Look now, horseman...

Here is a distinguished Canadian story about the love of a simple man for a brave horse. It is as unusual —and as memorable—as The Last of the Curlews


Look now, horseman...

Here is a distinguished Canadian story about the love of a simple man for a brave horse. It is as unusual —and as memorable—as The Last of the Curlews


Look now, horseman...

Here is a distinguished Canadian story about the love of a simple man for a brave horse. It is as unusual —and as memorable—as The Last of the Curlews


Look now, horseman...


I he stallion became calmer when, at last, the coast-guard vessel began to close with the land, sounding her way with much care to the poor anchorage. In the long hours of the passage from the Nova Scotian mainland to Sable Island, the stallion had been furious or grieving, either one or the other. His anger had been against the dreary Atlantic and a voyage that had no meaning to him. His grief had been for the Lunenberg boy who had led him aboard and had parted from him without a tear, although his heart had hurt so badly that he couldn’t get out a word. He had thrust a scrawled message into Boatswain Shannon’s hand, and had hurried away without a backward look for his horse, all the time nickering for a kiss good-by.

Now, in the hour before daybreak, the waning easterly bore to the stallion's nostrils the scents of marsh meadows, fresh water pools, and scents of the island mares, the free wild wanderers, and those stabled in the island barn where they were to be bred to him because he was bigger and stronger than the island studs.

Answering these changes in the wind and the smoother way of the vessel, the stallion held his grand head higher against the bars of his deck stall. The blaze on his chestnut forehead gleamed in the dim deck lights. Ear-brisk, and trembling in a new way, he blew his breath out in pleasurable snorts.

“That's more like it, lad,” said Shannon. “Grieve no more.”

He heard again the voice of the leadsman calling to the bridge. Up there, a man repeated the cry, and added, "Ah, that’s well, that's well. Thank God for it!” Somebody on the bridge laughed. It was the laughter of relief from anxiety, stretched out too long this time by the September easterly.

The vessel began to swing into the wind, and she slid on slowly,

fearful of the ever-shifting sands beneath her keel. Her horn called out to the island men. On the starboard wing of her bridge a blinker began sending. No answer came yet awhile. Near to her the beam of the West Light swept yellow in the rain. Ten miles away the East Light ran dim. Between the two, high dunes rolled like the sea beyond. and the breakers bellowed among the ribs and ruins of vessels lurched along the eastern beach. From the masthead of a tilted freighter, bigger than all the other wrecks, a queer bluish light spun up, as if she were still dying, and not long dead.

Between the West Light and the main barn, now barely visible in the darkness, a lamp began sending in high, destroyer-style speed: “Name of vessel, please, and destination.”

Shannon laughed in mild amusement. “Oh, blather! What’s he expecting, eh? The Empress herself?”

The stallion, pleased by the laughter, stepped about daintily, carrying his tail high in good spirits.

“Smile again, lad, and I’ll come in and take a look at that port knee.” He then began a singsong of praise for the stallion. “Ah, you’re such a beauty. A beautiful boy. A beautiful boy, you are, you are.” He pressed his weathered forehead against the bars of the deck stall, and waited for the success of his flattery. The stallion came up and peered so closely at the reddish beard that it seemed ‘he had never seen such a thing before, and was wondering how such odd grass grew there.

Shannon held off awhile. He knew a thing or two about horses, although he had never thrown a leg over any such creature as this, which stood, he had figured, about sixteen hands and a little more. In earlier days, when the mainland farmers had bought half-broken island horses from the government, it had been Shannon’s job to get


Look now, horseman continued

Shannon knew that the boy’s beautiful horse had to face the wild studs alone — all twenty-two of them. “The Lord forbid this thing!” he shouted.

them onto the deck of the supply vessel and put them ashore, one port or another. Because of his skill, his skipper had given him the job of delivering the stallion to the foreman of the island establishment, who had asked his superiors at Halifax to buy such a stud to cover the mares. The island horses could no longer do their work. The beach patrols on stormy nights had to have strong mounts, for these were the days before motor vehicles were sent to the island. The horses had another arduous task: the rapid hauling of the life-saving gear when a vessel came ashore.

When the Canadian government had set up the lighthouses almost a century ago, and had established the coast guard there, the men had broken the wild horses they found on the island. Those wild bands were the descendants of horses put ashore by Portuguese explorers, who had put domestic stock on Sable to provide meat if vessels ran short of stores. The original stock had been freshened from time to time by studs off wrecked vessels. By now, all the strength and shape had been beaten out of the herds by gales and poor forage. Foaling to such sires, the mares kept dropping young that often died at birth; and there were mares, short on milk, that wouldn’t own their children, and left them to perish under the cranberry bushes. continued on page 36

Secretly they entered the blacksmith shop . . . “I’ll make you an armed man.”

“And you,” said Shannon to the stallion, “you are what they choose — an Irish hunter who has no more reason to be in this sad place than has a king.” For all his hard thinking, night and day. Shannon couldn’t tell yet which hurt him most: the fate of the stallion or the fate of the parting boy. It didn’t seem right to him that two such handsome youngsters should ever be parted after a happy life together among the green hills. Yet it had to be. The boy's note had said so. Shannon had read it so many times that he knew it by heart, and his heart didn’t like it. Just the same, he couldn’t keep his mind off it. Nor his eyes, seagreen under lids half-closed by sleepiness. Stepping back to get under the bare electric bulb, he tugged the paper out of an inner pocket and stared along its uneven lines:

Look now, horseman—

I give this to the vessel that takes my Brian away forever. The Lord bless the man who cares for him as I have since his weanling days. He was a gift to me on my tenth birthday by my father’s brother. Captain Donald, who lies sick and hurt at Fortune Bay, and there the money paid for my Brian by government goes to make him well. “The Lord giveth,” says my Dad, “and the Lord taketh away.” I do this of my own free will, horseman. Look now, sir, and tell them on Sable Island to give him oats in the sheaf now and again and an apple at times, no windfall. And a roof over his dear head so 1 may rest easy on winter nights.

—Daniel Riley, aged fifteen.

SHANNON thrust the letter into his pocket. “Oats in the sheaf, is it? And where would they be reaping oats on that spit of sand, I wonder?” He opened the gate. He began touching the stallion here and there: knee, fetlock, hoof. After another word of affection to the stallion, and more of the needed praise, Shannon passed forward to see if the hands were standing by for the anchoring. There were three ready, their eyes turned toward the West Light. In the improving light, the tower could be made out clearly, a familiar landfall to Shannon. This time it drew a sigh out of him, and a deep sigh too.

The second mate came down to him from the bridge and said, “Bosun, the




continued from page 24

captain asks what do you plan for the horse, and is there a signal you wish made for that man ashore?”

Shannon replied, “A boat to be put over as soon as may be, sir. Please have a message sent: 'Bosun is swimming the stud ashore.’ The captain agrees that their longboat is not enough for him. The sea is safer.”

“Very well, Bosun. Your gear is ready?”

“It is.”

“It seems that we’l’ be two days discharging here and at least that many at the East Light if the weather holds. You’ll have four days to make your friend comfortable.”

“Aye, sir. Four days ashore.”

After a remarkable speech of explanation, which Brian seemed glad to hear. Shannon strapped him into the sling and deftly sent him over the rail, and out and down, stiff-legged into the sea. This was done just as the black skeins of cloud turned red in the sunrise. Shannon dropped down into the boat. The oarsmen drove up to the stallion, whose eyes were fixed calmly on Shannon. When the straps were cast free, the stallion began to swim after the boat. At first, he forged ahead; then, at Shannon’s laughing command, he took it easy and swam the mile with no show of distress, except a roll of his eyes now and then. The moment his forefeet touched bottom, he lunged violently. Boots and all, Shannon slid over the gunwale and laid hold of the gay hackamore. They waded ashore together.

The foreman of the establishment, in command during the long absence of the superintendent on sick leave, rode toward Shannon. In an orderly rank behind him, six mounted men followed. They were stern-faced young men, all dressed alike in blue-denim shirts and new dungarees. The foreman rode a bay gelding, not horse enough for him by two hands or so. This being true, his legs were crooked up a bit, which marred the dignity of his seat, good enough otherwise. Under his cap, his hair shone white, clipped close to his long-jawed head. The healthy skin lent such a rosiness to his face that he seemed, at first, to be a young blond man. A pace nearer, and Shannon saw again the familiar grey color and the black eyes, deep-set and gloomy, yet changing in an excitement poorly concealed.

The foreman’s interest in the stallion was so keen that he failed to greet Shannon properly. Shannon understood at

once that Brian’s size and beauty had amazed the man. A queer sort of anger ran pell-mell into his heart. He said to himself. “He's made a mistake and he knows it.”

