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About The frontier. (O'Neill City, Holt County, Neb.) 1880-1965 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 14, 1935)
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Ben Elliott—from ''yonder’*—
makes his entry into the lumbering
town of Tincup, bringing along an
old man, Don Stuart, who had been
eager to reach Tincup. Elliott de
feats Bull Duval, '’king of the river.”
and town bully, in a log-blrling con
test. Nicholas Brandon, the town's
leading citizen, resents Stuart's pres
ence, trying to force him to leave
town and Elliott, resenting the act,
knocks him down. Elliott Is arrest
ed, but find? s friend in Judge Able
“And what makes you think,” El
liott asked, “that I’ve got a chance
to put it over when other men have
Able did not hesitate.
“Because you have youth and a
liking for tough nuts! You’ve had
experience In timber operations and
aren’t afraid of Nick Brandon, and,
last and most Important of all, you
came to Tincup hunting trouble.
"Son”—putting a hand on his
shoulder—"I'd take Bridger’s word
on men quicker than I’d take the
word of any man. He says you can
do It If you will. I’m asking you,
now. as an old man with his back
to the wall, will you help me on
Ben Elliott did not reply at once.
Be was staring at the floor as one
will when debating with himself
and preparing for argument with
another. He twisted his head grave
ly and smiled. Then he looked into
“When do we start?” he asked.
* The Justice swallowed.
“You ready now? Without know
ing any more about if?”
“I know enough. It’s good tim
ber and it’s Brandon who's messing
up the detail. . . . Let’s go. Judge 1”
It was just before whistle time
next morning at the Hoot Owl mill.
‘‘Who's th' young feller with
Able?” the trlnunermnn asked the
“Him?" The trinmierman spat
and leaned further forward for a
better look at Ben Elliott as he
stood talking to the sawyer in the
gloom of early day. “Say . . .
Ain’t he the lad that ducked th’
bull? 'Nd took a poke at Brandon?”
“Well I’lfbe d—d! Only a kid.
He may he a good hand on a birlln’
log but won’t Nick Brandon find
tiirn sweet pickin'! He likes ’em
young, Nick does . . . and ’special
ly after this one took such pains to
make himself unpopular with Mis
“Yup. He’ll be duck soup for
Brandon all right!’’
The hand of the millwright’s
watch approached the hour. The
aawyer pulled the signal cord. The
big shaft commenced to turn and
from machine to machine went Boi
ler while Able and Ben watched,
examining belting, grease cups, see
ing that live rollers ran steadily
and true. The pulleys turned slow
ly for a full five minutes and then
as the cracked whistle atop the boil
er house cackled Its message that
another working day had begun, the
carriage swept forward and the
saw snarled its way into a good
Elliott stirred on his feet. It was
the way a mill should start, any
But after that beginning the pro
cedure was not so good. The saw
yer was not quick in making de
cisions. Twice in a half dozen logs
his slabs were thick to the point of
waste; he did not turn one particu
larly good piece as soon as he
should to grade his lumber to the
The setter, too, wus mediocre.
The deck man loafed and let the
bull chain fill up and stop even
when his deck was half empty.
The mill crew was not happy.
They appeared to be men working
for a cause they felt was lost.
4 Ben went with Buller. then, from
niau to man and watched each do
In the yard they passed logs
rolled to one side.
“Much veneer stuff good as that?”
Ben asked, eyeing them.
"Not much coming in now. but
there’s a lot of it standing,’’ Buller
answered. "Buyer In here ten days
ago looking up bird’s-eye maple and
veneer birch. Harrington was sav
k ing It as it came in; some of it. He
liatl too many things to think about,
Harrington did. The buyer's due
back any day, though. Market’s up,
I guess. He'll probably pay a fancy
figure for what we have to offer
Then he went to the particular
problem confronting them. With
the locomotive laid up the steady
supply of logs from camp to mill
would be cut off. Snow was fall
ing lightly, now. but sleighing might
be days distant. To log the mill by
trucks was Impractical, he declared,
and unless the railroad equipment
qould be put In working condition
they might be forced to shut down.
Fortunately a reserve log supply of
n sort was on hand, decked high be
side the pond.
