The night was as a blank to Hare;
the morning like a drifting of hazy clouds before
his eyes. He felt himself moving; and when he
awakened clearly to consciousness he lay upon a couch
on the vine-covered porch of a cottage. He saw
August Naab open a garden gate to admit Martin Cole.
They met as friends; no trace of scorn marred August’s
greeting, and Martin was not the same man who had
shown fear on the desert. His welcome was one
of respectful regard for his superior.
“Elder, I heard you were safe
in,” he said, fervently. “We feared I
know not what. I was distressed till I got the
news of your arrival. How’s the young man?”
“He’s very ill. But while there’s
life there’s hope.”
“Will the Bishop administer to him?”
“Gladly, if the young man’s willing.
Come, let’s go in.”
“Wait, August,” said Cole.
“Did you know your son Snap was in the village?”
“My son here!” August
Naab betrayed anxiety. “I left him home
with work. He shouldn’t have come.
Is is he ”
“He’s drinking and in
an ugly mood. It seems he traded horses with
Jeff Larsen, and got the worst of the deal. There’s
pretty sure to be a fight.”
“He always hated Larsen.”
“Small wonder. Larsen is
mean; he’s as bad as we’ve got and that’s
saying a good deal. Snap has done worse things
than fight with Larsen. He’s doing a worse
thing now, August he’s too friendly
“I’ve heard I’ve
heard it before. But, Martin, what can I do?”
“Do? God knows. What
can any of us do? Times have changed, August.
Dene is here in White Sage, free, welcome in many homes.
Some of our neighbors, perhaps men we trust, are secret
members of this rustler’s band.”
“You’re right, Cole.
There are Mormons who are cattle-thieves. To my
eternal shame I confess it. Under cover of night
they ride with Dene, and here in our midst they meet
him in easy tolerance. Driven from Montana he
comes here to corrupt our young men. God’s
“August, some of our young men
need no one to corrupt them. Dene had no great
task to win them. He rode in here with a few outlaws
and now he has a strong band. We’ve got
to face it. We haven’t any law, but he
can be killed. Some one must kill him. Yet
bad as Dene is, he doesn’t threaten our living
as Holderness does. Dene steals a few cattle,
kills a man here and there. Holderness reaches
out and takes our springs. Because we’ve
no law to stop him, he steals the blood of our life water water God’s
gift to the desert! Some one must kill Holderness,
“Martin, this lust to kill is
a fearful thing. Come in, you must pray with
“No, it’s not prayer I
need, Elder,” replied Cole, stubbornly.
“I’m still a good Mormon. What I
want is the stock I’ve lost, and my fields green
August Naab had no answer for his
friend. A very old man with snow-white hair and
beard came out on the porch.
“Bishop, brother Martin is railing
again,” said Naab, as Cole bared his head.
“Martin, my son, unbosom thyself,” rejoined
“Black doubt and no light,”
said Cole, despondently. “I’m of the
younger generation of Mormons, and faith is harder
for me. I see signs you can’t see.
I’ve had trials hard to bear. I was rich
in cattle, sheep, and water. These Gentiles,
this rancher Holderness and this outlaw Dene, have
driven my cattle, killed my sheep, piped my water off
my fields. I don’t like the present.
We are no longer in the old days. Our young men
are drifting away, and the few who return come with
ideas opposed to Mormonism. Our girls and boys
are growing up influenced by the Gentiles among us.
They intermarry, and that’s a death-blow to our
“Martin, cast out this poison
from your heart. Return to your faith. The
millennium will come. Christ will reign on earth
again. The ten tribes of Israel will be restored.
The Book of Mormon is the Word of God. The creed
will live. We may suffer here and die, but our
spirits will go marching on; and the City of Zion
will be builded over our graves.”
Cole held up his hands in a meekness
that signified hope if not faith.
August Naab bent over Hare. “I
would like to have the Bishop administer to you,”
“What’s that?” asked Hare.
“A Mormon custom, ‘the
laying on of hands.’ We know its efficacy
in trouble and illness. A Bishop of the Mormon
Church has the gift of tongues, of prophecy, of revelation,
of healing. Let him administer to you. It
entails no obligation. Accept it as a prayer.”
“I’m willing.” replied the young
Thereupon Naab spoke a few low words
to some one through the open door. Voices ceased;
soft footsteps sounded without; women crossed the
threshold, followed by tall young men and rosy-checked
girls and round-eyed children. A white-haired
old woman came forward with solemn dignity. She
carried a silver bowl which she held for the Bishop
as he stood close by Hare’s couch. The
Bishop put his hands into the bowl, anointing them
with fragrant oil; then he placed them on the young
man’s head, and offered up a brief prayer, beautiful
in its simplicity and tremulous utterance.
