The frontier. (O'Neill City, Holt County, Neb.) 1880-1965, September 25, 1941, Image 7

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V/.N.U. Release
Dusty King and Lew Gordon had built
up a vast string of ranches. King was
killed by his powerful and unscrupulous
competitor. Ben Thorpe. Bill Roper.
King’s adopted son. was determined to
avenge his death in spite of the opposi
tion by his sweetheart, Jody Gordon, and
her father. After wiping Thorpe out of
Texas, Roper conducted a great raid
upon Thorpe's vast herds in Montana.
Both Thorpe and Lew Gordon placed
heavy rewards upon Roper's head. He
was captured by Leathers and Kane,
two of Thorpe's men. Leathers' girl,
Marquita, loved Roper. She made a des
perate but futile effort to save him. The
men were preparing to hang Roper when
they heard the sound of running horses.
Jim Leathers, in spite of his warn
ing to Kane, made no effort to move
out of the light. Standing square in
the door, he drew his gun. A bul
let splintered into the casing beside
him as the report of a carbine sound
ed from somewhere beyond. Jim
Leathers fired twice; then stepped
inside, closed and barred the heavy
For a moment the eyes of Kane
and Leathers questioned each other.
“Dry Camp Pierce,” Kane said.
“If it don’t beat hell that they
should land in at just this minute—”
Leathers was very cool and quiet
now. Deliberately he pulled on his
sheepskin. “Get out the back, un
tie the ponies and get your man
“Jim, seems like we stand a bet
ter chance here, way we are, than
running in the open, what with—”
“They'll burn us out if we try to
hold. Get going, you!”
Dragging Roper after him, Kane
plunged into the dark of the back
room. He swore as he rummaged
for his rifle, his sheepskin.
Leathers neither swore nor hur
ried. Moving deliberately, he blew
out one lamp, hobbled across the
room to the other. Then all hell
broke loose at once.
The single frosted pane of the ten
inch window at the end of the room
smashed out with a brittle ring of
falling glass. In the black aperture
appeared the face of a boy, pale
and wild-eyed, so young-looking that
he might almost have been called a
child. The heavy .44 with which he
had smashed the window thrust
through the broken pane; it blazed
out heavily, twice.
Jim Leathers, staggering back
wards as if he had been hit with a
log ram, fired once, from the level
of his belt. The face vanished, but
a moment after it was gone the
hand that held the gun dangled limp
within the room. Then the gun thud
ded on the floor, and the lifeless
hand disappeared.
as j_,eamers wem down, a urunen
roar of guns broke out in the store
room. Leathers groped for his gun,
tried to rise, but could not.
Roper, who had been dragged into
) the dark storeroom by Red Kane,
felt the swift sting of the wind as the
back door was smashed open, and
was able to tear free as the guns
began. He stumbled over piled
sacks, and flattened himself against
the wall. The blind blasting in the
dark of the back room lasted long
enough for three guns to empty
themselves. Their smashing voices
fell silent with an odd suddenness,
as suddenly as they had opened.
In the dark a voice said, “In God’s
name let’s have a light!”
After what seemed a long time a
match flared uncertainly, and Rop
er’s quick glance estimated the
changed situation. In the back room
now two men were down—Red Kane
and another whom Roper immedi
ately recognized as an old King
Gordon cowboy called Old Joe.
The dim flicker of the match was
augmented to a steady glow as a
lantern was found and lighted. Rop
er did not recognize the other man
in the room—the cowboy who had
lighted the lantern with one hand,
his smoking six-gun still ready in
the other.
The stranger stooped over Old
i' Joe. “You hurt bad?”
“It’s only my laig, my laig.”
The ether stepped over the inert
body of Kane to the door, and sur
veyed the silent kitchen.
“Jim Leathers! Somebody got Jim
Leathers, and got him hard!”
He stepped back into the rear
room. "You’re Bill Roper, aren’t
you? Where’s the others?”
“There aren’t any others. They
all went out on Dry Camp’s trail,
after his raid day before yesterday.”
“No others here? You sure?”
“Kane and Leathers are the only
ones here.”
Old Joe, both hands clasped on
his smashed leg, spoke between set
teeth. “Where’s Jody? For God’s
sake find Jody!”
The King-Gordon cowboy whom
i Roper did not know, went out, his
spurs ringing with his long strides.
“Jody isn’t here,” Roper told Old
Joe disgustedly. “She got loose two
days ago.”
“The hell she isn’t here! She come
here with us!”
“With you? But you’re from Gor
don’s Red Butte camp, aren’t you? I
thought Jody went to Miles City with
Shoshone Wilce.”
