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Strength of the Pines By EDISON MARSHALL oAuthor of— - 1 ’ ' 2 - Voice of the Pack” CHAPTER XXX—Continued. —-1 3 Eui it cnme about that there was other business for Bruce than the re covery of his blankets that he had supposed would be tied to the saddle The snow was thick between, and he. was within twenty feet of the animal’s body before he glimpsed it clearly again. And he felt the first wave of wonder, the first promptings of the thought that the horse he had shot down was not his, but one that he had never seen before. But there was no time for the thought to go fully home. Some one cried out —a strange, half-snarl of hat red and triumph that was almost lack ing In all human quality—and a man’s body leaped toward him from the thicket before which the horse had fallen. It was Simon, and Bruce had mistaken his horse for the one he had ridden. Even in that Instant crisis he did not forget that he had as yet neg lected to expel the empty cartridge from the barrel of his rifle and to throw in the other from the maga zine. He tried to get the gun to his shoulder, working the lever at the same time. But Simon’s leap was too fast for him. Ills strong hand seized the barrel of the gun and snatched it from his hands. Then the assailant threw it back, over his shoulder, and it fell softly in the snow. The two men stood face to face nt last. AH things else were forgot ten. The world they had known be fore —a world of sorrow and pleas ures, of mountains and woods and homes —faded out and left no reali ties except each other’s presence. All about them were the snow flur ries that their eyes could not pene trate, and It was as if they were two lone contestants on an otherwise un inhabited sphere who had come to grips at last. The falling snow gave the whole picture a curious tone of unreality and dimness. Bruce straightened, and his face was of iron. “Well, Simon,” he said. “You’ve come.” The man’s eyes burned red through the snow. “Os course I would. Did you think you could escape me?” “It didn’t much matter whether I escaped you or not,” Bruce answered ****•■*• The Two Men Stood Face to Face at Last. rather quietly. “Neither one of us is going to escape the storm and the cold. I suppose you know chat.” “I know that one of us is. Be cause one of us is going out —a more direct way—first. Which one that is doesn’t matter.” His great hands ciasped. “Bruce, when I snatched your gun right now I could have done more. I could have sprung a few feet farther and had you around the waist —taken by surprise. The fight would have been already over. I think I could have done more than that, even—with my own rifle as you came up. It’s laying there, just beside the horse.” But Bruce didn’t turn his eyes to look at it. He was waiting for the attack. I “I could have snatched your life just as well, but I wanted to wait,” Simon w’ent on. “I wanted to say a few words first, and wanted to master you —not by surprise—but by superior strength alone.” It came Into Bruce’s mind he could tell Simon of the wound near his shoul der, how because of it no fight between them would be a fair test of superi ority, yet the words didn’t come to his lips. He could not ask mercy of this man, either directly or Indirectly, any more than the pines asked mercy of the snows that covered them. “You were right when you said there Is no escaping from this storm,” Bimon went on. “But It doesn’t much matter. It’s the end of a long war, and what happens to the victor is here nor there. It seems all _he more fitting that we should meet fcjt v.e have —at the very brink of Copyright by Little, Brown, and Co. death —and Death should be waiting at tie end for the one of us who sur vives. It’s so like this d —d, terrible wilderness In which we live.” Bruce gazed in amawment. The dark and dreadful poetry of this man’s nature was coming tc< the fore. The wind made a strange echo to his words —a long, wild shriek as it swept over the heads of the pines. “Then why are you waiting?” Bruce asked. “So you can understand everything. But I guess that time is here. There is to be no mercy at the end of this fight, Bruce; I ask none and will give none. You have waged a w*ar against me, you have escaped me many times, you have won the love of the woman I love —and this is to be my answer.” His voice dropped a note, and he spoke more quietly. “I’m going to kill you. Bruce.” “Then try It,” Bruce answered stead ily. ‘l’m in a hurry to go back to Linda.” Simon’s smoldering wrath blazed up at the words. Both men seemed to spring at the same time. Their arms flailed, then Interlocked; and they rocked a long time —back and forth in the snow. For tlie first time Bruce had full realization of Simon’s mighty strength. With all the power of his body he tried to w’rench him off his feet, but it was like trying to tear a tree from the ground. But surprise at the other’s power was not confined to Bruce alone. Simon knew that he had an opponent worthy of the iron of his own muscles, and he