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The Cody enterprise and the Park County enterprise. (Cody, Wyo.) 1921-1923, September 13, 1922, Image 6

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SIX
The
Strength of the Pines
By EDISON MARSHALL oAuthor cf
.- - ■ , , , 1 = r 'The Voice of the Pack”
THE KILLER
SYNOPSIS.-At the death of hla
foster father, Bruce Duncan, In an
eastern city, receives a mysterious
message, sent by a Mrs. Ross, sum
moning him peremptorily to south
ern Oregon—to meet “Linda.”
Bruce has vivid but baffling recol
lections of his childhood in an or
phanage, before his .adoption by
Newton Duncan, with the girl Lin
da. At his destination. Trail’s End,
news that a message has been sent
to Bruce is received with marked
displeasure by a man introduced
to the reader as “Simon." Leaving
the train, Bruce is astonished at
his apparent familiarity with the
surroundings, though to his knowl
edge he has never been there.
Obedient to the message, Bruce
makes his way to Martin’s cross
roads store, for direction as to
reaching Mrs. Ross’ cabin. On the
way, “Simon” sternly warns him
to give up his quest and return
East. Bruce refuses. ‘Mrs. Ross,
aged and infirm, welcomes him
with emotion. She hastens him on
his way—the end of “Pine-Needle
Trail.” Through a country puz
zlingly familiar, Bruce journeys,
and finds his childhood playmate,
Linda. The girl tells him of wrongs
committed by an enemy clan on
her family, the Rosses. Lands oc
cupied by the clan were stolen
from the Rosses, and the family,
with the exception of Aunt Elmira
(Mrs. Ross) and herself, wiped out
by assassination. Bruce’s father,
Matthew Folger, was one of the
victims. His mother had fled with
Bruce and Linda. The girl, while
small, had been kidnaped from the
orphanage and brought to the
mountains. Linda’s father had
deeded his lands to Matthew Fol
ger. but the agreement, which
would confute the enemy’s claims
to the property, has been lost.
CHAPTER IX—Continued.
"Within a few more weeks they
will have been in possession of the
land for a full twenty years. Through
some legal twist I don’t understand,
if a man pays taxes and has undis
puted possession of land for that
length of time, his title is secure.
They failed to win me over, but It
looks as If they had won, anyway.
The only way that they can be defeat
ed now Is for that secret agreement—
between my father and Folger—to re
appear. And I’ve long ago given‘up
ail hope of that.
“There is no court session between
now and October thirtieth—when
their twenty years of undisputed pos
session is culminated. There seems
to be no chance to contest them—to
make them bring that forged deed into
the light before that time. We’ve lost,
after all. Ahd only one thing re
mains.”
He looked up to And her eyes full
upon him. He had never seen such
eyes. They seemed to have sunk so
deep into the flesh about them that
only lurid slits remained. It was not that
her lids were partly down. Rather
it was because the flesh-sacks beneath
them had become charged with her
pounding blood. The fire's glow was
In them and cast a strange glamor
upon her face. It only added to the
strangeness of the picture that she
sat almost limp, rather than leaning
forward in appeal. Bruce looked at
her in growing awe.
But as the seconds passed he seemed
no longer able to see her plainly. Ills
eyes were misted and blurred, but
they were empty of tears as Linda’s
own. Rather the focal point of his
brain had become seared by a mount
ing flame within himself. The glow
of the fire had seemingly spread until
It encompassed the whole wilderness
world.
‘‘What Is (he one thing that re
mains?” he asked her, whispering.
She answered with a strange, ter
rible coldness of tone. “The blood
atonement,” she said between back
drawn lips.
CHAPTER X
When the second hand of the watch
in his pocket had made one more cir
cuit, both Bruce and Linda found
themselves upon their feet. The ten
sion had broken at last. Her emotion
had been curbed too long. It broke
from her In a flood.
She seized his hands, and he started
at their touch. "Don’t you under
stand?” she cried. “You —you —you
are Folger's son. You are the boy
that crept out—under this very tree—
to find him dead. All my life Elmira
and I have prayed for you to come.