“She never went to Miles. She
knew Leathers was bringing you
here, from what she’d heard him
8 say. She come to us, because we
was the K-G camp nearest here,
and she wouldn’t hear of nothing but
we come and try to crack you loose.
Shoshone Wilce—he’s daid.”
Bill Roper was dazed. “I thought
—I thought—”
The other cowboy now came
tramping back into the cabin, an
awkward burden in his arms; and
this time Jody Gordon herself fol
lowed close upon his heels. Her
j face was set, and the sharp flush
' across her cheekbones did not con
ceal her fatigue.
Bill Roper started to say. "Jody,
how on earth—”
Jody did net seem to see him; she,
appeared to be thinking only of the
slim youngster whom the cowboy
carried. The cowboy laid the limp
figure on the floor of the kitchen,
ripped off his own neckerchief and
spread it over the youngster’s face.
Jody Gordon methodically shut the
door. Then she dropped to the floor
beside the fallen youngster, lifted
his head into her lap, and gave
way to a violent sobbing. The high
keyed nervous excitement that had
sustained her through the hard ne
cessities of action was unstrung
abruptly, now that her work was
done; it left nothing behind it but a
great weariness, and the bleak con
sciousness that this boy was dead
because of her.
Roper and the King-Gordon cow
boy stood uncertainly for a moment.
Then the cowboy picked up Leath
ers where he lay struggling for
breath, carried him into the back
room and put him down on a bunk.
For a moment he hesitated; then
closed the door between the two
rooms, leaving Jody alone.
"Seems like the kid got Jim Leath
ers; but Jim Leathers got the
"Daid?” Old Joe asked.
“Deader’n hell! Jody takes it aw
ful hard.”
The cowboy cut loose Bill Roper’s
hands, and together they lifted Old
“Now you go and keep Miss
Gordon company.’’
Joe onto the other bunk. Roper cut
Marquita free.
“Get me that kettle of water off
the stove,” Bill Roper ordered Mar
quita; and when she had brought it
he said, “Now you go and keep Miss
Gordon company for a little while.”
Marquita left them, closing the
door behind her.
Old Joe k£pt talking to them in a
gaspy sort of way, as they did what
they could for his wound.
“The kid was scared to death to
come. Jody seen that, and tried to
send him back, with some trumped
up message or something. Natural
ly he seen through that and wouldn’t
go. Now most likely she blames
herself that he’s daid. Lucky for us
that Leathers’ main outfit wasn’t
“You mean just you three was go
ing to jump the whole Leathers out
fit, and the Walk Lasham cowboys,
“Not three—four,” Old Joe said.
"Don’t ever figure that girl don’t
pull her weight. We been laying up
here on the hill since before dusk.
She aimed we should use the same
stunt you used at Fork Crick—bust
into ’em just before daylight. Then
somebody fires off a gun down here,
and she loses her haid, and we come
on down. It was her smashed her
horse against the door, trying to
bust it in. She blindfolded him with
her coat—threw it over his haid—
and poured on whip and spur, and
she bangs into the planks. Broke his
neck, most like; cain’t see why she
wasn’t killed—”
“Just you four,” Roper marveled,
“were going to tackle the whole
works, not even knowing how many
were here?”
“We tried to tell her it couldn’t be
done. But you can’t talk any sense
into a woman, once she gets a no
tion in her nut.”
Marquita, closing the door of the
storeroom behind her, for some mo
ments stood looking down at Jody
Jody still sat on the floor, upon
her lap the head of the boy who had
downed Jim Leathers. The sobs that
convulsed her were dying off now.
leaving her deeply fatigued, and pro
foundly shaken.
“You might as well get up now,”
Marquita said. Her soft Mexican
slur gave an odd turn to the blunt
American words she used. “The
fight’s over; and that boy you’ve
got there is dead as a herring.”
With a visible effort Jody Gor
don pulled herself together, and gen
tly lowered the head of the dead
boy to the floor. She got up shakily,
and for a moment looked at Mar
“Why did you come here?” Mar
quita asked at last Her voice con
tinued gently curious—nothing more.
“I knew Billy Roper was alive,”
Jody told her. “Because I was
watching when Leathers left Fork
Creek with him. I already knew
they meant to take him to Ben
Thorpe at Sundance, for the reward.
That would be death, to him. And I
knew they meant to stop over here
on the way. So I got the boys, from
our Red Butte camp, and I come
on . . .**
“You are a very foolish little
girl,” Marquita said. “Luck saved
you; but if this camp had been full
of men, it would have been suicide.”
“Wouldn’t you have done the
Marquita shrugged impatiently. “I
feel very sorry for you,” she said.
“Because I think you are in love
with this Billy Roper.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Es claro,” Marquita said. "It Is
plain. And it’s a pity; because this
kind of man is not for you.”
