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The Nevada County picayune. (Prescott, Ark.) 190?-current, February 08, 1923, Image 6

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90050306/1923-02-08/ed-1/seq-6/

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Sr <HutUo<- of Riders of the Purple Sage.
r -7 Wildfire, Etc.
A i
Illustrations by
Irwin Myers
t-v HAttpri
fiaTe drew NVH into tils arms.
“Dearest, I'm going—soon.
And maybe I'll never—"
“Dirk. iU>—don't sny it.” sobbed
Nell, with her hend on ids bromt
‘'I might never come back," lie went
on. steadily. ‘‘I love you—I've loved
you ever since the first moment I saw
you. I»o you love me?”
“Yes, yes. Oh, I love you so! I
never knew It till now. I love you so.
Dick, I'll he sn! ' and I’ll wait—and
hope and pray for your return.”
‘‘If I come hack no—when I come
back, will you marry me?” I
“I—I—oh yes!” she whispered, and 1
returned his kiss. I
Holding was in the room speaking .
“Nell, darling. 1 must go,” said
Dick. 1
“I’m a selfish little coward,” cried
Nell. ‘‘It’s so splendid of you all. I |
"If I Come Back—No—When I Come
Back, Will You Marry Me?”
ought to glory in it, but I can’t. . . .
Fight If yon nnmt, I tick. Fight for
that lovely persecuted girl. I’ll love
you—tin* more. . . Oh! Good
by! Goodby!”
With a wrench that shook him. Gnle
let her go. lie heard Geldings soft
“Ynqui says the early hour's the
best. Trust him, Laddy. Hemember
what 1 saj -Yaqui’s a godsend."
Then they were all outside in tbe
pale gloom under the trees. Yaqul
mounted Blanco Diablo; Meraedes
was lifted upon Wliite Woman;
Thorne climbed astride ikieen; Jim
Lash was already upon *his horse,
which was ns white as the others but
bore no name; Ladd mounted the stal
lion Blanco Torres, and gathered up
the long halters of the two pack
horses; Gale catne last with Blanco
As he toed the stirrup, hand on
name and pommel, dale took one more
took In at tlu> d «»r. Nell stood In
the gleam of light, her hair shining,
face like ashes, her eyes dark, her
lips parted, her arms outstretched.
That sweet and tragie picture etched
its cruel outlines Into dale’s heart. He
waved his hand and then fiercely
leaped into the saddle.
Itlaneo Sol stepped out.
Ilefore dale stretched a line of mov
ing horses, white against dark shad
ows. He could not see the head of
that column ; tie scarcely heard a soft
hoofhcat. A single star shone out
of a rift in thin eloiida There was
no wind. Tin* air was cold. The dark
space of desert seemed to yawn. To
the left across the river flickered a
few campfires. The chill night, silent
and mystiiul, seemed to close in upon
dale; and he faced the wide, quiver
ing. black le\ el with keen eyes and
grim intent, and an awakening of that
wild rapture which came like u spell
to him in the oj^'n desert.
Across Cactus and Lava.
At the far corner of the field Ynqul
halted, and slowly the line of white
horses merged 'into u compact mass.
Yaqui m 1 i{11 ed out of liis saddle. IIo
ran Iiin hand over Dialdo’s nose and
spoke low, and repeated this action
for each of tin- other horses. Gale
had long ceased to question the
st ran ire Indian’s behavior. There was
no explaining or understanding many
of his maneuvers, ltut tlie results of
them were always thought-provoking.
Gale had never seen horses stand so
silently as in this instance; no stamp
—no champ of bit—no toss of head—
no shake of saddle or pack—no heave
or snort! It seemed the>’ had become
imbued with the spirit of the Indian.
Yaqul moved away into the shadows
as noiselessly as if he were one of
them. The darkness swallowed him.
He had taken a direction parallel with
the trail. Gale wondered if Yaqui
meant to try to lead his string of
horses by the rebel sentinels.
The Indian appeared as lie had van
ished. He might have been part of
the shadows. Hut he was there. He
started off down the trnil leading
I >iablo. Again the white line stretched
slowly out. Gale fell in behind. Peer
ing low with keen eyes, he made out
three objects—a white sombrero, a
blanket and a Mexican lying face
down. The Yaqui bad stolen upon tills
sentinel like a silent wind of death.
