[Frontispiece: "_'Tom!' she breathed. 'Tom! you do think I betrayed you

after all...'_"]




Author of

"_Hidden Trails,_" "_The Owner of the Lazy D,_" "_Lynch Lawyers_."




Publishers New York

Published by arrangement with Doubleday, Page & Company










I. Tom Loudon

II. At the Bar S

III. Shots on Pack-Saddle

IV. The Skinned Cattle

V. Their Own Deceivings

VI. Pestilent Fellows

VII. Paradise Bend

VIII. The Amazing Mackenzie

IX. Authors of Confusion

X. The Horse Thief

XI. Rocket

XII. Scotty Advises

XIII. The Dance

XIV. A Determined Woman

XV. A Hidden Trail

XVI. Kate is Helpful

XVII. Mrs. Burr Relieves Her Mind

XVIII. A Murder and a Killing

XIX. Marysville

XX. The Railroad Corral

XXI. The Judge's Office

XXII. Under the Ridge

XXIII. The Smoke of Conflict

XXIV. Before the Dawn

XXV. Trail's End




"And don't forget that ribbon!" called Kate Saltoun from the

ranch-house door. "And don't lose the sample!"

"I won't!" shouted Tom Loudon, turning in his saddle. "I'll get her

just like you said! Don't you worry any!"

He waved his hat to Kate, faced about, and put his horse to a lope.

"Is it likely now I'd forget?" he muttered. "We'd do more'n that for

her, wouldn't we, fellah?"

The horse, a long-legged chestnut named Ranger, turned back one ear.

He was accustomed to being questioned, was Ranger. Tom Loudon loved

him. He had bought him a five-year-old from the 88 ranch the year

before, and he would allow no one save Kate Saltoun to ride him. For

the sun and the moon, in the estimation of Tom Loudon, rose and set in

the black eyes of Kate Saltoun, the exceedingly handsome daughter of

John T. Saltoun, the owner of the great Bar S ranch.

This day Loudon was riding into Farewell for the ranch mail, and Kate

had commissioned him to do an errand for her. To serve his lady was

joy to Loudon. He did not believe that she was aware of his state of

mind. A flirt was Kate, and a charming one. She played with a man as

a cat plays with a mouse. At which pleasant sport Kate was an adept.

But Loudon realized nothing of all this. Shrewd and penetrative in his

business, where Kate was concerned he saw nothing but the obvious.

Where the trail snaked over Indian Ridge, ten miles from the ranch

house, Loudon pulled up in front of a lone pine tree. On the trunk of

the pine a notice was tacked. Which notice set forth briefly that two

hundred dollars' reward was offered for the person or persons of the

unknown miscreant or miscreants who were depleting the herds of the Bar

S and the Cross-in-a-box outfits. It was signed by Sheriff Block.

Who the miscreants were no one knew with certainty. But strange tales

were told of the 88 punchers. It was whispered that they carried

running-irons on their saddles. Certainly they displayed, when riding

the range, a marked aversion to the company of men from the other


The remains of small fires had been found time and again in draws

bordering the 88 range, and once a fire-marked cinch-ring had been

picked up. As the jimmy and bunch of skeleton keys in a man's pocket

so are the running-iron and the extra cinch-ring under a puncher's

saddle-skirts. They indicate a criminal tendency; specifically, in the

latter case, a whole-hearted willingness to brand the cattle of one's


Loudon read the notice of reward, slow contempt curling his lips.

"Signs," he said, gently. "Signs----! What we need is

Vigilantes--Vigilantes an' a bale o' rope!"

He turned in his saddle and looked back over the way he had come.

Fifty miles to the south the Frying Pan Mountains lay in a cool, blue,

tumbling line.

From where Loudon sat on his horse to the Frying Pans stretched the

rolling range, cut by a thin, kinked strip of cottonwoods marking the

course of a wandering river, pockmarked with draws and shallow basins,

blotched with clumps of pine and tamarack, and humped with knolls and

sprawling hills. The meandering stream was the Lazy, and all the land

in sight, and beyond for that matter, was the famous Lazy River country

held by three great ranches, the Cross-in-a-box, the Bar S, and the 88.

Of these the 88 was the largest and the farthest west of the three, its

eastern line running along the high-bluffed banks of the Falling Horse,

which emptied into the Lazy some ten miles from the 88 ranch house.

East of the 88 lay the Bar S, and east of the Bar S was the

Cross-in-a-box. The two latter ranches owned the better grazing, the

more broken country lying within the borders of the 88 ranch.