put all his terrible might into the battle. He tried to reach Bruce’s throat, but the man’s strong shoulder l«ld the arm against his side. Si mon’s great hand reached to pin Bruce’s arm, and for the first time he discovered the location of his weak ness. He saw the color sweep from Bruce’s face and water drops that were not melted snow come upon it. It was all the advantage needed be tween such evenly matched contest ants. And Simon forgot his spoken word that he wished this fight to be a test of superiority alone. His fury swept over him like a flood and ef faced all things else; and he cen tered his whole attack upon Bruce’s wound. In a moment he had him down, and he struck once into Bruce’s white face with his terrible knuckles. The blow sent a strange sickness through the younger man’s frame; and he tried vainly to struggle to his feet. “Fight I Fight on I” was the message his mind dispatched along his nerves to his tortured muscles, but for an Instant they wholly refused to respond. They had endured too much. Total un consciousness hovered above him, ready to descend. Strangely, he seemed to know that Simon had crept from his body and was even now reaching some dread ful weapon that lay beside the dead form of the horse. In an instant he had it, and Bruce’s eyes opened In time to see him swinging it aloft. It was his rifle, and Simon was aiming a murderous blow at him with Its stock. There was no chance to ward it off. No human skull could withstand Its shattering Impact. But that war of life and death In the far reaches of Trail’s End was not to end so soon. At that instant there was an amazing Intervention. A great gray form came lunging out of the snow flurries. Their vision was limited to a few feet, and so fast the creature came, with such In credible, smashing pov/er, that he was upon them In a breath. It was the Killer in the full glory of the charge; and he had caught up with them at last. Bruce saw only his great figure looming just over him. Simon, with amazing agility, leaped to one side just in time, then battered down the rifle stock with ail his strength. But the blow was not meant for Bruce. It struck where aimed —the great gray shoulder of the grizzly. Then, dimmed and half -obscured by the snow- flurries, there began as strange a battle as the great pines above them had ever beheld. The Killer’s rage was upon him, and the blow at the shoulder had arrested his charge for a moment only. Then he wheeled, a snarling, fighting monster, with death for any living creature In the blow of bis forearm, and lunged toward Simon again. It was the Killer at his grandest. Simon had no chance to shoot his rifle. In the Instant that he would raise it those great claws and fangs would be upon him. He swung it as a club, striking again and again, dodging the sledge-hammer blows and springing aside in the second of the Killer’s lunges. He was fighting for his life, and no eye could bemean that effort. Simon himself seemed exalted, and for once it appeared that the grizzly had found an opponent worthy of his might. They were of one kind, and they seemed to understand each other. The lust and. passion and fury of bat tle were upon them both. The scene harked back to the young days of the world, when man and beast battled for dominance. Nothing had changed. The forest stood grave and silent, just the same. The ele ments warred against them from the clouds —that ancient persecution of which the wolf pack sings on the ridge nt night, that endless strife that has made of existence a travail and a scourge. Man and beast and storm— those three great foes were arrayed the same as ever. Time sw r ung back ward a thousand-thousand years. The snow seemed to come from all directions in great clouds and flurries ggJL He Swung It as a Club, Striking Again and Again, Dodging the Sledge- Hammer Blows and Swinging Aside In the Second of the Killer’s Lunges. and streamers, and time after time it wholly bid the contestants from Bruce’s eyes. At such times he could tell how the fight w-as going by sound alone —the snarls of the Killer, the w’Hd oaths of Simon, the impact of the descending rifle butt. Bruce gave no thought of taking part. Both were enemies; his own strength seemed gone. The cold deepened; Bruce could feel it creeping into his blood, halting its flow, threatening the spark of life within him. The full light of day had come out upon the land. Bruce knew- the wilderness now. All Its primitive passions were in play, all its mighty forces at grips. The storm seemed to be trying to extinguish these mortal lives; jealous of their in trusion, longing for the world it knew before living things came to dwell upon it, when its winds swept end lessly over an uninhabited earth, and its winter snow-s lay trackless and Its rule was supreme. And beneath it, blind to the knowledge that in union alone lay strength to oppose Its might —to oppose all those cruel forces that make a battleground of life—man and beast fought their battle to the death. Linda came stealing out of