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 (Chapter13)

2006-08-28 13:50

  Chapter XIII. Following a Hot Trail

  "Fire! Fire!" cried Professor Zepplin, leaping up from where he had been leaning over, watching the water bubbling in the bottom of the excavation they had made.

  The guide had been hanging over the hole, dipping water to Ned, who was turning it into the water-bags.

  "Where, where?" demanded Mr. Kringle explosively. He also sprang to his feet. "It's a prairie fire!"

  "The boys are caught. They'll perish!" exclaimed Professor Zepplin, with blanching face. "Go to them, go to them, Mr. Kringle!" he begged.

  "No living thing could get through that wall of fire, Professor," announced the guide impressively. "We'll shout and perhaps, if alive, they'll bear us."

  They did so, with the result already known.

  "Which direction did Master Stacy take?" Mr. Kringle asked.

  "I saw him riding down that way," replied Walter, pointing excitedly.

  "Then, perhaps he is safe outside of the fire zone. Some of you hurry back to the camp, The stock may take fright and stampede. No, we'll all go. The wind may shift at any moment, and while I do not think the flames could reach the camp, all our animals might be suffocated, even if they did not succeed in getting away."

  "But you're not going to desert Tad and Chunky, are you?" demanded Walter indignantly.

  "Certainly not. What can we do here? We must get the ponies first; then we'll hurry to them. I'm afraid they've been caught," answered the guide.

  "If there's any way of escape you may depend upon it that Master Tad has discovered that way," answered the Professor. "He is a resourceful boy, and——"

  But the rest were already dashing madly toward the camp and Professor Zepplin began to do so with all speed to catch up with them. The hot breath of the prairie fire had brought the color to his blanched cheeks.

  "How—— how do you think the fire started?" stammered the Professor, when he at last came up with the guide.

  "It was set afire," answered Kris Kringle grimly.

  "Set!" shouted the Professor and the two boys all in one breath.

  "Yes."

  "By whom?"

  "That remains to be seen."

  "Do you mean that one of the boys was imprudent enough to build a fire in that grass? Surely they would not have been so foolish as to do a thing like that."

  "As I said, that remains to be seen. The first thing to be done is to get to them as quickly as possible, though I don't know that we can do any good. They're either out of it, by this time, or else they're not," added Mr. Kringle suggestively. "Professor, I wish you and one of the boys would get out your rifles, mount your ponies and watch the camp, while two of us go in search of the lost ones."

  "Watch the camp?"

  "Yes."

  "For what reason?"

  "Merely as a precaution."

  "I'll attend to that. I want all of you to get after Tad and Stacy. We don't care about the camp particularly, when compared with two human lives."

  The smoke was rolling over them in such dense clouds that the camp was wholly obscured from view until they were upon it.

  "Quick! Get the horses before they break away!" commanded the guide.

  "I can't find them!" shouted Ned, who had bounded on ahead and disappeared in the great suffocating cloud.

  Walter was only a few steps behind him, both boys groping, blinking and coughing as the smoke got into eyes and lungs.

  "Lie down when it gets stronger than you can stand. There's always a current of fresh air near the ground," called the guide.

  Both lads adopted his suggestion instantly, and they were none too soon, for already they were getting dizzy. After a few long breaths, they were up, groping about once more in search of the stock.

  "Over to you right," called the Professor.

  "We've been there. They're not there at all," answered Ned.

  By this time the guide had dived into the cloud.

  "The stock has gone," they heard him shoat.

  "Have they stampeded?" roared the Professor.

  "I don't know. I'll find out in a minute."

  "Queer that this smoke blows two ways at once," said Walter.

  "There is a slight breeze blowing this way," explained Ned. "Not enough, however, to turn the fire back. It has got too good a start."

  Suddenly a weird "c-o-o-e-e" sounded to the right of them.

  "What's that?"

  "It's the guide, Walt. He's trying to call the boys, to see if they are alive," explained Ned.

  "I don't think so. That cry is for some other purpose. I'm going over where he is to find out what it does mean. Come on."

  Together the lads ran as fast as they could in the direction from which the guide's voice had come.

  They found him with hands shaped into a megaphone, uttering his shrill cries. He made no answer to their questions as to what he was trying to do.

