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The Cody enterprise and the Park County enterprise. (Cody, Wyo.) 1921-1923, October 11, 1922, Image 6

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The Strength of the Pines
EDISON MARSHALL Author of “The Voice of the Pack”
SYNOPSIS.—At the death of his
foster father Bruce Duncan, in an
eastern city, receives a mysterious
message, sent by a Mrs. Ross, sum
him peremptorily to &outh
em 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 lias been sent
to Bruce gets to Simon Turner.
Leaving the train, Bruce is aston
ished at his apparent familiarity
with the surroundings, though to
his knowledge he has never been
there. On the way Simon warns
him to give up his quest and return
East. Bruce refuses. Mrs. Ross,
aged and inflrm, welcomes him
with emotion. She hastens him on
his way—the end of "Pine-Needle
Trail." Bruce finds his childhood
playmate, Linda. The girl tells him
of wrongs committed by an enemy
clan, the Turners, on her family,
the Rosses. Lands occupied 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 kid
naped from the orphanage and
brought to the mountains. Linda's
father had deeded his lands to
Matthew Folger, but the agree
ment, which would confute Cue
enemy claims on the property, had
been lost. Bruce’s mountain blood
responds to the call of the blood
feud. A giant tree, the Sentinel
Pine, in front of Linda’s cabin,
seems to Bruce's excited imagina
tion to be endeavoring to convey a
message. Bruce sets out in search
of a trapper named Hudson, a wit
ness to the agreement between
Linda’s father and Matthew Fol
ger. A gigantic grizzly, known as
the Killer, is the terror of the vi
cinity. Dave Turner, sent by
Sdmon, bribes Hudson to swear
falsely concerning the agreement.
The Killer strikes down Hudson.
Bruce, on his way to Hudson,
wounds the Killer, driving him
from his victim. Hudson, learning
Bruce’s identity, tries to tell him
the hiding place of the agreement,
but death summons him. Dave de
coys Linda and Aunt Elmira from
their home. The man Insults Linda
and is struck dow.n by the aged
woman. Elmira’s son has been
murdered by Dave, and at her com
mand, after securely binding the
desperado, Linda leaves them alone.
Returning, Bruce finds a note, ap
parently from Linda, telling him
she has been kidnaped by the
Turners. Bruce falls into Simon’s
trap, and is made prisoner. Charg
ing Bruce with attempting to re
open the blood-feud, the clan de
cides to leave him, bound, in a
pasture on the spot where the
Killer had slain and half eaten a
calf the night before. They look
for the return of the grizzly.
“If Simon Turner isn’t a coward,”
Bruce said slowly to the clan, “he will
give me a chance to fight him now.”
The room was wholly silent, and the
clan turned expectant eyes to their
leader. Simon scowled, but he knew
he had to make answer. His eyes
crept over Bruce’s powerful bodjt
“There is no on my part to
answer any challenges by you,” he
said. “You are a prisoner. But if you
think you can sleep better in the pas
ture because of it, I’ll let you have
your chance. Take off his ropes.”
A knife slashed at bis bonds. Simon
stood up, and Bruce sprang from his
chair like a wildcat, aiming ids hard
ened knockleg straight for the leering
lips. He made the attack with aston
ishing swiftness and power, and his
intention was to deliver at least one
terrific blow before Simon could get
his arms up to defend himself. He
had given the huge clan leader credit
for tremendous physical strength, but
he didn’t think that the heavy body
could move with real agility. But the
great muscles seemed to snap Into
tension, the head ducked to one side,
and his own nege fists struck out.
If Bruce’s blow had gone straight
home where it had been aimed, Simon
would have had nothing more to say
for a few moments at least. The leap
had been powerful and swift yet whol
ly inaccurate. And the reason wej
just that his wrists and ankles had
been numbed by the tight thongs by
which they had been confined. Simon
met the leap with a short, powerful
blow into Bruce’s face; and he reeled
backward. The arms of the clansmen
alone kept him from falling.
