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The Heritage of the Hills   By:

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THE HERITAGE OF THE HILLS

BY ARTHUR P. HANKINS

Author of "THE JUBILEE GIRL," Etc.

NEW YORK DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 1922

COPYRIGHT, 1921, 1922 BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.

PRINTED IN U. S. A.

CONTENTS

I AT HONEYMOON FLAT

II PETER DREW'S LAST MESSAGE

III B FOR BOLIVIO

IV THE FIRST CALLER

V "AND I'LL HELP YOU!"

VI ACCORDING TO THE RECORDS

VII LILAC SPODUMENE

VIII POISON OAK RANCH

IX NANCY FIELD'S WINDFALL

X JESSAMY'S HUMMINGBIRD

XI CONCERNING SPRINGS AND SHOWUT POCHE DAKA

XII THE POISON OAKERS RIDE

XIII SHINPLASTER AND CREEDS

XIV HIGH POWER

XV THE FIRE DANCE

XVI A GUEST AT THE RANCHO

XVII THE GIRL IN RED

XVIII SPIES

XIX CONTENTIONS

XX "WAIT!"

XXI "WHEN WE MEET AGAIN!"

XXII THE WATCHMAN OF THE DEAD

XXIII THE QUESTION

XXIV IN THE DEER PATH

XXV THE ANSWER

The Heritage of the Hills

CHAPTER I

AT HALFMOON FLAT

The road wound ever upward through pines and spruce and several varieties of oak. Some of the latter were straight, some sprawling, all massive. Now and then a break in the timber revealed wooded hills beyond green pasture lands, and other hills covered with dense growths of buckhorn and manzanita. Poison oak grew everywhere, and, at this time of year early spring was most prolific, most beautiful in its dark rich green, most poisonous.

Occasionally the lone horseman crossed a riotous stream, plunging down from the snow topped Sierras in the far distance. Rail fences, for the most part in a tumbledown condition, paralleled the dirt road here and there.

At long intervals they passed tall, old fashioned ranch houses, with their accompanying stables, deciduous orchards and still dormant vineyards, wandering turkeys and mud incrusted pigs. An air of decay and haphazard ambition pervaded all these evidences of the dwelling places of men.

"Well, Poche," remarked Oliver Drew, "it's been a long, hard trip, but we're getting close to home." The man spoke the word "home" with a touch of bitterness.

The rangy bay saddler slanted his left ear back at Oliver Drew and quickened his walking trot.

"No, no!" laughed Oliver, tightening the reins. "All the more reason we should take it easy today, old horse. Don't you ever tire?"

For an hour Poche climbed steadily. Now he topped the summit of the miniature mountain, and Oliver stopped him to gaze down fifteen hundred feet into the timbered caƱon of the American River. Even the cow pony seemed enthralled with the grandeur of the scene the wooded hills climbing shelf by shelf to the faraway mist hung mountains; the green river winding its serpentine course far below. Far up the river a gold dredger was at work, the low rumble of its machinery carried on the soft morning breeze.

Half an hour later Poche ambled briskly into the little town of Halfmoon Flat, snuggled away in the pines and spruces, sunflecked, indolent, content. It suited Oliver's mood, this lazy old fashioned Halfmoon Flat, with its one shady "business" street, its false front, one story shops and stores, redolent still of the glamorous days of '49.

He drew up before a saloon to inquire after the road he should take out of town to reach his destination. The loungers about the door of the place all proved to be French or Spanish Basque sheep herders; and their agglutinative language was as a closed book to the traveler. So he dropped the reins from Poche's neck and entered the dark, low ceiled bar room, with its many decorations of dusty deer antlers on fly specked walls.

All was strangely quiet within. There were no patrons, no bartender behind the black, stained bar. He saw this white aproned personage, however, a fat, wide, sandy haired man, standing framed by the rear door, his back toward the front. Through a dirty rear window Oliver saw men in the back yard silent, motionless men, with faces intent on something of captivating interest, some silent, muscle tensing event.

With awakened wonder he walked to the fat bartender's back and looked out over his shoulder... Continue reading book >>




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