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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofMantoMan,byJacksonGregory ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:MantoMan Author:JacksonGregory ReleaseDate:July29,2006[EBook#18933] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKMANTOMAN*** ProducedbyAlHaines Theblazingheatwassuchthatmenandhorsesandsteerssufferedterribly [Frontispiece:Theblazingheatwassuchthatmen andhorsesandsteerssufferedterribly.] MANTOMAN BY JACKSONGREGORY AUTHOROF JUDITHOFBLUELAKERANCH, THEBELLSOFSANJUAN, SIXFEETFOUR,ETC ILLUSTRATEDBY J G SHEPHERD GROSSET&DUNLAP PUBLISHERS————NEWYORK COPYRIGHT,1920,BY CHARLESSCRIBNER'SSONS PublishedOctober,1920 CONTENTS CHAPTER I STEVEDIVESINTODEEPWATERS II MISSBLUECLOAKKNOWSWHENSHE'SBEAT III NEWSOFALEGACY IV TERRYBEFOREBREAKFAST V HOWSTEVEPACKARDCAMEHOME VI BANKNOTESANDABLINDMAN THEOLDMOUNTAINLIONCOMESDOWNFROM VII THENORTH VIII INREDCREEKTOWN IX "IT'SMYFIGHTANDHIS LETHIMGO!" X ARIDEWITHTERRY XI THETEMPTINGOFYELLOWBARBEE XII INADARKROOM XIII ATTHELUMBERCAMP XIV THEMAN-BREAKERATHOME XV ATTHEFALLENLOG XVI TERRYDEFIESBLENHAM XVII ANDCALLSONSTEVE XVIII "IFHEKNOWS DOESSHE?" XIX TERRYCONFRONTSHELL-FIREPACKARD XX AGATEANDARECORDSMASHED XXI PACKARDWRATHANDTEMPLERAGE XXII THEHANDOFBLENHAM XXIII STEVERIDESBYTHETEMPLEPLACE XXIV DOWNFROMTHESKY! XXV THESTAMPEDE XXVI YELLOWBARBEEKEEPSAPROMISE XXVII INHONOROFTHEFAIRYQUEEN! ILLUSTRATIONS Theblazingheatwassuchthatmenandhorsesandsteers sufferedterribly Frontispiece ThemenabouthimandPackardwithdrewthiswayandthat leavingemptyfloorspace Terry'shead,herfaceflushedrosily,hereyesneverbrighter, poppedupononesideofthelog "Sayit!"laughedTerry "Well,I'mhere Cameonbusiness." MANTOMAN CHAPTERI STEVEDIVESINTODEEPWATERS StevePackard'spulsesquickenedandabrighteagernesscameintohiseyes asherode deeperintothepine-timberedmountains To-dayhewasonthelast lapofadelectablejourney Threedaysagohehadriddenoutofthesun-baked town of San Juan; three months had passed since he had sailed out of a South Seaport Fardownthere,foregatheringwithsailormeninadirtywater-frontboardinghouse, hehadgrownsuddenlyandeventenderlyreminiscentofacleanerland whichhehadroamedasaboy Hestaredbackacrossthedepartedyearsasmany amanhaslookedfromjustsomesuchresortasBlackJack'sboarding-house,a littlewistfullywithal Abruptlythrowingdownhisunplayedhandandforfeiting hisanteinacardgame,hehadgottenupandtakenshipbackacrossthePacific ThehouseofPackardmighthavespelleditsnamewiththesevenlettersofthe word"impulse." Late to-night or early to-morrow he would go down the trail into Packard's Grab, the valley which had been his grandfather's and, because of a burst of reckless generosity on the part of the old man, Steve's father's also But never Steve's,ponderedthemanonthehorse;wordofhisfather'sdeathhadcometo him five months ago and with it word of Phil Packard's speculations and sweepinglosses Butneverhadmoney'scomingandmoney'sgoingbeenaseriousconcernof Steve Packard; and now his anticipation was sufficiently keen The world was his;hehadnoneedofalegalpapertostatethatthesmallfragmentoftheworld known as Ranch Number Ten belonged to him He could ride upon it again, perhapsfindonelikeoldBillRoyce,theforeman,left Andthenhecouldgoon untilhecametotheotherPackardranchwherehisgrandfatherhadlivedandstill mightbeliving Afterallofthis—Well,thereweremanysunnybeacheshereandtherealong thesevenseaswherehehadstilltolieandsunhimself Nowitwasapurejoyto notehowthebolesofpineandcedarpointedstraighttowardtheclear,cloudless blue; how the little streams trickled through their worn courses; how the quail scurried to their brushy retreats; how the sunlight splashed warm and golden through the branches; how valleys widened and narrowed and the thickly timbered ravines made a delightful and tempting coolness upon the mountainsides It was an