He looked down at the trail, and then he very slowly turned round in his saddle and stared back steadily at me. “There’s two of them,” he said.

“Two what?” “I don’t know.” “You must know whether it’s two horses or two men,” I said, almost angrily.

But to this he made no answer, sitting quite still on his horse and contemplating the ground. The silence was fastening on me like a spell, and I spurred my horse impatiently forward to see for myself. The footprints of two men were there in the trail.

“What do you say to that?” said the Virginian. “Kind of ridiculous, ain’t it?” “Very quaint,” I answered, groping for the explanation. There was no rock here to walk over and step from into the softer trail. These second steps came more out of the air than the first. And my brain played me the evil trick of showing me a dead man in a gray flannel shirt.

“It’s two, you see, travelling with one hawss, and they take turns riding him.” “Why, of course!” I exclaimed; and we went along for a few paces.

“There you are,” said the Virginian, as the trail proved him right. “Number one has got on. My God, what’s that?” At a crashing in the woods very close to us we both flung round and caught sight of a vanishing elk.

It left us confronted, smiling a little, and sounding each other with our eyes. “Well, we didn’t need him for meat,” said the Virginian.

“A spike-horn, wasn’t it?” said I.

“Yes, just a spike-horn.” For a while now as we rode we kept up a cheerful conversation about elk. We wondered if we should meet many more close to the trail like this; but it was not long before o’er words died away. We had come into a veritable gulf of mountain peaks, sharp at their bare summits like teeth, holding fields of snow loner down, and glittering still in full day up there, while down among our pines and parks the afternoon was growing sombre. All the while the fresh hoofprints of the horse and the fresh footprints of the man preceded us. In the trees, and in the opens, across the levels, and up the steeps, they were there. And so they were not four hours old! Were they so much? Might we not, round some turn, come upon the makers of them? I began to watch for this. And again my brain played me an evil trick, against which I found myself actually reasoning thus: if they took turns riding, then walking must tire them as it did me or any man. And besides, there was a horse. With such thoughts I combated the fancy that those footprints were being made immediately in front of us all the while, and that they were the only sign of any presence which our eyes could see. But my fancy overcame my thoughts. It was shame only which held me from asking this question of the Virginian: Had one horse served in both cases of Justice down at the cottonwoods? I wondered about this. One horse--or had the strangling nooses dragged two saddles empty at the same signal? Most likely; and therefore these people up here-- Was I going back to the nursery? I brought myself up short. And I told myself to be steady; there lurked in this brain-process which was going on beneath my reason a threat worse than the childish apprehensions it created. I reminded myself that I was a man grown, twenty-five years old, and that I must not merely seem like one, but feel like one. “You’re not afraid of the dark, I suppose?” This I uttered aloud, unwittingly.

“What’s that?” I started; but it was only the Virginian behind me. “Oh, nothing. The air is getting colder up here.” I had presently a great relief. We came to a place where again this trail mounted so abruptly that we once more got off to lead our horses. So likewise had our predecessors done; and as I watched the two different sets of Footprints, I observed something and hastened to speak of it.

“One man is much heavier than the other.” “I was hoping I’d not have to tell you that,” said the Virginian.

“You’re always ahead of me! Well, still my education is progressing.” “Why, yes. You’ll equal an Injun if you keep on.” It was good to be facetious; and I smiled to myself as I trudged upward. We came off the

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