Chapter 16

Neale slept until late the next day and awoke with the pang that a new day always gave him now. He arose slowly, gloomily, with the hateful consciousness that he had nothing to do. He had wanted to be alone, and now loneliness was bad for him.

"If I were half a man I'd get out of here, quick!" he muttered, in scorn. And he thought of the broken Englishman, serene and at ease, settled with himself. And he thought of the girl Ruby who had flung the taunt at him. Not for a long time would he forget that. Certainly this abandoned girl was not a coward. She was lost, but she was magnificent.

"I guess I'll leave Benton," he soliloquized. But the place, the wildness, fascinated him. "No! I guess I'll stay."

It angered him that he was ashamed of himself. He was a victim of many moods, and underneath every one of them was the steady ache, the dull pain, the pang in his breast, deep in the bone.

As he left his lodgings he heard the whistle of a train. The scene down the street was similar to the one which had greeted him the day before, only the dust was not blowing so thickly. He went into a hotel for his meal and fared better, watching the hurry and scurry of men. After he had finished he strolled toward the station.

Benton had two trains each day now. This one, just in, was long and loaded to its utmost capacity. Neale noticed an Indian arrow sticking fast over a window of one of the coaches. There were flat cars loaded with sections of houses, and box-cars full of furniture. Benton was growing every day. At least a thousand persons got off that train, adding to the dusty, jostling melee.

Suddenly Neale came face to face with Larry King.

"Red!" he yelled, and made at the cowboy.

"I'm shore glad to see you," drawled Larry. "What 'n hell busted loose round heah?"

Neale drew Larry out of the crowd. He carried a small pack done up in a canvas covering.

"Red, your face looks like home to a man in a strange land," declared Neale. "Where are your horses?"

Larry looked less at his ease.

"Wal, I sold them."

"Sold them! Those great horses? Oh, Red, you didn't!"

"Hell! It costs money to ride on this heah U.P.R. thet we built, an' I had no money."

"But what did you sell them for? I--I cared for those horses."

"Will you keep quiet aboot my hosses?"

Neale had never before seen the tinge of gray in that red-bronze face.

"But I told you to straighten up!"

"Wal, who hasn't?" retorted Larry.

"You haven't! Don't lie."

"If you put it thet way, all right. Now what're you-all goin' to do aboot it?"

"I'll lick you good," declared Neale, hotly. He was angry with Larry, but angrier with himself that he had been the cause of the cowboy's loss of work and of his splendid horses.

"Lick me!" ejaculated Larry. "You mean beat me up?"

"Yes. You deserve it."

Larry took him in earnest and seemed very much concerned. Neale could almost have laughed at the cowboy's serious predicament.

"Wal, I reckon I ain't much of a fighter with my fists," said Larry, soberly. "So come an' get it over."

"Oh, damn you, Red! ... I wouldn't lay a hand on you. And I am sick, I'm so glad to see you! ... I thought you got here ahead of me."

Neale's voice grew full and trembling.

Larry became confused, his red face grew redder, and the keen blue flash of his eyes softened.

"Wal, I heerd what a tough place this heah Benton was--so I jest come."

Larry ended this speech lamely, but the way he hitched at his belt was conclusive.

"Wal, by Gawd! Look who's heah!" he suddenly exclaimed.

Neale wheeled with a start. He saw a scout, in buckskin, a tall form with the stride of a mountaineer, strangely familiar.

"Slingerland!" he cried.

The trapper bounded at them, his tanned face glowing, his gray eyes glad.

"Boys, it's come at last! I knowed I'd run into you some day," he said, and he gripped them with horny hands.

Neale tried to speak, but a terrible cramp in his throat choked him. He appealed with his hands to Slingerland. The trapper lost his smile and the iron set returned to his features.

Larry choked over his utterance. "Al-lie! What aboot--her?"

"Boys, it's broke me down!" replied Slingerland, hoarsely. "I swear to you I never left Allie alone fer a year--an' then--the fust time- -when she made me go--I come back an' finds the cabin burnt.... She's gone! Gone! ... No redskin job. That damned riffraff out of Californy. I tracked 'em. Then a hell of a storm comes up. No tracks left! All's lost! An' I goes back to my traps in the mountains."

"What--became--of--her?" whispered Neale.

Slingerland looked away from him.

"Son! You remember Allie. She'd die, quick! ... Wouldn't she, Larry?"

