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The Yellow Horde by Hal G. Evarts

THE YELLOW HORDE

[Illustration: When dawn lifted the shadows from the low country, Breed was prowling along the first rim of the hills.

FRONTISPIECE. _See page 6._]

THE YELLOW HORDE BY HAL G. EVARTS

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHARLES LIVINGSTON BULL

TORONTO McCLELLAND AND STEWART 1921

_Copyright, 1921,_ BY HAL G. EVARTS.

_All rights reserved_ Published April, 1921

Norwood Press Set up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co. Norwood, Mass., U. S. A.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

When dawn lifted the shadows from the low country, Breed was prowling along the first rim of the hills _Frontispiece_

The elk migration had begun PAGE 63

As the summer advanced the pups learned to pack-hunt with Breed 167

Breed was compelled to hunt farther from home as the deer quit the valleys 191

THE YELLOW HORDE

CHAPTER I

The wolfer lay in his cabin and listened to the first few night sounds of the foothills. The clear piping notes of migrating plover floated softly down to him, punctuated by the rasping cry of a nighthawk. A coyote raised his voice, a perfect tenor note that swept up to a wild soprano, then fell again in a whirl of howls which carried amazing shifts of inflection, tearing up and down the coyote scale. One after another added his voice to the chorus until it seemed that the swelling volume could be produced by no less than a full thousand musical prairie wolves scattered through the foothills for a score of miles.

Wild music to the ears of most men, the song of flat wastes and deserts and limitless horizons, freighted with a loneliness which is communicated to man in a positive ache for companionship,--and which carries a wealth of companionship in itself for those who have lived so long under the open skies that the song of the desert choir comes to them as a lullaby.

It moved Collins, the wolfer, to quiet mirth. Always it affected him that way, this first clamorous outburst of the night. He read in it a note of deep-seated humor, the jeering laughter of the whole coyote tribe mocking the world of men who had sworn to exterminate their kind.

"The little devils!" Collins chuckled. "The little yellow devils! Men can't wipe 'em out. There'll be a million coyotes left to howl when the last man dies."

From this oft-repeated prophecy Collins was known to every stockman in three States as the Coyote Prophet, the title a jeering one at first, then bestowed with increasing respect as men saw many of his prophecies fulfilled. The coyote's larger cousin, the wolf, ranged the continent over while the coyote himself was strictly a prairie dweller. For twenty years Collins had predicted that wolves would disappear in settled districts while the coyote would survive; not only survive but increase his range to include the hills and spread over the continent from the Arctic to the Gulf. There were rumors of coyotes turning up in Indiana. Then came the tale that a strange breed of small yellow wolves had appeared in Michigan. Those sheepmen who summered their sheep in the high valleys of the western mountains complained that stray coyotes quit the flats and followed them into the hills to prey upon the flocks. The buffalo wolves that had once infested the range country were gone and it was seldom that any of the big gray killers turned up on the open range except when the pinch of cold and famine drove a few timber wolves down from the north. Men saw these things and wondered if all of Collins' sweeping prophecies would come to pass. In the face of conditions that had placed a value on the coyote's pelt and a bounty on his scalp, there was no apparent decrease in the numbers of the yellow horde from year to year.


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