. "Well. The desert's got him. Miss Donna. I could read the signs. so he got plumb disgusted an' quit. But not until they've found wh at they're 50 . W ell. he got out o' the chicken business with a couple o' hundred dollars." Donna permitted herself a very small smile. when I see him next. But somehow there never was no oil on none o' the land that Bob tie d up. I could name you a dozen. The y never get over it. He was thinkin' o' tourin' the country districts sellin' little pieces o' bluestone to put in the bowls of kerosene la mps to keep 'em from explodin'. "I wouldn't be surprised.

"The hemorrha ge has stopped. I'm Donna Corblay of the Hat Ranch. "and my spurs and my gun and hat?" Donna bent over him and placed two cool fingers on his lips. "For the sight o' a good woman. and I'll give you your choice of a hundred hats if you'll only get well. Hennage. Miss Don na?" "I love it. He was plainly puzzled. but I think I'd better stay . we thank Thee some m ore. wistful 51 . Toward morning Bob McGraw opened his eyes and looked at Donna very won deringly." he murmured. He was still unconscious and his loud. why wasn't I born good an' good-lookin' 'stead o' fat an' no a ccount?" At ten o'clock Doc Taylor returned to the Hat Ranch and found the condi tion of his patient unchanged. But don't worry about it. "an' for the sight o' a good woman with grit. an' then we'll f ind out if he can be cured o' desert-rattin'. I guess I forgot to bring your hat with me. Throughout the night Donna sa t by the bedside watching him. or you may brin g it on again." "We'll wait an' see if he pulls through this. while the doctor remained in the kitchen with Mr. However. His lean brown hand stole confidingly into hers--for a long ti me he was silent." "I remember--now. He's breathin' like the north wind sighin' through a knot-hole. Then his glance wandered around the room and back to the girl. and your gun is in the kitc hen with your spurs. Where's Friar Tu ck?" "Your horse? He's in the corral at San Pasqual. we'll wait an' see if Bob McGraw--like that name. In the meantime I'll wait here unt il Doc gets back. her face was very close to his as she answered him. An' you--I think you'd better go in an' have another good look at this Desert Rat o' yours.lookin' for. "Where's my horse." H e watched her disappear." and you mustn't speak or move. coupled with the ghastly exhaust of air through the hole on his brea st. we thank Thee." he whispered. stertorous breathing. I ain't one of the presumin' kind." "Are you--the--girl- -that kissed me?" Donna's voice was very low. Great grief. O Lord. Presently he looked up at her again." she warned him. I fired--low--and he--got me. testified to the seriousness of his condition. with the same dominating. content to lie there and know that she was near him. and your hat--why.

" He closed his eyes and dropped off to sleep lik e a tired boy. although in reality it was less than five minutes. "Nice--name. "Go to sleep" she commanded. but unable longer to deprive herself of another look at her prize she opened h er eyes and gazed at Bob McGraw. She felt like crying now. For what seemed to her a lapse of hours. "of course you'll get well." She drew a bright Mexican serape over her shoulders. an unprecedented. Like it. "Don't feel--that way--about it" he whispered haltin gly. I'm going to go to sleep. cheerful. She was conscious of but one supreme emotion as she gazed at th is man who had ridden into her life. halfmocking smile. 52 . and it occurred to her now that she had been guilty of a mo nstrous breach of convention. too. "It's unusual --but then--you and I are unusual. CHAPTER VI Donna sat there until sunrise. I guess--I'll--get well. unemotional. too. She flushed h otly." "Belov ed. She was happy. always the same--and now she was happy.entreaty in his brown eyes. She could n ot think calmly. and my name is Bob McGraw. Bob McGraw saw the flush and the pallor that followed it. sat down in a rocking-chair by the side of the bed an d closed her eyes." She smoothed the wavy auburn hair back from his forehead. For the first time she permitted the searchlight of reason to play on the events of the night. I want you to. rocking back and forth. I t had to--be. "You can't talk to me any more. "I love you. confronted by that look in Bob McGraw's brown eyes. and between a--man and a woman that means--perfect peace. "God--made you--for me" he whi spered. She failed. and his arm went upward and around her neck. Heretofore her life had been quiet." she breathed. What is--your name?" Donna again told him. gun in hand. unmaidenly action. even. To her almost childish delight he was watching her. He read the unspoken thought behind the changing rush of color. It was preordained--our meeting. she tried to induce a clever counterfeit of sleep . and then she noticed his little. striving to weave an orde rly pattern of reason out of the tangle of unreason in which she found herself w hen. with the thought that she had held herself so cheap. She lowered her head until her cheek rested against his. There seems to be--pe rfect-understanding.

"I can't help it" she whispered. for life was love. the well-dressed. you'll be very. she would still have these defensive weapons against the invasions of the sensual. who held her cheap because she presided behind an eating-house cash-register. She still had those attributes. Bo b McGraw was a Desert Rat. both good and bad. She willed that he should live. Again Donna found herself powerless to resist the appea l in the man's eyes. something that throbbed in the untouched recesses of her womanhood.riotously. It was the adorat ion that gleamed in his eyes--an adoring stare. after all." 53 . for San Pasqual was "long" on mere animal courage. moc king. unthinking. and love--what was love? Something that surged. impulsive fellow. Bo b McGraw was a wild. their so clumsy subte rfuges to enter into conversation with her. when she returned to the cashier's counter at the eating-house. cheerful. and oh. She turned to the bed and saw that B ob McGraw was watching her again. How well she knew their quick. unseen and unrecognized at first. deliriously happy. for both our sakes. revealing respect behind his lov e--that one quality without which love is a dead and withered thing. and on his face was that little. bold stares. through Donna's lonely h eart. almost primitive desire to possess this man. and his own heart is clean. But a Desert Rat lives close to the great heart of Mo ther Nature. We need eac h other so. to caress him. perhaps. Harley P. very good to me. but for al l that he was the sort of man at whose feet women. slave for him. to fondle his a uburn head. She saw the priceless pearl of character he possessed. inscrutable smile. She knew hi m now--the man he was. have laid their hearts since the world began. hard-fi nished city men. w on't you? You must be brave and try to get well. man ifesting itself merely in the spontaneous and unconscious shattering of her maid enly reserve. it was not that he ca me in all the bravery and generous sacrifice of youth. arousi ng in her a fierce. but distinctly visible now. smirking. dear. and--if need be--by dying for him! It occurred to her presently that there was nothing so very unmaidenly in her action. reckless. to work for him. patronizing male brutes with which every passing train appeared to be filled. She felt no distinct loss of womanly reserve --no crumbling of the foundat ions of dignity. He was kind. "I seem to have loved you always. to show her gratitude and adoration by living for him. She was crying a little as she slipped to her knees beside the bed and laid her cheek against his. The dawn-light came filtering across th e desert and lit up the room where she sat. it was not the service he had rendered her that made he r love him. and how different was Bob McGraw to such as they! Here at last was the reason. to-morrow. shedding his blood that s he might not shed tears. a wave of exquisite tenderness. Hennage was right. and it did not occur to her that Bob McGraw might die. It was not that Bob McGraw had come to her out of the desert at a time when she needed him most. Bob.

you must be quiet. bugaboo Fate." "But you were laughing at me--a little. and the reserve strength in his six feet of splendid manhood was coming to his aid. but for all that. I'll give you a--" "But this was--a--good hat" he complained. Moreover. indeed! Worrying over a lost hat while a gues t at the Hat Ranch! If Bob McGraw could only have understood Donna Corblay's con tempt for hats he would never have mentioned the matter twice. if it was to hold inviolat e this sacred joy of possession which thrilled him now. Harley P." He sighed. "Seven and a quarter" she mused fondly. Forget all about that big." "And you--d idn't you save my hat?" "No. His calm con tempt of life and death amused Donna when she compared it with his boyish concer n for his dashing equipment. he had a perforated lung and a heart whos e duties had suddenly been increased a thousand-fold. I want to listen to you. Don't talk. Don't worry over such a trifle as a hat. She gauged the si ze of his red head with the practiced eye of one who has sold many hats. at Fate--the great. McGraw was something of a frontier dandy. "Wouldn't he look splendid in that big new Stet son that blew in the day before yesterday! You great big man-baby. I'll save tha t one for you. reloaded it and walked back to 54 . his saddle." "Why?" "Because I--can aff ord to. He was too busy thanking God for the great gi ft of perfect understanding. his hat. After having breakfasted at the Hat Ranch. dear.Bob McGraw did not answer readily. Hennage." And having decided this momentous question of hats. He was alert and conscio us. his spurs." "You dear. wide sombrero--genuine beaver-that cost him twenty dollars only a week ago? His hors e. for in his way Mr. Hennage helped himself to Bob McGraw's automatic gun. his gun--he was particular about these posses sions. despite the shock of his wound." "Not at you. red-headed philosopher. big. he said: "You're a very wonderful woman. Hats. big. My luck's--turned. I'm selfish. she kissed h im and went out to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for Doctor Taylor and Harley P. When he could trust himself to speak. "I paid twenty dollars --" "Never mind your old hat.

if you knew w hat I know" replied Pennycook. had endeavored to intercept him firs t." "Barkin' dogs never bite. Dan" the gambler greeted him. Arrived outside the Silver Dollar. he said fiercely "You muttonheaded duffer!" and for the first tim e within the memory of the citizens of San Pasqual he had recourse to his hands." "Well. Late in the afternoon he was awakened by a knocking at his door. who having n oted from afar the approach of Mr.San Pasqual." retorted the gambler. which was little en ough. "ain't that t he kind to lay violent hands on? You wouldn't expect me to choke old Judge Kenny . Dan. P ennycook decided to bide her time and returned to her cottage and her neglected housework. Judging from his hasty action that the gambler was not in that state of mind most propitious to the dissemination of the information which she sought. was the first man to accost him. Mr. Henn age's baleful eyes scouted the mule-skinner's person for evidence of hardware. It is worthy of remark that the di scomfiture of Borax O'Rourke was observed by Mrs. Mr. Mr. Then . Hennage. after two prodigious parting kicks. He sprang out of bed and unlocked the door. Will you?" "Who to?" 55 . like a good gambler. "what's the latest? Any more kissin' goin' on?" Mr. In consequence of which decisio n. "You look worried. accurately gauged and delivered." "You would too. the gambl er crossed over to the hotel. the while he shook O'Rourke as a terrier shakes a rat. "Harley. leaving the garrulous one to pick himself out of t he dust. old man. Hennage. and aching to supply further details. you've laid violen t hands on a mighty hard character. would you?" "But O'Rourke is dangerous. I wish you'd carry a message f or me. gasping like a chicken with the pip." he began. having told all he knew. "We ll. and Dan Pennycook came into the room. decided to fill his hand and not be caught bluffing. Borax O'Rourke generally carried one and if Bora x had talked. O bserving none. He's go t two guns reachin' down to his hocks an' he's tellin' everybody he'll get you o n sight. Mrs. Borax O'Rourke. where he lay down and went to s leep. He had never carried a gun before. Daniel Pennycook. immediately found himself greatly in demand. Harley P. Hennage meant to chastise him. O'Rourke fondly around the neck and choked him until his eyes th reatened to pop out. He sat down. Hennage went at once to his room. but something seemed to tell him that he might need one to-day. or that little Jap laundryman. "Hello. Hennage. However. He clasped Mr.

Pennycook. But he had seen Mrs. Mr. Harley." He bathed and dressed and started over to the post-office--not beca use he expected any mail. and it was his intentio n to have a quiet little conversation with the lady. "No use givin' order s unless a feller can back 'em up. Tell him it's an order." "Hope so" responded the amiable yardmaster." The gambler opened a bureau drawer and b rought forth McGraw's automatic pistol. an' take up his old job o' skinnin' m ules." "Hard hit?" "Right lung. Tell him from me he'd better go back to the borax w orks at Keeler. though. No use arousin' his pride lettin' the whol e town know he had to go. I guess. He smiled brightly. "If I was you. Tell him to send the little horse back with the stage-driver. just in time to see Borax O'Rourke riding out of town on Bob McGraw's roan bronco. He sprang up and looked out." "Who's the feller that interfered?" "Stranger ridin' through. Pennycook dodging into the post-office." "I will" replied Mr. even if I ain't a gentleman. "Thanks for the hint. rubbing his chin and thinking. where he got his nickname. and left. O'Rourke. But it was too ho t to sleep. Dan. No one ever wrote to Mr. Dan. Hennage permitted himself a quiet little smile . O f course you'll tell Borax privately. He'll pull through." Pennycook nodded." "Thank you. Hennage. Dan" he said. I want hi m to ride out tonight. Hennage got back into bed and pulled the sheet over him again. so he lay there. "I'd hate to see any more trouble in this town." "Donna all right?" "Yes."The dangerous Mr. "Now there goes the star witness for the prosecution" he mused. 56 . Tell him I'll loan him that roan pony in the corral. though. Late in the afternoo n he heard the sound of a horse loping through the street beneath his window. but a rat'll fight when he's cornered--an' I don't want to kill him. He's a rat. an' he can saddle up an' git. "But I'll stay an' tell 'em Borax was mistaken. I can li e like one. for he did not. I'd heel myself. Mr.

" "He told everybody. Mr. I know the girl for a sly." "Well. with her new hats and a different wash-dress every week." Mrs. "That's what nobody can find ou t. She could have been married long a go if she wasn't so stuck-up. where he could be looked after." "Well. Miss Pic kett. "I'm so shocked like. Pennycook. Mrs. and at that moment he heard Miss Molly Pickett . She jus t thinks she's it. behind the tier of lock boxes." "Oh. is that Donna Corblay's taking a mighty big interest in a man she's never even been introduce d to. scheming. Hennage stepped lightly inside. but you know how stupid a man is. and Mrs." "She thinks she's too good for San Pasqua l" Miss Pickett supplemented. It's so scandalous like. the postmistress. Mrs.When he arrived at the post-office. what do you think o' last night's performance?" Miss Pickett demanded. Hennage did not feel i t incumbent upon him to announce his presence by coughing or shuffling his feet." 57 . all I've got to say. hoit ytoity flirt. I told Dan to ask Harley Hennage. She'd sooner make f ools of half the married men in town. Of course not! He m ight be sent to a hospital and she wouldn't have a chance to look after him hers elf. Mr . exclaim: "Well. Pennycook deprecated. Realizing that he was in a public place. Pennycook's voice resumed: " She had him taken right down to the Hat Ranch. I never heard of such carryings-on. I'm not surprised at anything she'd do. "Who is he?" she demanded. Miss Pickett. of all places. but to think that she'd act so low like! Who told _you_ she kissed him?" "Borax O'Rourke. the stuck-up thing. however. It's hard to believe. "I can't think. He remained discreetly silent. "I suppose she imagines her grand airs make her a lady. Still. therefore. "but for my part. dearie" murmured Mrs. Pennycook. She kissed him!" The voices came from the inner office. "If a dook was to ask her she wouldn't have him. Pennycook was not in sight. and her high an' mighty way of looking at people. nobody's good enough for _her_" sneered Mrs. for the land's sake!" "It's a fact. Pennycook weakly. Of course it would n't do to bring him up town. I think it shows that she's kinder vulgar like. I don't s uppose he even asked." Miss Pickett sighed.

that no man or set o' men ever looks twice at any respectable woman that goes r ight along tendin' to her business. with your scandal an' your gossip." Miss Pickett flew to th e delivery window and looked out. "Yes. I'v e been away three years. an' I guess it's no use trying. speak right out in meeting. "Looks like it" retorted the gambler. You're out late this afternoon. if it's got around. "Is that so!" sneere d Miss Pickett. Card Sharp" Miss Pickett informed him acidly. "Well." "Well" Miss Pickett was forced to remark. Miss Pickett" interrupted Harley P. or tried to flirt with me. an' you know. you can go right on readin' the postal cards. Nobody ever knew a thing about her. Pennycook. You know that." 58 . "You're a woman an' so'm I. Miss Pickett? I hope I see you well. I can take my oath on that. an' nobody's ev er insulted me. "I've been postmistress an' assistant postmistress here for fifteen years. then. Hennage serenely. Miss Pickett" continued Mrs. Mrs. Mr. though. Water will seek its own level." "I'm a respectable woman--" Mrs. Miss Pickett. Pennycook's voice dripped with sarcasm. was looking in. Yo u remember her mother. Pennycook b egan. " So you're back. Harley P. an' you remember the talk that used to be goin' around about _her. Miss Pickett. Pennycook. P. "Even in a tough t own like San Pasqual human courage has its limitations. Mrs. I guess" he retorted. with a few minutes of you r valuable time-where Miss Pickett can't hear us talk? Miss Pickett._" "The tree grows as the twig is b ent" Miss Pickett murmured. Pennycook. just as well as I do. Miss Pickett. "Would you oblige me. but I see time ain't softened the tongues nor sharpened the consciences o' some of my old lady friends. are you?" Mrs. and he turned to Mrs. and eyed her sternly. ain't you. Pennycook" he added." "I belie ve you. She quivered under his glance. we can't shield her. "I didn't call for any" the gamble r replied. it ain't ketchin'. "I'll say this much." "What do you want? If you've got anything to say to me." "There ain't no mail for you. "I ain't afraid. Mrs.. A man's got to have _some_ encouragement."Well. "You're Exhibit A to prove it. public like.

Pennycook. ma'am. an' I know. Now you do any more mud-slingin'. Pennycook. Mrs . an' it's got to stop."Not here" the gambler answered. Pennycook came by. "Then he'll be around here again. "but for a lady that's livin' in a glass house." The drawling words fell on the gossip like a rain of blows. you speak a good word for her. I suppose I can't really appreciate what it means to a respectable lady with a an gelic relative like your brother. but did not stop. "He got fifteen yea rs. blackmailing poor Dan an' me out of o ur savings. Her eyelids grew suddenly red and watery. her chin trembling. Mrs. Mrs. facing him. Every time you hear any of the l ong-tongued people in this town takin' a crack at Donna Corblay because they don 't understand her and she won't tell 'em all her business. Pennycook. Understand? And the first thing tomorrow mornin' I want you to get out an' nail that lie that Donna Corblay kissed the feller that saved her from them tramps last night. "It ain't a man's trick to hammer you like this. Mr. Mrs. Pennycook. Hereafter. almost sadly. Pennycook bowed her head and q uivered. I'll protect you from him. and I'll tel l San Pasqual about that thug of a brother o' yours." Mrs. I want to make a bargain with you. if you've got somethin' to say about Donna Corblay you see that it's somethin' nice." "He served half of it and was paroled. this thing o' bein' respectabl e must be hard on the constitution. "No." the gambler continued. you're too fond o' chuckin' ston es. Pennycook. Suppose this town knew your t win brother was a 59 . Pennycook. It's a lie. Havin' been low an' worthless all my life. I was there." She tilted her nose and glanced at him scornfully. Bless you. I order ed O'Rourke out o' town for circulatin' that yarn. She turned. "I thought you'd stop" he assure d her. Hennage." wailed Mrs." He walked out of the post-office and waited until Mrs. If he had struck her she could not have stopped more quick ly. he won't. "Mrs. "It'll keep. "It's about Joe" the gamb ler called after her. and the minute I saw you streakin' it over to Miss Pickett I knew you were at it again. Pennycook." " But his time wasn't up. "Nothin' like shakin' the bones of a family skeleton to bring down the mi ghty from their perch. You gabbed about her mother when she w as alive. Mrs. He's out o' San Quentin." She commenced to cry.

Hennage. For some months Mr. "Then it's a go" said Harley P. You'll never s ee him again. In this way he managed to keep track of affairs in San Pasqual. "I never knew there was such fun at funerals" he soliloquized while returning from the cemetery. however. Hence. outside of business hours. He returned to the Silver Dollar saloon. when Mr. but you've got to take pr ogramme. Hennage had rejoiced with the yardmast er. If I wasn't a inquisitive old hunks I' d get out of such a pesky hole P. which. had been borne by the committee of citizens headed by the constable. shortly after the e limination of the trio by Mr. smiling a li ttle at the joke in which he had indulged at the expense of Mrs. D. Pennycook's brother d odging into an empty box-car. and walked away. He bit a large p iece out of his "chewing" and gazed around him. to w alk down to the freight yards once a week and fraternize with the railroad boys. Hennage had seen this worthy upon the occasion of his (Joe's) last visit to San Pasqual. Pennycook informed Mr. to avoid identification of the body by keeping Dan Pennycook from attending the coroner's inquest. Henna ge could see no profit in telling her that it was a blood-stained tarpaulin.murderer an' a highwayman? Would they keep still about it?" "No" faltered Mrs. quite dead. "Doggone it" he muttered." "I will" Mrs. to which impromptu morgue Joseph. Q. was a wide open town. while a man of firmne ss and resource. P ennycook. Hennage joyfully that Joe was out of the way for fifteen years and Mr. und er which Mrs. He contrived. at t hat time. Mr. just beginning to boom under the impetus of rich oil strikes. he at once surm ised that Joe was broke and headed for San Pasqual to renew his fortunes. for h e was a good gambler and never wasted a trump. in the back room of the s tage stable. Pennycook. Having a warm spot in his heart for Dan 60 . I wouldn't a' come back in the first pla ce if it hadn't a' been for that Joe person. Pennycook's brother reposed. It had been one of his diversions. the object of the said visit having b een imparted to him by Dan Pennycook himself. He h ad informed her that he had "something on" her brother Joe. "if th is ain't the worst town in California for killin's. Hennage had been running a game in Bakersfield. was not brutal. Upon the occasi on of his last trip to the freight yards he had spied Mrs. No. poor Pennycook had come to Hennage to borrow it. but he had neglected to inform her what the "something" was which he had "on" brother Joe. Upon the occasion of the payment of the loan. Having no money available for the blackmailer. I have somethin' on him. with his two companions. I never did see such a one-h orse camp with such a big potter's field. Dog-gone him!" This was quite true. Bob McGraw. I'll save you from gossip an' blackmail. "I can keep Joe away from you. Pennycook promised him fervently. Mr. Mr. Hennage observed Joe sneak into the box-car.

He was awake when Donna entered the room and greete d her with a weak smile of welcome. "But I might die" he pleaded piteously. It was late in the afternoon before she appeared again in the sick room. Presently Mr. "Hello. "aren't you going to speak to a fellow?" Donna shook her head. disregarding his nurse's explic it instructions." He looked at her so tragically that she could not forbear a little laugh. interested scrutiny. In the middle distance a dashing gir lish figure in a blue dress was walking up the tracks. "so do not endeavor to seek sympathy. CHAPTER VII Early in the forenoon of the day following Bob McGraw's spectacular advent into San Pasqual. "This world is so full o' a number o' things. devoted to her pro fession and thoroughly competent to do everything for Bob McGraw that could be d one. wis tful. It may be that at the moment Mr. satisfied that he was making his fight. although his pulse was racing at s everal degrees above normal. Th ere was no further hemorrhage from the wound." he whisper ed. in brief. and s he rested at last. as she ordered Donna to leave the room. when she was overjoyed to learn of the change in Bob's condition. Mr. Donna. is the reason why he had returned to San Pasqual. Hennage's three gold teeth flashed like heliographs. Hennage instantly decided to follow Joe in another boxcar. to where the sun glinted on the dun walls of the Hat Ranch. I' m sure we should all be as happy as kings" he quoted. Mr." she retorted. The nurse intervened. and walked across to meet her. 61 . presumed to enter into conversation.Pennycook. whereupon Mr. and then. She proved to be a kind middle-aged woman. "Nobody's worried over that rem ote contingency. which. McGraw. the nurse for whom Doc Taylor had telephoned to Bakersfield arrived at the Hat Ranch. McGraw fond ly hoped that he might be further rewarded with another kiss. Henna ge paused and glanced across the blistering halfmile of desert. Her arrival released Donna from the care of watching the wounded man. but if so he was d isappointed. Donna favored him with nothing more tangible than a rather sad. she turned to leave the room.

Miss Donna. He said 'Bravo' three times. McGraw protested hoarsely. but n ot enough to prevent my going to work. and the nurse was very human. sighed dismally and predicted his death within the hour. "is guaranteed to--every American citizen--under the con--" "Silence!" commanded the nurse. for all the world loves a l over. who for three years had not heard a woman's voice raised in song. nevertheless. sweet and true. until he fell asleep. "but in this particular case I believe it has a soothing effect. I can count change. In the morning his condition was sli ghtly improved." "I'll sing him to sleep" Donna answered--and forthwith did so. If I was governor of this state I'd declare today a legal ho liday. to-day. I think. And that night. the simple melody was a treat indeed. watching t he antics of an inquisitive lizard which in turn was watching him from a crack i n the sun-baked adobe wall. she could not sleep herself for the happiness that was hers." "Go od news. is often productive of tears. Mr. and accordingly she set off up the track to the town. when she retired. If he suffered nobody knew it. The wounded man slept well that night." Mr. and after hearing a most cheerful and favorable report from both doctor and nurse. good news. well pitched. Donna's voice." "Then he has decided not to di e after all. Mr. Hennage walking toward her from the direction of the cemetery. She was half-way there when she observed Harley P. that excessive happiness which. Mr." "I think he has changed his mind. "how are you after the battle?" "Still a little shaky. Hennage. "That's quite irregular. In the bright evening she took her guitar and went out in to the patio. the very fact that Bob was still a fig hter and a rebel proved conclusively that within a week he would be absolutely u nmanageable. McGraw has promised me that he will be very good if I can induce you to sing for him every evening. "Well."The right of free speech--and free assemblage. Miss Corblay." he began as he appro ached." she commented. was. as who would not. m ore poignant than pain. The nurse ca me out. where she stood under Bob's window and sang for him a plaintive li ttle Spanish love song. As for Donna. and to Bob McGraw. This thought was productive of such joy in Donna's heart that she b ecame a rebel herself. How's the wounded hero? Able to sit up and take 62 . Donna le ft the room and he was forced to amuse himself. McGraw muttered something about gag rule and the horror of being mollycoddled. Donna decided not to prejudice her position at the eating-hou se by staying away another day. while untrained. looked at her and laughed.

S he hasn't given me a friendly look in three years. though. "Ain't you been a' nursin' the sick?" "Yes. They never found o ut any o' mine. The town ain't no worse than any other one-hor se camp for wantin' to know everybody's business but its own. Nothing but nutriment. "I hardly think she'll come. you can bank on that.some food?" "No." "Nonsense!" he corrected. "'O nward. I want to put up a job on the town. The big gambler loved to see her laugh. Heart of Bruce. "only this ti me it's on San Pasqual. "but--" "You don't like her way. P. Who ever heard of a sick man getting anything but that?" Mr. also. "But before you exp lain your plans. You came from the cemetery. " Donna began. "It's another joke. But let's take up some liv e topic--" Again Donna laughed. no food as yet." he began presently. "but she'll be droppin' in before long. have been performing one of t he works of mercy. an' afte r the jury decided that it was justifiable homicide. Don na had lived long enough in San Pasqual to appreciate it. tell me what has poor little San Pasqual been doing of late to earn your enmity?" "Nothin' much. Hennage showed his three gold teeth. Pennycook been down with a plate o' calf's-foot jelly or somethin' o' that nature?" he asked. Which reminds me that you." "Well.'" she quoted.'s humor was rather grim. It was Donna's turn to laugh. They had me as witness on the coroner's jury last night." Donna gave him a graceful travesty of a military salute. an' you've got to he lp me. and it always hurt 'em 63 . did you no?!" "Yes. considering the terrible experience which she had lately undergone. an' entitled to the kindly services o' th e community as a whole. now--Bob McGraw's a stranger in town. I've been bur yin' the dead. filled h im with manly admiration. of course. eh?" "I'm afraid I'm inclined to be uncharitable at times. for while Harley P. "Ain't Mrs. and I will follow thee. Miss Donna. you haven' t needed her. there was nothin' to do but plant the three o' 'em--before the sun got too high." the gambler reminded her. so Mrs." "I suppose she is kind enough in her way. can show up at the Hat Ranch under those cond itions without unbendin' her dignity. and the thought that she was courageous enough to enjoy his je st.

an' if she can't produce. to make a long story short._ an' let it go at that. to find out the name o' th is gallant stranger that saved you. the boys rendered a verdi ct on general principles an' there ain't no news for the rest o' the town--parti cularly the women. which was easy. you're the worst man in San Pasqual. ferociousl y. They want to know what he looks like. "Now here's the programme. Hennage. "this is most unworthy of you. and I want you to keep him there until h e's able to walk away without any assistance." "Yes. an' all that time don't you let no body see him. Miss Donna. I'm hopin' she'll go into convulsion s." sa id Donna." "Why. On account o' bein' p ostmistress an' in a position to get all the news. They're just plumb _loco. an' anyway. The way some o' them women's been dodgin' back and forth betw een their own homes and the post-office. if you pu t it that way. Miss Donna--to oblige me. Doc bein' a bac helor--an' now if you stand in we'll have 'em goin' south. but considerin' the hard looks o' the deceased an' what you tol d me--an' what Borax O'Rourke told everybody else before he left town yesterday._ Miss Donna. I prevailed on Doc Taylor to testify that you weren't in no fit frame o' mind t o face the music. "Better stand in." said Donna. An' since your trouble the other night. You've got young Mc Graw bottled up there at the Hat Ranch." "Why not?" "It's unlawful. do you?" "I wouldn't wag my tongue t o save 'em" he retorted bitterly. I've got Doc Taylor fixed already." "I see. I didn't think you would harbor a grudge." 64 ." "Mr. But I'm afraid I can't agree to enter into this c onspiracy. you'd think it was the finish of a jack -rabbit drive. the co lor o' his hair an' how he parts it. so they concluded to bring in a verdict _muy pronto." "Miss Donna. you know my reputation. Some o' the coroner's jury was for callin' you to testify at the inquest. I'm serious--" "It's cruel and unusual punishment--" "I'd light a fire under 'em" said Harley P. it's a go. how he ties his necktie. "and you want to let them suffer. the town's lookin' to Miss Pi ckett to produce.because they never found out any of your poor mother's when she was livin'. an' if he votes th e Republican ticket straight and believes in damnation for infants. they're all itchin' to learn the name o' the brave that saved you. They tell me there's been a plague o' hard characters droppin' of f here lately." "All right.

he stopped at the counter to have a little chat with Donna. She'll have with her. "What luck?" he asked. Pennycook come in as thick as three in a bed?" "She w as very nice. and Donna thought that beneath the jocularity of his manner she detected a menace. Pennycook . like a crow." "Yes. Hennage returned to town in a singularly cheerful state of mind. Mr. like the ace o' hearts. It's reported th at Dan 65 . "to look sharp if you see a forty-five-year-old damsel. Look out for 'em both. Some o' the natives was thinkin' o' bringin' their blankets an' three days' rations. Arrived there. he introduced himself to the nurse and made a few perfunctory inquiries regarding the condition of her patient. That'll be Miss Pickett. That night. good-by." "Hu-u-um! An' after she went away. I'll tell you the latest--the very latest. like as not. after which. "I declare I'm almost exhausted." "She'd better be" he remarked." "I heard something else to-day. The nurse was not lacking in a sense of humor." He waved his big hand at her and waddled down the track toward the Hat Ran ch. I've been dodging questions and tripping over hints all day l ong. "An' remember. an' campin' in front o' the hotel until you arrived. Mr. I suppose Mrs. While we're gos siping. "What have you heard?" she quer ied. all gab an' gi zzard. and devoted the balance of the day to the duties of his professio n." he warned her."Shake! You'll enjoy it. he ventured to outline his campaign as San Pasqual's official news censor. You'll find yourself real popular when you get up to the hotel. as he prepared to leave. Miss Donna. "that Donna Corblay is harboring a d esperate character in her home. and readily agreed to en list under the banner of Harley P. till supper-time. with many premon itory coughs. with a little bright red face. They talk!" And having played this unworthy trick on th e gossips of San Pasqual." "Miss Pickett come over to offer sympathy. a stout married lady. Hennage. "I've heard. all ears an' no chin. when he went to his dinner at the eating-house. an' a mouth like a new buttonhole. That'll be Mrs. W ell." he replied deliberately. I'm goin' to breeze along down to the Hat Ranch an' warn the nurse agin spies an' secret emissaries masqueradin' as angels o' me rcy.

if thereby he could on ly make her understand how deeply gratified he really was--how dearly he loved h er and would continue to love her. He was so filled with such thoughts as these that he continued to gaze at her in silence for fully a minute before he spoke. "with some pig's ear and cauliflower on the side. a s Bob read it then.Pennycook is drinking. You want to warn the nurse. so gratifying that Mr. "I could get hold of a low-spirited billy goat. I ain't had such a big appetite for my grub since I wa s a boy. P. she felt that her heart. Bob McGraw --and in such a hurry was she that she had not waited to remove her hat and glov es. dark. Josephine!" He hailed his waitress.45 through his other lung. must break before she found herself once more standing by Bob's bed. sparkling eyes. her face flushed from the exertion of her rapid walk. but--" he broke off. he awakened and looked up. She was drawing off her g loves. It almost seemed as if she would nev er reach the gate that pierced the big seven-foot adobe wall which shut Bob McGr aw in from the prying eyes of the townspeople." The adorable old muggins! The very thought of having somebody to worry 66 ." "Oh. I can account for that jus t as easy as lookin' through a hoop. Hennage was concerned. Why had she hurried? Why. McGraw would almost. was the fact that she had just come home. for she was breathing hard. to see him.' Hey. Miss Donna. "Who told you!" he inquired. hot day" he whispered. "I wish. shucks! There's nothin' to that report. over-bur dened with its weight of agonized happiness." "No!" Mr. at that moment. gazing down at him with a look of proprietorsh ip and love. that she had hurri ed. "About t wenty-five dollars' worth o' ham an' eggs. As she stood there. and you know his wife is strictly temp erance. Miss Donna. have welcomed a . an' tie him to your front gate when Mrs. He was fond of Dan Penn ycook. when Donna left the eating-house for her home." he said ear nestly. "I worried." he ordered. after all. her jaunty straw hat casting little vagrant shadows across her g reat. It's goin' to be wine jelly. arrives. I t hought maybe it might be calf's-foot. "He was seen buying a bottle of port wine in the Silver Dollar saloon this afternoon. smiling. Thought you might be kept- -late--again. "It's been a long. The big thing. and one who has ridden in the waste places as much as had Bob McGraw soon learns that simple signs are sometimes pregnant of big things. This was all very gratifying. it seemed to her that the Hat Ranch must be situated at least ten miles further from San Pasqual than it had been two days previous. Remember what the old sharp in the big book says: 'Beware o' the Greeks when th ey come into camp with gifts." That evening.

or tip over the stove. and wa s grateful to her for it. Mrs. "hurt on--both sides. this Mc Graw man was the most forward person! As if he could ever. and Donna. nerve-racked tired waitresses and be-deviled chefs "cussed each ot her out" as a regular thing up at the eating-house during a rush." and she pressed her hand to her heart. slowly got back his strength. Pennycook. true to the gambler's prediction. "I could beat S oft Wind with the broom. As the nurse was about to take the bowl of broth which she had prepared. Pennycook did carry the hereinbefore mentioned glass of wine jelly for the 67 . and pinched the lobe of his left ear. The three weeks that followed. smiling. off and on." he whispered. hav ing listened to these conversational sparks. that she _called_ M r. I think" she announc ed. the most marvelous period of Donna Corblay's entire existence. "I feel so deeply--it hurts me--here. On the morning after her conversati on with Harley P. and twe aked the sunburned apex of his Irish nose. Of course. seized the tray and marched out. Donna dipped up a small quantity on a teaspoon and tasted it. Then she reached for the salt cellar. and declared that she was happy enough to--to--to _swear!_ "I un derstand--perfectly" said Bob McGraw. perfectly ridiculou s. with all the gravity of her twenty years. felt n ow. "A little more salt. Then she kissed the places thus pinch ed and tweaked. The nurse glanced at her for a mom ent. could have evinced a greater interest in the royal appetit e than did Donna in Bob McGraw's that night. "Think of me. indeed. Then she ruffled his h air and fled out to the kitchen to investigate the exact nature of the savory co ncoction which the nurse was preparing for her invalid. as she imagined they must feel--that the unusual commoti on in one's soul occasionally demands some extraordinary outlet. havin g battled his way through the attack of traumatic pneumonia incident to the woun d in his lungs. indeed." The blarney of the wretch! Really. and so very sweet withal. No royal chef. dropped a small pinch into the soup. McGraw an adorable old muggins. or do something equally desperat e" she told him. The ide a of a glorious young Woman like Donna swearing was. by any possibility.over her was so very new to Donna. did favor t he Hat Ranch with her bustling presence. for three years. l ove her as she loved him! "You great red angel" she said. while Bob McGraw. safeguard ing the stomach of his monarch against the surreptitious introduction of a deadl y poison in the soup. for the first time. She was one of the women on this earth who can understand without asking--at least Donna thought so. Bullet--hole i n-right lung--key-hole in--my heart. in to her patient.. and there is no doubt that he did. before she took her glowing face between her cool palms and kissed the girl on each cheek. seemed. and wrapped in a snow-white napkin the said Mrs.

as he bowed t o the nurse and ventured a mild inquiry as to the patient's health. were duly thanked and dismissed. Pennycook rece ived due and courteous thanks from the nurse personally. and when she su ggested at length that she "would dearly love to see him for a moment--only a mo ment. Mr. sel f-righteous. Two days later Mrs. which he had prepared by the eating-house chef. and also on behalf of M iss Corblay and the patient. Pennycook was quick to note that Donna (to quote Mr. however. This. provincial female bigot has had a habit of resembling even as far b ack as the days of the Salem witchcraft. Mrs. the charitable pair departed in profound disgust. without affording them an opportunity for what Mr. Donn a Corblay. and baffled and discouraged. Hennage termed "a social comeback. presented a remarkable imitation of a heretofore conscientious dog that has just been discov ered in the act of killing a sheep. endeavored to run the guard. and the population. chop-fallen and ashamed. Mr s. a bouquet of assorted sweet peas and half a dozen oranges." He contracted the habit. of course merely served to irr itate an already irritated community. of coming in to his dinner earlier. fell heir to the brace of quail. two conductor 's wives and the sister of a brakeman. soon finds itself absorbed in o ther and more important matters. armed respectively with a brace of quail. and later consumed with g reat gusto). during tha t first week. in order that he might hear fr om Donna a detailed report of the frantic efforts of her neighbors to get at the bottom of the mystery. Hennage was enjoying himself immensely. came. Pennycook of the doctor's orders that his patient be permitted to remain undist urbed. Pennycook. Pen nycook called. generally speaking. The next day Dan Pennycook called. For her wine jelly. Hennage's warning and discovered that Mrs. his personal and family history. Alas! The young man was still in a very precarious condition. Miss Pickett carried the limp carcass of a juvenile chicken. Donna was at the eating-house when Mrs. Mrs. for not infrequently matters move in kaleidoscopic fashion in San Pasqual. wrote a polite note of thanks.debilitated stranger in their midst. and the day following. Poor Daniel was easy prey for the efficient nurse. she too." the nurse found instant defense from the invasions by reminding Mrs." and with the gambler's threat hangin g 68 . He retired. at Mrs. Pennycook received equally irrelevant and impersonal replies. by the way. To her apparently irrelevant and impersonal queries . interest in Donna and her affairs bega n to dwindle. accompanied by Miss Pickett. Do nna. but the nurse received her--not. Hennage) was "next to her game. called again. To all these interested ladies. (who. deposited thei r offerings. without an inward chuck le as she recalled Mr. mind you--to thank him for what he had done for that dear sweet girl. Pennycook's orders. After the fi rst week had passed without developments. Pennycook's mo uth did really resemble a new buttonhole--as the mouth of every respectable. and armed with thi s passport to Bob McGraw's heart and confidence. regarding the identity of the wounded man. The yardmaster. at the suggestion of Harley P.

The brief period each evening wh ich he and Donna spent together served to convince each that life without the ot her would not be worth the living. as had Bob and Donna. for the present at least. the details of which they had failed to unearth. During those three weeks of convalescence. she was content to linger in that delig htful state of bliss which precedes marriage. Witho ut the adobe walls. incapable of imagining a more profoun d joy than walking arm in arm in the moonlit patio with the man she loved.over her she was careful to refrain from expressing any decided opinions in the little circle in which she moved. Bob McGraw was not the young man to permit the grass to spro ut under his feet in the matter of a courtship. under the chaperonage of the n urse. Their wooing was dignified and purposeful. Both were graduate s of the hard school of practicalities. True. but the knowledge of his inability to support a wife. fanned by the eager desires of the business element of the hamle t. Never having known real happiness before. the zephyr lashed the sage and whirled the sand with fiendis h disregard of human happiness. was not spent in planning for the future. proving that the wound was healing from within. until not more than half a dozen people in the town remember ed that Donna Corblay had had an adventure. during the long hot days in the patio while waiting for Donna to return from her work. As the reader may have had cause to suspect earli er in this recital. gained headway. The last week of Bob's stay at the Hat Ranch. and early in life each had learned the v alue of self-reliance and the wisdom of thinking clearly and without self-illusi on. The slight cough whi ch had troubled him at first commenced to disappear. and the doctor announced that at the end of a month Bob wou ld be able to leave the house. swept the Bob McGraw-Donna Corblay episode completel y aside. the present desp erate condition of his finances and the unsettled state of his future plans. As for Donna. despite the fact that false rumor was all too frequent a visi tor to San Pasqual. doubtless by some syndicat e whose operations were so extensive that the work would likely mean a construct ion camp conveniently near. caused him to rally with surprising rapidity from his dangerous wound. Bob McGraw's splendid co ndition. Bob had tried it once or twic e. th eir love was too pure and deep to be taken lightly or tinged with the frivolity that too often accompanies an ardent love affair between two young people who ha ve not learned. she was. due to his clean and hardy life on the range and desert. for the lovers did not look beyo nd the reality of their new-found happiness. At the end of ten days he was permitted to sit up in bed and talk freely. pro mptly saturated his soul in a melancholy which only the arrival of Donna could d issipate. but within the Hat Ranch enclosure Donna Corblay knew 69 . and a few days later with the assistance of the nurse and Sam Singer he was lifted into a chair and spent a g lorious day sitting in the sun in the wind-protected patio. Rumor. At the end of the second week the news that de velopment work was projected somewhere near the town. like most women. to view life seriously.

seized his hand and pressed it to her cheek. theaters and mus eums. lifeless. parks. Donna. and she was content. Donna. a rollicki ng. And withal he was a droll rascal. east and west. "When we're married. "You know. or described the long valley to the north. "How soon?" she murmured. "we'll take horses and pack-animals and go up into that wonderful countr y on our honeymoon.that she had found a paradise. and despite the fact that the past seven years of his life had been spent far from that civi lization in which he had grown to manhood. next to telling her that he lov ed her and would continue to love her forever and ever. as she trailed him in spirit through thi s marvelous land of her heart's desire. "As soon as my ship comes in. He was silent. of meadows and running water and birds and blossoms. he could almost see the desert sadness die out in her eyes. natura l conversationalist. chivalrous things which. he had lost none of an innate gentleness with women. careless fellow who quickly discovered that. possessed of a fund of unfailing good-nature. He was. or sat contentedly at his side while he told her whimsical tales of his wanderings. He was a little subdued as he answered. to listen to his Munchausenian tales of travel and adventure. wishing he ha d not spoken. in unconventional. mirroring the firs of the heights above them. thoughtful. a dreame r. Did he speak of cities with their cafes." he told her . are the chief charm in a man. seemingly. CHAPTER VIII Donna's mail-order library proved a great source of comfort to Bob during the lo nely days at the Hat Ranch. the kind of a man who "listens" well--an optimist. with their castellated spires. occasionally sordi d surroundings. At night she sang to him. it pleased Donna most to have him tell her about himself. Things are very uncertain right now. to discerning w omen. I've been a rolling stone." She turned to him with glistening eyes. sparkling and s now-encrusted. when there came to him for the first time a realization of the hunger in the g irl's heart for a change from the drab. that delica te attention to the little. but when he told her of the country that lay just beyo nd the ranges. rolling gradually up to the high Sierra. Just at present it seems quite a long way off. of little mountain lakes. unchanging vistas of the open desert. He was an easy. it will not be more than a year." He smiled sheepishly as he thought of his profitl ess wanderings. she was interested. although if nothing ha ppens to upset a little scheme of mine. and I haven't gathe red 70 . Donna.

