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The Rustler of Wind River
written by "Schoonover, Frank Earle, 1877-1972"
...easantry than this modern ogre moved in the minds and hearts of those striving settlers in the cattle lands. Mark Thorn was a shadowy, far-reaching thing to them, distorted in their imaginings out of the semblance of a man. He had grown, in the stories founded on facts horrible enough without enlargement, into a fateful destroyer, from whom no man upon whom he had set his mark could escape. Little wonder, then, that fear for the safety of their wives and children made the faces of these men gray as they rode the sage, combing the hollows and hills for the sight of old Mark Thorn. One by one they began to drop out of the posse, until of the fourteen besides Macdonald who had ridden in the hunt on the second day, only five remained on the evening of the third. It was no use looking for Mark Thorn, they said, shaking gloomy heads. When he came into a country on a contract to kill, it was like a curse predestined which the power of man could not turn aside. He had the backing of the Drovers’ Association, which had an arm as long in that land as the old Persian king’s. He would strike there, like the ghost of all the devils in men that ever had lived on their fellows’ blood, and slink away as silently as a wolf out of the sheepfold at dawn when his allotted task was done. Better to go home and guard what was left, they said. All of them were men for a fight, but it was 87 one thing to stand up to something that a man could see, and quite another to fight blindfolded, and in the dark. Catching Mark Thorn was like trying to ladle moonlight with a sieve. The country wasn’t worth it, they were beginning to believe. When Mark Thorn came in, it was like the vultures flying ahead of the last, devastating plague. The man whose boy had been shot down beside the little grass-roofed barn was the last to leave. “I’ll stick to it for a year, Alan, if you think it’s any use,” he said. He was a ga...

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