Shoe-Bar Stratton - Chapter 28
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Almost at once they struck a fresh trail, made by a number of horsemen riding in a bunch, which led diagonally across middle pasture. It was easy to follow, and Hardenberg pushed his men hard to make up for delays which were likely to come later on. For a time Buck1 rode beside the sheriff, discussing their plans and explaining the lay of the land. Then he fell back a little to chat with Jessup.
"I'm sure glad of one thing," Bud said emphatically, after a few desultory2 remarks. "Miss Mary won't be bothered no more now with that son-of-a-gun hangin' around an' makin' eyes."
Stratton turned on him suddenly. "Who the devil do you mean?" he demanded sharply.
"Why, Tex, of course," shrugged3 Jessup. "He used to put in considerable time soft-soapin' around her. A hell of a nerve, I'll say, makin' up to such as her."
Buck scowled4. "I never saw anything like that," he said brusquely, "except maybe once," he added. With a sudden recollection of that afternoon they moved the herd5 out of south pasture.
"Likely not," returned Bud. "He wasn't so bad till after yuh went. I got the notion he took to courtin' her, yuh might say, as a kind of last hope. If he could figger on gettin' her to marry him, he'd have the ranch6 an' everythin' on it without no more trouble at all. You'd think even a scoundrel like him would see she wouldn't look at him."
"Did he-- Was he--"
"Oh, no! Nothin' raw a-tall," returned Bud, divining the thought in Stratton's mind. "He just hung around the ranch-house a lot, an' was awful sweet, an' used them black eyes of his consid'able. Sorta preparing the way, I reckon. But he didn't get far." He chuckled7 reminiscently. "I'll tell the world, she didn't waste no time sendin' him about his business."
For a time Buck rode on in frowning silence. The very thought enraged8 him and added deeply to the score that was piling up so rapidly against the scoundrel.
Presently Bud's voice broke in upon his savage9 reverie.
"Funny we didn't see nothin' of the Mannings back there," he commented. "The lady couldn't of known yuh was around." He glanced slyly at Buck. "Besides," he added, seeing that his friend's expression did not lighten, "with somethin' like this doin', you'd think his lordship would want to strut10 around in them baggy11 pants an' yellow boots, an' air his views on how to go about to catch the gang."
Stratton turned his head abruptly12. "But they must be there!" he said sharply. "They surely can't have gone away."
"There wasn't no talk of it when I left," shrugged Bud. "Still, an' all, me an' his nibs13 wasn't on exactly confidential14 terms, an' he might have forgot to tell me about his plans. Yuh got to remember, too, I've been gone over a week."
A worried wrinkle dodged15 into Buck's forehead. All along he had taken the presence of the Mannings so entirely16 for granted that the possibility of their having left the ranch never once occurred to him. But now, in a flash, he realized that by this time, for all he knew, they might be back in Chicago. As Bud said, it certainly seemed odd that neither of them had appeared when the posse rode up to the ranch-house. What a fool he had been not to make sure about it. Why hadn't he asked the question outright17?
"But I did mention it while we were talking," he thought, trying to reconstruct that brief interview with Mary Thorne. "Hang it all! No, I didn't. I was going to, but she interrupted. But she must have known what I referred to."
Suddenly there came back the vivid recollection of the girl's face as she said good-by. Outwardly cheerful and composed, that faint pallor and the few lines of strain etched about her mouth and chin struck him now with a tremendous significance. She had known what was in his mind, but purposely refrained from revealing the truth for fear of becoming a drag and hamper18 to him. She was game through and through.
The realization19 brought a wave of tenderness surging over the man, followed swiftly by a deepening sense of trouble and uneasiness.
"I don't like it at all, Bud," he burst out abruptly. "I wish to thunder we'd found out for sure about those Mannings. If they have gone, one of us at least ought to have stayed."