There followed a display of discipline that surprised Shannon greatly because he had never seen it on the island, nor had he ever heard of it there. A rider slipped down from his saddle, stepped briskly to the gelding's head and laid his hand on the bridle close to the bit, all in a manner that had a military smartness to it. The others sat their horses in strict fashion, their vacant eyes ahead. In this first action Shannon smelled a martinet. He knew all about discipline, had taken it himself in the destroyers and in the supply vessel. There it was necessary and easygoing. Here it seemed a foolish waste, a gesture of some sort, made almost ludicrous by the set of the foreman's knees.

Rather tardily, the foreman turned ever so slightly, and, without actually looking at Shannon, said. “Captain Duane, foreman of the establishment.”

Shannon wished to reply: “My name is Tom. damn you, and well you know it!” He made no reply, gave only a nod. His temper sharpened. He watched carefully to see the effect of his own coldness. None was shown. This made him certain that the foreman’s new dignity was a bluff, just like the discipline. Duane seemed to have become a kind of man known to him long since the world over: incapable of commanding with genial intimacy, he covered this lack by a pretense of rank. Where the “captain" came from was beyond Shannon’s knowledge. In a quick, harsh decision, he put him down as a timid man who wished to make others timid, and keep them so, by any means.

The foreman lifted his head to such an angle that his eyes were directed at the rising sun. Apparently speaking to nobody in particular, he said, “Compliments to the captain of the supply vessel. Stud and passenger are safely ashore. I will board the vessel at the East Light in two days.” After a pause, he spoke his own name in a deeper grander accent: “Duane!”

He carried this business off with such solemnity that Shannon almost laughed. His lively memory gave him an image of the Napoleon in a film pronouncing “Napoleon!” after dictating an order to the guard. To keep his face straight. Shannon had to look away. In so doing he noticed that the horseman farthest to the left had bowed his head. When he lifted it the suppressed laughter still twisted his red lips. Shannon gave him half a wink and the tenth part of an ironic smile.

By this time he had perceived that the message had been dictated to the rider closest to Captain Duane, a kind of longshore yeoman, who had written it out on a pad of paper. Shannon kept his temper and his laughter. He said quite seriously, “Captain O'Hara will be glad of your message, but it would be better to say, ‘Bosun and stud safely ashore.’ I'm an officer of that vessel, not a passenger.”

Duane hesitated only a moment before he nodded to the yeoman. “Make the correction, Wheeler.”

The yeoman pushed his pencil across the pad, wrote the new words and handed the message to the man next to him. He, in turn, reined his horse out of the rank and lifted a hand-blinker from a smart leather case at his saddle, where the others carried carbines in scabbards. He began sending as soon as the bridge had acknowledged. Shannon wondered what those on board would think of the signal, especially when he and the stallion stood in plain sight, and the island's long-

boat lay alongside already, taking on the mail and the stores: bales of mainland hay, sacks of grain, fuel for the lighthouse motors.

Duane lifted his reins. The rank wheeled to give him the lead and, without a word of guidance, he led the parade toward the main barn beyond the lighthouse.

AT NOON, after he had rubbed Brian down and had rested him. Shannon led him down the double row of stalls, where the working horses were tied up.

Beyond the stalls, and between them and the blacksmith shop, there was a wide floored space for the breeches-buoy wagon, which had been rolled away for this occasion. Tied up there, the first of the wild mares stood, sullen after her struggle in the corral where she had been trapped. She seemed to be the best of the stock; even so, nothing much. At least she stood nearly a hand higher than the others, and she had some good points: large nostrils and a fine big chest. Her condition was good too because she had been bolder than the others in feeding on

the oats and mainland forage with which the trap had been baited.

A stableman stood at attention there. When Shannon came up he lifted his hand in a signal to wait.

“Get on with it,” said Shannon, his anger rising quickly again. “We’re not on parade now.”

The stableman rapped on the door of the blacksmith shop. In immediate response, four of the men from the beach filed out. Duane followed, and the yeoman, book in hand, brought up the rear.

Duane said, “Proceed.” The yeoman

solemnly jotted the single word down.

They loosed the mare and Shannon let Brian go. The stallion nickered in a friendly manner, not yet fierce. She wheeled, her untidy head lowered and stretched, her eyeballs turned upward in a way not pleasant to see.

The stallion took a dance step or two in the finest humor. If he had whistled out an insult to that mare and had threatened her with a blow of his hoof, she couldn't have behaved worse. She let out a crazy kind of noise, half yell and half whistle, and darted at him, her meanlooking jaws open, her teeth dripping with lather. Brian skipped away from her. She tried hard to slash him with her fouled teeth, and then whirled cleverly and let fly with her hind hoofs. This seemed enough for Brian. He stood still and said something that almost straightened her out. Her anger — hatred, more like it — overbore her caution and her instinct. She bolted so savagely at him that Shannon jumped in and gave her a kick in the belly and a whoop that blocked her.

He shouted, “Away with her!”

Two of the men dodged around her and flung open the wide door to the corral. Out she flew with the speed of a gull.

Shannon pulled Brian’s head down and began caressing him.

Duane held up his hand. “You see that I was right. They won’t stand for his iron. Burned iron and burned horn—the smell of' it—it’s worse than fire to wild things like her.”

Since he hadn’t mentioned a fact of immense importance, at least in Shannon’s presence, the casual nature of the revelation puzzled him. And it started vaguely in him a belief that Duane must be guilty of subtle trickery to bring a rare horse to the island. He asked, “Isn’t there a shod mare in season then? One that’s used to iron?”

Duane looked at him in a curious empty way, as if the answer should wait while he thought over something else. At last, he nodded.

Shannon spoke roughly to the men. “Jump, lads! Bring out the shod mare.”

This mare backed out of her stall willingly enough, her head droopy. She had been nicely cleaned up: mane roached, forelock braided, coat clipped. Her hoofs were neatly oiled, and, in spite of the crude keg shoes, were dainty, compared to the sand-cracked walls of the wild one. She showed no fear of Brian or of his iron.

Shannon was much pleased by this success. When the mare was led back to her stall, he began his usual praise of the stallion, promising him a run on the beach and so forth. The four young men formed a rank again, in attendance on Captain Duane. The tallest of the rank was the lithe, wide-shouldered lad who had such a trouble keeping his laughter to himself on the beach. He stood very straight now, his hands—big and capable —strictly on the seams. Even so, by a quick side glance he found a subtle way of signaling to Shannon that, despite the success, things had gone wrong. Shannon surmised that a hint lay in the exaggerated military pose. At once he figured that this attitude must be pleasing to the foreman’s vanity. This showed him the mistake he had made: he himself had given orders in the commander’s presence. Two of them, in fact.

He said to himself, ‘7 wouldn’t put it past him to order me of) the island.”

It astonished him to learn that the fear of such an order made his heart beat too hard. He understood that some resolution was making up inside him. What was the matter? The answer came more quickly than he liked: somehow or other—he

couldn’t yet tell why—Brian stood in danger of his life, and he had carried him into the danger.

HE opened the defense smoothly. His left hand on the halter, he whacked his heels together smartly, and lifted his right hand to the salute. He kept it there while he spoke in a tone of extreme respect to Captain Duane, who kept his extraordinary eyes hard-fixed on nothing at all.

“Request permission to retire the stud, sir.”

This soft soap broke the grim set of Duane’s mouth. He even let his jaw relax from the stubborn forwardness that was part of his acting. He looked directly, amiably, at Shannon and replied, “Permission granted.” He returned the salute with exact care, and spun around on his heel to face his retinue. In the same deep voice he pronounced the word: “Dismiss!”

Even at this the rank neither broke nor stood at ease. Shannon imitated them. That they declined to change out of rigidity seemed a proof to him that Duane might abruptly turn on them to catch the slightest sign of disrespect. When he had gone out of the barn, they gave the game away. They puffed their cheeks, pushed out their fronts, and fell into a ridiculous goose step: plunk! plunk! across the barn floor. The laughter that had been kept down broke free now when the rank wheeled against the bales of hay and came thumping back to Shannon. The tall one sang out a gibberish of mock commands, ending with: “Clear out. you three!” They obeyed him.

His hands on his hips, the tall boy said, “Peter Ballard's my name.”

“Hello, Ballard!” Shannon grinned and asked, “Did I do well enough for you?” “You did, indeed. And just in time. You offended the field marshal.” The boyish light went out of his eyes in their frank study of Shannon's face. “You know your stud is in danger, do you, Mr. Shannon?”

“He’s not my stud. He’s government's.” “I’ll not stand on words with you.”

“By no means. Speak your piece.” “Once you see those savages — those mares—you see, don’t you?—that a decent Canadian chunk was the answer. For the breeding, I mean.”

“I see it now. Better legs for this sand. And better mouths.”

“I don’t want to talk too much. But you saw more. You figured out on the beach that a mistake had been made.” “Aye!”

