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Max Brand


  Doc Cambert called: “Hey, you . . . Camden!”

  The big man yawned in their faces and made no other reply except to shut his strong white teeth with a click.

  “We’ve come to give you a runnin’ chance! Come out of that there brush and we’ll give you a twenty-yard start on the hosses to get back to the hotel. If you make it . . . you got an hour to get out of town. If you don’t make it . . .”

  “Shut up, Doc,” cut in Josh Williams. “He don’t get no runnin’ chance. We’ve had enough of that devil. We’ve had too damned much.”

  “You want me?” Camden said. “Then come and take me!” With that, he stepped forth from the shelter of the trees and began to walk toward the hotel, slowly.

  They trooped their horses after him, but no man spoke, no man moved a hand. There was something too formidable about that light-footed bulk—that terribly soft-stepping monster of a man. He seemed capable of leaping at them like a mountain lion. They held their distance until Josh Williams, with a shout as though at a roundup, whirled the noose of his rope and spurred forward.



  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  Text copyright © 2002 Jane Faust Easton and Adrianna Faust Bianchi

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

  Published by AmazonEncore

  P.O. Box 400818

  Las Vegas, NV 89140

  ISBN-13: 9781477807842

  ISBN-10: 1477807845

  Additional copyright information:

  “The Boy in the Wilderness” by George Owen Baxter first appeared in Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine (7/19/24). Copyright © 1924 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Copyright © renewed 1952 by Dorothy Faust. Copyright © 2002 by Jane Faust Easton and Adriana Faust Bianchi for restored material. Acknowledgment is made to Condé Nast Publications, Inc., for their co-operation.

  “The Brute” by George Owen Baxter first appeared in Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine (7/26/24). Copyright © 1924 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Copyright © renewed 1952 by Dorothy Faust. Copyright © 2002 by Jane Faust Easton and Adriana Faust Bianchi for restored material. Acknowledgment is made to Condé Nast Publications, Inc., for their co-operation.

  “The Race” by George Owen Baxter first appeared in Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine (8/9/24). Copyright © 1924 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Copyright © renewed 1952 by Dorothy Faust. Copyright © 2002 by Jane Faust Easton and Adriana Faust Bianchi for restored material. Acknowledgment is made to Condé Nast Publications, Inc., for their co-operation.














































  This title was previously published by Dorchester Publishing; this version has been reproduced from the Dorchester book archive files.




  The distinguishing feature of Sparrow Roberts, among managers of prize fighters, was that he believed in keeping his protégé busy in the ring, even if the purse were small. The result was that when Colonel Joshua Nichols decided to put the town of Juniper on the map and make his own name famous by bringing over the middleweight champion of the world to fight for a great purse, the American middleweight champion refusing to close for moderate terms, the fight was offered to Sparrow Roberts and his protégé, Cyclone Ed Morgan. Pierre Lacoste, the great French fighter, the idol of Europe and the king of his class throughout the world, claimed such a huge purse that even Colonel Nichols, with all of his new millions dug out of Western mountains, was dazed. A quarter of a million in hard cash was a staggering sum. But Colonel Nichols wanted Lacoste and closed with him for that figure. Then he tried to balance the bargain, to a certain extent, by making reasonable terms with some American fighter. When the American champion refused to sign for less than a hundred and fifty thousand, Colonel Nichols paid no more heed to him but cast about for a good second choice and found one almost immediately in the person of Cyclone Ed Morgan.

  The Cyclone was a known man. He never had boasted much science, but he carried a devastating punch in either hand and he had never been so much as knocked from his solid feet. He was, first, last, and all the time, a fighter, and Sparrow Roberts had kept him at his work. He had fought for a hundred and fifty dollars a night in small towns throughout the East. He had been in the four-round game in California. He had toured the States far and wide, sometimes battling a dozen times a month with every man who came along. In all of those varied contests he had never been so much as staggered. These experiences, moreover, were well compacted into the short space of six years. Beginning as a welterweight, at the age of eighteen, he had matured to the full middleweight limit, and at the age of twenty-four he was a seasoned veteran.

  The whole country knew him. When a sporting writer announced Cyclone Ed Morgan’s next engagement, it was always with a little verbal pat on the back. For, much as boxing fans enjoy cleverness, what they like best of all is real fighting. The Cyclone was a warrior of the truest mettle from his head to his heels. A stinging blow to the face, a crushing swing to the wind, instead of sapping his heart or his vitality, made his eyes glisten and brought him dancing and gliding in for more. It was his boast that, wherever he appeared, there was sure to be a good fight—while it lasted. There were few so ignorant and slow that they could not hit him, and there were few who, when he struck in return, could keep on their feet.

