of rock and lay there, peeping through a crevice between two

bowlders, gaining his breath. The firing was far below him now,

and was sharp. Evidently his pursuers were too busy defending

themselves to think further of him, and he began to plan how he

should get back to his friends. But he kept hidden, and, searching

the cliffs below him for a sheltered descent, he saw something like

a slouched hat just over a log, scarcely fifty feet below him.

Presently the hat was lifted a few inches; a figure rose cautiously

and climbed toward the ledge, shielding itself behind rock and

tree. Very quietly Rome crawled back to the face of the cliff

behind him, and crouched behind a rock with his cocked rifle

across his knees. The man must climb over the ledge; there would

be a bare, level floor of rock between them-the Lewallen would be

at his mercy-and Rome, with straining eyes, waited. There was a

footfall on the other side of the ledge; a soft clink of metal against

stone. The Lewallen was climbing slowly-slowly. Rome could hear

his heavy breathing. A grimy hand slipped over the sharp comb of

the ledge; another appeared, clinched about a Winchester-then the

slouched hat, and under it the dark, crafty face of young Jasper.

Rome sat like the stone before him, with a half-smile on his lips.

Jasper peered about with the sly caution of a fox, and his face grew

puzzled and chagrined as he looked at the cliffs above him.

"Stop thar!"

He was drawing himself over the ledge, and the low, stern voice

startled him, as a knife might have done, thrust suddenly from the

empty air at his breast. Rome rose upright against the cliff, with

his resolute face against the stock of a Winchester.

"Drap that gun!"

The order was given along Stetson's barrel, and the weapon was

dropped, the steel ringing on the stone floor. Rome lowered his

gun to the hollow of his arm, and the two young leaders faced each

other for the first time in the life of either.

Seem kinder s'prised to see me," said the Stetson, grimly. " Hev ye

got a pistol?

Young Jasper glared at him in helpless ferocity.



He drew a long-bladed penknife from his pocket, and tossed it at

Rome's feet.

"Jes' move over thar, will ye?"

The Lewallen took his stand against the cliff. Rome picked up the

fallen rifle and leaned it against the ledge.

"Now, Jas Lewallen, thar's nobody left in this leetle trouble 'cept

you 'n' me, 'n' ef one of us was dead, I reckon t'other could live

hyeh, 'n' thar'd be peace in these mount'ins. I thought o' that when I

had ye at the eend o' this Winchester. I reckon you would 'a' shot

me dead ef I had poked my head over a rock as keerless as you."

That is just what he would have done, and Jasper did not answer.

"I've swore to kill ye, too," added Rome, tapping his gun; "I've got

a cross fer ye hyeh."

The Lewallen was no coward. Outcry or resistance was useless.

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