“We’ll have to break out this one
deck now,’’ Buller said. “Pond's
He whistled and waved to the
pond man. Picking np a penvey lie
led the way toward thnt high hank
of maple, beech and birch logs.
"Try the big birch first," Buller
said to the pond man.
They engaged the hooks of their
peaveys; they heaved. The log
rolled away easily and lumbered
down the Incline to the water. An
other . . and still another, each
coming away separately and starting
no movement of others above them.
Buller spat. “That d—n beech
butt’s in tight,” he said, tapping the
log with his penvey pick. "Try her,
Jim; now be careful. When she
comes, the whole deck'll move In a
They heaved to no result, with
a sharp “Now!” they heaved again,
but the beech, nestling in the face
of the deck at the height of a man's
hip, refused to budge.
“Hold on! Give you a hand.” Ben
picked up a peavey and approached.
"Here, take tlds end, Elliott," the
foreman said, moving In toward the
center which was under the tower
ing facade of the deck.
“No, go on back. I’ll do the risk
taking for this lay-out for a while.”
Buller made no reply but grinned.
The pond man looked at Ben ap
provingly and spat on his hands.
Beavey hooks bit the log’s ends
again; a peavey point, with all Ben
Elliott’s strength bearing on it,
pried beneath the center of the re
luctant beech. . . . “Now, . . . To
He lifted his weight from the
ground. His peavey handle bent.
“Look out!” Buller’s voice was
shrill on the warning as movement
sent Ben Elliott swinging to the
right. The key stick popped out,
all but upon Ben. The logs above
settled with a heavy mutter and then
with that thunderous, ringing, boom
ing sound of hardwood in motion,
they rolled upon him.
Elliott had dropped his peavey,
leaped nimbly over the beech as It
struck the ground and bounced on
its way to the wnter. He hopped
to the first log and spurned it with
his one foot, landed on the follow
ing with both, hesitated n split in
stant and stepped to yet another.
Arms spread, balancing carefully,
watching those logs as a boxer
watches his opponent's blows, he
went up that zooming, booming
avalanche as it came down. He
danced to the left as the end of
one stick swung out to clout him
to a pulp. He ran rapidly over three
that lumbered down beneath him
Two came riding together, one
atop the other, a moving barrier
as high as his waist. Duller opened
his lips in a cry of warning but
thrusting out one hand, touching
the topmost of the pair ever so
lightly. Den vaulted over, landing
on another that rolled and grum
bled behind the two. Crevasses be
tween logs opened and closed be
fore him. Sticks pepped out of the
tremendous pressure and roiled
down slantwise. Imperiling him. He
did not rim rapidly. At times he
seemed to move with painful, with
dangerous deliberation. But he was
watching the logs and his chances
and di«l not make a move until he
was certain of where he was go
Slowly the deck settled. Half of
what had been piled logs now
bobbed and swayed and rolled In
the pond. The rest, reduced from
the height to which it had towered
a few seconds before, came to rest.
And Ben Elliott, on its lowered
crest, stood still a moment until
certain the movement was ended
and then came slowly down, look
ing not at the men who gappil at
him hut at the logs over which he
walked with a critical, appraising
“Attn hoy!” an unidentified voice
yelled above the roar of the car
riage exhaust, but if Elliott heard
this tie gave no indication.
“New, if Duller can’t get that lo
comotive going by noon.” he said to
the pale and visibly shaken Able,
“we’ll telegraph for a new spider.
No use taking more chances. Come
on, Buller, let's look at the stuff
you’ve got piled.”
Blinking, the millwright followed
“ 'Y G—d!” muttered the pond
man. "Slick shod, he went over
that face! Slick shod! ’Y G—d!"
In the crepe rubber soles of his
pacs, Ben Elliott had done what
would have been a feat for an agile
veteraD In calked river boots. . . .
And Immediately gone on about an
other phase of his Job as though
such spectacular activity were all
In a day's work.
An hour later the mill stood si
lent for five minutes while a brok
en conveyor chain was repaired. In
that Interval every man on the Job
had heard the story.
