Desert Gold (Chapter 4, page 2 of 21)

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Chapter 4

"He shore was sleepin' when I looked in an hour ago," said a voice that
Dick recognized as Ladd's.

"Let him sleep," came the reply in deep, good-natured tones. "Mrs. B.
says the girl's never moved. Must have been a tough ride for them
both. Forty miles through cactus!"

"Young Gale hoofed darn near half the way," replied Ladd. "We tried to
make him ride one of our hosses. If we had, we'd never got here. A
walk like that'd killed me an' Jim."

"Well, Laddy, I'm right down glad to see you boys, and I'll do all I
can for the young couple," said the other. "But I'm doing some worry
here; don't mistake me."

"About your stock?"

"I've got only a few head of cattle at the oasis now, I'm worrying
some, mostly about my horses. The U. S. is doing some worrying, too,
don't mistake me. The rebels have worked west and north as far as
Casita. There are no cavalrymen along the line beyond Casita, and
there can't be. It's practically waterless desert. But these rebels
are desert men. They could cross the line beyond the Rio Forlorn and
smuggle arms into Mexico. Of course, my job is to keep tab on Chinese
and Japs trying to get into the U.S. from Magdalena Bay. But I'm
supposed to patrol the border line. I'm going to hire some rangers.
Now, I'm not so afraid of being shot up, though out in this lonely
place there's danger of it; what I'm afraid of most is losing that
bunch of horses. If any rebels come this far, or if they ever hear of
my horses, they're going to raid me. You know what those guerrilla
Mexicans will do for horses. They're crazy on horse flesh. They know
fine horses. They breed the finest in the world. So I don't sleep
nights any more."

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