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.
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
"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.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>