The ceremony ended, the onlookers
came forward with pleasant words on their lips, pleasant
smiles on their faces. The children filed by
his couch, bashful yet sympathetic; the women murmured,
the young men grasped his hand. Mescal flitted
by with downcast eye, with shy smile, but no word.
“Your fever is gone,”
said August Naab, with his hand on Hare’s cheek.
“It comes and goes suddenly,”
replied Hare. “I feel better now, only I’m
oppressed. I can’t breathe freely.
I want air, and I’m hungry.”
“Mother Mary, the lad’s
hungry. Judith, Esther, where are your wits?
Help your mother. Mescal, wait on him, see to
Mescal brought a little table and
a pillow, and the other girls soon followed with food
and drink; then they hovered about, absorbed in caring
“They said I fell among thieves,”
mused Hare, when he was once more alone. “I’ve
fallen among saints as well.” He felt that
he could never repay this August Naab. “If
only I might live!” he ejaculated. How
restful was this cottage garden! The green sward
was a balm to his eyes. Flowers new to him, though
of familiar springtime hue, lifted fresh faces everywhere;
fruit-trees, with branches intermingling, blended the
white and pink of blossoms. There was the soft
laughter of children in the garden. Strange birds
darted among the trees. Their notes were new,
but their song was the old delicious monotone the
joy of living and love of spring. A green-bowered
irrigation ditch led by the porch and unseen water
flowed gently, with gurgle and tinkle, with music in
its hurry. Innumerable bees murmured amid the
Hare fell asleep. Upon returning
drowsily to consciousness he caught through half-open
eyes the gleam of level shafts of gold sunlight low
down in the trees; then he felt himself being carried
into the house to be laid upon a bed. Some one
gently unbuttoned his shirt at the neck, removed his
shoes, and covered him with a blanket. Before
he had fully awakened he was left alone, and quiet
settled over the house. A languorous sense of
ease and rest lulled him to sleep again. In another
moment, it seemed to him, he was awake; bright daylight
streamed through the window, and a morning breeze
stirred the faded curtain.
The drag in his breathing which was
always a forerunner of a coughing-spell warned him
now; he put on coat and shoes and went outside, where
his cough attacked him, had its sway, and left him.
“Good-morning,” sang out
August Naab’s cheery voice. “Sixteen
hours of sleep, my lad!”
“I did sleep, didn’t I?
No wonder I feel well this morning. A peculiarity
of my illness is that one day I’m down, the next
“With the goodness of God, my
lad, we’ll gradually increase the days up.
Go in to breakfast. Afterward I want to talk to
you. This’ll be a busy day for me, shoeing
the horses and packing supplies. I want to start
for home to-morrow.”
Hare pondered over Naab’s words
while he ate. The suggestion in them, implying
a relation to his future, made him wonder if the good
Mormon intended to take him to his desert home.
He hoped so, and warmed anew to this friend.
But he had no enthusiasm for himself; his future seemed
Naab was waiting for him on the porch,
and drew him away from the cottage down the path toward
“I want you to go home with me.”
“You’re kind I’m
only a sort of beggar I’ve no strength
left to work my way. I’ll go though
it’s only to die.”
“I haven’t the gift of
revelation yet somehow I see that you won’t
die of this illness. You will come home with
me. It’s a beautiful place, my Navajo oasis.
The Indians call it the Garden of Eschtah. If
you can get well anywhere it’ll be there.”
“I’ll go but I ought not. What can
I do for you?
“No man can ever tell what he
may do for another. The time may come well,
John, is it settled?” He offered his huge broad
“It’s settled I ”
Hare faltered as he put his hand in Naab’s.
The Mormon’s grip straightened his frame and
braced him. Strength and simplicity flowed from
the giant’s toil-hardened palm. Hare swallowed
his thanks along with his emotion, and for what he
had intended to say he substituted: “No
one ever called me John. I don’t know the
name. Call me Jack.”
“Very well, Jack, and now let’s
see. You’ll need some things from the store.
Can you come with me? It’s not far.”
“Surely. And now what I
need most is a razor to scrape the alkali and stubble
off my face.”
The wide street, bordered by cottages
peeping out of green and white orchards, stretched
in a straight line to the base of the ascent which
led up to the Pink Cliffs. A green square enclosed
a gray church, a school-house and public hall.