Bob. Bob had become fully convinced that he was his fat her's son. He was of a roving. and the problem of keeping you hasn' t presented itself as yet. I'm afraid you're rui ning my business. "I don 't gather moss. he had been attending the courses in geology and mining engineering. either. "I haven't stopped to gather up the hats since the night you came. adventurous di sposition." "We can wait. in which he had made really creditable progress . I haven't thought much about the future.very much moss. He had never seen his mother. Bob. I'm just content to know I've got you. Bob McGraw's father had been a mining engineer who had never accomplished anything more remarkable than proving himself a failure in his profession. She died bringing him into the world. and that mining engineering would be vastly more to his liking. dear. "my specialty is hats. His father had drifted from camp to camp. listening to the zephyr whistling around the Hat Ranch. however. Unknown to his father. after plying her with questions regarding her life. "I don't understand" he said." They were silent. a nd Bob was keenly interested. It was thei r first discussion of any subject dealing with the practical side of her life. Bob h ad been born in a mining camp in Tuolumne county." and then she explained for the first time the peculiar side-line in which she was engaged. Bob had graduated from the academy. had continued to love him when the fortune vanished. Bob's mother had been an artist of more or less ability-probably less--wh o. It wa s a profession. however. At e ighteen. so to please him young Bob had managed to struggle through the course and by dint of much groaning and burning of midnight oil. past and present. less lively and less profitable th an its predecessor." He stared at her amazed. Like most men who have m ade a failure of their vocation. having met and fallen in love with McGraw senior in New York during one of hi s prosperous periods. He laughed as Donna related some homely little ane cdote of the hat trade. He was insistent upon Bob following the law." she told him presently. "Do you know. and as a result his life had been a remarkable series of ups and downs--mostly downs. and at his father's desire he enter ed the state university to study law. the kind of a man to whom the fields just ahead always look greenest. He 71 . eventually he was admitted to practice before the Supe rior Court. Long before he had waded half-way through the first book of Blackstone." she taunted him. he dreaded to see his son follow in his father' s footsteps. when he sent him to a military academy in southern California. the mood for a mutual exchange of confidences seized hi m and he told her something of his own checkered career. He had managed to keep his son by him until Bob was about te n years old. and later. upon which his father frowned. each successive camp being a little lonelier.

Bob was the kind of fellow who likes to make a heap of his winnings. was met by an ore bucket coming down. a corporation lawyer named Henry Dunstan. A month later. while ascending the shaft of the mine where he was employed as super intendent. There had been no estate for Bob to probate. it was not in his nature to battle and grub with his fellows fo r a few paltry dollars. And the gold fever. Bob's parent having received h is pay check only the day before. At the end of two months he was getting twenty--al so he was very shabby and in debt. an automatic pistol. He hated the city. if this metaphor may be emp loyed to designate Bob McGraw's nature without creating the impression that he h ad. For the next eighteen months he worked in various mines in various cap acities. where he did a number of things-including the assault o n Mr. and the call of his father's blood was strong in his vei ns. inherited from his father. There was a broad strain of p oetry in his make-up. he took the trail through Windy Gap and Hell's Bend into Death Valley. much of the mining wisdom which circu mstances had denied that he should acquire in college. inherited perhaps from his mother. a nd his few briefless weeks scouting around the police courts and acting as a mes senger boy for Henry Dunstan had given him a thorough disgust for the profession of the law. These adventures occupied the first two years of Bob McGraw's wa nderings. whereupon his fath er declared that he must make his own way in the world thereafter. Mc Graw. Fortunate ly there was sufficient money on hand to do this. the purple d istances lured him with promise of rich reward. Here Bob McGraw learned the true inwardness of a poem which he had once 72 . however. Hennage's faro bank. picking up.was unfortunate enough to pass his law examinations. as we have already been informed. He left his position with Dunstan and went to work on a morning pap er at fifteen dollars a week. His Nevada experiences ha d given him a taste of the desert and he liked it. went up country to the mine and saw to it that his father was decently buried. arousing his imagination. taunting him wit h a desire that was almost pre-natal to investigate the formation on the other s ide of the sky-line. inherited a penchant for the gaming table. It was his ambition to gather together suffic ient money to enable him to complete his mining course and secure his degree. in actual experience. which. still burned in his bloo d. Bob closed his office. when he has any. where Bob while not actively engaged upon some minor detail of Du nstan's large practice had the privilege of going down into the police courts fo r a little practical experience in the gentle art of pleading. also resulte d disastrously. a box of dynamite and the usual prospector's outfit. He drifted to Nevada. and the day he made the remarkab le discovery that he had saved enough money to purchase two burros. and stake it all on the turning of a card. It had been born in him to take a chance. and the desert appealed to that mystical sixth sense in him. It pandered to the spirit of adventure in him. pere. He secured fo r his son a position in the office of an old friend.

he could say almost for a certainty that they lay within five miles o f certain points. and that imaginat ive streak in him. and in return they had infected him still further with the microbe of unrest. Here he was almost happy. on that first trip. prospecting. He rode with a prospector's pick on his saddle. fused with the wanderlust of his f ather. and when he had gone back after more water somet hing had happened--a new strike here. He was very happy." "I saw that sign wh en I came by. He came out of the desert. She laughed in perfect understanding when he described how some desert wag had placed a sign beside the trail at Hell's Bend at the ent rance to Death Valley. wou ld unearth for him a fortune. and in addition t he scenery just suited him. for it took him away from civilization and carried him through a mi neral country. to lure him on until he was once more forced to abandon the trail and return to work for his gr ubstake in the fall." he told her. and doubled north along the western edge of the White mountains up through Inyo county picking. "and I didn't like it. thirsting cheerfully as he went.'" Donna's laughter awoke the echoes in the silent pati o. inherited from his mother. And after walking several hundred miles he found nothing. with boyish frankness. In the summe r and fall Bob McGraw rode range. "Afar In the Desert I Love to Ride. But he had seen lots of country. valley and meadow and snowcapped peaks to please the dreamer and lover of n ature. He found employment with a cattle company and went up to Long valle y in Mono county. That is to say. He heard tales o f lost mines. "Who enters here leaves hope behind. 73 . He told Donna his story simply." scrambling down a hillside. of fortunes made in a day. interlarding the narrative with humorous li ttle anecdotes that robbed the tale of the stigma of failure and clothed it in t he charm of achievement. This was the man who had ridden into San Pasqual and got as far as the Hat Ranch. something had happened. a reported rush elsewhere. Donna. when as usual. combined to make of him a Desert Rat at twenty-three. his water had a habit of always giving out just when he got to those certain points. his stomach warned h im that it would be a wise move to sell his outfit and seek a job. at Coso Springs. starvi ng. with whom he had shared his water and his grub. It sounded too blamed pessimistic for me.recited as a boy at school. At the town of Bishop. Somehow. In the winter he quit his job. Life on a cow range suited him very well indeed. there was always the chance that a "cow. Thus a few more years had slipped by. and the silence pleased him." Only Bob walked . for the f uture was always rose-tinted and he had definitely located two lost mines. There was just enough of desert and bare volcanic hi lls. which he acco rdingly did. invested his sa vings in two burros and a prospector's outfit and roved until summer came again and the heat drove him back to the range once more. so when I broke camp next morning I changed the sign to read 'Soap' instead of 'Hope. of marvelous strikes. Also he had met and talked with other desert wanderers. and Bob McGraw.

Among the hushing of the corn Where drowsy poppi es nod. but now the idea of wandering al l my life over the mountains and desert. rambled on. The rustl ing of the trees. I've got to give it up and follow something definite. "One has to believe 74 . The f oolish fears of what might happen. she envied him the prerogative of sex w hich denied to her these joyous. not because of the fact of his love for her. She knew the resolution cost him a pang. I had that idea. what a lovable." "That's the Litany of a Pagan. I'm never so happy as when gophering around in a barren prospect hole or coyoting on some rocky hillside. selfish foolish notions out of on e's head and substitutes something bigger and nobler and--and--well." Again she patted his hand." T he hint of the desert sadness died out in the girl's eyes as he declaimed his go spel. endless wanderings. like a jack-rabbit--no. Where ill thoughts die and good are born. but five years in the desert and ridi ng the range changes one. "I love it" he told her pre sently. Donna. careles s. once you have made up your mind" she encouraged him." he answered. and in the end dying under a bush. what a dreamer. Among the new-mown hay. "It won't take you long. I used to thi nk a good deal about myself in those days. but I know a little verse that covers the subject very thoro ughly: The little cares that fretted me. and I realize that whether my present plans mature or not I've got t o give it up. just like drink appeals to a drunkard. "that's beautiful--beautiful. so I could throw it around with both hands and enjoy myself. I can't exa ctly explain. It takes the little. The humming of the bees." he expla ined. Out in the fields with God.certain of his audience. Among the winds at play. Donna. lazy optimist he was! And how Donna's whole nature went out in sympathy with his! She knew so well what drove him on. I lost them yesterday Among the fields above the sea. "When I started out. "I can't help it. I cast them all away Among the clover-scented grass. "I don't want to be rich. I wanted money--in great big gobs. Among the lowing of the herds." she cried softly. dear. Among the singing of the birds. But it's only another form of the gamb ling fever. Ah. It was all right a few years ago. it pleased her to learn that he had made it because he realized that he owed something to himself . It appeals to something in me. "Oh.

When my father left for the deser t he merely told mother that he was going to meet an Eastern capitalist at Salto n." "I am. "Didn't Sam Singer know his name?" "No. I'm not goi ng to keep on desert ratting until somebody cracks me on the head and stows me o n the shelf" he said presently.to understand when he goes to church in a city. I want them to bury me in Donnaville-that's to be the name of my colony--and for an epitaph I'd like Robert Louis Stevenson's "Requiem": 75 . when I pass away. but what a crowning glory to the dreamer's life if it only comes true! Just think. thinking over that strange tale of a lost mine which Sam Singer had told Donna's mother. unsullied wealth for a few thousan d poor. libert y and the pursuit of happiness." "Tell me about yourself and your people. I'm going to plant them on ten-acre farms up th ere under the shadow of old Mt. I've cut out for myself a job that will last me all my life. That's what I want to do. "Well. "Away up ther e. He questioned her carefull y about Sam Singer and the man who had murdered her father and despoiled him of his fortune. crushed devils that have been slaughtered and maimed under the Juggernau t of our Christian civilization. Donna dear." He was silent." she interrupted passion ately. I'm going to lay out a townsite a nd men will build me a town. to know that their toil will bring them some ret urn. so I can light it with my own electricity. Donna. and your father called him that in sh eer contempt. No wonder they fought. "Who was this tenderfoot person?" he asked. "That means he hailed from Boston. that they can have a home and a hope for the future. I'll fight the fight to a finish. and when that job is accomplished I will have lived my life and enjoyed it. It's a b ig Utopian dream. a hundred and fifty miles. A few thousand of the poor and lowly and hopeless brought out of the cities and given land and a chance for life." "Boston?" Donna nodded. I'm goi ng to create an Eden out of an abandoned Hell." he said. He waved his arm toward the north. y ou only have to understand in order to believe. I'm going to make thirty-two thousand a cres of barren waste bloom and furnish clean. I've cast my fortune--in the desert of Owens river valley. and Donna told him the story with which the reader is already familiar. Sam says the only name my father called the man was Boston. but if you're a Pagan like me. We never knew the man's name. and convert them into Pagans. My father was a Sun Worshiper-- like you. "I'm a Pagan and the daughter of a Pagan. and win or lose. Kearsarge.

its hopes. an idealist--perhaps a fool--he. dreading to meet. Never bef ore had Bob McGraw unburdened his heart of its innermost secrets. How do you propose to establish Donnaville? Tell me all about it. "but it--it may. where you'l l find all the things your soul is hungry for. But there was no patronizing smile. you and I. a little flushed and exalted." he began. "I guess I must be w ound up to-night. because it will be the land I've been telling you about." "Why?" "Becau se it sounds so much better than Bobville or Robertstown. dear. This be the verse you grave for me. its aspirations. and because it will be beautiful. and so I--I--" "Nobody can despoil you of your dreams. "but it is good to talk it over after hugging it to myself so many years. and there'll be long rows of apple and pear trees and corn and--don't you understand. home from the sea. for a moment now he almost quivered at the thought that Donna would look upon him as a dreamer." He gave her a grateful glance. half expecting. And yet. H ere he lies where he longed to be. He glanced down at her no w." He paused. where we will own a big farm. the look of gentle indulgence so common to the Unbeliever." he added a little sadly." she i nterrupted. It will be the green fields of God after centuries upon centuries of purgatory. its fears. I want to--help.Under the wide and starry sky Dig the grave and let me lie. with great fields of alfalfa with purple blossoms. Bob--what did you call it?" "It doesn't exist yet. and suffering and striving as I have suffered and striven since I came into this country. I'm going to call it Donnaville. a penn iless desert wanderer assuming to hold in his sunburnt palm the destinies of the under dogs of civilization--the cripples too weak and hopeless to be anything m ore than wretched camp-followers in the Army of Labor. Glad did I live and gladly die And I laid me down with a will. And th e hunter home from the hill. Home is the sailor. "When I pulled out of Death Valley on my first trip I came into Inyo 76 . An d when it does become a reality. But tell me. Bob. "and hence you'll never be beaten. no tolerant note in her voic e as she asked simply: "And this great. "I may be beaten into the earth and all my life Donnaville will remain nothing but a dream." he explained hastily. dear? It will b e the most beautiful thing in the desert. The dreamers do the world's work. a desire. beautiful Utopia of yours.

the sage grows six feet tall in spots. For the next few years. with the White mountains flank ing it on the east and the high Sierra on the west. so the land was worthless. Away up the valley the river water is sweet but as it approaches the lake it gathers alkali and borax from the formation through which it flows. Why. but didn't find any. but good water wasn't available. 77 .from the south and worked up along the base of the White mountains as far as Bis hop. I know it looked beautiful to me and I wished that I might have a farm there and settle down. and any d esert land that will grow big sage will produce more fortunes than most gold min es--if you can only get the water. filled with alkali. thousands of acres of it. "The valley is pure desert. bitter. The lake is salty. provided I could see my way c lear to a water-right that would insure sufficient water for irrigation. Of course I didn't want the river water at this point. The Owens river valley runs north and south. I didn't care to be a lone rancher out in that desert. when I could meet the rig ht kind of people. but once you climb the mountains and look d own into it. "There wasn't any alkali in the land that I imagined would be my farm some day--when I found the water. Donna. "I scouted for the water all one summer. I knew the land was rich--a pure marle. where streams of melted snow water flow down from the mountains a nd either disappear in the sands or just manage to reach the river or the lake. Howeve r. The valley looks harsh and desolate. It is from ten to fifteen mi les wide. I've always been a sociable chap. although there are a great many brilliant green streaks in it. that valley. boras and soda. it's beautiful. just at a time when I was getting ready to come out of the mountains and hust le for next year's grubstake. with lots of v olcanic ash mixed with it. and it netted me nineteen hundred dollars. You ough t to see that land. "That water que stion always bothered me. I found a 'freeze-out' in the granite up on the sl ope of old Kearsarge. and from the formation I judged that I wouldn't have muc h success putting in artesian wells. and for nearly forty miles above it s mouth the river itself is pretty brackish and alkaline. This renders it unfit for irrigating purposes and at first glance the lower end of the valley seemed doomed to remain undeveloped unless somebody led pure water from above down the valley in a big cement-lined canal and the cost of such a canal would thus render the project pr ohibitive. and unless I could have neighbors on that desert I didn't wan t any farm. and made up my mind to file a desert claim of three hundred and twenty acres. There the land lay. with the Owens river running down the eastern side most o f the way until it empties into Owens lake just above Keeler. every time I drifted up or down that valley I used to dream about my farm. Besides. unless the water company which might tackle the job also owned the la nd. on accou nt of the alkali in it. and finally I pick ed out a bully stretch of desert below Independence. and that it would grow anything--with water.

Fortunately for the gov ernment. whom the land-grabbers kept on thei r private pay-rolls. I couldn't develop an irrigation system from any of the little streams that flow ed down the Sierra. I discover ed that he was a man of unimpeachable public and private life. who had been 'reached' by the land ring. however. If Nature makes a mistake here. which presumably had been exposed and punis hed in former investigations. intentionally furnished the General Land Office by o fficials of the Forestry Department in California. I thought I could detect in this hoodwinking of the Department of the Interior. easy-going man. only the river had to go brackish and alkaline just where it was needed most. _ through the state land office._ "I quietly investigated the surveyor-general of the state. "While I was pondering thi s peculiar situation."However. and by and by I began to see the light. and had been during the greater portion of his tenur e in office. th at frequently he was away from his office for a month at a time. Withdrawing from entry lands that would not e ven remotely interest settlers! "I thought this over a great deal. and there was no place to impound it. Donna. The lower portion of the va lley. even if there had been sufficient water. it was discovered that the men accu sed of the frauds had been aided by corrupt minor officials in the General Land Office-clerks and chiefs of certain bureaus. that he rarely spent more than two hours each day in his office. I strongly s uspected that the corrupt influence. was suddenly withdr awn from entry and thrown into a Forest Reserve by the Department of the Interio r. was nevertheless still at work. including the stretch of desert on which I had my eye. I had wandered around in the desert long enough to observe that wherever Nature appears to have created a paradox. through the agency of some local official. and by reason of their seeming control of the office were engaged in looting t he state of its school lands which were timbered. The surveyor-general was a qu iet. and that t he office practically was dominated by his deputy. she places a compensating offset over there. strengthened into belief the more I th ought it over. there's always a reason. I had suspected from observation and personal experie nce that there was a powerful private influence at work in the state land office . The suspicion that grossly erroneous reports. Here w as a valley that with irrigation could be made marvelously fertile at this point . It was a queer proceeding that--including a desert timbered with sage-brush a nd greasewood in a Forest Reserve. advanced in 78 . In the congressional investiga tion into certain land frauds in California. a very strange thing occurred. was responsible for the inclu sion of the desert in the Forest Reserve. This was a matter of public record. who is also ex-officio Registrar of the State Land Office. because there wasn't enough water. the first move in a well-planned raid on the public domain. "At the outset. I discovered also that he was in ill health. ill. it has generally managed to secure for the head of the Land De partment able and incorruptible men to whom no taint of suspicion attached--men whom the land-grabbers dare not attempt to corrupt.

The answer was easy. If he struck water. and before long there might be a hundred settlers in there. Either an error had been made by the local forestry officials in defining the boundari es of the reserve. of course. "Then. unless they got a big artesian flow on every forty acres. T here was always the chance that some smart nester would come. a year passed and the boundaries were not rectified. the dummy 79 . settlers coul d have flocked in down the valley--and waited for the water. by virtue of his unhamper ed control of the office and the implicit confidence reposed in him by the surve yor-general. If the former. or the job was intentional. and kne w they could get water in sufficient quantity. There would be no reason to fear that they would stay forever. it would be sa fe for them to develop their water away up the valley. the valley once more thrown open for entry and--dummy entrymen. When they were ready. if it should become bruited abroad. Nesters are a dogged breed of human. the ne sters would be liable to block the water wheels of a private reclamation scheme. the news would travel and other settlers would come in and take a chance. and the upshot of my investigations conf irmed me in the belief that he was taking things easy--too easy--and that his wi de-awake deputy was doing business with the land ring. knew this. Jo hnny-on-the-spot. the error would be discovered and the boundaries re ctified. A nester is patient . it would be easy enough. to suddenly discover that a desert valley had. and until they woke up. or a half-section. Under the desert land laws one can file on three hundred and twenty acres. and while developing their water supply they wanted the land denied to the public. His life is spent in waiting. file on a half-sec tion and start boring artesian wells. "There could be but two reasons for this ridiculous action by the D epartment of the Interior in thus including a desert in a Forest Reserve. despite the fact that I wrote half a dozen complaining letters to the General Land Office. by some stu pid error. I guess ed that the land-grabbers had solved the water problem further up the valley and were scheming to get control of the lower valley and lead the water to it. pay twenty-five cents per acre dow n and then wait four years before being compelled to file with the land office t he proof of reclamation that will entitle him to final patent to his land. The land-grabbers had subsidized somebody and my letters ne ver got to headquarters. and by their corrupt influence had so maneuvered to hoodwink the General Land Office that the valley had been withdrawn from ent ry. and thus reporting to the General Land Office. to file on the land for the water company! Within the statutor y limit of four years the water company would have had time to extend its canals and laterals. that water for irrigation was being developed up the valley. So I knew a big job was about to be pulled off. been included in a Forest Reserve. It takes a nester a l ong time to wake up to the fact that he's licked. while the valley was open for e ntry. too.years and inclined to take things easy. the boundaries would be readjusted immediately. When they had protected themselves from prospective settlers. But they would have found water a nd it would have taken say three years for them to discover that their claims co uld not support them. "Well. The l and ring.

"I didn't. and crossed a glacier crevice on a raw hide riata. selling five to twenty acre farms. Ten acres of that lonely thirsty land. I was cut and bruised and hung ry and cold. If Nature made a mistake in the valley. called themselves a land and irrigation company and gone into the real estate business. and I had an abiding faith that if I searched long enough I'd find the water. too--not merely a ha lf-section for myself. I'v e been up in the Sierra looking for water. "It comforted me a whole lot. I t would only be mine in trust. at prices ranging from three to five hundred dollars per acre. It seemed to me that with so many mou ntain lakes up there below the snow-line. the laborers and muckers. "Hence. would have reo rganized. that thought. for the past two summers. and I wanted to save it for them. the poor. but all the time I was up there in the mountains I could look on th e valley--my valley--and it was beautiful and I didn't mind. I crawled along the b rink of a chasm three thousand feet deep. know who was behind the game. I'm more or less of a mining engineer. they would. the water company would have owned the entire valley. poor devils whose only hope is the land that gave them birt h and life and would receive them in its bosom when they perished. with a perpetual water righ t. I fell. and it's part of a mining engineer's business to know the laws relating to the public domain. It gave zest to the battle. but I knew the rules by which it would be played. perhaps to preserve appearances. and after waiting a year. I could see that unless I developed water first and filed on the land first. gradually transfer their holdings to the water company. I could see them all at that moment. I must find one that I could tap and b ring the water down into my valley. a sacred heritage that belonged to the lowly of t he earth. but the whole valley--only I didn't want it for myself.entrymen would have been able to show proof of reclamation and secure their pate nts. Within five years. of course. But I wanted the land. for a consideration. the roustabouts. I crawled and crept and climbed. It was the hewers of wood and the drawers of water that I wanted that valley to bloom for. 80 . and I made up my mind to get it for the m from the robber-barons that planned to steal it. waiting there for me to reclaim it from the ruin of ag es--ten acres of my desert valley and some water and an equal chance--that's wha t I wanted for each of my fellow-Pagans. Donna. the unskilled toilers of the world. "I circled around mountain lakes wher e in all probability no human foot but mine had ever trod. she would compensate for it up in the mountains. I would never g et my farm in the valley without paying dearly to the thieves who had stolen fro m me my constitutional right to it. "A big thought that had been in the back of my brain for a long time came to me with renewed force while I was up there in those Inyo Alps-the thought that if I could find the wat er it would be riches enough for me. I camped three nights on a peak with so much iron ore in it that whe n an electrical storm came up it attracted the lightning and struck around me fo r hours. Donna.

eag er face. "I wen t to the feed corral. and yet the lak e never seemed to have risen higher than a certain point. panting hu ngry heart of Inyo to protect the land for my Pagans.and made the prize seem worth fighting for. Even in winter when the lake was frozen over I would have a steady flow of water. the surplus flowed off into some subterranean outlet. This lake was hemmed in by hills. fed by countless streams from the melting snow on the peaks above. during the summer when the snow was melting up on the face of old Mount Kearsarge." "And how long does your right hold good befor e commencing operations?" "The law allows me a year. "Having found the wat er." Donna was silent. my next move was to go down into the valley. hot. and through a g igantic crevice in this sandstone the water escaped. just as a clerk came out an d tacked a notice on the bulletin board. For perhaps a minute she gazed into his tense. pr obably emerging at the head of some canyon miles away on the other side of the r ange. where I had kept Friar Tuck all summer." "And you have five weeks l eft in which to plan your campaign to acquire the land?" 81 . and between two of these hills a canyon dropped away sheer to the desert two thousand feet below. and pierce the lake below this sandstone crevice. but I couldn't find any outlet. I paid my livery bill. while I was up in the mountains. When the lake rose to the e dge of this crevice. I walked around it. I got to San Pasqual one night three weeks ago--and here I am. threw the saddle on Friar Tuck and headed south. I made careful estimat es and discovered that by shooting a tunnel three hundred feet through the count ry rock at the head of this canyon I would come out on the other side of the pla ce where the two hills met. It was the customary notice to settlers that the lower valley had been withdrawn from the Forest Reserve and would be thrown open to entry at the expiration of sixty days from date. This puzzled me until I discovered a sandstone ledge half-way around its eastern edge. I discovered a lake a mile wide an d nearly five miles long. into the great. "With me superintending the job and swinging a pick and drill myself. At the land office in Inde pendence I registered my filing and turned to leave. I estimate the cos t at about five thousand dollars. I read it. for I found the water. And I guess the God of a Square Deal was with me that day. for I knew that if I was to turn robber baron and steal the valley for my Pagans I'd have to hustle. I could drain the lake until the surface of the water gradually came down to the i ntake. when I could put in a concrete pier with an iron head-gate and regulate t he flow. for my tunnel would tap the lake below the ice. "What will it cost to drive that tunnel?" she queried finally.

sweetheart. and after paying the filing fee of $5 and the initial payment of $20 on each of the fifty applications for the land. I have money enough in bank at Bakersfield after paying my expenses here . Donna. Without the water the land is worthless." "Then. at least. If I can tie that land up." CHAPTER IX Bob McGraw threw back his red head and chuckled.000 for the men I induce to file on the land. It's about the only thing I know of that can't be monopolized. I have a long chance to win. after I have my tunnel driven and the head-gates in and my 82 . if you secure all the money you will require?" "No" he answered. In order to carry it out. "A bright idea."Five weeks. my water-right is worth million s. I'll be in luck if I'm not left stranded at the Stat e Land Office. in orde r that they may pay for the land on which I shall have induced them to file." he repeated. or failing that they will proceed on the ir original plan and lead their own water down the valley in canals. they will buy my water-right at their own figures. The real problem is the acquisiti on of four or five thousand dollars to drive my tunnel. I want to tie up fifty sections on that valley --aggregating 32. and after that I must sc rape together thirty-nine thousand dollars to advance to my poor Pagans. at least. and despite the fact that I have neither money nor corrupt influence. To control that 32. or starve me out and acquire the right when I am forced to abandon it b y reason of my inability to develop it. "Well. how can you hope to succeed?" Bob smiled. to accomplish that. the problem of g etting back to the desert will be a minor one. I must get my filings i nto the land office before theirs--and they control the land office. In the meantime I do not anticipate any diminution in the appetites of myself and F riar Tuck. "Hope doesn't cost anything. And I'm about to attempt an illegal procedure.000 acres of desert I will have to put up t he purchase price of $40.000 acres. I have one grand asset." "But can you accomplish this in opposition to the land ring." "What may that be?" queried Donna. "The plan I have o utlined is a mere contingency. If the other fellows get the land. only I'm going to do it legally. "and if it works out and I am enabled to file first. "All anybody ever needs--a bright idea. A man can hope till he 's licked. and without the land my waterright is practically worthless--to me.

"It's a big task--a man's work--that you're going to do. I know the kind of man I want to marry. would not av ail. The land must be cleared of sage and greasewood. "I'll need oodles of money. string powe r lines. a great load of care was already resting-the destiny of his people. To carry through to a conclusion. True. it is only th e fight that 83 . successf ul or unsuccessful. I think I shall even have to bui ld one hundred and fifty miles of railroad into Donnaville and equip it with rol ling stock. and until God a nd man had given her the right to make the offer she must remain silent. Success or failure counts but little with men like you. Bob. Bobby dear--and you're terribly handicapped. no matter how badly he required money. with laterals to carry the water for irrigation. and I must install a hydro-electric powerplant. build roads. which in turn must be piled and burned. and the first impulse of her generous heart was to offer him these har d-earned dollars. and win or lose. moral support was a kindly thing to offer. I want him to finish it--if he wants to marry me. I want you to fig ht the good fight." Donna drew his arm within hers and they w alked slowly--up and down the brick-lined patio. Then I must build several mi les of concrete aqueduct. this great work to which he had set his hand meant that unti l the finish came he must renounce his hope of marriage with Donna. "I can wait here until you're ready to come for me. An intuitive understanding of his thoughts came to Donna at that moment. I have only started. but dollars were the things that counted! However. barns and fences. In the presence of th e girl he loved and whom he hoped to marry he suddenly realized that he stood fa ce to face with a gigantic sacrifice. houses. she realized that under that gay. In the task that Bob McGraw had set himself. he mig ht win--but it would take years to demonstrate that victory was even in sight. she thought of her insignifican t savings (some six hundred dollars) reposing in the strong-box of the eating-ho use safe. i f he lost." He thrust both arms out. as if delving into the treasures of his fu ture. The dictates of his manhood would not permit him to accept. purchase telegraph poles. "Whew-w-w!" he sighed. "It means a fight to the finish . for all his youth and strength and optimism." she said bravely. She realized that he needed help.Pagans have the land. If he starts anything that's big and noble and worthy of him. he felt that he could never have the heart to ask her to share with h im his poverty and his failures. If your suspicions are well found ed you will find yourself opposed by men with the power of wealth and political influence behind them. to offer him financial aid now. on whom. careless exterior th ere beat the great warm heart of a man and a master. I'm going to be as busy as a woodpecker in the acorn season." His whimsical exalted mood passed.

Donnie. But how did you fight--and why?" "You quoted your Pagan's Litany to me to-night. girl. regardless of tradition and ancient usage. and without further ado I shall sell my water-right to the best possi ble advantage. If you go forth to battle and they slaughter you." "If you lose. If you win I want to live with you in D onnaville. "I have never been really happy until you came" she sobbed." He patted the beautiful head. Bob--and I do not want to wait--for happiness--until the capacity for it--is go ne." "I'll grant it. Per haps you think me bold--or unconventional. Remem ber that little jingle. Donna. I love you enough to work with you--and for you--when further wai ting is useless--" She pressed her face against his great breast and commenced t o cry. If I fail to do this I shall have lost the land. 84 . I claim the right to pick up your poor battered old heart and give it the only comfort--I mean. but if you lose--I want you to make me a promise. "Within six w eeks I shall know how long the fight is to last. provided she conforms to all of the law. But a woman has certain rights. She should be given the right to outline her own ideas of happiness. legal a nd moral. Bob. wonderful woman?" "I'm asking for a promise. and you'll live here. you'll come to me and we'll be married de spite defeat and failure. sweetheart. soothing her with tender words. It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts. if I have to wait. and it was ch aracteristic of the man that in that instant he made his decision. Bob. I couldn't do that!" "I understand your point of view.matters. If I can put through a s cheme which I have evolved to secure that land without recourse to the desert la nd laws--if I can get my applications filed first in the State Land Office--I sh all have won the first battle of the war. with me--at the Hat Ranch until- -" "Oh. but I do know that if you sold your Pagans into bonda ge for money to marry me. I want you to be true to it." "You wonderfu l woman! What is it--you wonderful. The enemy may conclude to pay me a reasonable price for it. I'd be ashamed of you--and disappointed. Be proud of your blackened eye. dear. I don't know a thing about desert land laws and riparian rights. Don't let you r love for me weaken your defenses. dearie: The harder you're hit. "We're young. Bob. and there are some defeats that are more glorious than victories. the higher you bounce.

In that case. dear. or interest other s in it. Of course. Harley P." puffed Mr. stamp your feet. eh." "Explain this unwarranted intrusion. eh ?" He stood at the corner of the house. cough. as he advanced with outstretched hand to greet the gambler. transfigured throu gh the tears. Hennage" Bob demanded. He was stooping to seal their compact with a true l over's kiss. you're an old snooper." "Well. y ell or fire six shots from a Colts revolver--" 85 . "If I was a young fel ler. "I' m so tired of the desert. Both turned guiltily.rather than declare war and delay the development of their land. I think. Bob McGraw--" "Mr. Hennage. to confront Mr. The power possi bilities of my water-right are tremendous and I think I can force a good price. "Kill-joy!" hissed Bob McGraw. We'll fight the rest o f the battle together. But they will buy me out. there's strength in numbers." He placed his left hand under her chin and tilted her face upward. after the la pse of years. no doubt." She raised her face. that's what you are!" cr ied Donna. "Hah-hah." "That makes no difference" she exclaimed passionately. it would not be fair to you to burden you with a husband whose sole assets are his dreams and his hopes. I'm lonely." "A little like Br'er B'ar. win or lose--" "Win or lose. Hennage. Kill-joy the Th irteenth!" Harley P. we'll be married in six weeks. "You're all the time snooping. "I'll have you know that in approaching this ranch hereafter. when the sound of footsteps startled them. You're my mascot and I'm bound to win. for I can poke away at my tunnel and by doing the assessment work I can keep my title alive for a few years. "His Royal Highness." He pressed her to him lovi ngly. "Of course" (with masculine inconsistency Bob was beginning to equivocate) "I may not be able to sell my water-right and the enemy may elect to play a wai ting game and starve me out. "at it again. "Then. "We're young. with his three gold teeth flashing in th e moonlight. Hennage. beloved . I should lose it and they would grab it. be financially unable to develop my water-right. Harley P. if you desire it and I can scr ape together the price of a marriage license. darl ing! You want to see the other side of the mountain. you w ill be required to halt at the front gate and whistle. in the event that I should. rather than brook delay. shook a fat forefinger at the lovers. at any rate.

Hennage. "You've filled out a whole lot since the last time I seen you standin' up. lined up at the Silver Dollar bar the other day an' bought a drink for himself. Miss Pickett. and presently he unbosomed himself. and as a matter of fact I hadn't intended staying here bey ond that first night. Robert McGraw. so I just made up my mind you w as ready to receive me an' I come ramblin' in. I've wore corns on my hands abangin' that there iron gat e to announce my approach. I told him I did--that the little roan hoss belonged to a Mexican friend o' mine by the name o' Enrique Maria Jose San chez Flavio Domingo Miramontes. there's a letter there all right. advertisin' a registered letter for one Robert McGraw. so when he informed me that he'd been told I knew the name o' the little hoss' owner. "an' if I was called on to give a guess who sent it I'd bet a stack o' blue chips I could hit the bull's eye first shot. so I come down to scheme out a way to bell the cat--meanin' Miss Pickett" he added. has a notice p asted up on the wall o' the post-office. "Our mutual friend. Hennage must have s ome reason for calling other than a mere desire to pay his respects to Bob. "I ain't no snooper. "A letter f or me?" Bob was surprised. Well. How's tricks?" "Gre at. an' it wasn't no use. So he goes down to see Miss Pickett. Yes." "Well. after stowin' away his little jolt. except me an' Doc Taylor an' Miss Donna --an' we're all swore to secrecy. "Why. 86 . "How?" he qu eried. Donnie. and made swift appraisal of Bob McGraw from heels to hair. askin' which one of 'em is Mr. Donna knew that Mr." The gambler nodded his approval of this cheerf ul news." reiterated Mr. he drank alone--which goes to prove that me n with money ain't always got the best manners in the world. with gray chin whiskers an' a pair o' bespectacled blue lamps that'd charm a Gi la monster. it's years since I have received a letter. apparently as an afterthought. they're that shiny. Donna brought out another chair and the trio sat in the secluded patio and talked generalities for ten minutes. I wo nder who could know that I might be found in San Pasqual I didn't tell anybody I was headed this way. he comes fussin' around among the boys. A dry. I'll be out in a day or two. you know I ain't one o' t he presumin' kind. I seen right off that Miss Pickett had her suspicions an ' had sicked this stranger onto me."You mean a presidential salute o' twenty-one twelve-inch guns" retorted Harley P. "Of course. purse-proud aristocrat." The gambler tittered foolishly. "Ain't a soul can tell Miss Pic kett who the feller is or where he's at." He held out a hand to Bob and another to Donna. an' bimeby me an' him meets up in front o' the eatin' house. an' wouldn' t 'a got it if the boys had it. Of course he didn't get no information. an' he up an' asked me if I co uld tell him who owns that little roan cayuse kickin' up his heels over in the f eed corral.

'If you should see Mr. children.' "'Thank you. don't you go givin ' no money to no Mexican.'that don't signify nothin'. What's it this time? He ain't g ot himself mixed up in more trouble.' "'Oh.' says this wealthy gent. that a ny time Miss Molly thinks she can spring a secret out o' me she's got to go some . Mexi cans is the biggest hoss thieves living besides. But McGraw's not in town. ' "'I don't mean your Mexican friend. Hennage chuckled.' he says. to tell him he can learn of somethin' to his advantage by communicatin' wit h me right away. 'It means a great deal to him--an' me. you might own that hoss. you might be good eno ugh. CALIFORN IA 87 . He won't be here for a week or two yet.' I says. McGraw sold the hoss to Enrique an' lit out for Bakersfield. 'Well.' says he.' "'Oh.' "'Well. "'Shucks. 'with a perfect stranger." Mr. but you've got to prove property. 'I'm aft er a man named Robert McGraw. LOS ANGELES.' "'What do you call a great deal?' "'Money' he says. I ain't feelin' disputatious to -night. my man. has he?' "'I prefer to refrain from discuss in' the details."He give me a sour look at that. very well' I says. 414-422 SOUTHERN TRUST BUILDING. MORGAN CAREY PRESIDENT INYO L AND & IRRIGATION COMPANY. so I'll just close up my game an' go get my scoffin's. that don't correspond none with the init ials on the saddle' he says. W ell. McGraw. like a snappin' turtle. 'I didn't seek this interview. but when you mentioned the hoss I c ould tell by the look in your eye that McGraw's been robbin' you o' somethin'. an' pulls a card. "I says: 'See here. my man. T.' "'But I must fin d this man' he says. produced a white square of cardboard and handed it to B ob.' I says. read: MR. an' I won the hoss from Enrique at faro. Donna. leaning over his shoulder.' an' I took the card an' he went back to Miss Pickett. I want to tell you. pardner. because he'll only gamble it away on three-card monte. just about the time I was gett in' ready to pull his nose. 'I do hope it's an alibi. 'you mean that red-headed outlaw f rom up country? Why I didn't know he was wanted.' I says. I been keepin' him in the corral in order to give the Mexican a chance to buy him back.

Le t a crook try to buck my game an' I have him spotted in a minute. Instantly Mr. Mr. and just to keep u p appearances. Miss Donnie. I'm glad you didn't tell him where I might be found. I'll open it right in front o' her an' flash the order for the registered letter. then from his rear hip pocket he produced Bob McGraw's automatic gun. and sighed. gene rally speakin'. but I can't recall just what it is. I wasn't goin' to give him no informati on until I'd talked with you first. I can hazard a good guess as to what he desires to see me about. Hennage. I do not care to meet T. I ain't had a letter come to me in ten years. Then to-morrow night when I get back I'll go to the post-offic e for my mail. "Bob McGraw's f ree. "You're a heap like y our mother" he said presently."I've heard of that fellow before." "Thank you." When presently Bob went into the house to write the desired order f or Harley P. an' I'll mail that order from Bakersfield to mysel f in San Pasqual. That Carey man would s teal a hot stove without burnin' himself. "and it strikes me his name is as sociated with some unpleasant memory. Miss Pickett'll giv e me the letter. ornery man. Now. snaky. then that there artesian well is spoutin' mint juleps. "he's a smart man an' smells o' ready money." He sat there. 88 . you give me an order for that registered letter. I have great faith in your judgment. a n' act as lookout on Bob's game. When Bob returned with the order for the registered letter. However. it's this T. I can tell a crook in the dark." mused Bob. I'm goin' up to Bakersfield to-night. but if twenty years o' ga mblin' an' meetin' all kinds an' conditions o' men ain't made me as fly as a roa d-runner. you take a tip from Harley P. Donna and the gambler were left alone for a few minutes." said Mr." he said. this young Bob is an impulsive cu ss. an' if he has any dealin's of a money nature with this sweet-scented porchcl imber that's on his trail. Hennage tucked it carefully in his side coat pocket. if I do say so myself. Miss Donnie. Morgan C arey--an' at that he's a dead ringer for a church deacon. "Looky here." "Well. I ain't one of the presu min' kind an' I hate to tell any man his own business. fishy. an' the old gossip'll be annoyed to death to think she's lost the trail. staring thoughtfull y at the little white cross down at the end of the garden. his bow-l egs spread apart. Morgan Carey--yet. his hands folded across his ample abdomen. to-morrow. although my main idea was to throw Miss Pick ett off the scent." "Well. Bob. Say. Miss Donni e. I call the turn. datin' the order from Bakersfield. Hennage became serious. Hennage.. Mr. Howeve r. Hennage. Hennage. white an' twenty-one an' he can play his own hand. Miss Donnie. It was thoughtful of you. I just _feel_ 'em. if ever I see a cold-blooded.

It merely verifies my suspicions that there is a ring of land- grabbers operating in this state. sweetheart--they 're after it already!" His exultant laugh rang through the patio."I took charge o' this the night o' the mix-up" he explained as he returned it. with a ligh tning wink and a slight movement of his fat thumb and forefinger. Hennage's chaff. Doesn't that seem strange? How did he discover you had a water-right." Scarcely had the gate slammed behind him when Bob tu rned to Donna with beaming face. I have owed you fifty for three years and I'd like to squa re up. who. I have a small stake. very probably acting under the advice of Miss Pickett. They've traced m e by my horse to San Pasqual. Morgan Carey and ascertain the kind of man I have to fight. "I knew I was treading on somebody's toes when I filed on that water. to investigate. and now they're trying to find me with a registere d letter." "Well. Inyo county) had filed on one hundred thousand miners' inches of water for power and irrigation. The moment I filed on that water. ami go?"_ Bob smiled at this sinful philanthropist. _Comprende. 89 . "Not necessary. come seeking you." "Sure you ain't bluffin' on no pair?" "Thank you. investigate it. as if counting a stack of imaginary bills. Morgan Carey was notif ied by his tool in the State Land Office that Robert McGraw (I gave my address a s Independence. Donna. apparently . "They're after my water-right. "send Sam Singer up to let me know. holler when you're hit. old man-if you'l l drop in at the Kern County Bank and Trust Company in Bakersfield to-morrow and get me a check-book." "He came here looking for you a week after you arrived._ children. Harley. all in the course of one week?" "That is very easily explained. there isn't that much non-alkaline water a vailable anywhere in the valley--at least under the control of one man or one co rporation. By George. which ring controls some official of the State Land Office and keeps on its pay-roll an employee in every United States land o ffice in California. He looked hard at Bob. Now. I must investigate T. "When you're ready to toddle about" he added. and of course it frightened Carey. A lso he wired my name and general description and probably stated that the last s een of me I was headed south for the railroad on a roan bronco. T. The engineer found my lo cation notices tacked to a cottonwood tree right where I'm going to drive my tun nel. ascertain its value a nd then. who w as probably in Inyo county at the time. and he immediately reported to Carey that the location was very valuable." He waved his hand and departed with a " _Buenas noches. He wired his field engineer. is an elderly bird and not to be caught with Harley P. Donna.

Bob. a ne'er-dowell. for Donna could not c ontinue to entertain him unchaperoned. They want my water." Late the following afternoon Harley P. I think I can mana ge to last until morning." "Harley P. might prove embarrassing to Donna. dear. even under the prevailing condit ions. hence he announced his determination of going up to San Francisco to rec uperate and complete his plans for the acquisition of thirty-two thousand acres of the public domain in the desert of Owens river valley. what to expect. Morgan Carey's co mpany I'll talk--turkey. and it may be they are under the impression t hat I am like most of my kind--that I can be mesmerized by the sight of four or five thousand dollars. I think you've dreamed enough for one night. At dinner Bob read the letter and silently handed it over to Donna. You've been up all d ay and you've talked and it's time you went to bed. I shall write him that my location is not for sale. while inviting enough. Hennage return ed from Bakersfield and at once went to the post-office and secured Bob's regist ered letter. "talk! That's what. will give me your letter to-morrow night and I'll bring it home with me.'s reputation is bad enough." "Then write it from Bake rsfield" Donna suggested." "'Talk'" he echoed. and they want to tie me up before I have an opportunity to sell to somebod y who realizes the value of my holdings. would nevertheless prove expensive. He begged for an early reply."It's absurdly simple. by reason of the retention of his nurse. for they must eliminate competi tion. We'll know definitely. even in such a free-and-easy town as San Pasqual. certain rights held by his company. In the meantime. Donna. But when I clash with T. a desert rat. "Harley P. in case interest in his affairs should revive. Morgan Carey. I've been talking--talk. He brought it sever to Donna at the eating-house. It was from T. Up Inyo way they know me for a range ri der. She realized that a longer stay 90 . "Will you reply to his letter?" Donna queried. Donna did not endeavor to dissuade him." Three days later Bob's strength had so far returned that Doc Taylor told him he might leave San Pasqual whenever he pleased. Bob realize d that a longer stay at the Hat Ranch. "Ye s. delivering with i t a pantomime of the inquisitive Miss Pickett when she discovered that the order for delivery of the registered letter to the gambler was dated and mailed from Bakersfield. If you'll kiss me good-night. and he was fearful that a longer stay. On behalf of the Inyo Land & Irrigation Company Ca rey requested the favor of an interview at an early date to take up with Bob the matter of purchasing his newly acquired waterright on Cottonwood lake. or submi tting a proposition for consolidation with. then. but you mustn't convict him of lying.

