The wrath of the Lord seems less terrible when it is localised, and the world at large gave thanks daily that the range of Jerry Strann was limited to the Three B’s. As everyone in the mountain-desert knows, the Three B’s are Bender, Buckskin, and Brownsville; they make the points of a loose triangle that is cut with canyons and tumbled with mountains, and that triangle was the chosen stamping ground of Jerry Strann. Jerry was not born in the region of the Three B’s and why it should have been chosen specially by him was matter which the inhabitants could not puzzle out; but they felt that for their sins the Lord had probably put his wrath among them in the form of Jerry Strann.
He was only twenty-four, this Jerry, but he was already grown into a proverb. Men of the Three B’s reckoned their conversational dates by the visits of the youth; if a storm hung over the mountains someone might remark: “It looks like Jerry Strann is coming,” and such a remark was always received in gloomy silence; mothers had been known to hush their children by chanting: “Jerry Strann will get you if you don’t watch out.” Yet he was not an ogre with a red knife between his teeth. He stood at exactly the perfect romantic height; he was just six feet tall; he was as graceful as a young cotton-wood in a windstorm and he was as strong and tough as the roots of the mesquite. He was one of those rare men who are beautiful without being unmanly. His face was modelled with the care a Praxiteles would lavish on a Phoebus. His brown hair was thick and dark and every touch of wind stirred it, and his hazel eyes were brilliant with an enduring light—the inextinguishable joy of life.
Consider that there was no malice in Jerry Strann. But he loved strife as the young Apollo loved strife—or a pure-blooded bull terrier. He fought with distinction and grace and abandon and was perfectly willing to use fists or knives or guns at the pleasure of the other contracting party. In another age, with armour and a golden chain and spurs, Jerry Strann would have been—but why think of that? Swords are not forty-fives, and the Twentieth Century is not the Thirteenth. He was, in fact, born just six hundred years too late. From his childhood he had thirsted for battle as other children thirst for milk: and now he rode anything on hoofs and threw a knife like a Mexican—with either hand—and at short range he did snap shooting with two revolvers that made rifle experts sick at heart.
However, the men of the Three B’s, as everyone understands, are not gentle or long-enduring, and you will wonder why this young destroyer was allowed to range at large so long. There was a vital reason. Up in the mountains lived Mac Strann, the hermit-trapper, who hated everything in the wide world except his young brother, the beautiful, wild, and sunny Jerry Strann. And Mac Strann loved his brother as much