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In the Rockies with Kit Carson

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
Late one afternoon when the sunlight was slanting through the trees and wavering upon the adobe walls of the Pueblo of Los Angeles, when the only sounds were the whispering winds in the higher boughs, and the thrumming of a stringed instrument from the soldiers’ quarters, a tall Spanish mule came clattering into the village with two boys astride its back. They were bronzed, sinewy looking youngsters; each held a long barreled rifle. A barefooted sentry, his piece over his shoulder, looked up at the sudden sound; and as the mule was abruptly checked beside him, and the two lads slipped from its back, he whipped his weapon about and with a brown thumb upon the trigger, cried: “Halt!” The elder of the two lads wiped his forehead with his sleeve; then to the other he said: “Hold tight to that old chap, Joe; we may have further use for him, you know.” “I hope not,” declared Joe, ruefully. “He’s got a back like a buck-saw, and a gait like a dromedary. And between the two he’s the worst thing I ever rode.”The elder boy saluted the sentinel. “We are strangers,” he said, in good Spanish. “We belong to the trading schooner ‘Gadfly’ now off the coast; and we are in pursuit of a man named Lopez who ran away.” The sentry grinned. “A deserter?” “He is. But we don’t object to that so much as we do the fact that he’s a thief as well. He robbed us, swam ashore, and the last seen of him he was heading toward this village.” The sentry placed the butt of his musket upon a stone and leaned socially upon the barrel. “There are some strangers in the Pueblo now,” he said. “But they are Americans. And they are not sailors, but trappers. They came from Taos in New Mexico,” wonderingly; “they crossed the desert where they might have died of thirst. And all to trap beaver.”