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TILE HUIMINGTON FHEU JMMCSS: TnURSDA V, ,TANUAT1Y 23,1908. Plow 2.K ELEAJfOlt GATES, Author of "The niotfraphy of Prairie Girl. COPYRIGHT, 1000. MY McCLUrtl CHAPTER XVII. rrr liiAT year in me nnrinmnu I winter encroached greedily upon spring. 1 ho lntter end of March the weather did not moderate. Instead the wide valley be came i channel for winds that wero wegitod -w 1th numbing sleet. Than Apr, returned angrily, bringing cold rains and blows to check all vegeta tion. But April hair gone a tardy thaw Ket In. The ley covering i tho river sr it Into whirling blocks, the snow grew soft and bally, the crust rotted rind picked up. Soon the tempering Biiu drove the drifts from .south ex posures, when a freshet coursed down the cou'ee and the low spots on the prairie filled until they wero broad ponds, around t Mch the migrating wild fowl alighted with Joyous cries. Vow eaves dripped musically, Blushy wagon ruts ran like miniature Missou ri and weie t riveted by horny frogs, prairie C",i. mndo rneh dawning welrdlj nol'-j, and far and near whom showed the welcome; green blue eyed nnemones sprang bravely and tossed their fuzz beads In the sharp air. Throughout this season the shack had but "ii" visitor- Squaw Ch.uley. Ho brought fuel and uu.ee a week a basket of supplies from "11 troop." Occasion id y he came swinging a brant by the neck or carrj Ing a saddle of fresh ven ison; but, though hh mnnner was as friendly as ever and he seemed no less grateful and devoted, ho was always strangely worried and distraught. The evangelist called by once or twice when storms or the rushing lc. pack in the river did not prevent his cross ing. Ah for I.ounsbury, he traversed the bend often on his way to Brannon, and If he saw a face at n window waved his h-md In pleasant greeting, but h - fti the road. Jilt 'o the morning of the aurora tho 't e f.iv ' i had ceased to speak of hlri 11'jt silence was neither de manded by die section boss nor agreed upon by the three. On Lancaster's part it grew out of the sneaking con sciousness nf the Ingratitude he did not regret. On the part of Marylyn it arose from two causisa sens? of girl ish sham, at having confessed her at tachment and a fear that her fnther would discover It. With Pallas, con sideration for the feelings of her sister made her shrink fi u mentioning Lounsbury. Yet thor? was another rea son, and one no less dellcite she, as well, had a secret to guard. But In the mind of the elder girl the thought of Marylyn's happiness was the uppermost. There were dread mo ments when it seemed to her as If that happiness were to be shattered. During all the past weeks Marylyn had carefuily harbored her fanclen about Lounshury. Certain of thi calico covered ho-iln on the mantel had no llttlo part in thi.. Their stories of un dying al'ficti m -h' bold men. lorn maidens and the cruel villains who gloried in steering them helped her to fit her little circle Into proper roles. She loved and must crush out her pas sion. Lounshury, whom she loved, had been rent away by her father, and bhe lived up to the play consistently. She saw the storekeeper anguished over his banishment; saw depths of mean ing in the good natured salutes ho gave the shack. With herself, she accepted loneliness as n sign of deeper suffering. She was tort-. red by self plt. by tho doubt she had Hung at Dallas, by tho firm belief that her heart was liopqless ly fettered, (lazing Into a piece of looking glass that served her for a mir ror, she marked with sorrowful pride her transparent skin and lusterloss eyes. She slrhed as she watched from the windows. Patiently she listened 1 for footsteps, her face half turned to ! the door. j And yet what she took so traglcallv ' was nothing but falling health. What was not a fact the night of her ndmls- f.lou to Dallas, was almost come to pass. The few days of great eold and burger In February, coupled with long confinement in tho dirt floored house, worts having their effect. She was on the i go of Illness. Ln astor, whenever he noticed her deje tion, was inclined to poohpooh it. "She looks as of she'd jps" been slap ped," ho declared, "an Is oxpectln' an other hunmln' any nilnnlt. Ef she'd cry sho'd shore weep lemon Juice" Again, he reckoned that she had picked up "some notion." Jealous and suspicious as he was, howeer, he got no nearer the truth. Hut Dallas sho was misled far morn than either Marylyn or tholr father. She fought away from tho Idea that her sister might be breaking physical ly nnd tenderly an a mother yearned over her. Anxious eyed, sho noted tbt pallor of the childlike face, the melnn rhoiy expression that had come to be habitual. She