The Red Book Magazine/Volume 14/Number 6/The Sheriff of Granite

The Red Book Magazine, Volume 14, Number 6  (1910) 
The Sheriff of Granite by William MacLeod Raine

Extracted from Red Book magazine, April 1910, pp. 1036–1045. Accompanying illustrations by N. C. Wyeth may be omitted.

The Sheriff of Granite


Author of “The Recoil,” etc.

WEBB ROBERTS, waiting in the doorway of the Quartzite Hotel for his horse to be brought ’round, watched with grim amusement the shambling little figure approaching along Pando’s single hit-or-miss business-street. It needed no second glance to recognize the ne’er-do well cobbler, Purdy, whose chief end in life was to point the moral of inebriacy to the town’s young. Now for the first time Webb regarded him more as an individual than a type. His interest arose from the fact that yesterday he had elected the wrinkled shoemaker sheriff of Granite County.

He had done it in scornful contempt of the wave of public sentiment that was stirring the community. Silently, almost imperceptibly, but not less surely, the forward lapping tide of civilization was sweeping law and order into Pando. The demand for justice no longer expressed itself in whispers by night behind barred doors. It asked inconvenient “Whys?” under the light of the sun where men congregated to do the necessary business of life and to exchange casual opinions about the affairs of the valley. These questions, to be sure, were still raised circumspectly and almost furtively, never in the presence of Roberts or his followers. Yet unrest existed. Sheeplike citizens, who had been driven hitherto at the crack of Webb’s whip, were resurrecting their Anglo-Saxon instinct for self-rule. They had nominated, with various reassurances of no personal ill will, a Citizens’ ticket, which in due season had been swamped at the orders of the big cattleman from Lost Creek who controlled the election-machinery. The insignificant cobbler had played no more important a part than to serve as the medium of Webb’s sardonic humor.

From his magnificent six-foot-two Roberts looked down on the comic-valentine face and figure of the sheriff-elect.

“Hello, Sprat!” was his good-natured, contemptuous greeting.

“Howdy, Mr. Roberts,” returned the little man nervously with a propitiatory smile born of gratitude and hero-worship.

For Webb Roberts was a man to compel both admiration and liking. When he chose to be a lawbreaker he was at least a fearless one. Whether he stole timber from the government, land from a “nester,” or an election from the people, his methods were high-handed. There was something Olympian about the man. He seemed an apotheosis of the outdoors West—big, broad-shouldered, vigorous; if weather-beaten and grizzled, there was still the snap of youth in his elastic tread.

Purdy, very ill at ease, twisted in his nerveless hands the shapeless hat he had just removed from his tow head.

“I reckon I got to thank you for my election, Mr. Roberts,” he pumped out hesitantly.

“I reckon you have.”

“I dunno why you nominated me. I aint much account and that’s a fac’,” the sheriff admitted, his face pathetically suggestive of a stray puppy making tentative approaches.

Webb’s grim smile came out. “I thought you were the best man we could find.”

The sallow cheeks of the new sheriff flushed with pleasure. “I aim to do my best,” was all he could say.

“That’s right. Law will sure enough reign in Granite County now, especially on Lost Creek,” drawled the big cattleman with amused derision.

“I ce’tainly allow to show myself worthy of your confidence and that of the people of Granite County,” gulped the officer, parroting his little speech with visible embarrassment.

Roberts swung to his horse but reined in for a parting word of careless advice.

“Better not take yourself too seriously, my friend. Don’t let yourself forget that you’re a joke.”

As he rode down the street, easy, flat backed, a perfect horseman, the worshiping eyes of the little sheriff followed him. In Lute’s heart there was a warm glow, a hope and confidence that had been a stranger to him for many years.

“He called me his friend. He said I was the best man he could find. You bet I’ll stand by him and Granite County,” Purdy promised himself, tears of gratitude in his watery eyes.

He carried this enthusiasm to the log cabin up the gulch where his little girl was keeping dinner warm for him. The big, brown child-eyes swept him with one quick glance before they let themselves soften with the joy of the welcome that was in her heart. She was only eleven, and motherless at that, but she knew already the woes of life. Too often of late his return had brought her no happiness.

“What kept you, daddy?” she asked.

“I waited to see Mr. Roberts, Honey, so as I could thank him for what he done for us. He was at the Quartzite. He called me his friend and said he had worked for me because I was the best man. He’s a prince, all right.”