"Shore. Thet girl--couldn't--hev lived a day," replied Larry, thickly.

Neale plunged blindly away from his friends. Then the torture in his breast seemed to burst. The sobs came, heavy, racking. He sank upon a box and bowed his head. There Larry and Slingerland found him.

The cowboy looked down with helpless pain. "Aw, pard--don't take it- -so hard," he implored.

But he knew and Slingerland knew that sympathy could do no good here. There was no hope, no help. Neale was stricken. They stood there, the elder man looking all the sadness and inevitableness of that wild life, and the younger, the cowboy, slowly changing to iron.

"Slingerland, you-all said some Californy outfit got Allie?" he queried.

"I'm sure an' sartin," replied the trapper. "Them days there wasn't any travelin' west, so early after winter. You recollect them four bandits as rode in on us one day? They was from Californy."

"Wal, I'll be lookin' fer men with thet Californy brand," drawled King, and in his slow, easy, cool speech there was a note deadly and terrible.

Neale slowly ceased his sobbing. "My nerve's gone," he said, shakily.

"No. It jest broke you all up to see Slingerland. An' it shore did me, too," replied Larry.

"It's hard, but--" Slingerland could not finish his thought.

"Slingerland, I'm glad to see you, even if it did cut me," said Neale, more rationally. "I'm surprised, too. Are you here with a load of pelts?"

"No. Boys, I hed to give up trappin'. I couldn't stand the loneliness--after--after... An' now I'm killin' buffalo meat for the soldiers an' the construction gangs. Jest got in on thet train with a car-load of fresh meat."

"Buffalo meat," echoed Neale. His mind wandered.

"Son, how's your work goin'?"

Neale shook his head.

The cowboy, answering for him, said, "We kind of chucked the work, Slingerland."

"What? Are you hyar in Benton, doin' nothin'?"

"Shore. Thet's the size of it."

The trapper made a vehement gesture of disapproval and he bent a scrutinizing gaze upon Neale.

"Son, you've not gone an'--an'--"

"Yes," replied Neale, throwing out his hands. "I quit. I couldn't work. I can't work. I can't rest or stand still!"

A spasm of immense regret contracted the trapper's face. And Larry King, looking away over the sordid, dusty passing throng, cursed under his breath. Neale was the first to recover his composure.

"Let's say no more. What's done is done," he said. "Suppose you take us on one of your buffalo-hunts."

Slingerland grasped at straws. "Wal, now, thet ain't a bad idee. I can use you," he replied, eagerly. "But it's hard an' dangerous work. We git chased by redskins often. An' you'd hev to ride. I reckon, Neale, you're good enough on a hoss. But our cowboy friend hyar, he can't ride, as I recollect your old argyments."

"My job was hosses," drawled Larry.

"An" besides, you've got to shoot straight, which Reddy hasn't bed experience of," went on Slingerland, with a broader smile.

"I seen you was packin' a Winchester all shiny an' new," replied Larry. "Shore I'm in fer anythin' with ridin' an' shootin'."

Neale and Larry accepted the proposition then and there.

"You'll need to buy rifles an' shells, thet's all," said Slingerland. "I've hosses an' outfit over at the work-camp, an' I've been huntin' east of thar. Come on, we'll go to a store. Thet train's goin' back soon."

"Wal, I come in on thet train an' now I'm leavin' on it," drawled Larry. "Shore is funny. Without even lookin' over this heah Benton."

On the ride eastward Slingerland inquired if Neale and Larry had ever gone back to the scene of the massacre of the caravan where Horn had buried his gold.

Neale had absolutely forgotten the buried gold. Probably when he and Larry had scoured the wild hills for trace of Allie they had passed down the valley where the treasure had been hidden. Slingerland gave the same reason for his oversight. They talked about the gold and planned, when the railroad reached the foot-hills, to go after it.

Both Indians and buffalo were sighted from the train before the trio got to the next camp.

"I reckon I don't like thet," declared Slingerland. "I was friendly with the Sioux. But now thet I've come down hyar to kill off their buffalo fer the whites they're ag'in' me. I know thet. An' I allus regarded them buffalo as Injun property. If it wasn't thet I seen this railroad means the end of the buffalo, an' the Indians, too, I'd never hev done it. Thet I'll swar."

