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Newspaper Page Text
tHE TWO-GUN MAN-BY STEWARD EDW. WHITE
(Copyright, 1913, by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.)
J fT-Thp fintlo-Rnctlprc.
Buck Johnson was American born,
But with a black beard and a dignity
6f manner that had earned him the
iitle of Senor. He had drifted into
southeastern Arizona in the days of
Cochise and Victorio and Geronimo.
He had persisted, and so in time had
come to control the water and
hence the grazing of nearly all the
Soda Spring Valley. His troubles
were many and his difficulties great.
There were the ordinary problems of
lean and dry years. There were also
the extraordinary problems of devas
tating Apaches, rivals for early and
ill-defined range rights and cattle
rustlers. For Senor Buck Johnson lived just
north of that terra incognita filled
with the mystery of a double chance
of death from man or the flaming
desert known as the Mexican border.
There by natural gravitation gath
ered all the desperate characters of
three states and two republics. He
who rode into it took good care that
no one should get behind him, lived
warily, slept light, and breathed deep
when once he had again sighted the
familiar peaks of Cochise's strong
hold. Of cattle-rustling there are various
forms. The boldest consists quite
simply of running off a bunch of
stock, hustling it over the Mexican
line, and there selling it to some of
the big Sonora ranch owners. Also
are there subtler means, grading in
skill from the rebranding through a
wet blanket, through the crafty re
fashioning of a brand, to the various
methods of separating the cow from
her unbranded calf. In the course of
his task Senor Buck Johnson would
have to do with them all, but at pres
ent he existed in a state of warfare,
fighting an enemy who stole as the
Indians used to steal.
Buck Johnson did his besjt, but it
was like stopping with sand the in-,
numerable little leaks of a dam. Did
his riders watch toward the Chiraca
huas, then a score of beef steers dis
appeared from Grant's Pass, fprty
miles away. Pursuit here meant
leaving cattle unguarded there. It
was useless, and the" Senor soon per
ceived that sooner or later he must
strike in offense.
For this purpose he began slowly
to strengthen the forces of his riders.
Men were coming in from Texas.
They were good men, addicted to the
grass-rope, the double cinch, and the
ox-bow stirrup. Senor Johnson want
ed men who could shoot, and he got
"Jed," said Senor Johnson to his
foreman, "the next son of a gun that
rustles any of our cows is sure load
ing himself full of trouble. We'Jl hit
his trail and we'll stay with it, and
we'll reach his cattle-rustling con
science with a rope."
So it came about that a little army
crossed the drift fences and entered
the border country. Two days later
it came out, and mighty pleased to
be able to do so. The rope had not
"No use, Buck," said Jed, "we'd
any of us come in on a gun play, but
we can't buck the desert. We'll have
to get some one who knows the coun
try." "That's all right but where?"
"There's Pereza," suggested Park
er; "it's the only town down near
"Might get some one there,"
agreed the Senor.
Next day he rode away in search
of a guide. y
The third evening he was back
again, very much discouraged.
"The country's no good," he ex
plained. "The regular inhabitant's
a set of Mexican bums and old soaks.
The cowmen's all from north and
don't know nothing more than we do.