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“I guess there is,” Balaam replied, speaking at last. The travellers had become strangely reconciled.
“There’s game ‘most all over these mountains,” the Virginian continued; “country not been settled long enough to scare them out.” So they fell into casual conversation, and for the first time were glad of each other’s company.
The sound of a new bird came from the pines above–the hoot of an owl–and was answered from some other part of the wood. Th cheap nike air max 90 is they did not particularly notice at first, but soon they heard the same note, unexpectedly distant, like an echo. The game trail, now quite a defined path beside the river, showed no sign of changing its course or fading out into blank ground, as these uncertain guides do so often. It led consistently in the desired direction, and the two men were relieved to see it continue. Not only were the runaways easier to keep track of, but better speed was made along this valley. The pervading imminence of night more and more dispelled the lingering afternoon, though there was yet no twilight in the open, and the high peaks opposite shone yellow in the invisible sun. But now the owls hooted again. Their music had something in it that caused both the Virginian and Balaam to look up at the pines and wish that this valley would end cheap nike air max trainers . Perhaps it was early for night-birds to begin; or perhaps it was that the sound never seemed to fall behind, but moved abreast of them among the trees above, as they rode on without pause down below; some influence made the faces of the travellers grave. The spell of evil which the sight of the wheeling buzzard had begun, deepened as evening grew, while ever and again along the creek the singular call and answer of the owls wandered among the darkness of the trees not far away.
The sun was gone from the peaks when at length the other side of the stream opened into a long wide meadow. The trail they followed, after crossing a flat willow thicket by the water, ran into dense pines, that here for the first time reached all the way down to the water’s edge. The two men came out of the willows, and saw ahead the capricious runaways leave the bottom and go up the hill and enter nike air max 95 the wood.
“We must hinder that,” said the Virginian; and he dropped Pedro’s rope. “There’s your six-shooter. You keep the trail, and camp down there”–he pointed to where the trees came to the water–“till I head them hawsses off. I may not get back right away.” He galloped up the open hill and went into the pine, choosing a place above where the vagrants had disappeared.
Balaam dismounted, and picking up his six-shooter, took the rope off Pedro’s neck and drove him slowly down toward where the wood began. Its interior was already dim, and Balaam saw that here must be their stopping-place to-night, since there was no telling how wide this pine strip might extend along the trail before they could come out of it and reach another suitable camping-ground. Pedro had recovered his strength, and he now showed signs of restlessness. He shied where there was not even a stone in th nike air max sale e trail, and finally turned sharply round. Balaam expected he was going to rush back on the way they had come; but the horse stood still, breathing excitedly. He was urged forward again, though he turned more than once. But when they were a few paces from the wood, and Balaam had got off preparatory to camping, the horse snorted and dashed into the water, and stood still there. The astonished Balaam followed to turn him; but Pedro seemed to lose control of himself, and plunged to the middle of the river, and was evidently intending to cross. Fearing that he would escape to the opposite meadow and add to their difficulties, Balaam, with the idea of turning him round, drew his six-shooter and fired in front of the horse, divining, even as the flash cut the dusk, the secret of all this–the Indians; but too late. His bruised hand had stiffened, marring his aim, and he saw Pedro fall over in the water then rise and struggle up the bank on the farther shore, where he now hurried also, to find that he had broken the pony’s leg.
He needed no interpreter for the voices of the seeming owls that had haunted the latter hour of their journey, and he knew that his beast’s keener instinct had perceived the destruction that lurked in the interior of the wood. The history of the trapper whose horse had returned without him might have been–might still be–his own; and he thought of the rag that had fallen from the buzzard’s talons when he had been disturbed at his meal in the marsh. “Peaceable” Indians were still in these mountains, and some few of them had for the past hour been skirting his journey unseen, and now waited for him in the wood which they expected him to enter. They had been too wary to use their rifles or show themselves, lest these travellers should be only part of a larger company following, who would hear the noise of a shot, and catch them in the act of murder. So, safe under the cover of t he pines, they had planned to sling their silent noose, and drag the white man from his horse as he passed through the trees.
Balaam looked over the river at the ominous wood, and then he looked at Pedro, the horse that he had first maimed and now ruined, to whom he probably owed his life. He was lying on the ground, quietly looking over the green meadow, where dusk was gathering. Perhaps he was not suffering from his wound yet, as he rested on the ground; and into his animal intelligence there probably came no knowledge of this final stroke of his fate. At any rate, no sound of pain came from Pedro, whose friendly and gentle face remained turned toward the meadow. Once more Balaam fired his pistol, an nike air max 90 sale d this time the aim was true, and the horse rolled over, with a ball through his brain. It was the best reward that remained for him.