Beyond the 88 range, across the Falling Horse, were the Three Sisters

Mountains, a wild and jumbled tangle of peaks and narrow valleys where

the hunter and the bear and the mountain lion lived and had their

beings. East of the Lazy River country lay the Double Diamond A and

the Hog-pen outfits; north and south stretched other ranches, but all

the ranges ended where the Three Sisters began.

Loudon swung his gaze westward, then slowly his eyes slid around and

fastened on the little brown dots that were the ranch buildings of the

Bar S. He shook his head gently and sighed helplessly.

He was thinking partly of Kate and partly of her father, the gray old

man who owned the Bar S and would believe nothing evil of his

neighbours, the hard-riding 88 boys. Loudon was morally certain that

forty cows within the last three months had transferred their

allegiance from Bar S to 88, and he had hinted as much to Mr. Saltoun.

But the latter had laughed him to scorn and insisted that only a few

cows had been taken and that the lifting was the work of independent

rustlers, or perhaps of one of the other ranches. Nevertheless, in

response to the repeated urging of his foreman, Bill Rainey, Mr.

Saltoun had joined with the Cross-in-a-box in offering a reward for the


Loudon was well aware of the reason for Mr. Saltoun's fatuous

blindness. That reason was Sam Blakely, the 88 manager, who came often

to the Bar S ranch and spent many hours in the company of Kate. Mr.

Saltoun did not believe that a dog would bite the hand that fed him.

But it all depends on the breed of dog. And Blakely was the wrong


"He shore is a pup," Loudon said, softly, "an' yellow at that. He'd

steal the moccasins off a dead Injun. An' Block would help him, the


Then, being young, Loudon practised the road-agent's spin on the notice

of reward tacked on the pine tree, and planted three accurate bullets

in the same spot.

"Here, you! What yuh doin'?" rasped a grating voice in Loudon's

immediate rear.

Loudon turned an unhurried head. Ten yards distant a tall man,

black-bearded, of a disagreeable cast of countenance, was leaning

forward across an outcrop.

"I asked yuh what yuh was doin'?" repeated the peevish individual,

glaring at Loudon.

"I heard yuh the first time, Sheriff," replied Loudon, placidly. "I

was just figurin' whether to tell yuh I was shoein' a horse or catchin'

butterflies. Which answer would yuh like best?"

"Yuh think yo're mighty funny, Tom Loudon, but I tell yuh flat if yuh

don't go slow 'round here I'll find a quick way o' knockin' yore horns


"Yuh don't say. When yuh goin' to begin?"

Loudon beamed upon the sheriff, his gun held with studied carelessness.

Sheriff Block walked from behind his breastwork, his eyes watchful, his

thumbs carefully hooked in the armholes of his vest.

"That notice ain't no target," he grunted, halting beside the pine tree.

"It is now," remarked Loudon, genially.

"It won't be no more."

"O' course not, Sheriff. I wouldn't think o' shootin' at it if you say

no. It's a right pretty piece o' readin'. Did yuh write it all


The sheriff's eyes became suddenly blank and fixed. His right thumb

slowly unhooked.

"I only fired three shots," observed Loudon, the muzzle of his

six-shooter bearing on the pit of the sheriff's stomach.

The sheriff's right thumb rehooked itself hurriedly. His frame relaxed.

"Yuh shouldn't get mad over a joke," continued Loudon. "It's plumb

foolish. Been hidin' behind that rock long?"

"I wasn't hidin' behind it. I was down in the draw, an' I seen you

a-readin' the notice, an' I come up."

Loudon's gray eyes twinkled. He knew that the sheriff lied. He knew

that Block had heard his comments on Blakely and his own worshipful

person, but evidently the sheriff did not consider this an opportune

time for taking umbrage.

"So yuh come up, did yuh? Guess yuh thought it was one o' the rustlers

driftin' in to see what reward was out for him, didn't yuh? But don't

get downhearted. Maybe one'll come siftin' along yet. Why don't yuh

camp here, Sheriff? It'll be easier than ridin' the range for 'em, an'

a heap healthier. Now, Sheriff, remember what I said about gettin'

red-headed. Say, between friends, an' I won't tell even the little

hoss, who do you guess is doin' the rustlin'?"

"If I knowed," growled the sheriff, "his name'd be wrote on the notice."

"Would it? I was just wonderin'. Habit I got."

"Don't you fret none about them rustlers. I'll get 'em if it takes ten


"Make it twenty, Sheriff. They'll keep right on electin' yuh."