"I was w aiting for you to make that discovery" she said. "It's a dear" she announced. "It's a good gun. and I've asked Sam Singer to bury that ruin of rags I wore into town. at any rate. I've been saving a spl endid big sombrero for you. When I was very young I was foolish enough to have my initi als engraved on the case. then stood off and surveyed him critically." "Then I'll tuck it up under my arm. but I haven't worried about it. Hennage and the proceeds applied to the care and maintenance of Friar Tuck until Bob's return to San Pas qual. to be cashed by Harley P." "Y our gun hangs below the tail of your khaki coat. Donna girl . and paraded up and down the pati o for the inspection of Donna and the nurse. Donna" he called to her. dismissed his nurse and paid her off. McGraw. but its hockabl e value is negative.was impossible. Donna. after which he buckled the belt over hi s right shoulder. permitting the gun to hang securely in the holster under his l eft arm. "ho w do I look? Presentable? I know I'm feeling clean and respectable again. I don't look so confoundedly woolly and western" he said. Hennage with a request for a shaving outfit. returning presently with a "cowboy" hat that must have been the joy and pride of the tourist who sacrifi ced it to the San Pasqual zephyr. Of course I have a watch. "Well. Accordingly Bob issued a check to Doc Taylor that evening in payment of his fee. "Now. I suppose if a tourist sa w that gun hanging down he'd think I was bloodthirsty. Bob was arrayed in his new habiliments. much as both desired it." "Why not leave it here until yo ur return?" Bob grinned. Armed with information respecting the physical dimensions of Mr. and upon Donna's return to the Hat Ra nch that night she discovered that during her absence a transformation had taken place. Bob." Donna helped him remove the coat. I might be able to pawn it for enough to help out on my return trip. a shirt. a necktie and a new suit of k haki. t he gambler had attended to Bob's shopping. I haven't any hat!" She flashed him one of her rare wonderful smiles. "You lost your hat the night yo u arrived in San Pasqual." She went to her room. She pinched it to a peak and set it jauntily o n his auburn head. During the afternoon Bob dispatched Sam Singer to Harley P. It would never occur to h im that a gun comes in handy in the wilderness. and l eft with Donna another check. "I do h ate to go about looking like the hero of a dime novel. 91 . underwear. and Bob had his work to do and not a gr eat deal of time in which to do it. but of course I know better now--by George.

and the days would be long until Bob McGraw came back. and in that land of breeze and sunshine he knew the dangers that beset a maver ick hat. each exacted from the other a promise to write every day. for the thoughts of each were occupied with drea ms of the future. Donna accompanied him to the front gate. She stood at the gate and watched it until it vanished. It's as good a hat as I'll ever own. Whew! That's a bird of a hat. 92 . carrying Bo b McGraw forth to battle. Thank you. and kindly withal. Donna found it easy enough to be brave and let him go. The nurse was not to leave until the next day. kissed her quickly before the te ars should have a chance to rise. so he closed out his account and purchased a draft on San Francisco for the amount of his balance. Neither felt inclined to conversation. casting a lur id gleam across the desert as it sped northward into Tehachapi Pass. Three hours after leaving Donna Corblay at the Hat Ranch. turned back the sweat-band."Looks dear. At eleven o'clock Sam Singer appeared in the patio to announce his willingness t o trundle Bob up to San Pasqual on the same trackwalker's velocipede upon which Bob had arrived at the Hat Ranch. Donna girl. to fight for his land and his Pagans. and there Bob with many a fervent promise to take good care of himself--and not to f orget to write every day. she had had the delicacy to bid her patient farewell in the patio. He arose late the next morning." He sat down forthwith. less sufficient money to pay his current expenses. and was gone. Then the Indian's body bent over the levers and the machine glided away into the night. she waited un til Twenty-six came thundering by at eleven-thirty-five and heard the grind of t he brakes as the long train pulled up at the station. When the last di m flicker of the green tail lights had disappeared Donna retired to her room and cried herself to sleep. and that important detail finally settled. That night they walked together in the patio for the last time. with many a short and labored gasp. Five minutes later she hea rd it pull out of San Pasqual. He had ridden range long enough to acquire the habit of branding his property . took her in his arms. Bob McGraw alighted from the train at Bakersfie ld and went at once to a hotel. she saw him climb aboar d. Lover-li ke. "Must have cost the original owner a m onth's board. and the tragedy of that farewell lay heavy upon them. She watched him stride slowly th rough the gloom to the velocipede waiting on the tracks. Once more she was left to battle alone with the world. breakfasted in t he most appalling loneliness and later wended his way weakly to the bank where h is meager funds were on deposit. too" he replied whimsically. and being a discreet woman. Here he had his account balanced and discovered that his total fortune amounted to a trifle over sixteen hundred dollars. mois tened it slightly and with the stub of an indelible pencil wrote his name in ful l.

and for fear this symbolic declaration of undying devotion m ight not be sufficient. Even in the case of one who. dined and 93 . However. He would have telepho ned just the same and trusted to heaven to rain manna for his next meal. Donna wept. Bob was the kind of man who always thinks of t he little things. the purchase price of which. McGraw next proceeded to do what he had always done when in a civilized community--spend his money recklessly. Into the heart of this cluster of fragrance he caused to be secreted a tiny env elope enclosing a card. and with the sight now. Bob returned to his hotel and went to bed. if he could only have seen Donna's face when the express messenger next door brought that v otive offering in to her! Red carnations were not frequent in San Pasqual. of trol ley cars. for the first time in several years. McGraw would have considered cheap at the price of his great t oe or a hastily plucked handful of his auburn locks. His m ission of love finally accomplished. for the hand of her Bob had to uched it! The carnations she bore home to the Hat Ranch in triumph. But Bob McGraw was nothing if not an impetuous lover. almost childish cry of amazement which greeted his "Hello. Late that afternoon he arose. D onna girl" was music to his soul. almost a baritone--came to him over the w ire. automobiles and people wearing clean linen. While the promoter of Donnaville was a true son of the desert. he was c ollegebred. He went back to the hotel. he scrawled beneath it: "Love from Bob. upon which he had drawn a heart with a feathered arrow s ticking through it. McGraw's next move savors so strongly of the veal period of hi s existence that no amount of extenuating circumstances may be adduced in defens e of it. Here no less than six dozen red c arnations caught Mr.This detail attended to. McGraw's fancy. old memories surged up in Mr. like himself. throaty. threw them out. he fared forth once more and pursued the uneven tenor of his w ay until he found himself in a florist's shop. a stranger to romance. he felt amply rewarded for the extravaga nce when Donna's voice--deep. called Donna on the long-distance phone and frittered away two dollars in inconsequential conversation. and the substitution of that mood for one of genuine happiness for the re st of the day Mr. much refreshed. further denuded him of ten dollars. in view of the extraordinary circu mstances. in addition to the express charges prepaid to San Pasqual. and despite the fact that his long legs were now we ak and wobbly from the premature strain of his journey from the hotel to the ban k and back again. McGraw's damaged breast. It wa s the first lover's bouquet Donna had ever received and she bent low behind the cash register and kissed the foolish little card. He knew Donna had gone to work that morning feeling blue and l onely. had plans afoot where every dollar counted. and two week s later when Soft Wind." Ah. but Mr. As for money--bah! Had it b een his last two dollars it would have made no difference. Mr. we might pardon readily th e expenditure of two dollars on conversation. the delighted.

it is necessary that the reader take a five-minute cour se in land law. and was satisfied that the hazy plan which he had outlined was not only within the law. and in the case of California school lands the statutory price is one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre.. such was his peculiar mental make-up. the terrific odds only proved an added attraction. purchased a suit of "store" clothes. yet. That was all Bob McGraw had to cheer him on to victory--a million-to-one chan ce. filing fees and notary's fees. This is regrettable. Section sixteen and thirty-six in each township throughout the Unite d States are commonly designated as "school lands. to be sold by the states fo r the use and benefit of their public school funds. the Federal government reimburses the state suffering s uch loss 94 . for it is a dry subject.waited around the lobby until it was time for the bus to leave for the north-bou nd train. traveling expe nses. Now. CHAPTER X Now. a Government Military Reservation or an old Mexican grant (which latt er condition obtains very frequently in California. By nightfall Bob had saturated his brain with legal lo re bearing on every feature of the laws governing the acquisition of lands in th e public domain. pr ovided his venture should be attended with a fair percentage of supernatural luc k. where the titles to many hug e grants still hold since the days of the Mexican occupation) they are lost to t he state. He found frugal lodgings in a third-class hotel. but as an offset to his comparatively brilliant prospects of going h ungry and ragged there was the dim. so we shall endeavor to make the course as brief a s possible. but really did have some vague elements of feasibility. and the balance in hotel bills. a Nati onal Park. he went do wn town. School lands are open to pur chase by any citizen of the United States. even in the matter of swamp and overflow lands. and after writing a letter to Donna. By nine o'clock next morning he was in San Francisco. and spent the balance of the day i n the public law library. however--the part that appealed to the sporting insti nct in his ultra-sporty soul--lay in the fact that it would cost him only fiftee n hundred dollars to try! Twelve hundred and seventy-five in preliminary payment s. In such cases. and to give an inkling of the diffi culties confronting him. The beauty of Bob's plan. fre quently it happens that by reason of the inclusion of certain of these "school l ands" in a Forest Reserve. long chance that he _might_ win millions." for the reason that the Fede ral government has ceded them to the various states. in order to insure even perfunctory understanding of the procedure under wh ich Bob McGraw planned to acquire his lands. etc. an Indian Reservation. a Reclamation District.

with the surveyor-general of the state. no such selection of lieu lands can be made by the surveyor-general unless th ere is a corresponding loss of school lands _as the basis for the selection. having been taken i n lieu. or such fraction thereof as he ma y desire. If there are no school lands open for purchase at the time. th e intending 95 . the surveyor-general will select for the applicant from the public domain such state lieu lands as the purchaser may desire. therefore. are known as "state lieu lands. wh o is also ex-officio registrar of the State Land Office. this basis constituted the horns of a dilemma upon which Bob McGraw had once found himself impaled in an attempt to purchase three hundred and twenty acres o f timbered land in the public domain--land which he knew would. un der the law. McGraw saw an attractive profit in purchasing at one dollar and twenty -five cents per acre three hundred and twenty acres of timber worth fully fifty dollars per acre. the state owns many sections of school lands which have been i ncluded in restricted areas. If a citizen of the United States. owing to the recent extension of the Forest Reserve policy. under Section 3495 of the Political Code of the State of California. there could be no legal hindrance to his purchase of lieu lands--pa rticularly in view of the fact that there were several hundred thousand acres of government lands within the state from which to make his selection! To Bob's su rprise. Howeve r. become very valuable. under a ruling of the State Land Office--a ruling having absolutely no foundation under any section of legislative procedure-which stipulated that before the State Land Office could receive or grant an application for the purchase of lieu lands. but if. for that would entail residence o n the property for more years than Bob could afford to remain away from his belo ved desert. desires to purchase state school lands at the statutory price of one dollar and twenty-five cents per acr e.of school lands. Thrilled. The lands thus selected from the p ublic domain in exchange for school lands lost to the state. He knew that._ No w. thereof. McGraw had duly filed his application for purchase of this particular halfsectio n. in the course of a few years. by extending to the state the privilege of selecting from the p ublic lands within its borders an acreage corresponding to the acreage thus lost by reason of inclusion in a restricted area. he must file his application for a section. naturally they cannot be purchased. duly qualified. hence he decided to acquire it by purchase as state lieu land at a t ime when he knew there were no available school lands lying outside restricted a reas. on the contrary. are spoken of as the "basis" for the exchan ge. Mr. Mr. or be entitled to purchase. his application for the purchase of lieu lands had been denied. Bob's restless nature would not permit of hi s taking up the claim under the homestead law. and that therefore. thousands of a cres of school lands had recently been lost to the state. with most pleasurable anticipations." and the lands which were origi nally state school lands and which have been lost to the state by reason of thei r inclusion in some restricted area.

_ "Bless my innocent soul. McGraw had murmured at the time.purchaser _must first designate the basis of corresponding loss to the state of school lands. "w hat a curious rule! I had a notion that that was the surveyor-general's business . Now. not mine." Bob did not have long to wait. Bob had brooded much over the diffi culties which would without doubt assail him in his attempt to acquire his lands in Owens river valley." However. which so adroitly deprived him o f his constitutional right to the public domain without the payment of a middlem an's profit. O'er the land of the free and the home of the knave caroled Bob. At the time he was not financially e quipped to argue the matter calmly. He was an ardent admirer of genius wherever lie s aw it. To his surprise and chagrin he discovered that as fas t as he brought to light a "basis" for his selection. and even this exhibition of evil genius." Mr. in return for the tri fling payment of one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre to the state and the further trifling payment of ten dollars per acre to the purveyor of information respecting the necessary basis for the exchange! At the time this procedure had struck Bob as rather humorous. And the star-spangled b anner in triumph doth wave. and charged the matter up to experience. in no wh it daunted by the prospect of a little research work. Within a week he received a letter from an alleged land attorney. offering to lo cate him on state lieu lands worth fifty dollars per acre. and he had no money to pay for "inside information. not. also he had figured 96 . he was informed. while recovering from his wound at the Hat Ranch. Bob had had recourse to th e land maps in the office. "I do not happen to possess the requisite amount of insid e information and I have no means of obtaining it until I ascertain where it is for sale! The purpose of this ridiculous rule is to keep the rabble out of the p ublic domain until some middleman gets a profit out of his information. however. and not forcing them to compile it for themselves. "Euchred!" h e muttered to himself. McGraw' s copy of the Political Code of the State of California. without firs t storing the incident away in his nimble brain for future reference. after som e perfunctory investigation by the employees of the State Land Office that these bases _had already been used!_ Eventually the light of reason began to sift thr ough the fog of despair and suddenly Bob had a very brilliant idea. rather aroused his admiration. clearly--and judicially. I'll jus t give up for the time being and await results. I had a notion that he was paid for compiling that information for t he people." He only knew that the rule requiring applicant s to designate the basis was an office-made rule and had no place in Mr.

Mr. there's a differenc e. I will not call later. However. Bobby. how he cou ld nevertheless derive tremendous profits from his control of certain officials in the State Land Office. for old sake's sake. Dunstan--just drifting. put back your money. Your generosity knocks that superstition galley-west. what's on your soul this morning?" 97 ." "Glad I called on Friday. so I'll take you at your word. "Drifting. he decided to seek a little expert advice on the subject. I'd like to take advantage of the ever-active present. and for your father's sake my advice to you will always be give n gratis on Mondays and Fridays. provided the grabber did not care to retain his grab. and to that end he went the following morn ing to his father's old friend and his own former employer. Bob's brain was primed with every detail of the land laws. Dunstan indicated an easy chair and presented his exassistant wit h a fifty-cent cigar. You've grown. not satisfied with his own opinion. not ju st this minute. "Oh. To tell the truth I have urgent need of it for other things." and he followed Dunstan into the latter's p rivate office. and had confirmed his original interpretation of the land-grabbers' clever schem es to defraud. "Well. He welcomed his old friend's failure of a son in a manner which bespoke f orced heartiness. They shook hands and stood for a moment looking at each other. and a preconceived impression that the il l-dressed. He sent in his name by Dunstan's stenographer. Dunstan. Therefore. despite all poor old dad did to m ake me follow in your footsteps. My motto i s 'Do it now. Also I will gladly retain this century. the c orporation attorney. Where in the world have you been ranging since I saw you last?" Homer Dunstan was forcing an interest in Bob McGraw which he was far from feeling. "Mr.out to his own satisfaction the exact method by which the land-grabber was enabl ed to grab. Mines and mining-mostly the latter. even if it is an unl ucky day. Dunstan . pale Bob McGraw had come to him to borrow money. my boy. and presently Dunstan appeared in the reception room. or. Perhaps if you'll call--" "No. So I've quit bucking the inevitable and turned wanderer. boy. It's my inheritance. He grinned." He pulled from h is hip pocket a tattered wallet and produced a hundred-dollar bill. I have an hour to spa re this morning. Homer Dunstan. after his day spent in the public law libra ry in San Francisco. you know. Mr.' Seeing that you're regularly in the business of dispensing legal advice. Bobby. "Glad to see you again. and Bob was not insensible to this. how much expert legal advice can you give me for that?" Dunstan's manner under went a swift metamorphosis. after all these years. whom he knew to be an authority on land law. Do you happen to be engaged with a client just now?" "Well--no.

and stealing the public domain is illega l--and very. sir. suppose there was a rule in the State Land Office which forced prospective purchasers o f state lieu lands to first designate the basis of exchange before their applica tions would be received and filed. however. It w ould appear of record 98 . Through m y friend in the land office I would have primary access to the field notes of th e chief of staff in the field. Desert land. son."A very heavy weight. Mr. Mr. I will not follow it. I don't give th at kind of advice to young fellows--or old fellows for that matter--even for mon ey. Tell me how you would steal this land. Now I want the land. Suppose also that you wanted to turn crook an d steal thirty-two thousand acres of lieu land." "Don't worry. and in the meantime I would hustle around. "I would then have the public at a disadvantage. However. "That's unfair--attacking a lawyer with a hypothetical questio n. and it's all mine. I'm an honest corporation attorney. has never been asked to confirm that rule and spread it i n black and white on the statute books. secure in the knowledge that I had the basis tied up. having had such a rule institute d" continued Dunstan. despite this rule." "Any prospect?!" "I have it bottled up. " Dunstan smiled." "Good. and I would have advance information of where los ses of school lands were soon to occur. When I have your advice." "You cannot do it. Dunstan." "Well. It's a hypothetical question." "Well?" "I want to acquire thirty-two thousand acres of state l ieu land in Owens river valley. "See here. I'll answer it. The state legislature. very risky. How would you go about it?" The lawyer glanced at him keenly. Somebody conspired with a surveyor-general fo rty years ago and had such a rule instituted in the State Land Office. and the public would not. as it were. It's rather hoisting him on his own petard." "Well. In the first place. In other words I would be in position to designate every basis of exchange of lost school lands for lieu lands. Acres and acres of it. if I planned to go into the business of looting the publ ic domain I would conspire with some prominent official of the State Land Office to institute such a rule." "Any wat er?" "Not yet. Dunstan. I'd give some weak brother say one hundred dollars to file on some lieu lands and use the basis which I would designate.

I do not think our present surveyor-general is doing busi ness with the land ring. The surveyor-g eneral. I have a scheme worked out to do this. will be hard to convince that his deputy is not--particula rly since the deputy is probably an old friend. However. but I want you to confirm it. "I want to do a little grabbing myself. "The only rift in the surveyor-general's lute is the fact that while he has never ye t bumped up against the right man." "I figured it out that way" said Bob musingly. only I want to do it le gally. and the deputy--the surveyor-gen eral. whack up with my friends in the land office and consider myself a smart business man. Dunstan. Just now you schemed out a plan to get public lands illegally. How are you going to stop this looting?" "I'm not qui te certain that I want it stopped--right away" said Bob. Now. "I figured i t out that way also. he is due to so bump in the very near future. and the land-grabb ers have him under their thumbs. being honest. Bob shook his head. the dummy would abandon his filing in f avor of my client. could he reject my application?" "Well. and you ought to be a ble to scheme a plan to get them legally." Bob nodded. "The worst that can happen to the deputy is to lose his job. I want thirty-two thousand acres of desert land and the law only allows me a 99 . "No hope in that dir ection. I would collect the difference between the statutory cost of the land and the price my client paid me for it. Bob. he m ight try. and the surveyor-general has issued me a receipt for my preliminary paym ent of twenty dollars on account of the purchase of the lieu land--what then? Wh en he discovered I was an outsider. hence they turn their records ov er to the applicant of lieu lands and let him search for himself. suppose an outsider-myself." "Then why not go direct to the surveyor-genera l with your troubles?" queried Dunstan. I think the guilty man is one of his deputies through w hom ninety-nine per cent of the office routine is transacted. But with his receipt in your possession. operating on the state lieu land basis . and there is no law making it a felony to accept money in exchange for information--if you do not st ate where you acquired it. and grinned his lazy in scrutable smile. that would be bona-fide evidence of an implied contract of bargain and sale between you and the State of California. You could institute a mandamus suit and force him to make the selec tion of lieu lands for you. in fact--can find defense for their arbitrary ruling in the matter of desi gnation of the basis--by claiming that their office force is not large enough to permit of such extended search of the records." "It's a peculiar condition" sai d Dunstan. The office records show all bases used. for instance--succeeded in getting his application filed without designating the basis for the exchange of lands. the dumm y entryman can abandon his filing at any time he may elect. Mr.as used in the state land office. When I had secured a customer for the lieu lan d I had tied up with my dummy applicant.

without antagonizing the land ring and without disturbing that rule o f the State Land Office. there have never been any entries made heretofore in the section of the valley that I have my eye on. very shortly. I'd have to live on the land until I could prove up!" "Well. It is not agricultural land. "I can see myself at the head of a long procession of desert-land enthusiasts." Dunstan sho ok his head. Besides. "Why do you ask me such fool questi ons?" "Because it might be done--with a little luck and some money. paying twenty-f ive cents per acre down at the time of filing your application." Bob shook his head. is a t least susceptible to it. if not actually under irrigation. while under the United Slates Desert Land Laws it would cost me not less than four dollars and a quarter per acre. without designating the basis for the selection of my fifty sections. and I'd like to get my land in one strip without having it checker-boarded with adverse holdings. You must spend not less than. That's the only way you can secure desert lands without doing some of the things you wish to avoid d oing.selection of six hundred and forty. "Too slow. put your scruples behind you and pay somebody to live on it and prove up for yo u. then. without paying mone y to dummy entrymen. Bob. in the public domain. neither is it coal-bearing n or timbered. too expensive and generally irritating. You're simply wa sting your breath. "Of co urse it cannot be done" he retorted sharply. Now." Dunstan smiled a little wearily. I'd have to ride herd on one hundred dummy entrymen wit h a Gatling gun. you can pay the balance of one dol lar per acre due on the land. Bob. and I'm too young to waste my youth making little rocks out of big ones. which will only require f ifty entrymen. Even if the attorney-general didn' t have me on the carpet. I could purchase a full section of desert land in the public domain. were it not for that confounded rule I mentioned. You see. and it lies. or else equip each one with an Oregon boot." "No use" mourned Bob. My land lies in a d evil's country and I don't think they'd stay. "There is only one way for you to acquire desert land. my boy. prove up and secure a patent. You'll have to file on a half-section only. Wh y. or will lie. Unde r that law the land would only cost me one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre . I want to get this thirty-two thousand acres without corrupting any weakling in the employ of the state. Mr. under the provisions of the state lieu land law. Just what nebulous idea for the acquisition of this desert la nd have you floating around in that 100 . Owens r iver valley is pure desert. That accomplished. can it be done?" Dunstan frowned at his visitor. without disturbing the rule in that land office. Then you must pl ace one-eighth of it under cultivation and produce a reasonably profitable crop. Too much money for Bob McGraw. and convi nce the government that the entire tract. Dunstan. "But we're not getting anywhere. Bobby boy. so I can purchase it by the full section. bound for McNeill's Island. under the Desert Land Law of the United States of America. Dunstan. three dollars per acre in improvements. Mr.

f or the sake of argument.red head of yours? Now.000 in all. they wi ll not be committing a crime.00 "It will take $1275 to start you off." "Ignorance of the law excuses nobody. and proceed to proposition Number Th ree. Hence I shall need money. Bob. after your applications are passed to patent." Homer Dun stan figured rapidly on a desk pad. Bobby." 101 . I have the twelve seventy-five.00 Filing fees " " " @ 5. $1275.00 _______ ________ Total.00 1000. when the applications are sent on to the C ommissioner of the General Land Office at Washington for his ratification of the exchange of the lieu lands. "I'll sue him and make him." "Well.50 $ 25. assume that I'm that soft-headed. all right" said Bob confident ly. then." "Oh." "Indeed! Wel l. you will have to put up $780 more for each section. Have you provided for this addit ional sum?" "Why. "Well. my applications must be acted upon within six months after filing. and if he approves them--" "Which he will not" promptly interjected Dunst an. Robert. Well." "My clients are to be paupers--so I must pay for the land which they will file upon. when I will be in position to force the attorney-general to make the selections for my clients." "They are--but they don't know it--and not knowing it. I was going to ask you to lend it to me. But proceed with proposition Number Two. no sir. presuming." "Oh. they will not be. of course. I must sneak my applications in and get them filed and secure a receipt. The land ring will see to that.00 First payment "" @ 20. eh?" said Dunstan. proposition Number One.00 250. Notarial fees on fifty applications @ $ . that your filings are accepted--which. under the law. they may be hung up there a long time--years." "I cannot oppose that rul e. "I thought they were to be dummy entrymen. The surveyor-general must approve or disapprove them within six m onths. perha ps--" "Certainly. they're clients. or $39.

sir." "I fear that is ju st what will happen. Bob. I've just filed on it." "I'm so glad" said Homer Dunstan. Then see me. and that red head of yours is snowy white. if I am to consider your suggestion seriously. you must admit that no sane man would s eriously consider your proposition." "I'm sorry. Bob. and I never ask help of any man. thirty days. That is why I want to know if you are prepared to lend me $ 39. however. only he looked the part. sir. I will assign you a half interest in a certain water -right which I possess.000 to call their bluff. You do not. Is your water-right developed?" "No. and produced T.000. "You're your father's son. don't you see. and t hat of my clients--" "In which event." Dunstan permitted himself a very thin smile. you weary me. Mr. you will be notified that they are waiting for you to pay the balance due on them within. my dear boy. "Your father was a visionar y."Then. but as firmly convinced that you're chasing a will-o'the-wisp--so I hold out very li ttle hope for you in the matter of that loan. but surely." "It will have to be. Dunstan" said Bob. Get your fifty applications passed to patent first. Bob. unless I can pay him well for his trouble. lies in the fact that the land ring will readily ascertain my financial condition. Mr. Tell me how you expect to 102 . when you're an old man. "T hen I won't have to lend you the money after all. Bob." Dunstan eyed him more kindly. and if at the end of thirty days you d o not pay that $39. Dunstan. You see visions and you'll die poor. Well. provided I find upon investigation that the secur ity is ample. "All I need is money to develop it. "I'll have lots of tim e to get that balance of $39. And I think I can pay yo u well--I know I can. My water-right is worth mil lions. your applications lapse automatically and your initial p ayment will be forfeited to the state as liquidated damages.000 together. brightening. Bobby. I am firmly convinced that you're honest. Morgan Carey's let ter to bolster up his argument. as security for the advance. I have difficulty in convincing mys elf that you're insane." "But my water-right is good for t en times the amount" pleaded Bob desperately." "And in the meantime it's worth ten cents. You're the only human being in this world that I can come to for help. and I'll l end you the money you require. your lands will be rushed to patent right away. your lands will be passed to p atent and--" "But the peculiar thing about this operation.

He pointed a bony finger at Bob McGraw.000 to buy their land from them? I suppose you think I'll help you with that. Put that trick over. also. Dang it. I can beat that. Your s tupidity annoys me. All I shall ever ask of you is that first $39. "I won't need it." "Taken" said Bob McGraw. I'll simply round up fifty paupers. unless your clients could prove conclusiv ely that they had parted with their lands for a valuable consideration--" Bob Mc Graw in turn pointed _his_ finger at Dunstan. Dunstan" he exulted. Transfer of title under such circumstances would be looke d upon as bona-fide evidence of fraud. "A valuable consideration." "All righ t then." "I can" replied Bob McGraw doggedly. and show 'em--" 103 . "I'll hold you to t hat. the right to purchase state lieu land is a strictly personal one an d it is unlawful for one person to purchase for another. Don't you see where I can afford to pay ten dollars p er acre for it?" "You can't do business on gab. you're light in the upper story. at your own expense. boy. the thing's impos sible. I'll g ive my clients ten dollars per acre for lands which cost them one dollar and a q uarter.000. The water I have bottled up in the Sierra will make the land worth thre e hundred dollars an acre." said Dunstan rising impatiently . and you cannot induce fifty men to waste their constitutional right to lieu lan d on your bare word that your water-right will make a desert valuable. and I'll take off my hat to you." "Do the impossible and I'll give it to you--without security. Bob. Then after I have secured the land for them I will buy it back from the m--" Homer Dunstan roared with laughter. I want $39. but the attorney-general will have a leg-iron on you before the ink is dry on your check. "I can. or their equivalent. to do it in good faith and be wi thin the law. Of course you can buy i t back. and there isn't a lawyer in the land--yourself included--who wouldn't co nsider that a valuable consideration. McGraw." "McGraw. and yet hand the land over to you. Damme.induce fifty paupers to apply for land for you. You can't do it." " You may keep your hat on your head. Dunstan. Mr. Money makes the mare go. with a constitutional right to purchase state lieu land and permit me to pay for it f or them. you do it. "Ah. "you're a consummate ass! Where the devil do you expect to get $320. Mr." Bob Mc Graw laughed aloud.000. "Young man. sir. that's the weak point in the law. You'll ha ve to take 'em down there. Bob. Robert.

so we won't quarrel about it. Good luck to you. The genial mocking little smile w as gone from his face now. Now. I'll take a $39. I'm going to build a town with a business block up each side of the main street." "Well. "I'm too busy." 104 . "Why?" Bob McGraw echoed the attorney's query. He raised his hand in unconscious imitation of every zealot that had preceded him down the age s.' Ugh! How the good Lord must hate u s for that copyrighted chunk of sophistry I It's a wonder He doesn't send His an gels down to make us tend to business. I'm going to gather up a few thousand of th e lowly and the hopeless in the sweat-shops of the big cities and bring them bac k to the land! Back to _my_ land and _my_ water that I'm going to hold in trust for them. at eight per cent. what are you goi ng to do with your land when you get it?" Bob McGraw stood up and leaned both br own hands on the edge of Homer Dunstan's desk. I'm a busy man. an d to leave behind us at the last something that hasn't got the American eagle st amped on it with the motto 'In God We Trust. by God! fre e people to live in my free country. good-by and ge t out. with a perpetual water -right with every farm. and you're Johnny McGraw's boy Bob.000 mortgage on it. "I'm going to give it to the lowly of the earth" he said. for Dunstan's query had brought him back from the lan d of improbabilities into the realm of his most ardent day-dream. the poor devils! Back where there won't be any poverty--where ten acre s of Inyo desert with Inyo water on it will mean a fortune to every poor family I plant in my desert. I'm go ing to reclaim the desert and make it beautiful."Old maids in New England buy stocks in wild-cat prospect holes in Nevada. "Why. He gazed at Dunstan stupidly. But granted that you can do all these things. and fools and idiots are not qualif ied under the law to do anything except just live and try to avoid being run ove r by automobiles. the light of the visionary who already sees the fulfillment of his dreams bla zed in his big kind brown eyes. old man. "I'm going to subdivide it into ten-acre farms. I'm going to install a hydro-electric plant that will c arry a load of juice sufficient to light a city of a million inhabitants. what a damn-foo l question for you to ask. Do th e promoters have to bring them out to see the holes?" "Nobody but a fool or an i diot would listen to your crazy proposition. Dunstan! Isn't it right that we should look to th e comfort of our helpless fellow-man? Isn't it right that we strong men should g ive of our strength to the weak? What in blue blazes are we living for in this e nlightened day and generation if it isn't to do something that's worth while. Mr. and I'm going to have free ligh t and free fuel and free local telephone service and free water and. I'm not going to worry about it" retorted Dunstan crisply. Get all the fun out of lif e that you possibly can--in your own way--and when you get your land and can sho w me." "Why?" demanded Homer Dunstan smiling.

25 per acre. In about fifteen minutes he had outlined the follow ing: THE PROPOSITION IS THIS I have information of some state lieu lands which I believe can be taken up under the State laws at $1. shook hands with his father's old friend. The sole difference between Bob 's projected course and that of his competitors' would be a slightly lessened pr ofit. (S ee Political Code. as suddenly. et seq. Now. to be submitted later to his prospective clients. and to advance f or you the legal fees and the first preliminary payment to the state. wait ing for him in lonely San Pasqual. BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND 105 . Bob set to work to draw up the circular letter and contract form. the old mocking cheerful inscrutable smile came sneaking b ack to his sun-tanned face. He thought of Donna. Read the contract carefully an d note that you retain the right to cancel it and relieve yourself of all obliga tion in the matter _by abandoning your claim to the land. and he had faith in himself. he raised his hard brown fist. Immediately after breakfa st on the morning of the day following his interview with Homer Dunstan. and in unconsc ious imitation of Paul Jones he cried aloud: "I have not yet begun to fight!" CHAPTER XI It must have been a sublime faith in that homely adage that there are more ways of killing a cat than by choking him with butter which moved Bob McGraw to cudge l his nimble brain until he had discovered exactly how it would be possible for him to accomplish legally what every freebooter with an appraising eye on the pu blic domain is troubled to accomplish illegally. under the conditions of the contract herewith.Bob McGraw took up his big wide hat. He had suddenly remembere d that he was Bob McGraw.) I am willing to try to make YOUR right good to a tract of this land. I am willing to stand the expenses of suit to enforce your right. Section 3495. on the cha nce of being able to secure you something sufficiently valuable to justify you i n paying me the fee provided for in the contract. and he was at peace again._ READ THE CONTRACT CAR EFULLY BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. a nd with heightened color withdrew. Out in the hall he paused long enough to swea r. Bob knew that this apparent difference would dwindle until it would be scarcely perceptible. then. this right to purchase state lieu lands is a limited personal right. but after inventorying a free and easy conscience and posting it to the cr edit side of his profit and loss account. The right to bu y them will very probably have to be established and enforced by legal proceedin gs.

also to notify his client. _Mr. and to represent the applicant before the state land office. the des criptions he would glean from maps of the valley on sale in the United States La nd Office in San Francisco._ 106 . "That looks like fair warning" mused Mr. any litigation that might arise or become necessary to establish the right of his client to purchase the land from the state. whenever the applica tion should be approved. ROBERT MCGRAW. stipulating. He agreed to pay the filing fees and the first payment on the land. certain state lieu lands. or any part. to make the application _and t hat he had read both the application form and the contract and was familiar with the section of the code under which he made it. _if and whenever the application of his client_ should be duly app roved by the Registrar of the State Land Office. that he (McGraw) should be the s ole judge of the necessity for such litigation. or tender his application for. McGraw would make a charge of Thr ee Dollars per acre for all. his applicants for land with certain valuable information. his heir s or assigns. "bounded and pa rticularly described as follows:" (Here he left a space sufficient for the inser tion. Bob McGraw agreed to furnish. but pledging himself not to abandon without first furnishing his attorney ( Robert McGraw) with a proper instrument of abandonment. however. in addition to the One Dollar and Twenty-five Cen ts per acre demanded by the state. framed in language that could not fail of comprehension by t he dullest mind.JUST WHAT YOU ARE DOING. under the law. whereby the applicant would be enabled t o file. the applicant was to bind himself to pay Mr. however. In consideration of these coven ants. by registered letter. also. _reserving. McGraw. at the address given him. of the exact description of the lands he desired. at a later date. For and in consideration of the sum of one dollar. as he reread this document. and it was distinctly stipulated that the applicant sho uld not be required to elect whether or not he would abandon the application unt il served with this written notice! In consideration. the right to abandon his filing at any time prior to its approval by the Registrar of the State Land Off ice. required at the time of filing the applicati on. the receipt whereof was duly acknowledged. of the land which the applicant might be awarded the opportunity to purchase. It was a simple contract. in order that some other person might be located on the land. at his own expense._ this fee to be payable to him. fee s and costs provided for in the contract. "I defy any man to look between the lines a nd scent my hocuspocus game." Bob next proceeded to draw up the contract._ In addition the applicant was required to state that he was duly qualified. of the services.) He agreed to tender the application of his client t o the State Land Office and to conduct. Robert McGraw the stipulated fee of Three Dollars per acre.

and I have them! I'll demand cash on the 107 . Bob hurled mental defiance at every leg al light in the country to prove collusion and conspiracy to defraud under that contract. Bob Mc Graw would hold that deadly contract over their heads as security for the advanc e! Under the terms of the contract. McGra w knew enough law to realize that failure to pay a promissory note or perform a contract is actionable. When Bob's clie nts signed that contract. once it be comes onerous. and at the thought the villain McGraw chuckled pleasurably. and Mr. and to the clients that Bob McGraw intended to select. his clients were no longer his clients. and Bob McGraw had figured on this. it meant nothing! But the moment the applications were approved for patent._ to abandon. but to repudiate it _after_ approval a nd after Bob McGraw had advanced him the money to pay for the land--ah. he knew also the avi dity with which they grasp the first means of escape from the burden. "Once under the McGraw thumb. the land ring would immediately seek out each a pplicant. in th e event of his success in forcing the registrar of the state land office to acce pt and approve the applications. Should his client repudiate the contract _prior_ to the approval of the application. Bob McGraw knew he could secure a judgment against his unfo rtunate client in any court of law in the country--and the land was good for the judgment! Having advanced the cash to purchase the land for his clients. charge the applicant with being a party to a gigantic land fraud consp iracy and threaten him with a Federal Grand Jury investigation in case he did no t at once abandon his filing! The poor and the ignorant are easily intimidated. malice aforethought the promoter of Donnaville was trading on the c redulity of the very people he planned to benefit! He knew with what ease the po or rush into debt where the creditor requires nothing down. while not holding his client to th e contract. They were his victims! His contract then constituted a promissory note. as per the terms of the contract. Bob knew the enemy could not get it. had so notified his clients. nevertheless held the land to Bob McGraw! He anticipated that. but by that time Bob would have a man with nerve to take his plac e. seeking to turn an honest penny. With. In the event of "cold feet" on the part of h is applicant. a debt of such magnitude would loom up in a ll the pristine horror of the end of the world at hand and salvation not yet in sight. when fulfilled. the applicant would come to _him. Now. or a total of one thous and nine hundred and forty dollars as a legal attorney's fee. each client would owe Bob hi s three dollars per acre on six hundred and forty acres.A critical perusal of the terms of this shrewd contract will readily convince ev en a layman that it was perfectly legal. It proved merely that Bob McGraw was acting in his capacity as a duly authorized attorney-at-law. in the first p lace. in turn. and he. and his scheme would still be impervious to "leaks!" While the land was "tied up" by a McGraw applicant. the abandonment clause in the contract. he was safe. and the State Land Office had so notified him. that was a different matter.

nail for my services. They will be unable to pay me. I'll harass them and threat
en to sue them, and then, when I have them thoroughly cowed, I'll send a secret
agent around to buy their land from them at ten dollars an acre. After using the
ir constitutional right to purchase lieu lands, they are entitled to a profit on
the investment, and besides, I must show a 'valuable consideration' or have a s
ecret service operative trailing me. "However, I will not have sufficient funds
on hand to pay them ten dollars per acre spot cash, so I shall turn over to them
their signed contracts and thus relieve them of that bugbear, and for these thr
eedollar contracts they shall credit me with a payment of four dollars and twent
y-five cents per acre on the land! I will secure them for the balance by a first
mortgage on the property! And with that accomplished, I court an official inves
tigation. Come on, you secret service operatives, and prove Bob McGraw a crook.
I am a crook, and I know it, but nobody else shall know it and I have never been
accused of talking in my sleep. I'm a crook, but I'm an honest crook, and the e
nds justify the means. Besides, I'm going to present every one of my clients wit
h a cheek for three thousand six hundred and seventy dollars for the mere scratc
h of a pen and the use of their constitutional right to purchase lieu land. Why,
I'm a philanthropist! I'm going to make fifty men happy by giving them a lot of
money for something they never knew they had. Three thousand six hundred and se
venty dollars for the use of one constitutional right, when the market price is
a hundred! McGraw, my boy, this must never leak out. If it does, your sanity wil
l be questioned, in addition to your morality." Thus figured Bob McGraw, the sag
e of Donnaville. Let him but get his applications past the land ring's tool in t
he state land office, and a receipt issued for his first payment, and Donnaville
would be no longer a dream. Should the applications be rejected later on some f
limsy pretext, he would commence a mandamus suit to enforce the selection of his
lands, and force action of the pending applications of the land ring, whereby t
hey so artfully "tied up the basis" of exchange. If he should find himself oppos
ed by a corrupt judge who should rule against him, he would not be daunted. If b
eaten in the Superior Court he would appeal the case to the United States Circui
t Court, for Bob McGraw had a sublime faith in the ability of Truth, crushed to
earth, to rise again and kick the underpinning from crookedness and graft, provi
ded one never acknowledged defeat. And he could go into court with clean hands,
for he broke no law himself and he would induce no one else to break it, in thou
ght, spirit or action! The road to Donnaville stretched ahead of him now, smooth
and white and free from ruts, and with but one bridge to cross. For the success
ful crossing of that bridge Bob McGraw had not evolved a plan, for he was merely
a human being, and human cunning has its limitations. It was a bridge which he
must cross when he came to it. He only knew that he must make the effort on a ce
rtain day--the day that Owens river valley should be thrown open to entry. He mu
st be first at the window of the land office, and once before that window, the f
uture of Donnaville, the future of Bob McGraw and his sweetheart in San Pasqual,
lay in the laps
108

of the gods. He must manage somehow to get his applications filed that day, with
out designating the basis of the exchange of school lands for the lieu lands whi
ch he sought; for that was information which Bob McGraw did not possess, and sho
uld it come into his possession the day after the valley was opened for entry, i
t would be worthless; for the land ring, in the parlance of the present day, wou
ld have "beaten him to it." To get those precious filings accepted! That was all
that worried him now. Prior to his visit to Homer Dunstan, this task had seemed
to Bob the least of his worries compared with the titanic task of accumulating
the money necessary to pay for the land when the filings should be approved. Yes
terday everything had revolved around the necessity for thirty-nine thousand dol
lars, until the contemplation of this monetary axis had threatened to set his re
ason tottering on its throne. But that worry no longer existed. Homer Dunstan ha
d indicated very clearly to Bob that he considered him insane, but Homer Dunstan
had pledged him the thirty-nine thousand dollars when he could come to him with
the notification from the Registrar of the State Land Office that the lands had
been passed to patent, and Bob knew that Dunstan would keep his word, provided
his death did not occur prior to the granting of the patents. The rough draft of
the contract having been drawn up to his satisfaction, Bob sallied forth in sea
rch of a public stenographer. He knew that he had evolved rather a clever scheme
, and he was averse to permitting the details of his plan to fall under the comp
rehending eye of some boss printer, whose enterprise might perchance soar beyond
the boundaries of his vocation. So Bob sought, instead, a public stenographer a
nd had his copy multigraphed by a young lady whose interest could never, by any
possibility, center in anything more than her fee. The job was delivered two day
s later, and with the knowledge that he had thirty days in which to make the acq
uaintance of his fifty prospective clients, Bob resolved to devote one more week
to the problem of still further recruiting his shattered vitality before gettin
g down to active work. He spent that week wandering through Golden Gate Park, al
ong the romantic and picturesque San Francisco water-front, and in movingpicture
shows. Each morning, before starting for the day's wanderings, he wrote a long
letter to Donna and then waited for the first mail delivery for her letter to hi
m. Those letters came with unfailing regularity, and in that city where Bob McGr
aw prowled through the day, unknown and unnoticed, there was no man so free from
the curse of loneliness as he. The very opening line in Donna's matutinal greet
ing--"My Dear Sweetheart"--routed the blue devils that camped nightly on his wor
ried and harassed soul, as he lay abed and wrestled with the mighty problems tha
t confronted him. To Bob McGraw those three words held the open-sesame of life;
they gave him strength to cling to his high, resolve; they whispered to him of t
he prize of the conflict which awaited him at the end of his long road to Donnav
ille, and sent
109

him forth to face the world with a smile on his dauntless face and a lilt in his
great kind heart. Time glided by on weary wings, but eventually the day arrived
for Bob to open his campaign. He must clear for action. It was imperative that
he must have his fifty applications filled out and the signatures of his clients
attested before a notary public on the very date upon which the desert of Owens
river valley would be opened for entry, for to have them dated the day before w
ould nullify them--to arrive with them at the land office the day after would be
too late. Bob was obsessed with a suspicion that amounted almost to a convictio
n that the land ring would endeavor to acquire the desert valley by practically
the same method which he was pursuing, _only for every section of lieu land upon
which they filed, they would be enabled to show a corresponding loss of school
lands._ His line of reasoning had convinced him that they had caused dummy entry
men to file on worthless lands in some other part of the state, in order that th
ese bases might appear of record in the land office as already used, in case of
an investigation; he was equally convinced that these dummy applications had nev
er been acted upon in the land office, but were being held up there until the la
nd ring was ready to act, when their dummy entrymen would abandon their filings
on the worthless land, thus throwing the original basis open for use once more a
nd permitting the land ring to step in with other dummy entrymen and use the bas
is for the acquisition of _valuable_ lands. It was absurdly simple when one unde
rstood it and took the time to reason it out. Of one thing Bob was morally certa
in. The representative of the land ring would be on hand, bright and early, to f
ile the dummy applications. Bob decided, therefore, that the field of his operat
ions until that eventful day must be confined to the state capital, Sacramento,
where the state land office was located. He must recruit his little army of appl
icants from the capital itself, attest their applications before a notary public
after midnight of the day preceding the opening of the valley for entry, and be
first at the filing window when the land office opened. Accordingly Bob proceed
ed to Sacramento. Immediately upon his arrival he rented a cheap back office, a
desk and some chairs, and for the time being announced himself to the world, thr
ough the medium of a modest sign on his office door, as The Desert Development C
ompany. The following day he set to work. He interviewed street sweepers, hotel
porters, cab drivers newspaper reporters, milk-wagon drivers, barkeepers and lab
orers along the river docks--in fact every follower of an occupation which Bob j
udged might be sufficiently unremunerative to keep its votaries in poverty as lo
ng as they persisted in sticking to it. By discreet questioning he learned wheth
er the prospective client had money in bank, or was involved in debt. If the for
mer, Bob terminated his interview and neglected to return; if the latter, Bob wo
uld present the victim with a good cigar and proceed to unfold a tale of wealth
in desert lands.
110

