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Title: The Pony Rider Boys in Texas
Or, The Veiled Riddle of the Plains
Author: Frank Gee Patchin
Release Date: December 10, 2006 [eBook #20087]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN TEXAS***
In the Land of the Cowboy
The Pony Riders Join the Outfit
Putting the Cows to Bed
The First Night in Camp
Cutting Out the Herd
Tad Takes a Desperate Chance
The Herd Fords the River
The Approach of the Storm
Chased by a Stampeding Herd
A Miraculous Escape
The Vigil on the Plains
Under a Strange Influence
Chunky Ropes a Cowboy
On a Wild Night Ride
Fording a Swollen River
A Brave Rescue
Making New Friends
Breaking in the Bronchos
Grit Wins the Battle
Dinner at the Ox Bow
A Call for Help
Lost in the Adobe Church
Solving the Mystery
"Guns, I reckon."
"Sounds to me as if the town were being attacked. Just like war time, isn't
"Never having been to war, I can't say. But it's a noise all right."
The freckle-faced boy, sitting on his pony with easy confidence, answered his
companion's questions absently. After a careless glance up the street, he turned
to resume his study of the noisy crowds that were surging back and forth along
the main street of San Diego, Texas.
"Yes, it's a noise. But what is it all about?"
"Fourth of July, Ned. Don't you hear?"
"Hear it, Tad? I should say I do hear it. Yet I must confess that it is a
different sort of racket from any I've ever heard up North on the Fourth. Is
this the way they celebrate it down here?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Why, a fellow might imagine that a band of wild Indians were tearing down on
him. Here they come! Look out! Me for a side street!"
The little Texas town was dressed in its finest, in honor of the great
national holiday, and the inhabitants for many miles around had ridden in at the
first streak of dawn, that they might miss none of the frolic.
A rapid explosion of firearms accompanied by a chorus of wild yells and
thrilling whoops, had caused Ned Rector to utter the exclamation of alarm. As he
did so, he whirled his pony about, urging the little animal into a side street
so that he might be out of the way of the body of men whom he saw rushing down
upon them on galloping ponies.
"Hurry, Tad!" he called from the protection of the side street.
That others in the street had heard, and seen as well, was evident from the
frantic haste with which they scrambled for the sidewalk, crowding those already
there over yard fences, into stores and stairways in an effort to get clear of
the roadway. A sudden panic had seized them, for well did they know the meaning
of the shooting and the shouting.
A band of wild, uncontrollable cowboys, free for the time from the exacting
work of the range, were sweeping down on the town, determined to do their part
in the observance of the day.
Yet, Tad Butler, the freckle-faced boy, remained where he was undisturbed by
the uproar, finding great interest in the excited throngs that were hurrying to
cover. Nor did he appear to be alarmed when, a moment later, he found himself
almost the sole occupant of the street at that point, with his pony backed up
against the curbing, tossing its head and champing its bit restlessly.
As for the freckle-faced boy and his companion, the reader no doubt has
recognized in them our old friends, Tad Butler and Ned Rector, the Pony Rider
Boys. After their exciting experiences in the Rockies, and their discovery of
the Lost Claim, which gave each of the boys a little fortune of his own, as
narrated in the preceding volume, "
The Pony Rider Boys in the
," the Pony Riders had turned toward Texas as the scene of their
next journeying. With Walter Perkins and Stacy Brown, the boys, under the
guidance of Professor Zepplin, were to join a cattle outfit at San Diego, whence
they were to travel northward with it.
This was to be one of the biggest cattle drives of recent years. A cattle
dealer, Mr. Thomas B. Miller, had purchased a large herd of Mexican cattle,
which he decided to drive across the state on the old trail, instead of shipping
them by rail, to his ranch in Oklahoma.
It had been arranged that the Pony Riders were to become members of the
working force of the outfit during what was called the "drive" across the State
of Texas. The boys were awaiting the arrival of the herd at San Diego on this
Fourth of July morning. Though they did not suspect it, the Pony Rider Boys were
destined, on this trip, to pass through adventures more thrilling, and hardships
more severe, than anything they had even dreamed of before.
The cattle had arrived late the previous evening, though the boys had not yet
been informed of the fact. The animals were to be allowed to graze and rest for
the day, while the cowmen, or such of them as could be spared, were given leave
to ride into town in small parties. It was the advance guard of the cowboys
whose shots and yells had stirred the people in the street to such sudden
On they came, a shouting, yelling mob.
Tad turned to look at them now.
