As his goaded horse plunged into the road, Nevada looked back over
his shoulder. The lane he had plowed through the crowd let him see
back into the circle where the three men lay prostrate. The blue
smoke from his gun was rising slowly, floating away. Ben Ide's
face shone white and convulsed in the sunlight.
"So long, Pard!" yelled Nevada, hoarsely, and stood in his stirrups
to wave his sombrero high. That, he thought, was farewell forever
to this friend who had saved and succored and uplifted him, whom he
loved better than a brother.
Then Nevada faced the yellow road down which his horse was racing,
and the grim and terrible mood returned to smother the heart-
swelling emotion which had momentarily broken it.
There was something familiar and mocking about this precipitate
flight on a swift horse, headed for the sage and the dark
mountains. How often had he felt the wind sting his face on a run
for his life! But it was not fear now, nor love of life, that made
him a fugitive.
The last gate of the ranch was open, and Nevada flashed through it
to turn off the road into the sage and go flying down the trail
along the shore of the lake. The green water blurred on one side
of him and the gray sage on the other. Even the winding trail was
indistinct to eyes that still saw red. There was no need now for
this breakneck ride. To be sure, the officers of the law would
eventually get on his track, as they had been for years; but
thought of them scarcely lingered a moment in his consciousness.
The action of a swift and powerful horse seemed to be necessary to
the whirling of his mind. Thoughts, feelings, sensations
regurgitated around that familiar cold and horrible sickness of
soul which had always followed the spilling of human blood and
which this time came back worse than ever.
The fierce running of the horse along the levels, around the bends
of the trail, leaping washes, plunging up and down the gullies,
brought into tense play all Nevada's muscular force. It seemed
like a mad race away from himself. Burning and wet all over, he
gradually surrendered to physical exertion.
Five miles brought horse and rider far around to the other side of
the lake. Here the trail wound down upon the soft sand, where the
horse slowed from run to trot, and along the edge of the lake,
where the midday sun had thawed the ice. Nevada had a break in his
strained mood. He saw the deep hoof tracks of horses along the
shore, and the long cuts and scars on the ice, where he and Ben and
the freed outlaws had run that grand wild stallion, California Red,
to his last plunge and fall. Nevada could not help but think, as
he passed that place, and thrill as he remembered the strange lucky
catch of the wild horse Ben Ide loved so well. What a trick for
fortune to play! How mad Ben had been--to bargain with the
rustlers they had captured--to trade their freedom for the aid they
gave in running down the red stallion! Yet mad as that act had
been, Nevada could only love Ben the more. Ben was the true wild-
Nevada reached the bluff where Forlorn River lost itself in the
lake, and climbed the sloping trail to the clump of trees and the
cabin where he and Ben had lived in lonely happiness. Ben, the
outcast son of a rich rancher of Tule Lake--and he, the wandering,
fugitive, crippled gunman, whom Ben had taken in with only one