The Border Legion (Chapter 1, page 1 of 11)


 
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Chapter 1

Joan Randle reined in her horse on the crest of the cedar ridge, and
with remorse and dread beginning to knock at her heart she gazed
before her at the wild and looming mountain range.

"Jim wasn't fooling me," she said. "He meant it. He's going straight
for the border ... Oh, why did I taunt him!"

It was indeed a wild place, that southern border of Idaho, and that
year was to see the ushering in of the wildest time probably ever
known in the West. The rush for gold had peopled California with a
horde of lawless men of every kind and class. And the vigilantes and
then the rich strikes in Idaho had caused a reflux of that dark tide
of humanity. Strange tales of blood and gold drifted into the camps,
and prospectors and hunters met with many unknown men.

Joan had quarreled with Jim Cleve, and she was bitterly regretting
it. Joan was twenty years old, tall, strong, dark. She had been born
in Missouri, where her father had been well-to-do and prominent,
until, like many another man of his day, he had impeded the passage
of a bullet. Then Joan had become the protegee of an uncle who had
responded to the call of gold; and the latter part of her life had
been spent in the wilds.

She had followed Jim's trail for miles out toward the range. And now
she dismounted to see if his tracks were as fresh as she had
believed. He had left the little village camp about sunrise. Someone
had seen him riding away and had told Joan. Then he had tarried on
the way, for it was now midday. Joan pondered. She had become used
to his idle threats and disgusted with his vacillations. That had
been the trouble--Jim was amiable, lovable, but since meeting Joan
he had not exhibited any strength of character. Joan stood beside
her horse and looked away toward the dark mountains. She was daring,
resourceful, used to horses and trails and taking care of herself;
and she did not need anyone to tell her that she had gone far
enough. It had been her hope to come up with Jim. Always he had been
repentant. But this time was different. She recalled his lean, pale
face--so pale that freckles she did not know he had showed through--
and his eyes, usually so soft and mild, had glinted like steel. Yes,
it had been a bitter, reckless face. What had she said to him? She
tried to recall it.

 
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