"He fights like a veteran," Harley remarked, after witnessing one such encounter. "He's cold-blooded. There's no excitement in him."
"He's old before his time," Villa said. "There is no heart of play left in him, and no desire for speech. Just the same I know he loves me, and you--"
"Without having to be voluble about it," her husband completed for her.
"You can see it shining in those quiet eyes of his," she supplemented.
"Reminds me of one of the survivors of Lieutenant Greeley's Expedition I used to know," he agreed. "He was an enlisted soldier and one of the handful of survivors. He had been through so much that he was just as subdued as Michael and just as taciturn. He bored most people, who could not understand him. Of course, the truth was the other way around. They bored him. They knew so little of life that he knew the last word of. And one could scarcely get any word out of him. It was not that he had forgotten how to speak, but that he could not see any reason for speaking when nobody could understand. He was really crusty from too-bitter wise experience. But all you had to do was look at him in his tremendous repose and know that he had been through the thousand hells, including all the frozen ones. His eyes had the same quietness of Michael's. And they had the same wisdom. I'd give almost anything to know how he got his shoulder scarred. It must have been a tiger or a lion."
The man, like the mountain lion whom Michael had encountered up the mountain, had strayed down from the wilds of Mendocino County, following the ruggedest mountain stretches, and, at night, crossing the farmed valley spaces where the presence of man was a danger to him. Like the mountain lion, the man was an enemy to man, and all men were his enemies, seeking his life which he had forfeited in ways more terrible than the lion which had merely killed calves for food.
Like the mountain lion, the man was a killer. But, unlike the lion, his vague description and the narrative of his deeds was in all the newspapers, and mankind was a vast deal more interested in him than in the lion. The lion had slain calves in upland pastures. But the man, for purposes of robbery, had slain an entire family--the postmaster, his wife, and their three children, in the upstairs over the post office in the mountain village of Chisholm.
For two weeks the man had eluded and exceeded pursuit. His last crossing had been from the mountains of the Russian River, across wide-farmed Santa Rosa Valley, to Sonoma Mountain. For two days he had laired and rested, sleeping much, in the wildest and most inaccessible precincts of the Kennan Ranch. With him he had carried coffee stolen from the last house he had raided. One of Harley Kennan's angora goats had furnished him with meat. Four times he had slept the clock around from exhaustion, rousing on occasion, like any animal, to eat voraciously of the goat-meat, to drink large quantities of the coffee hot or cold, and to sink down into heavy but nightmare-ridden sleep.