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if he had been so slow to give his confidence. Funny, though, that Jim could trust him now, when he had never mentioned his riches before.

It was a warm spring night and Dan set the door of the shack ajar before he commenced his tasks. Then he turned to work with a shrug of his heavy shoulders, as if to throw off all thoughts that bothered him. Washing dishes in camp was not Carter's delight. Jim usually attended to the task-Jim, who did nearly everything Dan did not like to do. But it was Carter's task while his partner was away. He washed them tonight, while Bud moved about the shack unwatched. So long as the miner was conscious that the boy was within reach, he had no thought for his lesser doings. Bud was unusually quiet, but that, Dan thought, was due to the threats.

"He's learnt a new lesson, maybe," thought the big fellow easily. "He'll act better-for a few minutes.'

He worked away noisily with his back to the boy and to the room. He did not care to appear to be watching. And presently he forgot any special reason for thinking about Bud at all. The labors of his hands made his mind easy about all the little things that had seemed before to disturb him. Why should he think twice, he asked himself, about the gold and any difficulty that might come in taking care of it? There could be no difficulty. And why should he feel piqued if Jim did care to keep the fact of his wealth to himself. It was Jim's dust, and he could surely do as he liked

Jim had always done the square thing by him and always would. Anything he did would be all right. And as for looking after that little grip full of dust-well, he would, of course.

The minutes passed swiftly while he thought of Jim. What a bully old fellow his partner was. He would miss Jim. Six weeks would be a mighty long time to be separated from his clum, who had been his chum and constantly with him now for almost three years. If it wasn't for the fact that things looked good up here in the gulch and that somebody ought to stay on the ground till they should get their claim staked out, he would drop things and go down to see Jim now. Of course, that wouldn't be

necessary, though. He couldn't do Jim any good and Jim would certainly be the last one to expect him to come on account of so small a matter as a broken leg. Besides-that satchel! What a queer thing!

The dishes were washed and dried. The process required time and, being somewhat strange to Dan, was absorbing. The thoughts were absorbing, too. He had really quite forgotten Bud at the last till he came to scour the big iron cooking-kettle. Then he remembered him because he wanted some fresh


"Bud," he said aloud, over his shoulder. The room was quiet and his own voice sounded loud to Dan. He paused in his work, the idea impressing him; then as the boy seemed slow to reply he spoke again before he looked around. "Bud!" Still no answer. Dan was vaguely surprised, but he was still not quite free from the maze of his earlier thoughts. He raised the big kettle to empty it in the bucket beside him. Suddenly the impulse came upon him to whirl and look, and he acted instantly.

His eyes swept the whole room at a glance, taking in the scant furniture swiftly-chairs, bunks, bench. Bud was not there.

"Well, fer the love o' heaven!" he began, and then stopped again, for there in the doorway stood a figure that he knew, but which was not that of the camp-boy. It was Chinny Mike.

Sometimes in a crisis a man lives through much in a moment of time. On occasion of great surprise the mind often acts more rapidly than normal, and seems to compass whole courses of reasoning in a single flash of intelligence. Not infrequently conclusions are drawn from slight premises, far nearer to truth than cold reasoning could have deduced. In the moment when Dan Carter faced the man of whom he and Bud had talked, he knew, as well as if it had been written out before him, how and why Chinny Mike had come.

The training of the camps does not encourage sloth of thought or of action in emergency. For an instant Dan stared while he held his dripping hands half raised at his sides, suspending them

with wet fingers spread. Then without a word he straightened his body and waited. Oddly enough and quite mechanically he picked up the towel from the table and began drying his hands. "Howdy?" said the man in the door, easily.

"What do you want?" asked Dan quietly. It was useless to feign friendli


"Oh, I just come up fer a visit, young man," said the other, entering coolly and looking quickly about. "Incidentally

get that word?-incidentally, I just wanted to know about the dust yer pardner left here."

Dan's eyes held their level glance at the intruder. He was not surprised. "I s'pose the boy told you," he replied, “and I s'pose you come prepared to back up that request o' yours.'

"I got a man er two outside, pard," responded the visitor, smiling. "Guess we needn't quarrel, though."

Dan dropped the towel on the table again and smiled a little as if he also saw the humor in the situation. Then he watched while Chinny Mike took the chair by the table. He was short and broad and bearded, red faced, with bloated lips and pouched eye-sockets, but his eyes were steady enough. He held his hand easily on his hip in comfortable reach of his gun. Carter's gun hung from his belt which an hour earlier he had thrown on the bench beside the door. The two looked at each other a moment in silence without particular expression showing on either countenance; then Dan turned and glanced at the little window. The face of a man outside showed white against the light.

"I guess you caught me napping, Mike," he said quietly. "I'll give you the stuff."

He crossed the room and knelt down by Jim's bunk. His mind was busy, but he turned his face away from Mike that it might show no sign. He pulled Jim's little leathern grip out and rose to his feet, making every movement as easy and indifferent as he could. Crossing to the table, he approached the other from the right and held out the bag.

The Irishman was confident of success. He had this unarmed man in his power and scented no strategy. He may

have relied more largely on the watcher at the window than the situation warranted. At any rate he was less cautious than he might have been had he known Dan Carter well. He reached his right hand-his pistol hand-to take the bag from Dan's.

At the instant, without a pause in the motion of his body as he leaned forward, Dan bent and swept his arm swiftly across the table. He caught the low lamp from its place and flung it with all his power in the other's face.

There was instant darkness; then a yell and a shot and the sound of falling glass from the window, but Dan had ducked low and turned to the door. He was tremendously excited, but he put his hand squarely on his belt on the bench and swung it up under his arm, without releasing his hold of the little satchelthe precious bag of gold for which he was making the fight. Next moment he was out in the cool night air, running as softly

softly as he could down to the brink of the gulch, feeling for the grip of his gun, while the blood sang in his ears.

