Books > Old Books > Indian Range (1953)


Page 53

CHAPTER 3 - STRANGERS AT BLACK CREEK

a huge arc, making almost a half-circle round the Indian Range ranch-house, which remained out of sight, however. Ned wanted to explore the country before venturing any nearer to the ranch-house.
Though he did not know the country intimately his uncanny instinct did not desert him. After a time he had a view of the ranch-house and its outbuildings, away in the distance, and then was able to fix his position exactly. But still he and Jake had seen nobody, had not glimpsed even in the distance any of those who presumably were still searching for Rocky. It might be that the search had been called off ; the boy might have been found.
Rocky had not been found, however, as Jake and Ned discovered within the next half-hour. They pushed on into the hills, deep into them, with the ranch-house, again out of sight away to their right, now to the north. They had reached the farther end of the half-circle they had traced. The main mountain range stood out clearly and starkly in the moonlight dead ahead of them.
And then Ned, still in the lead, drew in his pony, flung up his hand in a signal to Jake to halt. Ned leaned forward in the saddle, listening. Then he swung lightly to the ground. Not far away were men, he knew that though Jake could hear not a sound.
He slid away on foot, leaving Jake with the ponies. In ten minutes he returned, and very shortly after that Jake, crouched with Ned behind a cluster of boulders, was looking down into a declivity where a man stood. The moon revealed that his face was covered with a neck-scarf, with slits for the eyes, but only this, for he was in the shadow, a vague figure unidentifiable. In his hand was a gun.
More than that did Jake see. On the ground, lying

Page 54

CHAPTER 3 - STRANGERS AT BLACK CREEK

against a boulder, was another figure, full in the moonlight. It was the figure of a boy of about fourteen, the ranger judged. He was lying helpless, hands and wrists corded, the man standing over him. The man brought up his gun slowly . . . he aimed it at the boy.
In another moment he would have pressed the trigger, but Jake wasn't having that. He brought up his own rod-it cracked viciously.

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