To these men Bob explained every detail of his proposition and gave them a copy
of his contract form and his explanatory circular attached. He answered all thei
r questions patiently--and satisfactorily, and he was particularly insistent upo
n calling to their attention the fact that they were not required to put up a si
ngle dollar in order to acquire the land. Naturally, this seeming philanthropy i
mmediately inspired suspicion and a request for information as to what was in th
e deal for Mr. McGraw; whereupon Mr. McGraw would point proudly to that clause i
n the contract which stipulated a three-dollar-per-acre fee and inform them that
he had private and reliable information of not less than two irrigation schemes
which were being projected in the valley-schemes which would give their apparen
tly worthless land a value of at least ten dollars per acre and enable both Mr.
McGraw and his client to turn a nice little profit together. He showed them wher
e he was helpless without them and where they were profitless without him, and t
o make a profit of three dollars per acre for himself he was willing to buy the
land for them and take their promissory notes in payment. More: he would agree t
o carry them for the land until they had an opportunity to sell out at a profit
of at least three thousand dollars! Mr. McGraw demanded to know if anything coul
d possibly be fairer than that. It could not, and the clients were forced to adm
it it. Win, lose or draw, it cost them nothing to play the game with Bob McGraw.
After all is said and done the average human being is a gambler and likes long
odds, and Bob's prospective clients were not so deficient in intelligence as in
ready cash. They knew that desert land without irrigation is worthless; that no
man would advance them money to purchase it at $1.25 per acre unless he saw a pr
ofit in the deal for himself. Consequently, irrigation was the only solution of
that problematic increase in value, and if Mr. McGraw could afford a flyer so co
uld they. Bob had foreseen this line of reasoning, for he knew that spot cash is
the bugbear of life and that a good salesman can sell anything provided he sell
s it on time. Long before the expiration of the period he had set himself to acc
omplish this task, he had signed up fifty eager applicants for desert land, proc
ured their addresses and then retired to his little back office to write letters
to Donna and await the rising of the sun on his day of destiny. The day precedi
ng the one on which the valley would be opened for entry was a busy one for Bob
McGraw. His cash reserve was beginning to run so low that he decided to save the
dollar postage necessary to remind his clients that they were to meet him in hi
s office at midnight of that day; consequently, and in view of the fact that his
old-time strength practically had been restored to him, he walked several miles
in order to call upon his clients at their places of employment and secure from
their lips a solemn promise to be on hand at the appointed hour. His apparent a
nxiety made them all the more eager to sign up with him, and not a single client
failed him. This matter attended to, Bob engaged a notary public, with instruct
ions
111

I'll have to assa ult Harley. In addition to the contr act Bob took a power-of-attorney in duplicate from each applicant. In the meantime.:_ 112 . his return journey by rail would terminate somewhere i n the heart of the San Joaquin valley. and realizing the truth of that ancient saw anent the early bird and the resulting breakfast he decided to wait in the office until it should be time for him to go to the land office. McGraw cast about him for a means to extricate himself from hi s terrible predicament. "Good old Harley P! I'll just touch the old boy for that f ifty again. He was horrified to discover that after providing twelve hundred and fifty dollars for the registrar of the state land office (in the event that the day of miracles was not yet past and his fil ings should be accepted). Moreover. Nothing now remained for Bob to do except present his fifty ap plications for filing at the land office in the morning. had been attached to each contract. Hennage. in case I need it. But in the meantime I'll write to Hennage and tell him frankly j ust how I'm fixed. If they accept my applications. and if they decline the applications I will still have my twelve hun dred and fifty. so he locked the door and devoted the succeeding five minutes t o the comparatively trifling task of counting his money and figuring on the outl ay necessary to carry him back to San Pasqual. the notary sw ore each of the fifty applicants in as many minutes. Even after pawning his gun. he decided to while away the lonely hours by a review of his f inancial status. shook the hand of their benefactor and departe d to their homes. _Dear Harley P. McGraw. The notarial blanks had already been filled out and. In his agony he saw a flash of light--and smiled as he r ealized that it radiated from Mr. he had promised Donna that they should be married immediately upon his return. and if it comes to a show-down I'll drop the letter in the ma il. Bob paid him twentyfive dol lars and he departed. after which Bob made a short speech to his clients and exh orted them to stand by their guns in the event of influence being brought to bea r upon them to abandon their filings. collectively and individually. Harley P. "Saved!" quavered Mr. drew a blank sheet of paper toward him and indited a brief note to Mr." H e turned to his desk. and he was not so conceited as to imag ine that he was strong enough to walk a hundred miles with nothing more tangible than the scenery to sustain him en route. whereupon the fifty gave him their promise s. Hennage's three gold teeth. The situation was truly emba rrassing. at least one hundred miles of dusty county roa d stretching between him and San Pasqual. return to San Francisco and wait for him to send me a postal money order. By eleven-thirty the corridors of the sil ent office building were thronged with the eager fifty. McGraw co uld still see. at eleven-forty-five the notary arrived and at exactly one minute past midnight Bob commenced to sign hi s clients up.to meet him at his office at midnight. Mr. in his mind's eye. and Mr. together with the notary's seal.

and anticipating that there would be no great rush to file entries he set his suit-case down in the corridor. Apparently he was the sole applicant f or desert lands that morning. in order to provide against possibl e fatal delay in finding it this morning. O. The capitol grounds were deserted as he strolled through. packed with. among some loose sheets of blank legal-size typewriter paper which the un conventional Robert had purchased in the pursuit of his correspondence with Donn a. when he yawned. His choice of letter paper was characteristic of Bob. He was too preoccupied in the folding to notice that he had folded two sheets of paper instead of one. as he viewed it there in that lonely office. was sufficiently indefinit e to keep his fertile brain actively employed until. he hea rd a clock booming the hour of six. ROBERT MCGRAW. In 113 . indeed. but with m illions in sight. far off in the city. His letter sealed and stamped. un til you are better paid. somewhat vague. and hardy. picked up his suit-case which stood. sat himself on the s uit-case and waited for the office to open for business. his few poor possessions in one corn er. his future. believe me to be Your sincere friend. and departed. The door. he had placed his suitcase directly in front of the door. Thanking you. closed down his desk. entered the State House and passed down a dim d eserted corridor until he came to the door of the state land office. Th is communication Bob folded and sealed in an envelope. In order to make certai n that he would not be usurped in line. order for the aforesaid fifty. which through some accident had become mixed. I am a financial wreck on a lee shore. Mr. and I will be very grateful if you will strain your good natur e long enough to send me a P. I never could walk very far in my Sunday shoes. Th e second sheet was a spare copy of his marvelous contract for the acquisition of desert lands. Bob slipped it into his pocket. tilted back his chair. San Francisco. lit a cigar and gave himself up to the contemplation of his future. walked over to the capitol building. s uit-ease in hand. however. In an all-night restaurant he ate a hurried breakfast. he noticed. addressing me Ge neral Delivery. against which he leaned his weary back. would be he who could dispute his claim to priority in the line. then. In case it ope ned secretly. the previous day. merely mentioning in passing that until you send me the fif ty the prospects for my immediate return are. with the printed si de up. my dear Harley. Provi dentially. McGraw would thus fall into the surveyor-general's office.I have just made the discovery that I was too precipitate in paying you that fif ty I owed you for three years. to say the least. waiting to s ee what the dawn would bring to him of wealth or woe. when the office opened for busi ness. I will explain the transaction to you when I get back to San Pasqual. lifted his long legs to the top of his rented desk. He was a man who requir ed room in which to operate. opened from within. He had defi nitely located the office.

The individual before him evidently w as a state employee.fact. I'll share the suit-case with you. "You'll have to get ou t of my way. while the stranger looked at him sharply . friend" the stranger informed him." He scrambled t o his feet and picked up his suit-case. old-timer. and so tired and drowsy was he withal. The Big Idea flashed into Bob McGraw's brain. with orders to stick here and maintain my positio n at all hazards. McGraw didn't wake up and pay for his lodging. and he knew that the land off ice did not open until nine. He had expected to confront a janitor. although I should have known you right off by that little mole on your left cheek. "There's been an inquisitive stranger inv estigating the old man and-well. "Why are you here so early?" he demanded. that presently he relaxed his determination to remain wide awake. CHAPTER XII The first intimation that Bob received of this laxity came in the shape of a sha rp dig in the ribs from the index finger of a young man who demanded to know why Mr. "I'm first in line. you know what a fox Carey is? At the last momen t it didn't seem wise to come through on the original programme." 114 . No one except the janito r or the night watchman had a right to such familiarity with Mr. but for all that Bob could advance no excuse for his free a nd easy action in assaulting him with his index finger. He wondered who this industrious individual might b e and what reason he had for getting down to work an hour beforehand. McGraw's ribs a nd he resented being told to wake up before he was ready. I'm used to taking chances and I'm going to be well paid for this. but his first glance informed him that he was mistaken. and then. It was just eight o'clock. He yawn ed sleepily. I beg your pardon. so satisfied was he with this strategic position. but you mustn't try to crus h in in advance of me. Bob McGraw would have liked to ask h im the same question but he refrained." B ob looked at his watch. old-timer" re plied Bob. "Please permit me to get into the office. I didn't recognize you at first." The stranger eyed him curiously. so I came up in stead. "I've been waiting here an hour for you. like a bolt from the blue. "Great snakes!" he said. "Not if I know it. Bob turned his startled slee py eyes up at the stranger. "I'm an employee of the state land office" he said coolly.

The stranger inse rted the key in the lock and stepped into the room." He grinned knowingly. "Keep him away until nine-thir ty and there's no danger" he said. "I'm pla ying a purely professional engagement. my friend. If McGraw should show up here this morning it is my business to take care of him. He may attempt to bully the old man into a consolidation by threatening to mandamus yo ur chief and force him to accept the filings. He scooped up Bob's applications and skimmed through them. "Hurry with them" he said. There was still a suspicious look in his alert intelligent eyes. fearful that he might. At the counter he paused and faced Bob. Make them out as fast as you can and I'll call for them afte r the office opens." "You didn't bring the inst ruments of abandonment for the old filings--" "I know it. or did Bob really detect a more friendly light in the man's eyes? He decided that he had not overplayed his hand. who filed on the Cottonwood lake water?" T he deputy nodded." The deputy's suspicions wer e allayed at last. McGraw. The old man's worried. "There isn't any time to lose. turned carefully and sprung the lock on the door. so. "Did you bring the coin?" Bob placed twelve hundred and fifty doll ars on the counter and shoved it toward the deputy. "I'm going out in the corridor to kee p inquisitive people away and give you time to work. Bob drew the fifty applications from his suit-case and passed them over the cou nter. pulling on his office coat. It's too risky. "He's dangerous" warned Mr. He smiled in friendly fashion. Carey has them. "He's tumbled to the littl e combination and he'll upset the apple-cart if you don't beat him to it. "I won't wait for the receip ts. McGraw's dangerous and he's got bi g influence behind him. "Where do you come in?" he queried. Bob drew back the lapel of his coa t and showed the butt of his automatic gun nestling under his left arm. Did Carey tell y ou anything about that fellow McGraw. He returned a moment later. He'll probably bring them over himself 115 . The deputy (for such Bob guess ed him to be) passed through a gate in the counter and on into an inner office. he re mained discreetly silent and waited for the door to be opened. Bob followed him uninvited." The deputy arched his eyebrows c ynically.Was it fancy.

Bob cou ld feel a distinct quiver pass up the arm he was holding." "All right" said the deputy. Carey. M. roving over the man for details. however. "Wha--what--who wants me?" he said. Presently he managed to pull himself together 116 . The man turned angrily and glared at Bob. Mo rgan Carey?" said Bob McGraw quietly. He had glittering cold gray eyes and they snapped now with anger and apprehensio n as he half walked. and I'm sure neither of us w ishes that to happen. He'd like to have you explain a delic ate matter in connection with the public domain. T. Bob waited until the man had passed him and then cast a sidelong glance at the other end o f it. "T. and disappeared in a small room at the end of the corridor. Morgan Carey's face was g hastly. In small gold letters across its base he read the initials: T. but inasmuch as the front end of the bag carried no initials. "Mr. but ther e was no mistaking the fact that he meant business. T. Bob's keen glance. observed that he carried a small Gladstone bag in his righ t hand. For fifteen minutes he walked up and down the corridor without meeting any o ne more formidable than the janitor. As he came nearer Bob saw that he was about fifty years old. and hastened to his desk with the bun dle of applications. Too risky--getting over here so early. "Your dear old Uncle Samuel. Still nobody came. the while he gazed at Bob like a trapped animal. down the corridor. peered cautiously up and down the d eserted corridor. He wore a carefully trimmed imperial and a gold pince-nez and seemed to exude a general air of pomposity and power. and apparently finding the coast clear stepped out into the ha ll. only to reappear again with a bucket of wet sawdust in his hand. I think that would be the better way. betook himself and his brooms elsewhere. He surrendered the grip without protest. M organ Carey!" In a bound Bob was at the stranger's side and laid a firm detainin g grip on the latter's arm. C. Half a minute later a ma n appeared at the head of the corridor and approached rapidly. Bob McGraw walked to the main entrance of the State House and back again to the door of the land office. Give me the little grip and com e along quietly. and presently the janitor. almost regretfully.later in the day. "you're wanted!" The man trembled. having completed the sweeping of the corridor. of course I'll have to put the bracelets on you." Bob spoke kindly. If you make a row about i t. half ran. Bob unlatched the door. He came back a few minutes later. Mr. He was approaching the main entrance to the State House a second time when he heard an automobile chugging through t he capitol grounds and pause outside the main entrance. There's a gumshoe man o n his trail.

wit h his left hand Bob drew a bandanna handkerchief from his pocket and gagged his man with as much ease as he would have muzzled a little dog. an electri c light burned within. and returned to the land office. Bob's brain worked with the rapidity of a camera-shutter. You only make out a case against yourself by resisting. closed and locked the door behind him. o n his back. Carey struggled desperately. where upon he flopped Carey on his face and bound his hands behind him. while with his powerful left arm around the landgrabber's body he gently s teered his victim into the room. 117 . slipped the bunch of keys into his pock et. Finding himself as helpless as a child in that grizzly-bear grip. If you are worried about the publicity that may attach. Come with me if you please. "Whe re's your authority? Have you a warrant for--this--this outrageous procedure?" " I have no warrant for you. He th rew Carey's bag into the room. but he made the statement at any rate. turned off the light. Instantly he was tripped up and laid gently on the floor. holding him down. Then he searched th rough his victim's pockets until he found the land-grabber's handkerchief. whirled and clamped his right hand over Carey's m outh. Carey. but if you play horse with me you will be. The door to the janitor's room was open. Then. Mr." He drew Carey's right arm through his own strong left and m arched him down the corridor. Morga n Carey to the office of the now defunct Desert Development Company and lock him up there for the good of his soul--but a more convenient means of marooning his enemy now presented itself. It had been his first intention to escort T. (Bob did not know that such was the case. Come along now. How dare--" "Easy. easy! You are not arrested in the commonly accepted sens e of that term. and from the keyhole of the half open door a bunch of key s was suspended. sir. but Bob held him p owerless. I give you my word the newspapers shall not hear of this unless a formal charge is entered against you. Carey. also to let me see what you're carrying in this grip. and a knee on each arm to hold Carey still.) Yo u are temporarily--apprehended--upon information and belief. Mr. With his right hand effectually silencing Carey's gurgling cries for help. I came here this morn ing to find you and ask you to come quietly with me and answer a few questions. It was but the work of an instant for Bob to tear off his own suspenders and bind Carey's ankl es together. and presently the door of the p rivate office further down the hall opened gently and the deputy glanced warily out. stepped softly out . with Bob McGraw's one hundred and eighty pounds of bone and muscle c amped on his torso. leaving his victim helpless on the floor. he c eased his struggles. he picked up the little bag. I suppose you are aware of the fact that a secret service agent requires no warrant to make an arrest. He knocked. Next he rooted through a bin of waste paper and found some stout co rd with which he bound Carey at the knees.sufficiently to demand in a trembling voice: "But--why--I don't understand. Carey. I--" "Then let me pass about my business.

he went away grumbling. Bob McGraw was 118 ." "Good news. I'll be fi rst in line. Better get 'em on record ri ght away and let those receipts for the filings slide until the office opens for business. on one end. C. Bob grinned as he saw the man try the d oor of the room where T. Morgan Carey lay trussed up. Not finding them. Bob looked at his watch. old-timer. "I took a chance" Bob explained. at the word from Carey. and you can hand me back the receipt s for the real thing. Five minutes passed and still the corridor was deserted." He winked comically and went out into the corridor again. "and went out after the balance of the dope.Seeing Bob at the main entrance he went around and let him in. then searched his pockets for his keys. as he coun ted off fifty of these instruments of abandonment. "Here are the instruments of abandonment. Two minutes more fli tted by and then the janitor came around the corner from the next corridor. Slowly the minutes dragged by. It was as Bob had suspected. together with an equal number of instruments of abandonme nt of filings on land throughout the state. and without waiting to see the contents of the bag he hurried back to his d esk to complete the work of filing Bob's fifty applications. M. It was a quarter of nin e. a bu cket in one hand and a mop in the other. Don't worry. in order that Carey might use the bases for the acquisition of th e lands he really desired. closed the bag and set it in the corner with his suit-case. He rattled the knob severa l times. and if the other gang should be at my heels I'll slip you over a bu nch of dummies. in order that the bases might show of rec ord as used. The cor rupt deputy had informed Carey where the loss of school land would occur. Any sign of the oth er gang around?" "Not a soul. "I'm a fool for luck" murmured Bob McGraw. I'll go outside and lean up against the door. He approached the counter and tossed the lot over to the deputy." he said ca sually. Carey' s dummy entrymen had tied up for him these bases of exchange for lieu lands by i nstantly applying for _worthless_ lieu lands. I had an idea Carey put those abandon ment papers in this little bag" and he held up the bag in such a manner that the deputy could not fail to see the initials T. It contained applications for seventy-odd sections of land in Owens River Valley. In the meantime Bob had opened the bag. It was just nine o'clock when the janitor returned. "I had a notion Carey put them in that grip. This had the eff ect of allaying any lingering suspicion which the deputy may have been entertain ing. these filings on worthless land had b een abandoned. then. and these applications had been he ld up in the land office unacted upon. to throw 'em off the scent.

just as the janitor switched on the light. He closed it now. and smiled. slowly. and handed Bob McGraw a large manila envelope." The janitor's face became normal at once . "All O. I'm not a hold-up man. The latter obeyed with alacrity. He turned at the slight sound of the closing door and found himself gazing down the long blue barrel of an automatic gun. seated himself on an upturned bucket and set himself patiently to await the moment of his liberation. much to our mutual displeasure. Also a five-spot to pay you in advance for the inconvenience I am subjecting you to. which he slipped into the lock. motion ing to the janitor to accompany him." The janitor's mouth had opened to emit a yell. "I'm not going to hurt you if I c an avoid it." he added. and returned the wink. "No unnecessary noise. after which you may return to your janitorial labors. Morgan Carey's face. judging tha t the deputy had had ample time in which to place his affairs in shape. He accepted the cigar and the five-dollar piece. Bob stepped softly in after him. Bob tremble d lest he step on T. old man" Bob invited him. and flashed him a lightn ing wink. to him now to see that he carried a key.close enough. Don't worry. Have a cigar. At nine-thirty. "What do you want?" he demanded. but if you make a row I'll tap you back of the ear with the butt of this gun. so. decided to raise the siege. if you please" said Bob McGraw gently. "Did that friend o' mine leave something with you for me?" Bob queried of the deputy. While the janitor was fumbling for the electric switch. unlatched the door and backed out. and Bob McGraw realized inst antly that in the janitor he had not met a poltroon. K. Unfortunately you discovered him. "This is one of those rare occasions where silence is golden. The individual on the floor has been poking his nose into my business and I had to put him in storage for a while. I must ask you to bear him company until nin e-thirty. my friend? He tried to make a noise and just see what happened to h im. "Waiting for you" responded the deputy." They entered the land office together. 119 . opened the door and passed into the gloom of the room beyond. "Come on i nto the land office with me. and as softly closed the door behind him. "The pleasure of your socie ty for half an hour" murmured Bob. Bob. He put up his gun. He sat there grinning and blowing smoke at Bob McGraw. "When my business is fini shed there I'll give you back your keys and ask you to unwrap the gentleman we j ust left. Observe that man o n the floor. an d licked his lips.

You should have looked up and down the corridor a nd noticed all the witnesses I had posted to observe you letting me into your of fice before it was officially opened. When he was o nce more arrayed for the street he thrust his sun-tanned hand through the grille d window to the trembling deputy. Gracious. He isn't to blame. "You--yo u scoundrel!" he cried. I must hurry along now. Carey. Charity covers a multitude of sins. on the matter of designating the basis. Bob turned and handed the keys to the janitor. Morgan Carey and bring him into court. Morgan Carey had fairly leaped into the room. not after you've had a heart-to-heart talk with your obliging friend here. T. McGraw's suspenders. I'm not worried about what you can do now. "I'll get you for this " he said in low trembling tones. You have entered fifty instruments of abandonment. and there's a lot of land still left in the lower part of O wens Valley. what a hurry we're in! Howdy. In his hand he held Mr. Thank you so much--" The janitor entere d. You know how easily I bluffed you._ amigo" he said. It's only nine-thirty and I can easily prove that it is a physical impossib ility for one man to do the work you've done this morning. and I have you by the short h air. By the way. Robert McGraw. McGraw. an' I'll bet you are. The deputy nodded. K. T. Perm it me to introduce myself. he smiled his gay lazy whimsical inscrutable s mile. I just bluffed him out of his boots. although my friends have had their pick of it. I've waited here to square him with you. "at least. although I will admit that I was mean enough to help you file some of those instruments of abandonment from your dummy entrymen. There's your little old bag with your applications still untouched. Morgan. "our friend. T. even at the command of our esteemed ol d friend. you won't" retorted the smiling Bob. "You might need these" he interr upted. " "Thank you" murmured Mr. so there are tha t number of bases open to permit of the exchange of fifty sections of lieu land. Be reasonable. Old-timer. will i mmediately proceed to release Mr. and shook his fist at Bob McGraw. and so astounded was the unhappy 120 . you crooked little sneak." "No. the janitor. Morgan?" T."Sure you recorded those abandonments?" he queried. "Then we' re all O. T. "That being the case" he a nnounced cheerfully but in a low tone of voice. here he is. You mustn't be hard on h im. "_Buenos dias. "You're very thoughtful. I dare you to attem pt the job of falsifying a public record. and do it in one shor t half hour. the filing receipts for which I hold in my hand. I am Mr. Morgan Carey. Oh." and quite calmly he proceeded to remove his coat and vest and replace the suspenders. "more particular if you're goin' to do any runnin'. "if it takes my last dollar. are we?" Again the deputy n odded.

The deputy needed no aid from Bob McGraw. Watch me designate it. But his natural lust for a fight had now reached high-water mark in Bob McGra w's soul. fact induces the utmost regret that I was forced to 121 . Morgan Carey. An easy conscience is to be preferred to great rich es. Man-who-flies-through-the-window. I must designate the basis. Right over the counter. Carey and the deputy presented such a pitiable s ight. through the window. He waited until Carey had re covered his composure. that he was moved to shame to think that he had pitted his strength against such puny adversaries. Mr. dusted him off. He whirled. I trust. reached that terrible right arm through the window and gra sped the deputy by the collar. I'm Bob McGraw. smiling his old bantering debonair smile." he said. He picked T. authorizing and instru cting the surveyor-general to transact all of his official business with them th rough me. He jerked the frightened o fficial to his feet. but has tened to the protection of his sanctuary back of the counter. and he subsided incontinently into a corne r. Before I go. which. Be honest and you will stay out of jail. here are duplic ate copies of my power of attorney from my fifty clients. and that! for your cheap office rule that has no foundation in law but serves to frighten away the weaklings tha t want to file on lieu land. As the land-grabber lurched from the impact of that terrific slap. permit me to in troduce myself. of No Place In Particular. gave him his hat and resto red to him his gold pince-nez. although ludicrous withal. Before I go I want to say that as a usual thing I try to be a gentlema n. picked the deputy up bodily and hurled him in a heap i n the same corner where T. Then his anger left him as suddenly as it had come. McGraw's left palm straightened him up on the other ear. "for your broken oath of office." he said. Morgan Carey ou t of the corner. blinking (for his glasses had been shaken off in the melee) and weeping with fear and impotent rage. Morgan Carey sprawled. "Carey. and a lunatic by natu re. h is open palm landed with a resounding thwack on the side of Carey's head. breed and inclination. "you will remember hereafter. the next time yon run up against a Reu ben like me you want to remember the old saying that a stump-tailed yellow dog i s always the best for coons. cuffed him across the room and back again to the window. you little crook. "You sc oundrel!" hissed T." He landed a remarkably accurate kick under the official coat-tails.deputy that he actually accepted the proffered hand and shook it limply. Bob stood looking at Carey. "T hat. Now. His right arm shot out. landing him in a heap on the floor outside. Carey. he sn aked him. must I? All right. that it is the early bird that gets the worm. that promptness is a virtue and ly ing in bed mornings a heinous crime. The devil leaped to life in Bob McGraw. "you--" and then he applied to Bob the unpardo nable epithet. For a mom ent Bob towered above them like a great avenging red angel. set him on his feet.

" Now. and the mellow piping of meadow larks and linnets came pleasantl y in Mr. Morgan Carey shouted to his chauffeur. "Yo u're to take me over to Stockton right away. He had had his fill of cities and he was glad to leave them behin d._ and scorch the gravel. 122 . it is a curious psychological fact that when a robust authoritative-lookin g man gives an order with the air of one used to commanding. Git! _Vamoose. As for the blows I struck you--that is too bad. Great S cott. "I guess tha t's all" he added innocently. He ran to it and leape d into the tonneau. On the driveway in front of the capitol he saw an automobile standing. watc hman dashing down the capitol steps. throbbing. I tried to do the unpleasant job gently. and desperate circumstances sometimes necess itate desperate measures. becaus e you're old enough to be my father. Presently the houses grew more scattered. and legislation affect ing muffler cutouts was still in the dim and distant Not-Yet. we're all in a hurry this morning. However. If I hurt you physically th en I am sorry. Mr. as he sat erect in the tonneau and sniffed the a ir of freedom. opened it and fled along the corridor. Even then I merely slapped you. McGraw's ears. but it was not a day of silent motors. They swung down a wide road that stretched south into the sun ny San Joaquin. ninety-nine per cen t of the people to whom he gives his orders will hasten to obey without pausing to question his authority. the thousand and one litt le smells of the wide free spaces that he loved floated across to him from the f ields on each side of the road. isn't it?" he demanded." With a chuckle that mingled triump h. McGraw picked up his suit-case. The chauffeur nodded. But I'm sorry it had t o come to that. the traffic dwindled and the car leaped forward at a forty- mile-an-hour clip. The chauffeur threw in his clutch and the car glided away. this is no parl or game that you and I are playing. "Good morning. glancing back. He would have saluted any one not so distinctly rural as Bob McGraw. saw T. but you displayed excessively bad taste in your choice of expletive. The car sped out o f the capitol grounds and away into the heart of the city. while Bob McGraw. Morgan Carey and a uniformed. deviltry and the sheer joy of living. Turn her wide open and fly. the pungent aroma of tar-weed. T. "This is Carey's car. They were too late.gag you and truss you up in that filthy little room." He paused and gazed calmly about him for a moment. bac ked to the door.

for this was her wedding day. Poor Donna! Once she had thought that suit so beautiful. the land of sunshine. And to-day she was going out into the world. Donna was not prepared to obey Bob McGraw's summons. not to mention her own. She wanted Bob to be proud of her.CHAPTER XIII The second event in Donna Corblay's life was about to be consummated. tracing their progress northward long after they had disappeared by the smoke wafted over the crest of the bare volcanic range. Because of the purple distances that mocked he r. From earliest childhood she had watched the trains disappearing into Tehachap i Pass. white shoes and stockings and a white sailor hat. leaving no room for vague forebodings of the future. the lo ng strings of passenger coaches came to San Pasqual as the heralds of another wo rld--poignant pulsations of the greater life beyond the sky-line. alternately she laughed and wept. and added the tailored suit money to her sinking fund in the strong box of the e ating-house safe. stepp ing down from the train at Bakersfield. bringing to Donna a daily consignment of hat s. she was about to leav e it! All of her uneventful colorless mediocre life Donna had felt a passionate longing to go up into the country on the other side of the range. claim ing to own his own samples. fruit and flowers was doubly alluring. No. which were more suited to the climate and environs of San Pasqual. having the sui t made in Chicago and sent out by express. until with the passage o f many trains and many years the desire to see what lay beyond that grim barrier had developed into an obsession. From time to time she had dreamed of a swagger tailored suit. and not as the tools of a whimsical circumstance. She w ept a little as she reflected how provincial and plebeian she must appear. Donna dressed herself that morning with painstaking detail. but the paradox of a swagger tailored suit in San Pa squal had been so apparent always that Donna could not bring herself to the poin t of submitting to a measurement in the local dry-goods emporium. had been prevailed upon to accept a price for the su it when at length he became convinced that under no circumstances would 123 . For the fi rst time since her arrival in San Pasqual. clad in a white duck walking suit. a babe in arms. for the transcendent joy of two Events in one short day had filled her heart to overflowing. She had receive d Bob's telegram. her desire was a s that of a soul that dwells in limbo and longs for the smile of God. To her. It was a drummer's sample which she had purchased from a commercial traveler who. asking her to meet him in Bakersfield. and her heart swelled to bursting at the thought that she must deny him such a s imple pleasure. Too late she had discovered that she didn't possess a dress fit to wear at any one's wedding. and she was going to me et him. Instead she had resolutely stuck to w ash-dresses.

which happened to be a sleeper. she wa s fully convinced that a more commonplace addendum to a feminine wardrobe had ne ver been devised. the last car coming to a stop close to where she was standing. despite Bob's commendable caution. when she went out on the observation car. bearing aloft a p arasol that but the day before had been the joy of her girlish existence. from afar. the faithful. there to shower her with rice and hurl antiquated foo tgear after the train that bore her north. she was ashamed to let eve n the San Pasqualians see her leaving town in such a dowdy costume. As her car rolled past the depot she peered out a nd saw Harley P. Such horrible rites were preserved an d enacted with religious exactitude in San Pasqual. for Donna had a very great longing to-day to permit some human being to bear with he r the burden of her joy. She was glad of the seclusion of the state-room until the train was a mile outside San Pasqual. she observed Harley P. Until that morning Donna nev er had really known how ardently she longed to escape from the sordid commonplac e lonely little town. Decidedly luck was w ith her this morning. She saw her opportunity. He had informed her at the time th at it was the very latest Parisian creation and she had believed him. and had incited the townspeopl e to line up at the depot. Donna observed that the male entities of her little world had assembled to see that the train pulled in and out again safely. although s he noted a mental exception to this condition as. She felt a sudden desire to go to the worst man in San Pasqua l and pour out to him the whole wonderful story. Hennage scratching his head with one hand. There was no necessity for her to b rave the crowd at the window in order to purchase a ticket. climb ed aboard the last car. She took her suitcase from Sam Singer.Donna permit him to make her a present of it. then to await his quizzical con gratulations and bask for a moment in his infrequent honest childish smile. With its inhabitants she had nothing in common. She was certain that all San Pasqual must know her secret--tha t this was her wedding day. Donna could not help wondering who had wri tten a letter to the worst man in San Pasqual. pulled down the window shade and w aited until the train started. She was still a block from the center of the town when the train pulled in from the south. entered. She shuddered lest the telegraph operator had suspec ted something. while in the other h e held a letter which he was reading. Hennage standing in front of the eating-house door. walked through into the next car. found a vacant state-room. Donna knew she ran little risk of meeting a San Pasqual ian in first124 . picking his teeth with h is gold toothpick. and as she w alked up the tracks from the Hat Ranch that momentous morning. If Donna h ad only known how ravishing that simple costume made her appear and what a visio n she would be to the hungry eyes of Bob McGraw! Yet. and had their a ttention centered upon the new arrivals who were rushing into the eating-house f or a hurried snack.

Louis house appropriated that smile to himself. her luxurious surroundings imparted a sense of charm and comfort whic h she had never felt before. of a perfectly appo inted table at which she sat with Bob across the way. and by reason of long obedience to the unwritten rule of ea ting-houses which requires that one must be pleasant to customers always. of a piano. Donna smiled afte r his retreating figure. She glanced across at her interlocutor. she forgot about it and gave herself up to a day-dream which had become a favorite w ith her of late--a dream which had to do with a little Spanish house surrounded by weeping willows and Lombardy poplars (Donna had once seen a picture of a hous e so surrounded). while his glib tongue informed her that the soup was by far the best he had ever tasted. smiling at her and assurin g her (with his eyes) that he loved her. coughed and finally fled to the day-coach. fussed with his watch charm for a minute. As Donna dreamed she smiled--u nconsciously--a smile intended for Bob McGraw. He mumbled something about not meaning any offense. sister! Ain't you the little girl that takes cash in the eatin' house at San Pasqual? I thought your f ace looked kinder familiar. sister? What're you goin' to do in Bakersfield?" "I am going to meet a young man at the station" re plied Donna sweetly. But it was unsatisfactory--it dealt entirely with Donna and his experiences with applicants for lieu land. This thought suggested reflections upon the present sta te of Bob's health. How good it was. "Goin' up t o Bakersfield?" Again Donna nodded. if you ain't got anything on. and as she sat there." The face of the impertinent one crimsoned with embarras sment. which she would learn to play. "A tall young man with a forty-four-inch chest and a pair o f hands that will look as big as picnic hams to you when I tell him that you've been impertinent to me. "Well. He leered across the aisle familiarly and with a vacuous smile inquired: "Say. she fo rgot for a moment that she was on her way to be married." Donna suddenly ceased dreaming. one by on e. watching the shiny rails unwinding b ehind her. so she took his last letter from her hand-bag and read it fo r the forty-second time.class accommodations. after three years of subjection to the vulgar advances of just such fellows as he. and a drummer who sold lace goods for a St. every letter she had ever received from him and 125 . what's the matter with some lunch and an automobile ride afterward. The scenery in the pass proving uninteresting. twine his lean hands around that drummer's trachea and shak e some manhood into him. She nodded. so she abstracted. to reflect that at last she was to have a protector! An almost unholy desire possessed her to see Bob climb aboard at the next station.

came and took forcible possession of her s uit-case. she could only take his hand. looking perfec tly splendid in a marvelous blue suit that must have cost at least eighteen doll ars. in the sight of all mankind. The train came to a stop. he kissed her. drew her to him and. She could not reply to them. down the steps and into the hotel bus which was to take them up t own. She followed him into the hotel. Donna was on the point of crying out at the theft. "Well--sweetheart! The train pulls out again in two minute s and I've been looking for you in every car--" "Bob!" It was he. "don't stare s o at the great round world. Donna" he said. for it seemed to each th at even their most commonplace remarks to-day must be freighted with something s acred. radiant. very gay in brass buttons. and nothing else matt ered any more. Donna dreamed on--and presently a familiar voi ce spoke at her side. where he checked her suit-case w ith the skeezicks who had stolen it. Bob McGraw. And on the way up town neither spoke to the other. "Let 's have lunch. So absorbed was she in their perusal that the other side of the r ange. And inasmuch as it was plainly none of the world's business-The bus had stopped in front of a tremendous hotel. The brakeman came through the car shouting: "Bakersfield! The ne xt station is Bakersfield!" but Donna did not hear him. It was four stories high! All a long the front of the first story it was _glass_ and Donna could look right thro ugh it and see everything that was going on inside! She paused on the top step o f the bus to view the marvels of this town of less than twenty thousand inhabita nts. I wa nt to talk. when Bob reached up and lifted her bodily to the ground. and follow him th rough the car. You're so beautiful." 126 . and with a darlin g little round cap on his perky head. The man who can eat on his wedding day is a vulgarian. He held out his hands. had set the stamp of his approval on his bride. "Reuben! Reuben!" he breathed tenderly in her ear. He was proud of her! He liked her dress! It was sufficient. I couldn't eat now. in which the inquisitive world at large would be bound to manifest a stup endous interest. which had always been such a matter of primary importance. and whispered to her endearing little names. She was dreaming of Bob McGraw. and then led her into the dining-room. was now relegat ed to oblivion. "or at least pretend to. and dead to t he finer feelings. and then a skeezicks of a boy. man of the world." he added. "and I'm so proud of you! Where _did_ you get that marvelous dress?" She glanced up at him. He tore it right out of Bob's hand and ran away with it. like a little lost child.read them all.

She sighed. And I shall be very greatly surprised if Carey hasn't a friend in Washington who will see that the g ranting of the patents is delayed for several years." "Then you can get the land right away?" she queried." "But you'll w in in the long run. "You're so beautiful!" h e repeated. will you not?" 127 . "I love you in that white suit. "I'd muss up an old crook like Carey every hou r for your sake. Oh. alleging that they are part of a gigantic land fraud scheme. and they both laughed. Bob?" "More than ever. "But then I don't know anything to-day. But then it was the only thing I could do and I had to keep him quiet. except that if I a m ever happier than I am this minute I shall die. y ou old sweetheart-" "Do you love me. My applications will almost certai nly be held up six months in the state land office before they are approved by t he surveyor-general and forwarded to the Commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington to be passed to patent by the United States. But he won't have me arrested. In the matter of lov e. and when the waitress had tak en the order and departed. "I don't know whether you're a man or just a big boy" Donna told him. too. and a fe w more years will go by while this protest is being investigated. with inimitable wit and enjoy ment. "Ten hundred thousand million dollars' worth" he declared. He described. sweetheart.They found a secluded table and ordered something. his experience in the land office. I shall not be able to stand i t. "T he cards haven't even been dealt. I don't care" he added defiantly. Carey will induce one of his dummies to protest the app lications. dearie! You haven't told me a word about Donnaville!" So Bob related to her a minute history of himself from the moment he had left her until he had lea ned over her in the observation car. and together they examined the fifty re ceipts. Carey in the room and gag him and tie him up" said Donna regretfully." "I hadn't anything but this old thi ng. That would be too dangerous for him. d ear. when the matter canno t be delayed any longer. dear. But. "I'm sorry you had to lock Mr. "Maybe he'll have you arrested!" "I'm sorry. Bob leaned across the table. Donna. Then. I hated to come up looking like a frump--" "Listen to the girl! Why. He shook his head. absence really makes the heart--" "How much?" She lifted her face towa rd him adoringly.

"I thoug ht I'd like to make one more trip into the desert. I have my work to do. and the longing for protection was very great inde ed." he said a little sheepishly. and they're pockety. "Very much" he answered humbly. Donna dear. should they not marry? They would not always be poor. that I cannot remain in San Pasqual." "But what are we to do. of her dull lonely ch angeless life in San Pasqual. I must make money. He had his work to do and she had hers. "Do you need me?" she queried." "I expect to be left alone." She thought swiftly of the boor who had spoken to her on the train that morning. If he should die in the interim. I do not wish to tie you to my apron-strings and hamper you. Donna girl. You're self-supporting and it isn't fair to you .He shrugged expressively. And you must realize. suddenly frightened. but even then it's a gambler's chance. She almost shuddered to think of what might happen to him should he marry a girl who did not understand him! It seemed to he r that for his sake. Dunstan had promised to l oan you that money?" "Homer Dunstan is an old man. but rather selfish on my part. and their marriage need not interfere. I anticipate that Carey will give me all the t ime he can to get my water-right developed and earn thirtynine thousand dollars to pay for the land for my Pagans. B ut I do not mind that. Bobby?" she quavered. she must marry him. and I can stand it a little longer. "_Quien sabe_" he said ruefully." 128 . then. and with her woman's intui tion she realized that his was the nature that yearns for the accomplishment of great things when spurred to action by the praise and comfort of a mate in sympa thy with his dreams and his ideals. and when she raised he r brilliant eyes to his he read her answer in their limpid depths. and I cannot ta ke you to the place where I hope to make it. as the enormousness of the man's task loomed before her. Why. if you still think you want to marry a chap whose cash asse ts represent less than thirty dollars of borrowed money. "but not enough to insist upon you sharing my poverty with me. Bob. What are your plans?" "Well. an d she had selected him for that signal honor. "I may. "We'll marry first and think of it afterward--that is. She wanted some one on whom she might lean in the hour of stress and woe. She wanted to help him. I have some claims over by Ol d Woman mountain." "But I thought Mr. in San Bernardino county. I might clean u p a stake in there this winter. if for no other. I've lived alone at the Hat Ranch a long time. It's about the only chance I have to raise the w ind. dear. my name is in the lion's mouth.

" There was misery in his glanc e. there's one matter that I haven't e xplained to you. I don't fe el like a man to-day." "Well. we'll go down to the court-house. waiting for the protest which he thought must com e. "Dear. So." His brown eyes li t with admiration.! He'd grubstake you if it bro ke the bank. We have so much to do. it can't be for worse. Bob. procure the license. Donna. I know that's going to hurt you--that thought of your wife w orking--but nobody need ever know it. Nevertheless I'm a frightened man. all my life I've been doing things differently--or rather indiffere ntly--so why should I stop now? It will at least comfort me 129 . "I'm ready. he loved it and she would not say him nay. Those talkative peopl e in San Pasqual would--talk. and to be quite candid. tools. too. But he wa s a man." "I think it will be for better. in a desert country some one must do the desert work. if you 're quite ready. dynamite and grub--two hun dred dollars will outfit me nicely. What can I do. torm enting him with the promise of rich reward in the country just beyond. I'll have to scout around and borrow the mon ey somewhere. I'm going to figure along that line at any rate. "Yes. Donna. "We must figure on an outfit for you. Presently she spoke. Bob. I'll need two burros. Donna" he protested. dear. and--" "Y ou do hurt me. I do not care to have our marriage known. "You have exacted from me a promise and you are forcing me to fulfill it under circumstances which render it mighty hard. Hennage. and the thoug ht that Bob. Of course we love each other and I do want to marry you. and when you're ready we'll leave the horr ible old place and never go back any more. sweetheart? If you marry m e to-day you'll have to work if you want to live. h unt up a preacher and take each other for better or for worse. Yet the big tears trembled on her lo ng lashes as she thought of what lay before him and her heart ached that it must be so. "However. but ah. I'm sure. and loved her the more for her courage. dear. under the circumstances--that is. But before we start. with packs.He was a Desert Rat! The lure of the waste places was calling to him again. good old Harley P. for he realized the grief that lay behind that apparently car eless acceptance of his plan." She smiled. Now." She ignored this subtle hint of procrastin ation. than it is to-day . Donna. Donna tho ught of her own father who had left his bride on a similar errand. and some drills. and he knew best. but a mendicant. He watched her keenly. I have designs on our gambler frien d. I want to keep right on at the eating-house until you're ready to take me away from San Pa squal forever." "Well. might not come back stabbed her with sudden anguish.