Tlie blow seemed to daze Bruce; and
at first his only realization was that
the room suddenly rang wltii harsh
and grating laughter. Then Simon’s
words broke through it. “Put back
the thongs,” he ordered, “and go get
your horses.”
l Bruce was dimly aware of the fall
ing of a silence, and then the arms of
strong men half carrying him to the
door. But he couldn't see plainly at
first. He knew that the clan had
brought their horses and were waiting
for Simon’s command. They loosened
the ropes from about his ankles, and
two of the clansmen’ swung him on to
the back of a horse. Then they passed
a rope under the horse’s belly and lied
his nnkles anew.
Simon gave a command, and the
strange file started. The night air dis
pelled the mists In Bruce’s brain, and
full realization of all things came to
him again.
One of the men—he recognized him
as Young Bill—led the horse on which
he rode. Two of the clansmen rode in
front, grim, silent, incredibly tall fig
ures in the moonlight. The remainder
rode immediately behind. Simon him
self, bowed in his saddle, kept a little
to one side. Their shadows were long
and grotesque on the soft grass of the
meadows, and the only sound was the
soft footfall of their mounts.
A full mile distant across the lush
fields the cavalcade halted about a
grotesque shadow in the grass. Bruce
didn’t have to look at it twice to know
what it was: the half-devoured body
of the yearling calf that had been the
Killer’s prey the night before. From
thence on, their operations became as
outlandish occurrences in a dream.
They seemed to know just what to do.
They took him from the saddle and
bound his feet again, then laid him in
the fragrant grass. They searched his
pockets, taking the forged note that
had led to his downfall. “It saves me
a trip,” Simon commented. He saw
two of them lift the torn body of the
animal on to the back of one of the
horses, and he watched dully as the
horse plunged and wheeled undei the
unfamiliar weight.
Simon spoke in the silence, but his
words seemed to come from far away.
“Quiet that horse or kill him,” he
Simon Stood Up and Bruce Sprang
From His Chair Like a Wildcat.
said softly. “You can’t drag the car
cass with your rope—the Killer would
trace it if you did and maybe spoil the
evening for Bruce.”
Strong arms sawed at the bits, and
the horse quieted, trembling. For a
moment Bruce saw their white moon
lit faces as they stared down at him.
“What about a gag?” one of the
men asked.
“No. Let him shout if he likes. There
Is no one to hear him here.”
Then the tall men swung on their
horses and headed back across the
fields. Bruce watched them dully.
Their forms grew constantly more dim,
the sense of utter isolation increased.
Then he saw the file pause, and It
seemed to him that words, too faint
for him to understand, reached him
across the moonlit spaces. Then one
of the party turned off toward the
He guessed that it was Simon. He
thought the man was riding toward
Linda’s home.
He watched until the shadows had
hidden them all. Then, straining up
ward, he tested his bonds. He tugged
with the full strength of his arms, but
there was not the play of an inch be
tween his wrists. The Turners had
done their work well. Not the slight
est chance of escape lay In this quar
He wrenched himself to one side,
then looked about him. The fields
stretchdd e?en and distant on one side,
but he saw that the dark forest was
but fifty yards away on the other. He
listened; and the little night sounds
reached him clearly. They had been
sounds to rejoice In before—lmpulses
to delightful fancies of a fawn steal
ing through the thickets, or some of
the Little People in their scurried,
tremulous business of the night hours.
But lying helpless at the edge of the
forest, they were nothing to rejoice
In now. He tried to shut his ears to
He rolled again to his back and
tried to find peace for his spirit in the
stars. There were millions of them.
They were larger and more bright
than any time he had ever seen them.
They stood in their high places, wholly
Indifferent and impassive to all the
strife and confusion of the world be
low them; and Bruce wished that he
could partake of their spirit enough so
that he could rise above the fear and
bitterness that had begun to oppress
him. But only the pines could talk to
Copyright by Little, Brown, and Co.
them. Only the tall trees, stretching
upward toward them, could reach Into
their mysterious calm.
