外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

The Pony Rider Boys in New Mexico (Chapter11)

2006-08-28 13:49

  Chapter XI. Riding with Kris Kringle

  A slender ribbon of dust unrolling across the plain far to the northward marked the receding trail of Juan and his lazy burro. They had given him a week's extra pay and sent him on his way.

  The burro was making for home, aided by the busy feet of its master, while Stacy Brown, shading his eyes with one hand, was watching the progress of the guide, whom he had just sent adrift.

  "Well, he's gone," grinned Stacy, turning to his companions, who were busy striking camp.

  "And a good riddance," nodded Tad.

  "He'll probably join the Indians and tell them where we are," suggested Walter.

  "I hadn't thought of that," replied Tad. "Still, if they wish to find us they know how without Juan's telling them."

  "How?"

  "They can follow a trail with their eyes shut," said Ned.

  "That's right. They do not need to be told," muttered Tad.

  Everything being in readiness, the boys started with their outfit for the dug-out, where they were to be joined by Kris Kringle. They felt a real relief to know that they were to have with them a strong man on whom they were sure they could rely to do the right thing under all circumstances. Tad, however, believed that Mr. Kringle had decided to join them, fearing they would be attacked by the Apaches and come to serious harm. Yet he hardly thought the redskins would dare to follow them, after the latter had once gotten over the frenzy of their fire dance. By that time the Indian agents would have rounded them all up on the reservations, where the Indians would be able to do no more harm for a while.

  After picking up the new guide the start was made. The party had water in plenty in the water-bags, so that no effort was made to pick up a water hole when they made camp late in the afternoon. The guide had brought in his pack a tough old sage hen, at which the lads were inclined to jeer when he announced his intention of cooking it for their supper.

  "You'll change your mind when you taste it, young gentlemen. It depends upon the cooking entirely. A sage hen may be a delicious morsel, or it may not," answered Mr. Kringle, with a grin.

  They were encamped near a succession of low-lying buttes, and to while away the time until the supper hour, the boys strolled away singly to stretch their legs on the plain after the long day's ride in the hot sun.

  When they returned an hour or so later, Stacy, they observed, was swinging a curious forked stick that he had picked up somewhere a few moments ago.

  "What you got there?" questioned Ned.

  "Don't know. Picked it up on the plain. Such a funny looking thing, that I brought it along."

  "Let me see it," asked Mr. Kringle.

  Stacy handed it to him.

  "This," said the guide, turning the stick over in his hand, "is a divining rod."

  "Divining rod?" demanded Stacy, pressing forward.

  "Yes."

  "Never heard of it. Is it good to eat?"

  "Looks to me like a wish bone," interjected Ned. "Do you eat wish bones, Chunky?"

  "Might, if I were hungry enough."

  "A divining rod is used to locate springs. Some users of it have been very successful. I couldn't find a lake with it, even if I fell in first."

  "Indeed," marveled the Professor. "I have heard of the remarkable work of divining rods. What Rind of wood is it?"

  "This is hazel wood. Oak, elm, ash or privet also are used, but hazel is preferred in this country."

  "Then—— then we won't have to go dry any more—— I can find water with this when I'm dry?" questioned Stacy.

  "You might; then again you might not."

  "Better take it away from him," suggested Ned. "He might find a spring. If he did he'd be sure to fall in and drown."

  The stick, which was shaped like the letter Y, was an object of great interest to the Pony Rider Boys. One by one they took it out on the plain, in an effort to locate some water. The guide instructed them to hold the Y with the bottom up, one prong in each hand and to walk slowly.

  But, try as they would, they were able to get no results.

  "The thing's a fraud!" exclaimed Ned disgustedly, throwing the divining rod away.

  Stacy picked it up.

  "I know why it doesn't work," he said.

  "Why?" demanded the other boys.

  "'Cause—— 'cause there isn't any water to make it work," he replied wisely.

  The boys groaned.

  Shortly after returning to camp, they found the fat boy standing over a pail of wa