adventure with its own thrill to ride around a bend in the narrow trailandbegreetedbyanold,well-rememberedlandmark:aflat-toppedboulder where he had lain when a boy, looking up at the sky and thrilling to the whisperedpromisesoflife;orapoolwherehehadfishedorswum;oratreehe hadclimbedorfromwhosebrancheshehadshotagraysquirrel Awagon-road which he might have taken he abandoned for a trail which better suited his presentfancysinceitledwithcloserintimacyintothewoods Itwaslateafternoonwhenhecametothegentlerisewhichgavefirstglintof thelittlelakesolikeabluejewelsetinthedustygreenofthewoodedslopes As heroseinhisstirrupstogazedownavistathroughthetree-trunks,hesawthe bright,vividblueofacloak "Now, there's a woman," thought Packard without enthusiasm "The woods werequitewellenoughalonewithouther AsIsupposeEdenwas Butalongshe comesjustthesame Andofcourseshemustpickouttheonedangerousspoton thewholelakeshoretodisplayherselfon." Forheknewhow,justyonderwherethebluecloakcaughtthesunlight,there wasasheerbankandhowthelappingwaterhadcutintoit,gougingitoutyear afteryearsothattheloosesoilabovewasalwaysreadytocrumbleandspillinto the lake The wearer of the bright garment stirred and stood up, her back still towardhim "Younggirl,mostlikely,"hehazardedanopinion Though she was too far from him to be at all certain, he had sensed somethingofyouth'sownintheveryqualityofhergesture Thensuddenlyheclappedhisspurstohishorse'ssidesandwentracingdown theslopetowardthespotwhereaninstantagoshehadmadesuchagaycontrast todullverdureandgrayboulders Forhehadglimpsedthequickflashofanupthrownarm,hadheardalowcry,hadguessedratherthanseenthroughthelow underbrushheryoungbodyfalling Ashethrewhimselffromhishorse'sback,hisspurcaughtinthebluecloak which had dropped from her shoulders; he kicked at it savagely He jerked off his boots, poised a moment looking down upon the disturbed surface of the waterwhichhadclosedoverherhead,madeoutthesweepofanarmunderthe wideningcircles,anddivedstraightdown Andsodeepdownunderwatertheymetforthefirsttime,StevePackardwith a sense of annoyance that was almost outright irritation, the girl struggling franticallyashisrightarmclosedtightabouther Aquicksuspicioncametohim that she had not fallen but had thrown herself downward in some passionate quarrelwithlife;thatshewantedtodieandwouldgivehimscantthanksforthe rescue This thoughtwasfollowed bytheotherthatin heraccessofterror shewas doing what the drowning person always does—losing her head, threatening to bindhisarmswithherownanddraghimdownwithher Struggling half blindly and all silently they rose a little toward the surface Packardtightenedhisgripaboutherbody,managedtoimprisononeofherarms against her side, beat at the water with his free hand, and so, just as his lungs seemedreadytoburst,hebroughthisnostrilsintotheair Hedrewinagreatbreathandstruckoutmightilyfortheshore,seekingaless precipitous bank at the head of a little cove As he did so, he noted how her struggles had suddenly given over, how she floated quietly with him, her free armevenaidingintheirprogress A little later he crawled out of the clear, cold water to a pebbly beach, drawingherafterhim And now he understood that his destiny and his own headlong nature had again made a consummate fool of him The same knowledge was offered him freelyinapairofgrayeyeswhichfairlyblazedathim Nogratitudethereofa maidenheroicallysuccoredinthehourofhersupremedistress;justtheleaping lightwasnotsureofhitting;hewouldbeafooltoshootandmiss Unless—and itwasthenthatshescreamedoutherwarning,thenbeforehehadsomuchasput outhishandtowardher UnlessBlenham,withalloftheguileofhimuppermost,knewthatthatshot firedbetweenthetwowouldsendthemflyingateachother'sthroats,endingall parleyandbringingaboutunthinkabletragedy Blenhamhadhisownreasonsfor whathedid;certainlyitwouldfitinwithBlenham'splanstoseethehandofa