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Page 70

CHAPTER 5 - FOOTHILL TRAIL

shots had sounded. He estimated that they had been fired at least a couple of miles away, maybe more.
He pushed on hard, leaving the bunch well behind. Then the moon slid behind clouds which had banked up and abruptly darkness closed down over the foothills. Bill pulled in his beast, strained his eyes peering through the gloom, strained his ears hoping to pick up some sound that would take him in the right direction. Since the shots he had heard nothing.
The silence persisted for a little ; no sound came even from behind. By now the Bruce outfit should be coming up, but in fact Bill could hear nothing of them. It seemed that he was alone in the darkness.
He twisted round in the saddle now, peering behind him down the trail. Something must have happened to divert the bunch ; this became more certain with every passing minute. Bill started to bring his pony round, intending to ride back and investigate ; but then from ahead, but well to his left, there came a shout, faintly but distinctly heard.
Bill tensed, swung the pony back again and then the moon came out once more, most providentially. Bill didn't worry any more about the others. He touched his beast and was away again, turning off the narrow trail and making in the direction of the shout. He had pin-pointed the direction, and had got the line exactly, he thought.
Five minutes later he came round a bend in the goat-track he was following, no other sound having been heard, and there ahead of him were two ponies, tethered.
The ranger pulled in abruptly, swung from the saddle and took cover. His gun was in his hand and he was very wary. The tethered ponies proved that somewhere nearby were men. Bill was taking no chances.

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