Gunsight Pass - How Oil Came to the Cattle Country and Brought a New West
187 Pages
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Gunsight Pass - How Oil Came to the Cattle Country and Brought a New West

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Gunsight Pass, by William MacLeod RaineThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: Gunsight Pass How Oil Came to the Cattle Country and Brought a New WestAuthor: William MacLeod RaineRelease Date: January 3, 2005 [EBook #14574]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK GUNSIGHT PASS ***Produced by Suzanne Shell, Beginners Projects, Mary Meehan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading TeamGUNSIGHT PASSHOW OIL CAME TO THE CATTLE COUNTRY AND BROUGHT A NEW WESTBY WILLIAM MACLEOD RAINEAUTHOR OF THE BIG-TOWN ROUND-UP, A MAN FOUR SQUARE, THE YUKON TRAIL, ETC.1921TO JAMES H. LANGLEYWHO LIVED MANY OF THESE PAGES IN THE DAYS OF HIS HOT-BLOODED YOUTHCONTENTSI. "CROOKED AS A DOG'S HIND LAIG"II. THE RACEIII. DAVE RIDES ON HIS SPURSIV. THE PAINT HOSS DISAPPEARSV. SUPPER AT DELMONICO'S INTERRUPTEDVI. BY WAY OF A WINDOWVII. BOB HART TAKES A HANDVIII. THE D BAR LAZY R BOYS MEET AN ANGELIX. GUNSIGHT PASSX. THE CATTLE TRAINXI. THE NIGHT CLERK GETS BUSY PRONTOXII. THE LAW PUZZLES DAVEXIII. FOR MURDERXIV. TEN YEARSXV. IN DENVERXVI. DAVE MEETS TWO FRIENDS AND A FOEXVII. OILXVIII. DOBLE PAYS A VISITXIX. AN INVOLUNTARY BATHXX. THE LITTLE MOTHER FREES HER MINDXXI. THE HOLD-UPXXII. NUMBER THREE COMES ...

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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Gunsight Pass, by William MacLeod Raine This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Gunsight Pass How Oil Came to the Cattle Country and Brought a New West Author: William MacLeod Raine Release Date: January 3, 2005 [EBook #14574] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK GUNSIGHT PASS *** Produced by Suzanne Shell, Beginners Projects, Mary Meehan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team GUNSIGHT PASS HOW OIL CAME TO THE CATTLE COUNTRY AND BROUGHT A NEW WEST BY WILLIAM MACLEOD RAINE AUTHOR OF THE BIG-TOWN ROUND-UP, A MAN FOUR SQUARE, THE YUKON TRAIL, ETC. 1921 TO JAMES H. LANGLEY WHO LIVED MANY OF THESE PAGES IN THE DAYS OF HIS HOT-BLOODED YOUTH CONTENTS I. "CROOKED AS A DOG'S HIND LAIG" II. THE RACE III. DAVE RIDES ON HIS SPURS IV. THE PAINT HOSS DISAPPEARS V. SUPPER AT DELMONICO'S INTERRUPTED VI. BY WAY OF A WINDOW VII. BOB HART TAKES A HAND VIII. THE D BAR LAZY R BOYS MEET AN ANGEL IX. GUNSIGHT PASS X. THE CATTLE TRAIN XI. THE NIGHT CLERK GETS BUSY PRONTO XII. THE LAW PUZZLES DAVE XIII. FOR MURDER XIV. TEN YEARS XV. IN DENVER XVI. DAVE MEETS TWO FRIENDS AND A FOE XVII. OIL XVIII. DOBLE PAYS A VISIT XIX. AN INVOLUNTARY BATH XX. THE LITTLE MOTHER FREES HER MIND XXI. THE HOLD-UP XXII. NUMBER THREE COMES IN XXIII. THE GUSHER XXIV. SHORTY XXV. MILLER TALKS XXVI. DAVE ACCEPTS AN INVITATION XXVII. AT THE JACKPOT XXVIII. DAVE MEETS A FINANCIER XXIX. THREE IN CONSULTATION XXX. ON THE FLYER XXXI. TWO ON THE HILLTOPS XXXII. DAVE BECOMES AN OFFICE MAN XXXIII. ON THE DODGE XXXIV. A PLEASANT EVENING XXXV. FIRE IN THE CHAPARRAL XXXVI. FIGHTING FIRE XXXVII. SHORTY ASK A QUESTION XXXVIII. DUG DOBLE RIDES INTO THE HILLS XXXIX. THE TUNNEL XL. A MESSAGE XLI. HANK BRINGS BAD NEWS XLII. SHORTY IS AWAKENED XLIII. JUAN OTERO IS CONSCRIPTED XLIV. THE BULLDOG BARKS XLV. JOYCE MAKES PIES GUNSIGHT PASS CHAPTER I "CROOKED AS A DOG'S HIND LAIG" It was a land of splintered peaks, of deep, dry gorges, of barren mesas burnt by the suns of a million torrid summers. The normal condition of it was warfare. Life here had to protect itself with a tough, callous rind, to attack with a swift, deadly sting. Only the fit survived. But moonlight had magically touched the hot, wrinkled earth with a fairy godmother's wand. It was bathed in a weird, mysterious beauty. Into the crotches of the hills lakes of wondrous color had been poured at sunset. The crests had flamed with crowns of glory, the cañons become deep pools of blue and purple shadow. Blurred by kindly darkness, the gaunt ridges had softened to pastels of violet and bony mountains to splendid sentinels keeping watch over a gulf of starlit space. Around the camp-fire the drivers of the trail herd squatted on their heels or lay sprawled at indolent ease. The glow of the leaping flames from the twisted mesquite lit their lean faces, tanned to bronzed health by the beat of an