Ballard had to work hard to get his next words out. He almost shut them off; then he said them. “No mistake. Some people”—here his scorn broke the pleasant shape of his mouth—“some people are so dignified that they will go to any lengths to be properly mounted. Even here, where nobody but us can see them.” Shannon’s anger—bitter now—kept his own lips closed tight. He shortened up on Brian’s halter. The stud, listening like an interested child, lowered his head gently to Shannon’s shoulder. Shannon could feel his own anger becoming too ugly, almost out-of-hand. This made him uncertain, made him wait for another signal.

None came. Ballard was changing; a war was going on inside him, perhaps because he stood without his chums to back him by their secret glances. An impulse of affection for Brian caught him off guard. He placed his hand on the beautiful wide forehead. “Oh, Lord in Heaven!—what a wonder among horses!” This outburst was followed at once by a degree of moroseness, either a natural attitude or one induced by the lonely life of the island. His face changed to an-

other expression: something close to a pout. He turned from Shannon’s gaze and looked down at his boots, and seemed to be pondering childhood images, things that pleased him well, for the shadow lifted.

Aware that he now stood on the edge of another secret, Shannon strove for it by frankly asking, “Is there something you wish to tell me, Ballard? I’m uneasy —about the stud, I mean.” He drew out the letter from his pocket. "Would you like to read the message his master—a boy much younger than you—sent along with him?”

“No. sir! Oh, no!” Ballard came up a step and paused uneasily.

“It’s as much for you as for me, you know.”

“Oh. I couldn’t read that. It can’t be for me, Mr. Shannon. If it’s for the island at all, it’s for the captain.”

“I can see that, of course.” Shannon had no wish to trick the youngster, nor did he care to risk inducing him to an open breach of discipline. Nevertheless, his fear for Brian’s well-being drove him to another stroke, a simple one, but shrewd enough. He said, “We’ll meet later on then.”

Ballard didn’t move. He started a word, then blocked it with a lick of his tongue across his lower lip. He couldn’t keep his eyes off Brian; once again, the expression of tenderness restored his agreeable expression.

Shannon saw that words wouldn’t serve either of them, and that an action of some kind—perhaps not there in the barn—might give Ballard a chance to show him something, something of a terrible nature that had been kept hidden from him, and from that boy ashore too. Watching closely for the effect of his w'ords, he said, “My respectful compliments to Captain Duane, and I request permission to exercise the stud. A ride up the beach, I mean.”

His earlier daring made Ballard’s eyes glitter. He replied. “Very well, sir." Yet, in his stride away, he paused.

What else did he want? Shannon struck on the answer with no difficulty. “And, if you please, I respectfully request

the assignment of a mounted man to show me around. I’ve had no occasion to ride these beaches.”

Ballard hurried out of the barn.

BALLARD mounted and led the way from the stables to a much-trampled path that dipped into a bog of cranberry bush and wound into the dunes of the eastern shore. It was Shannon’s first sight of that shore, which is the shore of wrecks. He saw the tide whirling among the broken topsail schooners of Gloucester and among ancient sailing ships, half swallowed in graves of sand. On a bar halfway to the East Light he saw the latest victim of Sable’s shifting sands: the freighter, her blue stack shooting down flashes of sunlight into the green breakers.

“British-built,” said Ballard. “Greekowned. We took off thirty-two men and her skipper and killed two horses getting the buoy gear through the muck.” He drove those images away and, looking fondly down at Brian’s gay action, shouted above the music of the sea, “Let him go! I’ll meet you at the Greek.” After so many horses that were never up to his weight, Brian's abundant power stirred Shannon deeply. He had a light hand—like the boy’s hand, he thought —and when he lifted the stallion to the canter, he shouted like a boy. He gave Brian time to suit his shoes and gait to the hard surface of the beach; then he touched him to the gallop and let him go beautifully into the spray and wind.

Near the Greek, he brought him down to the walk and let him fool around in the surf. Brian took to it playfully and seemed ready enough for another swim. Ballard came up, and they turned together back into the dunes. There Brian fought the bit for the first time. He began to shudder. His ears went down.

Ballard had been waiting for this change. A change came over him too. He became grim, and Shannon, never relaxing his keen watch over that responsive face, saw that some of the rich color of his cheeks had faded. Ballard reached out and struck Shannon’s arm. “You’ll see it now—what I meant!

other expression: something close to a pout. He turned from Shannon’s gaze and looked down at his boots, and seemed to be pondering childhood images, things that pleased him well, for the shadow lifted.

Aware that he now stood on the edge of another secret, Shannon strove for it by frankly asking, “Is there something you wish to tell me, Ballard? I’m uneasy —about the stud, I mean.” He drew out the letter from his pocket. “Would you like to read the message his master—a boy much younger than you—sent along with him?”

“No, sir! Oh, no!” Ballard came up a step and paused uneasily.

“It’s as much for you as for me, you know.”

“Oh, I couldn’t read that. It can’t be for me, Mr. Shannon. If it’s for the island at all, it’s for the captain.”

“I can see that, of course.” Shannon had no wish to trick the youngster, nor did he care to risk inducing him to an open breach of discipline. Nevertheless, his fear for Brian’s well-being drove him to another stroke, a simple one, but shrewd enough. He said, “We’ll meet later on then.”

Ballard didn’t move. He started a word, then blocked it with a lick of his tongue across his lower lip. He couldn’t keep his eyes off Brian; once again, the expression of tenderness restored his agreeable expression.

Shannon saw that words wouldn’t serve either of them, and that an action of some kind—perhaps not there in the barn—might give Ballard a chance to show him something, something of a terrible nature that had been kept hidden from him, and from that boy ashore too. Watching closely for the effect of his words, he said, “My respectful compliments to Captain Duane, and I request permission to exercise the stud. A ride up the beach, I mean.”

His earlier daring made Ballard’s eyes glitter. He replied, “Very well, sir.” Yet, in his stride away, he paused.

What else did he want? Shannon struck on the answer with no difficulty. “And, if you please, I respectfully request

the assignment of a mounted man to show me around. I’ve had no occasion to ride these beaches.”

Ballard hurried out of the barn.

BALLARD mounted and led the way from the stables to a much-trampled path that dipped into a bog of cranberry bush and wound into the dunes of the eastern shore. It was Shannon’s first sight of that shore, which is the shore of wrecks. He saw the tide whirling among the broken topsail schooners of Gloucester and among ancient sailing ships, half swallowed in graves of sand. On a bar halfway to the East Light he saw the latest victim of Sable’s shifting sands: the freighter, her blue stack shooting down flashes of sunlight into the green breakers.

“British-built,” said Ballard. “Greekowned. We took off thirty-two men and her skipper and killed two horses getting the buoy gear through the muck.” He drove those images away and, looking fondly down at Brian’s gay action, shouted above the music of the sea, “Let him go! I’ll meet you at the Greek.” After so many horses that were never up to his weight, Brian’s abundant power stirred Shannon deeply. He had a light hand—like the boy’s hand, he thought —and when he lifted the stallion to the canter, he shouted like a boy. He gave Brian time to suit his shoes and gait to the hard surface of the beach; then he touched him to the gallop and let him go beautifully into the spray and wind.

Near the Greek, he brought him down to the walk and let him fool around in the surf. Brian took to it playfully and seemed ready enough for another swim. Ballard came up, and they turned together back into the dunes. There Brian fought the bit for the first time. He began to shudder. His ears went down.

Ballard had been waiting for this change. A change came over him too. He became grim, and Shannon, never relaxing his keen watch over that responsive face, saw that some of the rich color of his cheeks had faded. Ballard reached out and struck Shannon’s arm. “You’ll see it now—what I meant!

What I didn’t dare tell you.”

Halfway around a dune Brian stopped of his own accord. There, slouched halfway up the dune, an island stud stood stretched out like a pointing dog, his nostrils snuffing in a story never read before: the scent of a mainland stallion. This wild stud was a black, or nearly so, and stood about fifteen hands. His matted mane lay thick and soiled, and hung so heavily that it seemed to have twisted his neck permanently. This gave the stud a serpentlike aspect. Nevertheless, under the ragged hide and the streaks of salt his ancient qualities—perhaps Arabian—showed in the well-sprung ribs and in the amber-hued, spirited eyes, somewhat lower in the skull than usual. The eyes stayed fixed on Brian, and the greenish teeth shone under the uplifted muzzle.

“Jaca!” Ballard shouted the name. A violent expression of hatred and disgust distorted his face. “Bloody murderer!” He wheedled his anxious horse closer to Shannon and told him, in a rush of wild phrases, that the stud had been in the island log books for many years. He didn’t know the meaning of the name. He knew him to be the sire of the greatest band of mares on the island, mares he had won and kept by those teeth and by the cracked malformed hoofs that now began to beat in fury against the sand.

Driven almost into a frenzy by some memory, Ballard shouted a curse at the staring beast above him. “You will, will you? Damn you! Know what you’re thinking, I do.” In a sudden calmness he said to Shannon, “Stand by now and watch out. Keep Brian in hand. There’s worse than this hereabouts.”

