Zane Grey

Zane Grey by Riders of the Purple Sage Read Free Book Online

Book: Zane Grey by Riders of the Purple Sage Read Free Book Online
Authors: Riders of the Purple Sage
Tags: Fiction
replied the rider. The tone of his voice had undergone a change. A different man had spoken. Where, in addressing Jane, he had been mild and gentle, now, with his first speech to Tull, he was dry, cool, biting. “I’ve jest stumbled onto a queer deal. Seven Mormons all packin’ guns, an’ a Gentile tied with a rope, an’ a woman who swears by his honesty! Queer, ain’t that?”
    â€œQueer or not, it’s none of your business,” retorted Tull.
    â€œWhere I was raised a woman’s word was law. I ain’t quite outgrowed that yet.”
    Tull fumed between amaze and anger.
    â€œMeddler, we have a law here something different from woman’s whim—Mormon law! . . . Take care you don’t transgress it.”
    â€œTo hell with your Mormon law!”
    The deliberate speech marked the rider’s further change, this time from kindly interest to an awakening menace. It produced a transformation in Tull and his companions. The leader gasped and staggered backward at a blasphemous affront to an institution he held most sacred. The man Jerry, holding the horses, dropped the bridles and froze in his tracks. Like posts the other men stood, watchful-eyed, arms hanging rigid, all waiting.
    â€œSpeak up now, young man. What have you done to be roped that way?”
    â€œIt’s a damned outrage!” burst out Venters. “I’ve done no wrong. I’ve offended this Mormon Elder by being a friend to that woman.”
    â€œMa’am, is it true—what he says?” asked the rider of Jane; but his quiveringly alert eyes never left the little knot of quiet men.
    â€œTrue? Yes, perfectly true,” she answered.
    â€œWell, young man, it seems to me that bein’ a friend to such a woman would be what you wouldn’t want to help an’ couldn’t help. . . . What’s to be done to you for it?”
    â€œThey intend to whip me. You know what that means—in Utah!”
    â€œI reckon,” replied the rider, slowly.
    With his gray glance cold on the Mormons, with the restive bitchamping of the horses, with Jane failing to repress her mounting agitation, with Venters standing pale and still, the tension of the moment tightened. Tull broke the spell with a laugh, a laugh without mirth, a laugh that was only a sound betraying fear.
    â€œCome on, men!” he called.
    Jane Withersteen turned again to the rider.
    â€œStranger, can you do nothing to save Venters?”
    â€œMa’am, you ask me to save him—from your own people?”
    â€œAsk you? I beg of you!”
    â€œBut you don’t dream who you’re askin’.”
    â€œOh sir, I pray you—save him!”
    â€œThese are Mormons, an’ I. . . .”
    â€œAt—at any cost—save him. For I—I care for him!”
    Tull snarled. “You love-sick fool! Tell your secrets. There’ll be a way to teach you what you’ve never learned. . . . Come men, out of here!”
    â€œMormon, the young man stays,” said the rider.
    Like a shot his voice halted Tull.
    â€œWhat!”
    â€œHe stays.”
    â€œWho’ll keep him? He’s my prisoner!” cried Tull, hotly. “Stranger, again I tell you—don’t mix here. You’ve meddled enough. Go your way now or—”
    â€œListen! . . . He stays.”
    Absolute certainty, beyond any shadow of doubt, breathed in the rider’s low voice.
    â€œWho are you? We are seven here.”
    The rider dropped his sombrero and made a rapid movement, singular in that it left him somewhat crouched, arms bent and stiff, with the big black gun-sheaths swung round to the fore.
    â€œLassiter!”
    It was Venters’s wondering, thrilling cry that bridged the fateful connection between the rider’s singular position and the dreaded name.
    Tull put out a groping hand. The life of his eyes dulled to the gloom with which men of his fear saw the approach of death. But death,

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