fretted over the spare noss of the younger girl, who ate only when she was urged. If, sated with Bleep, Marylyn moved in the night, Dallas aroused on the Instant und hov ered beside her, At Inst, thoroughly alarmed, tho elder girl determined to follow out the Idea that had occurred to her In midwin ter. What did It matter how hard and hateful tho duty would be? What did her own hidden feelings mntter? She would appeal to Lounshury In her sU ter's behalf. But tlmo passed without bringing ber the opportunity, and it was borne In upon her finally that Lounshury meant to remain away, perhaps until ho was bidden to come. Undaunted, sho made plans to waylay him on the coulee road, ltestlng the Sharps across her arm, she set out, morning or afternoon, on n long Jaunt, Hut Lounshury was not met. On one such ramble, however, nn incident occurred that was far reaching If not fatal In its results, She was going Woman - . PHILLIPS O- COMPANY. homeward slowly when sh saw np proachlng nn ambulance from P.rnnivm drawn by a four mule team. She Etarted timidly aside, then paused The vehicle was tilled with Indies. A half dozen who were talking nnd laugh lng merrily occupied the lengthwise scats of the catrlnge. One sat beside tho driver. lallas put herself In their path and wulted How often she had watched these same ladles ranter out of post on their horseback rides, officers attend ing them, or neen them make a rollick ing walking party to the bluff top, And she had pictured how some day they would be ferried to the bend. They could not have heard how her father talked. If they had, they would not blame her. If they passed her, they would smile and bow, maybe stop to speak. She war. all aglow now. The am bulance rolled near. It was closed on its sides, and the women within could not ree her The woman on the seat, pretty, slender, daintily clad, did. Dal las leaned f.irw.ird eagerly, face flush ed, eyes shluln-; The woman also leaticd forward and looked Dallas up and down searchlng ly, coldly. Ilrr lips were set In a sneer, Her eyes frowned. Then the ambulance bowled smartly along, the driver catching at a lender with his whip. "Who's that. Mr' Cummlngs?" The women In the rear of tho vehicle were peering out Mrs. dimming!" answered ovc her shoulder, "Why. If.( the How Wo man." There were "Ohs" and "Ahs" and laughter. The girl by the roadside heard. Slighted, rebutted, wounded to the quick.' she stumbd homeward, her sight blinded by tears. She did not rslt for I.ounsbury again. Once sh tiiougiit or writing him, of summoning him through a note given Squaw Charley; but, recalling her father"? treatment of the store keeper, she questioned If the latter would heed her me.age. She felt herself isolated, but no hint of her bitterness was allowed to reach Mary Ijn. The younger girl knew only bright words and unceasing, unselfish care. For one tiling Dallas was deeply thankful Matthews did not trouble the shack. David Bond had told her that when the troops left for the sum mer campaign the Interpreter would ride with them, the evangelist belnc retained at the fort to fill the other's place. The latter declared that, b tin pilot's report, I nun'bury's name made Matthews "lay back his ears." but that he no longer stormed about lot, Dig the claim. Aad now nme the warm days-days In swift, Gveel contrast to those just gone. Hum and shower handed the sky with triple arcs of prom!-. The robin arrived, ft plump and snuci crew, Bent bill curlews stH:e1 ab-v: uttering wild and me'lnw calls. Tie dwellers of the ground threw up frch dirt aiound th"lr burrows. The marsh violets opened pale lilac cups, nn l the very logs of the shack put forth n:n bltlnus sprig;, so that from the froir the groterquo head dlp!.yed a hrl'tle of green whirker. The prairie w.v awake, blood and soli and rap. Hen and Betty showed their h'g'i spirits with comical .porting. The mules frolicked together, pitching hind quarters, rearUtg to box nnd nipping at Simon. Fully sr. gay was he, though his shaggy flanks were gaunt. lie played at goring them or frisked in ungainly circles. Occasionally, how ever, he gave signs of 111 humor, low ered his broad horns threateningly eVfm nt Dallas, pawed up the new grown grass and charged to and fro m Ike bend, his voice lifted In hoarse ehallcnge. On the little family the light, the warmth nnd added duties wroucht n good effect. Lancaster's grumbling lessened, and he helped to plant some boxes with cabbage and tomato seed thnt tho sutler supplied. Marylyn, coaxed out for nn hour or two dally, rewarded Dallns with smiles. Her ap petite grow (rather to her chagrin), Rnd when she held the looking glass before her she saw a faint color In her cheeks. To