Farther down the main thoroughfare were several weather-boarded
whitewashed stores. Two dusty men were riding
along, one on each side of the wildest, most vicious
little horse Hare had ever seen. It reared and
bucked and kicked, trying to escape from two lassoes.
In front of the largest store were a number of mustangs
all standing free, with bridles thrown over their
heads and trailing on the ground. The loungers
leaning against the railing and about the doors were
lank brown men very like Naab’s sons. Some
wore sheepskin “chaps,” some blue overalls;
all wore boots and spurs, wide soft hats, and in their
belts, far to the back, hung large Colt’s revolvers.
“We’ll buy what you need,
just as if you expected to ride the ranges for me
to-morrow,” said Naab. “The first
thing we ask a new man is, can he ride? Next,
can he shoot?”
“I could ride before I got so
weak. I’ve never handled a revolver, but
I can shoot a rifle. Never shot at anything except
targets, and it seemed to come natural for me to hit
“Good. We’ll show
you some targets lions, bears, deer, cats,
wolves. There’s a fine forty-four Winchester
here that my friend Abe has been trying to sell.
It has a long barrel and weighs eight pounds.
Our desert riders like the light carbines that go
easy on a saddle. Most of the mustangs aren’t
weight-carriers. This rifle has a great range;
I’ve shot it, and it’s just the gun for
you to use on wolves and coyotes. You’ll
need a Colt and a saddle, too.”
“By-the-way,” he went
on, as they mounted the store steps, “here’s
the kind of money we use in this country.”
He handed Hare a slip of blue paper, a written check
for a sum of money, signed, but without register of
bank or name of firm. “We don’t use
real money,” he added. “There’s
very little coin or currency in southern Utah.
Most of the Gentiles lately come in have money, and
some of us Mormons have a bag or two of gold, but
scarcely any of it gets into circulation. We use
these checks, which go from man to man sometimes for
six months. The roundup of a check means sheep,
cattle, horses, grain, merchandise or labor. Every
man gets his real money’s value without paying
out an actual cent.”
“Such a system at least means
honest men,” said Hare, laughing his surprise.
They went into a wide door to tread
a maze of narrow aisles between boxes and barrels,
stacks of canned vegetables, and piles of harness
and dry goods; they entered an open space where several
men leaned on a counter.
“Hello, Abe,” said Naab; “seen anything
“Hello, August. Yes, Snap’s
inside. So’s Holderness. Says he rode
in off the range on purpose to see you.”
Abe designated an open doorway from which issued loud
voices. Hare glanced into a long narrow room full
of smoke and the fumes of rum. Through the haze
he made out a crowd of men at a rude bar. Abe
went to the door and called out: “Hey, Snap,
your dad wants you. Holderness, here’s
A man staggered up the few steps leading
to the store and swayed in. His long face had
a hawkish cast, and it was gray, not with age, but
with the sage-gray of the desert. His eyes were
of the same hue, cold yet burning with little fiery
flecks in their depths. He appeared short of
stature because of a curvature of the spine, but straightened
up he would have been tall. He wore a blue flannel
shirt, and blue overalls; round his lean hips was
a belt holding two Colt’s revolvers, their heavy,
dark butts projecting outward, and he had on high boots
with long, cruel spurs.
“Howdy, father?” he said.
“I’m packing to-day,”
returned August Naab. “We ride out to-morrow.
I need your help.”
“All-l right. When I get my pinto from
“Never mind Larsen. If he got the better
of you let the matter drop.”
“Jeff got my pinto for a mustang
with three legs. If I hadn’t been drunk
I’d never have traded. So I’m looking
He bit out the last words with a peculiar
snap of his long teeth, a circumstance which caused
Hare instantly to associate the savage clicking with
the name he had heard given this man. August Naab
looked at him with gloomy eyes and stern shut mouth,
an expression of righteous anger, helplessness and
grief combined, the look of a man to whom obstacles
had been nothing, at last confronted with crowning
defeat. Hare realized that this son was Naab’s
first-born, best-loved, a thorn in his side, a black
“Say, father, is that the spy
you found on the trail?” Snap’s pale eyes
gleamed on Hare and the little flames seemed to darken
“This is John Hare, the young
man I found. But he’s not a spy.”
“You can’t make any one
believe that. He’s down as a spy. Dene’s
spy! His name’s gone over the ranges as
a counter of unbranded stock. Dene has named
him and Dene has marked him. Don’t take
him home, as you’ve taken so many sick and hunted
men before. What’s the good of it?
You never made a Mormon of one of them yet. Don’t
take him unless you want another grave
for your cemetery. Ha! Ha!”