And what are you going to do?”
Her face was drawn In the white
light of the moon. For an Instant he
acemed dazed.
"Do?” he repeated. “I don't know
what I’m going to do.”
"You don’t!” she cried. In Infinite
acorn. "Are you just clay? Aren’t
you a man? Haven’t you got arms to
strike with and eyes to see along a
rifle barrel? Are you a coward —and
a weakling; one of your mother’s
blood, to run away? Haven’t you any
thing to avenge? I thought you were
n mountain man—♦hat all your years
in cities couldn’t take that quality
away from you I Haven’t you any
answer?"
He looked up, a strange light grow
ing on hli face. “You mean—kill
ing?”
"What else? To kill—never to stop
killing—one after another, until they
are gone! Till Simon Turner and the
whole Turner clan have paid the debts
they owe.”
Bruce recoiled as If from a blow.
"Turner? Did you say Turner?” he
asked hoarsely.
“Yes. That’s the clan’s name. I
.thought you knew.”
Bruce understood now his unpro
voked attack on the little boy when
he had been taken from the orphan
age on trial. The boy had been named
Turner, and the name had been enough
to recall a great and terrible hatred
that he had learned In earliest baby
hood. The name now recalled it again;
the truth stood clear at last. It was
the key to all the mystery of his life;
it stirred him more than all of Linda’s
words. In an instant all the tragedy
of his babyhood was recalled—the
hushed talk between his parents, the
oaths, the flames in their eyes, and
finally the body he had found lying
so still beneath tlie pines. It was
always the Turners, the dread name
that had filled his baby days with
horror. He hadn’t understood then.
It had been blind hatred—hatred with
out understanding or self-analysis.
As she watched, his mountain blood
mounted to the ascendency. A strange
transformation came over him. The
gentleness that he had acquired in his
years of city life began to fail away
from him. The mountains were claim
ing him again.
His voice was cold and hard when
he spoke.
“Then you and I are no relation
whatever.”
"None.”
"But we fight the same fight now.”
"Yes. Until we both win—or both
die.”
Before he could speak again, a
strange answer came out of the dark
ness. “Not two of you,” a croaking
old voice told him. It rose, shrill and
cracked, fxom the shadows beyond
the fire. They turned, and the moon
light showed a bent old figure hob
bling toward them.
It was old Elmira, her cane tapping
along in front of her; and something
that caught the moonlight lay In the
hollow’ of her left arm. Her eyes still
glowed under the grizzled brows.
“Not two, but three,” she corrected,
in the hollow voice of uncounted
years. In the magic of the moonlight
it seemed quite fitting to both of them
that she should have come. She was
one of the triumvirate; they wondered
why they had not missed her before.
It was farther than she had walked
in years, but her spirit had kept her
up.
She put the glittering object that,
she carried Into Bruce’s hands. It
was a rifle—a repeating breech-loader
of a famous make and a model of
thirty years before. It was such- a
11 W®"
“Not Two, but Three,” She Corrected,
In the Hollow Voice of Uncounted
Years.
rifle as lives in legend, with sights as
fine as a razor edge and an accuracy
as great as light Itself. Loving hands
had polished It and kept It in perfect
condition.
“Matthew Folger’s rifle,” the old
woman explained, “for Matthew Fol
ger’s son.”
And that is how Bruce Folger re
turned to the land of his birth—as
most men do, unless death cheats
them first—and how he made a pact
to pay old debts of death.
BOOKTWO
THE BLOOD ATONEMENT
CHAPTER XI
"Men own the day, but the night Is
ours," is an old saying among the
wild folk that inhabit the forests of
Trail's End. The saying originated
long and long ago when the world was
quite young. Before that time, likely
enough, the beasts owned both the
day and the night, and you can Imag
ine them denying man's superiority
Just ns iong ns possible.
Os course the saying Is ridiculous if
applied to cities or perhaps even io
the level, cleared lands of the Middle
West, Tlie reason is simply that tlie
wild life is practically gone from
these places. But a few places remain
In America where the reign of the
wild creatures, during the night hours
at least, Is still supreme. And Trail's
End is oue of them.
