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The Judgment Of Bolinas Plain
by [?]

“Look here!–I say! hide me somewhere, won’t you? Just for a little. You see–the fact is–I’m chased! They’re hunting me now,–they’re just behind me. Anywhere will do till they go by! Tell you all about it another time. Quick! Please do!”

In all this there was nothing dramatic nor even startling to her. Nor did there seem to be any present danger impending to the man. He did not look like a horse-thief nor a criminal. And he had tried to laugh, half-apologetically, half-bitterly,–the consciousness of a man who had to ask help of a woman at such a moment.

She gave a quick glance towards the house. He followed her eyes, and said hurriedly: “Don’t tell on me. Don’t let any one see me. I’m trusting you.

“Come,” she said suddenly. “Get on THIS side.”

He understood her, and slipped to her side, half-creeping, half-crouching like a dog behind her skirts, but keeping her figure between him and the house as she moved deliberately towards the barn, scarce fifty yards away. When she reached it she opened the half-door quickly, said: “In there–at the top–among the hay”–closed it, and was turning away, when there came a faint rapping from within. She opened the door again impatiently; the man said hastily: “Wanted to tell you–it was a man who insulted a WOMAN! I went for him, you see–and”–

But she shut the door sharply. The fugitive had made a blunder. The importation of her own uncertain sex into the explanation did not help him. She kept on towards the house, however, without the least trace of excitement or agitation in her manner, entered the front door again, walked quietly to the door of the inner room, glanced in, saw that her husband was absorbed in splicing a riata, and had evidently not missed her, and returned quietly to her dish-washing. With this singular difference: a few moments before she had seemed inattentive and careless of what she was doing, as if from some abstraction; now, when she was actually abstracted, her movements were mechanically perfect and deliberate. She carefully held up a dish and examined it minutely for cracks, rubbing it cautiously with the towel, but seeing all the while only the man she had left in the barn. A few moments elapsed. Then there came another rush of wind around the house, a drifting cloud of dust before the door, the clatter of hoofs, and a quick shout.

Her husband reached the door, from the inner room, almost as quickly as she did. They both saw in the road two armed mounted men–one of whom Ira recognized as the sheriff’s deputy.

“Has anybody been here, just now?” he asked sharply.


“Seen anybody go by?” he continued.

“No. What’s up?”

“One of them circus jumpers stabbed Hal Dudley over the table in Dolores monte shop last night, and got away this morning. We hunted him into the plain and lost him somewhere in this d—-d dust.”

“Why, Sue reckoned she saw suthin’ just now,” said Ira, with a flash of recollection. “Didn’t ye, Sue?”

“Why the h-ll didn’t she say it before?–I beg your pardon, ma’am; didn’t see you; you’ll excuse haste.”

Both the men’s hats were in their hands, embarrassed yet gratified smiles on their faces, as Sue came forward. There was the faintest of color in her sallow cheek, a keen brilliancy in her eyes; she looked singularly pretty. Even Ira felt a slight antenuptial stirring through his monotonously wedded years.

The young woman walked out, folding the towel around her red hands and forearms–leaving the rounded whiteness of bared elbow and upper arm in charming contrast–and looked gravely past the admiring figures that nearly touched her own. “It was somewhar over thar,” she said lazily, pointing up the road in the opposite direction to the barn, “but I ain’t sure it WAS any one.”

“Then he’d already PASSED the house afore you saw him?” said the deputy.

“I reckon–if it WAS him,” returned Sue.