“You are the best man, daddy.”

The father’s dumb passion of love looked out of his eyes. He put forward a timid hand and covered hers.

“I aint done right by you, Honey. I sure aint. But it’s going to be different from now on. With you backing me at home and Webb Roberts my friend, I’m going to show the people they didn’t make no mistake when they elected me sheriff of Granite County. I’d ce’tainly be a hound if I didn’t make good. I'll not touch another drop of liquor so long as I am in office.”

To the surprise of everybody he kept his word. Neither jeers nor good fellowship nor the drag of his own appetite were strong enough to shake his resolution. In all innocence the idea lodged itself in his mind that the people had reposed a trust in him. For the first time in his friendless, insignificant life he had been singled out for responsibility and honor, and all that was good in him rose to take hold of his duty firmly with both hands. It became a religion with him strong enough to lift him out of the slough in which he had been groveling.

Added to this was a doglike devotion to the man who had given him his last chance in life. From a distance he had always admired the crisp confidence of this leader of men, who strode so lightly and easily to success. Now Roberts had unconsciously put the seal on this by adding a great personal obligation. Lute could see no faults in his demi-God, and was forever publicly singing his praises.

Pando listened and drew its own conclusions. It had expected nothing of Purdy and saving in the matter of his personal reformation, its expectations were apparently destined to be fulfilled. He was sure enough ‘Roberts’ man,” a natural sequence of his election.

But though natural, Pando found the fact irritating in Purdy’s naïve iteration of it.

“What’s the matter with the durn fool? Webb owns him. Why cayn’t he let it go at that and not keep rubbing it in like he’s proud of it?” was the question Sam Jones querulously asked of the general public at the postoffice corner.

“Trouble with Lute is he aint got sense enough to savez the situation. He’s got it stuck away in his nut that Webb’s his friend because he elected him. The reason why aint soaked into his thinker yet. He reckons we're all as tickled to death as he is about it. To hear him tell it, Webb’s a regular Santa Claus to this country. He’s a plumb idjit, looks like,” contributed Duff of the Twelve O’Clock mine.

It was inevitable that a light should soon break on the sheriff. He discovered that many people had an unaccountable distrust of Roberts, a distrust not to be shaken by argument. This troubled him, since he would have liked everybody to see his idol as he saw him. But what was a man to do when his enthusiasm met only chill silence or a sudden oath? He decided to tell the stockman himself of the perverted suspicion that had found lodgment in the people’s minds.

“He'll be able to fix it all right when he knows. I sure got to help him straighten this out. He said I was his friend.”

They met next day on the mountain-trail that led to Lost Creek. Coming on each other suddenly at a bend of the road, Lute’s face shone with pleasure as he reined in.

“I’m right glad to see you, Mr. Roberts. Everything all right on Lost Creek?” he beamed.

The big cattleman looked over his illuminated insignificance with hard jade eyes, offering no word of greeting in return.

“There was something I wanted to speak to you about, Mr. Roberts, something I reckon I ought to—”

The other broke in with the curt unconscious insolence of scorn.

“I don’t care to hear any apologies. I want to know in words what the devil you mean by arresting Lem Cotton for cutting that timber off the school-section.”

“Why—why—didn’t he cut it, Mr. Roberts?” gasped Purdy, the smile vanishing from his amazed face.

Roberts’ eyes were like half-scabbarded steel. “Say he did. What difference does that make?”

“Difference! Why—the law—”

“Damn the law! Don’t you go to making a mistake, my friend. I’m the law on Lost Creek.”

The familiar mental landmarks of the sheriff were shifting with a speed that left him dizzy. He was for the moment helplessly lost. Through the maze came as if from a great distance the cattleman’s curt commands.

“Release Cotton at once. And don’t interfere again with anybody in my corner of the county unless you get orders from me. Understand?”

“I aim to do what’s right,” Lute heard himself say feebly.

The irritated contempt of Webb’s laughter pelted like hail.

“You'll do what I say. What do you suppose I elected you for?”

“I allow to be sheriff—and to do what’s right,” reiterated Purdy with dogged misery.

“Right!” Under bushy grizzled brows the cattleman’s eyes fixed the sheriff like rivets of chilled steel. “I’ll tell you what’s right, Mr. Sheriff, and you'll take orders like a lamb. Think I put you there to set yourself up against me? If you cross me I'll snuff you out like a blown candle.”

