meant defiance or good-will, and the mere deviltry of such a

courtship made him long for it at every sight of her with the river

between them. At once he began to plan how he should get near

her, but, through some freak, she had paid no further heed to him.

He saw her less often-for a week, in-deed, he had not seen her at

all till this day-and the forces that hindrance generates in an

imperious nature had been at work within him. The chance now

was one of gold, and with his life in his hand he turned into the

stream. Across, he could see something white on her shoulder-an

empty bag. It was grinding~day, and she was going to the mill-the

Lewallen mill. She stopped as he galloped up, and turned, pushing

back her bonnet with one hand; and he drew rein. But the friendly,

expectant light in her face kindled to such a blaze of anger in her

eyes that he struck his horse violently, as though the beast had

stopped of its own accord, and, cursing himself, kept on. A little

farther, he halted again. Three horsemen, armed with

Winchesters, were jogging along toward town ahead of him, and

he wheeled about sharply. The girl, climbing rapidly toward Steve

Bray-ton's cabin, was out of the way, but he was too late to reach

the ford again. Down the road two more Lewallens with guns

were in sight, and he lashed his horse into the stream where the

water was deep. Old Gabe, looking from the door of his mill, quit

laughing to himself; and under cover of the woods, the girl

watched man and horse fighting the tide. Twice young Stetson

turned his head. But his enemies apparently had not seen him, and

horse and rider scrambled up the steep bank and under shelter of

the trees. The girl had evidently learned who he was. Her sudden

anger was significant, as was the sight of the Lewallens going

armed to court, and Rome rode on, uneasy.

When he reached Troubled Fork, in sight of Hazlan, he threw a

cartridge into place and shifted the slide to see that it was ready for

use. Passing old Jasper's store on the edge of the town, he saw the

old man's bushy head through the open door, and Lewallens and

Braytons crowded out on the steps and looked after him. All were

armed. Twenty paces farther he met young Jasper on his gray, and

the look on his enemy's face made him grip his rifle. With a

flashing cross-fire from eye to eye, the two passed, each with his

thumb on the hammer of his Winchester. The groups on the

court-house steps stopped talking as he rode by, and turned to look

at him. He saw none of his own friends, and he went on at a gallop

to Rufe Stetson's store. His uncle was not in sight. Steve Marcum

and old Sam Day stood in the porch, and inside a woman was

crying. Several Stetsons were near, and all with grave faces

gathered about him.

He knew what the matter was before Steve spoke. His uncle had

been driven from town. A last warning had come to him on the day

before. The hand of a friend was in the caution, and Rufe rode

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