"If he didn't go to Whisper, I'll eat my hat." "You're the man to know," Swan retorted grimly. And then, because Lone's horse had slowed in a long climb over a ridge, he came up even with a stirrup. "Lone, I hate to do it. I'd like you, if you don't kill for a living. But for that I could shoot you quick as a coyote. You're smart but not smart enough.

"Anybody would be ashamed to shoot at a mark so large as I am. I'd say they're poor shooters." And he added irrelevantly, as he held up a grayish pelt, "I got that coyote I been chasing for two weeks. He was sure smart. He had me guessing. But I made him guess some, maybe. He guessed wrong this time." Lone's eyes narrowed while he looked Swan over. "You must have been out all night," he said.

Fred was dragged that night, and if she heard about a man being killed during that same storm, she might have said something about it. She might have wondered if that was what she saw. I don't know. She's pretty sensible when she ain't crazy." Warfield turned his horse, as if by accident, so that he was brought face to face with Lone. His eyes searched Lone's face pitilessly.

Swan glanced back at him, studied Lone's face for an instant and turned into a tributary gully where a stream trickled down over the water-worn rocks. "Here I leave you," he volunteered, as Lone came abreast of him. "A coyote's crossed up there, and I maybe find his tracks. I could go do chores for Fred Thurman if nobody's there. Should I do that? What you say, Lone?"

"It didn't, you say." Lone's eyes were turned to his coffee cup. "It don't kill Brit Hunter not yet. I think maybe he dies with all his bones broke, like that. By golly, that shows you what could happen if a man don't think. Brit should look at that chain on his wheel before he starts down that road." "Oh. His brake didn't hold, eh?" "I look at that wagon," Swan answered carefully.

"It isn't he isn't " she began, and turned upon Swan, who was beside the bunk, looking down at Frank's upturned face. "Swan, if it's serious enough for a doctor, can't you send another thought message to your mother?" she asked. "He looks oh, Lone! He isn't dead, is he?" Swan turned his head and stared down at her, and from her face his glance went sharply to Lone's downcast face.

The foreman looked at him curiously, for this was not like Lone, whose tone had always been soft and friendly, and whose manner had no hint of brusqueness. There was a light, too, in Lone's eyes that had not been there before. But Hawkins would not question him further.

But he was puzzled rather than anything else, and when Swan turned, facing him, Lone's bewilderment did not lessen. "I'll tell you. It's when I'm sitting down to eat my supper. I'm just reaching out my hand like this, to get my coffee. And something says in my head, 'It's a lie. I don't ride backwards. Go look at my saddle. There's blood And that's all.

But to offset that, Lone's reason told him that Warfield had probably not known that Frank was dead. That had been news to him or had it? He tried to remember whether Warfield had mentioned it first and could not. Too many disturbing emotions had held him lately; Lone was beginning to feel the need of a long, quiet pondering over his problems.

Fred was dragged that night, and if she heard about a man being killed during that same storm, she might have said something about it. She might have wondered if that was what she saw. I don't know. She's pretty sensible when she ain't crazy." Warfield turned his horse, as if by accident, so that he was brought face to face with Lone. His eyes searched Lone's face pitilessly.