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Rebel Spurs
by Andre Norton
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"Where do you think you're going?" Hunt Rennie demanded.

Drew snapped the rein out from the other's hold. There was only one thing he wanted now, and that was getting farther and farther away with every second he wasted here.

"After Shiloh!" He used spurs on the horse and it leaped ahead. For all he knew any one of the posse might take a shot at him, so he rode low in the saddle. He heard startled cries, saw Bartolome Rivas stumble as he got out of the path of the wild horse. There were rocks, sand, a body which the horse avoided in a leap, then there was free ground and Drew settled down to ride.

A horse was coming up from behind—they need not think they were going to stop him now. Drew turned his head as the mount pulled level with his own. He was ready to fight if need be. Only the man in the saddle was Hunt Rennie.

"Better find out which way to go before you break your neck or that bay's legs," Rennie called. "Out beyond that pillar—then east."

Drew nodded. But Rennie did not fall back. He was riding his heavy duty horse, a grulla famous for its staying power. And now the Kentuckian regained his proper share of common sense and began to pull in the bay. As his father had pointed out, a broken neck or a horse's broken leg was not going to bring Shiloh any closer. He heard the sound of other horses and glanced back as they wheeled around the pillar to the east.

Four riders were bunched—Anse, Nye, Teodoro, and Donally. That made six of them in all, pursuing four fugitives over miles of countryside which might have been shaped with no other purpose in mind than to shelter men on the run. But perhaps they could come up with the quarry soon....

Shiloh! He had to get Shiloh! Drew began to call upon all the horseman's knowledge and scout's lore that he possessed. Those qualities, rather than fighting power, were what he believed he needed now. With luck—always with a large-sized helping of luck!



16

"Now that you have that bucked out, how about a little sound reasoning?" Hunt Rennie still held his position, riding stirrup to stirrup with Drew.

The worst of it was, Don Cazar was right. This was no time for raw emotion to replace thinking. Already it was almost dusk and their quarry could not be traced into the dark, even if they had the aid of a full moon. The Kentuckian reined in. Growing shadows masked the country ahead—rough territory—which he did not doubt the fugitives knew far better than he did.

"All right." It was difficult, one of the most difficult things he had ever done, to admit even that much that he must follow Rennie's lead. "What do I do now?"

"You still think you can go it alone—want to?" Rennie's face was shadowed, and his voice again held that remote note.

"It's my horse." Drew was defensive.

"Stolen on my range," Rennie retorted. "This is far more my fight than yours. If we didn't get Kitchell back there at the pass, and I'm inclined to believe that we did not, then I want him! You don't kill a rattler by cutting off his rattles—you go for the head. But this rattler's on his home land and he knows where to hole up. We have only one card to play against him."

"What's that, suh?"

"Water. Oh, I know all the rumors that the Apaches have secret water holes back in the hills, and they may have introduced Kitchell to some of them. But the hills are behind him. He'll want just one thing now, to get south, across the border. He's lost a large number of his men, probably all of his loot, back there at the pass. He can't hold out here any longer. Once he's into Sonora we can't touch him—I know he has friends down there."

"Could he try to take the wagon road south?"

"As a last resort, perhaps. The pass was the only outlet through which he could run that band of stolen horses and his pack mules. But there are other places, at least two I know of, where a few men, riding light, can get through. I believe he'll try to head for one of those."

"Make it ahead of us now?"

Rennie laughed shortly. "If he does, he'll have a warm reception. The Pimas are already scouting both passes. We planned to close the border when we set up that ambush. Meanwhile"—he glanced back—"Teodoro!"

"Si, Don Cazar?"

"How far are we from your hunting-camp site?"

"Two, maybe three miles. Slow riding in the dark, Don Cazar."

"We'll head there. That—except for the hole behind us which Bartolome will cover—is the only water for miles. And we're between Kitchell and the border spring. One thing he will have to have is water. We stake out the pools and sooner or later they will come to us."

It made sense, but still Drew was impatient. Out there one of Kitchell's men, or perhaps the outlaw himself, was riding Shiloh. The fact that Rennie's plan seemed a gamble did not make it any easier to follow. But the Kentuckian could think of nothing better to offer.

The moon was rising as they came to the water hole near the mustangers' camp. Men and animals drank together, and when Drew dismounted his weariness hit—hard. Fatigue was a gray cloud in his brain, a weight on arms, legs, body. Voices around him sounded faint and far away as he steadied himself with a grasp on the stirrup leathers and fought not only to keep on his feet but awake.

"What's the matter with you, boy?"

Drew tried to lift his head, tried to summon words to answer that demand. A sullen kind of pride made him release his hold and stand away from the bay, only to reel back and bring up hard against a rock, grating his arm painfully. He clung there for a moment and got out:

"Nothing a little sleep won't cure." He spoke into the dark outline of Hunt Rennie. "I'm all right."

Drew made a painful effort, pulled himself away from the rock to fumble at the cinches of the bay's saddle, only to be pushed aside.

"Steer him over there, Perse ... bed him down."

The Kentuckian's last scrap of protest leaked away. He hardly knew when a blanket was pulled up over him as he lay in a rock niche, already drifting into deep sleep.

Voices awoke him into the gray of early morning. The light was hardly brighter than moonlight but he could make out Hunt Rennie, sitting cross-legged, rifle to hand, while Chino Herrera squatted on his heels before him. Chino had not been with them when they left the pass. And there was Greyfeather, too. Their party had had reinforcements. Drew pushed away the blanket and sat up, realizing he was stiff with cold. Fire ... hot coffee ... there was no sign of either. He yawned and jerked his coat straight about him. His attention suddenly focused on an object which lay on the ground at Chino's left. It was a book, the same size as the three he had bought at Stein's!

Without thinking, Drew moved forward, was about to reach for the volume when he heard the click of a cocked Colt. A hand swept down on the book.

"You, hombre—what do you want with this?" Herrera, with no friendliness in either voice or eyes, was holding a gun on him.

"That book—it looks like the ones I bought in town." Drew was startled by the vaquero's enmity.

"Give it to him," Rennie ordered.

For a moment Herrera seemed on the point of open dispute, then he obeyed. But for some reason his weapon remained unholstered. Drew took up the volume.

"History of the Conquest of Peru," he read out. The binding was a match for that of the other three. But—there was something different. He weighed the volume in his hand. That was it! This book was heavier....

"Well, hombre, you have seen such a one before?"

"Yes, this is bound to match those I bought from Stein. And one of those was History of the Conquest of Mexico. This is surely a part of the same library."

