Heart of the Sunset eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 306 pages of information about Heart of the Sunset.

Once again the water-hole lay sleeping.

Alaire’s retreat was far from comfortable; there was an ants’ nest somewhere near her and she thought of moving; but suddenly her breath caught and her heart jumped uncontrollably.  She crouched lower, for directly opposite her position, and outlined against the sky where the sharp ridge cut it, was the figure of a mounted man.  Rider and horse were silhouetted against the pearl-gray heaven like an equestrian statue.  How long they had been there Alaire had no faintest notion.  Perhaps it was their coming which had alarmed the cattle.  She was conscious that a keen and hostile pair of eyes was searching the coverts surrounding the charco.  Then, as silently as it had appeared, the apparition vanished beyond the ridge, and Alaire wondered if the rider had taken alarm.  She earnestly hoped so; this breathless vigil was getting on her nerves, and the sight of that threatening figure had set her pulses to throbbing.  The rider was on his guard, that was plain; he was armed, too, and probably desperate.  The ominous possibilities of this ambush struck her forcibly.

Alaire lay close, as she had been directed, praying that the horseman had been warned; but shortly she heard again the rustle of stiff branches, and out into the opening rode a Mexican.  He was astride a wiry gray pony, and in the strong twilight Alaire could see his every feature—­the swarthy cheeks, the roving eyes beneath the black felt hat.  A carbine lay across his saddle-horn, a riata was coiled beside his leg, a cartridge-belt circled his waist.  There was something familiar about the fellow, but at the moment Alaire could not determine what it was.

After one swift appraising glance the new-comer rode straight to the verge of the water-hole and dismounted; then he and his horse drank side by side.

It was the moment for a complete and effective surprise, but nothing happened.  Why didn’t Law act?  Alaire bent low, straining eyes and ears, but no command came from the Ranger.  After a while the traveler rose to his feet and stretched his limbs.  Next he walked to the ashes of the fire and looked down at them, stirring them with his toe.  Apparently satisfied, he lit a cigarette.

Could it be that something had gone wrong with the Ranger’s plan?  Had something happened to him?  Alaire was startled by the possibility; this delay was beyond her comprehension.

Then, as if in answer to her perplexity, a second horseman appeared, and the woman realized how simply she had been fooled.

III

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE WATER-HOLE

The new-comers exchanged a word or two in Spanish, then the second rider flung himself from his saddle and made for the water.  He was lying prone and drinking deeply when out of nowhere came a sharp command.

“Oiga!  Hands up, both of you!”

The first arrival jumped as if a rattlesnake had buzzed at his back, the second leaped to his feet with an oath; they stared in the direction whence the voice had come.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Heart of the Sunset from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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