Isom's story of the fight with ghastly joy in her death-marked face.


ALL night the court-house was guarded and on guard. At one

corner of the square Rufe Stetson, with a few men, sat on watch in

old Sam Day's cabin-the fortress of the town, built for such a

purpose, and used for it many times before. The prisoners, too,

were alert, and no Stetson ventured into the open square, for the

moon was high; an exposure anywhere was noted instantly by the

whistle of a rifle-ball, and the mountaineer takes few risks except

under stress of drink or passion. Rome Stetson had placed pickets

about the town wherever surprise was possible. All night he

patrolled the streets to keep his men in such readiness as he could

for the attack that the Lewallens would surely make to rescue their

living friends and to avenge the dead ones.

But the triumph was too great and unexpected. Two Braytons

were dead; several more were prisoners with young Jasper in the

courthouse; and drinking began.

As the night deepened without attack the Stetsons drank more, and

grew reckless. A dance was started. Music and "moonshine" were

given to every man who bore a Winchester. The night was broken

with drunken yells, the random discharge of fire-arms, and the

mono-tone of heavy feet. The two leaders were helpless, and the

inaction of the Lewallens puzzled them. Chafed with anxiety, they

kept their eyes on the court-house or on the thicket of gloom where

their enemies lay. But the woods were as quiet as the pall of

shadows over them. Once Rome, making his rounds, saw a figure

crawling through a field of corn. It looked like Crump's, but

before he could fire the man rolled like a ball down the bushy bank

to the river. An instant later some object went swiftly past a side

street-somebody on horseback-and a picket fired an alarm. The

horse kept on, and Rome threw his rifle on a patch of moonlight,

but when the object flashed through, his finger was numbed at the

trigger. In the moonlight the horse looked gray, and the rider was

seated sidewise. A bullet from the court-house clipped his hat-brim

as he ran recklessly across the street to where Steve Marcum stood

in the dark behind old Sam's cabin.

"Jim Hale 'll git him as he goes up the road," said Steve,

calmly-and then with hot impatience, "Why the hell don't he


Rome started forward in the moonlight, and Steve caught his arm.

Two bullets hissed from the court-house, and he fell back.

A shot sounded from the bushes far away from the road. The horse

kept on, and splashed into Troubled Fork, and Steve swore bitterly.

"Hit hain't Jim. Hit's that mis'able Bud Vickers; he's been a-stan

din' guard out'n the bushes 'stid o' the road. That was a spy, I tell

ye, 'n' the coward let him in and let him out. They'll know now

we're all drunk! Whut's the matter?

Rome's mouth was half open. He looked white and sick, and Steve

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