Once under the dark lee of the river
hank Yaqui caused another halt, and
he disappeared as before. Moments
passed. The horses held heads up,
looked toward the glimmering camp
fires and listened. Gale thrilled with
the meaning of it all—the night—the
silence—the flight—and the wonderful
Indian stealing with the slow Inev
itableness of doom upon another sen
Suddenly the Indian stalked out or
the gloom. He mounted Diablo and
headed across the river. Onr-e more
the line of moving white shadows
stretched out. Gale peered sharply
along the trail, and. presumably, on
the pale said under a cactus, there
lay n blanketed form, prone, out
stretched, a carbine clutched In one
hand, a cigarette, still burning, In the
The cavalcade of white horses
passed within five hundred yards of
campfires, around which dark forms
moved In plain sight. The lights dis
appeared from time to time, grew
dimmer, more flickering, and at last
they vanished altogether. Holding's
fleet and tireless steeds were out in
front; the desert opened ahead wide,
dark, vast. IJo.las and his rebels wera
behind, eating, drinking, careless. The
somber shadow lifted from Gale's
heart. He held now an unquenchable
faith In the Yanul. Holding would be
listening bnek then* along tin* river,
lie Would know of tin* escape. He
would tell Nell, and then hide her
safely. As Gale bad accepted a
strange and fatalistic foreshadowing
of toll, blood and agony In this desert
Journey, so he believed In Mercedes’
ultimate freedom and happiness, and
his own return to the girl who had
grown dearer than life.
A fold, gray dawn was fleeing be
fore a rosy sun when Yaqui halted
the march at l'apago well. The horses
were taken to water, then led down
die arroyo Into the grass, lbr'e packs
were slipped, saddles removed. Jim
I.ash remarked how cleverly they had
fooled the rebels.
"Shore they’ll be coinin' along," re
plied Ladd.
They built a tire, cooked and ate.
The Yaqui spoke only one word:
"Sleep." Blankets were spread. Mer
cedes dropped Into a deep slumber,
her head on Thorne's shoulder. Ex
citement kept Thorne awake. The
two rangers dozed beside the tire,
dale shared the Yaqul’s watch. At
the end of three hours the rangers
grew active, Mercedes was awak
ened; and soon the party faced west
ward, their long shadows moving be
fore them. Yaqui led with Blanco
IMnblo in a long, easy lope. The
heated air lifted, and incoming cur
rents from the west swept low and
hard over the barren earth. In the
distance, all around the horizon, accu
mulations of dust seemed Hke ranging,
mushrooming yellow clouds.
Yaqui was the only one of the fu
gitives who never looked back. Gale
had a conviction that when Yaqui
gazed back toward the well and the
shining plain beyond,, there would be
reason fur It. But when tin* sun i"1-!
it* heat and the wind died down \aqui
took long and careful surveys west
ward from the high points on the
frail. Sunset was not far off. and
there in a bare, spotted valley lay
Coyote tanks, the only waterhole be
tween Papago well and the Sonoyta
oasis, dale used his glass, told 'Wiq ii
there was no smoke, no sign of life;
still the Indian fixed ids falcon eyes
on distant spots and looked lung. No
further advance was undertaken. The
Vaqui headed south and traveled
slowly, climbing to the brow of a bold
height of weathered mesa. There he
sat his horse and waited. No one
questioned him. The rangers dis
mounted to stretch their legs, and
Mercedes was lifted to a rock, where
she rested. Thorne had gradually
yielded to the desert’s influence for
silence. He spoke once or twice to
Gale, nnd occasionally whispered to
Mercedes. Gale fancied ids friend
would soon learn that necessary
speech In des.rt travel meant a few
greetings, n few words to make real
the fact of human companionship, a
few short, terse terms for the busi
ness of the day or night, and perhaps
a stern order or a soft call to a liort
The sun went down, and the golden,
rosy veils turned to blue find shaded
darker till twilight was there in tk
valley. Darkness approached, and the
clear peaks faded. The horses stamped
to be on the move.
“Malo!" exclaimed the Yaqui.
He did not point with arm, but his
falcon head was outstretched, and his
piercing eyes gazed at the blurring
spot which marked the location of
Coyote tanks.
‘‘.Tim, can you see anything?” asked
“Nope, but I reckon he can.”
Then Ladd suddenly straightened
up, turned to his horse, and muttered
low under his breath.
“I reckon so,” said Lash, and for
once his easy, good-natured tone was
not In evidence. Ilis voice was
Gale's eyes, keen as they were, were
last of the rangers to see tiny needle
points of light Just faintly perceptible
In the blackness.
“Laddy! Campfires?” he asked,
Shore s you're horn, my boy.
“How many?"
Ladd did not reply; but Yaqul held
up his hand, his fingers wide. Five
eampflres! A strong force of rebels
or raiders or some other desert troop
was camping at Coyote tanks.
Yaqul sat his horse for a moment
motionless as stone, his dark face im
mutable and impassive. Then he
stretched his right arm in the direc
tion of No Name mountains, now los
ing their last faint traces of the after
glow, and he shook his head. He
made the same impressive gesture
toward the Sonoyta oasis with the
same somber negation.
