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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER XII ON THE ROAD TO HARDIN’S
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 “Goodness gracious, grumpy gree!” yawned Tavia. “Isn’t a really-truly bed the greatest invention known to man, Doro?”  
“I don’t know about its being the first on the list; but it certainly is a delight after sleeping on a shelf in that car,” agreed Dorothy Dale, stretching .
“I hate to get up.”
“You can stay here all day alone, then,” said her chum, briskly. “Aunt Winnie means to get to the Hardin -house before night.”
“Then what about Philo ?” cried Tavia.
“She to me,” Dorothy, “that that is why she told him not to come around until afternoon. She will see him just before we start for Hardin’s.”
“He’ll be mad as fury.”
“Let him be. Auntie says she is to look over the estate, and see the water supply herself, and survey the proposed new channel, before she signs a paper.”
“Bully for her!” cried the slangy Tavia. “I bet that pirate, Philo Marsh, has something up his sleeve beside his arm.”
Bang! bang! bang! A knock at the girls’ door.
“Oh! is the house afire?” Tavia, leaping out of bed. “Or is it Papa again, trying to find Molly and her bridegroom?”
“What are you girls waiting for?” demanded Nat, on the other side of the door. “Come on! Ned and I have been up for hours, and have hired a four-horse stage-coach—a regular old timer out of a show, I bet—to cart us and the baggage to Hardin’s.”
“Oh!” cried Dorothy. “You’re not starting at once?”
“Guess you’ll have time to dress and eat breakfast first—if you hurry,” chuckled Nat, as he went off down the hotel corridor.
This was only Nat’s fun. He and Ned were lonely and wanted to show the girls the town. Not that the western was much of a sight, after all!
Dugonne was a , raw, uninviting place. The of the two railroads made its existence here possible, for there were neither cattle interests, farms, or mines very near.
Aunt Winnie remained in her room, but Ned and Nat took the girls down to the breakfast table and proved that the Hotel of Dugonne could to the taste of touring Easterners.
They saw a small bunch of being driven through a back street of the town and learned that they were from the Double Chain .
“That is a big concern, they tell me,” said Ned White, who was much interested in cattle—or seemed to be since his mother had become part owner of a range and ranch. “Colonel Hardin sold most of his before he died.”
“But the Double Chain isn’t very near this town?” asked Tavia. “That Mr. Lance told me it was a day’s ride—and you can ride a long way in a day on these cow ponies—can’t you, Doro?”
“Those dear little things!” cried Dorothy. “They just fly.”
“And you’re not going to have a , after all,” said Ned, solemnly. “Aren’t you sorry you picked that tramp up, Dot?”
“He’s not a tramp, Ned White!” exclaimed Dorothy. “Don’t call him that, please. And where is Mr. Dempsey?”
“He went with us to hire the stage-coach,” said Nat. “And believe me, he has his wits about him. He has lived out this way ever since the war, he says, and he knows all about everything,”112 added the younger boy, with some .
“We left him at the corral where we engaged the and team and driver,” Ned said. “He is going with us—never you fear, my dear coz.”
Dorothy did not mind their fun at her because of her protégé.
The quartette of young folks came back to the hotel before noon and found Aunt Winnie at a late breakfast.
“I have seen one of the lawyers who had charge of Colonel Hardin’s affairs,” she said. “He will be back here in half an hour with certain papers, and I shall go to court with him.
“My intention is to go on to the ranch to-day, as I said last evening,” continued Aunt Winnie. “So don’t go far away from the hotel, children. What time did you tell the man to have the here, Edward?”
“Two o’clock.”
“And you ought to see it!” cried Nat. “Looks just like the one the Indians chase and capture in the Bill show.”
“Is that the best conveyance you could find, Edward?” asked Mrs. White, with some suspicion.
These young people were forever playing jokes, and she was doubtful. But Ned was serious.
113 “Best I could find, Mother—believe me! All the carriages they have in this man’s town are buckboards—and we’d have to hire a of those to pile all the baggage on—and us, too. This old coach with four mustangs to draw it, will take ‘all hands and the cook.’”
“I hope you have done the right thing, my son,” said Aunt Winnie. “Take care of yourselves, children, till I come back from the court with Mr. Jermyn.”
There was not much going on in the business part of Dugonne that the four young Easterners did not see. They came to the dinner table with appetites and a whole lot to about.
Mrs. White’s business with the lawyers, and with the court, was finished for the time being. Just before two o’clock a great, staggering old coach, on four wheels, drew up at the door of the hotel. At a former day, mail and passengers had been transported between Dugonne and various outlying mining camps in all directions in this vehicle.
“And the mud of twenty years ago is still clinging to the wheels,” said Dorothy. “Oh, Ned! it is a most disgraceful looking affair.”
“I couldn’t find anything better,” answered the young man.
“He is making a regular show of us,” said Tavia. “I suppose we ought to dress in short skirts, and buckskin blouses, Doro, and wear fringed leggins and sombreros. Be regular ‘cowgirls.’”
“Well, Tavia,” drawled Nat. “You have a cowboy on the string they tell me——”
“Nathaniel!” Mrs. White. “What language!” and she forward to see the outfit.
Four spirited mustangs drew the coach—and those mustangs looked as though they had never known currycomb and brush—which was probably the fact! Old John Dempsey was sitting beside the driver, who was a broad-hatted, smiling Mexican, with gleaming teeth, beadlike black eyes, and gold rings in his ears.
“It is an awful looking thing,” Aunt Winnie, when she saw the old coach.
“It is a whole lot better than it looks, mother,” urged Ned.
“And only think!” cried Nat, “the man that owns it says that that stage was held up by ‘Billy, the Kid,’ a famous road agent in these parts, who got the registered mail-sack after shooting the driver, and all the passengers’ money and .”
“How deliciously !” said Tavia. “Do you suppose Mr. Billy, the Kid will hold us up?”
“Not unless his ghost comes back to do it,” chuckled Ned. “They hanged Billy, the Kid, years ago, so the man told me.”
“It would be just too romantic for anything to meet a real highwayman,” said Tavia.
“Why, this town has mounted police that patrol the suburbs—I saw a couple,” laughed Ned. “Romance is dead, Miss Tavia, in these parts.”
“You wouldn’t say so if you’d seen our cowboy—would he, Doro?”
“A cowpuncher!” Nat. “Like that ‘baby’ old Mrs. Petterby is going to visit.”
“I wonder where the old lady is?” said Dorothy. “She arrived at Dugonne ahead of us, of course.”
“Sure,” said her cousin Ned. “She stayed on the train when we left it at Sessions. But she was just as worried about you girls as any of us when she learned you had been left behind.”
“We shall look her up later,” pronounced Dorothy. “And I’m anxious to see her son.”
“Wonder if he works for the same outfit Tavia’s new beau works for?” Ned. “You know, the Double Chain Outfit is the only sizable one left in this part of the country. Its ranges adjoin Colonel Hardin’s on the north. On the south of this land we are going to see, lies the farming country and Desert City.”
“I should think we wou............
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