A silence ensued, in which those who heard Ladd gazed fixedly at him and then at one another. Lash uneasily shifted the position of his lame leg, and Gale saw him moisten his lips with his tongue.
"Charlie Ladd, I ain't reckonin' you mean we're to ride off an' leave you here?"
"What else is there to do? The hot weather's close. Pretty soon most of the waterholes will be dry. You can't travel then....I'm on my back here, an' God only knows when I could be packed out. Not for weeks, mebbe. I'll never be any good again, even if I was to get out alive....You see, shore this sort of case comes round sometimes in the desert. It's common enough. I've heard of several cases where men had to go an' leave a feller behind. It's reasonable. If you're fightin' the desert you can't afford to be sentimental... Now, as I said, I'm all in. So what's the sense of you waitin' here, when it means the old desert story? By goin' now mebbe you'll get home. If you wait on a chance of takin' me, you'll be too late. Pretty soon this lava 'll be one roastin' hell. Shore now, boys, you'll see this the right way? Jim, old pard?"
"No, Laddy, an' I can't figger how you could ever ask me."
"Shore then leave me here with Yaqui an' a could of the hosses. We can eat sheep meat. An' if the water holds out--"
"No!" interrupted Lash, violently.
Ladd's eyes sought Gale's face.
"Son, you ain't bull-headed like Jim. You'll see the sense of it. There's Nell a-waitin' back at Forlorn River. Think what it means to her! She's a damn fine girl, Dick, an' what right have you to break her heart for an old worn-out cowpuncher? Think how she's watchin' for you with that sweet face all sad an' troubled, an' her eyes turnin' black. You'll go, son, won't you?"
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