the snow —following the grizzly’s trail—and crept beside Bruce. She crouched be side him, and his arm went about her as if to shield her. She had heard the sounds of the battle from afar she had thought that Bruce was the contestant, and her terror had left a deep pallor upon her face; yet now she gazed upon that frightful conflict with a strange and enduring calm. Both she and Bruce knew that there was but one sure conqueror, and that was Death. If the Killer survived the fight and through the mercy of the forest gods spared their lives, there remained the blizzard. They could conceive of no circumstances whereby further effort would be of the least avail. The scene grew In fury. The -last burst of strength was upon Simon; In another moment he would be ex hausted. The bear had suffered ter rible punishment from the blows of the rifle stock. He recoiled once more, then lunged with unbelievable speed. His huge paw. with all his might be hind it, struck the weapon from Si mon's hand. It shot through the air seemingly almost as fast ns the bullets It had often propelled from its muzzle, and struck the trunk of a tree. SO hard It came that the lock w-as shattered; they heard the ring of metal. The bear rocked forward once more and struck again. And then all the sound that was left w-as the eerie complaint of the wind. Simon lay still. The brave fight was over. His trail had ended fitting ly —Ju the grip of such powers as were typical of himself. But the bear did not leap upon him to tear his flesh. For an instant he stood like a statue in gray stone, bend lowered, as If In a strange attitude of thought Then the great grizzly uttered one deep note and half-turned about. Hls eyes rested upon the twan, but he did not seem to see them. Then he turned again and headed off slowly, deliberately, directly into the face of the storm. CHAPTER XXXi The flurries almost ifmnedlately ob scured the Killer’s form, and Bruce turned his attention back to Linda. •'lt’s the end,” he said quietly. “Why uot here as well as anywhere else?" The horse on which was tied their scanty blankets was miies away by now; Its tracks were obscured in the snow, and they could not find their way to any shelter that might be con cealed among the ridges. But before the question was finished, a strange note had come Into his voice. It was as if his attention had been called from h’.s words by something much more momentous. The truth was that It had been caught and held by a curious expression on the girl’s face. All at once she sprang to her feet “Bruce!” she cried. “Perhaps there’s away yet. A long, long chance, but maybe away yet. Get your rifle —Simon’s is broken —and come with me.” Without waiting for him to rise she struck off into the storm, following the huge footprints of the bear. The man struggled with himself, sum moned all that was left of his reserve supply of strength, and leaped up. He snatched his rifle from the ground where Simon had thrown It, and in an instant was beside her. Her cheeks were blazing. “Maybe it Just means further tor ture,” she confessed to him, “but don’t you want to make every effort we can to save ourselves? Don’t you want to fight till the last breath?” She glanced up and saw her answer in the growing strength of his face. Then his words spoke too. “As long as the slightest chance remains,” he replied. “And you’ll forgive me If it comes to nothing?” He smiled dimly. She took fresh heart when she saw he still had strength enough to smile. ‘’You don’t have to ask me that.” “A moment ago an Idea came to me—it came so straight and sure it was as If a voice told me," she ex plained hurriedly. She didn’t look at him again. She kept her eyes intent upon the great footprints In the snow. To miss them for a second meant, In that world of whirling snow, to lose them forever. “It was after the. bear had killed Simon and had gone away. He acted exactly as if he thought of_ something and went out to do it—ex actly as if he had a destination In view. Didn’t you see—his anger seemed to die in him and he started off in the face of the storm. I’ve watched the ways of animals too long not to know that he bad someth A’ in view. It wasn’t food; he would have attacked the body of the horse, or even Simon’s body. If he had Just been running away or wandering, he wonld have gone with the wind, not against it. He was weakened from the fight—perhaps dying—and I think—” He finished the sentence for her, breathlessly. “That he’s going toward shelter.” “Yes. You know, Bruce—the bears hibernate every year. That’s my one hope now—that the Killer has gone to some cave he knows about to hiber nate until this storm Is over. I think from the way he started off, so sore and so straight, that It’s near. It would be dry and out of the storm, and if we could take it away from him we could make a fire that the snow wouldn’t put out. It would mean life —and we could go on when the storm is over.” “You remember—we have only one cartridge.” “Yes, I know’—l heard you Are. And It’s only a thirty-thirty