Hare recoiled with a shock. Snap
Naab swayed to the door, and stepped down, all the
time with his face over his shoulder, his baleful glance
on Hare; then the blue haze swallowed him.
The several loungers went out; August
engaged the storekeeper in conversation, introducing
Hare and explaining their wants. They inspected
the various needs of a range-rider, selecting, in the
end, not the few suggested by Hare, but the many chosen
by Naab. The last purchase was the rifle Naab
had talked about. It was a beautiful weapon,
finely polished and carved, entirely out of place among
the plain coarse-sighted and coarse-stocked guns in
“Never had a chance to sell
it,” said Abe. “Too long and heavy
for the riders. I’ll let it go cheap, half
price, and the cartridges also, two thousand.”
“Taken,” replied Naab,
quickly, with a satisfaction which showed he liked
“August, you must be going to
shoot some?” queried Abe. “Something
bigger than rabbits and coyotes. Its about time even
if you are an Elder. We Mormons must ”
he broke off, continuing in a low tone: “Here’s
Hare wheeled with the interest that
had gathered with the reiteration of this man’s
name. A new-comer stooped to get in the door.
He out-topped even Naab in height, and was a superb
blond-bearded man, striding with the spring of a mountaineer.
“Good-day to you, Naab,”
he said. “Is this the young fellow you picked
“Yes. Jack Hare,” rejoined Naab.
“Well, Hare, I’m Holderness.
You’ll recall my name. You were sent to
Lund by men interested in my ranges. I expected
to see you in Lund, but couldn’t get over.”
Hare met the proffered hand with his
own, and as he had recoiled from Snap Naab so now
he received another shock, different indeed but impelling
in its power, instinctive of some great portent.
Hare was impressed by an indefinable subtlety, a nameless
distrust, as colorless as the clear penetrating amber
lightness of the eyes that bent upon him.
“Holderness, will you right
the story about Hare?” inquired Naab.
“You mean about his being a
spy? Well, Naab, the truth is that was his job.
I advised against sending a man down here for that
sort of work. It won’t do. These Mormons
will steal each other’s cattle, and they’ve
got to get rid of them; so they won’t have a
man taking account of stock, brands, and all that.
If the Mormons would stand for it the rustlers wouldn’t.
I’ll take Hare out to the ranch and give him
work, if he wants. But he’d do best to
“Thank you, no,” replied Hare, decidedly.
“He’s going with me,” said August
Holderness accepted this with an almost
imperceptible nod, and he swept Hare with eyes that
searched and probed for latent possibilities.
It was the keen intelligence of a man who knew what
development meant on the desert; not in any sense
an interest in the young man at present. Then
he turned his back.
Hare, feeling that Holderness wished
to talk with Naab, walked to the counter, and began
assorting his purchases, but he could not help hearing
what was said.
“Lungs bad?” queried Holderness.
“One of them,” replied Naab.
“He’s all in. Better
send him out of the country. He’s got the
name of Dene’s spy and he’ll never get
another on this desert. Dene will kill him.
This isn’t good judgment, Naab, to take him with
you. Even your friends don’t like it, and
it means trouble for you.”
“We’ve settled it,” said Naab, coldly.
“Well, remember, I’ve
warned you. I’ve tried to be friendly with
you, Naab, but you won’t have it. Anyway,
I’ve wanted to see you lately to find out how
“What do you mean?”
“How we stand on several things to
begin with, there Mescal.”
“You asked me several times for Mescal, and
I said no.”
“But I never said I’d marry her.
Now I want her, and I will marry her.”
“No,” rejoined Naab, adding brevity to
“Why not?” demanded Holderness.
“Oh, well, I can’t take that as an insult.
I know there’s not enough money in Utah to get
a girl away from a Mormon.... About the offer
for the water-rights how do we stand?
I’ll give you ten thousand dollars for the rights
to Seeping Springs and Silver Cup.”
“Ten thousand!” ejaculated
Naab. “Holderness, I wouldn’t take
a hundred thousand. You might as well ask to
buy my home, my stock, my range, twenty years of toil,
for ten thousand dollars!”
“You refuse? All right.
I think I’ve made you a fair proposition,”
said Holderness, in a smooth, quick tone. “The
land is owned by the Government, and though your ranges
are across the Arizona line they really figure as
Utah land. My company’s spending big money,
and the Government won’t let you have a monopoly.
No one man can control the water-supply of a hundred
miles of range. Times are changing. You want
to see that. You ought to protect yourself before
it’s too late.”
“Holderness, this is a desert.
No men save Mormons could ever have made it habitable.
The Government scarcely knows of its existence.
