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.”They made soft amens and he continued.“Lord, he’s been our true partner and went to stop the outlaws stealing our cattle.Be with him this night and help him return to the job he loves.Amen.”The crew rising up didn’t have a dry eye and quietly thanked Chet, then they went about doing the things needed for him and the others to leave.“Leif, you and Cole go sleep.I can get it all ready.We can’t leave till Jesus gets here.Go upstairs and fall on any bed.We’ll wake you in plenty of time.”Tom, standing by, closed his eyes and shook his head.“Trouble never will end, will it?”“Big as we are growing, I doubt it.Can’t steal much from some homesteader with a dirt floor,” Chet pointed out.“That’s true.Some day I’ll tell you how much Millie and I appreciate working here.I thought my stubbornness, reacting to Ryan, and getting fired had cut my chances of ever having anything for the rest of my life.But despite problems like this, we are living as comfortable as any rich people.”Chet clapped him on the shoulder.“We all are the luckiest people in the world.”Kneeling beside Utah, trying to comfort him, Millie looked up.“Thanks for the prayer, Chet.It helped us all.”“Good.”Tom left to check on the men.There was nothing he could do for the unconscious cowboy.Chet felt the same and went in the kitchen to get some coffee.Poor Marge, she had to do without him again.At least she understood or always seemed to.“Can you think who those rustlers might be?” Susie held the coffeepot.He shook his head and nodded for her to fill him a cup.“But we’ll find them.”“Just be careful.” She poured it and then took a cup in for Millie.He sat at the kitchen table and mulled over how he’d done things differently since coming to Arizona.But it hadn’t made any difference.He’d just traded feudists in Texas for outlaws in the territory.CHAPTER 14Chet and his three-man posse woke more than twenty-four hours later in their camp up on the rim and crowded the roaring fire.Jesus made coffee and the lanky cowboy Cole was heating water to stir in the oatmeal.He had no idea how cold it was, but his steaming breath marked a point way down the mercury tube.The rustlers were still ahead of them, but they had tracks to follow, a description of their horses, and the deep determination of their leader to capture them.Doc had told them before they left the ranch that Utah had a chance to live.Chet hoped he was right.“Does it ever get this cold in Texas where you lived?” Leif asked.Chet shook his head.“Maybe once or twice, but not over two days.”Leif shook his head in mild amazement.“We’ll see some warm days, but altitude and all, we will have winter up here.Where will these men go, do you figure?”“I know little about this country.I have been to Hackberry which is north.Never farther west to what they say is desert on the way to California.I’ve seen the Grand Canyon.That is about all.”“They can go to California, but it’s a helluva trip across that desert.They can go around the Grand Canyon and there is a ferry around there that’s run by some old Mormon named Lee.It is the only place you can cross the Colorado River and go north into Utah.You came from the east so you know there are only a few stations on that Marcy Road.”“Rustlers stole some of our cattle and took them down on the Bill Williams River and sold them to some miners there.I sent Hampt to check on them, but they were gone.These rustlers wouldn’t have gone up that damn mountain we rode up yesterday unless they had a market for them.”Leif laughed and then sipped his fresh-made coffee.“You’re right Chet, you’d need a damn good reason to herd cattle over that goat trail.”Cole had the oatmeal, raisins, and sugar mix ready so he filled bowls around the circle and they ate breakfast with the fire’s sharp smoke twisting around them from the wind.The hot cereal warmed them up.They washed the bowls afterward in boiling water, then saddled the horses.In no time, they were on the trail headed north.The sun was slow to warm the air, but everyone was dressed well and they soon were on the flat rolling country on top of the Mogollon Rim.The open grassland spread out before them with islands of small hills covered in black looking pines called Ponderosa.Chet liked this country better than the valley, but that area had less winter and produced lots of strong forage for livestock.Still, up on top it looked like a land untouched by man spread north, east, and west where a cowboy could ride all day and not see a farmer or a town.At the Marcy Road they found the riders’ tracks went east.Jesus said they weren’t more than half a day ahead of the posse.Everyone was to keep their eyes open [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]