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"Run, Nakoma, we can stop for burn- that ole wellow clump? Le's try to make in' shirts!” urged Carlos.
for the wellow clump!". Nakoma turned to the right and down "I thought etwas out here," said through another track of dusty, parched Carlos, “but you see that et es not!" tules the couple fled. On-on through “But thee ground es damp," the girl the tangled lobryinth of crackling reeds panted, “may be et es a leetle way over they fought their way feverously, desper- dere." ately-obsessed with the madness of “No, I am of thee certain that thee terror.
weelows ar' not out here." On they struggled, stubbing their toes "Ef we could fin' a hole of wet mudin the dry, rutty hoof holes of the cattle. a cow wallow-thee ground es wet, dere Staggering and coughing, they helped mus' be one out near here somewhere. one another to keep to their feet as the May be over dere!" the girl pointed. blinding sheets of smoke passed over But when the spot was reached no them.
cow wallow marked its identity. The "My Carlos! My Carlos!" the girl at little hollow was drier, if possible, than length managed to gasp, "we are but the ground surrounding it. runnin' round in a circle. See, dere es “We are indeed lost!" the girl adthat leetle dried up arm of the Butte mitted, “I don' know where in the worl' Slough! Tree times we hav' crossed et we are!" -an' see agin we approach et!"
Lost in the maze of matted marsh, “Ay! Ay! These paths ar lak the weed, blinded in a maelstrom of smothspider web-- " a furious fit of coughing ering smoke, the helpless creatures finished Carlos' sentence.
watched the lapping phalanx of fire apConfused, bewildered and on the verge proach them. of insanity with fear, the man and the Carlos lamented bitterly in Spanish: woman scuttled down another opening “To think that it was I who brought while streamers of sparks eddied and you out into this!" hissed at their backs.
“But I say, Carlos, dere mus' be a Down the vast plain the fire swept, mud hole about here close. I feel weth leaping, dancing, spreading in impish na my feet that the ground es oozy," the liciousness. Stealthily it came, yet woman insisted, as she saw her lover on eagerly, greedily, hissing and spitting an the edge of collapse. “A few steps thes aspish undertone to the waxing roar of way an' may be yet we can fin' et!" its temulent overhead flames.
Up and out of the old dry hole and Turgid masses of dense purple smoke over and back a few hundred feet circled and twisted and spewed their brought Nakoma to her mud hole. But nightish folds into the very heavens. when she saw it-so small, so shallow, The sun was obscured and the whole and oh, so dry for a mud hole, the girl Sutter Basin shrouded in impenetrable threw up her hands and lamented hope. dinginess.
lessly in the tongue of her lover: On the heels of the Mexican and his “Ya no hay comedia!” sweetheart the snapping and sizzling in "The game es up!” Carlos repeated her creased. The heat grew unbearable, the cry in English. smoke life-defying.
Unreconciled, fearful, horrified, Carlos Once more Carlos stopped.
gazed out before him, while Nakoma "Agin' we ar' but runnin' a circle: reeled toward the mud. There es no gittin' out of thes grass-- "Come on Carlos, come on-we weel we ar' lost, mia paloma, we ar lost!" bury ourselves the bes' we can," she
But the girl was yet undaunted. cried, pulling him down with her into the Snatching his hand, she again dived little depression. "Try to cup your face through an opening in the mesh of the en thee mud, Carlos!” heat-shriveled tules.
A few minutes later she grieved: "Oh, Carlos,” she gasped, where es "Ay! Ay! et es wirse than I thought. Nuthin' but a puddle of watery slime- loud as the remaining strength in her not enough even to hide our faces en. would vouch for an atom of energy. Oh, Carlos, here es where we die, you "That es good of thee Raven to com' an' me!"
fin' us. We weel never forget et! Carlos, too exhausted to answer, Blessed Joe Raven!” Carlos was wheeztripped and with a groan fell sprawling ing, when a voice close at hand answered in the mud. Nakoma sank wearily be. Nakoma's last call. side him and watched the flaming fringe Both Carlos and Nakoma looked up of the coppery hued flames rusing toward startled. them in running, vaulting, ever-consum “That es not thee Raven's voice!" the ing waves.
