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BY LUCY BAKER JEROME

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STRETCH of barren sand, "Pascas be blowed," spoke up the cactus-barred, haze-blurred opposition man of the troop, Put

with heat; the faint blue nam, who opposed on principle shimmer of foothills on the edge every statement that was made, and of the horizon, and above them who spent his time in endeavoring grim, gaunt ridges of the mountain to catch up with quicker minds. lands, rising in giant chaos, steep

“He will," persisted Hinton. on steep.

"That girl—what's her name? AlA solitary figure on the edge of toonah-she's down there, and the vast salt basin of the desert Eagle Wind knows it. Mighty fine dragged itself wearily to where the girl she was, too; Eagle Wind's mule team lay panting in the dust, just loco to see her," he added in and drawing his sheath knife, cut lower tones. the traces cleanly at the ends. The "Who are you talking about? animals stared dully at him with That girl Altoonah?” gruffly asked glazed eyes, and the Indian, rising a third man, turning in his saddle to his superb height, scanned the as he cantered easily by "She's lava sands from under lowering going to be married-Kirkham brows. He had driven fast and far down at the post.

Know him, any across those burning sands, and the of you fellows?" mules had paid the penalty of his The men were in their saddles escape. Far to the left in a haze now, and the mustangs were coverof blue steel rays lay the Indian ing the country with the long, easy reservation, but only the white lope of the cavalry mount. It was desolation of the salt depression two in the afternoon and the hot, broke the dead level of the plain. white sand was unbearable. The pack wagon, left to itself, "Jingo!" exclaimed one of the

! stood motionless, an ominous por- troopers, slackening his rein as he tent to the eye, and the Indian, with gazed wofully ahead, where for a last sweeping glance about him, miles and miles lay the interminable plunged doggedly forward through glistening sands. "I wouldn't take the brilliant glare.

this chase again for the biggest InWithin the reservation was dian in the country. Why not let citement, all the more felt because him loose, anyhow? What's the it was surpressed. The older troop- odds ?” ers were grimly buckling on their "He'd make mischief," responded saddles in obedience to the curt or- the other curtly. “We won't find der issued to Company A, while him, anyway. He's had two days' the less seasoned men and raw re- start. Neat, wasn't it, the way he cruits were swearing blindly at a maneuvered to get to the salt basin, Government which would send out and then walked off?" sixty men for a loose Indian on a “He was A Number 1 up to the day like this.

time he left," commented Hinton, "He'll stop at Pascas all right," riding up alongside, “but when he vouchsafed Hinton, a keen trailer gets to Guaymas there'll be the and sure shot, whose opinions were devil to pay. Wouldn't care to generally respected.

cross Eagle Wind myself just now,”

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he ended, smiling grimly.

a little while the figure was visible At seven the captain ordered a crossing the sand dunes that at inhalt. Shading his eyes with his soft tervals broke the expanse, but when cavalry hat, he looked long and the moon, emerging from behind a searchingly in

every direction. passing cloud, cast her clear light Then he waved a gauntleted hand over the treeless solitude, the vast toward the troop.

plain lay white and silent for miles. "Back to the reservation, boys,” Three months later, two hunters he said, gloomily.

were tracking their way through The little town of Pascas lay the range of mountains that borquiet in the clear moonlight, when dered the desert waste. They had a shadow emerged from one of its been four days on the trail of a narrow, ill-paved streets only to puma, which had fled through canlose itself in the deeper shadow of yon and gully and through the toran archway. Feeling its way cau- tuous mountain trails, till, strength tiously along the rough, adobe and spirit alike exhausted, they houses, the shadow reached a point sought only for food and shelter. where it wavered, hesitated, The elder of the two suddenly utstopped. The musical tinkle of a tered an exclamation. guitar was audible, and close at "See here, Kirkham," he said, hand the shadow, suddenly develop- "some one's been here before us, ing into a muscular, brawny-limbed and, by the old Harry, some one's Indian, heard voices. He melted got that puma!” into the blackness of a projection as He pointed to where a bloodKirkham and the girl, a supple half- stained trail led up into the winding breed with haunting eyes of Indian

fastnesses of the mountain ridge. fire, passed him.

