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East Mississippi times. (Starkville, Miss.) 19??-1926, June 25, 1909, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065609/1909-06-25/ed-1/seq-3/

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Murray Sinclair and his gang of wreck
rs were called out to clear the railroad
tracks at Smoky Creek. McCloud, a
young road superintendent, caught Sin
clair and his men in the act of looting
the wrecked train. Sinclair pleaded in
nocence. declaring it only amountei to a
small sum-a treat for the men. McCloud
discharged the whole outfit and ordered
the wreckage burned. McCloud became
acquainted with Dlcksle Dunning, a girl
ol the west, who came to look at the
wreck. She gave him a message for Sin
clair, "Whispering” Gordon Smith told
President Bucks of the railroad, of Mc-
Cloud's brave tight against a gang of
crazed miners and that was the reason
for the superintendent’s appointment to
his high office. McCloud arranged to
board at the boarding house of Mrs. Sin
clair. the ex-foreman’s deserted wife.
Dlcksle Dunning was the daughter of the
late Richard Dunning, who had died of a
broken heart shortly after his wife’s
demise, which occurred after one year of
married life. Sinclair visited Marion Sin
clair's shop and a fight between him and
McCloud was narrowly averted. Smoky
Creek bridge was mysteriously burned.
McCloud prepared to face the situation.
President Bucks notified Smith that he
had work ahead. McCloud worked for
days and finally got the division running
In fairly good order. He overheard Dick
sie criticising his methods, to Marion
Sinclair. A stock train was wrecked by
an open switch. Later a passenger train
was held up and the express car robbed.
Two men of a posse pursuing the bandits
were killed. McCloud was notified that
Whispering Smith was .to hunt the des
peradoes. Bill Dancing, a road lineman,
proposed that Sinclair and his gang be
sent to hunt the bandits. A stranger, ap
parently with authority, told him to go
ahead. Dancing was told the stranger
was “Whispering Smith." Smith ap
proached Sinclair. He tried to buy him
off, but failed.
CHAPTER Xl.—Continued.
“Well, you know now how to get
into trouble."
"Every one knows that; few know
how to keep out.”
“You can’t lay your finger on me at
my turn of the road.”
I "Not If you behave yourself."
"And you can't bully me.”
“Surely not. No hard feelings, Mur
ty, I came for a friendly talk, and
If it’s all the same to you I'll watch
this wheel awhile and then go over to
the Wickiup. I leave first —that's un
derstood, I hope—and it your pink
eyed friend is waiting outside tell him
there is nothing doing, will you, Mur
ray? Who is the albino, by the way?
You don’t know him? I think I do.
Fort City, If I remember. Well, good
night, Murray."
It was after 12 o’clock and the room
had filled up. Roulette balls were
dropping, and above the faro table the
extra lights were on. The dealers,
fresh from supper, were putting things
in order for the long trick.
At the Wickiup Whispering Smith
found McCloud in the office signing
Utters. “I can do nothing with him,"
said Smith, drawing down a window
ehade before he seated himself to de
tail his talk with Sinclair. “He wants
a fight."
McCloud put down his pen. “If I
™ the disturber it would be better for
me to get out.”
“That would be hauling down the
Sag across the whole division. It is
too late for that. If he didn’t center
the fight on you he would center it
somewhere else. The whole question
|la, who is going to run this division,
Sinclair and his gang or the com
pany? and it is as easy to meet them
oa one point as another. I know of
no way of making this kind of an af-
Ulr pleasant. I am going to do some
tMlng, as I told you. Kennedy Is
forking up through the Deep Creek
tountry, and has three men with him.
I shall ride toward the Cache and meet
him somewhere near South Mission
“Gordon, would It do any good to
“k a few questions?”
'Ask as many as you like, my dear
tty. but don’t be disappointed If I
*®'t answer them. I can look wise,
I don't know anything. You know
'bat we up against. This fellow
*• Brown a tiger among the wolves,
“and he has turned the pack loose on
*• one thing I ask you to do. Don’t
those yourself at night. Your life
tot worth a coupling-pin If you do.”