His eyes discerned a thin filament
of cloud that had swept up from be
hind <ie ridges, and the sight recalled
him to his own position with added
force. The moonlight, soft as it was,
had been a tremendous relief to him.
At least, it would have enabled him
to keep watch, and now he dreaded the
fall of utter darkness more than he
had ever dreaded anything in his life.
It was an ancient instinct, coming
straight from the young days of the
world when nightfall brought the hunt
ing creatures to the mouth of the cave,
but he had never really experienced it
He watched with growing horror the
slow extension of the clouds. Finally
the moon swepfunder them.
The shadow fell around Bruce. For
the first time he knew the age-old ter
ror of the darkness. He no longer
knew himself as one of a dominant
breed, master of*all the wild things in
the’world. He was simply a Using
creature in a grim and unconquered
world, alone and helpless In the terror
of the darkness.
The moonlight alternately grew and
died as the moon passed in and out
of the heavier cloud patches. Winds
must have been blowing In the high
lanes of the air, but there was no
breath of them where Bruce lay. The
forests were silent, and the little rus
tlings and stirrings that reached him
from time to time only seemed to ac
centuate the quiet.
He speculated on how many hours
had passed. He wondered if he could
dare to hope that midnight had al
ready gone by and, through some di
vergence from wilderness customs, the
grizzly had failed to return to his
feast. It seemed endless hours since
he had re-entered the empty rooms of
Linda’s home. A wave of hope crept
through the whole hydraulic system of
his veins. And then, as a sudden sound
reached him from the forests at one
side, that bright wave of hope turned
black, receded and left only despair.
He heard the sound but dimly. In
fact, except for his straining with ev
ery nerve alert, he might not have
heard it at all. Nevertheless, distance
alone had dimmed it; it luid been a
large sound to start with. So far had
it come that only a scratch on the
eardrums was left of it; but there was
no chance to -misunderstand it. It
cracked out to him through the unfath
omable silence, and all the elements by
which he might recognize It were dis
tinct. It was the noise of a heavy
thicket being broken down and parted
before an enormous body.
He listened, straining. Then he
heard the sound again. Whoever came
toward him had passed the heavy
brush by now. The sounds that
redched him were just faint and inter
mittent whispers—first of a twig
cracking beneath a heavy foot, then
the rattle of two pebbles knocked to
gether. Long moments of utter silence
would ensue between, in which he
could hear the steady drum of his
heart in his breast, and the long roll
of his blood In his veins.
The limbs of a young fir tree rustled
and whispered as something brushed
against them. Leaves flicked together,
and once a heavy limb popped like a
distant small-calibered rifle as a great
weight broke it in two. Then, as if
the gods of the wilderness W’ere using
all their ingenuity to torture him, the
silence closed down deeper than ever
It lasted so long that he began to
hope again. Perhaps the sounds had
been made by a deer stealing on Its
way to feed in the pastures. Yet he
knew the step had been too heavy for
anything but the largest deer, and
their way was to encircle a thicket
rather than crash through It. It might
have been the step of one of the small,
black bears —a harmless and friendly
wilderness dweller. Yet the Impres
sion lingered and strengthened that
only some great hunter, a beast who
feared neither other beasts nor men,
had been steadily coming toward him
through the forest.
At that instant the moon slipped
under a particularly heavy fragment
of cl.' ud, and deep darkness settled
over him. Even his white face was no
longer discernible in the dusk. He lay
scarcely breathing, trying to fight
down his growing terror.
This silence could mean but one of
two things. One of them was that the
creature who had made the sounds had
turned off on one of the many inter
secting game trails that wind through
the forest. This was his hope. The al
ternative was one of despair. It was
simply that the creature had detected
his presence and was stalking him In
silence through the shadows.
