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Thursday, May 6, 1937
SYNOPSIS: Slim Loyale is pa
roled from prison after serving 18
months for a crime he did not
commit. He returns to his Circle
L ranch to find his father dead
and sinister forces at work, trying
to make him violate his parole so
that he can again be railroaded
The Brockwells and their gang
are plotting to gain possession of
Cifcle L ranch and the property
of Mona Hall, a neighbor and
life-long friend of Slim Loyale.
For just a moment a wary film
seemed to shadow Starbuck's eyes.
Then he gripped himself. "Well,
what's wrong then?" he demand
ed. "Who did that shootin'?"
"I did—part of it," answered
Dakota. "I just nicked Sarg, darn
the luck. He blew a hole in Spud's
"Yeah, I can see that," snap
ped Starbuck testily. "But how'd
the trouble start? Who's respon
sible for this?"
"He is," bawled Spud Dillon,
still bubbling with wrath and
pointing at Leo. "He made a dirty
crack at Slim. He did it just on
purpose I'm bettin', to try to get
Slim to make a gunplay, knowin'
that if the kid did, his parole
would be busted sky-high. But
Dakota stepped in an' walloped
him one. Then Sarg pulled his
gun first. He'd 'a' got Dakota too,
if Joe Rooney hadn't tripped him
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up with a cue. Joe. I'm raising
yore wages for that."
"Listens good." growled Star
buck. stepping over to Slim "Lem
me see yore guns, Loyale."
"Let him have 'em. Slim," cau
tioned Dakota. "Shore, I'm be
ginning to see through lots of
"Meanin* just what, Blue?"
Starbuck whirled .and faced Da
kota. his head thrust forward.
"What's it mean to yuh?" re
torted Dakota easily. "Don't get
too touchy, Starbuck, or folks will
begin thinkin' things."
Starbuck licked his lips, then
turned to Slim. Otife after other
he twitched out Slim's guns
punched out the shells and squint
ed through the barrels. As he re
turned them, he frowned at Sarg
Brockwell. "Go easy on startin'
things, Brockwell," he ordered.
"An' tell that cub of yores to but
ton his lip. I won't stand for
trouble around here—none what
Dakota, watching Sarg and
Starbuck carefully, thought he
caught just a glint of understand
ing pass in the quick glance they
exchanged. Brockwell nodded.
"Call it our fault this time," he
growled. "But we ain't forgettin'
at no time. An' that goes for yuh
an' yuh," he finished, indicating
both Spud Dillon and Joe Roon
"See if we care!" yelped Spud.
"I got something off my chest
what's been gaggin* me for some
time, Brockwell. I shore read yore
walkin' papers. As for Joe, well,
I alius knew he was a good man.
He shore demonstrated it today."
Rooney's wrinkled face creased
into a grin and he gnawed a
piece off a plug of tobacco. "Me,"
he twanged, "I've lived a long
time,, and I've alius found that
the wolf with the longest howl
packs his tail the lowest. Slim,
how are yuh?" And he stepped
over to deliberately wring Slim's
No longer in doubt as to how
the feeling was running in the
Wild Horse just now, Sarg Brock
well herded Leo through the door
ahead of him. When they were
gone, Jigger Starbuck hesitated
a moment before leaving.
"Remember, Blue; the law
swings just as wide a loop for
yuh as anybody else."
"Aw, hell!" snorted Dakota.
"Alius prattlin' about yore gol
blasted law. Who's breakin' it
anyhow? Just remember yoreself,
THE ELKIN TRIBUNE, ELKIN, NORTH CAROLINA
Starbuck yuh may be sheriff,
but yuh ain't Gawd Almighty.
An' that self-samp loop yuh speak
of would fit yore shoulders aft well
as mine. C'mon Slim; Joe, Spud;
• I'm buyin' a drink."
Being left this pointedly out of
1 the invitation, Jigger Starbuck
cursed softly beneath his breath,
then left the place.
