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  The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Cabin In The Woods

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It proved a difficult matter to find shelter. All the members of the little group were wet and cold, and a bitter wind with snow began to whistle once more across the plain. But every one strove to be cheerful and the relief that their escape had brought was still a tonic to their spirits. Yet they were not without comment upon their condition.

"I've seen hard winters in Maine," said Obed White, "but there you were ready for them. Here it tricks you with warm sunshine and then with snow. You suffer from surprise."

"We've got to find a cabin," said the Panther.

"Why not make it a whole city with a fine big hotel right in the center of it?" said Obed. "Seems to me there's about as much chance of one as the other."

"No, there ain't," said the Panther. "There ain't no town, but there are huts. I've rid over this country for twenty year an' I know somethin' about it. There are four or five settlers' cabins in the valleys of the creeks runnin' down to the Rio Grande. I had a mighty good dinner at one of 'em once. They're more'n likely to be abandoned now owin' to the war an' their exposed situation, but if the roofs haven't fell in any of 'em is good enough for us."

"Then you lead on," said Obed. "The quicker we get there the happier all of us will be."

"I may not lead straight, but I'll get you there," replied the Panther confidently.

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Roylston, at his own urgent insistence, dismounted and walked a little while. When he betook himself again to the back of Old Jack he spoke with quiet confidence.

"I'm regaining my strength rapidly," he said. "In a week or two I shall be as good as I ever was. Meanwhile my debt to you, already great, is accumulating."

The Panther laughed.

"You don't owe us nothin'," he said. "Why, on this frontier it's one man's business to help another out of a scrape. If we didn't do that we couldn't live."

"Nevertheless, I shall try to pay it," said Roylston, in significant tones.

"For the moment we'll think of that hut we're lookin' for," said the Panther.

"It will be more than a hut," said Will, who was of a singularly cheerful nature. "I can see it now. It will be a gorgeous palace. Its name will be the Inn of the Panther. Menials in gorgeous livery will show us to our chambers, one for every man, where we will sleep between white sheets of the finest linen."

"I wonder if they will let us take our rifles to bed with us," said Ned, "because in this country I don't feel that I can part with mine, even for a moment."

"That is a mere detail which we will discuss with our host," said Obed. "Perhaps, after you have eaten of the chicken and drunk of the wine at this glorious Inn of the Panther, you will not be so particular about the company of your rifle, Mr. Fulton."

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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