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UNCLE ETHAN RIPLEY. Uncle Ethan had a theory that a man's character could be told by the way he sat in a wagon seat. "A mean man sets right plumb in the middle o' the seat, as much as to say, 'Walk, gol darn yeh, who cares?' But a man that sets in one corner o' the seat, much as to say, 'Jump in—cheaper t' ride 'n to walk,' you can jest tie to." Uncle Ripley was prejudiced in favor of the stranger, therefore, before he came opposite... more...

CHAPTER I THE STRANGER AT DRY BOTTOM From the crest of Three Mile Slope the man on the pony could see the town of Dry Bottom straggling across the gray floor of the flat, its low, squat buildings looking like so many old boxes blown there by an idle wind, or unceremoniously dumped there by a careless fate and left, regardless, to carry out the scheme of desolation. Apparently the rider was in no hurry, for, as the pony topped the rise and the... more...

A PROLOGUE Exactly twenty minutes after young Benton dismounted from his big rangy black before the door of a low adobe saloon that fronted upon one of the narrow crooked streets of old Las Vegas, he glanced into the eyes of the thin-lipped croupier and laughed. "You've got 'em. Seventy-four good old Texas dollars." He held up a coin between his thumb and forefinger. "I've got another one left, an' your boss is goin' to get that, too—but... more...

I. RED LAKE Shefford halted his tired horse and gazed with slowly realizing eyes. A league-long slope of sage rolled and billowed down to Red Lake, a dry red basin, denuded and glistening, a hollow in the desert, a lonely and desolate door to the vast, wild, and broken upland beyond. All day Shefford had plodded onward with the clear horizon-line a thing unattainable; and for days before that he had ridden the wild bare flats and climbed the... more...

A LETTER A solitary hut, dismal, rectangular, stands on the north bank of the White River. Decay has long been at work upon it, yet it is still weather-proof. It was built long before planks were used in the Bad Lands of Dakota. It was built by hands that aimed only at strength and durability, caring nothing for appearances. Thus it has survived where a lighter construction must long since have been demolished. And it still affords habitation... more...


CHAPTER 1. THE ARIZONA DESERT One afternoon, far out on the sun-baked waste of sage, we made camp near a clump of withered pinyon trees. The cold desert wind came down upon us with the sudden darkness. Even the Mormons, who were finding the trail for us across the drifting sands, forgot to sing and pray at sundown. We huddled round the campfire, a tired and silent little group. When out of the lonely, melancholy night some wandering Navajos... more...

THE PORTENT The hot weather had come suddenly, at least a month earlier than usual, and New York lay baking under a scorching sun when Miss Hetty Torrance sat in the coolest corner of the Grand Central Depot she could find. It was by her own wish she had spent the afternoon in the city unattended, for Miss Torrance was a self-reliant young woman; but it was fate and the irregularity of the little gold watch, which had been her dead... more...

CHAPTER I What subtle strange message had come to her out of the West? Carley Burch laid the letter in her lap and gazed dreamily through the window. It was a day typical of early April in New York, rather cold and gray, with steely sunlight. Spring breathed in the air, but the women passing along Fifty-seventh Street wore furs and wraps. She heard the distant clatter of an L train and then the hum of a motor car. A hurdy-gurdy jarred into the... more...

CHAPTER I On an afternoon in early spring a man lounged against the wall of the station waiting for the express from the east. Slender of waist and hip, stalwart of shoulder, some seventy-two inches of sinewy height, he was the figure of the typical cattleman. His eyes were deep-set and far-seeing; his lean, brown face, roughened by outdoor life, was austere and resolute in expression. The train had barely stopped when a boyish-looking,... more...

CHAPTER I LITTLE JIM Little Jim knew that something strange had happened, because Big Jim, his father, had sold their few head of cattle, the work team, and the farm implements, keeping only the two saddle-horses and the pack-horse, Filaree. When Little Jim asked where his mother had gone, Big Jim told him that she had gone on a visit, and would be away a long time. Little Jim wanted to know if his mother would ever come back. When Big Jim said... more...