Bruce dressed slowly. He Avouldn'l
waken the two women that slept In
the next room, he thought. He crept
slowly out Into the gray dawn, lie
made strnight for the great pine that
stood a short distance from the house.
For reasons unknown to him, the pine
had come'often Into his dreams. He
had thought that Its limbs rubbed to
gether and made words—but of tlie
words themselves lie had hardly
caught the meaning. There was some
high message in them, however; and
the dream had left Idm with a vngue
curiosity, an unexplainable desire to
see the forest monarch In the day
light.
He found to his delight that the
tree was even more Impressive In the
vivid morning light thdn It had been
at night. He was constantly awed
by the size of It. He guessed its cir
cumference as about twenty-five feet.
The great lower limbs were them
selves like massive tree trunks. Its
top surpassed by fifty feet any pine
in the vicinity.
He felt stilled and calmed. Such
was Its influence. And he turned with
a stnrt when he saw Linda In the door
way.
"I’ve been talking to the pine—all
the morning,” he told her.
"But It won’t talk to you,” she an
swered. "It talks only to the stars.”
CHAPTER XII *>
Bruce and Linda had a long talk
while the sun climbed up over the
great ridges to the east and old El
mira cooked their breakfast. There
was no passion In their words this
morning. They had got down to a
basis of cold planning.
"Let me refresh my memory about
a few of those little things you told
me,” Bruce requested. “First—on
what date does the twenty-year pe
riod—of the Turners' possession of the
land —expire?"
“On the thirtieth of October, of this
year."
"Not very long, Is It? Now you un
derstand that on that date* they will
have had twenty years of undisputed
possession of the land; they will have
paid taxes on It that long; and unless
their title Is proven false between now
and that date, we can't ever drive
them out.”
“That's Just right."
“And the fall term of court doesn't
begin until the fifth of the following
month."
“Yes. we're beaten. That's all there
Is to It. Shnon told me so the last
time be talked to me."
“It would be to bls Interest to have
you think so. But Linda—we mustn't
give up yet. We must try as long ns
one day remains. It seems to me that
the first thing to do Is to find the trap
per, Hodson—the one witness that Is
still alive. He might be able to
prove to tlie court that ns my fa
ther never owned the land In reality,
lie couldn't possibly have deeded It
to the Turners. Do you know where
this Hudson Is?" *
"I asked old Elmira last night She
thinks.she knows. A man told her he
had his trap line on the upper Ump
qua, and his main headquarters—you
know that trappers have a string of
camps—was nt the mouth of Little
river, that flows Into the Umpqua.
But It Is a long way from here."
Bruce was still a moment. “How
far?" he asked?
“Two full days' tramp at the least—
barring out accidents. But if you
think It Is best—you enn start out to
day."
Bruce wns a man who made deci
sions quickly. “Then I'll start—right
away. Can you telt me how to find
the trail?”
“I can only tell you to go straight
north."
"Then the thing to do Is to get ready
at once. And then try to bring Hud
son back with me—down the valley.
After we get the re we can see what
con be done."
Linda smiled rather sadly. “I'm not
very hopeful. But It’s our last chance
—and we might as well make a try.
There Is no hope that the secret
agreement will show up In these few
weeks that remain. We'll get your
things together at once.”
They breakfasted, and after the
simple meal was finished. Bruce
packed for the Journey. The two
women walked with him, out under
the pine.
Bruce shook old Elmira’s scrawny
hand; then she turned back at once
Into the house. The man felt singu
larly grateful. He began to credit
the old woman with n great deal of
Intuition, or else memories from her
own girlhood of long and long ago. He
did want a word alone with this
strange girl of the pines. But when
Elmira had Rone In and the coast was
clear. It wouldn’t come to his Ups.
“It seems strange,” he said, “to
come here only last night—and then
to be leaving again.”
.* It seemed to his astonished gaze
! that her lips trembled ever so slightly.
* “We have been waiting tor each other
: a long time, Bwovaboo," she replied.
; She spoke rather low, not looking
' straight at him. “And I hate to have
you go away so soon."