McCloud raised his hand. “Take
* re ot yourself! It you are murdered
1 this fight I shall know X got you In
that 1 am to blame."
'And suppose you were?" Smith had
,en from his chair. He had few man-
Wsnis, and recalling the man the
lw times I have seen him, the only
•Pression he has left on me Is that
1 inlet and gentleness. “Suppose
lu were?" He was resting one arm
i top of McCloud's desk. “What of
* You have done for me up here
“*t I couldn’t do, George. You have
'en kind to Marlon when she hadn’t
triend near. You have stood be
'een him and her when I couldn't
here to do It, and when she didn’t
mt me to—helped her when I hadn’t
* Privilege of doing It.” McCloud
t up his hand In protest, but it was
heeded. “How many times It has
*u In my heart to kill that man. She
°*s It; she prays It may never hap
s - That 1s why she stays here and
1 kept me out of the mountains,
e says they would talk about her If
,y ed in the same town, and I have
Yed away." He threw himself back
u the chair. “It's going beyond
hof us now. I’ve kept the promise
•Ads to her to-day to do all in ray
*er to settle this thing without
, hed. it will not be settled In
* way, George.”
was he at Sugar Buttes?"
* ant, his gang was there. The
TwuisPCßpo SMiail
ST Tran k ll.Spi:apman. fi If
Mm— copy/?fc*r ' by Cms •Sc/f/gyff/s Sous
Horn g kiU y ' Sl '° rt tUrn 011 Van
Horn, killing two men to rattle the
posse—lt all bears Sinclair's ear
marks. He has gone too far. He has
Piled up plunder till he Is reckless.
He is crazy with greed and insane
with revenge. He thinks he can gal
lop over this division and scare Bucks
till he gets down on his knees to him.
Bucks will never do It. I know him,
and I tell you Bucks will never do It.
He is like that man in Washington;
he will fight it to the death. He would
fight Sinclair if he had to come up
here and meet him single-handed, but
he will never have to do it. He put
you here, George, to round that man
up. 1 his is the price for your advance
ment, and you must pay it."
“It is all right for me to pay it, but
I don’t want you to pay it. Will you
have a care for yourself, Gordon?”
“Will you?”
“You need never ask me to be care
ful," Smith went on. “That Is my
business. I asked you to watch your
window shades at night, and when I
came in just now I found one up. It is
you who are likely to forget, and in
this kind of a game a man never for
gets but once. I’ll lie down on the
Lincoln lounge, George.”
"Get into the bed."
“No; I like the lounge, and I'm off
In the private room of the superin
tendent, provided as a sleeping apart
ment in the old headquarters building
many years before hotel facilities
reached Medicine Bend, stood the only
curio the Wickiup possessed—the
Lincoln lounge. When the car that
carried the remains of Abraham Lin
coln from Washington to Springfield
was dismantled, the Wickiup fell heir
to one piece of Its elaborate furnish
ings, the lounge, and the lounge still
remains as an early-day relic. Whis
pering Smith walked into the bedroom
and disposed himself in an Incredi
bly short time. “I've borrowed one of
your pillows, George," he called out,
“Take both.”
“One’s enough. I hope,” he went on,
rolling himself like a hen into the
double blanket, "the horse Kennedy
has left me will be all right; he got
three from Bill Dancing. Bill Dan
cing,” he snorted, driving his nose into
the pillow as if in final memorandum
for the night, “he will get himself
killed if he fools around Sinclair too
much now.”
McCloud, under a light shaded above
his desk, opened a roll of blue-prints.
He was going to follow a construction
gang up the Crawling Stone in the
morning and wanted to look over the
surveys. Whispering Smith, breath
ing regularly, lay not far away. It
was late when McCloud put away his
maps, entered the inner room and
looked at his friend.