They ente red. The pastor answered the bell in per son. no. but to his great distress she had not seen fit to take his pathetic hint--she who ordinarily was so quick of comprehension. "Just step right into the parlor and I'll be with you as soon as I can get my spectacles." She stood up and he helped her into her coat." Donna nodded. in tones most kindly and hospitable. you bet" he whispered. "He knows what we want. Later he came out and insisted that Donna should return with him to Cupid's window. I like him. very much embarra ssed. rather than refer to the matte r again. and a 130 . She was quite self-possessed when he returned with his spectacles. directed th em to the pastor's residence in the next block.out there alone in the desert to know that I have a wife waiting at home for me. A gentleman of color. and he had been at pains to acquaint her with the extreme low ebb of his fi nances. Hennage--the gambler being the only man of his acquaintance whom he knew to be sufficiently good-natured and c areless with money to respond to his appeal." "Thank you" said Bob. felt it incumbent upon him to offer his felicitations to every customer. his wife and the gardener for witnesses. outside the door of the marriage bureau while Bob entered and parted with two dollars and fifty cents for the parchment which gav e him a legal right to commit what he called a social and economic crime. following the practice of such indiv iduals. in the hope that she would voluntarily suggest a delay of their marriage . engaged in washing the church windows. proceeded to t he rectory and Bob rang the front door bell. They accordingly. She was quite impressed at the clergyman's perspicacity. so. and af ter paying the waitress they departed together for the city hall. blushing. "Won't you come in?" he said. he decided to step into a telegraph station immediately after the cerem ony and send a hurried call for help to Harley P. Bob. The rector went into his study while Bob wagged a knowing head at his broad retreating back. You are not a pauper. you mustn't say that. shrunk to the bridegroom's side and gazed timidly at the reverend gentlema n rubbing his hands so expectantly in the doorway. When at length they reached the cit y hall Donna waited. a little black book. I like any man who can do things without a diagram and directions for using. and who. But Bob was a sad bridegroom. "No flies on th at preacher. Donna had wired him that she had arranged for a two-weeks' vacat ion. The bridegroom grinned at him sheepishly while the bride. You mustn't feel that way about it. I think the joy of that will outweigh the sting of shame that a married pauper must feel--" "No. Leaving the court-house Bob and Donna wandered about town until they came to a church. th ere to receive the customary congratulations and handshake from Bob's acquaintan ce who had issued him the license.

no speech in life is so provocative of profound emotion as the beautiful interchange of vows which links him to the woman he loves. all of his troubles and worries v anished. and five minutes later found himself on the sidewalk with his wife. to have and to hold. The perspiration stood out o n his forehead!--there was agony in his brown eyes. His voice was very low and husky as he took that sacred oath. for my lawful wife. so hard and tanned. solemn and lasting ceremony. yet wonderfully clear and firm and sweet. he proceeded with the ceremony. rejoicing in the knowledge that he had at least justified his existence and joined the ra nks o' canny married men--the while he strove to appear as scornful of the futur e as he had been fearful of it five minutes before. while from a great distance. from this day forward. The minister and his gardener shook hands with them. he blurted out: "Oh. for worse. Robert. Donna. satisfied himself. Donna's voice reach ed him: "I. that it was not a forgery. until death us do part. and it seemed that he stood swaying in a great fog. and the minister's wife kissed Donna and gave her a motherly hug--primarily because she looked so sweet and again on general feminine principles. for richer. Donna! I forgot all a bout the ring!" "I didn't" she replied softly. and by the time he had slipped the ring on Donna's finger and plighted his troth for aye." his breast swe lled and a mist came into his eyes. to the man in whose nature there is a broad streak of sentiment and who loo ks upon his marriage as a very sacred. take the e. Great Grief. for my lawful husband--" and the minister was asking him for a ring. Why should this question of finance arise to smite him in the midst of the marriage ceremony?). CHAPTER XIV Now. for be tter. in sickness. holding Donna 's soft warm hand in his. Bob. At this h e commenced to regain his composure. He examined the lic ense. In the sudden reaction cause d by that awful request. and after standi ng Bob and Donna up in a corner close to a terra-cotta umbrella-holder filled wi th pampas plumes. and in health. not desiring to appear chea p on this. He jingled less than three d ollars in small change in 131 . the greatest day in history. Robert. apparently. take thee. and repeated: "I. gave the minister a fee of twenty dollar s. For a ring! Bob started. As Bob McGraw stood there. Donna. for poorer (Here Bob's voice trembled a little."here-is-the-job-I-love" expression on his amiable features. From her hand-bag she produced a worn old wedding ring (it had been her mother's) and handed it to Bob.

Why _did_ you forget the ring?" Why did he forget the ring? Really. Women who dearly love their hu sbands delight in teasing them. Donna" he protested. He frowned. "This is no laughing matter. "if I had thought--" "You wouldn't have consented to such a hasty marriage. "Did you hear a faint jingle?" he queried solemnly. But you're contemplating it. away inside of him he was a worried man. Five minutes ago I couldn't have offered you money. stupid. no. in a listening attitude. living like gypsies en route. H ennage. You forecast coming events so cleverly that perhaps you can inform me wh ether or not we are to walk back to San Pasqual. I have money enough for our honeymoon." "Friend wife" said Bob McGraw." Th e roguish look deepened. He could not help it. "you should hang out your shingle as a s eeress. you're some bride. She pi nched his arm. Yes. And I'm going to have my way about this honeymoon. and as Donna turned her radiant face to his Bob fancied he could detect a secret jest peeping at him from the ceiled shelter of her drowsy-lidded eyes. "on the word of no less a personage than your wife. But I would not 132 ." "Mr. without a doubt she was laughing at him--and he as poor as a churchmouse. Mrs. "on the wor d of no less a personage than your husband. I knew that--so I contrived to have my way about it. "Now. "h ow should I know? I never was married before. it did seem likely that he must quarrel with his wife before they had been married ten minutes. you are _some_ br idegroom." He slapped his vest pocket and cupped a hand to an ear. too. Of course." "Why. and while he strove to appear jaunty." "Contemplating what?" "Telegraphing Harley P. McGraw. McGraw" he said finally. How strangely obtuse she was to-day! "Why. but I have the right to do so now. interrupting his flow of nonsense. McGraw" she retorted. "Mrs. "Nothing--ye t. and besides I was thinking of some thing else all day. what else have I done?" he demanded." "Donna" he began stern ly.his vest pocket.

Besides. Yo u know all summer you were up in the mountains. "You can't mix sentiment and business. You were in bed at the Hat Ranch. where I didn't bring you any newspapers. you haven't heard the latest news about Owe ns Valley. Bobby dear" she began. Nothing remained for him to do save make the best of a sit uation. "Don't pull such a dolo rous countenance. the acceptance of which filled him with chagrin. dear. She cont inued. and now please don't interrupt. An engineer was with him and while they wer e at luncheon I overheard them discussing your water-right. The chief engineer of the outfit read in the pape r at Independence the account of your filing at Cottonwood Lake and he has had m en searching for you ever since. He came into the e ating-house and asked me if I knew anybody in town by the name of Robert McGraw. and for the first time he experi enced a fleeting regret that Donna's ideals were not formed on a more masculine basis. my h usband. She was making t he happiest day of his life a little miserable. 133 . Why. above Owens Valley. I'll loan you six hundred dollars on approved security. they had traced you that far. Morgan Carey. I'm not quite a cad. although he was painfully embarrassed." He shook his head. "I'll accept" he said. from being out of the world so long. In fact. I told him I did not--which wasn't a fib because you weren't in town at the tim e. very well. I might accord you that privilege. Bob." "Oh. I promise I wi ll not harass you with the taunt that you married me for my money.hurt your feelings for the world. The engineer declare d that the known feature alone made the location worth a million dollars. "I'm going to tell you a little story. Consequently. for. and more is to be spent if it can buy water. and I have no security. I wa nted to keep the news for a wedding present." She drew his arm through hers. Donna. Bob. I heard it before you left San Pasqual. "For several months something very mysterious has been going on in our part of the world." He threw up his hands in token of submission . and after that you were rather i n jail at the Hat Ranch. By the exercise of her compelling power over him she had him in her toils and he was helpless. your face is as long as Friar Tuck's. though nobody can guess what it is. but I wouldn't tell you. One of them called to interview you at San Pasq ual. like T. There has been a force of surveyors and engineers in the valley searching for a permanent water supply fo r some great purpose. "I have a little wedding present for you. Do you like my wedding present. I know your code and I wouldn't run counter to it for a--well for a water right in Owen s Valley--notwithstanding the fact that I took you for richer or for poorer. But it's a fact that a pile of money has been spent in Long Valley. it's the other way around. dear?" He pressed her arm but did not answer. And I did figure on a honeymoon.

glancing quickly up at him. Donna. f acing his bride. how happy you've made me!" he said. would ever know. I've started a fight and I'm going to f inish it. why you can take my money? You hav e three times more water than you need. "Because I'll need every drop of it. you can sell some of it--" Bob paused. "If I had only realized--" "Isn't it great to be married?" he queried. who had applied it. his strong face was for the moment g lorified. "And you knew all this a month ago and didn't write me!" "I was saving it for to-day. frighten ed. "Why not?" she asked. Since then I've been reading up on the subject and I discovered that you have enough w ater to develop three times the acreage you plan to acquire. Harley P. Until th at moment she had never fully realized the intensity of the man's nature--the ex tent of worry and suffering that could lie behind those smiling eyes and never s how! She saw that a great burden had suddenly been lifted from him. She realized now the torture to which she had subjected him by her own tenderness and repression. You can sell half the water and we will never go back to San Pasqual any more. now. while their marriage had been a marvelous--a wonderf ul--event to her. and with the necessity for further dissembling removed. to him it had been fraught with terror. Bob. You're rich." How well he could stand it. Don't you see. I'd have to go through to the finish. I wanted this to be the happiest day of our lives. That explains why Carey was so anxious to find you. "Forgive me. you'd be disappointed in me--that if I should start something that was big and n oble and worthy of me. despite his great love . I may lose on a foul." "Ah. You told me once that if I sold out my Pagans for money to marry you. 134 . I'm going th rough. He wanted to buy from you cheap and sell to those people dear. Bob. "I can't do that" he said doggedly. dear" she faltered." His face clouded. you're the queerest kind of a rich man . "And to think I was afraid to face it without the price of a honeymoon!" "You won't have to worry any more. Hennage had carrie d him home to the Hat Ranch. detected a suspicious moisture in his eyes. only she. Why."I talked over the matter of water and power rights with Harley P. You're water poor. His voice trembled just a little and Donna. One miner's inch to the acre will be sufficient in that country. and he says t hey will pay a big price for anything like you have. I didn't tell him you owned a power and water-right--just mentioned that I knew a man who owned one. had told her that night that Bob would "s tand the acid. So you see. and her thoughts harked back to the night she and Harley P. you're a rich man .

and if they had I wouldn't give th em a right of way through my land for their canals. and I wouldn't sell water to their dummy entrymen. it was she who had prevented it. I want that valley for the men who have never had a chanc e. Sh e could not trust herself to speak for the sobs that crowded in her throat. But there are hundreds--thous ands--of acres further south that I can reach with my canals. Poor Donna! She was proud and happy in the knowledge that her husband had proved himself equal to th e task. very hard. In silence she gave him the money. a secret joy mingled with her bitterness. I schemed for thirty-two thousand acre s. He o bserved the tears and stooped over her tenderly. even tones. I've got the water and it's mine in trust for posterity. The land ring cannot grab the desert south of Donna ville. and if I get that I have the land ring blocked. and despite the pain and disappointment of a return to San Pasqual the same day she had left it." he replied. Donna? I think we had better start now" he said. "Watch it for a few minutes.but I'm not fighting for a draw decision. what's the matter. to be a Pagan on her wedding day. and I cannot rest content with a half-way job. "Here is my promissory note. "Why. but with never a word of complaint. payable one day after date. When they reached the hotel. in the same grave. "Have you got that six hundred with you." He handed them to her. because they haven't sufficient water. Bob went to the baggage-room and secured her suit-case which he had checked there two hours before. "Are you quite ready. for the amount. to secure the paym ent of my note." She did not reply. little wife?" "It's--it's--a little hard--to have to give up--our honeymoon" she quave red. "Why. 135 . "Goo d. and this other docume nt is an assignment of a one-half interest in my water-right. Donna . Donna?" he asked grav ely." He found a seat for her and she waited until his return. an d if the two weeks' honeymoon that she had planned was not to be. Mrs. at s even per cent. She nodded. Bob brought their baggage and set it by her side. She watc hed him with brimming eyes. Donna Corblay Robert McGraw! Is that the trouble? Well. It belongs to Inyo a nd I'm going to keep it there. He was right. "I forgot something. She opened her hand-bag and showed him a roll of twenty dollar pieces. please" he said. but she found it hard. She had set her husband a mighty task and bade him finish it. as Donna expected he would. instead of registering.

I want to show my w ife some mountains with grass and trees on them--the meadows and the Merced rive r and the wonderful waterfalls. It w as her day off. Hennage's mind. "Foolish man" she retorted.you're a model Pagan and I'm proud of you. with instructi ons to spare no expense in locating her. on the third day he realized that unless the mystery of Donna Corblay's absenc e from her job could be satisfactorily explained by the end of the week. In all my life I have never been shopping. he accordingly did. and her sense of humor had come to her rescue." Harley P. "That poor girl is sick and nobody in town gives three whoops in a holler. We're going honeym ooning to-morrow. Donna's absence from the eating-house the first day had aroused no suspicion in Mr. but you don't know the Big Chief Paga n after all! Why. now. Under Mr. Hennage appeared in the eating-ho use for his meals the day following. and when on the third morning he came in to break fast purposely late only to find Donna's substitute still on duty. Hennage's critical cross-examination Soft Wind furnished the 136 . he realized t hat the time for action had arrived. "That settles it" he murmured into his seco nd cup of coffee. "Let's not think of the f uture at all. the birds and the bees and all the other wonderf ul sights she's been dreaming of all her life. Hennage had at length fallen a victim to the most v irulent disease in San Pasqual. we're not going back to San Pasqual for a week or ten days. I was so busy thinking of all I have to do that I must have forgotten to tell you that we're going up to the Yosemite Valley on our honeymoon. Please register and have that ba ggage sent up to our room." Which. and he knew this. You're so impulsive. safe under cover of darkness. my tall husband." She carefully tore the promissor y note and the assignment of interest into little bits and let them flutter to t he floor." "I'm not. I'm tired of this to-morrow bugaboo. but they were tears of joy. he woul d furnish a description of Donna to a host of private detectives. and I want to be happy to -day--all day. For two days he had been consumed with curiosity . I'll just run down to the Hat Ranch to-night an' see if I can't do somethin' for her. I want to spe nd it on a dandy tailored suit and some other things that I shall require on our honeymoon. "don't you realize that one cannot mix sentiment and business? Be sensible. Donna's absence from the cashier's desk imp elled him to mild speculation. and then let me have a hundred dollars. But when Mr." "Tell you what we'll do" he suggested. dead or alive. Hennage was informed by Sam Singer that his young mistress had boarded the train for Bakersfield three days previous. At the Hat Ranch Mr. after informing Sam and his squaw that she would not return for two weeks. The tears were still quivering on her beautiful lashes.

"as the feller says. M. "I do wish that dog-gone boy'd took me into his confidence. "Huh! Huh--hum--m--m! Writes me on Monday from Sacramento that he's b usted. Lit out to get married an' never said a word to nobody. you'd orter be right thankful you're only an Injun. the same day. Sam. but bein' married some place else." murmured Mr. existed. with the entire company standing pat. and in the twinkling of an eye the situation was as plain to him as four ac es and a king. like old man McGinty. I wire him the fifty. I ain't one o' the presumin' kind. where none of us is known.information that Donna had taken her white suit and all of her best clothes. Oh. If they was married in San Pasqual I wouldn't butt i n nohow. I'd a too k a chance an' butted in. Uh-huh! Bob McGraw's at the bottom o' this. sir. as if he expected the Indian to i nform him what good reason. Hennage looked up from the telegram a nd fastened upon Sam Singer an inquiring look. he wires her to meet him in Bakersfield." He smot e the table with his fist. General Delivery. Hennage. "Well I 'll be ding-swizzled and everlastingly flabbergasted. hell's bells! If that ain't plumb removin' the limit! Sam. Then he wires me from Stockton. Letter postmarked ten thirty A. to dis regard letter an' telegraph him fifty at Stockton. that tells the story. an' they're goin' to get married on my fifty dollars. Damn it! _Fifty dollars!_ I'll give that Bob hell for this--a-marryin' that fine girl on a shoestring an' me a-hangin' around town with upward o' six thousand iron men i n the kitty. an' heads north. If you was a human bein' you'd know what it is to have your feelin's hurt. He started south the day before. M. if I'd a-had the givin' away o' that blushin' bride. most likely. _On my fifty dollars!_" Mr. "but that's always the way. Nobody ever trusts me with nuthin'. Both by nature and training he wa s possessed of the ability to assimilate a hint without the accompaniment of a k ick. A gr eat light had suddenly burst upon Mr. an' to send him a money order to San Francisco. indeed." he growled. The young feller flopped by the wayside an ' spent his last blue chip on this telegram. I apprehend." He did. I'd 'a shoved across a stack o' blue chips with her that 'd 'a set them young folks on their feet. He smote his thigh. an' he ain't arrived in San Pasqual ye t. if any. Pulls out o' town. Well. dressed in her best suit o' clo thes. Telegram received about one P ." He sat down at Donna's kitchen table and drew a letter and a telegram from h is pocket. "There 137 . but if I'd a-been a sked I'd a-butted in! You can bet your scalp. "Ah . Hennage." mourned the ga mbler. It ain't fair. why Bob McGraw should not immediate ly be apprehended by the proper authorities and confined forthwith in a padded c ell. "Serves me right.

ain't no fun in life for a man that lives off the weaknesses of other people," a
nd with this self-accusing remark Mr. Hennage, feeling slighted and neglected, r
eturned to his game in the Silver Dollar saloon. He was preoccupied and unhappy,
and that night he lost five hundred dollars. Bright and early next morning, how
ever, the gambler went to the public telephone station and called up the princip
al hotel in Bakersfield. He requested speech with either Mr. or Mrs. Robert McGr
aw. After some delay he was informed that Mr. and Mrs. McGraw had left the day b
efore, without leaving a forwarding address. "Well, I won't say nothin' about it
until they do" was the conclusion at which Mr. Hennage finally arrived. "Of cou
rse it's just possible I happened across the trail of another family o' McGraws,
but I'm layin' two to one I didn't." And having thus ferreted out Donna's secre
t, Harley P., like a true sport, proceeded to forget it. He moused around the po
st-office a little and put forth a few discreet feelers here and there, in order
to discover whether San Pasqual, generally speaking, was at all interested. He
discovered that it was not. In fact, in all San Pasqual the only interested pers
on was Mrs. Pennycook, who heaved a sigh of relief at the thought that her Dan w
as, for the nonce, outside the sphere of Donna's influence. In the meantime Donn
a and Bob, in the beautiful Yosemite, rode and tramped through ten glorious, bli
ssful days. It would be impossible to attempt to describe in adequate fashion th
e delights of that honeymoon. To Donna, so suddenly transported from the glaring
drab lifeless desert to this great natural park, the first sight of the valley
had been a glimpse into Paradise. She was awed by the sublimity of nature, and a
ll that first day she hardly spoke, even to Bob. Such happiness was unbelievable
. She was almost afraid to speak, lest she awaken and find herself back in San P
asqual. As for Bob, he had resolutely set himself to the task of forgetting the
future--at least during their honeymoon. He forgot about the thirty-nine thousan
d dollars he required, he forgot about Donnaville; and had even the most lowly o
f his Pagans interfered with his happiness for one single fleeting second, Mr. M
cGraw would assuredly have slain him instanter and then laughed at the tragedy.
It was very late in the season and the vivid green which, comes with spring had
departed from the valley. But if it had, so also had the majority of tourists, a
nd Bob and Donna had the hotel largely to themselves. Each day they journeyed to
some distant portion of the valley, carrying their luncheon, and returning at n
ightfall to the hotel. After dinner they would sit together on the veranda, watc
hing the moon rise over the rim of that wonderful valley, listening to the tree-
toads in noisy convention or hearkening to the "plunk" of a trout leaping in the
river below. Hardly a breath of air stirred in the valley. All was peace. It wa
s an Eden. On the last night of their stay, Bob broached for the first time the
138

subject of their future. "We must start for--for home to-morrow, Donna" he said.
"At least you must. You have a home to go to. As for me, I've got to go into th
e desert and strike one final blow for Donnaville. I've got to take one more lon
g chance for a quick little fortune before I give up and sell my Pagans into bon
dage." "Yes" she replied heedlessly. She had him with her now; the shadow of imp
ending separation had not yet fallen upon her. "What are your plans, Donna?" he
asked. "My plans?" "Yes. Is it still your intention to keep on working?" "Why no
t? I must do something. I must await you somewhere, so why not at San Pasqual? I
t is cheaper there and it will help if I can be selfsupporting until you come ba
ck. Besides, I'd rather work than sit idle around the Hat Ranch." He made no rep
ly to this. He had already threshed the matter over in his mind and there was no
answer. "I'll accompany you as far as San Pasqual, Donna. We'll go south tomorr
ow and arrive at San Pasqual, shortly after dark. I'll escort you to the Hat Ran
ch, change into my desert togs, saddle Friar Tuck and light out. I'll ride to Ke
eler and sell horse and saddle and spurs there. At Keeler I'll buy two burros an
d outfit for my trip; then strike east, via Darwin or Coso Springs." "How long w
ill you be in the desert?" "About six months, I think. I'll come out late in the
spring when it begins to get real hot. Do you think you can wait that long?" "I
think so. Will it be possible for me to write to you in the meantime?" "Perhaps
. I'll leave word in the miners' outfitting store at Danby and you can address m
e there. Then, if some prospector should be heading out my way they'll send out
my letters. My claims are forty miles from Danby, over near Old Woman mountain.
If I meet any prospectors going out toward the railroad, I'll write you." "The d
ays will be very long until you come back, dear, but I'll be patient. I realize
what it means to you, and Donnaville is worth the sacrifice. You know I told you
I wanted to help." "You are helping--more than you realize. You'll be safe unti
l I get back?"
139

"I've always been safe at the Hat Ranch, but if I should need a friend I can cal
l on Harley P. He isn't one of the presuming kind"--Donna smiled--"but he will s
tand the acid." "And you will not worry if you do not receive any letters from m
e all the time I am away?" "I shall know what to expect, Bob, so I shall not wor
ry--very much." They left the Yosemite early next morning, staging down to El Po
rtal, and shortly after dusk the same evening they arrived at San Pasqual. There
were few people at the station when the train pulled in, and none that Donna kn
ew, except the station agent and his assistants; and as these worthies were busy
up at the baggage car, Bob and Donna alighted at the rear end and under the fri
endly cover of darkness made their way down to the Hat Ranch. Sam Singer and Sof
t Wind had not yet retired, and after seeing his bride safe in her home once mor
e, Bob McGraw prepared to leave her. She was sorely tempted, at that final test
of separation, to plead with him to abandon his journey, to stay with her and th
eir new-found happiness and leave to another the gigantic task of reclaiming the
valley. It was such a forlorn hope, after all; she began to question his right
to stake their future against that of persons to whom he owed no allegiance, unt
il she remembered that a great work must ever require great sacrifice; that her
share in this sacrifice was little, indeed, compared with his. Moreover, he had
set his face to this task before he had met her--she would not be worthy of him
if she asked him to abandon it now. "I must go" he said huskily. "The moon will
be up by ten o'clock and I can make better time traveling by moonlight than I ca
n after sun-up." She clung to him for one breathless second; then, with a final
caress she sent him forth to battle for his Pagans. She was back at the cashier'
s counter in the eating-house the next morning when Harley P. Hennage came in fo
r his breakfast. "Hello, Miss Donna" the unassuming one greeted her cordially. "
Where've you been an' when did you get back to San Pasqual? Why, I like to 'a di
ed o' grief. Thought you'd run away an' got married an' left us for good." He wa
tched her narrowly and noted the little blush that marked the landing of his app
arently random shot. "I've been away on my first vacation, went up to Yosemite V
alley. I got back last night." "Glad of it" replied Mr. Hennage heartily. "Enjoy
yourself?"
140

"It was glorious." He talked with her for a few minutes, then waddled to his fav
orite seat and ordered his ham and eggs. "Well, she didn't fib to me, at any rat
e, even if she didn't tell the whole truth" he soliloquized. "But what's chewin'
the soul out o' me is this: 'How in Sam Hill did they make fifty dollars go tha
t far?' If I was gettin' married, fifty dollars wouldn't begin to pay for the fi
rst round o' drinks." It had not escaped the gambler's observing eye that Donna
had been crying, so immediately after breakfast Mr. Hennage strolled over to the
feed corral, leaned his arms on the top rail and carefully scanned the herd of
horses within. Bob McGraw's little roan cayuse was gone! "Well, if that don't be
at the Dutch!" exclaimed Mr. Hennage disgustedly. "If that young feller ain't on
e fool of a bridegroom, arunnin' away from his bride like this! For quick moves
that feller's got the California flea faded to a whisper. Two weeks ago he was a
practicin' law in Sacramento, a-puttin' through a deal in lieu lands; then he ju
mps to Stockton an' wires me for fifty dollars; then he hops to Bakersfield an'
gits married, after which he lands in the Yosemite Valley on his honeymoon. From
there he jumps to San Pasqual, an' from San Pasqual he fades away into the dese
rt an' leaves his bride at home a-weepin' an' a-cryin'. I don't understand this
business nohow, an' I'll be dog-goned if I'm a-goin' to try. It's too big an ord
er." Three days later Harley P. Hennage wished that he had not been so inquisiti
ve. That glance into the feed corral was to cost him many a pang and many a doll
ar; for, with rare exceptions, there is no saying so true as this: that a little
knowledge is a dangerous thing.
CHAPTER XV
The once prosperous mining camp of Garlock is a name and a memory now. Were it n
ot that the railroad has been built in from San Pasqual a hundred and fifty mile
s up country through the Mojave, Garlock would be a memory only. But some offici
al of the road, imbued, perhaps, with a remnant of sentimental regret for the fa
st-vanishing glories of the past, has caused to be erected beside the track a wh
ite sign carrying the word Garlock in black letters; otherwise one would scarcel
y realize that once a thriving camp stood in the sands back of this sign-board o
f the past. Even in the days when the stage line operated between San Pasqual an
d Keeler, Garlock had run its race and the Argonauts had moved on, leaving the r
usty wreck of an old stamp-mill, the decayed fragments of half a dozen pine shan
ties and a few adobe _casas_
141

with the sod roofs fallen in. There are a few deep uncovered wells in this deser
ted camp, filthy with the rotting carcasses of desert animals which have crawled
down these wells for life--and remained for death. But no human being resides i
n Garlock. It is a sad and lonely place. The hills that rise back of the ruins a
re scarlet with oxide of iron; in the sheen of the westering sun they loom harsh
and repellent, provocative of the thought that from the very inception of Garlo
ck their crests have been the arena of murder-spattered with the blood of the ha
rdy men who made the camp and then deserted it. Therefore, one would not be surp
rised at anything happening in Garlock --where it would seem a wanton waste of i
magination to look forward to anything happening--yet at about noon of the day t
hat Harley P. Hennage looked over the rail fence into the feed corral at San Pas
qual and discovered that Bob McGraw's horse was gone, a man on a tired horse rod
e up from the south, turned in through the ruined doorway of one of the roofless
tumble-down adobe houses, and concealed himself and his horse in the area forme
d by the four crumbling walls. He dismounted, unsaddled and rubbed down his drip
ping horse with handfuls of the withered grasses that grew within the ruins. Nex
t, the man hunted through Garlock until he found an old rusty kerosene can with
a wire handle fitted through it, and to this he fastened a long horsehair hitchi
ng rope and drew water from one of the filthy wells. The horse drank greedily an
d nickered reproachfully when the man informed him that he must cool off before
being allowed to drink his fill. For an hour the man sat on his saddle and smoke
d; then, after drawing several cans of water for the horse, he spread the saddle
-blanket on the ground and poured thereon a feed of oats from a meager supply ca
ched on the saddle. From the saddle-bags he produced a small can of roast beef a
nd some dry bread, which he "washed down" with water from his canteen while the
horse munched at the oats. Late in the afternoon the man stepped to the ruined d
oorway and looked south. Three miles away a splotch of dust hung high in the sti
ll atmosphere; beneath it a black object was crawling steadily toward Garlock. I
t was the up stage from San Pasqual for Keeler, and the stranger in Garlock had
evidently been awaiting its arrival, for he dodged back into the enclosure, sadd
led his horse, gathered up his few belongings and seemed prepared to evacuate at
a moment's notice. He peered out, as the old Concord coach lurched through the
sand past the bones of Garlock, and observed the express messenger nodding a lit
tle wearily, his eyes half closed in protest against the glare of earth and sky.
Suddenly the express messenger started, and looked up. He had a haunting impres
sion that somebody was watching him--and he was not mistaken. Over the crest of
an adobe wall he saw the head and shoulders of a man. Also he saw one of the man
's hands. It contained a long blue142

and the st age rolled north on its journey. Pick it up. which was pointed at him. "The passengers will please alight on this side of the st age. When it was a quarter of a mile away the man be hind the wall came out into the road and shot the padlock off the express box. You keep your hands up. one at a time a nd no crowding. When it was evident that the job was complete he ordered the passengers back into the stage and addressed the driver. "Throw out the box! No. not you. promptly fired and lif ted the pipe out of the messenger's mouth. in stantly realizing that he must be impressive at all cost. From behind a mask fashione d from a blue bandanna handkerchief came the expected summons: "Hands up!" The d river pulled up his horses and jammed down the brake. and his arms went o ver his head in a twinkling. I have a rifle with me and I'm considered a very fair shot up to five hundred yards. turn their pockets inside out and deposit their coin on top of the box" con tinued the road agent. sur prised. I want cash. "My friend with the spike beard and the gold eye-glasses! You dropped something on the bed of the stage. I hope. Remember that--you with the sawed-off shotgun!" "Good-by" replied the messenger. headed northeast for Johannesburg.barreled automatic pistol. The latter swore. Omit the jewelry. "Don't do that again" he growled." The horses sprang to the crack of the driver's whip. mounted and rode out o f Garlock across the desert valley. The man behind the wall." The express box dropped into the greasewo od beside the trail with a heavy metallic thud that augured a neat profit for th e man behind the wall. if you're anxious to retain a whole hide. "I know when a ma n's got the drop on me. Now. The express messenger. Thank you! That pocketbook looks fat." "I was afraid your education had been neglected" the ho ld-up man retorted pleasantly. The driver will throw it out. "Drive right along now and remember that it's a sure sign of bad luck to look back. hesitated a moment between an impulse to obey the stern command and a de sire to argue the matter with his sawed-off shotgun. "See you later. t ransferred the fruits of his industry to his saddle-bags. He glanced in the direction whence the sound of the shot came and 143 ." The highwayman continued to disc ourse affably with his victims while the little pile of coin and bills on top of the box grew steadily. As he rod e out into the open a rifle cracked and a bullet whined over him.

leaning his rifle across his hor se's back. As for the express messenger. The sun was setting behind the gory hills now. That express messenger was too deadly--a nd too game. when the news became stale. and it's just possible you might have handled this sombrero in the line o' 144 . The express messenger told he r the story when he came to the counter to pay for his rib steak and coffee. The town was abuzz with excitement for an hour. When he came to a little swale between some sandhills he d ipped into it. "You do a pretty good trade in hats. dismounted and waited. Donna Corblay was at the eating-house when the first down stage from Keeler came into San Pasqual with the news of the hold-up at Garlock the day bef ore. "Old man. pulled up. Well. stage hold-ups were not infrequent in that country. I'll run for it. After all. and Donna paid n o particular heed to the commonplace occurrence until the return to San Pasqual two days later of the stage which had been robbed. He had with him at the time a broadbrimmed gray sombrero. as he exhibited this battered relic of the fray. A dozen shots whipped the sage around him. The rifle cracked again and the bandit's wi de-brimmed hat rose from his head and sailed away into the sage. circled through the range back of Fremont's Peak and headed out across Miller's Dry Lake. but he knew better than to stop to recover that hat. It was better shooting-light now. "You unhook the off lead er while I'm monkeying with the box.observed a man on a white horse riding rapidly toward him. lay low on his neck and swe pt across the desert. Miss Cor blay" he said. He looked back at it a trifle dubiously. he removed the bridle from his dead horse and trudged back to the waiting coach. and glinted on a rifle which the bandit drew from a gun-boot whi ch a broad sweat leather half concealed. dig up a rifle and come for me riding bareb ack. I'm not out to kill anybody if I can help it. but in the end the bullets dropped short. one of them notched the ear of his straining mount. with a ragged hole close to the apex of the peak. Instantly the pursued man vaulted into his saddle and rode furiously away. sighted carefully and fired. It was quite dark when he rode around the town to t he north. dista nces were not quite so deceptive. and through the gathering gloom the outlaw jogged easily up the long sand y slope toward Johannesburg. i n the face of such close snap-shooting. On the way he back-tracked the outlaw's trail until he came to the man's hat. pinched to a peak. The bandit suddenly r emembered that the off leader on the stage team was white. which he app ropriated. "I wanted to show you this." He did. bound for Barstow. and my horse has had a nice rest. the white horse went to his knees and hi s rider leaped clear. the su n set. you're as c lever as you are brave" muttered the bandit admiringly. so the bandit merely spurred his horse. The outlaw. Suddenly the man on the white horse appeared o n the crest of a distant sand-hill.

Donnie. As it was. I can--only--suffer. "He was goin' like a streak an' it was sn ap-shootin'. She did not look up. anyhow. unless he knows the waterholes. while the other little trembling hand stole across the counter. an' you ought to go home an' take a good rest. Much obliged. Remember sellin' anybody by that name a hat ? It might help if you had an' could describe him. and if he can't get through there. yes" she whispered." Harley P . seeking for his and the comfort which the strong seem able to impart ito the weak by the mere se nse of touch. Donna opened her eyes and sighed --a little gasping sob. because if he was from this town it was a good chance he bought this hat from you. You looked a mite peaked. Ever recollect sellin' a hat to this fellow--his name's-lemme see--his name's Robert McGraw? It's written inside the sweatband. You're all upset about somethin'.business. and there was the look of a thousand devils In his baleful eyes. Her eyes were closed in sudden. and a bareheaded man is easily traced in the desert. Had the express messenger been wat ching her instead of the hat. "I--" She p aused. Harley. For an instant the ir glances met--and there were no secrets between them now. clutching at this straw which he held out to 145 ." "No" said Donna quietly. I--I--I can't. But I th ought I'd ask you." "Y es. "I'm sorry you're not feelin' well. Hennage. He was behind a wall when he stuck us up. dead or alive. striving pathetically to do it naturally." He drew the band back and displayed the name in indelible pencil. "I lifted it off'n his head with my second shot" the messenger explained. I sent him on his way bareheaded. "the light's--gone ou t--of the world--and I can't--cry. an' somebody reported seein' a bareheaded man ridin' around the town after dark. and turned her quivering face to the gambler. He smiled at her. it was a grimace. or he'd never 'a got away from me. he'll have to head up into the Virginia Dale district- -and he'll last about a day up there. Instead. I noticed it last night. She could not articulate another word. sooner or later. "Oh. he might have noticed her agitation. just the same. All I could see was his eyes. We have him headed off at Barstow. We sent word o ver to Johannesburg and Randsburg. "Donnie" he said ho arsely. while with his other hand he touched her beautiful head with paternal tenderness. perhaps he wasn't from San Pasqual. and she leaned forward heavily against the coun ter. Harley" she whispered brokenly. Donna moaned in her wretchedness.'s great freckled hand closed over hers and held it fast." and gathering up his change the express messenger departed to make room for Harley P. she placed her arm on the cash register and bowed her head on it. who w as standing next in line to pay his meal-check. You do n't--you don't look well. violent pain. eh? Well. "Don't remember him. We'll get him.

She pleaded with him with her ey es. accompani ed her to the door of the eating-house. "Miss Corblay's been took sick an' the pain's somethin' terrible. and it was thus with Donna. Mr. and hurried toward her. Inadvertently he ha d stumbled upon her secret. "Buck up and beat it. "My little one! My nestling!" she said in the Cahuilla tongue. When she recovere d consciousness she found that she was lying fully 146 . would he be seen walking with her in public. It was the first time she had ever fainted. It wa s like him to ascribe her agitation to illness. I've b een a-tellin' her she ought to have Doc Taylor in to look at her. Remember. But she knew also that never by w ord or sign or deed would Harley P." Donna replied in monosyllables t o the excited queries of the waitress. He realized that Donna wanted to talk with him. You've got to make it alone. an' I'll see Doc Taylor an' tell him to bring you down some medicine or somethin'. As the waitress started to obe y his summons. pinned on her hat and left the eating-hou se as quickly as she could. send Sam Singer up to me. "I'm ill. white-lipped. He nnage turned and beckoned to one of the waitresses whose duty it was. Harley P." Mr. I want to go home--oh. and she wept aloud. I'll b et a stack o' blues she got this here potomaine poisonin'. "You'd better take charge here" h e said. and as she turned her heavy foot steps toward the Hat Ranch the memory of that loving lie brought the laggard tea rs at last. Hennage indicate that he had heard it. and she knew this. the gambler turned and spoke to Donna. sunk in an abyss of misery. She was dry-eyed. before the pain gets worse. Hennage. how ever. Wh en you get to the Hat Ranch. It seemed to Donna that she must have wandered l ong in the border-lands of hell before eventually she reached the shelter of the adobe walls of the Hat Ranch." He turned again to the waitress. thereby laying the foundation for "talk". Soft Wind heard her sobbing and fumbling with the recalcitrant lock on the iron gate. I ca n't take you home. and under the circumstances he realized the danger to her. He had heard the news. Better run right alon g. for there are agonies of grief and terror so profound that their very in tensity dams the fount of tears. but he shook his head resolutely. an' neither can anybody else. that's what I would. on Donna's days off. Not for worlds. Send Sa m Singer up. but he would go no further. In her agony she was conscious of a feeling of g ratitude to the Almighty for His perfect workmanship in fashioning a man who was not one of the presuming kind. should h e even be seen conversing with her from now on. in a vague way he gathered that she looked t o him for some words of comfort in her terrible predicament. please--take me-home. Donnie. If I had the p ain that girl's a-sufferin' right now I'd be in bed.her. Miss Donnie. and forthwith Donna collapsed in the old squaw's arms. to take her place at the cash counter.

an ' there ain't never goin' to be no joy in them eyes no more. just like her mother did. and Sam yielded to his first impulse. He recalled now the quick look of terror that had flitted across the face of each of these men when it came to the show-down and the pot was lost in the smoke. Henn age." He sat down on his bed and bowed his bald head in his trembling hand s.dressed. on her bed. at the foot of which Soft Wind and Sam Singer were standing . an' there ain't a sou l in the world can help her but me. the express messenger. and Sam Singer pussy -footed out of the room and fled up town to lay the matter before Harley P. "You--miserable--old--mischief-maker" he muttered s lowly. a in't you? An' now you're takin' him inside to show him the written order Bob McG raw give me for that registered letter. too. a half a block down on the other side of the street. and with hate and emphasis in every word. Hennage. gazing at her owlishly. For the second time there was a crisis at the Hat Ranch. because I le d his roan horse up into the feed corral an' guaranteed the feed bill. was experiencing some of the agony of a grief that could find no outlet in tear s--a three-year-old grief that could have no ending until the end should come fo r Harley P. an' a ct lively. unless I act. ain't you? You're quite a nice little ol d maid detective. because I called for a registered letter for him once. The disclosure of the identity of the stag e-robber had overwhelmed the gambler with anguish. Presently he roused and looked at his watch. "You're tellin' him to see me f or information concernin' Bob McGraw. which was to seek help where something told him help would n ever be withheld. At the door of the post-office. parted the curtains cautiously and looke d out. he endeavored to compare it with the sudden despair and suffering tha t came into Donna's eyes when the express messenger drew back the sweat-band of the outlaw's hat and showed her Bob McGraw's private brand of ownership. an' that _he_ was a friend o' mine. Hennage had fled to the seclusion o f his room in the eating-house hotel. In the language of his profession. He. "No. She's got hers. too. with the hat still in his hand. She commenced to sob immediately. but poor little Donnie is plumb fearful o' life. stood convers ing with Miss Molly Pickett. and he wanted to be alone to think the terrible affair over calmly. He was horrified to dis cover that he had just forty minutes left in which to arrange his affairs and le ave San Pasqual. Them two tinhorns was frightened o' death. "there ain't no comparison. the bu ck was clearly up to Mr. He went to the window. Harley P. Twice during his eventful career the gambler h ad sat in poker games where an opponent had held the dead man's hand and paid th e penalty. ain't you? You're tellin' him this road ag ent's a friend o' mine. 147 . for once more Harley P. ain't you. Hennage was face to face with a great issue." m oaned Mr. Miss Molly? You're tellin' him that I knew the man that saved Donnie Corblay. Hennage. In the meantime.

so I'm just a-goin' to fold my tent like the Arab an' sile ntly fade away. ' was on that fool boy's saddle. concealed behind the wall with the upper half of his face showing. It would have been like Bob McGraw. an alibi might very easily discount all this circ umstantial evidence. Mr. for an automatic was a weapon too new in those days to be popular. there was one weak link in this apparently powerful chain of evidence. an' I'm too old a gambler to get caught bluffin' on no pair.An' everybody knows. and at a distance. indeed. At close quarters the horse had been. with his name in it. I can't afford it. with almost bay ears and head. that the initials 'R. Many a bay horse. He understood that Donna. Hennage. to show off a little! However. also the report that on e of the passengers who knew him had recognized the bandit as Bob McGraw. In addition there was th e evidence of the automatic pistol! Few men in that country carried automatics. who carried an automatic and was a dead shot. pl anning to keep on at the eating-house. Garlock la y a hard thirty-five miles from San Pasqual. or if they don't they soon will. At least. has been mistaken for a roan. he might v ery easily have been mistaken for a bay. Then there was the hat. for beyond doubt he must have been in the neighborhood of Garlock tha t very day." The fact that Friar Tuck had disappeared from the fee d corral on the very night of Donna's return to San Pasqual was to Mr.45. since he had come f rom the north." Thus reasoned Mr. were it not for the fact that there could be no alibi for B ob McGraw. Not a dog-gone question! If I stay in this town they'll subpeeny me an' make me testify under oath. rested until the stage came along and the n robbed it. Not having seen it. Bob McGraw's hor se was a light roan--a very light roan. Only them Wells Fargo detectives don't get to ask me no questions regardin' that girl 's husband. when covered with alk ali dust and dried sweat. and while he h ad never seen Donna's marriage license he firmly believed that she had been marr ied. and in certain lights and in the excitement of the hold-up. Hennage deduced that to the north he would return. folk s. Hennage was not disturbed. merely to impress that unimpressionable functionary. Donna had gone to the Hat Ranch while Bob had saddled and ridden north. The stage driver and the express messenger both reported the bandit to be mounted on a bay mustang. No. He had looked for the publication of the license in the Bakersfield papers. Hennage p rima facie evidence that Bob McGraw had returned with her. and it seemed reasonable to presume that Bob had stopped there for water. However. and Bob had doubtless arranged to have the record of the issuanc e of the license "buried. All right. The bandit had show n himself peculiarly expert in the use of his weapon. Miss Pickett! Let 'er flicker. Mr. McG. Both by nature and professional trai ning he was more adept in the science of deduction than most men. desired her marriage to remain a secret f or the present. 148 . having shot the pipe out o f the messenger's mouth. an' then I'll perjure myself an' get caught at i t. Well. and the resid ents of the Mojave still clung to tradition and a Colt's.

Do they know who did it?" "Fellow n amed McGraw."Alibi or no alibi. And as near as I can make out. "Hell o. he'll get twenty years in San Quentin on that evidence" mour ned Harley P. She could leave San Pasqual. Whiskered bobcats. Hennage with yo ur worries! I'd 'a seen you through. "but I' ve sure been taken in on this feller. you've broke her heart an' she'll go like her mother went . Bob. all i n a heap an' downed him before he knew. I believe it is. or she could stand pat! If she said nothing. "It ain't often I make a mistake judgin' a man" he muttered piteously. Doc. and I figured on ta lking it over with you before I gave Wells Fargo & Company the quiet tip to watc h the Hat Ranch for their man. I wasn't quite certain. Hennage." He clenched his big fists and punched the air viciously. She'll have to get out too!" The gambler had a sudden thought. But you wouldn't trust me--just went to wor k an' married that good girl. Hennage. an' the notion to rob the stage come on him. you infernal young rip. it's the same fellow I atte nded that time down at the Hat Ranch. Donna could do two things. Therefore it behooved Mr. not a soul could befoul her by linking her name to that of a stage-robber. I never thought o' that. you dog. Thre e minutes later the gambler strolled into the drugstore. She _must_ stand pat! There was but one channel through which the news that Bob McGraw had been harbored at the Hat Ranch could possibly filter. People might _think_ what they pleased. an' then pulled off a job o' road work to support her. but they could never _ prove. Doc. An' at that there's heaps o' good in the boy! He must 'a b een just desperate for money. if you was as hard up as all tha t. What do you think about that hold-up a t Garlock?" "Pretty bold piece o' work. Have you said anything to anybody?" "No--not yet. Great Grief! That misfortunate girl! He' ll never come back. in unconscious exemp lification of the chastisement he would mete to Bob McGraw when he met him again . I thought he'd stand the acid--by God! I t hought he'd stand it." "What's new?" "Nothing much. why didn't you come to me? Why didn't you trust old Harley P. Hennage to see Doc Taylor immediately. "How" he saluted. That's what I called to see you about. "Oh. That possible leak must be plugged at once. Oh. Bob._ provided Doc Taylor remained discreet. Hennage agreed quietly." 149 . an' if they trace him to her she'll die o' shame. "At l east." "It is" Mr.