Dallas the spring brought renew ed courage nud a vague longing. With the first mild evenings sho took to ven turing out, wrapped In her long clonk, for a lonely walk. In her love of the gloaming she was like a wild thing. From birth the twilights of the mesa had proved irresistible. When she was a child they soothed her little troubles, In womanhood, if sorrow pressed heavily, they brought her strength. The half light, the soft air and the lack of sound wero balm to her spirit Nightly she strayed up the coulee, eastward, south or toward the river, until, early In May, a second Incident occurred and Interrupted her rambles. She had walked an fsr as the swale that wns part way to the Missouri. Thero she was startled Into a sudden halt. From a point ahead of her and to the left soundrd a gunshot. Bhe sank down, cautiously and stayed close to the ground, her fingers steady ing her, her breath suspended. There wan uo moon, nnd the stars were ob scured by clouds, Tho cottonwoods were a black, shapeless mass. She watched them. No answering shot rang out; but, fter a long wait, a reply came from the grove. It was a laugh, loud and tauuUug. She stayed crouching nnd presently saw a small blnck object leave the big blackness of the trees and advance. Frightened, she arose and retraced her steps, glancing behind her as she went. At the shack, having found the latchstrlng, she backed into the room. Her fnther and. sister were asleep. Next morning, on a plea of not wloWng to alarm them, she refrained from Idl ing of the shot. It may have been a hunter, she reasoned, or a drunken trooper or one of the Shanty Town gang. Hut the laugh-It rang In hur cars. Several twilights passed; then sho ventured out again. A Up of moon was dropping down an unclouded sky; the utnrs hung low nnd white. And when she nenred the swale she saw, a good distance before Iter, that small black object separate Itself from the grove ngaln.nud move forward. Sho stopped. She was not frightened now. She knew who It wns. And when site saw his arms come up nnd cnught the glint of metal slm called out to him: "Don't! Don't! It's me!" There wns n muttered exclamation, nnd tho nrms fell. "Miss Dallas!" hu cried und sprang forward. "I I wns sure it wns you," sho ad mitted tremulously. "And you've been guarding here nil the time!" Lounsbury wns panting. "Suppose I'd fired?" he said. "I had u mind to. Crlmlnl!" "You'd 'tt' missed likely." "Maybe not. You see, 1 thought, well -that Matthews or that precious brother of his, they might get to both ering you folks. Anyway, ain't It dan gerous for you to bo out here late, like this?" "It Is for you. You get shot nt keeping guard on us." He thumped the swale Impatiently with the butt of his gun. "Oh, It wns you," she persisted, gravely enough. "That Is why I came tonight." "Ah! You mean that I can help you, Miss Dallas. Tell me tell me, what can I do?" "Don't let Matthews kill you." Lounsbury laid down his gun. When he straightened he stepped to her side. "Me?" he rnld. "Well, I'm n match for htm. You nln't. But what else?" She moved aside, averting her face. "There Is something, Miss Dallas?" "Y-e-o-s." Ho saw she was disconcerted and strove to put her nt enso. "Do you know," he said, "you're so tall In that coat you nlmost look like n 'heap big chief.' " She did not hear him. She was not listening. The wished for opportuni ty was come. She was trylug desper ately to rally a speech. "You you ain't been round of late," she began at last. "I hope" But she could not finish. "No," he said slowly. lie rammed his hands luto his trousers pockets. "I haven't been around lately, but I dldu't think you'd notice it." He darted a glance at her. "Was it dad?" she asked. "Did you think" "Yes, it was your father I thought he went out of his way to be well, kluda short, you know. I was only trying t' be decent." "Dad's funny." she said reflectively. "Whenever we got to a chuck hole, whore all of us ought to pull t'gether, he goes slack on the tugs. He's like Ben that way. So I have t go up f him, stroke his maue, fix his curb nnd 'gt some cool air under his collar. After whllo he gives a haw-hee-hnw and goes on." Lounsbury did not laugh. "He balk ed when It came to ine," ho said so berly, "nnd It hurt. Afterward I klnda got It Into my head that none of you wanted me." Shr looked straight at him. "But one did one did," she whispered, chok ing He pulled his hands free of his pock ets. "One one," hu said huskily. "Who?" And now everything was clear to her. She knew just what to say. She had no feelings of self. The duty was not hateful or embarrassing. "Who?" she repeated. "Don't you know, Mr. Lounsbury? Why, Marylyn." "Marylyn," he echoed as If In n puz