Ten minutes later, Slim Loyale
and Dakota Blue rode north out
of Pinnacle. A survey of the street
: showed that Sarg and Leo Brock
well had evidently pulled out
ahead of them. Jigger Starbuck
stood in the doorway of his office
his face expressionless, his eyes
For several miles Slim and Da
kota rode in silence. Slim was
thoughtful, his eyes steadily
upon the trail ahead. Finally he
shifted in his saddle and looked
- "Dakota, just what were yuh
drivin' at with those remarks yuh
made to Starbuck?" he asked.
Dakota grunted. "Just pros
pecting some an' seem' if I could
turn up a little pay dirt.
"What kind of pay dirt?"
"What kind d'yuh suppose,
Slim? Look at it this way. Yuh
an' me know yuh were framed.
Well, somebody did that framin'.
If they did it once they'll try an'
do it again. It might have been
Starbuck, and it might have been
Brockwell. Then again, it might
have been somebody else.
"Whoever it was had some rea
son for doin* it. It might have
been just to find a goat an' cover
up his own tracks. Then again,
they might have been schemin'
deeper. Whatever the reason was,
it'll pay us to find out as much
as we can.
"One thing shore, yuh gotta
figger on standin' for a lot of In
sults until that parole of yores is
finished. Didn't yuh take notice
how quick Starbuck jumped at the
conclusion that yuh were in trou-
Us. the second he stuck his haid
in the Wild Horse? It looked
kinda funny to me."
"Jigger Starbuck has been
sheriff in these parts a long time,
Dakota. An* all in all, he's been
a pretty fair sheriff." '
"Yeah, he has been. Lately,
though, he seems to be slippin'.
Yuh notice the Vasco stage is be
in* held up pretty regular. An'
the Dot H Dot is still losin' cattle.
I'm plumb convinced that the
Circle L would have been losin'
'em too, only I've kept our boys
ridin' steady an' keepin' a close
"I didn't tell yuh that the
month before last, some sidewind
er took a shot at me on day, while
I was ridin' along Nigger Ridge
on the way home from our Jeri
cho Valley range. Well, he did.
An' if I hadn't happened to lean,
forward just then to knock a
hoss-fly off'n my btoncho's neck,
I'd been a good Injun right now.
I tell yuh, Slim somethin's movin'
around this range that's got me
on the lookout plum continual."
Slim nodded. "That was kinda
barefaced, back in Spud's place.
Lookin' back at it now, it shore
j had all the earmarks of a frame
up .Yuh used yore haid, Dakota."
Dakota grunted and rolled a
cigarette. "We're up against
somethin' we gotta watch. Slim.
Don't let anybody devil yuh into
makin' a play with yore guns,
leastwise not until yore parole is
"It's tough," said Slim a little
hoarsely. "I'm touchy as hell now.
I did a lot of thinkin' back there
at Jarillo. an' it didn't sweeten
me none. My pride is plumb rag
ged an' easy to scratch. But yuh
got the right idee, Dakota. I'll
An hour later the two riders
drew rein before the Circle L
ranch house. At sight of it, Slim's
throat thickened. Hqme! And yet,
it was not the home that it had
been. For it was empty now—de
void of that grizzled, kindly,
boomed-voiced presence that had
been Bart Loyale, Slim's father.
There was a group of punchers
at the corrals, and as Slim dis
mounted, one by one they came
forward to shake Slim's hand.
Their voiced greetings were short,
terse, but sincere.
The Circle L employed five men
besides Dakota Blue, the foreman.
There was Roy O'Brien, short,
barrel-bodied, red-headed; a
fighting, square-shooting, explo
sive little Irishman. Steve Owens
and Charley Quinn were insepar
able pals, fun-loving rollicking
boys, both game to the core and
very faithful to their hire.
Stoney Sheard was a middle
aged puncher, silent, still-featur
ed, gruff and unsmiling, who had
probably been closer to old Bart
Loyale than any of the other
punchers. The fifth of the group
was Oscar Olson, a big, lumber
ing Swede with a shock of unruly
tow hair. Oscar was the cook, and
a better one never stirred a pot
Beyond a quiet, "Hello, boys,"
Slim said nothing, and the punch
ers were wordless in their stifled
emotions. Slim went directly to
the ranch house, alone.