Now. Doc Taylor doubted their sincerity. Doc. In fact. an' I'm goin' after him myself. a nd in his innermost soul he commended it as a proper Christian course. You seem to think I'm he re a-askin' a favor o' you. "I can't agree to that. they'll be glad to let it go at that. Now. "It doesn't look right to me to let a stage- robber go scot-free--" "Well. Ah' when they come to you. I'm just as independent as a hog on ice. I'll make him give up the swag an ' send it back. He ain't _bad_--an' besides."Good enough! But they'll be around asking you questions. as near as I can learn. an' I'll buy 'em a new padlock f or the express box. Sometimes a feller can accompl ish more in this world by keepin' his mouth shut than he can by tellin' every du rned thing he knows. He realized that Harley P. They won't wait for you to come to them. Doc. Doc. then I'll get him out of the country an' let him start life all over again somewhere else. Doc? I'll kill you like I would a tarantula. and despite Mr. "i t'd better look right to you. the disclosure of which would make him the hero of San Pasqual for a day at least. Now. Doc. Doc --I'm certain o' t hat. I never ask favors o' no man. I've got a special interest in him. He wasn't blood-thirsty.'s plan was best. Now. Hennage an d the outlaw McGraw had a habit of being friendly and faithful to each other in just such emergencies--a sort of "honor among thieves" arrangement. of an astounding secret. Doc. this outlaw gets away with abo ut four thousand dollars. an' it ain't right to kick him when he's down. an' it corresponds to the initials on the saddle. Hennage serenely. Doc. _Comprende?_" "But McGraw robbed the stage--" "He didn't kill nobody. He's a young feller. But he al so remembered to have heard somewhere that godless men like Harley P. the worthy doctor was the join t possessor. the who le thing was irregular. an' by the Nine Gods o' War I'll kill you. Hennage" he began soberly. Don't worry about that. Not much. an' damned quick at that. An' when they com e to ask you the name o' the man you 'tended at the Hat Ranch you tell 'em his n ame is-lemme see. for even after the return of the stolen money the bandit would still owe a debt to society--and moreover. Hennage's kindly words. liste n here. now--yes. Doc. I've got a pretty good idea where he's gone to hole up until the no ise dies down. you just s o much as say 'Boo' about this thing. This is the young feller's first job. Doc." Do c Taylor shook his head dubiously. if I don't stand up I can set down. I tell you." drawled Mr. his name is Roland McGuire. let's be sensible." 150 . That's a nice name. I run a square game myself an' I want a square game from the other fellow. He shot the horse when he might have shot the messenger. D'ye understand. with Harley P. He oughter be lifted up an' given a chance to make good. you don't know nothin'. Hennage. If the passengers an' the express company get their mo ney back.

what is his name goin' to be. Hennage remove from his trunk. for in his haste he was forced to abandon his old rawhide trunk that had accompanied him in his wanderings for twenty years. poor girl. Will stay away until things blow over. but in his all-too-evident downright honesty of purpose. as they leave me at present.Doc Taylor looked into the gambler's hard face. Hennage felt t hat the responsibility must very properly rest on the doctor. for his power lay. For fully thirty seconds those terrible eyes flamed. his small deep-set eyes bespoke only too truly the firmness of purpose that lay behind their blazing menace. and swallo wed his Adam's apple twice. Had Doc Taylor p resumed to fly in the face of Providence. Once again. unblinking. 151 . Doc?" "Roland McGuire" said Doc Taylor. Mr. Go to the head o' the class an' don't f orget to remember to stick there. T he mouth of the worst man in San Pasqual was drawn back in a half snarl that was almost coyote-like. and packed this treasure into the suitcase. But o ne article did Mr. Am in trouble and must get out quick. "Bright boy. after that warning. "She's woman enou gh to cover the rest o' the trail herself now. _that's_ over" he muttered as he returned to his room. You might need it. on Doc Taylor. Respect. then. "Now. not in a clever bluff. he sat down at a little table and wrote a note to Donna: _Dear Miss Donnie:_ I am sending you a t housand by Sam Singer. satisfied himself that the faded old rose that lay between the leaves was still intact. "Well. which was thrust close to his. Hennage turned slowly and walked out of the drug-store. while waiting for the north-bound train to whistle for San Pasqual. then Mr." CHAPTER XVI Mr. he had maintained his reputation as the worst man in San Pasqual. He ope ned it tenderly. Hennage spoke." Hastily he packed a suit-case wi th his few simple belongings. for he had accomplis hed his mission. Hoping these few lines will find you feel ing well. without recourse to violence. yrs. an' in about a week I' ll pull the big sting that's hurtin' her most. It was an old magazine. for the gambler wo uld have killed him as surely as he had the strength to work his trigger finger. I am.

H. on his way back to his seat. "Good-by. Two minutes later it pull ed out. Hennage obser ved a gray-haired man reading a newspaper. for the last time. "And you are--Mr. The gambler decided that there was so mething vaguely familiar about the back of this passenger's head. and paused beside the other's seat. You're the very man I wanted to see. HENNAGE. S. Seated tw o seats in front of him and on the opposite side of the coach. and on the way down he me t Sam Singer coming up. "Mr. This note Mr. His plans were well matured now and he was content. P. T. Hennage. As it plunged into Tehachapi Pass. standing on the platform of the rear car. 152 . At the same in stant the man glanced up from his paper and nodded to Mr. Hennage sealed carefully in an envelope. toge ther with a compact little roll of bills.." and then. Hennage. Henna ge." He went to the ticket window. P.--Mr. "I beg your pardon. I came to say good-by a little while ago and was sorry you wasn't feeling well. Sam" he called as he descended the stairs. "I'll just l eave that mess to stew in its own juices for a while. This is my busy day. Hammage. Mr. Sam. "Give this to Miss Donna" said Mr. if I ain't mi staken?" "The same" replied Carey in his dry." "Hennage" corrected the gambler. Hennage. and on the pre tense of going to the front of the car for a drink of water he contrived. "Ain't got no time to talk to you." He moved over and made room for Mr. to catch a glimpse of the stranger's face. Quite so. precise tones." He went into the smoker a nd lit a cigar. Morgan Carey. in this comf ortable frame of mind he glanced idly around at his fellow-passengers. Hennage. Hennage beside him.-M r. glanced back across the desert at San Pasqual. purchased a ticket to San Francisco and climbed aboard the train. " Be a good Injun till I see you again. Mr. Mr. He seized his suit-case and hurried down stairs. "How" said Ha rley P. "Nothin' like m ystery to keep that rotten little camp up on its toes" he muttered. Mr. just as the train whistled for San Pas qual. he gave Sam Singer the inevitable half dollar and a cigar. and thrust t he envelope into the Indian's hand. Pray be seated. The gambler sat down an d sighed.

if possible. "I've loaned him m oney. and inform him that I desir ed to communicate with him. Hennage."Hot. should you meet him. "Your friend McGraw robbed me of fifteen hundred dollars on the San Pasqual-Keeler stage a few days ago. Hennage nodded." "Ever get it back?" Carey smiled a thin sword-fish smile. "We ll. Mr. by any chance. "Hu-u-m-m! I presume you know where Mr." 153 . Mr. he was in a little troubl e at the time an' didn't care to show in public" lied Mr. "I per ceive. It was in his mind to discover . I ain't sayin' nothin'" he replied evasively. "Why did the man." "Yes" replied Mr." "You gave him my registered letter. McGraw may be found at present. Hennage calmly. Why do you ask?" "You consider McGraw honest?" "Sure shot--between friends. Hennage?" pursued Carey. "Is this McGraw a friend of yo urs. al so?" So Carey had been talking with Miss Pickett again! Mr. I believe you mentioned something about his reputation as a hard citizen when I first spoke to you about him. Hennage glibly. rather inanely. "Rather. Hennage was on guard. have you. "Certainly. Is he liable to communicate with you?" Mr. Hennage assured him. You will recollect that I left with you one of my cards. Hennage" purred Carey. "I met him one da y in San Pasqual an' gave him your card. for no earthly reason except a desire to be perverse and not contradict his former statements. By the way. "Well. Yes. McGraw. ain't it?" he remarked. I'm sorry I can't agree with you" he said. the details of the business which this man of vast emprise could have with a penniless desert rat like Bob McGraw." "Tougher'n a bob-cat" Mr. Mr. "Tel l me." the gambler fenced. "Well. send you to the post- office with an order for that registered letter?" "Oh. with the requ est that you give it to McGraw. seen that young man for whom I was inquiring on the day I first had the pleasure of making your acquaintance? His name is McGraw--Rober t McGraw." C arey turned his head slowly and gazed at the gambler in mean triumph.

The possible hypothesis of a woman. Mr. Carey ." "That's funny" echoed Harley P. only money--and Bob McGraw had no money. He 154 . A ll of his days Mr. as charged. as evidenced by T. "I heard he'd taken to road work. find the defendant guilty. Morgan Carey's all too apparent animosity." "Still the bet goes as she lays" repeated Mr. in the suspected quar rel between Bob McGraw and T. He nnage was silent. I'll see to it that McGraw doesn't rob another stage for some time to come. in the flat tone of finality which the foreman of a jury might have employed when repeating the verbal formula: "We. Hennage had a haunting suspicion that C arey's animus did not arise from the fact that McGraw had robbed him of fifteen hundred dollars." "I recognized his voice. Mr. he was a shrewd jud ge of human impulses and it had been his experience that men quarrel over two th ings--women and money. Hennage now purposed discovering. the jury. and in the final analysis. and this much he gathered: There was some mysterious business afoot wherein Carey and Bob McGraw were joint ly interested. "Yes" he replie d calmly. more vital reason than that." Mr. Hennage.The fact that Carey had been a victim of Bob McGraw's felonious activities was n ews to Mr. "The moment I saw him." Still Mr." "Then you recognized McGraw" ventured the gambler. Whether his spiteful attitud e toward the unfortunate Bob arose from this. Hennage had lived close to the primitive. Morgan Carey. He felt that there was a deeper. or the loss of the fifteen hundred dollars. Re mained then. Mr. His finances were at so lo w an ebb as to be beneath the notice of such a palpable commercial wolf as T. an' they tell me that durin' the hold-up McG raw was behind a wall an' wearin' a mask. "I gathered from what you told me in San P asqual that you two'd never met up. and they had met and quarreled over it. You're sure some recognizer." "We had met prior to the hold-up and subsequent to my conversation with you i n San Pasqual. Hennage concluded that Bob McGraw possessed something which Carey coveted. consequently." "He held up the stage" Carey repeat ed. "If the sheriff gets him. Henna ge was silent for a minute. Mr. Mo rgan Carey. dismissed as untenable. "For a ne arsighted gent you're sure some recognizer. Harley P. Carey continued. Hennage. He was digesting the conversation. but he would not permit Carey to suspect it.

I wonder what that kid-glove crook has against the boy!" he mused. Morgan Carey's attitude of civic righteousness. while this Carey is a solid citizen. "Well. an' I'm sorry for that. He's president o' the Inyo Land & Irrigat ion Company. an' this sweet-scen ted burglar would like to see Bob tucked away in the calaboose while he goes hun tin' for the ace. This is his first serious job. Hennage appeared chopfallen. "Say. Bob ain't got no water--Carey's in the irrigation business. tangle the woof o' memory an' refuse to swe ar that you recognize the said defendant as the hereinbefore mentioned stage-rob ber. If the boy's nabbed. "I tho ught you might be willin' to go easy on the young feller. Carey" he said regretfully. Hennage had met men to whom vengeance woul d have been cheap at fifty thousand. according to his card. looky-here. In realit y he was amused. It's too durned bad. an' you'll agree to sorter. a-dreamin' an' aromancin' over the country . Carey. He ain't really bad. but I can fix you up all right. Mr. "Not for fifty thousand dol lars" he said." T. Carey resumed the perusal of his newspaper. The man is a menace to society a nd it is my duty to testify against him if he is apprehended. as the feller says. Carey. "The suggestion is preposterous. just a plain young desert rat. and he believed he had Mr.leaned toward Carey confidentially and lowered his voice. or captured alive--but it's ten to one they get him. Bob ain't got no real 155 . now. if he ain't beefed by the sheriff fi rst. Mr. but principle--the gambler shook his head. and for reasons of his own he was desirous of pe rmitting the gambler to think matters over. it's too bad you won't listen to reason. Mr. He had lived long enough to learn that principle is a marketable commodity." "Then it ain't a question with you o' money back an' no questions asked?" Carey shook his head em phatically. I'm goin' to get into commu nication with our young friend before long. and he was not deceived in T. Hennage met a man to whom the abandonment of such "principle" would have been impossible under the terms suggested. What in Sam Hill can them two fellers have between them? Here' s Bob. He was not anxious to continue the conversation. Hennage intimidated. Morgan Carey pounded the back of the seat in front of him. I'll see that you get your fifteen hundred back. Bob ain't got no money--Carey has a carload of it. here's what I'm drivin' at. "It's principle" he said. A little wild? Yes. But what young feller now-a-days ain't? I know he's robbed you o' fifteen hundred dollars. Well. Never before had Mr. Hennage proceeded at once to thi nk matters over. Mr." and he rose abruptly and returned to his own seat. This boy. an' he'll be brought t o trial. Mr. Mr. McGraw. "I can see right off that Bob has an ace coppered. an' I wish you'd go easy on him. Clearl y there was something wrong here. "Now. is a friend o' mine.

but in the light of recent events the meager information glea ned from the contract form had now a deeper. the ga mbler had merely looked upon it as evidence of another of Bob McGraw's harebrain ed schemes for acquiring a quick fortune--a scheme founded on optimism and prede stined to failure. unless it's me. Bob ain't the man to put up a fight for worthless land. unless--unless--_he's got water of his own!_" Mr. but he ain't fool enough to face a lawsuit. Land! And government land at that! Mr. Land! That was it. unless he has the water. of what use was the water to Carey? and without th e water. concluded Mr. and carefully perused onc e more this typewritten contract form. A very queer proceeding. To him it conveyed little information. Hennage had marveled at the time that Bob should have made no reference to it in his le tter. an' besi des. Hennage had read this contract at the time of its receipt. The boy ain't plumb crazy by no means. Mr. Hennage smiled. while B ob McGraw (according to this contract form) was endeavoring to acquire the land. a more significant meaning. an' Carey bein' a human hog. wasn't Donnie askin' me a lot o' questions about water an' 156 . and enclosing. He might be fool enough to hold up a stage. requesting a loan of fifty dollars. Hennage. 'ceptin' what he accumulates on his person wanderin' around. Carey (according to his card. Hennage emitted a low soft whistle through the slit between two of his gold teeth. and if Carey can put him across for that hold-up job. in vi ew of the fact that Bob apprehended litigation in order to establish the rights of his clients.estate. sa ve that Bob had been endeavoring to induce Tom. "he's got the water! He must have it. and without the disagreeable neces sity putting up any money. a ty pewritten contract form for the acquisition of state lieu lands. Dick and Harry to acquire state lieu lands by engaging him as their attorney. of what value could the land be to Bob McGraw? "I wouldn't give a white chip for a hull county o' such land" mused the gambler. at any rate) had the water. _That's the ace he's got copp ered!_ He's got the water. Mr. for without the land. Here wa s a conundrum. He nnage suddenly recollected the letter which Bob McGraw had written him from Sacr amento. Both were operating in Owens valley. Hennage slapped his fat thigh. without comment. Mr. who's to protect the boy's bet? Not a soul. and Carey's got land--" Mr. He took Bob's letter from his breast pocket now. without a dollar in the world. At the first reading of this document two weeks previous. it stand s to reason Bob's a chump to tie up with Him. "By Jupiter. No wonder they had qua rreled. "unless I could set in the game with the chap that had the water. an' I'm only shooti n' at the moon. little thinking that Bob was who lly unconscious of the fact that he had enclosed it with his letter. tryin' to make people take up land so he can sell 'em water for irrigation." he murmured.

" And having thus." "Yo u win" the operator replied. Hennage had not as yet asked her to violate a confidence. "that the name McGraw occurs in that telegram. Morgan Carey and Bob McGraw . I'm an Injun. and t hen walked over to the telegraph desk. an' I'm just a-tryin' it out. and M r. the gambler suddenly decided that he. Hennage. bag in hand. "I'm goin' to open a book. He'd sooner see you ng Bob in the penitentiary because it'd mean more money to him. Fair?" The young lady operator dimpled and admi tted that it was eminently fair. when he had regis tered and T. Hennage dismissed the matter from his mind. but even if he is a crook I'll string a bet with hi m. All right. hastily quitted his innocen t game of whist. "I'm a-bettin' ten bucks" repeated Mr. noticed that Carey had filed a telegram. He wants Bob out o' the way. an' showin' a whole lot of interest. Mo rgan Carey! Bob's out of it. T. for Donnie's sake. If she don't 'tack up that-a-way. also. but when the train reached Bakersfield and he observed T. so he won't be on hand to draw cards. now that I come to think on't ? By the Nine Gods o' War! I smell a rat as big as a kangaroo. Bob's been buttin ' in on Carey's game. young lady" he annou nced. to his entire satisfaction. so he won't sell an' he won't consolidate. Hennage. fol lowing up a strong winning "hunch. seized his suit-case and rode up town in the same hotel bus wit h Carey. Hennage had purchased a ticket for San Franci sco. consequently. would hono r Bakersfield with his presence. Mr. He excused himself. Morgan Carey leav ing the car.water rights. If I don't gue ss right. The ten is yours for a copy o' that telegram. She had no illusions (although her position req uired her to have them) regarding the sacredness of privacy in a telegram. sent his bag and overcoat up to his room. Harley P. but Bob has Carey on t he floor with his shoulders touchin'. Morgan Carey had disappeared into the barber shop." 157 . lit a fresh cigar and permitte d the peanut butcher to inveigle him into a friendly little game of whist with t hree traveling salesmen." walked over to the telegraph desk and laid a tendollar piece on the railing. Carey's been tryin' to buy him out. Mr. Carey wouldn't compromise with me an' take back his fifteen hundred. "I'm willin' to bet ten dollars that the respectable old party that just g ive you a telegram signed Carey is wirin' about a friend o' mine. solved the mystery of the hitherto unaccountable actions of T. Carey registered first. Hennage. Harley P. "How did you guess it?" "I was born with a veil" he replied. "I got the gift o' second sight. an' I'll deal you a brace game an' you'll never know that the deck's been sanded. an' then this Carey person 'l l just reach out his soft little mitt and rake in the jack-pot. Why! There's a reason. you get the ten bucks. standing in line to re gister.

He ascertained that R. when he hung up. Mills Building. Sacra mento. "I want you to call up Sacramento on the long distance an' ask the central th ere to find out who Mr. "I got ta get some news" he bellowed into the receiver. Five minutes later." So Mr. Hennage waited. McKeon." "We have copies of the telephone directories of the principal cities in the state" came the quick reply. P. The gambler smiled his thanks and walked across the hotel lobby to t he public-telephone operator. planted his feet on the window sill and gave himsel f up to reflection. Hold the line a minute and I'll g o call him. he had secured the information and made careful note of it." "Five buc ks for a look in the book" announced Mr. He was informed that there was no news. I believe I see the light" murmured the gambler. CAREY. How about the passengers? Got their names an' addresses an' the amounts they lost?" "No. He was occupied thus when T. with the info rmation that he might have his look for nothing. He got the book. Hennage. "It makes it easier if we ask for the number direct." When the operator informed him th at San Pasqual was on the line. P. He informed the agent at San Pasqual that he was the Bakersfield repre sentative of the Associated Press. On this young lady's desk he laid a fivedollar bil l. "What's the exact loss o' your company?" "Twenty-one hundred eighty-three forty. He was re warded for his prodigality by the following: R. Calif. Letter foll ows.The operator seized a scratch-pad. P. after which he sought an ar m-chair in the hotel window. but being a generous soul he de clined. McKeon was an attorney-at-law. and seeing Mr. Mr. came 158 ." "Serves you right. who as cautiously "slipped" her the tendollar bill. "As the feller says. copied the telegram and cautiously "slipped" it to Mr. b ut the express messenger has and he's in town. Advise our friend approve McGraw applications at once. R. Hennage. "Now please get me the ag ent for Wells Fargo & Company at San Pasqual. Hennage. Morgan Carey came out of the ba rber shop. Hennage went into a sound-proof booth and to ld a lie. and demanded the latest information regarding the hunt for the Garlock bandit. McKeon is an' what he does for a livin'.

The n what?" "In that event. I wi ll have this state combed by Pinkertons. Hennage" said Carey unctuously. I have the power and the money necessary to get him--and I know how. Bob McGraw can't prove that he didn't rob that stage. say. should he be captured. His money will be delivered to you. Hennage. and when I land Mr. an' I'll match you an' your gang for your shoe-strings. Hennage" replied Carey coldly." He tapped Carey on the knee with his fat forefinger. Mr. my dear Mr. what a long tail our cat's developing!" drawled Mr. and if you still feel inclined to act as intermediary i n this unfortunate affair. Yo u don't get that water right an' you won't get the land." "We ll. looky here. an' you ain't got money enough--there ain't mone y enough in the world--to make me double-cross Bob McGraw just because he's a ou tlaw from justice. that you didn't recogn ize the stage robber _until after the messenger returned to the stage with his h at an' showed you his name on the sweat-band. indeed. Rats! I happen to know. Carey. Carey. you just sit still whi le I submit _you_ a little proposition. you know what I'll do to you. by the Nine Gods o' War. because the wish was father to the thought. You can't make a bet. But you ain't got nothin' on me. Hennage decided that the financier must have s omething on his mind. McGraw may retain th e fifteen hundred dollars which he stole from me. I'll sue for him. an' I'll put up the money. for delivery to him. five thousand more._ Then you remembered. eh? Well. In return.over and sat down beside him. through you. an' it's hands off for you. Now. eh? Pooh! Met him once an' recognized him masked. "you may tel l him from me that I will spend a hundred thousand dollars to run him down. Mr. Now. I will ag ree to be absent when his case comes to trial." "But suppose he refuses this programme. An' remember I ain't pleadin' with you t o accept it. Talked to him once an' recognized his voice. "I have been thinking over the proposition which you made me coming up from San Pasqual this afternoon. but a child could make a monkey out o' you on the wit ness stand. There is also another matter of which McGraw has cognizance. for a relinquishment to me of a water righ t which he has filed upon in the Sierra overlooking Owens valley. you just cut it out. an' you wanted the boy in jail. "Carey. "Mr. "I'm pl ayin' lookout on this game. I happen to be mighty heavily interested in this here water right you're planni n' to blackmail McGraw out of. Mr. Robert McGraw I'll land him high and dry and it will be too late for him to make _me_ a proposition then. if Bob McGraw ain't on hand to sue for his rights. I'll cut your heart out. and I will agree to give him. and yo u're whipped to a frazzle. I'm just a-orderin' you to. Carey. If them applications are approved before I'm ready to have 'em approved. I will agr ee not to recognize him. an' you can't bu y me out for a million dollars. you giv e me a pain where I never knew it to ache me before. and he was not wrong. Don't you 159 . I will submit a proposition. and he must agree to drop that to o. an' get that into your head--understand? You're figur in' now on gettin' them applications approved. No.

and by the cut of Mr. in order that we may both understand each other. "Kinder game little pup. Hennage" said Carey quie tly. after a ll" thought Mr. You sca tter his chips an' see what happens to you. It's war. but I'll enter a contest. can't we. begging for a compromise." 160 . a s he realized on what a slender foundation his gigantic bluff was resting. See that you understand me. He's no s louch at whatever he tackles. Look out for snags." In turn. Mr. "I'll keep my hands off your business in the state land office. Morgan Carey stared hard at Harley P. for all I care. Very well. You'll come to me and compromise. on behalf of your felon of a p artner. alleging fraud. le t's be friends. you can go to it with your private detectives. We _can_ be friends out o' business hours. but he's goin' to bluff it out to the finish. you and McGraw have brains. You've declared war. if you insist. Hennage's jaw Ca rey knew that here was a man who would "stay put. Carey? Come an' have a drink. Hennage while t he worst man in San Pasqual was delivering his ultimatum. and I tell you before you're half through with this fight. The motto o' the Hennage family has allers been 'Hands Off Or Take The Consequences. an' there'll be a rush order for a ne w tombstone. you'll c ome to the conclusion that half a loaf is better than none at all-particularly i n the matter of extra large loaves. Hennage had finished. Hennage laughed boldly. they were the eyes of an honest man. If I'm not in on this melon-cutting. but you can't play my game an d beat me at it. but you won't get far. smiling. "He thinks he's licked. The day will come when you 'll come scraping your feet at my office door. Carey knew too well the kind of eyes that were gazing into his. I' m dry with argument" taunted Mr. Hennage. T. Care y. Morgan Carey tapped Mr." T. for to Carey that golden smile was more deadly than a scowl. and I'll hold you up for ten years in a mass of red tape . "I think I understand you. The latter pulled himself toget her and favored the gambler with a wintry grin. Understand? You try upsettin' the He nnage apple-cart one o' these bright days. "Now that we understand each other. Let me tell _you_ something." "Very well. I'm a b usiness man. You're up against a double-jointed play. I'll admit. you bet. I accept. Henn age on the knee with _his_ forefinger. I'll spend a million dolla rs to delay the banquet." Mr." "Gosh. I believe if this feller was on the level I'd like him. and w hat an impression his words had made upon Carey. Hennage.' Of course. against you in the General Lan d Office at Washington. He continued to stare when Mr.figure for a minute that there ain't somebody protectin' that boy's bet. Your applications can pass through for approval. Hennage.

" "The sentiment. Mr. is entirely reciprocal" Carey flashed back at him. "Hennage" he said. Despite the knock-out which Harley P. I fe el assured. Here Mr. tore the card into little bits and dropped them to the floor. "But I shall not despair. and there was no d oubt that he meant it. T. as he took T. Some day. D an Pennycook would have expressed it. I think I should. "friendly like. as he set down his glass. "I must confess to a liking for you. Hennage was a new note in life. Mr. Morgan Care y was enjoying the gambler's society. "if your liquor could only be metamorphosed into prussic acid. "do you know I th ink I should grow to like you? By George. Hennage. "Here's damnation to you. I could kill you and then weep at your funeral. A momentary frown crossed Carey's face. for upon my word you are the most amusing and philosophical opponent I have ever me t. too. gazing at each other over the rims of th eir glasses." The b arkeeper set out a pint of champagne and filled both glasses. The gambler raised his to the light. Hennage" he said. Mr. You're a thorn in my side. "I think you're a dead-game sport."With all my heart" Carey retorted. "Wine" he sa id. They drank." "There is no hope" said Mr. Mr. " Do I look like a tin-horn?" he queried. If you should ever c ome to Los Angeles." and he presented the gambler with his card. look me up. Morgan Carey by the arm--almost. we shall sit down together like sensible men and 161 . Carey had never met his kind before. He was finding it hard to take offense at the gambler's bl untness. Hennage" he said. "May you live unha ppily and die in jail. with genuine pleasure." "We understand each other. "Upon my word. You have brains. when doing the handsome thing. Hennage. Carey" he said. I'd gladly shoulder your funeral expenses. then he. Hennage's order. Mr. as Mrs. eyed it critically and then flashed his three gold teeth at T . my dear Hennage. smiled. Ca rey. Morgan Carey. Hennage smiled. was always "wine. I really have hopes that ultimately you will listen to reason." Carey laughed long and loud. had given him. Any time you're meditatin' suicide drop around to San Pasqual an' I'll buy you a pistol. and he was irresistibly attracted toward the man from San Pasqual." and escorted him to the h otel bar. Hennage produced a thousand-dollar bill from his vest pocket (he had carried that bill for ten years and always used it as a flash during his peregrinations outside San Pasqual) and calmly laid it on the bar.

"Sassy as a badger" he murmured.do business. took it to his room in t he Goldfield hotel and battled manfully with it for several hours. He went down to the station and purchased a tic ket for Goldfield. He felt certain th at a battle between Bob McGraw and T. planned to play havoc with his bankroll. Hennage was the most powerful link. Morgan Carey was inevitable." Mr. Goldfield was in the zenith of her glory about that t ime and Harley P. Hennage. Hennage stared after him. Hennage's business in Bakersfield was now completed. and that was all Mr. either its commencement had been delay ed or its duration prolonged by the little bluff which he had just worked on T. Nevada. "I'll just step between it. Mr. I'll bet six-bits he sells that water right to me." The gambler's line of reasonin g was a wise one. "our motto is 'Keep off the grass. should Bob de cide to remain in the background and send an ally out to fight for him. my boy." They shook hands in fri endly fashion. and Carey hurried away. A week after his arrival in Goldfield he rented a typewriter for a day. despite his horror of Bob's crime. and if there was to be a battle. In the chain of powerful circumstantial evidence that linked D onna Corblay to Bob McGraw. Indeed. After much to il he evolved the following form letter: 162 . the gambler unconsciously extended him his s ympathy. then I'll sell it to my friend Ca rey an' the proceeds o' that sale 'll go to Donnie. it behooved him to seek pastures where the grass was long and gre en. Mr." Har ley P. and if he wa s to remove himself beyond the jurisdiction of a subpoena from the Superior Cour t of Kern county. An' when I find that young man.'" "Oh. Morgan Carey. and thus evade answering embarrassing questions when Bob shoul d be brought to trial (as the gambler felt certain he would be). raising an admonitory f orefinger." "And in the meantime" replied Mr. felt certain of a plethora of easy money in any booming mining camp. for in the removal from Donna's heart of what he termed "the big sting. Hennage to travel far and fast. Bob. Hennage was striving for. A woman can get along withou t a man. "an' I must have time to find him before these people euchre h im out o' that valuable water right o' his. "I can't bluff that _hombre. He proceeded about this delicate task as befits one who has a horror of appearing presumptuous. However. you're up against it. a n' be ready to jump in the first chance he sees. I won't walk on your darned old grass" Carey retorted._ He'll go as far as he can. "I must find Bob" m used the gambler. if she's got the price to get along on. it behooved Mr.

with many thanks. becau se he made restitution an' showed sorrer for what he went an' done. for the reason that I don't need it no more and am sorry I took it. Next he inserted the exact amount in paper money. When his task was comp leted he stood outside the door of the post-office whimsically surveying the rui n of his fortune. and hereafter he would have to carry it where i t could not readily be reached when under the spell of sudden temptation. that fixes everything up lovely" he soliloquized. in envelopes which he also addressed on the typewriter. I too k -----. Hennage's pocket-piece. 163 . 'ceptin' Doc Taylor--an' what's in a name? Nothin'." Thus reasoned the artful Harley P.dollars of your money. every passenger gets his back. She'll figure that they can go somewh ere else an' live it down an' that'll ease the ache a heap. an' if he's called to testify it's a cinch he'll ask the judge to be merciful on the defendant. He must never change that bill. When that poor broken-hearted little wife o' his hears about it she'll think it ain't so bad after all. Suppose she does mee t some o' them San Pasqual cattle in the years to come? What's the odds? Nobody in San Pasqual knows him or ever seen him. I am going to start fresh again and hope you won't bear me no gr udge for what I done. and with best wishes I am Respectfully. Hennage inserted in lead-pencil the figures representing t he exact amount of coin which he had been informed by the express agent had been taken from each passenger. It was my first and it w ill be my last. get theirs back. It was his litt le nest-egg against a rainy day._Dear Friend:_ A short time ago I robbed the San Pasqual stage at Garlock. Trusting that the same has not caused you any inconvenienc e. an' I work too dog-gone hard for my money to throw it away on _him. "Wells Fargo & Co. an' more arr ivin' on every train. to gether with his letters. ROBERT MCGRAW. Everybody ge ts fixed up except T. "Now. as he watched the envelopes disappear down the main ch ute. There's hundreds o' McGraws in California right now. In the blank space lef t for the purpose Mr. stamped them and walked down to the post-office._ When folks find Bob has sent back the money he stole he won't be anything like the evil cuss he is now an' the whole thing 'll simmer d own to a big joke. which serves me right. Less than two thousand dollars was all he had to show for a li fe-time of endeavor. and one thousand of that was contained in a single bill and was Mr. I notice by the papers that they found my hat with my name in it. I did not have no business doing that job in the first place. Morgan Carey. so they'll pull off their detective for ce an' withdraw the reward. which I return to you now.

but in the more appalling consciousness that he would n ot come back to her! Wild herald of woe and death.He returned to his room. after runnin' my own game for twenty y ears. th ereafter it occupies itself for a season in the gradual process of wearing itsel f out." And then the horrible tho ught that he was guilty. hatless. and the greater portion of two nights. wea ry and thirsty--a pariah with every honest man's hand raised against him--remind ed her that the limit of her wretchedness lay. It's some ter rible mistake. Bob! Bob! Come back and face them and tell them you didn't do it. Donna Corblay lay on her bed at the Hat Ranch. Bob was too shrewd a man not to realize that in abandoning his hat he had l eft behind him the evidence that must send him to the penitentiary should he eve r return to his old haunts in Inyo and Mono counties. and I'll believe you and stick by you through everything. The death of a loved one would not be endurable. For three days following her discovery of Bob McGraw's name written beneath the sweat-band of the outlaw 's hat. wrapped the bill into a compact little wad and tucked i t far into the toe of one of his congress gaiters. Yes. My Bob couldn't do such a thing. and he knew her code. Only tell me. impulsive husband! Oh. For three days. and she knew he would not come back. I got to go to work for somebody else. she had cried aloud to the four dumb walls of the Hat Ranch: "He didn't do it. and if in the darkness of despair one tiny ray of hope can filter through. not in the fact that her faith in him had been shattered. Time is the great healer of human woe. my husband! My dear. he had flitted into her life- -as carelessly as he came he had departed. Oh. hungry. "It's a blessin'" he muttered plaintively. I'm forty-fi ve an' here in the mere shank o' old age. were it not that Hope dares to reach beyond the grave. battling with herself in an effort to refrain from thinking the terrible thoughts that persisted in obtru ding themselves upon her tortured brain. It did not seem possible to Donna tha t he would have the 164 . He loved his liberty too w ell to sacrifice it. He couldn't do it. as he replaced his shoe. "that the lives us gamblers leads general ly tends to choke off our wind around the fifty-mark at the latest." CHAPTER XVII It is one of the compensating laws of existence that the crisis of human despair and grief is reached on the instant that the reason for it becomes apparent. thoughtless. an automatic rebound to the normal cond itions of life quickly follows. that even now he was being hunted.

it was not po ssible that he could be a hypocrite. The automatic gun. _Bob McGraw. T he man with courage enough to turn outlaw and rob a stage had courage enough to kill his man. the man who had robbed that stage had had no hobbles on his courage. They always search for the reason. the manhood that had won her to him when first they met. He co uld not have gotten it in the desert between San Pasqual and Garlock. news of his act would have drifted into San Pasqual next da y. and against all th is she remembered that she had presented him with the hat which the express mess enger had showed her--she had seen him write his name in indelible pencil under the leathern sweat-band! She knew he had ridden north from San Pasqual the night before the hold-up--and thirty-five miles was as much as one small tough horse could do in the desert between the hour at which Bob had left her and his presum able arrival at Garlock. for even if her head inclined her to weigh the evidence and render a verdict. would not have permitted him to run from the messenger. He would neve r have taken to the shelter of a sanddune and fired from ambush. man-like. a nd moreover-Donna thought of this on the third day--where had Bob gotten that ri fle with which he killed the express messenger's horse? He had no rifle when he entered San Pasqual that first night. and if Bob had taken the gun by force from s ome lone prospector. The hard ware store always closed at eight o'clock. leaning on Friar Tuck's neck a nd gazing at her in the dim ghostly light of a green switch-lantern--telling her with his eyes that he loved her. ha ving brains. She recalled his little mocking inscrutable sm ile. her heart was too loyal to accept it. so. he would not try. big gentleness. his almost bombastic belief in himself--no. where he lay in wait for the stage. The memory of Bob McGraw was always with her--his humorous brown eyes. The man whose de sperate courage had been equal to that robbery--who had accomplished his task wi th the calm ease and urbanity which proclaimed him a finished product of his pro fession. th eir conclusions are logical. and he had had none when he left. for in the desert men do not sell their guns. the swing to his big body as he walked beside her. they think quickly. And then she would t hink of him as she had seen him that first night. should have argued the question with the messenger at greater length! 165 . the blue bandanna handkerchief which the bandit had used for a mask. h is unfailing courtesy. if he--he must have had a reason for no t caring to recover that hat--When the desert-bred think. It was then that Donna ceased sobbing and commenced to think. the khaki clothing. But the description of the horse was at variance with the facts. Why. Still. and it had been ten o'clock when Bob left the Hat Ranch--so he could not have purchased a rifle in San Pasqual. the hat. the heritage o f his Irish forebears.audacity to face her again. would have killed the messenger and gone back for his hat!_ He was too cunning a frontiersman to leave a trail like that behind him and it was no p art of his nature to do a half-way job. That perverse streak in him. and Bob McGraw would have fought it out in the open. the fact that he was mounted--all had pointed to her husband a s the bandit.

had initials or names in full written in indelible pencil inside their sweat-bands. On the other hand. Pennycook. considered an authority on male headgea r. who dared not buy a hat from her) and he should hold up the stage a nd have the hat shot off his head. Donna. eve n at the price of the express messenger's life. She pondered._ for in the desert a ha t is more than a hat. while others had the initials neatly punched in the sweat-band by a perforating machine. Outwardly the hats of all mankind resemble each other._He should have disputed with him possession of the hat. and somebody had picked it up . that the man who had found that hat the night Bob lost it had held up the stage at Garlock. It is a matter of life and death. Had Bob been the r obber he would have remembered that his name was in the hat. because it was new and had cost him twenty dollars! Some one in San Pasqual had found it. was for the first time learning something of the habits of men--the too frequ ent necessity for quickly identifying one's hat from a row of similar hats from the hat-hooks in crowded restaurants. for self-preservation is ever th e first law of nature. Derby hats invariably carried the owne r's initials in fancy gilt letters pasted inside the crown. She remembered Bob's complaint at the loss of his hat. Perhaps--" Donna sat down and commenced to laugh hysterically. She went into the room where she kept her stock of hats and began a careful examination of each hat. and for the first time Donna realized that it was the habit of men to mark them. if the bandit had known that the name was in the hat-The mistress of the Hat Ranch rose from her bed. and rescued it. Suppose I should sell this hat to Dan Pennycook (unconsciously she mentioned Mr . She had just remembered that Bob McGraw had lost a hat th e night he came to San Pasqual! Donna ceased laughing presently and commenced to cry again--with bitterness and shame at the thought of her disloyalty to her hu sband. Why. It followed. The express messenger who picked it up would go looking for a man named James Purdy. realized its value and decided to keep it. Half a doze n hats. Ne arly all bore some insignia of ownership. here is a hat bearing the name of James Purdy. apparently unbranded. He had lost his hat the night he saved her from the attack of the hoboes. and when the outlaw had abandoned his hat it must have been because he knew where he could secure anothe r before day should dawn and find him bareheaded in the open. while a wild hop e beat in her breast and beamed in her tear-dimmed eyes. the entire situation was now as clear as mud! 166 . "Now. Hennage wou ld have put it. then. she hadn't sold a hat like Bob's for a year. the outlaw had abandoned the hat without a fight! As Harley P. And knowing of the name under the sweat-band (for evidently it was Bob's habit to brand all of his hats thus) and realizing that the finding of the hat would divert suspicion from him.

why should 167 . But sorrow and shame under such circumstance s may exist.! She read the dist ress between the lines of that kindly lie that he was in trouble and had to get out of San Pasqual-and as she fingered the little roll of bills she discovered n o paradox in Harley P. at the outset. "Oh. In her distress she had forgotten ab out it until now. I'm so s orry and ashamed!" She was. he had refrained from askin g questions. so. when Bob returned. was to wreak summary vengeance on the man who had asserted that her husband had robbed the stage! The idea! She would asce rtain the name of this passenger who declared that he had recognized the bandit as Bob McGraw. Hennage. she would not do that. like him." No. she opened the envelope and acquai nted herself with its remarkable contents. Thinking of Mr. while Bob. To do so would be to presume that her Bob was not. The resurgent wave of joy whi ch her discovery induced quickly routed the last vestige of her distress. above su spicion. and in his unassuming way had departed without waiting for her thanks or leaving an address--infallible evidence that he desired neither her gratitude nor the return of the money.'s little joke on San Pasqual. as a wife. after bathing her eyes. Oh. miles to the north. would have to leave San Pasqual to avoid answering questions. much to the chagrin of his accusers a nd the consequent delight of Harley P. Still. Bob. for about ten minutes. he would d efend himself in his own vigorous fashion. Instead he had equipped her. she did not wish to answer "Because he is my husband. "Poor fellow!" she murmured. headed east from Coso Springs with his two burros. Bob. then. and wo manlike her first impulse. "How terrible he'll feel when he discovers it's all a mistake. disloyal wife. The sheriff's posse was trailing th e other man out across the San Bernardino desert. indeed. And there was really no danger of Bob's arrest. was trudging through the range.'s hard face and still harder reputation and the oftrepeat ed biblical quotation that God makes man to His own image and likeness. it would spoil Harley P. ci rcling across country to the Colorado desert and prospecting as he went. and force him to make a public apology-No. it would be far better to sit calmly b y and enjoy the industry of the man-hunters. Hennage reminded her that he had sent a note by Sam Singer. and fearing that s he was but indifferently equipped to face the world. serenely unconsciou s of the furor created by the finding of his lost hat. He'll be ashamed to speak to me. worthless. like Caesar's wife. and besides. A thousa nd dollars! How well she knew why he had sent it! He feared that she. w hat will you think of me! I'm a bad. Poor old Harley P. Her def ense of him when he needed none would merely serve to invite the query: "Why are you so interested in him!" and until the day of Bob's return."And to think that I even suspected him for a moment!" Donna wailed.

why do you keep it to your self?" "Is that any of your business.'s thousand dollars were very eloquent. Donna's question convinced her that she was not mistaken. Miss Pickett?" 168 . In desperation the post-mistress demanded: "Well. that the man who was shot saving you from those tr amps and was nursed at the Hat Ranch is the same man that held up the stage." "I ndeed! Miss Pickett. and taking into consideration this fact and the further f act that birds of a feather always flock together. and in a last desperate eff ort to satiate her curiosity she cast aside all pretense and came boldly into th e open. Incidentally she mentioned the fact that Mr. but Donna.'s thousand dollars in her private compartment in the eating-house safe when the irrepressible Miss Molly P ickett dropped in to express her sympathy at Donna's three-day illness. Hennage. But there was a hang-dog look in the doctor's eyes which had not escaped Miss Pickett. A hearty dinner the even ing before. Miss Pickett opined that the holdup man was doubtless a bosom friend of Mr. had driven from Donna's f ace every trace of her three days of purgatory. Hennage! It was quite true. "Why. smiling and happy . no. As a matter of fact she _had_ asked Doc Taylor. volunteered no further information. She was alert. Harley P ." Foxy Mr. "Folks do say. She had scarcely cached Harley P. Donna . and intuitively she knew that the worthy _medico_ had lied. and twelve hours of uninterrupted slumber. Hennag e had once presented her with an order for a registered letter for a man by the name of Robert McGraw. we never did learn who it was that saved you. He hadn't said a word! Ah. casually mentioned the stage robbery. money talks. having replied fully to her query. Hennage. folks don't know what they are talking about. despite his precautions. Her bright littl e eyes gleamed archly. Donna. and able to cross swords with Miss Pickett with something more than a gossamer hope of foiling her.he feel chagrined at all? He hasn't said a word. then. Is it a secret?" "Why." Miss Pickett waited in agony for ten seconds. and been informed that his late patient responded to the name of Roland McGuire. Have you aske d Doctor Taylor?" Miss Pickett commenced to spar. the name in the hat and the sudden exit from San P asqual of Harley P. She discussed the affair so calmly and with such apparent interest that Miss Pickett was completely mystified. The next day Donna took up her life whe re it had left off.

so. I assure you. folks _will_ talk--you know that. her instinctive knowledge of it placed her at a disadvanta ge and forced her to listen to a few elegantly worded remarks on charity. on a sister's virtue is ever the first weapon of a mean and disappointed woman. She had the postmistr ess on the defensive now. That's their privilege. But then--" "Well?" Miss Pickett was non-plussed. placed all of her eggs in one bucket and scrambled them. physically and socially. she sunk her poison home. more attractive and known to be popular with the mal es of their acquaintance. might. Miss Pickett. figuratively speaking. younger. Miss Pickett cho se to assume that of superior virtue. although n ot for worlds would she permit Miss Pickett to realize it. Miss Pickett?" "Well. morally." She smiled patronizingly at the postmistress. Miss Pickett was quick to take the high ground of a ta ctful consideration of circumstances which Donna apparently had overlooked. but only f or an instant." "Well." "O f course I know they will. Me ntally. with the subtle sting of her species. when people kn ow you've kept a desperate character--" "Who knows it. she was Miss Pickett's superior and Mi ss Pickett knew this. of course not. An attack. if you won't protect your own good name. and having no other charms to speak of. the fo lly of playing the part of guardian of a sister's morals and the innate nastines s of throwing mud. Everybody in town knows you kept that man at your home for a month--" "I ha ven't denied it. It was a rare grueling that Donna 169 . "Wh en I want somebody to protect my good name."No. and I'm not at all interested. so. Donna realized it too. I'm sure you shouldn't be surprised if your friends endeavor to protect it for you. I'll send for a man. U ntil then you may consider yourself relieved of the task. in calm gentle commiserating tones Donna read the riot act to the embarrassed gossip. whether by innuen do or direct assertion. Too late the spinster realized that she had. or attempted to conceal the fact. while savoring slightly of girlish indiscretion. Miss Pickett? Do you?" Mi ss Pickett was forced to acknowledge that she did not. Donna. Miss Pickett. and under a hot volley of questions from Donna admitted further that not a soul in San Pasqual had even h inted to her of such a contingency. For the first time in her life she was angry. circ umstances which. be construed as a distinct slip from virtue. and she was determined to keep her there. Like all old maids when bested in a battle of wits by an opponent of their own sex. "Well. neverth eless. In what manner does that refl ect on my good name.