Thereupon lie turned Diablo’s head
to the south and started down the
slope. His manner had been decisive,
even stern. I.ash did not question it,
nor did Ladd. Both rangers hesitated,
however, and showed a strange, almost
a sullen reluctance which Gale had
never seen In them before. Haiders
were one thing, Rojas was another;
Camino del Diablo still another; hut
that vast and desolate and unwatered
waste of cactus nnd lavn. the Sonora
desert, might appall the stoutest
heart. Gale felt his own sink—felt
himself finch
"Oh, where is he going?" cried Mer
cedes. Her poignant voice seemed
to break a spell.
"Shore, lady. Yaqui’s goin' home.''
replied Ladd gently. "An' considerin’
our trembles, I Beckon we ought to
thank (Jod he knows the way."
They mounted and rode down the
slope toward the darkening south.
Not until night travel was obstruct
ed by a wall of cactus dbl the Indian
halt to make a dry camp. Water and
grass for the horst*s and fire to cook
by were not to he had. Mercedes bore
up surprisingly; but she fell asleep
almost the Instant her thirst had beam
allayed. Thorne laid her upon a blan
1 et and covered her The men ate
and drank, (dale lay down weary of
limb and eye. He heard the soft
thump of hoofs, the sough of wind In
the cactus—then no more.
Day dawned with the fugitives In
the saddle. A picketed wall of cac
tus hedged them in. yet the Yaqul
made a tortuous path, that, zigzag as
It might. In the main always headed
The Yaqul. If not at fault, was yet
uncertain. Ills falcon eves searched
and roved, and became fixed at length
at the southwest, and toward this he
turned his horse. The grcab flut 'd
saguaros, fifty, sixty feet high, raised
columnal forms, and their branching
limits and curving lines added a grace
to the desert. It was the low-bushed
cactus that made the toil and pain of
travel. Yet these thorny forms were
In the basins between the ridges, to
right and left along the floor of low
plains the niiHige glistened, wavered,
faded, vanished—lakes and trees and
clouds. Inverted mountains hung
suspended in the lilac air and faint
tracery of white-walled cities.
At npnij, YnquJ halted the cuvnlcade.
He had selected a held of bl^eac
tus for the place "1 res .
hI- r—-r^Tthe tops Of
t'hese barrel-shaped plants ^
scooped out soft pulp, and "M*1®?®
deeper pulp Into a juicy mass. W e
he threw this out there \tus a littli
, left sweet cold water which
water lett, sweei. Thus
man and horse shared eager 1. ■ '
he made even the desert > fierce, t
growths minister to their needs
Hut he did not halt long. M.les of
prav-irreen spiked walls lay between
him and that line of ragged, red la a
which manifestly he must reach he
fore tlnrk. The travel becatm faster
straighter. And the glistening thorns
clutched and clung to leather and
cloth and flesh. The horses reared,
snorted, balked, leaped—but they
wore sent on. Only Blanco Sol. the
patient, the plodding, the indomitable,
needed no goad or spur. Mercedes
reeled in her saddle. Thorne bade
her drink, bathed her face, supported
her and then gave way to Ladd, who
took the girl with him on Torres
broad hack. The middle of the after
noon saw Thorne reeling In his saddle,
and then, wherever possible, dale’s
powerful arm lent him strength to
hold his sent.
The fugitives were entering a deso
late, burned-out world. The "a»te
of sand began to yield to cinders.
The horses sank to their teil >eks .is
thev toiieu on. A tine, choking dust
blew hack from the leaders, and men
roughed and horses snorted. But the
sun was now behind the hills. In be
tween ran the stream of lava. It
was broken, sharp, dull rust eonc. tun
of cracks and caves ami ereviees, and
everywhere upon its jagged surface
grew the white-thorned choya.
Again twilight encompassed the
travelers. But there was still llaht
enough for dale to spc the constricted
passage open into a wide, deep space
where the dull color was relieved by
the gray of gnarled and dwarfed mes
quite. Blanco Sol, keenest of scent,
whistled his welcome herald of water.
The other horses answered, quickened
their gait. Gale smelled It, too. sweet,
cool, damp on the dry air.
Yaqui turned the corner of a pocket
In the lava wall. The file of white
horses rounded the corner after him.
Ana uate, coming last, saw uie i*ue,
glancing gleam of a pool of water
beautiful in the twilight.