untempered sun and the sweep of parched winds. Most of them were still young, scarcely out of their boyhood; a few had reached maturity. But all were products of the desert. The high-heeled boots, the leather chaps, the kerchiefs knotted round the neck, were worn at its insistence. Upon every line of their features, every shade of their thought, it had stamped its brand indelibly. The talk was frank and elemental. It had the crisp crackle that goes with free, unfettered youth. In a parlor some of it would have been offensive, but under the stars of the open desert it was as natural as the life itself. They spoke of the spring rains, of the Crawford-Steelman feud, of how they meant to turn Malapi upside down in their frolic when they reached town. They "rode" each other with jokes that were familiar old friends. Their horse play was rough but good-natured. Out of the soft shadows of the summer night a boy moved from the remuda toward the camp-fire. He was a lean, sandy- haired young fellow, his figure still lank and unfilled. In another year his shoulders would be broader, his frame would take on twenty pounds. As he sat down on the wagon tongue at the edge of the firelit circle the stringiness of his appearance became more noticeable. A young man waved a hand toward him by way of introduction. "Gents of the D Bar Lazy R outfit, we now have with us roostin' on the wagon tongue Mr. David Sanders, formerly of Arizona, just returned from makin' love to his paint hoss. Mr. Sanders will make oration on the why, wherefore, and how-come-it of Chiquito's superiority to all other equines whatever." The youth on the wagon tongue smiled. His blue eyes were gentle and friendly. From his pocket he had taken a knife and was sharpening it on one of his dawn-at-the-heel-boots. "I'd like right well to make love to that pinto my own se'f, Bob," commented a weather-beaten puncher. "Any old time Dave wants to saw him off onto me at sixty dollars I'm here to do business." "You're sure an easy mark, Buck," grunted a large fat man leaning against a wheel. His white, expressionless face and soft hands differentiated him from the tough range-riders. He did not belong with the outfit, but had joined it the day before with George Doble, a half-brother of the trail foreman, to travel with it as far as Malapi. In the Southwest he was known as Ad Miller. The two men had brought with them in addition to their own mounts a led pack-horse. Doble backed up his partner. "Sure are, Buck. I can get cowponies for ten and fifteen dollars—all I want of 'em," he said, and contrived by the lift of his lip to make the remark offensive. "Not ponies like Chiquito," ventured Sanders amiably. "That so?" jeered Doble. He looked at David out of a sly and shifty eye. He had only one. The other had been gouged out years ago in a drunken fracas. "You couldn't get Chiquito for a hundred dollars. Not for sale," the owner of the horse said, a little stiffly. Miller's fat paunch shook with laughter. "I reckon not—at that price. I'd give all of fohty for him." "Different here," replied Doble. "What has this pinto got that makes him worth over thirty?" "He's some bronc," explained Bob Hart. "Got a bagful of tricks, a nice disposition, and sure can burn the wind." "Yore friend must be valuin' them parlor tricks at ten dollars apiece," murmured Miller. "He'd ought to put him in a show and not keep him to chase cow tails with." "At that, I've seen circus hosses that weren't one two three with Chiquito. He'll shake hands and play dead and dance to a mouth-organ and come a-runnin' when Dave whistles." "You don't say." The voice of the fat man was heavy with sarcasm. "And on top of all that edjucation he can run too." The temper of Sanders began to take an edge. He saw no reason why these strangers should run on him, to use the phrase of the country. "I don't claim my pinto's a racer, but he can travel." "Hmp!" grunted Miller skeptically. "I'm here to say he can," boasted the owner, stung by the manner of the other. "Don't look to me like no racer," Doble dissented. "Why, I'd be 'most willin' to bet that pack-horse of ours, Whiskey Bill, can beat him." Buck Byington snorted. "Pack-horse, eh?" The old puncher's brain was alive with suspicions. On account of the lameness of his horse he had returned to camp in the middle of the day and had discovered the two newcomers trying out the speed of the pinto. He wondered now if this precious pair of crooks had been getting a line on