zle; "Marylyn! You're joking!" She caught a shade of reproach ln that and misunderstood it. "I reckon you won't like her so well now," she said. "Like her so well? I don't know what you mean," "She she likes you," stammered Dal las. Still he was puzzled. "I supposed she didn't hate me," "But now you know." There was no mlstnklng her. Utter ly dumfounded, ho could not trust an Immediate answer. "I see, I see," he said Anally. "And you'll like her just the same?" He drew u deep breath. His eyes were on her face, trying to read it in the dimness. Then. "I am not a cub boy. Miss Dallas." "You won't stay away," she persist ed. "You'll come." "If I'm Judging right, I mustn't. I'm I'm sorry." "Sorry Just sorry!" He strode back nnd forth a few times. "Why why. Miss Dallas, you must understand that n man can't when a girl Well, it 'd be low for me to talk nbout It, that's all-out and out low." Something stirred her powerfully then something she combated nnd con cealed from him by a touch of appar ent anger. "There's notblug low about It," she said. "A man ought to be proud. Oh," as he was about to reply, "you don't know how she's felt! She's been sick over It, white and sad, and at night she'd cry." He winced. "And you're Just sorry!" "When did you find this out?" "That day you drove Matthews way. Bhe told me." He walked about again. "I can't see why she does," he mused pathetically. "I can't remember doing anything." ' "But you've been so good to us even after the way dad acted guarded out here and sent that laud olllco man down from Bismarck" He made a protesting gesture. "Pshaw!" "Oh, yes, you did. And why? Why? If you don't care" A long silence followed. During it she watched him, her very attitude Im ploring, whllo ho contluued to pace. All at once ho stopped determinedly. "There's a reason," he said, "why I can't do what you nsk come to see Marylyn und-aud all that." "Dad? Ah, he's got to think like me." "No, not your father." "Maybe" the bitterness of Mrs. Cummlngs' slight Impelled it-"nsybo you don't think she's good enough." "Dnllns, no, no!" He put out n hnnd to her. She retrented. "There's a reason." Ho let his nrm fnll. "And It Is fair and sqtinre. I'm proud of It, too, and you must hear it." His tone was significant, tender. No hint of his meaning suggested It self to her. "Then I want to know it," she said. "I didn't Intend to tell you," he began, "at least for awhile. When I was at tho shnck Inst I made up my mind It wouldn't do nny good. I said to my nelf, 'You keep quiet.' But" he pluck ed off his hat and pent It whirling to tlm gun "I guess you'll have to know now. Dnllns, tho reason Is you." "Mo?" The question was a cry. Lounshury wnlted, 'standing very Dtlll before her. Then, reaching out again, ho touched her hnnd. "You," ho said quietly. Again she retreated. "Please don't go," he begged. "I want to tell you more, and I want you to Bay you believe me. You must believe me." There was another long silence. presently . -wont back nnd picked up his hat and gun. "I know Just where it puts you," he said, "but, Just tho same, I love you." He was certain now that ho had earned her displeasure. When ho spoke again It was as one who accepts n sad finality. "I love you, nnd I want you. I hoped you might think a little of me some day. for I believe I could make j on happy, so It was dls appointing to find out that you hadn't thought of me that way; that you wero figuring on seeing me tako Mary lyn." "I never bad much Idea of marrying, but when I snw you that first time -when you came In through the door, you remember why, then, 1 began to ithlnk. Couldn't help !t " He put on his hat and lifted the sun to his shoul der. "I even wrote mother nbout you," he said. Ho was unprepared for the answer she gave htm, for It was an answer. Without speaking, she burled her faco ln the curve of. her arm and, as If seized with an ague, began to tremble. "Dnllns!" he whispered tenderly. "Oh, my dear girl! I'm so glad! Sn glad! You will you do?" But he found himself pleading Into space. CHAPTER XVIII. KDICTNF mountain was a vol cano. Out "f its rocky sum mit nnd Into the quiet nlr of the May morning was rising a straight blue column of smoke. A flag wigwagged from the southern lookout station to herald the phenome non, and in n moment the post was ngog. Keen sighted seouts hurried to points of vantage, where thoy studied the mounting plume. Far reaching glasses were trained, amid lively sur mise from the galleries fronting the parade, whllo at ban neks, blocking the windows and through the porch, the eager troopers gossiped and craned. But ln the stockn 'e interest reached its highest pitch. Hi aves, squaws and children were strung along the