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Page 71

CHAPTER 5 - FOOTHILL TRAIL

He waited for a little, then moved again, on foot, stealthily approaching the beasts. When he came within a short distance of them one of the animals whinnied softly. Bill stared, muttered an exclamation. It didn't make sense, but if this wasn't Jake's beast Bill would give up. At close quarters the ranger recognised the markings on the flanks.
Inside a couple of minutes Bill was dead sure. It was Jake's pony and the other was Ned's. He had been wrong in thinking they must by now be nearing Phoenix. They weren't anywhere near the state capital ; they were here in the foothills behind Black Greek !
There was no telling why, or what they were doing. The only certainty was that they weren't picking daisies, this not being their habit. The probability was that they were involved in some way with whatever was going on hereabouts, including the shots Bill had heard and the shout that had brought him here.
Even as these speculations passed swiftly through Bill's mind, he heard a noise behind him, a scrabbling of loose stones. He swung round and there, just coming into sight at the summit of a steep incline, was a man's figure, bent under a weight, the weight of something that at first sight looked like a heavy sack, but which as he drew nearer Bill could see was, in fact, a boy, slung across his shoulders. Bill, by now under cover, recognised Jake. It didn't take much working out that the boy was Rocky.
Bill moved out of cover as Jake came within a couple of yards. Maybe Jake would have spotted him earlier had he not been carrying the boy. As it was Bill took him by surprise.
" O.K. Jake-take it easy," said Bill, materialising from behind a rock.

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