PackardsetagainstaPackard But she had not thought to have him seize her Now his great, calloused, soiled,hairyhandsshutdownuponher,grippinghershoulders,jerkingherfrom herplaceintothecrevicefromwhichhisfacehademerged Shefought,seeking togettherevolverinherblouse Blenhammusthaveknownthatshekeptitthere Hesnatcheditandthrewit behindhimandcursedherashedraggedherwithhim AsBarbeecameonand Stevecamejustbehindhim,thefiguresofBlenhamandTerrywerebothgoneas thoughthemountain-sidehadsplitforthemandclosedafterthem "They'vegotinahole,"calledoutBarbee "Themmountainsisfullofcaves Theycan'tgetawayfar." AstheywentupthesteepslopeBarbeewasstillinthelead Hemountedto theshelfofrockonwhichTerryhadbeenstanding Hesteppedintothecrevice throughwhichBlenhamhaddraggedTerry "There'sasplitintherockshere,"calledBarbee "Hewentthisway." "Watchoutforhim!"warnedSteve,nowontheledgeclosetotheboy "Let megoahead!" Barbeelaughed "LongagoItoldhimI'dgethim!" But Blenham was waiting in a little rock-rimmed hollow He shot from the hip,usingaheavyrevolver Barbeestoodamomentlookingfoolishlyatthesky as he slowly leaned back against the rock Then he lurched and fell, twisting, spinningsothathelayhalfinthefissure,hisrifleclatteringtotheledgeoutside, hisbodyfallingsothathisheadandshoulderswereacrosstherifle StevesteppedoverBarbee'stwitchingbody,alert,everynervetaut,hisfinger crookedtothetriggerofhisrifle ButagainBlenhamhadwithdrawn Inthelittle rudely circular hollow from which Blenham had fired point-blank at Yellow BarbeewasTerry'shat,troddenunderfoot Againitwasasthoughthemountain hadswallowedthemanandthegirlhehadtakenwithhim ButamomentlaterStevesawandunderstood Nottenstepsfromwherehe stood was the mouth of a cave Into it Blenham had retreated In there was Blenham now; Blenham and Terry with him And the way, for the moment at least, was securely blocked Evidently here was a hangout known before, previously employed It had a door made of heavy cedar slabs The door was shut,and,ofcourse,barredfromwithin "Terry!"calledSteve Terry sought to answer; he heard her voice in inarticulate terror, little more than a gasp, choked back in her throat Steve went dead white He visualized Blenham'shandsuponher Hecameontothedoor,hisrifleclubbed Therewasbuttheonethingtodo; smashdownthedoorandsocomeatBlenhamtheshortest,quickest,onlyway ThenBlenhamcalledtohimforthefirsttime "Fool,areyou,StevePackard?Lookatthatdoor Don'tyouknowbeforeyou canbatteritdownIcanpickyouoff!An'Icandomore'nthat!" Asthoughhehadcruellydrawnitfromher,therecameagainTerry'sscream Stevesprangforwardandstruckattheheavycedarplanks AndBlenhamcalled outagain: "Maybeyoucanbreakyourwayin;there'senoughofyou Butyou'llfindher deadwhenthedoorfalls!" Stevehadagainliftedhisrifle Nowheletitsinkslowlysothatthebuttcame to rest gently upon the rock at his feet Blenham held the high hand; Blenham was unthinkably vile; Blenham was desperate And Terry, his little Terry on whomBlenhamhadalwayslookedwiththeeyeofabruteandabeast,wasin there,justbeyondthreeinchesofsolidseasonedcedarplanking "Ifyouharmherintheleast—"ItwasSteve'svoicethoughcertainlyatfirst neitherBlenhamnorevenTerrycouldhaverecognizedit "Ifyouharmherinthe least,Blenham,I'llkillyou Notallatonce—justbyinches!" Blenhamansweredhimcoolly "I know when I've lost a trick, Steve Packard This ain't the firs' one an' it ain'tgoin'tobethelast I'veplayed'emhighan'IalwaysknowedItookchances ButI'mplayin'safe!Getme?Safe!" "Goahead;whatdoyoumean?" "Ol'manPackardisdownthere Thisgirl'syellin'spoiledmyplay Bynow hehaslearnedathingortwo Allright;that'sjus'therunofluck,rottenluck!" Underthewordstherestraintwasgoneandhisrageflaredoutbriefly Butit waspatentthatBlenham'sshrewdnesswasstillwithhim Hecontinuedalmost calmly: "Youan'himcanhavetwowordstogether Thencomebackherean'giveme yourpromises,bothofyou,toletmego ThenI'lllethergo Otherwise,I'mas