He drew a leather whip from his carbine sheath. He touched his horse with its thick short lash, not to make him mind, but to show what he was up to. His horse worked forward smoothly. The island stud brought muzzle and lip together and blew a keen note, not unlike the shriek of the terns slanting past his head. He reared and hammered the air until the sand slipped under his hind hoofs. At this, Ballard’s horse lunged upward, and Ballard brought down the whip in a savage slash across the stud’s forehead. He struck three times before the stud turned away, retreating but not afraid.

Shannon was so intent on this furious action that he was nearly unseated by Brian’s sudden rearing. He had to bring him down sharply, yet even this didn’t check him from a plunge halfway up the dune. This brought him alongside Ballard’s horse, and there he wheeled in a violent turn so that he faced down the dune. Shannon then saw the cause of Brian’s bolting. Five more wild studs had come up and now stood, shoulder to shoulder, their eyes staring viciously under forelocks blowing heavy in the wind off the sea. For a moment more the gross pattern held. It broke when Jaca, walking slowly, came around toward the five others. They parted before him and followed him away.

Shannon’s horror choked down his words. At last he got them out: “The Lord forbid this thing!”

He raised his voice to make it clear over the surf. “What’s this, Ballard? I never heard of these savages being together except for a fight. Isn’t that true?”

“Yes, sir.”

He told Shannon what he had already

heard in yarns and legends: that the studs never met, except when a younger one, needing mares, challenged an elder in a conflict that always ended in the death of one, a ghastly triumph marked by a day-long stamping upon the fallen loser until his carcass became part of the earth.

“And now they’re at peace and banded together against this fellow here?” Shannon pointed to Brian’s chestnut shoulder, flecked by spray. “To slash him to death?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Under the signals of that Jaca?”

Ballard shouted a curse. “Oh, why didn't I kill him then?” He abruptly calmed down and, his head bent, struck his fist repeatedly against the butt of his carbine.

“No,” said Shannon, “no, that can’t be the story. Killing one—him—is that the answer? There are others, aren’t there? Just as bad? How many?”

“Twenty-three, sir.” He quickly corrected the figure. “No—twenty-two now. He killed one three days ago. When I had my chance to kill him and didn’t take it.”

The number of the wild studs hit Shannon hard. “We can’t kill all of them, even if—” He checked his rush of words because fear—fear and a keen spreading anguish—made him lose control. He waited to master a firmer tone. “If they’ll tackle him with a man aboard, what will they do if they get him alone? He’d not last long, my boy.”

Ballard said nothing. He glanced, apparently with some apprehension, over his shoulder.

Shannon leaned from the saddle and lightly struck the other’s arm. “Where are the mares then? And the foals? Is that part of their game?”

“Yes. Hidden. All together for once. Driven off beyond the lagoon. Until this is over. Until Brian’s dead and pounded into the sand.”

“And if I myself kill Jaca? What then?”

“It will make no difference.”

“Tell me this one thing: you seem to know that Brian will be alone among

Who is it?

The toy gun is a clue to the identity of this Canadian who bossed Canada’s biggest job overseas. Turn to page 48 to see who this boy grew up to be.

them? How do you know that?”

Ballard didn’t choose to reply, although his expression and his continued slow strokes against the pommel hinted that he had the answer. His earlier confusion overcame him again. He took a clumsy way out. He looked, with pretended interest, over the surf. Far to the eastward, a sail glittered among the whitecaps. Farther still, a liner lay on a southerly course.

‘'A French vessel,” he said. “For some reason or other, they like to sail close to us. Too close.”

Shannon responded in a dry, easygoing manner. “I don’t care for close sailing myself.” This round-about style didn’t suit him 'feiry well just then. He made anothej appeal, this time in a voice so qh.-^rgect'Tvith emotion that he himself was surprised. “I’ll tell you how it is, Ballard. As things go—you know how they go aboard my vessel—I don’t see many beautiful things, one year to another. This fellow here”—he pointed toward the handsome mane—“he’s the most beautiful creature on God’s green earth. 1 haven't seen the like of him

since I was your age. Leading them into my daddy’s blacksmith shop. For plates. Plates, mind you, for his nice hoofs. Not those blasted clogs!” He glanced down in scorn at the heavy shoes out of sight in the sand. “And I have that boy on my mind. The boy whose letter you didn’t want to read. Because you’re afraid of it.” Without a by-your-leave, he pulled the letter out and thrust it into Ballard’s shirt pocket. “Read it when you’re alone. All alone.”

It was no use. Ballard had himself in hand. He kept his face averted. He flush-

ed, plainly in shame caused by his inward struggle. He said, “Ah, that’s where you learned to handle horses? Where was it— the shop?” Without waiting even an instant, he added, “Sir, we can be seen from the light.” Shannon lifted the reins. CAPTAIN DUANE, seated at a worktable full of well-ordered papers and open bookkeeping journals, accepted Shannon’s salute in a changed manner, one marked by an anxiety that gentled his grimness. He had been writing a radio message. He kept his right hand over it. His left hand lay on a sheaf of papers, blue and white. Shannon kept his place and stayed at attention. He remembered the office. He had done business there, now and then, when his vessel took on horses for the mainland. He read again the names of the lost vessels whose nameboards were nailed on the wall beyond the table: Columbia, Gen. Foch, Democracy, Elsa, Cameronian. Among them, an ivory fright amidst the melancholy souvenirs, a walrus skull stared darkly at the seablue window. Those beasts had bred on Sable Island an age ago, when it had been much larger. The skull had turned up in the sand after a long gale. A gust of wind rattled sand against the window. Rain fell. Duane jerked his right hand up and said, “Be seated.” He turned on an electric lamp because the room had darkened. This better light had the effect of revealing his strange eyes more clearly. They were somewhat marred by long and difficult thought. Shannon sat down and waited, with an empty expression, for the opening words. Those were: “I have fresh advices from the mainland. No reflection on your ability as a horseman, Shannon, but I found it necessary to inform my superiors that they were in error when they had the stud hot-shod before shipment. No need of so much metal.” This had no easy meaning; however, since he broke off his sentences in the way of an orator waiting for applause, Shannon applauded with: “Very good, sir. Very good. I’m only sorry that they didn’t consult you on that point before.” He was wondering what his own response could possibly mean when, in a free unrelated action, his memory recited the boy’s beseechment: “And a roof over his dear head so I may rest easy on winter nights.” In a subtleness that pleased him, he tried hard for the cozy stall, a roof against this rain, against this September and the howling winter. Hurting him, stirring once more his anguish, another image rose: Brian taking shelter under the tilted bow of the Greek and the snow falling. “If the captain will permit me—” “Certainly, Shannon, certainly!” “The respect due to the captain’s rank requires me to state that he is not properly mounted. Government should mount a man according to his rank and. since I happen to know the captain’s services are highly regarded by government, I propose the stud should be assigned to the captain’s stable, and another—a good, sturdy chunk—be shipped for the breeding.” Duane had swelled nicely under this flow: indeed, he had permitted himself to flush to the ears. As if he hadn’t heard much of his repute ashore (which was true), he let a. silence fall in which he seemed to be listening gravely to an echo of Shannon’s words. Nevertheless, his enjoyment quickly waned under the pressure of a fact close at hand—among the dispatches. An aggrieved look drove his glory away. “That very thing has been refused. Ex-

actly what you propose, Shannon, is just now—this moment—refused.” He gulped, a wretched undignified croak of disappointment.

The words puzzled Shannon. It made him sick at heart to learn, beyond doubt, that any man could cook up such a scheme to throw a leg over a fine horse, yet. he put that part out of his mind at once because he believed that the government’s refusal must have a wider meaning. “The devil is loose in this somewhere."

BEFORE he could strike on a word to make Duane talk, the truth came in a series of disjointed sentences, each one marked by a blow of his fist on the messages that had offended him.

“I didn't expect this! No!” And: "I had to tell them there’s no other mare ready. Are they mad? How do I know when wild mares are in season?” He answered himself by his first laughter, so cold and mirthless that his face seemed suddenly frosted over.

Shannon perceived that, once again, Duane was imitating somebody. In a rollback of his images he recalled that this somebody was actually the absent superintendent. who laughed—quite rarely—in just that way. He waited gloomily, listening for the revelation he knew must come.

In a much stronger tone, close to a windy roar, Duane asked, “You know they're very smart ashore? You’re aware of that, I'm sure.”

“Smart enough to catch yon in a lie,” said Shannon to himself. In open answer, he just muttered, “Sir? Sir?”

Seeming to understand Shannon’s distress and to relish it, Duane came up a sentence closer to the secret. “They see very clearly that the mares out there”— he thrust his hand toward the streaked window—“will refuse him while he has the iron on him. Just as that one in the barn did.” He began to rise, slumped down, held both hands briefly to his forehead and whispered, “I tell you: I don't like this radio. This quick exchange. It’s like being watched. Spied on!"

In an attempt to turn him back. Shannon said, “It’s brash of them ashore to put their knowledge against yours, sir."