It was night when they reached their destination. How quiet and dark after Benton! Neale was glad to get there. He wondered if he could conquer his unrest. Would he go on wandering again? He doubted himself and dismissed the thought. Perhaps the companionship of his old friends and the anticipation of action would effect a change in him.

Neale and Larry spent the night in Slingerland's tent. Next morning the trapper was ready with horses at an early hour, but, owing to the presence of Sioux in the vicinity, it was thought best to wait for the work-train and ride out on the plains under its escort.

By and by the train, with its few cars and half a hundred workmen, was ready, and the trapper and his comrades rode out alongside. Some few miles from camp the train halted at a place where stone-work and filling awaited the laborers. Neale was again interested, in spite of himself. Yet his love for that railroad was quite as hopeless as other things in his life.

These laborers were picked men, all soldiers, and many Irish; they stacked their guns before taking up shovels and bars.

"Dom me if it ain't me ould fri'nd Neale!" exclaimed a familiar voice.

And there stood Casey, with the same old grin, the same old black pipe.

Neale's first feeling of pleasure at seeing the old flagman was counteracted by one of dismay at the possibility of coming in contact with old acquaintances. It would hurt him to meet General Lodge or any of the engineers who had predicted a future for him.

Shane and McDermott were also in this gang, and they slouched forward.

"It's thot gun-throwin' cowboy as wuz onct goin' to kill Casey!" exclaimed McDermott, at sight of Larry.

Neale, during the few moments of reunion with his old comrades of the survey, received a melancholy insight into himself and a clearer view of them. The great railroad had gone on, growing, making men change. He had been passed by. He was no longer a factor. Along with many, many other men, he had retrograded. The splendid spirit of the work had not gone from him, but it had ceased to govern his actions. He had ceased to grow. But these uncouth Irishmen, they had changed. In many ways they were the same slow, loquacious, quarreling trio as before, but they showed the effect of toil, of fight, of growth under the great movement and its spirit--the thing which great minds had embodied; and these laborers were no longer ordinary men. Something shone out of them. Neale saw it. He felt an inexplicable littleness in their presence. They had gone on; he had been left. They would toil and fight until they filled nameless graves. He, too, would find a nameless grave, he thought, but he would not lie in it as one of these. The moment was poignant for Neale, exceedingly bitter, and revealing.

Slingerland was not long in sighting buffalo. After making a careful survey of the rolling country for lurking Indians he rode out with Neale, Larry, and two other men--Brush and an Irishman named Pat-- who were to skin the buffalo the hunters killed, and help load the meat into wagons which would follow.

"It ain't no trick to kill buffalo," Slingerland was saying to his friends. "But I don't want old bulls an' old cows killed. An' when you're ridin' fast an' the herd is bunched it's hard to tell the difference. You boys stick close to me an' watch me first. An' keep one eye peeled fer Injuns!"

Slingerland approached the herd without alarming it, until some little red calves on the outskirts of the herd became frightened. Then the herd lumbered off, raising a cloud of dust. The roar of hoofs was thunderous.

"Ride!" yelled Slingerland.

Not the least interesting sight to Neale was Larry riding away from them. He was whacking the buffalo on the rumps with his bare hand before Slingerland and Neale got near enough to shoot.

At the trapper's first shot the herd stampeded. Thereafter it took fine riding to keep up, to choose the level ground, and to follow Slingerland's orders. Neale got up in the thick of the rolling din and dust. The pursuit liberated something fierce within him which gave him a measure of freedom from his constant pain. All before spread the great bobbing herd. The wind whistled, the dust choked him, the gravel stung his face, the strong, even action of his horse was exhilarating. He lost track of Larry, but he stayed close to Slingerland. The trapper kept shooting at intervals. Neale saw the puffs of smoke, but in the thundering din he could not hear a report. It seemed impossible for him to select the kind of buffalo Slingerland wanted shot. Neale could not tell one from the other. He rode right upon their flying heels. Unable, finally, to restrain himself from shooting, he let drive and saw a beast drop and roll over. Neale rode on.

Presently out of a lane in the dust he thought he saw Slingerland pass. He reined toward the side. Larry was riding furiously at him, and Slingerland's horse was stretched out, heading straight away. The trapper madly waved his arms. Neale spurred toward them. Something was amiss. Larry's face flashed in the sun. He whirled his horse to take Neale's course and then he pointed.

Neale thrilled as he looked. A few hundred rods in the rear rode a band of Sioux, coming swiftly. A cloud of dust rose behind them. They had, no doubt, been hiding in the vicinity of the grazing buffalo, lying in wait.

