Osterman cut his wheat that summer before any of the other ranchers, and as soon as his harvest was over organized a jack-rabbit drive. Like Annixter's barn-dance, it was to be an event in which all the countryside should take part. The drive was to begin on the most western division of the Osterman ranch, whence it would proceed toward the southeast, crossing into the northern part of Quien Sabe -- on which Annixter had sown no wheat -- and ending in the hills at the headwaters of Broderson Creek, where a barbecue was to be held.
Early on the morning of the day of the drive, as Harran and Presley were saddling their horses before the stables on Los Muertos, the foreman, Phelps, remarked:
"I was into town last night, and I hear that Christian has been after Ruggles early and late to have him put him in possession here on Los Muertos, and Delaney is doing the same for Quien Sabe."
It was this man Christian, the real-estate broker, and cousin of S. Behrman, one of the main actors in the drama of Dyke's capture, who had come forward as a purchaser of Los Muertos when the Railroad had regraded its holdings on the ranches around Bonneville.
"He claims, of course," Phelps went on, "that when he bought Los Muertos of the Railroad he was guaranteed possession, and he wants the place in time for the harvest."
"That's almost as thin," muttered Harran as he thrust the bit into his horse's mouth, "as Delaney buying Annixter's Home ranch. That slice of Quien Sabe, according to the Railroad's grading, is worth about ten thousand dollars; yes, even fifteen, and I don't believe Delaney is worth the price of a good horse. Why, those people don't even try to preserve appearances. Where would Christian find the money to buy Los Muertos? There's no one man in all Bonneville rich enough to do it. Damned rascals! as if we didn't see that Christian and Delaney are S. Behrman's right and left hands. Well, he'll get 'em cut off," he cried with sudden fierceness, "if he comes too near the machine."
"How is it, Harran," asked Presley as the two young men rode out of the stable yard, "how is it the Railroad gang can do anything before the Supreme Court hands down a decision?"