Lute mopped his moist forehead with a bandanna. “I don’t figure to trouble you, Mr. Roberts. I’m ce’tainly your friend, but—”

“You turn loose Cotton before six o’clock to-night. If you don’t you're down and out.”

With which Roberts drove the spurs home and his pony found its gallop in a stride.

The sheriff took this new trouble home with him and thought it out aloud to little Nellie. He saw many things now to which his eyes had been blind before, and they all contributed to show that Roberts was responsible for the turbulence and lawlessness on Lost Creek. He was acknowledged chief of the clique that had settled the Creek and was holding itself above the law. If he were not a “waddy” himself—as probably he was not, since he was a freebooter in a larger way—at least he tolerated it in his followers and shielded them from retribution. Lost Creek looked on him as a sort of feudal chief, gave him its rough obedience, and expected in return protection. This expectation had hitherto been justified. In that lay the power of Roberts. Lute worked it out in his slow brain that “the Creek bunch” could be conquered only through the defeat of their leader. Let it be proved that he could no longer save them from the law and his hold was broken.

But Roberts had made him what he was. How then could he “round” on him? How attack the one hero his dumb heart had pedestaled? The little cobbler had a great capacity for loyalty, and the battle in his soul raged bitterly. He had sworn to serve the people. That ideal had sunk into the very core of him. But must he give this service at the expense of the one who had made him—had thrown the stick that saved him—a drowning man?

More, Roberts was a “proved man,” one tested and toughened by thirty years of rough and tumble on the frontier. At his beck stood every reckless puncher on Lost Creek. What chance would he have in such an encounter—he, the puny little cobbler snatched from his ways of humdrum peace after alcohol had burnt out the temper of his nerve?

This last phase of his trouble had to be fought out in silence. He could not let little Nellie know that her father’s life hung in the balance. When he thought of what lay before him beads of perspiration stood out on his face. He had never been a fearless man physically, and the years of dissipation had played havoc with such pluck as he once possessed. He was in terror, afraid to his marrow, yet there was something in him stronger than this blanching palsy, something that told him he must go on to the end in spite of all.

“We'll have to do what’s right, honey. Webb aint got no call to say he’s law on Lost Creek. In this here country one man’s as good as another. Rich and poor alike, we all got to come to it. When Webb says he’s an exception, he gits off wrong foot first. I got to stand by the law, aint I, honey?” the little sheriff besought of his small comforter.

She was perched on the arm of his rocker rumpling his thin hair and twisting it into long spirals that stood out like the quills of a porcupine.

“’Course you got to, Daddie,” she nodded energetically. “You just tell Mr. Roberts you’re the sheriff. My, but you look funny with your hair all wisped.”

“I reckon I’m funny all right. Webb, he onct said I was a joke,” agreed her father ruefully.

She could resent this without understanding it.

“You're the best man that ever was, and Mr. Roberts ought to be ashamed of his self,” she protested.

That night a body of masked men rode into Pando, battered down the door of the wooden jail, and released its only prisoner, Lem Cotton. The building was fired, and the rescuers rode out of town toward Lost Creek shooting revolvers into the air defiantly.

Before morning everybody in Pando knew that little Lute Purdy had declared war against the lawbreakers of Lost Creek and that Webb Roberts had won the first skirmish. That Webb would win clear down the line was to be expected. The miracle was that the sheriff had shown fight at all.

At the daily congress outside of the postoffice Pando approved his courage if not his judgment.

“The derned little cuss sure has got sand in his craw. Handed out a defi cold to Lost Creek, they say. ’Course Webb eats his kind alive—eats ’em alive. Nothing for Purdy to do but lay down,” commented Duff.

“You bet he’ll make his peace humble and promise to be good. But I didn’t think there was even one good kick in him,” nodded Sam Jones, surveying the still smoking ashes of the jail.

Purdy, wandering down the street about mail-time, was greeted with a new respect that held itself half-way between doubt and admiration. The tone of his critics was a little less familiar, and the note of contempt was conspicuously absent. The congress of Pando was sitting on the fence, both mentally and physically.

Lute’s watery eyes wandered deprecatingly from one to another. He was miserably conscious of inefficiency at this crisis of affairs.

“Your jail seems to be out of business, sheriff,” said Lee Moser presently.

Purdy’s hand rubbed uncertainly among the stubbles of his beard.

“Looks like,” he agreed.