"Those—what did they have in them?"

Rennie appeared content to let Chino ask the questions, but he continued to watch Drew and the book.

"Have in them?" Drew repeated. "Why pages. They were books to read—The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and History of the Conquest of Mexico. That's all, just books."

"Open this one," Rennie told him.

The Kentuckian had trouble obeying. And for the first time he saw he did not hold a book composed of pages but a type of box. The cover resisted his tugging. Then, as if some catch had been mastered, it opened so suddenly he almost lost his grip on the book. The core of those once separate pages had been hollowed out to contain a nest of raw cotton on which lay ... The Kentuckian gasped.

Even in this subdued light those stones glittered, and their settings were gold and silver. Drew saw elaborate pieces, the like of which he had never seen before.

"There was a mule shot back in the pass," Rennie explained. "His pack was opened. Three books were in it—one of them fell out and burst open."

"This one?"

"No, it held gold coin. Hard Times by Charles Dickens—the contents hardly indicative of the subject, were they? Upon investigation a Wonders of the World produced more coin. And, as you see, History of the Conquest of Peru was even more fruitful. You are sure this binding matches that of the books you bought?"

"Certain. This was bound to order, as were the other three. They were part of someone's personal library—had no bookplate, though."

"And what was Stein's story concerning them?"

"An old prospector named Lutterfield found them in a trunk in some cave he located out in the desert country. He brought them in to trade for supplies."

"Lutterfield," Rennie repeated thoughtfully. "Yes, that could be."

"Trunk in a cave?" Herrera was skeptical. "But why leave books in a trunk in a cave?"

"One of Kitchell's caches? Or else left by someone who cleared out in '61 and had to travel light. If anything remains, perhaps Lutterfield can locate it for us later. Anyway this"—Rennie took the book box from Drew, clapped the cover over, hiding the treasure—"won't go to Mexico now. And if the owner is still alive, we may even find him—who knows? You had your sleep out, boy?"

Drew found Rennie's expression one of indifference. Maybe Don Cazar no longer regarded him with the cold dislike Drew had met at the camp, but they were still strangers. What he had once said back in Kentucky at a remote and distant time was very true now. "Maybe Hunt Rennie doesn't know I exist; maybe we won't even like each other if and when we do meet ... I don't know...."

Now Drew thought he did know. Was this insurmountable barrier all his fault? Because he had been so sure he wanted to go it on his own—come to his father as an equal and not a beggar? But could he ever have acted differently? Too independent, too defensive always—Alexander Mattock had made him like that. Now it seemed that his grandfather had won, after all. Because his grandson was the kind of man he was, there would be no meeting with Hunt Rennie to claim kinship, nothing more than what now existed.

"I'm all right." After too long a pause, Drew replied to his father's question. "Do we just keep on sittin' here?"

"If necessary, Chino, pass those supplies you brought in. We eat cold, at least for now."

"You look ready to up saddle 'n ride." Anse was waiting behind Drew's rock. His arm rested in a sling with a neat and reasonably clean bandage about his wound.

"How's that hole?" Drew asked with renewed concern.

"Nothin' much more'n a nick. Say, th' Old Man's like a real doc, ain't he? Carries doc's things in his saddlebags an' patched me up last night so I'm near as good as new. After I drunk th' wrinkles smooth outta my belly an' had me some shut-eye, why, I'm as right as four aces in any man's hand! 'Course I sure could do with some coffee—'bout strong 'nough to float a hoss shoe gentle like. But we ain't bendin' lip over that this sunup. Lordy, this jerky sure gives a man's chewers a workout!"

They chewed away at the dark sun-dried carne of the border country. There was about as much flavor in it as in a piece of wood, but it kept a man's insides busy and about half satisfied. And they did have water.

Drew looked out over the land about them. Rennie had their small force stationed to cover every approach to the water hole, and with the Pimas here too, Drew was sure that they would not be surprised. Would Kitchell follow the pattern Rennie expected—try to water here? And then strike for the south? With his men scattered, many killed or taken at the pass, he had very little choice.

For some reason the quartet of fugitives must have been trailing quite a distance behind the main band, and so had been warned in time by the gunfire. Was one of that four Shannon? And what would it mean to Rennie if Shannon did turn up now with Kitchell?

Drew jerked back against the boulder, reacting to a screech from somewhere out in that wild country—a fierce, mad sound which tore at the nerves. He had heard its like before, but never rising so to the pitch of raw intensity. It was the challenge of a fighting stallion, one of the most terrifying sounds ever to break from the throat of an animal.

From the pocket meadow came the answering squeals of their own mounts, the pounding of hoofs as they fought their stake ropes.

"Don Cazar!" It was Teodoro. "The Pinto comes—and would fight!"

Again that shriek of rage and utter defiance. The rocks echoed it eerily, and Drew found it hard to judge either distance or direction. The wind was rising, too, scooping up dust to throw against men and boulders. But that wild stud could not be too far away, and what had stirred him to this point of vocal outburst?

"Teodoro," Rennie called, "get back there and see if you can quiet those horses."

Drew reached for the carbine he had taken from the boot on the saddle of the captured bay. Army issue ... Spencer. He appraised it with the sharp, quick scrutiny of a man who had had to depend on enemy weapons before. Just how had this fallen into outlaw hands? The arm was well kept, ready for action.

Horses turned mean, turned man-killer at times. And the Pinto was reputed to be a murderer of his own species. Not just content to protect his band from a raiding stallion, he actually went out of his way to seek and force a fight with other males. Could it be that now the wild killer had been drawn from hiding to meet a strange stallion?

And could that stranger be Shiloh? It would mean the men they sought were circling back to this water hole. Shiloh and the Pinto! Even when saddled and ridden, the Kentucky stallion might respond to the challenge. And so handicapped he would have no chance! Drew bit hard on his underlip.

The yap-yap of a coyote sounded brazenly from the ridge behind which Drew was almost certain the Pinto had trumpeted.

"Pass the word," said Rennie. "Riders coming."

Anse hissed it on to Donally, who hid in the brush behind. Drew lay tense, as if his whole body was able to listen and assess sounds.

Waiting, as always, fretted the nerves. Imagination gave birth to sounds, made the quiver of a bush unnatural, planted in a man a growing sense of eyes boring down on his body, nakedly visible to the enemy. Drew's muscles ached. He forced tight rein on his imagination and began the hard task of consciously schooling himself past the danger of a freeze when and if attack did come.