He thought that the light would nev
er come. He strained again at the
ropes. The dark cloud swep? on; and
the moonlight, silver and bright, broke
over the scene.
The forest stood once more in sharp
silhouette against the sky. He studied
with straining eyes the dark fringe of
shadows one hundred feet distant
Then he detected a strange variation
in the dark border of shadows. It held
his gaze, and Its outlines slowly
strengthened. So still It stood, so
seemingly a natural shadow that some
irregularly shaped tree had cast, that
his eyes refused to recognize It. But
in an instant more he knew the truth.
The shadow was that of a great
beast that had stalked him clear to the
border of the moonlight The Killer
had come for his dead.
When Linda returned hotne the
events of the night partook even of a
greater mystery. The front door was
open, and she found plenty of evidence
that Bruce had returned from his
Journey. In the center of the room lay
his pack, a rifle slanting across it
At first she did not notice the gun In
particular. She supposed It was
Bruce’s weapon and that he had come
In, dropped his luggage, and was at
present somewhere in the house. It
was true that one chair was upset, but
except for an Instant’s start she gave
no thought to it She thought that he
would probably go to the kitchen first
for a bit to eat. He was not In this
room, however, nor had the lamp been
Her next idea was that Bruce, tired
out, had gone to bed. She went back
softly to the front room, intending not
to disturb him. Once more she noticed
the upset chair. The longer she re
garded It, more of a puzzle it be
came. She moved over toward the
pack and looked casually at the rifle.
In an instant more It was in her hands.
/he saw at once that it was not
Bruce’s gun. The action, make and
caliber were different. Besides, it had
certain peculiar notches on the stock
that the gun Elmira had furnished
Bruce did not have.
She stood a moment in thought. The
problem offered no ray of light. She
considered what Bruce’s first action
would have been, on returning to the
house to find her absent. Possibly he
had gone in search of her. She turned
end went to the door of his bedroom.
She knocked on it softly. “Are you
there, Bruce?” she called.
No answer returned to her. The
rooms, in fact, were deeply silent. She
tried the door and found It unlocked.
The room had not been occupied.
Thoroughly alarmed, she went back
into tlie front room and tried to de
cipher the mystery of the strange
weapon. She couldn’t conceive of any
possibility whereby Bruce would ex
change his father’s trusted gun for
this. Possibly It was an extra weapon
that he had procured on his Journey.
And since no possible gain would come
of her going out into the forests to
seek him, she sat down to wait for his
return. •
The moments dragged by and her
apprehension grew. She took the rifle
in her hands and, slipping the lever
part way back, looked to see if there
were a cartridge in the barrel. She
saw a glitter of brass, and it gave her
a measure of assurance. She had a
pistol in her own room—a weapon that
Elmira had procured, years before,
from a passing sportsman—and for a
moment she considered getting it also.
She understood its action better and
would probably be more efficient with
it if the need arose, but for certain
never-to-be-forgotten reasons she
wished to keep this weapon until the
moment of utmost need.
Her whole stock of pistol cartridges
consisted of six—completely filling the
magazine of the pistol. Closely
watched by the Turners, she had been
unable to procure more. Many a
dreadful night these six little cylinders
of brass had been a tremendous con
solation to her. They had been her
sole defense, and she knew that in the
final emergency she could use them to
deadly effect.
Linda was a girl who had always
looked her situations in the face. She
was not one to flinch from the truth
and with false optimism disbelieve it.
She knew these mountain realms; bet
ter still she understood the dark Pas
sions of Simon and his followers, and
this little half-pound of steel and
wood with its brass shells might mean,
in the dreadful last moment of despair,
deliverance" from them. It might mean
escape for herself when all other ways
were cut off. In this wild land, far
from the reaches of law and without
allies except for a decrepit old wo
man, the pistol and its deadly loads
had been her greatest solace.