"Well, of course I'm only guessin'. Quite likely they're there yet, only it just seemed funny not to see them. But even if she is left alone with only Mrs. Archer20, yuh ain't worryin' about anythin' really happenin' to her, are yuh? It'll be darn lonesome, an' all that, but Lynch an' the whole gang has beat it--"
"How do we know where they have gone?" cut in Stratton curtly21. "They had a good hour's start, and more. It'll be getting dusk pretty quick. What's to prevent one or more of 'em circling back by the southeast? Lynch is capable of anything, and after what you've just told me--"
Bud's eyes widened. "But what would he have to gain--"
"Gain?" repeated Buck irritably22. "How the devil do I know what's in that polecat's mind? He's quite capable of hiding behind a woman's skirts. He's even capable of carrying her off and trying to force her to marry him, or something like that. I've half a mind to--"
He broke off, frowning. Bud, now thoroughly23 alarmed, stared at him uneasily. "You'd better let me go back," he said quickly. "They'll need yuh more."
"I don't give a damn whether they need me or not," retorted Buck swiftly. "I've got a better idea, though. We'll hit Las Vegas inside of ten minutes. The 'phone's still working, isn't it?"
"It was the last I knew."
"I'll take a chance. There's been nothing to put it out of business. By calling up we'll know how things stand a whole lot quicker. If she and Mrs. Archer are alone, I'll chase back at once and you can show Hardenberg the way into the mountains."
Though Bud's face showed no particular pleasure in the plan, he made no comment, and they rode on in silence. Presently the sheriff turned and called to Stratton. The trail was spreading out, he said, and growing more and more difficult to follow in the waning24 light.
"I don't understand why they rode so far apart," he said, "unless it was to make it hard for any one to track them. Looks to me, though, as if they were heading straight for that cut into the mountains you told me about. Is it much further off?"
"About a quarter of a mile below the little 'dobe shack25 we're coming to," Stratton answered. "The creek26 takes a sharp turn to the southeast, and right at the bend you cross and ride straight west into a narrow draw that doesn't look like it went anywhere. Further on it twists around and leads into a short cañon that brings you through to a sort of valley lying between the hills. After that everything's plain sailing. It's almost as plain as a regular trail."
"Good," nodded Hardenberg. "Anything to mark the draw?"
Buck thought a minute. "As I remember, there's a low ridge27 on the north side, and a big clump28 of mesquite on the right just before you leave the flats."
"Well, you'll be with us to act as guide. I wish we'd had an hour's earlier start, though. It won't be any cinch traveling through these mountains in the dark. Still, at the worst, we can count on Dick Jordan's bunch to nab them as they come out."
Buck nodded. "I'm not sure I can stick along with you much longer," he added briefly29. "But Jessup can show you the way quite as well. There seems to be some doubt now about those people I spoke30 of being still at the ranch."
"Humph! That would mean that Miss Thorne would be there alone?"
"Yes, except for her aunt. I may be worrying unnecessarily, but with a scoundrel like Lynch--"
"You never can tell," finished the sheriff as he hesitated. "That's true enough. We mustn't take any chances. But how--"
"Telephone. There's a line from the ranch-house to Las Vegas camp just ahead." Buck pointed31 where, through the gathering32 dusk, the outlines of the adobe33 shack showed dimly. "If I find there's no one with her, I'll ride back."
"Go to it," nodded the sheriff. "If you don't show up I'll understand. At a pinch I reckon we could find the trail ourselves from your directions."
As Stratton pulled off to the right, he waved his hand and swept onward34 with the posse. Buck reached the door and swung out of the saddle, flinging the reins35 over Pete's head. Then he found that Bud had followed him.
"I'm goin' to wait an' hear what yuh find out," the youngster stated resolutely36. "I can catch up with 'em easy enough."
"All right."
Buck hastily entered the shack, which was almost pitch-dark. A faint glint of metal came from the telephone, hanging beside one window; and as he swiftly crossed the room and fumbled37 for the bell, there stirred within him a sudden sense of apprehension38 that was almost dread39.


