The Forbidden Trail (Chapter 9, page 1 of 20)

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Chapter 9

It was late the next afternoon when Dick drove slowly along the trail. The three men were flat on their backs under the absorber, patching leaks, when they heard the squeak of the wagon and the soft tread of horses' hoofs in the sand. They made no attempt to greet him.

The next morning, however, Roger plodded up to the ranch house to consult with Dick about the moving of the oil. Although it was close to eight o'clock, Dick was just finishing breakfast. He was cheerful and talkative.

"Don't try to use horses," he urged. "There's old Rabbit Tail lives ten miles over the range. He's got a bunch of little wild burros and he does packing for the miners when there is any. He'll pack that oil for you."

Roger brightened up, then shook his head. "I can't pay him. The Smithsonian folks aren't coming up to the scratch and I've got to finish this job without funds. I've about twenty-five dollars in hand and two hundred more in sight. I thought perhaps I could exchange work with you. Help you to re-seed and then to increase your irrigating capacity here."

"Gosh, that's hard luck!" exclaimed Dick. "Did you hear that, Charley, about Roger's money?"

Charley, who had been busy in the kitchen, came in now with a fresh cup of coffee for Roger in one hand and an extra chair in the other. Had Roger's mind been less concentrated on the problem in hand he might have noted the fine ease with which she swung the chair up to the table for him before either he or Dick could proffer help. Charley was so slender that one did not easily recognize the splendid strength she sometimes displayed.

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