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Newspaper Page Text
corning, we will not care to carry
any more stores than we can help."
"Thank you, I am not one of the
pre-empters," explained Dale. "Wish
I was, but I've not thought of it be
fore. I come from the town, where I
had an excellent dinner. But you look
so homelike and cozy in there, it re
minds me of the family Circle at
home. Those sandwiches look' only
"Then you must have some," said
the old lady and she made room for
this hospitably invited guest at the
impromptu table within the wagon.
Frank, cheery, almost boyish in his
enjoyment of, the unique occasion,
Dale was soon on .excellent terms
with his new friends. It seemed that
the death of husband and father had
driven them to join the throng look
ing for free land. The horses, wagon
and the contents of the vehicle were
all that they possessed In the world.
"You will have a good many swifter
rivals in your race tomorrow," sug
gested Dale. . r
"Yes, but I have a definite point in
view," explained Nina Gordon, "and
there may not be a particular rush to
that part of the reservation."
"How is that?" inquired the really
"A friend who had been over the
reservation has described to me a
spot about fifteen miles toward the
end of the valley," explained Nina.
"He has given me landmarks and oth
er points I may go by in selecting a
"Some favored part of the tract?"
"Yes, because he is sure it will be
a place which the railroad will cross,
and near a town site. I am sure I can
readily find the place, for my friend
showed me a map. It is near a grove,
a creek and a hill the only combina
tion of that sort in the reservation."
Nina went on to explain her plan.
She was a mountain maid by birth
andx could run like a deer. Her idea
was to start on foot when the signal
.came. Her old mother and her crip-1
pled brother could follow leisurely
Dale departed from the home-"
hearted group feeling that he had
passed one of the most pleasant hours
of his life. He could not get brave,
winsome Nina Gordon out of his'3
mind. He circulated among all the3
great crowd of land contestants.
Then he incidentally learned some
facts that sent him straightway back
to the old canvas covered wagon. 2
"Miss Gordon," he said quite graved
ly, "I fear you are too sanguine as to
your exclusive knowledge of the pro-r
posed town site. The information has
leaked out and has become general,
and a large number of pre-empteirs
are arranging to make a break for the
"Oh, dear! I was so hopeful," sigh
ed Nina, and Dale sat studying "her
thoughtfully. Finally he said:
"Miss Gordon, don't think jt
strange if I seem to take a greaj in
terest in you and your affairs. In fact,
in a measure I feel mutually concern
ed. I have decided to take up a quar
ter section of land myself. I am going
to make a strange proposition to you,
Miss Gordon. I wish to accompany
you in the race for best choice."
"As a modest little 160 acres of a
whole town site is all I can pick out,"
smiled Nina. "I shall be only too glad
to direct you to the town site."
"Thank you," responded Dale, "but
the prizes may be all seized by swift
er runners, so "
Dale glanced at the mother who
was dozing in the wagon and lowered
his voice. As he whispered, in Nina's
ear she started, her eyes expressed a
rare excitement and wonder.
"Do you dare?" he asked.
"To trust to your skill oh, yes!"
she declared instantly. "Oh, the nov
elty of it! What a thought!"
"Then do not disturb or alarm your
mother by telling her of the plan,"
submitted Dale. "I shall expect you
at the circus grounds by. six o'clock."
"I shall surely be there," promised
Nina. " ' -
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