Square Deal Sanderson - Charles Alden Seltzer - ebook

Square Deal Sanderson ebook

Charles Alden Seltzer

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First published in the year 1922, „Square Deal Sanderson” was written by one of twentieth century’s most prolific authors Charles Alden Seltzer. This novel was written in the Western genre of writing and marks the latter’s mastery in the genre. Mary, our heroine, is running the ranch alone waiting for her brother, whom she has not seen in years, to come and help as she is about to loose the ranch to the bad guys. Square Deal Sanderson was a son of the great uncultured primitive West. An old time cowboy, his code was the knightly code of a man of honor. For the sake of Mary, he braved successfully the persecution of a trio of land grabbers who had threatened to wrest her ranch from her. The story throbs with the excitement of the wild life of the range.

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Liczba stron: 327

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Contents

CHAPTER I. THE NORTH RAID

CHAPTER II. A MAN'S CURIOSITY

CHAPTER III. "SQUARE" DEAL SANDERSON

CHAPTER IV. IH WHICH A MAN IS SYMPATHETIC

CHAPTER V. WATER AND KISSES

CHAPTER VI. SANDERSON LIES

CHAPTER VII. KISSE. A MAN REFUSES THEM

CHAPTER VIII. THE PLOTTERS

CHAPTER IX. THE LITTLE MAN TALKS

CHAPTER X. PLAIN TALK

CHAPTER XI. THE ULTIMATUM

CHAPTER XII. DALE MOVES

CHAPTER XIII. A PLOT THAT WORKED

CHAPTER XIV. TEE VOICE OF THE COYOTE

CHAPTER XV. DALE PAYS A VISIT

CHAPTER XVI. THE HAND OF THE ENEMY

CHAPTER XVII. THE TRAIL HERD

CHAPTER XVIII. CHECKED BY THE SYSTEM

CHAPTER XIX. A QUESTION OF BRANDS

CHAPTER XX. DEVIL'S HOLE

CHAPTER XXI. A MAN BORROWS MONEY

CHAPTER XXII. A MAN FROM THE ABYSS

CHAPTER XXIII. THE GUNMAN

CHAPTER XXIV. CONCERNING A WOMAN

CHAPTER XXV. A MAN IS AROUSED

CHAPTER XXVI. A MAN IS HANGED

CHAPTER XXVII. THE AMBUSH

CHAPTER XXVIII. NYLAND MEETS A "KILLER"

CHAPTER XXIX. NYLAND'S VENGEANCE

CHAPTER XXX. THE LAW TAKES A HAND

CHAPTER XXXI. THE FUGITIVE

CHAPTER XXXII. WINNING A FIGHT

CHAPTER XXXIII. A MAN LEAVES OKAR

CHAPTER XXXIV. A MAN GETS A SQUARE DEAL

CHAPTER XXXV. A DEAL IN LOVE

CHAPTER I

THE NORTH RAID

An hour before, Deal Sanderson had opened his eyes. He had been comfortably wrapped in his blanket; his head had been resting on a saddle seat. His sleep over, he had discovered that the saddle seat felt hard to his cheek. In changing his position he had awakened. His face toward the east, he had seen a gray streak widening on the horizon–a herald of the dawn.

Sanderson found what seemed to be a softer spot on the saddle, snuggled himself in the blanket, and went to sleep again. Of course he had not neglected to take one sweeping glance around the camp while awake, and that one glance had convinced him that the camp was in order.

The fire had long since gone out–there was a heap of white ashes to mark the spot where it had been. His big brown horse–Streak–unencumbered by rope or leather, was industriously cropping the dew-laden blades of some bunch-grass within a dozen yards of him; and the mighty desolation of the place was as complete as it had seemed when he had pitched his camp the night before.

Sanderson reveled in the luxury of complete idleness. He grinned at the widening streak of dawn as he closed his eyes. There would be no vitriolic-voiced cook to bawl commands at him this morning. And no sour-faced range boss to issue curt orders.

In an hour or so–perhaps in two hours–Sanderson would crawl out of his blanket, get his own breakfast, and ride northeastward. He was a free agent now, and would be until he rode in to the Double A to assume his new duties.

Judging by the light, Sanderson had slept a full hour when he again awakened. He stretched, yawned, and grinned at the brown horse.

“You’re still a-goin’ it, Streak, eh?” he said, aloud. “I’d say you’ve got a medium appetite. There’s times when I envy you quite considerable.”

Reluctantly Sanderson sat up and looked around. He had pitched his camp at the edge of a thicket of alder and aspen near a narrow stream of water in a big arroyo. Fifty feet from the camp rose the sloping north wall of the arroyo, with some dwarf spruce trees fringing its edge. Sanderson had taken a look at the section of country visible from the arroyo edge before pitching his camp. There were featureless sand hills and a wide stretch of desert.

Sanderson started to get to his feet. Then he sat down again, stiffening slowly, his right hand slipping quickly to the butt of the pistol at his right hip. His chin went forward, his lips straightened, and his eyes gleamed with cold alertness.