At first Jody Gordon did not an
swer. But behind the softness of
Marquita’s voice was a cogency as
strange as her American words—a
cogency that would not be ignored.
Here Jody found herself facing a
woman whom she could not possibly
have understood. Marquita’s care
less, even reckless mode of life, her
uncoded relationships with men—
there was not an aspect of Mar
quita’s life which did not deny ev
ery value of which Jody was aware.
Marquita appeared to thrive and
flower in a mode of life in which
Jody incorrectly believed she her*
self would have died.
“I don't understand you.”
Marquita’s glance swept the room
—the bare chinked walls, the dead
boy. Her glance seemed to go be
yond the door, where they were
dressing Old Joe’s wound; beyond
the walls, to the cold wind-swept
prairie, where men still rode this
night, though morning was close.
“What do you know,” she said—
“what can you know of the lives of
these men?
Jody lifted her head, then, and
looked at Marquita; and again the
simple words and the mask-like face
of Marquita seemed to have a mean
ing for which she groped. In the
silence that followed, it came to
Jody that the night’s fighting was
not yet over, that she must still fight
for herself and for Bill—and some
how for that foolish house in Ogalla
la, with its tall tower overlooking
the plain.
“Do you ride with them?” the
gentle, inexorable voice went on.
"Do you share their blankets? Do
you ride under their ponchos in the
rain? Where are you when their
guns speak? Who prays for them at
dawn, knees down in this God-for
saken snow?”
Marquita paused, and her body
swung, lazily assured, across a
shadowy angle of the room toward
the closed door that had hid Roper,
working now over the wounded men.
the doorposts and it seemed to Jody,
watching her, as if Marquita were
a barrier between what might have
been Jody's, and that she had lost
“You don’t have to bar the door,”
she said.
Marquita’s hands came away from
the doorposts. “I know I don’t.”
The words were so indolently ca
denced that they might have been
spoken in Spanish. And at their soft
assurance something awoke in Jody
Gordon . . . Something was still
worth fighting for. Perhaps it had
nothing to do with Bill Roper, but it
flowed deep into the roots of her
life; deeper than her life with one
man—with any man—could ever
As Jody looked at Marquita,
strange things came to her, that she
herself could not have put into
words. She knew that Marquita and
all her kind would presently pass.
Perhaps Bill Roper, like all the rest
of his bold riders, must also pass;
but now suddenly Jody knew that
whatever else might vanish from
this prairie, what she herself stood
for would remain. When she spoke
at last, she scarcely recognized her
own voice. “I guess I was wrong,”
she said. Her words had a strange
echo of Marquita’s own directness.
“You’re Bill Roper’s girl—is that
what you wanted to tell me?”
The dance hall girl’s words fell
softly. “Si, that is what I wanted
you to know.”
R.A.F. Fledglings Train Here
This is John Staples of
London. He is one of a
hundred British boys be
ing fashioned into pilots
for the Royal Air Force at
the Lakeland school of
aeronautics. There are
some 550 such students in
the U. S. altogether, all of
tvhom are getting expert
training far from the
bomb-rocked airdromes of
the homeland.
Staples is typical of these
sky fighters whose average
age is 23. Air cadet Staples
teas given this Uncle Sam
bunny mascot by Horida
admirers. •
Young Britons who came to America because they tcanted
wings to fly and. fight with the Royal Air Force are shmcn march
ing back to the hangars after an instruction flight.
Over in the bomb-cratered homeland they call it "tonic," but
they like the pop they get in the canteen at the Lakeland school
better than the home product.
Above: This is the
cadets' firct introduc
tion to water melon.
Billie Jones, an expert,
suh, is showing the
Britons the proper tech
nique in disposing of
Florida watermelon.
Left: Students who
are being fashioned in
to sky fighters for the
R. A. F. take time out
for play. Cricket is
tops with them.
Marching to the mess hall for breakfast. i •€
s *,
npHE dress which is practically
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Pattern No. 8018 presents a jump
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Half way between Cape Horn
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This is even more open than
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Pattern No. 8018 is In uneven sizes II
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First hand information from the
men in the service show cigarettes
and smoking tobacco first choice as
gifts from the folks back home.
Actual sales records from post ex
changes, sales commissaries,
ship’s stores, ship’s service stores
ana canteens show Camel cigar
ettes the largest-selling brand.
Prince Albert Smoking Tobacco is .
another big favorite. Local deal
ers, quick to note this preference,
are featuring Camels by the car
ton and pound tins of Prince Al
bert as ideal gifts for men in the
service from the folks back home,
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Privilege to Listen
It is the province of knowledge
to speak, and it is the privilege of
wisdom to listen.—Oliver Wendell
(uJsN.CDI.Ne' fe^NE^SONI
you,too 100