at that. It’s a risk —as terrible a risk as we’ve yet run. But it’s a chance.” They soon became aware that they were mounting a low ridge. They left the underbrush and emerged Into the open timber. And all at once Bruce, who now walked in front, paused with lifted hand, and pointed. Dim through the flurries they made out the outline of the bear. And Lin da’s inspiration had come true. There was a ledge of rocks Just in front —a place such as the rattle snakes had loved in the blasting sun of summer—and a black hole yawned in its side. The aperture had been almost covered with the snow, and they saw that the great creature was scooping away the remainder of the white drift with his paw. As they waited, the opening grew’ steadily wider, revealing the mouth of a little cavern In the face of the rock. “Shoot!” Linda gets Inside we won’t be able to get him out.” But Bruce shook his head, then stole nearer. She understood; he had only one cartridge, and he must not take the risk of wounding the animal. The fire had to be centered on a vital place. He walked steadily nearer until It seemed to Linda he would advance straight Into reach of the terrible claws. The Killer turned his head and saw Bruce. Rage flamed again In his eyes. He half-turned about; then poised to charge. The gun moved swiftly, easily, to the man’s shoulder, his chin dropped down, his straight eyes gazed along the barrel. In spite of his wound never had human arms held more steady than hla did then. And he marked the little space of gray squarely between the two reddening eyes. The finger pressed back steadily against the trigger. The rifle cracked In the silence. And then there was a curious effect of tableau, a long sec ond In which all three figures seemed to stand deathly still. The bear leaped forward, and It seemed wholly Impossible to Linda that Bruce could swerve aside in time to avoid the blow. She cried out In horror as the great paws whipped down in the place where Bruce had stood. But the man had been pre pared for this very recoil, and he had sprung aside Just as the claws raked past. And the Killer would hunt no more In Trail’s End. At the end of that leap he fell, his great body quivering strangely In the snow. The lead had gone straight home where it had been aimed, and the charge Itself had been mostly xuuscular reflex. He lay still at last, a gray, mammoth figure that was majestic even in death. No more would the deer shudder with terror at the sound, of.his heavy step in the thicket. No more would the herds fly into stampede at the sight of his great shadow on the moonlit grass. The ost of the Oregon grizzlies had gone lae way of all his breed. *•••••• To Bruce and Linda, standing breathless and awed in the snow flurries, his death imaged the passing of an old order —the last stand that the forces of the wild had made against conquering man. But there vas pathos in it, too. There was the symbol of mighty breeds humbled and destroyed. But the pines were left. Those eter nal symbols of the w’llderness —and of powers beyond the wilderness — still stood straight and grand and Im passive above them. While these two lived, at least, they would still keep their watch over the wilderness, they would still stand erect and brave to the buffeting of the storm and snow, and In their shade dwelt strength and peace. The cavern that was revealed to them had a rock floor and had been hollowed out by running water In ages past. Bruce built a Are at Its mouth of some of the long tree roots that ex tended down Into It, and the life-giv ing warmth was a benediction. Al ready the drifting snow had begun to cover the aperture. “We ran wait here until the blizzard Is done,” Bruce told Linda, as she sat beside him in the soft glow of the fire. “We have a little food, and we can cut more from the body of the grizzly when we need It. There’s dead wood under the snow. And when the storm Is over, we can get our bearings and walk out.” She sat a long time without answer ing. “And after that?” she asked. He smiled. “No one know’s. It’s ten days before the thirtieth—the bliz zards up here never last over three or four days. We’ve got plenty of time to get the document down to the courts. The law will deal with the rest of the Turners. We’ve won, Linda.” His hands groped for hers, and he laid It against his lips. With her other hand she stroked his snow-wet hair. Her eyes were lustrous in the firelight. “And after that —after all that Is settled? You will come back to the mountains?” "Could I over leave them 1” he ex claimed. “Os course, Linda. But I don’t know what I can do up here— except maybe to establish my claim to my father’s old farm. There’s a hun dred or so acres. I believe Td like to feel the handles of a plow in my palms.” "It was what you were made for, Bruce,” she told him. “It’s born In you. There* a hundred acres there — and three thousand —somewhere el«c. You’ve got new strength, Bruce. You could take hold and make them yield up their hay—and their crops—nnd fill all these hills with the