upper end of tho inclosure breathlessly watch Ing the vapor thread. Kach swarthy face hnd dropped the mask of listless ness. Each figure was rooted. Not an eye forsook a straight lino to the belching mountain top For full three minutes the dlstnnt fire sent up a steady pillar. Then fort and stockade saw that pillar suddenly wnhble, as If eattght In the vagaries of a fitful breeze saw It wnhble, thicken, break and disappear, when the butto again rtood, a Jagged tooth, against the sky Above It. innocently white, floated a baud's breadth of cloud. And now the trumpet rang. Obey ing it, two detai hment-, mounted. One spurred away down river, keeping close In the lee ef tlm bluffs; the other bonrded the ferry and was landed at the cut north of Shanty Town, from where It made towa-d the Norwe gian's. Behind an envious but fever ishly happy gnirNou set about putting an extra polish on Its arms. The grass was too short for a wnr pony. Active duty had not been expected within the month, yet the tlmo of dreary waiting was up at lust, for here within striking distance were the hos tile reds. The warriors In the stockade knew better. Like so many whipped dogs, they were scattered to coer, there to hide their bitter chagrin. No war par ty was come to harry Brannon, to lure the troopers Into battle, to free the captive village. A lone Indian the looked for mesr nger- had fanned that signal fire on the mountain, and by n wave of his blanket he had told them evil news. To Colonel Camming0 the seeming early boldness of the enemy gave an Inkling of whnt might be expected lat- The dUtam jire cnt up " tnidi pillar. r on-ln the mumuo.r. when there would be good grazing and a smaller force at tlm post. Already he feared for the safety of tho settlors living within sight of the garrison flag. The detachment landed at the cut was or dered to warn two of tlmm. The third was Kvan Lancaster. To him the com- Ilk K tunniiint; oi,,.. -nit uavid Bond. But it wns Dnllus whom the evangel 1st sought. He found her at work up on the plowed strip, rross dragging It In preparation for the planting of the corn. As she drove up and down she walked hntless In the sun. Her hair was down nnd hung forward In two braids. She wore the snug Jersey thnt had been her mother's. Her skirt was tucked up, back and front, to bo out of the wny. It disclosed no red Ann nel petticoat, however. Not far nway wns Simon, a stnrllng riding him to gobble the grentihends ns they bit. The bull wns revolving sulk ily on his picket rope nnd shedding his long winter coat upon the new grass. In deference to his Inborn dislike Dal las was wearing an underskirt of blue. Though the evangelist had never seen her trudging behind the mules, he had often spoken of It pityingly. Yet ns ho came toward her now he felt only an unbounded pride ln her unself ishness nnd ln her bravo efforts to wrest a living from the soli. "A splendid Until," he murmured, advancing; "a splendid Buth tolling In the fields!" Seeing him, she gave a swift, trou bled glance at the shack. Then, avoid ing his eyes and without speaking, she pulled up Ben and Betty nnd held out a hand. When he took It the pride of a mo ment before changed to compassion. Ho remembered thnt he must tell her whnt would nlnrm, for In her face he saw traces of many a sleepless night and of a sapping worry. "Daughter, you are III!" he declared nnd kept a tight hold on her fingers. "No; there ain't anything the mntter with me, only" still avoiding his eyes, sho turned to survey tho harrowed land "only I'm some put out. This sod" "Never mind the sod," he said grave ly. "I want to nsk did you see the mountain?" He loosed her fingers nnd pointed an nrm to the south. She laughed, following his pointing. "Yes, I did. Looks as If claims are getting scarce, don't It? When a nest er has to flic up there!" Midway between shack and butto wns an ox team that had been trav eling to and fro across n quarter sec tion since dawn. The team was now at a stand, nnd their driver was slouching against his plow. Beyond him were several galloping dots. "And you snw tho cavalry?" said David Bond. She assented. "Oue word will tell you what it means, Dallas. It's Indians!" She showed no sign of disquiet. Presently, when she had thought over the announcement, she turned round to him, frankly meeting his gaze for the first time. "That's funny," she said. "Why, last year all the way up from Texas there wasn't an Indian bothered us!" "Last summer before you came the soldiers at Brannon did not dnre go more than a mile outside the lines to hunt. It will be the snmc this sum mer. There Is that stockade full of prisoners, and four of them are con demned to bo hanged. Before long the