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Paradise Bend   By:

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[Frontispiece: " 'Tom!' she breathed. 'Tom! you do think I betrayed you after all...' "]

PARADISE BEND

BY

WILLIAM PATTERSON WHITE

Author of

" Hidden Trails, " " The Owner of the Lazy D, " " Lynch Lawyers ."

FRONTISPIECE BY

RALPH PALLEN COLEMAN

A. L. BURT COMPANY

Publishers New York

Published by arrangement with Doubleday, Page & Company

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF

TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES,

INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

TO MY CAPE MAY COUSINS

DOROTHY, BESS, AND MARION

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. Tom Loudon II. At the Bar S III. Shots on Pack Saddle IV. The Skinned Cattle V. Their Own Deceivings VI. Pestilent Fellows VII. Paradise Bend VIII. The Amazing Mackenzie IX. Authors of Confusion X. The Horse Thief XI. Rocket XII. Scotty Advises XIII. The Dance XIV. A Determined Woman XV. A Hidden Trail XVI. Kate is Helpful XVII. Mrs. Burr Relieves Her Mind XVIII. A Murder and a Killing XIX. Marysville XX. The Railroad Corral XXI. The Judge's Office XXII. Under the Ridge XXIII. The Smoke of Conflict XXIV. Before the Dawn XXV. Trail's End

PARADISE BEND

CHAPTER I

TOM LOUDON

"And don't forget that ribbon!" called Kate Saltoun from the ranch house door. "And don't lose the sample!"

"I won't!" shouted Tom Loudon, turning in his saddle. "I'll get her just like you said! Don't you worry any!"

He waved his hat to Kate, faced about, and put his horse to a lope.

"Is it likely now I'd forget?" he muttered. "We'd do more'n that for her, wouldn't we, fellah?"

The horse, a long legged chestnut named Ranger, turned back one ear. He was accustomed to being questioned, was Ranger. Tom Loudon loved him. He had bought him a five year old from the 88 ranch the year before, and he would allow no one save Kate Saltoun to ride him. For the sun and the moon, in the estimation of Tom Loudon, rose and set in the black eyes of Kate Saltoun, the exceedingly handsome daughter of John T. Saltoun, the owner of the great Bar S ranch.

This day Loudon was riding into Farewell for the ranch mail, and Kate had commissioned him to do an errand for her. To serve his lady was joy to Loudon. He did not believe that she was aware of his state of mind. A flirt was Kate, and a charming one. She played with a man as a cat plays with a mouse. At which pleasant sport Kate was an adept. But Loudon realized nothing of all this. Shrewd and penetrative in his business, where Kate was concerned he saw nothing but the obvious.

Where the trail snaked over Indian Ridge, ten miles from the ranch house, Loudon pulled up in front of a lone pine tree. On the trunk of the pine a notice was tacked. Which notice set forth briefly that two hundred dollars' reward was offered for the person or persons of the unknown miscreant or miscreants who were depleting the herds of the Bar S and the Cross in a box outfits. It was signed by Sheriff Block.

Who the miscreants were no one knew with certainty. But strange tales were told of the 88 punchers. It was whispered that they carried running irons on their saddles. Certainly they displayed, when riding the range, a marked aversion to the company of men from the other ranches.

The remains of small fires had been found time and again in draws bordering the 88 range, and once a fire marked cinch ring had been picked up. As the jimmy and bunch of skeleton keys in a man's pocket so are the running iron and the extra cinch ring under a puncher's saddle skirts. They indicate a criminal tendency; specifically, in the latter case, a whole hearted willingness to brand the cattle of one's neighbour.

Loudon read the notice of reward, slow contempt curling his lips.

"Signs," he said, gently. "Signs ! What we need is Vigilantes Vigilantes an' a bale o' rope!"

He turned in his saddle and looked back over the way he had come... Continue reading book >>




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