herds.” She stretched out her arms. Then all nt once she dropped them almost as If In supplication. But her voice ha‘d 'Mm Wfikd He Marked the Little Space of Gray Squarely Between the Two Redden- Ing Eye.. regained the old merry tune he had learned to love when she spoke again. “Bruce, have I got to do all the ask ing?" His answer was to stretch hla great arms and draw her into them. His laugh rang In the cavern. "Ob, my dearest!” he cried. The eyes lighted In his bronzed face. “I nsk for everything—everything—bold that I am I And what I want worst — this minute—" “Yes?" “ —ls just—a kiss." She gave It to him with all the ten derness of her soft Ups. The snow sifted down outside. Again the pines spoke to one another, but the sadness seemed mostly gone from their soft voices. [THE END.] WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1922. Tsfie AMERICAN ellOie (Copy for Thia Department Supplied by the American Leylon News Service.) AMERICANISM WEEK, DEC. 3-9 Government, Legion and National Edu cation Association Co-Operating to Make Program Success. John J. Tlgert, United States com missioner of education, declares a conviction that a great stride to ward the goal of Americanism set by the American Legion as one of its greatest pro grams of service will be made in the week of De cember 3 to 9, in ’ elusive, which has been proclaimed American Educa tion week. Com missioner Tlgert Lit John J. Tlgert. and the National Education associa tion are co-operating with the Amer icanism commission of the American Legion In making the week a success. Announcement proclaiming the Amer ican Education week followed a con ference in Washington between Presi dent Harding, Commissioner Tlgert and Garland W. Powell, assistant na tional director of the Americanism com mission. President Harding announced he would issue an oflicial proclamation, followed by similar ones from gover nors of the states. Commissioner Tlgert, through the United States bureau of education, will request state and county superintend ents of schools, to devote the week to the American Legion program, which will start Sunday, December 3. Minis ters of all denominations will be asked to preach sermons morning and eve ning that day on the benefits of educa tion. Mass meetings will be held throughout the United States, at which speakers will be supplied by the Amer ican Legion. Monday will have Its special slogan —“Americans All by 1927”—with Its drive throughout the country to assist immigrants and aliens to become good Americans, by starting their education In the duties of citizenship. Tuesday will be devoted to patriotism, with such suM ‘cts as “Universal Use of the Eng lish Language,” “Music As a Nation Builder,” “The Flag, Emblem of Free dom,” and “The Citizen’s Duty to Vote,” emphasized. Wednesday, bet ter pay for teachers and better scbool iioi'sec will be featured. Thursday will lie devoted particularly to the cure of Illiteracy. Thursday will be a mighty war on Bolshevism, the strengthening of the fight to eradicate radicalism. Friday will be devoted to "An Equal Opportunity for All In Education,” and Saturday, December 9, will be given over to the subject of physical educa tion, the need of more and better play grounds, the nation's need to develop our forests, the conservation of our soil and places of play in every com munity. AUXILIARY MAY ADOPT THIS Headdress Fronted With Blue or Gold Star May Bo Approved by the Women's Organization. When pretty Thelma Sines of Lo gansport, Ind., donned the beadpiece wv* /■ --J Miss Thelma Sines. that she’s wear ing in ths accom panying picture, and naively asked if It wasn’t a per fectly wonderful creation for mem bers of the Amer ican Legion Aux iliary to wear at conventions, con ferences, etc., It hasn’t been re corded what the Indiana women’s reply was, but It is known that all the American Legion fellows who-saw the picture Immedi ately voted aye and urged its unani mous adoption. Miss Sines’ Auxiliary unit. No. 8 of Logansport, submitted the head dress as the official one to be worn, but frankly confessed that the Idea was really born at Columbus, Neb., where that city’s American Legion Auxiliary unit presented it, nnd then Columbus replied that It really was the idea of some of the women of Louisiana. At any rate, it seemed to be a popular idea—made more so, per haps, by the wearer herewith shown. Miss Sines says she likes it, that It’s cool acd comfortable, and affords n distinctive headdress for the organiza tion. It will be noted that the headdress Is fronted with a star. A gold star can be substituted for the ordained blue by those who lost loved ones In the service. Details, Please. Old Man Matthews' daughter was reputed to be the slowest wltted nnd laziest girl in the state. One day her father came In to And her sprawled in a chair with her feet In dangerous proximity to the blazing flreplace. “Git up. gal.’' he yelled. “You’re practically standln’ on a red-hot coal.” "Which foot, paw?” drawled Sal, opening one eye.—-American Legion Weekly.