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“Yip! Yip! Y–e–e–e–e–ow!”

“Gracious! What’s coming, a band of circus Indians?”

“Not knowing, can’t say; but there is evidently something to the fore in the strenuous line.”

“Well, I should say so. Hark, what’s that?”

“Shooting; maybe some of those Mestizos from over the Rio Grande are attacking the town.”

“Hardly likely. The last heard of them they were fifty miles from the Border fighting hard with the Federals. But it’s something, all right.”

“Hullo! Look there. It’s—it’s the Rangers!”

The red–headed, sun–burned last speaker reined in his impetuous, plunging, gray broncho and, shielding his eyes with his hand, gazed down the dusty main street of San Mercedes. Above the trio of lads who had halted their cayuses at the sudden sound of distant uproar, the sun hung in the steely blue sky like a red hot copper ball. Jack Merrill, alert and good–looking, with his frank, bronzed face and easy seat in the saddle, followed the direction of red–headed Walt Phelps’ gaze. Ralph Stetson, equally excited, studied the situation with equivalent interest.

And now at the end of the street, which had suddenly become thronged as if by magic with slouching Mexicans, blue–bloused Chinese and swinging–gaited cow–punchers with jingling spurs on their high–heeled boots, a novel procession swept into view.

Out of a cloud of yellow dust, which hung like a saffron curtain against the burning cobalt of the sky, appeared the foremost of a group of riders.

“Here they come! Look out, fellows! Let’s sidetrack ourselves and let the Texas limited go by!”

As he shouted this advice Ralph Stetson, a lad of slightly more delicate build than his youthful companions, swung his wiry little pony in a pivotal sweep, and made as if to retreat.

“Hurry, boys!” he shouted.


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