"It's begun again!" whispered Lassiter, and he gripped her arm.
"Watch....There, did you see that?"
"No, no. Tell me what to look for?"
"A white flash--a kind of pin-point of quick light--a gleam as from sun shinin' on somethin' white."
Suddenly Jane's concentrated gaze caught a fleeting glint.
Quickly she brought her glass to bear on the spot. Again the purple sage, magnified in color and size and wave, for long moments irritated her with its monotony. Then from out of the sage on the ridge flew up a broad, white object, flashed in the sunlight and vanished. Like magic it was, and bewildered Jane.
"What on earth is that?"
"I reckon there's some one behind that ridge throwin' up a sheet or a white blanket to reflect the sunshine."
"Why?" queried Jane, more bewildered than ever.
"To stampede the herd," replied Lassiter, and his teeth clicked.
"Ah!" She made a fierce, passionate movement, clutched the glass tightly, shook as with the passing of a spasm, and then dropped her head. Presently she raised it to greet Lassiter with something like a smile. "My righteous brethren are at work again," she said, in scorn. She had stifled the leap of her wrath, but for perhaps the first time in her life a bitter derision curled her lips. Lassiter's cool gray eyes seemed to pierce her. "I said I was prepared for anything; but that was hardly true. But why would they--anybody stampede my cattle?"
"That's a Mormon's godly way of bringin' a woman to her knees."
"Lassiter, I'll die before I ever bend my knees. I might be led I won't be driven. Do you expect the herd to bolt?"
"I don't like the looks of them big steers. But you can never tell. Cattle sometimes stampede as easily as buffalo. Any little flash or move will start them. A rider gettin' down an' walkin' toward them sometimes will make them jump an' fly. Then again nothin' seems to scare them. But I reckon that white flare will do the biz. It's a new one on me, an' I've seen some ridin' an' rustlin'. It jest takes one of them God-fearin' Mormons to think of devilish tricks."
"Lassiter, might not this trick be done by Oldring's men?" asked Jane, ever grasping at straws.
"It might be, but it ain't," replied Lassiter. "Oldring's an honest thief. He don't skulk behind ridges to scatter your cattle to the four winds. He rides down on you, an' if you don't like it you can throw a gun."
Jane bit her tongue to refrain from championing men who at the very moment were proving to her that they were little and mean compared even with rustlers.