Then Balaam rejoined the old mare, and turned from the middle fork of Sunk Creek. He dashed across the wide field, and went over a ridge, and found his way along in the night till he came to the old trail–the road which they would never have left but for him and his obstinacy. He unsaddled the weary mare by Sunk Creek, where the canyon begins, letting her drag a rope and find pasture and water, while he, lighting no fire to betray him, crouched cl nike air max 90 ose under a tree till the light came. He thought of the Virginian in the wood. But what could either have done for the other had he stayed to look for him among the pines? If the cow-puncher came back to the corner, he would follow Balaam’s tracks or not. They would meet, at any rate, where the creeks joined.
But they did not meet. And t cheap nike air max hen to Balaam the prospect of going onward to the Sunk Creek Ranch became more than he could bear. To come without the horses, to meet Judge Henry, to meet the guests of the Judge’s, looking as he did now after his punishment by the Virginian, to give the news about the Judge’s favorite man–no, how could he tell such a story as this? Balaam went no farther than a certain cabin, where he slept, and wrote a letter to the Judge. This the owner of the cabin delivered. And so, having spread news which would at once cause a search for the Virginian, and having constructed such sentences to the Judge as would most smoothly explain how, being overtaken by illness, he had not w nike air max ished to be a burden at Sunk Creek, Balaam turned homeward by himself. By the time he was once more at Butte Creek, his general appearance was a thing less to be noticed. And there was Shorty, waiting!
One way and another, the lost dog had been able to gather some ready money. He was cheerful because of this momentary purseful of prosperity.
“And so I come back, yu’ see,” he said. “For I figured on getting Pedro back as soon as I could when I sold him to yu’.”
“You’re behind the times, Shorty,” said Balaam.
Shorty lo cheap nike air max oked blank. “You’ve sure not sold Pedro?” he exclaimed.
“Them Indians,” said Balaam, “got after me on the Bow Leg trail. Got after me and that Virginia man. But they didn’t get me.”
Balaam wagged his bullet head to imply that this escape was due to his own superior intelligence. The Virginian had been stupid, and so the Indians had got him. “And they shot your horse,” Balaam finished. “Stop and get some dinner with the boys.”
Having eaten, Shorty rode away in mournful spirits. For he had made so sure of once more riding and talking with Pedro, his friend whom he had taught to shake hands.
Chapter 27 Grandmother Stark
Except for its chair and bed, the cabin was stripped almost bare. Amid its emptiness of dismantled shelves and walls and floor, only the tiny ancestress still hung in her place, last token of the home that had been. This miniature, tacked against the despoiled boards, and its descendant, the angry girl with her hand on an open box-lid, made a sort of couple in the loneliness: she on the wall sweet and serene, she by nike air max 1 the box sweet and stormy. The picture was her final treasure waiting to be packed for the journey. In whatever room she had called her own since childhood, there it had also lived and looked at her, not quite familiar, not quite smiling, but in its prim colonial hues delicate as some pressed flower. Its pale oval, of color blue and rose and flaxen, in a battered, pretty gold frame, unconquerably pervaded any surr cheap nike air max trainers oundings with a something like last year’s lavender. Till yesterday a Crow Indian war-bonnet had hung next it, a sumptuous cascade of feathers; on the other side a bow with arrows had dangled; opposite had been the skin of a silver fox; over the door had spread the antlers of a black-tail deer; a bearskin stretched beneath it. Thus had the whole cosey log cabin been upholstered, lavish with trophies of the frontier; and yet it was in front of the miniature that the visitors used to stop.
Shining quietly now in the cabin’s blackness this summer day, the heirloom was presiding until the end. And as Molly Wood’s eyes fell upon her ancestress of Bennington, 1777, there flashed a spark of steel in them, alone here in the room that she was leaving forever. She was not going to teach school any more on Bear Creek, Wyoming; she was cheap nike air max going home to Bennington, Vermont. When time came for school to open again, there should be a new schoolmarm.
This was the momentous result of that visit which the Virginian had paid her. He had told her that he was coming for his hour soon. From that hour she had decided to escape. She was running away from her own heart. She did not dare to trust herself face to face again with her potent, indomitable lover. She longed for him, and therefore she would never see him again. No great-aunt at Dunbarton, or anybody else that knew her and her family, should ever say that she had married below her station, had been an unworthy Stark! Accordingly, she had written to the Virginian, bidding him good-by, and wishing him everything in the world. As she happened to be aware that she was taking everything in the world away from him, t nike air max classic his letter was not the most easy of letters to write. But she had made the language very kind. Yes; it was a thoroughly kind communication. And all because of that momentary visit, when he had brought back to her two novels, EMMA and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
“How do you like them?” she had then inquired; and he had smiled slowly at her. “You haven’t read them!” she exclaimed.③

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