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The River's End by James Oliver Curwood
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James Oliver Curwood



Between Conniston, of His Majesty's Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and
Keith, the outlaw, there was a striking physical and facial
resemblance. Both had observed it, of course. It gave them a sort of
confidence in each other. Between them it hovered in a subtle and
unanalyzed presence that was constantly suggesting to Conniston a line
of action that would have made him a traitor to his oath of duty. For
nearly a month he had crushed down the whispered temptings of this
thing between them. He represented the law. He was the law. For
twenty-seven months he had followed Keith, and always there had been in
his mind that parting injunction of the splendid service of which he
was a part--"Don't come back until you get your man, dead or alive."

A racking cough split in upon his thoughts. He sat up on the edge of
the cot, and at the gasping cry of pain that came with the red stain of
blood on his lips Keith went to him and with a strong arm supported his
shoulders. He said nothing, and after a moment Conniston wiped the
stain away and laughed softly, even before the shadow of pain had faded
from his eyes. One of his hands rested on a wrist that still bore the
ring-mark of a handcuff. The sight of it brought him back to grim
reality. After all, fate was playing whimsically as well as tragically
with their destinies.