To The Last Man
Then followed the leathery flop of saddles to the soft turf and the stamp, of loosened
Jean heard a noise at the cabin door, a rustle, and then a knock of something hard against
wood. Silently he moved his head to look down through a crack between the rafters. He
saw the glint of a rifle leaning against the sill. Then the doorstep was darkened. Ellen
Jorth sat down with a long, tired sigh. She took off her sombrero and the light shone on
the rippling, dark-brown hair, hanging in a tangled braid. The curved nape of her neck
showed a warm tint of golden tan. She wore a gray blouse, soiled and torn, that clung to
her lissome shoulders.
"Colter, what are y'u goin' to do?" she asked, suddenly. Her voice carried something Jean
did not remember. It thrilled into the icy fixity of his senses.
"We'll stay heah," was the response, and it was followed by a clinking step of spurred
"Shore I won't stay heah," declared Ellen. "It makes me sick when I think of how Uncle
Tad died in there alone--helpless--sufferin'. The place seems haunted."
"Wal, I'll agree that it's tough on y'u. But what the hell CAN we do?"
A long silence ensued which Ellen did not break.
"Somethin' has come off round heah since early mawnin'," declared Colter. "Somers an'
Springer haven't got back. An' Antonio's gone. . . . Now, honest, Ellen, didn't y'u heah
rifle shots off somewhere?"
"I reckon I did," she responded, gloomily.
"An' which way?"
"Sounded to me up on the bluff, back pretty far."
"Wal, shore that's my idee. An' it makes me think hard. Y'u know Somers come across
the last camp of the Isbels. An' he dug into a grave to find the bodies of Jim Gordon an'
another man he didn't know. Queen kept good his brag. He braced that Isbel gang an'
killed those fellars. But either him or Jean Isbel went off leavin' bloody tracks. If it was
Queen's y'u can bet Isbel was after him. An' if it was Isbel's tracks, why shore Queen
would stick to them. Somers an' Springer couldn't follow the trail. They're shore not
much good at trackin'. But for days they've been ridin' the woods, hopin' to run across
Queen. . . . Wal now, mebbe they run across Isbel instead. An' if they did an' got away
from him they'll be heah sooner or later. If Isbel was too many for them he'd hunt for my