“Webb he put it in his pipe and smoked it, mebbe,” hazarded a jocular puncher.

“And your prisoner didn’t stay to say ‘Good-mawnin,’ I expect,” murmured Jones as he put a match to his pipe.

“I aint seen him,” admitted the sheriff.

There was a sound of pounding feet, and round the nearest corner two riders swept in a cloud of dust. They drew up at the store, dismounted, threw their ponies’ bridles to the ground, and passed with jingling spurs toward the office. One of the men was Webb Roberts, and the other Lem Cotton. The leader of Lost Creek had ridden into town to show with magnificent insolence that the law was not strong enough to touch him or those under his protection.

Roberts nodded with curt indifference to public opinion sitting on the fence, and carried lightly his splendid bulk into the store. The henchman at his heels stopped in the doorway and let his shifty eyes take in the circle of silent faces.

They came to rest on Purdy with sly, malicious triumph.

“Mawnin’, gentlemen! Mawnin’, sheriff! Been having a fire in town, I reckon?” he grinned.

Pando regarded him gravely without answering, then turned its gaze on the sheriff.

It was obviously Purdy’s move.

He cleared his throat and moistened his lips.

“I got to arrest you, Lem,” he mildly, reproachful apology in his voice

A quick step crossed the floor. Cotton heard it and took courage, for he knew that Webb Roberts was at his back.

“Don’t you try it, Lute Purdy,” he warned with bristling bravado, one hand slipping back to his right hip.

The sheriff, with an ashen face, stepped forward. There was a flash of circling steel, a report, and the little sheriff crumpled up like a jackrabbit.

Roberts wheeled furiously on the murderer.

“Didn’t I tell you to let me run this?” he exclaimed. “Didn’t I give you your orders not to come any gun-play?”

The cattleman was the first to reach the side of the wounded sheriff. He picked him up as if he had been a child and carried him into the store.

“Run for Doc Ellis, Sam,” he ordered. “The rest of you shuck your coats and put them on the counter. Bring water, Duff. Easy, now, easy.”

Lute opened his eyes and presently said feebly:

“I’m mighty obliged to you, Mr. Roberts. It’s right kind of you to take so much trouble. Seems like you’re always doing something for me.”

They carried him to the hotel, where he might be better cared for than in his own shack up the gulch.

The best that Pando had to offer was purchased. Roberts paid for the special train that was hurried through from Denver with the great surgeon who performed the operation, and he settled all the other bills for a trained nurse and the best of attendance. Even at that the wounded man hung in the shadow of death for weeks before he slowly rounded to safety. Snow had begun to fly in the hills before he could hobble out again, with the aid of a stick and little Nellie. Winter lay white over the land by the time he had fully recovered.

Meantime it was common knowledge that Webb was still going his lawless way. He had driven out another “nester” who was preparing to homestead a spring where Webb’s cattle had been used to water. He was using timber from school-land for fencing. His riders had driven a flock of sheep from the range and killed many of them.

Yet though he had set himself obstinately against the new era the Lost Creek despot did not make the fight a personal one. More than once he called upon Lute while he still lay in bed. He would have been hard put to it for an explanation of his newly awakened interest in the little sheriff, but it had been born in that moment when he had seen Lute stepping forward, pallid lipped, to the duty that lay before him. Webb had never known what it was to fear, but he recognized in the wrinkled cobbler a higher type of courage than his own.

“I reckon when you get well you'll be declaring war on me once again,” he said as he looked humorously down at the stricken man.

“I reckon.”

“Going to arrest me as soon as you can climb into a saddle?”

“Going to try it.”

“Don't you think Lost Creek’s too big a round-up for you to tackle?” was amiably suggested.

Lute looked round to make sure his little Nell was not in hearing.

“I'll get mine next time, I shouldn’t wonder,” he said simply.

“Then why don’t you quit—jump your job?”

“I took the oath of office to uphold the law.”

“You don’t need to tell me you aint scared stiff?”

“I’m scared all right,” the sheriff admitted.

“You beat my time, Lute. No more nerve than a rabbit but sure bent on getting yourself turned into a sieve. Looks like you’re shy on horse-sense, my friend.”

“I got to do what’s right.”

“The kind of man it needs for what you aim to do is one dead on the shoot, game as they make them, quick as chain lightning, and wily as a coyote. You don’t quite fit the specifications, Lute.”