Wind moaning about the rocks, sand blown in eyes and face. Twice Drew half put out his hand to the canteen which lay between him and Anse. Both times he did not complete the reach. His tongue felt swollen, the saliva in his mouth sticky, sickly tasting.

No sun—this was going to be a cloudy, overcast day.

He half arose. That scream came again, this time closer, more rage-filled. Drew turned his head.

"Cover me!" He did not give Anse a chance to protest.

That slope ... he had been studying it carefully for long moments of the wait, gauging the distances between bits of cover, the tricky open spaces he would have to cross. But the riders they had been alerted to expect were not in sight, and if what he truly believed was about to happen did, the outlaws might never reach the water hole at all.

He was running, dodging, working his way up to the crown of the ridge. But he was still too low to see what was going on at the far side when that scream of challenge was answered. The answer was deeper in tone, but it carried with it the same rising note of anger and fighting promise. Although Drew had never seen Shiloh prepare to give battle, he was sure he had just heard him voice such readiness.

The Kentuckian flung himself flat before he reached the skyline, wriggling on in a desperate crawl. Then he lay panting in a small earth dip, only a ragged fringe of grass between him and the down slope.

Even in the swirl of wind-blown dust there was no mistaking Shiloh—rearing and fighting to dislodge his rider, wheeling about in a circle. Three other horses and their riders had edged well beyond the circumference of that circle, the horses neighing and snorting.

The squeal of the Pinto was ear-wrenching, though as yet the killer stud had not appeared in plain sight. The cry triggered Shiloh into a fantastic effort. He reared, striking out with front hoofs, perhaps in an effort to keep his balance. Drew fully expected to see him crash over and back.

Apparently his rider feared the same fall. In the dusty murk the man separated from the horse. Shiloh whirled and pounded back, away from his rider, and as he went he voiced once more his answer to the Pinto.

Drew sighted a dark spot moving in to intercept the gray. Then the spot turned broadside and he appreciated what had made the Pinto so elusive to hunters. The mottled red-and-white patches of the wild stud's coat melted into the landscape in an uncanny fashion, making the horse seem to appear and disappear as he trotted back and forth.

The Kentuckian tried to bring the Spencer in line with that weaving, distorted barrel of spotted body. What was the range? Too far, he was afraid, for a shot to count. But he knew that he could not lie there and watch the Pinto cut down Shiloh in one of those vicious, deadly, equine duels. The Kentucky horse had no fighting experience, and his greater bulk and height would mean little against the wily cunning of the murderer who had already tasted blood too many times. To allow Shiloh to be ripped to pieces was utterly unthinkable.

The men down there no longer mattered. Drew rose to one knee, steadied the carbine, and fired.

Did the Pinto really flinch from a bullet striking home? Or had the dangerous sound of gunfire caused his old caution to win out for an instant over his blood lust? The red head with the dangling white forelock tossed, and then the wild horse whirled and ran. Shiloh, teeth bared, ready and willing to come to battle, followed....

Drew was on his feet. Then he was pulled backward by a jerk out of nowhere, and he fell under a brown, mostly bare body which pinned him firmly to the ground.



17

Drew struggled wildly but he could not break the grip which held him down. He was looking up into the face of Greyfeather, and none of his writhing made any impression on the Pima's hold. There was a sprinkle of shots; then a whirl of the wind brought sand up over them, blinding eyes, filling mouth and nose. Even the Indian flinched from that and Drew managed to tear loose. He rolled down the grade, bringing up against a small tree with a jolt which drove most of the air from his laboring lungs.

He pulled his arm up across his face, trying to shield his eyes from the blast which thickened steadily, gasping for air to breathe. And the wind voiced a howl which arose as alarmingly as the stallions' screaming.

Stallions! Drew clawed his way up to his knees. But there was no seeing through that murk to where Shiloh had been. Then he was on his feet, stumbling along ... the big gray must be hidden somewhere....

"Drew!" A figure blundered into him from behind, almost sending him to the ground again. "Get down, you fool!" Hands clutched at his body, trying to pull him earthward.

"Let me go! Shiloh—"

"Get down!" Anse's whole weight struck him, and he fell, the Texan sprawling with him. It was only then that he heard the spatter of rifle fire and understood that they were in the middle of an exchange of lead slugs.

"Keep down!" Anse, his voice ragged with anger, snapped the command in Drew's ear. "What in thunder you tryin' to do? You gone completely loco, amigo? Walkin' right out to git yourself shot like them bullets was nothin' but pecans or somethin' like!"

For the first time Drew realized what he had done—blown Rennie's carefully planned trap sky-high. His shot at the Pinto must have been warning enough for the fugitives. But why were they trying to make a fight of it now, when to cut and run would have been the smartest move? Unless, having seen only one man, they believed he was alone. He tried to rub the dust from his eyes and think coherently. But all that was in the forefront of his mind was that last sight of Shiloh following the Pinto to battle.

"All right." Drew shifted in Anse's hold. "It's all right."

Not that it was, but at least that was the best way he could express his return to reason. And the Texan appeared to understand, for his grip loosened.

The dust which had blown up an opaque curtain dropped as quickly. They lay together on the far side of the ridge, but the space below was empty. They saw no men, no battling horses—nothing.

"They've hightailed it," someone called from the crest of the ridge.

"I tell you ... I got one of 'em.... He's over between those two bushes. He'd pulled up to take up th' fella runnin' an' went out of th' saddle. Other man got his hoss an' lit out."

Drew stood up.

"Where you goin' now?" Anse demanded.

"Where d' you think?" the Kentuckian asked dully. "After Shiloh."

He went on foot, down the slope, across the open where the gray had unseated his rider and turned to take up the Pinto's challenge. Since the horses were no longer in sight, there was only one way they could have gone—to the east.

Drew was in the open when another of those wild sand and dust flurries caught him. Buffeted here and there, staggering, his arm up over his face, he was driven by its force until he brought up against a rock wall. With that as a guide he kept on stubbornly, because once more he had heard the scream of the Pinto. In triumph? Drew shivered under a thrust of fear which left him sick. He was sure that that murderous red-and-white devil had finished off Shiloh.

Along the wall ... keep going.... The dust was thinning again. Drew's hand was on the Colt Topham had supplied. The Spencer lay back on the ridge. But if any kind of fortune favored him now, he was going to shoot the Pinto—if it was the last thing he ever did.

There was a clear space ahead once more. The sullen gray sky gave only dulled light, but enough to see by.

