#Fiction #Action & Adventure
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Excerpt “ME—SMITH” A man on a tired gray horse reined in where a dim cattle-trail dropped into a gulch, and looked behind him. Nothing was in sight. He half closed his eyes and searched the horizon. No, there was nothing—just the same old sand and sage-brush, hills, more sand and sage-brush, and then to the west and north the spur of the Rockies, whose jagged peaks were white with a fresh fall of snow. The wind was chill. He shivered, and looked to the eastward. For the last few hours he had felt snow in the air, and now he could see it in the dim, gray mist—still far off, but creeping toward him. For the thousandth time, he wondered where he was. He knew vaguely that he was “over the line”—that Montana was behind him—but he was riding an unfamiliar range, and the peaks and hills which are the guide-boards of the West meant nothing to him. So far as he knew, he was the only human being within a hundred miles. His lips drew back in a half-grin and exposed a row of upper teeth unusually white and slightly protruding. He was thinking of the meeting with the last person to whom he had spoken within twenty-four hours. He closed one eye and looked up at the sun. Yes, it was just about the same time yesterday that a dude from the English ranch, a dude in knee breeches and shiny-topped riding boots, had galloped confidently toward him. He had dismounted and pretended to be cinching his saddle. When the dude was close enough Smith had thrown down on him with his gun. “Feller,” he had said, “I guess I’ll have to trade horses with you. And fall off quick, for I’m in kind of a hurry.” The grin widened as he thought of the dude’s surprised eyes and the dude’s face as he dropped out of the saddle without a word. Smith had stood his victim with his hands above his head while he pulled the saddle from his horse and threw it upon his own. The dude rode a saddle with a double cinch, and the fact had awakened in the Westerner a kind of interest. He had even felt a certain friendliness for the man he was robbing. “Feller,” he had asked, “do you come from the Mañana country?” “From Chepstow, Monmouth County, Wales,” the dude had replied, in a shaking voice. “Where did you get that double-rigged saddle, then?” “Texas.” The answer had pleased Smith. “You ain’t losin’ none on this deal,” he had then volunteered. “This horse that you just traded for is a looker when he is rested, and he can run like hell. You can go your pile on him. Just burn out that lazy S brand and run on your own. You can hold him easy, then. I like a feller that rides a double-rigged saddle in a single-rigged country. S’long, and keep your hands up till I’m out of range.” “Thank you,” the dude had replied feebly. When Smith had ridden for a half a mile he had turned to look behind him. The dude was still standing with his hands high above his head. “I wonder if he’s there yet?” The man on horseback grinned. He reached in the pocket of his mackinaw coat and took out a handful of sugar....
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