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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 133 pages of information about The Range Dwellers.
didn’t kill each other off—­Potter says they sure tried.  The time King got it in the leg your father and his punchers were coming home from a breed dance, and they were feeling pretty nifty, I guess; Potter told me they started out with six bottles, and when they got to White Divide there wasn’t enough left to talk about.  They cut King’s fence at the north end, and went right through, hell-bent-for-election.  King and his men boiled out, and they mixed good and plenty.  Your father went home with a hole in his shoulder, and old King had one in his leg to match, and since then it’s been war.  They tried to fight it out in court, and King got the best of it there.  Then they got married and kind o’ cooled off, and pretty soon they both got so much stuff to look after that they didn’t have much time to take pot-shots at each other, and now we’re enjoying what yuh might call armed peace.  We go round about sixty miles, and King’s Highway is bad medicine.

“King owns the stage-line from Osage to Laurel, where the Bay State gets its mail, and he owns Kenmore, a mining-camp in the west half uh White Divide.  We can go around by Kenmore, if we want to—­but King’s Highway?  Nit!”

I chuckled to myself to think of all the things I could twit dad about if ever he went after me again.  It struck me that I hadn’t been a circumstance, so far, to what dad must have been in his youth.  At my worst, I’d never shot a man.

CHAPTER III.

The Quarrel Renewed.

That night, by a close scratch, we made a little place Frosty said was one of the Bay State line-camps.  I didn’t know what a line-camp was, and it wasn’t much for style, but it looked good to me, after riding nearly all day in a snow-storm.  Frosty cooked dinner and I made the coffee, and we didn’t have such a bad time of it, although the storm held us there for two days.

We sat by the little cook-stove and told yarns, and I pumped Frosty just about dry of all he’d ever heard about dad.

I hadn’t intended to write to dad, but, after hearing all I did, I couldn’t help handing out a gentle hint that I was on.  When I’d been at the Bay State Ranch for a week, I wrote him a letter that, I felt, squared my account with him.  It was so short that I can repeat every word now.  I said: 

DEAR DAD:  I am here.  Though you sent me out here to reform me, I find the opportunities for unadulterated deviltry away ahead of Frisco.  I saw our old neighbor, King, whom you may possibly remember.  He still walks with a limp.  By the way, dad, it seems to me that when you were about twenty-five you “indulged in some damned poor pastimes,” yourself.  Your dutiful son, ELLIS.

Dad never answered that letter.

Montana, as viewed from the Bay State Ranch in March, struck me as being an unholy mixture of brown, sodden hills and valleys, chill winds that never condescended to blow less than a gale, and dull, scurrying clouds, with sometimes a day of sunshine that was bright as our own sun at home.  (You can’t make me believe that our California sun bothers with any other country.)

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