Mojave Crossing (1964)

Mojave Crossing (1964) by Louis - Sackett's L'amour Read Free Book Online

Book: Mojave Crossing (1964) by Louis - Sackett's L'amour Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louis - Sackett's L'amour
    "How much further to the mountains? We'll rest then, won't we?"
    "We won't rest until we find water ... if we do." She got up into the saddle again with some help from me, and we started on, only this time I walked. At least, I walked for the first couple of miles. When I began to stumble, as near asleep as awake, I climbed into the saddle myself.
    Sometime after that, I dozed in the saddle, and when my eyes opened again the horses had stopped and it was gray in the east.
    We had come up to a deep, sandy wash.
    Looking around, I saw that witch woman, looking like nothing but a tired girl, just sagging in the saddle and hanging on by sheer grit. My pack horse was gone.
    Staring back over the desert, I figured I could see something back there, a black spot of something on the sand.
    "You got anything in that outfit of yours that you can't afford to lose?" I asked.
    She looked up at me, staring stupidly for a moment before the sense of the words reached her. Then she turned to look, and after a moment she shook her bead.
    "He may come on after us," I said. "It'll be in him to come after the other horses if he's able.
    They've been carrying more weight, but they're better stuff than him."
    Looking up at her, I added, "Ma'am, you've got some solid stuff in you, too. You surely have."
    But her lips were cracked and swollen, and there was no more spark to her than nothing. Nor in me, neither.
    Right and left I looked, seeking a way through that wash. The banks were steep, and I feared to slide my horses down for fear they'd never get up after reaching bottom. At last I saw a place that looked like a broken-down bank, so I turned and headed for it. The sky was already lighter, and without water we would last no time in our condition if the sun caught us here.
    We got through the wash, although I had to dismount and bully and harry the horses to get them up the opposite bank. A break in the mountains showed ahead of us, and I headed for it. From somewhere there came a burst of energy ... most likely the last I had.
    The sun was an hour old before we found shelter in the lee of a shoulder of rock. That horse of hers just quit cold, and I didn't blame him.
    Dumping our saddle gear in the shade of the rocks, I stared around. There wasn't even a barrel cactus within sight, although this was the country in which they grew. Nor was there anything I could use to feed the horses or to give them a bit of moisture. There was nothing but creosote, and mighty little of that.
    Sizing up those horses, I could see they weren't going to travel much further, for they were used up. Two of them, the big stallion and my own original horse, might go on for a while. Even the second horse I'd bought from Hardy ... but that was a question. We had to have water.
    Dorinda had slumped over on the sand, but me, I walked out a ways from where she lay and studied the sand. For about an hour I crissed-crossed back and forth over the desert around and about, studying for tracks. Mighty few were to be seen, and none of them were bunched up and traveling the same route, which might indicate water.
    Most desert creatures get along either without any water at all, or on mighty little, getting what moisture they need from what they feed on, be it plants or animals. But most will take water when they can get it, and some of them have to have it.
    Finally I gave up and came back and sat down. I must have dozed off; when I woke up my throat was so parched I could scarce swallow, and when I tried to open my mouth I could feel my lips cracking with dryness. My tongue was like a stick in my mouth, and I knew our time was short.
    The girl was asleep, or maybe passed out.
    I didn't look to see. One of the horses was stretched out on the ground, the others slumped three-legged, their heads hanging. My face felt stiff, and when I moved my eyeballs they seemed to grate in their sockets.
    Catching hold of a rock, I pulled myself up and decided to try it one more time. And

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