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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER XV EXPLORING
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 There was double excitement at the breakfast table that morning. Not only were the young folk eager to get away on the trip of exploration planned the day before; but old John Dempsey’s find among the discarded papers in the office excited them.  
The letter written in Lincoln’s angular hand was passed from one to the other. Mrs. White of course agreed with Dorothy that the letter belonged to the Grand Army man.
“He shall certainly have it—to keep, or to sell,” she said.
“Your protégé is turning out pretty well, Dot,” said Ned. “And if he keeps on finding valuable letters like that, he’ll soon be as rich as the other ‘John D.’ Some collectors would give a round sum for this letter.”
“He’s already had one offer,” Dorothy said, hesitatingly.
“What!” cried Tavia. “You never offered to buy it?”
“Certainly not. And Mr. Dempsey says he wouldn’t sell.” Then she related what the old man had said regarding Philo .
“‘Snake in the grass!’” exclaimed Tavia. “That’s just what he is.”
“Hush,” said Aunt Winnie. “The man is really bothering me a good deal. He has gone off with Mr. to breakfast. I did not care to invite him in here——”
“I should hope not!” exclaimed Ned.
“Well, I am free to confess,” said his mother, thoughtfully, “that I do not know just how to treat Mr. Marsh. He tried to have me invite him to ride with us to-day; but I do not want him.”
“You say the word, mother,” said Nat, , “and Ned and I will send him to the right-about-face.”
Mrs. White laughed. “Oh, I fancy he is not very dangerous, my boy.”
“Then, if that’s the case,” added Nat, grinning, “why not sick Tavia onto him?”
“You thing!” exclaimed Tavia, able to fight her own battles with the boys. “You talk as though I might be a bulldog.”
“You’re a sight more dangerous,” Nat. “If you once rolled those big eyes of yours at Philo—as you did at that cowboy, Lance, for instance——”
“Nathaniel!” exclaimed his mother again. “I am ashamed of you.”
“You’d have been ashamed of Tavia if you’d seen her,” the young fellow.
That was the beginning of a between Tavia and Nat. “You wait, Mr. Smartie!” she whispered, giving him a vicious pinch as he passed her chair. “I’ll get square with you for saying that.”
But , when she and Dorothy were together, the latter seriously to her chum.
“You must have a care, my dear. Aunt Winnie would be if she knew you were in the least with these men——”
“What men?” demanded Tavia, with some anger.
“Lance Petterby, we’ll say. If he comes here with his mother, you behave.”
“Oh, you’re a regular Grandmother . And I’ll fix Nat for saying that to his mother, see if I don’t.”
Tavia was, indeed, quite , and they were several miles from the house that forenoon before she became her jolly irresponsible self.
Before noon the exploring party had seen much of the range and pasturage. Hank Ledger said even after this drouth the pasture could well support ten thousand .
“But we ain’t had that many critters on the ranch for ten year. Cattle ain’t what they was—no144 sir! We’ve got a couple of thousand, and that’s full and plenty. I reckon, Miz W............
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