The sight was one calculated to stir the heart and quicken the pulses of any
boy. But the face of Tad Butler reflected only mild curiosity as he gazed
inquiringly at the dashing horsemen, each one of whom was riding standing in his
stirrups waving sombrero and gun on high.
What interested the freckle-faced boy most was their masterful
"Y-e-e-e-o-w!" exploded the foremost of the riders.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
As many puffs of white smoke leaped into the air from the revolvers of the
"W-h-o-o-o-p-e!" they chorused in a mighty yell, letting go at the same time
a rattling fire.
As they swept down toward the spot where Tad was sitting on his pony, the
cowboys swung into line six abreast, thus filling the street from curb to
This time, however, instead of shooting into the air, they lowered the
muzzles of their revolvers, sending volley after volley into the street ahead of
them, the leaden missiles viciously kicking up the dirt into miniature clouds,
like those from heavy drops of rain in advance of a thunder squall.
Tad's pony began to show signs of nervousness.
"Whoa!" commanded the boy sharply, tightening his rein and pressing his knees
firmly against the animal's sides. The prancing pony was quickly mastered by its
rider, though it continued to shake its head in emphatic protest.
"Out of the way, you tenderfoot!" yelled a cowman, espying the boy and pony
directly in his path.
Tad Butler did not move.
"Y-e-e-e-o-w!" shrieked the band in a series of shrill cries.
When they saw that the boy was holding his ground so calmly, their revolvers
began to bark spitefully, flicking up a semicircle of dust about the pony's
feet, causing the little animal to prance and rear into the air.
At this Tad's jaws set stubbornly, his lips pressing themselves firmly
together. The boy brought his quirt down sharply on the pony's flank, at the
same time pressing the pointless rowels of his spurs against the sides of the
Though Tad determinedly held his mount in its place, he was no longer able to
check its rearing and plunging, for the wiry little animal was wholly unused to
such treatment. Besides, a volley of revolver bullets about its feet would
disturb the steadiest horse.
Two cowboys on his side of the street had driven their mounts toward the lad
with a yell. Tad did not wholly divine their purpose, though he knew that their
intent was to frighten him into giving them the street. He felt instinctively
that if he should refuse to do so, some sort of violence would be visited upon
It followed a moment later.
Observing that the boy had no intention of giving way to them, the two
cowboys held their course, their eyes fixed on the offending tenderfoot until
finally only a few rods separated them.
Suddenly, both men pulled their mounts sharply to the right, and, digging in
the spurs, plunged straight for Tad.
"So that's their game, is it?" thought the boy.
They were going to run him down.
Tad's eyes flashed indignantly, yet still he made no move to pull his pony
out of the street.
"Keep off!" he shouted. "Don't you run me down!"
"W-h-o-o-o-p!" howled the pair, at the same time letting go a volley right
under the hoofs of his pony. It seemed to the lad that the powder from their
weapons had burned his face, so close had the guns been when they pulled the
Tad had braced himself for the shock that he knew was coming, gathering the
reins tightly in his right hand and leaning slightly forward in his saddle.
They were fairly upon him now. Two revolvers exploded into the air,
accompanied by the long shrill yell of the plainsmen. But just when it seemed
that the lad must go down under the rush of beating hoofs, Tad all but lifted
his pony from the ground, turned the little animal and headed him in the
direction in which the wild horsemen were going.
The boy's clever horsemanship had saved him. Yet one of the racing cow ponies
struck the boy and his horse a glancing blow. For the moment, Tad felt sure his
left leg must have been broken. He imagined that he had heard it snap.
As he swept past the boy the cowboy had uttered a jeering yell.
Tad brought down his quirt with all his force on the rump of the kicking cow
pony, whose hoofs threatened to wound his own animal.
Then a most unexpected thing happenedthat is, unexpected to the cowboy.
Looking back at the boy he had attempted to unhorse, the cowman was leaning
over far to the left in his saddle when Tad struck his horse. The pony, under
the sting of the unexpected blow, leaped into the air with arching back and a
squeal of rage.
The cowboy's weight on the side of the startled animal overbalanced it and
the animal plunged sideways to the street. The cowpuncher managed to free his
left leg from the stirrup; but, quick as he was, he was not quick enough to save
himself wholly from the force of the fall. The fellow ploughed the dirt of the
street on his face, while the pony, springing to its feet, was off with a
The other cowpunchers set up a great jeering yell as they saw the unhorsing
of their companion by a mere boy, while the villagers and country folks laughed
as loudly as they dared.
Yet there was not one of them but feared that the angry cowpuncher would
visit his wrath upon the lad who had been the cause of his downfall.
With a roar of rage he scrambled to his feet.