This passed unheeded. Now entirely out of the grand character he had set up for himself, Duane changed to an uneven low tone, speaking with difficulty. “Do you realize what I’ve got here? Do you?" He picked up the top message, holding it in his hands, and seeming ready to rip it apart.


“Shannon, I’ve orders here to release my stallion among those bands!”

Shannon rose to his feet, his hands signaling what he couldn’t put into words: ‘‘The Lord forbid this thing!”

“Be seated!” At this command, Duane stood up. He strongly wished to abuse his superiors. He did it by a twist into sarcasm. “Herds. They call them herds. They are properly bands.”

Shannon noted, with increasing dismay, that even such a trite revenge satisfied the man’s vanity. This baffled him. He could think of nothing to say except the same exclamation: “Oh, sir! Oh, sir!” “Is there anything we can say to this? Ah. nothing, nothing! He is to run wild. They have said it. If there’s a marc in the trap that will stand for him there, he’s to cover her. After that—alone!” His furious gaze switched back and forth, seeing nothing. He sighed profoundly. “He'll have hay, sweet water and grain set out for him.”

This was his first move to persuade himself that everything would be all right with Brian. He kept up that line

with nods of satisfaction. “He’s very keen, Brian is. A hunter learns quickly. That I know. And who knows he’ll move off at all? Besides, he’s a hand higher and more —more!—than that damned Jaca, and he has the strength of three like him.” At this admission of the true danger. Shannon rose from his chair and at once gave up his flattering style. Intending to break Duane there and then by words if he could, he spoke roughly. “Duane, now you’ve said it! And it took you long enough. Yes. he has the strength of three like the damned Jaca. No doubt. But not

the strengti^ff^ twenty. You know what it means thiu there’s peace among the island studs? For ">~>nce?^L

Duane looked sidewu'T^^nl began to fumble among the papers. His face had gone dark red with the shame of yielding to the change in Shannon's manner.

Shannon took a step nearer. “You mark my words! You'll never see his weanlings outside this barn. He needs a roof. And more — more! What kind of man are you? Will you have mares foaling to him in that blasted desert?” Duane stayed silent.

Shannon kept on in the same fierceness. “You mean to say—but you don't say so!—that Brian must kill a stud to get his mares. Jaca—he must kill Jaca—and yes!—he must kill them all! Is that what you say he must do?”

“I don’t say so. Tom. They do.” Duane drew back from the ring of light. He spoke from the semidarkness beyond. “There’s no help for it.”

"What will they say if he does kill them all?”

“Let them say it. Let them say it.” “Speak up now! Do you order me to

take the shoes off him and turn him loose?”

“It's their order. Not mine.”

Shannon turned away. “I’ll take the shoes off him now and let him go.”

UNABLE to take his sleep, Shannon lay booted in his room at Duane’s quarters, watching the beams of the lighthouses glide over the dunes and over the quiet sea, which was at slack water. He got up, put on his jacket, and went through the kitchen. He opened the door. All the stars were clear in a blue night, flowing westward smoothly. The halfmoon had some time to go. The saddled horses at the tie-up, under a roof of ship timbers, greeted him. They were kept there for his use, and for Duane in case a vessel signaled in distress and there was hard riding to do.

“It's a soft night, anyway, and there’s light for him to see by. That’s a blessing."

He was thinking of trying to sleep when there came, clear as a bugle call, an unearthly scream, shattering the monotone of the tide. He ran out. The horses reared and tried to turn toward the sound. He ran beyond them.

Between the corral and the dunes he saw a gleaming of many eyeballs, touched by starlight, inflamed by anger. Those were the eyes of the island studs, many of them, galloping in a brigade toward the house. Then, nearer, he made out the glistening shape of Brian, running easily, his head well up, and turning frequently to glance at his pursuers. Keeping the distance between him and the band, Brian ran outside the fence of ship timbers, draped with trawler nets, salvaged from wrecked Gioucestermen. He turned with the turning of the fence and swept by the house to go down the western side of the corral.

At this point, the island studs changed their tactics. While half of them stayed after Brian, the others wheeled, whistling shrilly, and galloped back the way they had come. They intended to close in on him from both sides.

Shannon loosed his horse, mounted, and kicked him into the gallop. He pulled up the carbine from its sheath.

“This time, Jaca! Now for you!"

He had no present need of shooting. Although Brian was hard-pressed, he


to Who is it? on page 42

General H. D. G. Crerar, who rose to be commander of the Canadian Army Overseas in World War II.

seemed to stay calm, ready to make his own way out of an unequal bloody conllict. He swung away from the tangled fence, chose a dark strip of earth where the marsh hay grew thick, turned, and came down it in a slow stride. In the instant before the two bands closed Brian sailed over the fence in a beautiful rise and fall, above the moon and down it.

The two bands mingled. Again the whistling sounded above the hiss of surf. All retreated in an orderly rank, heading swiftly for the western end of the corral.

Seeing that this change might take them to the open gate, by which the wild horses entered and were trapped, Shannon booted his mount around the end. He meant to close the gate against the studs,

already swinging around the far end. The gate had been their objective. Either the sight of him, or his scent, stopped them forty yards away. In a rapid smooth manoeuvre — so well managed that it made him curse—they spread into a half circle, their heads lowered, their upturned eyes afire.

“Away, you murderers!”

He roared again at them and drove straight toward the centre of the stamping line, his carbine out, for he meant to shoot if they stood against his voice. They backed in steady fashion. A smallish stud, holding a forward middle position, broke first. The others streaked after him around a dune. All but one. This was Jaca. He did not turn. His eyes green flames and fixed forward, he slowly backed out of sight.

Near at hand an island stud lay on his side, his forelegs kicking in a slow waning action. It was he that had uttered the scream. A hoof had broken his poll open. For him, Shannon kept the carbine out. He held off the act of mercy because the skill of the chase had shown him that the studs were no mean enemy, and were capable, even now, of rushing the gate and attacking Brian within the corral.

He dismounted and ran to the gate. This nearly cost him his life. A mare lunged out of the gate in a furious flight, her mouth gaping, her clumsy mane flying. In her passage she knocked Shannon down, and halted long enough to rear and bring her forefeet down, a blow that would have brained him if he hadn’t kept on rolling. The spurting sand whipped across his mouth. The mare jumped away. He flung himself at the gate and pushed it into place, his shoulders straining against the bars.

At the moment of its closing, Brian appeared in the night above him, actually

high in the air. Over the bars he leaped, his barrel awash with starlight, and away he galloped after the mare.

“Ah, you beautiful fool!”

Shannon ran up the dune, calling to Brian. The shore lay empty, its creamy line of foam curling in the dark.

He went' back to the dying stud and shot him properly.

“One less.”

Life ran out of the stud. Shannon watched it go in the shudders and in the final groan. Pity rose in his heart, for he knew this one had been driven to the attack by a natural desire to save the scanty forage for his foals and to keep his mares safe from a stranger. When the stud lay quiet. Shannon turned to wash his mouth in the tide; and then, impelled by his seamanlike thoroughness, he came back to the carcass. He bent down close to the ruined head, and even ran his hand across the broken part. He saw that the blow—no doubtfrom Brian’s hoof—had not actually burst open the skull. His fingers told him that two blows had been struck.

“This was done with the bare hoof." He knew another thought was making up slowly. He waited and gave it a nod of desperate welcome. “If ever / lay hands on you again, Brian, I’ll make you an armed man.”

HE rode around the dune and up the next one, high above the echoing hollow, where a lagoon ¡lowed inland a space. The moon lay wallowing in the troughs beyond, its light redoubled in the rising breakers. Massive, disorderly and meaningless, a noise new to him swelled over the sea. When the breakers fell into foam he heard the strange uproar in a clearer beat. A golden eye peered at him out of a hulk. This he took to be glass in

a tipped shattered deck. A moment later a trick of light or the descending of the moon surrounded that one unblinking eye with many others. These were alive. They were the eyeballs of the mares and their young, driven to that place, as Ballard had said, and kept there until the conflict ended.

Shannon turned back into the hollow and rode westward a space, intending to come nearer the mares, for it seemed to horn that the mare of the corral, bold as she might be, would not long disobey the command that kept the others together. Brian might have followed her. He walked his horse up a dune. A silence came over the mares. He strained forward to peer at them. The loss of moonlight made it hard to see them.

He called out, “Brian! Brian!”

Without a boot or a lifted hand to start ham, his horse began walking off toward the barn. Shannon let him go. He kept hos eyes on the East Light beam, where it swept over the dunes. A mounted man took shape there, a second horse near him at a walk. Shannon followed after. The course led toward the barn.

Now Shannon’s horse—a little barncrazy like all the other broken mounts— seemed willing to go, and Shannon let him run at a fast trot up to the barn. There he waited.