  All at once off in the cloud they heard rapid hoofbeats. The boys glanced at each other in surprise.

  "It's the ponies returning," breathed Walter Perkins.

  Ned shook his head.

  The cries now took on a more insistent tone, and a moment later two ponies came whinnying into the camp, snorting with fear. Kris Kringle spoke to them sharply, whereupon they came trotting up to him with every evidence of pleasure.

  The lads were amazed.

  "Can you boys shoot a rope?"

  "Yes," they answered together.

  "Which one is the better at it?"

  "Ned is more expert than I am."

  "Take one of my ponies. We've got to go after the stock. Rope and bring them in as fast as possible. It's getting late, and it will be dark before we know it. There's not more than two hours of daylight left."

  "I can take my pony and help," began Walter.

  "You haven't any pony. They're all gone."

  Ned and the guide dashed from the camp at break-neck speed. Emerging from the dust cloud they saw some of the stock far off on the plain.

  "There they are!" cried Ned

  "Thank goodness, they're all together. And they are not running. We've got them bunched."

  "Were they afraid of the smoke? What made them break away?"

  "They didn't break away."

  "What?"

  "Their tethers were cut and they were sent adrift," answered the guide grimly;

  Ned was speechless with surprise.

  Some of the ponies, objecting to being roped, ran away, necessitating a lively chase. Kris Kringle worked with the precision of an automatic gun and with proportionate speed. In half an hour they had roped all the ponies, and, with the burros trailing along behind, started back to camp as rapidly as possible.

  A heavy pall of smoke still hung over the camp and all the surrounding country.

  Once more they staked down the ponies and pack animals, and urging vigilance on the part of Professor Zepplin, Ned and the guide dashed away at full gallop in search of the two missing lads.

  "Are we going through the fire?" questioned Ned apprehensively.

  "We're going to try it. The worst of it must have passed before this, but we may have to turn back or turn out for spots. It's the shortest way, and the only course to follow if we want to know what has become of them."

  Spreading out a little they continued on their way, the ponies snorting, threatening to whirl about and race back into the open plain. The ground was like a furnace and the grass smouldered beneath them, heating their feet and singeing their fetlocks.

  Suddenly Ned's pony reared into the air, bucked and hurled its rider far over into the smouldering bunch grass.

  Ned uttered a yell of warning as he felt himself going.

  The guide wheeled like a flash. Ned's mount had whirled and was away like a shot. But the guide was after him with even greater speed. The chase came to an abrupt ending some few rods farther on, when Kris Kringle's lariat squirmed out, bringing the fleeing pony to the ground with its nose in the hot dust.

  Without dismounting, the guide turned his own mount, and fairly dragging the unwilling pony behind him, pounded back to the place where Ned had been unhorsed.

  "Grab him!" commanded the guide to Ned, who had quickly scrambled to his feet. "What was it that he saw?"

  "I don't know. Guess he made up his mind to go back."

  "No; he saw something. Hang on to him and cover the ground all about you till you find it."

  "Wha—— what do you——"

  "Never mind. Look!"

  "Here! Here it is!" cried Ned aghast.

  The guide was at his side instantly.

  "It's a pony," gasped the Pony Rider boy.

  Kris Kringle was off his own mount instantly, and bidding Ned hold the animal, he made a brief examination of the fallen horse, after which he darted here and there, unheeding the fact that the still burning grass was blistering his feet through the heavy soles of his boots.

  For several rods Kringle ran along the faint trail that Tad and Stacy had left, or rather, that the fire had left after passing over it.

  "They beat their way out here. We may find them later. Come on!"

  Again Ned and the guide dashed away, both keeping their gaze on the smoking prairie about them. The smoke now was almost more than they could bear.

  "Do—— do you think they are alive?" asked Ned unsteadily.

  "So far. If they are not, it's not their fault. The Professor is right. Those boys have pluck enough to pull them through, but sometimes pluck alone will not do it. A prairie fire is no respecter of pluck."

  They burst out into an open space. There were no signs of either of the missing boys.

  "Something has happened to them. We must have missed them," announced the guide.

相关热词:小说
栏目相关课程表
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
基础英语辅导课程
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
郭俊霞:零基础英语网上辅导名师
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>
钟平:趣味英语速成网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371