Mavericks (Chapter 27)

 
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Chapter 27 : Page 1 of 18

The Mimbres Pass narrows toward the southern exit where Point o' Rocks juts into the caƱon and commands it like a sentinel. Toward this column of piled boulders slowly moved a cloud of white dust, at the base of which crept a band of hard-driven cattle. Swollen tongues were out, heads stretched forward in a bellow for water taken up by one as another dropped it. The day was still hot, though the sun had slipped down over the range, and the drove had been worked forward remorselessly. Every inch that could be sweated out of them had been gained.

For those that pushed them along were in desperate hurry. Now and again a rider would twist round in his saddle to sweep back a haggard glance. Dust enshrouded them, lay heavy on every exposed inch; but through it seams of anxiety crevassed their leathern faces. Iron men they were, with one exception. Fight they could and would to the last ditch. But behind the jaded, stony eyes lay a haunting fear, the never-ending dread of a pursuit that might burst upon them at any moment. Driven to the wall, they would have faced the enemy like tigers, with a fierce, exultant hate. It was the never-ending possibility of disaster that lay heavily upon them.

Just as they entered the pass, a man came spurring up the steep trail behind them. The drag drivers shouted a warning to those in front and waited alertly with weapons ready. The man trying to overtake them waved a sombrero as a flag of truce.

 
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