The other rider had circled toward the corral. He now appeared, still half-seen. A moment later, Shannon saw him raise has hand in a flinging motion. At that, the second horse appeared. It was Brian. He came up to Shannon in an easygoing stride. Shannon dismounted, took Brian by the forelock, and began talking to him. Even under the soothing hand and voice, Brian shuddered. He was lathered. Because the coat seemed odd to his touch. Shannon looked at his hand. There was blood on his fingers.

He shouted into the darkness. “Ballard! You there, Ballard?”

He waited a space and called again. It then became clear to him, somewhat tardily, that the secret rider had good reason not to show himself. In seeking Brian and finding him. the rider had violated orders and might expect little mercy from Duane.

Shannon led Brian and his mount toward the barn. He watched Brian’s stride. It seemed all right. He soon discovered that the white stocking of his right forefoot had darkened in the flow of blood. Looking onward, his eye caught a strange thing: sparks blowing from the chimney of the blacksmith shop. Its two windows were full of light. He let go of the bridle and gave his mount a slap to send him toward the barn door, which was open, a dim light in it. A startling thing happened: a man, who had been in the shadows, stepped out and grasped the horse’s bridle. He then led him into the barn.

Shannon said, “We have friends here, Brian. All around us.”

He led the stallion off to one side in order to take a look at the blacksmithshop door before he came up close to it. He was ready now to do what he must do for Brian. It wasn’t a deed that others might safely see. He came up to the window. It surprised him to see that the forge fire was hot. Someone had been working the bellows. Yet there was nobody at the anvil. A leather apron lay on it, neatly rolled. He pulled the door open and led Brian into the shop. In that light he saw that the stallion’s shoulder had been slashed—from the shoulder across toward the windpipe. The wound was not a bad one, but enough to send the blood down his leg. He examined the hoofs. Already the sand had begun to scour off the natural oils. He lifted the lips. When he found hairs between the teeth, he cursed

the island, Duane, and, worst of all, he laid a curse on the wild studs,

“Their damned and double-damned teeth especially, Brian.”

He found a jar in the medicine chest marked Potassium Permanganate, and with the solution he sponged out the wound. When Brian shuddered, he said, “You run a chance of lockjaw, my boy. Know that, do you?” He kept on talking and praising him until the job was done.

“And now for it, lad. We'll teach those wolves there's more than smell to good iron.”

He lifted his hand to the bellows and blew the fire up again. He raked it, and turned to the anvil, wanting the leather to save himself from sparks. The instant he laid his hand on the apron, he found something odd about it. He pushed back the top fold. There lay the heavy shoes that Brian had worn to the island. The shoes had been changed. Somebody had forged winter calks — blunt points of iron—and had welded them to the shoe, two in each toe. The shoes had become weapons, indeed.

Within the hour Shannon had put them

on. He walked the stallion up and down the floor, keeping an eye on his action because he feared the weight added to the shoes might throw him off. Brian stepped about awkwardly, lifting too high as he went. He seemed to understand Shannon’s warnings and soon managed things quite well. Outside again on the yielding sand Brian handled himself even better. Shannon led him down nearer the corral. There he stood aside. Brian walked slowly toward the eastern shore. The night, now without a moon, closed over him.

DUANE stared at Shannon, then at Ballard, and back again to Shannon. “You say he killed a wild stud?”

“I do.”

“Then in and out of the corral?”

“In and out. Over.”

“After a mare, you say?”

“Aye! And I say more: that there’ll be no breeding of that mare—or any other —by a stud that has to fight for his life.” “Is that so now? Why do you think that, Shannon?”

“You’re used to these savages that kill for their mares. I’m used to true horses ashore, and such a one will be thrown off—tightened up—by attempts to murder him.”

Duane shifted his gaze uneasily, and caught Ballard's eye. “Bury that stud.” “Sir, it is buried.”

“Without my orders? How do you know 1 might have wished to examine it? This man may not know what he’s talking about. Explain!”

“Sir,” said Ballard quickly to stop Shannon’s protest, “the patrol found the stud and, according to standing orders, called me before burying it. The skull was battered, sir, by the blows of a hoof. In quite the usual way, sir. But the carcass wasn’t trampled in the usual way. I found a bullet hole. I examined the teeth, according to orders, and discovered blood and hairs wedged in them in the usual way.”

The exactness of this report, and its correct delivery, hurt Duane’s assurance. He looked quite closely at his hands where they lay in the morning light across his worktable. In a change to a tricky mildness, he asked a question that left him even worse off in Shannon’s estimation.

“And may I ask—in quite the usual way—what you are doing here in my office, Ballard? It was Shannon I sent for,

I think?”

Shannon watched the youngster flush under that meanness. He turned idly away to save Ballard what shame he could. He heard Ballard’s voice, unchanged and precise, go on. “According to standing orders, sir, I am here to report that the glass is off a point since five o’clock and a nor'easter is expected. The patrols have been doubled. In quite the usual way.” “By glass,” said Duane, his spite making his voice a little shaky, “you mean barometer and by nor’easter you mean northeaster, I take it?”

“Exactly, sir.”

Shannon left the place.

THE cries of the young terns sharpened. Their flights grew short, as if the air dragged their wings. Shannon snuffed up the wind and found the gale in it. Out of the southwest, and low, very low, a procession of clouds, summits fired by the sun, heaved and tumbled toward the point where the gale must rise. Beyond the lagoon, another wind stopped the clouds, piled them up, one above the other, until the new massiveness shut out the sky. The topmost ridge darkened. The breakers began a moo-ing noise, like a hundred cows suddenly bereft of calves. A swath of pearlish sky formed along the rim of the world.

A patrol of three mounted men came away from the barracks at a fast walk. They wore storm hats and carried rolls of foul-weather clothing behind their saddles. He hadn’t seen these men before, yet they purposely drifted toward him, raising their hands in greeting. They came up and, just before they put their horses into the trot, one of them, without looking at Shannon directly, shouted some words.

These were: “To the lighthouse, please, Mr. Shannon! Ballard!”

He made no sign, merely gazed after them in a pretense of idle interest. When they reached the corral and the trail for the eastern beach, he walked slowly around the barn, stopping now and then to search among the dunes. He hoped that Duane might be right in suggesting that Brian would linger near the establishment. Where the breakers of the eastern shore curved around the flat at the end of the island, he saw one horse standing at so great a distance that he couldn't tell what the horse might be. A little later, a man appeared and mounted. Shannon figured it was another patrol who had been examining wreckage or, possibly, had found the body of a foal, left to perish by its dry mother.

He walked rapidly to the entrance to the lighthouse, where he had been, once or twice, some years ago. He went through the entrance and climbed the winding iron stairway until he reached the light itself. The reflectors shimmered and changed from bright to dull and back again, matching the shifting hues of sea and sky.

Ballard stood there, his eyes again shadowed with anxiety. He said, “I knew you'd be looking for the stallion. This is the best place for it.” He hesitated on the edge of his bad news. “1 may be wrong, but I don’t like the looks of things. Out there, Í mean.”

"What's wrong, Ballard? What don't \cu like.”

"Everything is exactly right—same as before—among the bands and that’s just what worries me.”

When Shannon, eager to see this return of the studs to their mares, laid his hand cn the iron door that led to the outer walk. Ballard shook his head in warning. "You can see well enough from here, sir.” He handed Shannon a pair of glasses and said, “Pick out the Greek.” After fiddling with the glasses a while. Shannon made out a band of forty mares and foals feeding in company. Close behind them, a stud walked, not feeding, but ranging to the right and left and at times pressing forward briskly to nip a lagging mare.

Shannon said, “All at peace again.” “Aye. Now look toward the lagoon.” Shannon found there a somewhat •mailer band in exactly the same circumstances: mares nibbling at the sparse forage, long-legged foals stumbling and trying to nudge the teats. This time he recognized the driver stud. “Jaca?” Ballard nodded. He became instantly angry when Shannon cried, “This means they have finished Brian off already!”

“I don’t say that, sir! No, 1 do not.” “But it’s possible?”


“How can you explain it otherwise—* that they’re in bands again and not fhe studs together? Did his iron frighten them off?”


“What else, man? Speak up.”

"You understand this has never happened here before—”

“Aye, aye! You told me that.”

“So 1 can't be sure, one way or the other. The only hope is that it’s another trick by Jaca. Perhaps he’s holding off for the gale or for the night. Maybe he won’t do it in broad daylight because that might


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draw the guns down on him. He knows gunfire.”

“Is he as smart as all that comes to, Ballard?”

“Yes, he is.”

“I’ll kill him myself,” said Shannon. “I’ll break a leg for him with a bullet and they’ll finish him. They’ll trample him.”

Ballard looked at him in wonderment. “Oh. who told you that, Mr. Shannon?” Not waiting for an answer, he went on: “No! They’d never do a thing like that to a down horse. After a fair fight—what

they think fair—they'd have no mercy. But a hurt horse—no! They'd just stand by whimpering. When a horse is down by accident, we have to do the killing, sir. That's why we carry the guns. One reason. anyway.”

"And the other reason?”