1 buck ESky8     
  • The boy bent curiously to the skeleton of the buck.这个男孩好奇地弯下身去看鹿的骸骨。
  • The female deer attracts the buck with high-pitched sounds.雌鹿以尖声吸引雄鹿。
2 desultory BvZxp     
  • Do not let the discussion fragment into a desultory conversation with no clear direction.不要让讨论变得支离破碎,成为没有明确方向的漫谈。
  • The constables made a desultory attempt to keep them away from the barn.警察漫不经心地拦着不让他们靠近谷仓。
3 shrugged 497904474a48f991a3d1961b0476ebce     
  • Sam shrugged and said nothing. 萨姆耸耸肩膀,什么也没说。
  • She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 她耸耸肩,装出一副无所谓的样子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
4 scowled b83aa6db95e414d3ef876bc7fd16d80d     
怒视,生气地皱眉( scowl的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He scowled his displeasure. 他满脸嗔色。
  • The teacher scowled at his noisy class. 老师对他那喧闹的课堂板着脸。
5 herd Pd8zb     
  • She drove the herd of cattle through the wilderness.她赶着牛群穿过荒野。
  • He had no opinions of his own but simply follow the herd.他从无主见,只是人云亦云。
6 ranch dAUzk     
  • He went to work on a ranch.他去一个大农场干活。
  • The ranch is in the middle of a large plateau.该牧场位于一个辽阔高原的中部。
7 chuckled 8ce1383c838073977a08258a1f3e30f8     
轻声地笑( chuckle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She chuckled at the memory. 想起这件事她就暗自发笑。
  • She chuckled softly to herself as she remembered his astonished look. 想起他那惊讶的表情,她就轻轻地暗自发笑。
8 enraged 7f01c0138fa015d429c01106e574231c     
使暴怒( enrage的过去式和过去分词 ); 歜; 激愤
  • I was enraged to find they had disobeyed my orders. 发现他们违抗了我的命令,我极为恼火。
  • The judge was enraged and stroke the table for several times. 大法官被气得连连拍案。
9 savage ECxzR     
  • The poor man received a savage beating from the thugs.那可怜的人遭到暴徒的痛打。
  • He has a savage temper.他脾气粗暴。
10 strut bGWzS     
  • The circulation economy development needs the green science and technology innovation as the strut.循环经济的发展需要绿色科技创新生态化作为支撑。
  • Now we'll strut arm and arm.这会儿咱们可以手挽着手儿,高视阔步地走了。
11 baggy CuVz5     
  • My T-shirt went all baggy in the wash.我的T恤越洗越大了。
  • Baggy pants are meant to be stylish,not offensive.松松垮垮的裤子意味着时髦,而不是无礼。
12 abruptly iINyJ     
  • He gestured abruptly for Virginia to get in the car.他粗鲁地示意弗吉尼亚上车。
  • I was abruptly notified that a half-hour speech was expected of me.我突然被通知要讲半个小时的话。
13 nibs 4e6b6891fc0ecd3914703a92810bbcb3     
上司,大人物; 钢笔尖,鹅毛管笔笔尖( nib的名词复数 ); 可可豆的碎粒; 小瑕疵
  • They were careful not to offend his nibs. 他们小心翼翼,不敢冒犯这位大人。
  • Please tell his nibs that we'd like his help with the washing-up! 请转告那位大人,我们想请他帮助刷锅洗碗!
14 confidential MOKzA     
  • He refused to allow his secretary to handle confidential letters.他不让秘书处理机密文件。
  • We have a confidential exchange of views.我们推心置腹地交换意见。
15 dodged ae7efa6756c9d8f3b24f8e00db5e28ee     
v.闪躲( dodge的过去式和过去分词 );回避
  • He dodged cleverly when she threw her sabot at him. 她用木底鞋砸向他时,他机敏地闪开了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He dodged the book that I threw at him. 他躲开了我扔向他的书。 来自《简明英汉词典》
16 entirely entirely     
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
17 outright Qj7yY     
  • If you have a complaint you should tell me outright.如果你有不满意的事,你应该直率地对我说。
  • You should persuade her to marry you outright.你应该彻底劝服她嫁给你。
18 hamper oyGyk     
  • There are some apples in a picnic hamper.在野餐用的大篮子里有许多苹果。
  • The emergence of such problems seriously hamper the development of enterprises.这些问题的出现严重阻碍了企业的发展。
19 realization nTwxS     
  • We shall gladly lend every effort in our power toward its realization.我们将乐意为它的实现而竭尽全力。
  • He came to the realization that he would never make a good teacher.他逐渐认识到自己永远不会成为好老师。