“But I'll he back—in a few days.”
“You don't know. No one ever
knows when they start out In tliezu
mountains. Promise nte, Brucw—to
» keep watch every minute. Remember
' there's nothing—nothing—that Simon
■ won't stoop to do. He's like a wolf.
; He has no rules of fighting. He’d Just
as soon strike from ambush. How do
I know that you’ll ever come back
again?”
“But I will." He smiled at her, and
Ids eyes dropped from hers to her Ups.
He reached out and took her hand.
"Good-by, Linda," he said, smiling.
She smiled In reply, and her old
i r. w •’*' II I
His Arms Went About Her, and He
Kissed Her Gently on thd Lips.
cheer seemed to return to her. “Good
by, Bwovaboo. Be careful.”
“I’ll be careful. And this reminds
me of something.”
“What?"
“That for all the time I’ve been
away—and for all the time I’m going
to be away now—l haven't done any
thing more—well, more IntlmAe—
than shake your hand.”
Her answer was to pout out her Ups
in the most natural way In the world.
Bruce was usually deliberate In bls
motions; but all at once his delibera
tion fell away from him. There
seemed to be no Interlude of time be
tween one position and another. His
arms went about her, and he kissed
her gently on the Ups.
But It was not at all as they expect
ed. Because Linda had not known
many kisses, this little caress beneath
the pine went very straight home In
deed to them both. They fell apart,
both of them suddenly sobered. The
girl's eyes were tender and lustrous,
but startled too.
"Good-by, Linda,” he told her.
"Good-by, Bwovaboo," she answered.
He turned up the trail past tlie pine.
He did not know that she stood
watching him a long time, her hands
clasped over her breast.
CHAPTER XIII
Mlles farther than Linda's cabin,
clear beyond the end of the trail that
Duncan took, past even the highest
ridge of Trail’s End and In the region
where the little rivers that run Into
the Umpqua have their starting place.
Is a certain land of Used to Be. It
Isn't a land of the Present Time nt all.
It Is a place that has never grown old.
When a man passes the last outpost
of civilization, and the shadows of the
unbroken woods drop over him, he Is
likely to forget that the year Is nine
teen lumA-ed and twenty, and that
the day before yesterday he had seen
an airplane passing over his house.
The world seems to have kicked off
Its thousand-thousand years ns a
warm man at night kicks off covers;
and all things are Just as they used
to be. It is the Young World—a
world of beasts rather than men, a
world where the hand of man has not
yet been felt.
On this particular early-September
dny, the age-old drama of the wilder
ness was In progress. It was a drama
of untamed passions and bloodshed,
strife and carnnge and lust nnd rap
ine; and It didn’t, unfortunately, have
a particularly happy ending. The
players were beasts, not men. The
only human being anywhere In the
near vicinity was the old trapper,
Hudson, following down his trap line
on the creek margin on the way to
his camp. It Is true that two other
men, with a rather astounding simi
larity of purpose, were at present com
ing down two of the long trails that
led to the region; but as yet the
drnrnn was hidden from tlielr eyes.
One of the two was Bruce, coming
from Linda's cabin. One was Dave
Turner, approaching from the direc
tion of the Ross estates. Turner was
much the nearer. Curiously, both had
business with the trapper Hudson.
The action of the play was calm at
first Mostly the forest creatures
were Mill In their afternoon sleep.
The does and their little spotted
fawns were sleeping; the blacktnll
deer had not yet sought the feeding
grounds on the ridges. The cougar
yawned In his lair, the wolf dozed In
his covert, even the poison-people lay
like long shadows on the hot rocks.
An old raccoon wakened from his
place on a high limb, stretched him
self, scratched at bls fur, then began
to steal down the limb. He had a long
way to go before dark. Hunting was
getting poor In this part of the woods.
He believed he would wander down
toward Hudson's camp and look for
crayfish in the water. A coyote Is
usually listed among the larger forest
creatures, but early though the hour
was—early, that Is, for hunters to bo
out —he was stalking a fawn In a
covert.
