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They of the High Trails By Hamlin Garland Characters: 2641

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Three days later Bidwell crept stealthily down the trail, leading his mule as silently as possible. He timed his arrival so that Mrs. Delaney would be in the kitchen alone with the Chinaman, getting the dishes ready for breakfast.

"Who is ut?" called the widow as he softly knocked.

"Me-Sherm," he replied.

"Saints in hevin! What's the matter? Are ye sick?" she gasped as she flung the door open.

"'Sh! Don't speak so loud," he commanded. "Sit down; I want to speak solemn-like to you."

His tone impressed her deeply. "Have ye struck ut?" she asked, tremulously.

"I hain't found it yet, but I want to tell ye-I believe I've had a hunch. Send the 'chink' away."

Something in his tone stopped all scornful words upon her lips. Ordering the Chinaman to bed, she turned and asked:

"Phwat do ye mean? Spake, man!"

"Well, sir, as I started up the trail something kept sayin' to me, 'Sherman, you're on the wrong track.' It was just as if you pulled my sleeve and nudged me and said, 'This way!' I couldn't sleep that night. I just lay on the ground and figured. Up there high-terrible high-are seams of ore-I know that-but they're in granite and hard to get at. That's one gold belt. There's money in a mine up there, but it will take money to get it. Then there's another gold belt down about here-

or even lower-and I've just come to the conclusion that our mine, Maggie, is down here in the foot-hills, not on old Blanca."

The air of mystery which enveloped and transformed the man had its effect on the woman. Her eyes opened wide.

"Was it a voice like?"

"No, it was more like a pull. Seemed to be pulling me to cross the creek where I found that chunk of porph'ritic limestone. I couldn't sleep the second night-and I've been in camp up there in Burro Park tryin' to figure it all out. I hated to give up and come back-I was afraid ye'd think I was weakening-but I can't help it. Now I'll tell you what I'm going to do-I'm going to make a camp over on the north side of the creek. I don't want the boys to know where I've gone, but I wanted you to know what I'm doing-I wanted you to know-it's plum ghostly-it scared me."

She whispered, "Mebbe it's Dan."

"I thought o' that. Him and me were always good friends, and he was in my mind all the while."

"But howld on, Sherm; it may be the divil leadin' ye on to break y'r neck as did Dan. 'Twas over there he fell."

"Well, I thought o' that, too. It's either Dan or the devil, and I'm going to find out which."

"The saints go wid ye!" said the widow, all her superstitious fears aroused. "And if it is Dan he'll sure be good to you fer my sake."

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