The earth around was torn, and the Kirkham's careless glance swept bushes showed signs of a severe the shadows on either side, but the struggle. girl's eyes sought his and he failed "You're right, Havens," he said. to see the Indian standing like a “I'm with you,” he added, reading lone sentinel of Fate in the inner the other's intention in his eyes. circle of the dark, nor did he ob- Somewhat revived by this unexserve the backward glance of the pected happening, the two men girl even while her hand trembled tramped sturdily up the narrow in his. Altoonah suddenly paused. trail. It grew steeper and narrower

“Seem like some one listen," she as they climbed, but as the entire said softly, with a straight back- way showed traces of the deadly ward glance into the darkness. struggle which had evidently taken

Kirkham laughed easily. He was place, they felt encouraged at every a tall, broad-shouldered fellow, a fa- step, and unheeding fatigue and vorite with his troop and the ad- hunger, gradually approached the miration and envy of every girl in

mountain's top. Guaymas. His unfailing truthful- “I'd give a buttin' to know who ness and sincerity had won for him killed that puma,” said Havens sudthe title of “Old Honesty” among denly, pausing in his tracks. “Why, his men, and these qualities had Kirkham, there hasn't been big found their complement in the game killed in these mountains for grave, simple dignity of the Indian years. You know that as well as girl whom his laughing, cordial I do. It's next to impossible. ways had won.

These mountains were made for When Kirkham and the girl had hiding places. When old Indian passed out of hearing the hidden Charley killed that panther three shadow drifted noiselessly toward years ago, the whole

post was the open spaces of the plain. For thirsty for more; but did they ever

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get it? No, though every ing to a solitary figure outlined in spent every day he could get in giant immensity among

the these mountains, there's never been shadows. a kill shot since.”

Kirkham barely suppressed the "Well, by Jupiter !"

exclamation which rose to his lips. They had reached the top, and "By George !" he whispered exwere staring in stupefaction at a citedly to Havens. "It's Eagle little hollow a few paces to the left. Wind !" On the rocky ground a solitary Havens nodded, his eyes glued to camp-fire burned, and on poles and the advancing figure, a cautious the limbs of trees suspended in a hand on his rifle. large circle around the fire, were The Indian advanced into the the skins of at least a dozen wild circle of the camp-fire, and with a beasts in various stages of preser- satisfie: grunt, lay down his burvation, and near the burning embers den. The two hunters noted the lay the body of the slain puma with fine deer, and even in their exciteits death-wound yet oozing.

Not ment g of envy shot through a sound broke the silence. Not a them. agle Wind cast

a wary human being was to be seen. glance about nim, and they held

"Well!” said Kirkham, smiling their breath. Had he heard some grimly, "you're wrong this time, slight sound inaudible to their Havens. Somebody's fired a kill duller ears? His splendid, muscushot, and pretty lately, too, I should lar figure seemed to crouch cat-like judge.”

for a spring, and lie turned his deep, Havens nodded. "What do you burning eyes directly upon the bush say to tracking the hunter instead clump where Kirkham and Havens of the game?” he asked laconically. lay like statues. "We can ambush here, if you're In an instant, the two rifles coygood for a siege.

ered him. Havens had sprung to Kirkham frowned. "I don't his feet, and Kirkham had jumped know," he said uncertainly. "We've simultaneously. The Indian, his passed the time limit; Altoo- back to the frowning rock, and the nah

light of the dying fire full on his "Oh, say, old fellow, you're not dark features, drew himself to his afraid of your wife tracking you!" superb height, and slowly folded his laughed Havens, comfortably.

arms. is all right. Girls of her blood un- One rifle point wavered. It was derstand these things.”

