"Yes, I'm the inspector," replied Belding, ignoring the proffered hand, "and I'd like to know what in the hell you mean by taking up land claims--staked ground that belongs to my rangers?"
"Land claims?" slowly echoed Chase, studying his man. "We're taking up only unclaimed land."
"That's a lie. You couldn't miss the stakes."
"Well, Mr. Belding, as to that, I think my men did run across some staked ground. But we recognize only squatters. If your rangers think they've got property just because they drove a few stakes in the ground they're much mistaken. A squatter has to build a house and live on his land so long, according to law, before he owns it.
This argument was unanswerable, and Belding knew it.
"According to law!" exclaimed Belding. "Then you own up; you've jumped our claims."
"Mr. Belding, I'm a plain business man. I come along. I see a good opening. Nobody seems to have tenable grants. I stake out claims, locate squatters, start to build. It seems to me your rangers have overlooked certain precautions. That's unfortunate for them. I'm prepared to hold my claim and to back all the squatters who work for me. If you don't like it you can carry the matter to Tucson. The law will uphold me."
"The law? Say, on this southwest border we haven't any law except a man's word and a gun."