A Man and Some Others

Stephen Crane


Dark mesquit spread from horizon to horizon. There was no house or

horseman from which a mind could evolve a city or a crowd. The world was

declared to be a desert and unpeopled. Sometimes, however, on days when no

heat-mist arose, a blue shape, dim, of the substance of a specter's veil,

appeared in the southwest, and a pondering sheep-herder might remember that

there were mountains.

In the silence of these plains the sudden and childish banging of a tin

pan could have made an iron-nerved man leap into the air. The sky was ever

flawless; the manoeuvering of clouds was an unknown pageant; but at times a

sheep-herder could see, miles away, the long, white streamers of dust rising

from the feet of another's flock, and the interest became intense.

Bill was arduously cooking his dinner, bending over the fire, and toiling

like a blacksmith. A movement, a flash of strange color, perhaps, off in the

bushes, caused him suddenly to turn his head. Presently he arose, and,

shading his eyes with his hand, stood motionless and gazing. He perceived at

last a Mexican sheep- herder winding through the brush toward his camp.

"Hello!" shouted Bill.

The Mexican made no answer, but came steadily forward until he was within

some twenty yards. There he paused, and, folding his arms, drew himself up

in the manner affected by the villain in the play. His serape muffled the

lower part of his face, and his great sombrero shaded his brow. Being

unexpected and also silent, he had something of the quality of an

apparition; moreover, it was clearly his intention to be mystic and


The American's pipe, sticking carelessly in the corner of his mouth, was

twisted until the wrong side was uppermost, and he held his frying-pan

poised in the air. He surveyed with evident surprise this apparition in the

mesquit. "Hello, Jose!" he said; "what's the matter?"

The Mexican spoke with the solemnity of funeral tollings: "Beel, you mus'

geet off range. We want you geet off range. We no like. Un'erstan'? We no


"What you talking about?" said Bill. "No like what?"

"We no like you here. Un'erstan'? Too mooch. You mus' geet out. We no

like. Un'erstan'?"

"Understand? No; I don't know what the blazes you're gittin' at." Bill's

eyes wavered in bewilderment, and his jaw fell. "I must git out? I must git

off the range? What you givin' us?"

The Mexican unfolded his serape with his small yellow hand. Upon his face

was then to be seen a smile that was gently, almost caressingly murderous.

"Beel," he said, "git out!"

Bill's arm dropped until the frying-pan was at his knee. Finally he

turned again toward the fire. "Go on, you dog-gone little yaller rat!" he

said over his shoulder. "You fellers can't chase me off this range. I got as

much right here as anybody."

"Beel," answered the other in a vibrant tone, thrusting his head forward

and moving one foot, "you geet out or we keel you."

"Who will?" said Bill.

"I -- and the others." The Mexican tapped his breast gracefully.

Bill reflected for a time, and then he said: "You ain't got no manner of

license to warn me off'n this range, and I won't move a rod. Understand?

I've got rights, and I suppose if I don't see 'em through, no one is likely

to give me a good hand and help me lick you fellers, since I'm the only

white man in half a day's ride. Now, look; if you fellers try to rush this

camp, I'm goin' to plug about fifty per cent. of the gentlemen present,

sure. I'm goin' in for trouble, an' I'll git a lot of you. 'Nuther thing: if

I was a fine valuable caballero like you, I'd stay in the rear till the

shootin' was done, because I'm goin' to make a particular p'int of shootin'

you through the chest." He grinned affably, and made a gesture of dismissal.

As for the Mexican, he waved his hands in a consummate expression of

indifference. "Oh, all right," he said. Then, in a tone of deep menace and

glee, he added: "We will keel you eef you no geet. They have decide'."