  Such was Cyclone Morgan when he was signed to meet the famous Pierre Lacoste, the wizard of the prize ring, the genius of the padded gloves, who whiffed strong men into sweet sleep with a touch of his hand, whose dazzling speed made the fastest boxers seem slow, whose chivalrous and carefree nature had made him an international favorite. He looked like a gentleman and spoke like one; he fought like a dozen fiends rolled in one.

  No one granted Cyclone much of a chance against Pierre Lacoste. But still, the odds were not high against him, for Lacoste, it was said,
had built up a reputation by knocking over the foreign crop of middles and light heavies. However, there was a general feeling in sporting circles that the only good fighters are Americans, or foreigners American trained. There was a feeling that no foreign champion could quite understand the ripping, tearing in-fighting game that flourished on this side of the water until he had been through the mill here. Besides, since the bout was limited to fifteen rounds, it was felt that there was a very excellent chance for Cyclone Ed Morgan at least to last out the limit. All of his backers sent their money to Europe and bet vigorously that the American representative would at least last the full fifteen rounds.

  In the meantime, Sparrow Roberts brought his man to the town of Juniper to train there.

  Juniper was at a crossroads saloon, at one time. Then Colonel Josh Nichols found gold in the mountains nearby and turned Juniper into a town by his discovery. As he grew rich, Juniper was transformed in a brief six months to a swarm of hundreds of tents and wooden shacks. The gold strike caused a typical gold rush. Other camps leaped into being through the surrounding region, and some of them were very large. But Juniper remained the chief center, the fountain-head of supplies for all the others. Its importance was assured when the enterprising railroad drove a branch line nine miles to the doors of the village. Its population, thereafter, felt that Juniper was definitely on the map. They began to build more permanent structures in place of their old flimsy ones. Presently a thriving little city sat in the throat of Juniper Pass, with the Juniper River washing its feet, and the great mountains lifting their white heads in a circle around it. Like spikes in a spider’s web, from Juniper a dozen trails led out toward various of the other nearby camps, and all day long there was never a time when a rolling dust cloud on some quarter of the horizon did not mark the approach or the departure of a group of horsemen or of a number of wagons drawn by long teams of mules. Sometimes, when Colonel Josh Nichols sat on the roof garden of his Spanish house on the outer verge of the town and overlooked all this multiplying activity, he had the sweet content of a child, who had created a toy, and by chance the toy had worked.

  He was troubled by one thing only: whenever he mentioned Juniper, he had to tell where it was. No one had the slightest idea that there was a place of such a name, or in what state it might be located. It cost the colonel a good many hours of humiliation, here and there, to explain the location of his home town. That was why he finally decided that he would put Juniper on the map.

  The colonel thought of many schemes. He thought of erecting a great hospital among the adjoining mountains and opening it to the free use of tubercular patients who might need the dry, bracing air of those high plateaus. But there is something repulsive about a health resort, to the people who are not sick. The colonel thought of establishing a stock farm in the valley and raising there only blood race horses of the finest quality.

  He discarded these ideas, and others. He discarded, among the rest, the thought of creating a fine newspaper, to be known as the Juniper Times, which would embody all that meant the most in the mountains and to the mountain people. When the world wished to learn what the Rocky Mountain district felt about a certain topic, it needed only to turn to the Juniper Times. But a friend who had had experience in financing a newspaper confided in the ear of the good colonel certain expense items that made his head swim.

  The very next idea upon which he hit was the prize fight. Pierre Lacoste was the most brilliant and romantic figure in the ring. Pierre Lacoste had beaten everyone within twenty pounds of his weight in Europe. No one could put up a sufficient purse to induce Pierre to cross the Atlantic and stake his crown. That is to say, no one could be found until the colonel appeared. He offered Pierre, as has been said, a quarter of a million “to fight fifteen rounds with any man in the world weighing not more than one hundred and sixty pounds.” So the fight came into being.

  The colonel began to reap a reward at once. Every sporting paper in the country got out maps and, failing to find Juniper anywhere upon it, sent special representatives to write up the place. The representatives came and smiled, but remained to pick up what news they could, and found plenty of it. Seven gun duels within a week furnished the reporters with a tidy bit of gossip. They sent out a flock of feature stories that made some millions of people in far-off cities rush to the moving-picture houses and stare at the Western films with a new credence.

