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Page 65

CHAPTER 4 - RANGER RIDING

The ranger pushed on, past the outcrop, and saw that there was indeed a mesa, of some half a mile square, small and arid, the grass brown and dry. No cattle grazed. On its other side reared hills which were themselves almost mountains.
Dusk came on fast ; and then the moon rose. Bill spent a long time investigating but got nothing of interest. The Indian had vanished ; the other man, whom he had allowed to move away unhindered, must by now be miles away. Bill had drawn a blank.
But he persevered, for the moonlight was strong and enabled him to explore. He spent nearly two hours amongst the foothills but at length moved back towards his tethered pony. And then the silence was shattered by a shot, the noise coming from somewhere very near to where his pony waited.
Bill came to a point where he could see the beast. He saw more than the pony. Two men were standing there, dismounted, their own animals nearby. One of the men, dressed as a cow-hand, as Bill could see in the moonlight, spoke abruptly to his companion.
" This ain't the kid's beast, Mister Callahan. I ain't never seen this one before." And then, " we got to get Mister Bruce here, though."
As he spoke he drew his rod, raised it into the air and fired.
Bill could guess that the other shot, heard earlier, had also been fired into the air in some sort of signal.
He moved from cover and came into the open. The two men heard him and swung round. The cowhand's gun was still in his hand. Swiftly it was levelled at Bill, covering him as he walked towards horse and men. His own rod was back in its holster now. Bill didn't rightly know what was going on,

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