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bunch of cattle and bring in the man
who rustled them."
So Jed Parker set out to discover
his man with nerve.
II. The Man With Nerve.
At about ten"o'clock on the Fourth
of July a rider topped the summit of
the vast swell of land and loped his
animal down into the single street of
Pereza. The buildings on either side
were flat-roofed and coated with
plaster. Over the sidewalks extended
wooden awnings, beneath which
opened very wide doors into the cool
ness of saloons. Each of these places
ran a bar, and also games of roulette,
faro, craps and stud poker.
The day was already hot with the
dry, breathless, but exhilarating heat
of the desert A, throng of men idling
at the edge of the sidewalks, jostling
up and down their center, or eddying
into the places of amusement, ac
knowledged the power of summer by
loosening their collars and carrying
their coats on their arms. They were
as yet busily engaged in recognizing
acquaintances. Later they would
drink freely and gamble and perhaps
As the rider entered one street,
however, a more definite cause of ex
citement drew the loose population
toward the center of the road. Im
mediately their mass blotted out
what had interested them.
The stranger had pushed his horse
resolutely to the outer edge of the
) crowd, where, from his point of van
tage, he could easily overlook their
heads. He was a quiet-appearing
young fellow, rather neatly dressed
in the border costume, rode a "center-fire"
or single-cinch saddle, and
wore no chaps. He was what is
known as a "6vo-gun man"; that is
to say, he wore a heavy Colt's re
volver on either hip. The fact that
the lower ends of his holsters were
tied down in order to facilitate the
easy withdrawal of the revolvers
seemed to indicate that he expected
to use them. He had, furthermore,
a quiet gray eye with the hint of
steel that bore out the inference Qf
the tied holsters.
He saw over the heads of the by
standers a tall, muscular wild-eyed
man, hatless, his hair Tumpled into
staring confusion, Jus right sleeve
rolled to his shoulder, a wicked-looking
knife in his hand, and a red ban
danna handkerchief hanging by one
corner from his teeth. "What's biting
the locoed stranger?" the young man
inquired of his neighbor.
The other frowned at him darkly.
"Dares anyone to take the other
end of that handkerchief in his teeth
and fight it out without letting go."
"Why don't you take him up?" in
quired the young man after a mo
ment. "Not me!" negatived the other vig
orously. "I'll go your little old gun
fight to a finish, but I don't want any
cold steel in mine. Ugh! it gives me
the shivers. It's a reg'lar Mexican
trick! With a gun it's down and out;
but this knife work is too slow and
The newcomer said nothing, but
fixed his eye again on the raging
man with the knife. "Don't you reck
on he's bluffing?" he inquired.
"Not any!" denied the other with
emphasis. "He's jest drunk enough
to be crazy mad and reckless."
The newcomer shrugged his shoul
ders and cast his glance searchingly
over the fringe of the crowd. It rest
ed on a Mexican.
"Hi, Tony, come here!" he called.
The Mexican approached, flashing
his white teeth.
"Here," said the stranger, "lend
me your knife a minute."
He hung, his coat on his saddle,
shouldered his way through the
press, which parted for him readily,
and picked up the other corner of the
handkerchief. "Now, you mangy son
of a gun!" said he.
Ill The Agreement
Jed Parker straightened his back,
rolled up the bandanna handkerchief
and thrust it into his pocket, hit flat
with his hand the tousled mass of
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