There was another shot back at the cabin, then a string of curses burst out on the night air, and he knew that, whatever damage the blow of the lamp had done, it had not killed Chinny Mike.

"Catch him, catch him!" yelled the Irishman in a voice that echoed across the gulch like a bull's bellow, and the sound of running feet following him could be plainly heard.

Dan was not much afraid of such noisy pursuit. The danger he had most to dread at the moment was that Mike had brought a party of his cutthroats with him and that they had spread about the vicinity where he might encounter one of them at any moment. He stopped running and listened, then silently crept to the head of the path leading down to the creek and dropped over the edge of the bank.

"Well, this is a darn pretty mess," he muttered, stopping coolly to buckle his belt about him. "It's a blame beautiful kind of a mess. But I got to carry it through now all right. Confound Jim! He ought to kept his mouth shut about this bloomin' dust."

Something was wrong with the belt.. The customary buckle-hole was torn out.

He could not remember having torn the leather and even in the excitement of the instant he felt surprise over the trifle, but his thoughts ran away from it again immediately.

"If it was anybody but Jim, darned. if I wouldn't let Mike have the dust," he thought half angrily. "I didn't want no such a fight as this fer any other feller's stuff." He paused to look up at the dark bank above. "I wonder which way that son of a gun'll come."

He was bareheaded and the wind blowing through his hair made him conscious of the fact. He raised his hand and ran his fingers through his tousled locks with some pleasant sense of the freshness of the air.

A little spit of fire burst out from the bank directly above him and, with the simultaneous sharp explosion, a bullet tore its way across his cheek.

He snarled like an animal in fight, and fired twice instantly at the spot from which the light had sprung. A sickening sound like a cough told him that he had made a hit and he turned again and ran down to the creek and along its shore.

"Good Lord-the poor cuss!" he panted. "I got him sure. Jim's little bag o' dust 's going to cost some."

The creek was not wide, but it was deep at this point and he dared not attempt to cross. The current was swift and treacherous and the task of swimming against it would be sufficiently difficult by daylight. The only course open to him was to follow the path along the rocks to the ford below and hope to reach that point before he could be headed. The blood from his wounded cheek was running down upon his neck. He felt its stream warm on his skin and swore a

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profane hope that he might show it to Jim before it should dry up and close.

"Darn him!" he whispered for the second time that night, but with a different inflection.

Just over the bank of the creek above him he could see a streak of lighter sky and he understood, as he looked, that moonrise was not far away. Luckily it was dark enough now to prevent his being seen sufficiently well to make a good mark. If he could make the ford he would cross and break for the woods on the farther side of the gulch. After that he could cut for the settlement, for that would surely be the wise thing for him to do now. He ran again as fast as the darkness and the rough trail would permit.

The ford was perhaps five hundred feet from the point where he had dropped into the gulch. He could see it presently. But it seemed much lighter than he had expected down there where the sandy banks widened out, and he hesitated as the place came into view, for a man was standing in plain sight just at the waterside. At the same moment there was another yell and shot above him and the ugly buzz close by of the second bullet to seek him made him duck and run on.

The voice on the bank above shouted with warning cry to the man at the ford. "Hi, there! He's coming! Look out! Give it to 'im!"

"I'm caught," whispered Carter complainingly to himself, stopping short. Then suddenly he laughed and started to run again. The man below had turned to look up the bank.

"There he is-there-comin' down the bank!" yelled Dan himself, emerging into the lighter space and pointing up the slope. "Shoot the sun of a gun!"

The man at the waterside was at a disadvantage. He could not see well and he had no means of knowing who were the men shouting at him. He stood staring at the black bank above, with his gun raised, but seeing no mark at which to fire. Dan was running as if to pass him, and still pointing wildly, but as he reached striking distance, he swerved and smashed his clubbed revolver against the other's unsuspecting head. The man dropped without a sound and, in another

moment, Dan was splashing across the ford while two more inaccurate shots followed and missed him.

"That's another one, Jimmy," he panted hoarsely, half aloud. "Lord, yer gold is gettin' expensive."

It was at a slower pace that he climbed the opposite bank, for he was getting winded with his violent run. For the moment he was free to get a breath and he seized the opportunity. At the top of the bank he paused again and stood with his back to the black trees, breathing deeply and looking down into the gully.

Of course they would follow him. That went without saying, for, even if cupidity had been dampened by the results of the early encounter, Chinny Mike would be mad with thirst for the blood of the man who had struck him. Yes, they would follow him-and kill him, probably. There was about one chance in a thousand that they couldn't catch him, for they would know where he must head for.

"I don't know what I'm goin' to do with this thing," he grumbled again over the bag of dust. "The longer I carry it, the more it'll be worth, prob'ly."

The thought reminded him of the empty chambers in his revolver and he threw open the breach in the darkness for the purpose of reloading.

"Guess Mike's found out I ain't so slow," he went on, a moment later, calmly fitting fresh shells into his pistol. "I don't mind havin' handed him that one

with the lamp-but them other ducks—”

He stopped short in his retrospect. He had turned to look back up the gulch in the direction from which he had come, and the thing he saw away in the distant darkness put other thoughts out of his mind. mind. A rosy glow was spreading up into the night from a point on the bank near where the cabin ought to be, and Dan needed no footnotes to tell him that it was fire-fire in the little shack that he and Jim called home, that contained all the earthly possessions that belonged to him and to Jim-except the bag of gold.

He stood perfectly still, with the halfloaded pistol still in his hand, not a sound passing his lips, as if he were spellbound, while slowly there rose within him a feeling unlike what he had felt before.

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