Drew had heard many stories of the fury of the stallion battle, and he had seen fearsome scars ridging the hides of two of the Range studs. But actually witnessing such a battle shook him. Teeth ... hoofs ... blood on Shiloh's shoulders and flanks ... a strip of flesh dangling.... But Drew saw that the Pinto was marked, too.

The wild horse was trying for a final throat grip, and

Shiloh was on the defensive, running, wheeling to kick, once getting home on the Pinto's ribs so that the spotted horse squealed with pain. Shiloh had a torn ear and a gash open on his neck. The two battlers twisted and turned in a mad fury of movement.

Drew edged on, Colt ready. But to fire now was impossible.

The Pinto's hoofs crashed against the saddle and Shiloh gave ground. With a scream of triumph the wild one's head snaked out, teeth ready to set on the larger horse's throat. Hopelessly, Drew shot—it was all he could do.

The white-and-red head tossed. Shiloh had wrenched back. The Pinto drove against the gray and crashed down. It lay kicking as the larger horse hit out with forefeet, bringing them heavily down on the Pinto. The Pinto let out a cry of rage and pain that seemed to startle even Shiloh. The gray backed away from his writhing enemy and stood shivering, his head outstretched, nostrils distended. Drew fired for the second time and the helpless kicking was stilled.

Shiloh moved, limping. Blood matted with dust stained his coat, making him almost as red and white as the Range stud. Drew holstered the Colt and went to his horse, crooning softly as he caught one of the chewed and broken reins.

He was trying to examine what seemed to him terrible wounds, when Shiloh started neighing. The Kentuckian looked back. Anse and Rennie, with Teodoro and Chino bringing up the rear, were coming. The young mustanger went to look down at the Pinto.

"He is dead." That was an observation rather than a question. Teodoro knelt in the dust, drew his knife and cut loose strands of the long mane hair.

"I shot him." Drew was more intent on Shiloh's wounds. "He was killin' Shiloh."

He pushed back the thought that although his horse was still on its feet, the Pinto might have killed him, after all. Except for horses ripped by shellfire in battle, Drew had never seen any wounds such as these. He was deadly afraid that those two bullets had not really saved the stud.

"Let's have a look, Chino, bring my saddlebags!" Hunt Rennie was beside Drew. "Can you lead him back to the water hole?" he asked. "See if he'll walk."

Somehow they did it—Drew and Anse, Rennie and Teodoro. They coaxed, led, supported Shiloh when they could, and brought him to the water hole. And then they worked to stop the weakening flow of blood. Drew kept the young horse quiet while Rennie stitched up the worst of the tears.

"He'll do." Rennie washed his hands. "Can't move him for some time, though. He must have given a good account of himself meeting that murderer for the first time. Lucky ..."

"Suh—" Drew found it difficult to face Rennie. As his anxiety over the horse's condition had faded, he had had time to think of something beyond his own affairs. "I want to say thanks." He got that out in a rush before he added the admission he must make: "I spoiled your plan to take Kitchell."

Rennie's dark eyes held his as they had always been able to do. Then Drew had the odd sensation that the two of them were all alone in a place not bound by space or time.

"Don't say you're sorry. If you did, I wouldn't believe you. You made the move you had to. If it had been Oro out there—I would have done the same."

Drew responded to that impulsively. "You're generous, suh."

His father's black brows drew together in a slight frown. "Generous? No, that's the truth. As for losing Kitchell—we may not have. Those who got away have Greyfeather, Nye, and others on their trail. And I do not think they will find such hunters easy to fool. Also, we have a prisoner...."

Don Cazar's acceptance of their failure was so placid that Drew was led to make a wild guess.

"Not Kitchell himself!"

Rennie smiled. "No, we weren't that lucky—you must have had the lion's share of that commodity here today. We have a Mexican, name unknown. He was shot down while trying to pick up the rider Shiloh got rid of—who just might have been Kitchell. But this prisoner may be moved to tell us about the three who got away. If these wind storms keep up, they could powder over the trail and the boys will need help."

The Mexican, his shoulder bandaged, was propped up against the saddle they had taken from Shiloh. He stared at them sullenly, his gaze finally centering on Don Cazar when they took places opposite him.

"Some of that coffee for him, Chino," Rennie called. Herrera brought over a tin cup from the fire now blazing. As the Mexican took it awkwardly with his left hand, still watching Rennie glassily over the brim, the latter used fluent Spanish, only a word or two of which Drew understood.

The man grunted and then was assailed by Chino in a hotter flow of his native tongue, until Rennie silenced the vaquero's outburst with a wave of hand and spoke again.

Drew sniffed the aroma of the bacon Donally was frying, his stomach protesting plaintively.

"What are they sayin'?" he whispered to Anse.

"Old Man pointed out nice an' plain what th' Mex's in for, lessen he speaks up. This hombre, Rennie thinks maybe he don't run regular with Kitchell—more'n likely he came up from th' south, could be to guide th' gang back there some place. Iffen th' Mex can prove that, th' Old Man promises to talk for him with th' law. So far he ain't said nothin' much in answer."

They ate. The prisoner's round face expressed surprise when Rennie had him provided with an equal share. He sucked his greasy fingers avidly after he had wolfed down his portion. A moment later he asked a question of his own. Rennie replied, nodding vigorously, as if to make assent more emphatic. Anse translated.

"Th' Mex wanted to know if th' Old Man meant what he said 'bout talkin' up to th' law. If so, he may loosen his jaw some. I'd say, if he's a guide from down there, he wouldn't be too set on coverin' for Kitchell—not when that might mean gettin' his own neck stretched. Yeah ... now he's beginnin' to run right over at th' lip."

The prisoner did loose a flood of words, Rennie and Chino listening intently, Donally coming to stand behind the others. Drew guessed by his changing expressions that the Anglo rider was as much at home in Spanish as Anse. The Kentuckian regretted his own ignorance; the few words he had picked up along the trail from Texas certainly were no help now.

The Mexican wiped his good hand up and down the front of his worn jacket, and then smoothed a patch of soil. On it he drew lines and explained each of them, much as Hilario Trinfan had done for the horse hunters days earlier.

"What's he sayin' now?" Drew demanded of Anse.

"That it's true he was sent to guide Kitchell south. That train of hosses an' loot was th' gang's prime pickin's. Some of it was to grease their way in with this hombre's patron—don't know who he is—some Mex gineral or such. Kitchell, he rode behind because he had waited for a gringo to meet him. They was makin' up time when they heard th' fight goin' on in th' pass. Kitchell headed back here to fill canteens. Th' Mex was goin' to guide 'em south by another trail—one he knows. He's layin' it out for th' Old Man now. It's a pretty rough one; they'd have to take it slow. Could be we could catch up before Kitchell makes it—'specially since he don't have this Mex leadin' him now."