"About the same thing—to shoot dying foals and mares. It happens all the time. Poor births. Orders are they can't be allowed to suffer.” He shrugged off an unpleasant recollection and sighed over it. More cheerful, he said, “And we shoot tramp seals too. For the fresh meat. Some

of us came to like it in the north.”

Two more patrols passed between the barn and the barracks.

"We’re in for it. Mr. Shannon. Double patrols all day and all night. For boats and dories that may come ashore. The East Light patrols meet the West at the Greek and 1 take their reports. If you go out—look for me there.”

After Ballard had gone down. Shannon resumed his watch over the island. His vessel was sending away the island longboat with drums of gasoline — the last of the fuel for the West Light, he

“Before the wild stud could even open his jaws, the hoofs came in a blow square on his skull”

figured, because the boat was overloaded. There wasn’t time for another trip. The man at the tiller, face turned toward the sky, shouted to the oarsmen and they gave him the deep stroke. The vessel’s anchor came up and her blinker began sending. He didn’t bother to read it because he knew that his captain was saying that he didn’t like that anchorage in a blow.

A sweep of hail hid the island and the sea. Laden with sand ripped from the tops of dunes, the hail struck the windows a terrible blow like the lash of a whip. The lighthouse shook slightly, not from that assault, but from the wider assault of breakers pounding all along the eastern shore. When the squall howled past, and a measure of light returned, he saw a black furrow down the middle of the dunes where hail and wind had plowed. Whitecaps creased the lagoon and, at once, broke the quiet surfaces of the marsh ponds. The marsh hay flattened. Beyond the Greek, he made out a sail: a vessel fleeing from the dreaded lee shore and trying to get around the East Bar into the anchorage beyond.

A massive, half-seen movement in the near marsh broke the gale pattern. He hurried to the other side of the light. Had he not tired of damning the island, he’d have damned it again.

“He was right!”

A herd of mares and foals began streaming, shoulder to shoulder in enforced closeness, toward the lighthouse. They were driven at such a headlong pace that the leaders plunged directly into a pond so deep that the first mares had to swim. He saw foals vanish: and a reddish mare, her mouth opening in a squeal of terror, went down, too, when she tried to break the advance and reach her young.

Far beyond the struggling herd, the beam of the East Light began wheeling into a darkness thick as night. The beam spattered on the bridge of the Greek just as an enormous sea vaulted over the vessel. Even in his shelter of glass windows Shannon heard a din a hundred times louder than the noise of a vessel hove to in a gale. The white beam clawed against the gale. It burst through walls and rains of spray and, in swinging westward, it momentarily revealed the mares plunging into the shelter of the three high dunes that formed the western beach and bank of the lagoon.

Shannon’s hopes rose because he had roughly counted the band revealed by the light, and judged them to be forty or so. The next sweep of light revealed his error: he had seen only the vanguard. Now all the mares and all the young were massed in a heaving concentration, where the studs had hidden them before. Blocked by the lowering clouds, the lighthouse beam seemed to shatter again, much of its glittering thrust deflected: and those minor rays, slanting and shooting backward, struck against the straining eyeballs of the mares—hundreds of eyeballs set afire with one hue of vivid green.

A telephone bell, somewhere near at hand, rang gently. After a while, a second bell, in the crown of the tower, pealed three times. The massive turret of reflectors began to revolve smoothly. The electric lamps did not go on.

Quickly rising to its full power in the September style, the gale began a more regular pounding along the beaches. Shannon had heard some tales of seas passing all the way across the island at

its narrowest width, halfway to the East Light. Now he saw it. A whirling crest of spray jumped the dunes and broke. A second followed fast and, riding over the first backwash, bolted nearly to the western beach. A third wave, rising almost to the scudding clouds, flattened out and, instead of falling back, poured onto the western beach, cutting the island in two for a time.

It seemed to Shannon that nothing could live among the dunes at that flooded point. Nevertheless, it was out of that splashing murk that the island studs now came, not in a frightened disarray, but in excellent order, stretched low in an easy gallop, stride matching stride. They kept a certain space apart, and this never varied. Their heads, sagging under burdens of soaked manes, turned slightly to the left and right. They were like wolves seeking a scent. Now and then, a shaggy head rose high, the nostrils snuffing. This meant to him that they were seeking the scent of Brian and his burned horn in the wind, too.

He couldn’t make out Jaca. He looked along the course they were following, for it seemed likely that Brian had galloped by unseen by him, and that the studs were actually on a hot scent. Shannon saw nothing in the corral, nothing along its railings, where the dragger nets, ripped anew by the gale, blew upward in purplish skeins and folds.

When he looked back to the plunging rank, its shape was breaking. Instead of dashing into the marsh pond, as the mares had, the studs divided into two bands and wheeled around the shores. One stud, whose white blaze Shannon remembered, swung to the left, then turned and started to join the other band. At this point, something — scent or sight or sound — whirled him around to face the way he had come.

He ran a stride or two on the backward course. There a warning of some kind stopped him. He stood a moment, his long tail waving across the sand. He began to turn. This retreat came too late.

OUT of the dripping mist, a horse bounded into clearer view. It was Brian. He reared, lifting his head up against the grey, his forefeet gathered above his muzzle. Before the wild stud could even open his jaws, the hoofs came in a single blow square on his skull. He died at once, had only time and life enough to blow out his last breath. Brian backed away into the mist.

“One less!” Just as Shannon shouted the words, a hand touched his shoulder. Certain that only Duane would come up to a man in such secret style, he kept his gaze on the window a moment before he coldly turned.

Duane said, “You have not my permission to enter the light. Please leave at once.” To make himself heard, he had to shout.

Shannon knew the book. “I don't require your permission to come into the light—or any part of the establishment— in an emergency. Don’t try that on me again, Duane, or I’ll teach you a lesson you need badly. And keep a civil tongue in your head.”

He had perceived that Duane had managed to burld himself up a little in the past hour. He spoke roughly in order to break him down again—and down he went. The word “emergency” had hurt him. He repeated it in a fumbling way, not sure he had understood.

He tried again and added, “It’ll blow itself out—this gale. Besides—”

“I’m not talking about the weather. Look down there!”

Duane obediently came up to the indicated window and gazed on the streaming scene below.

Shannon said, “You see that carcass? Other side of the pond?” He waited for Duane’s bewildered nod. “I just saw the mainland stud kill him. Is that what you want. Is it?” He took him by the arm and turned him around. “It’s the second he’s taken. You were right! He can learn— and he has learned. Do you know what he’ll do now? Do you?”

Duane shook his head.

“Then I’ll tell you! He’ll run them ragged, one by one, and he’ll kill them all. Is that what you want?”

“No, no! I don't want that! I—”

“Do you know what will happen to him if he’s slashed by those teeth? You

tomfool! — he’ll be dead of lockjaw before I can find him. Is that what you want? Answer me! All the studs on your damned island dead? And you in Halifax trying to explain? Because that’s where I’ll land you before I’m through, stud or no stud.”

In dazed confusion Duane looked very closely at his fists, as if one of them might fly open and let out a wonderful answer.

Shannon shouted, “Is that what you want?”

“No, Tom, no! For God’s sake, bring him in. I’ll tell them ashore. I’ll tell them now.”

He ran down the stairs.

SHANNON pushed his mount into the gale. The rain beat so hard that he couldn’t see far beyond his horse’s ears. He could see that the ears — thin, wellshaped ones—were hard at work, and so

were the flared nostrils. He gave the horse a sound pat on the shoulder and shouted a kindly word to him. When they came up to the dead stud, the horse stopped of his own accord, as if he expected the customary examination. At command, he moved onward; and, without command, turned into a trail that ran under the shelter of the first dunes.

He judged that it would do no good to ride up a dune for a look eastward. The gale seemed to he working around the western end of the island, and the tide was ebbing. Nevertheless., the squalls kept ramming in over the wrecks, and he couldn t have seen far from a height. Taking it easy, he let his mount turn off again into a passage between two dunes, and thus he came out into the eastern beach. The Greek freighter lay hidden in spray and rain. He knew its position and headed for it because he wished to bring Duane’s word to Ballard.

An odd change came over his horse. Although the breakers still had a dangerous look about them, the horse kept shifting closer to them, too close for comfort. At the same time the horse began working at the bit in fretful fashion; in fact, when Shannon tightened up on him ever so little, he began to fight the bit. Shannon spoke kindly to him. When this didn’t answer, he gave him a whack. Just the same, the horse flung his head back and almost struck Shannon, bent low at the time. The horse reared and tried to throw him. It was a brisk contest. Shannon's knees won it.

He knew now that some action beyond the dunes had frightened his horse badly. He could hear nothing. The light had improved a little to about twilight strength. Since this change warranted a try at the dunes, he turned his horse. He heard a horrifying grunt behind him, a grunt so true to the pen that he wouldn’t have been surprised — anywhere else — if an enormous boar had rushed out of the shadows, its tusks red.

