Always the land offered something to the settler. The buffalo being gone, and their bones being also gone, some farmers fell to trapping and poisoning the great gray wolves, bringing in large bales of the hides. One farmer bought half a section of land with wolf skins. He had money enough left to buy a few head of cattle and to build a line of fence. This fence cut at right angles a strange, wide, dusty pathway. The farmer did not know what he had done. He had put restraint on that which in its day knew no pause and brooked no hindrance. He had set metes and bounds across the track where once rolled the wheels of destiny. He had set the first fence across the Trail!
The stranger who asked for the old, wild days of Ellisville the Red was told that no such days had ever been. Yet stay: perhaps there were half a dozen men who had lived at Ellisville from the first who could, perhaps, take one to the boarding-house of Mrs. Daly; who could, perhaps, tell something of the forgotten days of the past, the days of two years ago, before the present population of Ellisville came West. There was, perhaps, a graveyard, but the headstones had been so few that one could tell but little of it now. Much of this, no doubt, was exaggeration, this talk of a graveyard, of a doubled street, of murders, of the legal killings which served as arrests, of the lynchings which once passed as justice. There was a crude story of the first court ever held in Ellisville, but of course it was mere libel to say that it was held in the livery barn. Rumour said that the trial was over the case of a negro, or Mexican, or Indian, who had been charged with murder, and who was himself killed in an attempt at lynching, by whose hand it was never known. These things were remembered or talked about by but very few, these the old-timers, the settlers of two years ago. Somewhere to the north of the town, and in the centre of what was declared by some persons to be the old cattle trail, there was reputed to be visible a granite boulder, or perhaps it was a granite shaft, supposed to have been erected with money contributed by cattlemen at the request of Mrs. Daly, who kept the boarding-house on a back street. Some one had seen this monument, and brought back word that it had cut upon its face a singular inscription, namely:
JUAN THE LOCO,
THE END OF THE TRAIL.
THE SUCCESS OF BATTERSLEIGH
One morning when Franklin entered his office he found his friend Battersleigh there before him, in full possession, and apparently at peace with all the world. His tall figure was reclining in an office chair, and his feet were supported by the corner of the table, in an attitude which is called American, but which is really only masculine, and quite rational though unbeautiful. Battersleigh’s cloak had a swagger in its very back, and his hat sat at a cocky angle not to be denied. He did not hear Franklin as he approached the door, and the latter stood looking in for a moment, amused at Battersleigh and his attitude and his song. When quite happy Battersleigh always sang, and very often his song was the one he was singing now, done in a low nasal, each verse ending, after the vocal fashion of his race, with a sudden uplift of a sheer octave, as thus: