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THE BORDER EAGLE


drain our best blood drop by drop with its brute fangs and its insatiate thirst. Had he gone into the army, where his own wishes would have led him, or had he taken one of the diplomatic or civil fashionable appointments offered him, the circles into which he would have been thrown must have flung him into debt, and into every temptation to it, however he might have resisted: he must have lived as those about him lived; the mere bare necessities of his position would have entailed embarrassments from which the liberty of his nature revolted as from a galley-slave's fetters. In Erceldoune's creed a landless gentleman was worthy of his blood so long as he was free—no longer.

Therefore he entered the messenger service; and, on the whole, the life, which he had now led for about a score of years, suited him as well as any, save a soldier's, could have done; the constant travel, the hard riding, the frequent peril, the life of cities alternating with the life of adventure—these were to ins taste. And while in the capitals of Europe there was not a woman who could beguile, or a man who could fool him, the Mexican guachos found in him a rider fleet and fearless as themselves; the French Zéphyrs knew in him a volunteer, fiery and elastic as any their bat-