Indians will be circling the post." Sho looked nway at the ox team. They were being taken from the plow and put to a wagon. Then again she turned squarely. "What nbout Shanty Town?" she said, with meaning. He understood. "Shanty Town goes when the troops go, but" hesitatingly "Matthews does not. He will stay at n ran nou to act as interpreter" "He will!" she srfld and colored. He colored, too, feeling himself re proved, but from under the wide bat tered felt that had supplanted tho nu bia his eyeti shone with no resentment, only fatherly tenderness. "You wonder why 1 do not remain," he began, "so that Matthews could be i sent away. I shall tcli you." She let the reins fall to the drag. That Isn't It,'' sho answered quickly. "We have no rich- to ask you to do anything nfter the way dad treated you. But the colonel sent you over to tell us to look out, didn't he? And he keeps n man over there pays him to stay-nnd thnt man Is n sight worse thnn an Indian!" "I could have that t'lan dismissed," he said slowly. "Please let me tell you why 1 don't. In tho first place, the Indians are beginning to net badly very badly. They nre Invading Crow territory nnd stealing from peaceful bands. They are molesting whites wherever they can find them nnd mur dering. So we can Judge that thero well bo hard fighting, for the troops will seek to pay them up. "Oh, Dallas, how I pray to see trou ble stop! I am going to the Indians. know their leaders have known tlietn for ten years or more. I shall nsk them to consider the good of their squaws nnd children and property nnd ask them to nccept reservation life. If they won't, I uliall beg a few of them to come in with me und at lenst talk treaty. "That is the first rensou for my go ing. The second Is the .Tamlesons. If I find those poor women and tell their captors that the four chiefs here nro in danger, 1 know mother and daughter will be handed over to me" "You're right! You can save them!" "God bless you for saying that! It won't be pleasant with Matthews here" "But you must go, Never mind nbout Matthews." "I cannot go without being satisfied thnt you and Marylyn will be safe. The colonel aald" "The colonel!" she interrupted. Then, half resentfully, "Did the women folk send any word?" He was mildly surprised. "N-n-no," he answered, "they didn't, but" She laughed and picked op the reins. "Well, dad '11 never leave this qunr ter," she said decisively, "If that's what tho colonel wants." The evangelist shook his head. " 'Thou dwellest In the midst of a re bellious house,' " he quoted sadly. "Now, if you come to tho fort to llve"- "Matthews could move Into tho shack." "Hardly that with the backing you have. The boys at the pot woolS never see Matthews take your home. Believo me, as long as you and your father care to live here you can. Pub lic opinion over there" he pointed to Brannon "Is strong in your favor. And there la Lounsbury too. Wlgr, law man Is helpless." She averted her faco. "So you will lose nothing by coming to the fort," lie persisted, "while you mny save n great deal your lives!" "Dnd will never go to tho fort. He hntes 'cm like poison." "Yes yes-he'ri foolish nnd stiff necked. For such Is punishment meted out. Seel" Tho ox team wns travel ing toward them, protlded by the driver. They stood' In silence for awhile. "Then go to Bismarck," urged David Bond flnully. "Stay there until tho au tumn." "Live on what?" she asked. From n hind pocket he very slowly brought forth n nnrrow buckskin pouch tied with n thong. He opened it nnd emptied n handful of coins upon a palm. "This Is only n little," ho said apologetically, "but It will help, nnd you must think first of your snfety." "I can't take It," she snld, her voice nil gentleness. "Kven If I did what about next winter? I must stay nnd raise things. Don't you see?" "At Bismarck you would have a dou ble market, Dallns. There is Fort Lin coln and the town." "I'd I'd have to plow now ground," she went on, "and we'd huve to build again and dig another well" "Thero are men in Bismarck who" Suddenly she lowered her voice nnd stepped nearer. "That's Just the reason dad wouldn't go there," she said. "We'd be close to town. We'd have to meet folks. Here he keeps away from the fort nnd you nnd Mr. Lounsbury every one but Charley." "Oh- oh oh," breathed the cvnngellst helplessly. "Now you know. It's no use. I don't complain, but he's fastened to the bond j with a diamond hitch!" "Now I know!" David Bond ex claimed. A halloo sounded from the shack. Fac ing that way they saw the section boss. He was standing Just outside the door balanced on one crutch. The other he was thrusting angrily at the ground. "You see!" said Dallas. "You see! And he can't help it. Poor