As Neale closed in on Larry he saw the cowboy's keen glance measuring distance and speed.

"We shore got to ride!" was what Larry apparently yelled, though the sound of words drifted as a faint whisper to Neale. But the roar of buffalo hoofs was rapidly diminishing.

Then Neale realized what it meant to keep close to the cowboy. Every moment Larry turned round both to watch the Indians and to have a glance at his comrade. They began to gain on Slingerland. Brush was riding for dear life off to the right, and the Irishman, Pat, still farther in that direction, was in the most perilous situation of all. Already the white skipping streaks of dust from bullets whipped up in front of him. The next time Neale looked back the Sioux had split up; some were riding hard after Brush and Pat; the majority were pursuing the other three hunters, cutting the while a little to the right, for Slingerland was working round toward the work-train. Neale saw the smoke of the engine and then the train. It seemed far away. And he was sure the Indians were gaining. What incomparable riders! They looked half naked, dark, gleaming, low over their mustangs, feathers and trappings flying in the wind--a wild and panic-provoking sight.

"Don't ride so close!" yelled Larry. "They're spreadin'!"

Neale gathered that the Indians were riding farther apart because they soon expected to be in range of bullets; and Larry wanted Neale to ride farther from him for the identical reason.

Neale saw the first white puff of smoke from a rifle of the leader. The bullet hit far behind. More shots kept raising the dust, the last time still a few yards short.

"Gawd! Look!" yelled Larry. "The devils hit Pat's hoss!"

Neale saw the Irishman go down with his horse, plunge in the dust, and then roll over and lie still.

"They got him!" he yelled at Larry.

"Ride thet hoss!" came back grimly and appealingly from the cowboy.

Neale rode as he had never before ridden. Fortunately his horse was fresh and fast, and that balanced the driving the cowboy was giving his mount. For a long distance they held their own with the Sioux. They had now gained a straight-away course for the work-train, so that with the Sioux behind they had only to hold out for a few miles. Brush appeared as well off as they were. Slingerland led by perhaps a hundred feet, far over to the left, and he was wholly out of range.

It took a very short time at that pace to cover a couple of miles. And then the Indians began to creep up closer and closer. Again they were shooting. Neale heard the reports and each one made him flinch in expectation of feeling the burn of a bullet. Brush was now turning to fire his rifle.

Neale bethought himself of his own Winchester, which he was carrying in his hand. Dropping the rein over the horn of his saddle, he turned half round. How close, how red, how fierce these Sioux were! He felt his hair rise stiff under his hat. And at the same instant a hot wrath rushed over him, madness to fight, to give back blow for blow. Just then several of the Indians fired. He heard the sharp cracks, then the spats of bullets striking the ground; he saw the little streaks of dust in front of him. Then the whistle of lead. That made him shoot in return. His horse lunged forward, almost throwing him, and ran the faster for his fright. Neale heard Larry begin to shoot. It became a running duel now, with the Indians scattering wide, riding low, yelling like demons, and keeping up a continuous volley. They were well armed with white men's guns. Neale worked the lever of his rifle while he looked ahead for an instant to see where his horse was running; then he wheeled quickly and took a snap shot at the nearest Indian, no more than three hundred yards distant now. He saw where his bullet, going wide, struck up the dust. It was desperately hard to shoot from the back of a scared horse. Neale did not notice that Larry's shots were any more effective than his own. He grew certain that the Sioux were gaining faster now. But the work-train was not far away. He saw the workmen on top of the cars waving their arms. Rougher ground, though, on this last stretch.

Larry was drawing ahead. He had used all the shells in his rifle and now with hand and spur was goading his horse.

Suddenly Neale heard the soft thud of lead striking flesh. His horse leaped with a piercing snort of terror, and Neale thought he was going down. But he recovered, and went plunging on, still swift and game, though with uneven gait. Larry yelled. His red face flashed back over his shoulder. He saw something was wrong with Neale's horse and he pulled his own.

"Save your own life!" yelled Neale, fiercely. It enraged him to see the cowboy holding back to let him come up. But he could not prevent it.

"He's hit!" shouted Larry.

"Yes, but not badly," shouted Neale, in reply. "Spread out!"

The cowboy never swerved a foot. He watched Neale's horse with keen, sure eyes.

"He's breakin'! Mebbe he can't last!"

