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The Big-Town Round-Up by William MacLeod Raine

There was no profit in jeering at Lindsay


Jerry

cursed. He broke into a storm of threats, anger sweeping over him in furious gusts. He had come to make sport of his victim and Lindsay somehow took the upper hand at once. He had this fellow where he wanted him at last. Yet the man's soft voice still carried the note of easy contempt. If the Arizonan was afraid, he gave no least sign of it.

"You'll sing another tune before I'm through with you," the prize-fighter prophesied savagely.

The Westerner turned away and swung back to his upper berth. He knew, what he had before suspected, that Durand was going to "frame" him if he could. That information gained, the man no longer interested him.

Sullenly Jerry left. There was no profit in jeering at Lindsay. He was too entirely master of every situation that confronted him.

Within the hour Clay was wakened from sleep by another guard with word that he was wanted at the office of the warden. He found waiting him there Beatrice and her father. The girl bloomed in that dingy room like a cactus in the desert.

She came toward him with hands extended, in her eyes gifts of friendship and faith.

"Oh, Clay!" she cried.

"Much obliged, little pardner." Her voice went to his heart like water to the thirsty roots of prickly pears. A warm glow

beat through his veins. The doubts that had weighed on him during the night were gone. Beatrice believed in him. All was well with the world.

He shook hands with Whitford. "Blamed good of you to come, sir."

"Why wouldn't we come?" demanded the mining man bluntly. "We're here to do what we can for you."

Little wells of tears brimmed over Beatrice's lids. "I've been so worried."

"Don't you. It'll be all right." Strangely enough he felt now that it would. Her coming had brought rippling sunshine into a drab world.

"I won't now. I'm going to get evidence for you. Tell us all about it."

"Why, there isn't much to tell that you haven't read in the papers probably. He came a-shootin' and was hit by a chair."

"Was it you that hit him?"

"Wouldn't I be justified?" he asked gently.

"But did you?"

For a moment he hesitated, then made up his mind swiftly. "Yes," he told her gravely.

She winced. "You couldn't help it. How did you come to be there?"

"I just dropped in."

"Alone?"

"Yes."

He had burned the bridges behind him and was lying glibly. Why bring Bromfield into it? She was going to marry him in a few days. If her fiance was man enough to come forward and tell the truth he would do so anyhow. It was up to him. Clay was not going to betray him to Beatrice.

"The paper says there was some one with you."

"Sho! Reporters sure enough have lively imaginations."

"Johnnie told me you had an engagement with Mr. Bromfield."

"Did you ever know Johnnie get anything right?"


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