dad!" The evangelist groaned and held out n hand. "Dear girl," he said, "It Is goodby. God keep you all, and God help me! I see truly that you are tied; that I can do no good. The colonel will surely take care that you are pro tected. Lounsbury and Charles will watch. I must go with that comforting knowledge. My love to Marylyn. Goodby." Sho steadied her voice to answer. "I watch," she suld. "I don't sleep well, so It's easy. If they heard a gun at I Brannon" ' He raised his hand to bless her, then, without speaking again, walked slow- ly away. She unhooked the tugs nnd headed tho mules for home. "Waal," called her father sarcastical ly as she approached, "what's thet ol' i snllller want? Is day aft' t'morrow th' en' o' th' world?" 1 She Ignored his questions nnd told him of the warning. ' Instantly his anger rose. Planting himself before her, he shook a finger close to her face. "So th' kunnel's try In' t' skeer us, Is he?" he demanded. "Tryln' t' git us t' come ln an' leave th' ben'. Waal ain't wo right under his nose? Kaln't he watch out for us? Wat's he here fer? W'nt's ho paid fer?" Then, riding In on the tide of his wrath, came dark suspicion. "An' w'at's he so crazy f git us away for?" he queried. "Yah, yah! Ah'd like t' know Ah do know! He's got thet low down card sharp of a Mntthews fer his Interpreter. He knows thet card sharp wants this lan'. Thet's his game! An' he kaln't fool me!" "Mnybo, maybe," said Dallas, leaving him to stnnd besldo Marylyn. "But, of course, dad, we mustn't forget thnt he's wnrned tho other folks on this fide too." Her father glared nt her. "You tnk in' his part, ain't y'?" ho said. "M-m-m! How's thot? Are you so all fired anx ious t' git t' Brnuuon?" "No, dad, I'll never go to Brannon. Never, never! If I did, you, my fa ther, oughtn't t' misunderstand it." He quailed before her vehemence nnd hobbled shamefacedly toward tho door. "O' course, If th' Injuns come" he began. "They won't." She drew Marylyn to her. "And If they do a shot '11 bring help." He wns ln tho doorway now. "W'y," he cried, "here's thet fool Nor weglnn goln' t' th' landln'! Waal, he Is prltty shy on saud!" "We'll be killed It the Indians come, Dallas." It was Marylyn, whispering up fearfully to her sister. "We'll be careful, honey. Keep away from the coulee after this. Walk to ward Brannon always." Dallas spent tho afternoon out of doors, where everything spoke of pence. Not even a hand's breadth of cloud floated upon the sky. The air was warm nnd fragrant with tho new growth, Magpies chattered by. Tho bobolinks sent up their hearty song. When she left off work she saw tho settler from the "little bend" drive by with his wlfo and children. Going home, she found her father cleaning and caressing the Sharps. But In her ability to sense danger, as In her love of the gloaming, Dallas wns like n wild thing, and she felt not the slight est disquiet. CHAPTFU XIX. a liDAi or rue even, nroau ex IV1 I pause between shack and gnp stood nn A tent, very new, very whlto nnd very generous In dimensions. Like a giant mush room, It had croppod forth during tho ulght. About It stretched tho un touched prntrle, all purpling over with morning glories. Tho tent opened towanl the river nnd was flanked on one side by a pile of short pickers. Their tops dipped the color of the canvas, their bases nicely shnrponed for the plotting out of ground. Near by, thrown flat, was a wide board sign, which read ln staring blue letters, "Al Braden, Ileal Estate." It was well ou toward noon before the tent showed life; then there emerg ed from It a bulky man of middle ago who dusted at his high boots as he came, stretched, drawing bis long coat snug ond settled an elaborate vest. He completed his costume by donning a black hat that was of wool and (loppy. Then, thumbs tucked ln armholes, he trolled away toward the Lancusters. The section boss and his daughters were lined up on the warm side of tho lean-to, shading their faces from tlm sun. When the comer was so nenr thnt they could see he wns strange to them Lancaster gave a peremptory wag of the head, and tho two girU disappeared around n corner. Thell father stayed on watch, his Jaws work lng nervously with tho ever present chew. The burly man ndvnncod upon th. lean-to. "Momln', rnornln'," was hht greeting. He made several swinging bows at Lancaster and took him in shrewdly from eyes that were round nnd close sot. The section boss grunted. "Lovely day," observed the other, with a bland smile. He changed Ida tack a little, ns if he were going by Lancaster hobbled along with him. "Y-n-n-s," he drawled. "Bight good. Some cool." The stranger ngreed by another se ries of swinging bows. "You got a nW placu here -nice place," he continued affably. Ho loosened one thumb wl'h n Jerk. "Nice 'nough." The man halted ln front of the shaclt nnd looked It over. "You're a southern gentleman." said he, "by your talk." "Ah am." I.nncnster spoke with un friendly rising Inflection. "Well, well." A hnnd wns extended fat hnnd, where sparkled a diamond. "Say, now, this Is lovely, lovely I'm a southerner myself, sir. Put it there'" The section boss hesitated. So far Dakota had offered him no compatriot. He could scarce believe that one stood before him now. A second, then ha gave a pleased grin. "Howdy," lm nld. "Hope y' goln' t' settle hero nbout." They shook honrtlly. "Settle duo east of you, sir," was tin answer. "My name's Braden Al Braden. I'm from Sioux Falls." "Won't y' como In?" "Tickled f death'." They entered tho shack, Lancas'ri leading. Dallas and Mary'yn glanced up In surprise from tho tlrep'ace nuJ arose hastily. "M' gals," snld the section boss, mo tioning their visitor to a bench Braden took It, with more swlnglna bows and a sweep of his floppy hea 1 gear. "Glad t' meet you," he smiled, "Mlss-a-a-a- Miss" "Lancaster 's they nnme," prompted the section boss, all ln good nature. "Lancaster. Glad t' meet you both." Dallas nodded nnd drew her slstei away to the wagon seat In the corner. "Jes" fr'm th' Falls, Ah think y' said," began their father, hunting hla tobacco plug along the mantel. "Yep." "I'm. Any-auy news fr'm down thet way 'bout this part o' th' coun try?" Braden fell to admiring his ring, "No, sir, no. Didn't hear nothln' par ticular." The section boss fidgeted. "S'pose y' know they 's some talk 'bout a railroad comln' this way." he said carelessly "Don't go much on that talk. Ten years, twenty years maybe. Too early yet." Lancaster's face lengthened. Hi blinked ln dismay. "My Idea." went on Braden, "l :ows. Goln' t' be a lot of money lu em, sure as you're alive. Hear Clark'J made a good thing of his'n." "Cows!" said Lancaster in disg st "Cows don' help a country don' r . th' price o' lan'." "Cows or no cows, your place here 3 worth a nice little sum," protested tin other condescendingly "hundered any way." Lancaster stared. "Hundered!" In cried. "You got th' grass staggers. Five hundered!" Braden pursed his Hps, his thumbs in his armholes again. "Three hundered and fifty, say," he comprom sed. ' I I be wlllln' f give you thnt." A moment since the section boss hid been downcast. Now, ho guffawed, "Would '?" he asked; "would y'?'1 There was a sage gleam lu his eye. "I would." Lancaster sucked his teeth Impor tantly. "Y' couldn't hev it n cent shorl o' seven hundered an' fifty," he de clared. "You'll never git It, sir, never! FIva hundered 's n :-pnul:ln' figger." "Bah!" "Telling you what's whnt. There'! thousands of ncres around here just na good as your'n any day In tho week, But you got this end of the ford. Thai makes n little difference." "Makes 'bout fifteen hundered dob lars' dlfX'renee." It was Bradcn's turn to laugh. ' Mi friend, you'll hist to two thousnnd pretty soon," ho warned, and arose. "Better take five hundered and t'fV when It's offered." He flung out I s hands as If he were feeding hens. Lancaster got up with hlro, rigl eously nngry. "Say, you ain't no soutl tier!" he cried. "Jes' a slick Yank A c'n see through you like winda pane' Braden laughed again, taj ping lis shoulder of the section boss, "'iou alt. t wise," he confided. "Fannin' out here with cows around means fences But hang on if you want 1 1, It's your land." He ended this with a Jovial slap and made for the door. From It he could see tlm girls. He gave them a magnificent bow. "Momln', momln'," he said nnd walked out. Lancaster went back to tho hearth, fairly weak with delight Dallns and Marylyn Joined him. "W'at d' y' think!" gurgled their father. "Say, he nln't got th' seuse be ought V been boru with!" "Don't like him," Dallas declared. "Pig eyes," suggested Marylyn, At that the section boss calmed. "Waal," he said, "he's as good anyhow as slopover soldiers." Meanwhllo Braden was on his way to the Trooper's Delight, his faco glum, his step quick, his unus cutting thf air like propellers. Wheu he lumber ed into It he creaked up to the plan bar and helped himself to a linger whisky. Theu he propped himself c an elbow and stood scowling Into tl rear of the room. From the gaming tnble sounded tl raillery of a dozen men. Mattb was there, heels up, hat tipped bai. a cigar set between his llttlo teeth, "What y" glvln' us?" cried oue of .3 companions. "You're drunk, Nlc plumb drunk." Braden listened, turning nway. in advertisement of brandy hung fro a shelf on the far side of the bar. Ho toyed with his goblet, his eyes ted, on the gaudy, fly specked plctura.