When it was necessary Rennie could move fast. He was on his feet giving orders almost before Anse had finished the translation. Their party was to be split in two. Drew and Anse were to stay with the wounded Mexican and Shiloh, and prepare to defend the water hole if the outlaws made a second attempt to come in. The rest of them would ride for an already designated rendezvous point where they would meet the party sent to trace the fugitives.

"Why do I stay, suh?" Anse protested when Don Cazar had finished.

"You can tend that arm better on the ground than in the saddle."

"Ain't no hurt there any more." Anse hurriedly pulled it from the sling. "Anyways, that ain't m' shootin' hand, neither!" But one look at Hunt Rennie's face reduced him to muttering.

Drew watched their preparations quietly. Then he gathered up two canteens and filled them at the water hole, went back to loop their carry straps over Hunt Rennie's saddle horn. Anse had a bad arm, so it was right that he should not go chasing hell-for-leather over rough country. But Drew Rennie—he was left because he was useless in another way. He was a man who could not be depended upon, who had sprung their trap because he cared more for a horse than he did for the success of Rennie's mission.

And in a way Hunt Rennie was perfectly just in that judgment. If it were all to do over again, Drew knew he would make exactly the same choice. Shiloh was his—about the only good thing he had ever possessed, or might ever have in the future. If, in order to keep Shiloh, he had to give up what he knew now was a very vague dream—he would surrender the dream every time.

Although he knew that was the truth, the Kentuckian was desperately unhappy as he made a lengthy business of adjusting the canteens. About the worst words one could ever speak, or think, were "too late." This was all too late—twenty years too late. They might have had something good together, he and Hunt Rennie. Now it was too late.

As Drew heard the crunch of boots on gravel close behind him, he swung around. "Full canteens," he blurted out. And then, ashamed of his own confusion, he forced himself to look straight at his father. "Good luck, suh."

"We'll need it. I'm leaving you Jose—he'll do some prowling. Wouldn't do for you to be jumped by Apaches. If we don't come back in three or four days and Shiloh's able to travel, you take the Mexican and head back to the Stronghold—understand? I mean that."

"Yes, suh." Drew had lost his right to protest, lost it the instant he had betrayed their ambush. Now he turned quickly and hurried to where Shiloh stood. The last thing he wanted to see was Hunt Rennie ride away.

Anse kicked earth over the fire when they were gone. "No use showin' smoke," he remarked, and Drew readily agreed. The horses, with the exception of Shiloh, were hobbled and allowed the restricted freedom of the pocket-sized meadow running back from the water hole. Anse and Drew divided the night into two-hour watches.

"Don't see as how they'd be fool enough to try chewin' back on their trail again, though," Anse commented.

"They need water. Accordin' to what this guide of theirs says, they'll need it doubly bad before they finish that road of his. They might just be crazy enough to try here—men have gotten away with tricks such as that before."

"Drew." Anse was only a shadow among shadows, a voice out of the dark now. "You made up your mind about what you're goin' to do when this is all over?"

"Pull out—California maybe. I don't know."

"Sure you don't want to stay?"

"No!" Drew put explosive emphasis into his reply.

"A man can be too stubborn an' stiff-necked for his own good—"

"A man has to do what he has to," Drew snapped. "I'm turnin' in. Give me th' nudge when it's time."

He rolled in a blanket, settled himself with his Colt close to hand, and lay gazing up into the cloudy sky. What was the matter with him, anyway? All he had to do was stick to his decision. And that was the best one for him. Resolutely he closed his eyes and tried to will his mind a blank, himself into slumber.

"Drew—!"

Before his eyes were fairly open his hand was reaching for the Colt, only to meet a numbing blow on the wrist. The Kentuckian rolled in instinctive reaction and a second, body-jarring stroke caught him in the ribs. He was left gasping, still not fully aware of what had happened.

"All right, you—on your feet!" A hand hooked in the collar of his coat to jerk him up. Somehow Drew did find his feet and stood bent over, his hands to his bruised side, breathing in small painful gasps. A rib had either been broken in that assault, or it was cracked.

There were two—three—four figures moving in the moonlight. Then the one fronting him turned and he saw the face clearly. Shannon!

"Only three of 'em—Benito an' these two," one of the others reported.

"How's Benito?" There was authority in that inquiry, but it came from the one man who kept well back in the shadows.

"Got him a holed shoulder."

"Able to ride?"

"Dunno, suh."

"He'd better be. We need him to find Graverro. These two we don't need."

"That's where you're wrong, Colonel. This here's about th' best cover we could git us now." Shannon laughed. "Mister Drew Rennie, come outta Kentucky to find his pa—touchin' story, ain't it? Real touchin'—like somethin' outta a book. Well, does his pa find us, his sonny boy'd be real handy, now wouldn't he?"

"You have a point, Shannon. We'll take him."

"An' th' other one, Colonel, suh?"

Kitchell—if Kitchell that shadow was—came out into the moonlight. He wore the gray shell jacket of a Confederate cavalryman, and the light glinted on the cords of a field officer's hat.

"Who are you, boy?" He faced to the left and Drew looked in the same direction.

Anse stood there, the barrel of a Colt pushed against him just above the belt line.

"Anson Kirby."

Shannon laughed again. "'Nother big man—says he rode with General Forrest!"

"That true, Kirby, you were one of General Forrest's command?"

"It's true," Anse drawled. "Mean's nothin' now, th' war's long gone, hombre."

"Maybe it's over back east—not here! You stayed to the end, boy?"

"Yankees took me prisoner before that."

"Sergeant Wayne!"

"Yes, suh?" Anse's captor responded.

"Put him to sleep!"



18

Drew lunged and then reeled back as Shannon laid the barrel of his Colt alongside the Kentuckian's head. He was half dazed from the blow but he managed to get out his protest.

"You murderin' butcher!"

"Kirby ain't dead, he'll just have a sore head tomorrow," Kitchell returned, as the man he called Sergeant Wayne straightened up from the Texan's crumpled form. "And you—you keep a civil tongue in your head when addressing a superior officer. Shannon, no more of that!" The order stayed a second blow.

"Oughta shot him for real, suh."

"No. Not a man who rode with General Forrest." Kitchell hesitated and then added, "We'll be long gone before he wakes. Tie this one in the saddle if he can't hang on by himself. You may be right, Shannon, about him having his uses in the future."