All the bunts were progressing fa
mously when there came a curious in
terruption. It was a peculiar growl,
quite low at first. It lusted a long
time, then died away. There wns no
opposition to*lt. The forest creatures
had paused In their tracks at Its first
note, and now they stood as If the
winter had come down upon them sud
denly and frozen them solid. All the
other sounds of the forest —the little
whispering noises of gliding bodies
and fluttering feet, ami perhaps a
bird's call In a shrub—Were suddenly
stilled. There was a moment of
breathless suspense. Then the sound
commenced again.
It was louder this time. It rose and
gathered volume until It was almost a
roar. It candled through the silences
In great waves of sound. And In It
wns a sense of resistless power; no
creature In the forest but what knew
this fact.
“The Gray King,” one could Imagine
them saying among themselves. The
effect was Instantaneous. The little
raccoon halted In Ids descent, then
crept out to the end of a limb. The
coyote, an Instant before crawling
with body close to the earth, whipped
about as If he had some strange kind
of circular spring inside of him. He
snarled once In the general direction
of the Gray King. Then he lowered
Ids head and skulked off deeper Into
the coverts.
The blacktail deer, the gray wolf,
even the stately Tawny One, stretched
In grace In Ids lair, wakened from
sleep. The languor died quickly In
the latter’s eyes, leaving only fear.
These were braver than the Little
People. They waited until the thick
brash, not. far distant from where the
bull elk slept, began to break down
nnd part before an enormous, gray
body.
No longer would an observer think
of the elk ns the forest monarch. He
was but a pretender, after all. The
real king bad Just wakened from Ids
afternoon nap and was starting forth
to hunt.
Even Ids little cousins, the black
bears, did not wait to make conversa
tion. They tumbled awkwardly down
the hill to get out of Ids way. For
the massive gray form—weighing over
half a ton—was none other than that
of the last of the grizzly bears, that
terrible forest hunter and monarch,
the Killer himself.
Long ago, when Oregon was a new
land to white men, in the days of the
clipper ships nnd the Old Oregon
Trail, the breed to which the Killer be
longed were really numerous through
the little corner north of the Slsklyous
and west of the Cascades. They were
a worthy breed! If the words of cer
tain old men could be believed, the
south,prn Oregon grizzly occasionally,
In the bountiful fall days, attained a
weight of two thousand pounds. No
doubt whatever remains that thou
sand-pound bears were numerous.
But unlike the little black bears, the
grizzlies developed displeasing habits.
They were tnueh more carnivorous In
character than the blacks, and tlielr
great bodily strength and power en
abled them to master all of the myriad
forms of game In the Oregon woods.
By the Haiti’ token, they could take a
full-grown steer nnd carry It off us a
woman carries her baby.
It couldn't be endured. The cattle
men had begun to settle the valleys,
and It wns either a case of killing the
grizzlies or yielding the valleys to
them. In the relentless war that fol
lowed, the breed had been practically
wiped out. A few of them, perhaps,
tied farther and farther up the Cas
cades, finding refuges In the Canadian
mountains. Others traveled cast, lo
cating at last in the Rocky moun
tains, and countless numbers of them
died. At last, as far ns the frontiers
men knew, only one grent specimen
remained. This was a fntnous bear
that men railed Slewfoot—n magnifi
cent animal that ranged far and
hunted relentlessly, and no one ever
knew Just when they were going to
run across him. He was apt suddenly
to loom up, like n gray cliff, at any
turn In the trail, and his disposition
grew querulous with age. In fact, In
stead of fleeing as most wild creatures
have learned to do, he was rather
likely to make sudden and unexpected
charges.
He wns killed nt Inst; and seem
ingly the southern Oregon grizzlies
were wiped out. But It la rather easy
to believe that In some of hts wander
ings he encountered—lost and far In
the deepest heart of the land called
Trail’s End—a female of Ids own
breed. There must have been cubs
who, In their turn, mated and fought
and died, and perhaps two generatlous
after them. And out of the last brood
had emerged a single grent male, a
worthy descendant of Ills famous an
cestor. This was the Killer, who In
a few months since he had left his
fastnesses, was beginning to ruin the
cattle business In Trail's End.
