The voice was very hoarse and far away. But Irralie had fancied she heard something before. And this time she felt sure enough to stop the horses in their own length, while she herself stood up to peer this way and that across the tufts of salt-bush and the spaces of pure sand. Yet at first no sign of life intervened between the buggy and the Seven-mile Whim whose black timbers stood out like a gallows against the setting sun. The whim, however, was a league away. Irralie accordingly looked right and left; and on the right a five-wire fence ran east and west into twilit space; but on the left a clump of box-trees grew a couple of hundred paces from the track. Clearly the clump was the place; and, even as she turned her horses, the girl saw a flash and a puff on its outskirts, followed by a sharp report. Irralie Villiers was used to firearms. A dead Riverina turkey and an empty fowling-piece lay at her feet at the present moment; and the shot from the clump only made her urge her horses the harder in its direction. It was obviously a signal of distress, and a little rough driving showed Irralie who had fired it. A tall, ragged fellow stood with his back to the trees, as still as they; his wide-awake was on the ground in front of him, and the wet hair clung to his white forehead. Also on the ground, in separate heaps, lay a shrunken bay horse and a singularly shabby saddle, bridle, and valise.
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- Library of Alexandria
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