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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER XIV “THE SNAKE IN THE GRASS”
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 “Goodness me, Doro! did you ever see so much out-of-doors before in all your life? Isn’t the world big?”  
Tavia was at the window of the large room in which the girls slept, on the second morning of their stay at the -house and she had not begun to dress. This big world that she was looking out at, seemed just now .
There were miles upon miles of rolling country to north, east, and south. In the early light this vast expanse of out-of-doors was colored in many —and the hues were ever changing. The wall of mountains to the west, which shut off their view seemed so near that Tavia declared she could run over to them before breakfast!
“You might before breakfast, but not before breakfast time!” laughed Dorothy. “Mr. says it’s two days’ ride on a good to that huge rock that we see up there so clearly.”
“I suppose so. Lost River is over that way,134 too. The foreman says that most of this rolling country we see belongs to the Hardin estate.”
“What a huge, huge place it is!” sighed Dorothy. “And what will we ever do with it all?”
“Ned wants to raise cattle on it,” Tavia, “but I believe Nat would rather raise .”
Dorothy did not pay attention to this. She was gazing afar, and said very quietly:
“Mr. Ledger says the land is rich enough to raise anything.”
“Don’t you believe all your hear—and not more than half of what you see,” said her chum, . “Appearances are deceitful. That’s like the little girl who lost her penny.”
“What little girl?” demanded Dorothy, dreamily.
“Oh! it might have been any little girl—who was sharp,” chuckled Tavia. “At any rate a fine, handsome, old party comes along the street and finds the little girl crying, and asked in that benevolent tone that goes with a white vest and gold-headed :
“‘What’s the matter, my little dear? What are you crying for?’
“‘I’ve lost my penny,’ says the kid.
“‘Never mind! never mind!’ says the old gentleman, reaching into his pocket. ‘Here is a penny,’ and he hands her one. The kid looks up at him and sees right through the game. Says she:
“‘Why! you man! you had it all the time, didn’t you?’ And the next time,” chuckled Tavia, “he will go right along about his business and not try to play Santa Claus to young ladies to whom he has not been introduced.”
Dorothy laughed at her chum’s little story, and said: “I guess most appearances are deceitful. At least, Aunt Winnie says you mustn’t form an opinion upon looks—so that gives me a chance to point a moral, and a tale.”
“There was Pat, who was a coal heaver, coming home and finding that the children had been using his Ancient Order of Hibernian regalia-hat to bring home coals in. ‘Mary Ann! Mary Ann! Phy do youse let thim kids do that?’ holding up the maltreated high hat. ‘I’ve told youse before—I don’t like it!’
“‘Shure, Pat,’ says she, ‘phat harm does it be doin’? A little more coaldust won’t hurt yez.’
“‘That may be thrue, woman,’ says Pat, ‘but yez don’t see the point. When I wear the hat out, shure, an’ take it off, it laves a black mar-r-k around me forehead. An’ wot’s th’ consekences?’ demands Pat, warmly. ‘Shure it gits me accused of washin’ me face with me hat on!’”
Tavia ran out of the room. Both girls were well acquainted with the house now. It had most modern improvements and Colonel Hardin, although he was a man of no family, had entertained largely and believed in having all the comforts . A huge windmill pumped water for the house and stables, for this was not the desert, and a of water could be tapped something like a hundred and fifty feet below the surface.
Hank Ledger had told the girls when they inquired that this vein of water was supposed to be a branch of Lost River, which into the earth so many miles away in the low hills to the west.
“Tell yuh what!” the foreman, who seemed to be a bird of ill-omen, “ef that thar river is ever turned out onto the desert, as I tol’ the old Kern” (Colonel) “when he was alive, ye air goin’ tuh shut off yuh own water supply right yere. Now! yuh hear me shoutin’!”
“Do you suppose that is so?” asked Tavia of Dorothy.
“Mrs. Ledger says Hank doesn’t know. She’s a real jolly woman, and declares that Hank can’t see anything but worry and trouble ahead of him. She says he’d another if there was a summer shower, and a seven-year drouth if the sun shone two days in succession!”
“But we’re going to know something about Lost River to-day—hooray!” cried Tavia.
It had been
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