As he came growling from his bed
this September evening ne was not a
creature to speak or lightly. He was
down on all fours, his vast head Was
lowered, bls huge fangs gleamed In
the dark red mouth. The eyes were
small, and curious little red lights
glowed In each of them. The Killer
was cross; and lie didn't care who
EDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1822.
knew IL He was hungry too; bnt
hunger la an emotion tor the beasts
of prey to keep carefully to them
selves.
The Killer moved quite softly. One
would have marveled how silently his
great feet fell upon rhe dry enrtli and -
with what slight sound his
form moved through the thickets. He
moved slowly, cautiously—all the time
mounting farther up the little hill that
rose from the banks of the stream,
lie came to an opeutng In ;ne t> Icket
a little brown pathway that vanished
quickly Into the shadows of the ev
erts.
The Killer slipped softly Into the
heavy brush Just nt its mouth. It was
Ills nntbush. Soon, ne knew, some of
Hie creatures that hod bowers in the
brat t of the thicket would be comirg
along Hint trail onto the feeding
grounds on the ridge. He had only
to wait.
The night wind, rlalng somewhere I t
the region of the snow banks on tin
highest mountains, blew down Into the
Killer's face nnd brought messagmu
that no human being may ever receh
Then Ills sharp ears beard the sound
of brush cracked softly as some one
of the larger forest creatures came
up the trail toward him.
The steps drew nearer nnd the
Killer recognized them. They were
plainly the soft footfall of some mem
her of the deer tribe, yet they were
too pronounced to be the step of any
of the lesser deer. The bull elk had
left his bed. The red eyes of the
grizzly seemed to glow as lie waited
Great though the stag was, only one
little blow of the massive forearm
would be needed. The huge fangs
would have to close down but once.
The bear did not move a single te'l
tnle muscle. He scarcely breather
The buil was almqst within striking
range now. The 'wicked red eyes
could already discern the dimmest
shadow of bls outline through the
thickets. But all at once he stopped'
head lifting. The Killer knew that tl-e
elk had neither detected his odor n<-r'
heard him, nnd he had made no move
ments that the sharp eyes could cr
tect. let the bull was evidently
alarmed. He stood Immobile, one foot
lifted, nostrils open, head raised
Then, the wind blowing true, the grlz
zly understood. ;
A pung.-nt smell reached him from
below—evidently the smell of n living
creature that followed the trull along
the stream tbnt flowed through the
glen. He recognized It In an Instant
He had detected It many times, par /
tlcularly when he went Into tire/
cleared lands to kill cattle. It m ■
man, an odor almost unknown In tins
lonely glen. Dave Turner, brother id
Simon, was walking down the stream
toward Hudson’s camp.
To the elk this smell was Fear it
self. He knew the ways of men only
too well. Too many times he had
seen members of his herd fall stricken
at a word from the glittering sticks
they carried in tlielr hands. He ut
tered a fnr-ringing snorL
It was a distinctive sound, begin
ning rather high on the scale us a
If ,-a
Ttfb Killer Was Croas; and He D-df’t
Care Who Knew It.
loud whistle nnd descending into
deep bass bawl. And the Killer ki • v j
perfectly what that sound meant H .
was n simple way of saying that
elk would progress no farther <l«>\vn y
that trail. The bear leaped In "ih>
fary.
The bull seemed to leap straight up i
His -muscles had been set at his first ,
alarm from Turner’s smell on the
wind, and they drove forth the pow
erful limbs as if by a powder expt' l '
slon. He was full In the air when tIP
forepaws battered down where he had
been. Then he darted away into the
coverts.
The grizzly knew better than to try
to overtake him. Almost rabid with
wrath he turned back to his ambush
“Hunt up Hudson, the one
living man who witnessed that
agreement between Ross and old
r*>iy«r.*
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
Beginning of Great Industry. ,
The first bale of cotton rxpm l 1 9
from this country to Europe '
shipped from Charleston, S. ■
1784.
Philadelphia Hosiery Center.
Philadelphia leads the world In 1 * ■
manufacture of hosiery and un h-r L.
wear. ■

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