He was drawing himself over the ledge, and the low, stern voice startled him, as a knife might have done, thrust suddenly from the empty air at his breast. Rome rose upright against the cliff, with his resolute face against the stock of a Winchester.
The order was given along Stetson's barrel, and the weapon was dropped, the steel ringing on the stone floor. Rome lowered his gun to the hollow of his arm, and the two young leaders faced each other for the first time in the life of either.
Seem kinder s'prised to see me," said the Stetson, grimly. " Hev ye got a pistol?
Young Jasper glared at him in helpless ferocity.
He drew a long-bladed penknife from his pocket, and tossed it at Rome's feet.
"Jes' move over thar, will ye?"
The Lewallen took his stand against the cliff. Rome picked up the fallen rifle and leaned it against the ledge.
"Now, Jas Lewallen, thar's nobody left in this leetle trouble 'cept you 'n' me, 'n' ef one of us was dead, I reckon t'other could live hyeh, 'n' thar'd be peace in these mount'ins. I thought o' that when I had ye at the eend o' this Winchester. I reckon you would 'a' shot me dead ef I had poked my head over a rock as keerless as you." That is just what he would have done, and Jasper did not answer. "I've swore to kill ye, too," added Rome, tapping his gun; "I've got a cross fer ye hyeh."