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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER VIII THE NIGHT ADVENTURE CONTINUED
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 The little had to cross the tracks and the crossing was beside the telegraph office.  
“I wonder if he has caught Aunt Winnie’s train yet?” said Dorothy, aloud.
“We’ll see about that, Miss,” said Lance, the cowboy, and he pulled in and shouted for the operator:
“Hey, Bill!”
The window opened and the frowsy head of the telegraph man appeared.
“Ketch Number Seventy yet?” asked the cowboy.
“Just. At Massapeke. Your folks has got your message by this time, ladies.”
“Oh, thank you!” cried Dorothy.
“A thousand times,” added Tavia.
“Come on,” said Lance. “Goo’night, Bill!”
“Goo’night!” responded the operator, and slammed down the window.
They over the crossing and then the set into an easy , led by the cowboy’s Gaby.
Dorothy Dale and Tavia Travers had both learned to ride when they were much younger. Indeed, Tavia had learned to ride bareback upon the horses left out to pasture around Dalton, in the days when she was a regular tomboy.
The action of these cow ponies was easy, and the girls enjoyed the strange ride during the first few miles, at least. They had ridden with divided skirts at home; therefore their present position in the saddle was not as strange to them as it might have been.
But there were fifty miles to travel when they left Mrs. Little’s. “It looks like an big contract,” admitted Tavia.
“Yuh ain’t got tuh look at it all tuh once, Miss,” said Lance, good-naturedly. “Yuh take it mile by mile, an’ it ain’t so far.”
“That’s so,” declared Tavia. “I never thought of that.” Then to Dorothy she whispered. “Isn’t he just splendid? And how sweetly he drawls his words?”
“Now, Tavia!” Dorothy. “If you don’t behave yourself——”
“Why, I am!” cried Tavia. “I think you are too particular for anything, Doro. Didn’t that large Little lady tell us he was all right?”
Dorothy was being jounced around too much just then to make reply. But she saw that Tavia74 had recovered completely from her “scare” and was looking for .
Out on the open prairie the stars gave light enough for the girls to see Lance better. The track was broader, too, and the trio continued on, side by side, the cowboy riding between the two girls.
Lance was not a bad looking young man at all. Dorothy began to realize, too, that he was nowhere near as old as she had at first supposed. His out of door life had given him that air of .
So, it troubled Dorothy when she saw that Tavia was to “buzz” the cowboy.
“Are you a really, truly cowboy?” the irrepressible asked, .
“Well, yuh might call me that, Ma’am, though I wasn’t borned to it like some of these old-timers yuh’ll meet out yere.”
“Then you are not a native of the West?”
“Now you’ve said something, Ma’am. I come from back East; but t’was quite some time ago—believe me!”
“You must have been very young when you came out here—to seek your fortune, I suppose?” pursued Tavia.
“Tuh git cl’ar of my old man’s strap,” Lance. “He and I didn’t wuth a cent. But he was a good old feller at that.”
75 “And you never went back?” asked Dorothy, becoming interested herself.
“Never got the time for it. Yuh see, Miss, it does seem as though a man never gets caught up with his work. That’s so!”
“I should think you’d be homesick—want to see your folks,” the Tavia said.
“Jerusha Juniper! My fam’bly was right glad to git shet of me, I reckon; all but my mother. But I reckon she’s too old to travel out yere, an’, as I say, it’s hard for a man like me to git time and money both together for a vacation. I ’low I’d like to see the ol’ lady right well,” he concluded.
Scarcely had he spoken when a of ponies’ behind them startled their own spirited mounts. The ponies tried to “break” and run, too, as they heard the rat-tat-tat of the hoofs approaching.
“Whoa, thar, Gaby!” commanded Lance. “Ain’t yuh got a bit o’ sense?” Then to Dorothy and Tavia he shouted: “Pull hard on them bits, ladies. They got mouths like sheet-iron—an’ that ain’t no dream!”
The girls pulled their ponies in, as instructed. As they did so two other ponies appeared beside them in the trail. The girls from the East could identify the riders as a man and a girl.
“Jerusha Juniper!” yelled Lance, stopping76 Gaby from bolting with some difficulty and swinging her across the path of the eastern girls’ mounts, so as to halt them. “Jerusha Juniper! what yuh tryin’ tuh do? Comin’ cavortin’ along the trail this a-way?”
“Is that you, Lance?” asked the man.
“It shore is—an’ two ladies,” said the cow-puncher, proudly.
“Don’t tell ’em we come this way, Lance,” called a shriller voice, which Dorothy knew must belong to the girl, as the couple passed and urged their ponies to a .
“Jerusha Juniper! is it you, Colt—and you, Molly ? I’ll be blessed! Tell on yuh? Reckon not—ef Colt’s fin’lly got up his tuh take yuh right from under the ol’ man’s nose, Molly.”
“Oh! what is it?” cried Tavia.
Lance began to laugh—and he laughed loudly, from side to side in his saddle.
“’Scuse me, Ma’am!” he finally got breath to say. “But ef that ain’t th’ beatenes’!”
“Maybe it is,” said Tavia, with . “But until you are a little more , Mr. Lance, I don’t see how we can join in your .”
“Ain’t it so?” drawled Lance, still bubbling over with laughter.
“Do be still, Tavia!” exclaimed Dorothy, admonishingly. “Give Mr. Lance a chance to tell us.”
“And that I shore will do,” chuckled the cowboy, as they jogged on again. “I
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