"Say, Colonel, this here gray hoss, he's got hisself all hurted bad. Can't nohow go 'long with us. Want I should shoot 'im?" That whine came from the meadow where they had left the horses.

"No, leave him. Won't do Kirby any good and that's a fine horse—might just see him again some day. Sergeant, you fill all the canteens; take any supplies you find here. Then we'll move out."

Drew, his wrists corded to the saddle horn, both ankles lashed to the stirrups, swayed in the saddle as Shannon took the reins of his horse and led it along. The pain in his head and the agony in his side resulting from even the most shallow breaths, brought on a kind of red mist which shut off most of the surrounding night. He had no idea how the outlaws had managed to jump the camp. And who was the extra man with them now? Only three had escaped during the horse fight, but four rode in the present party. He could not think straight; it was all he could do to will himself to hold on and ride.

Drew was thirsty, so thirsty his tongue was a cottony mass in his mouth. The day was light and sunny now, and they were single-filing through a region of bright, colored rock wind-worn into pinnacles, spires, and mesas. There was no water, no green of living things—just rock and sun and the terrible need for a drink.

Maybe he moaned; Drew could not be sure. He saw the man riding ahead turn in the saddle. Blue eyes, the man had, with no honest life in them. Once before the Kentuckian had seen eyes such as those. It had been in a cabin—a cabin back in Tennessee in the dead of winter. A young bushwhacker wearing Union blue, with a murderer's eyes in his boyish face, had watched Drew with the same incurious glance which held nothing of humankind. Shannon; the bushwhacker—two of the same killer breed. But to recognize that no longer mattered. Nothing mattered save water....

His mount stopped. Drew looked dully at the ground. Then his attention shifted to the man standing beside his horse.

"Down with you, fella."

Gray jacket, torn and threadbare—yet gray. Drew frowned.

"Sergeant Rennie, Buford's Scouts...." He tried to identify himself to this strange Confederate, but the words that got out were a thick mumble. Then, somehow he was on the ground and the man was holding a canteen to his mouth, dribbling blessed liquid over that choking cotton. Drew drank.

"Sergeant Rennie ... must report ... General Buford...." He was able to talk better now.

"Wot's that he's sayin'?"

"Somethin' 'bout some General Buford. Don't know who he is."

"Buford? Buford rode with Forrest." Those words were spoken by a different voice, sharper, better educated.

Drew opened his eyes, and for the first time actually saw the men he had been traveling with. The officer, who was maybe in his mid-thirties, had a beard trimmed to a point and eyes half sunk in his head. And Shannon—he had a half-grin on his lips as he stared down, enjoying what he saw when he surveyed Drew. The one Kitchell called Sergeant Wayne was a big fellow, even though he was thinned down. He had a square sort of face—jaw too heavy for the rest of it. Then, Drew's eyes came to the last man and stopped.

To the first three there was a uniformity; the remnants of military training still clung to them. But this shrunken figure with a wild gray beard, watery, bloodshot eyes, a matted thatch of hair on which a broken-rimmed hat perched, ragged and filthy clothing ...

"Not gonna haul th' Mex much farther, you ain't!" observed this scarecrow with a touch of relish in the relaying of bad news. "He's outta his head now, gonna be clean outta his skin come sundown."

"All right!" said Kitchell. "We'll camp here ... in that shade." His gesture indicated some point beyond Drew's range of vision.

"They're gonna be sniffin' 'long right behind us," the sergeant said dubiously.

"You're forgettin' we've got us sonny boy here!" Shannon loomed over Drew. "He'll buy us out."

"Maybe from Rennie—not from them Yankee troopers."

"I told you"—Shannon lost his grin—"th' Yanks ain't gonna come all th' way down here! There's too much pointin' in th' other direction. That is, if you was as good as you said you was, Lutterfield!"

The old man grinned in turn, widely set yellow tooth stubs showing ragged. "Ain't never failed you yet, boy. Old Amos Lutterfield, he's got him those wot believe wot he says like it was Holy Writ—he sure has! Them troopers'll go poundin' down th' Sonora road huntin' wot never was, till they drop men an' hosses all along. Then Nahata an' his bucks'll tickle 'em up a bit—an' they'll forgit there was anyone else t' hunt."

Drew lay in the position where they had dumped him, his hands still tied, the ropes on his ankles now knotted together. Had the season been high summer they would have baked in this rock slit, but it was still uncomfortably warm. He heard a low moaning and saw Kitchell and Lutterfield bending over the Mexican. It was plain that the wounded man had suffered from his enforced ride.

Some time later the Kentuckian was pulled into a sitting position. His hands loosened, he was allowed to feed himself, but the carne tasted like wood splinters when he chewed it.

"Not much like th' Range?" Shannon asked him. "Don't worry none—it won't last long, Rennie, no, it won't!"

"You did take my papers."

"I sure did! You thought I was clean outta m' senses back there in th' Jacks when that fool Texan called out your name—didn't you now? Well, I wasn't an' what he said sure made me want to know a little more—seein' as how Hunt Rennie might well be m' pa. He owed me a Pa, you know. M' real pa was killed gittin' him outta prison. I didn't want no drifters cuttin' in on what was rightly mine, in a manner of speakin'. So I just waited m' chance to get at that belt of yours. Found what I wanted—an' that sorta made up m' mind.

"Colonel Kitchell here, he wanted me to go south with him. They have them a war goin' on down there; a man can always git ahead in wartime does he like soldierin'. But I weren't sure 'bout goin', till I found out as how I might jus' be pushed out, anyway."

"Why did you think that? Hunt Rennie's always treated you as a real son, hasn't he?"

"Like a real son? Like his idea of a son, you mean. Work hard—an' havin' books pushed at me. Always jawin' about education an' bein' a gentleman! Do this, don't do that—this's right, that's wrong. Bein' soft with Injuns—Lord, I was sick of bein' his kind of son when I went off with Howard. Rennie wasn't even ready to fight th' war proper—big man here, 'fraid to try it where he wasn't! Rightly he was sick of me, too, only his precious duty wouldn't let him say so.

"But as long as he didn't know 'bout you, he'd try, an' keep on tryin'. I had me a good place to hole up on th' Range. With you there he might'n't hold on to his patience. First off I thought I might settle you permanent, then you got took up by Bayliss." Shannon laughed. "That sure was a switch! Captain thought you was Kitchell's man, when he shoulda looked a little closer in a coupla other places."

"But you were shot—by Kitchell's men."