goodasdead—an'so'sshe I'lljamaguntoherheadthelas'thingan'blowher brainsout An',what'smore,I'llgetoneortwoofyoubesidesbeforeyoudrop me." Into their parley, interrupting it, his eyes flaming, his face hot with anger, mountedoldmanPackard "Stephen,"hesaidsternly,hiseyeshardonhisgrandson'sface,"tellmean' tell me the down-right truth, so help you God: Did you rent this pasture from AndySprague,thinkin'heownedit?" Thoughhewondered,Steveansweredbriefly,tohavethisdonewithsothat hecouldagainturntoBlenham— "Yes." "An'theboyssaysyouhavebeenlosin'stockan'blamin'ittome?An'that you'vehadstockpoisonedan'shot?An'blamedittome?" "Yes,"saidSteve "So'veI,"saidtheoldmanheavily "An'I'vealwaysblamedittoyou An'I never sold to Andy Sprague Him an' Blenham—Blenham has played us both waysforsuckers,hasstoleenoughcowsfromonean'another——" Hisvoicewassweptupintotheroarofragewhichhadgivenhimhisname of the old mountain-lion of the north He came stepping over poor Barbee's body,thrustingbySteve,toweringoverthedoorofthecave "Holdback,"commandedStevequeerly "He'sinthere Buthe'sgotitonus We'vegottopromisetolethimgo!" "Lethimgo!"shoutedtheoldman,hisbigbulkseemingactuallytoquiver with rage "After all he's done, let him go? By the Lord, Stephen Packard, if you'rethatsortofaman——" "She is in there with him," said Steve heavily "Terry is in there Don't you see?" "Terry?ThatTemplegirl?Whathavewetodo——" "Inthefirstplace,"criedStevesharply,"she'sagirlandhe'sabrute Inthe second place, she is the next Mrs Packard and I won't have Blenham pawing overher!" His grandfather stared at him, long and keenly Then he turned away and calledoutcommandingly— "Blenham,comeoutofthat!" Blenhamjeeredathim "Andbeshotdownlikeadog?There'sagirlinhere,Packard YoungPackard isgoneonher;hewantstomarryher An'unlessyouan'himgiveyourwordto letmego,I'mgoin'tojamagunatherheadan'blowherbrainsout An'I'llget himasIcomeout;an'I'llgetyou." "Lethimgo!"calledTerryfaintly "Lethimgo,Steve!Oh,dearGod—ifyou loveme——" "Comeout,Blenham!"shoutedSteve "Igiveyoumyword,sohelpmeGod, toletyougoscot-free Comeout!" "Notsofast,"mockedBlenham,lingeringoverhishighcard "You'vegotto promise for your men; you've got to send 'em across the valley You've got to haveahorsehandyformetoride You'vegottobackdownthevalleyyourse'f An'ol'manPackardhasgottodothesame." OldmanPackardroaredouthiscurses,butintheend,seeingnothingelseto do,hewentgrumblingdowntherockyslope,backtohishorseandtohismen Butfirsthehadknownperhapsthesupremehumiliationofhislife Hehadsaid: "Blenham,onmywordofhonorasaPackardan'agentleman,I'llletyougo An'I'llmakemymenletyougo." Andtherewereactuallytearshangingtohislashesasheswungagainintohis saddle "Hehasnothurtyou,Terry?"askedStevebeforehetoowouldgodownthe slope "No," cried Terry "No, no! But, oh, hurry, hurry, Steve I feel that I'll smother,I'lldie!" Fromdowninthevalleytheywatched,closetoascoreofhard-eyed,wrathfilledmen,asBlenhamsteppedoutofthecreviceandontotheledge Theysaw howhejeeredashesteppedoverthebodyofthemanhehadshot "AfoolwasBarbee,"hecalled "AfoolthePackards,ol'an'young!" Theysawhimcomedowntheslope,carryinghimselfwithaswaggeringair of braggadocio, but plainly watchful and suspicious Terry had come out upon theledgeandshetoowatchedhim Hecamedownswiftlyandswungupintothe saddleofthehorsetheyhadleftforhim Andnowatlasthissuspicionwaspast Histriumphbrokeoutlikeastreakof evillight "Iwasreadytogo,"hecalled,"anytime!" HeswunghisarmouttowardthebluehillsofOldMexico "Downthere——-" Barbee whom they had thought dead stirred a little where he lay The rifle underhimhethrustforwardsixinches "Blenham!"hecalledweakly Blenhamswungaboutandfired,againfromthehip Buthehadfiredhastily Barbee's rifle, resting upon the rock, was steady Between its muzzle and Blenham's broad chest there was but the brief distance of some fifty feet The reportofBarbee'srifle,thethinupcurlingsmokeunderthenewsun—thesewere