Bullets whistled all around Neale now. He heard them strike the stones on the ground and sing away; he saw them streak through the scant grass; he felt the tug at his shoulder where one cut through his coat, stinging the skin. That touch, light as it was, drove the panic out of him. The strange darkness before his eyes, hard to see through, passed away. He wheeled to shoot again, and with deliberation he aimed as best he could. Yet he might as well have tried to hit flying birds. He emptied the Winchester.

Then, hunching low in the saddle, Neale hung on. Slingerland was close to the train; Brush on his side appeared to be about out of danger; the pursuit had narrowed down to Neale and Larry. The anger and the grimness faded from Neale. He did not want to go plunging down in front of those lean wild mustangs, to be ridden over and trampled and mutilated. The thought sickened him. The roar of pursuing hoofs grew distinct, but Neale did not look back.

Another roar broke on his ear--the clamor of the Irish soldier- laborers as they yelled and fired.

"Pull him! Pull him!" came the piercing cry from Larry.

Neale was about to ride his frantic horse straight into the work- train. Desperately he hauled the horse up and leaped off. Larry was down, waiting, and his mount went plunging away. Bullets were pattering against the sides of the cars, from which puffed streaks of flame and smoke.

"Up wid yez, lads!" sang out a cheery voice. Casey's grin and black pipe appeared over the rim of the car, and his big hands reached down.

One quick and straining effort and Neale was up, over the side, to fall on the floor in a pile of sand and gravel. All whirled dim round him for a second. His heart labored. He was wet and hot and shaking.

"Shure yez ain't hit now!" exclaimed Casey.

Larry's nervous hands began to slide and press over Neale's quivering body.

"No--I'm--all--safe!" panted Neale.

The engine whistled shrilly, as if in defiance of the Indians, and with a jerk and rattle the train started.

Neale recovered to find himself in a novel and thrilling situation. The car was of a gondola type, being merely a flat-car, with sides about four feet high, made of such thick oak planking that bullets did not penetrate it. Besides himself and Larry there were half a dozen soldiers, all kneeling at little port-holes. Neale peeped over the rim. In a long thinned-out line the Sioux were circling round the train, hiding on the off sides of their mustangs, and shooting from these difficult positions. They were going at full speed, working in closer. A bullet, striking the rim of the car and showering splinters in Neale's face, attested to the fact that the Sioux were still to be feared, even from a moving fort. Neale dropped back and, reloading his rifle, found a hole from which to shoot. He emptied his magazine before he realized it. But what with his trembling hands, the jerking of the train, and the swift motion of the Indians, he did not do any harm to the foe.

Suddenly, with a jolt, the train halted.

"Blocked ag'in, b'gorra," said Casey, calmly. "Me pipe's out. Sandy, gimme a motch."

The engine whistled two shrill blasts.

"What's that for?" asked Neale, quickly.

"Them's for the men in the foist car to pile over the engine an' remove obstruchtions from the track," replied Casey.

Neale dared to risk a peep over the top of the car. The Sioux were circling closer to the front of the train. All along a half-dozen cars ahead of Neale puffs of smoke and jets of flame shot out. Heavy volleys were being fired. The attack of the savages seemed to be concentrating forward, evidently to derail the engine or kill the engineer.

Gasey pulled Neale down. "Risky fer yez," he said. "Use a port-hole an' foight."

"My shells are gone," replied Neale.

He lay well down in the car then, and listened to the uproar, and watched the Irish trio. When the volleys and the fiendish yells mingled he could not hear anything else. There were intervals, however, when the uproar lulled for a moment.

Casey got his black pipe well lit, puffed a cloud of smoke, and picked up his rifle.

"Drill, ye terriers, drill!" he sang, and shoved his weapon through a port-hole. He squinted, over the breech.

"Mac, it's the same bunch as attacked us day before yisteddy," he observed.

"It shure ain't," replied McDermott. "There's a million of thim to- day."

He aimed his rifle as if following a moving object, and fired.

"Mac, you git excited in a foight. Now I niver do. An' I've seen thot pinto hoss an' thot dom' redskin a lot of times. I'll kill him yit."

Casey kept squinting and aiming, and then, just as he pressed the trigger, the train started with a sudden lurch.

"Sp'iled me aim! Thot engineer's savin' of the Sooz tribe! ... Drill, ye terriers, drill! Drill, ye terriers, drill! ... Shane, I don't hear yez shootin'."

