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A Texas Ranger by William MacLeod Raine

Produced by Jim Weiler

A TEXAS RANGER

By William MacLeod Raine,

1910

FOREWORD TO YE GENTLE READER.

Within the memory of those of us still on the sunny side of forty the more remote West has passed from rollicking boyhood to its responsible majority. The frontier has gone to join the good Indian. In place of the ranger who patrolled the border for "bad men" has come the forest ranger, type of the forward lapping tide of civilization. The place where I write this--Tucson, Arizona--is now essentially more civilized than New York. Only at the moving picture shows can the old West, melodramatically overpainted, be shown to the manicured sons and daughters of those, still living, who brought law and order to the mesquite.

As Arthur Chapman, the Western poet, has written:

No loopholes now are framing Lean faces, grim and brown; No more keen eyes are aiming To bring the redskin down. The plough team's trappings jingle Across the furrowed field, And sounds domestic mingle Where valor hung its shield. But every wind careering Seems here to breathe a song-- A song of brave frontiering-- A saga of the strong.

PART I -- THE MAN FROM THE PANHANDLE

(In Which Steve Plays Second Fiddle)

CHAPTER I -- A DESERT MEETING

As she lay crouched in the bear-grass there came to the girl clearly the crunch of wheels over disintegrated granite. The trap had dipped into a draw, but she knew that presently it would reappear on the winding road. The knowledge smote her like a blast of winter, sent chills racing down her spine, and shook her as with an ague. Only the desperation of her plight spurred her flagging courage.

Round the bend came a pair of bays hitched to a single-seated open rig. They were driven by a young man, and as he reached the summit he drew up opposite her and looked down into the valley.

It lay in a golden glow at their feet, a basin of pure light and silence stretching mile on mile to the distant edge of jagged mountain-line which formed its lip. Sunlight strong as wine flooded a clean world, an amber Eden slumbering in an unbroken, hazy dream primeval.

"Don't move!"

At the summons the driver swung his head sharply to a picture he will never forget. A young woman was standing on the bank at the edge of the road covering him with a revolver, having apparently just stepped from behind the trunk of the cottonwood beside her. The color had fled her cheeks even to the edge of the dull red-copper waves of hair, but he could detect in her slim young suppleness no doubt or uncertainty. On the contrary, despite her girlish freshness, she looked very much like business. She was like some young wild creature of the forest cornered and brought to bay, but the very terror in her soul rendered her more dangerous. Of the heart beating like a trip-hammer the gray unwinking eyes that looked into hers read nothing. She had schooled her taut nerves to obedience, and they answered her resolute will steadily despite fluttering pulses.


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