He lay like a boy asleep. On the
chair beside his head he had placed
his old-fashioned hunting-case watch,
as big as an alarm clock, the kind a
railroad man would wind up with a
spike-maul. Beside the watch he had
laid his huge revolver In Its worn
leather scabbard. Breathing peace
fully, he lay quite at his companion's
mercy, and McCloud, looking down on
this man who never made a mistake,
never forgot a danger, and never took
an unnecessary chance, thought of
what between men confidence may
sometimes mean. He sat a moment
with folded arms on the side of his
bed, studying the tired face, defense
less In the slumber ot fatigue. When
he turned out the light and lay down,
he wondered whether, somewhere In
the valley of the great river to which
he was to take his men In the morn
ing, he should encounter the slight
and reckless horsewoman who had
blazed so In anger when he stood be
fore her at Marlon’s. He had strug
gled against her charm too long. She
had become, how or when he could not
tell, not alone a pretty woman but a
fascinating one—the creature ot his
constant thought. Already she meant
more to him than all else in the world.
He well knew that It called on to
choose between Dtcksie and all else
he could only choose her. But as he
drew together the curtains of thought
and sleep stole In upon him, he was re
solved first to have Dicksle; to have
all else If he could, but, In any case,
Dicksle Dunning. When he awoke day
was breaking In the mountains. The
huge silver watch, the low-voiced map
and the formidable six-shooter had dis
appeared. It wag time to get up, and
Marlon Sinclair had promised an early
The Quarrel.
The beginning of the Crawling Stone
line marked the first determined effort
under President Bucks, while under
taking the reconstruction of the sys
tem for through traffic, to develop the
rich local territory tributary to the
mountain division. New policies In
construction dated from the same
period. Glover, with an enormous
capita! ataked for the new undertak
ings, gave orders to push the building
every month In the year, and for the
first time In mountain railroad build
ing winter was to be ignored. The
older mountain men met the Innova
tion as they met any departure from
their traditions, with curiosity and dis
trust. On the other hand, the new and
younger blood took hold with con
fidence, and when Glover called, “Yo,
heave ho!" at headquarters, they bent
themselves clear across the system for
a hard pull together.
McCloud, resting the operating on
the shoulders of his assistant Ander
son, devoted himself wholly to for
warding the construction plans, and
his first clash over winter road-build
ing In the Rockies came with his own
right-hand man, Mears. McCloud put
In a switch below Piedmont, opened a
material yard and began track laying
toward the lower Crawling Stone val
ley, when Mears said it was time to
stop work till spuing. When McCloud
told him he wanted track across the
divide and into the lower valley by
spring, Mears threw up his hands. But
there was metal In the old man, and
he was for orders all the time. He
kept up a running fire of protests and
forebodings about the danger of ex
posing men during the winter season,
but stuck to his post.
Spring found the construction of the
valley line well advanced, and the
grades nearing the lands of the Dun
ing ranch. Right-of-way men had been
working for months with Lance Dun
ning over the line and McCloud had
been called frequently Into consulta
tion to adjust the surveys to objec
tions raised by Dlcksie's cousin to the
crossing of the ranch lands. Even
“Cousin Lance!"
when the proceedings had been closed,
a strong current of discontent set
from the managing head of the Stone
ranch. Rumors of Lance Dunning’s
dissatisfaction often reached the rail
road people. Vague talk of an exten
sive Irrigation scheme planned by Sin
clair for the Crawling Stone .valley
crept Into the newspapers, and It was
generally understood that Lance Dun
ning had expressed himself favorably
to the enterprise.
Dicksle gave slight heed to matters
as weighty as these. She spent much
of her time on horseback, with Jim
under the saddle; and In Medicine
Bend, where she rode with frequency,
Marion’s shop became her favorite
abiding place. Dicksle ordered hats
until Marlon’s conscience rose and she
practically refused to supply any
more. But the spirited controversy
on this point, as on many others—
Dlcksie's haughtiness and Marlon’s re
straint, quite unmoved by any show of
displeasure —ended always In drawing
the two closer to each other.