"How'n hell can I shoot whin me eye is full of blood?" demanded Shane.

Neale then saw blood on Shane's face. He crawled quietly to the Irishman.

"Man, are you shot? Let me see."

"Jist a bullet hit me, loike," replied Shane.

Neale found that a bullet, perhaps glancing from the wood, had cut a gash over Shane's eye, from which the blood poured. Shane's hands and face and shirt were crimson. Neale bound a scarf tightly over the wound.

"Let me take the rifle now," he said.

"Thanks, lad. I ain't hurted. An' hev Casey make me loife miserable foriver? Not much. He's a harrd mon, thot Casey."

Shane crouched back to his port-hole, with his bloody bandaged face and his bloody hands. And just then the train stopped with a rattling crash.

"Whin we git beyond thim ties as was scattered along here mebbe we'll go on in," remarked McDermott.

"Mac, yez looks on the gloomy side," replied Casey. Then quickly he aimed the shot. "I loike it better whin we ain't movin'," he soliloquized, with satisfaction. "Thot red-skin won't niver scalp a soldier of the U. P. R.... Drill, ye terriers! Drill, ye terriers, drill!"

The engine whistle shrieked out and once more the din of conflict headed to the front. Neale lay there, seeing the reality of what he had so often dreamed. These old soldiers, these toilers with rail and sledge and shovel, these Irishmen with the rifles, they were the builders of the great U. P. R. Glory might never be theirs, but they were the battle-scarred heroes. They were as used to fighting as to working. They dropped their sledges or shovels to run for their guns.

Again the train started up and had scarcely gotten under way when with jerk and bump it stopped once more. The conflict grew fiercer as the Indians became more desperate. But evidently they were kept from closing in, for during the thick of the heaviest volleying the engine again began to puff and the wheels to grind. Slowly the train moved on. Like hail the bullets pattered against the car. Smoke drifted away on the wind.

Neale lay there, watching these cool men who fought off the savages. No doubt Casey and Shane and McDermott were merely three of many thousands engaged in building and defending the U. P. R. This trio liked the fighting, perhaps better than the toiling. Casey puffed his old black pipe, grinned and aimed, shot and reloaded, sang his quaint song, and joked with his comrades, all in the same cool, quiet way. If he knew that the shadow of death hung over the train, he did not show it. He was not a thinker. Casey was a man of action. Only once he yelled, and that was when he killed the Indian on the pinto mustang.

Shane grew less loquacious and he dropped and fumbled over his rifle, but he kept on shooting. Neale saw him feel the hot muzzle of his gun and shake his bandaged head. The blood trickled down his cheek.

McDermott plied his weapon, and ever and anon he would utter some pessimistic word, or presage dire disaster, or remind Casey that his scalp was destined to dry in a Sioux's lodge, or call on Shane to hit something to save his life, or declare the engine was off the track. He rambled on. But it was all talk. The man had gray hairs and he was a born fighter.

This time the train gained more headway, and evidently had passed the point where the Indians could find obstructions to place on the track. Neale saw through a port-hole that the Sioux were dropping back from the front of the train and were no longer circling. Their firing had become desultory. Medicine Bow was in sight. The engine gathered headway.

"We'll git the rest of the" day off," remarked Casey, complacently. "Shane, yez are dom' quiet betoimes. An' Mac, I shure showed yez up to-day."

"Ye did not," retorted McDermott. "I kilt jist twinty-nine Sooz!"

"Jist thorty wus moine. An', Mac, as they wus only about fifthy of thim, yez must be a liar."

The train drew on toward Medicine Bow. Firing ceased. Neale stood up to see the Sioux riding away. Their ranks did not seem noticeably depleted.

"Drill, ye terriers, drill!" sang Casey, as he wiped his sweaty and begrimed rifle. "Mac, how many Sooz did Shane kill?"

"B'gorra, he ain't said yit," replied McDermott. "Say, Shane.... Casey!"

Neale whirled at the sharp change of tone.

Shane lay face down on the floor of the car, his bloody hands gripping his rifle. His position was inert, singularly expressive.

Neale strode toward him. But Casey reached him first. He laid a hesitating hand on Shane's shoulder.

"Shane, old mon!" he said, but the cheer was not in his voice.

Casey dropped his pipe! Then he turned his comrade over. Shane had done his best and his last for the U. P. R.