springing from the back of the gray at the court-house steps, was
"I'll kill the fust man that lifts his finger to hurt the gal," Rome
said, knocking the drunken man's gun in the air. "We hain't fightin'
It was too late to oppose her, and the crowd stood helplessly
watching. No one dared approach, so, shielding with her body the
space of the opening door, she threw the sack of food within. Then
she stood a moment talking and, turning, climbed to her saddle.
The gray was spotted with foam, and showed the red of his nostrils
with every breath as, with face flushed and eyes straight before
her, she rode slowly toward the crowd. What was she about?
Rome stood rigid, his forgotten pistols hanging at each side; the
mouth of the drunken mountaineer was open with stupid wonder;
the rest fell apart as she came around the corner of the cabin and,
through the space given, rode slowly, her skirt almost brushing
Rome, looking neither to the right nor to the left; and when she
had gone quite through them all, she wheeled and rode, still
slowly, through the open fields toward the woods which sheltered
the Lewallens, while the crowd stood in bewildered silence
looking after her. Yells of laughter came from the old court-house.
Some of the Stetsons laughed, too; some swore, a few grumbled;
but there was not one who was not stirred by the superb daring of
the girl, though she had used it only to show her contempt.
" Rome, you're a fool; though, fer a fac', we can't shoot a woman;
'n' anyways I ruther shoot her than the hoss. But lemme tell ye, thar
was more'n sump'n to eat in that bag! They air up to some dodge."
Rufe Stetson had watched the incident through a port-hole of the
cabin, and his tone was at once jesting and anxious.
"That grub won't last more'n one day, I reckon," said the drunken
mountaineer. We'll watch out fer the gal nex' time. We're boun' to
git 'em one time or t'other."
"She rid through us to find out how many of us wasn't dead drunk,"
said Steve Marcum, still watching the girl as she rode on, toward
the woods; "'n' I'm a-thinkin' they'll be down on us purty soon now,
'n' I reckon we'll have to run fer it. Look thar boys!"
The girl had stopped at the edge of the woods; facing the town, she
waved her bonnet high above her head.
"Well, whut in the--! "he said, with slow emphasis, and then he
leaped from the door with a yell. The bonnet was a signal to the
beleaguered Lewallens. The rear door of the courthouse had been
quietly opened, and the prisoners were out in a body and
scrambling over the fence before the pickets could give an alarm.
The sudden yells, the crack of Winchesters, startled even the
revellers and all who could, headed by Rome and Steve Marcum,
sprang into the square, and started in pursuit. But the Lewallens
had got far ahead, and were running in zigzag lines to dodge the
balls flying after them. Half-way to the woods was a gully of redDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>