Chapter 5

Jack-rabbits were a pest that year and Presley occasionally found amusement in hunting them with Harran's half-dozen greyhounds, following the chase on horseback. One day, between two and three months after Lyman's visit to Los Muertos, as he was returning toward the ranch house from a distant and lonely quarter of Los Muertos, he came unexpectedly upon a strange sight.

Some twenty men, Annixter's and Osterman's tenants, and small ranchers from east of Guadalajara -- all members of the League -- were going through the manual of arms under Harran Derrick's supervision. They were all equipped with new Winchester rifles. Harran carried one of these himself and with it he illustrated the various commands he gave. As soon as one of the men under his supervision became more than usually proficient, he was told off to instruct a file of the more backward. After the manual of arms, Harran gave the command to take distance as skirmishers, and when the line had opened out so that some half-dozen feet intervened between the men, an advance was made across the field, the men stooping low and snapping the hammers of their rifles at an imaginary enemy.

The League had its agents in San Francisco, who watched the movements of the Railroad as closely as was possible, and some time before this, Annixter had received word that the marshal and his deputies were coming down to Bonneville to put the dummy buyers of his ranch in possession. The report proved to be but the first of many false alarms, but it had stimulated the League to unusual activity, and some three or four hundred men were furnished with arms and from time to time were drilled in secret.

Among themselves, the ranchers said that if the Railroad managers did not believe they were terribly in earnest in the stand they had taken, they were making a fatal mistake.

Harran reasserted this statement to Presley on the way home to the ranch house that same day. Harran had caught up with him by the time he reached the Lower Road, and the two jogged homeward through the miles of standing wheat.

"They may jump the ranch, Pres," he said, "if they try hard enough, but they will never do it while I am alive. By the way," he added, "you know we served notices yesterday upon S. Behrman

-311-

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The Octopus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books by Frank Norris i
  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Book One 1
  • Chapter 1 3
  • Chapter 2 36
  • Chapter 3 65
  • Chapter 4 85
  • Chapter 5 109
  • Chapter 6 145
  • Book Two 195
  • Chapter 1 197
  • Chapter 2 224
  • Chapter 3 256
  • Chapter 4 273
  • Chapter 5 311
  • Chapter 6 338
  • Chapter 7 363
  • Chapter 8 390
  • Chapter 9 427
  • Conclusion 451
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