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Desert Conquest or, Precious Waters   By: (1872-1960)

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Precious Waters



Author of The Boss of Wind River, Etc.

Illustrated by Clarence Rowe


New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers

Copyright, 1913, by Doubleday, Page & Company All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian

Copyright, 1912, 1913, by Street & Smith, Publishers





Miss Nita Hess flattened a snub nose against the Pullman window, and stared at the expressionless face of the plains with an avidity to be explained only by the fact that her acquaintance with them up to then had been principally through the medium of light literature perused surreptitiously in a select school for young ladies in the extreme East. But her remarks from time to time would have shocked the ultra correct preceptresses of that excellent seat of learning.

"Oh, gee, Clyde," she exclaimed suddenly, "look at the cute little deer! Oh, see 'em scoot!"

Her companion glanced from the window, and stifled a yawn. "Antelope," she commented, without interest. "Yes, I see them, Nita," and leaned back again, closing her eyes.

In fact, Miss Clyde Burnaby was bored by the journey, and a little a very little by her fifteen year old cousin, daughter of the celebrated James C. Hess, of the equally celebrated Hess Railway System. Nita was a good little girl, and a nice little girl in spite of occasional lingual lapses but only a sense of duty to dear old Uncle Jim had induced Clyde to forego her European trip that she might accompany Nita to the Pacific coast for the benefit of that young lady's health, which Clyde privately considered as sound as the national currency system.

In a democratic moment she had refused Hess' offer of a private car, and she now rather regretted it. She had a headache, and the great coils of red gold hair seemed to weigh tons. It would have been a relief to have it taken down and brushed by a deft fingered maid. But the maid also had been left behind. And that, she decided, was a mistake, also.

Clyde Burnaby was alone in the world. Her father's modest fortune, under the able management of his executor, Jim Hess, had expanded wonderfully. So far as money was concerned, no reasonable wish of hers need remain ungratified. She was accomplished, travelled, and very good looking. She had refused half a dozen offers of hands, hearts, and fortunes the latter equal to her own and also two titles unaccompanied by fortunes, with hearts as doubtful collateral. She kept her own bachelor establishment in Chicago, gave to charity with discretion, took a quiet part in the social life of her set, dabbled in art and literature, had a few good friends, and was generally considered a very lucky, amiable, and handsome young woman.

But just then she was bored with the trip and with Nita, whose enthusiasms she could not share. The heat of the Pullman seemed stifling, the odour of coal unbearable. The land was dead brown, flat, dreary, monotonous. Leaning back with closed eyes, she longed for the deck of a liner, the strong, salt breezes, the steady pulse of the engines even for cold rain from a gray sky, sullen, shouldering seas, and the whip of spindrift on her cheeks. Beside her Nita prattled steadily.

"We're going to stop, Clyde. Here's a station. Look at the yard with all the cows in it. I wonder if those men are cowboys. They don't look like the pictures. But isn't it funny how those ponies stand with the reins hanging down and not tied at all? I wish my pony would stand that way. Here come two men on horseback. My, but they're riding fast! I wonder if they are trying to catch the train?"

Two blown ponies bore down on the station at a dead run. One of the riders jumped off and ran for the office... Continue reading book >>

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