One March afternoon, coming home
from Medicine Bend, she saw at gome
distance before her a party of men on
horseback. She was riding a trail
leading from the pass road that fol
lowed the hills, and the party was
coming up the bridge road from the
lower ranch. Dicksle had good eyes,
and something unusual In the riding
of the men was soon apparent to her.
Losing and regaining sight of them at
different turns in the trail, she made
out, as she rode among the trees, that
they were cowboys of her own ranch,
and riding, under evident excitement,
about a strange horseman. She rec
ognized In the escort Stormy Gorman,
the ferocious foreman of the ranch,
and Denison and Jim Baugh, two ot
the most reckless of the men. These
three carried rifles slung across their
pommels, and In front of them rode
the stranger.
Fragments of the breakfast-table
talk of the morning came back to
Dlcksie’s mind. The railroad graders
were in the valley below the ranch,
and she had heard her cousin say a
good deal on a point she cared little
about, as to where the railroad should
cross the Stone ranch. Approaching
the fork of the two roads toward
which she and the cowboys were rid
ing, she checked her horse in the
shade of a cottonwood tree, and as
the party rode up the draw she saw
the horseman under surveillance. It
was George McCloud.
Unluckily, as she caught a glimpse
of him she was conscious that he was
looking at her. She bent forward to
hide a momentary contusion, spoke
briskly to her horse, and rode out of
sight. At Marion’s she had carefully
avoided him. Her precipitancy at their
last meeting had seemed, on reflec
tion, unfortunate. She felt that she
must have appeared to him shockingly
rude, and there was in her recalling of
the scene an unconfessed impression
that she had been to blame. Often
when Marlon spoke of him, which she
did without the slightest reserve and
with no reference as to whether Dlck
sle liked it or not. it had been in Dlck
sie's mind to bring up the subject of
the disagreeable scene, hoping that
Marion would suggest a way for ma
king some kind of unembarrassliig
amends. But such opportunities had
slipped away unimproved, and here
was the new railroad superintendent,
whom their bluff neighbor Sinclair
never referred to other than as the
college guy, being brought apparently
as a prisoner to the Stone ranch.
Busied with her thoughts, Dlcksle
rode slowly along the upper trails
until a long detour brought her around
the corrals and In at the back of the
house. Throwing her lines to the
ground, she alighted and through the
back porch door made her way unob
served to her room. From the office
across the big hall she heard men’s
voices In dispute, and she slipped Into
the dining room, where she could hear
and might see without being seen.
The office was filled with cowboys.
Lance Dunning, standing with a cigar
In his hand and one leg thrown over
a corner of the table, was facing Mc-
Cloud, who stood before him with his
hand on a chair. Lance was speaking
as Dlcksle looked Into the room, and
In curt tones; "My men were acting
under my orders.”
"You have no right to give such or
ders," McCloud said, distinctly, "nor
to detain me, nor to obstruct our free
passage along the right of way you
have agreed to convey to us under our
“Damn your survey! I never had
a plat of any such survey. I don’t
recognize any such survey. And If
your right-of-way men had ever said a
word about crossing the creek above
the flume I never would have given
you a right of way at all.”
“There were never but two lines
run below the creek; after you raised
objection I ran them both, and both
were above the flume."
• "Well, you can’t put a grade there.
I and gome of my neighbors are going
to dam up that basin, and the irriga
tion laws will protect our rights.”
"I certainly can't put a grade In be
low the flume, and you refuse to talk
about our crossing above it.”
“I certainly do.”
"Why not let us cross where we
are, and run anew level for your ditch
that will put the flume higher up?"
"You will have to cross below the
flume where It stands, or you won't
cross the ranch at all."
McCloud was silent for a moment.
