But, as may be said, he had put his hand to the plough and did not look back.

Contrary, however, to the maxim, this was an unfortunate mistake on his part; for, had he, after riding the major part of the distance, turned in his saddle and surveyed the course traversed, he would have made an important discovery, and one, too, that must have had an[158] important bearing on the almost hopeless enterprise in which he was engaged.

But Herbert’s interest was all in front. Nick Ribsam was in the power of his enemies, and possibly he could aid him, though common sense told him that the chances were as ninety-nine to one that he would end the business by putting himself in the same hole. A party of desperate men that were cunning enough to make 杭州足浴店找休闲女 the sagacious Nick prisoner were not likely to be annoyed by anything Herbert Watrous could do to checkmate them; but youth is ardent and hopeful, and none of these things weakened the pursuit of the New Yorker.
BUT while riding across the level plain, Herbert Watrous did a good deal of thinking, and strove hard to fix upon the wisest course to benefit the missing Nick.

Now, as I have intimated, nothing could be clearer than the foolhardiness of trying to outwit the criminals, or to aid his friend by his own shrewdness. They had made a prisoner


of the youth, who Herbert knew was his superior in every respect, and could well afford to laugh at the utmost he essayed to do.

Without attempting to answer the many questions that presented themselves, he confined his speculation to one or two 杭州足浴保健 bearing directly upon the important business on which he was engaged.

Admitting that Bell Rickard, the crooked dealer in horse-flesh, had made a prisoner of[160] Nick Ribsam, it followed that he held no intention of doing him immediate harm. Had his anger been as deep and resentful as supposed, he would have shot him down at sight, instead of taking him on a long ride. Herbert shuddered at the thought that possibly he meant to prolong his suffering and torture, as do the American Indians in the case of their captives, and that his revenge would be carried out that evening. This theory, however, was so violent that it caused the youth less worriment than would be supposed. He could not believe that Rickard held any such shocking purpose. This brought Herbert back to his former belief that the frugal criminal was managing things 杭州特殊的男士spa with a view of forcing a ransom from the friends of his prisoner. While he saw numerous objections to the idea, he decided to act upon it. He meant to ride straight into the camp of the thieves, and demand their reason for what they had done.

If Rickard would agree to release Nick for a reasonable sum, Herbert would gladly pay it. He had considerable money with him,[161] and, if that proved insufficient, he could give him drafts that would be honored in San Antonio, Santa Fé, or San Francisco. It will be remembered that Mr. Watrous had liberally provided for his son in this respect.

Should Rickard accept the proposition, he would still hold the whip hand, in case he chose to betray both boys; but it was idle to speculate. Time enough to face the varying conditions as they presented themselves.

By the time this decision crystallized in the mind of Herbert, the afternoon was half gone, and he had ridden a good many miles. He had seen no water, and, though he allowed Jill to rest himself by walking at times, yet he forced him to the verge of imprudence. Both he and his master were thirsty and hungry, but had to wait a convenient season before attending to their wants.

At intervals, he had raised his 杭州水疗会所名字大全 glass and studied the party, well in advance, but, as he was on their trail, this was not necessary, and a couple of hours passed without his doing so. He was so absorbed in his thoughts that he rode at the easy, swinging gait which Jill[162] could maintain for a long time without fatigue, paying no attention to his surroundings.

The afternoon was far along, and he was drawing near the ridge that had seemed so near ever since starting, when he roused himself with the thought that he must keep his senses about him, and cease the speculating and daydreaming in which he had indulged so long.

His first natural act was to look ahead for the horsemen, but the unaided eye could not see them. The helpful field glass was then levelled, and he scanned the base of the hills from a point well to the south, along his front, and a considerable 杭州SPA信息论坛 way to the north, but was surprised to observe nothing of them.

“They have ridden in among the hills, where they are out of sight, but that will make little difference, as long as I stick to their trail——”

He checked his utterance in dismay, for, looking down at the ground, he discovered that he was not on the track of the party at all. While rapt in a brown study, his pony[163] had left it, and the anxious eyes which scanned the prairie on all sides failed to detect the first imprint of a horse’s hoofs.

“Well, this is a pretty pass!” he exclaimed impatiently, as he reined up; “I left it to you, Jill, not doubting that you would attend to business; but, after all, it was my own fault.”

Reflection, however, convinced him that the case was not so bad after all. He could not be far astray, and he decided to press on toward 杭州按摩桑拿网 the hills, and gallop along their base, until he struck the missing trail.

That which caused him anxiety was the lateness of the hour. The top of the ridge already shut the sun from sight, and, ere long, night would close over the scene, so obscuring the footprints that further search must be hopeless.

It was this fact which caused him to touch his spur sharply against the side of Jill, and force him to a pace that he would not have done in his tired condition, but for the urgency of the case.

Jill responded gamely to the demand,[164] galloping with a speed that caused the still wind to whistle by the rider’s face. The hills were so close that a half hour carried him to the base, and he once more brought the animal down to a walk.

It was now a question whether he was too far north or too far to the south of the point of 杭州桑拿哪里营业 entrance by the party in advance. If he should err, there was not enough daylight remaining to correct the mistake; he would of necessity be forced to wait until morning before going on.

Since he had to guess at it, he acted on the theory that he had struck the ridge to the south. He therefore wheeled his pony to the right, and touched him into a leisurely canter, while he kept his eyes fixed on the ground, as it swept under the hoofs of the animal.

It was certainly remarkable that Herbert’s thoughts remained so fixed upon what was in front that he gave little or no attention to the rear. Once, it is true, he glanced back over the long space ridden during the day, and noted that the ridge, which had been the[165] scene of his stirring experience of the previous night, was fast fading from sight; but the survey was so brief and 杭州洗浴按摩全套哪里好 hasty that it failed to take in an important feature in which he was directly concerned.

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