Sample N14 from Peter Field, Rattlesnake Ridge. New York: Jefferson House, Inc., 1961. Pp. 164-172. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,012 words 294 (14.6%) quotesN14

Used by permission of William Morrow & Company. 0010-1740

Peter Field, Rattlesnake Ridge. New York: Jefferson House, Inc., 1961. Pp. 164-172.

Typographical Errors: Unnecessary " [1110] down off [for off down ?] [1160]Auxiliary verb omitted [1600]

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While no larger than Dutch Springs , this mining supply town had the appearance of being far busier and more prosperous . Men crowded the streets and freight rigs and teams were moving about . Although they were forced to maintain a sharper watch , this activity enabled them to ride in and rack their broncs without any particular attention being paid them .

`` Gyp'll be holdin' forth in some bar if he's here at all '' , Cobb declared , glancing along the street as they stretched their legs .

There were no less than six or seven saloons in Ganado , not counting the lower class dives , all vying for the trade of celebrating miners and teamsters . Pat only nodded . `` Take one side of the street , and I'll take the other '' , he proposed . `` If you spot Carmer give a yell before you move in '' .

Cobb's assent was tight . `` You do the same . It's all I ask , Stevens '' .

Separating , they took different sides of the main drag and systematically combed the bars . Russ visited two places without result and his blood pressure was down to zero . Suddenly it seemed to him insane that they might hope to locate Gyp Carmer so casually , even were he to prove the thief . He tramped out of the Miners Rest with his hopes plummeting , and headed doggedly for the Palace Saloon , the last place of any consequence on this side of the street .

The Palace was an elaborate establishment , built practically on stilts in front , with long flights of wooden steps running up to the porch . Behind its ornate facade the notorious dive clung like a bird's nest to the rocky ribs of the canyonside . Russ ran up the steps quickly to the plank porch . The front windows of the place were long and narrow , reaching nearly to the floor and affording an unusually good view of the interior . Heading for the batwings , Cobb glanced perfunctorily through the nearest window , and suddenly dodged aside . Nerves tight as a bowstring , he paused to gather his wits .

Against all expectation , Carmer was inside , clearly enjoying himself to the hilt and already so tipsy that it seemed unlikely he was bothering to note anything or anyone about him . Fierce anger surged through Russ . He fought down the impulse to rush in and collar the vicious puncher on the spot .

Reaching the porch rail beyond view of the bar windows , he feverishly scanned the busy street below . Stevens was nowhere in sight . Muffling an exclamation , Russ sprang to the nearest steps and ran down . As luck had it , he had not gone twenty feet in the street before Pat appeared .

`` What luck , Cobb '' ? ? He said swiftly .

Russ pointed upward . `` He's there '' , he got out tersely , curbing his rising excitement . Hitching his cartridge belt around , Pat glanced upward briefly at the Palace and started that way with Cobb at his side .

Climbing the steps steadily , they reached the top and headed for the door . Pat pushed through first . Forced behind him momentarily , Russ followed at once and halted two steps inside . His eyes widened . While five minutes ago the place had presented a scene of easy revelry , with Gyp Carmer a prominent figure , it was now as somnolent and dull as the day before payday . Carmer himself was nowhere to be seen .

A man knocked the roulette ball about idly in its track , and another dozed at one of the card tables . Two men murmured with their heads together at the end of the bar , while the sleek-headed bartender absently polished a glass . Looking the setup over , Stevens started coolly for the rear of the place .

`` Where yuh goin' '' ? ?

It was the barkeep . Halting , Pat turned to survey him deliberately . He did not reply , going on toward the back . Less assured than the tall , wide-shouldered man in the lead , Cobb followed alertly , a hand on his gun butt . The bartender measured this situation with heavy eyes and decided he wanted no part of it . He said no more .

A hall opened in back of the bar , running toward an ell . Pat moved into it . Small rooms , probably for cards , opened off on either side . All the doors were open at this hour except one , and it was toward this that Stevens made his way with Russ close at his shoulder .

The door was locked . A single kick made it spring open , shuddering . Pat saw Gyp Carmer staggering forward , a half-filled bottle upraised as if to strike . Russ sprang through to bat it nimbly aside . With a bellow Carmer lunged at him . But he was more than half-drunk , and his faculties were dulled . Cobb unleashed a single powerful jab that sent Gyp reeling wildly and crashing down with a whining groan . He started to struggle up , heaving desperately . Russ gave him a brutal thrust that tumbled him over flat on his stomach . Kneeling , Cobb planted a sturdy knee in the small of his back , holding him pinned .

`` Okay , Stevens . I've drawn his fangs '' , he snapped . `` Go through his pockets , will you ? ? If we have to we'll take him apart and see what he's made of '' ! !

Complying methodically , Pat pulled pocket after pocket inside out without finding a thing . Cobb watched this with hunted eyes , his desperate hope waning by the moment . Stevens was grunting over the last empty pocket when Russ abruptly rose and lunged toward Carmer's hat , which had tumbled half-a-dozen feet away when he first fell . Cobb got it . Straightening up , his eyes ablaze , he held out the battered Stetson .

`` Look at this '' ! !

Inside the crown , stuffed behind the stained sweatband , could be seen thin , crumpled wads of currency . Carmer's ingenious cache for his loot had been found .