“I know it.”

“Then why in thunder—”

And the argument began again, ending always in Purdy’s immovable resolution to go on as duty pointed, to the end.

It will be remembered long in Granite County as the winter of heavy snows. Pando was cut off from communication with the outside world for nearly three months while the mantle piled higher and higher on the mountains and deeper and deeper in the gulches. The vast wastes stretched mile on mile, isolating the town more effectually than a quarantine. Day after day passed with snow still falling from a sky of sodden gray.

Occasionally men drifted down from the hills on skis for tobacco or coffee. They told of snow and ever more snow. Slides were beginning in the vicinity of various camps and work in the mines was generally abandoned.

It chanced that Lute was home with Nellie, who had been having a touch of sickness, on the day that Webb Roberts reached town after a fierce battle with vast white fields nearly two miles above the sea level. The cattleman slept in town that night and shortly after ten on the following morning started off on the return trip. He had not been gone a quarter of an hour when Lute chancing to drop into the store heard the news of his reappearance.

He made arrangements at once for Nellie to be cared for, and within an hour was following Webb’s trail up Maroon Mountain. A child could not have lost the long shallow track of the snow-shoes as they wound up toward Lost Creek.

Snowshoeing had been Lute’s one accomplishment. Light, limber, and wiry as a bobcat, he could skim over drifts which would have engulfed heavier and less dexterous travelers. Now he covered ground fast, head down to shield his face from the particles that stung like whirling sand. But even in this altitude a light breeze whipped the blue into lips and cheeks. Occasionally his anxious glance went up to the bluff far above, over which yawned a great snow-comb ready to precipitate itself in an irresistible slide.

There was something awesome about these vast white stretches. For a week thaws had been loosening the immense combs at the crest and soon they must come thundering down.

Snow was beginning to fall from an opaque laden sky as the sheriff rounded Lone Tree Point. Here the tracks of the snowshoes deflected from the road, following a lower trail that led across Ground Hog Gulch.

“Must be heading for the old Reilly cabin,” Purdy speculated. “Figures we’re in for a heavy storm, I reckon.”

And he, too, took the lower trail.

Presently he caught sight of a man’s figure far in front of him, little more than a black speck in a sea of white.

“Just going down in Ground Hog. He'll sure stop at the Reilly cabin. I wisht—”

Lute glanced anxiously up at the snow-comb and, appalled by what he saw, cried out in sudden terror. A great wave of the projecting snow, hanging far out from the edge of the bluff, was sliding forward with increasing momentum, and as it moved the mass gathered weight. Even before his eyes it swelled to an avalanche and came tearing down like a great white cloud, snapping the trees that stood in its path and flinging great boulders into itself as it descended. The roar of its descent was deafening. A fine white spray of snow filled the air. The earth shook with the impact of thousands upon thousands of tons of rock and snow.

Purdy stood trembling, scarce realizing that the avalanche had passed and buried itself in Ground Hog Gulch. He was faint with fear, for he knew that at the summit the least trifle, no more than the impulse of an outjutting rock, might have deflected the slide his way. Even now the jar might be slowly starting a second avalanche.

Then in a flash he remembered Roberts. The cattleman must have been in the very path of the slide. Swiftly Purdy ran forward until he stood at the edge of the gulch. He called aloud wildly, again and again, and the echo of his voice mocked him. Somewhere in that great white grave Webb Roberts lay buried.

So for one moment the sheriff of Granite thought. The next moment he was down on his knees scooping desperately at the snow. For from the avalanche-pack there stretched toward him a hand, a solitary hand thrust from the white mass. The rescuer uncovered the arm and the white face. He dug a trench under the body for his own arm, and so inch by inch dragged the cattleman from the snow.

Webb Roberts opened his eyes and smiled. His lips were colorless, the skin on his cheek was taut, but in his eyes gleamed the twinkle of undaunted humor.

“I’m blamed if it aint the sheriff,” he murmured, and suddenly shut his eyes and teeth to keep back a groan of pain.

“Caught me suddenly,” he explained in off-hand fashion. “Sort of a spasm ran through me. Well, what I want to know is what you’re going to do with me now you've got me.”

“Much hurt, Webb?” asked the sheriff anxiously.

“Jammed up some. Shoudn’t wonder if this blamed laig of mine was broken,” returned the other cheerfully. “Say, Lute, this storm’s thickening awful fast. We want to strike for shelter while there’s time. That Reilly shack must be somewheres around here.”