"They have, have they?" said Bill. "Well, you tell them to go to the



BILL had been a mine-owner in Wyoming, a great man, an aristocrat, one

who possessed unlimited credit in the saloons down the gulch. He had the

social weight that could interrupt a lynching or advise a bad man of the

particular merits of a remote geographical point. However, the fates

exploded the toy balloon with which they had amused Bill, and on the evening

of the same day he was a professional gambler with ill fortune dealing him

unspeakable irritation in the shape of three big cards whenever another

fellow stood pat. It is well here to inform the world that Bill considered

his calamities of life all dwarfs in comparison with the excitement of one

particular evening, when three kings came to him with criminal regularity

against a man who always filled a straight. Later he became a cow-boy, more

weirdly abandoned than if he had never been an aristocrat. By this time all

that remained of his former splendor was his pride, or his vanity, which was

one thing which need not have remained. He killed the foreman of the ranch

over an inconsequent matter as to which of them was a liar, and the midnight

train carried him eastward. He became a brakeman on the Union Pacific, and

really gained high honors in the hobo war that for many years has devastated

the beautiful railroads of our country. A creature of ill fortune himself,

he practised all the ordinary cruelties upon these other creatures of ill

fortune. He was of so fierce a mien that tramps usually surrendered at once

whatever coins or tobacco they had in their possession; and if afterward he

kicked them from the train, it was only because this was a recognized

treachery of the war upon the hoboes. In a famous battle fought in Nebraska

in 1879, he would have achieved a lasting distinction if it had not been for

a deserter from the United States army. He was at the head of a heroic and

sweeping charge, which really broke the power of the hoboes in that county

for three months; he had already worsted four tramps with his own coupling-

stick, when a stone thrown by the ex-third baseman of F Troop's nine laid

him flat on the prairie, and later enforced a stay in the hospital in Omaha.

After his recovery he engaged with other railroads, and shuffled cars in

countless yards. An order to strike came upon him in Michigan, and afterward

the vengeance of the railroad pursued him until he assumed a name. This mask

is like the darkness in which the burglar chooses to move. It destroys many

of the healthy fears. It is a small thing, but it eats that which we call

our conscience. The conductor of No. 419 stood in the caboose within two

feet of Bill's nose, and called him a liar. Bill requested him to use a

milder term. He had not bored the foreman of Tin Can Ranch with any such

request, but had killed him with expedition. The conductor seemed to insist,

and so Bill let the matter drop.

He became the bouncer of a saloon on the Bowery in New York. Here most of

his fights were as successful as had been his brushes with the hoboes in the

West. He gained the complete admiration of the four clean bartenders who

stood behind the great and glittering bar. He was an honored man. He nearly

killed Bad Hennessy, who, as a matter of fact, had more reputation than

ability, and his fame moved up the Bowery and down the Bowery.

But let a man adopt fighting as his business, and the thought grows

constantly within him that it is his business to fight. These phrases became

mixed in Bill's mind precisely as they are here mixed; and let a man get

this idea in his mind, and defeat begins to move toward him over the unknown

ways of circumstances. One summer night three sailors from the U. S. S.

Seattle sat in the saloon drinking and attending to other people's affairs

in an amiable fashion. Bill was a proud man since he had thrashed so many

citizens, and it suddenly occurred to him that the loud talk of the sailors

was very offensive. So he swaggered upon their attention, and warned them

that the saloon was the flowery abode of peace and gentle silence. They

glanced at him in surprise, and without a moment's pause consigned him to a

worse place than any stoker of them knew. Whereupon he flung one of them

through the side door before the others could prevent it. On the sidewalk

there was a short struggle, with many hoarse epithets in the air, and then

Bill slid into the saloon again. A frown of false rage was upon his brow,

and he strutted like a savage king. He took a long yellow night-stick from

behind the lunch-counter, and started importantly toward the main doors to

see that the incensed seamen did not again enter.

The ways of sailormen are without speech, and, together in the street,

the three sailors exchanged no word, but they moved at once. Landsmen would

have required three years of discussion to gain such unanimity. In silence,

and immediately, they seized a long piece of scantling that lay handily.

With one forward to guide the battering-ram, and with two behind him to furnish the

power, they made a beautiful curve, and came down like the Assyrians on the

front door of that saloon.

Mystic and still mystic are the laws of fate. Bill, with his kingly frown

and his long night-stick, appeared at precisely that moment in the doorway.

He stood like a statue of victory; his pride was at its zenith; and in the

same second this atrocious piece of scantling punched him in the bulwarks of

his stomach, and he vanished like a mist. Opinions differed as to where the

end of the scantling landed him, but it was ultimately clear that it landed

him in southwestern Texas, where he became a sheep-herder.

The sailors charged three times upon the plate-glass front of the saloon,

and when they had finished, it looked as if it had been the victim of a

rural fire company's success in saving it from the flames. As the proprietor

of the place surveyed the ruins, he remarked that Bill was a very zealous

guardian of property. As the ambulance surgeon surveyed Bill, he remarked

that the wound was really an excavation.