girl cried excitedly. “That es Master Her face was scorched, her body in Phelep's!" blisters, but so filled with fear was she “Si, si!” declared the Mexican, “et es that she had been insensible to all physi- Master Philipe! Master Philipe Bissett!" cal pains. Now in the throes of hope “Carlos! Nakoma!-On, Carlos!” the less despair, Nakoina felt the cruelty of horseman called and swooped down on their torture.
them. But she sat in the mud and clung to “Here! Here! Here!” cried the runCarlos, crazed, awe-stricken, dreading aways rising to their knees and sobbing yet silent, uncomplaining, frozen in in- aloud with thankfulness. perturable horror.
The rancher sat astride a charging Carlos, by reason of his Latin blood, iron gray colt and led in the rear, a was inclined to be far more excitable, beautiful high strung bay. Both horses but the smoke had almost stifled the were covered with foam, manes and tails life out of him, so he lay in the mud, de- charred ragged and glossy coats pleted and panting, while the flames scorched deep in many places to an. withered his skin and singed his black guished hides. hair.
Philip Bissett with his eyes on the Suddenly Nakoma lifted her ear. With fringent tongues of the baneful flames, the cat-like quickness of the Indian, she hurriedly dismounted and helped the uninstinctively sensed the clatter of horses' fortunate pair to their feet, then gave hoofs over a nearby cow path in the orders quickly. flaming rushes.
"Mount the bay, Carlos. Hurry!-and "Lis'sen! Lis'sen!” she gasped. "Lis'. Nakoma, get on behind him. What's the sen, Carlos!" and she shook him impetu- matter, Carlos? Here, you can't take ously. "I hear the runnin' of horses! time to faint now! Why, his leg is Some one es comin' for us! Lis'sen! broken! That's what has played him Don' you hear someone callin'? He-ey! out so! Nakoma, you take the bay, and He-ey!-He answers! He answers, Car I'll swing Carlos on in front of me, los!"
where I can hold on to him. He's sure "You haf gone mad," the man told her. done up! Hurry up, Nakoma, can't you "There es no one callin'."
see the fire has eaten the rope on the "Hey! He-ey! Here! Here! Here! halter while we have been standing -There es some one, Carlos. He an here! Come on, follow us now, Nakoma!” swers!”
And then like a whirlwind, the horses Carlos lifted his head.
turned and dashed down a trail through "Et mus' be Joe Raven," he ventured the blazing tule. "None but Joe Raven could ride like that “But- " pleaded Carlos, "how do you -none but thee Raven would be bold know where to go— en what direction? enough to ride out here. He'ey;-Here! We weel but get lost agin en thes burn-Here! Call agin, my Nakoma, callin' grass forest!" loud. The voice haf been scorched out "No," answered Philip, "I know all the of me.”
trails well. If we can keep out of the Nakoma called again--as long and as fire, I can find the way.”
"Gracias a Dios!” Carlos fervently gave "Well, we'll have one here by next thanks.
boat day, if you two promise not to run On dashed the horses, wild and snort away in the meanwhile. Come on into ing with fright and atremble with fear the house now and let me tend to your of the terrifying flames on all sides of burns," said the practical woman. them. Philip Bissett talked to them, Supper time came and passed. The patted them and assured them as he men came in from the fields, washed and lead them bounding like streaks of light- ate the evening repast, demanding vivid ening from the wake of the fire and up accounts of the fire and the harrowing toward the levee of the river.
experiences of Carlos and Nakoma and "Safe! Safe at las'!” panted Nakoma the brave rescue by the young master.