When they started the head
sawyer was grinning and It seemed
as though the saw stayed In the
log more constantly than It had be
fore, as If the mill functioned with
greater smoothness, as If something
In the nature of enthusiasm went
Into the labor along with brawn and
XJOT so In the camp where men
^ and horses tolled to make decks
of logs h.v night out of what at dawn
had been standing trees. Nearly
half the crew were Finns, stolid,
uncommunicative fellows, good
enough workmen but difficult to
"Aren’t there any good men left
loose around here?" Ben asked Able
on bis first trip to town.
"Few." The Justice shook hts
bead. "Good workers, lots of ’em
But Brandon keeps hold of them.
He treats them w ell; he's nobody's
fool. Tint If a good man crosses
hint . . . out of the region he goes!
“Old Tim Jeffers Is the only man
who’s stood nut against Nick and
he’s the best logger these woods
have ever seen but he doesn’t like
Brandon, can’t work for him and is
so disgusted that he’s quit the tim
ber and settled down on a farm.
He hasn't set foot In a camp for
three years and swears he never
will again. Neither will lie he run
out of the country."
Ben thoughtfully watched the
snow, which had been falling stead
ily for three days.
“We ought to have a new boss
for camp. That crew needs riding
If they’re going to produce. Rup
pert means well hut he doesn’t
know how.” Ituppert was the camp
“That’s part of the hard shell of
this nut, Ben; lack of good men
who've got the sand to stick here
and work for anybody but Bran
The next morning—Sunday—Ben
sat over a table in his tiny office
working with paper and pencil
when Bird-Eye Blaine burst in.
"The Bull's here!” the little Irsh
The Bull Gave Up Trying to Close.
man exclaimed In a whisper, closing
the door behind him hastily. “Th'
Bull’s here . . . ’nd wearln’ his
river boots 1"
Ben shoved back his chair.
“Ah, It’s Brandon thut’s slnt him I
He’s Mlsther Brandon’s pet bull 'nd
he’ll clane this camp av men loike
he’s done many a time before! He’s
wearln’ 1 lver boots 'nd swillin’
“Where?” Elliott got to his feet
"In th’ men’s camp,"—gesticulat
ing with his thumb. “He’s Just now
come in 'nd they’re commencin’ to
sift out, th' domrned yellow bellies!”
Without stopping even for his cup
Hen stepped out and crossed to the
men’s camp. He did not burst Into
the place, but opened the door cas
ually and slipped inside.
In the center of the room, close
by the heating stove above which
seeks hung from drying racks, stood
Hull DuvaL llis cap was tilted on
Ills head, he leaned bnckward from
his hips, in his uplifted right hand
was h quart whisky bottle nearly
full and his voice bellowed the
words of a woods classic.
In the far end of the room a
half dozen men were huddled. From
several upper hunks concerned faces
watched the Hull. The men were
clearly afraid, certain that this hi
larity was only a prelude to a melee
In which heads would be broken
and bodies bruised.
The swaying of Ibtval's nod.v. as
he moved to the measure of the
ballad, brought him facing the door
Hen Elliott stepped forward two
or three paces and stood watching
him His gaze was steady, and In
his eyes danced • warning flame.
The Bull broke short his song.
“Good day. Mister Elliott!” he
said heavily, In mock respect. “1
heerd you was th’ new boss nt Hoot
Owl and likely you're lookin’ fer
good men. Ilere’s one, Elliott
Here’s th’ best man you’ll get •
chanct to hire until th' next blue
Ben, heedless of the Increased
tension which showed on the faces
of the onlookers, crossed the floor
“You want to work for me, Du
val?" he asked.
“Think I come over to spark
you?" the other countered Inso
lently. “Have a drink!"
He extended the bottle, holding
It In his great hand, grinning at Ben.
“In the first place, 1 don’t want
to hire you," Elliott said. “In the
second, there’s no hooch allowed in
He snatched the bottle, swung
and sent It crashing against the
stove. For a brief moment the hiss
of Its contents against Bcorchlng
metal had the place while the Bull’s
head thrust slowly forward and his
small eyes grew red with rage. His
lip drew back, exposing yellow
“Will you walk out, Duval?" Ben
asked. "Or do you want me to
throw you through the door?"