AS his Mexican friend tripped blithely away, Bill turned with a

thoughtful face to his frying-pan and his fire. After dinner he drew his

revolver from its scarred old holster, and examined every part of it. It was

the revolver that had dealt death to the foreman, and it had also been in

free fights in which it had dealt death to several or none. Bill loved it

because its allegiance was more than that of man, horse, or dog. It

questioned neither social nor moral position; it obeyed alike the saint and

the assassin. It was the claw of the eagle, the tooth of the lion, the

poison of the snake; and when he swept it from its holster, this minion

smote where he listed, even to the battering of a far penny. Wherefore it

was his dearest possession, and was not to be exchanged in southwestern

Texas for a handful of rubies, nor even the shame and homage of the

conductor of No. 419.

During the afternoon he moved through his monotony of work and leisure

with the same air of deep meditation. The smoke of his supper-time fire was

curling across the shadowy sea of mesquite when the instinct of the

plainsman warned him that the stillness, the desolation, was again invaded.

He saw a motionless horseman in black outline against the pallid sky. The

silhouette displayed serape and sombrero, and even the Mexican spurs as

large as pies. When this black figure began to move toward the camp, Bill's

hand dropped to his revolver.

The horseman approached until Bill was enabled to see pronounced American

features, and a skin too red to grow on a Mexican face. Bill released his

grip on his revolver.

"Hello!" called the horseman.

"Hello!" answered Bill.

The horseman cantered forward. "Good evening," he said, as he again drew


"Good evenin'," answered Bill, without committing himself by too much


For a moment the two men scanned each other in a way that is not

ill-mannered on the plains, where one is in danger of meeting horse-thieves

or tourists.

Bill saw a type which did not belong in the mesquit. The young fellow had

invested in some Mexican trappings of an expensive kind. Bill's eyes

searched the outfit for some sign of craft, but there was none. Even with

his local regalia, it was clear that the young man was of a far, black

Northern city. He had discarded the enormous stirrups of his Mexican saddle;

he used the small English stirrup, and his feet were thrust forward until

the steel tightly gripped his ankles. As Bill's eyes traveled over the

stranger, they lighted suddenly upon the stirrups and the thrust feet, and

immediately he smiled in a friendly way. No dark purpose could dwell in the

innocent heart of a man who rode thus on the plains.

As for the stranger, he saw a tattered individual with a tangle of hair

and beard, and with a complexion turned brick-color from the sun and whisky.

He saw a pair of eyes that at first looked at him as the wolf looks at the

wolf, and then became childlike, almost timid, in their glance. Here was

evidently a man who had often stormed the iron walls of the city of success,

and who now sometimes valued himself as the rabbit values his prowess.

The stranger smiled genially, and sprang from his horse. "Well, sir, I

suppose you will let me camp here with you to-night?"

"Eh?" said Bill.

"I suppose you will let me camp here with you to-night?"

Bill for a time seemed too astonished for words. "Well," -- he answered,

scowling in inhospitable annoyance -- "well, I don't believe this here is a

good place to camp to-night, mister."

The stranger turned quickly from his saddle-girth.

"What?" he said in surprise. "You don't want me here? You don't want me to camp here?"

Bill's feet scuffled awkwardly, and he looked steadily at a cactus-plant.

"Well, you see, mister," he said, "I'd like your company well enough, but --

you see, some of these here greasers are goin' to chase me off the range

to-night; and while I might like a man's company all right, I couldn't let

him in for no such game when he ain't got nothin' to do with the trouble."

"Going to chase you off the range?" cried the stranger.

"Well, they said they were goin' to do it," said Bill.

"And -- great heavens! will they kill you, do you think?"

"Don't know. Can't tell till afterwards. You see, they take some feller

that's alone like me, and then they rush his camp when he ain't quite ready

for 'em, and ginerally plug 'im with a sawed- off shot-gun load before he

has a chance to fit at 'em. They lay around and wait for their chance, and

it comes soon enough. Of course a feller alone like me has got to let up

watching some time. Maybe they ketch 'im asleep. Maybe the feller gits tired

waiting, and goes out in broad day, and kills two or three just to make the

whole crowd pile on him and settle the thing. I heard of a case like that

once. It's awful hard on a man's mind -- to git a gang after him."

"And so they're going to rush your camp to-night?" cried the stranger.

"How do you know? Who told you?"

"Feller come and told me."

"And what are you going to do? Fight?"

"Don't see nothin' else to do," answered Bill, gloomily, still staring at

the cactus-plant.

There was a silence. Finally the stranger burst out in an amazed cry.

"Well, I never heard of such a thing in my life! How many of them are


"Eight," answered Bill. "And now look-a-here; you ain't got no manner of

business foolin' around here just now, and you might better lope off before

dark. I don't ask no help in this here row. I know your happening along here

just now don't give me no call on you, and you better hit the trail."