the pony for future use. It occurred to him that Dave was being engineered into a bet. The chill, hard eyes of Miller met his. "That's what he said, Buck—our pack-horse." For just an instant the old range-rider hesitated, then shrugged his shoulders. It was none of his business. He was a cautious man, not looking for trouble. Moreover, the law of the range is that every man must play his own hand. So he dropped the matter with a grunt that expressed complete understanding and derision. Bob Hart helped things along. "Jokin' aside, what's the matter with a race? We'll be on the Salt Flats to-morrow. I've got ten bucks says the pinto can beat yore Whiskey Bill." "Go you once," answered Doble after a moment's apparent consideration. "Bein' as I'm drug into this I'll be a dead-game sport. I got fifty dollars more to back the pack-horse. How about it, Sanders? You got the sand to cover that? Or are you plumb scared of my broomtail?" "Betcha a month's pay—thirty-five dollars. Give you an order on the boss if I lose," retorted Dave. He had not meant to bet, but he could not stand this fellow's insolent manner. "That order good, Dug?" asked Doble of his half-brother. The foreman nodded. He was a large leather-faced man in the late thirties. His reputation in the cattle country was that of a man ill to cross. Dug Doble was a good cowman—none better. Outside of that his known virtues were negligible, except for the primal one of gameness. "Might as well lose a few bucks myself, seeing as Whiskey Bill belongs to me," said Miller with his wheezy laugh. "Who wants to take a whirl, boys?" Inside of three minutes he had placed a hundred dollars. The terms of the race were arranged and the money put in the hands of the foreman. "Each man to ride his own caballo," suggested Hart slyly. This brought a laugh. The idea of Ad Miller's two hundred and fifty pounds in the seat of a jockey made for hilarity. "I reckon George will have to ride the broomtail. We don't aim to break its back," replied Miller genially. His partner was a short man with a spare, wiry body. Few men trusted him after a glance at the mutilated face. The thin, hard lips gave warning that he had sold himself to evil. The low forehead, above which the hair was plastered flat in an arc, advertised low mentality. An hour later Buck Byington drew Sanders aside. "Dave, you're a chuckle-haided rabbit. If ever I seen tinhorn sports them two is such. They're collectin' a livin' off'n suckers. Didn't you sabe that come-on stuff? Their pack-horse is a ringer. They tried him out this evenin', but I noticed they ran under a blanket. Both of 'em are crooked as a dog's hind laig." "Maybeso," admitted the young man. "But Chiquito never went back on me yet. These fellows may be overplayin' their hand, don't you reckon?" "Not a chanct. That tumblebug Miller is one fishy proposition, and his sidekick Doble—say, he's the kind of bird that shoots you in the stomach while he's shakin' hands with you. They're about as warm-hearted as a loan shark when he's turnin' on the screws—and about as impulsive. Me, I aim to button up my pocket when them guys are around." Dave returned to the fire. The two visitors were sitting side by side, and the leaping flames set fantastic shadows of them moving. One of these, rooted where Miller sat, was like a bloated spider watching its victim. The other, dwarfed and prehensile, might in its uncanny silhouette have been an imp of darkness from the nether regions. Most of the riders had already rolled up in their blankets and fallen asleep. To a reduced circle Miller was telling the story of how his pack-horse won its name. "… so I noticed he was actin' kinda funny and I seen four pin-pricks in his nose. O' course I hunted for Mr. Rattler and killed him, then give Bill a pint of whiskey. It ce'tainly paralyzed him proper. He got salivated as a mule whacker on a spree. His nose swelled up till it was big as a barrel—never did get down to normal again. Since which the ol' plug has been Whiskey Bill." This reminiscence did not greatly entertain Dave. He found his blankets, rolled up in them, and promptly fell asleep. For once he dreamed, and his dreams were not pleasant. He thought that he was caught in a net woven by a horribly fat spider which watched him try in vain to break the web that tightened on his arms and legs. Desperately he struggled to escape while the monster grinned at him maliciously, and the harder he fought the more securely was he enmeshed.