The canon hotel.
Late in the afternoon of the third day subsequent a man and a boy might have been seen riding slowly through a rocky canon probably eighty miles west from San Francisco. Both were mounted on the small native horses of California, generally called mustangs. These animals possess a strength disproportioned to their size, and show great endurance. At times they have a playful habit of bucking, not quite agreeable to an inexperienced horseman.
The reader will already have guessed that the two riders are Jake Bradley and Ben. The mustangs were on a walk, being apparently weary with the day’s tramp.
“Well, Ben,” said Bradley, “what do you say to camping out for the night?”
“I have no objection,” said Ben, “and I don’t think my horse has.”
“He is better off than mine, having less to carry. Are you tired?”
“Not very tired, but my limbs are rather stiff.”
“What hotel shall we put up at, Ben?” asked Bradley, with a humorous glance about him.
“There isn’t much choice,” said Ben. “The Canon Hotel seems to be the only one that is open hereabouts. The only objection is, that we shall have to sleep on the floor, with the windows all open.”
“That’s about so, Ben,” assented Bradley, laughing. “I shouldn’t mind sleeping in a Christian bed to-night myself. Well, here goes!”
As he spoke, he jumped from the back of his horse, and, taking out a rope, tethered it to a tree hard by.
Ben followed his example.
“Now for the grub,” said Bradley. “I’m powerfully empty myself. This ridin’ all day up and down hill is wearin’ to the stomach. What do you say?”
“I’ve got a healthy appetite myself, Jake.”
“This yere Canon Hotel that you was talkin’ about ain’t first-class. It don’t supply anything but cold victuals. Now, ef we had a cup of coffee to wash it down, and kinder warm us up, it would go to the right spot, eh, Ben?”
“You are right, Jake! but please don’t speak of it again. It makes my mouth water.”
“Stay here a few minutes, Ben, and I’ll reconnoiter a little. Perhaps I can find a better place for campin’.”
“All right, Jake!”
While Bradley was absent Ben threw himself on the ground, and began to think. It was the third day of the expedition. Ben enjoyed riding through this new, unsettled country. He almost felt in the solitudes of the woods and hills as if he were the original explorer of this far-distant country. He was more than three thousand miles away from his native town, entrusted with a mission of importance. The thought was gratifying to his boyish fancy, and inspired him with a new sense of power and increased his self-reliance. He was glad, however, to have the company of Jake Bradley. He was ready to acknowledge that his chances of success, had he started alone, would have been much smaller, and certainly he would have found it exceedingly lonesome.