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By Robert Adams

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The bigger, dark man, he who had fired the stable, paced over to where Tim Krooguh crouched over the Dirtman girl, concern writ plainly upon his face. Laying a hand on the shoulder of the wiry clansman he spoke aloud. “I’m sorry, Tim. I should either have mindspoken the cats to come into camp slowly so that she could come to see that they were not dangerous to anyone here, or beamed assurance into her mind beforehand, as I did on the first part of the ride, last night. But I’m tired and . . Oh, well, what’s done is now done.

Munching at the cheese and sipping from the waterskin, the girl stretched muscles stiff and sore from the long hours in the saddle and watched the smoothly efficient activities of these strange, silent little men. Thus far, the only words she had heard any of them speak had been addressed to her, they never exchanged a single utterance between themselves or to horse or mule, yet they went about the communal-effort tasks of setting up camp without pause or miscue. After unsaddling but before picketing, all of the captive horses and mules were led in groups down to the brookside and there watered, then briskly rubbed down with handfuls of the bigger, coarser grasses brought in from the encroaching verge of the tall-grass prairie.

It’s suthin goldurned funny goin on downstairs. Hear them dogs, don’tcha? ” The thought flitted through Solomon Claxton’s mind that for all that a man could not have a better man beside him when he chanced to be fighting off godless, heathen nomad raiders or a pack of starveling winter wolves, Patriarch Manchester’s son, Ehud, was at times somewhat slow of wits. But he smiled and reassured his old friend. “Ehud, as I came upstairs. I saw the Scarlet Woman lugging a bucket of bones down. You know how the dogs always snarl and fight for a while over bones.

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