Next day the Yuqui’s relentless
driving demand on the horses was no
longer In evidence. Ho lost no time,
but he did net hasten. His course
wound between low cinder dunes
which limited their view of the stir
! rounding country. These dunes Anally
sank down to a black floor as hard as
dint, with tongues of lava to the left,
and to the right the slow descent into
the cnctus plain. Yaqui was now
traveling due west. It was Gale’s
idea that the Indian was skirting the
lirst sharp-toothed slope of a vast vol
i anic plateau which formed the west
ern half of the Sonora desert and ex
tended to the Gulf of California.
Travel was slow, but not exhausting
for rider or beast.
Thirty miles of easy stages brought
the fugitives to another waterhole, a
little round pocket under the heaved
up edge of lava. There was spare
short bleached grass fur the horses,
hut no wood for a fire. This night
there were question and reply, con
jecture do,, t, oi inion and conviction
expressed by the men of the party.
But the Indian, who alone could huve
told when they were, where they
were going, what hnneo they had to
escape, maintained his stoical silence.
Gale took flu- earl} watch. Ladd the
midnight one, and Lash that of the
morning l he day broke rosy, glori
ous. raid as ice. Action was neces
sary to make useful benumbed hands
and feet. Mercedes wn« fed while yet
wrapped In blankets.
It was a significant Index to the
day’s travel that Wpii should keep
j a blanket from the puck and tear It
l into strips to hind the legs of the
1 horses. It meant the dreaded choya
Mercedes Must Ride; but the Other*
Must Walk.
and tlie knife-edged lava. That Yaqui
did not mount Diablo was still more
significant. Mercedes must ride; but
the others must walk.
The Indian led off into one of the
gray notches between the tumbled
streams of lava. At the apex of the
notch, where two streams met, a nar
row gully wound and ascended. Yaqui
led Diablo into it, and then began the
most laborious and vexatious and
painful of all slow travel.
The disintegrating surface of a lava
bed was at once the roughest, the
hardest, the meanest, the crudest, the
most deceitful kind of ground to
travel. The fugitives made slow
progress. They picked a cautious,
winding way to and fro in little steps
here and there along the many t" 'sts
of the trail, up and down the unavoid
able depressions, round and round the
holes. At noon, so winding bndt upon
itself had been their course, they ap
peared to have come only a short dis-’
tance up the lava slope.
Tt was rough work for thorn • it was
terrible work for the horses. Rlancoj
Diablo refused to answer to the power!
of the Yaqui. He balked, he plunged,
he bit and kicked. lie had to be pulled
and beaten over many places. Mer
cedes’ horse almost threw her. and
she was put upon Rlanco Sol. The
white charger snorted protest, r! en.
obedient to Gale’s stern call, patiently
lowered his noble head and pawed the
lava f.*r a footing that would hold.
The lava caused Gale toll and
worry and pain, but bo hated tf,e
choyas. lie came almost to belle’ve
what be lmil heard claimed by desert
travelers—that trie ohoyn wa« alive
and leaped at man or beast. Certain
It when fin ip* passed one. if lie
did net pm all attention to avoiding
it. he was hooked through his chaps
and held by barbed thorns. The pain
was almost unendurable. Tt was like
no other. It burned, stung. beat—
almost seemed to freeze. It made
useless arm or lee. Tt made him bite
his tongue to keep from crying out.
It made the sweat roll off hint. It
made him sick.
Moreover, ban as tne cfioyn was for
man, It was infinitely worse for beast.
A jagged stab from this poisoned rac
tus was the only thing l’.lanco Sol
could not stand. Many times that day,
before he carried Mercedes, he had
wildly snorted, and theri stood trem
bling while (jnle picked broken thorns
from the muscular legs. But after
Mercedes had been put upon Sol Gale
made sure no choyn touched him.
The afternoon parsed like the morn
ing, in ceaseless winding and twist
ing and climbing along this abandoned
trail. dale saw many wnterholes.
mostly dry, some containing water, all
of them catch-basins, full only after
rainy season. Little ugly bunched
hushes, that Gale scarcely recognized
as mesquites, grew near these holes;
also stunted greasewood and prickly
pear. There was no grass, and the
choya alone flourished In that hard
Darkness overtook the party as they
unpacked beside a pool of water deep
under an overhanging shelf of lava.
It had been a hnrd day. The horses
drank their fill, and then stood pa
tiently with drooping heads. Hunger
nnd thirst were appeased, and a warm
fire cheered the weary nnd footsore
fugitive* Tnqul said, "Sleep.” And
so another night passed.
• •••••*
(Continued next week.)
Cures Malaria, Chill*
OOO and Fever, Dengue or
Cilious Fever.
Nor lhound—
No. 4_ .—5:53 a. »■
No. 82 ... _S; !2a.m.
No 8 . ..2:50P.
No. (i.... 4:23 p. *
No. 5_11:30 a ®.
No. 37___7:50P- ®
No. 3_10:48 P- ®

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