“I am using a supported grade there
for eight miles to get over the hill
within a three-tenths limit. I can't
drop back there. We might as well
not build at all If wo can't hold our
grade, whereas It would be very sim
ple to run anew line for your ditch,
and my engineers will do It for you
without a dollar of expense to you,
Mr. Dunning."
Dance Dunning waved his hand as
an ultimatum. “Cross where I toll
you to cross, or keep off the Slone
ranch. Is that English?"
"It certainly is. But in matter of
fact we must cross on the survey
agreed on in the contract for a right
of-way deed.”
"I don’t recognize any contract ob
tained under false representations."
"Do you accuse me of false repre
Lance Dunning flipped the ash from
his cigar. "Who are you?”
"I am just a plain, every day civil
engineer, but you must not talk false
representations in any contract drawn
under my hand."
“I am talking facts. Whispering
Smith may have rigged the joker—-I
don’t know. Whoever rigged it, It has
been rigged all right.”
“Any charge against Whispering
Smith is a charge against me. He Is
not here to defend himself, but he
needs no defense. You have charged
me already with misleading surveys.
I was telephoned for this morning to
come over to see why you had held
up our work, and your men cover me
with rifles while I am riding on a
public road.”
“You have been warned, or your
men have, to keep off this ranch. Your
man Stevens cut our wires this morn
"As he had a perfect right to do on
our right of way.”
“If you think so, stranger, go ahead
"Oh, no! We won’t have civil war
—not right away, at least. And if you
and your men have threatened and
browbeaten me enough for to-day, I
will go."
"Don't set foot on the Stone ranch
again, and don't send any men here
to trespass, mark you!"
"I mark you perfectly. I did not set
foot willingly on your ranch to-day. I
was dragged on it. Where the men
are grading now, they will finish their
“No. they won't.”
“What, would you drive us off land
you have already deeded?”
“The first man that cuts our wires
or orders them cut where they were
strung yesterday will get into trou
"Then don't string any wires on
land that belongs to us, for they will
certainly come down If you do."
Lance Dunning turned in a passion.
“I'll put a bullet through you If you
touch a barb of Stone ranch wire!"
Stormy Gorman jumped forward
with his hand covering the grip of his
six-shooter. "Yea, damn you, and I'll
put another!" '
“Cousin Lance!” Dtcksle Dunning
advanced swiftly into the room. “You
are under our own roof, and you are
wrong to talk in that way.”
Her cousin stared at her. "Dlcksle,
this Is no place for you!”
"It is when my cousin is in danger
of forgetting ho is a gentleman."
"You are interfering with what you
know nothing about!" exclaimed
Lance, angrily.
“I know what Is due to every one
under this roof.”
"Will you be good enough to leave
this room?”
“Not If there is to be any shooting
or threats of shooting that Involve my
"Dlcksle, leave the room!”
There was a hush. The cowboys
dropped back. Dlcksle stood motion
less. She gave no sign in her manner
that she heard the words, but she
looked very steadily at her cousin.
“You forget yourself!" was all she
"I am master here!”
“Also my cousin,” murmured Dick
sle, evenly.
"You don’t understand this matter
at all!” declared Lance Dunning, ve
“Nothing could justify your lan
"Do you think I am going to allow
this railroad company to ruin this
ranch while 1 am responsible here?
You have no business Interfering,
“I think I have.”
“These matters are not of your af
"Not of my affair?” The listeners
stood riveted. McCloud felt himself
swallowing, and took a step forward
with an effort as Dlcksle advanced.
Her hair, loosened by her ride, spread
low upon her head. Sho stood In her
saddle habit, with her quirt still In
hand. "Any affair that may lead my
cousin Into shooting Is my affair. I
make it mine. This Is my father’s
roof. I neither know nor caro any
thing about what led to this quarrel,
but the quarrel is mine now. 1 will
not allow my cousin to plunge Into
anything that may cost him his life
or ruin It." She turned suddenly, and
her eyes fell on McCloud. “I am not
willing to leave either myself or my
cousin in a false position. I regret es
pecially that Mr. McCloud should ha
brought into so unpleasant a scene,
because he has already suffered rude
ness at my own hands —’’
McCloud flushed. He raised his
hand slightly.