" and swept out of the eating-house. murmured something about the ing ratitude of some people--"not mentionin' any names. "Have you any objection to telling me all you know about him?" "Not the slightest. If I have your wor d of honor that what I tell you is for the company you represent and not for the gossips of San Pasqual." the latter knew that in reality they were directed at her. I assure you. It is your business to investigate this matter. The postmistress was confounded. the pity of it was that Mr. Miss Corblay. In the afternoon Donna had a visit from a Wells Fargo & Company detective. I can save you time and trouble and expense. but not exceptin' present co mpany. all the more pitiful because it was impotent. "From various sources around town. in a rage. for a man in my line of wo rk to receive such a prompt." "Did Miss Pickett sen d you here?" "Indirectly.gave Miss Pickett. however." Donna admitted. It is a rare pleasure. In five minutes she had tightened the web of 170 . for while Don na's remarks had seemed designed for the "folks" whom Miss Pickett seemed to fea r might "talk. that it was quite possible. who might have had girls o f his own as old as Donna. To be forced to listen to an almost motherly castigation from Donna Corblay was too g reat a tax upon Miss Pickett's limited powers of endurance. and I have refrained from telling others whose business it is not. She gave some information to our express messenger who in turn gave it to me. smiling. and proceeded to tell him wi th infinite detail. Hennage could not have been there to listen to it. until she had commenced to cry. weeping until her eyes and nose are red. In the end she lost her composure entirely." "Thank yo u. She could think of nothing to say in reply until the right moment for saying it had fled. courteous and businesslike answer from a woman. I might add that the interest of our messenger ceased wh en I took up this case. thus acknowledging her defeat and humiliation and presenting to San Pas qual that meanest of all mean sights. You have my word that anything you tell me is in confidence. everything she knew concerning Bob McGraw. Miss Corblay. excepting the fac t that he was her husband. and her pride forba de her acknowledging defeat by tossing her head and walking out with a grand air of injured innocence. He was a large fatherly person." "Very well" replied Donna. and he stated his mission without embarrassment of pr eliminary verbal skirmishing. a mean old maid. She flew into a rage . I gather that it is quite possible you are acquainted with the man McGraw who is suspected of the recent stage robbery at Garlock. not.

I happen to know that Mr. 171 . "Whatever I discover will not be made public. selecting one of the late maga zines from the news-stand. If the latter. However . "I think you have solved this case for me. Miss Corblay. Carey is a business rival of Mr. of Los Angeles. and at the finish of her recital the detective had no questions to ask." He passed a type-written sheet across the counter to her." He lifted his hat and walked out. Here's a note the agent here received a little while ago. Eigh t days passed before the detective appeared again at the counter. He held out his hand and sho ok hers warmly. He guessed something of Donna's mor e than friendly interest in the man he was after. your--Bob. McGraw didn't do the j ob--that is. But some other McGraw did. Donna read it carefully. sat down and read for the rest of the afternoon. and then unloosened it. Thank you . purchased two burros and outfitted in Keeler for a prospecting trip. Carey. "Miss Corblay. It would be to Carey's great financial advantage to see Bob (again the detective smiled) in jail. Robert McGraw and he didn't arrive bareheaded. while Donna." "Who?" "A passenger. His name is T. there is one matter that will be hard to overcome. mounted on a roan horse. careful man. The fact is.circumstantial evidence around him. McGraw (the detective smiled slightly) before the messenger gave chase to the hold-up man. a nd his sympathies wore with her. I can explode his testimony. She had been "open and above board with him" an d he appreciated the embarrassment that might attend should the matter be given publicity. I think you'll discover that you're following a false lead." The detective could guess a thing or two. o therwise he would not have been a detective. and his testimony would have considerable evidence with a jury . He is rather prominent in business circles--a pretty s ane." "Find out from the messenger if Carey identified Bob--I mean Mr. saddle and spur s. "you're a better detective than I. Then ask your agent at Keeler to make inquiry an d learn if a tall young man with auburn hair didn't ride into town the day follo wing the hold-up. At least. o r after he returned with the hat. Morg an Carey. Miss Corblay. McGraw's and very unfri endly to him. and that is the identificat ion of McGraw by the passenger. " he reported smiling. If he sold the horse. an interest which he felt to b e greater than a mere feeling of gratitude for what McGraw had saved her from. that man was Mr. a number of th em have reported the return of their cash. he's sent back t he money he lifted from the company and the passengers.

McGraw" replied Donna. and with. However." he replied jokingly. I'll not be curious about this chap. On the first of Februar y she gave notice of her intention to resign her position on the first of the fo llowing month. CHAPTER XVIII Thanksgiving came and went. "I can't imagine a friend going back on y ou. however. waiting for Bob to come back. But I think I could name the man who wrote that note. Donna would have been placed in a most embarrassing position. am ong your acquaintances. "He's a friend of mine" she said. with wavy auburn hair like Bob's.' clinches the testimony. There's a clew. uses double negatives?" "Every soul with t he exception of Mr." "Well. still puzzled."The plot thickens. this is one of the queerest cases I've had in all my experience. This line." "Who is he?" Donna favored the detective with a m ocking little smile. Yes. was still in the eating-house safe . that she might impart to him the secret." and he went out. Miss Corblay. indeed." "And he couldn't have arrived in Goldfield with a burro train in less than six weeks. You say this man uses double negatives. the approach of Christmas came the knowled ge to Donna that her tour of duty behind the cash-counter of the eating-house wa s rapidly drawing to a close--for the very sweetest reason in all this sad old w orld. a reason as yet apparent to no one in San Pasqual but Donna herself. The fact that her marriage to 172 . Donna hoped i t would be a man-baby. a ver y tiny reason against whose coming Donna had commenced to plan and sew in the lo nely hours of her vigil at the Hat Ranch. "and I never go back on a friend. and the i ncident is closed. 'I didn't have no business to do it in the first place. "Following a clew like that in San Pa squal would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The Robert McGraw of my acquaintance never uses double n egatives. However. Donna decided to remove he rself from the prying gaze of the San Pasqualians by resigning her position. a most valid reason. With the knowled ge that she had ample funds with which to maintain herself and her dependents at the Hat Ranch until the birth of her child. But all the same. He appears contrite. Who. and but for the fact that the thousand dollars so thoughtfully provided by Harley P. this is only added proof that my line of reasoning is correct. the balance of her little capital having been expended during their honeymoon trip and in outf itting Bob for his trip into the desert. Bob had left with her a hundred and fifty dollars.

Bob was not known in the little town was now an added embarrassment. She decided to go up to Bakersfield. All her life she had needed a protector. For two days she wrestled with th is problem. Her condition demanded the im mediate presence of her husband. visited the hotel manager and tried her persuasive personality to that end. After that visit. She was aware that Bob knew this clerk and for th at reason they had been enabled to keep the matter secret. must be acco rded the right which Society very justly demands--the right to know whether its members are conforming to all of the law. balanced her cash and walked out of the eatinghouse forever. and with a few perfunctory remarks touching on his regret at losing her servi ces. by refraining from sending Sa m Singer into the desert with a message to him. and in the miner's outfitting store there Sam would be d irected to the country where Bob's claims lay. indicated that she might forthwith retire to that seclusion which awaited h er at the Hat Ranch. the haughty stare of the women and the covert smiles of the men. Pennycook. Pennycook. deemed it beneath her dignity to reply. But the time had come when San Pasqual." furnished the explanation--and to a lady of Mrs. Of the whisperings. announced that he had alre ady been fortunate enough to secure her successor. scornful. Donna realized that h er silence in the matter of her marriage had placed her in an unenviable light. O n the fifteenth of the month the manager came to her. Donna was not long kept in ignorance. the interchange of gossip and eager speculation as to the identity of the man in the case. and while she was striving to formulate a plan to make the announcement graceful ly. notwithstanding the fact that to call him in fr om his wanderings now might mean the abandonment of his great dreams of Donnavil le. more than ever she needed one now. She knew she could send Sam over the Santa Fe to Danby. with horri fied mien and many repetitions of "But for heaven's sake don't mention my name. and she was torn between a desire for the comfort of his presence and an equal d esire to sacrifice that comfort to his great work. and the nec essity of conveying to the world the news that she had been married since Octobe r was imperative. representing Society. visit the city hall and r equest the clerk who had issued the license to Bob and herself to give the news of its issuance to the papers. deciding finally to prove herself worthy of him and face the issue a lone. 173 . Mrs. She removed her l ittle capital from the safe. paid her a full month's salar y. without assigning any reason for her extraordinary action--spread qui ckly. But the news that Don na Corblay had resigned the best position obtainable for a woman in San Pasqual- -and that. Pennycook. unafraid in the knowledge that she was an honorable wife. Pennycook's large experience i n matters of maternity. and Mrs. moral and legal. with envious eyes on the position for her eldest daugh ter. there was no heretic in San Pasqual who doubted the auth enticity of her verdict. there was no need for explanation. She had come to the parting of the ways. Mrs. Donna. proud.

embarrassment and curiosity. spread a tablecloth over it and crowned it with a layer cake. leaving them stunned with surprise and ashamed of their own suspicions. She guessed their mission instant ly. including Mrs. together with her total lack of embarrassment. seven plates. therefore." Graciously she herded them all into t he shady patio. the water fro m my artesian well is so remarkably cool. the matter would soon b e over now. and in order to nullify their fire as much as possible. Hennage. We scarcely require ice here. Pennycook's committee reflected in her face mingled sadness. if she required help. plac ed the ladies at a decided disadvantage. Donna knew for that detestable type of womankind best known and described as "catty.emboldened by the absence of Harley P. Th e delegation squirmed uneasily. however. When she had finished. he ad up and nose in the air. gathered about her a committee o f five other ladies and swooped down on the Hat Ranch. and welcomed it. but to sweep them off thei r feet by a wave of candor and frankness. I'l l have Soft Wind make some lemonade. Pennycook found it a tax on h er ingenuity to solve tactfully the problem of accepting Donna's layer cake and cool lemonade in one breath and questioning her morals in the other--if this phr aseology may be employed to designate the problem without casting opprobrium on Mrs. gazed calmly and a little ro guishly at each guest in turn. who swept into the Hat Ranch in dignified silence. Donna decided not to wait for that opening broadside. The other three. and stole their thunder with a single question: " How did you all discover that I am married?" 174 . Upon its arrival. brought out chairs and ordered Soft Wind to prepare a huge pitch er of lemonade. after the manner of one who scents a moral stench and is resolved to eradicate it at all hazard. she leaned her elbows on the little table. Donna was standing at her front gate when this purity squad approached. I've just finished baking a lovely layer cake and you're all just in time to sample my cooking. she realized that their visit was actuated by a desire to help her. Pennycook's table manners. Pennyco ok. "This _is_ an unexpected pleasure" D onna said hospitably. Each member of Mrs. Pennycook. and it pleased her a little to note that all six ladies were leading matrons of the little town. to lend her their moral support in the face of suspicion. There was a silence as Donna poured the lemonade and helped each visitor to a section of the layer cake. receiving an equally cordial return of the greeting from all except Mrs. Whether gracefully or ungracefully. and the accessories. Donna greeted the delegation cordially. while she herself carried out a small table. For three of them Don na felt a genuine regard. The cordiality of this reception and Donna's app arent pleasure at the visit. whether just or otherwise. "Do come in out of this dreadful heat." Some one of these three who knew would fire the first gun in this most embarrassing campaign. Even Mrs.

Mrs. Pennycook. where's your husband?" "That is a question which y ou are not privileged to ask. That is information which you. Pennycook. and in fact every person in San Pasqual. Pennycook. It was a q uestion none of them could answer. Mrs. having fixed bayonet s. My husb and is about his lawful business somewhere in the Colorado desert. we came here to- day to find out. Mrs. Miss Corblay. Everybody in town _knew. Pennycook choked on a cake crumb. and in a certain sense. we felt sort o' resp onsible-like. havin' known you from a baby._ And. "You were suspicious-like. "You hadn't heard!" "No" snapped Mrs. who had organized the expedition. not to beat about the bush. "but we were all hoping to hear--for your sake. or--" "Quite right. However." " But you guessed something when I resigned my position at the eatinghouse?" Donna could scarce restrain a smile as she saw the eagerness with which Mrs. then." Six separate and distinct gasps gre eted this announcement extraordinary. I am a n honorable married woman. Pennycook was now prepared to charge. is entitled to know. to tell the truth." "Ah. I will answer it. Pennyco ok." Tw o of the committee showed signs of inward disturbance." "Well. A tear trembled on the eyelid of one of th e ladies of 175 ." Donna's eyes w ere wide with simulated amazement. Pennycoo k showed in her true colors by walking blindly into this verbal trap. I was married in Bakersfield on the seventeenth day o f last October. A slight s ardonic smile flickered across her stern features. We're old enough to be your mother and we have daughters of our own. and this very fact made the silence more appa lling! Even Mrs." "Who is this man?" "My husband's name is Robert McGraw. blushed. but. until Mrs. quick to see her opening. Finally s he stammered: "We--we--well. I see" Donna almost breathed. we hadn't heard.The silence was painful. "We didn't suspect. "We came to find out if you're an honorable married woman.

" "I am not interested" retorted the gossip. "it's kind o' hardlike to tell whether. Pennycook made no reply. I think I might be pardoned for presumi ng that you were. or the wife of a man accused of holdin' up a stage at Garlock. "I am very glad you did me the honor to call" Donna told the c ommittee. an' not meanin' any offense. She drank her lemon ade hastily and explained that their visit had been for the purpose of setting a t rest certain unpleasant rumors in San Pasqual. _if_ you please" corrected his wife. for reason of my own. the rumor s were based on truth. I think. "Judging by this unexpected visit and yo ur pointed remarks. to relate them to you. she already stood in a most unenviable position in San Pasqual society. Mrs. Pennycook. the gossip amused her very much. as the leader of an unwarranted attack against a virtuous woman. I know." Mrs. and in the knowledge of the day of reckoning coming to Mrs. dearie" replied Mrs. Miss Corblay. "I'll admit that appearances are again st my husband. If. and her busy brain was already at work. in your present--er--delicate condition. then. and I am glad no w 176 . Pennycook. what do you think of it. wherein Donna's reputation had suffered. he will be charmed. "What does Dan think about it?" "Mr. you're better off unmarried-li ke. "I had kept my marriage secret. and she had an uncomfortable feeling that her fellow committeewomen we re already enraged at her and preparing to turn against her. that you drove your pigs to a mighty poor market. isn't it?" Donna laughed.whom Donna was really fond and whom she had reason to believe was fond of her." "It is embar rassing. In the interview with Donna she had ex pected tears and anguish. for obvious reasons. Pennycook. they had planned to give her a Christian helping hand tow ard regeneration." "Well. Instead she had been met with smiles and good-natured raillery. Pennycook she could afford to laugh. Pennycook unctuously. since I know that the charge is ridiculous. Penn ycook. However. The sortie for information had been too successful to please her. mending her fences. dear Mrs. He will be in San Pasq ual about the first of April. In fact. on the contrary. I shall not dishonor him by making a defense where none is necessary. If the rumors had proved to be without foundation they would have felt it their business to nip the scandal in the bud. " Well. Ind eed. "We will not mention his name in this matter. Mrs. and if at that time you desire to learn the circumstances. She was not in the least angry with Mrs." "It does look t hat way" Donna acquiesced good-naturedly. and in Donna's present m ood the elder woman knew that she would fare but poorly in a battle of wits. Pennycook?" "To be perfectly frank-like.

The clerk informed her gravely that. and a quorum being present Mrs. The following day Mrs.that my friends will brand these rumors as malicious and untrue. Donna knew they did. and the license clerk turned over to Mrs. She searched through the records fr om August up to that very day--searched painstakingly and thrice in succession. which constitu tes the record of the county clerk's office and from which the deputy clerk fill s in the marriage license when he issues it. Having examined the records personally. Pennycook's unaccountable and unnatural dislike for her. It is an old trick. and it was with secret relief that she watched the members of the committee on s ocial purity return to their respective homes. the county-seat. He might have informed Mrs. Pennycook called a meeting in her front parlor . Pennycook fe lt safe in assuming 177 . so he snickered to himself an d wondered if this acidulous lady could. The deputy county clerk was a friend of Bob McGraw's and as he had prom ised not to give him away. In the case of Mrs. he felt sorry for McGraw. The following morning Mrs. Pennyc ook returned to San Pasqual. where it would not be discovered by the newspaper reporters who came each day to make notations of the licenses issued. Mrs. Miss Molly Pickett volunteered to enlist for the cause. vindicated in the eyes of the committee on individu al morals. whispering hurried words of faith in her. Pennyco ok. He sniffed a quick divorce. Here she invaded the marriage license bureau and requested an inspection of the record of the marriag e license issued to Robert McGraw and Donna Corblay on October seventeenth. and to the credit of San Pasqual's womanhood be it said that two of the commit tee failed to respond. Pennycook the bound book of affidavit blanks. and at parting two of the women kissed her. Pennycook announced that Donna Corblay's statement that she was a wife had not been substantiated by the records of the county clerk's office. and from the bottom of their truly generous womanly souls they mea nt it. To M rs. Mrs. be McGraw's mother-in-la w. while the deputy looked on covertly from a nearby desk and smiled at her activit ies. aside from personal experience. If so. he would keep his word. However. however. Donna walked with them to the fron t gate. this. Pennyc ook departed on a journey to Bakersfield. so Mrs. She knew that disappointed vengeance had served to sharpen Mrs. by any chance. she had no such illusion. and demanded further information. all the information on marriages in Kern county was contained in the book before her. Pennycook c ould not find the record she sought. to fill in the affidavit blank toward the back of the book. Pennycook's profound satisfaction there was no record of such a license avai lable." The committee left in almost as deep sorrow as it had come. Business in the marriage bureau was dull that day. Pennycook that the record of the issuance of a license to his friend Bob McGraw and Donna Corblay could be found in the back of the book. where the record will n ot be reached in the regular course of business until a year or more shall have elapsed. and was deeply grateful.

" "I'll go call on her. an' you an' her ain't been any too friendly. which they had entered uninvited. If we can induce her to go to on e of these institutions." "What can be done about it?" one of the comm ittee inquired. " "Well. an' got insulted for my pains." "I wash my han ds of the whole affair" protested Mrs. it seems to me it is our duty to do so. Somebody ought to reason with her like before the thing gets too public. Mrs. "Poor girl. She omitted to mention the f act that company or no company. Pennycook. Miss Pickett. "I went down there. there's no mystery about Donna" retorted Mrs. upon being informe d by Soft Wind that three ladies desired to interview her. There was no layer cake an d lemonade reception awaiting _them_ at the Hat Ranch. despite her claims to the contrary." "Perhaps you didn't approach the subject just righ t. I think. maybe. if _I_ was to talk to her. two other ladies decided to go with Miss Picket t." "I expected this--for years" Miss Pickett continu ed. and wiped away a furtive tear. met the delegation in her kitchen. we shouldn't be surpri sed. "that in San Francisco and Los Angeles they have homes for unfortunate girls. Pennycook-not meanin' any offense--but you know Donna's one of the high an' mighty kind. an' did all the talking and acted sympathetic-like. Donna. Pennycook triumphantly." murmured Miss Pickett sadly. She surveyed the nervous trio co ldly. in view o' the fact that there never was any marriage license issued to you an' th at--that stage-robber--" "Miss Pickett--and you other two shining examples of Ch ristian charity! Please leave my home at once. "she is not an hon est woman!" "_Decidedly_ not. Do you hear? At once! I have no 178 . now--" "I'm sure you're welcome. "Is this another investigating committee?" she demanded bluntly. However. "I believe. and forthwith the three set out for the Hat Ranch. I'll not go again. I'm afraid she comes by it naturally. she would not have missed the opportunity of tau nting Donna for a farm. as you all know. " She's a disgrace to the community. There was a mystery about her mother." another volunteered. an' I don't see m to have the right influence with the girl. "Then. if one or tw o others will go with me" Miss Pickett volunteered.responsibility for the statement that Donna Corblay was not married. After all. "Well.

In a co vert way Miss Pickett and Mrs. proffering help to the unfortunate. however. and they were prepared to accept the challenge. whose forty years of life had been spent in arduous toil that had made her mus cles as hard and firm as those of most men." The three ladies stood up. Donna ha d declared war. She had "walled" her eyes and pulled her mouth down in the mo st approved facial expression of one who. carried her out kicking and screaming and tossed the spinster incontinently over the gate. Two of them scurried toward the door. Borax commenced to pine for some society more ameliorating than that of twelve mules driven with a jerk-line. branded as a scarlet woman. showing a disposition to a rgue the question.explanations or apologies to make. go down to San Pasqual and enter upon a butterfly existence until his six months' pay should be dissipated. if possible. when he learned quite by chance that Harley P. and since the squaw was untroubled by the finer question of morality in a l ady (the mere trifle of a marriage license had been no bar to her own primitive alliance with Sam Singer) it irked her to stand idly by while these white women offered insult to her adored one. and in her slow dumb way she realized that the condition of her mistress was pr obably being questioned by these white women. "I came to tell--" began Miss Pickett. In a word. Still Miss Pickett lingered. with six months' wages coming to him from his chosen occupation of skinning mule s up Keeler way. Mr. This was not possible in Keeler--at least not on the extravagant scale which obtained regularly in San Pasqual. Leave my home instantly. She could not understand what was being said ( Donna always spoke to her in the language of her tribe. "Go" she commanded. and if I had I would not make them to a soul in San Pasqual. leaned over the gate and almost laughed hersel f into hysterics. drive her out of San Pasqual. picked Miss Pickett up in her arms. re alizes that ingratitude is to be her portion. had been sighing for the delights of San Pasqual and an opportu nity to spend his money after the fashion of the country. Borax O'Rourke. Donna. after first ascertaining that Miss Pickett had l it in the sand and was uninjured. so Soft Wind . Sam Singer saw the exit and favored his squaw with the first grunt of approval in many years. 179 . Pennycook conspired to publicly disgrace her and. Now. Hennage was no l onger in that thriving hive of desert iniquity. Donna pointe d toward the door. some hint of the situation had by this time managed to sift. a language learned in he r babyhood from Soft Wind herself) but she did know by the pale face and flashin g eyes that Donna was angry. Through the aboriginal brain of So ft Wind. hence. That was the last effort made to reform Donna Corblay. T he presence of two delegations of female visitors in one week was unprecedented. Soft Wind had been Donna's nu rse. but Miss Pickett lingered. O'Rourke decided to quit his job.

He her alded his arrival and his intentions by inviting San Pasqual to drink with him. Until the night of the attack upon her by the h oboes in the railroad yard. crying over a stranger and kissing him. and quite n aturally the thought occurred to Borax that he. had he but 180 . s till he believed him to be a rough-andready individual like himself. where rough men foregather. might not have been unwelco me. via the stage line. For there were no angels in San Pasqual. He would have been voted qui te a Lochinvar in the days when men procured their wives by right of discovery a nd the ability to retain possession. Borax himself was not a bad-looking fellow. as in the case of all pure women in frontier towns. he was not considered beyond the pale. the winger and the wingee subsequently shaking hands and declaring a truce). Wherea t he laughed himself. and after visiting each of its many saloons and spending impartially the while. and while he had not been privileged to a close scrutiny of the man whom Donna had kissed. He ate his din ner in silence. border ruffian. Th ere was considerable of the abysmal brute in Borax. when he discove red her that August night. vulgar. O'Rourke. therefore. in a rough out-o'-doors sort of way. the town was merely sunk in a mor al lethargy. she would have inquired the latest news fro m the borax works at Keeler and doubtless would have sold him a hat. to Mr. that never could have been dignified by the term "love"( Borax was not equal to that) but rather an animal-like desire for possession. he had never dared to presume to the extent of speak ing to Donna Corblay. he would have made love t o Donna in his bearlike way. although the democracy of San Pasqual would not have construed speech at such a time as a breach of conven tion. he decided. and forthwith shaped his somewhat falt ering course for the eating-house. for a long time. and had he dared. Had he spoken to Donna she readily would have comprehended that he merely desired to be neighborly. and as Borax O'Ro urke had never been accused of theft and had never killed his man (he had been i n two arguments. Borax O'Rourke. and those who had not. with many a low jest and rude guffaw. All the less er sins were looked upon tolerantly as indigenous to the soil. and the line of demarcation in matters of rectitude was drawn betwe en those who stole and had killed their man. Donna's easily discernible purity had been h er most salient protection. had what even the lowest of his kind generally appear to possess: a lingering se nse of respect for a good woman. Borax O'Rourke had nursed a secret passion for the eating-ho use cashier. too. Here he discovered that Donna Corblay was no longer employed at the cashier's counter--which disappointed him. and had winged his man both times. however. a passion. It had been a shock. even when paying for his meals. and beyond such bulwarks Borax O'Rourke had never da red to venture. Now. that he had partaken of sufficient squirrel whisk y to give him an appetite for his dinner.Accordingly Borax O'Rourke descended. the reason for his disappointment. Hence. on San Pasqual. while a low. along toward dusk. and upon his return to the Silver Dollar saloon he was informed. Nevertheles s.

possessed sufficient courage to make a cautious advance. almost before it had fairly started. an' she ca n send the kid to an orphan asylum. and the battle was over. hiccoughed and made rough demand for the mistress of the house. heard him and came into the kitchen. enjoying an after-breakfast cigarette. "Well. "what do you want? A hat?" She saw that he had been drinking. and Sam Singer sprang at the mule-skinner like a panther on a n unsuspecting deer. with a few dollars always comin' in. and with the thought that he had been worshiping an idol with feet o f clay. b rought the butt down on O'Rourke's head. under the influence of the liquor and his overw eening pride in his bright idea. The lean mahogany-colored hands closed around the ruffian's throat. he decided that he could make his advances now in full confidence that he might be successf ul." Donna spoke to the Indian in th e Cahuilla tongue. the while they spurred him on his way with many a jeer and jibe. for the Indian. "I want you. Borax" she deman ded. Mr. like as not--considerin' the circumstances. no male foot had profaned the Hat Ranch in twenty years. and possession his sole inspiration. and the two bodies crashed to the floor together. With the receipt of the information about Donna. He was confirmed in thi s thought now at the news which he heard upon the first night of his return to S an Pasqual. but Sam Singer had anticipat ed him. was no match. and if not. Mr. Then he returned to the 181 . when O'Rourke came to the kitchen d oor. an' damn the odds" he decided. H e endeavored to free his arm and reach for his gun. With the exception of her Indian retainer. Sam Singer was seated in the kitchen at the Hat R anch. so after fortifying himself with a half dozen drinks. he raised it. She'll be glad enough of the offer. Hennage and Doc Taylor. O'Rourke. O'Rourke cursed himself for an unmitigated jackass in thus leaving t o some other roving rascal the prize which he had so earnestly desired for himse lf. A crowd of male observers stood on the porch of the Silver Dollar saloon and watched him depart. from an adjoining room. Harley P. and since convention w as something alien to his soul. Donna. there would be no necessity for feeling sheepish over his rebuff ." By morning this crafty idea had taken full possession of Borax. sweetheart" he began pertly. "Not on your life. "There's worse place s than the Hat Ranch to live in. "Drag him outside" Donna commanded. "I'll ask her to marry me. and the presence of O'Rourke was a distinct menace. Also. and a sudden fear took possession of her. O'Rourke unconsciously felt himself instantly on the same social level with her. he had taken pains to announce his destination and the object of his visit. taken unawa re by the suddenness and ferocity of the attack. Already the big blue gun was in the Indian's possession. Bob McGr aw. he se t forth for the Hat Ranch. The Indian grasped O' Rourke by his legs and dragged him outside the compound.

Upon his return to San Pasqual he had old Jud ge Kenny. might file on forty acres surrounding the Hat Ranch. and the next few days in a trip to the land office one hundred and fifty mil es up the valley. Half an hour later a very dejected. I see you're goin' to p lay even. Borax O'Rourke. but in the melee his gun had been taken from him. at Independence. bedragg led mule-skinner. by some devil's devis ing. and on Sam Singer. bruised. whereat Sam Singer struck him in the fa ce and rolled him over in the dirt. Borax. I'll chuck the old lady's bones after her.kitchen. containing. bleeding and covered with sand which clung to his dri pping person. The water did its work. who depended on he r bounty. he could obtain title to the land. a unique scheme for revenge on Donna. The news was over San Pasqual in an hour. O'Rourke's big blue gun as a souvenir of the fray. and present ly to him here there came an anonymous letter. he would then be in a p osition to evict his enemies. which would irrigate one-eighth of his entry. The unknown writer of this anonymo us note desired to advise Borax O'Rourke that Donna Corblay had no title to the lands on which the Hat Ranch stood. returned to San Pasqual. to be heartily jeered at for the result o f his pilgrimage. and it looks like she might put up a fight on squatte r's rights. for the San Pasqualians noticed that not only had Mr. after filing his application. and by demonstrating that he had an artesian well on the forty. I'll teach her an' that Indian o' hers--" 182 . secured a bucket. filled it at the artesian well. In any event. "an' when I do. otherwise he would commence suit." "I'll git her out all right" rumbled O'Rourke. he retained Mr. "I'll kill you for this" he said. "Well. He spent that day sobering up. Incidentally. that he. and cast them forth into the wide reaches of the Mojave desert. homeless. the local justice of the peace. For two days Borax O'Rourke d rowned his chagrin in the lethal waters of the Silver Dollar saloon. This seemed to the brute O'Rourke such a very nove l idea that he decided to follow it out immediately. At one stroke he could destroy them both. and to suffe r such humiliation at the hands of a mere Indian was considered in San Pasqual t he very dregs and drainings of downright disgrace. dashed it over the still dazed enemy. that the desert was still part of the public domain and subject to entry. and returning. O'Rourke suffered defeat. D'ye think you'll be able to oust the girl from the Hat Ranch? The boy s have been discussin' it. and formed the basis of much discussion in the Sil ver Dollar when Borax Somebody hailed him. serve formal written notice upon Donna Corblay to evacuate immediately. and presently O'Rourke s at up.

"If you don't." "I'm not bluffin' this time. Then. Until one minute past four o'clock. then.Borax O'Rourke paused. an' get out o' town by fou r o'clock. he commenced placing his cards for a game of solitaire . Hand me an assig nment o' that desert entry o' yours by three o'clock." repeat ed Mr. Hennage's small ba leful eyes flicked murder lights as their glance burned into O'Rourke's wolfish soul. "Well?" "I don't like your game." He was not a coward. almost a growl. the incident was closed. sat Harle y P. you dog. and when he had carefully disposed of them he spoke: "O'Rourke!" The word was deep. "I shall cancel the entry at one minute after four o'cloc k. idly shuffling a deck of cards. Stop it. throaty. Do I get that as signment of entry?" Borax O'Rourke knew that his life might be the price of a re fusal. a silence fell upon the Silver Dollar. Simultaneously the men nearest O'Rourke drifted q uickly away from him. Hennage. His tongue clicked drily against the roof of his mouth. "Got a gun?" "No. and he was staring at Borax O'Rourke. "I'll be in the middle o' the street at four o'clock" he answered. Hennage calmly. For fully a minute Mr." The gambler threw him over a twenty-dollar piece. At the latter's sudden pause . Hear me?" "An' if I don't?" demanded O'Rourke. quite calmly. "Go get one. and 183 ." "You can't bluff me. S eated at a card-table across the room. and every man lined up at the long bar turned and followed O'Rourke's glance. but in the presence of that crowd where men were measured by their courag e the remnants of his manhood forbade him to answer "yes." Borax O'Ro urke picked the coin off the floor and shuffled out of the Silver Dollar saloon.

I've seen her grow up in this town since she was a baby. an' girls like Donna Corblay don't go wrong. but a letter from Dan Pennycook. "There's some mistake. i s one of the mysteries of retributive justice with which this story has nothing to do. Suffice the fact that Mr. an' there ain't no record of her marriage license in the county clerk's office. Harl ey" Dan Pennycook informed him. "It's a nasty mix-up." Mr. I see. man to man. when Mr. had precipitated his descent upon San Pasqual. particularly in the desert. and six months is a sufficient lapse of time for any ordinary public excit ement to wear off. which stood upon the desert land whereon he had filed. Harley. You take my 184 . Pennycook--" "She went an' looked. Mrs." Harley P. The girl's good. " "How d'ye know there ain't?" the gambler demanded. "I know it" he said. He had not intended returning so soon. CHAPTER XIX Why Harley P. But your missus ain't playin' fair. do _you_ believe this scanda l?" "Not a damned word of it" said honest Dan firmly. laid his hand on the yardmaster's shoulder. charging the yardmaster to keep him in touch with affairs at the Ha t Ranch. "Dan" he said. "Her husband ain't never showed up. hairy ha nd. "Ee--er--well. Dan. "me an' you've been good friends. "I thank you for that. to whom Mr. the fact is. "Dan" he said. an' there's just a chance that after t o-day we ain't a-goin' to meet no more." P ennycook threw up his hands deprecatingly. "an' I can't hel p it. she was concerned a bout the girl's reputation--" "Huh-huh.Mr. Hennage returned to his interrupted game of solitaire. Hennage had communicated his whereabouts. Hennage had stayed away from San Pasqual six mo nths. Hennage extended his freckled. eh?" "Well. Hennage sought the yardmaster out in hi s desire for explicit information touching the hint of trouble to Donna conveyed in the letter which Pennycook had sent him. and by nine o'clock was in possession of a ll the facts regarding the mistress of the Hat Ranch. Hennage should elect to return to San Pasqual on the very day that Borax O'Rourke issued formal written notice through old Judge Kenny for Donna t o vacate the Hat Ranch. He had dropped off the L imited at daylight that very morning.

out o' compliment to me. and tossed off his wine with evident relish. All set. He'll never blackmail you again. an' as a further compliment I'd be obliged if you-all'd hon or me to the extent o' havin' a little nip. friend. lit a cigar and smoked until four o 'clock. As one man they spoke. and glanced at the crowd which had been h anging around. "It happens that there ain't no officer o' the law in San Pasqual to-day to interfe re in the forthcoming festivities between me an' O'Rourke. even if she didn't keep hers. watching him." He walked to the bar. old-timer" replied Mr. laid his watch on the counter befo re him." "Thank you." The crowd shuffled to the bar. Hennage kindly. "Wine. At three o'clock he arose. shortly af ter his arrival. the gambler continued to play solitaire. I'll head a move ment to relieve you o' the resk o' cancelin' that entry. Harley P. Dan. He's as dead as a mac kerel an' I seen him buried. Here. he had learned of Borax O'Rourke's latest move. old friend. where. Smoke up !" Each of his guests half turned. had delivered his ultimatum. sighed. an' tell her that I've kept my word. laid a handful of gold thereon and gave his order. Da n. and when his purchase was completed he sat down on a keg of nails. kicked back his chair. Pennycook. "I'm a stran ger here. and a lanky prospector in from the dry diggings at Coolgardie spoke up. an' if you say the word. Dan. boys. five minutes later he was bending over a show-case in the hardware department of the general store. "H ow. You can quit worryin'. 185 . an' it's been the c ustom in this town to let every man kill his own skunks. boys. my luck's changed." "How" replied Harley P. "Twenty games to-day an' never beat it once" he com plained. "but this is a personal matter.compliments to Mrs. _adios. I do hope that none o ' you boys'll feel called on to interfere. Fo r an hour after O'Rourke had left the Silver Dollar for the ostensible purpose o f purchasing a gun. He po cketed his change and left the saloon. in order t o smother his distress._" He shook hands warmly wi th the yardmaster and walked over to the Silver Dollar saloon. I take it for granted you won't." He turned to the crowd. "No use talkin'. he played game after game of solitaire. That worthless convict brother-inlaw o' yours is dead. then he arose. but I'll help pull a rope tight around that muleskinner's neck.. and when the la tter entered the saloon an hour later. facing the gambler. It loo ks to me like a community job.

just as the crowd on the porch of the Silver Dol lar parted and Borax O'Rourke leaped into the street. Suddenly a man appeared around the corner of the eating-house. Hennage's side. You're interferin'. "me fixum plenty good. There was a surprised look on his face. Hennage's left arm buckled under him suddenly and he slid forward on his face. So he waited until the train pulled out before stepping briskly into the middle of the street. Hennage. and walked out. "get out. Mr." With a sudden sweep of his arm he tore the gun from the Indian's hand. This is the white man's burden. The Indian ran to Mr. "_Va mose." Sam Singer.He handed his watch to the proprietor. dropped it again. but lowered it again i nstantly. just as O'Rourke. He was staggering in ci rcles and as yet he had not fired a shot. On the threshold he paused. "I'd be obliged if you was to give that w atch to Dan Pennycook" he said. " "Sam" said Mr. saw the gambler pick hi mself up slowly. before ricochetting against the eating-house wall. "If he beefs me first you take a hack at him. gun in hand. Hennage. watching fo r O'Rourke. drew his gun down on Harley P. A su ppressed "A-a-h-h" went up from the crowd as the worst man in San Pasqual sprawl ed forward on his hands and knees. 186 . for the man was Sam Singer. and while Mr. turned. and he declined to make a spectacle of himself for the edif ication of the travelers peering curiously from the windows of the train. blinding him. "Git--you Injun" yelled Mr . peering around the corner of the eating-house. was just pulling in to the depot. Hennage realized that any delay in his programme would be a distinct strain on the idlers who had gath ered in the porch of the Silver Dollar and adjacent deadfalls to watch the worst man in San Pasqual finally make good on his reputation. still he was not one of the presuming kind. Mr. A tr ain. brown with the dust of the hundreds of miles of desert across which it had traveled. O'Rourke brought his gun up. He crossed diagonally toward the eating-house. a lon gbarreled Colt's in his hand. while two more bullets from the mule-skinner's gun threw the sand in his eyes. Sa m Singer. amigo mio_" he said in mingled Spanish and English. sprang around the corner of the eating-house. Hennage raised his gun. having gained the center of the street. swiftly. and fired. weaponless . and waved him imperiously away.

He had come back. "I've got a full hous e. son. Hennage saw the Indian stooping. swayi ng a little. Mr. an empty smoking gun in his hand. my friend" whispered the wanderer. Give me the straight of it. "don't die beli eving I'm an outlaw. recognized the stranger. A f ifth bullet scored his shoulder and crashed through the wall. you--know --that stage hold-up--at Garlock--" He lu rched forward into Bob McGraw's arms. staring at the man ree ling blindly along the eating-house wall. blinking. and when the gun was empty and Borax O'Rourke a s dead as Cheops. "I'm dyin'. He wanted to say something severe. the gambler stood over his man and hurled the gun at the still twitching body. Hennage fixed his fading glance upon the wanderer. advanced uncertainl y toward him. On my word of honor. I've canceled that entry" he said. Harley. He half turned and gaze d into the sun-scorched." and reeled toward the eatinghouse. "no luck. they've got the goods--on you. reaching M r. "Bob. I didn't. He stood there. "Well. O'Rourke pitched forward. had dropped when O'Rourke's second bullet had shattered his l eft arm. Sam Singer. firing as he came. "The sand" he muttered. Hennage paused with his broad back against the wall. old man" said Bob McG raw in a choking voice. and brushed his eyes with t he back of his good right hand. Harley." 187 . I didn't do it. "Oh." "I'm dyin'. Hennage. Then he raised his gun. Hennage was in safe hands. and flapped his broken arm in feeb le protest. Bob. Mr. there was a puzzled look in his sand-clogged eyes as he whispered. but for the life of him--even the little he had left--he could not."No luck" he muttered thickly. as Sam Singer made a quick scuttering rush aroun d the corner and retrieved the loaded gun which the gambler had taken from him a nd which Harley P. the Indian dropped his gun (the one he had taken fr om O'Rourke at the Hat Ranch) and fled to Donna with the news. It was Bob McGraw." and pulled away." "My friend. You can't do no good here. the sixth--and las t--was a clean miss. "Borax" he said aloud. "Vamose" panted Mr. and in the middle of San Pasqual's single street Borax O'Ro urke stood wonderingly. red-bearded face of a tall young man clad in a ruin of weather-beaten rags. Hennage's side at that moment. and realizing that Mr . and a strong arm came around his fat waist. Mr. There's a warrant--out. and Harley P.

This wouldn't--ha ve happened. Hennage beckoned h im to his bedside. childish smile as the yardmaster approached. up the narrow heatwarped stairs and do wn the corridor to his room. Hennage on his old bed. and watched Bob McGraw and Dan Penny cook lay Mr." They pick ed him up and carried him into the hotel. for he was young and he could weep at the passing of a man. Harley. Hello." Dan Pennycook. while Bob cleared the room of the curious and locked the door. Damn dogs! They--say--little Donnie--belongs --east o' the tracks. but I-don't want to--die in--the st reet. "Son. On the way down the corridor. Hennage die." said Mr. had seen the crowd leave the porch of the Silver Dollar saloon and surge out into the street. and upon hear ing the details of the duel he pressed through the circle of curious men who had gathered to see Harley P. "I ain't paid--for this bed yet" he said. Mr. Bob." 188 . at his work among the strings of empty box-cars across the track. "Business--must be-loo kin' up. "Sho. Hennage smiled his rare . Mr. I'm beefed." "I know--wisht you'd invited me--give the bride away. Dan Pennycook hurried for Doc Taylor. He found Mr. Hennage softly. It's a mistake--" "Everyt hing's a mistake--I'm a mistake" muttered the gambler. "Good old Dan!" he mumb led. Mr. I'm so--da mned--heavy an' I don't want--any but real friends--to touch me--now. I'm a dog with a bad--name. It was low down--o' me to figure you--a crook. "He can only--think of one--thing at a-time--like a horse--but--by God--he thinks--straight. He came running now. "but there's money- -in my pants pocket--an' you square up--for the damage--an' the annoyance--" The tears came into Bob McGraw's eyes as he knelt beside the bed and took the hand of the worst man in San Pasqual in his. had heard the shooting. trustful. the honesty of this dying stray dog had filled his heart to overflowing. but the evidence--man . Help Bob--carry me in--Dan. Hennage sniffed c uriously. "sho. Hennage seated in the sand with his head and shoulders supported by a stranger. "They got--new mattin' in the rooms" he gasped. Bob. I killed--O'Rourke for--thinkin' it. He could not speak."I can't." The crowd followed into the room. The simplicity. it was awful--but you-when did you--marry Donnie" "Last October--in Bakersfiel d. take me--to my--roo m--in the hotel. I don't know what you're driving at. Dan.

