Books > Old Books > Indian Range (1953)


Page 9

Prologue

man knew, the reservoir was low. The deadly poison he had emptied into the river would sweep down to the drinking-place and there contaminate all the water.
His lips drew back over his teeth in a mirthless smile as he visualised the results of what he had done. Cattle would drink-and cattle would die, surely and swiftly, within a few hours of taking in the poisoned water. By the time it was discovered what had happened it might well be that every beast now grazing on the grounds would be destroyed.
The man turned back to his pony, untethered it and mounted. He swung it round and moved away into the night. For a few moments the sound of hooves overlaid the bubbling of the spring once more, but then it faded. The night was again silent except for the plashing of the water.
Down the river moved contaminated, deadly water. Presently it came to the reservoir and there it stayed. As more water entered, fresh and pure, it, too, became polluted. By morning the entire reservoir would be poisoned. Not a drop could be drunk without fatal effects.
The wind blew more chill from the mountains, the night brooded over foothills and outcrops, over the grazing-grounds and the ranch-house sleeping away to the south. The man who had ridden out upon evil work moved cautiously through the darkness and presently came to the main trail which led to the dilapidated township lying north of the mountains and the foothills. His night's task was ended.

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