"Well, why in the name of wonder don't you go get the sheriff?" cried the


"Oh, h -- -!" said Bill.


Long, smoldering clouds spread in the western sky, and to the east

silver mists lay on the purple gloom of the wilderness.

Finally, when the great moon climbed the heavens and cast its ghastly

radiance upon the bushes, it made a new and more brilliant crimson of the

camp-fire, where the flames capered merrily through its mesquit branches,

filling the silence with the fire chorus, an ancient melody which surely

bears a message of the inconsequence of individual tragedy -- a message that

is in the boom of the sea, the sliver of the wind through the grass-blades,

the silken clash of hemlock boughs.

No figures moved in the rosy space of the camp, and the search of the

moonbeams failed to disclose a living thing in the bushes. There was no

owl-faced clock to chant the weariness of the long silence that brooded upon

the plain.

The dew gave the darkness under the mesquit a velvet quality that made

air seem nearer to water, and no eye could have seen through it the black

things that moved like monster lizards toward the camp. The branches, the

leaves, that are fain to cry out when death approaches in the wilds, were

frustrated by these mystic bodies gliding with the finesse of the escaping

serpent. They crept forward to the last point where assuredly no frantic

attempt of the fire could discover them, and there they paused to locate the

prey. A romance relates the tale of the black cell hidden deep in the earth,

where, upon entering, one sees only the little eyes of snakes fixing him in

menaces. If a man could have approached a certain spot in the bushes, he

would not have found it romantically necessary to have his hair rise. There

would have been a sufficient expression of horror in the feeling of the

death-hand at the nape of his neck and in his rubber knee-joints.

Two of these bodies finally moved toward each other until for each there

grew out of the darkness a face placidly smiling with tender dreams of

assassination. "The fool is asleep by the fire, God be praised!" The lips of

the other widened in a grin of affectionate appreciation of the fool and his

plight. There was some signaling in the gloom, and then began a series of

subtle rustlings, interjected often with pauses, during which no sound arose

but the sound of faint breathing.

A bush stood like a rock in the stream of firelight, sending its long

shadow backward. With painful caution the little company traveled along this

shadow, and finally arrived at the rear of the bush. Through its branches

they surveyed for a moment of comfortable satisfaction a form in a gray

blanket extended on the ground near the fire. The smile of joyful anticipation fled quickly, to give place to a quiet air of business. Two men lifted shot-guns with much of the barrels gone, and sighting these weapons through the branches, pulled trigger together.

The noise of the explosions roared over the lonely mesquit as if these

guns wished to inform the entire world; and as the gray smoke fled, the

dodging company back of the bush saw the blanketed form twitching. Whereupon

they burst out in chorus in a laugh, and arose as merry as a lot of

banqueters. They gleefully gestured congratulations, and strode bravely into

the light of the fire.

Then suddenly a new laugh rang from some unknown spot in the darkness. It

was a fearsome laugh of ridicule, hatred, ferocity. It might have been

demoniac. It smote them motionless in their gleeful prowl, as the stern

voice from the sky smites the legendary malefactor. They might have been a

weird group in wax, the light of the dying fire on their yellow faces, and

shining athwart their eyes turned toward the darkness whence might come the

unknown and the terrible.

The thing in the gray blanket no longer twitched; but if the knives in

their hands had been thrust toward it, each knife was now drawn back, and

its owner's elbow was thrown upward, as if he expected death from the


This laugh had so chained their reason that for a moment they had no wit

to flee. They were prisoners to their terror. Then suddenly the belated

decision arrived, and with bubbling cries they turned to run; but at that

instant there was a long flash of red in the darkness, and with the report

one of the men shouted a bitter shout, spun once, and tumbled headlong. The

thick bushes failed to impede the rout of the others.

The silence returned to the wilderness. The tired flames faintly

illumined the blanketed thing and the flung corse of the marauder, and sang

the fire chorus, the ancient melody which bears the message of the

inconsequence of human tragedy.


"Now you are worse off than ever," said the young man, dry-voiced and


"No, I ain't," said Bill, rebelliously. "I'm one ahead."

After reflection, the stranger remarked, "Well, there's seven more."

They were cautiously and slowly approaching the camp. The sun was flaring

its first warming rays over the gray wilderness. Upreared twigs, prominent

branches, shone with golden light, while the shadows under the mesquit were

heavily blue.