"I was creased by th' shotgun rider on th' stage we tried to stop. Boys brought me in close to town an' dumped me on th' road—gave us a chance to make up another tale to fool Bayliss. Me, I've been ridin' with Colonel Kitchell since '64. We come west from Kansas 'long th' end of that year. Th' Colonel, he saw what might be done out here where it's a long ride between sheriffs an' th' army hadda think 'bout Injuns most of th' time—what army there still was in th' territory. Me an' old man Lutterfield, we could help th' Colonel better not ridin' with him, but for him, as you might say."

"And now you're goin' to Mexico?"

"In time, Rennie, in time. Th' Colonel's thinkin' out some plans. Don Cazar, he was too lucky at th' pass."

"You're not goin' to get back those horses or mules—or what they were packin'," Drew said.

"We'll see, we'll see." Certainly Shannon's confidence was in nowise shaken. "Th' Colonel, he didn't want to call in Nahata an' his bucks—now maybe he'll have to. What we need is a lay-up till we can make some good plans. An' Benito, he'll arrange that."

"If he lives." Drew closed his eyes wearily. His face was one bruised ache where Shannon's blow had landed, and his side was constant pain.

"You'll see," Shannon promised. "We've got us a big ace in th' hole—th' Range boys don't know as how I'm with Kitchell, not yet. That's how we took you so easy back to th' water hole. I jus' rode up to Jose—got that there Pima listenin' to me till Lutterfield sneaked up an' put him outta business. Lutterfield, he don't look much, but he was runnin' in this country with th' Injuns thirty years ago. He's got th' Apaches lissenin' to him good. An' I can talk us through th' posses—maybe even into th' Stronghold later."

"You're a clever man, Shannon," Drew commented dryly.

"An' you're too free with that lip!" Drew's head rocked under a stinging slap which made fiery wheels of pain roll in his head. He must have been sent very close to the edge of unconsciousness for a moment or two.

"That's 'nough, Johnny," said Sergeant Wayne. "Th' Colonel says to keep him ready to move. You battin' him 'round like that don't do no good."

So Topham had been right—Johnny Shannon was Kitchell's man. Not that it mattered now. Even if, by some miracle, Drew could get away from this pack of wolves, he had no idea of where he was or which way to go. One man alone and lost in this country faced death as certain as the bullet Johnny Shannon had already loaded for him. There was only one thing—he was still alive, and as long as a man lived he had hope.

Nye and Greyfeather had trailed this bunch from the water hole. Perhaps the wind and sand storms had muddled the tracks, but Drew still had faith in the Pima. And Rennie's party had followed with the knowledge of the Mexican's bolt hole to the south. Why, right now they could have circled ahead—could be waiting for Kitchell again as they had at the pass. An attack could give him a thin chance of escape. He had best keep his mouth shut and not provoke Shannon, maybe feign being more helpless than he was.

The outlaws had difficulty in getting the Mexican on his horse when they were ready to move on in the evening. Drew, seeing the man's swollen face, his half-closed, set eyes, thought he was in high fever, probably no longer conscious. Kitchell ought to have sense enough to know Benito might not last out the night. But it was plain they were now pushed for time.

They had been on the way for a while before Drew noticed that Lutterfield was not with them. His reappearance was far more dramatic than his going. A horse clattered up from behind at a pace not in keeping with the rough footing, and the rider drew level with Kitchell.

"Soldiers comin', Colonel. Got 'em a couple o' them Pima Scouts sniffin' th' trail an' some o' Rennie's men with 'em, too!"

"It ain't true!" Shannon's protest was loud.

"I seed em—bright an' clear—mos' up to where we stopped last. Iffen you wants to sit 'round waitin' for 'em, do it! I'm clearin' out—ain't nobody can say Amos Lutterfield was here."

"Nobody but us," Shannon said coldly.

"Lutterfield!"

Even Drew's head came around at that. The moonlight was silver bright on the barrel of the Colt in Kitchell's grasp. "Sergeant, suppose you take precautions to insure the continued company of this man. I don't intend, Lutterfield, to let you curry favor by pointing out our trail to the army. I'd answer your proposed desertion as it deserves—with a bullet—but a body on our trail would provide an excellent signpost for any pursuers."

The rope which had been coiled on Wayne's saddle swung out in a perfect loop and tightened about Lutterfield, pinning his arms to his sides. His protests and roars of anger went unheeded and he rode on as much a prisoner as Drew.

"Move out." Kitchell motioned with the Colt. "Those two peaks ahead—according to Benito, the cut we want is between them. Across that we're free. The army can't follow us into Mexico."

But Kitchell still kept to a cautious pace. The risk of losing a mount was one he dared not run. Drew debated the idea of booting his own horse from their line of march and trying to ride for it. He need only hide out and wait for the troopers to pick him up. If he had had hands free and been able to move in the saddle to dodge bullets, he might have tried it.

The night wore on and Drew was driven to admiring the outlaws' nerve. Kitchell did not hurry; in fact he followed the old cavalry custom of resting mounts at regular intervals, seeing that each of the weary horses had nostrils and mouth wiped out with a dampened cloth. At the third halt he allowed them a drink of water before a smaller portion was given the men. Whatever else the outlaw might be, he was an experienced field commander.

They had the peaks looming above them when Benito gave a gurgling gasp and stiffened, tall in the saddle, before he looped into a limp, dangling bundle of a man. Kitchell called a halt. He dismounted to examine the Mexican before he beckoned to Wayne.

"He's dead. We'll need his horse. Put him down behind those rocks over there, Sergeant."

"You know where we're goin', suh?" Shannon asked.

"Enough to get us across the border. We can take cover there, make some other arrangements. Benito's patron would not welcome us with empty pockets. Hurry, Sergeant!"

"I only got two hands, suh." Wayne had freed the body of the Mexican but was having trouble dragging it into the appointed hiding place.

"You help him, Shannon. We have no time to waste."

"What about him?" Shannon's thumb indicated Drew.

"I don't see how he can get away. Hurry up!"

Johnny dismounted with visible reluctance, but not before he blasted Drew's hopes by looping the reins of the captive's horse around his own saddle horn. And in addition Kitchell stood there with drawn gun. They had disposed of the body and Johnny was back when a sudden command boomed out of the air.

"Freeze!"

Shannon leaped, putting his horse between him and the open. He had the reins of Drew's mount in his hand. Kitchell went into a half crouch, and was startled into snapping a shot in the general direction of the voice.