Dakota Blue turned to the rest.
"Pretty badly cut up, Slim Is," he
said gruffly. He's home now, an*
Bart ain't here to meet him. Don't
speak of the Ole Man to him un
less Slim brings up the proposi
Roy O'Brien's eyes were all
squinted up. "The pore laddy," he
muttered. "Shore ,an' me heart
aches for him. He's a fine lad.
Slim is,.and he'll be after carryin'
Dakota nodded. "Sarg an* Leo
Brockwell tried to stir up trouble
in town just now. They know
damn well the kid is on parole, an'
thev ain't gonna overlook a
chance to get him to make a
break that'll bust it. So, any time
for the next year an' a half, if
yo're with Slim an* yuh run into
somethin* where there's fighting
to be dons, I want yuh to shove
Slim aside an' take over the quar
rel yoreselves. Savvy?"
Roy flexed his big shoulders.
"An' won't we though!' he 'bark
ed. "Shore an' does either of them
Brockwells try an' start some
thin' when I'm around an' I'll
shove me fist clear down their
Steve Owens laughed. "I guess
Roy's statement goes for all of
us. Dakota. What happened after
the trouble started in town?"
Dakota outlined the events
since he and Slim had struck
Pinnacle. When he finished. Ston
ey Sheard nodded. "Alius did
have my doubts about Jigger
Starbuck,'* he drawled. "Too
self-centered, duty-struck an'
cold-blooded to my way of think
in'. Time's comin' on this range
when hell is gonna pop. I've told
"Let *er pop," said Charley
Quinn. "I an' Steve can do a lit
tle popin' ourselves when neces
Roy snorted. "Cheeky young
cubs, yuh are. .Should a spavined
jackrabbit kick yuh in the pants,
yuh'd coming runnin' home here
to Roy for helpi."
"That so?" yelped Charley.
"C'mon, Steve; let's get him, the
red haided, stuck-up ape." .
Instantly there was a tangle of
arms and legs, and the three
punchers were on the ground,
mauling and tugging and laugh
ing. "I'll show yuh," grunted Roy.
"Gang up on ole Roy,' will yuh?
I'll knock a lick of sense into
Sure enough, in about a minute
Roy was on top of both of them.
He cuffed their hair over their
eyes and spanked them
ingly with open palm, whenever
a tight-stretched area of blue
jean overalls showed.
"Enough," yelled Steve. "Ow-w!
I'm plumb blistered. Won't be
able to sit down for a week.
Lemme up, yuh wild buckaroo.
Doggone yuh, yuh got a hand like
a fence board. Oscar, help! Pull
Oscar grinned, grabbed Roy by
the shirt collar and the slack of
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the pants and lifted ,iim dear,
much as an ordinary rerson lifts
a kitten. "Now yuh bane nice
boys or I lick all of yuh," he
Roy squinted up at the cook, his
blue eyes twinkling. " Tis a whale
of a man yuh are, Oscar," he ap
proved. "Should we combine Ire
land an' Sweden we'd be after
lickin' the world."
Oscar grinned wider than ever.
"We bane make a dent in some
body. Now I go to work. Dinner
bane ready in half an hour."
Dakota had watched the maul
ing match with a contented grin.
Even gave-faced Stoney Sheard
had a glimmer of amusement in
his eyes. There was nothing wrong
With the orale of the Circle L.
Ranch. It was a happy family if
there ever was one, and Slim
Loyale was assured of plenty of
backing in his forthcoming battle
for exoneration and respect..
Slim spent that first afternoon
alone. He never left the house, in
fact. He drifted from one room
to another, and in every one there
were memories that dug and hurt.
The house was vacant, yet some
how it was->peopled—filled with
the shadowy presence of Bart
Continued Next Issue
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