“Canteen plumb full. How’re you fixed?”
“I got the same, less one drink. That gives us enough for a couple of days with some to spare, if we’re careful,” Mr. Connors replied. New Mexican canteens are built on generous lines and are known as life-preservers.
“Look at that glory-hunter go!” exclaimed Red, watching a brave who was riding half a mile to their right and rapidly coming abreast of them. “Wonder how he got over there without us seeing him.”
“Here; stop him!” suggested Hopalong, holding out his Sharps. “We can’t let him get ahead of us and lay in ambush—that’s what he’s playing to do.”
“My gun’s good, and better, for me, at this range; but you know, I can’t hit a jack-rabbit going over rough country as fast as that feller is,” replied his companion, standing up in his stirrups and firing.
“Huh! Never touched him! But he’s edging off a-plenty. See him cuss you. What’s he calling you, anyhow?”
“Aw, shut up! How the devil do I know? I don’t talk with my arms.”
“Are you superstitious, Red?”
“No! Shut up!”
“Well, I am. See that feller over there? If he gets in front of us it’s a shore sign that somebody’s going to get hurt. He’ll have plenty of time to get cover an’ pick us off as we come up.”
“Don’t you worry—his cayuse is deader’n ours. They must ‘a’ been pushing on purty hard the last few days. See it stumble?—what’d I tell you!”
“Yes; but they’re gaining on us slow but shore. We’ve got to make a stand purty soon—how much further do you reckon that infernal shack is, anyhow?” Hopalong asked sharply.
“’T ain’t fur off—see it any minute now.”
“Here,” remarked Hopalong, holding out his rifle, “stencil yore mark on his hide; catch him just as he strikes the top of that little rise.”
“Ain’t got time—that shack can’t be much further.”
And it wasn’t, for as they galloped over a rise they saw, half a mile ahead of them, an adobe building in poor state of preservation. It was Powers’ old ranch house, and as they neared it, they saw that there was no doubt about the holes.
“Told you it was a sieve,” grunted Hopalong, swinging in on the tail of his companion. “Not worth a hang for anything,” he added bitterly.
“It’ll answer, all right,” retorted Red grimly.
MR. HOLDEN DROPS IN
Mr. Cassidy dismounted and viewed the building with open disgust, walking around it to see what held it up, and when he finally realized that it was self-supporting his astonishment was profound. Undoubtedly there were shacks in the United States in worse condition, but he hoped their number was small. Of course he knew that the building was small. Of course he knew that the building would make a very good place of defence, but for the sake of argument he called