Suddenly the stranger uttered a frightened cry. He had arrived at a point

whence he had, through openings in the thicket, a clear view of a dead face.

"Gosh!" said Bill, who at the next instant had seen the thing; "I thought

at first it was that there Jose. That would have been queer, after what I

told 'im yesterday."

They continued their way, the stranger wincing in his walk, and Bill

exhibiting considerable curiosity.

The yellow beams of the new sun were touching the grim hues of the dead

Mexican's face, and creating there an inhuman effect, which made his

countenance more like a mask of dulled brass. One hand, grown curiously

thinner, had been flung out regardlessly to a cactus bush.

Bill walked forward and stood looking respectfully at the body. "I know

that feller; his name is Miguel. He -- "

The stranger's nerves might have been in that condition when there is no

backbone to the body, only a long groove. "Good heavens!" he exclaimed, much

agitated; "don't speak that way!"

"What way?" said Bill. "I only said his name was Miguel."

After a pause the stranger said:

"Oh, I know; but -- " He waved his hand. "Lower your voice, or something.

I don't know. This part of the business rattles me, don't you see?"

"Oh, all right," replied Bill, bowing to the other's mysterious mood. But

in a moment he burst out violently and loud in the most extraordinary

profanity, the oaths winging from him as the sparks go from the funnel.

He had been examining the contents of the bundled gray blankets, and he

had brought forth, among other things, his frying- pan. It was now only a

rim with a handle; the Mexican volley had centered upon it. A Mexican

shot-gun of the abbreviated description is ordinarily loaded with

flat-irons, stove-lids, lead pipe, old horseshoes, sections of chain, window

weights, railroad sleepers and spikes, dumb-bells, and any other junk which

may be at hand. When one of these loads encounters a man vitally, it is

likely to make an impression upon him, and a cooking-utensil may be supposed

to subside before such an assault of curiosities.

Bill held high his desecrated frying-pan, turning it this way and that

way. He swore until he happened to note the absence of the

stranger. A moment later he saw him leading his horse from the bushes. In

silence and sullenly the young man went about saddling the animal. Bill

said, "Well, goin' to pull out?"

The stranger's hands fumbled uncertainly at the throat-latch. Once he

exclaimed irritably, blaming the buckle for the trembling of his fingers.

Once he turned to look at the dead face with the light of the morning sun

upon it. At last he cried, "Oh, I know the whole thing was all square enough

-- couldn't be squarer -- but -- somehow or other, that man there takes the

heart out of me." He turned his troubled face for another look. "He seems to

be all the time calling me a -- he makes me feel like a murderer."

"But," said Bill, puzzling, "you didn't shoot him, mister; I shot him."

"I know; but I feel that way, somehow. I can't get rid of it."

Bill considered for a time; then he said diffidently, "Mister, you're a'

eddycated man, ain't you?"


"You're what they call a' -- a' eddycated man, ain't you?"

The young man, perplexed, evidently had a question upon his lips, when

there was a roar of guns, bright flashes, and in the air such hooting and

whistling as would come from a swift flock of steam-boilers. The stranger's

horse gave a mighty, convulsive spring, snorting wildly in its sudden

anguish, fell upon its knees, scrambled afoot again, and was away in the

uncanny death run known to men who have seen the finish of brave horses.

"This comes from discussin' things," cried Bill, angrily.

He had thrown himself flat on the ground facing the thicket whence had

come the firing. He could see the smoke winding over the bush-tops. He

lifted his revolver, and the weapon came slowly up from the ground and

poised like the glittering crest of a snake. Somewhere on his face there was

a kind of smile, cynical, wicked, deadly, of a ferocity which at the same

time had brought a deep flush to his face, and had caused two upright lines

to glow in his eyes.

"Hello, Jose!" he called, amiable for satire's sake. "Got your old

blunderbusses loaded up again yet?"

The stillness had returned to the plain. The sun's brilliant rays swept

over the sea of mesquit, painting the far mists of the west with faint rosy

light, and high in the air some great bird fled toward the south.

"You come out here," called Bill, again addressing the landscape, "and

I'll give you some shootin' lessons. That ain't the way to shoot." Receiving

no reply, he began to invent epithets and yell them at the thicket. He was

something of a master of insult, and, moreover, he dived into his memory to

bring forth imprecations tarnished with age, unused since fluent Bowery

days. The occupation amused him, and sometimes he laughed so that it was

uncomfortable for his chest to be against the ground.

