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Oh, You Tex! by William MacLeod Raine

Already the Kiowas were halfway across the river


The

three men rode out of the ravine to the river. Already they could hear the yelling of the Kiowas a few hundred yards above. A moment later they caught sight of the savages pouring down the bank. Those in front were on foot. Others farther back, on the round-bellied Indian ponies, were galloping to catch up.

Half a mile farther down, there was a break in the river-bank which offered a better chance for crossing. The stream there broadened, cut in two by a little island. The three riders gained on their pursuers. Bullets whistled past them, but they did not stop to exchange shots. When they reached the place Jack had chosen to cross, they were four or five hundred yards ahead of the leading Indians.

They splashed into the water. Here it was shallow, but along the edge of the island the current was running swift. The Kiowas, following the fugitives down the bank, kept up a scattering fire. The bullets struck the water on all sides of the three moving targets. Arthur was on the right, closest to the Indians. A little ahead of him was Dinsmore. Farther over, the Ranger's horse was already breasting the deep water.

Roberts heard young Ridley cry: "He's hit!"

The Ranger turned his head. His prisoner was sagging in the saddle. Arthur was riding beside the wounded man and trying to support him.

Jack drew up his horse,

holding it strongly against the current, until the others were abreast of him.

"We've got to swim for it," he called across to Ridley. "I'll get him if he slips out of the saddle before we reach shore."

The horses swam side by side. Roberts encouraged Dinsmore, riding knee to knee with him. "Just a little way now. Stick it out.... We're right close to the bank.... Grab the horn tight."

As Dinsmore slid into the water Jack caught him by the hair of the head. The swift water, racing fast round the shoulder of the island, tugged mightily at him. But the body of the Ranger's horse was a barrier to keep the unconscious man from being swept downstream, and the fingers of the rider clung to the thick black hair like steel clamps.

They reached shallow water. The Ranger swung from the saddle and carried Dinsmore up through the thicket that edged the bank. The horses clambered up without guidance, and Ridley drove them into the big rocks, where they would be better protected from the shots of the Indians.

The Ranger chose the best cover available near the head of the island and put the wounded man down gently on the ground. Already the Kiowas were halfway across the river. Jack counted twenty of them on horseback in the water.

"Can you shoot?" he asked his companion.

Ridley was behind a rock around which bushes grew thick. "B-better than I could." He was shaking with excitement.

"You can't miss 'em. We've got 'em right this time."

Jack fired. An Indian plunged headfirst into the water like a stone from a sling. A moment later his body could be seen swirling in the swift current. A second shot shook the death scream from the throat of another brave.


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