Rome rose dizzily to one knee. Jasper turned, gasping, and lay

with his face to the rock. For a while both were quiet, Rome,

panting with open mouth and white with exhaustion, looking down

now and then at the Lewallen, whose face was turned away with


The sun was blazing above Wolf's Head now, and the stillness

about them lay unbroken on the woods below.

"I've whooped ye, Jas," Rome said, at last; "I've whooped ye in a

fa'r fight, 'n' I've got nothin' now to say 'bout yer tall talk, 'n' I

reckon you hevn't nuther. Now, hit's understood, hain't it, that y'u'll

leave these mount'ins?

Y'u kin go West," he continued, as the Lewallen did not answer. "

Uncle Rufe used to say thar's a good deal to do out thar, 'n' nobody

axes questions. Thar's nobody left hyeh but you 'n' me, but these

mount'ins was never big 'nough fer one Lewallen 'n' one Stetson, 'n'

you've got to go. I reckon ye won't believe me, but I'm glad I didn't

hev to kill ye. But you've promised to go, now, 'n' I'll take yer word

fer it." He turned his face, and the Lewallen, knowing it from the

sound of his voice, sprang to his feet.


A wild curse burst from Rome's lips, and both leaped for the guns.

The Lewallen had the start of a few feet, and Rome, lamed in the

fight, stumbled and fell. Before he could rise Jasper had whirled,

with one of the Winchesters above his head and his face aflame

with fury. Asking no mercy, Rome hid his face with one arm and

waited, stricken faint all at once, and numb. One report struck his

ears, muffled, whip-like. A dull wonder came to him that the

Lewallen could have missed at such close range, and he waited for

another. Some one shouted-a shrill hallo. A loud laugh followed; a

light seemed breaking before Rome's eyes, and he lifted his head.

Jasper was on his face again, motionless; and Steve Marcum's tall

figure was climbing over a bowlder toward him.

"That was the best fight I've seed in my time, by God," he said,

coolly, " 'n', Rome, y'u air the biggest fool this side o' the

settlements, I reckon. I had dead aim on him, 'n' I was jest

a-thinkin' hit was a purty good thing fer you that old long-nosed

Jim Stover chased me up hyeh, when, damn me, ef that boy up thar

didn't let his ole gun loose. I'd a-got Jas myself ef he hadn't been

so all-fired quick o' trigger."

Up at the root of the pine-tree Isom stood motionless, with his long

rifle in one hand and a little cloud of smoke breaking above his

white face. When Rome looked up he started down without a

word. Steve swung himself over the ledge.

"I heerd the shootin'," said the boy, " up thar at the cave, 'n' I

couldn't stay thar. I knowed ye could whoop him, Rome, 'n' I seed

Steve, too, but I was afeard-" Then he saw the body. His tongue

stopped, his face shrivelled, and Steve, hanging with one hand to

the ledge, watched him curiously.

" Rome," said the boy, in a quick whisper, "is he daid?

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