"Do yuh mean to say the rustlers elected me?" exploded the sheriff.

"O' course not," chided Loudon, gently. "Now what made yuh think I

meant that?"

"Well, yuh said----" began the sheriff.

"I said 'they,'" interrupted Loudon. "You said 'rustlers'. Stay in

the saddle, Sheriff. You'll stub your toe sometime if yuh keep on

a-travellin' one jump ahead o' the hoss."

"Yo're ---- smart for a cow-punch."

"It is a cinch to fool most of 'em, ain't it--especially when yo're a


Loudon's eyes were wide open and child-like in their gray blandness.

But the sheriff did not mistake his man. Block knew that if his hand

dropped, a bullet would neatly perforate his abdomen. The sheriff was

not a coward, but he had sense enough not to force an issue. He could

afford to wait.

"I'll see yuh again," said the sheriff, harshly, and strode diagonally

down the slope.

Loudon watched him until he vanished among the pines a hundred yards

below. Then Loudon touched his horse with the spur and rode on, chin

on shoulder, hands busy reloading his six-shooter. Three minutes later

Loudon saw the sheriff, mounted on his big black stallion, issue from

the wood. The great horse scrambled up the hillside, gained the trail,

and headed south.

"Bet he's goin' to the 88," said Loudon. "I'd give ten dollars to know

what Block was roostin' behind that rock for. Gawd! I shore would

admire to be Sheriff o' Fort Creek County for thirty days!"

Eleven miles from Indian Ridge he topped a rise and saw below him

Farewell's straggly street, flanked by several false-fronted saloons,

two stores, one hotel leaning slightly askew, and a few unkempt houses,

the whole encircled by the twinkling pickets of innumerable bottles and

tin cans.

He rode along the street, fetlock-deep in dust, and stopped at the

hotel corral. Freeing Ranger of the saddle and bridle, he opened the

gate and slapped the chestnut on the hip.

"Go on in, fellah," said Loudon. "Yore dinner's a-comin'."

He walked around to the front of the hotel. Under the wooden awning a

beefy, red-faced citizen was dozing in a chair tilted back against the

wall. Loudon tapped the snoring individual on the shoulder. The

sleeper awoke gaspingly, his eyes winking. The chair settled on four

legs with a crash.

"Howdy, Bill," said Loudon, gravely.

"Howdy, Tom," gurgled the other.

"Hoss in the corral an' me here, Bill. Feeds for two."

"Sure. We've done et, but you go in an' holler for Lize. She'll fix

you up."

The fat landlord waddled stableward and Loudon entered the hotel. A

partition that did not reach the ceiling divided the sleeping

apartments from the dining room. Carelessly hanging over the partition

were two shirts and someone's chaps.

The whole floor slanted, for, as has been said, the hotel leaned

sidewise. The long table in the dining room, covered with cracked and

scaling oilcloth, was held unsteadily upright by three legs and a

cracker box.

Loudon, quite untouched by this scene of shiftlessness, hooked out a

chair with his foot, dropped his hat on the floor, and sat down.

"Oh, Mis' Lainey!" he called.

A female voice, somewhat softened by distance and a closed door,

instantly began to make oration to the effect that if any lazy chunker

of a puncher thought he was to eat any food he was very much mistaken.

The door banged open. A slatternly, scrawny woman appeared in the

doorway. She was still talking. But the clacking tongue changed its

tone abruptly.