thechiefmattersinalltheworldfortheirlittlefragmentoftime ThenBlenhamthrewouthisarmsandpitchedforward Hisfootcaughtinthe stirrup Thefrightenedhorsewasplunging,running,draggingamanwhosebody waswhippedthiswayandthat "I promised—a long time ago," whispered Barbee, "that I'd get you, Blenham." CHAPTERXXVII INHONOROFTHEFAIRYQUEEN! "GuyLittle!" Theoldman'svoiceboomedoutmightilyastheoldmanhimselfstrodeback andforthimpatientlyinthebigbarn-likelibraryofhisranchhome GuyLittle appearedwithapromptnesssavoringeitherofmagicorpreparedexpectancy "Yourang,yourmajesty?" "Rang,yourfoot!"shoutedoldPackard "Iholleredmyol'headoff What's thedayoftheweek,GuyLittle?" "It'sWednesday,your——" "An'what'sthedayofthemonth?" "It'sthenineteenth,your——" "Then tell me, sir," and the old man's tone was angry and challenging to a remarkable degree, "why in the name of the devil my gran'son, Stephen, ain't showedupyet!" GuyLittlemighthaveremarkedthatitwasratherearlytoexpectanyoneto showup Itwasnotyetsixo'clockofamorningwhichpromisedtobeoneofthe veryfinestmorningseverknown Theoldmanhad,asGuyLittleexpressedit, "beenprancin'an'pawin'aroun',"foranhour GuyLittlegrinnedlikeanycherub "He has showed up," he chuckled, though he had meant to hold back the tidingsteasingly "Hecomeinlatelas'night Youwasasleepan'sleepin'soun', so——" "He did, did he?" bellowed the old man "Crept in like a damn' thief in the night,didhe?Well,whereishenow?Sleepin'yet,I'llbebound Whenheought tobeupan'—Why,whenIwasayoungdevilhisage——" "He's outsidesomewhere,"saidGuy Little "He has beendowntothecrick foramornin'dip,I'dguess,yourmajesty." "Whywouldyouguessthat?" "Because pretty near all he had on was a towel an' a—a sort of a—— immodes'britch-cloth,"explainedGuyLittleconfidentially "An',"continuedoldmanPackard,"where's—she?" "Meanin' the Fairy Queen, your majesty?" Guy Little's voice was now a whisper "Meanin' her—the Fairy Queen," said the old man gently "Sleepin', Guy Little?Iwon'thaveherwoke!" "Woke,youreyebrow!"chuckledGuyLittle "I'dsayshe'sgonefora—adip, too,yourmajesty An'—an',betweenjustthetwoofusol'fellers,hersispurty nearasimmodes'ashis!Fact,an'Idon'tcarewhosegranddaughtersheis Blue, youknow;an'notverymuchofit An'aredcap An'—Icouldn'tseeverywell throughthecurtainsan'Idasn'tlet'emknowIwaslookin' Onlydon'tyoulether knowweknow;why,blessherlittlesimpleheart,sheain'tgottheleastideahow prettyan'—an'——immodes'——" OldmanPackardfixedhimwithaknowingeye "Ain'tshe?"hedemanded "Ain'tshe,GuyLittle?Why,ifthere'sonethingin this world worth knowin' that my granddaughter don't know— Go order breakfas'readyintwoshakes,GuyLittle." "Idid,"saidGuyLittle "It'sreadyalready Theretheycome Happy-lookin', ain'tthey?Likeacouplekids." "An' see that them two new saddle-horses is ready right after breakfas' for 'em,GuyLittle." "They'rereadynow,"chuckledGuyLittle "Iremembered." "An—an'shelikes——" "Flowers on the table? An' her grapefruit stacked high with sugar? An' the coffeewithhotmilk?Don'tIknownothin'a-tall,Packard?" SteveandTerry,drippingandlaughing,breakingintoarunastheycameon acrossthemeadow,spiedthebigmanandthelittleatthewindowandshouteda joyousgoodmorningandTerrythrewthemakissapiece AndoldmanPackard, his hands on his hips, a look of absolute, ineffable content in his eyes, said softly: "I've made a mistake or two in my life, Guy Little But ain't I lived long enoughtosqueezeinablunderorsoherean'there?An'I'vemadeamistakea timeortwoonaman." "Blenhamdidfoolyouprettyslick,"suggestedGuyLittle "But," went on the old man hurriedly, "I know a real, upstandin', thoroughbred——" "FairyQueenofawoman." "FairyQueenofawomanwhenIseeher An'thatlittlethingoutthere,her eyesshinin'likeIain'tseenapairofeyesshineformore'nfiftyyear,GuyLittle —why,sir,she'swhatIcalla—Why,she'saPackard,man!" 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