To The Last Man
Ellen Jorth hurried back into the forest, hotly resentful of the accident that had thrown her
in contact with an Isbel.
Disgust filled her--disgust that she had been amiable to a member of the hated family that
had ruined her father. The surprise of this meeting did not come to her while she was
under the spell of stronger feeling. She walked under the trees, swiftly, with head erect,
looking straight before her, and every step seemed a relief.
Upon reaching camp, her attention was distracted from herself. Pepe, the Mexican boy,
with the two shepherd dogs, was trying to drive sheep into a closer bunch to save the
lambs from coyotes. Ellen loved the fleecy, tottering little lambs, and at this season she
hated all the prowling beast of the forest. From this time on for weeks the flock would be
besieged by wolves, lions, bears, the last of which were often bold and dangerous. The
old grizzlies that killed the ewes to eat only the milk-bags were particularly dreaded by
Ellen. She was a good shot with a rifle, but had orders from her father to let the bears
alone. Fortunately, such sheep-killing bears were but few, and were left to be hunted by
men from the ranch. Mexican sheep herders could not be depended upon to protect their
flocks from bears. Ellen helped Pepe drive in the stragglers, and she took several shots at
coyotes skulking along the edge of the brush. The open glade in the forest was favorable
for herding the sheep at night, and the dogs could be depended upon to guard the flock,
and in most cases to drive predatory beasts away.
After this task, which brought the time to sunset, Ellen had supper to cook and eat.
Darkness came, and a cool night wind set in. Here and there a lamb bleated plaintively.
With her work done for the day, Ellen sat before a ruddy camp fire, and found her
thoughts again centering around the singular adventure that had befallen her. Disdainfully
she strove to think of something else. But there was nothing that could dispel the interest
of her meeting with Jean Isbel. Thereupon she impatiently surrendered to it, and recalled
every word and action which she could remember. And in the process of this meditation
she came to an action of hers, recollection of which brought the blood tingling to her
neck and cheeks, so unusually and burningly that she covered them with her hands.
"What did he think of me?" she mused, doubtfully. It did not matter what he thought, but
she could not help wondering. And when she came to the memory of his kiss she suffered
more than the sensation of throbbing scarlet cheeks. Scornfully and bitterly she burst out,
"Shore he couldn't have thought much good of me."
The half hour following this reminiscence was far from being pleasant. Proud, passionate,
strong-willed Ellen Jorth found herself a victim of conflicting emotions. The event of the
day was too close. She could not understand it. Disgust and disdain and scorn could not
make this meeting with Jean Isbel as if it had never been. Pride could not efface it from
her mind. The more she reflected, the harder she tried to forget, the stronger grew a
significance of interest. And when a hint of this dawned upon her consciousness she