The overtaking of such a train was a thing of magnificent nothing for the long-strided engine, and as the flying express passed its weaker brother, one heard one or two feeble and immature puffs from the other engine, saw the fireman wave his hand to his luckier fellow, saw a string of foolish, clanking flat-cars, their freights covered with tarpaulins, and then the train was lost to the rear.
"He's mine." He stepped forward and pulled open the gate. Here he paused just long enough to drag his revolver from the holster at his hip. With the weapon in his hand, swaying in his long-strided walk, he went to Pollard's front door. Just behind him, almost at his heels, came Thornton. As he tried the door cautiously the Kid looked over his shoulder with a show of teeth.
"I do not ask your pardon for this," he said. "You have brought it upon yourself. Neither do I ask a promise. Do as you please. Try what you have suggested if you wish. I am not afraid. Follow me," and, long-strided, impassive as though nothing had happened, he moved ahead into the distance where in the window of the Buffalo Butte ranch house glowed a light.
But for his attitude she cared little so long as she had him riding away from that house on the hill where Lord Nick in all his terror would appear in some few minutes. Besides, as they swung up the road the chestnut at a long-strided canter and Nelly's black at a soft and choppy pace the wind of the gallop struck into her face; Nelly was made to enjoy things one by one and not two by two.
At first the trail they were following was that of a horse that walked; but later it stretched out into the old long-strided gallop, and the pursuer read the tale of quirt and spur which had forced the change. Three hours out, thirty odd miles from the river as the rider calculated the distance, he came to the first break in the seemingly endless trail of hoofprints he was following.
She stared as Rocket swept up into view, covering the ground with a long-strided trot. Ashton waved to her. She waved back. A few moments later they were close together. As she spun her pony around, he pulled in his horse to a walk, patting the beast's neck and speaking to him caressingly. "Back already?" she asked. "Surely, you've not been to Stockchute Yes, you have!"
Straight into this Landor led the way, and as he did so the cavalcade for the first time broke into a gallop; not the fierce, short-lived pace of civilisation, but the long-strided, full-lunged lope of the frontier, which accurately and as tirelessly as a clock measures time, counts off the passing miles. Hitherto a preliminary, at last the play was on.