Taking quick looks behind him on the trail, Lew Basnight was apt to see things that weren’t necessarily there. Mounted figure in a black duster and hat, always still, turned sidewise in the hard, sunlit distance, horse bent to the barren ground. No real beam of attention, if anything a withdrawal into its own lopsided star-shaped silhouette, as if that were all it had ever aspired to. It did not take long to convince himself that the presence behind him now, always just out of eyeball range, belonged to one and the same subject, the notorious dynamiter of the San Juans known as the Kieselguhr Kid. The Kid happened to be of prime interest to White City Investigations. Just around the time Lew was stepping off the train at the Union Station in Denver, and the troubles up in the Coeur d’Alene were starting to bleed over everywhere in the mining country, where already hardly a day passed without an unscheduled dynamite blast in it someplace, the philosophy among larger, city-based detective agencies like Pinkerton’s and Thiel’s began to change, being as they now found themselves with far too much work on their hands. On the theory that they could look at their unsolved cases the way a banker might at instruments of debt, they began selling off to less-established and accordingly hungrier outfits like White City their higher-risk tickets, including that of the long-sought Kieselguhr Kid. It was the only name anybody seemed to know him by, “Kieselguhr” being a kind of fine clay, used to soak up nitroglycerine and stabilize it into dynamite. The Kid’s family had supposedly come over as refugees from Germany shortly after the reaction of 1849, settling at first near San Antonio, which the Kid-to-be, having developed a restlessness for higher ground, soon left, and then after a spell in the Sangre de Cristos, so it went, heading west again, the San Juans his dream, though not for the silver-mine money, nor the trouble he could get into, both of those, he was old enough by then to appreciate, easy enough to come by. No, it was for something else. Different tellers of the tale had different thoughts on what. “Don’t carry pistols, don’t own a shotgun nor a rifle—no, his trade-mark, what you’ll find him packing in those tooled holsters, is always these twin sticks of dynamite, with a dozen more—” “Couple dozen, in big bandoliers across his chest.” “Easy fellow to recognize, then.” “You’d think so, but no two eyewitnesses have ever agreed. It’s like all that blasting rattles it loose from everybody’s memory.” “But say, couldn’t even a slow hand just gun him before he could get a fuse lit?” “Wouldn’t bet on it. Got this clever wind-proof kind of striker rig on to each holster, like a safety match, so all’s he has to do’s draw, and the ‘sucker’s all lit and ready to throw.” “Fast fuses, too. Some boys down the Uncompahgre found out about that just last August, nothin left to bury but spurs and belt buckles. Even old Butch Cassidy and them’ll begin to coo like a barn full of pigeons whenever the Kid’s in the county.” Of course, nobody ever’d been sure about who was in Butch Cassidy’s gang either. No shortage of legendary deeds up here, but eyewitnesses could never swear beyond a doubt who in each case, exactly, had done which, and, more than fear of retaliation—it was as if physical appearance actually shifted, causing not only aliases to be inconsistently assigned but identity itself to change. Did something, something essential, happen to human personality above a certain removal from sea level? Many quoted Dr. Lombroso’s observation about how lowland folks tended to be placid and law-abiding while mountain country bred revolutionaries and outlaws. That was over in Italy, of course. Theorizers about the recently discovered subconscious mind, reluctant to leave out any variable that might seem helpful, couldn’t avoid the altitude, and the barometric pressure that went with it. This was spirit, after all.