that of Kirkham. The splendid inThis time Kirkham scowled. “I'll domitableness of that unyielding stay,” he said, briefly.

figure, the undying menace in his They concealed themselves in eye, the lonely fortressed crag, the an undergrowth of scrub, a short silence, heavy with threatening isdistance from a huge boulder rais- sue, caused a tremor of the gleaming its precipitous front, boldly re- ing barrel, but only for an instant. pelling, a veritable fortress of Kirkham remembered that he was strength, and laying their rifles a soldier, and that, when his superacross a projecting rock waited in ior officer commanded it, his duty silence as the sun disappeared be- was to kill. He gripped the stock hind the highest peak in a red blaze more firmly, and his eye glanced of fire.

along the rifle barrel in the sight The slow hours dragged on. Kirk- that had never been known to fail. ham, about to yawn, felt his arm Havens, about to demand surabruptly seized in a heavy grip. render, heard the slight crashing With his mouth half open he turned sound in the bushes just behind, but quickly to where Havens was point. Kirkham, his finger still on the trig

you see?"

ger, first saw the slender, moc- all its strength. casined figure gliding toward the He thrust it fiercely aside, and hollow.

rose. Havens was engaged in a “Altoonah!” The word seemed desperate hand-to-hand

struggle to die in echoes on the air. Havens with Eagle Wind, who cut, thrust saw her face, and wondered.

It

and slashed so murderously with was gray marble, hewed into irre- the sheath knife he had so unexvocable design.

pectedly obtained that Havens, unShe looked from the two men to able to get a foothold was thrustthe Indian standing beneath the ing him back against the rock by towering crag, undaunted, fearless, sheer force of determination and majestic in his calm, and through muscle combined. Havens was the long centuries a fire leaped bleeding in a dozen places, and swiftly to smoulder in her eyes. Kirkham, thirsting for vengeance,

Kirkham's voice reached her in sprang furiously to his rescue. sharp command.

Suddenly the Indian, with a last "Stand back, Altoonah! Can't supple twist of his lithe body, glided

like a snake from Havens' grasp, to The rifle barrels were level, find Kirkham's angry eyes confrontsteady. As if galvanized into un- ing him. Wtih the swiftness of the derstanding by the words, Altoonah wind, Eagle Wind braced himself turned—but she turned toward the against the great boulder, and Kirkrock.

ham saw that the knife hung quivIn another instant she

ering in a helpless hand. pressing something into Eagle

The rifle rose steadily. KirkWind's hand. The Indian's long ham's finger was on the trigger, sinewy fingers closed upon it, and when the light form of Altoonah his eyes narrowed. With a tigerish sped across the hollow and Aung spring, and carrying Altoonah as itself across the Indian's heaving easily in front of him as if she had

breast. been a child, he covered half the Kirkham's eyes met those of the distance to the undergrowth, and girl-sombre, inscrutable. Havens, dashed behind scrub-oak that in the background, watched tensestood midway. The two men broke ly, feeling that matters had gone cover, and made a run for the oak. beyond his grasp. Simultaneously The Indian, disdaining to fly,

fly, with the report of the rifle, Altoowaited. As Havens came up, a long nah's right hand sped to her breast, arm shot around the oak. There and when the smoke cleared away, was a flash of steel, and Havens Kirkham saw two forms, silent still, grappled with the quickness of slowly writhing down the rocky thought.

face. Altoonah's eyes met his once Kirkham, on the other side of the more, defiant, inscrutable still, and tree, lay prostrate on the ground. then the sunset gleams shone redly Leaping over the rocks to come to on the lonely, fortressed crag, burHavens' aid, he had found himself ied deep in the silence of the mounpulled strongly down, and a soft, tains, and the two forms lying calm warm body was holding him with at its base.

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Col. J. F. Hayes and Staff, 5th Reg. Inf., N. G. C., Presidential Parade, San Francisco, May 12th, 1903.

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