  On the whole, it took the colonel about a fortnight to put Juniper most decidedly upon the map. It would also cost him three hundred thousand dollars in stakes and expenses, plus two hundred thousand more for the lining of a certain natural amphitheater nearby with seats. He arranged that amphitheater to accommodate thirty thousand people. His average price would be twenty-five dollars. If he sold out the house, he would have a quarter of a million in profit above all of his big expenses. He was reasonably sure that he would sell out the house. Inquiries for tickets floated in from every side. The railroad made Herculean endeavors to improve its lines of communication with Juniper, and all was well. A twenty thousand sale would meet all expenses. But even if there was a deficit, the colonel felt that he had given the place a million in advertising. Men swarmed in from every side. Where the mines had gone short-handed for lack of labor, now the mine owners could cut the wages and still get all the help that they needed.

  In every way it looked to the colonel like the best and the cheapest bit of advertising that he had ever undertaken in his life, and he blessed the day when he had first conceived it. The mines prospered more and more. The wide main street of Juniper was paved from the station all the way out to the amphitheater, and that bench-lined hollow was given by some aggressive reporter the title of “Nichols’s Coliseum.”

  Under that title it grew famous. It appeared in Sunday supplements. It was a household word. The colonel had immortalized himself as well as the town that he had created. How could the work have been more complete?

  In the meantime, Pierre Lacoste began his training in France, but Cyclone Ed Morgan and his manager and trainer and sparring partners, arrived in Juniper, looked over the place for the site of a training camp, and finally, rejecting all persuasion on the part of those who wished to make them a part of the show properties of the town, they left Juniper’s noise and dust far behind them and went out into the open woods to camp and live in a tent until the hour grew near for the opening tap on the gong.

  Sparrow Roberts was an outdoor man. He selected the camp wisely. It was not high and exposed, but sat in a shoulder of a mountain, with a considerable view beneath them. A little stream trickled across its face and showered away in a musical cascade below. In the corner of the clearing, Sparrow had the ring erected, built strong and high, so that all who came could see clearly. Then he started Cyclone Ed Morgan to work.

  They would hunt through the mountains in the morning. At noon they came back to a square meal, two hours of sleep after it, then some gymnastics, and in the golden cool of the late afternoon some brisk boxing in the ring. Under that regime Cyclone Ed developed rapidly. In a fortnight he was in perfect trim. His wind was right. His muscles were neither too hard nor too soft. His mental condition was perfect. It always was, for Cyclone Ed Morgan was born with the happy conviction that he was invincible in a fight. The only reason that he did not set sail after the heavyweight championship of the world was that his manager would not make the correct engagements. But, in his heart of hearts, Cyclone Ed smiled at the thought that any man in the world could stand up to him in a finish fight.

  Then the first crushing blow fell. At the end of the first night, walking by himself through the woods, rifle in hand, Ed Morgan came to the Parker farm and found pretty Jenny Parker in the vegetable garden. As for Jenny, she was quite overwhelmed at meeting with a celebrity. She was agreeably astonished by his appearance. She had imagined all prize fighters as abysmal brutes, but she found Cyclone a fellow with a pair of bold, pleasant blue eyes, and a smile that had not yet been spoiled by the impact of four-ounce gl
oves. One ear was a trifle thicker than it needed to be, and there was a scar across the bridge of his nose. But these were surely very minor and by no means insurmountable defects.

  As for Cyclone Ed, he had been too busy fighting for six years and watching his bankroll multiply to pay much heed to girls. On this day, feeling on top of his game, so to speak, with the sun warming his body and her smile warming his heart, he left the door open and Jenny Parker walked in and took permanent possession. Ten minutes later he kissed her for the first time. Ten minutes after that they confided in each other that this must be love of the purest water. And ten minutes further on they were started for Juniper. They found the minister’s house. He arranged all the rest. In the evening, four reporters and half a dozen eminent townsfolk saw Cyclone Ed Morgan take a bride.

  When poor Sparrow Roberts heard about it, he turned pale. He was so distressed that he could not even curse Cyclone Ed. He could only express his fury feebly, in good English.

  “Look at me,” he said to Cyclone Ed. “I’ve been married twice. What good did it do me? Where are my wives now? But you can’t learn from me. You know too much. You’ll have to learn from Pierre, too. I hope he . . . I hope he tears your block off . . . you sap!”

  Then he went to Colonel Nichols. “Lacoste has won,” he said. “Ed got married.”

  The colonel merely grinned. He had very little interest in the actual outcome of the fight.

  “Maybe not,” he said. “Maybe it’ll be simply a good bit of extra training for the ring.”

  But Sparrow could not see any humor in the matter. “Nobody can do two things at the same time,” he said sadly. “Nobody can be a good husband and a good prize fighter. Ed is done for.”

  Then he went slowly back up the valley to the training camp. It was the dusk of the evening. Coming up the path, he tripped over a limp figure. He leaned and turned it over. It was Cyclone Ed Morgan, lying senseless upon the ground!