ON A MEXICAN RANCHE
By G. A. HENTY
THERE were few wider estates in Texas than that of Don Garcia Novales. It lay on the western frontier, and indeed nearly half of it lay on the Mexican side of the frontier line. Thousands of horses and tens of thousands of cattle ranged over its broad expanse. It is true that, with few exceptions, the whole of these animals were almost, if not quite wild. That was indeed rather an advantage, as they gave but little trouble to their owners till the time came when they were wanted for the market. Ten years before they were almost valueless, for there were no purchasers; but with the severance of Texas from Mexico a great change had taken place. American enterprise was changing the whole state of things. Capitalists were taking up great tracts of hitherto almost useless land, purchasing the titles for a trifle from the Mexican owners, and stocking them with cattle which they purchased from great ranches like that of Don Garcia Novales.
Speculators bought herds to drive east into the border States, breaking them up and disposing of them by scores or hundreds to settlers there. The animals, therefore, which had hitherto been so valueless that they had scarcely been reckoned as one of the sources of income of their owner, now became an important item in his possessions. Don Garcia himself would gladly have dispensed with the addition. Like most of his countrymen, he hated the men who had disturbed the sleepy tranquillity of life in Texas. His income from his tobacco plantations, his mines in