`` By golly , Stevens ! ! You were right '' , Russ exclaimed , tearing the loose bills out of Carmer's hat . `` That is , if we can be sure this is Colcord's money '' --

Pat grunted . `` Where else would he get it ? ? Count what you've got there , Cobb . We can soon tell '' .

Russ ran through the bills and named an amount it was highly unlikely any cowpuncher would come by honestly . Pat nodded . `` It's within a hundred of what Crip had '' , he declared . `` We know Penny spent some -- and Carmer must have dropped a few dollars getting that load on '' .

Handing the money over , Russ wiped his hands on his pants-legs as if ridding himself of something unclean . His glance at Gyp Carmer was disdainful . `` Shall we get out of here '' ? ?

Leaving the card room , they moved back through the Palace the way they had come . Glowering looks met them in the bar , but there was no attempt to halt them . Pausing in the outside door to glance behind him , Pat looked his unspoken warning and stepped out . He and Cobb clattered down the high steps to the street .

Neither spoke till they reached their horses . Pat paused there , looking across at the young fellow . It'll be a pleasure for you to return this money to Colcord and tell him about it , Russ '' . He started to return it .

To his faint surprise Russ held up his hand . `` Not me '' , he ruled decidedly . I've had enough . It was you that tracked it down anyway , Stevens '' , he pursued strictly . `` I'll shove along home '' .

`` Whatever you say '' . Pat swung into the saddle , yet still he delayed , his brows puckered . `` You owe it to Penny to give her a chance to explain that she was defending you , really '' , he observed mildly .

`` Old Crip wasn't '' , retorted Cobb tartly . `` He'll know when you tell him . But I want this to sink in awhile . Then maybe next time he won't be so quick on the trigger '' .

`` Pat had never pretended to give advice in such affairs . `` You're the doctor '' , he returned with a smile . `` But I still think Penny's an awful nice girl , Russ '' --

`` You don't have to tell me '' , flashed Cobb . Giving the other a dark look , he hauled his bronc around and trotted down off the street . Pat let him go , following more leisurely . At the first restaurant he sensibly pulled up to go in for his dinner , and as a consequence did not see Cobb strike the open range at the mouth of the canyon and head straight across the swells for Antler .

The truth was , the puncher was both bewildered and dismayed by his own mixed luck . `` Penny's always glad to see me over there '' , he mused bleakly . Yet had he not visited the girl at Saw Buck he would never have been involved in this latest tangle .

Over and above that , however , was his growing suspicion of Chuck Stober's part in recent events . `` Gyp Carmer couldn't have known about Colcord's money unless he was told -- and who else would have told him '' ? ? He asked himself . `` It's the second time War Ax hands made a play for that money .

How much of an accident could that be '' ? ?

Nearing home , he jerked to attention at the distant crack of a gun . In town no one paid much attention to an occasional shot ; ; but on the range gunfire had a meaning . Hauling up , Russ listened carefully . Two minutes later it came again -- a double explosion , followed by a third , sounding more distant .

As near as Cobb could determine the shots came from the direction of the Antler ranch house . He tightened up in a twinkling . So far as he knew , only his father could be there . What did it mean ? ? Clapping spurs to the bronc he set off at a sharp canter , with growing alarm .

His first glimpse of the ranch house across the brushy swells told him nothing . Still a quarter-mile away , the fresh clap of guns only served to increase his speed . Setting a course straight for the house , he was covering ground fast when an angry bee buzzed past close to his face .

When it was followed by a second , whining even closer , Cobb swerved sharply aside into a depression . He knew now what he was up against . Whoever was out there hiding in the brushy cover was besieging the Antler house and , having spotted his approach , was determined to drive him off before he could get into the fight .

Cursing himself for having ridden out the last few days without a rifle in his saddle boot , Russ drew his Colt and examined it briefly . If he wondered whether the attackers would allow him to pull away unmolested , he had his answer a moment later .

`` Over this way ! ! He ain't gone far '' ! ! A harsh cry floated to him across the brush .

A carbine cracked more loudly , and a slug clipped fragments from the brush off at one side . The would-be assassin had his position figured pretty close . Dismounting , Russ looked about hastily . Toward the west this depression led toward a draw . Leading his pony , he hurried that way , not remounting till he was well below the level of the surrounding range .

Swinging up then , and bending forward over the horn , he urged his mount down the meandering draw . He had not covered a hundred yards before a gun crashed from somewhere behind . He had been sighted , and his attacker pumping shot after shot . A shot or two went wild before Cobb felt something tug at his foot . A slug had torn half of his stirrup-guard away . A second twitched his shirtsleeve , and he felt a brief burn on his upper arm . Another snarled close overhead .

`` Jumping Jerusalem ! ! Let's get out of here '' ! !

At the first shot Russ had hurled his mount to the left toward the side of the winding draw . The long minute before he reached effective cover seemed endless . Sweeping a look around , he saw that he was safe for the moment . He heard cries from behind him , but he could make out no words .

He dashed madly for the next elbow turn in the draw , and made it . Recklessly hurling the bronc sidewise into an intersecting draw , he plunged forward with undiminished speed . Gradually the wash climbed upward , forcing him toward open range . Yet he must chance it . He clambered out of the dwindling wash , the loose dirt flying behind him , and flashed a look about .