The Lone Star Ranger and the Mysterious Rider

The Lone Star Ranger and the Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey Read Free Book Online

Book: The Lone Star Ranger and the Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Zane Grey
gun—and the outlaw fell with his right arm shattered. Bosomer cursed harshly and floundered in the dust, trying to reach the gun with his left hand. His comrades, however, seeing that Duane would not kill unless forced, closed in upon Bosomer and prevented any further madness on his part.

    Of the outlaws present Euchre appeared to be the one most inclined to lend friendliness to curiosity; and he led Duane and the horses away to a small adobe shack. He tied the horses in an open shed and removed their saddles. Then, gathering up Stevens’s weapons, he invited his visitor to enter the house.
    It had two rooms—windows without coverings—bare floors. One room contained blankets, weapons, saddles, and bridles; the other a stone fireplace, rude table and bench, two bunks, a box cupboard, and various blackened utensils.
    â€œMake yourself to home as long as you want to stay,” said Euchre. “I ain’t rich in this world’s goods, but I own what’s here, an’ you’re welcome.”
    â€œThanks. I’ll stay awhile and rest. I’m pretty well played out,” replied Duane.
    Euchre gave him a keen glance.
    â€œGo ahead an’ rest. I’ll take your horses to grass.”
    Euchre left Duane alone in the house. Duane relaxed then, and mechanically he wiped the sweat from his face. He was laboring under some kind of a spell or shock which did not pass off quickly. When it had worn away he took off his coat and belt and made himself comfortable on the blankets. And he had a thought that if he rested or slept what difference would it make on the morrow? No rest, no sleep could change the gray outlook of the future. He felt glad when Euchre came bustling in, and for the first time he took notice of the outlaw.
    Euchre was old in years. What little hair he had was gray, his face clean-shaven and full of wrinkles; his eyes were half shut from long gazing through the sun and dust. He stooped. But his thin frame denoted strength and endurance still unimpaired.
    â€œHev a drink or a smoke?” he asked.
    Duane shook his head. He had not been unfamiliar with whisky, and he had used tobacco moderately since he was sixteen. But now, strangely, he felt a disgust at the idea of stimulants. He did not understand clearly what he felt. There was that vague idea of something wild in his blood, something that made him fear himself.
    Euchre wagged his old head sympathetically. “Reckon you feel a little sick. When it comes to shootin’ I run. What’s your age?”
    â€œI’m twenty-three,” replied Duane.
    Euchre showed surprise. “You’re only a boy! I thought you thirty anyways. Buck, I heard what you told Bland, an’ puttin’ thet with my own figgerin’, I reckon you’re no criminal yet. Throwin’ a gun in self-defense—thet ain’t no crime!”
    Duane, finding relief in talking, told more about himself.
    â€œHuh,” replied the old man. “I’ve been on this river fer years, an’ I’ve seen hundreds of boys come in on the dodge. Most of them, though, was no good. An’ thet kind don’t last long. This river country has been an’ is the refuge fer criminals from all over the states. I’ve bunked with bank cashiers, forgers, plain thieves, an’ out-an’-out murderers, all of which had no bizness on the Texas border. Fellers like Bland are exceptions. He’s no Texan—you seen thet. The gang he rules here come from all over, an’ they’re tough cusses, you can bet on thet. They live fat an’ easy. If it wasn’t fer the fightin’ among themselves they’d shore grow populous. The Rim Rock is no place for a peaceable, decent feller. I heard you tell Bland you wouldn’t join his gang. Thet ’ll not make him take a likin’ to you. Have you any money?”
    â€œNot much,” replied Duane.
    â€œCould you live by gamblin’? Are you

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