clay, and into this the fleetest leaped, and turned instantly to cover

their comrades. The Winchesters began to rattle from the woods,

and the bullets came like rain from everywhere.

"T-h-up! T-h-up! T-h-up! " there were three of them-the peculiar

soft, dull messages of hot lead to living flesh. A Stetson went

down; another stumbled; Rufe Stetson, climbing the fence, caught

at his breast with an oath, and fell back. Rome and Steve dropped

for safety to the ground. Every other Stetson turned in a panic, and

every Lewallen in the gully leaped from it, and ran under the

Lewallen fire for shelter in the woods. The escape was over.

"That was a purty neat trick," said Steve, wiping a red streak from

his cheek. " Nex' time she tries that, she'll git herself into trouble."

At nightfall the wounded leader and the dead one were carried up

the mountain, each to his home; and there was mourning far into

the night on one bank of the Cumberland, and, serious though Rufe

Stetson's wound was, exultation on the other. But in it Rome could

take but little part. There had been no fault to find with him in the

fight. But a reaction had set in when he saw the girl flash in the

moonlight past the sights of his Winchester, and her face that day

had again loosed within him a flood of feeling that drove the lust

for revenge from his veins. Even now, while he sat in his own

cabin, his thoughts were across the river where Martha, broken at

last, sat at her death vigils. He knew what her daring ride that day

had cost her, with old Jasper dead out there in the woods; and as

she passed him he had grown suddenly humbled, shamed. He grew

heart-sick now as he thought of it all; and the sight of his mother

on her bed in the corner, close to death as she was, filled him with

bitterness. There was no help for him. He was alone now, pitted

against young Jasper alone. On one bed lay his uncle-nigh to death.

There was the grim figure in the corner, the implacable spirit of

hate and revenge. His rifle was against the wall. If there was any

joy for him in old Jasper's death, it was that his hand had not

caused it, and yet-God help him!-there was the other cross, the

other oath.

XII

THE star and the crescent were swinging above Wolf's Head, and

in the dark hour that breaks into dawn a cavalcade of Lewallens

forded the Cumberland, and galloped along the Stetson shore. At

the head rode young Jasper, and Crump the spy.

Swift changes had followed the court-house fight. In spite of the

death of Rufe Stetson from his wound, and several other Stetsons

from ambush, the Lewallens had lost ground. Old Jasper's store

had fallen into the hands of creditors -" furriners "-for debts, and it

was said his homestead must follow. In a private war a leader

must be more than leader. He must feed and often clothe his

followers, and young Jasper had not the means to carry on the

feud. The famine had made corn dear. He could feed neither man

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