“Throw me out?" Duval cried
thickly. “Throw me out? Why. kid,
th' best day you ever seen you
He got Just that far In his boast.
His hands had knotted Into great
fists, his body swayed, hut before he
could strike that first blow or fall
Into that Initial clinch or carry out
whatever plan of attack had formed
In his truculent mind, knuckles
bashed Into Ids lips, driving the
words bnck Into his teeth.
It was a hard blow, with every,
thing Ben Elliott had from knuck
les to ankle put hehlnd Its drive.
The savagery with which he struck
threw Ben off his own balance, hut
hard ns he had hit. quirk as he had
been, the blow was not enough to
put Puvnl down.
He closed with a rocr, one great
nrm clani[ied about Elliott’s waist,
the other hnnd smearing across Elli
ott’s face, shoving Ben's head back
ward ns the fingers sought the eyes.
Ben twisted away from that men
ace of gouging, strnlned against that
crushing embrue? nnd struck hastily
with both hands But the Bull’s
chin « a« safe against his own shoul
der, his forehead burrowing Into
Elliott’s chest for protection nnd
not until Beu lifted his knee with
n drive like thnt of a piston did
Duval let go.
He reeled backward then, curs
ing Inarticulately, panting nnd heav
ing forward again from his spiked
stance on the rough floor as he
struck with all his might. Ills blov
went home, a stinging, crushing im
pact on Ben's cheek bone and Du
val’s great w-elght followed, beartng
the other to the floor, flat os his
buck. The Bun spread armv, and
legs In a smothering sprawl as he
went down but before he could pin
Ben close and helpless he was wrig
gling, threshing over, eluding n
hand which clawed for his throat,
grasping Duval’s leg, lifting, strain
ing, finally throwing him off. lurch
lng to his knees and then got to his
feet, pitching forward off oalance
ns he ran, and coming to a halt
against the bunks.
He faced about sharply to see
Duval standing, blood on his mouth,
bent forward, arms hooked nnd ex
tended, like some great Jungle crea
ture stirred to killing fury.
Elliott did not try to elude him.
With a grunt he charged, head
down, one arm before his face, the
other drawn back, and when he
struck the sound was like that of
a club on a quarter of beef. The
blow spun Duval half about and the
next rocked him. Fie grappled for
Ben, but Ben sidestepped nnd struck
Duval as he lurched past.
The Bull gave up trying to close.
He struck out, now, with renewed
savagery as they stood toe-to-toe
for n moment He dodged a brace
of drives which, it seemed, would
have felled a horse, so great was
the effort behind them, nnd then,
feinting, sent In a slashing upper
The great flst landed squarely on
the point of Iten’s Jaw, lifted him
from his feet and sent him reeling,
clawing the air, over on his bock
Elliott was dazed by that blow.
Bells clanged thunderously In his
ears and lights flashed and flickered
before his eyes but as he crashed
down to the floor, Bird-Eye’s voice,
shrill nnd frantic, cut through the
fog that had folded over him:
"Th’ boots! . . . Th* boots!”
Boots, yes. Bull Duval did not
fling himself on his prostrate ad
versnry, this time. Erect, he strode
forward two measured paces . . .
three, and on the fourth he bent
backward from the hips, lifted his
right foot and raked It out before
him; raked those many spikes in
the sole straight at the face of his
But his river hoot only swung
across the place wtiere a face had
been One lone spike ripped the
skin over the cheek hone; a com
panion left n bright red trace Ben
had Jerked his head sideways,
moved It that quarter Inch which
left hts face still a face nnd not
a mass of raw flesh ribbons.
Duval teetered on his left foot,
nopplng for balance nnd cursing be
cause he had missed, ns Ben, reel
Ing to his feet,, shouted:
"Keep out! My tight!” He ^ad
seen, ns he came erect, Bird-Eye
Blaine leap for the wood box and
grasp the heavy Iron poker. "My
tight!” he repeated nnd his hoarse
voice was commanding.
(TO BE nOVTIHUMD.*
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The difficulties that wreck domestic
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“Don’t go where you will run Into
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conflict. Stay apart only long enough
to regain poise. Then come back—to
each other, to the home that belongs
to you both, to the love tlmt Is there,
If you will recognize it—always wait
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