“Can you walk?”


But stoic as he was no grim endurance could keep the sweat beads from his forehead. The first step he took sent a long ragged breath through him like a knife.

“Keep your foot off the ground. Lean on me,” insisted Lute miserably.

For an hour the temperature had been steadily falling. The soft downy flakes had changed to sharp ice crystals and the wind was rising. The storm shrouded them in a white pall that blotted out distance.

“We got to cut across this gulch and make the little draw,” called Lute above the wind.

““That’s right. You go ahead and I'll follow,” said Roberts, lowering his arm from the other’s shoulder.

“No, sir. We'll stick together,” answered the sheriff quickly.

Roberts laughed. His pain was agonizing, but there was in him that grit which endures gamely and quietly to a finish.

“Not going to take any chances of being cheated out of your prisoner?” he said.

To this day neither man likes to think of the next half hour.

The sifted ice obliterated all landmarks. They could but guess at directions. The stinging bitter cold froze the vitality in them. Add to this that one of them had a broken leg and was down and up again a dozen times.

“I’m all in, Lute. Save yourself if you can,” urged the stockman repeatedly.

But the little cobbler stuck to him like a leech, helped him to his feet, cheered him on, the while each frozen minute brought them both nearer to death in the blizzard.

Yet by some strange caprice of fate they found the cabin. Purdy was dragging his companion forward when he stumbled against the broken fence. He staggered on with the now unconscious man, put his weight against the door and swayed into the room. Once in safety, he sank to the floor in a stupor, his strength all gone, the vitality drained from him to the last drop.

How he got to his feet, lit a fire in the ramshackle stove, and managed to drag Roberts to an old straw mattress, Lute does not know to this day. But somehow he did it, and he cut the boot from the swollen ankle as well, while Webb set his teeth and grinned a pallid smile.

“Go to it, Old Hoss. I'll endure the grief all right,” the wounded man encouraged him as Lute himself flinched in realization of the pain he was causing.

What Purdy could do he did, but as the day declined into night he knew, in spite of Roberts’ smiling pluck, that he was in great distress. There was sleep for neither of them that night. The wind had shifted and was now roaring along the western slope of the divide. Heavy snow-clouds were buffeted hither and thither, and all through the hours of darkness drifts sifted and sifted to and fro. Twice they heard the sullen roar of distant slides rushing down the mountain. The fury of the storm diminished with the coming of day, but there was still snow in the air at noon and from the appearance of the sky a prospect of a renewal of the blizzard.

The sheriff, his troubled eyes on the now delirious man, decided to take the chance entailed in an effort to reach town. For he must secure medical aid for Roberts at whatever cost.

“Durn my skin, he run a special from Denver for my measly hide, looks like I might take a whack at getting through to Pando,” he said aloud, scratching his flaxen poll. “If I don’t make it I reckon some of the boys will look after little Nell.”

The story of the sheriff's trip to Pando is to-day an epic of the little mountain town. Out of the blizzard he came staggering into the Quartzite Hotel at midnight more dead than alive and dropped into a chair beside the stove.

“Webb Roberts—he’s layin’ in the Reilly cabin with a busted laig,” he managed to articulate before he fainted.

Before daybreak Duff of the Twelve O’Clock, Lee Moser, and the doctor set out to aid the wounded man.

It was not, however, until weeks later that his friends brought him to town in a spring-wagon. In front of the postoffice he ordered them to stop and then he sent for Lute Purdy.

“Where’s your jail, sheriff?” he asked, in his eyes the gleam of unquenchable humor that he reserved only for his closest friends.

The ex-cobbler looked his embarrassment. “Why, we aint got a jail just now, Mr. Roberts.”

“Then where do you want them to put me? I’m your prisoner. Any man that wants me bad enough to drag me out of a snow-slide and is fool enough to tackle a blizzard just to keep me alive has sure enough established a claim. It’s your say-so, Lute.”

Pando understood, gazed, and approved.

Purdy’s comic, perplexed face twitched.

“Why—I reckon the Quartzite’ll have to do, Mr. Roberts,” he said. “’Course you’re my prisoner; but I allow this county can fix up its differences with you all right.”

Roberts let his arm fall with casual affection across the other’s shoulder.

“I expect it can,” he said, “since Lute Purdy’s sheriff.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1954, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 68 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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