Finally the stranger, prostrate near him, said wearily, "Oh, they've


"Don't you believe it," replied Bill, sobering swiftly. "They're there

yet -- every man of 'em."

"How do you know?"

"Because I do. They won't shake us so soon. Don't put your head up, or

they'll get you, sure."

Bill's eyes, meanwhile, had not wavered from their scrutiny of the

thicket in front. "They're there, all right; don't you forget it. Now you

listen." So he called out: "Jose! Ojo, Jose! Speak up, hombre! I want have

talk. Speak up, you yaller cuss, you!"

Whereupon a mocking voice from off in the bushes said, "Senor?"

"There," said Bill to his ally; "didn't I tell you? The whole batch."

Again he lifted his voice. "Jose -- look -- ain't you gittin' kinder tired?

You'd better go home, you fellers, and git some rest."

The answer was a sudden furious chatter of Spanish, eloquent with hatred,

calling down upon Bill all the calamities which life holds. It was as if

some one had suddenly enraged a cageful of wildcats. The spirits of all the

revenges which they had imagined were loosened at this time, and filled the


"They're in a holler," said Bill, chuckling, "or there'd be shootin'."

Presently he began to grow angry. His hidden enemies called him nine

kinds of coward, a man who could fight only in the dark, a baby who would

run from the shadows of such noble Mexican gentlemen, a dog that sneaked.

They described the affair of the previous night, and informed him of the

base advantage he had taken of their friend. In fact, they in all sincerity

endowed him with every quality which he no less earnestly believed them to

possess. One could have seen the phrases bite him as he lay there on the

ground fingering his revolver.


IT is sometimes taught that men do the furious and desperate thing from

an emotion that is as even and placid as the thoughts of a village clergyman on Sunday

afternoon. Usually, however, it is to be believed that a panther is at the

time born in the heart, and that the subject does not resemble a man picking


"B' G -- !" said Bill, speaking as from a throat filled with dust, "I'll

go after 'em in a minute."

"Don't you budge an inch!" cried the stranger, sternly. "Don't you


"Well," said Bill, glaring at the bushes -- "well -- "

"Put your head down!" suddenly screamed the stranger, in white alarm. As

the guns roared, Bill uttered a loud grunt, and for a moment leaned panting

on his elbow, while his arm shook like a twig. Then he upreared like a great

and bloody spirit of vengeance, his face lighted with the blaze of his last

passion. The Mexicans came swiftly and in silence.

The lightning action of the next few moments was of the fabric of dreams

to the stranger. The muscular struggle may not be real to the drowning man.

His mind may be fixed on the far, straight shadows back of the stars, and

the terror of them. And so the fight, and his part in it, had to the

stranger only the quality of a picture half drawn. The rush of feet, the

spatter of shots, the cries, the swollen faces seen like masks on the smoke,

resembled a happening of the night.

And yet afterward certain lines, forms, lived out so strongly from the

incoherence that they were always in his memory.

He killed a man, and the thought went swiftly by him, like the feather on

the gale, that it was easy to kill a man.

Moreover, he suddenly felt for Bill, this grimy sheep-herder, some deep

form of idolatry. Bill was dying, and the dignity of last defeat, the

superiority of him who stands in his grave, was in the pose of the lost


THE stranger sat on the ground idly mopping the sweat and powder- stain

from his brow. He wore the gentle idiot smile of an aged beggar as he

watched three Mexicans limping and staggering in the distance. He noted at

this time that one who still possessed a serape had from it none of the

grandeur of the cloaked Spaniard, but that against the sky the silhouette

resembled a cornucopia of childhood's Christmas.

They turned to look at him, and he lifted his weary arm to menace them

with his revolver. They stood for a moment banded together, and hooted

curses at him.

Finally he arose, and, walking some paces, stooped to loosen Bill's gray

hands from a throat. Swaying as if slightly drunk, he stood looking down

into the still face.

Struck suddenly with a thought, he went about with dulled eyes on the

ground, until he plucked his gaudy blanket from where it lay dirty from

trampling feet. He dusted it carefully, and then returned and laid it over

Bill's form. There he again stood motionless, his mouth just agape and the

same stupid glance in his eyes, when all at once he made a gesture of fright

and looked wildly about him.

He had almost reached the thicket when he stopped, smitten with alarm. A

body contorted, with one arm stiff in the air, lay in his path. Slowly and

warily he moved around it, and in a moment the bushes, nodding and

whispering, their leaf-faces turned toward the scene behind him, swung and

swung again into stillness and the peace of the wilderness.