  • arrangement [ə´reindʒmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.整理;排列;筹备   (初中英语单词)
  • paradise [´pærədais] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天堂;乐园   (初中英语单词)
  • amazing [ə´meiziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惊人的;惊奇的   (初中英语单词)
  • hidden [´hid(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  hide 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • saddle [´sædl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鞍子 v.装鞍(于)   (初中英语单词)
  • farewell [feə´wel] 移动到这儿单词发声  int.再见 n.&a.告别   (初中英语单词)
  • errand [´erənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.差使,使命   (初中英语单词)
  • charming [´tʃɑ:miŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可爱的;极好的   (初中英语单词)
  • indian [´indiən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.印度的 n.印度人   (初中英语单词)
  • briefly [´bri:fli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.简短地;简略地   (初中英语单词)
  • reward [ri´wɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.报答;报酬;奖赏   (初中英语单词)
  • sheriff [´ʃerif] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.郡长;行政长官   (初中英语单词)
  • criminal [´kriminəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.犯罪的 n.罪犯   (初中英语单词)
  • tendency [´tendənsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.趋势;倾向   (初中英语单词)
  • gently [´dʒentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温和地;静静地   (初中英语单词)
  • shallow [´ʃæləu] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.肤浅的;表面的   (初中英语单词)
  • stream [stri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.河 vi.流出;飘扬   (初中英语单词)
  • running [´rʌniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奔跑的;流动的   (初中英语单词)
  • hunter [´hʌntə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猎人;猎狗;猎马   (初中英语单词)
  • partly [´pɑ:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.部分地;不完全地   (初中英语单词)
  • nevertheless [,nevəðə´les] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.然而;不过   (初中英语单词)
  • manager [´mænidʒə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.经理;管理人;干事   (初中英语单词)
  • softly [´sɔftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.软化地;柔和地   (初中英语单词)
  • accurate [´ækjurət] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.准确的;精密的   (初中英语单词)
  • countenance [´kauntinəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.面部表情;脸色;面容   (初中英语单词)
  • hooked [hukt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.钩状的;上瘾的   (初中英语单词)
  • evidently [´evidəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明显地   (初中英语单词)
  • sometime [´sʌmtaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.曾经 a.从前的   (初中英语单词)
  • bullet [´bulit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.子弹   (初中英语单词)
  • coward [´kauəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胆怯者 a.胆小的   (初中英语单词)
  • hillside [´hilsaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.山腰   (初中英语单词)
  • slightly [´slaitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.轻微地;细长的   (初中英语单词)
  • wooden [´wudn] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.木制的;呆板的   (初中英语单词)
  • landlord [´lændlɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地主;房东;店主   (初中英语单词)
  • female [´fi:meil] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.女(性)的 n.女人   (初中英语单词)
  • abruptly [ə´brʌptli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.突然地;粗鲁地   (初中英语单词)
  • chestnut [´tʃesnʌt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.栗子;栗树;栗色(马)   (高中英语单词)
  • exceedingly [ik´si:diŋli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.非常地,极度地   (高中英语单词)
  • shrewd [ʃru:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精明的;狡猾的   (高中英语单词)
  • concerned [kən´sə:nd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有关的;担心的   (高中英语单词)
  • certainty [´sə:tənti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.确实(性);确信   (高中英语单词)
  • skeleton [´skelitən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.骨骼;骷髅   (高中英语单词)
  • contempt [kən´tempt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.轻蔑;受辱;不顾   (高中英语单词)
  • tangle [´tæŋgəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.(使)缠结;纠纷   (高中英语单词)
  • westward [´westwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.向西的 n.西方;西部   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • offering [´ɔfəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.提供;礼物;捐献   (高中英语单词)
  • disagreeable [,disə´gri:əbl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.令人不悦的   (高中英语单词)
  • mighty [´maiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.强有力的 ad.很   (高中英语单词)
  • studied [´stʌdid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.故意的;有计划的   (高中英语单词)
  • bearing [´beəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.举止;忍耐;关系   (高中英语单词)
  • strode [strəud] 移动到这儿单词发声  stride的过去式   (高中英语单词)
  • innumerable [i´nju:mərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无数的,数不清的   (高中英语单词)
  • bridle [´braidl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(马)笼头;束缚   (高中英语单词)
  • carelessly [´kɛəlisli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.粗心地;疏忽地   (高中英语单词)
  • hanging [´hæŋiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绞刑 a.悬挂着的   (高中英语单词)
  • upright [´ʌprait] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.直立的 ad.直立地   (高中英语单词)
  • farthest [´fɑ:ðist] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&a.最远(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • foreman [´fɔ:mən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.领班;陪审团主席   (英语四级单词)
  • grating [´greitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.格栅 a.刺耳的   (英语四级单词)
  • watchful [´wɔtʃfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.注意的;戒备的   (英语四级单词)
  • muzzle [´mʌzəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.枪口,炮口   (英语四级单词)
  • hurriedly [´hʌridli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.仓促地,忙乱地   (英语四级单词)
  • abdomen [´æbdəmən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.腹(部)   (英语四级单词)
  • estimation [,esti´meiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.估计;评价;判断   (英语六级单词)
  • willingness [´wiliŋnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.情愿,乐意,自愿   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • harshly [´hɑ:ʃli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.粗糙地,冷酷地   (英语六级单词)
  • cracked [krækt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有裂缝的;碎的;粗哑   (英语六级单词)
  • untouched [ʌn´tʌtʃt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.原样的;未触动过的   (英语六级单词)
  • oration [ə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.演说;引语   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:55:22
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