It’ll be fifty years before man can come in
here to take our water.”
“Why can’t he? The
water doesn’t belong to any one. Why can’t
“Because of the unwritten law
of the desert. No Mormon would refuse you or
your horse a drink, or even a reasonable supply for
your stock. But you can’t come in here
and take our water for your own use, to supplant us,
to parch our stock. Why, even an Indian respects
“Bah! I’m not a Mormon
or an Indian. I’m a cattleman. It’s
plain business with me. Once more I make you
Naab scorned to reply. The men
faced each other for a silent moment, their glances
scintillating. Then Holderness whirled on his
heel, jostling into Hare.
“Get out of my way,” said
the rancher, in the disgust of intense irritation.
He swung his arm, and his open hand sent Hare reeling
against the counter.
“Jack,” said Naab, breathing
hard, “Holderness showed his real self to-day.
I always knew it, yet I gave him the benefit of the
doubt.... For him to strike you! I’ve
not the gift of revelation, but I see let
On the return to the Bishop’s
cottage Naab did not speak once; the transformation
which had begun with the appearance of his drunken
son had reached a climax of gloomy silence after the
clash with Holderness. Naab went directly to
the Bishop, and presently the quavering voice of the
old minister rose in prayer.
Hare dropped wearily into the chair
on the porch; and presently fell into a doze, from
which he awakened with a start. Naab’s sons,
with Martin Cole and several other men, were standing
in the yard. Naab himself was gently crowding
the women into the house. When he got them all
inside he closed the door and turned to Cole.
“Was it a fair fight?”
“Yes, an even break. They
met in front of Abe’s. I saw the meeting.
Neither was surprised. They stood for a moment
watching each other. Then they drew only
Snap was quicker. Larsen’s gun went off
as he fell. That trick you taught Snap saved
his life again. Larsen was no slouch on the draw.”
“Where’s Snap now?”
“Gone after his pinto.
He was sober. Said he’d pack at once.
Larsen’s friends are ugly. Snap said to
tell you to hurry out of the village with young Hare,
if you want to take him at all. Dene has ridden
in; he swears you won’t take Hare away.”
“We’re all packed and
ready to hitch up,” returned Naab. “We
could start at once, only until dark I’d rather
take chances here than out on the trail.”
“Snap said Dene would ride right
into the Bishop’s after Hare.”
“No. He wouldn’t dare.”
“Father!” Dave Naab spoke
sharply from where he stood high on a grassy bank.
“Here’s Dene now, riding up with Culver,
and some man I don’t know. They’re
coming in. Dene’s jumped the fence!
A clatter of hoofs and rattling of
gravel preceded the appearance of a black horse in
the garden path. His rider bent low to dodge the
vines of the arbor, and reined in before the porch
to slip out of the saddle with the agility of an Indian.
It was Dene, dark, smiling, nonchalant.
“What do you seek in the house
of a Bishop?” challenged August Naab, planting
his broad bulk square before Hare.
“What do you seek in the house of a Bishop?”
“I shore want to see the young
feller you lied to me about,” returned Dene,
his smile slowly fading.
“No speech could be a lie to an outlaw.”
“I want him, you Mormon preacher!”
“You can’t have him.”
“I’ll shore get him.”
In one great stride Naab confronted and towered over
The rustler’s gaze shifted warily
from Naab to the quiet Mormons and back again.
Then his right hand quivered and shot downward.
Naab’s act was even quicker. A Colt gleamed
and whirled to the grass, and the outlaw cried as
his arm cracked in the Mormon’s grasp.
Dave Naab leaped off the bank directly
in front of Dene’s approaching companions, and
faced them, alert and silent, his hand on his hip.
August Naab swung the outlaw against
the porch-post and held him there with brawny arm.
“Whelp of an evil breed!”
he thundered, shaking his gray head. “Do
you think we fear you and your gunsharp tricks?
Look! See this!” He released Dene and stepped
back with his hand before him. Suddenly it moved,
quicker than sight, and a Colt revolver lay in his
outstretched palm. He dropped it back into the
holster. “Let that teach you never to draw
on me again.” He doubled his huge fist
and shoved it before Dene’s eyes. “One
blow would crack your skull like an egg-shell.
Why don’t I deal it? Because, you mindless
hell-hound, because there’s a higher law than
man’s God’s law Thou
shalt not kill! Understand that if you can.
Leave me and mine alone from this day. Now go!”
He pushed Dene down the path into
the arms of his companions.
“Out with you!” said Dave
Naab. “Hurry! Get your horse.
Hurry! I’m not so particular about God
as Dad is!”