"And 1 am very sorry for it,” added
Dicksie, before he could speak. Then,
turning, sho withdrew from the room.
"I am sure," said McCloud, slowly,
as he spoke again to her cousin,
"there need be no serious controversy
over the right-of-way matter, Mr. Dun
ning. I certainly shall not precipitate
any. Suppose you give me a chance
to ride over the ground with you again
and let us see whether wo can't ar
rive at some conclusion?"
Hut Dance was angry, and nursed
his wrath a long lime.
The Shot In the Pass.
Dicksie walked hurriedly through
the dining room and out upon the rear
porch. Her horse was standing where
she had left him. Her heart beat fu
riously as she caught up the reins, but
she sprang Into the saddle and rode
rapidly away. The flood of her tem
per had brought a disregard of con
sequences; It was in the glow of her
eyes, the lines of her lips, and the tre
mor of her nostrils as she breathed
long and deeply on her flying horse.
When she checked Jim she had rid
den miles, but not without a course
nor without a purpose. Where the
roads ahead of her parted to lead
down the river and over the Elbow
Pass to Medicine Bend, she halted
within a clump of trees almost where
she had first seen McCloud. Beyond
the Mission mountains the sun was
setting In a fire like that which glowed
under her eyes. She could have
counted her heart beats as the crimson
ball sank below the verge of the hori
zon and the shadows threw up the sil
ver thread of the big river and deep
ened across the heavy green of the al
falfa fields. Where Dicksie sat, strug
gling with her bounding pulse and
holding Jim lightly in, no one from
the ranch or, indeed, from the up
country could pass her unseen. Sho
was waiting for a horseman, and the
sun had sot but a few minutes when
sho heard a sharp gallop coming down
the upper road from the hills.
All her brave plans, terror-stricken
at the sound of the hoof-beats, fled
from her utterly. She was stunned
by the suddenness of the crisis. Sho
had meant to stop McCloud and speak
to him, but before she could summon
her courage a tall, slender man on
horseback ijashed past within a few
feet of her. She could almost have
touched him as he flew by, and a
horse less steady than Jim would have
shied under her. Dicksie caught her
breath. Sho did not know this man—
she had seen only his eyes, oddly
bright In the twilight as he passed—
but he was not of the ranch. He must
have come from the hill road, she con
cluded, down which she herself had
Just ridden. He was somewhere from
the north, for he sat his horse like a
statue and rode like the wind.
But the encounter nerved her to her
resolve. Some leaden moments
passed, and McCloud, galloping at a
far milder pace toward the fork of the
roads, checked his speed as he ap
proached. He saw a woman on horse
back waiting in his path.
"Mr. McCloud!”
“Miss Dunning!"
”1 could not forgive myself if I
waited too long to warn you that
threats have been made against your
life. Not of the kind you heard to
day. My cousin is not a murderer,
and never could be, I am sure, in spite
of his talk; but I was frightened at the
thought that if anything dreadful
should happen his name would bo
brought into it. There are enemies
of yours in this country to be feared,
and it Is against these that I warn
you. Goodnight!"
"Surely you won't ride away with
out giving me a chance to thank you!”
exclaimed McCloud. Dicksie checked
her horse, “I owe you a double debt
of gratitude," he added, “and I am
anxious to assure you that we deslra
nothing that will Injure your interests
In any way In crossing your lands."
"i know nothing about those mat
ters, because my cousin manages
everything. It is growing late and
you have a good way to go, so good
"But you will allow me to ride back
to the house with you?”
"Oh, no. Indeed, thank you!”
"It will soon be dark and you are
So. no! I am quite safe and I have
only a short ride. It is you who have
far to go,” and she spoke again Is
Jim, who suited briskly.

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