The hours passed, and the clouds
were starting up from the horizon
when she thought she saw Bruce re
turning. A tall form came swinging
toward her, over the little trail that
led between the tree trunks. She
peered intently. And In one instant
more she knew that the approaching
figure was not Bruce, but the man she
most feared of anyone on earth, Simon
Her thoughts came clear and true.
It was obvious that his watt no mis
sion of stealth. He was coming boldly,
freely, not furtively; and he must have
known that he presented a perfect
rifle target from the windows. Never
theless, It Is well to be prepared for
emergencies. If life in the mountains
teaches anything. It teaches that. She
took the rifle and laid it behind a little
desk, out of sight Then she went to
the door.
“I want to come In, Linda,” Simon
told her.
“I told you long ago you couldn't
come to this house,” Linda answered
through the panels. “I want you to go
Simon laughed softly. “You’d bet
ter let me in. I’ve brought word of
the child you took to raise. You know
who I mean.”
Yes, Linda knew. “Do you mean
Bruce?” she asked. “I let Dave In
tonight on the same pretext. Don’t
expect me to be caught twice by the
same He.”
“Dave? Where Is Dave?” The fact
was that the whereabouts of his broth
er had suddenly become considerable
of a mystery to Simon. He hud
thought about him and Linda out in
the darkness together, and his heart
had seemed to smolder and burn with
jealousy in his breast. It had been a
great relief to him to find her* in
the house.
“I wonder—where he is by now,”
Linda answered In a strange voice.
“No one in this world can answer that
question, Simon. Tell me what you
She opened the door. She couldn’t
bear to show fear of this man. And
she knew that an appearance of cour
age, nt least, was the wisest course.
“No matter about him now. I want
to talk to you on business. If I meant
rough measures, I wouldn’t have come
“No,” Linda scorned. “You would
have brought your whole murdering
band with you. The Turners believe
in overwhelming numbers."
The words stung him, but he smiled
grimly into her face.
“I’ve come In peace, Linda,” he said
gently. “I’ve come to give yoy a last
chance to make friends.”
He walked past her Into the room.
He straightened the chair that had
been upset, smiling strangely the
while, and sat down In It.
“Then tell me what you have to tell
me,” she said. “I’m In a hurry to go
to bed —and this really Isn’t the hour
for calls.”
He looked a long time Into her face.
She found it hard to hold her own
gaze. Many things could be doubted
about this man, but his power and his
courage were not among them. Tim
smile died from his lips, the lines
deepened on bls face. She realized as
never before the tempestuous passions
and unfathomable intensity of bis na
“We’ve never been good friends,”
Simon went on slowly.
“We never could be,” the girl an
swered. “We’ve stood for different
“At first, my efforts to make friends
were just—to win you over to our side.
It didn’t work—all It did was to waken
other desires in me—desires that per
haps have come to mean more than
the possession of the landK. You know
what they are. You’ve always known
—that any time you wished—you
could come and rule my house.”
She nodded. She knew that she had
won, against her will, the strange,
somber love of this mighty man. She
had known it for months.
“As my wife —don’t make any mis
take about that. Linda, I’m a stern,
hard man. I’ve never known ,iow to
woo. I don’t know that I want to
“I Told You Long Ago You Couldn’t
Come to This House,” Linda An
swered Through the Panels.
know how, the way it Is done by
weaker men. It has never been my
way to ask for what I wanted. But,
sometimes It seems to me thn\‘. if I’d
been a little more gentle—not so mas
terful and so relentless—that I’d won 1
you long ago.”
Linda looked up bravely Into his
face. “No, Simon. You could have
never —never won mol Oh, can’t you
see—even In this awful place n woman
wants sometjiing more than just brute
strength and determination. Every
woman prays to find strength in the
man she loves—but it Isn’t the kind
that you have, the kind that makes
your men grovel before you, and
makes me tremble when I’m talking
to you. It’s a blf, calm strength—and
I cr.n’t t-81l you what it is. It’s some
thing the pines have, maybe— strength
not to yield to the passions, but to re
strain. not to be afraid of, but to cling
to—to stand upright and honorable
and manly, and make a woman strong
just to see it In the man she loves.”