Then he wiped his own. and Bob opened it. For t he first and last time 189 . "Don't cry" he said g ently. Hennage that he. would depart with the sunset. and the time was short . but since he was not one of the presuming kind he quickly closed them agai n and feigned unconsciousness until he felt Donna's soft hand resting on his col d forehead. You're so much--like your mother-- an' she--she trusted me. has it?" "It's just setting" Donna answered him. "Just wipe the--sand out--o' my eyes. "Oh. good-by. making a brave show t o speak easily despite his terrible wounds. Donna stood on the threshold. to admit Dan Pennycook. Hennage opened his eyes. At the sound of her voice Mr. and a flush of embarrassment lit up his pale features. too. and he had no regrets. Donnie" he said. and it came to Mr. squeezed his friend's hand and departed. For near ly half an hour Bob and Mr. "Doc Tay lor's in Bakersfield" he said. Hennage's wasted life. Presently he opened his eyes and looked out the window again. Dan'l. Hennage grinned. Mr. He was thinking of many things now. As the feller says--we shall meet-on that beautiful--shore. "The sun ain't set. Bob--an' let me kick the bucket-- without disturbin' nobody. "There ain't--no fun in this --visit --for nobody--but me--" He turned wearily to hide his face from her. He had taken Mr. Hen nage's eyes. and when the gambler had learned all he wished to know he closed his eyes and was silent until another knock came on the door. "You oughtn't to a-come here. to w here the sun hung low over the Tehachapis. He nodded slightly. Just hold--my hand. "I ain't worth it. and looked thoughtfully out the window. Hennage's gentle hint to leave him alone with Bob McGraw. much as the dark shadow s were already trooping athwart the horizon of Mr. sweetheart!" she cried. "I knew it--no luck to-day" he said. Thereafter for an h our he did not speak. while Sam Singer softly closed the door and stood guard outside. across the level reaches of the Mojave desert. I want you--near--when I can't see you--no more--an' it's gettin' dark-already. Hennage talked. I was born with--a hard--face--an' nobody ever--trusted me--but you an' --your mother--an' I--wanted to be trusted--all my worthless li fe--I wanted it--" He sighed and held out his hands to them. and her arms went around his neck. Again Bob opened it. In the fading light the little dust-d evils were beginning to caper and obscure the landscape.A knock sounded on the door." Pennycook wet a towel in the wash-bowl and wiped Mr. "It's--dark" he whispered. The ni ght--the eternal night--was coming on apace.

read the glad tidings. under the interested attentions of Carey's man in the General Land Office. the applications of McGraw's clien ts had. 190 . the State Land Office would notify Bob McGraw at hi s address furnished them that the lands were ready for him. New--gaiters--too--give 'em--to Sam--Singer. had stayed their progress until now. pay the balance of thirty-nine thousand dollars due on the lands and clo se the transaction. instructing him to e xpedite the listing of the applications of Bob McGraw's clients for lieu land in Owens Valley. Within a week after Mr. Hennage was going to appear presumptuous. and to call and pay the balance due. he took it with h im. "If it's--a boy" he whispered. It would then be incumbent upon McGraw to visit the State Land Office. Harley P. "Oh-thank you" he gasped. Good--In jun--that. Hennage's death the lands would be passed to patent. Indeed. By nine o'clock a cipher telegram from Carey was being clicke d off to his tool in the General Land Office at Washington. to entitle him to one hund red and fifty words of posthumous publicity. Hennage to be on his way. Within an hour after the street due l the local representative of the Associated Press had his story on the wire. in his club at Los Angeles. Under his instructions. Hennage had been sufficient of a personage. and whatever thoughts came to him in that su preme moment were for the first time reflected in his face. trickled across his hard face. then something seemed to strike him very funny. with the judicious aid of the deputy in the State Land Office. "would you--you wouldn't mind--would you--callin' him--Harley? Just- -his middle name. for the infrequent. The way had been nicely smoothed for Carey by the death of M r. Hennage. "Bob--take off my--shoes--I don't--want--to --die--with--my boots--on. Morgan Carey's way of thinking that inconspicuous paragraph in the morning paper meant as much to him as the receipt of a certified check f or a million dollars. been appr oved by the surveyor-general and forwarded to Washington for the approval of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. Here. and the manner of his death sufficiently spectacular. To T." Donna's ho t tears fell fast on his face as she leaned over and kissed the death-damp from his brow. Morgan Carey. the three gold teeth flashed for an instant ere the worst man in San Pa squal slipped off into the shadows.--McGraw." The sun had set behind the Tehachapis now. reaching out. He clung to the hands of his friends convulsively. and twilight was stealing over San Pasqual. trustful. one tiny hin t of the desolation in his big heart--the agony of a lifetime of misunderstandin g and repression. In his unassuming way Harley P. Carey's long arm. It was time for Mr. childish smile flickered across h is face.in life. And whatever the joke was. Donnie--an' he could --sign it--Robert H. an d at eight-thirty next morning T.

nobody considered it worth while to telephone the sheriff of Kern county . every mal e citizen in San Pasqual arrayed himself in his "other" clothes and attended the funeral of Harley P. and delivered a funeral orati on. so long occupied by the lookout for Harley P. waiting at the Land Office to receive him _before he paid for the lands. testifying. and the word was passed that the man was Bob McGraw. In the afternoon every business establishment in San Pasqual closed. the state would claim the forfeit of th e preliminary payment of one thousand dollars and the lands would be reopened fo r entry--whereupon Carey would step in with his own dummy entrymen. 191 . Dan Pennyco ok had made all of the funeral arrangements. the filings would eventually lapse. clad in the garb of a prospector. he had ruled by the mystic power of his terrible eyes. but none could answer. eloquent words that the men of San Pasqual wondered what dark tragedy underlay his own life. when a registered letter came to Robert McGraw. T. Hennage was finally consigned to the desert they watched the stranger and saw him walk down the tracks to the Hat Ranch. They asked each other who t his red stranger might be. and ten days after the funeral. McGraw. a strang e young man. for s o many years. bein g to Carey's way of thinking an outlaw from justice. in the meanwhile keeping a watchful eye on McGraw's water right. lay in state in the long gambling hall of the Silver Dollar which. Even Miss Pickett. He could the n proceed with his own system of irrigation. The coroner and two Mexican laborers tucked Borax O'Rourke away in the potter's field in the morning . gave him the letter an d the registry receipt and asked him to take it down to the Hat Ranch." Of course. she sent for Dan Pennycook. Hennage.'s placid face for the last time. his masculi ne appreciation of a dead-game sport. He told them merel y the story of one who had dwelt amongst them--the story of a man they had never known-and he told it in such simple. and when the crowd had passed slowl y around the casket. ready to grab it when the title should lapse throu gh McGraw's failure to develop it. That was a historic day in San Pasqual. On the seventh there were two funerals in San Pasqual. mounted the little dais. Strange to relate. Then they understood. Hennage died on the fifth day of Ma rch. was not attracted by the recollection of the offer of a reward of five hundred dollars f or Bob McGraw. viewing Harley P. Morgan Carey planned to have a hale and hear ty gentleman in a blue uniform with brass buttons. And wondering. Carey saw very clearly that. that he must needs descend to mingle with such as they. who since the shooting had been strangely subdued. by his presence at least. It was not a panegyric of hope. they wept. the father of Donna Corblay's unborn child._ With the providential removal of Mc Graw's queer partner. and if he did. Ha rley P.'s faro game. But when Harley P. dead or alive. after waiting a reasonable pe riod after due notice of the approval of the applications had been mailed to McG raw. would not dare to appear to claim the lands. Harley P. and it dwelt not with the promise of a haven for the gambler's soul in one of his Father's many mansions.who had warned him so earnestly to "keep off the grass.

Dunstan for the thirty-nine tho usand dollars he promised to loan you. when Dan Pennycook had departed." She drew his rough cheek down to hers and patted his brown hands. although great ly agitated. "the appli cations of my clients are approved and ready to be passed to patent." said Bob McGraw. when the lands were ready for you?" she a sked dully. I'm an unfortunate cuss. Donna leaned h er head on his broad shoulder. gave you? I must go to San Francisco on business. after all. She knew then the bitterness of his defeat. I'm going to Los Angeles and compromise with Carey. sweetheart. "Donna. "we found a 'nononymous letter on Borax O'Rourke after he was killed. and poor Harley w asn't used to firearms." Miss Pickett. I do act possess t hem. I have been called upon to pay the balance of thirty-nine thousand dollars due on the land. "No" he answered. "Miss Pickett" he said presently. from that thousand Harley P. am I not? Those claims of mine didn't yield wages and I was forced to sell my outfit at Danby to get r ailroad fare back to San Pasqual. this man McGraw says it is so. and she made no comment. have arrived i n time to have saved poor Hennage. Will you loan me a hundred dollars." He smiled his old bantering smile . She had fought the good fight for his sake. There's folks in San Pasqual that says the letter's in your handwritin'. for the sake of his great dream of Donnaville." "'Tain't so!" shrilled the spinster. there is no sense in dragging m y friends down with me. I'm just a-tellin' you to give you fair warnin'. She had suffered much of late. Pennycook left for the Hat Ranch. She was weary of it all and she longed to leave San Pasqual a s quickly as possible. "Are you going to ask Mr. and if there are thirty-nine cents real money in this world. Mr. He says it's a felony to send a 'nonymous letter through the United States mails . "It's no use. "We ll. And if the train hadn't been ten minutes late- -if I hadn't gone into the eating-house looking for you--I would. and Dunstan's che ck wouldn't even get me started. and she had fought alone. If I'm whipped. after delivering the letter from the State Land Office. an' he's goin' to get an expert to prove it.Pennycook leaned his greasy elbows on the delivery window and gazed long and ste rnly at Miss Pickett." They were sitting together in the patio. A compromise with Carey or a sale of the water 192 . It was my fight. She was tired of the fight. pursed her mouth contemptuously and closed the delivery window. I need more money. "I'm always broke. dear.

together with a neat typewritten statement of the reasons why interested parties had not been able to discover the record of the issuance of the license at the county seat. woe and death and suffering had followed his coming. had resulted in more or less embarrassment. 193 . The "undersigned" was Robert McGraw. The other frame contained a typewritten invitation to the public to earn five hundred dollars by convicting the undersigned of stag e robbery." Bob could hear him chuckling as he hung up. certainly" responded Ca rey. I'll have a notary within hailing distance. Since that eventful night when he had first ridden into San Pa squal she had been more or less of a stormy petrel. He went a t once to the post-office. and when Bob spoke of compromise she was too listless to dissuade him. as he noted Bob's corduroy trousers tucked into his miner's boots. "Been too busy lately to dress up.----. He requested an interview at ten o'clock the following morning for the purp ose of adjusting a compromise with him.right was their only hope. she came out of her sanctum and discover ed that one of the frames contained a certified copy of a marriage license issue d to Robert McGraw and Donna Corblay on October 17th. Morgan Carey g ranted the request with cheerful alacrity. His amiable smile had not yet worn off when his office boy ushered Bob McGraw into his private office at ten o'clock next morning. It appea red that the minister who had performed the ceremony. indeed. Two days later he returned. He waved Bob to a chair and looked him over curiously. for to Carey the thought of his revenge on the man who had cuffed him in the State Land Office was very s weet. which. stopping off at Bakersfield. From the post-office Bo b went to the public telephone station and called up T. eh?" he queried. "I'm coming to do business" Bob warne d him. She gave him gladly of her slender hoard and that nig ht Bob McGraw went up to San Francisco. When he had left. Morgan Carey in Los Ange les. "No third parties around-understand!" "Certainly. Mr. and the following morning he returned to San Pasqual. Mr. I'll have the assignment of your wa ter right made out. and after receiving permission from Miss Pickett. scr ewed into the wall of the post-office lobby what appeared to Miss Pickett to be two pictures. McGraw's ig norance of the procedure to be followed under the circumstances. Needless to state. who would remain in San Pasqual all day long and would be delighted to answer questions. ready for your signature. the land was dear. framed. "And in order to save time. and if Donnaville was to be purchased at such a price. indeed. after forwarding the licen se to the State Board of Health for registration. McGraw. T. coupled with Mrs. had neglected to return it the reafter to the two most interested parties.

McGraw. McGraw. indeed. I don't like you well enough for th at. "Rather spectacular removal--that of our friend Hennage" Carey continued. But I didn't come here to gossip with you. I could afford to pay you a fat salary to attend to my land matters. "I couldn't wear your collar. Mr. since you desire it. however. Carey. McGraw. In the matter of those applications for fifty sections of Owens Valley: you have received a notification from the Registrar of the State Land Office. I think I follow your line of reasoning. quizzical smile." Bob smiled." "O'Rourke beat him to it. Your applications are going to lapse through non-payment." "I am not disappointed in my estimate of your common sense" Carey retorted. Do you wish me to explain why ?" "No. McGraw. It has been a rule of my life. What are you going to do about it?" Bob shrugged. So enough of that. I coul d use a man with your brains and ability. You own a valuable water right."Pretty busy" assented Bob. advising y ou to call and pay thirty-nine thousand dollars." "Certain ly." "If I may judge by the single exhibition of y our proficiency with a gun which I was privileged to observe. You're the kind of a fellow I' ve been looking for--for a great many years. Mr. and I'm going to get the land. McGraw. I can. neither can your clients. I want to finish my business and get back to San Pasqual to-night. That is the secret of my- -er--rather modest success. and favored h is visitor with a cold. "No use" he answered. "I can see remarkable poss ibilities in you. I'm going to get that also. "Very well. It's a shame to see you waste your oppo rtunities. I Ve been a white man all my life and I'm too old to change. in fact. and smiled." "Possibly. McGraw. If you think you could man age to divorce yourself from your ambitions to supersede me in the State Land Of fice. I'll tell you. Carey. But you're such an extraordinary young man. "Well. "_Quien sabe?_" he said. it is not necessary. to gathe r about me men with more brains than I possess myself. the is sue would have been different had you been in Hennage's boots. You cannot pay it." "Play ball" commanded Bob sharply. certainly. " "It's a pity" Carey replied with genuine sincerity. "From what I learn he was a little slow on the draw. "Here 194 . that in spite of our former differences I must own to a desire to know more about you. I wou ld have to be the boss.

" "But I told you I came here to compromise. McGraw. and I am surprised at myself for exhibiting such generosity. that's just part of my wardro be" Bob retorted. and the land-grabber saw the bu tt of a gun nestling under his left arm. old man" he murmured pres ently. By George." "Well. Mr. Which is it to be? Compromise or the penitentiary?" "Certainly not compromise--on any terms bu t mine. A gunp lay would be most ill-advised.is the assignment of that water right to me. not the open desert at Garlock. I will give you just fifteen hundred dollars for that water right. I recognized y ou that day at Garlock and I am prepared to so testify. I've busted the blamed wrapper. before a notary who is waiting in the next room. A slight pressure on this button"--he placed his manicured finger on an ivory push button--"and two plain-clothes men in my outer office wi ll attend to your case. Got another cigar h andy. From his inner coat pocket Bob drew a c ylindrical roll of paper about eight inches long. Stage-robbers cannot be choosers. "I haven't forgotten that day in the State Land Office. "I wouldn't think of using that on a man unless he was real da ngerous--and men like you are beneath my notice. McGraw. "Press the button. McGraw." "So those are your final terms. But proceed. I assure you. Carey." "I un derstand fully. press the button and call them in--_Boston!_" 195 . And inasmuch as you collected that sum in advance last autumn at Garlock. Your water right on Cottonwood lake in retur n for your freedom. His polished suave manner had disappeared now and his cold eyes flashed with anger and hatred. isn't it? Well. your signature to the ass ignment. Carey?" "Absolu tely. Carey. Carey eyed him scornfully. pulled out a five-cent ciga r and thoughtfully bit off the end." "Oh. Come now. In return I will give you --let me see. Those are my terms." He pulled back the lapel of his coat. that's a two-bitter. Press the button and call in your plain-clo thes men. "Confound this cigar. it's none t oo good for the last of the McGraw family. is all that we require to terminate this interview." Bob crossed his right leg over his left knee." The land-grabber rose f rom his swivel chair. McGraw. myself in half an hour. "Th is is the city of Los Angeles. my friend. Carey? Thanks. I'll be in the two-bit class.

then turned and snapped the spring lock on the doo r leading out to the general office. "This is the city of Los Angeles. jerked open a drawer in his desk and reached his han d inside. or I'll drill you !" Carey's hand came out of the drawer slowly.Carey whirled in his chair. You will recall that I came here to compromise. Boston. I assure you" Bob mocked the la ndgrabber. Take a chair with you. I'll occupy the arsenal." "What are you?" p anted Carey." 196 . shoved h im into the corner indicated. What would you suggest to cure me of that horribl e ailment?" "Silence--on both sides--and a hundred thousand for your water right . And as he gazed. after which he laid his gun on Carey's desk . not on the floor. now." He ran his hands lightly over Carey's person in search of weapons. Boston. A gun-play would be most ill-advised. "Well. my friend." He gently removed the little weapon from Carey's trembling hand. "what's the answer!" "Compromise" Carey managed to articulate. "A man or a devil?" "Just a plain human being. almost sorrowfully. since we have definitely located you as the murderer of Oliver Corblay in the Colorado desert on the night of May 17th._ Out. Before he could withdraw it Bob McGraw's big automatic was covering hi m. E vidently he foresaw a lengthy argument and meant to make himself comfortable bef ore proceeding. go over in that corner and sit down-- no. and waited. "Now. I'll give you five minutes to get your nerve back and then we'll get down to b usiness. "Well" he said pre sently. burglar alarms and deadly weapons around this de sk. you dog. and not the op en desert. Fire away. at the land-grabber. sat down in Carey's swivel chair. Bob remov ed his finger. "The court will now listen to any new testimony that may be adduc ed in the case of The People versus Carey. very slowly. tilted himself back and lifted his hob-naile d miner's boots to the top of Carey's rosewood table close by. so flat busted. "You'd better let me have that pop-gun. grasping a small pea rl-handled revolver. 188- ." He reached over and pl aced a brown calloused finger on the push button. Bost on. You might have all kinds of push buttons. he puffed enjoyably at Carey's cigar. that I rattle when I walk. "Take your hand out of that drawer--_Boston.

Notice those footprints over to the right! See how plainly they loom up in the picture? And over there--see that lit tle message. It is now my turn to be surprised at your generosity. Boston? Imagine the self-possessed T. Boston. I have. "You don't understand. so please do not interrupt me." "Two hundred thousand. didn't I. The power rights alone are worth a million. Bob pi cked a pencil off Carey's desk and lightly indicated one of these skeletons. Carey. Morg an Carey practically confessing to a murder on a mere accusation. It was an enlargement from a ko dak picture of a desert scene.' "Behold the friend who looked in the canteen." "Then. from your point of view. Bos--I mean. this interview is degenerating into a ease of the pot calling the kettle black! I'm a fool. Sit quiet. I shall offer you nothing at all. Carey. and I'll tell you a very wonderful sto ry--profusely illustrated. Boston. "All right. and who is now here for justice for that skeleton. Boston--" "Don't call me that name" snarled Carey. now. then--you to leave the United States and not return during my lifetime. "Th at bundle of bones was once Oliver Corblay. It says: 'Friend. look in my canteen and se e that I get justice. I don't hold you that cheap. as the book agents say. that offer is truly generous. You can be convicted of s tage robbery and you haven't a dollar in the world to make your defense--while I --it takes _evidence_ to convict a man like me" "Yes. "Why should I sell you my water right? You must have water on the brain. I notice. I sprung a good one on you that time. since you object. It's rather a long story. Not much. But you're shy on imagination."Well." He wagged his head at Carey sorrowfully. He's waited twenty years for it. "You said a minute ago. You did not underestimate me. that I had brains. In the foreground lay two human skeletons. why have you called to see me? Is it blackmail? Why. however. I know your kind. but 197 . You'll have to raise the ante. that you fear it a little. You thin k you're above the law. Carey. I would not have come to you this morning if I did not have the goods on you. McGraw. and continued." Bob laughed. Mr." "St ill too low. I won't." "A million." He unrolled the paper which he had taken from his p ocket and held it up before his cringing victim. Boston--and I 'm--a greedy rascal.

' a reversal of y our real name. You distract my mind from my story . Judge of my surprise when I f ound this heap of bones. I learned from two of the oldest inhabita nts that a tenderfoot with a train of four burros had arrived there twenty years ago. unless attention could be called to the canteen. Passing the mouth of a box canyon I observed the footprints of a man in some old rotten lava formation. I investigated and discovered that owing to the peculia r formation in the box canyon the footprints were practically imperishable. after much inquiry. You told a tale of a sandsto rm and of having been separated from two Indians you had employed. and it gave him an idea. It seems to annoy you. every twenty yards. hoping I'd arrive in time. You shipped it under the name 'T. "I was the first man to travel that way in twenty years. and I fizzled a lot of my films owing to the strong light and t he fact that I had to stand on one of my jacks 198 . "I was so tremendously interested in that remarkable story. I had purchased a little came ra in Ehrenburg. "Two months ago I was heading up from the Colorado river toward Chuckwalla Tan ks. because you were so new to the country and so frightened after your experience in the desert. Don't squirm so. C. Morgan. This diary tells all about the discovery of the Baby Mine . never mind the name. It is a diary of a trip which you made with Oliver Corblay and his _mozo_ when you first came out to this country from--well. and when your bullion was ready you shipped it by express t o the mint in San Francisco. I headed south again fo r Ehrenburg. Here i s a copy of the story I found there. They remembered you quite well. I read the message in the lava and I looked in the canteen. It seems you lay over in Ehrenburg for a week and put in your time working up a lot of rich o re. a co ndensed history of that trip right down to the very day he died in that box cany on. that as s oon as I had refilled my water kegs at Chuckwalla Tanks. A de tailed explanation of the reason why they loom up so white would be interesting. In the express office at Ehrenburg I found a record of that shipment. You gave a deputy United States marshal five hundred dollars to act as your bodyguard that week. and they always do that toward the finish. He had a message to leave to posterity and he left it in his empty canteen. to the box canyon. So Oliver Corblay wrote that message in the lava. Carey. really the most ingenious pi ece of inlaid work I have ever seen. your attack upon him with a stone and your flight with the gold--in fact. Here. Suffice the fact that Oliver Corblay made the sa me discovery when he drifted into that box canyon twenty years ago. "Well.he's going to get it to-day. I could tell that the man who made those footprints was dying of thirst when he made them. I hustled up that box canyon with my canteen. However. the man who f ound the skeleton would merely bury it and never think of looking in the canteen . He was traveling in circles. "From Ehrenburg I made my way back up through Riverside county an d across San Bernardino county. but technical--so let it pass. The original is in a safe deposit box in Sa n Francisco.

Despite his terror. Oliver Corblay left a will. compou nded annually for twenty annums. Carey. where I sold my outfit an d bought a ticket for San Pasqual. Harley P. Q. I discover tha t on June 2. wherein I agree to prevail upon my wife not to prosecute you for murder and highway robb ery. by the way. he looked very tired and very pitiful. Carey in the Trad ers National Bank. Carey. Old age seemed to have descended upon him within the hour. and it is my intention to secure his estate for his heir without recourse to law. That original sum that you stole from Oliver Corblay gave you your sta rt in the west. "Now. and as you are reputed to be worth five or six millions now. P. I wore myself out t rying to figure the exact sum. Oliver Corblay's wif e is dead. C. happens to be my wife.432. Have the kindne ss. $157. and his daughter. It occurred to me that you might fight and ask to be shown. "If you are not too frightened. mouth half open in terror. Carey. at seven per cent per annum. howe ver.432. and as you will observe. to dig me up a million dollars. and the wrinkled skin around his thin jaws and the corners of his eyes hanging in green ish-white folds. C. However. This check was endorsed by T. I a m going to assess you half a million dollars for my wife--money which justly bel ongs to her--and another half million for my services as your attorney. in payment of bullion received. "By consu lting the old records of the United States Mint at San Francisco. I managed to get one good picture out of the lot. I think this is perfectly fair and square. which I shall not bother to file for probate. Morgan to Thomas M.55. Morgan Carey. "I left everything in that box canyon jus t as I found it. he was not yet 199 . y ou will readily diagnose my extreme interest in this case. it all shows up very well in the enlargement. with sagging shoulders. so might a coroner's jury. is my wife and next in succession. a cashier's check was issued to a man named T. but to permit you to live on and await the retributive justice that is boun d to overtake you. and the little rascal wouldn't stand still." CHAPTER XX Carey sat huddled dejectedly in his chair.when I took the picture. 18--. lay down his life in defense of Oliver Corblay's daughter. I am going to use mine for good. D. Donna. Hennage. aggregates a heap of money. where I arrived just in time to see my friend . who.55. for the reason that his ent ire estate consisted of the gold that you stole from him. my dear T. They could get out there in three days with an automobil e now. Morgan. You have used your money and your power for evil. and deposited by Thomas M. in the sum of $157. and finally concluded to call it square at half a million. Leaving the box canyon I pushed north to Danby.

Bob turned to Carey.daunted. He is a little older and more stolid since y ou saw him last. I told you I had this story profusely illustrated. opened it and gently propelled him out into the hall. "and I see no reason--" "Take him away" panted Carey. "and it's hard to trace a man by a mere similarity of names. gently pried him away from his vict im and held him fast. but his memory--" Sam Singer moved forward a few feet and glanc ed sharply at Carey. Mr. grasped him by the chin. "I knew the sight of two skeletons would hear ten you up. McGraw. and your identity es tablished beyond a doubt. Don't argue with me. you'll have to produce oral testimony. Carey. until you'd be as saucy as a badger. Morgan. eh? All right. and with his knee in th e small of the Cahuilla's back as a fulcrum. your knowledge of our United States' law will convince you that you cannot convict a man with money e nough to fight indefinitely. on such flimsy twenty-year-old evidence found in an abandoned canteen. step by step. and Bob looked down at h im. Carey lay quivering on the floor. "Are you satisfied?" he asked." he quavered. T. "Twenty years is a long time." "You can be traced through the Traders National. "In the face of which. sprang upon the land-grabb er. and not a stranger masquerading under your name." Bob st epped to the door of the private office which led into the hall. Morgan Carey. Carey. where you banked that check. on the insta nt that Sam Singer. He locked the door and returned to the desk. You cannot identify that skeleton. Bob came behind the Indian. but besp eaking awakened confidence. He opened it an d Sam Singer stepped inside. But you're as tame as a pet fox now." Carey smiled--a very weak sickly smile. for with the picture of _two skeletons_ before him he saw a gleam of ho pe and tried to fight back. "Permit me to present Oliver C orblay's Indian servant. Carey nodded feebly. McGraw. so let's get down to business. I want a million dollars. I can trace your career in this state. "I think he recognizes you in spite of your beard" said Bob sorrowfully. f rom the day you arrived in it. with a peculiar low guttural cry. and if I do not get it within h alf an hour I won't take it at all and I will no longer protect you 200 . and you will have to prov e that--that--well. or I'll be given the benefit of the doubt. I've got you wh ere the hair is short." "I must prove that the man who killed and robbed Oliver C orblay is T. and Bob marched Sam Sing er to the door.

Your own thoughtfulness in having this transfer of my water right ready f or my signature suggested this course to me. up to three years. "If I accept your terms" h e said huskily. "If you'll let me sit at my desk I'll draw those checks. Your banks will stand for the overdraft." "Certainly. It's worth a million and a half. I assure you.from that Indian. "I didn't have any particular choice. "we're going to do business withou t getting nasty with each other. no mat ter what you do" pleaded Carey piteously. I'll admit. Only I wan t the checks certified. If you have enemies I will not sell you in to their hands. Carey. When you do what I want you to do I will surr ender to you the original document found in the canteen. of course." "Thank you. I am not so unreasonable as to imagine ev en a rich man like you can produce a million dollars cash on such notice." Carey climbed back into his chair. I'll take your promissory note." "I wish my credit was as good as yours. Give me a list of banks to keep away from. I don't want to hurt you unnecessarily. and even then I'll have to overdraw my accoun ts with three banks." Carey covered his face with his hands a nd quivered. I understand you have a notary within hailing dis tance." "It's quite a chunk of cash to have on hand. "Do not worry. You understand. so dur ing the past week I took the liberty of having the title searched and an instrum ent of first mortgage drawn up by myself. that I shall not surre nder the evidence I have against you 201 . McGraw" quavered his victim." "I can't give you a cent over half a million to-day. Carey. You'll just have to guess. But I cannot give you a million dollars on five minutes' notice. and you can make the mortgage for as long a period as you please . of course. at seven per ce nt." he replied. "What bank do you anticipate selling it to?" he mumbled presently. Is that satisfactory?" "I guess so. It occurred to me that I could sell this mortgage to any Los Angeles bank. How much can you give me?" "Five hundred thousand. Mc Graw. You'll have to arrange it some other wa y if they will not. "how am I to know that you will keep your word?" "You will not k now it. and you can secure me with a little mortgage on your Springstreet-business b lock. All we have to do is to insert the fig ures and then you can sign it. Carey. and Bob realized that he was speaking the truth.

in orde r to be perfectly legal about this matter. near San Pasqual." Carey's face was livid with rage and hatred. "Here's your mine. and Carey handed them to B ob. wondering what you were going to do. I wish you l uck with your bargain. If you fail to rec ord this deed I shall construe your act as a breach of faith. I suppose I'm to forget that you're a stage robber. I'll take a chance with you after a ll.until those checks are paid. I wa s eating frijoles and flapjacks with three prospectors about fifteen miles south of Olancho at the time this stage was held up." Bob McGraw drew a large envelope from his pocket. the checks were returned. and Carey signed and swore to his signature. He continued: "I have had my signature to this deed to the Baby Mine at tested before a notary a few minutes prior to my arrival in your office. I've sold it to y ou for a million dollars. I'm going to fight you. Carey. telling them the checks were secured by force and threa ts of bodily harm. "I snipped the wires while you were hiding your face in your hands. when the notary ha d departed. "Now. I will not risk your telephoning the banks. and then proceed to make things disagreeable for you. and unless you spend one hundred dollars a year in ass essment work. I have here t he papers showing I have filed on twenty acres of a mining claim. I shall expect you to record this deed within three days. This document contains a statement of the most amazing ease of circum stantial evidence you ever heard of. Carey. Carey. cal led in a clerk and instructed him to take them to the various banks and arrange for the overdraft and certification--a comparatively easy task. I staked it as a mining claim and christened it the Baby Mine. "A nd in addition. I'm your attorney and you should be guided by my advice. The mortgage was next filled out. Morgan Carey. "By the gods. while Bob and Carey sat glaring at each other. These papers are merely a few a ffidavits. Its author is the chief of Wells Fargo and 202 . the title to this million-dollar property will lapse. and for them to decline payment. "we should show some consideration for all this money. " You may read what this envelope contains while waiting for central to answer you r call" he said gently. It's just twen ty acres of the Mojave desert." He han ded the document to T." Here a slight smile flicker ed across the young Desert Rat's face. who examined them and found them correct. return to you all but the five hundred thousand dollars which belongs to my wife. and I do not know that it conta ins a speck of valuable mineral." Carey wrote the checks." began Bob. proving an absolute alibi in the matter of that Garlock robbery. Remember. since Carey was a heavy stockholder in all three banks. but that is neither here nor there. and that will block any come-back you may start figuring on. the mom ent I leave your office. eh?" He reac hed for the telephone. the notary called in. Within half an hour. as if some very pleasant thought had prec eded it. and I was in Keeler the followin g morning. McGraw.

Mr. "You unfortunate man! Carey.besides. Tell me. I'm glad he's dead--no. He held out his hand. that I would have let you beat me out of that land if it hadn't been for H ennage? I didn't dare rush those selections through for patent until he was dead --and then it was too late. and it would only pain m e to see you behind the bars in your old age. " Say" he said. McGraw--don't lie to me--do you feel the slightest desir e to see me suffer. He was your partner and he warned me to keep off. Won't you shake hands with me?" Carey regarded him with frank curiosity." "Perhaps" said Carey dubiou sly. Don't go for a minute or two. or is this--er--brotherly-love talk of yours plain buncombe? " Bob McGraw advanced toward the man he had beaten. C arey. I--I'd like to believe that what you say is true . We must bear with it and try to cure it by gentle care and scientif ic treatment. He was ab ove a price. but I'm sorry now. I didn't even try. Do you think. McGraw . is a great deal like our other human ailments. but the trouble is--you see. Carey. used to say that it w as good policy to overlook a losing bet once in a while. Only human. my late friend. Had you left your affairs in any other hands I would have crushed you. Mc Graw. Prison cells have never cured a criminal. For twenty years you' ve realized that and you've suffered for it. but Hennage could not be bought." "I suppose money has nothing to do w ith the celerity with which you hasten to compound a felony. Crime. I have queer ideas on the subject of punishment for crime. "but it doesn't seem possible that I should meet two white men in this nigg er world. Your crime was a terrible mistake. And I am certain that my wife woul d not rejoice at the news of your hanging. "I try to be a man" he said--"to be too big to hate and put myself on a level with a b rute. rather than copper ever ything in sight. He meant it. "are you religious?" "No." "One moment. I'm sorry for you--so sorry that I' m going to use your ill-gotten gains for a good purpose. I think the species became extinct with the death of my friend Hennage . McGraw. such as the chicken-pox and tonsilitis." "_Your_ friend--" "Why not? He liked me--I know he did. Hennage. Mr. Good-day. Had he l ived I would have made of him my friend. Come up into Owens vall ey three years from now and I'll prove it to you. And I liked him." 203 . and I knew he meant it--so I stayed off. I'm not--I was glad an hour ago. eh?" sneered Carey. I have never encountered your point of vi ew heretofore. for he was the only human being I have ever met that I could trust implicitly.

but I'll forgive you. I figured that the e nd justified the means. of the families without money. "I don't understand" he mumbled." Carey sat in his chair. Mr. "Think what my sch eme means to the poor devils who haven't got our brains and power! Think of the women and little children toiling in sweat-shops. I was worthy of Hennage's trust and friendship until a few minutes ago. I never mentioned it to him. Hennage nev er did a mean or a cowardly act." "Then he bluffed you. "I'd have given a million dollars for a friend like him. "I met Hennage in Bakersfield. and when it threatened to scorch hi s fingers the promoter of Donnaville tossed the blazing fragments into a conveni ent cuspidor. His thr eat was a bluff. Harl ey P. Hennage was my friend." and he waved his arm toward Donnavi lle. He was clasping and unclasping his fingers in a manner pathetically suggestive of helplessness. waits for them there in the north. and he told me to keep my hands off those applications. and neither did my wife. Morgan Carey's mortgage fro m his pocket. Who knows? Perhaps I may end u p by liking you?" And then Bob McGraw sat down by his enemy and unfolded to him his dream of Donnaville." "I was selling you my friendship--at cut rates. What great scheme is thi s of yours that caused you to appear unworthy of the friend who was so worthy of you? I have a great curiosity to understand you. "It's up-hill work."Is that why you failed to act immediately after you became convinced that I was an outlaw and would not dare claim the land when it should be granted to my cli ents?" demanded Bob. and where he got his information of my land deal is a mystery. He did not have five cents inve sted in my scheme." Carey smiled w anly. "Think of it. Mr. while a barren empire. Slowly the little flame mounted. and to-day I used my power over you to extort h alf a million dollars from you to further a scheme of mine. and I ask you to forgive me. McGraw. He looked up and saw Carey regarding him curiously. "That was your mortgage" the land-grabber said wonderingly. without food and without coal. with his head bowed. Carey. Carey nodded. scratched a match on his trouser-leg and held it under the flutter ing leaves. 204 . "He told me to keep off and I kept off. facing the winter in such cities a s Chicago and New York. It did not. but not my partner. the solution of which perished with Harley P. Carey" he pleaded. I--I--never--had--one. which you and I can transform to an Eden. Mr. Harley P." He sighed. Carey. without hope. "You have burned half a million do llars." Bob McGraw drew T.

_Adios. You are not a young man any longer. Pennycook has lost control of her husband. T. You've never dreame d! And you've never had a friend that loved you for what you were. and when you have finished the job I'll guarant ee to plant you up on the slope of Kearsarge. Yet. a little shabbier and more down at the heel than when we saw it first. You've sold your manhood for money--and you have never had a friend! Good God. Won't you come in with me and play the big game? Be my backer in this enterprise and let the future wipe out the mi stakes of the past. For instance. Mr. She i s still a great stickler for principle. Let your dead past bury itself and start fresh again. "I never do things in a hurry. and the job was worth while. Carey? Because you weren't worth loving. "Would you trust me?" he queried huskily. It's a habit I have. It appears that Dan Pennycook's half-hearted accusation of Miss Pickett as the 205 . and at your passing the curses of your people will be your portion. Carey. and say: 'That is mine. such is the fact. Mr. "I burned your mortgage" said Bob smil ing. Do you know w hy. What need have you for money? It 's only a game you're playing. Morgan Carey. but she trembles if her husband looks at her. Carey. You have received from the world to date just what you put into it--envy and greed and hate and malice and selfishn ess. and t hey parted. into Owens valley. I helped create it. T here have been few changes--the few that have occurred having arrived unheralded and hence have remained undiscovered. can look down on the valley that you have prepared for a happy people. Carey.' Will yo u play the game with me. and I don't quite understand you. and get some joy out of life?" The lan d-grabber--the parasite who had lived only to destroy--looked up at Bob McGraw. You've got a chance. as it mounts to t he God of a Square Deal. and I did it for lov e. where your soul. You have subscribed to charities. man-a game that fascinates you. Our story is told. San Pasqual is still a frontier town--a little dr earier. and in all your busy life you have accomplished nothing of benefit to the world._" Carey shook his hand. Carey! There's so much fun in just living. and then robbed the objects of your charity of th e land that would have made them independent of you. Carey. And now I must toddle along. I must think it over."There's glory enough for us all. Think of the good you can d o with the proceeds of the evil you have done! Ah. I finished what the Almighty commenced. my friend. "I'll think it over--friend" Carey replied. Carey. and be a builder of empire. Come wi th me and be a Pagan. and I'm afraid you've never been young. it is not generally known t hat Mrs. what a tragedy! Co me with me." "D o.

Sam was suspicious of paper money.author of the anonymous note found on the body of Boras O'Rourke preyed on the s pinster's mind. Hennage's dying request. or vice versa if you will. and when Bob McGraw started an investigation she could stand the strain no longer. Her triumph over the acquisition of the "Mrs. and safe within the old adobe walls Sam Singer and Soft Wind are rounding out their placid lives. who gave him a thousand dollars for it. It appears that Sam Singer. The f irst time he tried them on Sam detected a slight obstruction in the toe of the r ight gaiter. Hen nage's watch. She fled in terror to the Pennycook home and made certain dem ands upon Mrs. so he took it t o Bob McGraw. He considered he had driven an excellent bargain. Hence. and San Pasqual took a night off to give her a charivari. jumped a south-bou nd freight and was seen no more. He removed this obstruction and discovered that it was a piece of p aper money. and God has blessed him with more heart than head. Two weeks after th e ceremony Miss Pickett's husband. After all. Pennycook--which makes it all t he harder for her--but contents himself with a queer look at the lady when she b ecomes "obstreperous like"--and that suffices. Pennycook had made the ball and Miss Pickett fired it. He remembers every time he looks at Mr. fell heir to the gambler's new gaiters. Pennycook. plain. The Hat Ranch still stands in the desert below San Pasqual. He has succeeded to the hat business. She begged D an Pennycook to use his influence with Donna to have the investigation quashed. Donna guessed the honest fellow's distress and accordingly the matter was forgotten by everybody--except Dan Pennycook. Bob McG raw has secured title to it. who took refuge in her well-known reputation for probi ty and principle and informed Miss Pickett that she was "actin' crazy like". when Mr. despairing of the savings. In the lonely sage- covered wind-swept cemetery at San Pasqual there rises a black granite monument. Pennycook appeared at the Hat Ranch and asked Donna to requ est her husband to forget about that anonymous letter. Miss Pickett is no longer the postmistress. To quote a commonplace saying. Pennycook. She resigned from the post-office to marry h im. He has never said anything to Mrs. He has not forgotten. severely. whe reupon Miss Pickett sought Dan Pennycook and hysterically confessed to the autho rship of that fatal anonymous note. and moreover he has money on deposit with Bob McGraw. Sam Singer was well please d thereat. alleging as extenuating circumstances that s he had been aided and abetted therein by Mrs." was so shortlived. Sam Singer is now one of the soli d citizens of San Pasqual. she is the mother of h is children. that Miss Pickett she remains to th is very day. and the San Pasqualians found it so difficult to rid themselv es of the habit of calling her Miss Pickett. Like all Indians. in accordance with Mr. also she is no longer Miss Pickett. eminently befitting 206 . Mrs. although in this respect she is not unlike a politician who has all the emoluments of office wit hout the honors. else would Miss Pickett make a public confession and disgrace the name of Pennyc ook. In her forty-third year she married the only man who ever asked her--and he was a youth of twenty-five who suspected Miss Pickett of a savings account.

and presently he found himself standing at the foot of Mr." "My husband and I t hought so. Carey." Carey bowed and continued." T. "I do not know the author" s he said. 207 . Mr. he was seized with a morbid desire to wand er through San Pasqual's queer cemetery. H ennage's grave.' you w ill find that little verse on the fly-leaf. reading the epitaph. Hennage.one who was not of the presuming kind. I had a slight acquaintance with Mr. "I was particularly interested. WHILE HE WHO WALKS IN LOVE MAY WANDER FAR YET GOD WILL BRING HIM WHERE THE BLESSED ARE. and it seemed to me that the lines were peculiarly appropriate. There is an epitaph on that monument whic h is worth recording here: WHO SEEKS FOR HEAVEN ALONE TO SAVE HIS SOUL. Morgan Carey dropped off the north-bou nd train at San Pasqual." Donna looked at him gravely. BENEATH THIS STONE HARLEY P. HENN AGE RESTS FROM HIS WANDERINGS. madam" he said." "Thank you. and to his great surprise a voic e at his side answered him. I do not know. Carey" she replied. "I wonder who was the geni us that evolved that verse?" he muttered aloud. and learning that he had two hours to waste while waiti ng for the stage to start up country. it would be-- better if you would please leave the cemetery. to bring water for the blue grass on this grave. An old enemy of yours. "Your husband told me once that he had some great plans afoot. Mr. One day T. It impressed him so greatly that he copied the verse in a little moroccocovered memorandum book. MAY KEEP THE PATH BUT WILL NOT REACH THE GOAL. The only monument in the cemetery attra cted his attention. It was a woman's voice. He is coming now. Perhaps Van Dyke wrote it. "Thank you. And if you will pardon me for suggesting it. comes here three times a week by my orders. and did me the honor to ask me to help him--" he paused. "I have neither bitterne ss nor revengeful feeling against you. Morgan Carey turned and lifted his hat. "but if you will read Henry Van Dyke's book 'The Other Wise Man. a Cahuilla Indian. wat ching her wistfully--"and I want to know if you object to me as an associate of your husband in his work. And you are--" "I am Donna Corblay.

her mother. an d as Donna knelt by the grave of the man who had possessed that quality to such an extent that he had considered his life cheap as a means of expressing it. with the sublime result already in sight! Surely there was only one quality in humankind that really mattered.htm Corrected EDITIONS. and Donna. sad. Carey's crime had been a sordid one. Ah.pdf 208 . Borax O'Bourke and the long. and now that the finish was reached she realized the trut h of Bob McGraw's philosophy--that out of all great evils great good must come. Tell your husba nd that I want to help him. but with her broader vision Donna saw that the lives of the few must ever be counted as paltry sacrifices in the advancement of the race. hungry heart of Inyo. Harley P. lnchc10a. barre n years of her own girlhood had all been sacrifices to this man's insatiable gre ed and lust for power." THE END PGCC Collection eBook: The Long Chance. "but I haven't paid all of the price. I have thought it over and I was coming to tell him myself. a ll that is small and weak and unworthy may not survive. She saw her husband and his one-time enemy toiling side by side in the great. Hennage. revenge and inhumanity are but the burdens of a day. realized that the past was dead and only the future remained.pdf or lnchc10. by Peter B. they had all suffered. help me to raise a Man and teach him to be kind. she prayed that her infant son might be endowed with the virtues and brains of his father and the wanderer who slept beneath the stone: "Dear God. Truly selfishness. greed. that I would appreciate the privilege of being a minor ity stockholder in his enterprise and I will honor his sight drafts while I have a dollar left. How puerile did the sacrifices of the past seem now- how terribly out of proportion to the great task that lay before them. gazing after him. l nchc11. Tell him. Kyne The PGCC Collection eBo ok: THE LONG CHANCE eBook file: lnchc10. He r father. preparing homes for the helples s and the oppressed-working out the destinies of their people. hot. but now out o f the dregs of their suffering the glad years would come bearing their precious burden of love and service. please.pdf Separate source VERSION. yes. while that which is grea t and good in a man must some day break its hobbles and sweep him on to the fulf illment of his destiny. and she cried out with the happiness that was hers. softening suffering and despair and turning away wrath."I have suffered" he said." He lifted his hat and walked away.

Charles Franks and the Online Distr ibuted Proofreading Team. *Ver.02/11/02* 209 . Juliet Sutherland.Produced by Anne Soulard.