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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER XVI IN THE GORGE
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 They went up the bank of the river afoot after . walked with Aunt Winnie, explaining as they went the scheme of changing the river’s course. The young folk ran on ahead.  
They came to a narrow reef of rock which in the river on this westerly side. On the left hand they looked down into a deep . Here, by blowing out the rock-wall which was not more than ten yards across, the river would into the gorge which cut through the plateau toward the south.
This was the natural channel that had been spoken of. At the mouth of the gorge, the foreman said, a dam could be built at a comparatively small expense, which would hold an enormous amount of water in reserve.
The tentative agreement between Colonel Hardin and the Desert people included the building of this dam at the expense of the subscribers for the water. The intention was to dig a great ditch from the mouth of the gorge across the plain, with branch ditches and gates for the farmers, the main ditch carrying the water to the of Desert City.
There a pumping station was to be established and the water piped into the town. The irrigation work and all would occupy at least two years, and cost a good deal of money, but the result, as Tavia had suggested, would be to “make the desert blossom like the rose.”
Mrs. White would travel no farther than this reef at the head of the gorge, but the young folk were upon a real exploring expedition. She gave her consent for them to go on, and Ned and Nat found a path which led down the nigh bank of the deep hollow.
The trees that had struck root into this rocky soil were scrubby looking things and there were not many of them, but there was a deal of brush and briers.
“Suppose this was an old Indian path?” proposed Nat to his brother, when they were at the bottom of the steep descent.
“More likely made by wild animals,” was the reply.
“Whew!” exclaimed Nat, his eyes twinkling. “Maybe it leads to a bear’s .”
“Now stop, Nat White!” commanded Tavia. “You are trying to scare us.”
“Don’t listen to him, Tavia,” said Dorothy. “There are no wild animals near here. Mr. Ledger didn’t even bring a gun.”
“It’s supposed to be a game preserve, isn’t it?” demanded Nat. “And aren’t bears game?”
“If you should see one you’d be the bear’s game,” Dorothy. “You’d run.”
“Sure I would,” admitted Nat. “I’d rather a good deal folks would say of me, ‘See him run!’ than ‘Here he lies.’”
“I suppose there are some wild beasts deeper in these hills—and on Colonel Hardin’s property,” Ned said, thoughtfully.
“What kind of beasts?” demanded Tavia, sharply.
“Oh—bears, and wolves, and panthers, and the like.”
“That’s enough!” declared Tavia, stopping short. “I’ve gone far enough. Let’s climb up again, Doro.”
“But I want to see what the looks like,” objected Dorothy, who had little belief in Nat’s wild animal scare.
“’Fraid-cat!” sing-songed Nat, grinning.
“No. I’ve gone far enough. I’m tired,” said Tavia, decisively. “I’m going to sit right down here on this rock. I’ll wait for you if a wild bear doesn’t come along and chase me back up the hill.”
“Wild bear, your grandmother!” said Nat, with disgust.
“Come on, Dot,” Ned said to his cousin. “I’m glad you haven’t lost your pluck.”
“You’ll lose more than that if you see a bear,” advised Tavia.
“I don’t believe there’s a thing to hurt us in this place, and I want to see,” repeated Dorothy Dale.
The trio went on, but they did not really believe Tavia would remain far behind them. “She’s up to some trick,” Nat announced.
“I believe you’re right,” agreed Dorothy, but when they had gone at least half a mile down the gorge, and the irrepressible Tavia had not overtaken them, Dorothy began frequently to look back.
“What do you suppose she is doing?” she repeated, greatly puzzled.
“Oh, she is up to something. You know Tavia,” responded Ned, carelessly.
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