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   Chapter 32 THE END OF THE TRAIL

The Heart of the Range By William Patterson White Characters: 6227

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

Molly Dale looked at Racey with adoring eyes. "How on earth did you guess that the Bill Smith who robbed the Wells Fargo safe at Keeleyville and killed the agent was Jack Harpe?"

"Oh, that was nothing. You see, I'd heard somebody say-I disremember exactly who now-that Jack Harpe's real name was Bill Smith, that he'd shaved off his beard and part of his eyebrows to make himself look different, and that he'd done something against the law to some company in some town. I didn't know what company nor what town, but I had somethin' to start with when McFluke was let loose. I figured out by this, that, and the other that Jack Harpe had let McFluke loose. Aw right, that showed Jack Harpe was a expert lock picker. He showed us at Marysville that he was a expert on safe combinations. Now there can't be many men like that. So I took what I knew about him to the detective chiefs of three railroads. He'd done somethin' against a company, do you see, and of course I went to three different railroad companies before I woke up and went to the Wells Fargo an' found out that such a man as Jack Harpe named Bill Smith was wanted for the Keeleyville job. So you see there wasn't much to it. It was all there waitin' for somebody to find it."

"But it lacked the somebody till you came along," she told him with shining eyes.


"No shucks about it. That we have our ranch to-day with a sure-enough producing gold mine in one corner of it is all due to you."

"Shucks, suppose now those handwritin' experts Judge Dolan got from Chicago hadn't been able to prove at the time that the forgery and the fifty or sixty copies of yore dad's name were written by the same hand, ink, and pen? Suppose now they hadn't? What then? Where'd you be, I'd like to know? Nawsir, you give them the credit. They deserve it. Well, I'm shore glad yo're all gonna be rich, Molly. It's fine. That's what it is-fine-great. Well, I've got to be driftin' along. I'm going to meet Swing in town. We're riding south Arizona way to-morrow."


"Yeah, we're going to give the mining game a whirl."

"Why-why not give it a whirl up here in this country?"

"Because there ain't another mine like yores in the territory. No, we'll go south. Swing wants to go-been wanting to go for some time."

"Bub-but I thought you were going to stay up here," persisted Molly, her cheeks a little white.

"Not-not now," Racey said, hastily. "So long, take care of yoreself."

He reached for her hand, gave it a quick squeeze, then picked up his hat and walked out of the house without another word or a backward look.

* * * * *

"What makes me sick is not a cent out of Old Salt," said Racey, wrathfully, as he and Swing Tunstall walked their horses south along the Marysville trail.

"What else could you expect?" said the philosopher Swing. "We specified in the agreement that it was cows them jiggers was gonna run on the range. We didn't say nothin' about a mine."

"'We?'" repeated Racey. "'We?' You didn't have a thing to do with that agreement. I made it. It was my fool fault we worked all those month

s for nothing."

"What's the dif?" Swing said, comfortably. "We're partners. Deal yoreself a new hand and forget it. Tough luck we couldn't 'a' made a clean sweep of that bunch, huh?"

"Oh, I dunno. Suppose Peaches, Nebraska, and Thompson did get away. We did pretty good, considerin'. You can't expect everything."

"Alla same they'd oughta been a reward-for Jack Harpe, anyway. Wells

Fargo is shore getting mighty close-fisted."

"Jack did better than I thought he would. He never opened his yap about Marie being in that Keeleyville gang."

"Maybe he didn't know for shore or else knowed better. Bull was in that gang, too, and Bull got his throat cut. If Jack had done any blattin' about Marie and Keeleyville he might 'a' had to stand trial for murder right here in this county instead of going down to New Mexico to be tried for a murder committed ten years ago with all that means-evidence gone rusty with age and witnesses dead or in jail themselves most like. Oh, he'll be convicted, but it won't be first degree, you can stick a pin in that."

"I wonder if he did kill Bull."

"I wonder, too. Didja know who Bull really was, Swing?… Marie's brother. Yep, she told me about it yesterday."

"Her own brother, huh? That's a odd number. Alla same I'll bet she don't miss him much."

"Nor Nebraska, neither. He'll never come back to bother her again, that's a cinch. Who's that ahead?"

"That" was Molly waiting for them at a turn in the trail. When they came up to her she nodded to both men, but her smile was all for Racey Dawson. He felt his pulse begin to beat a trifle faster. How handsome she was with her dark hair and blue eyes. And at the moment those blue eyes that were looking into his were deep enough to drown a man.

"Can I see you a minute, Racey?" said she.

Swing immediately turned his horse on a dime and loped along the back trail. Left alone with Racey she moved her horse closer to his. Their ankles touched. His hands were clasped on the saddle-horn. She laid her cool hand on top of them.

"Racey," she said, her wonderful eyes holding him, "why are you going away?"

This was almost too much for Racey. He could hardly think straight. "I told you," he said, hoarsely. "We're goin' to Arizona-minin'."

She flung this statement aside with a jerk of her head. "You used to like me, Racey," she told him.

He nodded miserably.

"Don't you like me any more?" she persisted.

He did not nod. Nor did he speak. He stared down at the back of the hand lying on top of his.

"Look at me, boy," she directed.

He looked. The fingers of the hand on top of his slid in between his fingers.

"Look me in the eye," said she, "and tell me you don't love me."

"I cuc-can't," he muttered in a panic.

"Then why are you going away?" Her voice was gentle-gentle and wistful.

"Because yo're rich now, that's why," he replied, thickly, the words wrung out in a rush. "You've lots o' money, and I ain't got a thing but my hoss and what I stand up in. How can I love you, Molly?"

"Lean over here, and I'll show you how," said Molly Dale.


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