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"Grace Harlowe, do you realize what an indulgent husband you have?" demanded Elfreda Briggs severely.

"Why, of course I do," replied Grace, giving her companion a quick glance of inquiry. "Why this sudden realization of the fact on your part!"

"I was thinking of the really desperate journey we are about to undertake—the journey across the desert that lies just beyond the Cactus Range you can see over yonder," answered Miss Briggs, as she gazed out through the open window of their hotel at Elk Run, to the distant landscape to which she had referred. "What I am curious about is how Tom ever came to consent to your attempting such an adventure."

"I presume he really would have made serious objection had it not been for the fact that he had signed up for that forestry contract in Oregon. Tom knew that I would have a lonely summer at home, and, I believe, deep down in his heart, felt that were he to deny me the pleasure of this trip, I might break my neck driving my car. You see, since I drove an ambulance in France I do not exactly creep along the roads with my spirited little roadster."

"He did not object to the trip then?"

"Well, he did threaten to balk when I told him that we Overlanders had planned to ride horseback across the Great American Desert, starting from Elk Run, Nevada. However, he listened to reason. Tom is such a dear," reflected Grace.

"Yes, reason in the form of Grace Harlowe Gray," nodded Elfreda understandingly. "Should I ever have the misfortune to possess a husband I hope he may be as amenable to reason. Where is Tom, by the way?"

"He has gone out with Hippy Wingate to look for one Hiram Lang, known hereabouts as Hi Lang, the man who is to act as our guide and protector across the desert. He is Mr. Fairweather's cousin, you will recall, and my one great hope is that he may prove to be as fine a character as the man who piloted us over the Old Apache Trail last summer."

"I sincerely hope, for our sake, that he knows his business," nodded Elfreda Briggs.

"Where did you leave the girls?" questioned Grace.

"I left Emma Dean, Anne Nesbit and Nora Wingate at the general store where they were selecting picture cards of wild west scenes to send to the folks back home. By the way, when does Tom leave for Oregon?"

"To-night. I wish it were possible for him to go with us, knowing that it would prove an interesting experience for him, but now that he is out of the army he feels that he must get to work without loss of time. Tom now has a large family to look after— Yvonne and my own little self."

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