Drew sat statue still. It was only too easy in this tricky light, bright though the moon was, to seem one of the men those ahead were hunting. He had no desire to stop a bullet now. But Johnny had ideas of his own. Under his direction Drew's horse broke to the left. There were shots and Drew flattened himself as best he could on the saddle horn, but not before he saw Kitchell spin around in a crazy dance and fall.

"All right, all right!" Shannon's voice was broken, ragged, almost as if he were sobbing. "You ain't got me yet—not by a sight, you ain't!" A knife flashed, cutting the ties which kept Drew's left boot to the stirrup. The Kentuckian was dragged down and held while the knife sliced again. Two more shots—then silence. Drew lay face to earth. The fall from the saddle had brought him down on his injured side, and he was in too great pain to take much interest in his surroundings.

Then he was dragged, pulled over on his back.

"I got Drew Rennie here." The call was one of desperation. "Yeah, hear that? Drew Rennie—th' Old Man's son.... I read them letters he had—it's th' truth! You come t' take me an' he gits a knife clean across his throat. I want me a hoss, water, an' an open road south. Do I git 'em—or does Mister High an' Mighty Rennie git him a son who ain't speakin' no more?"

"Johnny? Is that you, Johnny?"

"It sure is! Me, Johnny Shannon! An' I'm ridin' outta here free'n clear or else I'll do what I said. I mean that, Rennie! I surely do mean it. You lose me an' you git your real son—good bargain, ain't it?"

"You won't ride free for long, Johnny. You know that."

"I can have me a pretty good try, Rennie. This here's my country an' I know it well—better'n any but your men. Give me your word an' I'll go."

Drew tried to fight back the darkness which was closing in, a dark stronger than mere night shadows.

"Give him what he wants." The words echoed hollowly.

Shannon drew a deep breath. He laughed softly. And Drew made a great effort. He could see the bulk of the other's body poised between him and an opening between the rocks which must give on the pocket in which the outlaws had been surprised. Johnny was set like a runner ready on the mark.

The Kentuckian could hear the scrape of horses' hoofs on stone. They must be bringing out a mount, keeping Hunt's part of the bargain. Only, Drew suddenly knew, Johnny was going to keep him. He saw the gun hand shift against the rock—Johnny was taking aim into the pocket. Why? By trusting to Rennie's word he would have a slim chance, so why spoil it by some treachery?

"All right, Johnny, it's ready for you."

"Now you git them hands up, Rennie. Sorta guessed you'd come yourself. I'm gittin' out, all right. Do I take you along there ain't goin' to be no trailin', none 'tall—do they want Don Cazar to keep on breathing regular. Git them hands up, high!"

With all the force he could summon Drew kicked at Johnny's crouching body. Shannon cried out—there was a shot. Then Johnny cried again, this time with a choke cutting off the word as he arched convulsively against the boulder. In the half light the arrow projecting from between his shoulder blades stood out with unnatural clarity.

Arrow? Drew's wits worked slowly. The arrow must have come from one of the Pimas—Rennie had been covered, after all. So he had not believed too much in Johnny's promises....

"You there, kid?" Someone came through the rock gap. "Hey—he's here all right, but he's hurt!" Nye's grasp on him brought the pain in Drew's side to an agony he could no longer stand. He was crushed down into darkness.

"Ribs are cracked, not broken—that's something to be thankful for. All right, you can let him down now. Give me that pad and some water; I want to see how much damage there is here."

Drew tried to turn his head away from the touch on his swollen cheek and jaw, but he was held steady to endure it.

"Best we can do for the present. You can leave the rest to me, Nye."

Drew opened his eyes. There was a fire near-by, but the flickering of the flames concealed more than they revealed of the face above him. He found the words to say rather than ask:

"You knew ... before Johnny told ... you knew...."

"Teodoro told me—yesterday."

"I didn't lie. Johnny took the papers."

"He admitted it at the last. But why, why didn't you come to me?"

Put muddled feelings into words, attempt to explain what he did not fully understand himself? It was hard even to try, but you always faced up to the hard things.

"Wanted to know ... if it was right ... for both of us ... had to know that."

"If you'd be welcome—that it? Well, what did you decide?"

What had he decided hours, days ago?

"Too late...." But somehow that came out differently than he intended, as a question rather than a statement.

"No." The answer was uttered flatly, in a voice you did not argue with. "Suppose we begin all over again. You willing to try?"

"Better say—are you, suh?" Drew had whirling memories of all that had gone wrong since he had tried things his way. Then he saw a smile on his father's face, bringing him in—in where? To what? Suddenly he was eager to find out.

"Took the long way around to get home, didn't you?" Hunt Rennie asked softly. "I think we can make it worth the effort. Now, suppose you try some sleep—you've a pair of cracked ribs which'll have to be favored for a while. I think you've been too knocked about lately to make good sense. There'll be plenty of time."

Plenty of time.... Drew blinked. "Yes, suh." Obediently he shut his eyes. A blanket was pulled up, tucked in about him. For a moment a warm hand rested protectingly on his shoulder. And that reassuring pressure carried over with him into sleep, as if what he had long sought without recognizing was his, never to be lost again.



SCIENCE FICTION BY ANDRE NORTON

———————————————————————————-

THE TIME TRADERS

"Effectively utilizing the concept of time travel, the author ... has written another imaginative, action-filled science fiction story for teenage boys. Young Ross Murdock ... is sent back into the Bronze Age, discovers a derelict galactic ship, and finds himself fighting ... to gain control of the secrets of space flight."—ALA Booklist

THE STARS ARE OURS!

To escape the tyranny on Terra in the year 2500, a group of scientists make a last-minute getaway under fire and take off for another planet in another solar system. Their adventures make top-flight entertainment for all science-fiction fans.

STAR BORN

Young Dalgard Nordis of the planet Astra and his merman companion Sssuri join forces with a space man from Terra to outwit resurgent nonhuman Aliens. A sequel to The Stars Are Ours!

GALACTIC DERELICT

Full of action and suspense, this is a gripping story of modern scientists engaged in a daring experiment in time transfer, who find themselves catapulted from the age of prehistoric man into outer space.

STORM OVER WARLOCK

"Shann's victory over the beetle-like Throgs and his civilized alliance with [an eerie world of beautiful witches] is told with that sweeping imagination and brilliance of detail which render Andre Norton a primary talent among writers of science fiction."—Virginia Kirkus' Bulletin

THE DEFIANT AGENTS

"In this companion to Galactic Derelict a group of well-educated Apache Indians is space-shipped to another planet [where] they discover that the Russians have sent a group of Mongols ... Aficionados will like it."—Library Journal

THE END

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