Then, as by some perverse whim, a Twilight came and nightfall, yet Joe gale of east wind shrieked down the Raven did not come. The men in the basin with the viciousness of a thousand heat of the excitement did not notice his unleeched hell-cats. The fire turned, and absence until quite late, and then came with renewed bitterness swept back to the query: “Where is the Raven?" No leap at the yet untouched bulrushes on one knew. Who had seen him last? No the western side of the valley.
one remembered having seen him since “Thank God, indeed, that we made for noon, until at length a very sleepy little the east side instead of the west! If Indian boy woke up enough to recall that there is anybody out there now—they he had seen Joe Raven going out toward are gone! Ah! she turns to the south! the northwest. That catches the northwestern side of Could he have been trapped by the the sink. Listen to that wind, will you trick of the winds ? Everyone looked -whistling like a herd of banshees!” solemn. Then the drowsy lad added that
"How good that we come thes way, the Raven was carrying fire brands, the how good!” breathed from Nakoma. boy guessed he had gone out to brand
"Gracias a Dios! Gracias a Dios!” cattle. piously chanted Carlos.
Charlie Mountain Trout grunted, and At the ranchero Mrs. Bissett, the pio- each and every Indian in the circle, withneer woman, was awaiting them. At out so much as a movement of the head, sight of her son, she ran and flung her looked cunningly into the eye of his self upon him.
neighbor—but said nothing. Lathered with horse sweat and covered Quietly, without undue ostentation, the with the muck and moil from the mud east wind died down and hushed its hole, the rescuer and rescued descended
dolorous whimperings. As a boomerang from their horses.
of just exaction, it had played its part "Thank God you got back!” exclaimed Mrs. Bissett.
Out on the gaunt, naked burned plains "Yes, we've all been thanking Him, myriads of nebulous embers fleered with particularly Carlos," her son told her. sullen glows of decisive winkings. A
"Carlos,” his mistress scolded. “Why soft west wind sprang up and played did you run away before you were mar- wistfully over the dismal bed of smolderried? Shame on you, Nakoma!”
ing ashes. Down by the river came the Carlos and Nakoma hung their heads. lonesome cry of the loon. And above it "There es no dominie at thee ranch- all, an unforgiving sky fought with the ero," Nakoma ventured.
filmy wrack of now fast fading smoke.
By Ronald A. Davidson
TOME on old timer, one more drag his dark hair and thick eye brows over
and we're up and then you can clear grey eyes gave a hint of a serious,
blow awhile.” The leading rider of almost sullen, nature. However he the little cavalcade encouraged his mixed with his strict "attention to busiweary mount with a friendly slap on the ness" traits, enough love of fun and shoulder and once more commenced the good-fellowship to have made him a wellgrinding ascent. The rest of the horses liked man in his undergraduate days, raised their heads and again started plod- and one of the best managers of men ding methodically up the trail. The party who had ever registered on the comwhich slowly made its way up the slope pany's payroll. of the brown Californian foothills was The youngest member of the party was composed of three riders and a pack a short, well set-up chap of twenty, with mule, well loaded with miscellaneous a bearing which announced to all who bundles and encouraged by the last of saw him that Stanley Holmes was ready the horsemen.
to take things as they came, and make Since ten o'clock that morning they the best of them. He was new to this had been progressing slowly into the life, being city bred, but was putting in rugged brown hills. The first part of the the summer on the big stock ranch as trip had been along a canyon bottom an adjunct to a college course in agriculwhich, though the stream in it had dried ture. Now that the bulk of the summer's up several months before, offered partial work was over the boss was taking him shade and protection from the Septem- on that long promised trip to the upper ber heat. But for the last three hours, ranch, which consisted of a cabin just through the hottest part of the day, they over the first range of foothills and three had been struggling up the sheer bare thousand acres of hill land which furface of the first range of foothills. nished good grazing ground in the win
The trail they followed was only a ter and early spring. cattle path which wound in endless The third member of the party was switchbacks up the almost perpendicular one of the typical leftovers of the former slope. Except for clumps of wild walnut cattle ranch days. His tall angular figure trees which studded the landscape in ir- was clothed in the regulation overalls regular patches and a few scrub oaks in and blue shirt and a much battered felt the ravines there were no trees. The hat, with a woven horsehair band, was ground was covered for the most part pushed far back on his head. With his with a short growth of wild oats, now drooping grey mustache and the tobacco dried to a brittle brown crisp which even stained stubble on his face, he might the sheep would not touch. The wind have posed in any scenario as “Alkali ran down in long waves of furnace like Ike" or "Mojave Mike,” but his real name blasts which raised the dust of the trail was Henry Roscoe Peters and he was in choking clouds.
