Meanwhile, Lloyd and Jack, riding along toward the river, were enjoying every moment of the sunny afternoon. Leaving the road at the White Bachelor’s, they followed the trail across a strip of desert.
“ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT OF THE SUNNY AFTERNOON”
“Look out for gopher holes,” called Jack. “If your horse should happen to stumble into one, you’ll be over his head before you can say ‘scat.’ The little pests burrow everywhere.”
As he spoke, his pony sprang to one side of the road with a suddenness that nearly threw him from the saddle.
“You old goose!” he exclaimed. “That was nothing but a stick you shied at. But it does look remarkably like a snake, doesn’t it, Lloyd? That’s the way with all these ponies. They’re always on the watch for rattlers, and they’ll shy at anything that looks the least bit like one.”
“I didn’t know that we’d ﬁnd snakes out here in this dry sand,” said Lloyd, in surprise.
“Yes, you’ll ﬁnd almost anything if you know just where to look,—a whole menagerie. There are owls and snakes living together in the same holes. Wait! It looks as if there might be a nest of them yonder. I’ll stir it up and see.”
Leaving the trail, he rode up between a clump of sage-brush and greasewood bushes, and threw his hat with all his force toward a hole beneath them. A great, sleepy owl ﬂuttered out, and sailed off with a slow ﬂapping of wings to the shelter of a stubby mesquit farther on.
“If we had time to dig into the nest, we’d ﬁnd a snake in there,” declared Jack, Hanging down from his saddle, cowboy fashion, to pick up his hat from the ground as he rode along. He could feel that Lloyd admired the easy grace with which he did it, and that she was interested in the strange things he had to tell about the desert. He was glad that Phil was not along, for Phil, with his three years’ advantage in age and six inches in height, had a way of monopolizing attention that made Jack appear very young and insigniﬁcant. He resented being made to feel like a little boy when he was almost a year older than Lloyd and several inches taller.
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