He listened gravely. cheeks
blazed. It was a strange seen, the
silent room, the implacable foes, the
breathless suspense, the prophecy and
Inspiration In her tones.
“Perhaps I should have been more
gentle,” he admitted. “I might have
forgotten—for a little while—this surg
ing, irresistible impulse in my muscles
—and tried just to woo you, gently
and humbly. But It’s too late now.
I’m not a tool. I can't expect yon to
begin at the beginning. I can only go
on in my own way—my hard, remorse
less, ruthless way.
• “It isn’t every man who is brave
enough to see what he wants and
knock away all obstacles to get It,” he
went on. “Put that bravery to my
credit To pay no attention to meth
ods, only to look forward to the result.
That has been my creed. It is my
creed now. Many less brave men
would fear your hatred—but I don’t
fear it as long as I possess what I go
after and a hope that I enn get you
over it. Many of my own brothers
hate me, but yet I don’t enre as long
ns they do my will. No matter how
much you scorn It, this bravery has
always got me what I wanted, and It
will get me what I want now.”
The high color died in her face. She
wondered if the final emergency had
come at last
“I’ve come to make a bargain. You
can take It or you cun refuse. On one
side is the end of all this conflict, to be
my wife, to have what you want
bought by the rich return from my
thousands of acres. And I love you,
Linda. You know’ that.”
The man spoke the truth. IPs ter
rible, dark love was all over him—in
his glowing eyes, in his drawn, deeply
lined face.
“In time, when you come around to
my way of thinking, you’ll Jove me.
If you refuse—this last time—l’ve got
to take other ways. On that side is
defeat for you—ns sure as day. The
time is almost up when the title to
those lands Is secure. Bruce is hi
our hands—”
She got up, whitefaced. “Bruce--?”
“Yes! Did you think he could stan 1
against us? I’ll show him to you In
the morning. Tonight he’s paying the
price for ever daring to oppose my
She turned imploring eyes. He saw
them, and perhaps—far distant—be
saw the light of triumph, too. A grim
smile came to his lips.
• "Simon,” she cried. “Have mercy."
The word surprised him. It was the
first time she had ever asked this man
for mercy. “Then yon surrender —?’’
“Simon, listen to me,” she begged.
“Let him go—and I won’t even try to
fight you any more. I’ll let you keep
those lands and never try any more to
make you give them up. You and
your brothers can keep them forever,
and we won’t try to get revenge on
you, either. He and I will go away. ’
He gazed at her in deepening won
derment. For the moment, his mind
refused to accept the truth. He had
known perfectly the call of the b!<►• "I
in her. He had understood her hatred
of the Turners; he could hate In the
same way himself. He realized her
love for her father’s home and how
she had dreamed of expelling Its usurp
ers. Yet she was willing to renoun-'•
It all. The power that had come to
her was one that he, a man whose ■
of life w’as no less cruel and renrni
less than that of the Killer liim> 'f.
could not understand.
“But why?” he demanded. “Why
are you willing to do all this for
“Why?” she echoed. Once more the
luster was in her dark eyes. “I sup
pose It is because—l love him.”
He looked at her with slowly dark
ening face. Passion welled within him.
An oath dropped from his lips, blas
phemous, more savage than any wilder*
ness voice. Then he raised his arm
and struck her tender flesh.
He struck her breast. The brutal
ity of the man stood forth at last. No
picture that all the dreadful drama*
of the wild could portray was more
terrible than this. The girl cried out,
reeled and fell fainting from the pain,
and with smoldering eyes he gated at
her unmoved.. Then be turned out of
the door.
Linda goes to rescue Bruce
from the Killer.
Motor Cop Uses “Scooter.”
A'traffic policeman In Newark. N
rides about on a motor “scooter” t°
untangle congested truffle.

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