A horseman had appeared from somewhere in the vast space beyond the arroyo edge. Sanderson saw the outlines of animal and rider as they appeared for an instant, partly screened from him by the trees and undergrowth on the arroyo edge. Then horse and rider vanished, going northward, away from the arroyo, silently, swiftly.

Schooled to caution by his long experience in a section of country where violence and sudden death were not even noteworthy incidents of life, and where a man’s safety depended entirely upon his own vigilance and wisdom, Sanderson got up carefully, making no noise, slipped around the thicket of alder, crouched behind a convenient rock, huge and jagged, and waited.

Perhaps the incident was closed. The rider might be innocent of any evil intentions; he might by this time be riding straight away from the arroyo. That was for Sanderson to determine.

The rider of the horse–a black one–had seemed to be riding stealthily, leaning forward over the black horse’s mane as though desirous of concealing his movements as much as possible. From whom?

It had seemed that he feared Sanderson would see him; that he had misjudged his distance from the gully–thinking he was far enough away to escape observation, and yet not quite certain, crouching in the saddle to be on the safe side in case he was nearer than he had thought.

Sanderson waited–for only a few minutes actually, but the time seemed longer. Then, just when he was mentally debating an impulse to climb to the top of the gully, to see if the rider was in sight, he heard a sound as of a heavy body crashing through some underbrush, and saw two riders skirting the edge of the arroyo near him.

They halted their horses back of the spruce trees near the arroyo edge. The rank undergrowth in the timber prevented them seeing Sanderson’s horse–which was further concealed by the thicket of alder. The men, however, did not look into the arroyo. Their attention and interest appeared to be centered upon the actions of the first horseman. Sitting erect in their saddles, they shaded their eyes with their hands and gazed northward.

After a short look, one of the men laughed, unpleasantly.

“Sneakin’–he is,” said the one who laughed. “Knows we’re campin’ on his trail, an’ reckons on givin’ us the slip. I never thought Bill would go back on his friends thataway. We’ll make him sweat, damn him!”

The other cursed, also. “Hoggin’ it, he is,” he said. “I ain’t never trusted him. He won’t divvy, eh? Well, he won’t need it where he’s goin’.”

Both laughed. Then one said, coldly: “Well, I reckon we won’t take chances on losin’ him again–like we did last night. We’ll get him right now!”

They urged their horses away from the edge of the gully. Sanderson could hear the clatter of hoofs, receding. He had heard, plainly, all the conversation between the two.

There was a grin of slight relief on Sanderson’s face. The men were not aiming at him, but at the first rider. It was clear that all were concerned in a personal quarrel which was no concern of Sanderson’s. It was also apparent to Sanderson that the two men who had halted at the edge of the arroyo were not of the type that contributed to the peace and order of the country.

Plainly, they were of the lower strata of riffraff which had drifted into the West to exact its toll from a people who could not claim the protection of a law that was remote and impotent.

Sanderson suspected that the first rider had been concerned in some lawless transaction with the other two, and that the first rider had decamped with the entire spoils. That much was indicated by the words of the two. Dire punishment for the first man was imminent.

Sanderson had no sympathy for the first rider. He felt, though, a slight curiosity over the probable outcome of the affair, and so, working rapidly, he broke camp, threw saddle and bridle on the white horse, strapped his slicker to the cantle of the saddle, and rode the brown horse up the slope of the arroyo, taking the direction in which the three men had disappeared.

CHAPTER II

A MAN’S CURIOSITY

By the time Sanderson urged the brown horse up the crest of the slope, the men he had determined to follow were far out in the desert. Sanderson could see them, though the distance was considerable, riding the crest of a ridge, directly northeastward. As that was following the general direction in which Sanderson wanted to travel he was highly pleased.

“They’re company,” he told himself as he rode; “an’ I’ve been a heap lonesome.”

The men were not traveling fast. At times, when the first rider was compelled to traverse high ground, Sanderson could see him–horse and rider faintly outlined against the sky. Sanderson would note the figure of the first rider, then watch the point at which the first rider appeared until the others reached that point. Then, noting the elapsed time, he could estimate the distance at which the pursuers followed.

“I reckon they’re gainin’ on him,” was Sanderson’s mental comment when an hour later he saw the first rider appear for a moment on the sky line, vanish, reappear for an instant, only to be followed within a few minutes by the figures of the other men.

Sanderson was closing up the space that separated him from the two men, and by that medium he knew they were not traveling rapidly, for the brown horse was loping slowly. Thus he knew that the first man was not yet aware that he was being followed.

But some time later to Sanderson’s ears was borne the faint, muffled report of a firearm, and he smiled solemnly.

“That first guy will know, now,” he told himself. Sanderson kept steadily on. In half an hour he heard half a dozen rifle reports in quick succession, He could see the smoke puffs of the weapons, and he knew the pursuit was over.

The second riders had brought the first to bay in a section of broken country featured by small, rock-strewn hills. By watching the smoke balloon upward, Sanderson could determine the location of the men.

It seemed to Sanderson that the two had separated, one swinging westward and the other eastward, in an endeavor to render hazardous any concealment the other might find. It was the old game of getting an enemy between two fires, and Sanderson’s lips curved with an appreciative grin as he noted the fact.

“Old-timers,” he said.

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