Books > Old Books > Indian Range (1953)


Page 8

Prologue

then out of the night appeared a solitary rider. He brought his animal to a halt and dismounted, tethering his mount. Then he stood for a few minutes motionless by the spring, one hand holding a gun. His head was bent, for he was listening. He had to be certain that nobody else was in the vicinity, that none knew he had come so furtively at midnight to this spring-this vital spring.
For several minutes he stayed motionless. No sound but that of the bubbling water reached him. At length he was satisfied. He was alone here amongst the foothills. The ranch-house, two miles away, had been in darkness when he passed it. None had heard him.
He put up his gun, and from his pocket brought a small package which he opened carefully. Then he went to the spring and knelt down by the water. With one last glance over his shoulder he tipped the contents of the package into the water. The paper he folded and replaced in his pocket.
Kneeling close to the water he could see the white crystals he had poured from the paper settle and then dissolve. He could see that the water turned to a creamy white in the small stone hollow into which the spring debouched ; and then that creamy water, now deadly, moved swiftly away down the river, polluting everything which it touched.
The man was satisfied, rose to his feet and stood gazing down the river towards the grazing-grounds. In a mile the river had been dammed to collect the water into a miniature reservoir where the cattle went to drink. Sometimes, when the reservoir became too full-which was very rare in this district and happened not more than once a year-water was allowed to flow on through the dam opening. But now, as the

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