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In a Hollow of the Hills by Bret Harte
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IN A HOLLOW OF THE HILLS

Bret Bret Harte




CHAPTER I.


It was very dark, and the wind was increasing. The last gust had
been preceded by an ominous roaring down the whole mountain-side,
which continued for some time after the trees in the little valley
had lapsed into silence. The air was filled with a faint, cool,
sodden odor, as of stirred forest depths. In those intervals of
silence the darkness seemed to increase in proportion and grow
almost palpable. Yet out of this sightless and soundless void now
came the tinkle of a spur's rowels, the dry crackling of saddle
leathers, and the muffled plunge of a hoof in the thick carpet of
dust and desiccated leaves. Then a voice, which in spite of its
matter-of-fact reality the obscurity lent a certain mystery to,
said:--

"I can't make out anything! Where the devil have we got to,
anyway? It's as black as Tophet, here ahead!"

"Strike a light and make a flare with something," returned a second
voice. "Look where you're shoving to--now--keep your horse off,
will ye."