Page:Boys of the Fort.djvu/73

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Then they came out, rifles in hand, to find Leeson reloading near the stable.

"Those desperadoes have been here!" exclaimed the old trapper. "They ran off with your hosses, consarn 'em!"

"Went off with the horses?" repeated Darry. "Did you shoot at them?"

"I did, but the light's against me, and I don't reckon as how I hit anything." Hank Leeson meditated for a moment. "I've half a mind ter do it—yes, I have!" he muttered.

"Do what?" asked Joe.

"Go after 'em on my mare. Would you be afraid to stay here alone if I went?"

"No; go ahead!" cried both boys.

"We'll keep watch while you are away," continued Joe.

"If you can get the horses back it will be a great favor," said Darry. "The three are worth over five hundred dollars."

Without further words, Hank Leeson dashed into the stable, untied his mare and mounted her. Rifle over shoulder and pistol in hand, he dashed away on the back trail, whence the desperadoes had disappeared. Soon he was swallowed up in the darkness, although they heard the hoofbeats of Nancy for several minutes after.

"This is the worst yet," was Joe's comment,