universally known as “Pete.” Steve Haines, or "the boss" as he was The trail had now become more level usually called, who lead the troup was and following along the bottom of a shalthe manager of the Copa d'Oro Land low ravine came out finally at the top of Company's modern stock ranch which the range. The scene was a jumble of occupied one of the green squares that more or less rolling hills forming a sort appeared like checker-boards over the of sloping table land, leading up to the floor of the valley below. He was a snow-tipped peaks in the distance. Here young man of more than average height, the leaders halted, slacked their bridles and gratefully took in the green, tree- ting the brush on fire or shooting up dotted, upper hills.
some stock so we have to be careful. "Well, Buddy, how do you like your Well," Steve gathered up his reins and trip to the peaceful hills,” grinned Pete, turned his mount up the slope, "See you as a profane and perspiring Stanley drew later. Try to pot something and have a up, urging the stumbling pack mule to a good mess cooked up when I get there." last effort.
"Say drawled Pete, meditatively as he "Some party," was the gasping reply. gazed after the disappearing rider, "Say boss, the next time I have my "what the hell's the matter with that choice between dragging galvanized iron gent anyway?" irrigating pipes around an alfalfa field “What d'ye mean, matter with him?" and shoving a mule up this God-forsaken “Well," Pete pursued, awkwardly, "it's desert on end, there won't be much hesi. none of my business and I ain't the kind tation on my part. Gosh! I almost wish of a cuss to go prying into other folk's I'd stayed in Monty's place even if I troubles, but I can't dope it out the way would have had to milk those blamed that kid feels about the women. You cows. Monty seemed to want to make heard what he said about Monty being this trip."
married, en he's always making some "Don't worry, Stan, the worst's over remark along that same line, knocking now. No more up hill and it gets the holy bonds of wedlock and the fecooler; in half an hour you wouldn't male race in general. You'd think a good trade places with Monty for a whole cafe looking kid like that would be in town full of iced drinks. He wanted to come when he gets a chance, chasing around alright, but I thought he'd better stay with the skirts, but when he gets a day home with his wife; that's what he gets off he piles on his horse and migrates to for being married.” Steve knew his the hills. He's got a bunch of swell lookfriend too well to take this grumbling ing pictures stuck around his room of seriously.
different dames, but well doggone it, “Yeh," agreed Pete, "by tonight you'll it's none of my affair, but I just figures be moseying around under the pines, pot somebody must have handed him an ting squirrels and maybe getting a bead awful jolt sometime.” on some old buck and you'll forget you "Oh, that's no dark secret! Steve used ever had any troubles. And when you to run a lot with women around college. get around the old camp fire tonight with Always spotting some soul mate, pulling your belly full of mulligan, say boss! re- all kinds of strings to meet her, and member that last stew I doped up when making a pale green ass out of himself we were here before! Got a bunch of in general, and then finding out she garlic and --"
wasn't as lovable as she looked. But “Yes," interrupted Steve, who knew he finally got it fixed up with a little too well Pete's fondness for recollections girl in his home town, she was 0. K. of his culinary achievements, “and speak too, had a lot on the ball for looks, style ing of hunting I'm going to drift around and disposition, but when Steve got the upper trail and see if there are any home after his graduation he found she'd signs of anyone trespassing. There are been married a month. All the time always a bunch of would-be nimrods though, she had been keeping up the around this time of year. You fellows go sweet correspondence, her idea of let. on down the canyon with that mule and ting him down easy, I suppose.” I'll meet you at the cabin.”
"It hit the old boy pretty hard, espe"What's the idea ?" demanded Stanley, cially her not telling about it. He didn't “Got a kind of royal preserve around make any fuss, he's not that kind, just here, where you can hog all the game kind of took it to himself, but it has yourself?"
knocked a lot of the jazz out of him. But "Well, it's our land, so why not? And that was three years ago, he ought to then some pinhead sport is always set- get over it pretty soon, though when