Not that. An island stud came stumbling toward him, his mouth gaping in agony. This was the only one he had seen with a roached mane; a mane that had been clipped some time ago. The islanders had tried to break him, and had given it up. Now, indeed, he was broken— in the other sense of the word. His right foreleg had been shattered at the cannon bone, and he ran in such a twisted way that Shannon knew his neck had been broken too. The stud went down heavily at the curling point of surf, and sprawled groaning onto a rift of seaweed. A pulsing flow of blood poured over the green strands and turned them crimson.

An unearthly shriek pierced the dull music beyond the dunes. Shannon tried to force his horse between the dunes. The horse refused and, in a curious show of wilfulness, made such a plunge at the nearest dune that Shannon let him go. He was ready for anything, if only he could look over that sodden ridge.

In the hard climb over yielding sand the beam of the West Light struck him full in the eyes. In that dazzled moment he heard a shouting far away. He raised in the stirrups and looked down into the hollow beyond.

Nine of the wild studs reared and circled there. Three lay dead and halfdead; and. astride them, a bloody forefoot raised in grace, Brian stood his ground. Bloody ground it was. Dark splotches marred the sheen of gale-flattened marsh hay. Twigs and branches of the wild strawberry and the cranberry whirled under the thrusting hoofs.

JACA, unharmed as yet, broke from the circling pack-and lunged at Brian’s belly. The raised forefoot struck and

missed narrowly. A second stud, following Jaca, came in on the far side. A fallen stud, heaving in his death struggle, tripped him, and he sprang away like a great cat. his jaws open. He had been thrown off balance and couldn’t get his hind feet down solidly from a jump away. The instant that he lurched awkwardly, Brian turned his haunches and struck out his hind hoofs in a blow so powerful that the stud’s ribs broke. He sagged down on the stud that had been in his way.

Shannon roared against the wind. He booted his horse hard, trying to drive him down into the arena. The horse refused.

“Brian! Up! Up!”

The stallion backed away from the dead and dying studs and turned to look toward the voice. His ears came up.

Shannon's frantic summons might have been the death of Brian. The attacking studs were quick to catch even such a slight break in his intense watchfulness. Three plunged forward together, and Jaca, apart from them, closed in on the quivering hindquarters.

Shannon drew the carbine and rolled ofF his horse. He ran halfway down the dune, ready to shoot, but he could not fire into the whirling mass of horses.

The three plunging studs bore onward, head to head, and Brian went down be-

Music depreciation

Unlike the critic who insists On panning all mouth-organists,

I view them with less heat.

And merely hope that fate decrees A bout of hoof-and-mouth disease For those who tap their feet.


fore their charge. This seemed to be a daring trick because he kept on rolling, his legs striking furiously on the upturns. He got his feet under him and. again heaving upward, he struck the same blow: two ironed hoofs together on a thrusting head. A stud went down.

Shannon fired a shot into the air. The explosion, or his nearness, drove several of the studs back a little distance. To Jaca, the shot offered only another chance to drive in. This time, he came alone. The others, either through battle weariness or in obedience to Jaca’s signal, held off, their heads lowered, their haunches ready to hurl them onward for the finishing attack. That action, and the slower deliberate approach by Jaca, gave to the duel a peculiar aspect of formality; and this, to Shannon, seemed ordered by the leader, as if he realized that there could he no final escape for him and that he must kill soon before he himself was killed.

IN a joint action that was, in a way.

curiously playful, with heads nodding gracefully, Brian and Jaca met and reared, their forefeet reached out. They staggered backward and came down. When, once more. Brian’s powerful hindquarters lifted him high. Jaca became wolfish again, and thrust forward under the forefeet, his teeth bared for the slash along the belly. Before the jaws could clench in the fatal grip, Brian twisted his barrel away, his own jaws wide agape, and struck his teeth down through Jaca’s mane to the flesh. Brian pushed down hard; then, his haunches straining furiously, he backed away, dragging Jaca after him until the paralyzing pain forced him into a grunting fall. At this. Brian opened his jaws and tapped Jaca lightly on the withers with a forefoot. When Jaca re-

sponded, and his head came up, Brian struck his skull with both forefeet. So Jaca died.

Seeing this fall, the remaining studs trotted mildly away, each on his separate path, thus divided again after their treaty and their defeat. There were many sircless mares now, beyond the dunes, and they trotted off after them, their wounds showing.

Shannon threw his carbine down and came up to Brian. The stallion bore several wounds. The old one had been reopened. He shuddered violently. Nothing that Shannon could say or do in the way of endearment and caress brought him to ease. He kept glancing fiercely at Jaca.

Shannon led him away from the disturbing blood. He took him around the dune and, not yet capable of examining the wounds, walked him into the subsiding sea. There Shannon ripped off his shirt and washed the wounds, thinking the salt might help until he could get him back to the blacksmith shop.

A patrol appeared between him and the Greek. Two men came on. One turned back, and soon returned, at the gallop, with Ballard following.

YES,” said Duane, “they know two studs were killed by him.” He held up the latest sheaf of radio messages. “The fact that four more—”

“Five, sir,” said Ballard.

“—the fact that five more are lost in this way will make no difference to their orders.”

“What are those orders?” Shannon’s question didn't bring the quick relieving answer that he wanted so badly.

Plainly under a new burden of thought. Duane had nerve enough to hold out a little longer. He hinted at the cause of his distress by saying, “What I wished to say—no!—what I must say is this: the fact that five were killed may make some difference to other orders to this establishment.”

Shannon saw the point at once. “They’ll never learn this from me and” —he glanced at Ballard for a confirming nod—“they’ll never learn it from anybody else.”

“If that’s so—”

“I tell you it is so! Now. what are the orders for the mainland stud?”

“He is to be disposed of, according to the regulations of the establishment.” “Go on, please.”

“And the regulations provide only one thing.”

“Out with it!”

“He must be sold."

Shannon let out a damn. “How can you sell a stallion that, for all we know, may be a very sick man tonight? He’s been bitten in three more places, Duane.”

Duane pointed toward a book that lay open before him. “He may not be sold except by public auction. At such an auction no member of this establishment is permitted to bid—a law that applies to all salvage, too, and all treasure trove found on Sable Island.”

Shannon laughed. Since this was the first cheerful laughter he had heard for some time, he was a little surprised at its quality. Liking the taste of it, and its agreeable effect on the others—even Duane—he laughed even louder and said. “Call in your yeoman, Captain, and let's run this auction off in real longshore style. Let's see what happens."

Duane nodded. The yeoman came in, his notebook at the ready, and the necessary statements were read aloud by Duane. At the close of it he looked around mildly. “Do I hear any bids for this stallion?”

Shannon answered, “I can take him for two dollars. That’s clear enough. But out of respect for him. I’ll make it fifty.” “Arc there any other bids?”

Shannon put a stop to it. “If anybody else bids, I’ll throw the book at him—and 1 won’t miss.”

FIVE nights later the supply vessel drew up to the wharves of Lunenburg, where the schooners lay in the slips. Five minutes later, and the town awakening, lamp by lamp, Shannon led Brian up the empty cobblestone streets of the old town. Beyond the hill, beyond the back bay, where the lanes were soft for the bare hoofs, he mounted and steered for the green hills yonder.

“Speakjng for myself,” he said to the brisk ears, “I enjoy the smell of ripe apples and fresh water on such a morning.”

Brian began to dance a little in his pleasure, and he too snuffed up the fragrances of the Nova Scotian autumn.

“Oats in the sheaf for somebody, 1 suppose,” said Shannon, remembering still the boy’s letter. “As for me, a cup of tea will do nicely.”

Brian nodded gently at this remark. Just the same, he ambled slowly.

“Aren’t you barn-crazy at all, Brian? From what 1 know about your life here, I’d expect you to go.”

“Go” was all that Brian required. He trotted into a lane where a meadow opened. On the farther rise of the valley there stood a hedged farmhouse, white and blue in the sunrise. Brian glanced over his shoulder in the warning necessary to a sailor, and trotted down the easy slope. At the bottom he stretched out for the last meadow in such grand style that Shannon shouted with joy. He had to shut his eyes when Brian came up to a wall, but he opened them high in the air and shouted again. At the hedge he dismounted and took off the bridle and saddle.

He looked through the hedge and made out a boy standing at the gate of a small paddock, white-fenced. Not a happy-looking boy at all, he was just standing around, his dark head shining in the sun, his eyes looking about at nothing at all, at the emptiness.

Shannon parted the hedge with his hands and shouted the sentence he had been longing to shout ever since he had read it in the letter handed to him in a black moment.

“Look now, horseman!”

The boy turned, his hands lifting. Shannon stepped back to slap Brian onward and over. There was no need of that. Brian danced away, took some turf for a run, and sailed over the hedge.

Before the stallion came down. Shannon was into the hedge again, and—not laughing now—he saw Brian leap the paddock fence and go up to the boy at a gentle pace, his beautiful head outstretched to the uplifted hands, -fc