20 archer KVxzP     
  • The archer strung his bow and aimed an arrow at the target.弓箭手拉紧弓弦将箭瞄准靶子。
  • The archer's shot was a perfect bull's-eye.射手的那一箭正中靶心。
21 curtly 4vMzJh     
  • He nodded curtly and walked away. 他匆忙点了一下头就走了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The request was curtly refused. 这个请求被毫不客气地拒绝了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
22 irritably e3uxw     
  • He lost his temper and snapped irritably at the children. 他发火了,暴躁地斥责孩子们。
  • On this account the silence was irritably broken by a reproof. 为了这件事,他妻子大声斥责,令人恼火地打破了宁静。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
23 thoroughly sgmz0J     
  • The soil must be thoroughly turned over before planting.一定要先把土地深翻一遍再下种。
  • The soldiers have been thoroughly instructed in the care of their weapons.士兵们都系统地接受过保护武器的训练。
24 waning waning     
adj.(月亮)渐亏的,逐渐减弱或变小的n.月亏v.衰落( wane的现在分词 );(月)亏;变小;变暗淡
  • Her enthusiasm for the whole idea was waning rapidly. 她对整个想法的热情迅速冷淡了下来。
  • The day is waning and the road is ending. 日暮途穷。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
25 shack aE3zq     
  • He had to sit down five times before he reached his shack.在走到他的茅棚以前,他不得不坐在地上歇了五次。
  • The boys made a shack out of the old boards in the backyard.男孩们在后院用旧木板盖起一间小木屋。
26 creek 3orzL     
  • He sprang through the creek.他跳过小河。
  • People sunbathe in the nude on the rocks above the creek.人们在露出小溪的岩石上裸体晒日光浴。
27 ridge KDvyh     
  • We clambered up the hillside to the ridge above.我们沿着山坡费力地爬上了山脊。
  • The infantry were advancing to attack the ridge.步兵部队正在向前挺进攻打山脊。
28 clump xXfzH     
  • A stream meandered gently through a clump of trees.一条小溪从树丛中蜿蜒穿过。
  • It was as if he had hacked with his thick boots at a clump of bluebells.仿佛他用自己的厚靴子无情地践踏了一丛野风信子。
29 briefly 9Styo     
  • I want to touch briefly on another aspect of the problem.我想简单地谈一下这个问题的另一方面。
  • He was kidnapped and briefly detained by a terrorist group.他被一个恐怖组织绑架并短暂拘禁。
30 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
31 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
32 gathering ChmxZ     
  • He called on Mr. White to speak at the gathering.他请怀特先生在集会上讲话。
  • He is on the wing gathering material for his novels.他正忙于为他的小说收集资料。
33 adobe 0K5yv     
  • They live in an adobe house.他们住在一间土坯屋里。
  • Adobe bricks must drived dried completely before are used.土坯砖块使用前一定要完全干燥。
34 onward 2ImxI     
  • The Yellow River surges onward like ten thousand horses galloping.黄河以万马奔腾之势滚滚向前。
  • He followed in the steps of forerunners and marched onward.他跟随着先辈的足迹前进。
35 reins 370afc7786679703b82ccfca58610c98     
感情,激情; 缰( rein的名词复数 ); 控制手段; 掌管; (成人带着幼儿走路以防其走失时用的)保护带
  • She pulled gently on the reins. 她轻轻地拉着缰绳。
  • The government has imposed strict reins on the import of luxury goods. 政府对奢侈品的进口有严格的控制手段。
36 resolutely WW2xh     
  • He resolutely adhered to what he had said at the meeting. 他坚持他在会上所说的话。
  • He grumbles at his lot instead of resolutely facing his difficulties. 他不是果敢地去面对困难,而是抱怨自己运气不佳。
37 fumbled 78441379bedbe3ea49c53fb90c34475f     
(笨拙地)摸索或处理(某事物)( fumble的过去式和过去分词 ); 乱摸,笨拙地弄; 使落下
  • She fumbled in her pocket for a handkerchief. 她在她口袋里胡乱摸找手帕。
  • He fumbled about in his pockets for the ticket. 他(瞎)摸着衣兜找票。
38 apprehension bNayw     
  • There were still areas of doubt and her apprehension grew.有些地方仍然存疑,于是她越来越担心。
  • She is a girl of weak apprehension.她是一个理解力很差的女孩。
39 dread Ekpz8     
  • We all dread to think what will happen if the company closes.我们都不敢去想一旦公司关门我们该怎么办。
  • Her heart was relieved of its blankest dread.她极度恐惧的心理消除了。
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